Saturday Football Preview
If the previous two seasons have any bearing on this game then the following will happen: Boston College wins, only to lose in the ACC Championship Game. They've definitely got a shot with QB Dave Shinskie looking like the man for the job and a Virginia Tech offense that's been mostly one-dimensional this season. But Tyrod Taylor had the first 300-yard passing game of his career last week in the Hokies' 34-26 win at Duke. If Taylor can do enough to keep the BC defense honest look for Virginia Tech to pick up the win. But by no means would it be a surprise if the Eagles won a close, low-scoring game.
12:00 PM ET Eastern Illinois at No. 14 Penn State
Nothing much to see here; Penn State wins their final non-conference game of the year by a landslide.
12:00 PM ET No. 17 Auburn at Arkansas
Gus Malzahn returns to Fayetteville, where he was offensive coordinator for one tumultuous season. Houston Nutt wanted to emphasize backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones in that season, which didn't allow Malzahn to completely install his system. Now he's got a suddenly potent Auburn offense that's combined talented running backs with a more efficient Chris Todd, resulting in a unit that now ranks fifth nationally in both scoring and total offense.
Going up a team that currently ranks 97th in total defense could be the recipe for a good day on the road, but this is also an Arkansas squad that took over their game against Texas A&M last week with a pair of forced turnovers. The Hogs also rank seventh nationally in passing offense but for Ryan Mallett to be successful against a defense that leads the SEC in turnover margin the running game needs to step up. It's a close game but look for the Tigers to move to 6-0.
12:00 PM ET Miami (OH) at Northwestern
The Wildcats did struggle with Eastern Michigan earlier this season, but the Redhawks could be very well on their way to a winless season. Northwestern picks up the win.
12:00 PM ET Purdue at Minnesota
I'm having a hard time thinking that a team that ranks 113th in turnover margin, 94th in total defense and 89th in pass defense will be able to stop the connection of QB Adam Weber and WR Eric Decker. Look for the Golden Gophers to rebound from their loss to Wisconsin by beating a team that seems to find new ways to lose games on a weekly basis.
12:00 PM ET West Virginia at Syracuse
This game could turn into a festival of turnovers if last week's results are a harbinger of things to come. The Mountaineers lost four fumbles against Colorado last week yet still won due to the disparity in talent. Syracuse on the other hand lost to USF due to seven turnovers, with five being Greg Paulus interceptions. WVU simply has to take better care of the football while the Orange need to do the same plus untrack a running game that has more than enough talent, but those options haven't translated into success on the ground. Mountaineers win by ten.
12:00 PM ET Vanderbilt at Army
This is a tricky game to call. Yes the Commodores have suffered all three of their defeats at the hands of SEC opponents. But they also rank 86th in rushing defense, which isn't something to boast about when you're facing a team that currently ranks seventh in rushing offense (231 ypg). But look for QB Larry Smith and RB Warren Norman to do enough to ensure a victory for Bobby Johnson's team.
12:00 PM ET Michigan State at Illinois
Just seven days after many felt that Michigan State was in S.O.S. (save our season) mode they visit a team in dire need of a win themselves. Ron Zook has benched starting QB Juice Williams in favor of Eddie McGee in hopes of giving his team a spark. McGee may be one of the nation's most talented backups; he was highly-recruited coming out of high school and nearly led a comeback in last year's season opener against Missouri in place of an injured Williams.
But physical changes may not mean much if the mentality of a struggling team remains the same; the Illini have been a poor football team to this point in the season. But even with the Spartans coming in on the heels of a big win over their biggest rival, desperation can turn things around in a hurry. That's exactly what happens in Champaign-Urbana.
12:00 PM ET Eastern Michigan at Central Michigan
The Eagles did upset the Chippewas in last year's season finale, but the man who led that upset with more than 500 yards passing (QB Andy Schmitt) is done for the year with a torn ACL. Another tough one for Ron English as Dan LeFevour and the Chips take another step towards reclaiming the MAC title.
