October 7, 2010

Week 6 Primer: All eyes on state of Michigan

We're already to Week 6, and though there are no "huge" showdowns, there are some big games in the Big Ten, Pac-10 and SEC.

The Michigan-Michigan State contest takes center stage because of Wolverines QB Denard Robinson and Spartans coach Mark Dantonio, who hopes to coach from the press box in the wake of a recent heart attack. Both are unbeaten, and a victory would make the winner a legit Big Ten challenger.

The SEC has two important East-West matchups, with the West Division team on the road in both. Alabama is at South Carolina, and LSU is at Florida. Like Alabama, LSU is unbeaten - but the Tigers also are coming off a miracle win over Tennessee in one of the most incredible finishes in memory.

The Pac-10 spotlight game is Stanford-USC, with both trying to bounce back from losses last week. But Arizona-Oregon State, California-UCLA and even Arizona State-Washington also bear watching.

Here's a look at every game this week involving a FBS school. (For the first time this season, no FBS team is playing a FCS opponent.)

THURSDAY'S GAME

Nebraska (4-0) at Kansas State (4-0), 7:30 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: How good is K-State? RB Daniel Thomas is a stud, but he doesn't have much help on offense. Still, the Huskers better not be looking ahead to next week's game with Texas.
THE LINE: Nebraska by 11.5. THE PICK: Nebraska 27-10

FRIDAY'S GAMES

Connecticut (3-2) at Rutgers (2-2), 7:30 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: UConn has been a disappointment; then again, UConn didn't lose at home to Tulane, which is what happened to Rutgers last week. The Scarlet Knights' offense has been mediocre.
THE LINE: UConn by 6. THE PICK: UConn 23-14

Oklahoma State (4-0) at Louisiana-Lafayette, 9 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: ULL hosted a Big 12 team last season and beat Kansas State. One big difference between last season's K-State and this season's Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State has a powerful offense.
THE LINE: Oklahoma State by 24. THE PICK: Oklahoma State 49-21

SATURDAY'S GAMES

Illinois (2-2) at Penn State (3-2), noon, ESPN2
THE BUZZ: This won't be a thing of beauty, at least offensively. It's a battle of young quarterbacks, with Illinois redshirt freshman Nathan Scheelhaase and Penn State true freshman Robert Bolden.
THE LINE: Penn State by 7.5. THE PICK: Penn State 23-13

Minnesota (1-4) at Wisconsin (4-1), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Wisconsin is coming off a damaging loss at Michigan State. Good news for the Badgers is that woebegone Minnesota awaits. This is the 120th meeting in the most-played rivalry in the nation; the first game was in 1890 and they've played every season since 1907. The winner gets Paul Bunyan's Axe; the teams used to play for the Slab of Bacon trophy (seriously), but the trophy disappeared sometime in the 1940s (seriously) and was replaced by the Axe in 1948.
THE LINE: Wisconsin by 22. THE PICK: Wisconsin 45-17

Syracuse (3-1) at USF (3-1), noon, Big East syndication/SportsNet New York/Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast/Mid-Atlantic Sports Network/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is the third of four consecutive home games for USF. Syracuse is off to its best start since 2003. The records are a bit deceptive: While there are a combined six wins, three are against FCS schools, one is against a winless MAC team, one is against a winless Sun Belt team and the other is against a one-win Sun Belt team.
THE LINE: USF by 7.5. THE PICK: USF 31-20

Central Michigan (2-3) at Virginia Tech (3-2), noon, ESPNU
THE BUZZ: The Hokies looked to have regained their footing and a game against the Chippewas is a chance for Tech to work out some kinks defensively.
THE LINE: Virginia Tech by 22. THE PICK: Virginia Tech 37-10

Baylor (4-1) vs. Texas Tech (2-2) in Dallas, noon, Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: Baylor has high hopes, mainly because Texas Tech's defense was shredded by Iowa State last week. But Tech owns Baylor: The Red Raiders have won 14 in a row in this annual rivalry
THE LINE: Texas Tech by 2.5. THE PICK: Texas Tech 27-23

