NCF Nation: Game predictions 090612

Big East predictions: Week 2

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
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So yeah, that whole part about the unpredictability of the Big East I wrote about last week? If only I had listened to my own advice. (Cough, cough, Pitt). I went 5-2 in Week 1 after feeling fully confident the league would go undefeated. And I know it has not been lost on you that the two teams that lost are jumping for the ACC.

What does Week 2 have in store? Hopefully a better record!

Thursday

Pitt at Cincinnati, 8 p.m., ESPN. Would you rather be Cincinnati, which has had an extra week to prepare for the Big East opener? Or would you rather be Pitt, having to play on a short week after a humiliating loss to Youngstown State? Going with Cincinnati on that one. Although we have no idea what to expect out of the Bearcats because they did not play last week, could they be worse than what we saw out of the Panthers? I really doubt it. Pitt was dreadful on defense, and not much better on offense. I am sure there will be improvement, as there always is between Week 1 and Week 2. But I give Cincinnati the edge in virtually every category. These games are typically close, but the Bearcats have pulled out the squeakers in three of the past four seasons. Of course, it would be "so Big East" for Pitt win. Cincinnati 24, Pitt 21.

Saturday

NC State at UConn, noon, Big East Network. There are two ACC/Big East matchups on Saturday afternoon, and two perfect opportunities for the league. The Huskies are going to present a huge challenge for the Wolfpack, who looked out of sorts in their opening loss to Tennessee. UConn does not have the speed Tennessee does at the skill positions, but the Huskies have what appears to be a good-looking defense that will keep them in the game. UConn's offense was just so-so last week, but NC State gave up many big plays, and All-American cornerback David Amerson looked beatable. If the Huskies can hit a couple of those, and get Lyle McCombs going, they will be in good shape. Overall, I think UConn has the better defense, and that is why I am picking the Huskies in my upset special! UConn 21, NC State 20.

Maryland at Temple, noon, ESPNU. The Terrapins appear to be in worse shape now than they were when Temple won this meeting last season 38-7. The Terps are starting a true freshman at quarterback in Perry Hills, and have had to deal with injuries to key players on both offense and defense. They barely squeaked out a 7-6 win over William & Mary and had only 236 yards of total offense. Temple was outstanding running the football last week against Villanova and now has to start working on its pass game, which struggled in Week 1. Defensively, Temple had four sacks and forced two turnovers. Simply put, the Owls are the better team. Temple 35, Maryland 14.

Missouri State at Louisville, 3:30 p.m., Big East Network. Teddy Bridgewater was about as perfect as he could be in a win over Kentucky last week. He was pulled from the game in the third quarter against the Wildcats, and I don't imagine he will last longer than that in this game against Missouri State. Coach Charlie Strong will want to see improvement from his defense in this one. Louisville 40, Missouri State 10.

No. 2 USC vs. Syracuse, 3:30 p.m., ABC. The Orange fought their tails off last week against Northwestern and came up just short 42-41. Now they have to follow that heartbreaking loss with a game against the No. 2 USC Trojans, who dropped from the No. 1 spot because Alabama played so well against Michigan. I still think USC is the No. 1 team in the nation. There is too much talent on offense for Syracuse to be able to stop. Ryan Nassib may get some yards, but I don't think this will be close. USC 38, Syracuse 20.

USF at Nevada, 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network. This is the hardest game of the week to predict. Nevada is a two-point favorite, and you understand why because the Wolf Pack beat Cal on the road and are playing at home. USF looked ragged at times in its win over Chattanooga, particularly on offense, and must travel across the country and three time zones to play. There also is a date against Rutgers looming on a short week. But let's be honest: USF is supposed to be better than Cal this year, and I am banking on its athletic front seven to contain Cody Fajardo and the Pistol. USF 28, Nevada 24.

Howard at Rutgers, 3:30 p.m., Big East Network. What will be of particular interest to me is the Rutgers passing game and the development of a go-to receiver with the USF game looming. Perhaps coach Kyle Flood worries about the "lookahead" factor in this one, but I think Rutgers will have an easy time in this game. Rutgers 45, Howard 3.

