Around College Football Week Five

Around College Football
Week Five (October 2 Games)

The September college football slate fizzled (rather than sizzled) to a close last weekend.

The Big Ten decided to have an early-season conference showdown with the … MAC?

That’s right, we were treated to the likes of Ohio State-Eastern Michigan (73-20), Iowa-Ball State (45-0), and Michigan-Bowling Green (65-21). Wisconsin got frisky and played the mighty Governors of Austin Peay (70-3) of the Ohio Valley Conference (“let’s go Peay!”). Even worse, the Big Thin actually lost two games to their Mid-America brethren when Minnesota got handled by the Huskies of Northern Illinois, and Purdue rolled over to the Rockets of Toledo. Ugly!

Welcome back to The Campus Game where (like the SEC) you’ll find only a high-quality product every week. Please visit each and every week for Around College Football (Thursdays), Professor’s Picks (Fridays), and special topics on occasion.

Around the SEC

Thanks goodness for the SEC (and the PAC-10 too).

Auburn and South Carolina provided a close, sometimes sloppy, but always entertaining game … the best of the weekend by far.

Any time we get to see Steve Spurrier go all mid-1990s during a game, it’s a lot of fun. His patience worn out, the visored one yanked QB Stephen Garcia in the fourth quarter and turned to freshman Connor Shaw. The move didn’t pan out as Shaw turned the ball over twice in Auburn’s second straight come-from-behind victory. The loss knocked the Gamecocks from the ranks of the unbeaten and kept Auburn there.

As a Georgia alum and native, seeing the fall from grace of Mark Richt has been startling.

Widely recognized as one of the coaching fraternity’s nicest guys, the top Dawg is facing a serious crisis for the first time in his tenure. A 1-3 start in 2010 (including the ugly 24-12 debacle at Miss State on Saturday), a five loss season in 2009, and annual blowout losses to hated Florida make on-the-field issues an obvious and huge concern for Bulldog backers. Toss in what seems to be double-digit depth on the local police blotters (ten Bulldogs arrested since spring) and you have big, big problems. Not for nothing … but was it not cruel and unusual that freshman LB Demtre Baker went out and got arrested the night of Richt’s worse loss (Baker did not make the trip to Starkville) … what timing – what lack of discipline.

Georgia and Richt need to win at Colorado this week. Badly.

Another winning coach who catches a lot of grief is Les Miles at LSU.

His Tigers have not lost, and boast the league’s best defense. But, take the offense … please. Why Miles does not give backup QB Jarrett Lee a chance remains a mystery. I know the kid threw a bunch of interceptions when last he held the starting job, but LSU cannot win a championship with the current play of Jordan Jefferson. Only a matter of time before the complete lack of a passing game catches up to the Hat.

Here are the first Campus Game SEC Rankings for 2010 (do not believe in those preseason ranks before we’ve seen teams under pressure). TCG rankings are not predictive of how teams will finish, but how they currently stand.

1. Alabama … Crimson Tide stayed cool as the other side of the pillow in the cauldron of Reynolds-Razorback Stadium and got a huge road win over pumped-up Arkansas.

2. Auburn … Tigers and big QB Cam Newton keep pulling out wins after falling behind. I’m not sold on the squad yet, but give them credit for toughness.

3. Florida … Can the Gators overcome mighty Alabama on the road Saturday? Tune in for Professor’s Picks Friday to find out.

4. LSU … championship defense, championship special teams, the SEC’s best player (Patrick Peterson), and no chance to win a championship because of the offense.

5. Arkansas … Ryan Mallett did not respond well to pressure situations last week, but Petrino’s pigs can score on anybody. D played OK too.

6. South Carolina … Gamecocks should have beaten Auburn … woulda, shoulda, coulda … that only flusters the head ball coach even more.

7. Kentucky … No shame in losing to Florida at the Swamp, but Wildcat defense needs to help out high-powered offense.

8. Ole Miss … Rebs finally looked a little dangerous against Fresno State … a roller coaster team … up and down.

9. Miss State … big win over Georgia for Bullies and Dan Mullen; still tough to see many playmakers for State.

10. Tennessee … Vols needed UAB to miss 5(!) field goals and still went overtime to get win. Not so great for Vols.

11. Vanderbilt … Commodores move out of cellar after big Ole Miss win, but need more proof … beat U Conn this week and move up more.

12. Georgia … confused defense, no running game, very little passing game, undisciplined play … can’t even say thank goodness for Vandy this year Dawg fans.

Around the Nation

If the season ended this week, the PAC-10 would be right there with the SEC as top conference.

West: Stanford (a Campus Game favorite) looks solid in all phases and faces a major test at Oregon this weekend. That is probably the marquee matchup outside the Southeast (Alabama-Florida). The UO Ducks feature the nation’s fastest moving offense. Arizona and USC still have not lost, and UCLA, Arizona State, Cal, and Oregon State are all respectable. Nice league.

Southwest: The annual Red River Shootout lost some luster when Texas got whipped by UCLA, but the winner is still likely to play in the Big 12 title game.

Midwest: I really like the Wisconsin @ Michigan State game, a battle of unbeatens. Sparty head coach Mark Dantonio will coach from the press box as he recovers from a mild heart attack.

Games of note this week:

Texas A&M @ OK State (Thursday)
Ohio State @ Illinois
Miami @ Clemson
Virginia Tech @ NC State
Penn State @ Iowa
Texas vs. Oklahoma

This Week in College Football History

Source: The National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame


September 30, 1939– Fordham beat Waynesburg (Pa.) 34-7 in the first televised football game in history. Bill Stern called the play-by-play for W2XBS (now WNBC-TV) while a young announcer from Alabama named Mel Allen did pre-game interviews. Few television sets could receive the signal, but some fans saw the telecast at the nearby New York World’s Fair.


September 27, 1969– In a celebration of college football’s 100th anniversary, Rutgers defeated Princeton, 29-0 in Piscataway. Rutgers quarterback Rich Policastro led the way by completing 14 of 19 passes for 164 yards and a score, and added another touchdown on the ground, to give the Scarlet Knights a 21-0 halftime lead.

September 28, 1985– In Knoxville, Tennessee upset No. 1 Auburn, 38-20. Tennessee quarterback Tony Robinson connected on 17 of 30 passes for 259 yards and four scores to lead the Volunteers to a 24-0 halftime lead over College Football Hall of Fame head coach Pat Dye’s Tigers. College Football Hall of Famer Bo Jackson compiled 80 yards on 17 carries, but left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury.

September 29, 2001– New Mexico State shutout ULM, 31-0 in Monroe, La. The shutout was New Mexico State’s first in 283 games, dating back to Sept. 21, 1974, the NCAA record for most consecutive games without posting a shutout.

October 1, 1955– No. 6 Army crushed No. 18 Penn State, 35-6 in West Point. After earning All-American honors as an end in the previous season, College Football Hall of Famer Don Holleder moved to quarterback for the 1955 campaign. Holleder completed only one pass on the day, but it was an eight-yard scoring strike to end Don Satterfield in the first quarter. College Football Hall of Fame head coach Earl Blaik’s Black Knights utilized big plays on defense and special teams to cruise to a 21-0 halftime lead. The Nittany Lions were led by College Football Hall of Fame head coach Charles “Rip” Engle, as well as assistant coach and College Football Hall of Famer Joe Paterno.

October 2, 1943– In a 40-21 win over Illinois in West Lafayette, Purdue set an NCAA record for most turnovers by a winning team. The Boilermakers lost nine fumbles and threw two interceptions on the day. The win helped propel Purdue to a 9-0 record and a Big Ten championship.

October 3, 1992– For the second consecutive season, College Football Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden and No. 3 Florida State lost to No. 2 Miami on a field goal that drifted wide right, falling in Miami 19-16. College Football Hall of Fame quarterback Gino Torretta hit receiver Lamar Thomas to put the Hurricanes ahead, 17-16 with 6:50 to play. After a safety on special teams pushed the deficit to three, the Seminoles drove deep into Miami territory until Dan Mowery missed a 39-yard field goal on the game’s final play.