Boston College (2-2) at N.C. State (4-1), noon, ACC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: NC State coach Tom O'Brien is 0-3 against his former employer, losing those three games by a combined 59 points. This is the first road game of the season for Boston College.
THE LINE: NC State by 10. THE PICK: NC State 20-14

Indiana (3-1) at Ohio State (5-0), noon, ESPN
THE BUZZ: IU's offense will pose some problems. As for IU's defense? Ohio State's offense will go through it like bad chili goes well, you should get the idea.
THE LINE: Ohio State by 22. THE PICK: Ohio State 41-24

Western Michigan (1-3) at Ball State (2-3), noon, ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: As poorly as Western Michigan has played, the MAC is such that the Broncos still can manage a winning record. But that means this is a must-win for Western, which plays its next three on the road. Ball State, meanwhile, is thinking it actually has a shot at a winning record, too; the Cardinals beat Central Michigan last week, have Western Michigan this week, then get winless Eastern Michigan next week.
THE LINE: Ball State by 4. THE PICK: Western Michigan 30-24

Temple (4-1) at Northern Illinois (3-2), noon, ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This appears to be a meeting of the two best teams in the MAC, which means we could see these teams play again in the league championship game in December. NIU leads the league in rushing offense (241.6), and Temple has struggled against the run (174.6 ypg).
THE LINE: NIU by 3. THE PICK: Temple 20-16

Tennessee (2-3) at Georgia (1-4), 12:20 p.m., SEC syndication/Altitude/MSG network/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Want an idea of how bad it's going for these teams? It's the first time since 1906 that both take a losing record into the game (that one ended in a 0-0 tie). That's not quite as bad as it sounds: The teams first met in 1899 but this is just the 40th meeting.
THE LINE: Georgia by 11.5. THE PICK: Georgia 24-16

Colorado State (1-4) at Air Force (4-1), 2 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: Air Force leads the nation in rushing (373.6 ypg) and Colorado State is last (56.2 ypg). The campuses are located about two hours apart, and Air Force has won four in a row against it in-state neighbor; the Falcons haven't won five in a row in the series since 1985-89.
THE LINE: Air Force by 22.5. THE PICK: Air Force 45-20

Bowling Green (1-4) at Ohio (2-3), 2 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Bowling Green forced six turnovers last week against Buffalo - and still lost. Ohio beat winless Eastern Michigan last week, has one-win BG this week and gets winless Akron next week. In other words, the Bobcats have a chance to get some wins.
THE LINE: Ohio by 9.5. THE PICK: Ohio 30-17

Memphis (1-4) at Louisville (2-2), 2 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This would be a great basketball matchup; it assuredly is not a great football matchup. Louisville has won six of the past seven in the series, which matches former Conference USA rivals.
THE LINE: Louisville by 17. THE PICK: Louisville 37-17

Alabama (5-0) at South Carolina (3-1), 3:30 p.m., CBS
THE BUZZ: You have to figure South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier looks at tape of the Tide's inexperienced secondary and thinks, "Hey, I know just how to exploit them." Then, he ponders his quarterback situation for a minute, sighs, then tells his defensive staff that their unit has to win the game.
THE LINE: Alabama by 7. THE PICK: Alabama 20-10

Pittsburgh (2-2) at Notre Dame (2-3), 3:30 p.m., NBC
THE BUZZ: The teams first played in 1909 and this will be the 66th meeting; Pitt has won three of the past four. In addition, the Irish have lost four in a row to Big East opponents.
THE LINE: Notre Dame by 6. THE PICK: Notre Dame 31-20

Michigan State (5-0) at Michigan (5-0), 3:30 p.m. ABC regional/ESPN
THE BUZZ: Storylines galore in what we like to call the "Sibling Rivalry." Can Michigan State slow Wolverines QB Denard Robinson? Or will Robinson again provide about 90 percent of Michigan's offense? How much success will the Spartans' offense have against Michigan's "defense" (their word, not ours)? And will the (presumed) presence of coach Mark Dantonio provide an emotional lift for the Spartans?
THE LINE: Michigan by 4. THE PICK: Michigan 38-35