Predictions: Big Ten Week 2

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
9:00
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It's prediction time again as we attempt to forecast Week 2 in the Big Ten.

Although opening weekend had more big-ticket games, Week 2 features more potential toss-ups around the league. Seven Big Ten teams hit the road Saturday, including three squads -- No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 16 Nebraska and Illinois -- visiting Pac-12 opponents.

Both of us went 10-2 in Week 1, and we'd probably take that record again Saturday.

Let's get to it ...

NEW HAMPSHIRE at MINNESOTA

Brian Bennett: No repeat of last year's North Dakota State debacle for the Gophers, who improve to 2-0 behind a strong running game, led by Donnell Kirkwood. ... Minnesota 31, New Hampshire 20

Adam Rittenberg: The Gophers can't afford to take any team lightly and have dropped their past two games against FCS teams (North Dakota State and South Dakota). Still, I liked what I saw from Minnesota's defensive front in the opener. The Gophers get enough from Ra'Shede Hageman & Co., and MarQueis Gray rebounds with three touchdowns (2 pass, 1 rush) as the team survives against New Hampshire. ... Minnesota 26, New Hampshire 20

UCF at No. 18 OHIO STATE

Adam Rittenberg: The Knights provide a much tougher test for Ohio State than Miami (Ohio) did, and the Buckeyes' defense has some early struggles before rebounding. I expect another big performance from Braxton Miller, who gets Jake Stoneburner more involved in the passing attack as Ohio State pulls away in the third quarter. ... Ohio State 34, UCF 17

Brian Bennett: The Buckeyes' offense gets off to a stronger start than last week, and Carlos Hyde goes for 100 yards. That and another big special-teams play help Ohio State break this one open. ... Ohio State 38, UCF 21

PENN STATE at VIRGINIA

Brian Bennett: Call me crazy, but I think the Lions will rebound after their Week 1 loss. I see a much better performance by the Penn State defense, and Matt McGloin hits Allen Robinson for two touchdowns as PSU finally gets some good news. ... Penn State 17, Virginia 14

Adam Rittenberg: It wouldn't surprise me if Penn State's offensive line controlled Virginia and the Lions' defense stepped up, but I don't think the Lions have enough firepower to win on the road against an improving Cavaliers program. McGloin has some early success, but Penn State once again fades down the stretch. ... Virginia 21, Penn State 14

PURDUE at No. 22 NOTRE DAME

Adam Rittenberg: I'd pick Purdue if the game were in West Lafayette, and I expect Notre Dame to start slowly after the long trip to Ireland. But the Irish have a more dynamic offense than the Boilers, and Purdue's defense will start to show some cracks in the third quarter against Everett Golson. Both Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve see plenty of snaps in this one for the Boilers. ... Notre Dame 27, Purdue 21

Brian Bennett: Every time Notre Dame does something good, it usually backslides. So I see the Irish faltering after their strong performance in Dublin. Purdue is due, and Kawann Short dominates defensively and blocks a field goal for the win. ... Purdue 28, Notre Dame 24

INDIANA at MASSACHUSETTS

Brian Bennett: Picking Indiana to beat anybody on the road is dicey at this stage. But the Minutemen might not be as good as Indiana State. The Hoosiers fall behind early but rally behind Tre Roberson and knock down a fourth-down pass at the goal line on the final play. ... Indiana 21, UMass 20

Adam Rittenberg: I think Kevin Wilson is starting to trust his team more and should open up the offensive playbook more against the Minutemen. Although Indiana needs a cleaner performance on the road, it gets enough from Roberson, who tosses two touchdown passes, including one to Kofi Hughes in his return from suspension. ... Indiana 27, UMass 21

AIR FORCE at No. 19 MICHIGAN

Adam Rittenberg: Air Force is a team that gets your attention, and that's a good thing for Michigan after the disaster near Dallas. The Wolverines start slowly but block and tackle a lot better in the final three quarters. Denard Robinson plays a clean game with two touchdown passes and no picks, and Fitz Toussaint breaks off a long touchdown run in his return from suspension. ... Michigan 35, Air Force 20

