Last week I had a pretty good won/ loss average but in reality it was not that hard. Many of the games were little more than scrimmages for the top teams in the land. This week things get a little more interesting and there are some very good match ups on tap. With that being said, on to the predictions.
1. CMU vs Temple: This Thursday night game may well be a preview of the MAC Championship game. CMU is supposed to be down this year what with a new coach and the loss of a top notch QB. We will see. I think they will be there at the end. Temple is probably the top dog in the MAC East and Al Golden is on heck of a coach. I look for this to be a pretty close game with Temple coming out on top. Pick Temple in a close contest.
2. Auburn vs Mississippi State: Both teams were easily victorious in their opener. The fact that the Bulldogs won is not surprising, but a total blow out of the Memphis squad is a bit. MSU may well have what it takes to knock Auburn down a notch. The game is in Starkville which is a plus. This game will show us if the Bulldogs are truly for real. Pick Mississippi State in a close one.
3. West Virginia vs Marshall: This in state rivalry game should not really be much of a contest. Never know in a rivalry game though. Coach Doc has a long way to go to bring Marshall back to the level of "giant killer." WVU is probably the class of the Big East and may well be a very dark horse to play in the BCS Championship. With much of the Big East apparently being down this year, their schedule is certainly favorable. They do meet LSU later in the season and that could possibly derail their aspirations. I look for WVU to win here with relative ease. Of course "The Herd" will be fired up for this game and that could be a factor in their favor. Go with WVU.
4. UTEP vs Houston: There is a good deal on the line in this Friday night match up. U of H must win all games to get some national respect and a shot at a BCS Bowl. UTEP spoiled their party last year and that loss deflated the Cougar program somewhat. The Coogs will be bent on revenge and should have learned not to be over confident. Both squads have very good QB's with Keenum having an outside shot perhaps at the Heisman. I think that the fast offense and supposedly improved defense will be enough to handle the Miners this year. The game is in Houston and that is a factor. Go with U of H.
5. Memphis vs East Carolina: ECU had a nice win last week against Tulsa and Memphis was totally blown out. This should be a no brainer. Both teams have a new coaching staff and I think Porter will, given time, produce a very competitive Tiger squad. Not this year and probably not next though. Pick the Pirates in a possible blow out.
6. Pittsburgh vs New Hampshire: The Panthers need this win to get the program back on track and will probably get it. New Hampshire is a pretty good IAA program but will likely not be able to hang long. If they do, then you can write the Panthers off for good. Pick Pitt.
7. Louisiana vs Arkansas State: This Sun Belt match up is very important for both clubs. Both received good paydays last week at the hands of SEC opponents. Neither team was competitive but that was to be expected. Both squads are well coached but the schools' have a good deal of trouble attracting real D1 talent. I believe that the Red Wolves may have an edge this year and predict a victory for them. Go with ASU. I am a diehard Cajun fan but must at least try to be somewhat professional.
8. Idaho vs Nebraska: I believe that Bo chose not to run the score up on Willie T's WKU squad last week. Akey (Idaho) is a heck of a coach and Nathan Enderle may be the second best QB in the WAC but that will not be near enough. I look for Idaho to perhaps go to another minor bowl this year but Nebraska may well be a factor in the race for the "national title." Go with Nebraska to take this one fairly easily.
9. Utah St vs Idaho State: Why does this game matter? Last week the Aggies turned in a very commendable performance against the Sooners and we need to learn a bit more about them. IAA Idaho State may not be the proper team to gauge oneself against though. The Bengals have a new QB and had trouble keeping him safe last week. This week the competition is much stiffer. This may be little more than a scrimmage for the Aggie squad, but they have probably gained a good bit of confidence and need this game to work out the kinks. Go with the Aggies.
10. Virginia vs USC: This is an interesting match up. Last week Virginia showed a bit with a thrashing of a very good IAA program. USC had a bit of trouble with Hawaii. It matters little what USC does this year but they still are playing the game. They probably have enough talent left to take down the Cavs. Go with USC.
