#1 NEBRASKA (-50) vs. San Jose State
50 points? Yikes!
Trying to stop Nebraska's option attack with SJSU's "defense" is like trying to deflect a high-pressure fire hose with tissue paper.
Pick: SJSU (Oh come on, I mean how can I pick a 50 point spread?!)
#3 Alabama (-6) @ UCLA
Anything less than a MNC game berth will be a disappointment in Bammerland. With 17 starters back from a 10-win team, they should be a serious force to contend with. Sure, Shaun Alexander was the man, but he alone was not the team.
UCLA? I get weary of writing about West Coast pretty boy teams. They've got a good running back, but a porous defense and haven't settled on a starting QB. They should be out of this one early.
#4 MICHIGAN (-31) vs. Bowling Green
Michigan has won more games in the previous four years than any other team in the nation. Now that's impressive! The defense is a little green and the QB is rehabbing from foot surgery. Last year the running game was its worst in nearly 40 years. But you know what? They're still going to win 9 games!
While Michigan aims for national titles, Bowling Green aims for winning seasons. Aspiring for mediocrity never got anyone anywhere.
#7 FLORIDA (-45) vs. Ball State
Last year Florida has a "down" year. They played Western Michigan, which was a pretty good MAC team in '99, and still crushed them. Ball State is not a pretty good MAC team, they are not even a marginal MAC team. They went 0-11 in 1999, and I think that 0-11 in the MAC requires at least one loss to a I-AA team. If it doesn't, it should!
Ugly ugly ugly. This is our rout-of-the-week folks!
#9 KANSAS STATE (-27) vs. Louisiana Tech
Well, I expected KSU to smack Iowa silly last week. They won, and handily, but 27-7 isn't the kind of "hang your head in shame" defeat that I'd guessed at. I know it was only one game, and new quarterbacks sometimes need a short adjustment period, even against lousy defenses like Iowa's. On the other hand, La Tech is also staring a new QB … and they dropped 63 on Mississippi Valley State.
Louisiana Tech is one of those teams that no one really wants to mess with … just ask Alabama about last year. They're pretty good, and they believe that they can beat anyone, anytime, anywhere. ABC wanted to feature La Tech's victory over Bama last year as their "upset of the year" in a year end wrap up show. They didn't … why? Because La Tech fans overwhelmed them with mail insisting that it wasn't an upset, but rather that they were the better team and deserved to win.
This one could get very interesting…
Pick: La Tech
#10 VIRGINIA TECH (-31) vs. Akron
49-22. That's my prediction and I'm sticking to it!
Pick: Akron (Settle down kids, historically we're lousy against the spread)
#11 GEORGIA (no line) vs. Georgia Southern
I guess when you can't beat Florida and Tennessee, you've got to get your satisfaction somewhere.
#12 TENNESSEE (-11) vs. #24 Southern Mississippi
This, friends, is a true rarity. What we've got here is an SEC powerhouse in a (relatively) down year, taking on a legitimate non-conference foe. I'll give the Vols credit though, they've actually shown some guts in the past few years, and done this sort of thing before. Now if only they'd go on the road…
Tennessee followed up a (mere) 9 win season by losing seven players in the first two rounds of the NFL draft. This is as weak as they've been since I can remember.
USM is always solid, and they'll be solid again. Tough defense, and with a new offensive coordinator (from pass-happy Nevada) they might actually be something less than catatonically boring on offense.
CUSA won't get a chance like this again for a long time, they'd best make the most of it.
It's the only top-25 match-up this week, so of course it will likely be impossible to find on TV.
#14 PURDUE (-37) vs. Central Michigan
The Drew Brees for Heisman campaign should get off to a fast start on Saturday. Not only do the Boilermakers return 4 starters on possibly the best pass-blocking offensive line in the nation, but the mighty Chippewahs have four new starters on their defensive line. About the only thing CMU has going for it is an experienced Secondary … and boy are they going to need it!
#15 WASHINGTON (-22.5) vs. Idaho
Marques Tuiasaopo was Vick before being Vick was cool!
#16 OHIO STATE (-18.5) vs. Fresno State
Ohio State is way too deep to be down for long. On the other hand, while people point to the frequent early defections of OSU skill players, it's the lousy line play on both sides of the ball that doomed them last year.
Fresno State went 8-5 last year, and returns 15 starters. If OSU walks into this one expecting a "gimme", they could be in for a rude shock.
#17 MISSISSIPPI (-20) vs. Tulane
Ole Miss … now these guys could be good this year. 7 returning starters on each side of the ball, plus arguably the best 1-2 combo of tailbacks in the nation in Deuce McAllister and Joe Gunn.
Tulane gave up 450 yards per game on defense in 1999. They return 9 starters, but word on the street is that last year's poor showing was the fault of the other two guys.
#18 CLEMSON (-18.5) vs. The Citadel
See, the problem with this game is that Clemson will win in a walk. Then we're going to hear for at least another week how Bowden the Younger has the program almost ready for MNC contention. They're going to be good, actually a bit better than good. In the ACC that means #2 most likely. But they ain't knockin off FSU, not yet.
#19 OKLAHOMA (-26) vs. Texas-El Paso
OK, so the Okie's have this whole passing thing figured out … about time! Somewhere along the way they forgot how to run, however, and without a running game they're nothing more than a glorified WAC team. The defense should improve, and in a fairly weak B-12 South that's probably good enough for at least 8 wins.
UTEP is trouble with a capital TROUB. Eight returning starters on offense, including a QB who just plain doesn't throw interceptions. A coach with the guts to take risks, and a switch to the defensive style so en vogue today … the 8-man front.
#20 ILLINOIS (-34) vs. Middle Tennessee State
So is it significant that Illinois is favored over lowly MTSU by less than they defeated mighty Wahoo State in last year's bowl game? I think so :o)
Pick: The Illini
#23 Texas A&M (+2.5) @ Notre Dame
I guess this is where we find out who's for real, and who's for lunch. aTm is good, but likely not great. Notre Dame starts this season out with a truly brutal slate of games, and this one should be a good barometer of how their season will play out.
#25 Colorado (-4.5) vs. Colorado State
Colorado was mediocre last year, and I expect them to be mediocre again this year.
CSU was decent last year, and should be better this year. Yet, they always lose to the Buffs. Well not always, of course, but often enough that I'd pick UC blind and win money in the long run.