September 23, 2010

Week 4 Primer: Best games should be in SEC

Week 3 didn't look all that good on paper, but it turned out to be entertaining nonetheless. Week 4 looks even weaker -- which may mean fireworks are in the offing.

This is a huge week in the SEC -- Alabama at Arkansas, South Carolina at Auburn and Kentucky at Florida -- and an important one in the Pac-10, too, with Cal traveling to Arizona and Oregon to Arizona State. Meanwhile, there are eight Big Ten-MAC games.

Here's a look at every game this week involving a FBS team. (One sad note: One-third of the season will be over when the weekend is done.)

SATURDAY'S GAMES

North Carolina State (3-0) at Georgia Tech (2-1), noon, ESPN
THE BUZZ: This is a "prove it" game for NCSU in the ACC race. This is the first time since 2002 that the Wolfpack have opened 3-0. Opponents have rushed for just 256 yards against NCSU; to win, Tech needs to reach that total in this game.
THE LINE: Georgia Tech by 8.5. THE PICK: Georgia Tech 31-21

Bowling Green (1-2) at Michigan (3-0), noon, ESPN2
THE BUZZ: This will be the second meeting between the schools, separated by less than 75 miles; Michigan won easily in 2000 in the first meeting. BG will be without starting QB Matt Schilz, who has an injured shoulder.
THE LINE: Michigan by 25. THE PICK: Michigan 42-24

Ball State (1-2) at Iowa (2-1), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: This is a "throwback game" for Iowa, which will wear 1960 uniforms. Frankly, the Iowa players from 1960 could suit up and beat Ball State.
THE LINE: Iowa by 28. THE PICK: Iowa 38-7

Northern Colorado (2-1) at Michigan State (3-0), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: We're pretty sure this is the first time in history that a team will have played Notre Dame one week and Northern Colorado the next. Northern Colorado has won eight games since the start of the 2006 season.
THE LINE: No line. THE PICK: Michigan State 40-13

Central Michigan (2-1) at Northwestern (3-0), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: CMU is going for just its fifth-ever win over a Big Ten program, but the Chippewas carry a two-game winning streak against Big Ten foes into this game. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, 35, is the second-youngest coach in FBS, and CMU's Dan Enos, 42, is the seventh-youngest.
THE LINE: Northwestern by 7. THE PICK: Northwestern 27-17

Florida International (0-2) at Maryland (2-1), noon, ESPNU
THE BUZZ: FIU came up just short in losses to Rutgers and Texas A&M, and now gets a shot at its third Big Six foe is as many weeks; FIU is at Pitt next week. Maryland WR Torrey Smith leads the ACC with four TD catches.
THE LINE: Maryland by 11.5. THE PICK: Maryland 20-13

Austin Peay (2-1) at Wisconsin (3-0), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Austin Peay, a FCS school from Clarksville, Tenn., has had only five winning seasons since 1980, and just two of those have come since 1985. What is a legit Big Ten challenger doing playing this type of program?
THE LINE: No line. THE PICK: Wisconsin 54-14

Toledo (2-1) at Purdue (2-1), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Toledo has forced 10 turnovers in the past two weeks against Ohio and Western Michigan, but the level of competition increases this week. Toledo has won at least once over a Big Six school in four consecutive seasons, and this is the Rockets' last chance this season.
THE LINE: Purdue by 12. THE PICK: Toledo 27-23

Buffalo (1-2) at Connecticut (1-2), noon, Big East syndication/SportsNet New York/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: UConn has gotten off to a disappointing start in what was supposed to be a good season. The Huskies are coming off a loss to MAC member Temple and certainly don't want to lose their second in a row to a MAC school. UConn has won nine of the past 10 meetings with the Bulls.
THE LINE: UConn by 20. THE PICK: UConn 34-10

Virginia Tech (1-2) at Boston College (2-0), noon, ACC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: A big second half propelled Virginia Tech past East Carolina and into the win column for the first time last week. This is the ACC opener for both. HE LINE: Virginia Tech by 4. THE PICK: Virginia Tech 24-21

UAB (1-2) at Tennessee (1-2), 12:20 p.m., SEC syndication/MSG network/Comcast SportsNet Bay Area/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is the 16th game for UAB against SEC opponents, and the Blazers have won twice (over LSU and Mississippi State); this is the 15th time the Blazers have gone on the road to an SEC venue. This is the fourth consecutive home game for the Vols, who play four of their next five on the road; the only home game in that span is against Alabama.
THE LINE: Tennessee by 13.5. THE PICK: Tennessee 24-13

