September 25, 2008

CONFERENCE PREVIEWS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com.
He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

Every Thursday, we take a quick look at each game involving a FBS team that week and attempt to predict the final score.

LAST WEEK: 44-11 overall, 23-20-1 against the spread.

SEASON: 207-38 overall, 81-86-3 against the spread (games involving FCS teams don't have point spreads).

FRIDAY'S GAME
Connecticut (4-0) at Louisville (2-1), 8 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: An intriguing game in the Big East. Is either of these teams for real? The winner remains in the hunt for the league title.
The line: Louisville by 3.5. | The pick: Louisville 20-17.
SATURDAY'S GAMES
Michigan State (3-1) at Indiana (2-1), noon, ESPN
The buzz: Michigan State's game plan Javon Ringer up the middle on first down, off left tackle on second down, up the middle again on third down. And then it starts all over again.
The line: Michigan State by 8. | The pick: Michigan State 28-17.
Maryland (3-1) at Clemson (3-1), noon, ACC TV/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Clemson closes out a four-game homestand and plays four of its next six on the road. A lot is at stake for both teams; Maryland seems legit after its recent win over California, while Clemson still has a lot to prove.
The line: Clemson by 11. | The pick: Clemson 20-14.
Virginia (1-2) at Duke (2-1), noon, ESPNU
The buzz: This is the fourth consecutive home game for Duke, which is favored in a league game for the first time since 2002, against North Carolina. (It lost that game, by the way.)
The line: Duke by 7. | The pick: Duke 33-21.
North Carolina (2-1) at Miami (2-1), noon, ESPN2
The buzz: Miami coach Randy Shannon was a player and assistant for UNC coach Butch Davis when Davis was at Miami in the 1990s.
The line: Miami by 7.5. | The pick: Miami 24-14.
Minnesota (4-0) at Ohio State (3-1), noon, Big Ten Network
The buzz: While Ohio State has struggled some this season, the Golden Gophers have won once in Columbus since 1949.
The line: Ohio State by 17.5. | The pick: Ohio State 35-14.
Kent State (1-3) at Ball State (4-0), noon., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Ball State, which is coming off a 20-point victory at Indiana, hasn't started 5-0 since 1988.
The line: Ball State by 17.5. | The pick: Ball State 48-24.
Pittsburgh (2-1) at Syracuse (1-3), noon, ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: This is the 64th meeting, and the teams are tied 30-30-3. Pitt looks to be the vastly better team this season and if you've seen Pitt, that's an indictment of Syracuse and not necessarily praise for the Panthers.
The line: Pitt by 15. | The pick: Pitt 28-10.
Northwestern (4-0) at Iowa (3-1), noon, ESPN Classic
The buzz: This looks to be the toughest Big Ten road game of the season for Northwestern, which is 4-0 for the first time since 1962, when Ara Parseghian was coach. Iowa plays three of its next four on the road, and the lone home game in that span is against Wisconsin.
The line: Iowa by 8.5. | The pick: Iowa 23-19.
Northern Illinois (1-2) at Eastern Michigan (1-3), noon, ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: EMU won last season to snap a six-game losing streak in the series. On the line is the right for the loser to be called the worst team in the MAC.
The line: Northern Illinois by 6.5. | The pick: Northern Illinois 26-17.
Ole Miss (2-2) at Florida (3-0), 12:30 p.m., SEC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Florida already has scored four non-offensive touchdowns this season. That's more TDs than the Gators' defense has allowed (two). Florida has committed zero turnovers; Ole Miss has committed 11.
The line: Florida by 22.5. | The pick: Florida 42-17.
Army (0-3) at Texas A&M (1-2), 12:30 p.m., Versus
The buzz: Army, which might be the worst team in the nation, has scored 20 total points.
The line: Texas A&M by 28. | The pick: Texas A&M 38-14.
Rhode Island (1-3) at Boston College (2-1), 1 p.m.
The buzz: BC has shut out its Northeast neighbor the past four times the teams have met. Thing is, the last meeting was in 1917.
The line: No line. | The pick: Boston College 31-7.
Arkansas State (3-1) at Memphis (1-3), 2 p.m.
The buzz: Arkansas State has won the past two in this long series. The Red Wolves rallied from a 31-6 deficit to win 35-31 in what was last season's biggest rally. And they won in 2006 on a 53-yard, last-second touchdown pass.