Fordham defeated Waynesburg (Pa.) in the first
televised football game in history this week in 1939. 

See you at Kickoff!

Professor’s Picks Week 4

Professor’s Picks
Week 4

Season Record: 36-13
Last Week’s Record: 12-6

Welcome back to The Campus Game and Week 4 of Professor’s Picks for the 2010 season.

Each week, predictions for all SEC games and a selected number of national games will be posted here.

Comment: The professor posted a mediocre 12-6 mark last week, about a C unless we grade on a curve of some sort.  This week features several games matching unbeaten teams, making for an exciting weekend of college football action.

Best Pick: Alabama over Duke.  Hey – just kidding … no picks really jump out on the positive side of the grade book.  Perhaps going with homestanding Auburn to beat Clemson earns top score.

Worst Pick: A few contenders here, but let’s go with calling for Washington to nip Nebraska.  The Cornhuskers only handled the Huskies by 35.  Oh my.

Here are this week’s SEC picks and national picks of interest.


SEC Picks

UAB (1-2) at Tennessee (1-2, 0-1)
12:21 p.m. ET SEC Network UT (XM 199 Sirius 220)
Knoxville, Tenn. • Neyland Stadium (102,455)
Comment: Big Orange needs to win badly because a brutal four-game stretch awaits (@LSU, @Georgia, Alabama, @South Carolina). Vols get this one.
Professor’s Pick: Tennessee

Alabama (3-0, 0-0) at Arkansas (3-0, 1-0)
2:30 p.m. CT CBS Sports (AL 143/122 AR 200/219)
Fayetteville, Ark. • Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)
Comment: The Razorbacks have been waiting on this one a long time but remember the old saying … be careful what you wish for. Alabama seems really anxious for a test against a legitimate threat, so the guess here is that the Tide rolls in ready to rumble. Bama boasts a very balanced offense. Last season, Arkansas committed to stuffing the run (and did so), but Bama QB Greg McElroy shredded them through the air. With Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson healthy and fresh, the Bama offense probably will not have to air it out and may actually be able to play keep away. Arkansas, for all Ryan Mallett’s skills is not balanced. A tenet of Nick Saban defenses is to take away one aspect of the opposing offense, typically the strongest part. If Alabama commits to defending the pass and getting to Mallett, it’s tough to see the Hogs doing much damage on the ground. One potential concern for Alabama is the lack of a pass rush (last in the SEC with only two). Mallett’s arm is too dangerous to allow him a whole bunch of time. Must see TV this week for college football fans.
Professor’s Pick: Alabama

Georgia (1-2, 0-2) at Mississippi State (1-2, 0-2)
6 p.m. CT FSN (UGA 141/121 MSU 200/219)
Starkville, Miss. • Davis Wade Stadium (55,082)
Comment: The Dog days of summer should be over but you would have a hard time convincing anybody in Athens or Starkville. Georgia made a pretty gutsy comeback against Arkansas last week, only to falter with less than a minute left and lose. The UGA Dawgs are now 0-2 in the SEC for the first time in Mark Richt’s tenure, enough of a slow start to get the lunatic fringe of fans (and a few more) riled up. A big problem for Georgia is lack of play-makers on both sides of the ball. At State, the Bullies also have nothing in the way of game-breakers. After pointing all off-season to a Thursday night showdown with Auburn then losing to the Tigers at home, MSU is in danger of struggling to find six wins this season. Two wounded programs and it may get ugly for the loser.
Professor’s Pick: Georgia

Kentucky (3-0, 0-0) at Florida (3-0, 1-0)
7 p.m. ET ESPNU (UF 199/220)
Gainesville, Fla. • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548)
Comment: You have to like Kentucky. Four straight bowl games closed out the Rich Brooks era, and new coach Joker Phillips has kept the Big Blue caravan rolling to start the season with an offense scoring over 40 points per game. The competition has not exactly been the 1967 Green Bay Packers however. A nice opening win at in-state rival Louisville was followed by gulping down a couple of cupcakes in Western Kentucky and Akron. Scarfing down the mighty Gators in the Swamp will prove more difficult. Florida didn’t seem right much of last year (when unrealistic expectations meant they should win every game 100-0), and the decisive loss to Alabama in the SEC title game really pierced the pride of the boys from the Sunshine State (especially their head coach). Sloppy and inconsistent offensive play has overshadowed any positive aspects of Florida’s season. The team has not established a solid passing game (103rd rank nationally at 150 ypg) or a dominant ground attack (53rd nationally at 167 ypg). Still, this is the most athletic team in the league top to bottom, the special teams are stellar, and the squad is itching to get to Tuscaloosa next week unbeaten. They will.
Professor’s Pick: Florida

Fresno State (2-0) at Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1)
6:30 p.m. CT CSS (UM 201/218)
Oxford, Miss. • Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580)
Comment: Ole Miss lost a home game by two touchdowns to Vanderbilt last week, meaning the Rebels now have two terrible setbacks on the season (an earlier loss to Jacksonville State being the cake taker). Now for the bad news … the next five opponents on the Ole Miss schedule are all unbeaten going into this weekend (Fresno, Kentucky, @Alabama, @Arkansas, Auburn). Ole Miss has done very little well, but the most surprising aspect has been the failure of the two lines – thought to be strong points – to dominate. Fresno is somewhat unusual for a West Coast team in that the Bulldogs prefer to run the ball. Pat Hill’s squad should not be intimidated and this figures to be a close one.
Professor’s Pick: Ole Miss

South Carolina (3-0, 1-0) at Auburn (3-0, 1-0)
6:45 p.m. CT ESPN (SC 143/122 AU 198/217)
Auburn, Ala. • Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
Comment: Two more unbeaten teams meet. Auburn survived a stinker of a first-half to come back and beat Clemson in overtime last week, but expect South Carolina to be an even tougher test. The Gamecocks are physical, run the football well with freshman Marcus Lattimore (who very nearly went to Auburn), and are better on defense than the Tigers. If SC plays under control (not easy in the cauldron of Jordan-Hare Stadium), Steve Spurrier’s team will hand Auburn its first loss of the season.
Professor’s Pick: South Carolina

West Virginia (3-0) at LSU (3-0, 2-0)
8 p.m. CT ESPN2 (LSU 197/216)
Baton Rouge, La. • Tiger Stadium (92,400)
Comment: Two of the more unpredictable teams in America meet on the bayou. LSU has a roster full of talent, but the Bengal Tigers border on atrocious on the offensive side of the ball. They rank 105th in the nation in passing, and why Jarrett Lee has not been given a chance to unseat the ineffective Jordan Jefferson is a mystery. Defensively, the Tigers have been very solid except for a letdown in the second half of the season opener against North Carolina. WVU has played a weaker schedule on the way to 3-0 (beating Coastal Carolina, Marshall in OT, and Maryland. Not a Mardi Gras for the Tigers, but they should win.
Professor’s Pick: LSU

Open: Vanderbilt (1-2, 1-1)

National Picks
(all times Eastern)

TCU at SMU (Friday 8:00 ESPN) … Horned Frogs continue quest for yet another BCS bowl (why do these teams from “non-BCS” conferences ever complain … they have an easier route to the big money games than teams in the big six conferences).  June Jones and the ponies from SMU will be no pushover, but TCU looks good.  Professor’s Pick: TCU

NC State at Georgia Tech (12:00 ESPN) … State has gotten off to a nice start, but typically swoon in ACC play. The opposite holds true for the Yellow Jackets; expect them to wreck State handily. Professor’s Pick: Georgia Tech

