LAST WEEK: 4-2
Quick and dirty time again...
#25 BAYLOR (3-0, 0-0) at #9 WEST VIRGINIA (3-0, 0-0)
West Virginia opens up Big XII play at home, with a visit from the RGIII-less Baylor Bears. On paper, Baylor hasn't missed last year's Heisman Trophy winner that much -- they're still averaging almost 50 ppg and 500 yards of offense -- but West Virginia figures to pose a stiffer test than UL-Monroe, SMU, and Sam Houston State. The other problem for Baylor? Their defense looks paper-thin; they've given up at least 23 points in every game this year and found themselves in a wild shootout (47-42) with UL-Monroe a week ago. And now they have the challenge of slowing down Geno Smith and Dana Holgerson's Air Raid attack? Uh, good luck with that. This one should light up the scoreboards, but WVU fans shouldn't need to light up any couches after the game (unless it's in celebration).
THE PICK: WEST VIRGINIA 41, BAYLOR 28
TENNESSEE (3-1, 0-1) at #5 GEORGIA (4-0, 2-0)
Derek Dooley could really use a big win. In his 2+ years at Tennessee, the Vols are 0-11 against ranked opponents, with the most recent coming in a home loss to Florida two weeks ago. Georgia, on the other hand, just wants a win to keep place atop the SEC East with Florida and South Carolina. Georgia looks far too talented on both sides of the ball for this to be the game where Dooley gets his breakthrough SEC win. Sorry, Vols.
THE PICK: GEORGIA 35, TENNESSEE 17
#14 OHIO STATE (4-0, 0-0) at #20 MICHIGAN STATE (3-1, 0-0)
Bring out yer dead! Bring out yer dead! Wait, that's just a Big Ten team -- they're not dead. Sorry, that's an easy mistake to make. The Big Ten's non-conference house of horrors is over, meaning the league gets to avoid those bullies from the SEC, Pac 12, and the MAC and retreat into their cocoon of brotherhood and beat up on one another. Ohio State has looked (mostly) like the best team in the league, but that's tempered by the fact that (a) they struggled with Cal and UAB and (b) they're not eligible to win the league or play in a bowl. Michigan State had emerged as the league's standard bearer... and then they got smothered by Notre Dame and sleepwalked through an ugly win over a bad Eastern Michigan game. So yeah: B1G football, everybody! Anyway, who wins this game? The Sparty defense should do a better job of bottling up Braxton Miller than any of OSU's previous opponents, but the Sparty offense doesn't offer much to get excited about other than RB Le'Veon Bell. Let's go with OSU to squeak out a close one thanks to a big defensive play.
THE PICK: OHIO STATE 17, MICHIGAN STATE 13
#4 FLORIDA STATE (4-0, 1-0) at SOUTH FLORIDA (2-2, 0-1)
Three years ago, South Florida went into Tallahassee and shocked Florida State (and the world). A week ago, South Florida got bushwhacked by Ball State, while Florida State used a second half blitzkrieg to bury Clemson. So yeah: things have changed a little bit since that stunning USF win over FSU. USF's hopes of an upset win here rest on the FSU bus getting lost on the way to the stadium. Florida State is going to rock and roll here.
THE PICK: FLORIDA STATE 45, SOUTH FLORIDA 3
#12 TEXAS (3-0, 0-0) at OKLAHOMA STATE (2-1, 0-0)
Oklahoma State has four wins, all-time, against Texas; half of those wins have come in the last two years, when the Cowboys were assuming pole position in the Big XII. They're coming back to the pack this year -- see: an early-season loss to Arizona -- and Texas looks poised to resume their usual role as one of the Big XII powerhouses after slumming it near the bottom-middle of the league the past few years. On the other hand, Texas may be 3-0, but their best win is over... Ole Miss? It's hard to say just how much better Texas is this year. At the very least, Okie State should give us an excellent idea of the quality of the Texas defense in 2012. I think Texas reverses their two-year skid in this series... but it will be close.
THE PICK: TEXAS 35, OKLAHOMA STATE 28
#18 OREGON STATE (2-0, 1-0) at ARIZONA (3-1, 0-1)
Oregon State's played two games and beaten two then-ranked teams. Not too shabby. The jury's out on how good that Wisconsin win will wind up being (given the Badgers' rather, uh, indifferent displays in other games this year), but the Beavers looked impressive in dispatching UCLA a week ago. Of course, now the Beavers will have to leave the friendly confines of Corvallis and take their show on the road. Arizona took out Oklahoma State in the desert earlier this year, but their ability to claim another notable "OSU" scalp could depend on how quickly they can flush their performance against Oregon a week ago (a 49-0 massacre by the Ducks). I have a little more faith in Oregon State -- and their defense -- than I do in Arizona right now.
THE PICK: OREGON STATE 31, ARIZONA 24