The line: Arkansas State by 1. | The pick: Arkansas State 34-28.
Western Michigan (3-1) at Temple (1-3), 2 p.m.
The buzz: Two of Temple's losses (to UConn and Buffalo) have come on the final play of the game. This is the first of three road games for Western in the next four weeks.
The line: Western Michigan by 4. | The pick: Western Michigan 23-10.
VMI (2-1) at Ohio (0-4), 2 p.m.
The buzz: Despite the poor record, Ohio leads the MAC in total defense. VMI, meanwhile, has attempted just 26 passes this season. VMI's coach is former South Carolina leader Sparky Woods ; his defensive coordinator is A.J. Christoff, who has been a coordinator at seven schools, including Colorado, Stanford and Notre Dame.
The line: No line. | The pick: Ohio 35-14.
Houston (1-3) at East Carolina (3-1), 3:30 p.m.
The buzz: ECU's BCS hopes were dashed in last week's loss at North Carolina State, and now the Pirates need to bounce back. ECU hasn't allowed a first-quarter TD this season. Houston's Case Keenum leads the nation with 16 TD passes.
The line: ECU by 11. | The pick: ECU 38-30.
Arkansas (2-1) at Texas (3-0), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/GamePlan
The buzz: This game was postponed from Sept. 13 by Hurricane Ike. For Arkansas, it merely postponed the inevitability of a loss to the Longhorns.
The line: Texas by 27.5. | The pick: Texas 52-21.
Tennessee (1-2) at Auburn (3-1), 3:30 p.m., CBS
The buzz: Both are coming off tough losses. The difference: Auburn is much better equipped to bounce back than the Vols.
The line: Auburn by 6.5. | The pick: Auburn 20-10.
Colorado (3-0) vs. Florida State (2-1) in Jacksonville, 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN/GamePlan
The buzz: Colorado's defensive game plan is simple let Florida State snap the ball and watch one of the Seminoles' quarterbacks throw an interception. The Buffs are 3-0 for just the second time since 1998.
The line: Florida State by 5.5. | The pick: Colorado 24-21.
Wisconsin (3-0) at Michigan (1-2), 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN
The buzz: If this were a typical Michigan team, this would be in the "must-watch" category. This isn't a typical Michigan team and this isn't a "must-watch" game.
The line: Wisconsin by 6. | The pick: Wisconsin 24-14.
Purdue (2-1) at Notre Dame (2-1), 3:30 p.m., NBC
The buzz: This is the first road game of the season for Purdue and the final chance for Boilermakers coach Joe Tiller to beat the Irish. Tiller is 5-6 all-time against Notre Dame.
The line: Notre Dame by 1. | The pick: Purdue 28-20.
Fresno State (2-1) at UCLA (1-2), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/GamePlan
The buzz: UCLA hasn't looked good since its opening-week victory over Tennessee. Fresno survived last week's trip to Toledo. UCLA hasn't scored an offensive TD in its past two games.
The line: Fresno State by 6.5. | The pick: Fresno State 27-17.
Cincinnati (2-1) at Akron (2-2), 3:30 p.m., FSN Ohio
The buzz: This is just the fifth meeting between the schools. The teams Akron has beaten are 1-6, while the teams that have beaten the Zips are 7-0.
The line: Cincinnati by 10.5. | The pick: Cincinnati 34-21.
Marshall (3-1) at West Virginia (1-2), 3:30 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: This is just the eighth meeting between the in-state schools and the sixth played in Morgantown. WVU has won all seven previous get-togethers. A loss in this one, and WVU coach Bill Stewart might need to start shopping around for the cheapest moving company.
The line: West Virginia by 14. | The pick: West Virginia 38-21.
Morgan State (2-1) at Rutgers (0-3), 3:30 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: You know, someone told me the other day that Rutgers was in the top 10 in 2006. I told him I wasn't in the mood to hear any jokes.
The line: No line. | The pick: Rutgers 41-14.
Louisiana-Lafayette (1-2) at Kansas State (2-1), 3:30 p.m.
The buzz: ULL's Michael Desormeaux is the nation's leading rusher among quarterbacks (112.7 ypg). K-State junior QB Josh Freeman already holds the school record for completions with 512.
The line: K-State by 21. | The pick: K-State 35-17.
Navy (2-2) at Wake Forest (3-0), 3:45 p.m., ESPNU
The buzz: Wake has won six in a row, one shy of the school record. Look for the Demon Deacons to tie that record against the one-dimensional Midshipmen.
The line: Wake by 16. | The pick: Wake 42-23.