Clemson (2-2) at North Carolina (2-2), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is the first meeting since 2006. An NCAA investigation has overshadowed what UNC has done on the field, but both these teams know that if they want to win their respective ACC division, they need to win this. UNC's run defense has had problems, which should be good news to Clemson.
THE LINE: UNC by 3. THE PICK: UNC 23-21

Arkansas (3-1) vs. Texas A&M (3-1) in Arlington, 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: These former longtime Southwest Conference rivals meet for just the second time since the Hogs left the SWC for the SEC after the 1991 season; last season, Arkansas ripped A&M. This is being played at Dallas Cowboys Stadium, and wouldn't you just love to see video of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones - an Arkansas alum - calling the hogs?
THE LINE: Arkansas by 6. THE PICK: Arkansas 42-31

UCLA (3-2) at California (2-2), 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: An important Pac-10 game as these teams jockey for positioning behind the league's top three of Oregon, Arizona and Stanford. UCLA is seeking its first four-game winning streak since 2003, but Cal has won five in a row over the Bruins in Berkeley.
THE LINE: Cal by 7.5. THE PICK: Cal 28-23

Virginia (2-2) at Georgia Tech (3-2), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Tech's defensive coordinator is Al Groh, who was Virginia's coach from 2001-09. His defense has been inconsistent this season, which won't come as a surprise to Cavs fans. Tech has won 11 of its past 13 ACC games.
THE LINE: Georgia Tech by 10. THE PICK: Georgia Tech 34-21

Wyoming (2-3) at TCU (5-0), 3:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: TCU has won four of the past five in the series and has won the past two by a combined 82 points. Wyoming is really struggling on offense, ranking 119th nationally, and that's not good when you're facing TCU, which is third in total defense.
THE LINE: TCU by 34. THE PICK: TCU 45-7

Akron (0-5) at Kent State (1-3), 3:30 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is known as the "Wagon Wheel Game" to those in northeast Ohio. The campuses are about 10 miles apart, and Akron has won 12 of the past 14 meetings in the rivalry.
THE LINE: Kent State by 17. THE PICK: Kent State 27-7

UNLV (1-4) at West Virginia (3-1), 3:30 p.m., Big East syndication/SportsNet New York/Mid-Atlantic Sports Network/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is the first time UNLV has faced a Big East opponent. You wonder how the Rebels will react - not only to playing a Big East school but also to going from the bright lights of Vegas to the uh, less-bright lights of Morgantown.
THE LINE: WVU by 27.5. THE PICK: WVU 41-17

Western Kentucky (0-4) at Florida International (0-4), 3:30 p.m., Sun Belt syndication/Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast
THE BUZZ: Man, it doesn't get much better than two winless Sun Belt teams getting together. Actually, this is not the dog of the week because each of these teams has shown something at times this season.
THE LINE: FIU by 9. THE PICK: FIU 24-17

Army (3-2) at Tulane (2-2), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Tulane is coming off an upset win at Rutgers and is trying to start 3-2 for the first time since 2003. Army already has won two road games this season and hasn't won three road games in a season since 1967.
THE LINE: Tulane by 1. THE PICK: Army 26-21

Utah State (2-3) at Louisiana Tech (1-4), 4 p.m., Altitude/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Louisiana Tech has had three starting quarterbacks this season, and the Bulldogs are just 106th in the nation in scoring offense (18.6 ppg). Utah State is coming off a rout of BYU; the Aggies had 59 rushing attempts, their most since 1990, and threw 13 passes, their fewest since 1991.
THE LINE: Louisiana Tech by 1. THE PICK: Utah State 27-21

Oregon (5-0) at Washington State (1-4), 5 p.m.
THE BUZZ: The Ducks have won nine of their past 12 against their Pacific Northwest neighbor and have averaged 55.6 points in the past three. Oregon has had 25 plays that have covered at least 25 yards this season.
THE LINE: Oregon by 36. THE PICK: Oregon 56-17

San Diego State (3-1) at BYU (1-4), 6 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: San Diego State has been a pleasant surprise, while BYU has had a disastrous start, which included the "resignation" of defensive coordinator Jaime Hill last Saturday. BYU - off to its worst start since 1973 - has won eight of the past nine in the series and has averaged 45 points in its past eight games against the Aztecs.
THE LINE: San Diego State by 5. THE PICK: San Diego State 33-24

