Non-BCS picks of the week: Beyond the Holy War
If you're looking for a prediction for Saturday's Holy War, you're not going to find it here. No, I'm saving that one for Friday.
No reason to take away from the many other good games with bowl implications.
Although the Holy War is all most people are talking about this week, there are several key games in the WAC, Sun Belt and Conference USA, which could change the conference championships and the bowl picture.
Buffalo 27, Bowling Green 21: Bowling Green is still trying to get into the MAC East race, but Buffalo has been one of the hottest teams in the East during the past month. The Bulls are going to have a lot of confidence after a big win over Akron last week and the Falcons' 88th-ranked rushing defense is going to have trouble with James Starks.
Rice 42, Marshall 20: Who knows which Marshall might happen to show up this week. Will it be the one that dominated Houston or the one that tanked against UAB? Marshall has two games to get two wins for bowl eligibility and one is against a strong Rice team that's still angling for a C-USA West title.
Memphis 27, UCF 13: Memphis has been on a tear the last quarter of the season and is just one game away from bowl eligibility. The Tigers get starting quarterback Arkelon Hall back from a broken thumb, but he'll be going against a tough UCF secondary that will be looking to take advantage of his rustiness.
Houston 48, UTEP 32: Now that Houston has bowl eligibility, it's setting its sights on winning C-USA West. The Cougars are the only team of the three at the top -- Tulsa and Rice -- that controls their own destiny and that starts by denying the Miners their bowl eligibility in a shootout at home.
TCU 35, Air Force 17: TCU needs the win to have a chance at a piece of the Mountain West title, and after a week off, the Horned Frogs should have their minds right to finish the season. The Horned Frogs' top-ranked rushing defense should have little trouble with the Falcons' option offense.
Wyoming 24, Colorado State 21: This is a sentimental pick. It might be wishful thinking that Wyoming would want to send its coach off on a high note (c'mon, we all know it's coming), but it seems like the right thing to do. A win against rival Colorado State would deny the Rams a bowl game.
Troy 31, Louisiana-Lafayette 17: A month ago, I would have picked this game the other way. But with the Ragin' Cajuns pretty banged up and Troy firing on all cylinders, it's tough to pick against the Trojans, even if they did tank at LSU.
Florida Atlantic 40, Arkansas State 31: With the exception of Troy, no Sun Belt team is playing better in the conference right now than FAU. Winners of four straight, the Owls have put themselves back in contention for a second consecutive Sun Belt title, and I don't think ASU is going to stand in their way.
San Jose State 21, Fresno State 17: Both of these teams are fighting for a bowl berth, along with Louisiana Tech and Nevada. San Jose State, which is playing in its final game of the regular season, needs a win to keep Fresno State out of a bowl. The Bulldogs still have to play Boise State. This game will be low scoring, probably with two turnovers each.
Boise State 42, Nevada 40: It's difficult to pick against Boise State since it's undefeated, but there's a revenge factor here that's going to make this one of the more exciting games of the weekend. Last year, these teams played four overtimes in Boise and Nevada's been thinking about it ever since. But I think the Boise State defense comes up with the last crucial stop.