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September 16, 2010

Week 3 Primer: Picking a winner for every game

After what was called "Monster Saturday" weekend, this week we get "Middling Saturday."

Thing is, the weeks that look uninteresting on paper always seem to be the ones where unreal stuff happens on the field.

There are a few highlights. There is a Big 12 South showdown in west Texas, with Tommy Tuberville and Texas Tech playing host to Mack Brown and Texas; it's the first meeting between those coaches. Another biggie is Iowa traveling to face Arizona, which is coached by Hawkeyes alum Mike Stoops.

There also are key games in the SEC (Arkansas at Georgia and Florida at Tennessee) and ACC (Georgia Tech at North Carolina), and an interesting game featuring teams from both leagues (Clemson at Auburn).

Here's a look at every game this week involving a FBS team.


Arkansas (2-0) at Georgia (1-1), noon, ESPN
THE BUZZ: For the first time this season, Arkansas QB/Heisman hopeful Ryan Mallett faces a defense with a pulse. Then again, Mallett torched the Bulldogs for 408 yards and five TDs last season. If the Hogs want to be taken seriously as an SEC contender, they need to win this. Georgia, meanwhile, needs to win if it wants to keep its division-title hopes alive.
THE LINE: Georgia by 2.5. THE PICK: Georgia 31-27

Northern Illinois (1-1) at Illinois (1-1), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Both have lost to a Big 12 school and both have beaten a FCS opponent. This is just the fourth meeting between the schools. Illinois is 12-0 all-time against the other public universities in the state.
THE LINE: Illinois by 7. THE PICK: Illinois 24-20

Iowa State (1-1) vs. Kansas State (2-0) in Kansas City, noon, Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: This is the Big 12 opener for both and the second season in a row the teams are meeting in Kansas City. Last season, Iowa State scored with 32 seconds left, but K-State blocked the extra point to prevail 24-23.
THE LINE: K-State by 4. THE PICK: K-State 26-20

Massachusetts (2-0) at Michigan (2-0), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Michigan is playing UMass? (Insert mental image of Bo Schembechler frowning and shaking his head.) The one question about this game: How many snaps does Denard Robinson take in the second half?
THE LINE: No line. THE PICK: Michigan 42-19

Georgia Tech (1-1) at North Carolina (0-1), noon, ACC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Georgia Tech is coming off an upset loss at Kansas and must regroup quickly. Tech rumbled for 317 rushing yards in a dominating win over UNC last season. This is the first of six huge intra-division games in the ACC Coastal Division this season, and UNC still is missing a ton of suspended players.
THE LINE: UNC by 1.5. THE PICK: Georgia Tech 27-21

Ohio (1-1) at Ohio State (2-0), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Ohio is looking for the 500th victory in school history. Ohio State is 6-0 all-time against the Bobcats, including a 2008 meeting in which Ohio U. led 14-12 entering the fourth quarter; the Buckeyes rallied to win 26-14.
THE LINE: Ohio State by 30.5. THE PICK: Ohio State 45-13

Kent State (1-1) at Penn State (1-1), noon, ESPN2
THE BUZZ: A week after playing big, bad Alabama, Penn State returns home. Penn State is seeking its 500th victory since Joe Paterno joined the coaching staff in 1950. Kent State leads the nation in rushing defense, allowing 11.0 yards per game.
THE LINE: Penn State by 21. THE PICK: Penn State 27-10

Ball State (1-1) at Purdue (1-1), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: This is one of four games this weekend matching Big Ten and MAC teams. This is the first game this season for Ball State against a FBS school; the Cardinals lost last week to FCS member Liberty. This is the eighth meeting between the Indiana schools -- whose campuses are about 85 miles apart -- and all eight have been at Purdue.
THE LINE: Purdue by 17. THE PICK: Purdue 42-20

Connecticut (1-1) at Temple (2-0), noon, SportsNet New York/Mid-Atlantic Sports Network/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Temple is 2-0 for the first time since 1981. The Owls are trying to get to 3-0 for the first time since 1979 and just the third time since 1966. This is the first of back-to-back games against MAC opponents for UConn, which plays host to Buffalo next Saturday.
THE LINE: UConn by 6.5. THE PICK: UConn 21-17

