12:00 PM ET Fresno State at No. 14 Cincinnati
Eight days after going up against one powerful offense in Boise State, the Bulldogs head east to take on the defending Big East champs. Cincinnati can put on a show through the air with QB Tony Pike hitting a variety of receivers, most notably Mardy Gilyard and D.J. Woods. Also there's the matter of dealing with RB Isaiah Pead, who may not get a lot of carries but can hurt you any time he touches the football. The key for Fresno State: establish their running game with RB Ryan Mathews, who leads the nation in rushing. Fresno State won't be intimidated, but they won't win either. Bearcats by fourteen.
12:00 PM ET USF at No. 18 Florida State
In regards to the Bulls and Seminoles, perception has become a matter of kneejerk reactions. After struggling with Jacksonville State, FSU was thought to be in trouble. Then they beat BYU and all of a sudden they're "back" to being the Florida State of old. As for USF, the moment that QB Matt Grothe went down with a torn ACL people started writing the epitaph for their 2009 campaign. But there's a lot more to both teams than one result or one injury. Redshirt freshman B.J. Daniels, who also plays on the basketball team, is every bit the athlete that Grothe is with a stronger arm. The key for the Bulls will be to get more production out of their running backs.
Where the loss of Grothe could hurt is in the huddle; Daniels can't try to be who Matt was in regards to leadership but he will have to step up. As for Florida State's Christian Ponder, he continues to grow week by week, making the position as stable for Bobby Bowden as it has been in quite some time. Another factor helping Florida State has been the improvement of the running game, most recently ripping off 313 yards at BYU. Not sure if they replicate that performance on Saturday but a strong rushing attack could lead them to the win.
USF is the pick for two reasons. One, Daniels is a pretty good quarterback. And secondly, this is a huge game for Jim Leavitt's program in regards to respect (and recruiting) within the state. Many of the players on the USF roster were passed up by the "Big Three", and this is the opportunity for guys such as DE George Selvie and Tallahassee native Daniels to shine.
12:00 PM ET Southern Miss at No. 20 Kansas
Most of the attention will go to Houston hosting Texas Tech but this is another matchup between Conference USA and the Big 12 that people should pay attention to. RB Damion Fletcher and WR DeAndre Brown are two players the Jayhawks had better keep tabs on if they want to avoid the upset. The Southern Miss defense will provide a challenge for Kansas QB Todd Reesing due to their sound fundamentals and ability to put pressure on the quarterback. Add to this a team that could be distracted due to the recent altercations between members of the KU basketball and football teams. Look for Kansas to survive a game effort from Larry Fedora's team, but it wouldn't be a surprise if the Golden Eagles found a way to win.
12:00 PM ET No. 22 North Carolina at Georgia Tech
A key battle in the ACC Coastal with the loser being one step closer to elimination from the race due to Miami's hot start. Georgia Tech's option attack hasn't been hitting on all cylinders thus far, with teams learning to collapse the inside of the line and taking away B-back Jonathan Dwyer. The many explosive runs that were commonplace in 2008 have been few and far between, with the most recent result being a sound beating at the hands of the aforementioned Hurricanes. North Carolina's had its fair share of offensive issues as well but seemed to get back on the right track in their win over East Carolina last week.
If they can properly use backs Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston that should open things up in the passing game for QB T.J. Yates and his young receivers. Tech ran for more than 300 yards in last season's meeting yet still lost 28-7 due to their inability to hold onto the football, finishing the game with a minus-3 turnover margin. Georgia Tech has won nine of the last eleven games in the series, so that's the pick here despite their recent offensive issues.
12:00 PM ET Indiana at No. 23 Michigan
The Hoosiers haven't won in Ann Arbor since 1967, and it's hard to believe that they can change that despite their 3-0 record. Quarterback Tate Forcier will lead the Wolverines to a close victory, but keep an eye on Indiana DE Jammie Kirlew. He should be playing on Sundays next season.
12:00 PM ET Rhode Island at Connecticut
This is the 94th meeting of the two New England schools, with the Huskies winning the last meeting by a score of 52-7. The "Ramnapping Trophy" is no longer given to the winner, but it's safe to say that Randy Edsall and company would be walking away with it were that the case.
