UTEP @ Southern Miss
UTEP stumbled out of the gate this season, but coming off a big 58-13 win over Central Florida they look like they have finally found themselves. Quarterback Trevor Vittatoe and running back Terrell Jackson are underrated offensive weapons in Conference USA, and Southern Miss doesn’t play the same brand of fiery defense they played under the previous coaching staff. The Eagles have offensive weapons too, but UTEP has the better quarterback. The Miners are a team gaining momentum and they’ll pull off the upset.
J.Pike’s Pick: UTEP 32, Southern Miss 27
UNLV @ Colorado State
In 50 mph winds last season, these two teams paired up to produce a combined 1,049 yards of offense. Colorado State was able to capitalize on 5 UNLV turnovers to win 48-23, despite giving up 559 yards. The weather won’t be the same again this year, but the UNLV offense essentially is. Omar Clayton is back at quarterback and executing Mike Sanford’s offense better than anybody in Sanford’s four years as head coach. On the other side of the field, new CSU head coach Steve Fairchild has struggled to fully implement his new offense. In the early going the Rams are scoring only 18.8 points per game, so look for UNLV to take better care of the ball and break their five game losing streak in this series.
J.Pike’s Pick: UNLV 30, Colorado State 26
Ball State @ Toledo
Toledo might have been suffering from a little bit of the old “look-ahead” when they lost to Florida International a week ago. Ball State is on top of the MAC right now with a 5-0 record, but they will play this game without one of their top players, Dante Love. Love suffered a spine injury a couple weeks ago and may never play football again. Quarterback Nate Davis is still around though, so don’t expect too much of a drop-off offensively. Home field advantage has been important in this series over the last decade or so (the home team is 11-3-1 since ’93), and I think Toledo will show up ready to play. I like Ball State, but this game has “upset” written all over it.
J.Pike’s Pick: Toledo 36, Ball State 31
Navy @ Air Force
You might be able to count the number of pass attempts in this game on one hand. Air Force (ironically) avoids the air at all cost while taking advantage of opponents’ mistakes better than anybody else in the country. Navy plays a similar style of football, but quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada Nahasapeemapetilon and running back Shun White have more big play ability than anybody on the Air Force offense. That will be the difference in the game, so go ahead and give Navy the Commander In Chief Trophy.
J.Pike’s Pick: Navy 27, Air Force 19