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October 23, 2008

CONFERENCE PREVIEWS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com.
He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

Every Thursday, we take a quick look at each game involving a FBS team that week and attempt to predict the final score.

LAST WEEK: 41-12 overall, 27-25-1 against the spread.

SEASON: 364-92 overall, 188-179-7 against the spread (games involving FCS teams don't have point spreads).

Texas Tech (7-0) at Kansas (5-2), noon, ESPN
The buzz: After seven games against various flotsam and jetsam, Texas Tech finally gets a real opponent. Kansas' offense can put up some points. The question is whether that offense can put up more than Tech's offense will score against KU's defense. KU has won 13 in a row at home, the nation's fourth-longest home winning streak.
The line: Kansas by 1.5. | The pick: Kansas 41-38.
Eastern Michigan (2-6) at Ball State (7-0), noon
The buzz: So, if Ball State somehow makes it into the BCS, would alum David Letterman be allowed to take part in the pre-game coin toss?
The line: Ball State by 24.5. | The pick: Ball State 45-16.
Central Michigan (5-2) at Toledo (2-5) , noon, MAC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: This is Central's first road game since Sept. 20, but Toledo is 0-3 at home this season and the Rockets' offense has been inept of late (36 total points in the past four games).
The line: Central Michigan by 3.5. | The pick: Central Michigan 34-21.
Northwestern (6-1) at Indiana (2-5), noon, Big Ten Network
The buzz: Indiana's offense has really struggled of late, managing just 29 points in the past three games. Including this one, Northwestern plays three of its next four games on the road and the one home game is against Ohio State.
The line: Northwestern by 8. | The pick: Northwestern 31-21.
Illinois (4-3) at Wisconsin (3-4), noon, ESPN2
The buzz: The Badgers are in a free-fall, having lost four in a row. Coach Bret Bielema is hoping a quarterback change revs up his offense. Illinois' offense has played well, and the Badgers' defense could be in for another long day.
The line: Illinois by 2.5. | The pick: Illinois 27-17.
Boston College (5-1) at North Carolina (5-2), noon, ACC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: BC is coming in off a victory over Virginia Tech, UNC off an OT loss to Virginia. Any hope the Heels have of winning the ACC Coastal Division almost certainly disappears if they lose this.
The line: North Carolina by 3. | The pick: North Carolina 21-16.
Wake Forest (4-2) at Miami (4-3), noon, ESPNU
The buzz: Wake looked awful in losing to Maryland last week, while Miami clamped down in the second half to run away from Duke. ACC division title hopes for each Wake in the Atlantic, Miami in the Coastal basically end with a loss. Wake has been awful running the ball (94.7 ypg).
The line: Miami by 3. | The pick: Wake Forest 17-16.
Minnesota (6-1) at Purdue (2-5), noon, ESPN Classic
The buzz: The Golden Gophers have been a pleasant surprise. Purdue, meanwhile, is last in the Big Ten in total defense and QB Curtis Painter has thrown just six TD passes and nine picks.
The line: Purdue by 1. | The pick: Minnesota 24-17.
Cincinnati (5-1) at Connecticut (5-2), noon, Big East syndication/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Cincinnati QB Tony Pike, who broke his arm a few weeks ago, is expected to be back in the starting lineup. UConn has lost its past two but is returning home, where it has won 10 in a row. Cincy has allowed just 35 points in its past three games.
The line: Cincinnati by 1.5. | The pick: Cincinnati 23-14.
Kentucky (5-2) at Florida (5-1), 12:30 p.m., SEC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: The Gators own a 21-game winning streak over the Wildcats, which is the second-longest such streak in the nation (behind Tennessee's 23 in a row over the Wildcats).
The line: Florida by 24.5. | The pick: Florida 35-14.
Baylor (3-4) at Nebraska (4-3), 12:30 p.m., Versus
The buzz: A victory in this one puts Nebraska in excellent position to earn a bowl bid.
The line: Nebraska by 11. | The pick: Nebraska 30-24.
Oklahoma (6-1) at Kansas State (4-3), 12:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
The buzz: That soft chuckling you hear in the background? That's OU QB Sam Bradford upon hearing the news that, statistically, Kansas State is the worst defensive team in the Big 12.
The line: Oklahoma by 19.5. | The pick: Oklahoma 49-24.
Louisiana Tech (3-3) at Army (2-5), 1 p.m.
The buzz: "Hey, I know that guy!" Louisiana Tech QB Taylor Bennett started against Army last season, when he was at Georgia Tech.
The line: Army by 2. | The pick: Louisiana Tech 24-21.
UNLV (3-4) at BYU (6-1), 2 p.m., The mtn.
The buzz: BYU coming off its first loss of the season, a smackdown by TCU has won three in a row in the series and reached the 50-point plateau in two of them.
The line: BYU by 22.5. | The pick: BYU 45-21.
Rice (4-3) at Tulane (2-4), 3 p.m.