North Texas (0-2) at Army (1-1), noon, CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: Both are coming off closes losses, North Texas by one to Rice and Army by three -- on a last-second field goal -- to Hawaii. Still, when you consider that these teams have won a combined 23 games since the beginning of the 2006 season, can there by any other choice for the Dog of the Week? At least the hounds can enjoy the sights at one of the prettiest settings for college football in the nation.
THE LINE: Army by 5.5. THE PICK: Army 30-27

Maryland (2-0) at West Virginia (2-0), noon, ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Maryland has scored on all five of its first-quarter possessions (31 points) and outgained the opposition 274 to 84 in the period this season. Maryland has played West Virginia more than any other non-conference opponent (46 times). WVU is 9-0 under Bill Stewart in non-conference home games.
THE LINE: WVU by 10. THE PICK: WVU 37-24

Vanderbilt (0-2) at Ole Miss (1-1), 12:20 p.m., SEC syndication/Altitude/MSG network/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: There's no truth to the rumor that Ole Miss QB Jeremiah Masoli considered transferring to Vandy when he was booted off Oregon's team. For one, as far as we know, Vandy doesn't offer classes in parks and recreation management. For another, as far as we know, Vandy doesn't actually have a football program.
THE LINE: Ole Miss by 12. THE PICK: Ole Miss 24-9

East Carolina (2-0) at Virginia Tech (0-2), 1:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Raise your hand if you thought ECU would be 0-2 and Virginia Tech 2-0 for this game. Man, that's a lot of hands. And given the way ECU is throwing the ball around under new coach Ruffin McNeill, this has a lot of intrigue now.
THE LINE: Virginia Tech by 19.5. THE PICK: Virginia Tech 34-21

USC (2-0) at Minnesota (1-1), 3:30 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: In its opener under Lane Kiffin, USC's offense was great and its defense awful. Last week, it was the defense's turn to shine and the offense's to stink. So, that begs this question: Will both units play well this week -- or will both bumble around? Since the opponent is Minnesota, coming off a loss to FCS member South Dakota in which the Coyotes scored 41, we're betting it's the former for the Trojans.
THE LINE: USC by 13. THE PICK: USC 30-14

Air Force (2-0) at Oklahoma (2-0), 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: The Sooners have won 32 in a row at home, the nation's longest current home winning streak. Air Force is coming off a 21-point victory over BYU, and the Falcons have outscored their foes 55-0 in the second half this season.
THE LINE: Oklahoma by 17. THE PICK: Oklahoma 38-17

Washington State (1-1) at SMU (1-1), 3:30 p.m., CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: Washington State went 1-11 last season and its win was in overtime against SMU. Unless SMU is a lot weaker than we think, Washington State won't beat the Mustangs again.
THE LINE: SMU by 23. THE PICK: SMU 44-17

Florida (2-0) at Tennessee (1-1), 3:30 p.m., CBS
THE BUZZ: Urban Meyer is 5-0 against the Vols and the Gators have won 14 of their past 18 against the Vols, including six of the past eight in Knoxville. How much have the Gators owned the Vols of late? Ron Zook beat them while he was Florida's coach -- at Neyland Stadium, no less.
THE LINE: Florida by 14. THE PICK: Florida 27-10

Nebraska (2-0) at Washington (1-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN2/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This might be the toughest road game of the season for the Huskers; for sure, it's their toughest non-conference game. Washington senior QB Jake Locker is the big name in this game, but redshirt freshman QB Taylor Martinez has provided a huge boost for the Huskers.
THE LINE: Nebraska by 3.5. THE PICK: Nebraska 28-17

Arizona State (2-0) at Wisconsin (2-0), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN2
THE BUZZ: The Sun Devils' two wins have come over FCS teams, and they take a big step up in competition in this one. Arizona State has a strong front seven, and it will be tested by a big, physical Wisconsin rushing attack.
THE LINE: Wisconsin by 14. THE PICK: Wisconsin 23-14

BYU (1-1) at Florida State (1-1), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Both teams are coming off embarrassing losses -- BYU by 21 at Air Force and FSU by 30 at Oklahoma in a game that really wasn't even that close. The Seminoles routed the Cougars last season, winning by 26.
THE LINE: FSU by 9.5. THE PICK: FSU 41-28