Stanford at Notre Dame (3:30 NBC) … Since Jim Harbaugh arrived at Stanford, he has been a professor’s pet on this site. Harbaugh brings toughness and a rushing attack to the all-too-often soft PAC-10, and this Cardinal team is typically gritty. ND arrives back home after yet another late loss (seems like a dozen or so in the past few years). Sooner or later Brian Kelly will right the Irish ship, but the guess here is it will not happen this week. Professor’s Pick: Stanford

Temple at Penn State (3:30 Big Ten) … Will Joe Paterno be staring across the field at his successor? Al Golden has turned the Temple program around and seems destined for a bigger job – perhaps even replacing his old coach at the alma mater in Happy Valley. JoePa shows the youngster he’s still boss. Professor’s Pick: Penn State

Oregon State at Boise State (8:00 ABC) … The boys from the blue field get yet more national publicity (as if they need it). No word on whether Herby and “big-event” Brent will shine Chris Petersen’s sneakers before the game – but you know they’ll be polishing apples on behalf of the Broncos’ BCS title dreams during the game. Unless Oregon State jumps ahead that is … Brent Musberger shifts allegiances faster than Don King (who once entered the ring with Joe Frazier and left it with George Foreman after big George knocked out Smokin Joe – Brent would wear a blue Boise cap on the telecast if ABC let him, but would just as easily slip into a beaver coat should OSU win). By the way … one more time for you Herby – yes Boise could beat anybody on one given night … so what? Could they go unbeaten or lose only one if they played tough teams every week? You know the answer. Professor’s Pick: Boise State

Enjoy the games!

Around College Football Week Four

Contenders or pretenders?

Around this time of the semester, college professors begin to get a sense of how students will perform in classes. The first few weeks of laying a learning foundation, establishing expectations, and getting to know each other has been accomplished. The opening week jitters, freshmen homesickness, and information overload has been overcome.

It’s time to find out who will perform under pressure and who will falter.

College football teams reflect a very similar circumstance. Week Four starts the process of separating the championship contenders from the pretenders.

Welcome back to The Campus Game, where college football fans should always expect championship level performance. Please visit often.

Several conference and intersectional games during week four commence the championship-culling process.

Arkansas passed all early season tests, including a dramatic road win over Georgia. Are the Razorbacks ready for mighty Alabama?

South Carolina fans (among the nation’s very best) waited patiently for Steve Spurrier to put together a contender. Will the Gamecocks overcome Auburn on the Plains, or will Gene Chizik’s Tigers turn them into just another Palmetto state pretender?

Boise State went on the road to start the year and beat Virginia Tech, considered one of only two real challenges for the Broncos in the 2010 regular season. The other? Oregon State. Will the Broncos keep their BCS-Busting quest alive by damming up the Beavers on the blue field?

Fellow non-BCS interloper TCU makes the short trip across the Metroplex to play SMU. Can the Horned Frogs ground the aerial attack of June Jones and the Mustangs?

Florida keeps catching a lot of grief for struggling on offense … perhaps too much criticism for a team averaging over 30 points and winning by about three touchdowns a game. Will Florida finally flash championship form against unbeaten Kentucky on Saturday night? Or might the Cats claw their way into SEC East contention?

West Virginia may be the team to beat in the Big East after getting out to a 3-0 start. Can the Mountaineers shoot down undefeated and unloved LSU on the bayou?

Stanford and Oregon appear the class of the PAC-10. Jim Harbaugh’s Cardinal face a tough trip to tough-luck Notre Dame, while the mighty Ducks try to survive in the desert against Arizona State. Will both emerge unscathed?

Week Four shapes up nicely for determining contenders and pretenders.

Check back Friday for Professor’s Picks.

Special Thursday Night Pick: Miami over Pitt.

To see a complete list of televised games this weekend, please visit the National Football Foundation (usually posted by Thursday afternoon).

Enjoy the games!

This Week in College Football History
Sept. 20 – Sept. 26
Source: As part of an ongoing series throughout the fall, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame posts This Week in College Football History, which takes a look back at some of college football’s landmark moments over the last 141 years … please visit The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame.


September 21, 1996- In Tempe, No. 17 Arizona State snapped defending national champion and top-ranked Nebraska’s 26 game winning streak, 19-0. The Sun Devil defense, led by 2010 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Pat Tillman, forced three safeties against the Cornhuskers and held them scoreless for only the second time in 23 years. It was the only time the AP’s top-ranked team has been shutout since 1978.


September 20, 2003- No. 10 LSU prevailed against No. 7 Georgia, 17-10 in Baton Rouge. With the Tigers ahead 10-3, Georgia linebacker Odell Thurman forced a Matt Mauck fumble deep in Bulldog territory. Georgia capitalized with a 93-yard screen pass to tailback Tyson Browning. Mauck rebounded with a 34-yard scoring toss to Skylar Green with 1:22 remaining, clinching victory over the defending SEC champions en route to LSU’s first BCS National Championship.

September 22, 1962- College Football Hall of Fame head coach Bill Yeoman coached his first game at Houston. The “father of Cougar football” directed the Cougars to a 19-0 win over Baylor in Houston. The inventor of the veer offense, Yeoman’s Cougars would lead the nation in offense from 1966-68. Yeoman eventually guided Houston to two top-five finishes, four conference championships and 11 bowl games.

September 23, 2006- Central Michigan defeated Eastern Michigan, 24-17 in overtime, in Ypsilanti. It was the third straight time a contest between the Chippewas and the Eagles went to overtime, the only such occurrence in NCAA history.

September 24, 1983- The No. 7 Iowa defense rose to the occasion, limiting powerful attack of No. 3 Ohio State in a 20-14 triumph in Iowa City. Buckeye quarterback Mike Tomczak entered the game as the nation’s leader in passing efficiency, but was just 13-34 for 121 yards and a touchdown against a Hawkeye defense featuring College Football Hall of Famer Larry Station. The win was Iowa’s first over Ohio State since 1962.

September 25, 1959- In Atlanta, No. 16 Georgia Tech engineered a 16-12 upset of No. 6 SMU. College Football Hall of Fame quarterback Don Meredith tossed two scores to put the Mustangs ahead at the break, 12-7, but less-heralded signal caller Fred Braselton hit end Fred Murphy to give the Yellow Jackets a 13-12 advantage. SMU mounted a late comeback charge, but Georgia Tech linebacker Gerald Burch snagged an interception with 1:32 remaining to clinch victory for College Football Hall of Fame head coach Bobby Dodd’s Yellow Jackets.

September 26, 1953- In a matchup of College Football Hall of Fame head coaches Frank Leahy and Bud Wilkinson, No. 1 Notre Dame thwarted No. 6 Oklahoma 28-21 in Norman. With the Sooners leading 14-7 in the second quarter, Fighting Irish tackle Frank Varrichione blocked a punt that Notre Dame recovered at OU’s nine-yard line. Quarterback Ralph Guglielmi capitalized with a nine-yard option keeper, the first of three unanswered Notre Dame touchdowns to put the Irish ahead for good. The loss was Oklahoma’s first in 25 home games, and would be their last defeat until 1957, when the Sooners would achieve an NCAA-record 47 consecutive wins.

News from Around College Football

Kennesaw State (Ga.) has announced plans to begin football in 2014. . . . Texas – San Antonio will play a three-game series with Oklahoma State in 2013-15. . . . Lamar will visit Oklahoma State in 2013.

Saturday will be Bronko Nagurski Day in the state of Minnesota with events related to the Hall of Famer surrounding Minnesota’s game with Northern Illinois.

Auburn and Clemson will play at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta as part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game during Labor Day weekend in 2012. . . . West Virginia and Maryland have extended their series through 2017. . . . Oklahoma State will host Louisiana-Lafayette in 2011 and 2012 and travel to Arizona on Sept. 8, 2012. . . . Toledo will host Coastal Carolina in 2012. . . . Tulane and South Alabama will play a three-game series in 2013, 2019-20. . . . Mississippi State will host Tennessee – Martin on Nov. 5, 2011.


