October 16, 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: 39-12 overall, 25-24-1 against the spread.

SEASON: 323-80 overall, 161-154-6 against the spread (games involving FCS teams don't have point spreads).

Memphis (3-4) at East Carolina (3-3), noon, Comcast Sports Southeast
The buzz: East Carolina had a great start to its season, but it needs to regain its footing quickly after a three-game losing streak. ECU still has a shot at the C-USA East title.
The line: ECU by 9. | The pick: ECU 38-27.
Western Michigan (6-1) at Central Michigan (4-2), noon, MAC syndication/GamePlan
The buzz: This is one of the biggest games in the season in the MAC. Western QB Tim Hiller is having a great season, while Central QB Dan LeFevour isn't putting up the monster numbers he amassed last season. Central has won two in a row and three of the past four in the series.
The line: Central Michigan by 1. | The pick: Central Michigan 33-28.
Miami of Ohio (1-5) at Bowling Green (3-3), noon, MAC syndication/GamePlan
The buzz: Miami's offense continues to struggle, but the RedHawks' defense has been solid. Bowling Green is 0-2 at home this season, but Miami has lost six in a row on the road.
The line: Bowling Green by 9.5. | The pick: Bowling Green 27-16.
Wake Forest (4-1) at Maryland (4-2), noon, ACC syndication/GamePlan
The buzz: Which Maryland team will show up the one that beat California or the one that got waxed by Virginia? Wake leads the pack in the ACC Atlantic Division, and the Demon Deacons basically can knock the Terps out of the race with a win.
The line: Wake by 1.5. | The pick: Wake Forest 21-16.
Purdue (2-4) at Northwestern (5-1), noon, ESPN2
The buzz: Time is running out on Purdue coach Joe Tiller, and his final squad seems unlikely to go to a bowl unless it can win this one. Northwestern is coming off its first loss of the season, to Michigan State.
The line: Northwestern by 4. | The pick: Purdue 30-27.
Wisconsin (3-3) at Iowa (4-3), noon, Big Ten Network
The buzz: If you like tough, physical football, this one is for you. Both teams want to win with defense and the running game. The Badgers have lost three in a row.
The line: Iowa by 3.5. | The pick: Iowa 17-16.
Texas Tech (6-0) at Texas A&M (2-4), noon, FSN
The buzz: Tech has won eight in a row, the longest such streak in the Big 12. A&M leads the Big 12 in pass defense; for some reason, though, we don't think that will faze the Red Raiders.
The line: Texas Tech by 20.5. | The pick: Texas Tech 49-24.
Connecticut (5-1) at Rutgers (1-5), noon, ESPNU
The buzz: Rutgers has come close in each of its past two games, losing them by a combined 10 points. UConn's offense revolves around TB Donald Brown, and Rutgers has had trouble stopping the run.
The line: Connecticut by 1. | The pick: Connecticut 23-14.
Georgia Tech (5-1) at Clemson (3-3), noon, ESPN
The buzz: The first game of the Dabo Swinney era begins for Clemson. Can the Tigers handle Tech's rushing attack? And if Clemson loses, what will Cullen Harper and his dad say?
The line: Georgia Tech by 2. | The pick: Georgia Tech 20-17.
Syracuse (1-5) at South Florida (5-1), noon, Big East syndication/GamePlan
The buzz: USF's last game was a home loss to Pitt, so playing Syracuse is a good way to erase the memory of that game. Last season, USF pounded Syracuse by 31 points and outrushed the Orange by 331 yards.
The line: USF by 24. | The pick: USF 41-14.
Vanderbilt (5-1) at Georgia (5-1), 12:30 p.m., SEC syndication/GamePlan
The buzz: Vandy's offense isn't much, but the Commodores have an opportunistic defense that has forced 15 turnovers, including an SEC-high 11 interceptions. Vandy won in Athens in 2006, and Georgia prevailed on a last-play field goal in Nashville last season.
The line: Georgia by 15. | The pick: Georgia 23-10.
Nebraska (3-3) at Iowa State (2-4), 12:30 p.m., Versus
The buzz: This is the 103rd meeting and the Huskers lead the "rivalry" 84-16-2, but Iowa State has won two of the past three played in Ames. To make it three of four, the Cyclones must find a way to run effectively.
The line: Nebraska by 7. | The pick: Nebraska 31-21.