Hawaii (1-1) at Colorado (1-1), 3:30 p.m., Fox College Sports Central
THE BUZZ: The teams have met once, in 1925, before Hawaii was even a state. Colorado has lost six of its past eight overall, and these are the types of games Dan Hawkins must win if he wants to remain Buffs coach.
THE LINE: Colorado by 11. THE PICK: Colorado 31-23

Alabama (2-0) at Duke (1-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Duke plays in Wallace Wade Stadium; he's the winningest Duke coach of all time, but he also led Alabama to a 61-13-3 record from 1923-30. For some reason, we don't see Nick Saban ever making that same Tuscaloosa-to-Durham move.
THE LINE: Alabama by 24. THE PICK: Alabama 38-7

Colorado State (0-2) at Miami of Ohio (1-1), 3:30 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Colorado State is riding an 11-game losing streak; last week, Miami beat Eastern Michigan to hand EMU its 14th consecutive loss. This is Colorado State's first game in the state of Ohio since 1970. This is Miami's only non-conference game against a non-Big Six school; the RedHawks already have lost to Florida and still must play Cincinnati and Missouri.
THE LINE: Miami by 8. THE PICK: Miami 20-16

Central Michigan (1-1) at Eastern Michigan (0-2), 4 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Central Michigan lost a tough one last week in overtime at Temple, but the Chippewas still look like one of the best teams in the MAC West. That means they can't afford a loss to the Eagles.
THE LINE: Central Michigan by 9. THE PICK: Central Michigan 27-16

Troy (1-1) at UAB (0-2), 4 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Think of this as the battle to be the third-best team in Alabama. This is the eighth meeting and Troy leads 4-3; the margin of victory has been at least 11 points in all but one meeting.
THE LINE: Troy by 3.5. THE PICK: Troy 34-27

Baylor (2-0) at TCU (2-0), 4:30 p.m., Versus
THE BUZZ: Baylor is 2-0 for just the fourth time since 1995. TCU, meanwhile, is 2-0 for the sixth time in eight seasons. There's an interesting quarterback battle between Baylor's Robert Griffin and TCU's Andy Dalton -- but Dalton has more talent around him.
THE LINE: TCU by 21.5. THE PICK: TCU 35-17

Indiana (1-0) at Western Kentucky (0-2), 5 p.m., Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: If Indiana isn't playing the easiest non-conference schedule of anybody, we want to know who is. The Hoosiers opened with Towson, play the Hilltoppers -- who have lost 22 in a row -- this week, get Akron next week and finish the non-conference portion of the schedule with a visit from Arkansas State on Oct. 16.
THE LINE: Indiana by 12. THE PICK: Indiana 42-26

Louisville (1-1) at Oregon State (0-1), 5:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net Northwest/Fox College Sports Pacific
THE BUZZ: This is the only non-conference game against a Big Six opponent for Oregon State. But before you cast aspersions on the Beavers, consider that their other two non-league games are against TCU and Boise State.
THE LINE: Oregon State by 19.5. THE PICK: Oregon State 37-21

Portland State (1-1) at Oregon (2-0), 6:15 p.m., Comcast SportsNet Northwest
THE BUZZ: This will get exceedingly ugly unless the Ducks call off the dogs. Portland State won two games last season and has won a combined 10 games since the start of the 2007 season. In its past four games against FBS opponents, including the season-opener at Arizona State, Portland State has lost by an average of 38 points per contest.
THE LINE: No line. THE PICK: Oregon 70-14

Clemson (2-0) at Auburn (2-0), 7 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: This is a Tigers vs. Tigers matchup. This is the 47th meeting in the series, but the first regular-season game between the two since 1971. Auburn is 20-4 in home night games since the 2000 season. Clemson is 2-0 for just the 12th time in the past 40 seasons.
THE LINE: Auburn by 7. THE PICK: Auburn 21-17

Mississippi State (1-1) at LSU (2-0), 7 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: This is the only road game for the Bulldogs among their first five contests. LSU has won 10 in a row and 17 of the past 18 in the series; the Bulldogs' one win in that stretch came by one point. In addition, LSU has scored at least 30 points in every game during the current winning streak over the Bulldogs; the Tigers have scored at least 40 in six of the games.

