1. ILLINOIS at MICHIGAN, 12:00 p.m. (ESPN)
GRAHAM predicts ILLINOIS
I am going to AA. Please holler at me if you are going to be there. This has been the most humbling season ever. I'm going to be a damn monk if I keep submitting myself to these kinds of humbling losses. Michigan hasn't stopped a real team since UConn...and that was lifetimes ago. However. Two key points could make me pick Michigan. 1) The offense is healthy and the offense HAS to win a game for UM sometime, right? 2) Illinois has a frosh QB who hasn't been struggling a bit adjusting to CFB gamespeed. This will be a huge test at the Big House. But let's be real - Illinois has dumbed down their offense and has gotten great results from it. Illinois' defense is a solid unit with a ton of talent. Just when you think Michigan can't fall lower? They do. Illinois wins by a touch.
JON predicts ILLINOIS
Here's a question for you: who leads the Big Ten in rushing over the past five seasons? If you guessed Wisconsin, you'd be wrong. Same goes for Ohio State. It's the Fighting Illini, who have averaged 196.1 yards per game over the past five years. That's bad news for Michigan, who has a habit of making anyone's run game look good. I think Graham said it best, "Your running back typically gets hit at the line of scrimmage, breaks a tackle, breaks another tackle, and falls forward for a five yard gain." Meanwhile Vic Koenning's defense is surprisingly a Top 15 unit. The writing is on the wall for the Wolverines.
Michigan - 1.5
2. No. 3 TCU at No. 5 UTAH, 3:30 p.m.
GRAHAM predicts TCU
A song for you all, to the tune of "Sister Christian."
Texas Christian, now the time has come,
And you know you're not the only one to say,
Let's play (in the BCS)
What's the point of playing all these days,
If Bama Hawkeye says you're f***ed anyways,
Ooo oo, it's true.
My little diddy aside, the Horned Frogs have the defense to stop anyone...and the Utes have the offense to hang with anyone. Going to be a great atmosphere - Utah was undefeated a few years ago, this ain't their first rodeo. My favorite stat of the week: Last TCU regular season loss? Utah in 2008. THAT'S CRAZY TALK. Horned Frogs hop the Utes, and make their case for a BCS bid.
JON predicts TCU
The New York Times said it best: there's a big game Saturday, but good luck finding it. I can't wait to watch this one but it's showing on CBS College Sports, a network that isn't available to every cable home in the country and isn’t even rated by Nielsen. The major question here: is BW3s an intended or incidental third-party beneficiary to that contract? [Ed Note: Per Doc Saturday: TCU has never won in three trips to Salt Lake City, but they boast the top ranked defense in the country, a unit that gave up just 16 points over the past five games. Let me say that again: 16 points over the past five games. Meanwhile, Utah's defense forced five turnovers last week, and still barely scraped by Air Force. TCU is going to stymie the Utes' attack, and Andy Dalton is going to put up enough points in the first half to make you almost not care you couldn't find it on TV. Almost.
TCU - 4.5
3. NORTHWESTERN at PENN STATE, 3:30 p.m. (ABC/ESPN)
GRAHAM predicts NORTHWESTERN
Now that PSU finally picked up some offensive confidence points thanks to Michigans' JV level D, I think they're the definite favorite. But NW refuses to play blowout games, preferring to lose or win by thin margins constantly. It's going to be close, so what instinct should we follow? The one that says, hey, this is still PSU and the renewed confidence makes this a lock....or the one that says, NW has a functional offense and an underrated defense, that's more than enough to pull them over the edge. I've been picking these upsets all year - There's a trio of Big Name teams I just don't trust (PSU, Florida, Texas) and so I'm going with the Wildcats on the road.
JON predicts PENN STATE
At least we'll know who the real seventh best team in the Big Ten is. Being tied in our weekly Power Poll is Joe Paterno's primary motivation to win this one. Oh wait? You mean there's another reason? Penn State is slowly but surely progressing on both sides of the ball. That and a feverish home crowd will be enough to get JoePa an emotional milestone win. We'll have more on this next week.
4. No. 6 ALABAMA at No. 10 LSU, 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
GRAHAM predicts ALABAMA
Trust me on this game, I'm on a Les Miles hotstreak. Picked 'em to win in the Swamp, picked 'em to fall to Auburn. 'Bama, even nicked up has a more complete team than Miles and I must admit, I don't trust the LSU passing game. 'Bama on the road keeps its title hopes alive.
JON predicts ALABAMA
Last year Nick Saban's team exploded out of the bye week, firing on all cylinders down the stretch. Although I'd love to see them go down in Tiger Stadium, it's just not going to happen. Three Top 20 programs be damned, I fully expect Alabama to win each and every game remaining in the regular season. I also fully expect them to make it to Glendale. The run starts Saturday.
5. No. 18 ARKANSAS at No. 19 SOUTH CAROLINA, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN)
GRAHAM predicts SOUTH CAROLINA
Keys? I see SC pounding the rock against a mediocre Razorback D. I see Ryan Mallett throwing a lot...and all over the field versus the weak SC secondary. I see points, lots of points. But more than anything, I see SC riding the HFA to a big victory.
JON predicts SOUTH CAROLINA
This is one of the weirdest games I've ever seen. Because a Florida win over Vandy sets up an SEC East championship next week, irregardless of whether the Gamecocks win or lose, some South Carolina fans are calling for Steve Spurrier to rest his starters. It kind of makes sense in a sick, anti-competitive way. The 2 loss Cocks' most realistic chance at a BCS bid is a win in the SEC Championship Game. That makes next week's game over an unranked opponent more important than this week's game over a ranked opponent.
So why am I taking the team with distractions? For the same reasons Vegas is. Marcus Lattimore can control the pace of the game, it's at home, and there's upset points at stake. Okay, Vegas doesn't really care about upset points. But what the hell.