LSU will top Georgia, Jayhawks will scare Red Raiders
I had a solid week, going 4 over .500 against the line, putting me 11-over for the season. The good of last week's picks: picking Arizona to beat Cal. The bad: picking BYU to win at TCU. The ugly: picking Missouri to beat Texas. This week's guesses:
Boise State 20, San Jose State 17: Two of the best pass-rushing teams in the country meet up as Dick Tomey will have his Spartans poised for an upset; however, his inconsistent passing game won't be sharp enough to close the deal.
Minnesota 21, Purdue 17: Lots of streaks on the line here: The Gophers haven't won at Purdue in 18 seasons, Purdue hasn't lost six in a row in three years, and the Boilers have a 17-game losing skid against ranked teams. The Gophers' improved D, led by a handful of solid JC transfers, has the kind of athleticism to give Curtis Painter problems. Minnesota also has already displayed plenty of grit in wins at Bowling Green and Illinois. And Purdue is relying on too many inexperienced guys to contain some physical Gopher receivers.
Boston College 12, UNC 7: The Tar Heels come home after a disappointing finish in Virginia, but UNC has a very opportunistic defense and a talented secondary. Eagles QB Chris Crane is a good dual threat, although he is still a bit prone to recklessness. (He had four turnovers in last week's win over Virginia Tech.) The difference, though, will be the rugged BC defensive front dominating a sloppy game.
Texas Tech 45, Kansas 42: Over the past four games, Graham Harrell has quietly completed nearly 80 percent of his passes, even though Michael Crabtree and some of the Red Raiders' other top receivers have been nicked up. He'll outshine Todd Reesing. And keep an eye on the Tech D-line, which has been playing pretty well. It should have a big impact against a KU offense that doesn't run the ball very well and struggles in pass protection (73rd in sacks allowed).
Ball State 49, E. Michigan 20: The Cardinals are a complete team led by the best QB nobody talks about -- Nate Davis. About the only thing BSU doesn't do really well is shut down the run, and ultimately, EMU won't be able to keep pace with the Cardinals. Another big plus for Ball State: The Cardinals have a huge edge in special teams in all phases of the game.
Florida 52, Kentucky 7: After Florida's week off, look for Urban Meyer to unveil a few new wrinkles for his speedy skill players. Meyer's teams are 24-3 with more than a week to prepare for an opponent. UK, which is now depleted by injury, has lost 21 straight to the Gators. Losing standout DT Myron Pryor (ankle) will really hurt as UF cranks up its running game.
BYU 54, UNLV 23: The Rebels are improved, but they surrender way too many points (105th) and they don't have the kind of pass-rushers that TCU did to exploit some of the Cougars' weaknesses. Look for a big bounce-back effort from Max Hall and the BYU offense.
Texas 48, Oklahoma State 28: Even though OSU seems to match up fairly well with UT (the Cowboys are fourth in the country in fewest sacks allowed) and runs the ball very well, that won't be enough. Texas' confidence is so high, and Colt McCoy has been incredibly sharp. State also doesn't have enough of a pass rush (101st in sacks) to get McCoy out of sync.
LSU 19, Georgia 14: The Tigers are healthier, and their D-line should take over this game. The return of the dynamic Keiland Williams has breathed some life back into the LSU offense, and the "Pistol" provides a new wrinkle for the Georgia defense.
USF 27, Louisville 17: The Cards have been pretty good against the run (10th in the country) and their D-line should be as healthy as it's been all season, but Matt Grothe is too good for the Bulls to shut down completely. The Bulls have an even better run defense, but it has been dented in the past two games, and Louisville's slick freshman Victor Anderson figures to get loose some.
Pittsburgh 27, Rutgers 13: LeSean McCoy has found his groove, and freshman receiver Jonathan Baldwin is an emerging weapon poised to take on an RU defense that has been susceptible to yielding big plays. The Knights have won three straight over Pitt, but RU's offense is very suspect right now -- it has yet to score more than 21 points in any game against FBS competition and is averaging just 13 ppg in the Knights' three league games.
Georgia Tech 24, Virginia 14: The Yellow Jackets have the best D-line in the ACC and maybe the country. They should be able to contain Cedric Peerman, and Jonathan Dwyer should run through a Virginia defense that has been gashed several times this year.
Florida State 27, Virginia Tech 14: Tyrod Taylor's wheels gave the Seminoles fits last season. The Noles are more disciplined now on defense and have enough offensive firepower to rattle the Tech defense, although their young O-line can't afford to be as sloppy as it was against NC State. Keep an eye on Preston Parker and Corey Surrency, who will come up with some big plays for the Noles.
TCU 23, Wyoming 3: The Horned Frogs' defense has been nasty, especially with star DE Jerry Hughes' getting a lot of outside pressure on the line. That'll be an issue for Wyoming, which is 81st in the country in sacks allowed. Joe Glenn's team also is last in the country in turnover margin, another bad sign for a squad looking to pull an upset.
Missouri 41, Colorado 17: The Tigers return home needing to pick up the pieces. Their offense still is explosive, but their confidence was rattled in Austin. The defense, which didn't tackle well against Texas, needs to get refocused as it faces shifty RB Rodney Stewart. Still, look for Mizzou's towering receivers to eat up CU's small corners.
Ohio State 27, Penn State 21: The Nittany Lions haven't beaten a ranked team on the road in six years. Joe Paterno has a balanced team with a solid O-line, but his run defense has been hit fairly hard in three of the past four games. Beanie Wells is a much more talented back than anybody PSU has faced thus far.
USC 35, Arizona 27: Most QBs are better at home than on the road, and Willie Tuitama is dramatically different when he's playing in Tucson. The Cats also have terrific receivers. The bad news: Their O-line does give up more than its share of sacks (85th in sacks allowed), and USC has enough athletes in its front seven to make some big plays. The worse news for Arizona: The Cats aren't very good at rushing the passer themselves and might not be able to rattle Mark Sanchez.
Tulsa 44, UCF 10: Don't look for the Knights to keep Tulsa in the low 20s, as they did twice last season (both UCF wins). David Johnson and Tulsa have too many weapons and are in too much of a rhythm right now for UCF, which has one of the worst offenses (110th in passing, 119th in total offense) in college football.
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.
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