College Football: Saturday's Schedule and Preview

    
September 6th, 2008

The second Saturday of the college football season is here, and the first two games of the weekend could be a harbinger of things to come. Both home teams (Vanderbilt and Ball State) won, and with a largely unimpressive slate of games this could be the trend for Saturday. But there are some upset possibilities on the schedule, most notably ECU hosting West Virginia in a game that could end up being downright sloppy due to the weather. Temple looks for justice against Connecticut, and the night games are headed by a young Miami team visiting The Swamp. Here's the schedule for Saturday along with previews and predictions. 

12:00 PM ET Ohio at No. 3 Ohio State on ESPN

Beanie Wells won't be in the lineup for the Buckeyes, but that may be good news for Ohio State. This means more work for guys like Maurice Wells, Brandon Saine and Dan Herron. Oh, Terrelle Pryor should also get more work in the final tune-up before they visit USC next weekend. Ohio will compete, you shouldn't expect anything less from a Fank Solich-coached team. But the Bucks should have little problem with this one.

12:00 PM ET Marshall at No. 11 Wisconsin on Big Ten Network

I like the Badgers to use their ground attack to handle the Thundering Herd.

12:00 PM ET Eastern Illinois at No. 24 Illinois on Big Ten Network

Illini win this one. Big.

12:00 PM ET Georgia Tech at Boston College on ESPN GamePlan

Conference opener for both, and this one could go down to the wire. The Eagles played well on defense in shutting out Kent State last weekend, and the Yellow Jackets were impressive on that side of the ball as well in whipping Jacksonville State. It's the first ACC test for Paul Johnson's option attack, but I like their defensive line (led by end Michael Johnson) to steal a league win on the road.

12:00 PM ET Miami (OH) at Michigan on ESPN2 

As much as I'd like to see a possible upset here, I can't get over the sight of Vanderbilt doing just about whatever they wanted in winning at Miami (Ohio) last Thursday. So even with their offensive kinks, I like Michigan to get the first win of the Rich Rodriguez era.

12:00 PM ET Connecticut at Temple on ESPNU

Now this one is an upset waiting to happen. Last year's game ended in controversial fashion (read: Temple was robbed), a finish that even spawned a Temple football commercial for Saturday's game with the final word being "Justice". These aren't the Owls of the Big East era, an outfit that seemed to make a weekly habit of opponents naming their score. QB Adam DiMichele has grown more comfortable in his role as starter, and the defense has some playmakers, led by LB Amara Kamara. UConn got away with five turnovers in their win against Hofstra last week...five more here will result in a loss. But for all the vitriol on the Temple side regarding last year's ending, I see Husky running backs Donald Brown and Andre Dixon (if healthy) having solid days. UConn pulls it out late.

12:00 PM ET Northern Colorado at Purdue on Big Ten Network

First game of the "Joe Tiller Farewell Tour", and appropriately enough "Basketball on Grass" shall name its score.

12:03 PM ET Eastern Michigan at Michigan State on Big Ten Network 

First win of the season for the Spartans, who should get a big day from RB Javon Ringer.

12:05 PM ET Florida International at Iowa on Big Ten Network

Hawkeyes should win this one with ease.

12:30 PM ET Southern Miss at No. 9 Auburn on ESPN GamePlan

This is a dangerous game for the Tigers. The Eagles come in with an offensive attack that showed some serious fireworks in their win last weekend. Auburn racked up its first shutout of the Paul Rhoads era last weekend, even scoring in all three phases of the game. This could be a four-quarter game for Auburn, but I like them to win with Chris Todd getting his first start at quarterback.

12:30 PM ET San Jose State at Nebraska 

Could be a tough game for about a half, but Nebraska should pull away.

1:00 PM ET New Hampshire at Army on ESPN Classic

One of the few games on the schedule this season that Army is expected to win. They'll do so, even though they were taken to overtime last season by Rhode Island.

1:30 PM ET Furman at Virginia Tech 

Furman's really going to get it. An angry bunch of Hokies, along with the unleashing of Tyrod Taylor...yeah.

3:10 PM ET No. 15 Brigham Young at Washington on Fox Sports Net 

Tyrone Willingham could really use a win after last week's pasting at Oregon. In comes a BYU team many think could/should make a run at a BCS berth. This, along with a home game against UCLA, is one of two major hurdles outside of Mountain West play. I just think the Cougars are too explosive on offense for the Huskies, who are too one-dimensional when they have the ball (Jake Locker needs some help).

