Friday, September 15, 2006

College Football Week 3 Preview

Vols kicker James Wilhoit kicked a 50- yd game winner vs. Florida in '04

They are billing this weekend as Separation Saturday. That's because many conference opponents are playing each other, there are 7 games pairing Top 25 teams, and the winners will separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
But that's just a corny, ESPN-contrived catchphrase. I like to call it "A Kick-Ass Weekend on the College Football Schedule". Not quite as catchy, but nails it pretty good.
Here's my list of Top 5 Games to Watch tomorrow:

5.) 19 Nebraska @ 4 USC, 8:00PM ABC
The Huskers travel to LA to take on the Trojans amidst new allegations that #2 NFL Draft Pick Reggie Bush received over $100k in illegal gifts & benefits from competing agents while enrolled at SC. With possible sanctions looming, including stripping Bush of his Heisman and possibly taking away the National Championships won while he was enrolled, the Trojans will try to keep the focus on the field. And with Nebraska having lost their last 6 road games vs. ranked teams and making their first trip to the Coliseum in 35 years that shouldn't be too difficult for John David Booty & Co.
MY PICK: USC 52, Nebraska 17

4.) 17 Miami @ 12 Louisville, 3:30 ABC
The Canes travel to Papa John's Stadium (actual name) to take on the high-powered Cardinals in a game that has lost some luster thanks to Miami's opening loss to FSU and Louisville's star tailback Michael Bush going down for the season in their opener. But both teams have bounced back, especially L'Ville, which is averaging 300yds on the ground and 60 PPG without Bush. Although the Canes have won the past 6 games they have been underdogs in, and they have a solid defense (#21 nationally), Bush's replacements George Stripling, Colby Smith, & Sergio Spencer combined with rocket-armed junior QB Brian Brohm should prove too tough for the weak Miami offense to overcome. Plus the Cards have won 13 straight at The Big Pizza Box.
MY PICK: Louisville 31, Miami 24

3.) 6 LSU @ 3 Auburn, 3:30, CBS
These two SEC West foes always seem to be in the top half of the rankings with programs built on solid defense, hard running and occasionally flashy offense, making the Bayou Classic, well, classic. This matchup doesn't seem to have the wattage of recent meetings, loaded with NFL draft picks like Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Michael Clayton, Jason Campbell and Joseph Addai. But LSU QB JaMarcus Russel is a stud, the Bayou Bengals feel sleighted by the hoopla over Auburn, and both teams want to atone for last years sloppy 20-17 victory by LSU; Auburn kicker John Vaughn missed 5 FGs in that one. No pressure.
MY PICK: LSU 21, Auburn 20

2.) 11 Michigan @ 2 Notre Dame, 3:30 NDC
This game is always a dogfight, although lately the bigger dawg has been the Irish Setter as they have beaten the Wolverines 3 straight times in South Bend dating back to 1994. Also it was the Irish' 17-10 victory last year in AnnArbor that propelled the Charlie Weis-led squad back into national prominence. Michigan has a dynamite trio of QB Chad Henne, RB Michael Hart and WR Mario Manningham, but the Irish counter with Heisman hopeful QB Brady Quinn, animal WR Jeff Samardzija and explosive RB Darius Walker. And plenty of luck.
MY PICK: Irish 28, Michigan 24

7 Florida @ 13 Tennessee, 8PM CBS
Why am I putting a game between 2 teams I don't even like at No. 1? Because as much as I don't care for them, they like each other even less. The heated rivalry goes back to the days of the Old Ballcoach's famous declaration that " you can't spell Citrus (Bowl) without UT" and Peyton Manning walking off the field as a Vol having never beaten the Gators. Recently we had the infamous Dallas Baker Game of 2004, when the young Gator receiver retaliated for a hit, was caught and flagged which gave UT another chance;they kicked a 50-yd FG as time expired for a 30-28 win. Gator QB Chris Leak has been critical of Tubby Fulmer in the past, but I have a feeling that if Leak struggles in Knoxville, highly-touted Freshman Tim Tebow could be the one to guide the Gators to a win.
MY PICK: Gators 24, Vols 21
Don't forget about:
26 Clemson @ 9 Florida St. (Bowden Bowl #...ah forget it)
15 Oklahoma @ 18 Oregon (Beware the Ducks- uniforms)
1 Ohio St vs. Cincy (Battle of Ohio)

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