I know, I know. We're running a few hours behind schedule this week. Don't forget to to check out last week's scoreboard if you haven't already done so, and get your picks in by 11:00 a.m. Saturday.
1. No. 8 CALIFORNIA at MINNESOTA, 12:00 p.m. EST (9/19), ESPN
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts CALIFORNIA by 14
2 weeks ago, I worry about this pick. Now? Easily done, California dreaming style. Best and Co are running on all cylinders, while Minnesota is scraping by mediocre opponents. That's all fine and well if your goal is the Motor City Bowl, but it ain't gonna fly against the Pac 10 favorite Bears.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts CALIFORNIA by 14
There are all kinds of numbers surrounding this matchup. Cal has lost four straight games on the road. Minnesota hasn't beaten a ranked team in its last ten attempts. Let me suggest there's only one number that matters: The Golden Bear's Jahvid Best is averaging 10 yards per carry. As soon as Cal establishes the run, they'll take over TCF Bank...
2. MICHIGAN STATE at NOTRE DAME, 3:30 p.m. EST (9/19), NBC
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts NOTRE DAME by 10
I expect to see a whole lot of Kirk Cousins, a whole lot of Jimmy Clausen, and not that much defense. Michigan State is a solid team, the wild card here is ND. Will they come out fired up and vengeful, inspired by a Lou Holtz dressing down for ruining his national championship prediction? Or will they come out haggard and irritated by the national focus on Charlie Weis's questionable playcalling? I say Notre Dame pulls it off as the talented but young Spartan secondary gets picked on.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts NOTRE DAME by 10
I think Scouts sums this one up best when they title their preview: "Irish should get revenge for Michigan loss versus Michigan State." A week ago I would have given this Michigan State team healthy consideration in this matchup. But their trouble holding CMU is compounded against a Notre Dame offense averaging 500 yards per game. It doesn't hurt that if Weis loses this one, he loses his job. How's that for incentive?
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts IOWA by 10
Arizona looked fast and prepared against both CMU and Northern Arizona. Iowa is slowly returning to full strength and now features a more varied offensive attack, discussed by BHGP here. Who do I like? Well it's unbecoming of me to keep picking the road dogs, so go Hawks. Oh, please click on the above BHGP link to see a real live Cornfed Iowan standoff in the comment section.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts IOWA by 10
The Hawkeye ground game is getting warmer. After a questionable opener against Northern Iowa, I predicted that the Hawkeyes would turn it up a notch. They did, to the tune of a 35-3 pounding of Iowa State in Ames. Surprisingly, Iowa's golden boy put up a Matt Barkley low completion percentage (52.9%), and threw 2 interceptions to open up the game. To beat Arizona, and it's turf-turning 503 yards per game offense, Stanzi will need to make better decisions in the pocket. The good news is, he will, and the Hawkeyes will give the Big Ten its first win against Pac 10 competition. (Granted, this is only the second game in which series opponents have been fair congeners.)
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts NEBRASKA by 7
ACC power running against an untested Nebraska D that wilted against good competition last year. Veliociraptor-esque VT defense against (surprise) a powerful Big 12 passing offense. One of the ongoing issues at VT has been Tyrod Taylor's inability to throw accurately or be put in position to succeed in the pass game. I'll go against Vegas here.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts VIRGINIA TECH by 6
Sure, the 'Huskers have been impressive in their first two games -- harvesting 984 yards of offense. But the Hokies are battle tested, having fought tooth and nail against Alabama in one of my favorite games of this early season. When it comes to making a defensive statement there are few teams more constant than Frank Beamer's, and when it comes to home field advantage there are few venues more vicious than Lane Stadium. Virginia Tech has not lost at home to a non-conference foe in 31 games. I think they add to that total Saturday.
5. FLORIDA STATE at No. 7 BYU, 7:00 EST (9/17)
What a matchup. Easily the best matchup to pick for this week. Do you pick the athletic Seminoles, an underperforming team that refuses to guard the crossing route...or the deep route..or the dump off? Or do you pick the Top 10 Cougars, a team that throws the all the aforementioned routes extremely well?
LAW BUCKEYE predicts BYU by 7
You know it's a bad Saturday night when the game you're looking forward to the most isn't televised. Why does this game matter? Because BYU is high enough in the BCS standings that they have a legitimate chance of reaching the National Championship if they win out, and the favorites (Texas, USC) suffer a loss. Do they deserve to be there? If they don't, it's certainly not for lack of strength of schedule. The Cougars opened against then No. 3 Oklahoma. They'll face their second BCS conference opponent (a pre-season favorite to win the ACC) Saturday, and (as the schedule stands), will go on to face two more Top 20 opponents (No. 15 TCU, No. 18 Utah) in Mountain West play. I think the Cougar's ability to throw carries the day over a Seminole defense that has struggled against the pass.