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Senior College Football Columnist

Week 3 picks: Hoping this time that final scores stay ... final

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I had a decent week, going 11-7 against the line, putting me 11 over .500 for the season. The good: picking East Carolina to hang with Virginia Tech and lose by seven. The bad: picking Ball State to not get blown out by South Florida. The ugly: picking Southern California by five and then learning the Trojans actually won by nine, not three. Here are this week's guesses:

LSU 23, Mississippi State 14: The Bulldogs' D not only misses coordinator Manny Diaz (now at Texas), it lost a lot of its grit in the front seven now that stud lineman Pernell McPhee and a couple of very solid linebackers moved on to the NFL. LSU has some talented backs, led by do-everything Spencer Ware, to take advantage. The Tigers also have a fierce D to take advantage of a banged-up Mississippi State line.

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Boise State 38, Toledo 27: The Rockets gave Ohio State all it could handle but committed too many penalties. Since this is a home game, expect them to be able to get back up for No. 4 Boise State. Toledo has very good skill guys, led by WR Eric Page, but the Rockets' D will again be without its best defender, LB Danny Molls, and they'll also be without LB Robert Bell, which should translate into a big game for the gifted Boise backs, Doug Martin and D.J. Harper.

Oregon 66, Missouri State 7: Chip Kelly got his offense cranked back up last week against Nevada as Oregon hit on long TD after long TD. Missouri State is no Louisiana State when it comes to fielding a defense. The Ducks should roll up close to 700 yards.

Baylor 55, SFA 20: The Lumberjacks are a very good FCS program; they can throw the football. But Robert Griffin, Kendall Wright and the Baylor offense is too talented for SFA, which is coming off a loss to FCS power Northern Iowa.

USF 42, Florida A&M 10: B.J. Daniels put up big numbers last week against Ball State and should again this week against FAMU. Look for big Bulls RB Darrell Scott to be more physical and put up some big stats himself against the Rattlers.

Oklahoma 28, Florida State 27: The Seminoles were simply not ready for the Sooners tempo or talent last year in Norman. They will be this time around. Still, I expect the experience of Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles to be the difference as OU rallies late to stay unbeaten and help build back Bob Stoops' big-game rep.

Alabama 52, North Texas 3: North Texas has given up 89 points in its first two games and now has to face Alabama. The Tide will roll again behind their dominating offensive line and menacing defense.

Stanford 44, Arizona 30: The 'Cats young secondary has already seen two impressive QB performances in the first two weeks and now gets to face the best QB in college football. Expect a shootout, because Nick Foles will do some damage against the Cardinal. But Stanford, spearheaded by Chase Thomas, has more answers on D and a better running game than Arizona does.

Wisconsin 35, NIU 24: Russell Wilson has been extremely sharp in the Badgers first two games as they've cruised, but NIU, led by former Badger DB Dave Doeren, will be a much tougher test. The Huskies have a very underrated triggerman in QB Chandler Harnish and a lot of experience on offense. They will cause some problems for the Badgers, but Wilson and the Wisconsin offense will respond in the second half to oust Northern Illinois.

Oklahoma State 48, Tulsa 24:? After a huge showing on national TV, Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden is poised for another big game against a Tulsa D that gave up 47 to OU. The Cowboys have too much firepower for G.J. Kinne & Co. to keep up with.

Texas A&M 59, Idaho 7: The Vandals got drilled by Bowling Green 32-15. This is an Aggies offense with too many weapons for them to handle. Texas A&M also displayed a good pass rush in Week 1 against SMU and should have no trouble here after an open week.

Nebraska 31, Washington 20: Bo Pelini has been frustrated by his team. The Cornhuskers gave up a ton of rushing yards last week to a Fresno team with a rebuilt O-line. This is a Washington team with a more stable front and a big-time back in Chris Polk. They're a legit team, but ultimately Taylor Martinez's speed will spark the rest of the Huskers ground game for the home W.

