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October 9, 2008

Weekend Primer: Saturday full of key games

CONFERENCE PREVIEWS: ACC | Big East | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com.
He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

This weekend's slate is full of games that could have a major impact on the national championship race. Mike Huguenin gives us the scoop and his prediction for every game on this weekend's schedule.

LAST WEEK: 41-11 overall, 27-23-1 against the spread.
SEASON: 284-68 overall, 136-130-5 against the spread.

Louisville (2-2) at Memphis (3-3), 8 p.m., ESPN
The buzz: This would be a great basketball game and has the potential to be an entertaining football matchup. This is the first road game of the season for Louisville, and it comes against a former C-USA rival. Memphis has won three in a row.
The line: Louisville by 6.5. | The pick: Louisville 30-21.
Texas (5-0) vs. Oklahoma in Dallas (5-0), noon, ABC
The buzz: Ahhh, what an environment. The Texas State Fair. Fried Snickers. Corn dogs. Tons of rides. Carny barkers. And, oh, yeah, a pretty important game, too.
The line: Oklahoma by 7. | The pick: Oklahoma 34-24.
Iowa (3-3) at Indiana (2-3), noon, Big Ten Network
The buzz: This is a big game for Iowa if it harbors any bowl hopes. As for IU, there's not even basketball to look forward to this season.
The line: Iowa by 5.5. | The pick: Iowa 24-16.
East Carolina (3-2) at Virginia (2-3), noon, ACC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Virginia's offense awakened from a season-long slumber last week in a rout of Maryland. ECU, meanwhile, is looking to regain its form after losing two in a row following an impressive start.
The line: ECU by 6. | The pick: ECU 38-24.
Minnesota (5-1) at Illinois (3-2), noon, ESPN
The buzz: Minnesota lost in its only other game against a "real" opponent this season (Ohio State). How will the Gophers fare this week? And can Minnesota keep Illini QB Juice Williams under wraps?
The line: Illinois by 12.5. | The pick: Illinois 33-21.
Toledo (1-4) at Michigan (2-3), noon, Big Ten Network
The buzz: If Michigan hopes to go to a bowl this season, you would think this essentially is a must-win game.
The line: Michigan by 16. | The pick: Michigan 41-21.
Rutgers (1-4) at Cincinnati (4-1), noon, Altitude/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: This is the first conference game of the season for Cincy, which is one of just two teams in the nation (New Mexico State is the other) not to have played a league contest. Rutgers already has committed 11 turnovers.
The line: Cincinnati by 7.5. | The pick: Cincinnati 35-24.
Syracuse (1-4) at West Virginia (3-2), noon, ESPNU
The buzz: These schools have played annually since 1955, and WVU has won the past six. The Orange have been outscored 60-13 in the fourth quarter this season.
The line: WVU by 24. | The pick: WVU 42-20.
South Carolina (4-2) at Kentucky (4-1), 12:30 p.m., SEC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: History lesson: Steve Spurrier never has lost to Kentucky as a head coach (15-0), and the Gamecocks have won eight in a row in this annual series.
The line: South Carolina by 1. | The pick: South Carolina 21-17.
Colorado (3-2) at Kansas (4-1), 12:30 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: Colorado has committed two turnovers in each of its five games this season. KU has won 12 in a row at home, which is the nation's fourth-longest current streak.
The line: Kansas by 13.5. | The pick: Kansas 38-28.
Eastern Michigan (2-4) at Army (1-4), 1 p.m., ESPN Classic
The buzz: Listen! The hounds are barking along to "On, Brave Old Army Team." This is the dog of the week.
The line: Eastern Michigan by 1. | The pick: Army 28-26.
Utah (6-0) at Wyoming (2-4), 2 p.m., The mtn.
The buzz: Wyoming is abysmal on offense, which means Utah should win for the eighth time in the past nine games in the series. The Utes' wins during that stretch have come by an average of 23 points.
