Commentary

Auburn edges LSU; Florida, Georgia will earn tough road wins

Originally Published: September 18, 2008
By Bruce Feldman | ESPN.com

I'm coming off a terrible week. I went 6-12-1 against the line and am now four under .500 for the season. The good: picking USC to hammer Ohio State. The bad: expecting Texas Tech to really blow out SMU. The ugly: thinking Oregon would rout Purdue. Here are this week's guesses:

Thursday, Sept. 18


WVU 30, Colorado 27
The Mountaineers' ground attack really hasn't gotten cranked up yet, but I think it will. However, CU's young line, which also has struggled, should acquit itself fairly well against an inexperienced WVU D that didn't do a very good job of containing ECU. In the end, Pat White will outshine young Cody Hawkins.

Friday, Sept. 19


UConn 27, Baylor 17
This is an interesting matchup featuring two very productive running games. Baylor QB Robert Griffin is one of the most exciting freshmen in the country. He's not as polished as Pat White, but he is faster. And White has dominated the UConn defense the past two years. Expect Griffin and the Baylor backfield to break some big runs, but underrated UConn RB Donald Brown, who has been fantastic in the first month of the season, will prove too much for the Bears' D.

Saturday, Sept. 20


Ohio State 38, Troy 17
These Trojans aren't as explosive as the ones from USC, but they shouldn't be taken lightly. Troy has played in a lot of hostile places and performed pretty well in those games over the past four seasons. Still, the Buckeyes will be looking to take a lot of frustration out here, and I expect their offense to attack all day. Troy QB Jamie Hampton will see more pressure than he's ever faced before.

ECU 13, NC State 7
The Pack's offense continues to struggle, although I expect their D to be very inspired by the chance to knock off ECU in front of the home crowd. Last year, State jumped on ECU early and will need to do that again to have any shot.

Penn State 34, Temple 13

[+] EnlargeEvan Royster
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesWill Temple be able to slow down Evan Royster and Penn State's offense?

This will be the toughest defense the Nittany Lions have faced thus far, and Temple will snap PSU's season-long run of scoring at least 35 by halftime. Trouble is, the Owls don't run the ball well enough to keep Joe Paterno's offense off the field long enough to keep things interesting into the second half.

Alabama 31, Arkansas 13
Bobby Petrino's new team has looked terrible its first two times out, but still squeaked out wins against some undermanned opponents. Alabama will be too much of a challenge, especially for a defense that has looked lost at times. I'll go with the Tide despite recent history in which the home team has won the past four times in this series.

Mizzou 52, Buffalo 17
No team's offense has been sharper than the Tigers. Chase Daniel's passes have barely touched the ground. Mizzou probably won't be able to stay quite as hot as it has been the previous three games, but the Tigers still have too many weapons for the improving MAC squad. But don't be surprised if Buffalo's offense provides a few fireworks in the first half.

BYU 58, Wyoming 10
The Cowboys' D is a different challenge for Max Hall than UCLA, which threw more man coverage at the gifted BYU QB. It won't matter. Last year, Wyoming had the league's top D, and the Cougars lit them up for 300-plus yards in the first half alone. This is a home game for BYU, and the offense is even better this time around.

Florida 31, Tennessee 17
The team that runs the ball best almost always wins in this series. In the past two years, UF has outgained the Vols by an amazing 376-26 margin. As much as I think UT will try to pound the Gators, while mixing in some special packages with WR Gerald Jones, UF's front seven will be the difference. Well, that and UF's big edge at receiver.

Oregon 27, Boise State 10
The Ducks' diversity on offense is a great test for the underrated Broncos' D, but the big difference will be Oregon's defense playing in a very nasty home environment against redshirt freshman QB Kellen Moore, who is playing behind four new starters on the Boise O-line.

Utah 34, AFA 20
The Falcons don't even think about throwing it, but still find a way to pile up yards on the ground. They've also been very competitive with Utah over the past five years, including a 20-12 road win last year. Expect Utah to wear down the Falcons in the second half.

USF 45, FIU 7
The Golden Panthers' offense has been almost nonexistent thus far, scoring just 10 points in two games, and this will be the fastest defense FIU has faced yet. USF QB Matt Grothe may not be getting much Heisman hype, but he should put up big numbers for three quarters here.

Texas 55, Rice 14
QB Colt McCoy and the Horns have been impressive early on, and UT has a good history of putting up big numbers against the Owls, breaking the 50-point barrier in each of the last three meetings. Rice's offense isn't bad, but keeping it close in Austin is too much to expect.

FSU, 23, Wake 20
Jim Grobe's team has handled the Noles in the past two meetings, including a 30-0 rout the last time they came to Tallahassee (2006). My hunch is that this FSU defense will have a few more answers for Wake this time around.

Auburn 13, LSU 10
The home team has dominated this game in the past eight meetings. With nasty defenses and inexperienced QBs, the teams mirror each other. I'll ride the home-field edge and the hunch that Chris Todd will be a little sharper than the LSU QBs.

UGA 28, ASU 27
This is a tough road trip for the Dawgs, and even though Georgia has the talent edge, Dennis Erickson will have his team ready. The Sun Devils have some good speed rushers, especially DE Dexter Davis, and getting MLB Morris Wooten back will help. It still won't be quite enough to upset Knowshon Moreno & Co.

Fresno 24, Toledo 20
Tough bounce-back assignment for the Bulldogs. Tom Amstutz's program has been surprisingly stout in games at the Glass Bowl, including a win over Kansas in 2006. Even if it's not coming from the inside, the pressure will be on FSU to make a statement and look impressive, and that could backfire.

Bruce Feldman is a senior writer with ESPN The Magazine. His new book, "Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting," is on sale now.