BC Tailgate is the official home on Blogcritics for college football news, rants, and riffs. Every NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision conference is covered — we don't play favorites to the big boys.
ACC by Geeves
Big East by Dan McGowan
Big Ten by Geeves
Big XII by Ben Miraski
Conference USA by Matt Sussman
Independents by Benjamin Cossel
MAC by Zach Baker
Mountain West by Matt Sussman
Pac 10 by Steve
SEC by Josh Hathaway
Sun Belt by Jerkwheat
WAC by Matt Sussman
Some real men and boys games take place this week, and the ACC will begin to show its true colors this weekend, one way or another. Just for a change, I'll have a little WHAM!-centric theme.
Wake Me Up
Wake Forest will stay at home to take on a 16th ranked Nebraska team that may well give them fits (huzzah for Bill Callahan's ability to run an offense, if nothing else). Don't count the Deacons out, because they aren't top notch, but they are no slouch either, and the Huskers may very well be looking ahead to USC next Saturday or counting greenbacks (Callahan's new five-year contract signed this week) to really give Wake Forest their A-game.
Before You Go-Go (to Norman)
Miami (FL) gets the real test when the Hurricanes have to travel to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the 5th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. It's hard to really predict the game, since Oklahoma and Miami's respective laughers against North Texas and Marshall (by a combined 120-13) didn't really answer any questions about Miami's offense or Oklahoma's defense. Miami is certainly looking to knock Oklahoma down a peg, and if their defense is all it's cracked up to be, this will be, as they say in the Okey-Doke state, a real humdinger.
Don't Leave Me Hanging On
Then there's the big daddy game this week, where 9th ranked Virginia Tech will travel down to the Bayou to take on the second best team in the country, the LSU Tigers. Perhaps it was raw emotion, perhaps it was looking ahead, but Virginia Tech was only able to manage a 17-7 win over lowly East Carolina last weekend. That means VT will be trying to prove something again this week, which is bad news for the Tigers, because Tech is a dangerous team even when they don't have extra emotion. LSU's offense started slow – much like the Hokies – last week, but at least theirs got going eventually, en route to a 45-0 blowout of Mississippi State. Odds are whichever offense gets hot first will go crazy, and this one will likely not be as close as the final score may indicate.
Winners: Wake over Nebraska, Miami over Oklahoma, LSU
If Greg Robinson isn’t already on the hot seat following Syracuse’s fourth consecutive opening game defeat, then he might be when he wakes up Sunday morning. That’s because the Orange, who were the only Big East team to lose its opener last week, now must take their pitiful offense on the road to play Iowa, who might have one of the strongest defenses in the Big Ten.
It’s going to be a long season for the Orange, but it might be much shorter for Robinson.
Cincinnati should find out where they stand when they host Oregon State tonight. The Bearcats put a beating on Southeast Missouri State last week, but you can expect the Beavers to be a much a tougher challenge. This is a team that is coming off a year in which it took down USC and won a bowl game.
Upset Watch: Navy 27 – Rutgers 24
Game of the Week: South Florida vs. No. 17 Auburn
Well, that was an interesting weekend. Like i said, things pretty much unfurled as they were supposed to, with a bunch of big name schools beating a bunch of not-big-name schools. I probably got a little greedy picking UAB over Michigan State or Northern Illinois over Iowa, but I did call Minnesota losing to Bowling Green. [Editor's note: Nobody likes a braggart. Except, in this case, me.]
The two rebuilding programs (Minnesota and Illinois) may have a little bit further to go than they thought (both were close but not quite. I won't ramble on about the Debacle in the Big House, because I already did.
This coming week, things just start warming up. Minnesota will take another crack at the MAC, with Miami (OH) coming to town, while the team that squeaked by them (Bowling Green) will pay a visit to the potent Michigan State offense featuring the always-fun-to-pronounce Jehuu Caulcrick.
Michigan will have to sober up fast to face the uniformly challenged Oregon Ducks, whom the Wolverines are hoping haven't noticed the gaping maw that is their interior defense. Penn State will stay home to host a Notre Dame squad that got pantsed by Georgia Tech last week. Iowa gets what should be an equally easy game against a rather sorry Syracuse squad.
No real surprises this week, unless Michigan implodes again or Michigan State does the same.