Brian Bennett: Everybody is looking for the upset here, but I don't see it. Brady Hoke has experience coaching against the Falcons, and Michigan simply has too much talent. Robinson bounces back with 350 total yards. ... Michigan 38, Air Force 17

No. 11 MICHIGAN STATE at CENTRAL MICHIGAN

Brian Bennett: It's a good weekend for the Spartans to work on diversifying their offense. But it's the defense that once again carries the day. William Gholston has two sacks and Darqueze Dennard contributes a pick-six. ... Michigan State 28, Central Michigan 7

Adam Rittenberg: In the long run, quarterback Andrew Maxwell's shaky first start will turn out to be beneficial because he made mistakes without costing his team a crucial win. Expect a much more polished Maxwell in Mount Pleasant, and the Spartans junior tosses a pair of touchdown passes and no interceptions. Le'Veon Bell eclipses 100 yards, but his workload is more manageable in an easy win. ... Michigan State 38, Central Michigan 10

IOWA STATE at IOWA

Adam Rittenberg: Similar to last week, I'm tempted to pick against the Hawkeyes, but the game isn't in Ames and although Steele Jantz's presence strikes fear in all who love the Black and Gold, Iowa will contain him enough in this game. Micah Hyde records a pick-six against Jantz and James Vandenberg rebounds with two touchdown passes. Iowa fills one of those empty trophy cases. ... Iowa 24, Iowa State 20

Brian Bennett: Another wild shootout, but this one goes the Hawkeyes' way. Vandenberg throws for 300 yards and Damon Bullock puts together another 100-yard game as Iowa hangs on for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. ... Iowa 35, Iowa State 31

No. 13 WISCONSIN at OREGON STATE

Brian Bennett: Montee Ball shook off some rust in the opener and is ready for a big game. He goes for 175 and three scores, and despite some defensive lapses late, the Badgers prevail in Beavers country. ... Wisconsin 35, Oregon State 23

Adam Rittenberg: Corvallis is a tough place to play, and Big Ten teams really struggle on the road against the Pac-12. But Oregon State isn't a very good team, and Wisconsin should learn some lessons from the opener and keep the pedal down. Danny O'Brien makes a few miscues, but the Badgers' ground game takes over in the second half as Wisconsin prevails. ... Wisconsin 30, Oregon State 20

No. 16 NEBRASKA at UCLA

Adam Rittenberg: UCLA looked good in its opener, but so did Nebraska, and the Huskers appear to be a more complete team in 2012. Despite Rex Burkhead's injury, Nebraska has more than enough firepower as Taylor Martinez returns to his home state and racks up four touchdowns (2 pass, 2 rush). The Bruins give the Blackshirts a few issues, but Nebraska prevails after a big fourth quarter. ... Nebraska 33, UCLA 28

Brian Bennett: The Bruins showed some better offensive weaponry in their opener against Rice and will make this game a high-scoring, Pac-12-like affair. But Nebraska has more options on both sides of the ball, even without Burkhead. It's a big day for Ameer Abdullah, who runs for 100 yards and scores on a kickoff return. ... Nebraska 42, UCLA 31

VANDERBILT at NORTHWESTERN

Brian Bennett: The Cardiac Cats are impossible to predict. Why not the same score as last week? The Wildcats' varied offense gives Vandy much more trouble than South Carolina did in Week 1. Looking forward to the postgame Quiz Bowl. ... Northwestern 42, Vanderbilt 41

Adam Rittenberg: Northwestern looks like the same team we've seen the past two seasons, and although a young defense should eventually get better, this is a tough matchup against an explosive Vanderbilt team. It'll be another shootout, but this time, the Wildcats fall short as Jordan Rodgers takes aim on a woeful secondary. ... Vanderbilt 35, Northwestern 31

ILLINOIS at ARIZONA STATE

Adam Rittenberg: As well as Illinois' defense played in Week 1, I just don't think the Illini have enough to win on the road, especially with top quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase hobbled. No one likes Todd Graham, but the man knows offense and his Sun Devils have enough to survive on their home field. ... Arizona State 21, Illinois 20