12:21 PM ET Georgia at Tennessee
This is likely a crossroads game for the Bulldogs, who have not been consistent offensively this season. Spurts of explosive strikes have alternated with long stretches of inactivity; if not for their defense last week (and LSU missing some opportunities) they get blown out of Sanford Stadium. Now outside of Eric Berry the talent on the Tennessee defense isn't overwhelming, but they've got one of the greatest defensive minds of all-time in the booth in Monte Kiffin. Joe Cox and company will likely struggle as a result, but they'll do enough to win due to the inconsistent play of Tennessee's Jonathan Crompton. It's an ugly game, but whichever team wins won't care much about the aesthetics of it.
12:30 PM ET No. 15 Oklahoma State at Texas A&M
It would be tempting to pick the Aggies due to the fact that Dez Bryant (suspension) is out and Perrish Cox (shoulder) and Kendall Hunter (ankle) are banged up. But given what happened to A&M in their first test of the season last week (47-19 loss to Arkansas) it's hard to see them winning despite the skill of QB Jerrod Johnson. Led by Zac Robinson the Pokes get the job done on the road.
12:30 PM ET Iowa State at No. 16 Kansas
Given the bad fortune that hit the Cyclones last week in their 24-23 loss to Kansas State (the game-tying extra point was blocked) it's hard to see them rebounding enough to knock off a ranked Kansas squad. Todd Reesing has a good day as the Jayhawks take care of business.
12:30 PM ET Kentucky at No. 25 South Carolina
The Wildcats haven't been close in either of their SEC games this season but South Carolina isn't as good as Florida or Alabama, which means that the Gamecocks could be had on Saturday. But the offense has struggled despite the presence of RB Derrick Locke and WR Randall Cobb. Can they move the ball against a defense that ranks 3rd in the SEC in total defense (14th nationally)? Look for LB Eric Norwood to wreak havoc on the Wildcats in a game that plays out closer than some may expect beforehand.
12:30 PM ET Houston at Mississippi State
Many have decided to drop the Cougars off of the face of the college football landscape in light of their 58-41 loss at UTEP last week. It was a bad loss from a defensive standpoint; to refer to the Houston defense in that game as a "speed bump" would have been a compliment. But this is still a dangerous football team than can give the Bulldogs fits, especially QB Case Keenum, who threw for more than 500 yards and five touchdowns last week.
But the normal question of whether or not Dan Mullen's team can go score for score with Houston is rendered moot by a defense that has likely been dragged through the mud over the last seven days. Some may expect the Cougars to fall in a manner similar to what happened to an undefeated Tulsa when they visited Arkansas last season but those Hogs were better than these Bulldogs. Houston by a touchdown.
1:00 PM ET Ball State at Temple
What can be made of the Owls, who have won two straight MAC games? They've done a good job of taking advantage of the opportunities given to them in the form of turnovers, something that will serve them well as conference play rolls on. As for the Cardinals they've got to forget a painful loss to Toledo last week, losing on a 51-yard touchdown pass with 27 seconds remaining. RB Miquale Lewis has been their most consistent player but he alone won't be enough. Look for the Owls to do whatever it takes to remain undefeated in the MAC.
2:00 PM ET New Mexico at Wyoming
The Cowboys have won two straight while the Lobos are still in search of their first win of the season. QB Austyn Carta-Samuels is seventh in the Mountain West in total offense and while he and the Wyoming offense hasn't been overwhelming they are better than anything the Lobos can throw their way. Expect some turnovers on both sides of the ball but in the end the home team moves to 2-0 in the conference.
3:30 PM ET No. 3 Alabama at No. 20 Ole Miss
One of the three games circled on the schedule to decide who wins the SEC West, but it's hard to consider the Rebels a contender when they failed their lone test to this point in the season. Now Jevan Snead and company get to deal with a team that some believe is the most complete in the nation. Greg McElroy has more than filled in for the departed John Parker Wilson, and with Julio Jones getting even healthier look for the Crimson Tide to make plays by both land and air. What will work in favor of Ole Miss is the fact that they'll be at home, which should count for something. But it won't be enough to knock off the Crimson Tide. Alabama wins and continues on its way towards possibly repeating at division champions.
3:30 PM ET Wisconsin at No. 9 Ohio State
QB Scott Tolzien has been one of the nation's biggest surprises and a key reason why the Badgers are currently 5-0. But he, John Clay and the rest of the Badgers haven't seen a defense the caliber of Ohio State's this season. The Buckeyes have allowed just fourteen points (two shutouts) in their last three games and they rank at or near the top of the Big Ten in many of the major defensive categories. Saturday represents a collision course of the conference's best rushing attack (Wisconsin) and the conference's best rushing defense (Ohio State), which means that the game could possibly come down to what Tolzien can do through the air.