The line: Utah by 23. | The pick: Utah 35-10.
Kansas State (3-2) at Texas A&M (2-3), 2 p.m.
The buzz: K-State's defense has given up 1,712 yards in its past three games (570.6 ypg). A&M's defense has given up 114 points in its past three games (38.0 ppg). In other words, don't expect a low-scoring affair.
The line: K-State by 3. | The pick: Kansas State 40-35.
Ohio U. (1-5) at Kent State (1-5), 2:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net Ohio
The buzz: Ohio is trying to avoid its first 0-3 start in MAC play since 1994. One reason for the bad records? Ohio leads the MAC with 17 turnovers, and Kent State is second with 14.
The line: Ohio by 2. | The pick: Kent State 25-21.
Vanderbilt (5-0) at Mississippi State (1-4), 2:30 p.m.
The buzz: Vanderbilt a legit contender in the SEC East? Yeah, right that's like saying the Tampa Bay Rays have a legit shot at the World Series.
The line: Vandy by 2.5. | The pick: Vandy 16-10.
Nebraska (3-2) at Texas Tech (5-0), 3 p.m., Fox Sports Net
The buzz: After watching his "defense" play the past two weeks, we wouldn't blame Bo Pelini if he has nightmares about Texas Tech's high-powered offense.
The line: Texas Tech by 20.5. | The pick: Texas Tech 55-28.
Western Michigan (5-1) at Buffalo (2-3), 3:30 p.m.
The buzz: Buffalo looks to be the best team in the MAC East. Western, meanwhile, is trying to get into the title discussion in the MAC West along with Ball State and Central Michigan.
The line: Buffalo by 1. | The pick: Western Michigan 23-20.
Tennessee (2-3) at Georgia (4-1), 3:30 p.m., CBS
The buzz: Unfortunately for the punchless Vols, neither Peyton Manning nor Tee Martin has any eligibility left. Heck, at this point, the Vols might even be willing to have Rick Clausen return. The Vols have won two in a row in the series, by a combined 39 points. The Bulldogs should get some revenge this season.
The line: Georgia by 12. | The pick: Georgia 24-10.
Notre Dame (4-1) at North Carolina (4-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Are these 4-1 teams for real? Irish QB Jimmy Clausen has looked good of late, while the Heels are winning with defense and special teams. This is the 18th meeting in the series, and the Irish lead 16-1.
The line: North Carolina by 7.5. | The pick: North Carolina 31-21.
Michigan State (5-1) at Northwestern (5-0), 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: Will the real Big Ten challenger stand up? The other team, meanwhile, can start hoping it's good enough to get a bid to the Alamo Bowl.
The line: Michigan State by 1.5. | The pick: Michigan State 33-30.
Purdue (2-3) at Ohio State (5-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: The final season for Joe Tiller at Purdue doesn't exactly look as if it's going to have a storybook finish.
The line: Ohio State by 18.5. | The pick: Ohio State 33-17.
TCU (5-1) at Colorado State (3-2), 3:30 p.m., CBS College Sports
The buzz: Bad news for Colorado State QB Billy Farris is that TCU leads the nation with 21 sacks. There's a quick turnaround for TCU, which plays host to BYU next Thursday.
The line: TCU by 15. | The pick: TCU 27-10.
Arizona State (2-3) at USC (3-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: The Sun Devils have lost three in a row and are in danger of seeing their season spiral out of control. USC has won eight in a row in the series.
The line: USC by 27.5. | The pick: USC 40-17.
Gardner-Webb (2-3) at Georgia Tech (4-1), 3:30 p.m.
The buzz: Tech has outscored opponents 38-3 in the first quarter.
The line: No line. | The pick: Georgia Tech 34-10.
UCF (2-3) at Miami (2-3), 3:45 p.m., ESPNU
The buzz: This is the first-ever meeting between the teams. It's also the last game in a three-game homestand for Miami, which has lost the first two.
