Picks of the week: Beware the trap game
Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson
Buffalo 27, Western Michigan 21: This is a tough pick, especially since both teams come into this game from different ends of the spectrum. Buffalo has lost its last two and Western Michigan has won its last five, but the Broncos haven't faced a team as tough as Buffalo and the Bulls have had two weeks to prepare for the Broncos' revamped offense. Really, this game could go either way, but I like Buffalo because it's played the tougher schedule.
Northern Illinois 29, Miami (Ohio) 10: Call me a Jerry Kill believer. The Huskies have steadily gotten better each week and I think they ride the wave of confidence from the Tennessee into this game and come out with a win. That is, if Northern Illinois has a quarterback by Saturday.
Memphis 28, Louisville 24: Memphis has been great the past three weeks and I think that carries over, especially if Louisville has some hobbled players this weekend. Memphis' offense has gotten better each week and the defense has followed suit. But games between these rivals are often close, so it could go down to the wire.
Boise State 35, Southern Miss 26: I'm not sure what to make of this game. Boise State has been great this season while Southern Miss has been so-so. In all fairness, the Golden Eagles' losses have been by an average of eight points and their last two losses have been by a touchdown or fewer. I could see Southern Miss getting up to play a ranked team, but I could also see Boise State rolling. My prediction is somewhere in the middle.
North Carolina 27, Notre Dame 25: Yet another game that's too close to call, but I'm giving it to UNC because ND was horrendous in its only road game this season. Also, North Carolina leads the country in interceptions and though Jimmy Clausen hasn't thrown a pick in two games, he still has the propensity to do so. Notre Dame would do well to run the ball against a UNC defense that's allowing 144.4 yards per game.
TCU 35, Colorado State 17: There's a possibility this could be a trap game with BYU looming, but I think Gary Patterson is too good of a coach to let that happen. TCU has taken care of business almost all season and it will do so again this weekend. CSU quarterback Billy Farris might be in for a long day against the nation's best defense.
BYU 32, New Mexico 20: Same thing here as with TCU. This could easily be a trap game, but I think Bronco Mendenhall prepares his guys better than that. BYU is a mature team and won't fall into a trap. It will, however, have a little trouble with New Mexico's running game, especially since Rodney Ferguson has had nearly two weeks of rest. But BYU has too many weapons for New Mexico to steal a win here.
Arkansas State 21, Louisiana-Monroe 10: This is a huge game for Arkansas State if it wants to keep pace with Troy and a huge game for Louisiana-Monroe if it wants to stay in the Sun Belt race. I've said a couple times that I think Corey Leonard is the best quarterback in the Sun Belt and I think he carries his team against the Warhawks.
Middle Tennessee 35, Florida International 10: I have a hard time seeing FIU win three in a row, especially against a well-rested Middle Tennessee team that probably spent the week cleaning up everything that went wrong before a Hail Mary pass saved the day. Joe Craddock is a good quarterback, Malcolm Beyah is a great receiver and when they are on the same page, this offense is one of the best in the conference.
Nevada 49, New Mexico State 24: Did you know that in every Nevada win this season the Wolf Pack has scored 49 points? Hence, the prediction. After a shaky start, the Wolf Pack have gotten their game going and look to be a bit of threat in the WAC. But if Nevada wants to hang with the likes of Boise State, it will have to get past the high-octane offense of New Mexico State. Not an easy task, but one the Wolf Pack should handle.
Hawaii 27, Louisiana Tech 24: Here's me giving Hawaii the benefit of the doubt. The last time I did this - - after a 19-point Hawaii win the previous week -- the Warriors got stomped by Oregon State. This week it's Louisiana Tech and Taylor Bennett's 39.4 completion percentage. Hawaii is at home and it's sky high from its win over Fresno State. This should be a winner.