As for the Buckeyes they have to remain balanced on offense; if Terrelle Pryor can't make the Badgers pay on occasion through the air it will be tough sledding. Dane Sanzenbacher ranks seventh in the conference in receiving yards per game but the receivers get the job done by committee as opposed to having one star. This group has to step up their production, and the call here is that they do enough to help the Bucks pick up the close win.
3:30 PM ET No. 13 Oregon at UCLA
The Ducks will walk into the Rose Bowl with a banged-up quarterback in Jeremiah Masoli (knee), so much so that Nate Costa will likely get the start against a decent Bruin defense. But Oregon has been on fire in the ground game of late and they've won their two conference games by a combined score of 94-9. The Bruins, on the other hand, are ranked near the bottom of the conference in most major offensive categories so they'll need this to be a sloppy game in order to have a shot. And that's exactly what will happen; Brian Price and the rest of the UCLA defense forces enough miscues to allow the Bruins to steal one in Pasadena.
3:30 PM ET Baylor at No. 19 Oklahoma
Oklahoma will welcome back Sam Bradford for this one, with fans hoping that this game serves as a warmup of sorts in advance of their showdown with Texas next weekend. Had Robert Griffin III been healthy for this game there would be a warning about such forecasting, but that shouldn't matter to an Oklahoma team that didn't look too good in the final three quarters of their loss at Miami last week. The primary issue for the Sooners has to be that offensive line, which still isn't performing at a level representative of what fans have grown accustomed to. Bradford takes a little time to shake off the cobwebs but he should be fine, and their front seven will more than pick up the slack.
3:30 PM ET Georgia Southern at North Carolina
Georgia Southern will hope to add their name to the list of FCS teams that have either beaten ACC opponents or pushed them to the brink this season. Yet for all their offensive struggles look for the Tar Heels to rebound from last week's embarrassing loss to Virginia.
3:30 PM ET Texas Southern at Rutgers
The only reason to pay any kind of attention to this game is to see how QB Tom Savage performs after missing last week's game due to a concussion. Little drama for the Scarlet Knights.
3:30 PM ET Connecticut at Pittsburgh
For as close as the series has played out on the hardwood, four of the five conference meetings have been decided by twelve points or more. This looks to be a game that could be decided late however, with both teams possessing solid rushing attacks. Offensively the difference could be the Pittsburgh passing game, led by Bill Stull and pass catchers such as Dorin Dickerson, Nate Byham and Jonathan Baldwin. But the Huskies will counter with a solid running back tandem (Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon) and one of the nation's best defenses. But can Cody Endres and a young receiving corps do enough to punish a pass defense that has struggled this season? Unfortunately for Connecticut the answer is "no" but this will be a close ballgame.
3:30 PM ET Navy at Rice
The Owls are among the worst teams in the nation when it comes to stopping the run, and that's not a good thing with Ricky Dobbs and company rolling into town. Anchors aweigh.
3:30 PM ET Indiana at Virginia
Somehow the Cavaliers went to Chapel Hill and shut down the Tar Heels, winning their first game of the season by a 16-3 final. But are they good enough to keep the momentum rolling and extend the seemingly annual tradition of Al Groh's team rising from the dead to compete for the ACC Coastal crown? 117th in total offense and dead last in the nation in sacks allowed per game aren't good numbers, especially when a pair of defensive ends as good as the Hoosiers' Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton are strolling into town. Early on Bill Lynch's team will realize that they aren't playing a team the caliber of either Michigan or Ohio State, and the end result will be an Indiana victory.
3:30 PM ET Gardner-Webb at Buffalo
Zach Maynard and company have struggled in recent weeks, but it's hard to think that the Bulldogs have the personnel needed to make Buffalo pay for the losses of Drew Willy (graduation) and James Starks (shoulder).
3:30 PM ET Bowling Green at Kent State
The Golden Flashes may make things interesting since they'll be at home but they won't have enough to contend with Tyler Sheehan and the rest of the Falcons. Look for Bowling Green to pick up the win and take their place in the thick of the MAC East race.