12:00 PM ET Minnesota at Northwestern
The Big Ten opener for both and it could be a wild one. The Wildcats stole one in the Metrodome last season, winning on an interception return for a touchdown. Both are also coming off of a loss, with the Golden Gophers falling to Cal while Northwestern dropped one at Syracuse. Also on display is one of the nation's best (and toughest) wide receivers in Minnesota's Eric Decker.
He accounted for all three touchdowns last week, catching two and throwing for another in the 35-21 defeat. Saying that you're going to take away Decker and doing it are two entirely different things, and if Northwestern had issues with Syracuse's Mike Williams then the prospects of shutting down Decker don't look to promising. Minnesota gets revenge and wins by a field goal.
12:00 PM ET Buffalo at Temple
In the preseason this looked to be the game that would decide who wins the MAC East. That could still be the case, but only if the Bulls win. The Owls had trouble taking care of the football in their loss to Villanova, and it's hard to hold that 31-6 loss to Penn State against them. But even with losses to Pitt and UCF on their resume, Turner Gill's Bulls have the look of a team that is by far the class of the division. Buffalo won last year's meeting on a Hail Mary; they won't need such luck this time around.
12:00 PM ET Michigan State at Wisconsin
The Badgers are undefeated, having taken care of Northern Illinois and Fresno State in addition to Wofford. Michigan State, on the other hand, suffered close losses at the hands of Central Michigan and Notre Dame to start off the season at 1-2. The question is quite simple for the Spartan defense: can they take away the Wisconsin rushing attack, therefore forcing QB Scott Tolzien to win the game himself? If not, they'll be in for a long afternoon at Camp Randall. QB Kirk Cousins has been solid for Michigan State but they've been done in by costly turnovers and a defense that has struggled some. Wisconsin moves to 4-0 thanks in large part to their running game.
1:00 PM ET Marshall at Memphis
The likelihood that either one of these teams would represent the East in the Conference USA title game is quite slim, but both coaches could use the win in hopes of avoiding the cellar at season's end. Even though they've had their fair share of issues the pick here is Memphis. They're at home.
2:00 PM ET Wake Forest at Boston College
Boston College looked to have figured out their offensive question marks in wins over Northeastern and Kent State. But all that progress went up in smoke at Clemson last week, with the Eagles struggling to manage seven points in the loss in Death Valley. Could things open up for Justin Tuggle and Dave Shiniskie this week with the Demon Deacons coming to town? Yes, especially if Wake has issues with turnovers like they did in their season-opening loss to Baylor. In a game that could be decided by turnover margin more than any other statistic, look for Riley Skinner and company to pull off the close win on the road.
2:00 PM ET San Diego State at Air Force
Brady Hoke has improved the quality of football at SDSU, but can they slow down the Air Force ground attack? A win here would likely mean that the Aztecs were ready to move into the middle of the Mountain West pack; they've still got some growing to do. Air Force takes care of business.
2:10 PM ET Tennessee Tech at Kansas State
Kansas State hasn't looked too good in their last two games, losses to UL Lafayette and UCLA, but there's no reason for them to lose to Tennessee Tech. They may struggle, but Bill Snyder's Wildcats take care of business.
3:00 PM ET UNLV at Wyoming
Let's see: UNLV lost in the final seconds at home to Oregon State. Wyoming was shut out on the road by a pretty bad Colorado team. Not to mention the fact that I've got a little more trust in UNLV QB Omar Clayton than I do Wyoming's Karsten Sween, and the pick is UNLV.
3:30 PM ET UTEP at No. 2 Texas
The Longhorns, with a now-healthy Colt McCoy, may eclipse last year's beating in El Paso. PB&J washed down with Pedialyte can't save the Miners here; this one gets ugly.
3:30 PM ET Arkansas at No. 3 Alabama
The Crimson Tide begin conference play with a visit Arkansas, whose defense was absolutely shredded in their loss to Georgia last week. The Hogs can definitely put some points on the board thanks to QB Ryan Mallett and RB Michael Smith, but can the defense stop anyone of consequence? Greg McElroy has performed quite well for Alabama under center, utilizing the number of options he has at the skill positions while not turning the ball over. Add to this a solid defense and special teams led by returner Javier Arenas and you've got a team that as of right now could be the most complete in the SEC. That will prove to be too much for the Hogs to handle in Tuscaloosa.