The buzz: Rice QB Chase Clement is third in the nation in total offense, averaging 362.4 yards per game. Tulane leads Conference USA in total defense, giving up just 294.5 yards per game.
The line: Tulane by 2. | The pick: Rice 36-28.
Fresno State (4-2) at Utah State (1-6), 3 p.m., Comcast SportsNet West/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Fresno State has rushed for 318 yards in each of its past two games. Good news for the Bulldogs is that Utah State is bad against the run.
The line: Fresno State by 16.5. | The pick: Fresno State 42-17.
Duke (3-3) at Vanderbilt (5-2), 3 p.m.
The buzz: Get there early for Vandy's homecoming festivities there will be wine, brie, mushroom-and-spinach quiche and a reading from Jane Hirshfield's newest book of poems, "After."
The line: Vandy by 10.5. | The pick: Vandy 21-17.
Georgia (6-1) at LSU (5-1), 3:30 p.m., CBS
The buzz: Buddy, this is SEC football tailgating at sun up, the gumbo bubbling, eating boudin off wax paper, Dixie beer flowing. All that plus a game between teams desperate to stay in the national title hunt.
The line: LSU by 2. | The pick: Georgia 24-20.
SMU (1-7) at Navy (4-3), 3:30 p.m., CBS College Sports
The buzz: As far as we know, there never has been a game where one team has thrown on every play and the other has run on every play. Could this be that game?
The line: Navy by 12. | The pick: Navy 35-27.
N.C. State (2-5) at Maryland (5-2), 3:30 p.m.
The buzz: The light seems to have come on for Terps QB Chris Turner, who has completed 64 percent of his passes in the past five games. For a team that looked awful in its first two games, the Terps have bounced back nicely.
The line: Maryland by 11. | The pick: Maryland 34-17.
Virginia Tech (5-2) at Florida State (5-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN2/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: One of four key games in the ACC this week. Virginia Tech's offense is a mess because of the popgun aspect of the passing game. Florida State has outscored foes 127-35 in the second and third quarters.
The line: Florida State by 5. | The pick: Virginia Tech 23-21.
Kent State (1-6) at Miami University (2-5), 3:30 p.m.
The buzz: Poet Robert Frost once described Miami as "the most beautiful college there ever was." Thus, the hounds can explore a beautiful campus as they attend the dog of the week.
The line: Miami by 6.5. | The pick: Miami 17-14.
Michigan State (6-2) at Michigan (2-5), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN2/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Michigan has won six in a row in the series, but it might be little brother's turn to take home the Paul Bunyan Trophy. A loss in this one, and Michigan's bowl hopes are all but extinguished.
The line: Michigan State by 4. | The pick: Michigan State 31-20.
Oklahoma State (7-0) at Texas (7-0), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Texas has beaten Oklahoma and Missouri in the past two weeks. The Longhorns' reward? They now get Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in back-to-back-weeks.
The line: Texas by 12.5. | The pick: Texas 38-28.
UCLA (3-4) at California (4-2), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: The home team has won each of the past eight in this series. UCLA has given up just 93 total passing yards in its past two games. One reason is because the Bruins are mediocre against the run.
The line: California by 17. | The pick: California 38-17.
South Florida (6-1) at Louisville (4-2), 3:30 p.m., Big East syndication/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: These teams have met five times, and the home team has won each game. This will be the sixth home game of the season for the Cardinals.
The line: USF by 4.5. | The pick: USF 27-21.
Rutgers (2-5) at Pittsburgh (5-1), 3:30 p.m.
The buzz: There is no logical reason Pitt should lose this game. And that, Panthers fans, should scare the heck out of you.
The line: Pitt by 9.5. | The pick: Pitt 24-13.
Virginia (4-3) at Georgia Tech (6-1), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
The buzz: A big one in the ACC Coastal Division race - each team has just one league loss. Resurgent Virginia has struggled against the run, which has to make Georgia Tech feel good about its chances.
The line: Georgia Tech by 11.5. | The pick: Georgia Tech 21-17.
Bowling Green (3-4) at Northern Illinois (4-3), 4 p.m., Comcast SportsNet Chicago/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: NIU is 3-0 at home, winning those games by a combined 103-23. Bowling Green is 3-1 on the road, including a win at Pitt.
The line: NIU by 8. | The pick: NIU 34-24.
New Mexico State (3-3) at Idaho (1-7), 5 p.m., Altitude
The buzz: Do the Vandals know about defense? Idaho has given up at least 42 points in six consecutive games and seven times this season.
The line: New Mexico State by 14.5. | The pick: New Mexico State 45-27.
Wyoming (2-5) at TCU (7-1), 6 p.m., The mtn.
The buzz: TCU has held each of its past three opponents to seven points and has held six of its foes to seven or fewer points.
The line: TCU by 31. | The pick: TCU 41-7.