For the first time in the show’s 23-year history, ESPN’s College GameDay will originate from the campus of Boise State in anticipation of the Broncos’ game with Oregon State. . . .  CBS began its 10th year of SEC on CBS Saturday with Florida at Tennessee. . . . CBS has announced that the network will air a double-header on Oct. 2. Tennessee at LSU will air at 3:30 p.m. ET, while Florida at Alabama will show at 8 p.m. ET. . . . Six affiliates have been added to the WAC Sports Network, bringing the total to 24 affiliates in 16 markets. . . . VMI at Charleston Southern (Oct. 23) and VMI at Gardner-Webb (Nov. 20), originally scheduled to air on SportSouth, will be shown nationally by Fox College Sports Atlantic. . . . CBS College Sports will now be shown on Cox Communications in northern Virginia.


Florida Atlantic has been approved for funding for an on-campus, 30,000 seat stadium. The project will begin next month and be completed by fall 2011. . . . Eastern Washington played the first game on its new red, Sprinturf field Saturday versus Montana.


Tammy Weikart Walker, widow of the late head coach Randy Walker, has endowed the Randy and Tammy Walker Endowed Football Scholarship at Miami (Ohio). . . . Utah State opened its Student-Athlete Academic Hall of Honor on Saturday. . . . The Big Ten Conference set a league attendance record by averaging 78,844 fans at eight home games on Saturday. ACN is now a presenting sponsor of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. . . . Toledo recently held a free youth football clinic at the Glass Bowl. . . . Arizona is the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week. . . . Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland will host Notre Dame vs. Navy on Sept. 1, 2012.

Dr. Bobby Epling of The Campus Game is invited guest columnist for the September 27-October 3rd weekly issue of The Kickoff, providing a preview of the Alabama-Florida SEC showdown.

See you at kickoff!

Professor’s Picks Week 3

Professor’s Picks
Week 3

Season Record: 24-7
Last Week’s Record: 13-2

Welcome back to The Campus Game and Week 3 of Professor’s Picks for the 2010 season.

Each week, predictions for all SEC games and a selected number of national games will be posted here.

Comment: Grades improved on “Monster Saturday” bringing semester scores up. This week’s slate features a few intersectional games, plus a couple of tough conference calls.

Best Pick: For the second week in a row, the Michigan bandwagon gained speed – this time with a thrilling victory over Notre Dame. Rich Rod and UM started the same way last year before faltering, but this team may have learned some lessons.

Worst Pick: Of the two losses, hardly anybody would have guessed on Georgia Tech getting wrecked at Kansas … but plenty of people picked Auburn to beat Miss State … the professor just wasn’t one of them.

Here are this week’s SEC picks and national games of interest.


SEC Picks

Arkansas (2-0, 0-0) at Georgia (1-1, 0-1)
12 p.m. ET ESPN UGA-199 / UA – 143 UGA-220 / UA – 122
Athens, Ga. • Sanford Stadium (92,746)
Comment: Razorbacks snorted to two lopsided wins over easy prey, and the Bulldogs are wounded from a cockfight in Columbia. Last season Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett torched UGA for 5 TDs and no INTs in a losing effort. Hog fans expect this team to contend for the West title and the Georgia game kicks off a brutal five game stretch (Alabama, Texas A&M, at Auburn, Ole Miss). The Bama game has garnered much of the attention, so the Dogs might catch a break if Arkansas is looking ahead (although that is doubtful after two easy wins). This game is potentially very significant to Mark Richt and Georgia … should the Dogs fall to 0-2 in conference, with looming trips to Miss State and Colorado, and later games with Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn, Florida, and Georgia Tech the season could get away in a hurry. It’s a tough call, but watch for the Georgia offense – particularly the offensive line – to control the game, keep the high-flying Hog offense on the sideline, and Georgia to win by a touchdown or so.
Professor’s Pick: Georgia

Vanderbilt (0-2, 0-1) at Ole Miss (1-1, 0-0)
11:21 a.m. CT SEC Network UM – 200 UM – 219
Oxford, Miss. • Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580)
Comment: The league’s worst scoring team (Vandy) meets the conference’s worst scoring defense (Ole Miss). Vanderbilt’s defense has acquitted itself well enough against two pretty good teams (Northwestern and LSU), but the offense is averaging only 12 per game. The biggest threat is super-soph running back Warren Norman. Ole Miss is averaging over 37 points and should be too big and strong for the Commodores. Jeremiah Masoli accounted for over 300 yards last week and is firmly entrenched as the Rebels starter.
Professor’s Pick: Ole Miss

Florida (2-0, 0-0) at Tennessee (1-1, 0-0)
3:30 p.m. ET CBS Sports UF – 143 / UT – 199 UF – 122 / UT – 220
Knoxville, Tenn. • Neyland Stadium (102,455)
Comment: Tennessee played well against high-powered Oregon … for thirty minutes. The second-half got downright ugly as the Vols fell apart in virtually all phases. Special teams – specifically defending the return game – pose a big threat to UT against fleet Florida. For one of the nation’s elite teams, the Gators caught plenty of criticism the first two weeks … initially because of fumbles and bad snaps in the season opener, then for struggling with South Florida for three quarters last week. Once Florida moved away from the option-shovel pass scheme, QB John Brantley seemed to open up and get more comfortable throwing downfield. Expect the improvement to continue this week, but I do not foresee a blowout.
Professor’s Pick: Florida

Alabama (2-0, 0-0) at Duke (1-1)
3:30 p.m. ET ABC Sports UA – 201 UA – 218
Durham, N.C. • Wallace-Wade Stadium (33,941)
Comment: The most interesting aspects of this game are historical. This is the biggest football contest in Durham since the 1942 Rose Bowl moved there for a year at the start of World War II. The coach for the Blue Devils at the time was Wallace Wade, famous former Alabama head coach who took the Tide to three Rose Bowls (1926, 1927, 1931) before leaving for Durham. About the only good news for Duke in this one is the profit from all the season tickets Bama fans snapped up in order to have good seats in smallish Wallace Wade Stadium.
Professor’s Pick: Alabama

Akron (0-2) at Kentucky (2-0, 0-0)
7 p.m. ET FSN UK – 201 UK – 218
Lexington, Ky. • Commonwealth Stadium (67,942)
Comment: Kentucky fans need to enjoy this game with the Zips because the Wildcats may be blue after a pending six game gantlet of @Florida, @Ole Miss, Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia, @Miss State. Don’t think about that Cats … just get to 3-0.
Professor’s Pick: Kentucky

Furman (1-0) at South Carolina (2-0, 1-0)
7 p.m. ET USC PPV USC – 197 USC – 217
Columbia, S.C. • Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)
Comment: The professor ranks Furman’s beautful campus ahead of USC … the football team? Not so much. Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks may finally have a team to contend with the big boys although the schedule soon gets brutal. We’ve seen what happens when good FCS teams get overlooked however.
Professor’s Pick: South Carolina

Clemson (2-0) at Auburn (2-0, 1-0)
6 p.m. CT ESPN / ESPN 3D AU – 200 AU – 219
Auburn, Ala. • Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
Comment: Along with Arkansas-Georgia, the week’s top game in SEC country. Auburn struggled on the scoreboard in a close win over Mississippi State, but appeared in control for the most part. Big QB Cam Newton is a load, and all the misdirection on offense provides him plenty of running lanes (120 ypg) as he has joined with Onterio McCalebb (8th) and Michael Dyer (9th) to give the league’s best running attack three of the SEC’s top ten rushers. Clemson QB Kyle Parker was the only freshman signal-caller in America to lead his team to a conference title game in 2009 and structured his professional baseball contract in a way that let him lead the Tigers another season. Clemson also boasts a strong running game (229 ypg) and ranks 12th nationally in scoring. These schools have played quite a bit (46 times) with Auburn dominating (13 wins in a row dating back to 1951). Should be a fun game and atmosphere with Game Day crew on campus.
Professor’s Pick: Auburn

