East Carolina (6-3) at Southern Miss (4-6)
(Saturday, 2 pm)
With new head coach Larry Fedora, you can expect Southern Miss to be a point scoring machine in a couple years. Fedora has made progress in his first season, and has some impressive weapons at his disposal on offense (RB Damion Fletcher, TE Shawn Nelson, WR DeAndre Brown). East Carolina started off the 2008 season with a bang, upsetting Virginia Tech and West Virginia on consecutive weekends. But since then a couple key injuries and a quarterback rotation derailed the season. ECU has picked up the pace with three straight wins, and Patrick Pinkney appears to have the quarterback job all to himself again. That’s all I need to know to give Skip Holtz’s veteran squad the advantage.
J.Pike’s Pick: East Carolina 24, Southern Miss 17
San Jose State (6-4) at Nevada (5-4)
(Saturday, 3 pm)
Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick is really starting to come into his own. The sophomore kept Fresno State off balance all game long last Thursday night en route to an easy Wolfpack victory. Bruising Vai Taua is also emerging as one of the most productive running backs in the WAC. His impressive season total of 1,159 yards rushing this year includes the 263 yards he went for against Fresno State last week. San Jose State on the other hand is in a slump, losing two of their last three. Spartan quarterback Kyle Reed looked really good early in the season, but like the rest of the team, his play has declined of late. With home field advantage, Nevada will continue their late season surge with another impressive win.
J.Pike’s Pick: Nevada 26, San Jose State 17
Tulsa (8-1) at Houston (5-4)
(Saturday, 7 pm, CBS College Sports)
Neither one of these teams cares much about playing defense (Tulsa allows 388.6 yards per game; Houston gives up 385.2). However both are accomplished offensively, as they combine to score an average of 89.8 points per game, so this one has the look of a shootout. New Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin looks to have the Cougars on the right track, and with home field advantage they are more than capable of handing Tulsa their second loss in as many games. But the Golden Hurrican used their off week to stew over the Arkansas loss and will be ready to play. I expect senior quarterback David Johnson to lead a more complete Tulsa team to a high scoring win over a still-growing Houston team.
J.Pike’s Pick: Tulsa 54, Houston 44