Colorado (4-3) at Missouri (5-2), 6:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
The buzz: Remember when the Tigers were being talked about as national title contenders? What a difference two Saturdays can make.
The line: Missouri by 22. | The pick: Missouri 41-21.
Florida Atlantic (2-5) at Louisiana-Monroe (2-5), 7 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: The visiting team is 4-0 in this series, with the games decided by a combined 18 points.
The line: FAU by 2. | The pick: FAU 27-20.
Troy (4-2) at North Texas (0-7), 7 p.m.
The buzz: OK, explain this logic: North Texas is the worst team in the Sun Belt, yet it schedules perennial league power Troy for homecoming.
The line: Troy by 24. | The pick: Troy 44-23.
Ole Miss (3-4) at Arkansas (3-4), 7 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: So, will some Arkansas fan put in a Freedom of Information request for a list of phone calls Houston Nutt makes from his hotel room?
The line: Ole Miss by 5. | The pick: Ole Miss 28-21.
Middle Tennessee (2-5) at Mississippi State (2-5), 7 p.m., ESPNU
The buzz: This is the fourth "Big Six" conference foe of the season for the Sun Belt's Middle Tennessee, which has beaten Maryland and lost to Kentucky and Louisville.
The line: Mississippi State by 10. | The pick: Mississippi State 21-13.
Texas A&M (2-5) at Iowa State (2-5), 7 p.m., Fox College Sports
The buzz: The Aggies lead this series 7-1 but the Cyclones won by 28 in College Station in the most recent meeting (2005). The loser likely takes home the trophy for "Worst Team in the Big 12."
The line: Iowa State by 3. | The pick: Texas A&M 31-27.
Alabama (7-0) at Tennessee (3-4), 7:45 p.m., ESPN
The buzz: The Tide hammered the Vols last season, but they haven't won in back-to-back seasons in this annual series since 1991-92. The Vols have allowed just one rushing touchdown in their past six games, but the Vols' offense has scored just 14 TDs this season.
The line: Alabama by 6.5. | The pick: Alabama 24-14.
Southern Miss (2-5) at Memphis (3-5), 8 p.m., CBS College Sports
The buzz: It's not often five-loss teams can say they're still legitimately in the bowl hunt, but these teams are in Conference USA. They both can say they're legitimately in the bowl hunt with five losses.
The line: OFF. | The pick: Southern Miss 34-24.
Penn State (8-0) at Ohio State (7-1), 8 p.m., ABC
The buzz: This is the game of the year in the Big Ten, and basically is the league's de facto title game. Penn State's national championship hopes also are on the line.
The line: Penn State by 2.5. | The pick: Ohio State 20-17.
Notre Dame (4-2) at Washington (0-6), 8 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: Tyrone Willingham and his Huskies desperately need a win, and getting it against Notre Dame would be sweet for Willingham. Notre Dame beat Willingham and the Huskies in 2005.
The line: Notre Dame by 11.5. | The pick: Notre Dame 31-21.
Colorado State (3-4) at San Diego State (1-6), 9:30 p.m., The mtn.
The buzz: San Diego State allowed 70 points last week. Have the Aztecs thrown in the towel for the season?
The line: Colorado State by 8. | The pick: Colorado State 35-23.
Oregon (5-2) at Arizona State (2-4), 10 p.m.
The buzz: Arizona State has been a big disappointment, and the Sun Devils' bowl hopes are fading. Oregon's running game is going to pose problems for Arizona State.
The line: Oregon by 4.5. | The pick: Oregon 31-24.
USC (5-1) at Arizona (5-2), 10:15 p.m., Fox Sports Net
The buzz: This is homecoming for Arizona, which has won six in a row at home. USC has shut out its past two opponents and hasn't allowed a TD in 11 consecutive quarters. In that span, USC has outscored foes 138-0.
The line: USC by 16. | The pick: USC 38-17.
Nevada (4-3) at Hawaii (3-4), 11:59 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Hawaii's offense is really struggling. Offense, meanwhile, hasn't been a problem for Nevada; it's the Wolf Pack's defense that's atrocious.
The line: Nevada by 3. | The pick: Nevada 30-21.
UCF (2-4) at Tulsa (7-0), 8 p.m., ESPN
The buzz: Tulsa leads the nation in total offense (624.7 ypg) and scoring offense (56.6 ppg). UCF is last in Conference USA in total offense (248.3 ypg) and scoring offense (17.7 ppg), which means the Knights better be prepared to play excellent defense.
The line: Tulsa by 23. | The pick: Tulsa 48-21.
Buffalo (3-4) at Ohio U. (2-6), 7 p.m., ESPNU
The buzz: This is the second consecutive Tuesday night game for Ohio. Tune in so you can see Buffalo coach Turner Gill, a former Nebraska quarterback, have a reunion with Ohio coach Frank Solich, an assistant at Nebraska when Gill was there.
The line: TBD. | The pick: Buffalo 24-14.
Houston (4-3) at Marshall (3-4), 8 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: Marshall went from leading the East Division of Conference USA to worrying about whether it will qualify for a bowl. This is Houston's fourth C-USA game and its third away from home.
The line: TBD. | The pick: Houston 33-28.

CONFERENCE PREVIEWS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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