The line: Miami by 17. | The pick: Miami 31-7.
Temple (2-4) at Central Michigan (3-2), 4 p.m.
The buzz: Central Michigan junior QB Dan LeFevour needs 85 yards of total offense to reach the 10,000 mark for his career.
The line: Central Michigan by 7.5. | The pick: Central Michigan 27-16.
New Mexico State (2-2) at Nevada (3-2), 4 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: This could be interesting. New Mexico State is eighth in the nation in pass offense (321.8 ypg) and Nevada is 119th in pass defense (332.0 ypg). The flipside is that Nevada is fourth in rush offense (308.0 ypg) and New Mexico State is 114th in rush defense (223.8 ypg).
The line: Nevada by 19. | The pick: Nevada 48-30.
Miami University (1-4) at Northern Illinois (2-3), 4 p.m., Comcast SportsNet Chicago
The buzz: Northern Illinois' three losses have come by a total of 11 points to teams that are a combined 12-5. NIU has allowed just one TD in the past three games, which is not good news for Miami's moribund offense.
The line: Northern Illinois by 11. | The pick: Northern Illinois 21-17.
Arkansas (2-3) at Auburn (4-2), 5 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Auburn's offense has been pitiful. Good news for the Tigers, then, is that Arkansas' defense has been pitiful. The Hogs have lost their past three by a total of 139-31.
The line: Auburn by 18.5. | The pick: Auburn 23-10.
Arizona (4-1) at Stanford (3-3), 5 p.m.
The buzz: This is the only October road game for Arizona, which surprisingly is second in the nation in total defense (226.2 ypg). This game is important for Stanford's bowl prospects.
The line: Arizona by 6.5. | The pick: Arizona 21-17.
Bowling Green (2-3) at Akron (3-3), 6 p.m.
The buzz: From the weird but true department: Both teams are averaging 247.8 passing yards per game. This is an important game in the MAC East race. Preseason favorite Bowling Green can't afford to fall to 0-2 in the league.
The line: Bowling Green by 1. | The pick: Bowling Green 27-21.
New Mexico (3-3) at BYU (5-0), 6 p.m., The mtn.
The buzz: BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall was New Mexico's defensive coordinator from 1998-2002. Expect his current team to treat his former team rather rudely. BYU has allowed 14 total points in its past three games.
The line: BYU by 23. | The pick: BYU 45-20.
Washington State (1-5) at Oregon State (2-3), 6:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net Northwest
The buzz: Bad memories for Washington State: In last season's game, Oregon State defenders picked off seven passes. In three Pac-10 games this season, Washington State has been outscored 157-20.
The line: Oregon State by 30. | The pick: Oregon State 42-14.
Ball State (6-0) at Western Kentucky (2-4), 7 p.m.
The buzz: Ball State is the third ranked opponent of the season for Western, which has lost to Alabama and Virginia Tech by a combined 68-20. Ball State is ranked for the first time in school history.
The line: Ball State by 16. | The pick: Ball State 45-23.
Middle Tennessee (2-3) at Florida International (2-3), 7 p.m.
The buzz: Middle Tennessee has one of the worst rushing offenses in the nation, but FIU's isn't much better. FIU is last in the nation in total offense, yet has scored 77 points in its past two games.
The line: FIU by 1.5. | The pick: Middle Tennessee 23-21.
Louisiana-Monroe (1-4) at Arkansas State (3-2), 7 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: After this, Arkansas State plays five of its final six games on the road. The Red Wolves have a strong rushing attack, and ULM's run defense is atrocious.
The line: Arkansas State by 13. | The pick: Arkansas State 38-17.
Louisiana-Lafayette (2-3) at North Texas (0-5), 7 p.m.
The buzz: In his past three games, ULL TB Tyrell Fenroy has rushed for 674 yards and nine TDs. He is 250 yards away from becoming the seventh player in major-college history with four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Given the rancid nature of UNT's defense, he should get real close to that mark in this one.