Bowling Green (1-2) at Wyoming (2-2), 4 p.m., The mtn.
The buzz: "Can't we go home?" This is the third road game of the season for the Falcons; meanwhile, this is the fourth home game for Wyoming. This matches the lowest-scoring team in the MAC against the lowest-scoring team in the Mountain West.
The line: Bowling Green by 3.5. | The pick: Bowling Green 24-14.
Buffalo (2-2) at Central Michigan (2-2), 4 p.m.
The buzz: Buffalo is one of the best teams in the MAC East. Central Michigan is one of the best teams in the MAC West. CMU is 14-2 in MAC regular-season games since the start of the 2006 season.
The line: Central Michigan by 6.5. | The pick: Central Michigan 31-19.
North Texas (0-3) at Rice (2-2), 5 p.m.
The buzz: Rice WR Jarett Dillard has caught at least two passes in 40 consecutive games. Given the state of North Texas' defense, Dillard should run that streak to 41 by midway through the first quarter.
The line: Rice by 17.5. | The pick: Rice 52-28.
Colorado State (2-1) at California (2-1), 6 p.m., Comcast West
The buzz: This is the first game in a stretch in which Cal plays four of five at home. Colorado State is one of seven teams that hasn't lost a fumble this season.
The line: Cal by 26.5. | The pick: Cal 41-16.
Oregon (3-1) at Washington State (1-3), 6:15 p.m., FSN Northwest
The buzz: Just call this the "Who's That at Quarterback?" Bowl. Washington State is down to its third-stringer a redshirt freshman and he's backed up by two walk-ons. Oregon, meanwhile, might start the guy who began the season as the fifth-stringer. The key for the Ducks is their surrounding talent is miles better than Washington State's.
The line: Oregon by 21. | The pick: Oregon 48-13.
Florida International (0-3) at Toledo (1-2), 7 p.m.
The buzz: Florida International has scored just one offensive touchdown this season. Toledo, meanwhile, scored seven TDs last week in a loss to Fresno State.
The line: Toledo by 19. | The pick: Toledo 35-13.
Troy (2-1) at Oklahoma State (3-0), 7 p.m.
The buzz: Oklahoma State has scored 50 points in back-to-back games. The Cowboys are looking for some revenge after last season's 18-point loss to Troy.
The line: Oklahoma State by 16.5. | The pick: Oklahoma State 42-23.
Western Kentucky (2-2) at Kentucky (3-0), 7 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: This is the first meeting between the schools in football. UK has won 12 consecutive non-conference games, the nation's fourth-longest current non-conference streak.
The line: Kentucky by 20.5. | The pick: Kentucky 38-14.
UAB (1-3) at South Carolina (2-2), 7 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: "Hey, good to see you again!" UAB offensive coordinator Kim Helton was South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier's offensive line coach when Spurrier was the Washington Redskins coach in 2002-03.
The line: South Carolina by 24.5. | The pick: South Carolina 34-21.
TCU (4-0) at Oklahoma (3-0), 7 p.m., Fox Sports Net
The buzz: OU's last home loss was to TCU, in 2005. Indeed, TCU has won the past two times it has played in Norman; the Horned Frogs also won there in 1996. On a different topic, Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford has started 17 games and the Sooners have reached the 50-point plateau in eight of them.
The line: Oklahoma by 17.5. | The pick: Oklahoma 38-23.
Central Arkansas (4-0) at Tulsa (3-0), 7 p.m.
The buzz: The Golden Hurricane are 3-0 for the first time since 1978 thanks to QB David Johnson, who has thrown six TD passes in each of the past two games. Meanwhile, Central Arkansas senior QB Nathan Brown has caught the eyes of NFL scouts and could be a second- or third-round pick.
The line: No line. | The pick: Tulsa 52-23.
Mississippi State (1-3) at LSU (3-0), 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: Uh-oh. Mississippi State's offense is horrendous. LSU's defense is stingy.
The line: LSU by 24. | The pick: LSU 38-6.
South Florida (4-0) at N.C. State (2-2), 7:30 p.m., ESPNU
The buzz: Can you solve this mystery? This is the third road game of the season for USF but the first time the Bulls have played out of state. The solution, of course, is that USF has played at UCF and at Florida International. NCSU is looking for its second consecutive upset, as the Wolfpack shocked East Carolina last Saturday.
The line: USF by 8.5. | The pick: USF 23-17.
Alabama (4-0) at Georgia (4-0), 7:45 p.m., ESPN