Brian Bennett: Assuming Graham hasn't left for another job before kickoff, the Sun Devils have a lot of advantages here, including home field in the desert and Scheelhaase's injury. Illinois' defense is game but wears down as the game stretches past midnight Central time, and the Illini offense can't keep up. ... Arizona State 23, Illinois 17

SEASON RECORDS

Bennett: 10-2 (.833)

Rittenberg: 10-2 (.833)

ACC predictions: Week 2

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
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It was a respectable Week 1, as I only missed two games -- Duke and NC State -- for an 8-2 record. I’m kicking myself for not going with my gut on the Blue Devils, and I will freely admit I had been drinking the Tom O’Brien Kool-Aid all summer. Much like the ACC on opening week, I’ve got room for improvement. Here’s to a better Week 2:

Boston College 31, Maine 20: If the Eagles don’t win this game, they might not win any. I don’t think that’s the case, though. BC had 542 yards of total offense against Miami and took a 14-0 lead. Saturday’s game will be the season opener for Maine, which returns 15 starters from last season’s 9-4 team.

Clemson 34, Ball State 21. After a strong performance against Auburn, Clemson is due for a little bit of a letdown game. Remember the Wofford game last year? Clemson fell behind 21-13? Yeah, kind of like that. Ball State is very well-coached. Clemson will win this game, but it might not wake up until the fourth quarter.

Florida State 59, Savannah State o: This will be a good opportunity for the defensive linemen to adjust to life without injured starting defensive end Brandon Jenkins. Tank Carradine will move into Jenkins’ spot, and it could get ugly for Savannah State, which could start four freshmen on the offensive line. This will be the final tune-up before conference play begins next week against Atlantic Division opponent Wake Forest.

Temple 17, Maryland 7: The Owls, now in the Big East, are a physical, tough-minded football team that was able to beat the Terps in College Park last year. Maryland is just so young offensively that the Terps are going to have trouble executing. The defense will keep them in this game, but the offense won’t be enough to win it.

ANDREA ADELSON’S BIG EAST TAKE: The Terrapins appear to be in worse shape now than they were when Temple won this meeting last season 38-7. The Terps are starting a true freshman at quarterback in Perry Hills, and have had to deal with injuries to key players on both offense and defense. They barely squeaked out a 7-6 win over William & Mary and had only 236 yards of total offense. Temple was outstanding running the football last week against Villanova and now has to start working on its pass game, which struggled in Week 1. Defensively, Temple had four sacks and forced two turnovers. Simply put, the Owls are the better team. Temple 35, Maryland 14.

NC State 27, Connecticut 24: This has the feel of a last-play-of-the-game type of matchup, but the Wolfpack will be able to shake off the loss to Tennessee and win this one in the fourth quarter. The Pack got its wake-up call already. It should have the advantage in the matchup against the Huskies’ receivers -- no, really.

AA’S TAKE: There are two ACC/Big East matchups Saturday afternoon, and two perfect opportunities for the league. The Huskies are going to present a huge challenge for the Wolfpack, who looked out of sorts in their opening loss to Tennessee. UConn does not have the speed Tennessee does at the skill positions, but the Huskies have what appears to be a good-looking defense and will keep them in the game. UConn's offense was just so-so last week, but NC State gave up many big plays on defense and All-American cornerback David Amerson was beatable. If the Huskies can hit a couple of big plays and get Lyle McCombs going, they will be in good shape. Overall, I think UConn has the better defense, and that is why I am picking the Huskies in my upset special! UConn 21, NC State 20.

North Carolina 35, Wake Forest 24: The Tar Heels are a talented team, particularly on offense, and they will be difficult for the Deacs to defend. No, North Carolina’s rout of Elon wasn’t a good indicator of what to expect all season from the Tar Heels, but it was a more convincing performance than what we saw from Wake Forest against Liberty in Week 1.

Stanford 41, Duke 38: Defense? What defense? Stanford didn’t look good in its win against San Jose State last week, but the Cardinal will have home-field advantage, while Duke has to travel across the country for a 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff. Expect another big day for quarterback Sean Renfree and Conner Vernon, but the defense will come up short on the road.

Georgia Tech 55, Presbyterian 7: The Yellow Jackets looked better defensively against Virginia Tech than they were a year ago, and this will be a good chance for them to correct the mistakes they saw on the game film. It’s the first of four straight home games.