The line: ULL by 21.5. | The pick: ULL 45-22.
Iowa State (2-3) at Baylor (2-3), 7 p.m., Fox College Sports Central
The buzz: This is one of two interdivision games in the Big 12 on Saturday (Kansas State-Texas A&M is the other) that will help determine the worst team in the league.
The line: Baylor by 5. | The pick: Baylor 34-27.
Utah State (1-4) at San Jose State (3-2), 7:30 p.m., ESPNU
The buzz: San Jose State has won 10 of the past 11 in this series and also has won 14 of its past 16 home games.
The line: San Jose State by 14. | The pick: San Jose State 24-14.
LSU (4-0) at Florida (4-1), 8 p.m., CBS
The buzz: The home team has won three in a row in the series after the road team had a four-game winning streak. If Florida loses, its national-title hopes are gone.
The line: Florida by 6. | The pick: Florida 24-20.
Penn State (6-0) at Wisconsin (3-2), 8 p.m., ESPN
The buzz: The Badgers fell at home last week on a last-minute drive by Ohio State, a week after blowing a big halftime lead against Michigan. Can the Badgers get back on their feet?
The line: Penn State by 5.5. | The pick: Penn State 28-24.
Tulsa (5-0) at SMU (1-5), 8 p.m.
The buzz: Tulsa leads the nation in total offense (596.0 ypg) and SMU is 117th in total defense (479.3). I'd say that bodes mighty ill for SMU.
The line: Tulsa by 25. | The pick: Tulsa 63-24.
Boise State (4-0) at Southern Miss (2-3), 8 p.m., CBS College Sports
The buzz: Southern Miss really is struggling on defense, and Boise QB Kellen Moore is playing at a high level. Boise, by the way, is the nation's winningest team this decade (90-16).
The line: Boise State by 11. | The pick: Boise State 37-21.
Oklahoma State (5-0) at Missouri (5-0), 8 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: The defenses better get ready. Missouri is No. 2 in scoring offense (53.4 ppg) and Oklahoma State is No. 3 (52.6). Missouri is No. 3 in total offense (568.8 ypg) and Oklahoma State is No. 6 (530.2 ypg).
The line: Missouri by 14. | The pick: Missouri 45-28.
Tulane (2-3) at UTEP (2-3), 9 p.m.
The buzz: Given the large number of bowl tie-ins for Conference USA (six), the winner of this one stays in the hunt for the postseason.
The line: UTEP by 4. | The pick: UTEP 27-24.
Air Force (3-2) at San Diego State (1-4), 9:30 p.m., The mtn.
The buzz: Air Force loves to run the ball, and San Diego State is woeful against the run. SDSU was held to 85 yards and four first downs in a loss to TCU last week.
The line: Air Force by 10.5. | The pick: Air Force 35-14.
Idaho (1-5) at Fresno State (3-2), 10 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Having fun with numbers: Idaho has lost five in a row to Fresno, 11 in a row on the road and 15 in a row in WAC play. The Vandals also are last in the nation in total defense and are pitiful against the run. Fresno, meanwhile, has a great rushing game.
The line: Fresno State by 34. | The pick: Fresno State 52-21.
UCLA (2-3) at Oregon (4-2), 10:15 p.m., Fox Sports Net
The buzz: Oregon managed just 143 yards of offense in losing to the Bruins last season. But UCLA's defense has had issues this season.
The line: Oregon by 17.5. | The pick: Oregon 38-17.
Louisiana Tech (2-2) at Hawaii (2-3), 11:59 p.m.
The buzz: Hawaii has converted on just 22 percent of its third-down conversions, the worst mark in the nation. Tech, meanwhile, has the worst pass defense in the nation.
The line: Hawaii by 7.5. | The pick: Louisiana Tech 34-30.

CONFERENCE PREVIEWS: ACC | Big East | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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