Akron (0-2) at Kentucky (2-0), 7 p.m., Sun Sports/Fox Sports Southwest/Fox Sports South/Fox Sports West/Fox Sports Arizona/Fox Sports Houston/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Akron is coming off an overtime loss to FCS member Gardner-Webb. Kentucky has won 16 consecutive regular-season non-conference games.
THE LINE: Kentucky by 24.5. THE PICK: Kentucky 48-17

Marshall (0-2) at Bowling Green (0-2), 7 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Both went to bowls last season, but a loss in this one would make that tough this season. Bowling Green hasn't opened 0-3 since 2000; Marshall opened 0-3 in 2007. The teams met last season, with the Herd winning 17-10.
THE LINE: Marshall by 3. THE PICK: Bowling Green 28-23

Furman (1-0) at South Carolina (2-0), 7 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: South Carolina is coming off a big victory over Georgia; next week, the Gamecocks play a big win at Auburn. Thus, don't blame them if they don't come out in full force for this matchup with an in-state FCS foe.
THE LINE: No line. THE PICK: South Carolina 37-13

Tulsa (1-1) at Oklahoma State (1-1), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: It's hard to believe this isn't on TV somewhere. A lot of points seems to be a given, as both offenses are good and both defenses questionable.
THE LINE: Oklahoma State by 7. THE PICK: Tulsa 37-33

UCF (1-1) at Buffalo (1-1), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Each won its opener handily over a FCS opponent. Then, each lost to a Big Six conference school in Game Two -- UCF close at home against NC State and Buffalo by a wide margin at Baylor.
THE LINE: UCF by 8.5. THE PICK: UCF 24-14

Navy (1-1) at Louisiana Tech (1-1), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Navy has allowed 47 passing yards total this season. Offensively, though, Navy has struggled to score, with just 27 points in two games. Tech hasn't been much better, scoring 36.
THE LINE: Navy by 3.5. THE PICK: Navy 27-17

Middle Tennessee (1-1) at Memphis (0-2), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Memphis has given up 49 points in each of its first two losses. This is the first home game of the season for the Tigers, who play four of their first six on the road. This is the 23rd meeting in the series but just the third since 1954.

Florida International (0-1) at Texas A&M (2-0), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the second Big Six opponent in a row for FIU, which held Rutgers to 172 yards but lost by five to the Scarlet Knights last week. Bad news for FIU is that Texas A&M has a vastly better offense than Rutgers. But the Aggies aren't as good defensively as Rutgers.
THE LINE: Texas A&M by 27.5. THE PICK: Texas A&M 42-16

Toledo (1-1) at Western Michigan (1-1), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: The MAC West appears wide open, and this matches two teams that look to have a shot at the title. Toledo is coming off an upset win at Ohio U. Western Michigan QB Alex Carder threw five TD passes last week, and this one will come down to how well he performs against what looks to be an OK Toledo secondary.
THE LINE: Western Michigan by 4. THE PICK: Western Michigan 27-24

San Diego State (2-0) at Missouri (2-0), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: San Diego State is 2-0 for the first time since 1994, the season after Marshall Faulk left campus. Mizzou has won 19 consecutive regular-season non-conference games.
THE LINE: Missouri by 14. THE PICK: Missouri 31-20

Northwestern (2-0) at Rice (1-1), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: The second "Brainiac Bowl" of the year for Northwestern, which beat Vanderbilt in its opener. Northwestern is No. 12 and Rice No. 17 in the latest U.S. News & World Report "Best Colleges" ranking. They are the third- and fourth-ranked schools that play FBS football in that listing, behind No. 5 Stanford and No. 9 Duke.
THE LINE: Northwestern by 6.5. THE PICK: Northwestern 34-23

Maine (1-1) at Syracuse (1-1), 7:15 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the home opener for Syracuse, but the Orange are just 14-16 in such games since moving into the Carrier Dome in 1980. This is the second meeting between these schools; the Orange won by 17 last season at home and haven't lost to a team currently in the Colonial Athletic Association since 1953.
THE LINE: No line. THE PICK: Syracuse 31-10

Notre Dame (1-1) at Michigan State (2-0), 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN2
THE BUZZ: This is the first road game of the season for the Irish, who play five of their first seven at home. Michigan State has won nine of the past 13 in the series, but Notre Dame has won 15 of the past 19 played in East Lansing.
THE LINE: Michigan State by 3.5. THE PICK: Notre Dame 31-27