Akron (3-4) at Eastern Michigan (2-5), 1 p.m.
The buzz: Akron's defense has forced a MAC-high 18 turnovers. This is EMU's only home game in a six-game stretch.
The line: Akron by 3.5. | The pick: Akron 27-21.
Colorado State (3-3) at Utah (7-0), 2 p.m., The mtn.
The buzz: Colorado State has played surprisingly well for new coach Steve Fairchild, but the Rams don't look to have the horses to be able to hang with the Utes. Utah is 30-8-2 all-time at home against Colorado State.
The line: Utah by 21. | The pick: Utah 38-14.
Southern Miss (2-4) at Rice (3-3), 3 p.m.
The buzz: Southern Miss has struggled more than expected in coach Larry Fedora's first season. The Golden Eagles' pass defense gets a big test this week from Rice's passing attack, which averages 309.0 yards per game.
The line: Rice by 3. | The pick: Rice 37-35.
Baylor (3-3) at Oklahoma State (6-0), 3 p.m.
The buzz: Oklahoma State is riding high after winning at Missouri last week. Baylor's only hope appears to be a monster game from freshman QB Robert Griffin well, that and a bunch of mistakes by the Cowboys.
The line: Oklahoma State by 17. | The pick: Oklahoma State 49-28.
USC (4-1) at Washington State (1-6), 3:30 p.m., FSN
The buzz: Washington State has surrendered 60-plus points three times in Pac-10 play this season. There doesn't seem to be any question that USC is going to win; there's a huge talent disparity and the Trojans own a 55-8-4 advantage in the series. The question is the margin of victory.
The line: USC by 42.5. | The pick: USC 56-3.
Ole Miss (3-3) at Alabama (6-0), 3:30 p.m., CBS
The buzz: History not to mention talent appears to be on Alabama's side. The Tide lead the series 45-8-2 and own a 22-1 advantage in games played in Tuscaloosa. Each of the past three meetings has been a three-point win by the Tide.
The line: Alabama by 13. | The pick: Alabama 34-23.
Pittsburgh (4-1) at Navy (4-2), 3:30 p.m., CBS College Sports
The buzz: Pitt is coming off an impressive victory at USF, and the Panthers never known for their consistency under Dave Wannstedt need to avoid a letdown. It's hard to see Navy stopping Pitt TB LeSean McCoy. But Navy's rushing attack is hard to stop, too.
The line: Pitt by 3.5. | The pick: Pitt 35-28.
North Carolina (5-1) at Virginia (3-3), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN2/GamePlan
The buzz: The Cavaliers have risen from the dead, and if they keep playing well, they could be a factor in the ACC Coastal race. The Heels need to buck some history: They have lost 13 in a row in Charlottesville.
The line: North Carolina by 5. | The pick: North Carolina 28-20.
Miami (3-3) at Duke (3-2), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
The buzz: Miami's offense has some issues, but the defense generally has played well. Duke needs a big game from QB Thaddeus Lewis a Miami native if the Blue Devils are to win.
The line: Miami by 4. | The pick: Miami 20-14.
Ohio State (6-1) at Michigan State (6-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN2
The buzz: The Buckeyes have won 11 of the past 13 meetings with the Spartans. Top priority for Ohio State, which hosts Penn State next week, is to slow Spartans RB Javon Ringer. The second priority is to get the offense in gear; heck, even some Buckeyes players are complaining about the unit.
The line: Ohio State by 3. | The pick: Ohio State 21-20.
Army (2-4) at Buffalo (2-4), 3:30 p.m., GamePlan
The buzz: Buffalo is allowing just 115.5 rushing yards per game, but the Bulls will get a huge test from an Army offense that doesn't seem to know it's legal to throw the ball. Army has completed just 25 passes this season, including just five in the past three games.
The line: Buffalo by 11.5. | The pick: Buffalo 37-21.
Kansas (5-1) at Oklahoma (5-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/GamePlan
The buzz: KU QB Todd Reesing and his receivers could cause some problems for OU's back seven. But can the Jayhawks' defense withstand Sam Bradford and the Sooners' passing attack? OU has outscored foes 110-6 in the first quarter.
The line: Oklahoma by 20. | The pick: Oklahoma 42-24.