K-State 31, Miami 24: K-State will control the clock and drive Al Golden nuts. Miami will be in this game, but Kansas State will be too much for the Canes’ defense, which allowed BC 542 total yards last week. K-State had 324 yards rushing in last week’s 51-9 win over Missouri State.

Virginia 24, Penn State 14: The Hoos are a well-coached team with home-field advantage against a team that is riding an emotional roller coaster. Virginia is focused, and those within the program say they are not distracted by the ongoing story that is Penn State.

Virginia Tech 45, Austin Peay 6: The Hokies have some work to do offensively, despite their 21-17 overtime win against Georgia Tech on Monday night. They shouldn’t have a problem reaching the end zone against an overmatched Austin Peay team.

Predictions: SEC Week 2

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
9:00
AM ET
Well, one week of picks is in the books and we're all tied up.

Chris and I both were perfect on the weekend, going 12-for-12 in our picks. Not bad, considering Chris was questioning a couple of his picks before the deadline. I'm not saying the veteran took an early peek at my picks, but I wouldn't be surprised if the NCAA was on his doorstep come Friday morning.

I'll be the first to tell you that I was pretty upset about how I let my picks get away from me last year. I had a nice cushion and I blew it. But, as Bruce Wayne's father once said, "Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up again."

That's exactly what I intend to do, and it started with a perfect first weekend. The way Chris privately sweated out his picks last week, I can only say that it will take a lot for him to keep up with the Kid.

We haven't set a wager yet, but I think a victory by me might humble Chris into sitting through an entire soccer match.

If you can't beat me, join me.

On to the picks:

AUBURN AT MISSISSIPPI STATE

Edward Aschoff: This is an important game for both teams, but Mississippi State has far fewer questions than the Tigers and has the offensive weapons to hurt Auburn's defense. ... Mississippi State 24, Auburn 17

Chris Low: Mississippi State came up a foot short last season on the Plains. It’s about time the Bulldogs break their drought of stumbling in the SEC opener. … Mississippi State 24, Auburn 20

EAST CAROLINA AT SOUTH CAROLINA

Edward Aschoff: Connor Shaw is banged up and might not play, but expect Marcus Lattimore to carry the load regardless of who is throwing the ball, which should keep the Gamecocks in control. ... South Carolina 31, East Carolina 14

Chris Low: Whether Shaw can’t play at all or is severely limited, the Gamecocks won’t have much trouble with East Carolina in their home opener. … South Carolina 38, East Carolina 14

WESTERN KENTUCKY AT ALABAMA

Edward Aschoff: Alabama rolled over and through Michigan last week and the Crimson Tide will take this week to clean some things up in the secondary. ... Alabama 48, Western Kentucky 6

Chris Low: Nick Saban doesn’t want to hear about how great his team is based on one game. He might want to get used to it, because the Tide will roll for a second straight week. … Alabama 45, Western Kentucky 7

GEORGIA STATE AT TENNESSEE

Edward Aschoff: The Vols clearly have more depth than they've ever had during Derek Dooley's tenure, and the offense should only continue to impress this weekend. ... Tennessee 51, Georgia State 10

Chris Low: The Vols were impressive in their season-opening win over North Carolina State and won’t slow down this second week as they warm up for Florida’s visit in Week 3. … Tennessee 48, Georgia State 14

UTEP AT OLE MISS

Edward Aschoff: Ole Miss had the top statistical offense in the SEC in Week 1, and while the Rebels have a tougher opponent this weekend, they'll record their first two-game winning streak since October of 2010. ... Ole Miss 31, UTEP 17

Chris Low: The Rebels are believing again after tasting victory in the opener, while UTEP shot all of its bullets last week in the close loss to Oklahoma. … Ole Miss 34, UTEP 24

WASHINGTON AT LSU

Edward Aschoff: The Tigers get more of a test this week, but expect a more efficient game from Zach Mettenberger and more pressure from that vaunted defensive line. ... LSU 31, Washington 10

Chris Low: LSU’s defense is still stewing over some of the big plays it gave up last week, which is bad news for Washington quarterback Keith Price and his young offensive line. … LSU 42, Washington 13

