What a weekend. Wisconsin tried to pull a Michigan. Notre Dame proved how horrifically horrible they are. I loved that UCF took Texas to the limit, and the riveting wins by Alabama and Kentucky made up for the other primetime game that sucked. Thanks for that, Callahan. I'm glad your team was prepared.
Conference openers in the Big Ten this week. Possible upsets abound. And Duke tries for two in a row. Let's move on.
Last week: 12-5
Texas A&M at Miami (Thursday): This Miami program needs some time. I really believe Randy Shannon will turn things around, but it isn't happening tomorrow. Clearly, fans aren't into matchups with Florida International, but hopefully they'll show up and create some atmosphere for a big game. Miami's run defense looked awful at times against Oklahoma, and while A&M doesn't have OU's offensive balance, I think the Aggies have enough of a running game to keep Miami from taking control of the game.
The pick: Texas A&M
Oklahoma at Tulsa (Friday): Normally, a "mid-major" playing a team like OU may try to slow the game down with long drives and a lot of time of possession. That doesn't work here, as the Golden Hurricane will play offensive football at a frenetic pace. While Gus Malzahn's no-huddle spread attack will cause OU some matchup issues and negate their size advantage to an extent, the Sooners have too much talent on both sides of the ball.
The pick: Oklahoma
Illinois at Indiana: The Hoosiers are 3-0, which is a nice start on their quest for a 13th game. Illinois clearly has a great running attack, but the balance will be key through the conference season. The Illini should get off to a good start in Big Ten play, assuming Juice Williams and friends can avoid bad (or any) turnovers.
The pick: Illinois
Penn State at Michigan: I'm tempted to go with Michigan. Penn State doesn't run a spread, and they're going to have trouble scoring points with a spotty run game and a mediocre pocket passer with questionable mobility. However, Penn State's defense is going to create problems for either a hobbled Henne or an inexperienced Mallet at QB for Michigan. Not only that, but I still tend to think Michigan is lost if something goes wrong in the first half. Maybe that's my newfound lack of faith in Lloyd or something.
The pick: Penn State
Northwestern at Ohio State: By losing to Duke, Northwestern erased all the progress they made in that Nevada game. Now they have to find a way to look alive for a conference game in Columbus, where the Buckeyes appear to have found out how to win games. They absolutely annihilated Washington in the second half last week.
The pick: Ohio State
Iowa at Wisconsin: The Hawkeyes were caught napping last week against Iowa State, in part because their defense struggled to get off the field. This team isn't set up to win games 31-28, so they have to lean on defensive stops and turnovers to win games. Wisconsin's defense isn't likely to be threatened by the Hawkeyes, so they'll score enough points to stay unbeaten.
The pick: Wisconsin
Purdue at Minnesota: Maybe the Gophers can find a first-half coaching staff to start games before putting Brewster's staff in at halftime. In two of three games so far, Minnesota has looked unprepared, especially on defense. I said last week that Florida Atlantic would need a perfect game to beat Minnesota, but I wasn't counting on the Gophers committing seven turnovers. Unless Brewster and Everett Withers can clean up this defense, it's going to be a long Big Ten season.
The pick: Purdue
Michigan State at Notre Dame: You know, someone should really do something about this ridiculous non-conference scheduling by Michigan State. It's bad enough that they played UAB and Bowling Green, but Notre Dame? Bah!
The pick: Michigan State
South Carolina at LSU: I tend to think South Carolina is a bit overrated, because they haven't really played anyone yet (I'm not sold on Georgia). The Gamecocks run into a buzzsaw in Baton Rouge, where the Tigers are usually very tough, but could be practically unbeatable with how they're playing. I smell a blowout.
The pick: LSU
Kentucky at Arkansas: The Hogs need to rebound from a heartbreaking loss at Alabama, where Houston Nutt outcoached himself late in the game and allowed Alabama a chance to come back and get the winning score. It was a stirring road comeback effort, however. Kentucky is coming off one of their biggest wins ever, but the defense they'll face at Arkansas is one that is better than Louisville's and is anxious to prove themselves after allowing all those points last week.
The pick: Arkansas
Georgia at Alabama: I already mentioned that I'm not a huge Georgia fan. Alabama kind of won me over last week, though their defense became strikingly leaky in the second half. That'll be a problem eventually, but not so much this week.
The pick: Alabama
Washington at UCLA: Washington is a better team than many expected, but UCLA will be looking to rebound from that 44-6 stomping by Utah last week. I'm not sure Ty Willingham can do enough to get his team ready for this.
The pick: UCLA
Mid-Major Game of the Week
Last week: 0-0, because I was stupid and forgot
Colorado State at Houston: Slim pickings. Sorry. CSU played well against two "BCS" teams, but came away 0-2. Houston has a nice spread offense, but I think Kyle Bell and the Rams will keep them at bay a bit. Houston wins at home, but it won't be easy.
The pick: Houston