Middle Tennessee (2-4) at Louisville (3-2), 3:30 p.m., GamePlan
The buzz: Last season, these teams combined for 100 points, 55 first downs and 1,284 yards of offense. Viewers wouldn't mind a repeat of that.
The line: Louisville by 14.5. | The pick: Louisville 30-14.
Marshall (3-3) at UAB (1-6), 4 p.m.
The buzz: Marshall is the only team unbeaten in league play in the East Division of C-USA. UAB's Joe Webb is third among the nation's quarterbacks with 588 rushing yards.
The line: Marshall by 3. | The pick: Marshall 35-27.
Toledo (2-4) at Northern Illinois (3-3), 4 p.m., Comcast Chicago/GamePlan
The buzz: Toledo leads this series 28-7, including a 70-21 beatdown last season. NIU already has won more games this season than it did last season, when it was 2-10.
The line: NIU by 7.5. | The pick: NIU 24-14.
Stanford (4-3) at UCLA (2-4), 4 p.m., FSN West/Comcast Bay Area
The buzz: This is a big one for Stanford, which can greatly enhance its bowl hopes with a victory. The Bruins have won four in a row in the series and have beaten Stanford five consecutive times at the Rose Bowl.
The line: UCLA by 1. | The pick: Stanford 27-20.
Utah State (1-5) at Nevada (3-3), 4 p.m., GamePlan
The buzz: The visiting team has won eight of the past nine in this series. Nevada can't afford a loss to the Aggies if it truly wants to go to a bowl.
The line: Nevada by 21. | The pick: Nevada 48-21.
Michigan (2-4) at Penn State (7-0), 4:30 p.m., ESPN
The buzz: Michigan has won nine in a row in the series; at least the past four have been close, decided by a combined 17 points. Penn State has designs on the national title; Michigan is just trying to regain some pride in the wake of its loss to Toledo.
The line: Penn State by 23. | The pick: Penn State 38-17.
San Diego State (1-5) at New Mexico (3-4), 6 p.m., The mtn.
The buzz: New Mexico has won eight of the past 10 in the series, including seven in a row. San Diego State's run defense is awful, and running the ball is New Mexico's strength.
The line: New Mexico by 14.5. | The pick: New Mexico 35-17.
Florida International (3-3) at Troy (3-2), 7 p.m., Comcast Sports Southeast/GamePlan
The buzz: FIU has won three in a row and is going for the first four-game winning streak in school history. This is an important game in the Sun Belt race and will be Troy's first game without starting QB Jamie Hampton, who has been lost for the season with a knee injury.
The line: Troy by 8. | The pick: Troy 24-20.
Arkansas State (4-2) at Louisiana-Lafayette (3-3), 7 p.m.
The buzz: This is a big one in the Sun Belt, as each team is 2-0 in conference play. Both have strong rushing attacks (ULL leads the nation, in fact, at 332 ypg), but Arkansas State is much better defensively than the Ragin' Cajuns.
The line: ULL by 3. | The pick: Arkansas State 31-24.
Florida Atlantic (1-5) at Western Kentucky (2-5), 7 p.m.
The buzz: FAU has been a big disappointment. At least this is a chance for Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger to visit his home state. This is the second of three consecutive home games for Western.
The line: Western Kentucky by 1. | The pick: FAU 27-17.
North Texas (0-6) at Louisiana-Monroe (1-5), 7 p.m.
The buzz: The hounds make their way to Monroe for this one, which matches two of the worst six defenses in the nation. While it's ULM's homecoming, it's also the dog of the week.
The line: ULM by 18. | The pick: ULM 45-23.
Arkansas (3-3) at Kentucky (4-2), 7 p.m., ESPNU
The buzz: The last times these teams met at Kentucky, in 2003, the game went seven overtimes. UK's defense has played well; UK's offense hasn't. Arkansas' offense has played well; Arkansas' defense hasn't.
The line: Kentucky by 7.5. | The pick: Kentucky 24-21.
Mississippi State (2-4) at Tennessee (2-4), 7 p.m., GamePlan
The buzz: This has the potential to set offensive football back a decade or two. Simply, these teams are inept on offense. But both play good defense.
The line: Tennessee by 7. | The pick: Tennessee 20-10.
Kansas State (4-2) at Colorado (3-3), 7 p.m., FSN Midwest/Southwest/Rocky Mountain
The buzz: This is a crossroads game of sorts for both. The winner stays alive in the hunt to finish in the top half of the Big 12 North; the loser starts to wonder if it can avoid the cellar.
