Over the years we have certainly learned that every game is important in college football. A single loss can mean the difference in an invitation to the playoff, but it’s hard to get as pumped up for a weaker opponent, and we have our share of snoozers this weekend. But, there are a few exceptions. I’m not sure why I torture myself by only picking the hard games every week…..Here is a sneak peak into this weekend’s crystal ball:
#25 Arkansas at #17 TCU – The Horned Frogs host old SWC foe Arkansas. This game has been a long time in the making. These two have not met since the Hogs left for the SEC after the 1991 season. They have played 68 times with Arkansas holding a 43-23-2 lead. Things are quite different in Fort Worth now. The Froggies have gone from SWC cellar dwellers to Big 12 royalty and don’t think TCU has forgotten about being pushed around by the Razorbacks in the old days. The TCU fans want this game bad…..and I think Gary Patterson will deliver. TCU struggled mightily with South Dakota State….but not to the degree Arkansas struggled with Louisiana Tech. Both of these teams have a lot of improving to do. TCU 34 Arkansas 27.
#45 Penn State at #50 Pittsburgh – Speaking of renewing old rivalries….. this is one I wasn’t sure we would ever see again. The series is very tight, after 96 meetings Penn State holds a 50-42-4 lead, and the teams have not met since 2000. This is a tough game to pick, but I gotta go with the home team. Pittsburgh 24 Penn St. 21.
#52 California at #39 San Diego State– The Bears took a week off after their trip down under to Sydney where they thumped Hawaii 51-31. The Aztecs are fresh off a 31-0 shellacking of, well, New Hampshire. This game is a big one for both of these teams. San Diego State has dreams of a MWC title, and a win over a Power Five team sure would look good on their resume, and they are at home…..but Cal is a good team and has aspirations for the 2016 season on their own. A Bear win here would sure help Cal on the way towards a bowl bid and this game will be critical in working towards that goal. This will be close, but I think the Aztecs will pull it out. San Diego State 28 California 27.
#43 Texas Tech at #59 Arizona State – The Red Raiders have a long history with Arizona, but shockingly, this is only the third meeting with Arizona State. The two previous meetings split 1-1. Both teams looked relatively impressive in opening wins over lesser competition, but now it’s time to show what they are made of. The game is a virtual tossup and my two systems have opposite projections here. Margin of victory formula has Texas Tech by 2, No margin formula has Arizona State by 1. I always favor the home team in a close game, but my gut says the Red Raiders in a road win. Texas Tech 45 Arizona State 42.
#8 Tennessee vs #51 Virginia Tech in Bristol, Tn. – Will they really reach that 150,000 goal in attendance? Wow, that would certainly be a record never to be broken. I absolutely cannot believe all the bad press the Volunteers received after their opening 20-13 win over Appalachian State! My projection was Tennessee by 4. I thought Las Vegas was crazy out of line having Tennessee favored by 22! The Mountaineers were ranked #24 in my pre-season poll and well….. I guess I was right. The Hokies were average in their opening win over Liberty, but hey, a win is a win and it was a nice debut for Justin Fuente. I expect good things and big things for Fuente’s future, but this game belongs to Tennessee. The Volunteers will put it all together this week…..no more bad press. Tennessee 37 Virginia Tech 28.
#42 Brigham Young at #26 Utah – Let the Holy War begin! As much as these two programs always try to take the high road because of their Mormon faith, let’s face it…..fun is fun, and there is no love lost between these two old rivals. I absolutely love this series, It is a must see and almost always comes down to the wire. Utah has dominated the series of late, winning the5 last contests, but only one game was decided by more than a touchdown. Utah leads the series of 90 games 55-31-4. BYU had a stunning 18-16 win over Arizona last week, showing a lot of character by winning in what was basically a hostile environment in Glendale. Utah had a warm up against Southern Utah, winning 24-0. The Utes have held their own in the Pac 12, something I questioned whether or not they would be able to do. Brigham Young has maintained one of the most stable programs in Major College Football and is always competitive. The Cougars would be a great addition to the Big 12, and this game will go a long way to proving that. Brigham Young 28 Utah 24.
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