Mississippi State (1-1, 0-1) at LSU (2-0, 1-0)
6 p.m. CT ESPNU LSU – 199 LSU – 220 / MSU – 125
Baton Rouge, La. • Tiger Stadium (92,400)
Comment: This type game is what separates the SEC from other conferences. The league is just so deep. Miss State played Auburn to a near-draw, so the Bullies cannot be overlooked against the unpredictable Bayou Bengals. For a half, LSU dominated a suspension-riddled North Carolina to kick off the season before faltering late and nearly blowing the game (something Tiger fans have become familiar with). Last week, RB Stevan Ridley gashed Vanderbilt for 159 yards (including 144 in the second half), and the Tiger D shut down the Commodores. State had a couple of extra days to recover from the Thursday home loss to Auburn and the Dogs probably needed it because all the off-season talk in Starkville had focused on that game. No walk in the park, but LSU should win.
Professor’s Pick: LSU

National Picks
(all times Eastern)

Maryland at West Virginia (12:00 ESPNU) … Bill Stewart and the Mountaineers pulled a Houdini-act to escape with a win at Marshall, while the Terps cruised past Morgan State after a close opening win over Navy. Professor’s Pick: West Virginia

Georgia Tech at North Carolina (12:00 GAMEPLAN) … Still cannot figure how the Jackets wrecked against Kansas last week, but they must recover because the ACC Coastal is wide-open and this is a big game. UNC has had a long layoff after losing an emotional game to LSU, so the Heels will have no excuses (other than all the suspended players that is). A tough call, but Paul Johnson doesn’t often lose two in a row (and has not at Tech).  Professor’s Pick: Georgia Tech

U Conn at Temple (12:00 GAMEPLAN) … You have to like what Al Golden has done with the Owls and his squad is a threat to drop Conn to 1-2 on the season. Still think the Huskies of the Big East are a bit better. Professor’s Pick: U Conn

Air Force at Oklahoma (3:30 No TV) … Sooners spanked Florida State last week, but I think the Falcons are a tougher test. Air Force leads the nation in rushing and crushed BYU last week (and we all remember what BYU did to Oklahoma last year). If OU gets past the next three weeks (AFA, Cincinnati, Texas) the Sooners will be in the thick of the national title race. Professor’s Pick: Oklahoma

Nebraska at Washington (3:30 ABC) … The Huskers are rushing for well over 300 yards a game, but have played mediocre opposition (Western Kentucky and Idaho). The Huskies lost a close game to BYU then crushed the Syracuse Orange by three touchdowns. I’d rank the UW schedule as tough as anybody’s (how about @USC, Arizona St, Oregon St, @Arizona, Stanford, @Oregon the next six games?) so the Huskies need to win when they can. I say they upset the Cornhuskers.  Professor’s Pick: Washington

Arizona State at Wisconsin (3:30 ABC) … A typical contrast between PAC-10 and Big Ten. The Badgers boast a huge offensive line, a pretty steady QB in Scott Tolzien, and a moose at tailback in John Clay. The Sun Devils prefer to move through the air behind Steven Threet (a Michigan transfer) and a nice, deep group of receivers. Camp Randall and the long trip to dairy land seems too much for ASU to overcome.  Professor’s Pick: Wisconsin

USC at Minnesota (3:30 ESPN) … Minnesota is a touchdown away from losing to Middle Tennessee and South Dakota (the Gophers prevailed over MTSU but lost to the Coyotes) so the Trojans would normally be a lock. With Lane Kiffin at the USC helm however, lock will probably only refer to cell doors from here on, so it might be a close game. The Trojans handled Hawaii and Virginia but struggled to win both games. The prettiest part of this pairing may be beautiful TCF Bank Stadium. Professor’s Pick: USC

Texas at Texas Tech (8:00 ABC) … UT-TT brings to mind the best game of 2008 when Michael Crabtree made the miraculous catch and tightrope TD to hook the Horns. This game will be lower scoring than that one, but there should still be plenty of fireworks. New Raider coach Tommy Tuberville gets his first taste of trying to tame Bevo. Not this time. Professor’s Pick: Texas

Notre Dame at Mich State (8:00 ABC) … The Irish continued a recent trend of losing close games by giving up a late touchdown to Michigan. A head injury to QB Dayne Crist hampered the Irish attack, but was no excuse for allowing over 500 yards to one player (Denard Robinson). If Crist proves injury prone (he missed most of last year with a knee injury), the Irish cupboard is bare at QB for this year. The Spartans have owned ND lately (won 9 of 13), and have a nice 1-2 ground punch with Le’Veon Bell and Edwin Baker and a sound QB in Kirk Cousins. Still, I like this Irish team more than their predecessors and believe Brian Kelly will have them ready to bounce back. Professor’s Pick: Notre Dame

Iowa at Arizona (10:30 ESPN) … The professor really likes Iowa – a steady coach, steady quarterback, and solid D. Traveling to the desert to play a late game against the Wildcats will be a challenging test for the Hawkeyes. A toss up, but go with Iowa to ground out a win. Professor’s Pick: Iowa

Enjoy the games.

Around College Football Week Three

Thank goodness Saturday’s almost here.

Finally, we can focus on football … football on the field.

Welcome back to The Campus Game, where the focus stays between the white lines and away from the yellow tape, blue language, and black marks.

Want to talk about Reggie Bush returning his Heisman? Sorry, let’s focus on Denard Robinson earning one.

Interested in A.J. Green selling a game jersey for a thousand dollars? Nah … check out Andrew Luck of Stanford looking like a million bucks.

Seeking words of wisdom about Tennessee’s shower habits? Yuck – let’s just discuss how the ACC stunk last weekend.

College football generates more excitement and passion than any American sport. With that attention comes increasing media coverage and scrutiny, and news from off the field can nearly overwhelm what’s taking place on the gridiron.

Off-field topics cannot (and should not) be ignored, but they should never cause us to take our eyes off the ball.

That’s what makes Saturdays so special.

A few last thoughts on week two …

* Michigan continued its climb back to national relevance with the aforementioned QB Denard Robinson rolling up over 500 yards against Notre Dame. You will not see a better individual performance this season, but Rich Rod should be careful not to wear the young man out. The Wolverines should get to 5-0 before their in-state showdown with Michigan State on October 9th.

* Big Ten cohort Ohio State pummeled Miami in a somewhat sloppy game, and the Bucks schedule is soft as church music until a trip to Wisconsin on October 16th. Really would not surprise me for the annual Ohio State-Michigan game to decide the Big Ten (not historically unusual but few thought that might happen this season).

* Less impressive is USC. The Trojans struggled to get past Hawaii and Virginia. Lane Kiffin and crew may slip by another few weeks (at Minnesota and Washington State), but the guess here is the men of Troy lose four or five this season.

* The ACC may not be as strong as the Mountain West. I actually had pretty high expectations for the league, but last week was about as ugly an outcome as you are likely to see. Miami whipped by Ohio State, FSU overwhelmed at Oklahoma, Georgia Tech clipped by Kansas, Virginia Tech humiliated by James Madison … a pretty bad week.

Around the Nation

This week’s slate lacks the glamour of week two, but still provides some interesting pairings.

In the SEC and Big 12, conference action heats up, while the national scene offers a few intersectional games – especially PAC-10 vs Big Ten games.

East: Unbeaten Maryland could earn a return to the Top 25 with a victory over #21 West Virginia. The Mountaineers got a gift from Marshall to move to 2-0 after trailing most of the game. U Conn of the Big East visits an improving Temple program.