Winners: Penn State over Notre Dame, Western Illinois over Illinois, Miami (OH) over Minnesota
Week Two in the college football schedule appears on paper to be shaping up quite well for the Big XII. Every team but Colorado is the favorite in their game. That should mean that things should be simple this week, right? Not so fast. As Appalachian State proved last week, anything can happen. Look for these two games to define the week for the Big XII:
TCU (+9.5) at Texas: I see no reason why Texas should lose this game… except for everything about the way they played against Arkansas State. TCU is being touted as this year’s Boise State, and for good reason. Just see last week’s 27-0 win over Baylor. With injuries and suspensions (Hey, Billy Pittman, borrow any cars lately?) hanging over their heads, Texas looks prime for an upset. Take TCU and the points.
Miami (+10.5) at Oklahoma: It is hard to tell anything about Oklahoma based on week 1. North Texas was so bad that Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World compared them to a high school team and then said that was being too harsh to some high school teams. We know one thing — Miami’s D-Line will not give Sam Bradford a rest all afternoon. Kirby Freeman, Miami’s signal caller, should also sparkle with his speed and arm. This was the only game I had Oklahoma losing this year, which is a stretch, I know. I just have one of those feelings. Take Miami with the points.
Likely Winners: Iowa State, Kansas (SE Louisiana), Kansas State (San Jose State), Missouri (Ole Miss), Nebraska (Wake Forest), Baylor (Rice), Oklahoma State (Florida Atlantic), Texas, Texas A&M (Fresno State), Texas Tech (UTEP)
Likely Losers: Colorado (Arizona State), Oklahoma
Upset potential: Northern Iowa over Iowa State, TCU over Texas, Miami over Oklahoma
The collective schedule was brutal for Conference USA last year, and after a combined 4-7 win-loss record for the schools, it stays hard.
Marshall has the most daunting (dauntliest?) task, hosting in-state opponent West Virginia. The 3rd-ranked Mountaineers have beaten the Thundering Herd in both games they've ever had against Marshall, including a 42-10 beatdown last year in Morgantown. That sounds like a fair score the third time around.
Southern Miss will have to play in Neyland Stadium this week, home of the Tennessee Volunteers. Worse news, the Tennessee Volunteers will be there as well, beaten, bruised, pissed off about losing to Cal-Berkeley. USM may make it interesting, but expect a whitewashing of the Golden Eagles.
Tulsa has a bye this week, but that didn't stop them from losing. It was confirmed that running back and Doak Walker Award preseason watch lister Courtney Tennial will miss the entire season stemming from a preseason ankle injury.
Tulane finally begins their season, hosting SEC recluse Mississippi State. Could this be a win for the Green Wave? They did beat them last year at MSU, 32-29, so it's entirely possible.
And in all fairness to Michigan, the Rice Owls also lost to a I-AA team, falling 16-14 to Nicholls State, but who gives a hoot? [Rimshot] This week they play at Baylor.
So the good ole independents get off to a wonderful start, opening the season 1-3 with only Navy stopping the ship from completely sinking. Looking to Week Two, things don’t look much better but at least Western Kentucky goes against a team a bit more of their caliber – hey Florida, pick on someone your own size huh?!
Notre Dame vs. Penn State
Where do you start? To say Notre Dame looked bad against Georgia Tech would be paying them a compliment, they looked absolutely horrible running through all three of their quarterback to the much the same results – ineffective and a 33-3 drubbing. But hey, no worries, the Irish only have No. 17 Penn State to look forward to. If Notre Dame is going to have any success against the Nittany Lions, they are going to have to figure out the fumble problem. It’s hard to play smash-mouth football when you keep turning over the ball. Head coach Charlie Weis says he needs to go back and look at the film to determine how many of the errors in the game where quarterback related before he announces his starter for this game. Charlie, while your at it, see if maybe you can mulligan this season.
Navy vs. Rutgers
Ok, true enough, Navy did play one of the worst Division 1-A programs in the nation, beating Temple 30-19, but there’s definitely reason to think this squad is going to surprise some people. Heading in to the season, all eyes where on junior QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada who played well enough going 3-for-7 with 78 yards. But it was Navy’s running game that really stuck it to the Owls with 302 of the Midshipmen’s 439 total offensive yards coming from the ground game. As for Kaheaku-Enhada, he contributed 102 of those yards.
Navy will face its first and possibly only real challenge this season when they square off against Rutgers in New Brunswick this coming Friday. While both teams are fighting hard for well deserved national recognition, the Scarlet Knights are further along that road. Rutgers takes this one in an evenly played, close match.
Army vs. University of Rhode Island
Well at least Army didn’t completely embarrass themselves against Akron going down 22-14. The Black Knights defensive squad held the Zips to just three points in the second half. Army heads home to face Rhode Island, who lost to Fordham 27-23, looking to improve on the gains made by the defense. While almost no-one will be watching, Army goes for the win in a low scoring affair.
