Week 3 Predictions
1. Texas And Florida Will Roll In Conference Rivalry Games
The top two won’t get any clearer this weekend as the Longhorns and Gators will both manhandle respective conference rivals Texas Tech and Tennessee. Florida has, of course, dominated its first two games against two teams (Charleston Southern and Troy) that strike fear into the hearts high schools all over the country. They take on Tennessee with coach Lane Kiffin who talks more with less justification than anyone in the country save, perhaps, Kanye West. The Vols are 1-1 on the young season with both games at home. They bent Western Kentucky over their knee (big accomplishment) before losing to UCLA. Tennessee held the Bruins to 186 yards of total offense and still lost because they had four turnovers and managed just 208 yards of offense themselves. Think they’ll do better on the road against the defending national champs? Yeah…me, neither. Expect Urban Meyer to let his guys off the chain and send a message that, if there’s any justice in the world, will shut Kiffin up until next year.
And do you think Texas might have been looking past Wyoming just a little bit last week? UT needed a 70-yard drive at the end of the second quarter just to take a 3-point lead to the half. Do not expect such a slow start against the Red Raiders from Lubbock as the Longhorns seek revenge for Tech costing them a shot at the national championship last year. Despite losing Tim “I-Deserve -Top-5-Money” Crabtree and Graham “Why-Don’t-Nobody-Love-Me” Harrell, Tech’s offense hasn’t skipped a beat. Junior Taylor Potts is the leading passer in the country with 105 attempts for 861 yards and nine TDs through just two games. Funny how people can come out of games against North Dakota and Rice with numbers like that. Potts hasn’t faced a front with the likes of Sam Acho, Rod Muckelroy, Sergio Kindle and Lamarr Houston. The Texas front seven will give Potts all he can handle. Earlier this week, Pat Forde picked Texas to win by four touchdowns. I don’t know if I like them that much, but it’ll be a big and pretty easy win.
2. Oklahoma Will Struggle With Tulsa
I’m not saying Tulsa is near the same caliber as Oklahoma, but they are a better team than they showed when they got clubbed by the Sooners 62-21 at home two years ago. The Sooners have won four straight against the Golden Hurricane (REALLY!? Golden Hurricane is a mascot in Oklahoma?) and they’ll make it a fifth. But, along the way, expect Tulsa to cause them all kinds of frustrations along the way. Oklahoma is coming off an absolute beat down of Idaho State, but even in that game, replacement QB Landry Jones’s stats are not astonishing (18-for-32 is not the kind of percentage I’d expect, even though he got 286 yards on those 18 completions). And Tulsa has a QB that can really play in G.J. Kinne. He was a backup at Texas. Then he decided to transfer and was at one point committed to Michigan before retracting and going to Tulsa. Serious schools were interested in him, and after two games, I can see why. He has a 67.3 completion percentage, five passing TDs with no interceptions and a 176.85 QB rating.
The main thing is that I’m not yet sold on Landry Jones, and I think he will struggle a little with a Tulsa defense that has composed itself pretty well in its first two games. OU will win, but it’ll be tighter than most are expecting.
3. Miami (FL) Versus Georgia Tech Will Be A Thrilling Game That Will Enhance My Frustrations With The ACC
The ACC isn’t bad. The ACC is pathetic. The conference is 2-9 in BCS Bowls. That is an 18.2 win percentage. No other conference is lower than 42.1. The ACC has as many BCS Bowl wins in 11 games as Utah has in two. This is a conference that deserves to lose its automatic BCS berth. Despite that, bad teams keep playing good games against bad teams (like Miami-Florida State in week one), convincing voters that the ACC is pretty good, not that bad, or even returning to its former glory. No. It isn’t pretty good, it is that bad and it’s nowhere near the glory we thought it would all attain with Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College.
Georgia Tech is coming off a game in which they blew a 24-0 lead over Clemson, needing two 4th quarter field goals to limp away with the win.
Miami’s lone game so far was one in which they needed a stroke of luck to beat Florida State. And Florida State almost lost to Jacksonville State.