Midwest: The Big Ten-PAC 10 rivalry usually plays out in the Rose Bowl, but we get several matchups of the two leagues this week. Arizona State visits Wisconsin … both are 2-0 but Wisconsin looks better. USC travels to the land of 10,000 lakes to play Minnesota … had a chance to visit beautiful TCF Bank Stadium this summer and it’s a showplace. Notre Dame continues an early season gantlet with a trip to tough Michigan State.

Southwest: Tommy Tuberville gets his first taste of the Texas Tech-Texas game when the Horns come calling in Lubbock. Oklahoma hosts undefeated Air Force, the Falcons fresh from pasting BYU.

West: Impressive Cal travels to Nevada for a Friday night game. Nebraska faces a road test at Washington. Boise takes its Bronco show on the road to Wyoming, a place where Cowboys have tamed a few horses before. Another Big Ten-PAC 10 game is a big one … Iowa at Arizona.

Around the South

The best conference game in the SEC is probably Arkansas at Georgia. The Hogs have rolled up big numbers against weak opponents to this point, so the Dogs should be a major test for Ryan Mallett and company. Georgia tries to rebound from a pretty physical whipping at the hands of South Carolina.

Florida travels to Rocky Top to face Tennessee. Neither has looked great, but the Gators seem to be finding some consistency as games wear on. Same cannot be said of Vols … after a fine first half against Oregon, UT folded at the first sign of trouble.

The best intersectional matchup sees Clemson go to Auburn in a battle of Tigers. The ESPN Game Day crew will be on the Plains so maybe you can catch Erin Andrews or Chris Fowler sipping a lemonade at Toomer’s Corner.

Check back Friday for Professor’s Picks.

To see a complete list of televised games this weekend, please visit the National Football Foundation (usually posted by Thursday afternoon).

Enjoy the games.

Professor’s Picks Week 2

Professor’s Picks
Week 2
by Bobby Epling
The Campus Game

2010 Overall Record: 11-5
Last Week’s Record: 11-5

Welcome back to The Campus Game and Week 2 of Professor’s Picks for the 2010 season.

Each week, predictions for all SEC games and a selected number of national games will be posted here.

Comment: The semester got off to a middling start for the pigskin professor, with whiffs on all three big matchups between BCS conferences and non-automatic qualifiers. The course content picks up steam this week with a strong schedule of games.

Best Pick: The prof predicted Michigan and Rich Rodriguez to rebound in a big way this season by getting off to an impressive showing against a U Conn team that could contend for the Big East title.

Worst Pick: Good thing tenure is not based on prognostications involving BSC busters TCU and Boise State. Expecting annual underachiever Virginia Tech to ace a test against the hungry Broncos gets nod as biggest blunder.

Here are this week’s SEC picks and selected national games of interest.


SEC Picks

Auburn (1-0) at Mississippi State (1-0)
6:30 p.m. CT • ESPN / (Thursday)
Satellite Radio: Auburn (XM 143 / Sirius 122) Miss. State (XM 199 / Sirius 214)
Starkville, Miss. • Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field (55,082)
Comment: The Bulldogs of MSU have put a tremendous emphasis on this game, and must now deliver or potentiallysuffer a severe letdown.
Professor’s Pick: Miss State

Georgia (1-0) at South Carolina (1-0)
12 p.m. ET • ESPN2 /
Satellite Radio: Georgia (XM 143 / Sirius 122) South Carolina (XM 199 / Sirius 220)
Columbia, S.C. • Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)
Comment: Both teams will be missing players due to NCAA infractions/investigations. If Florida’s first week struggles continue, the winner of this game becomes a contender in the East. Georgia is the more athletic team, with an outstanding and experienced offensive line, strong runners, and depth at receiver (even without star A.J. Green). New QB Aaron Murray gets his first taste of a big-time atmosphere, but showed plenty of promise against Louisiana last week. Defensively, the Dogs can run around some too. At SC, defense is a key. If the Gamecocks can pressure Murray, their secondary has the playmakers to make Georgia pay. Offensively, SC needs QB Stephen Garcia to manage the game and avoid mistakes. A close one.
Professor’s Pick: South Carolina

South Florida (1-0) at Florida (1-0)
12:21 p.m. ET • SEC Network /
Satellite Radio: Florida (XM 200 / Sirius 219)
Gainesville, Fla. • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field (88,548)
Comment: Gators looked very ragged last week and must get the center-shotgun snap under control before it becomes a mental block. Skip Holtz inherited a solid USF team, and the Bulls should compete with Florida for a quarter or so. Might be the wrong week to be visiting the swamp however.
Professor’s Pick: Florida

Penn State (1-0) at Alabama (1-0)
6 p.m. CT • ESPN /
Satellite Radio: Alabama (XM 199 / Sirius 220)
Tuscaloosa, Ala. • Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,000)
Comment: A great if infrequent rivalry dating to the Bryant-Paterno classics, college football fans should enjoy Joe Paterno’s final trip into a hostile road atmosphere in the deep South. Tide fans will give him a great cheer (he was one of the Bear’s favorite opposing coaches) … then commence to whip his Lions.
Professor’s Pick: Alabama

Louisiana-Monroe (0-0) at Arkansas (1-0)
6 p.m. CT • FSN /
Satellite Radio: Arkansas (XM 197 / Sirius 217)
Little Rock, Ark. • War Memorial Stadium (53,727)
Comment: The Hogs continue their exhibition season against the out-manned Warhawks, but deserve the tuneups because they are about to embark on … at Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M, at Auburn. Whew. Petrino’s passing pigs get to play against a 3-3-5 look, so that will give Ryan Mallett and company a nice scrimmage.
Professor’s Pick: Arkansas

LSU (1-0) at Vanderbilt (0-1)
6 p.m. CT • ESPNU
Satellite Radio: LSU (Sirius 127) Vanderbilt (XM 198 / Sirius 217)
Nashville, Tenn. • Vanderbilt Stadium (39,773)
Comment: Les Miles and the Tigers came close to an ugly implosion against suspension-riddled North Carolina last week, so the Bayou Bengals have plenty of incentive to play well. Vandy lost a close game to their fellow academic stalwart from the Big Ten (Northwestern). Don’t count Vandy out, but LSU wins.
Professor’s Pick: LSU

Oregon (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0)
7 p.m. ET • ESPN2 /
Satellite Radio: Tennessee (XM 201 / Sirius 218)
Knoxville, Tenn. • Shields-Watkins Field / Neyland Stadium (102,455)
Comment: As a big Derek Dooley fan, it’s tempting to go with the upset here. Oregon rarely faces physical and fast defenses or smash-mouth offenses, and the last time the Ducks did (Rose Bowl vs Ohio State) they got shut down. I think it will be close all night, not as high scoring as many believe, but just cannot pull the trigger for the Big Orange.
Professor’s Pick: Oregon

Western Kentucky (0-1) at Kentucky (1-0)
7:30 p.m. ET • CSS /
Satellite Radio: Kentucky (XM 203)
Lexington, Ky. • Commonwealth Stadium (67,942)
Comment: Kentucky continues to be a solid program that flies well under the national radar. Joker Phillips opened his head coaching career with a nice win over in-state rival Louisville, and gets an easier victory over the Hilltoppers.
Professor’s Pick: Kentucky

Ole Miss (0-1) at Tulane (1-0)
8 p.m. CT • ESPN2 / ESPN Classic /
Satellite Radio: Ole Miss (XM 200 / Sirius 219)
New Orleans, La. • Louisiana Superdome (69,703)
Comment: Will the great football spirit in the sky continue to punish Houston Nutt for pretending to be Father Flanagan? Probably not, but it was kind of nice for a week. Rebels get on track.
Professor’s Pick: Ole Miss

National Picks
(all times Eastern)

Georgia Tech at Kansas (12:00 Noon No TV): Turner Gill had a disastrous debut last week (losing to North Dakota State), and Jackets coach Paul Johnson is not above running up the score on somebody. Professor’s Pick: Georgia Tech