Texas (2-0) at Texas Tech (2-0), 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN2
THE BUZZ: The last time these teams met in Lubbock, in 2008, Tech won on a last-play TD pass to Michael Crabtree. Texas has won nine of the past 12 in the series, but Mack Brown's three losses in Lubbock are the most he has at any opposing stadium in the Big 12.
THE LINE: Texas by 3. THE PICK: Texas 30-21

Boise State (1-0) at Wyoming (1-1), 8 p.m., CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: Wyoming lost by 27 at Texas last week. Thus, odds are that the first question for Wyoming coach Dave Christensen in his post-game news conference will be, "Dave, can you compare Boise State and Texas for us?"
THE LINE: Boise State by 23.5. THE PICK: Boise State 48-21

Utah (2-0) at New Mexico (0-2), 8 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: Having fun with math. OK, New Mexico lost its first game by 72. Last week, the Lobos lost by only 35. Using the formula that each loss will be just less than twice as bad as the preceding loss, the Lobos should lose this by 17, right?
THE LINE: Utah by 23. THE PICK: Utah 41-20

Louisiana-Monroe (0-1) at Arkansas State (0-2), 8 p.m., Sun Belt syndication/Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: The home team has won the past five meetings in this Sun Belt series. Arkansas State had hoped to be a dark-horse contender in the league race, but at 0-1 in conference play, the Red Wolves basically already find themselves in a must-win situation.
THE LINE: Arkansas State by 4. THE PICK: Arkansas State 28-20

Fresno State (1-0) at Utah State (1-1), 8 p.m., WAC syndication/Comcast SportsNet California
THE BUZZ: This is an interesting game in the WAC. Fresno opened with a dominating win over Cincinnati, while Utah State acquitted itself well in losing by just seven at Oklahoma in its openers. The past four meetings between the teams have been decided by a total of 18 points; in addition, the past three meetings at Utah State have been decided by a total of four points. Utah State is looking for its first start as good as 2-1 since 1997.
THE LINE: Fresno State by 6. THE PICK: Fresno State 27-24

Southern Utah (1-1) at San Jose State (0-2), 8 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the second FBS opponent of the season for Southern Utah, which lost by eight to Wyoming in its opener. This is one of two FCS opponents this season for San Jose State, which is 11-0 all-time against FCS/I-AA schools.
THE LINE: No line. THE PICK: San Jose 23-17

New Mexico State (0-1) at UTEP (1-1), 9 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the 88th meeting between the schools, located about 40 miles apart on Interstate 10. The home team has won 10 of the past 13 in the series -- but the visitor has won each of the past two. Last season's meeting had a three-hour weather delay.
THE LINE: UTEP by 14.5. THE PICK: UTEP 38-20

Iowa (2-0) at Arizona (2-0), 10:30 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Both have beaten up on an outclassed FCS opponent and on an overmatched FBS foe. Can Arizona QB Nick Foles have success throwing against a solid Hawkeyes secondary? And how successful can Iowa be running the ball against a rebuilt Arizona front seven?
THE LINE: Iowa by 1.5. THE PICK: Iowa 20-17

UNLV (0-2) at Idaho (1-1), 10:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Want a primer on the vagaries of scheduling? This is the second game in a two-game home-and-home series between the schools. The first one was in Las Vegas -- in 2005. UNLV's offense has been stuck in neutral thus far, but that might be because the Rebels played ranked teams (Wisconsin and Utah) in their first two games.
THE LINE: Idaho by 7. THE PICK: Idaho 28-23

Houston (2-0) at UCLA (0-2), 10:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel and Houston coach Kevin Sumlin both are in their third seasons at their schools. Both arrived with reputations as offense-minded coaches. UCLA scored 498 in its first two seasons combined under Neuheisel; Houston scored almost 100 more -- 591 -- last season alone. And the Cougars have averaged 36 points per game in four outings against Big Six opponents. If Houston QB Case Keenum is healthy, the Cougars will win this.
THE LINE: Houston by 3. THE PICK: Houston 38-34

Wake Forest (2-0) at Stanford (2-0), 11:15 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Wake has been playing football since 1888 and this is the Demon Deacons' first-ever game in California. Wake beat Stanford last season at home. Stanford is coming off an impressive 35-0 win over UCLA and is looking for its first 3-0 start since 2001.
THE LINE: Stanford by 17. THE PICK: Stanford 38-17


60-10 straight up, 23-22 against the spread.


126-22 straight up, 40-43-2 against the spread.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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