3:30 PM ET Central Michigan at No. 2 Georgia on ESPN GamePlan

They've said all the right things this week about not being too worried about losing the top ranking in the polls. But when you get dropped despite calling off the dogs after leading 38-0 in the 3rd quarter, that'll stick with you. Dan LeFevour is a very good quarterback, but he and the Chippewas struggled mightily (especially on defense) last season with top-level opponents. And none of those teams were as good as this Georgia team is. Dawgs win big.

3:30 PM ET Cincinnati at No. 4 Oklahoma on ABC

I may be the only person in America who thinks this game could give us the upset of the weekend. Both blew out vastly inferior opponents last weekend, but I think Cincinnati's secondary (led by CB Mike Mickens) can give Sam Bradford some looks that he hasn't seen. Cincinnati will have to contend with an outstanding OU defense, but they've got some capable wide receivers themselves. If the Bearcats can keep QB Dustin Grutza upright, look for this one to be close into the fourth quarter. I'll pick the Sooners, but don't be shocked if Cincy wins this one.

3:30 PM ET Oregon State at No. 19 Penn State on ABC

Once again Penn State has had to suspend players for off-field issues. But I still like them to beat the Beavers, who really need consistency from Lyle Moevao under center.

3:30 PM ET Mississippi at No. 20 Wake Forest on ABC

The SEC against the team that very well could be the best team in the ACC right now. Ole Miss looked pretty good in their win last weekend, as did Wake Forest. I like the Deacons to hold serve at home, but the Rebels will put up a fight.

3:30 PM ET Sacramento State at Colorado State

The first win of the Steve Fairchild era at CSU.

3:30 PM ET Tennessee Tech at Louisville

Louisville will win this one. And the offense will look much better than it did last Sunday in doing so.

3:30 PM ET Akron at Syracuse 

I'd love to be able to simply say that Syracuse will roll. But I can't. The Orange didn't look too good on offense against Northwestern last week, still scuffling despite the surplus or running backs at their disposal. Greg Robinson, for the sake of his job security, cannot afford to lose this game. The Zips are capable of pulling this one off, and it wouldn't even be an upset if they did. I'm going with Akron here.

3:30 PM ET The Citadel at Clemson 

The Citadel is nowhere near Alabama in regards to talent level. Which is good news for the Tigers. How many times you think James Davis and C.J. Spiller will touch the ball in this one?

3:30 PM ET Air Force at Wyoming on CSTV

Despite the hideous nature of their uniforms, the Cowboys are usually a tough out in Laramie. Wyoming was able to outlast Ohio 21-20 in the opener last weekend, while the Falcons shook off some early rust to blow out Southern Utah. Tricky game here, but I'll take the Cowboys.

3:32 PM ET Eastern Washington at Colorado

Buffs roll in this one.

3:37 PM ET Utah State at No. 18 Oregon 

Same goes for the Ducks.

3:43 PM ET San Diego State at Notre Dame on NBC 

The only suspense in this one should be how much the young Irish have progressed since the end of 2007. San Diego State, who lost to Cal Poly last weekend in what was supposed to be a tuneup, is dreadful. Notre Dame pleases the masses with a blowout win.

3:45 PM ET Richmond at Virginia on ESPNU

I like Virginia to win this one, but I wouldn't be surprised one bit if they struggle with the Spiders. The Cavs need to get the ball to their running backs (Cedric Peerman and Mikell Simpson) early and often in this one. Not sure if Peter Lalich is ready to win a game with his arm just yet.

4:00 PM ET UAB at Florida Atlantic 

This one is a toss-up. FAU is the better team on paper, and they should be more than ready to play after getting blown out in Austin last Saturday night. The Blazers are slowly improving under Neil Calloway, and this game could be a good test as to just how much they've improved. I like the Owls to win this one, but it could go down to the wire.

4:30 PM ET No. 8 West Virginia at East Carolina on ESPN

The remnants of Tropical Storn Hanna could play tricks with this game, along with many others on the East Coast. But unlike their win over Virginia Tech last week, the Pirates get a ranked foe on campus. Pat White displayed some new tricks in tossing five touchdowns last week against Villanova, but ECU is no Villanova. This one will be close, but I like the Mountaineers to win.

5:00 PM ET Idaho State at Idaho on ESPN GamePlan 

This game is nothing more than a blip on the screen to 49 states. I'm going with Idaho State, even though their the FCS team visiting the FBS team, and here's why. Idaho may be the worst teams in college football, and that was on display last week in their 70-0 pasting at the hands of Arizona.