UCF (2-1) at Kansas State (3-0), 12:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: K-State is looking for its first 4-0 start since 2003. Each of these teams have eight players who already have graduated; that ties them for fourth-most in the nation. K-State RB Daniel Thomas is second in the nation in rushing at 184.0 yards per game.
THE LINE: K-State by 7. THE PICK: K-State 24-13

VMI (1-1) at Virginia (1-1), 1:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: After a 19-year absence, the Cavaliers and Keydets renew a series that began in 1893. Fifteen of the past 16 games have been played at Virginia. Former South Carolina coach Sparky Woods is the coach at VMI, and his defensive coordinator is A.J. Christoff, who has been coordinator at numerous FBS schools.
THE LINE: No line. THE PICK: Virginia 41-10

Air Force (2-1) at Wyoming (1-2), 2 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: Air Force has won four in a row in the series. The Falcons lead the nation in rushing at 399.0 yards per game; Wyoming is last in the nation in rushing, at 24.3 yards per game. The Cowboys have run for 73 yards on 83 carries.
THE LINE: Air Force by 13.5. THE PICK: Air Force 36-17

Miami of Ohio (2-1) at Missouri (3-0), 2 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Miami already has doubled its win total from last season -- but the teams the RedHawks have beaten (Eastern Michigan and Colorado State) have lost a combined 27 in a row. Miami defensive coordinator Carl Reese will have a homecoming of sorts; he is a Mizzou alum (class of 1966) and also has served as a Tigers assistant.
THE LINE: Missouri by 20. THE PICK: Missouri 45-21

USC (3-0) at Washington State (1-2), 3 p.m., Fox Sports Net Northwest/Prime Ticket/Fox College Sports Pacific
THE BUZZ: USC has yet to put together a full game despite playing some spotty competition. Maybe this is the week the Trojans break out; they've won their past three over the Cougars by a combined 123 points. USC is 57-8-4 all-time against Washington State and has won 34 of the past 38, including each of the past seven.
THE LINE: USC by 22. THE PICK: USC 38-14

Army (2-1) at Duke (1-2), 3 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Army is looking for its third consecutive road victory; incredibly, the Black Knights haven't won three in a row on the road (not including neutral-site games) since 1966-67. This is Duke's third home game of the season, and the Blue Devils play three of their next four on the road.
THE LINE: Duke by 6.5. THE PICK: Duke 28-20

Alabama (3-0) at Arkansas (3-0), 3:30 p.m., CBS
THE BUZZ: Arkansas can prove it's for real -- and become the SEC West front-runner -- if they can stem the mighty Tide. This is the first time since 1979, when No. 4 Arkansas played host to No. 6 Houston, that two top-10 teams have met in Fayetteville. Houston won that one -- and Arkansas went on to lose to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
THE LINE: Alabama by 7. THE PICK: Alabama 31-21

Stanford (3-0) at Notre Dame (1-2), 3:30 p.m., NBC
THE BUZZ: A Stanford win would break a seven-game losing streak to the Irish in South Bend and give the Cardinal their first 4-0 start since 1986. The schools have played in each of the past 13 seasons -- and 20 of the past 22 -- and Stanford's win last season snapped the Irish's seven-game winning streak in the series.
THE LINE: Stanford by 4.5. THE PICK: Stanford 34-28

Temple (3-0) at Penn State (2-1), 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: This has some intrigue, mainly because of Temple's defensive toughness and rushing attack. Still, the Owls haven't beaten Penn State since 1941 and are 0-34-1 against the Nittany Lions since.
THE LINE: Penn State by 14. THE PICK: Penn State 20-16

UCLA (1-2) at Texas (3-0), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: The last time these teams met, in 1997, UCLA steamrolled Texas to the tune of 66-3 -- in Austin! That basically spelled the end for then-Longhorns coach John Mackovic. And that's why Mack Brown to this day sends 10 percent of his annual salary to Bob Toledo, who was UCLA's coach that day.
THE LINE: Texas by 16. THE PICK: Texas 31-10