South Carolina 42, Navy 21: Marcus Lattimore had a huge game last week against Georgia and should again this week against a Navy team that hasn't seen anything close to an elite program yet. The Gamecocks do have some issues in their secondary, but Navy doesn't throw it well enough to exploit them. Adding big strong safety DeVonte Holloman back into the starting lineup should also help deal with Navy's potent ground attack.

Virginia Tech 35, Arkansas State 17: Bud Foster's D suffocated a dangerous ECU passing game last week, but the Red Wolves have a solid QB in junior Ryan Aplin, who is good at piloting this up-tempo system. They will move the ball, but David Wilson and the Hokies ground game will be overpowering, and QB Logan Thomas should improve after a shaky performance against the Pirates.

Arkansas 48, Troy 14: Even though the Hogs have some injuries to a few key offensive players, there has been no slowing down Bobby Petrino's team. They are still loaded on offense, and the D has been impressive too.

Notre Dame 31, Michigan State 21: After a disastrous 0-2 start, the Irish return home and can't possibly have as many breakdowns as they've had in the first two weeks. They just can't ... can they? Michigan State hasn't been tested at all, but they will be here with an Irish offense, led by Michael Floyd and Cierre Wood. My hunch is Notre Dame finally breaks through.

Florida 27, Tennessee 21: Tyler Bray comes into the Swamp as hot as any QB in the country. Bray has great young weapons, but he has an inexperienced offensive line that will be coming into a very hostile environment and facing a talented D-line. The O-line will be rattled. Expect the Gators to bottle up the run game and force some mistakes, while UF's speed on offense dents the Volunteers' young and suspect back seven.

Miami 23, Ohio State 21: Both teams have been engulfed by controversy, and it's not like the Hurricanes have much of a home-field advantage anymore, but they do have some outstanding playmakers on offense, led by RB Lamar Miller. Miami gets back three of their top five or six defenders and should be much improved from a very shaky Week 1 performance.

West Virginia 30, Maryland 24: This has been talked about as a trap game for the Mountaineers since they have LSU coming to town next week, but I suspect the brutal first half against Norfolk State last week was a good wakeup call. Danny O'Brien is an excellent QB, but the West Virginia offense is more explosive and should pull this game out in the second half on the road at Maryland.

Auburn 34, Clemson 28: The game between two former high school coaching buddies turned college OCs (Auburn's Gus Malzahn against Clemson's Chad Morris) should feature plenty of fireworks. Look for Auburn again to pull out a close game, since these are the kinds of games Gene Chizik's teams seems to find a way to win and Clemson often doesn't.

Illinois 27, Arizona State 20: The Sun Devils still make too many mental mistakes and playing on the road figures to only mess with their focus even more. Arizona State has also had some issues tackling and that's a problem against budding Illinois star Nate Scheelhasse, powerful Jason Ford and a good group of young RBs.

TCU 42, ULM 9: Casey Pachall is emerging fast for the Horned Frogs and Gary Patterson should have no trouble getting his 100th win at TCU.

Texas 17, UCLA 10: Both teams have big issues at QB. The Bruins have more experience there, but it doesn't seem to be helping that much, and their D has been very disappointing in the first two weeks.Texas showed some positive signs last week and didn't lose when it could've wilted against a decent opponent (BYU). I feel like home field is almost a disadvantage at this point, but maybe the Bruins defense will respond.

Utah 28, BYU 21: The Utes secondary accounted themselves pretty well against Matt Barkley last week. I think they should be able to deal with Jake Heaps and Brigham Young, while Utah RB John White bounces back with a strong showing.


Bruce Feldman is a senior writer for CBSSports.com and college football commentator for CBS Sports Network. He is a New York Times Bestselling author, who has written books including Swing Your Sword, Meat Market and Cane Mutiny. Prior to joining CBS, Feldman spent 17 years at ESPN.
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