The season starts to ramp up a bit, with a smattering of intra- and inter-conference match-ups on the schedule. Of course, the Florida State - Clemson game, for a variety of reasons, is the headline game. But there are a few others that intrigue me, including Miami at Nebraska, a surprising Virginia team heading to BYU, Oklahoma at West Virginia and of course the battle of the ACC Techs in Blacksburg. We won't really get a good idea of where the top teams stand until league play starts in earnest next week, but this week will give us a sneak peak.
Bowling Green (2 - 1) 20 @ (19) Wisconsin (1 - 1) 45: Wisconsin is one of those teams that suffered an early road defeat to a quality team, LSU, and could still be alive for a playoff berth. Unfortunately, the rest of the Big Ten doesn't give the Badgers many chances for quality wins. Bowling Green is okay, with a win over bad Big Ten member Indiana. But they won't be able to stay with Wisconsin.
Eastern Michigan (1 - 2 ) 6 @ (11) Michigan State (1 - 1) 42: Michigan State is similar to Wisconsin, having lost to Oregon on the road in Week 2. They've had a couple of weeks to lick their wounds and come out fired up against an overmatched Eagles team.
Troy (0 - 3) 13 @ (13) Georgia (1 - 1) 48: This is not the same quality of Troy team that has been able to stay with top teams in the past few years. The Bulldogs have to feel they let one get away last week against South Carolina. This game will be over early.
Florida 16 @ (3) Alabama 30: These two teams don't meet all that often, the last time a 2011 win for the Tide by the score of 38 - 10. I expect this one to be a little closer, but there's no way Gator coach Will Muschamp has the players to compete with Alabama.
(6) Texas A&M (3 - 0) 55 @ SMU (0 - 2) 10: SMU head coach June Jones quit two games into the season. A&M hasn't been challenged. This one is already over. Just sayin'.
Virginia (2 - 1) 27 @ (21) BYU (3 - 0) 19: Both teams have signature wins already: BYU in a romp over Texas, Virginia in a surprise over Louisville. I don't know why, but I think the Cavaliers will show up and put a licking on the Cougars.
Indiana (1 - 1) 17 @ (18) Missouri (3 - 0) 38: Missouri appears to be improving week by week, and that's a bit scary since they were pretty good already. I wasn't sold on them at the beginning of the season, but I'm on the Tiger bandwagon now. They're my pick to win the SEC East.
Mississippi State (3 - 0) 17 @ (8) LSU (3 - 0) 30: It seems fashionable among the national media to look at this game as an upset opportunity for Mississippi State. Really? Death Valley on a steamy Saturday night? Since spotting Wisconsin a 24 - 7 lead with almost 13 minutes left in the third quarter of their opener, the Tiger defense has yielded no points. Forget it. LSU big.
(4) Oklahoma 30 @ West Virginia (2 - 1) 31: The Mountaineers played Alabama extremely tough in Week 1, losing 33 - 23 in the Georgia Dome that was largely populated by Alabama fans. Morgantown can be a graveyard for national championship hopes. Just ask another team from the Sooners' own state. Oklahoma State had their hopes derailed a couple of years ago. I'm taking West Virginia in a huge upset.
(14) South Carolina (2 - 1) 27 @ Vanderbilt (1 - 2) 16: I wouldn't be surprised by a letdown from the Gamecocks after their big win against Georgia. But the Commodores are trying to recover from the loss of coach James Franklin and haven't looked good against top competition.
(22) Clemson (1 - 1) 24 @ (1) Florida State (2 - 0) 30: I could write an entire blog just on this game. The bottom line is that I don't see that Clemson has much more of a chance than it did in last year's shellacking on their home field. So Jameis Winston is out for the whole game now, but the last time I checked he doesn't play defense, which is where the Seminoles have an advantage over the Clemson offense. Sorry Tiger fans. It's FSU again.
Miami 30 @ (24) Nebraska 28: It's time for the gig to be up for the Cornhuskers. Although the Hurricanes laid an egg at Louisville in their opener, I'm just not sold on Nebraska. Sure, they put up big numbers against Fresno State, but so has everyone they've played. In fact, Nebraska's 55 points only ranks second behind Utah's 59 and barely ahead of USC's 52.
(2) Oregon 47 @ Washington State 24: There have been years where this could be a real trap for the Ducks, but the Cougars aren't really capable of staying with Oregon in this one. I watched Washington State get totally dominated by a good, but not great, Rutgers team. Oregon is better than good, better than great. No contest.
Georgia Tech (3 - 0) 21 @ Virginia Tech (2 - 1) 27: The Hokies are trying to rebound after a disappointing last minute loss to an ECU team that may end up being one of the surprises of the season. Bud Foster's defense has owned Georgia Tech in recent years, and I see no change at Lane Stadium on Saturday.
North Carolina (2 - 0) 23 @ East Carolina (2 - 1) 34: I don't think this one will even be close. The Pirates' skill players really showed their prowess in last week's win over Virginia Tech, and the UNC defense is not anywhere close to the Hokies'.
Utah (2 - 0) 27 @ Michigan (2 - 1) 31: I think Michigan's loss at Notre Dame was a bit of an anomaly. Utah's wins have come over teams that anyone can dominate. I'll stick with the Wolverines in the Big House. But it'll be close.
Northern Illinois (3 - 0) 24 @ Arkansas (2 - 1) 37: With the exception of a poor second half at Auburn, the Razorbacks have been virtually unstoppable, especially in the running game. Their size and depth will simply be too much for a very good Huskie team that may be able to make it a game if Arkansas turns it over. It looks like Bret Bielema has the Hogs on a roll, and they'll be calling them a lot Saturday night in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.