3:30 PM ET Marshall at Tulane
The Thundering Herd gave East Carolina all they wanted and then some last week before falling late, and Tulane isn't as talented as the Pirates. But they do have a solid quarterback in Joe Kemp, and if Marshall isn't careful the thin crowd could lull them to sleep. But look for RB Darius Marshall, who leads the nation in rushing, will be the difference-maker for the Thundering Herd.
4:00 PM ET Duke at North Carolina State
Russell Wilson finally threw an interception last week in the Wolfpack's loss to Wake Forest while the Blue Devils nearly took out Virginia Tech a week ago. It's a rivalry game, albeit not on the same level as Duke/North Carolina on the gridiron. And while the Wolfpack have blown out FCS-level talent they haven't shown such killer instinct against reputable competition. Duke will put up a good fight but it's hard to pick them considering the fact that they did lose to Richmond in the season opener.
5:00 PM ET Arizona State at Washington State
The argument for the worst FBS team will likely include the Cougars, but it remains to be seen how well Danny Sullivan can perform on the road. Is he still the answer for the Sun Devils at quarterback? If things go wrong here it will be hard for Dennis Erickson to justify not making a change.
6:00 PM ET Utah at Colorado State
How will the Utes deal with the loss of RB Matt Asiata (knee; out for the year)? Utah is coming off of a bye week so they should be used to him not being on the field, and the injury will likely mean more work for QB Terrance Cain. The first-year starter is second in the Mountain West in total offense, leading the conference's top-ranked offense. But they'll be challenged by a physical Colorado State squad that dropped a tough one at Idaho last week. If Grant Stucker can make some plays through the air Steve Fairchild's team has a shot at pulling off the upset. But the pick here is Utah due to the ability of Kyle Whittingham and his staff to plug in players and put them in the best position to be productive.
6:00 PM ET Ohio at Akron
The Zips haven't looked good in either of their last two games, and when you've got an offense that ranks dead last in the MAC in both total offense and passing offense. But while the Bobcats aren't considered to be an explosive offense themselves they've played solid football of late. Take the team with the momentum, and that's Ohio.
6:30 PM ET Maryland at Wake Forest
The Terps were a surprise winner last week, beating Clemson to move into first place in the ACC Atlantic. Next up for Ralph Friedgen's team is Wake Forest, a team that's shown the ability to keep both teams in the game so expect a wild affair in Winston-Salem. Yet despite his occasional issues with turnovers the pick here is Riley Skinner, and I'm not sure that Maryland is truly that good to begin with.
7:00 PM ET Florida A&M at No. 11 Miami (FL)
After a 3-1 stretch against ranked teams the Hurricanes get a respite in taking on the Rattlers. However, they have to be careful in dealing with return star LeRoy Vann, who has already returned four punts for touchdowns this season. Miami wins big but Vann makes a play in the process.
7:00 PM ET FIU at Western Kentucky
The Golden Panthers haven't looked their best to start the season, getting off to a 0-4 start to 2009. But they should have enough to beat the worst team at the FBS level. The Hilltoppers hang around but ultimately see just how far they have to go to be a competitive team in the Sun Belt.
7:00 PM ET Stanford at Oregon State
At some point the run for the Cardinal has to end, right? Not if the Beavers can't slow down RB Toby Gerhart. Gerhart, who is also a standout on the diamond, is the Pac-10's leading rusher with an average of 130 yards per game and he'll be dealing with a defense that is twelfth nationally against the run. But they're also ninth in the Pac-10 in pass defense, which could mean a good afternoon for QB Andrew Luck. Oregon State will rely on the Rodgers brothers (WR James and RB Jacquizz) offensively and they've got the talent to lead the Beavers to the win. So long as QB Sean Canfield can limit the miscues they'll do just that. But don't write off Stanford should they happen to lose; they'll hang around.
7:00 PM ET North Texas at UL Lafayette
North Texas did go on the road and beat Ball State but knowing what we know now about the Cardinals that doesn't have the look of an impressive win. So the pick here is a UL Lafayette team that's already beaten Kansas State at home, rebounding after beatings at the hands of LSU and Nebraska. North Texas isn't as good as either of those teams.