Iowa State at Iowa (3:30 ABC): A nice matchup in the corn belt. Iowa State is bowl worthy, but Iowa may be BCS bowl worthy. Professor’s Pick: Iowa

Florida State at Oklahoma (3:30 ABC): Seminole fans are confident new coach Jimbo Fisher has a conference title contender on his hands, but Bobby Stoops and the Sooners are desperate to win a big game. They do. Professor’s Pick: Oklahoma

Michigan at Notre Dame (3:30 NBC): A classic midwest match of the nation’s two winningest programs. Both teams could make significant improvement this season, but Michigan seems a bit more advanced right now. Professor’s Pick: Michigan

Miami at Ohio State (3:40 ESPN): Both teams have plenty to prove. The Hurricanes hope to prove they are again contenders on the national scene, while the Buckeyes want to justify their lofty ranking. OSU a bit too seasoned, but if the Canes hang around for a half or so – watch out. Professor’s Pick: Ohio State

Stanford at UCLA (10:30 ESPN): UCLA’s loss to Kansas State robbed this game of some luster, but the winner jumps to an early lead in the PAC-10. Love the way Jim Harbaugh teaches physical football on the left coast. Professor’s Pick: Stanford

Around College Football Week Two

Is one team already in the BCS national championship game?

One might think so after listening to Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit make the case for Boise State on Labor Day night.

Welcome back to The Campus Game, where we never anoint a king until a crown has been earned.

Boise State will not earn a place in the national title game (although the boys from the blue turf may be awarded one).  The Broncos could (and should) win the rest of their games, but against a soft WAC-caliber schedule, competing for a national championship should be out of the question.  Even if two teams from automatic-qualifying (AQ) conferences do not finish unbeaten, teams with only one loss should earn a bid over Boise.

That said, it is easy to like the Broncos.

Every time they get on the big stage, Chris Petersen and his squad perform in a loose, confident, tough manner.  The win on Labor Day against an inconsistent Virginia Tech team was legitimate.

Can the Broncos beat any team on a given night (as boldly proclaimed by Herby on Monday night)?  Yes, but could Boise go through a full schedule of challenging games and emerge undefeated or with only one loss … like the “big-time” teams must?  Doubtful.

So, a schedule with New Mexico State, Toledo, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, and Hawaii (and those are consecutive mid-season games) is not championship quality.  The most dangerous game remaining for the Broncs may well be at Idaho on Friday, November 12th.  Think a trip to Idaho would frighten Florida … or Alabama … or Ohio State … or Texas … or Oklahoma … or Georgia Tech … or … well, you get the picture.

Sorry Broncos.

Around the Nation

The publicity machine at ESPN has dubbed week two “monster” weekend … as usual the four-letter network is correct.

Several huge intersectional games match opponents that once squared off for national championships, the conference races get started with key games, and college football’s living legend makes a final trip down to Dixie.

East: The slate along the eastern seaboard is as meek as a Democrat running for reelection.  West Virginia plays at Marshall in the Take Me Home Country Roads Bowl on Friday night.  Central Michigan tries not to get sick on Philly cheesesteaks when the Chippewas head to the city of brotherly love to face Temple in a pretty important MAC game.

Midwest:  Hurricane warnings will be in effect along the banks of the Olentangy River in Columbus, Ohio, when Miami blows into the Horseshoe to play Ohio State.  The winner moves near the front of the pack in the championship chase.  At South Bend, the nation’s two winningest programs square off again when Notre Dame hosts Michigan.

SouthwestFlorida State gallops into Norman for a showdown with the Oklahoma Sooners.  The Noles and new coach Jimbo Fisher could emerge as a threat in the ACC, but will need all their weaponry against Bob Stoop’s troops.

West:  An early season PAC-10 game between homestanding UCLA and tough Stanford is significant in the conference race.  Jim Harbaugh’s Cardinal squad is one of my favorite west coast teams.

Around the SEC

Off-field news continues to plague the SEC.

The big South Carolina-Georgia game will be played without Georgia’s best player and one of the top Gamecocks.  Bulldog receiver A.J. Green was suspended four games by the NCAA for selling a used game jersey to an agent for $1000.  SC tight end Weslye Saunders is out indefinitely due to the on-going probe into agents and several college players, and six other Gamecocks are under scrutiny for living arrangements in Columbia.

Marcell Dareus of Alabama will miss another game after being snared in the same agent investigation that nabbed Saunders and Green.

Houston Nutt suspended Ole Miss dismissed offensive lineman Rishaw Johnson and suspended linebacker Brandon Sanders.

On the field, the conference looks as strong and invincible as ever … off the field (?) … the NCAA might accomplish what teams have not been able to do between the stripes … take down the SEC.

The conference offers a tremendous schedule this week as Alabama and Tennessee host intersectional rivals (Penn State and Oregon respectively).  That Penn State-Bama game will – in all likelihood – be the last regular season trip to the deep South for lengendary Lion Joe Paterno.  Whether you roll with the Tide or pull for Penn State, savor seeing Joe one more time.

The East race gets an early leader when Georgia travels to South Carolina; the West does the same with the Miss State-Auburn pairing. Florida hosts an in-state foe in the South Florida Bulls and new coach Skip Holtz, and LSU takes on Vandy in a cross-divisional game.

Here are the week’s conference games and the Thursday night Professor’s Pick.


Auburn at Mississipi State (7:45 ESPN): The Bulldogs of MSU have put a tremendous emphasis on this game, and must now deliver or potentiallysuffer a severe letdown. Professor’s Pick Miss State

Saturday Games (All Times Eastern)

LSU at Vanderbilt (7:00 ESPNU)
LA-Monroe at Arkansas (7:00 FSN)
South Florida at Florida (12:21 SEC)
Western Kentucky at Kentucky (7:30 CSS)
Georgia at South Carolina (12:00 Noon ESPN2)
Oregon at Tennessee (7:00 ESPN2)
Penn State at Alabama (7:00 ESPN)
Ole Miss at Tulane (9:00 ESPN2 or Classic)

College Football Week One Reflection

Week one of the 2010 college football season kicked off with more big games than normal, a few surprises, and the potential resurgence of two premier programs.

Welcome back to The Campus Game.  Please visit each week during the college football season for reflection and commentary on the past weekend’s results (typically Sunday or Monday mornings other than holidays), news from around the nation and around the SEC (typically Thursdays), and professor’s picks for the pending slate (typically Fridays).  The link for an RSS feed of the site is available to the right.

The first weekend of the season featured quite a few interesting matchups.

Boise State played one of two difficult games the Broncs will face this season, and scored a late touchdown to beat mistake-plagued and somewhat poorly prepared Virginia Tech.  The Broncos host Oregon State in two weeks; should Boise win that game on the blue field, the Broncs will be heavily favored to win the rest of them.  If that happens, a potentially divisive debate looms as to whether an undefeated n0n-BCS conference team deserves a title shot more than a team with one-loss from a BCS conference.

TCU also passed perhaps its biggest hurdle of the season by dispatching the aforementioned Oregon State on Saturday evening at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.  The Horned Frogs were simply the better team all night long as senior QB Andy Dalton repeatedly converted crucial 3rd down plays.  TCU dominated the second half, running more than twice as many offensive plays and outgaining the Beavers by nearly a 3:1 ratio (244-87).  The rest of the schedule sets up well for Gary Patterson’s crew, with a Nov.6 game at Utah the toughest test – at least on paper.  The Utes struck yet another blow for the non-BCS conferences, winning a Thursday home game over a Pitt team expected to compete for the Big East title. 

Surprises were not uncommon during week one and the biggest of all got sprung on Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt.

