I had a rough week, going 5-12. The good: picking Michigan to thump San Diego State. The bad: picking Illinois to drill WMU. The ugly: picking FSU to beat Clemson. Here are this week's guesses:
South Florida 24, Pittsburgh 17: I know USF has really struggled on the Thursday night games, but B.J. Daniels has matured and is making better decisions, while 240-pound CU transfer Darrell Scott is emerging to give the Bulls the physical demeanor they've been looking for. Expect them to ride Scott to set the tone on the road, while Pitt's offense continues to try to find its identity.
Michigan 45, Minnesota 20: Brady Hoke's team is playing with a lot of confidence and has some fire on D too. The 1-3 Gophers are reeling. Their horrible pass defense should help Denard Robinson and Al Borges boost the one thing that hasn't really yet clicked offensively for the Wolverines.
Texas A&M 34, Arkansas 28: Both teams are coming off tough weeks. The Hogs got mauled and routed while the Aggies squandered a lead against an explosive Oklahoma State team. My hunch is the Aggies maturity will enable them to bounce back faster, especially since Arkansas is still quite banged up. Texas A&M-Arkansas preview
LSU 44, Kentucky 3: The 'Cats got blown out at home by Florida. It could get really, really messy in Baton Rouge against a very scary Tigers defense. UK is 90th in rushing and 117th in sacks allowed. The Honey Badger (Tyrann Mathieu) and his buddies must be licking their chops.
Illinois 27, Northwestern 17: Dan Persa is getting healthier, but the young Illini defense has been very tough, leading the Big Ten in rush D, sacks and TFLs. Nate Scheelhaase has been a little shaky, but look for him and the Zooker's talented group of backs to have their way with the conference's worst run defense.
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Boise State 55, Nevada 17: The Broncos can get some revenge for the way the Pack ruined their perfect season last year. Without Colin Kaepernick, Nevada (1-2) lost a lot of its spark offensively. The Pack is just 90th in scoring and now faces its third consecutive road trip against its best opponent. This one won't be close.
South Carolina 35, Auburn 21: Steve Spurrier is really riding Marcus Lattimore, who has been fantastic for the Gamecocks. This week, he gets to face an inexperienced Auburn D that has allowed 27 runs of 10 yards or more. Expect more greatness from the big back. Auburn-South Carolina preview
Baylor 27, Kansas State 20: Sooner or later, Robert Griffin III has to step back just a little. He has to. This having more TD passes than incompletions by late September is unreal. KSU's D has been much improved. They haven't given up many big plays this year. Look for them to slow Griffin down ... at least a little. Baylor-Kansas State preview
TCU 31, SMU 24: Former New Mexico State QB J.J. McDermott has a good arm to test the shaky TCU secondary and keep this one interesting. The Horned Frogs are still young on D and have had to deal with some tough injuries, especially losing Tanner Brock.
Georgia Tech 38, N.C. State 21: Tom O'Brien's team is coming off an embarrassing Thursday night blowout loss on national TV and they turn around and face one of the hottest QBs in the country in Tevin Washington. The Tech QB has been impressive in recognizing defenses and spreading the ball around. Meanwhile Tech's defense (18th in sacks) should be able to get some heat on Mike Glennon (113th in sacks allowed), especially since N.C. State has had a hard time establishing a running game.
West Virginia 52, Bowling Green 21: Geno Smith and his gifted group of wideouts won't have to deal with the LSU wave of athletes this week. The Falcons started three freshmen last week in their secondary and beat Miami (Ohio) but those kids are going to be facing a much, much more advanced passing attack this time around.
Virginia Tech 34, Clemson 24: The Tigers visit Lane Stadium, where Bud Foster has another very good defense with a pass rush (10th in sacks) led by emerging star DE James Gayle and by established star Jayron Hosley. My hunch is that they have the talent and plan to slow down Chad Morris' offense in its first road game. Expect David Wilson and the Tech backs to do damage against the country's No. 85 run defense. Clemson-Virginia Tech preview
Oklahoma 55, Ball State 10: BSU is quietly 3-1 and coming off a convincing win over Army. But this is also a team that has only been on the road once this year, and got hammered at USF 37-7. Norman is a lot tougher place to play, and the Sooners should be able to run it all day against the No. 105 rushing defense.
Texas 20, Iowa State 13: Steele Jantz hasn't seen a defense as talented as UT's yet, although the home crowd in Ames should provide an interesting test for the young Horns QBs. Iowa State has won its three games by a combined eight points. My hunch is Texas will get its running game going and win this game late by being the more physical team.
Alabama 34, Florida 20: The speedy Gators skill guys have been a nightmare for opponents, but now they face a team that has enough athletes and enough savvy and discipline to cope with it. The maturation of the Tide secondary was evident last week against an explosive Arkansas team and it'll show up again in the Swamp, where Trent Richardson will eventually wear down the Gators.
Wisconsin 17, Nebraska 13: Russell Wilson has been very sharp taking to the new system and his new teammates. He will step up in class in a big way here, though. Getting star DT Jared Crick back is huge for the Huskers, who have been rather ordinary on D so far. Bo Pelini does have a good running game with options, and his young O-line has been impressive. They'll keep it close in a slugfest. Nebraska-Wisconsin preview
Stanford 38, UCLA 21: As sharp as Andrew Luck has been, the Cardinal run defense (No. 1 in the country) has been equally impressive. The Bruins' two wins have both come against shaky teams, but they look a little better with Richard Brehaut settling in as a passer. It's their D that has really been a big dud, and now they have to deal with Luck and a great crew of tight ends on the road.
Arizona State 38, Oregon State 10: The Sun Devils had a huge fourth quarter last week to come back to beat USC. If this one were on the road, I could see that team having a letdown given how bad the Beavers have been, but not in Tempe. Cameron Marshall was superb last week. He provides an attitude to this offense. Meanwhile, OSU has been terrible on D, especially in the red zone.