These are bad teams in a bad conference, but this will be a thriller that will see one of the two beat a ranked opponent, so one of these awful teams will leapfrog better teams in the rankings. Keep an eye on them because both will fall out of the top-25 by the season’s halfway point. But that’s down the road. For now I’ll just have to keep taking alkaseltzer and watching these JuCo teams play “football.”
4. The Shootout Of The Week Will Be Nebraska At Virginia Tech
This will be a fun one for lovers of high-scoring games as we have two teams here that can play a lot of offense and not much defense. The Cornhuskers are averaging 43.5 points on 492 yards after two games. Yet, even after Nebraska crushed Florida Atlantic 49-3 in week one, ESPN’s stat of the game was, “358. Nebraska’s once vaunted defense allowed the Owls to rack up 358 yards of offense, including 236 in the air.”
Virginia Tech can play offense…maybe. Alabama held them to 155 yards of offense in week one, but the Hokies still managed 24 points, thanks in part to a punt return for a TD. In week two, VaTech went for 605 yards, including 444 on the ground. Even against Marshall, 444 yards rushing is ridiculous. However, we also can’t forget that Virginia Tech allowed 498 yards of offense to Alabama, which is not exactly known as an offensive powerhouse.
Now that we’ve established it’s gonna be a shootout, let me explain why Jon is going to regret picking the Huskers. Since 2001, Nebraska is 39-13 at home and just 13-21 on the road. Jon wanted me to take a look at who it is they’re playing on the road. Fair enough.
Last year, Nebraska lost on the road to Texas Tech and Oklahoma. Those teams are legit, so that’s a tough pull. They defeated Iowa State (a 2-10 team) and Kansas State (a 5-7 team) for a 2-2 road record last year.
In 2007, Nebraska went 1-4 on the road. They lost to Missouri, Texas and Kansas. All ranked teams. Again, tough pull. However they also lost to Colorado (a 6-6 team). They defeated Wake Forest, which finished 8-4.
It pretty much continues like that. The point is, in the last seven years, Nebraska is 1-12 against ranked opponents on the road. The lone ranked opponent they defeated was #24 Texas A&M in 2006. Only one win over a ranked opponent on the road in seven years, and it wasn’t even a top-20 opponent.
Against teams with losing records on the road, Nebraska is 5-1. Against teams with winning records, they’re 8-20. You can look at that two ways. One way is, “of course they have a bad road record. They’ve played lots of hard games.” I choose to look at it the other way – “They’ve had lots of chances to win big road games and keep failing.”
Nebraska also has a history of getting absolutely killed in road games where they really shouldn’t. Lost 40-15 to 6-5 Kansas in 2005; lost 41-24 to 6-5 Missouri in the same year; lost 45-21 to 4-7 Kansas State in 2004. Texas Tech was good in 2004, but not good enough to justify losing 70-10.
I think I’ve sufficiently made my point that Nebraska just is not a good road team. Playing in hostile Lincoln is a great advantage, but they clearly lose just as much when they hit the road. I don’t expect their trip to Blacksburg to be any different.
5. Big Weekend For the Mountain West Conference
It’s not at all a stretch to say the MWC could go 7-2 this weekend, with one of those losses coming because two conference teams play each other (Air Force and New Mexico). UNLV is the only serious underdog against Hawaii. But, don’t underestimate how much of a neutralizing factor it can be for Hawaii to go on the road. They have to cross four time zones to get to Vegas, and since 2001, Hawaii is just 17-19 on the road. That includes some real stinkers they might have won, all things being equal.
Not only should they have a good weekend record-wise, but with Utah playing at Oregon, Wyoming playing at Colorado and BYU playing Florida State, the MWC has a great chance to pick up some credibility with wins over BCS teams. They’re not great BCS teams, but beating any BCS team on the road is good for the smaller conferences.
Weekly Pick Honorable Mention – East Carolina…
I’ll spend at least a few seconds trying to figure out where exactly East Carolina is when they play North Carolina on Saturday. I see North Carolina and South Carolina. I see West Virginia. Nope, no East Carolina. Shouldn’t that be Eastern Carolina?
Speaking of which, I gave a serious look at this game. I think North Carolina will win (just because ECU is not very good), but if they don’t win big, they could still fall out of the top 25. They haven’t looked great, and they need a big win with Notre Dame and Missouri knocking at the doors of the top 25.