Nutt caught quite a bit of criticism (rightly so from this vantage point) for taking trouble-finding Oregon castoff quarterback Jeremiah Masoli as a transfer.  Masoli and Nutt took (dubious) advantage of loophole that allows graduated players with eligibility remaining to compete for one year at another institution pending admission to graduate school.  Thus, Masoli became the most famous Parks and Rec grad student in the nation for a few weeks, Nutt proclaimed he was in the business of helping students (don’t recall him “helping” any students that can’t help his football team though), and the Rebs looked good to go.

Believers in karma probably got a kick out of seeing Ole Miss get whipped by Jacksonville State in double-overtime.  Gamecock head coach Jack Crowe was once fired as head coach at Arkansas (ironically Nutt’s previous school) for losing a season opener to The Citadel.  Nutt should be thankful the old Arkansas AD Frank Broyles is no longer his boss.

Finally, two of the nation’s most storied programs got off to nice starts on Saturday.

Michigan looked really strong in handling a solid U Conn team 30-21 (and the game was not as close as the score).  Wolverine sophomore QB Denard Robinson ran for 197 yards, passed for 186 more, and looked terrific running the spread attack of coach Rich Rodriguez.

Notre Dame also opened with a win in the first Irish game for new coach Brian Kelly.  Using a fast-passed passing attack, the Irish beat Purdue 23-12 and except for some sloppy tackling looked solid in all phases.  The Irish and the Wolverines meet in South Bend this Saturday.

Check back later in the week for Around the Nation, Around the SEC, and Professor’s Picks.

See you at kickoff!

Professor’s Picks

Professor’s Picks
by Bob Epling
The Campus Game

2010 Record 0-0
2009 Final Regular Season Record 144-55

Welcome back to The Campus Game and the inaugural set of Professor’s Picks for the 2010 season.

Each week, predictions for all SEC games and a selected number of national games will be posted here.


SEC Picks
(all times Eastern)

Miami (Ohio) at Florida (12:00 ESPN) … The Gators are breaking in new quarterback John Brantley and a host of defensive starters. Still, skill and speed abounds in Gainesville and the Gators should swamp the RedHawks (who finished an ugly 1-11 in 2009). Florida names the score.
Professor’s Pick: Florida

LA-Lafayette at Georgia (12:21 SEC) … The Bulldogs return ten of eleven starters on offense, but the one missing part is quarterback. Georgia is precariously thin under center; redshirt frosh Aaron Murray was highly recruited but has never taken a snap in college. His backup is true freshman Hutson Mason, a moderately ranked recruit who did not go through spring football. On defense, the Dogs should be more aggressive with new coordinator Todd Grantham. The Rajun Cajuns are no strangers to playing “Payday” games in big stadiums, but rarely win them.
Professor’s Pick: Georgia

Kentucky at Louisville (3:30 ABC Gameplan) … two new head coaches compete in the Commonwealth when Joker Phillips (UK) and Charlie Strong (Ville) square off. The Cats return the more solid team, having been to four straight bowls, while Strong and the Cardinals face a more significant rebuilding process. Should be close.
Professor’s Pick: Louisville

Jacksonville State at Ole Miss (3:30 CSS) … Houston Nutt and the Rebels made more noise off the field than on during preseason camp. The saga of former Oregon quarterback and potential grad school scholar Jeremiah Masoli took another twist this week when the NCAA ruled him ineligible (and then approved his appeal Friday) … the loss of Masoli would have left Ole Miss with only untested sophomore Nathan Stanley at QB. It won’t matter either way in this game, because the Rebels have a huge, talented offensive line and should be able to overpower the Gamecocks.
Professor’s Pick: Ole Miss

San Jose at Alabama (7:00 PPV) … Defending national champs open the season without their best offensive and defensive players. Heisman winning running back Mark Ingram due to injury, and defensive end Marcel Dareus due to suspension. Will not matter as Tide rolls.
Professor’s Pick: Alabama

Tennessee Tech at Arkansas (7:00 PPV) … The Razorbacks enter 2010 with high expectations and an opener with the Golden Eagles should allow QB Ryan Mallet and the other Hogs a nice scrimmage.
Professor’s Pick: Arkansas

UT-Martin at Tennessee (6:00 PPV) … A tumultuous ten months for the Volunteers comes to a close when the Derek Dooley era begins in Knoxville on Saturday night. Big Orange may face some challenges this fall, but for this weekend all will be well.
Professor’s Pick: Tennessee

Memphis at Mississippi State (7:00 ESPNU) … The MSU Bullies are expected to show big improvements in Dan Mullen’s second year, and a Saturday night televised contest sets a nice stage to kickoff the season. Larry Porter takes the helm for Memphis. The game should be competitive, but the cowbells clang.
Professor’s Pick: Miss State

Arkansas State at Auburn (7:00 FSN) … The Auburn bandwagon is getting crowded. One the eve of the season’s first Saturday, the Tigers seem to have emerged as the trendy pick to challenge Alabama for the SEC West crown. For that to happen, new QB Cam Newton must play to his potential and the Tiger D must return to rugged form. The Red Wolves will earn their payday by providing just enough competition.
Professor’s Pick: Auburn

Northwestern at Vanderbilt (7:30 CSS) … The NU Wildcats enter the season with some momentum from an exciting Outback Bowl loss to Auburn, while the Commodores lost head coach Bobby Johnson (retirment) on the eve of preseason camp. New Vandy coach Robbie Caldwell is funny, but we don’t know if he can coach. Big Ten wins one in Dixie.
Professor’s Pick: Northwestern

LSU vs. North Carolina (8:00 ABC) … Every year the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic (aka the Daytona 500 of college football) seeks to bring a BCS bowl atmosphere to the opening weekend of the season. They typically succeed but suspensions and potential NCAA violations at UNC have overshadowed the game buildup. On the eve of the game, the Tar Heels will apparently be missing a dozen or more players including DT Marvin Austin, both defensive ends (including stalward Robert Quinn), both starting corners, star WR Greg Little, and the team’s top two tailbacks. Whew. The pressure was already on Bengal Tiger coach Les Miles; he cannot afford to lose to Carolina’s second team.
Professor’s Pick: LSU

National Picks
(all times Eastern)

Purdue at Notre Dame (3:30 NBC) … The Brian Kelly starts in South Bend against a Boilermaker team featuring Miami transfer Robert Marve making his debut at quarterback. Most eyes will be on the Irish offense as it makes the transition to Kelly’s fast-pace, no-huddle style. Successful first outing for BK.
Professor’s Pick: Notre Dame

U Conn at Michigan (3:30 ABC) … The Huskies of U Conn are considered a legitimate threat to win the Big East, while Michigan staggers into the third year of the Rich Rodriguez era off back to back losing seasons, and with potential NCAA sanctions looming. Still, the feeling here is that Meeeshigan piles up yards and points and pulls out the win.
Professor’s Pick: Michigan

Oregon State vs TCU at Arlington (7:45 ESPN) … one of the top games of the weekend, this contest could have major bowl implications. With Utah beating Pitt on Thursday and Boise playing Virginia Tech on Labor Day, this is one of three games matching big name teams from non-automatic qualifying conferences against BCS conference foes. The Beavers (who also face Boise in a couple weeks) boast the Rodgers boys of Texas and I think their homecoming will be successful.
Professor’s Pick: Oregon State

SMU at Texas Tech (Sunday 3:30 ESPN) … an interesting pairing with Tommy Tuberville going guns up in Lubbock for the first time. This is not an easy way to start because offensive guru June Jones and his Mustangs are a Conference-USA contender. Upset of the week.
Professor’s Pick: SMU

Boise State vs. Virginia Tech (Labor Day 8:00 ESPN) … the best of the opening weekend games. Boise comes in ranked a remarkably high #3 in the AP poll, while the Hokies are at #10. Many fans and pundits are predicting Boise to go undefeated and challenge for a national title – if the Broncs get past Tech and a looming home date with Oregon State – but that’s a long way off. Beamer ball – sound defense, good running game, excellent special teams will bust the Bronco title dreams in week one.
Professor’s Pick: Virginia Tech