Navy (2-2) at Wake Forest (2-3), 6:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Both run the ball well but can't pass. In addition, neither has stopped the run. This is the fifth meeting in the past four seasons between the teams (they met twice in 2008, including once in the EagleBank Bowl).
THE LINE: Navy by 5.5. THE PICK: Navy 32-24

Colorado (3-1) at Missouri (4-0), 7 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: Both have gotten off to good starts, but both still have a lot to prove. Mizzou has won four in a row in the series and is looking for its first five-game winning streak against the Buffs since 1980-84,
THE LINE: Missouri by 12.5. THE PICK: Missouri 41-27

Oregon State (2-2) at Arizona (4-0), 7 p.m., Versus
THE BUZZ: This marks the 1,000th football game in Arizona history - but just its 23rd as top-10 team. Arizona has held three foes without a touchdown and hasn't allowed a rushing TD this season. This is Oregon State's third game against a top-10 team this season, and those teams rank first (Boise), second (Arizona) and third (TCU) nationally in total defense.
THE LINE: Arizona by 7.5. THE PICK: Arizona 24-20

Eastern Michigan (0-5) at Vanderbilt (1-3), 7 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Eastern Michigan has lost 17 in a row, the nation's second-longest losing streak.
THE LINE: Vandy by 26. THE PICK: Vandy 34-10

Utah (4-0) at Iowa State (3-2), 7 p.m., Fox College Sports
THE BUZZ: This is another chance for the Utes to get a victory against a Big Six school; since the BCS began in 1998, Utah leads all non-Big Six schools with 20 wins over Big Six opponents. Iowa State is 9-0 under second-year coach Paul Rhoads when holding foes under 24 points and 1-8 when allowing more than 24 points; the win came last week, 52-38 over Texas Tech.
THE LINE: Utah by 6. THE PICK: Utah 31-20

Florida Atlantic (1-3) at Louisiana-Monroe (1-3), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: From the "interesting stat" dept.: The visiting team has won all six meetings between the two schools and those six games have been decided by a combined 19 points (3.2 ppg).
THE LINE: ULM by 3. THE PICK: FAU 24-19

Miami of Ohio (3-2) at Cincinnati (1-3), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Cincinnati has won four in a row in this rivalry, which dates to 1888. This is the 115th meeting, making it the most-played non-conference rivalry in college football. Miami already has matched its victory total from the past two seasons combined.
THE LINE: Cincinnati by 17. THE PICK: Cincinnati 31-17

Arkansas State (1-4) at North Texas (1-4), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Arkansas State has won five in a row in this series; the past three have been decided by a total of 12 points.
THE LINE: Arkansas State by 2.5. THE PICK: Arkansas State 27-21

LSU (5-0) at Florida (4-1), 7:30 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: The teams have split the past eight meetings in this annual series, but the Gators have won three of the past four. If you throw out the Ron Zook years (2002-04), LSU hasn't won in Gainesville since 1986.
THE LINE: Florida by 7. THE PICK: Florida 13-10

Auburn (5-0) at Kentucky (3-2), 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Auburn leads this series 24-6-1 but UK beat the Tigers last season, snapping a 15-game losing streak to Auburn. The last time UK won at home over Auburn was in 1966.
THE LINE: Auburn by 6. THE PICK: Auburn 34-20

Purdue (2-2) at Northwestern (5-0), 7:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Purdue has lost its starting quarterback, its best running back and one of the Big Ten's best receivers to season-ending injuries. Northwestern, meanwhile, is looking for its first 6-0 start since 1962.
THE LINE: Northwestern by 10. THE PICK: Northwestern 28-16

East Carolina (2-2) at Southern Miss (4-1), 7:30 p.m., Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast
THE BUZZ: This is an important game in Conference USA, as these teams appear to be two of the three leading contenders in the East Division race. Southern Miss has won 11 in a row at home and is averaging 39.4 points in those victories. This is the Golden Eagles' homecoming.
THE LINE: Southern Miss by 9. THE PICK: Southern Miss 38-31