Eastern Michigan (0-3) at Ohio State (3-0), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN
THE BUZZ: Man, putting this game on TV means someone at ABC/ESPN enjoys looking at car wrecks. Eastern Michigan has lost 15 in a row and is coming off a 38-point home loss to Central Michigan. To make this interesting, Ohio State is thinking about playing with nine players on each side of the ball.
THE LINE: Ohio State by 44. THE PICK: Ohio State 58-7

Wake Forest (2-1) at Florida State (2-1), ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: FSU snapped a three-game losing streak to the Demon Deacons last season. This is the first ACC game for new FSU coach Jimbo Fisher.
THE LINE: FSU by 19. THE PICK: FSU 45-24

North Carolina (0-2) at Rutgers (2-0), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: UNC has lost both its games by the same score -- 30-24. Rutgers is aiming for just its fifth 3-0 start since 1980. Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano served as UNC coach Butch Davis' defensive coordinator in 1999-2000 when Davis was coach at Miami.
THE LINE: UNC by 1. THE PICK: UNC 24-20

Tulane (1-1) at Houston (2-1), 3:30 p.m., CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: Man, it all has gone south quickly for Houston coach Kevin Sumlin, who lost All-America QB Case Keenum and backup Cotton Turner for the season last week. Meanwhile, things have been going south for so long at Tulane -- eight years and counting -- that the school is located in southern Argentina now.
THE LINE: Houston by 19.5. THE PICK: Houston 31-14

Arkansas State (1-2) at Troy (1-2), 3:30 p.m., Sun Belt syndication/Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Troy has won 26 of its past 29 Sun Belt Conference games. The Trojans already have been penalized 37 times, the most in the nation, and average 105.0 penalty yards per game. Arkansas State is fourth in the nation in pass offense, and Troy is ninth.
THE LINE: Troy by 11. THE PICK: Troy 41-28

Colgate (1-1) at Syracuse (2-1), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the second consecutive FCS opponent for Syracuse, which means the Orange have to win seven to get to a bowl. Frankly, Syracuse fans, you probably don't need to be worried about that. This will be the 66th meeting in a series that dates to 1891; though Colgate leads the series 31-29-5, the Red Raiders haven't beaten the Orange since 1950.
THE LINE: No line. THE PICK: Syracuse 38-14

Idaho (2-1) at Colorado State (0-3), 4 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Colorado State has lost 12 in a row and has been brutal on offense, managing just 19 points this season. This is the first home game of the season for the Rams; they have won 14 of their past 16 home openers, and the losses came to ranked teams.
THE LINE: Idaho by 7.5. THE PICK: Idaho 31-20

Nevada (3-0) at BYU (1-2), 6 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: Nevada is coming in off a beatdown of California. BYU is coming in off back-to-back beatdowns at the hands of Air Force and Florida State. BYU's offense better get in gear.
THE LINE: Nevada by 4. THE PICK: Nevada 30-24

Oklahoma (3-0) at Cincinnati (1-2), 6 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: One of these programs is in danger of sliding back into irrelevancy. And we're not talking about the Sooners.
THE LINE: Oklahoma by 14. THE PICK: Oklahoma 38-17

Kentucky (3-0) at Florida (3-0), 7 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: If Florida's offense doesn't awake from its slumber this week, next week's trip to Tuscaloosa is going to be nightmarish. And we don't mean just waiting in line at Dreamland BBQ.
THE LINE: Florida by 14. THE PICK: Florida 27-17

Akron (0-3) at Indiana (2-0), 7 p.m., Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Indiana's non-conference schedule is about as tough as a walk through a field of soft, fluffy clouds, if you could walk through a field of soft, fluffy clouds: Towson, Western Kentucky, Akron and Arkansas State.
THE LINE: Indiana by 22.5. THE PICK: Indiana 47-21

Georgia (1-2) at Mississippi State (1-2), 7 p.m., Sun Sports/Fox Sports South/Fox Sports Houston/Fox Sports Florida/Fox Sports Southwest/Fox Sports Arizona/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Georgia already is 0-2 in SEC play and basically faces a must-win situation if it wants to stay in the hunt for the East Division title. These schools are charter members of the SEC which formed in 1933, but this is just the 22nd meeting. Georgia has won nine in a row in this battle of the Bulldogs, with Mississippi State's last win coming in 1974.
THE LINE: Mississippi State by 1. THE PICK: Georgia 20-17

