Illinois became the first blemish on the Ohio State’s Big Ten record late last season, breaking their 20 game conference winning streak. Don’t think the Illini can’t do it again either. Why? Because they possess Buckeye kryptonite – speed. Juice Williams ran circles around James Laurinaitis and company a year ago, and he and Benn will team up to give the Buckeyes problems again on Saturday. The difference between last year and this year though is quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Pryor will be the main ingredient in holding off a motivated Ron Zook squad as the Buckeyes escape Champaigne with a win.
J.Pike’s Pick: Ohio State 25, Illinois 22
#12 Oklahoma State @ Colorado
(Saturday, 7 pm, ABC)
Colorado is struggling right now. Thanks in large part to the growing number of injured starters, the Buffaloes have lost two of their last three ball games. Oklahoma State is coming off a beat-down suffered at the hands of Texas Tech, but the Cowboys have more than enough offensive weapons to put this game away early.
J.Pike’s Pick: Oklahoma State 41, Colorado 17
#13 North Carolina @ Maryland
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, ABC/ESPN)
Sure, Maryland is a perfect 5-0 at home this year and has defeated all three ranked opponents they have played, but the Terps haven’t played a team like North Carolina yet. Butch Davis has his young team playing the best football of his tenure. Quan Sturdivant (77 tackles) and Trimane Goddard (6 interceptions) lead an improving defense that ranks fourth in the ACC in points allowed. Maryland on the other hand is a poor tackling team with nobody to match up with receiver Hakeem Nicks. North Carolina keeps pace with Miami in the Coastal Division by picking up a clutch road win over Maryland.
J.Pike’s Pick: North Carolina 27, Maryland 17
#14 Missouri @ Iowa State
(Saturday, 5:30 pm, FSN)
Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin are finally getting Missouri back on track. After losing two in a row to Big XII South powers Oklahoma State and Texas, the Tigers have struggled to find their rhythm. Considering Iowa State has the worst pass defense in the conference, it’s safe to assume Maclin will see a fair share of passes. If Iowa State has one advantage it’s in the return game where true freshman Leonard Johnson has shown some flash this year. He might be able to take advantage of Mizzou’s often-lackadaisical special teams to provide a spark and keep the Cyclones in this game. At least for a little bit.
J.Pike’s Pick: Missouri 44, Iowa State 20
#15 Michigan State is IDLE
#16 TCU is IDLE
#17 Pittsburgh is IDLE
Boston College @ #18 Florida State
(Saturday, 7 pm, ABC)
Florida State is quietly putting together a solid season. After more seasons of mediocrity than ‘Nole fans care to remember, Jimbo Fisher (he’s the head coach now, right?) has paced his team to a 7-2 start. With Boston College coming to town, the Seminoles face their toughest test to date. BC linebacker Mark Herzlich is a menace who will continue making plays all over the field (even on special teams!), and he’ll make sure nothing is easy for FSU quarterback Christian Ponder. Bobby Bowden announced that five wide receivers will be suspended from this game, but none of them are Greg Carr or Preston Parker, so it won’t matter. Everette Brown (9 sacks), Derek Nicholson (10 tackles for loss) and the Florida State defense hold a significant advantage over the BC offense in nearly every category. That’s where the game will be won. The ‘Noles avoid the upset.
J.Pike’s Pick: Florida State 22, Boston College 16
Troy @ #22 LSU
(Saturday, 7 pm, Tiger Vision PPV)
LSU is on the verge of dropping out of the top 25 entirely. After losing big to Florida and Georgia, the Tigers needed a win over Alabama to maintain legitimacy. Well, the game went into overtime, but nobody watching came out of the game with any confidence at all in quarterback Jarrett Lee. Will Lee be able to find a rhythm against a respectable Sun Belt opponent? It probably won’t matter because Charles Scott and Keiland Williams should have a field day running on the nation’s 55th ranked rush defense.
J.Pike’s Pick: LSU 33, Troy 16
#23 California @ Oregon State
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, ABC)
If for no other reason, you should tune into this game for the exciting running backs. Neither Jahvid Best or Quizz Rodgers stand much taller than an Ewok, but the pair has enough speed and athleticism to light up scoreboards and pad highlight reels. Both teams also field solid defenses, so the two mighty mite backs will have to earn their yards today. The difference in this game will actually come down to quarterback play. Cal will be going with Kevin Riley (a huge upgrade over Nate Longshore), who isn’t flashy, but just knows how to win. Lyle Moevao is inconsistent, and facing a Cal defense that leads the Pac-10 with 17 interceptions, I think he’ll make a key mistake down the stretch, probably involving a forced pass that gets picked off by Cal’s stud corner Syd’Quan Thompson.
J.Pike’s Pick: California 23, Oregon State 22
#24 Georgia Tech is IDLE
#25 BYU @ Air Force
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, CBS College Sports)
I love Troy Calhoun and the Falcons. Unfortunately this is a game where BYU’s skill will be too much for Air Force to handle. Harvey Unga, not Max Hall, will be the reason for victory. The bruising sophomore will be able to gain tough yards against the undersized Air Force front which will keep the chains moving.
J.Pike’s Pick: BYU 28, Air Force 24