USC (4-1) at Stanford (4-1), 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Both are looking to bounce back from losses in which the offense played well but the defense didn't. Stanford crushed the Trojans last season, and the Cardinal are seeking back-to-back wins over USC for the first time since 2000-01.
THE LINE: Stanford by 9.5. THE PICK: Stanford 40-27

Mississippi State (3-2) at Houston (3-1), 8 p.m., CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: Houston beat Mississippi State last season, but can the Cougars beat the Bulldogs again without QB Case Keenum? A win in this one puts Mississippi State in good position to earn a bowl bid.
THE LINE: Mississippi State by 5. THE PICK: Mississippi State 27-20

Toledo (3-2) at Boise State (4-0), 8 p.m., WAC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is the last non-conference game of the season for Boise. Toledo is coming off a 20-15 home loss to Wyoming; that's a team Boise beat 51-6.
THE LINE: Boise State by 39. THE PICK: Boise State 52-10

Florida State (4-1) at Miami (3-1), 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Both are ranked at gametime for the first tine since 2006. Each of the past nine meetings has been decided by eight or fewer points and six have been decided by four or fewer. After losing five in a row to the Seminoles from 1995-99, the Hurricanes have won eight of the past 11 meetings.
THE LINE: Miami by 6.5. THE PICK: Miami 31-27

New Mexico (0-5) at New Mexico State (0-4), 8 p.m., Altitude2/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: The hounds get on Interstate-10 and head west to Las Cruces for the dog of the week. New Mexico State won last season to snap a six-game losing streak to the Lobos.
THE LINE: New Mexico State by 3. THE PICK: New Mexico 27-24

Tulsa (3-2) at SMU (3-2), 8 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Houston is down to its third-string quarterback, which means these teams hope they can benefit and win the West Division of C-USA. SMU is looking to start 3-0 in league play for the first time since 1986, when the Mustangs were in the Southwest Conference.
THE LINE: SMU by 6.5. THE PICK: SMU 37-28

Rice (1-4) at UTEP (4-1), 9 p.m.
THE BUZZ: UTEP's wins have come over a FCS program, winless New Mexico, winless New Mexico State and one-win Memphis. This week, the Miners get one-win Rice; next week, it's one-win UAB. Rice has won four in a row in this series, and each of the past six has been decided by eight or fewer points.
THE LINE: UTEP by 9. THE PICK: UTEP 38-24

Arizona State (2-3) at Washington (2-2), 10 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona/Fox Sports Net Northwest/Fox College Sports
THE BUZZ: If either of these teams wants to finish in the top half of the Pac-10, it needs to win this game. This is the second of three consecutive road games for Arizona State, which has committed 10 turnovers and forced just two.
THE LINE: Washington by 2.5. THE PICK: Arizona State 33-28

Hawaii (3-2) at Fresno State (3-1), 10 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Hawaii QB Bryant Moniz has thrown 15 TD passes and leads the nation in total offense (390.6 yards per game). Fresno State QB Ryan Colburn has played well, too, with 11 TD passes; those TD passes have gone to 10 different receivers.
THE LINE: Fresno State by 10.5. THE PICK: Fresno State 42-30

San Jose State (1-4) at Nevada (5-0), 10:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: San Jose State already has played three teams in the top 25 - Alabama, Wisconsin and Utah. The Spartans' next two games are against top-25 teams, too - Nevada this week and Boise State next week.
THE LINE: Nevada by 39.5. THE PICK: Nevada 56-14

WEDNESDAY'S GAME

UCF (2-2) at Marshall (1-4), 8 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: This will be the second consecutive Wednesday night game for UCF. Two of the nation's more underrated defensive ends will be on view in UCF's Bruce Miller and Marshall's Vinny Curry (who has a nation's-leading eight sacks.
THE LINE: UCF by 5. THE PICK: UCF 27-21

LAST WEEK

38-16 straight up, 20-30-1 against the spread

SEASON TO DATE

260-58 straight up, 113-121-3 vs. the spread (games vs. 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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