5:06 PM ET Texas A&M at New Mexico on Versus 

Neither team looked very good in losing last weekend at home, the Aggies to Arkansas State and the Lobos to TCU. But Albuquerque is a tough place to play for visitors, especially if you don't go there very often. The Aggies may have more talent across the board, but they're going to have to fight to the finish for this one. A&M will win, but not by much. 

6:00 PM ET Western Carolina at Florida State on ESPN GamePlan 

Christian Ponder gets his first start at quarterback for the Seminoles, which should be just about the only drama in this one even with the many suspensions for the Noles. FSU wins big.

6:00 PM ET Norfolk State at Kentucky on ESPN GamePlan 

The Kentucky defense basically pitched a shutout against rival Louisville on Sunday (they didn't give up those two points), and could do the same with Norlfolk State.

6:00 PM ET William & Mary at North Carolina State 

With Russell Wilson out at quarterback, the Wolfpack should be able to lean on their running backs and win this one.

6:00 PM ET Buffalo at Pittsburgh on ESPN GamePlan 

Buffalo looked impressive for four quarters last weekend, and Pitt looked good for a little more than one quarter. That's why Buffalo is 1-0 and the Panthers 0-1 heading into this one. And there is a chance that Pitt could lose this one as well if they don't contain Bulls QB Drew Willy. But I'm expecting a much better effort from the Panthers, who should be alert for all four quarters. Pitt wins.

6:00 PM ET Western Kentucky at Eastern Kentucky

The Hilltoppers and the Colonels. Could be a tough one for WKU, but I expect them to win.

6:30 PM ET California at Washington State

Cal looked explosive in their win over Michigan State last weekend while the Cougars were anything but in their loss to Oklahoma State. The gap in talent is that much between these two teams, but winning in the Paloose is tough for visiting teams. Cal wins, but they'll have to sweat for a little bit.

7:00 PM ET Southeast Missouri State at No. 6 Missouri 

Mizzou should have no problem with this one.

7:00 PM ET Tulane at No. 13 Alabama on ESPN GamePlan 

Luckily for the Green Wave, Gustav didn't bring as much turmoil as Katrina did. But they've been in Birmingham for over a week preparing for this game, looking at it as a bowl trip in some regards. But they're also without RB Matt Forte, who now plays for the Chicago Bears. As for the Crimson Tide, they looked like a title contender last week when they whipped Clemson. This game is one that title contenders handle with ease. I like Bama to win by a comfortable margin.

7:00 PM ET No. 17 South Florida at UCF on ESPN2

This Sunshine State rivalry game won't be talked about as much as the Miami/Florida game, but rest assured these two programs don't like each other. The Bulls hung 64 on the Golden Knights last season, and this is the last chance for UCF for some time to beat their rival. On paper, the Bulls should win handily, but rivalry games are known for their emotional nature. If this game were in the Citrus Bowl, I'd say USF with ease. But with UCF now having its own on-campus home, not so fast. I like the Bulls, but they'll get bloody in doing so.

7:00 PM ET Kent State at Iowa State

This will be a game for about a half or so, then the Cyclones will pull away.

7:00 PM ET Murray State at Indiana on Big Ten Network 

The Hoosiers play an incredibly weak non-conference schedule this season, which is why they'll coast in beating the Racers.

7:00 PM ET Northwestern at Duke 

Both teams looked pretty good in winning their openers last weekend. But Duke is at home in this one, and they've got a pretty good defensive line to boot. They'll need their front four because of Northwestern RB Tyrell Sutton, who's finally healthy after being banged up most of 2007. This could be a swing game for the Wildcats, who could realistically think bowl game with a 2-0 start. This will be close, but I like Northwestern to win.

7:00 PM ET Northwestern State at Baylor

Robert Griffin III was a bright spot for the Bears in their blowout loss to Wake Forest in the opener, and he should provide a few more highlights against the Demons. Baylor gets the first win of the Art Briles era.

7:00 PM ET Southeastern Louisiana at Mississippi State 

Southeastern Louisiana may be in the same state as Louisiana Tech, but they're not as talented as Louisiana Tech. Mississippi State evens its record at 1-1 with a much better effort than last weekend.

7:00 PM ET Texas Southern at Arkansas State 

The Red Wolves should move to 2-0, but former Oklahoma State QB Bobby Reid could pose some problems for their defense. Then again, they did a good job of shutting out Texas A&M last Saturday. And they've also got last week's FWAA/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week in LB Ben Owens. State wins.

7:00 PM ET Maryland at Middle Tennessee

I'm taking the Blue Raiders in this one, primarily because the Terrapins struggled so much at home against Delaware last week. Yes, the Blue Hens have a fine football program. But Maryland didn't do much to help their own cause in that one. And that won't matter to the crowd in the stands cheering for the home team. They'll hear the abbreviations "ACC" and "BCS", and that's all they'll need to get fired up for this one.