7:00 PM ET Kansas State at Texas Tech
Taylor Potts (concussion) is unlikely to play this week, placing the fate of the offense in the hands of Steven Sheffield. Sheffield threw three touchdown passes (1 INT) in relief of Potts in last week's blowout of New Mexico, and while the Wildcats aren't the Lobos there are still questions to be answered about that defense. They rank 16th in total defense and seventh against the pass but looking at their schedule you can argue that Bill Snyder's team hasn't been seriously tested. They will be in Lubbock and the end result will be a win for the Red Raiders.
7:00 PM ET Western Michigan at Toledo
The most disappointing team in the MAC so far? Buffalo did have to deal with the loss of RB James Starks so that distinction likely goes to the Broncos of Western Michigan. The way in which they were beaten at Northern Illinois last week was an eye-opener and you have to wonder if they have enough to be considered a true contender in the MAC West. The talent on offense is definitely there with QB Tim Hiller leading the way but the Broncos are also eleventh in the MAC in turnover margin, a number that will not get it done if they want to win the conference. Taking on a Toledo squad that can explode offensively if not kept under wraps, WMU could be in danger of beginning conference play with a pair of divisional losses. And thanks to Aaron Opelt that's exactly what's going to happen to the Broncos.
7:15 PM ET Colorado at No. 2 Texas
This one could get out of hand early. Colorado showed some fight in their loss at West Virginia but it's important to be honest about what could have happened had the Mountaineers been so generous with the football. Colt McCoy and company are much better at taking care of the football, which likely means a serious beating for the Buffs. Texas warms up for Oklahoma with a big win.
7:30 PM ET No. 10 TCU at Air Force
The Horned Frogs have won five of the last six meetings in the series, which isn't a huge shock given the caliber of the defenses that Gary Patterson has had in Fort Worth. Jerry Hughes and company will have their hands full with the Falcons' option attack but they'll slow Air Force down enough to take care of business. Also look for Andy Dalton to have a good evening leading the TCU offense.
7:30 PM ET Southern Miss at Louisville
The rumor mill was alive and well in Louisville earlier this week, with a report going out that AD Tom Jurich had met with head coach Steve Kragthorpe and informed him that he'd be relieved of his duties at season's end. No fact to such reports stated the Louisville athletic department, but there should be no doubt that the coach (and his team for that matter) needs to put up a solid performance on Saturday night. Whoever starts at quarterback, be it Justin Burke or Adam Froman, needs to be productive enough to take some heat off of Victor Anderson. The holes haven't been as large for the sophomore and the lack of consistency in the passing game is one of the reasons why.
Larry Fedora's team will have a new quarterback in Martevious Young, who replaces the injured Austin Davis (shoulder; out for the year). Young has the stronger arm of the two and saw playing time last season and started in 2007 before a broken leg ended his campaign in the season opener. He'll also have RB Damion Fletcher and WR DeAndre Brown at his disposal, both of whom missed their 30-17 loss at UAB last week due to injury. How much of a fight the Cards put up will show just how much they'll put up in Big East play; they stand in there but ultimately don't have enough to take care of Southern Miss.
8:00 PM ET No. 1 Florida at No. 4 LSU
Will Tebow play? That's been the number one question on the minds of both fan bases in the days leading up to the showdown in Baton Rouge and the decision will have an impact on how the Gators go about their business offensively. If Coach Meyer doesn't have enough faith in Tebow (concussion) running up the middle he may just go with John Brantley at quarterback; the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner isn't going to go if he can't let it loose. LSU is still adjusting to new defensive coordinator John Chavis but they've shown glimpses of what they're capable of despite the occasional struggles, and they'll be quite the test for whoever takes the snaps for Florida.
What may ultimately decide this game will be the ability of the Tigers to run the football. Charles Scott seemed to break out of his slump last week against Georgia with the game-winning touchdown run and if he and Keiland Williams can take some of the pressure off of QB Jordan Jefferson they can put some points on the board. They'll need to be balanced in order to move the ball on a defense that's among the nation's best and returned all eleven starters from last season. The pick here is LSU, not because of Tebow's status but because of the power of Death Valley at night.
8:00 PM ET No. 22 Georgia Tech at Florida State
Just how much of the Florida State focus this week was on their matchup with Georgia Tech? You'll likely get the answer on the Yellow Jackets' first offensive series of the game; the primary issue for the FSU defense has been defending the pass in 2009. They've been plenty fast this season but they haven't always known where they should be running to, and that could be a major problem when taking on an attack that places so much emphasis on "assignment football". If this were the Florida State of old there would be no problem expecting the Seminoles to circle the wagons and put together an outstanding performance. But this isn't, so the pick is Georgia Tech.
