Kent State vs. Bowling Green
Kent State has proven to be the biggest surprise this year in the MAC. Coach Hazell has taken the Golden Flashes to new heights as a football program in much less time than anticipated, due to the all-world speed of RB Dri Archer. However, BGSU has the best defense in the Buckeye State this year (giving up 49 to Indiana automatically disqualifies your defense from this honor, Ohio State). Their defense kept them in the game at The Swamp in Gainesville, FL and led them to a Thursday night upset last week in Athens, OH against Ohio U. This game pits strength against strength, so this game will be decided by BGSU's ability to move the ball on Kent State's defense. I can't see them moving the ball like they did against Ohio. Take the moneyline for Kent State this week.
Prediction: Kent State +2.5
Oklahoma vs. West Virginia
One reason for taking over this week's juice: Vince will be in attendance at Milan Puskar Stadium this Saturday. What a crazy season for both these squads. Oklahoma had National Championship aspirations after QB Landry Jones opted to return for his senior year. However, two upset losses at home to Kansas State and Notre Dame have all but ended Oklahoma's BCS hopes. West Virginia was riding high into this season after exploding for 70 points against a talented Clemson squad in the Orange Bowl, but seemed to forget to bring its defense over to the Big XII this season. After the shootout against Baylor, WVU has struggled to put up points on the board while allowing their opponents to move the ball at will, whether it be via blown coverages or poor tackling. West Virginia is just playing for pride at this point. Oklahoma might have the second-best defense in the Big XII this season along with one of the most balanced offenses, and that spells trouble for WVU. This one will be over by halftime.
Prediction: Oklahoma -11
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin (-3)
Let me be clear: I hate Bucky. As an Ohio State fan, trips to Madison worry me. Even with Jim Tressel at the helm, Ohio State has had problems against Wisconsin, especially in Madison. Wisconsin is coming off a 62-14 thrashing of Indiana, while Ohio State is coming off of a bye week. Expect Urban Meyer to spend the bye working with his defense, which has been uncharacteristically porous since Luke Fickell took over last season. If this game were played next week, I would take Ohio State. However, given the Buckeyes' recent history against Bucky and how the Wisconsin D has been one of the most surprising squads this year in the Big 10, I think Wisconsin will end Ohio State's unbeaten season. The final will be around the spread, so I would just take the moneyline or pass on this game.
Prediction: Wisconsin -3
USC vs. UCLA
USC is kicking serious ass right now. They are clicking on all cylinders offensively. Defensively, they are not living up to expectations. Then there's the ball deflating scandal that just hit this already-sanctioned program. Despite being a home game for UCLA, this will essentially be a partisan crowd in favor of USC. Expect USC to win in a high-scoring game by at least a TD.
Prediction: USC -4
Stanford vs. Oregon
Oregon cannot be stopped -- I think it's safe to say that at this point. Their only true weakness is their run defense, especially if they are facing a strong offensive line. Stanford has both a strong ground attack and an above-average offensive line, but what could really keep them in this game is the play of their tight ends. If they play well, they might keep it close enough to put a decent scare into the Ducks faithful. While Oregon might get a scare, the team speed at Nike U will allow them to pull away at the end for a comfortable 14-17 point win, within the spread.
Prediction: Stanford +20.5
Syracuse vs. Missouri
Upset special of the week. Syracuse is coming off a convincing victory over then-undefeated Louisville, while Missouri effectively ended Derek Dooley's career at Tennessee by upsetting them in overtime. Syracuse is the best team in the Big East right now, and is peaking at the right time. With the health of James Franklin still up in the air, expect Syracuse to win.
Prediction: Syracuse +4.5
USF vs. Miami (FL)
In the words of Charles Barkley, USF is "turrible".
Prediction: Miami (FL) -7
Kansas State vs. Baylor
Nick Florence is no RGIII, but he is a damn good replacement for Baylor. With what could possibly be an even worse defense than West Virginia's horrific defense, they'll need Nick Florence to play a flawless game to keep this within the spread. Give Coach Bill Snyder credit. He has twice taken Kansas State from the basement of FBS (formerly Division I-A) and has led them to their first-ever #1 ranking in the BCS following Alabama's shocking loss to Texas A&M. Unless Nick Florence finds RGIII's Superman socks somewhere in the Baylor locker room, nobody is going to save the day for Baylor.
Prediction: Kansas State -11.5
Philadelphia vs. Washington (-3.5)
Michael Vick is out. Philly offense is struggling. RGIII is a beast. I think I made my case when the Redskins will cover.
Prediction: Washington -3.5
Cleveland vs. Dallas
Let me start off by saying that Pat Shurmur is the worst coach in NFL history. By far. Whether it's punting on 4th and 1 on your opponent's side of the field or going for it on 4th and 2 from the Baltimore 29 with over 3 minutes to go, he sure knows how to get fired. Then there are rumors going around sports stations here in Cleveland that not even Browns players know who is calling the plays. Pat Shurmur better start making "progress" on packing his bags. He's out of Berea by Monday.
Prediction: Dallas -7.5
Indianapolis vs. New England
New England nearly let Ryan Fitzgerald beat them on Sunday. Let me say that again: Fitzy nearly single-handedly beat the Patriots. I've got news for Bill Belichick: Colts QB Andrew Luck is better than Ryan Fitzgerald -- and he's only a rookie. It's going to be another long day for the Patriots' secondary, even with the debut of former Bucs CB Aqib Talib.
Prediction: Indianapolis +9
Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh
Even with Pig Ben, I have a hard time finding reasons the Steelers will win. While I realize the Chiefs would not be 1-8 if not for costly turnovers, the Steelers should have dismantled the struggling Chiefs by halftime. I would have never guessed WR Antonio Brown's injury would be more of a threat to the balance of power in the AFC North than Baltimore LB Ray Lewis's season-ending tricep injury. Even though Baltimore ran up the score against Oakland, they looked like the team to beat in the AFC North on Sunday. While anything can happen in this rivalry game, I expect a close, low-scoring Baltimore win.
Prediction: Baltimore +3.5