3:30 PM ET No. 6 California at Oregon
The last time these two met in Eugene (2007) it ended up being one of the most entertaining games of the season. DeSean Jackson went off for the Golden Bears, who didn't seal the win until the final seconds, when an Oregon receiver reaching for the pylon had the ball slip out of his hands and through the end zone for a touchback. Similar excitement could be in store on Saturday, with RB Jahvid Best providing the fireworks for the Cal offense. A certain Heisman contender, Best rushed for 131 yards and five touchdowns in the 35-21 win at Minnesota last week.
As for the Ducks, they've put points on the boards in wins over Purdue and Utah, but the lion's share of the offensive load falls upon the shoulders of QB Jeremiah Masoli. RB LaMichael James has played well in place of the suspended LaGarrette Blount, but the Ducks will need more production out of the wide receiver position if they're to cement their status as a contender in the Pac-10. In what should be a wild contest look for QB Kevin Riley to make the big play in a California victory.
3:30 PM ET No. 9 Miami (FL) at No. 11 Virginia Tech
The Coastal Division title could very well be on the line in Blacksburg, especially if the Hurricanes were to win. They've already beaten Georgia Tech, so a win here would leave them with just North Carolina to deal with in regards to possible head-to-head tiebreakers. The Hurricanes have been the talk of the country in regards to their start, and sophomore QB Jacory Harris has gone from question mark to Heisman contender in a matter of weeks.
On the other side of the field, Frank Beamer's Hokies have still had issues on offense, most notably in the passing game. Will Tyrod Taylor be a pocket passer who throws for nearly 300 yards every game? No but it's important that he do enough to keep defenses honest, especially with Darren Evans (knee) out for the season. Four of the last seven meetings have been decided by seven points or more, which means that when someone loses they don't do it halfway. But the more I watch Miami the closer to "sold" I get. Hurricanes win, but it won't be a blowout.
3:30 PM ET Illinois at No. 13 Ohio State
Two seasons ago the Illini went into the Horseshoe and won, supposedly a watershed moment for Ron Zook's program. They eventually went to the Rose Bowl, but 2008 represented a failure in keeping the momentum going. Their season opener wasn't much better, with Illinois getting blown out by Missouri in St. Louis. But there's still a lot of talent on the roster, led by QB Juice Williams and WR Arrelous Benn, and that gives them a shot at knocking off the Buckeyes.
Terrelle Pryor and company had a better week against Toledo in the face of criticism of their "conservative" game plan in the loss to USC. Pryor ran more against the Rockets, and that also opened things up through the air. The Buckeyes also have an emerging star on the defensive side of the ball in LB Brian Rolle, who could be the next in the line of Ohio State greats at the position. Illinois is one of those teams that's tough to figure out; one week they look like they can beat anyone and the next it's like watching the Bad News Bears. No such extremes this weekend, but no win either.
3:30 PM ET No. 15 TCU at Clemson
This could be seen as the most important game of the season for the Mountain West. BYU and Utah both lost last week, likely eliminating them from the possibility of earning a BCS berth at the end of the season, so that leaves the Horned Frogs as the best hope. Clemson RB C.J. Spiller (ankle) is a little banged up but will be on the field, so TCU's stout defense must account for him. Not to mention a quarterback in Kyle Parker who's improving by the week, but he'll have his hands full on Saturday.
DE Jerry Hughes is one of the nation's best at getting to the quarterback, and Gary Patterson's defense is annually ranked among the nation's best. Offensively, QB Andy Dalton does a good job of getting the ball to the skill position players while keeping the turnovers down to a minimum. But they really haven't been tested in wins over Virginia and Texas State, so it remains to be seen what they do against Clemson. Tigers by a field goal.
3:30 PM ET Rutgers at Maryland
Maryland has many more issues than simply winning football games right now; unfortunately for them the poor execution is a significant issue when your goal is to win. Rutgers hasn't looked great in wins over Howard and FIU, but they got the job done. Tom Savage (concussion) is ready to go, and fellow quarterbacks Dom Natale and Jabu Lovelace will also see time depending on the formation. Maryland must get Da'Rel Scott untracked if they're to defend the home turf, but look for the Scarlet Knights to do just enough to leave with the victory.
