Beginning this week, I’ll give you six college football games worth watching each weekend and tell you who will win.
1st Pick: #3 LSU at #25 Mississippi State
(Thursday @ 8 p.m. ET on ESPN)
- Being at home, the Bulldogs will hang tough for two and a half quarters before giving way to the stifling LSU defense. Chris Relf and Vick Ballard are fun to watch out of the option, but they are not the Oregon Ducks. The Tigers will take this one by double digits, 37-24.
2nd Pick: #18 West Virginia at Maryland
(Saturday @ 12 p.m. ET on ESPNU)
- While Maryland’s uniforms forced some viewers to check their prescriptions during week one, it was their balanced offensive attack led by Danny O’Brien that deserved to be put into focus. They face a much stiffer task against the streaky Mountaineers of West Virginia, who struggled early last week at home against FCS opponent Norfolk State. A sluggish start on the road against the Terps will result in another big win for Maryland and first year man, Randy Edsall. 31-30.
3rd Pick: #15 Michigan State at Notre Dame
(Saturday @ 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC)
- Notre Dame followed up an awful week one with a great effort last week up in Ann Arbor under the lights. In an instant classic rivalry game, quarterback Tommy Rees led a go-ahead touchdown drive in 30 seconds that showed why he has become the starter for the Irish. Unfortunately, Rees needs an effort three times better to spark an upset over the Spartans in South Bend where the fans seem easily jaded. Two quick touchdown drives for Michigan State will quickly get the Irish faithful booing and leave Notre Dame at 0-3. Sparty wins 41-20.
4th Pick: Washington at #11 Nebraska
(Saturday @ 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC)
- If you missed the Nebraska game last week, then you are the majority. I saw the replay on Monday, and witnessed a Fresno State team absolutely befuddle the Cornhuskers in Lincoln for a half. Nebraska ended up winning by 13, but they looked uncharacteristically shaky on defense. Jake Locker is in the NFL, but he led this Washington team to a bowl win over the Huskers last year. I think Nebraska pulls this one out by a field goal, but I would not be surprised to see the savvy Steve Sarkisian pull off a huge upset in front of 85,000 in red. Huskers squeak by, 38-35.
Upset Pick: #6 Stanford at Arizona
(Saturday @ 10:45 p.m. ET on ESPN)
- Sticking with the Pac-12, the Stanford Cardinal start off their conference campaign at Arizona. Andrew Luck looked decent at Duke last week, but he should not have had any errors in the low-key atmosphere experienced in the football hotbed of Durham, North Carolina. If they play like that this time in the desert heat, the Cardinal will most certainly lose a shocker to Mike Stoops late Saturday night. Truthfully, I don’t see Stanford rising to the challenge in this one. Nick Foles is a very good leader from the state of Texas, and he will have the Wildcats firing on all cylinders. Arizona’s defense bears down on the Heisman hopeful and dashes the Cardinal’s dreams of a national championship by the score of 38-27.
Marquee Pick: #1 Oklahoma at #5 Florida State
(Saturday @ 8 p.m. ET on ABC)
- Every college football diehard has had this game circled since the summer, and it is sure to be a great one. Oklahoma is used to this kind of hype, and they will be ready to go on Saturday night in Tallahassee. Bob Stoops is an absolute master of the college game, but his downfall will always be his perceived failure in big games. Florida State’s recent rise back to elite status is waiting for a signature win against the top-ranked Sooners. I think it’s a shame that Stoops’ legacy has become one of disappointment, but his team simply has a rough time away from home. The offense sputters late and allows the Seminoles to make their case for a number one ranking with a 34-27 win.