8:00 PM ET Idaho at San Jose State
This will be a good test for the Vandals, who are coming off of a big win at home over Colorado State. The job that Robb Akey has done with this team has been a sight to behold and the freshmen and sophomores who got their heads beat in on a weekly basis two years ago are now seasoned vets and it shows. Nathan Enderle is third in the WAC in passing efficiency and the defense ranks third in the WAC in total defense. But the Spartans will challenge them physically, likely turning this game into a sloppy affair. However, San Jose State doesn't have enough offense to pull off the win against one of the nation's biggest surprises.
8:00 PM ET Utah State at New Mexico State
This could end up being a sloppy game if both sets of Aggies fail to take care of the football. But there were some things that I liked in watching Utah State fall to BYU last week. First year head coach Gary Andersen is on his way to changing the culture in Logan; prior USU teams would have taken their beating lying down instead of fighting to the final whistle. If Diondre Borel can limit the interceptions it's tough to see NMSU keeping up with them on the scoreboard.
8:00 PM ET UTEP at Memphis
This is the ultimate letdown game for the Miners, who put up their best showing in quite some time last week in beating previously undefeated Houston. RB Donald Buckram went off on the porous Cougar defense, and it's hard not seeing him do the same (with some help from QB Trevor Vittatoe) this week against a pretty bad bunch of Tigers. Their worst enemy will be complacency, but they'll do enough to avoid such a trap on the road.
8:00 PM ET East Carolina at SMU
The Pirates have been a decent defensive team this year but the question mark is their offense; can they put up enough points to keep up with Emmanuel Sanders and the Mustangs? The answer here is no, continuing the trend of June Jones' teams improving substantially from his first to second season on the job.
8:05 PM ET Michigan at No. 12 Iowa
The question was asked last week by many: what do you make of the Iowa Hawkeyes? That may be a simple question to answer: they play to the level of their opponent. How else do you make sense of a team ranked as highly as them beating Northern Iowa and Arkansas State by a combined four points yet dominating the Nittany Lions in the fourth quarter of their win in Happy Valley? But that can also get you in trouble when faced with stout competition, and they'll get that when a Michigan team still smarting over their overtime loss to Michigan State arrives at Kinnick Stadium.
Tate Forcier and the Michigan offense was held in check for three quarters by the Spartan defense and the same could happen here if they aren't careful. QB Ricky Stanzi and the Iowa offense have also had issues with consistency, which could lend itself to a tight defensive affair. Also, leading rusher Carlos Brown (concussion) will be out for the Wolverines. In that case go with the team that's got Pat Angerer and Adrian Clayton on its side, Iowa.
10:00 PM ET No. 18 BYU at UNLV
For those of us who felt that this could be a turnaround season for Mike Sanford and his UNLV program things may be unraveling in a hurry in Sin City. Sanford has yet to beat in-state rival Nevada, with the most recent loss being a 63-28 pasting...and the score was tied at 21 at the half. To borrow the title of a book from Chinua Achebe it was a case of "Things Fall Apart" for UNLV. Things could get worse this week when the Cougars roll into town; QB Max Hall doesn't turn the ball over much against mediocre and/or bad football teams. BYU wins by a couple of touchdowns.
10:00 PM ET Arizona at Washington
Nick Foles sure was impressive in his debut as starting quarterback for the Wildcats, tossing three touchdown passes with no interceptions in their win at Oregon State two weeks ago. Now comes the task of winning in Seattle and they can definitely get the job done despite the presence of QB Jake Locker. Look for the Wildcats' many options at running back and wide receiver to carry the day, beating the Huskies to move to 2-0 in the Pac-10.
11:05 PM ET Fresno State at Hawaii
The Warriors are confident in backup QB Bryan Moniz, who takes over for the injured Greg Alexander (knee; out for the year). He may very well produce against the Bulldogs but can the Hawaii defense slow down RB Ryan Mathews? In a topsy-turvy game look for Pat Hill's team to head back to the mainland with the win; right now it may be more practical to take the wait-and-see approach with Moniz.