New Mexico State (0-2) at Kansas (1-2), 7 p.m., Fox College Sports Central
THE BUZZ: New Mexico State has lost nine in a row overall and seven in a row on the road. Kansas is trying to avoid its first losing record in non-conference play since 1993. Neither offense has shown much; New Mexico State ranks 97th nationally in total offense and KU is 103rd.
THE LINE: Kansas by 23. THE PICK: Kansas 38-16

Western Kentucky (0-3) at USF (1-1), 7 p.m., Big East syndication/Altitude/Mid-Atlantic Sports Network/SportsNet New York/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: USF plays four of its first five games at home. Western won at USF in 1998, when current Hilltoppers coach Willie Taggart was Western's starting quarterback. Western has lost 23 in a row, the nation's longest current losing streak.
THE LINE: USF by 27. THE PICK: USF 45-20

Northern Iowa (1-1) at Iowa State (1-2), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the 26th meeting in the series and Iowa State leads 18-4-3. But in their most recent game, UNI won by 11 in Ames in 2007 in front of a crowd of 56,795, which set the Iowa State stadium record.
THE LINE: No line. THE PICK: Iowa State 28-16

Southern Miss (2-1) at Louisiana Tech (1-2), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the 43rd meeting in the series but the first since 1992. Louisiana Tech has scored nine second-half points this season, and the Bulldogs have to find a way to get their rushing attack untracked.
THE LINE: Southern Miss by 4. THE PICK: Southern Miss 28-16

Ohio (1-2) at Marshall (0-3), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: These teams met in last season's Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, with Marshall prevailing 21-17. Ohio is aiming for the 500th victory in school history.
THE LINE: Marshall by 6. THE PICK: Marshall 28-24

Southeastern Louisiana (1-2) at Louisiana-Monroe (0-2), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the second FBS opponent of the season for Southeastern Louisiana, who lost by six to Tulane in the opener. This is the first meeting in this series since 1985; the programs met every season from 1951-85.
THE LINE: No line. THE PICK: ULM 33-20

Central Arkansas (3-0) at Tulsa (1-2), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Central Arkansas, a FCS school, is quarterbacked by Arkansas transfer Nathan Dick, and the Bears throw the ball around. Given the sieve-like nature of the Tulsa secondary, that means this one could be interesting into the second half. How bad is Tulsa's defense? The Golden Hurricane are averaging 36.7 points and 517.7 yards -- and they've lost twice.
THE LINE: No line. THE PICK: Tulsa 47-24

North Texas (0-3) at Florida Atlantic (1-1), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Think you have problems? Consider the plight of North Texas coach Todd Dodge, who has lost his starting quarterback, his No. 2 quarterback, his starting center and his No. 2 center to season-ending injuries. That's some bad mojo, folks.
THE LINE: FAU by 9.5. THE PICK: FAU 27-16

Middle Tennessee (1-2) at Louisiana-Lafayette (1-1), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the Sun Belt opener for Middle, which was picked to win the league title. But this also is the last game of starting QB Dwight Dasher's NCAA-mandated suspension, and the Blue Raiders have sputtered without him. ULL has won five of the past seven meetings in the series.
THE LINE: MTSU by 2.5. THE PICK: MTSU 24-20

South Dakota State (0-2) at Nebraska (3-0), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: The only other meeting was in 1963, when the Huskers won by 51 over the Jackrabbits. This one could get that ugly in the first half if Nebraska wants it to.
THE LINE: No line. THE PICK: Nebraska 52-7

Fresno State (2-0) at Ole Miss (1-2), 7:30 p.m., Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast/Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: On paper, Fresno is the toughest opponent thus far for Ole Miss, which has lost -- at home -- to FCS member Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs have won six of their past eight against Big Six schools, including a victory over Cincinnati in their opener.
THE LINE: Ole Miss by 2.5. THE PICK: Fresno State 24-20

South Carolina (3-0) at Auburn (3-0), 7:45 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: This is just the fifth meeting between the teams since the SEC expanded to 12 teams in 1992; Auburn has won the previous four. How much does Auburn have left after last week's extremely physical game with Clemson? South Carolina, meanwhile, is coming in off a win over FCS member Furman.
THE LINE: Auburn by 3. THE PICK: South Carolina 21-16