Western Kentucky vs. West Virginia Tech
Okay WKU, breathe. Its all over now and I’ll bet you’re ecstatic that massacre got called early. With 8:23 seconds left in WKU’s 49-3 Division 1-A welcoming party, the game was called due to weather, lest Florida put more points on the board. The Hilltoppers head back to the comfy confines of home to lick their wounds and prepare for West Virginia Tech who lost a heart-breaking double overtime affair to Urbana. Both teams will be out for blood on this showing, but I look to a stronger, more well rounded Hilltoppers to eek out their vengeance on the unsuspecting Golden Bears.
Yeah, uh, Week 1 wasn't kind to the Mid-American Conference West, where every team lost. The East fared better, going 5-2.
In Week Two, there are a few intriguing matchups, starting with a league game; one that wouldn't have been a league game a year ago. Temple goes against Buffalo, two teams used to losing, and losing in long stretches. Still, Buffalo has been getting more competitive within the conference, so you have to like the Bulls in this one.
Bowling Green, coming off a thrilling overtime win in Minnesota, will attempt its second-straight win over a Big Ten team, when it travels to Michigan State. Hey, the Falcons' women's basketball team had some success there — maybe it will translate.
Meanwhile, Toledo will look to shake off its rather humbling defeat to Purdue last week with a trip to Mount Pleasant, Michigan. The Rockets will take on quarterback Dan LeFevour and MAC champion Central Michigan. The Chippewas will also look to bounce back after a tough loss to Kansas.
A few other MAC teams have dates with the Big Ten. Akron heads to Columbus, where the Buckeyes will be waiting. My guess is Jim Tressel has shown his team a few tapes of Michigan's loss to Appalachian State. After the laughter subsided, Tressel probably told his team not to take Akron for granted.
Western Michigan will take on Indiana, which has a number of MAC ties. The current coach, Bill Lynch, used to coach at Ball State. He replaced the late Terry Hoeppner, who coached at Miami.
Speaking of the Cardinals, they have their second conference game, against Eastern Michigan. Ball State will look to bounce back from a last-second loss to the Miami RedHawks last week. Running back MiQuale Lewis will look to give another strong rushing effort. He led BSU with 91 yards last week.
Miami's Brandon Murphy will also look to have another solid game, but it may be difficult – Minnesota won't want to lose two straight to the MAC.
Northern Illinois will resume its rivalry with Southern Illinois – the teams meet for the 43rd time. History is on the Huskies' side – the Salukis haven't won a game in the series since the Carter Administration.
In other games, Kent plays Kentucky, and Ohio continues it brutal start to the season (for non-Bobcat fans) by playing Louisiana-Lafayette.
Last week the collective MWC faced no ranked teams. This year, the competition's a skosh harder.
Colorado State is hosting the 12th-ranked Cal Bears. Coming off a thrashing of Tennessee, CSU should pose no threat to landing a loss on Berkeley's shoulders, seeing as how the Rams had trouble with the Colorado Buffaloes last week.
BYU goes to the 14th-ranked UCLA Bruins. Max Hall did quite well for the Cougars last week against Arizona, so for now John Beck is nothing but a pleasant memory. And while UCLA may fear that BYU has been sort of a Pac-10 killer in recent times, the Bruins defense should be able to wear down the Cougars' playmakers.
TCU proved they can beat a Big XII team this year, albeit against Baylor. The next test is a slightly more difficult challenge as the 19th ranked Horned Frogs take an intrastate road trip to Austin to face the fourth-ranked Longhorns. TCU's defense might be able to contain UT's wideouts, so an upset isn't out of the question.
UNLV hosts the nation's No. 7 team, Wisconsin Badgers. I hope somebody told them that football will be involved.
San Diego State finally begins their season with a trip up to Washington State. The Aztecs have a slight chance for an upset, if only for Wazzu's penchant for inconsistency.
Also, the Nation of Islam Sportsblog declared Air Force's Kip McCarthy the White Running Back of the Week. That's … nice.
#10 California at Colorado St (Saturday 2:00pm EST)
DeSean "The Human Joystick" Jackson makes defenders look silly. Jahvid Best makes defenders look like they are running in slow motion. Justin Forsett ran all over a highly regarded Tennessee defense, to the tune of 156 yards. The Cal Bears are for real, and they are one of the most potent and exciting offenses in the country.