LOUISIANA-MONROE AT ARKANSAS

Edward Aschoff: Expect Arkansas' defense to have a little less bend and be much more aggressive, while the offense continues to be greedy when it comes to getting points and yards. ... Arkansas 50, Louisiana-Monroe 13

Chris Low: After a shaky start on defense, the Hogs will get their act together this week in their final tune-up before Alabama’s much anticipated visit. … Arkansas 41, Louisiana-Monroe 10

KENT STATE AT KENTUCKY

Edward Aschoff: After a tough opening loss, this absolutely is a must-win for Joker Phillips and his Wildcats. Expect a greater sense of urgency from Kentucky this week. ... Kentucky 31, Kent State 17

Chris Low: The defense let Kentucky down in the season-opening loss to Louisville. This week, the Wildcats get a chance to take out their frustration. … Kentucky 31, Kent State 14

VANDERBILT AT NORTHWESTERN

Edward Aschoff: There's no question that the Commodores are steaming over their loss to South Carolina, and I expect Vandy to come out faster on offense against a Northwestern team that lacked defense last week. ... Vanderbilt 31, Northwestern 24

Chris Low: Not being able to close the deal in the fourth quarter is getting old for the Commodores. This time, they get it done on the road in a game they absolutely have to have. … Vanderbilt 27, Northwestern 23

FLORIDA AT TEXAS A&M

Edward Aschoff: This will be a very tough atmosphere for the Gators, but the advantage is that this team -- and its quarterback -- has played a game, while the Aggies will have to wash the rust off this weekend. ... Florida 23, Texas A&M 17

Chris Low: The Gators looked average at best in their opener, but the stakes go up considerably this week. Texas A&M will be pumped, but Florida will make enough plays on defense to survive. … Florida 28, Texas A&M 24

GEORGIA AT MISSOURI

Edward Aschoff: We still don't know if the Bulldogs will have Bacarri Rambo or Alec Ogletree, but, regardless, the defensive play up front will be the difference, and Georgia has the advantage. ... Georgia 24, Missouri 20
Chris Low: It sounds like Georgia could again be shorthanded on defense, and Missouri has explosive playmakers all over the field. But this game will be won up front, and the Bulldogs’ “old man” brand of football will prevail. … Georgia 31, Missouri 23




Pac-12 predictions: Week 2

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
9:00
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Welcome to Week 2. Ted went 9-2 in Week 1; Kevin went 8-3. The difference was Kevin picking a Washington State upset of BYU.

Friday

Kevin: Utah 35, Utah State 10. The Utes will see a stronger offense than they saw last week, but it won't matter much because the defense is so solid. Love the emergence of Jake Murphy and the increased attention to the tight ends.

Ted: Utah 28, Utah State 17. It won't be as easy as last weekend but the Utes will be in control on both sides of the ball. Expect quarterback Jordan Wynn to take a few more shots downfield.

Saturday

Kevin: Cal 31, Southern Utah 14. Maybe this is the week Memorial Stadium sees a victory. The last one was on Oct. 23, 2010. Cal should win based on its athletes alone.

Ted: Cal 35, Southern Utah 10. The Bears should get a couple of injured guys back on defense, which should help. Playing angry might help, too.

Kevin: Washington State 28, Eastern Washington 14. The Cougs let me down last week, but I'm cautiously picking them again this week. I think the offense gets going. The defense actually showed some life in the second half against BYU, giving hope that it will carry into this week.

Ted: Washington State 35, Eastern Washington 24. If I were picking an FCS team to play, the Eagles might be the last one I'd pick -- just ask Washington. There's a reason the Cougars have avoided their neighbors since 1908. Still, I suspect the Cougs' offense will get going this week.

Kevin: Colorado 21, Sacramento State 10. Colorado did some good things last week, but was just too inconsistent. The younger players should have the jitters out of their systems and the Buffs should be able to run the ball against an FCS team. If not, things are worse than we thought.

Ted: Colorado 33, Sacramento State 17. This qualifies as a must-win, and I suspect the Buffs will take care of business in a focused fashion.