Oregon State (1-1) at Boise State (2-0), 8 p.m., ABC
THE BUZZ: Oregon State opened the season with a neutral-site loss to TCU; now the Beavers try to spoil Boise's BCS hopes. Oregon State painted one of its natural-grass practice fields blue this week in preparation for the game.
THE LINE: Boise State by 17. THE PICK: Boise State 34-21

Baylor (2-1) at Rice (1-2), 8 p.m., CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: Last week, Baylor played an old Southwest Conference rival and got drilled by TCU. This week, the Bears get another old SWC rival, but this time, they should do the drilling. This is just the second meeting between the schools since the SWC disbanded after the 1995 season. Baylor is 2-11 on the road under third-year coach Art Briles, but Rice has lost six of its past eight home games.
THE LINE: Baylor by 7.5. THE PICK: Baylor 38-20

Utah State (1-2) at San Diego State (2-1), 8 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is one of four Mountain West-WAC games this week. Utah State needs a big game from dual-threat QB Diondre Borel if it is to pull the upset. Redshirt freshman RB Ronnie Hillman has emerged as a star for San Diego State,
THE LINE: San Diego State by 7.5. THE PICK: San Diego State 34-24

San Jose State (1-2) at Utah (3-0), 8 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Utah has won 19 in a row at home, the nation's third-longest home winning streak. Meanwhile, San Jose State hasn't won a regular-season non-conference road game since 2002 and has lost nine in a row on the road overall. By the way, this is the Spartans' third road game this season against a top-15 team (Alabama and Wisconsin were the others).
THE LINE: Utah by 32. THE PICK: Utah 52-17

Northern Illinois (1-2) at Minnesota (1-2), 8:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: This is the third and final Big Six opponent for NIU this season, which already has lost to Iowa State and Illinois. NIU must run effectively to pull the upset.
THE LINE: Minnesota by 4. THE PICK: NIU 30-28

Memphis (1-2) at UTEP (2-1), 9 p.m.
THE BUZZ: UTEP is looking for its first 3-1 start since 2005 and just its sixth in the past 46 seasons. UTEP is 0-3 against Memphis since joining Conference USA in 2005.
THE LINE: UTEP by 11.5. THE PICK: UTEP 41-27

West Virginia (3-0) at LSU (3-0), 9:15 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Both are unbeaten but neither has been dominant. This is the first meeting between these teams, and it's also LSU's first game against a team currently in the Big East since 1989, when it lost to Syracuse in the Hall of Fame Bowl. WVU has managed at least 400 yards of offense in each game, but LSU is allowing just 279.7 yards per game.
THE LINE: LSU by 8.5. THE PICK: LSU 27-21

California (2-1) at Arizona (3-0), 10 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona/Fox College Sports Pacific
THE BUZZ: Arizona has won five of its past six against Cal in Tucson. The Wildcats are No. 14 in this week's AP poll, their highest ranking in 12 years. This is the third game in a four-game homestand for Arizona, while Cal is in the midst of a stretch in which it plays five of seven on the road.
THE LINE: Arizona by 6.5. THE PICK: Arizona 34-24

New Mexico (0-3) at UNLV (0-3), 10 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: The hounds make their way to the Strip. This is the dog of the week. At least it's a fun place to take in a game between bad teams.
THE LINE: UNLV by 10.5. THE PICK: UNLV 35-17

Oregon (3-0) at Arizona State (2-1), 10:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: Both of the Sun Devils' wins have come against FCS foes, but they acquitted themselves well in a one-point loss at Wisconsin last week. Oregon has won five in a row and nine of 12 in this series. The Ducks have scored 24 TDs this season and allowed just one.
THE LINE: Oregon by 11.5. THE PICK: Oregon 34-21

Charleston Southern (2-1) at Hawaii (1-2), 11:30 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: These teams met in 2007, when Hawaii finished unbeaten, and the Warriors won by 56. Charleston Southern, a FCS program that enters this one off a win over Mars Hill, is traveling about 4,760 miles for the opportunity to get pummeled.
THE LINE: No line. THE PICK: Hawaii 52-21

LAST WEEK

46-12 straight up, 29-23-1 against the spread.

YEAR TO DATE

173-34 straight up, 70-66-1 ATS (games involving FCS schools don't have a spread).

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




 

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