This weekend conference action kicks into high gear but the most intriguing game of the weekend is a non-conference tilt between LSU and West Virginia. Last year, LSU survived at home against what wasn't a very good West Virginia team. The Mountaineers look better this season, especially QB Gino Smith. Will it make a difference though, when he faces the best defense in the country?
Game That Matters to Me
Notre Dame (1-2) at Pittsburgh (2-1)
The Irish finally got that elusive first win. They still turned the ball over way too much, but the defense and special teams picked up the slack. Plus, it helped playing such a fluke fraudy team like Michigan State. Next up is Pittsburgh which fresh off announcing their move to the ACC, squandered a huge lead at Iowa to drop their first game of the season. The Panthers haven't been impressive through the first few weeks of the season. One of their wins was a squeaker at home against Maine. Their quarterback is Tino Sunseri who currently has 3 TDs, 4 INTs and is completing passes at a 62.5% rate. However, the player the Irish need to key in on is RB Ray Graham. Graham already has 6 TDs and averages over 5 yards a carry. Problem for Pitt is, the Irish run defense has been pretty good against the run. They completely shut down Michigan State. If Pitt can't get their running game going, their only hope will be the Irish doing their weekly tradition of shooting themselves in the foot. I think the Irish are clearly a better team so as long as they can limit the turnovers they should be .500 after this game.
Prediction: Notre Dame 34, Pittsburgh 24
Top 10 - Saturday, September 24
Missouri (2-1, 0-0) at #1 Oklahoma (2-0, 0-0)
Revenge games can be a huge motivator for teams, as seen with Nebraska and Washington last weekend. The #1 Sooners are playing that angle for when they welcome Missouri to Norman. Last season, Missouri knocked off the then #1 Sooners and did it in pretty convincing fashion. Missouri will have to play out of their minds if history is to repeat itself. Oklahoma has won 37 straight home games and is coming off an impressive win at Florida State. Missouri failed their only test of the season, losing to a decent but not very good Arizona State team. I expect this to be a relatively easy night for the Sooners.
Prediction: Oklahoma 41, Missouri 17
#2 LSU (3-0) at #16 West Virginia (3-0)
West Virginia is going to be shell shocked when they see and feel the difference of playing the LSU defense versus the donkeys they have played thus far. I foolishly picked against LSU last week because I still wasn't convinced their defense was good enough to cover the deficiencies of their offense. I will not make that mistake again. Mountaineers QB Gino Smith has played great so far, but reality is going to smack him in the face Saturday night. I don't think the Tigers will pitch a shutout but they will slow down the Mountaineer attack. LSU already dealt with one tough night game on the road so that won't really play a factor in this one, no matter how drunk the coeds of West Virginia are. One thing that is guaranteed, win or lose, there will be couch burning in Morgantown.
Prediction: LSU 24, West Virginia 14
#14 Arkansas (3-0, 0-0) at #3 Alabama (3-0, 0-0)
The Razorbacks finally start their season after loading up on cupcakes to begin the year. When Troy gives you all you can handle that shows me you are not ready to go to Tuscaloosa and compete with the Crimson Tide. The Crimson Tide are giving up just 6 points a game. I still rate LSU's defense ahead of them because LSU has slowed down high powered offenses like Oregon and Mississippi State. If the Crimson Tide can limit the Razorbacks to single digits or even 14 like I predict, I will consider revising those rankings.
Prediction: Alabama 30, Arkansas 14
Tulsa (1-2) at #4 Boise State (2-0)
Boise State is another team that I should quit doubting. I thought that Toledo could give them a challenge but the Broncos blew them out. QB Kellen Moore is incredible and rightfully is garnering some Heisman talk.
Prediction: Boise State 47, Tulsa 17
South Dakota (2-1) at #6 Wisconsin (3-0)
The goal for the Badgers is to stay healthy and be 100% for Nebraska coming to town next weekend.
Prediction: Wisconsin 55, South Dakota 13
#7 Oklahoma State (3-0, 0-0) at #8 Texas A&M (2-0, 0-0)
Big 12 or 10 or 9 fans or however many teams are left in this sinking conference would argue that this is the game of the week. They might be right as far as entertainment purposes but nationally I think way more people care about LSU/West Virginia. I have doubted some teams and they have proven me wrong. The Aggies are another team I doubt. I think they are good but Top 10 good? I'm not buying it. The main attraction is the Oklahoma State offense going against the Aggie defense. Texas A&M is giving up just 10 points a game while the Cowboys average an amazing 52 points a game. The Cowboys have top flight talent at QB, RB, and WR. Road games are tough but I think the Cowboys are finally ready to take that next step of moving from good to elite. A win at Kyle Stadium against the overrated 12th man would be a huge statement.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 35, Texas A&M 34
#9 Nebraska (3-0) at Wyoming (3-0)
The Huskers have been scoring at a blistering pace. Unfortunately, their defense has been reminding me of the defenses during the Bill Callahan era. The Huskers have lost their share of talent over the last few years but with the Pelini brothers coaching them up it was expected that the defense would remain strong. Hopefully they show improvement Saturday but they will be tested by Wyoming. They have two running backs, Ghaali Muhammad and Brandon Miller each averaging over 6 yards a carry. Their quarterback, Brett Smith, is a freshman so hopefully the Huskers can get some pressure on him and force him into mistakes. At this point, everyone knows what Nebraska is offensively. Martinez can run but not pass and the Huskers will live and die with the run. Nebraska can't be caught looking ahead to Wisconsin or they will be fighting for their lives. I have faith that Bo Pelini will make sure they are properly focused.
Prediction: Nebraska 42, Wyoming 24
#10 Oregon (2-1, 0-0) at Arizona (1-2, 0-1)
Things are falling apart fast for the Wildcats. Back to back weeks have seen them blown out by ranked foes. It get's no easier this week as the Ducks come calling. Oregon has blown away their last two opponents are their disappointing opening loss to LSU. LaMichael James has gotten back on track and is averaging almost 8 yards a carry. I think Arizona is tired of having their poo pushed in and will put up more of a fight on Saturday.
Prediction: Oregon 30, Arizona 23
Last Week: 9-2