Kevin: USC 45, Syracuse 17. No issues for the Trojans this week -- they'll cruise. Wouldn't be surprised to see a little more balance on offense this week, considering they are on the road again next week at Stanford and they'll probably want to test drive the run game.

Ted Miller: USC 48, Syracuse 20. It will be interesting to see how many of the three injured USC defensive starters return this week. I suspect things will look more polished on both sides of the ball. Ditto on what Kevin said about running the ball.

Kevin: Wisconsin 21, Oregon State 17. Tough to gauge the Beavers since they didn't play in Week 1. And though Wisconsin struggled last week, it's never easy to start the season against a ranked opponent.

Ted: Wisconsin 34, Oregon State 24. Was tempted momentarily to pick the upset, but then I remembered that Montee Ball is back. For those who don't know, he's really good. I doubt the Beavers' defense, though improved, can contain him for four quarters.

Kevin: Oregon 49, Fresno State 21. Taking into account that Oregon's fifth-string players will be in by the second quarter, I'll give the Bulldogs three touchdowns throughout the course of the game. Ducks breeze through another one.

Ted: Oregon 55, Fresno State 24. They say a new quarterback makes his biggest improvement from Game 1 to Game 2. If so, here's a "Yikes!" on behalf of the Bulldogs in advance of facing Marcus Mariota.

Kevin: Nebraska 28, UCLA 27. I saw a lot of good things out of the Bruins in Week 1. I also saw a lot of things that won't fly against the Cornhuskers. I want to pull the trigger on the Bruins, but the youth on the offensive line is still a concern.

Ted: Nebraska 35, UCLA 24. The Bruins will battle, but Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez is a third-year starter who appears to have figured it all out. I want to see how the Bruins run the ball and stop the run. Of course, that's all about taking a measure of UCLA's physicality up front.

Kevin: Oklahoma State 45, Arizona 28. A nice win for the Wildcats last week, but the defense probably isn't ready yet for a high-powered offense like the Cowboys'.

Ted: Oklahoma State 35, Arizona 30. I suspect the Wildcats have a better shot than many suspect, playing at home against a freshman quarterback, with Matt Scott giving Arizona a significant advantage behind center. That said, the Wildcats' track record in two previous meetings as well as a questionable front seven makes it difficult to pull the trigger on an upset pick.

Kevin: Stanford 24, Duke 17. Traveling cross-country is never easy. We saw that last season when Duke hung with the Cardinal in the first half in Durham. The Cardinal have some core fundamentals to fix before next week's game against the Trojans.

Ted: Stanford 30, Duke 17. The Cardinal will play better this weekend on both sides of the ball. And they need to. Duke thinks it has a bowl team and is hungry to earn respect.

Kevin: Arizona State 27, Illinois 14. Color me impressed by the Sun Devils, who showed no mercy in Week 1. There are quarterback issues surrounding the Illini and regardless of who starts for them, the Sun Devils face either a backup in Reilly O'Toole or a limping starter in Nathan Scheelhasse.

Ted: Arizona State 24, Illinois 17. This pick assumes that Scheelhasse won't play or will be severely limited by his bum ankle. The key for the Sun Devils is getting the running game going, whether that's with Cameron Marshall, Marion Grice or D.J. Foster. Or all three.

Kevin: LSU 28, Washington 17. I was impressed with the defense against San Diego State, but if the offense struggles against LSU, it could be a long day. Losing Jesse Callier doesn't help.

Ted: LSU 41, Washington 17: LSU will be able to run and stop the run. Washington won't. While Huskies quarterback Keith Price will have his moments, it's too much to ask him to beat -- or even to be competitive with -- the Tigers on the road.

Big 12 predictions: Week 2

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
9:00
AM ET
Time for our second round of predictions after a perfect round in Week 1.

This week, I'm heading north to the Little Apple. Prepare yourselves, Kansas State fans. It's been a little while since I've been to Manhattan, but I'll be covering the Wildcats' game against the U in person. Should be a fun trip.

On to this week's picks!