The buzz: Legendary Georgia play-by-play man Larry Munson retired this week, effective immediately. In his honor, how he might have sounded exhorting the Bulldogs' defense in the fourth quarter of what should be a close one: "You gotta hunker down one more time, 'Dawgs. Fourth-and-1, clock ticking, 1:11, 1:10, 1:09. Here's the snap. Good God Almighty, we did it, we did it, we stopped their big tailback. The stadium is bonkers worse than bonkers. We stepped on their faces with a hobnailed boot and broke their nose."
The line: Georgia by 7. | The pick: Georgia 24-20.
UCF (1-2) at UTEP (0-3), 8 p.m., CBS College Sports
The buzz: UCF is truly struggling on offense (just 265.3 ypg), but the Miners' weak defense could be just the right tonic. UTEP looks like a one- or two-win team.
The line: UCF by 4.5. | The pick: UCF 31-24.
Weber State (3-1) at Utah (4-0), 8 p.m.
The buzz: This is just the third meeting between these in-state schools. Utah is 3-0 all-time against schools from the Big Sky Conference.
The line: No line. | The pick: Utah 41-20.
Virginia Tech (3-1) at Nebraska (3-0), 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: This is the season's first test for Huskers, who get an even tougher one next week against Missouri. The Hokies need to find a way to effectively throw the ball.
The line: Nebraska by 7. | The pick: Virginia Tech 20-17.
Illinois (2-1) at Penn State (4-0), 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: A big one in the Big Ten. Penn State has looked tremendous but the Nittany Lions have played no one. Can the Illini do enough on the ground against Penn State to keep some of the pressure off their passing attack?
The line: Penn State by 14.5. | The pick: Illinois 27-24.
New Mexico (1-3) at New Mexico State (1-1), 8 p.m.
The buzz: This is the 99th meeting between the teams. This series is so old that the schools actually played six times before New Mexico became a state in 1912. This is the first game for New Mexico without starting QB Donovan Porterie, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
The line: New Mexico by 3.5. | The pick: New Mexico 31-23.
Idaho (1-3) at San Diego State (0-3), 8 p.m.
The buzz: While the game is horrible, the city is great. The hounds make their way to beautiful San Diego for the weekend. This is the dog of the week.
The line: San Diego State by 11. | The pick: San Diego State 23-14.
Nevada (1-2) at UNLV (3-1), 10 p.m., The mtn.
The buzz: The battle for the Fremont Cannon at 545 pounds, the heaviest rivalry trophy in college sports has been a series of streaks of late. Nevada has won three in a row in the series, which followed a five-game UNLV winning streak. The cannon, by the way, is a replica of one that explorer John C. Fremont brought with him before abandoning it in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1844.
The line: UNLV by 4. | The pick: UNLV 35-27.
Stanford (2-2) at Washington (0-3), 10 p.m., Fox Sports Net Northwest
The buzz: It's probably not a stretch to say this is the first game in a four-game stretch that will determine whether Washington coach Tyrone Willingham keeps his job. Stanford has won just once in its past 13 trips to Seattle.
The line: Washington by 3.5. | The pick: Washington 23-21.
San Jose State (2-2) at Hawaii (1-2), 11:59 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Hawaii has won seven in a row in the series to tie it at 15-1-1 all-time. San Jose State has lost five in a row overall on the road, while Hawaii has won eight in a row at home. Good news for SJSU is that its defense is solid and Hawaii's offense is one of the worst in the nation.
The line: Hawaii by 3. | The pick: San Jose State 38-28.
TUESDAY'S GAME
Florida Atlantic (1-3) at Middle Tennessee (1-3), 8 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: FAU was the preseason favorite in the Sun Belt, but the Owls open their conference schedule at a tough venue.
The line: Middle Tennessee by 3. | The pick: Florida Atlantic 30-17.
WEDNESDAY'S GAME
Louisiana Tech (2-1) at Boise State (3-0), 8 p.m., ESPN
The buzz: The magic of the blue field Boise State has won 45 consecutive regular-season home games, including 34 in a row in WAC play.
The line: Boise State by 21.5. | The pick: Boise State 45-23.

CONFERENCE PREVIEWS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

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




 

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