The line: Colorado by 3.5. | The pick: Colorado 38-31.
Oregon State (3-3) at Washington (0-5), 7 p.m., Versus
The buzz: This is the 93rd meeting in the series. Oregon State has won four in a row overall and it has won three in a row in Seattle. Including this one, Washington plays four of its next five at home.
The line: Oregon State by 14. | The pick: Oregon State 35-20.
Idaho (1-6) at Louisiana Tech (2-3), 7 p.m., Altitude/GamePlan
The buzz: Let's look at some numbers for Idaho. First, the Vandals have lost 21 in a row to Football Bowl Subdivision (i.e., Division I-A) opponents. Second, they've lost 16 straight WAC games. Finally, they've lost 12 consecutive road games.
The line: Louisiana Tech by 20.5. | The pick: Louisiana Tech 45-17.
Houston (3-3) at SMU (1-6), 8 p.m.
The buzz: SMU's defense is rancid, which should make Houston QB Case Keenum happy. He leads the nation in total offense (406.8 ypg) and has thrown for 300 yards in each game this season.
The line: Houston by 13. | The pick: Houston 52-31.
San Jose State (4-2) at New Mexico State (3-2), 8 p.m., GamePlan
The buzz: San Jose State wins with defense, New Mexico State with offense. The winner of this game keeps itself in good position to earn one of the WAC's three bowl bids.
The line: San Jose State by 2.5. | The pick: San Jose State 35-31.
Indiana (2-4) at Illinois (3-3), 8 p.m., Big Ten Network
The buzz: Illinois still has a shot at a New Year's Day bowl, but it needs to beat the Hoosiers to keep the dream alive. Indiana, by the way, has just one interception this season.
The line: Illinois by 15. | The pick: Illinois 38-14.
LSU (4-1) at South Carolina (5-2), 8 p.m., ESPN
The buzz: The Gamecocks, who are third nationally in total defense, have the personnel to shut down LSU RB Charles Scott. The question is whether South Carolina's offensive line can handle LSU's defensive front seven. LSU leads the series 15-2-1.
The line: LSU by 3. | The pick: LSU 24-16.
Virginia Tech (5-1) at Boston College (4-1), 8 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: The Hokies, who are the front-runners in the ACC Coastal Division, beat BC in the ACC Championship Game last season. But that was a BC team with Matt Ryan. This BC team, while it has a good record, hasn't beaten anyone of note.
The line: Boston College by 3. | The pick: Virginia Tech 23-17.
UTEP (3-3) at Tulsa (6-0), 8 p.m., CBS College Sports Net
The buzz: Tulsa leads the nation in total offense (597.0 ypg) and in scoring offense (53.2 ppg), and QB David Johnson leads the nation with 26 touchdown passes. The Golden Hurricane has punted a nation-low 10 times.
The line: Tulsa by 17.5. | The pick: Tulsa 54-30.
Missouri (5-1) at Texas (6-0), 8 p.m., ABC
The buzz: Texas took down the No. 1 team last week; now Missouri looks to do the same. Last week at this time, Mizzou was considered a national title contender; a loss this week, and the Tigers would need to start worrying about whether they're good enough to get a Holiday Bowl bid.
The line: Texas by 5.5. | The pick: Missouri 31-28.
Air Force (4-2) at UNLV (3-3), 10 p.m., The mtn.
The buzz: Air Force looks to have found two productive freshmen in TB Asher Clark and QB Tim Jefferson. UNLV struggles to stop the run, which obviously isn't a good thing when Air Force's option-based attack is next.
The line: Air Force by 5. | The pick: Air Force 32-24.
California (4-1) at Arizona (4-2), 10 p.m., FSN Arizona/Northwest/Prime Ticket
The buzz: This would've been more important had Arizona not lost to Stanford last week. California already has 10 picks, matching its season total from last season.
The line: California by 2. | The pick: California 28-21.
Ohio U. (2-5) at Temple (2-5), 8 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: Ahh, there's nothing like those Tuesday night games from the MAC. Just think: If you can get 15 or so friends together in your living room, you might surpass the number of those in attendance at the stadium.
The line: Temple by 4. | The pick: Temple 23-17.

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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