(Wednesday, 7 pm, ESPN)
Boise State and their cheap shot artist safeties [LINK] are knocking on the door of the top 25. Derek Dooley’s Bulldogs have been playing well this year thanks to Georgia Tech transfer Taylor Bennett, but I’m not sure they have enough to win on the blue turf. After a tough battle, Boise will put them away with a late touchdown.
J.Pike’s Pick: Boise State 34, Louisiana Tech 20
Pittsburgh @ #12 South Florida
(Thursday, 6:30 pm, ESPN)
Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt needs a win here. After losing to Bowling Green in the season opener, the Panthers have built up some momentum thanks to a reliable running game. But now they must go up against George Selvie and the strong USF defense. Pitt will keep it close, but they don’t appear to be ready to take that next step in the Big East yet.
J.Pike’s Pick: South Florida 27, Pittsburgh 20
Oregon State @ #13 Utah
(Thursday, 8 pm, VERSUS)
Coming off the big upset win over #1 USC a week ago, the Beavers must now leave Corvallis to face yet another top 15 team. Utah is 5-0 and looks like a potential BCS buster thanks to the play of quarterback Brian Johnson. Johnson has been the Faulk Trophy favorite all season long so you know he’ll show up Thursday night. Oregon State was able to beat USC by playing physical football and running the ball right down their throats. But Utah’s defense is a physical unit that, unlike the Trojans, won’t back down when somebody punches them in the mouth. Paul Kruger, Stevenson Sylvester, and Company are good enough to slow down Quizz Rodgers and the running game which means quarterback Lyle Moevao will have to to make plays in the passing game. Wide receiver Sammie Stroughter is fantastic, but overall I don’t think Moevao is good enough to balance out the offense, especially against Utah’s secondary. Robert Johnson headlines a big, athletic unit that will make it difficult for the inconsistent Moevao to find open receivers. The biggest concern for the Utes is their penchant for committing penalties. If they don’t get that problem under control they could easily give this game away.
J.Pike’s Pick: Utah 31, Oregon State 27
#10 BYU @ Utah State
(Friday, 7 pm)
BYU has been rolling this year - hence their #10 ranking. Utah State is one of the worst teams in Division 1-A. There is no reason for this game not to be over by halftime.
J.Pike’s Pick: BYU 48, Utah State 14
Cincinnati @ Marshall
(Friday, 7 pm, ESPN)
Marshall has actually been playing good football so far this season. They are 3-2, have a win over Southern Miss under their belt, and gave Wisconsin everything they could handle in a loss. Now they host a Cincinnati team with serious injury issues at quarterback. Dustin Grutza and Tony Pike are both out for this game, so it will be up to one of the redshirt freshmen to lead the Bearcats (where’s Demetrius Jones? Was he sacrificed in one of the many Ben Mauk medical hardship appeals?). Luckily whoever the QB is will have tremendous receivers Dominick Goodman and Marshawn Gilyard at his disposal. Marshall’s Darius Passmore will make sure he isn’t overshadowed by that group though. Make no mistake about it – this is going to be a dog fight. The experienced Herd defense will do everything in their power to get after Cincy’s young quarterback, and maybe with a little Friday night home crowd magic they’ll be able to pull off the upset.
J.Pike’s Pick: Marshall 26, Cincinnati 25