3:30 PM ET UCF at East Carolina
ECU may be struggling, but they should still have enough to take care of the Knights at home. It won't be pretty but the Pirates get the win.
3:30 PM ET Pittsburgh at North Carolina State
The one true test for the Wolfpack this season didn't go too well for Russell Wilson and company, scoring just three points in a loss to South Carolina. Now they host a Pittsburgh squad that is likely more talented on the offensive end than the Gamecocks were, with freshman RB Dion Lewis leading the way. QB Bill Stull has played well for the Panthers, even though the natives came into the season restless in regards to the position. They've got a number of options at receiver with the dynamic Jonathan Baldwin leading the way. NC State will need their skill position players to come through, something they failed to do against South Carolina. The Panthers just look to be the better team, something they'll show on Saturday afternoon.
3:30 PM ET Akron at Central Michigan
The Zips will be competitive, but do they have enough offense to hang with Dan LeFevour and the Chippewas? Can't say that they do so look for the Chips to take care of business.
3:30 PM ET Western Kentucky at Navy
This one could get ugly. Not sure if the Hilltoppers have enough on defense to slow down QB Ricky Dobbs and company. Navy wins big.
3:30 PM ET Idaho at Northern Illinois
Idaho has shown signs of improvement this season, but it's tough to see them beating Jerry Kill's team in DeKalb. As long as QB Chandler Harnish takes care of the football the Huskies will win.
3:30 PM ET McNeese State at Tulane
Tulane may be tested but look for QB Joe Kemp to have his best outing of the season in a Green Wave victory.
4:00 PM ET UL Monroe at Florida Atlantic
The Owls had a tough go of it, due in large part to the difficult schedule they played. The first benefit should come in the form of a win over the Warhawks in their first conference game.
4:30 PM ET Troy at Arkansas State
The Red Wolves are hoping to play a role in the Sun Belt title race and they can go a long way towards that with a win over the preseason favorites. Troy had a disappointing loss at Bowling Green to open the season but everything else has gone as expected. Arkansas State will be ready for the Trojans, however, and the pick here is that they pull off the upset.
6:00 PM ET No. 1 Florida at Kentucky
Is there really a chink the Gators' armor? The wide receiver position definitely left something to be desired in their win over Tennessee; even though they may not have "needed" big plays from them it would have been nice to get something from the group. Kentucky has had no such issues offensively, averaging 41.5 points per game in wins over Miami (Ohio) and Louisville. But neither of those two teams had a defense as fast and as good as Florida's, so QB Mike Hartline will need to have a big day if the Wildcats are to win. Kentucky keeps this one respectable, but they won't have enough to knock off the Gators.
6:00 PM ET Colorado State at No. 19 Brigham Young
Steve Fairchild's Rams are a tough bunch; they back down from no one and you can expect the same when they take on the Cougars. BYU last week fell to Florida State for two reasons: turnovers (5) and a failure to stop the run (313 yards allowed). Don't expect Max Hall and company to match that turnover number this week, but it still won't be easy to defeat the Rams. Grant Stucker has a solid game in defeat for the Rams.
7:00 PM ET No. 8 Boise State at Bowling Green
Dave Clawson has the Falcons headed in the right direction, but they don't have enough to hang with a Boise State attack that may have come to life in their win at Fresno State last week. Kellen Moore has a very good night, leading the Broncos to yet another win.
7:00 PM ET Grambling State at No. 16 Oklahoma State
In a "Battle of the Bands" scenario the Tigers would likely be the favorite. Football? Not so much. Cowboys roll in Stillwater.
7:00 PM ET Arizona State at No. 21 Georgia
Last season's meeting in Tempe was a 27-10 win for the Bulldogs and to be honest the final score doesn't do the Bulldogs justice; they controlled that game from start to finish. If the same happens between the hedges things could get out of hand for an Arizona State team that has yet to be tested in beatings of Idaho State and UL Monroe. QB Danny Sullivan gets harassed to no end by a Georgia defense looking to show that their play against South Carolina and Arkansas isn't indicative of their skill level, and Joe Cox has another good game under center in a big Georgia victory.