11. ULM vs Arkansas: This game should be another scrimmage for the Hogs. This is the Warhawks season opener and in true Sun Belt fashion, they are looking for a payday and perhaps a chance to gauge their squad against top talent. Sometimes these Sun Belt teams surprise a big time school and that is of course good for recruiting.Todd Berry is not the man I would have hired to "rebuild" the ULM program though. They should have looked around a bit longer and even considered a top notch high school coaching retiree, a good lower division helmsman, or perhaps a somewhat down big time coach. Perhaps they should have kept Charlie W. That would have been my choice. No matter. Go with the Hogs here.
12. Notre Dame vs Michigan: This is a very important game for both squads. Rich R. must win this season or his job may be in jeopardy. Kelly is a proven winner but has some character issues. This probably does not matter to the Irish. This is not a few years back when they decided not to hire O'Leary due to some "resume" issue. There have now been too many sub par years for the Irish to worry about a little thing like character. I don't know if Notre Dame will be truly back this year but it won't take long for Kelly to produce a power team. Rich now has his players and system installed and we will see if it works for him here. He was very succesful at WV and probably should have stayed. I will go with Michigan in a very close game. May be going too far out on a limb here.
13. Troy vs Oklahoma State: Another pay day game for a Sun Belt team? Maybe not. Coach Larry usually has his squad ready to play and they are capable (most years) of being competitive with a big time program. Not sure if that is the case this year though. They did not look too impressive against Bowling Green but did come away with a victory. The Cowboys ran over a very down PAC 10 squad in their opener. I think that the Cowboys will win here but the score might be surprisingly close. Go with OK. State.
14. Nevada vs Colorado State: Nevada is supposed to be the dark horse to challenge Boise State this year. I don't think so, but I do believe they have enough to take down the Rams. Go with the Wolfpack.
15. Mississipp vs Tulane: Ole Miss lost to a good Jacksonville State squad last week in OT. Tulane edged a lower level SLC opponent. This may well be a close game. Houston Nutt must have his boys pumped to show that last week's loss wan an anomaly and Bob Toledo must have his Green Wave team believing they can pull this one out of the hat. It may be close but I will have to go with the Rebs here.
16. Southern Illinois vs Illinois: This could be an interesting match up. The Salukis are a pretty good IAA ball club and Illinois may well have difficulty competing in the Big X. Hard to say at this point. Zook probably has the overall talent on his club to win this game but it will likely be no cake walk. Pick Illinois.
17. Miami vs Ohio State: A big time match up between big time programs. Miami has a very good QB and Shannon is a good coach but I believe they are probably a year away from being a factor in the race for the "national title." Jim will have his Buckeyes ready to play with anyone and the Ohio State team will prevail. Go with the Buckeyes.
18. Rice vs North Texas: This is an interesting game between two very under the radar programs. Both teams actually were somewhat competitive against some top level talent in their opener. Coach Dodge has not had much success in Denton and much the same can be said for Coach Bailiff. This may be a pretty evenly matched game but I will go with the Owls here. Pick Rice.
19. Florida State vs Oklahoma: Oklahoma may have been looking ahead to this game when they played last week. They had a good deal of trouble with the Aggies of Utah State. FSU had themselves a scrimmage against IAA Samford. I think that the Sooners will get back on track and beat the Seminoles rather handily. It may be a year or two for the Noles to be back in the hunt and the Sooners may well be poised to play in the Big Twelve championship game. That depends of course on how the Longhorns fare. Pick Oklahoma.
20. Air Force vs BYU: We will learn a good deal in this game about these two progams. Will BYU be a power to contend with in the MTN West and perhaps nationally? Is Air Force a good enough team to make a run? This conference game has huge implications. BYU will probably win here but it may be very close. Go with BYU.
Potential Shocker of the Week
WKU vs Kentucky: On the surface this looks like a no brainer. WKU is still trying to gain respect in the Sun Belt Conference which is itself trying to gain some respect in D1. Kentucky is a SEC team and that should say it all. I keep thinking of the game a couple years back when ULM shocked the Crimson Tide. I think that Willie T may have his undermanned squad up for this game and the Wildcats may be looking forward. WKU had a commendable performance in Nebraska last week, although it is probable that Pelini chose not to run up the score. Or just perhaps, the Hilltoppers are better than they are given credit for. I will chose Kentucky to win this game but will not be shocked if it is pretty close.