Last week: 9-0 (1.000)

Season record: 9-0 (1.000)

No. 21 Kansas State 27, Miami 20: Miami's offense looked solid in Week 1, but Kansas State is much better than BC. I'm not a big believer in Stephen Morris -- or the Hurricane defensive line's ability to slow Kansas State's running game. Collin Klein has to log a whole lot more than the 12 carries he got last week, but the Wildcats muscle out another win, and Klein tops 100 yards rushing.

Iowa 31, Iowa State 30: I wanted to pick Iowa State badly in this one. My gut's telling me to do it. Iowa is a middling Big Ten squad and the Cyclones have more playmakers than they get credit for with Shontrelle Johnson and Steele Jantz. My head, though? I just couldn't do it. These defensive lines are going to get dominated in the running game, but the Hawkeyes hold home field and give the Big 12 its first loss of the season. James Vandenburg makes the throws he has to make to get the win.

Kansas 38, Rice 20: KU got a win last week, but the Jayhawks are capable of playing a whole lot better. They do. Tony Pierson has another huge game and Dayne Crist gets his completion percentage back over 60. Confidence is building in Lawrence.

No. 17 TCU 59, Grambling State 13: The Tigers lost a heartbreaker last week in the final minutes to Alcorn State. It's not getting any better. The atmosphere in this one should be electric. The game itself? Bring a pillow, friends.

Texas Tech 37, Texas State 24: Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! For a while, anyway. I don't know what to make of Texas State, but it took some time for Tech to regain its footing last week against Northwestern State. I think the Red Raiders take care of business in this one with a strong second half, but on the road against a hyped crowd and a team hungry to prove something? Not many teams are immune to that kind of thing. Tech wears down the Bobcats late.

No. 5 Oklahoma 58, Florida A&M 3: Good grief, I hate games against FCS teams.

No. 15 Texas 41, New Mexico 13: More interesting game here than it seems. Still want to see more from David Ash, and for now, the defense doesn't really matter. Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley can run by the Lobos' defense, but can Ash find them?

No. 16 Oklahoma State 44, Arizona 21: Why didn't I put OSU on upset alert this week? Going on the road as a double-digit favorite against a Pac-12 team? My instincts tell me OSU is a lot better than anybody thinks ... and Arizona is a lot worse. Pokes make it 3-for-3 in routs against the Wildcats in three different stadiums over the past 16 games. Wes Lunt hits 300 yards. Joseph Randle goes for 100 and two scores.
Purdue and Notre Dame are both looking to go 2-0 as each returns quarterbacks from one-game suspensions. Is this the year the Boilermakers finally stop the bleeding against the in-state rival Irish, who have not lost to them since 2007? Let's take a closer look:

When Purdue has the ball: Caleb TerBush will get the start for the Boilermakers after being suspended from the opener, a 48-6 rout of Eastern Kentucky. Robert Marve was a big reason for that Week 1 success, completing 30 of 38 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. He and Rob Henry will see some action as well, but just how much coach Danny Hope divvies up the reps remains to be seen. Hope said TerBush gets the first snap because of his improved decision-making. If he's smart, he'll look to attack Notre Dame's green cornerbacks, as the Irish gave up 192 passing yards Saturday to Navy.

When Notre Dame has the ball: The main question is just how much of a push the Irish can get up front against Purdue's strong front-seven. The offensive line may be Notre Dame's biggest strength, and it certainly looked that way in paving the way for 293 rushing yards Saturday against the Midshipmen. But this Saturday it is going up against a far different defense, one that returns three starters on the line, including tackles Bruce Gaston and All-Big Ten senior Kawann Short. Taking pressure off Everett Golson will again be key, allowing the redshirt freshman some time in the pocket to look for some of his big targets.

Intangible: This may sound familiar to Notre Dame fans, but turnovers are the key. The fact that the Boilermakers gave it away five times in their opener — against an FCS opponent, no less — has to concern Hope, especially with four of those turnovers coming from the quarterback position. Notre Dame, meanwhile forced five fumbles Saturday and recovered three. Last season the Irish forced just eight and recovered six in 13 games.

Prediction: Notre Dame 28, Purdue 13. Expect a tight, low-scoring contest early, with the Irish eventually establishing another strong effort on the ground to head into East Lansing at 2-0.

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