While this week doesn’t have the big time matchups between top 10 teams that occurred the first two weeks of the season, there are still plenty of intriguing games this weekend. The most talked about game of this weekend is taking place at Florida, who hosts Tennessee. Of course, this game isn’t hyped because of their performances so far this season, instead, it is fueled by the trash talk that new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin threw at the Gators in the offseason. Now, for the predictions of the five games that are the biggest, at least in my mind, this weekend.
Tennessee @ Florida
We heard it from Lane Kiffin in the offseason, who falsely accused Gators coach Urban Meyer of recruiting violations while also claiming that he was going to be “singing Rocky Top all night long” after beating Florida. These statements will be very hard to backup, considering many believe Florida to be the best team in the country while Tennessee’s offense looked anemic last weekend in a home loss to UCLA. Florida is the superior team, they are out to get the Vols after all the offseason comments, and the game is in the swamp, so all signs point to a blowout.
Florida 52, Tennessee 10
Nebraska @ Virginia Tech
Winning this matchup would go a long way to restoring Nebraska’s status as one of college football’s elite programs. Even though Bo Pelini has already ripped the team’s defense for being soft (after they allowed only 3, that’s right, 3 points against Florida Atlantic), the defense is very solid, and the same goes for Virginia Tech. I’m expecting a low scoring affair, but I think Tyrod Taylor and the Hokies offense get just enough done to secure a win.
Virginia Tech 16, Nebraska 13
Cincinnati @ Oregon State
This game has been overlooked by practically everyone, but this should be an exciting, high scoring affair. Cincinnati won the Big East last year and looks very strong again this year, while Oregon State is still a bit of an unknown due to having a completely new defense. Their game against UNLV last week was way too close, so I have a feeling this week won’t be a great one for the home crowd. There will be lots of points, however, with Cincinnati QB Tony Pike putting up big numbers in a Bearcat victory.
Cincinnati 41, Oregon State 31
Florida State @ BYU
It feels weird saying that once powerhouse Florida State beating non-BCS school BYU would be an upset, but in 2009, it definitely would be. BYU is off to a hot start this season, already knocking off Oklahoma, and a win against FSU wouldn’t just strengthen their profile to be selected to a BCS game, it would actually give them a glimmer of hope that they could play for the national title if they run the table. However, I expect the BYU BCS talk to stop here. FSU had a wake up call last week, almost losing to Jacksonville State, but their to the wire performance against Miami shows that the team has the ability to be very good, especially since the Miami team they lost to has looked very good since. FSU has better athletes than BYU, and if FSU puts it together, this is a very winnable game. The one thing working against FSU is BYU’s potent offense, led by darkhorse Heisman candidate Max Hall, but if FSU can slow down the offense while putting up points of their own (which they should be able to do, as long as they play like they did week 1 as opposed to week 2), then the Noles will win.
Florida State 31, BYU 24
West Virginia @ Auburn
This would have been a marquee game three years ago, when West Virginia was the powerhouse of the Big East and Auburn was a top tier SEC team. West Virginia has clearly lost a step after losing Rich Rodriguez, and losing Pat White doesn’t help things either, but the offense still has plenty of weapons, led by Noel Devine. However, West Virginia hasn’t been particularly impressive in their first two wins, while Auburn has been a surprise. Last year, the Auburn offense was, to put it lightly, not very good, but new coordinator Gus Malzahn has been able to implement his version of the spread offense with lots of early success, averaging 43 points a game. Traveling down to Jordan-Hare Stadium will be tough for the Mountaineers, and with a spread offense that actually works, I expect Auburn to win this one.
Auburn 38, West Virginia 24
Other games to watch this week: Texas Tech @ Texas, California @ Minnesota, Arizona @ Iowa, Georgia @ Arkansas, Utah @ Oregon