Finally! All the early season scrimmages are out of the way, and it’s time for some BIG BOY FOOTBALL! Some national title hopes will be dashed, and some big names will be made. Just look back to last week and the wild rush the Irish and Wolverines gave us. I expect to see some more late-game hand wringing, and crazy crowd noise. You know the drill… GET YOUR HELMET ON!!!
3 LSU at 25 Mississippi St
What a tasty Thursday night matchup to get the juices flowing for the weekend! The Bulldogs had their hearts torn out by the “Never Say Die” Auburn Tigers. Chris Relf, all 6’4 230lbs of him, could not break the goal line at the buzzer to tie the game. Now they turn their attention to another strong SEC foe in the LSU Tigers. Even without the starting QB and a top receiver, the Tigers have gotten off fast. They rolled Oregon and Northwestern State and look like a juggernaut. Defensively, they are shutting down both the run and the pass, 8th and 20th respectively. Something has to give since Mississippi State is the 5th best offense in the country. Their bugaboo is defensively. They are atrocious against the run, and that is where this game will turn. LSU is one of the most physical teams in the country. They will bang a multitude of running backs at the Bulldogs on the way to another big early season win. LSU 37 Mississippi St 24.
Tennessee at 16 Florida
The first big test for either of these teams comes Saturday. It brings back fun memories of Fulmer and Spurrier, Manning and Wuerffel. Those were fun to watch, and I have a feeling this will be too. Tyler Bray comes off a HUGE performance against the Cincinnati Bearcats and now has to face a defense finding its way under new coach Will Mushcamp. On the other side, John Brantley has been OK as well, but playing FAU and UAB is not going to make any Gators break a sweat. And they haven’t, winning by a combined score of 80-3. Are they for real? Not this week. I think Derek Dooley has got his team rolling. They have won 6 of their last 7 games going back to last season. His kids are buying into what he is selling, and they’ll see the fruit of their labors down in The Swamp. Tennessee 24 Florida 21.
17 Ohio St at Miami
Ten years ago, hell, ten months ago this would’ve been a marquee matchup. But after the Summer of Sanctions, we’re not quite sure what we’ll see down at The U. Miami is shorthanded, but welcomes back Captain Inconsistency, Jacory Harris. The Buckeyes are 2-0, but those two wins came against in-state rivals Akron and Toledo. The one thing I can be sure of is that this game won’t be pretty. Miami’s turnover issues popped up again in their loss to Maryland. Ohio State’s been able to run the ball, but their offense lacks big plays. They needed a punt return touchdown to hang on against Toledo. Ohio State is the more physical team here, and in games where the teams seem to be evenly matched, that tends to win out. Ohio State 27 Miami 23.
15 Michigan St at Notre Dame
The fact that I’m still trying to convince myself that the Irish can beat the Spartans, tells you how far the program has fallen. I like Tommy Rees as a player and leader. But it’s hard to see how they can bounce back against Michigan State after assuming the position versus the Wolverines. The Spartans bring back an extremely experienced offense lead by Kirk Cousins, B.J. Cunningham, and running back Edwin Baker. Their defense was a question mark leading into the season, but has done well so far against some easy foes. If the Irish can’t get off to a quick start, this could get away from them fast. Michigan State 31 Notre Dame 24.
1 Oklahoma at 5 Florida St
It’s been a long time since Doak Campbell Stadium has been electric. It will be this weekend as the Sooners come a-calling. Landry Jones is leading an offensive beast. Florida State has rolled up some impressive numbers against schools with directions in their name. Last year, the Seminoles rolled into Norman, and left with their dignity barely intact. Hopefully, that experience has prepared them better for this meeting. They’ll have the revenge factor helping them get juiced up for this game. Unfortunately, revenge and crowd noise will help early but eventually the players have to take over. E.J. Manuel is an exciting quarterback to watch, nut he hasn’t played a game of this magnitude yet. Expect some jitters and possibly an early mistake from him. The defense will have to hold early, to give him time to settle in. Even so, there are just too many weapons on the OU side, both offensively and defensively. Boomer Sooner! Oklahoma 38 FSU 21.
Other games: 24 Texas at UCLA, 18 West Virginia at Maryland, 21 Auburn at Clemson, 6 Stanford at Arizona. Last week 4-1. Overall 6-4.