7:00 PM ET UL Lafayette at No. 25 Nebraska
The Cornhuskers should end their abbreviated tour of the Sun Belt Conference with a 3-0 record against teams from that league. Look for them to take their frustrations over last week's painful loss to Virginia Tech out on the Ragin' Cajuns.
7:00 PM ET Ball State at Auburn
Stan Parrish has a lot of work to do in Muncie, and it will become even more apparent after Auburn's rejuvenated offense takes care of them on The Plains.
7:00 PM ET Army at Iowa State
The most interesting news regarding Army this week involved the firing of basketball coach Jim Crews, and that's really a shame since it takes away from what Rich Ellerson is doing on the gridiron. The Black Knights are likely one quarter away from being 3-0, and they've got a chance to knock off Austen Arnaud and the Cyclones in Ames. But Arnaud's ability to make plays may prove to be too much for Army, who will drop a close one to fall to 2-2 on the season.
7:00 PM ET North Carolina Central at Duke
The first meeting in what is now the Bull City Gridiron Classic, and while the Blue Devils did lose to defending FCS champion Richmond in the season opener the Eagles aren't as good as the Spiders. Since 2001, the Eagles are 6-2 in games decided by seven points or less; Duke is 3-16 in such contests. But it shouldn't be that close; look for Duke to take care of business in front of the home folks.
7:00 PM ET Maine at Syracuse
CAA Football is nothing to be scoffed at; two members already have wins over FBS opponents this season. But don't expect the Orange to come out flat following the first win of the Doug Marrone era. Syracuse beats the Black Bears to move to 2-2.
7:00 PM ET Sam Houston State at Tulsa
The Bearkats are a solid football program, but they may be walking into a buzz saw in taking on a Tulsa team that's spent the last week stewing over their performance at Oklahoma last week. Look for G.J. Kinne and the rest of the Golden Hurricane to get things rolling at home.
7:00 PM ET Northwestern State at Baylor
Robert Griffin III and the rest of the Bears should have a much better performance than they did in the 30-22 loss to Connecticut last week. Baylor whips the Demons in Waco.
7:00 PM ET UAB at Texas A&M
The Blazers are improved from a season ago, and QB Joe Webb can be a handful for defenses to stop. But the Aggies have also shown signs of improvement from 2008, and QB Jerrod Johnson will have a good night in leading A&M to the victory.
7:00 PM ET Middle Tennessee State at North Texas
The Mean Green are a better team despite the 1-2 overall record and consecutive losses to Ohio and Alabama. The Blue Raiders visit Denton on the heels of a win at Maryland, their second consecutive over the Terrapins. They've also won the last three meetings in the series including a 52-13 beating in Murfreesboro last season. Hopefully for North Texas QB Riley Dodge (ankle) will be able to go. He missed the Alabama game but was expected to take part in practice this week. But even if he's able to return look for the Blue Raiders to survive a road trip that's tougher than it has been in recent years.
7:00 PM ET Toledo at Florida International
The Rockets were brought back down to earth last week, with Ohio State shutting them out in Cleveland just six days after they beat Colorado. Next up is an FIU squad that made things tougher for Rutgers than expected last week. They may not have enough firepower to keep up with Toledo QB Aaron Opelt however, and that will make all the difference in a close Toledo victory.
7:00 PM ET Miami (OH) at Kent State
Neither team has looked very good thus far, so the pick goes to the home team. The Golden Flashes win by a touchdown.
7:00 PM ET Ohio at Tennessee
The Volunteers struggled mightily on offense at Florida last week, but Ohio isn't Florida. Add to this an offense that defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin may be able to shut down with his many schemes and you've got all the makings for a solid Tennessee victory.
7:00 PM ET Hofstra at Western Michigan
The Pride are ranked among the best teams at the FCS level so this could get interesting. But in the end Tim Hiller and company do enough to get the victory.
7:30 PM ET Louisville at Utah
Utah should be good and angry following their loss at Oregon, a game that could have been won if not for their slow start. Now they welcome a Louisville team that might be better than many thought in the preseason as well as their win over Indiana State. Justin Burke had a good game in the Cardinals' close loss at Kentucky last week, which turned for the worst on a critical fumble by WR Trent Guy. Unfortunately for Louisville it won't come down to that; they'll compete but QB Terrence Cain and RB Matt Asiata will prove to be too much.
