NCF Nation: Darius Passmore

Posted by's Graham Watson

1. Upset special: With Southern Cal falling out of the No. 1 spot with a loss to Oregon State on Thursday, No. 2 Oklahoma looks poised to become the leader of the pack. This might be a perfect time for TCU to sneak in the upset.

2. Offensive explosion: Buffalo's Drew Willy and Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour are two of the most prolific quarterbacks in the MAC and when they get together this weekend, both defenses better be on high alert.

3. Catch more, Passmore: If you don't know the name Darius Passmore, you will by the second half of Marshall's game against West Virginia. Passmore leads all receivers in receiving yards per game and should have a field day against WVU's 86th-ranked pass defense.

4. Dominance of the Pac-10: The Mountain West and the WAC have a chance to continue to kick the Pac-10 while it's down. Fresno State will attempt only its second win in the eight times it's met UCLA, and Colorado State will look to extend the Mountain West's streak over the Pac-10 to 6-0 with a win at Cal.

5. Crazy finish: Arkansas State and Memphis have had some crazy finishes the last two seasons and considering the way Memphis' season is going, it wouldn't be surprising to see another one. The Tigers' last two loses have been by a touchdown or fewer.

6. Notre Dame, good or bad?: After its first loss of the season last week, there's no telling how the Irish will play this week when it hosts Purdue. This is one of many winnable games on their schedule, but you never know when thoughts of last year could creep in.

7. Moving on: Ball State played with great emotion after the loss of receiver Dante Love, but a week after his injury, how will the Cardinals respond against Kent State? The Cardinals are already in the midst of one of the best starts in school history and that should continue if they don't get in their own way.

8. Six more touchdowns: Tulsa quarterback David Johnson could throw six more touchdowns when the Golden Hurricane play FCS opponent Central Arkansas. Smith has thrown six touchdowns in each of the last two games -- a C-USA record.

9. Movin' on up: BYU could find itself in the top 10 this week even though it's idle. After Southern Cal's loss to Oregon State, every team below the Trojans figures to move up until the Trojans find their spot. A couple more upsets, which is possible, could put the Cougars in the top 10 for the first time since Dec. 2, 2001.

10. Success story: UNLV has burst onto the scene as a one-team BCS wrecking crew, but what happens when it drops back to non-BCS earth? We'll see this weekend when it meets in-state rival Nevada. Nevada has won each of the last three meetings, but might still be smarting from a thrashing at Missouri two weeks ago.

Big Ten picks for Week 2

September, 4, 2008

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

My editors don't know it yet, but this will be my last blog post for I'm taking the fiancée, moving to Vegas and setting up shop. C'mon, did you see last week's picks? Sure, there were only three or four true toss-up games, one of which I got woefully wrong. But a 9-1 record with five near-perfect score predictions tells me I'm in the wrong line of work. In all seriousness, I highly doubt I'll have another week like that all season, so please don't mortgage your house on what you read below. However, this should be another Saturday to pad the season record before things get much tougher in Week 3.

Here we go:

Ohio State 45, Ohio 7 -- No Beanie, no problem for the Buckeyes, who have the chance to showcase their creativity on offense before the USC game. Running backs Dan "Boom" Herron, Mo Wells and Brandon Saine have big games as the Buckeyes roll. Ohio has some speed threats in wideout Taylor Price and return man Donte Harden, but the Buckeyes defense stands tall again.

Wisconsin 40, Marshall 13 -- Quarterback Allan Evridge and the Badgers should iron out the kinks in the red zone against the Thundering Herd. Evridge will find a healthy Travis Beckum for the first of many touchdown passes this season. Like Akron, Marshall could present some first-half trouble with with Dariuses (Marshall and Passmore), but ultimately the Badgers will be too strong.

Illinois 52, Eastern Illinois 3 -- There are several factors working against the Panthers. Illinois unveils its renovated stadium and welcomes back the program's greatest living players to Champaign. The team wears Dick Butkus-era throwback jerseys. And the Illini are ticked off after the Missouri loss. The Illinois defense forces at least three turnovers and Juice Williams continues to surge.

Michigan State 42, Eastern Michigan 14 -- Expect a big day for Spartans senior Javon Ringer, both at running back and kickoff returner. Quarterback Brian Hoyer finds his rhythm and another wide receiver follows Mark Dell's performance with a big game. Eagles quarterback Andy Schmitt and tailback Terrence Blevins test a still-iffy Spartans defense, but Michigan State pulls away in the third quarter.

Michigan 27, Miami (Ohio) 6 -- The Wolverines offense won't look quite as bad with Steven Threet most likely at the helm, and a running back -- don't know which one -- steps up big against Miami. Linebacker Obi Ezeh and the Michigan defense builds off the second-half performance against Utah and shuts down a turnover-prone RedHawks offense.

Iowa 44, Florida International 10 -- I won't make the same mistake twice after doubting the Hawkeyes' offense last week. Iowa's run game continues to prosper behind Shonn Greene, and junior quarterback Jake Christensen finally cements himself as the clear-cut starter with a strong performance. Aside from return man T.Y. Hilton, FIU doesn't have much to scare the Hawkeyes.

Purdue 41, Northern Colorado 0 -- Given what's coming up next, the Boilers need a strong start and get one from quarterback Curtis Painter and running back Kory Sheets. At least three receivers catch touchdown passes as coach Joe Tiller samples what he has besides Greg Orton. Purdue's improved secondary will shut down a Northern Colorado team that averaged just 11.3 points a game last fall and is picked last in its league.

Penn State 38, Oregon State 30 -- The Beavers secondary looks strong, but will it matter if the front seven can't stop the run? If Stanford racked up 210 yards against Oregon State, just think what Penn State will do with Evan Royster, Stephfon Green and mobile quarterback Daryll Clark, who will be on the move much more this week. Quarterback Lyle Moevao presents some problems for Penn State's secondary, but the Lions pull through at home.

Indiana 45, Murray State 10 -- Quarterback Kellen Lewis breaks another long run or two, but the Hoosiers get more help from their running backs against a Murray State team that was tied with Lambuth early in the second half of last week's victory. Hoosiers defensive end Greg Middleton picks up two or three sacks as the walk down easy street continues.

Northwestern 30, Duke 21 -- Several factors could hurt Northwestern: the weather, an improved Duke team, mobile quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and the emotions after last season's embarrassing loss in Evanston. Here's another factor: running back Tyrell Sutton, who missed last year's game with an ankle injury. Sutton will be the best player on the field Saturday night and help Northwestern escape with a win.

Bowling Green 38, Minnesota 34 -- There's still too many problems on the Gophers defense, and Falcons quarterback Tyler Sheehan will capitalize in a big way. I could see a mini-letdown for Bowling Green after the Pitt win, but the Falcons are hosting their first Big Ten opponent since 1966 and should prevail. Gophers quarterback Adam Weber ha
s another big game, but it's not enough.

Bye: None

Season record: 9-1