7:00 PM ET Arkansas at Louisiana-Monroe on ESPN GamePlan 

The Razorbacks are another team lucky to escape with a win last weekend. And they just happen to be visiting a Louisiana-Monroe team that won at Alabama last season. Yes, they were shut out by Auburn last week. But Arkansas is no Auburn, just ask Western Illinois. I'm going with the Warharks here, even though their offense was terrible against the Tigers in week one.

7:00 PM ET Stephen F. Austin at TCU 

No suspense here as the Horned Frogs move to 2-0.

7:00 PM ET Northern Illinois at Western Michigan

Western Michigan is supposed to be one of the better teams in the MAC West, while this is the first MAC contest for new NIU head coach Jerry Kill. I'll go with the Broncos.

7:05 PM ET Houston at Oklahoma State 

Expect a lot of points in this one, but I'm taking the Cowboys in their home opener. The defense will have to be even better this week however, as the Cougars have more firepower than Washington State.

7:05 PM ET Tulsa at North Texas 

The Golden Hurricane will light up the scoreboard in Denton.

7:08 PM ET Montana State at Kansas State 

K-State rolls.

7:10 PM ET Louisiana Tech at No. 14 Kansas on Fox Sports Net 

Derek Dooley's Bulldogs may have won at home against Mississippi State last weekend, but the Jayhawks are far more explosive on offense than MSU. Look for Kansas to take care of business heading into their trip to South Florida next Friday night.

7:30 PM ET Minnesota at Bowling Green 

I like the Falcons to win this one. But slowly Tim Brewster is building a program at Minnesota that could be pretty good in the future.

8:00 PM ET Miami (FL) at No. 5 Florida on ESPN

Miami heads into the Swamp with a roster consisting of just nine seniors. Two freshmen will split the duties at quarterback, and Percy Harvin should be back to full strength for the Gators. So why should anyone expect the Hurricanes to keep this one close for four quarters? Their desire to prove on a prime-time stage that "The U" is headed in the right direction. But I think playing in Gainesville is a little too much for this young team right now. 2009...maybe they win. But not in 2008.

8:00 PM ET Rice at Memphis on CSTV 

The Owls hung 56 on SMU in their opener, while the Tigers were thumped by Ole Miss. This game between Conference USA schools in different divisions (Memphis in the East, Rice in the West) could light up the Liberty Bowl scoreboard. Memphis could really use this win, as they are expected to compete for the East Division crown. I'll say Memphis by a field goal.

8:00 PM ET Texas State at Southern Methodist 

Stat-padding opportunity for QB Bo Levi Mitchell and the rest of the SMU offense in what should be the first win of the June Jones era.

8:06 PM ET UNLV at No. 22 Utah on The Mtn. 

Utah will paste the Rebels, and here are a couple reasons why: UNLV, despite their win over Utah State last weekend, isn't very good. And, the final score of last season's meeting: UNLV 27, Utah 0.

9:05 PM ET No. 12 Texas Tech at Nevada 

The Red Raiders had some issues on defense last week in their win over Eastern Washington, but Graham Harrell took care of that by throwing for more that 500 yards. Nevada will provide a stiffer challenge, as will a crowd pining for the upset. The Wolf Pack can put some points on the board, but I don't think they'll be able to keep up with Texas Tech.

10:00 PM ET Toledo at Arizona 

The Wildcats will encounter a little more resistance than they did in beating Idaho last week. But they'll knock off the Rockets to move to 2-0 on the year.

10:07 PM ET Stanford at No. 15 Arizona State on Fox Sports Net (regional)

Stanford looked pretty good in their season-opening win over Oregon State. But that was at home, and the Beavers aren't as talented as the Sun Devils. ASU is dealing with some injuries (WR Mike Jones and RB Keegan Herring to name two), but I still think they'll start off Pac-10 play on a good note. As for Stanford's schedule: I understand they needed to switch the date of the Oregon State game, but back-to-back conference games to open the season is a bit harsh. Even if they won the first one.

10:15 PM ET No. 10 Texas at UTEP on ESPN2

Fans in El Paso have waited some time for the Longhorns to visit, with this game being sold out for months. But, how many of those fans will actually be cheering for UTEP? Texas will win this one after battling the early emotion of the Miners.

12:00 AM ET Weber State at Hawaii on ESPN GamePlan

Inoke Funaki gets the start at quarterback for the Warriors, who should have little trouble with Weber State.