7:35 PM ET Arizona at Oregon State
Nick Foles is the new starter at Arizona, replacing Matt Scott at the helm. Scott will still see action but given the struggles in the passing game head coach Mike Stoops felt that it was time to give the Michigan State transfer a shot. Foles is more of a pocket passer while Scott would tuck the ball and run. With TE Rob Gronkowski out for the season the Wildcats need to get the wide receivers going in order to supplement backs Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin. The Beavers are also coming off of a loss, losing to Cincinnati at home last week to end their 26-game home non-conference win streak. Sean Canfield and the Rodgers brothers should be ready to go this week in hopes of getting back on the right track. And they'll do just that in what should be a tightly-contested affair.
8:00 PM ET Iowa at No. 5 Penn State
Some people like the Hawkeyes in an upset, possibly being emboldened by an untested Ole Miss falling at South Carolina on Thursday night. But even though the Nittany Lions haven't been tested in three routine victories it's hard to see them losing at home. 107,000+ fans, most of who will be dressed in white for the "White Out" in hopes of paying back Kirk Ferentz's Hawkeyes for last year's Iowa win. The three "easy" games may have been a good way in which to establish the receivers, most notably Derek Moye and Chaz Powell; most of those guys saw very little (if any) credible playing time in 2008 for Penn State. Iowa keeps things close but in a big game take Daryll Clark over Ricky Stanzi.
8:00 PM ET Cal Poly at San Jose State
If Rich Ellerson were still the head coach at Cal Poly they'd likely have a better chance to beat the Spartans. But look for Dick Tomey's team to get it going on offense in a solid performance.
8:00 PM ET Vanderbilt at Rice
Rice isn't the same kind of team that they were in 2008, which should bode well for the Commodores on the road. The game's close, but Vandy heads back to Nashville with the win.
8:00 PM ET Southern Utah at Utah State
Before Gary Andersen arrived in Logan this would be a game that if the Aggies lost you wouldn't bat an eyelash. Things have changed in the Utah State program, and while it may not make a huge difference in regards to their standing in the WAC at season's end fans will notice the improvement. Utah State takes care of business.
8:00 PM ET Notre Dame at Purdue
Purdue said that they'd turned a corner in the aftermath of their close loss at Oregon...then they lose to Northern Illinois at home. Even with Jimmy Clausen (turf toe) banged up, RB Armando Allen Jr. (ankle) a game-time decision and WR Michael Floyd (collarbone) out the Irish should take care of business. Look for big nights from Golden Tate and Clausen in the Notre Dame road win.
9:00 PM ET No. 24 Washington at Stanford
Going back to the earlier point regarding college football and kneejerk reactions Washington goes to Stanford ranked thanks to their upset of USC. Not to take anything away from Steve Sarkisian and his program, but aren't the Huskies just three games removed from a 0-12 campaign? Maybe Vegas, which has the Cardinal in as a solid touchdown favorite, is on to something here. Make no mistake about it though; this could be a tougher game than the USC contest. How will the Huskies focus on the task at hand instead of looking back on what happened last week?
Add in a solid Stanford team led by QB Andrew Luck and RB Toby Gerhart and you've got all the makings for a Cardinal win. Jake Locker plays well for U-Dub but not well enough in a Stanford win.
9:15 PM ET Texas Tech at No. 17 Houston
Likely the game of the day if you like watching quarterbacks sling the ball all over the field. Both Case Keenum (Houston) and Taylor Potts (Texas Tech) can put up yards and points with the best of them, especially the senior who has already led the Cougars to a win at Oklahoma State. But the difference-maker could very well be sophomore RB Bryce Beall, who rushed for over 1,000 yards for Houston in 2008. Not sure if either defense can step up and make this into a slugfest, so this will likely be decided by turnovers and time of possession. Look for the Cougars' ability to run the football to be the difference, with Houston winning by a touchdown to keep their BCS dreams alive.
10:00 PM ET New Mexico State at New Mexico
Neither team is very good, but the Lobos have the better on-field product right now. New Mexico beats the rival Aggies in Albuquerque.
10:15 PM ET Washington State at No. 12 USC
You have to feel bad for the Cougars in this one. One week after picking up their first win in dramatic fashion (overtime over SMU) they'll likely get beat like they stole something by an angry bunch of Trojans.