BYU at #13 UCLA (Saturday 6:30pm EST)
After last week's 20-7 win over Arizona, BYU faces a much tougher Pac-10 opponent this ween in #13 UCLA. UCLA comes in with a monster passing attack that put up 5 TDs last week on Stanford, and an equally impressive RB in Kahlil Bell, who ran for 195 yards last week.
Oregon at Michigan (Saturday 6:30pm EST)
Oregon looked good last week in their opener against Houston, rushing for 339 yards — 141 of them which belonged to their QB, Dennis Dixon. Michigan is coming off a loss last week which many consider to be the biggest upset in college football history. Expect Michigan to come out with a fire lit underneath them… wanting to prove they are the team that entered the season ranked #5.
Cincinnati 34, Oregon State 3 (from Thursday night)
#22 Boise St. at Washington (Saturday 3:30pm EST)
San Diego St. at Washington St. (Saturday 7:00pm EST)
Northern Arizona at Arizona (Saturday 10:00pm EST)
Colorado at Arizona St. (Saturday 10:15pm EST)
Once again, the big game this week features an SEC team and an out of conference power. With all due respect to the solemnity of the circumstances, Virginia Tech better hope the emotion of the moment interfered with their play. They'll lose by 40 if they give the same effort at LSU this week. I think VT is better than that, but they'll have to show it.
The first big SEC East battle happens this week when Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks travel to Athens to take on Georgia. The Bulldogs looked fabulous last week when they dismantled Oklahoma State. The Gamecocks have some fantastic defensive talent and they'll need it to slow down a very fast UGA attack. They'll have suspended QB Blake Mitchell available this week. He'd better be sharp.
Nick Saban can thank Lloyd Carr for making it cool to actually beat a 1-AA opponent. Sadly, Alabama has to feel good about finally demolishing an inferior opponent. This is a team that under Mike Shula trailed at home at halftime against Duke and lost at home to MissStake (Miss. St). The Tide travel to Vanderbilt to play a solid Vandy squad that will spoil someone's season this year (Auburn, Oct. 6th, perhaps).
Tennessee has to rebound quickly as they return home to play a persistently pesky Southern Miss team. Jeff Bower's squad has made life hell for more than one SEC team since he's been in Hattiesburg. UT should win but this could be an upset if the Vols aren't sharp.
Week Two of the college football season finds our heroes of the Sun Belt still playing sacrificial lamb to some of the big boys of the Division 1-A. (I’ll never acknowledge you, FBS and FCS!)
After what happened in Ann Arbor last Saturday and what nearly happened in Austin, I wouldn’t expect any of these games to be taken lightly this week. Louisiana-Monroe is taking a trip to Death Valley to face Clemson, Troy continues their SEC tour with a trip to the Swamp of Florida, and Florida Atlantic goes to visit Oklahoma State in what are likely to be this week’s severe beatings.
However, Louisiana-Lafayette has a chance at success when they host Ohio, Memphis comes to Jonesboro to play the [Mascot Redacted]s of Arkansas State, Maryland goes to visit the Fighting Neds of FIU, and North Texas visits Southern Methodist. The Sun Belt team has a legitimate shot at winning these four games. I call for success by Arkansas State and North Texas in a semi-shocker.
Colt Brennan threw for six touchdowns before halftime, then UH discontinued twisting the knife in Northern Colorado's shin. Mitch Cozad wondered why they were so kind. The Warriors travel 4,000 miles to Ruston, Louisiana for a road game with Louisiana Tech to pop the conference schedule cherry. Meanwhile, the gushing over Brennan's numbers begin early, as he's listed at No. 2 on Rich Cirminiello's Heisman rankings.
Boise State engages in perhaps their most difficult game this side of the November 23 Hawaii showdown. They go to Seattle to face Pac 10 member Washington. Expect Boise to run all over UW with newlywed crochet savant Ian Johnson.
Sacramento State and Texas A&M are hardly similar challenges, but that's the turnaround Fresno State faces from Week One to Week Two. While the Bulldogs' defense looked magnificent against the Sac State Hornets, they did turn the ball over three times. A road trip to College Station, Texas against the 23rd-ranked Aggies will require a much more disciplined offense, as well as a way to contain A&M quarterback Steven McGee, or this one could get ugly fast.
Another one of those in-state rivalries takes place in the form of New Mexico-New Mexico State. The normally bad NMSU Aggies are 1-0 while the typically-passable UNM Lobos are 0-1. Could this be a sign of change in the Land of Enchantment? Um, no. That's because UNM played a good team (UTEP) while NMSU got their easy win over Southeast Louisiana.
Beyond that game, everyone else except Idaho plays on the road this week.