Utah State is one of the worst teams in Division 1-A and Boise is fighting for a slot in the BCS. This is a no brainer.
J.Pike’s Pick: Boise State 39, Utah State 7
#12 Ohio State @ Northwestern
(Saturday, 11 am, ESPN 2)
Northwestern can’t seem to catch a break, even when they catch a break. Coming off a big win at Minnesota a week ago that featured a game winning interception return for touchdown in the final minute, the Wildcats learned they will have to take on Ohio State without the services of tailback Omar Conteh. Conteh was filling in for Tyrell Sutton, who is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Backup quarterback Mike Kafka filled in nicely for C.J. Bacher (also injured), but I doubt he’ll run for over 200 yards against the Ohio State defense like he did against Minnesota. That doesn’t leave a lot of scoring options for Northwestern.
J.Pike’s Pick: Ohio State 24, Northwestern 13
Kansas State @ #14 Missouri
(Saturday, 6 pm, FSN)
Now that the Wildcats know Ron Prince won’t be their head coach next season, will they step up or fade away? If they decide to step up and play for their lame duck coach they have the offensive weapons to make this a game. If they don’t, Missouri, who is struggling with regaining national respect after back to back losses to Oklahoma State and Texas earlier this year, will blow them off the field. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to Jeremy Maclin and Chase Daniel.
J.Pike’s Pick: Missouri 52, Kansas State 27
Purdue @ #15 Michigan State
(Saturday, 11 am, Big Ten Network)
What do you know? If you take Curtis Painter out of the lineup and give the ball to Kory Sheets 30 times Purdue wins. After struggling to score all season, Joe Tiller made the move to Justin Siller at quarterback (because Painter was “injured”) and gave Sheets his carries and the Boilermakers scored 48 points on Michigan. They won’t produce the same against a superior defense, but if Tiller goes with the same formula I give Purdue a realistic shot at knocking off 15th ranked Spartans - especially if they can slow down Javon Ringer the way Wisconsin did a week ago (54 yards on 21 carries).
J.Pike’s Pick: Michigan State 24, Purdue 17
#18 Georgia Tech @ #16 North Carolina
(Saturday, 11 am, Raycom/ESPN360.com)
Neither of these teams were considered top 25 teams in the preseason. Now it’s November and Butch Davis and Paul Johnson each appear to have their teams in the ACC Coastal Division race to stay. That means this could develop into an interesting rivalry over the next few years. This year’s matchup will come down to which offense is able to move the ball the most consistently. Georgia Tech has the best defensive line in the conference. 6-foot-7 Michael Johnson is a beast off the edge and Vance Walker is a major disruptor in the middle. North Carolina isn’t bad up front either because sophomore tackle Marvin Austin is one of the best young players in the ACC. So which offense is better suited to keep the chains moving? At first glance it would appear to be Georgia Tech. Johnson’s triple option offense has been grinding up ACC foes all year and the Yellow Jackets are healthy for the most part. North Carolina on the other hand is without their top playmaker Brandon Tate, who is out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury. Quarterback T.J. Yates has also missed the last several games with an ankle injury, but Cam Sexton has filled in admirably. Look for the UNC defense to stay disciplined and keep the Ramblin’ Wreck from breaking a long run in this game, as wide receiver Hakeem Nicks steps up on offense to provide a big play or two in the passing game.
J.Pike’s Pick: North Carolina 23, Georgia Tech 20
Louisville @ #19 Pittsburgh
(Saturday, 11 am, Big East Network)
Here we go again – another weak Big East matchup to pick. For those of you out there complaining about Utah potentially getting a BCS bowl bid, you need to refocus your argument. The Mountain West Conference actually deserves to get a team into the BCS this year. The Big East on the other hand does not. Who in the Big East is capable of beating any of the top three teams (Utah, TCU, BYU) in the Mountain West? West Virginia? Pitt? South Florida? Cincinnati? UConn? Louisville? I’d say none of the above. So quit complaining about Utah making a BCS game and start complaining about the Big East getting an automatic berth.
J.Pike’s Pick: Pittsburgh 33, Louisville 27
Michigan @ #23 Minnesota
(Saturday, 11 am, ESPN)
Has Michigan given up on this season? From the looks of last week’s defensive meltdown against Purdue one might think so. Minnesota is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Northwestern on their home field, but the Gophers are still a surprising 7-2. Tim Brewster must be doing something right, so I think they rebound and pick up a win over the floundering Wolverines.
J.Pike’s Pick: Minnesota 24, Michigan 21
#24 Cincinnati @ West Virginia
(Saturday, 6 pm, ESPN U)
Tony Pike is back and playing with a broken arm. He’s got playmaking wideout Marshawn Gilyard at his disposal, but unfortunately the junior superstar doesn’t play defense. Cincinnati will struggle to keep up with Nimble Noel Devine. Pat White and new offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen have slowly been adapting to one another, but finally seem to be on the same page. Pat White being on top of his game is bad news for Cincinnati.
J.Pike’s Pick: West Virginia 30, Cincinnati 28
San Diego State @ #25 BYU
(Saturday, 1 pm, the mtn.)
Here’s some fun stats: BYU is 8-1, SDSU is 1-8.
BYU scoring offense: 35.7 points per game;
SDSU scoring defense: 35.7 points per game;
BYU quarterback Max Hall averages 305.9 passing yards per game;
SDSU allows 292.8 rushing yards per game;
I’ll save you the trouble – it all adds up to a big BYU win.
J.Pike’s Pick: BYU 35.7, San Diego State 10