We used to be in there, now we’re out here
Freshman quarterback, hostile environment, blah, blah, blah. The fact is, USC has to be salivating about the opportunity to play Ohio State and further solidify its claim as one of the best teams the country.
The Buckeyes barely beat Navy at home last week, and while yes, the Middies run a gimmick offense, the Trojans will come to Columbus with infinitely more talent on both sides of the ball and no qualms about playing in front of 100,000 and a national TV audience.
The spotlight has been on USC frosh Matt Barkley and whether or not he will be able to handle the Horseshoe, but the Trojans will do all they can to make sure the onus doesn’t fall on Barkley to win the game. Expect the Trojans to use their arsenal of running backs and smart, quick passes to move the ball.
OSU thinks they can counter with the versatility of QB Terrelle Pryor, but the Trojans have the kind of speed rarely seen in the Big Ten. Not to mention that the Buckeyes – and to a lesser extent, the Big Ten – have fallen flat against upper-echelon competition, and it’s easy to see why the oddsmakers favor USC. So do I. Pick: USC 31, Ohio State 21
Stanford at Wake Forest: The Cardinal got off to an expected solid start last week against Washington State, and they probably thought this would be a good road test for them. The problem, though, is that Wake Forest got knocked off last week by Baylor as part of the ACC’s lost weekend. Still, traveling across the country is difficult, which means that Stanford may struggle for a while. Pick: Stanford 23, Wake Forest 17.
UCLA at Tennessee: Last season, the Bruins shocked the Vols in what turned out to be a very long season in Knoxville. This season, the Bruins look to be much the same team – one that will slog along on offense while riding a stingy defense – while Tennessee seems to be rejuvenated under brash coach Lane Kiffin. I don’t see UCLA’s lackluster offense overcoming a rabid crowd and a swarming defense. Pick: Tennessee 28, UCLA 14
Purdue at Oregon: With everything that’s been going on since the season opener, the Ducks are probably thankful to be able to get back on the field. Oregon’s explosive offense was nowhere to be found in the loss to Boise State, and now the Ducks will have to find a way to get back on track without their top running back. Purdue is in a transitional year, and it may be too much to ask for the Boilers to win on the road. Pick: Oregon 30, Purdue 21
Idaho at Washington: You will not find too many times when a team on a 15-game losing streak is a three-touchdown favorite, but here we are. The Huskies finally get a chippie, and based on how they played in a valiant defeat against LSU, should be in prime position to put a “W” in the win column. I’m not even sure the Vandals should be playing D-I ball, so this will be a complete mismatch. Pick: Washington 35, Idaho 10
Hawaii at Washington State (in Seattle): The Cougars showed a pulse in last week’s loss to Stanford, so perhaps this will not be the trainwreck season that most people predicted. There was a time where WSU scheduled their Seattle game as a sure win, but the Warriors are no pushover, despite surviving Central Arkansas last week. This might be the Cougars’ best chance to win a game all year, but still… Pick: Hawaii 27, Washington State 24
Eastern Washington at No. 10 California: The Golden Bears looked dominant in last week’s thumping of Maryland, but given the shoddy nature of the ACC, it’s hard to gauge a whole lot from it. This should be another laugher for the Bears, who should get their reserves plenty of work against the overmatched Eagles. Hey, at least EWU will earn a nice payday. Pick: California 52, Eastern Washington 13
Oregon State at UNLV: The Beavers did what they had to do last week against Portland State, and should probably have a similar experience in Sin City – the Rodgers brothers will get plenty of touches, the Beavers’ D will get some more game action and OSU should walk away with win, although the Rebels are a lot tougher than some might think. Pick: Oregon State 31, UNLV 24
Northern Arizona at Arizona: The Wildcats didn’t exactly light the world on fire with their 19-6 win over Central Michigan last week, but they should be able to cruise against the Lumberjacks, who are opening their season and therefore will be rusty. Pick: Arizona 27, NAU 7
Last week: 8-1.
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