Week 11 PiRate Picks

Last Week's Games: The PiRates went 40-13-1 for the week of November 4, giving them a year-to-date record of 380-120-8 (76.0%) in picking the winning team. The total winning percentages have stayed in a narrow range since the third week of the season.

PiRate Ratings For Thursday, November 9, 2006
Note: Ratings rounded to nearest whole number

 #	Team	   	 W	L	Rating
 1	Ohio State	10	0	125
 2	Texas		 9	1	123
 3	L S U		 7	2	122
 4	Wisconsin	 	 9	1	120
 5	California	 8	1	120
 5	Southern Cal	 7	1	120
 7	Oklahoma	 	 7	2	120
 8	Oregon		 7	2	118
 9	Louisville	 8	0	117
10	Brigham Young	 7	2	117
11	Michigan		10	0	116
12	Florida		 8	1	116
12	West Virginia	 7	1	116
14	Hawaii		 7	2	116
15	Notre Dame	 8	1	115
16	Arkansas	 	 8	1	115
17	Auburn		 9	1	115
18	Penn State	 6	4	115
19	Tennessee	 	 7	2	115
20	Virginia Tech	 7	2	114
20	Oregon State	 6	3	114
22	Nebraska	 	 7	3	114
23	Clemson		 7	3	113
24	Boise State	 9	0	112
25	Rutgers		 8	0	112

SEC PiRate Ratings			

1. Florida	8	1	116
2. Tennessee	 7	2	115
3. South Carolina	 5	4	107
4. Vanderbilt	 4	6	102
5. Georgia	 6	4	100
6. Kentucky	 5	4	 97 

1. L S U		 7	2	122
2. Arkansas	 8	1	115
3. Auburn		 9	1	115
4. Alabama	 6	4	101
5. Miss. State	 3	7	 96
6. Ole Miss	 3	7	 95

PiRates Show Vandy Now Finishing: 2-6/5-7



*** It's Crunch Time ***



This Week's Schedule


This is one of those Saturday's where you won't mind it if the weather forces you to stay inside.  There are more than two dozen college games that carry bowl implications.  As last week showed with Ohio State and Michigan, you cannot chalk up victories before they are played.  Both games could have gone the other way with less than a minute remaining.  The way these two teams played last week, more than a dozen other elevens could have knocked both of them off.  Both teams now must play trap games on the road this week.  While the chances are quite slim that either will lose, the opponents they are playing will be fired up and ready to play their best games of the year.  Northwestern hosts the Buckeyes a week after subduing Iowa, while Indiana gets the Wolverines in Bloomington a week after possibly blowing a golden opportunity to become bowl eligible.


Once again the top game of the week is the ESPN Thursday Night affair.  Louisville must face the other undefeated Big East team Rutgers on the road, and it should be a barnburner.  The University of New Jersey had an extra week to heal wounds and prepare for the Cardinals.  Have the popcorn and hot chocolate ready for this one tonight.


Possibly the game with the most influence on the bowl bids is the one on the Pacific Coast between San Jose State and Boise State.  Can Dick Tomey's Spartans end the BCS dream of the Broncos and throw the final BCS at-large bid open?  It could happen, but even if Boise State wins, they still must finish at Nevada, where the Wolf Pack are nearly unbeatable.


Enjoy this weekend.  Maybe by the time these games end, we will know more about who will be in the bowls than we know who will be the Senator from Virginia.



SEC games for the week.


Alabama @ L S U

PiRate Predicts: L S U 34  Alabama 7

Peiser Predicts: Ouch!  Did the PiRates break into the rum a few days early this week?  Can the Tigers slaughter the Tide by 27 points?  I think they will win by more than 17, but 27 is asking an awful lot.  If they do win by this much, Mike Shula needs to brick-proof his office windows.



South Carolina @ Florida

PiRate Predicts: Florida 32  South Carolina 17

Peiser Predicts: Florida should win Spurrier Bowl II, but you can bet the ole ball coach will have some surprises in store for his alma mater.  A loss puts the Gamecocks at 5-5 with a must-win game against MTSU next week.  A Florida loss gives a headache to the SEC home office, as the Gators have already clinched a berth in the SEC Championship game.  Florida will win by 10-15 points.



Georgia @ Auburn  

PiRate Predicts: Auburn 28  Georgia 7  

Peiser Predicts: Georgia is falling apart at the seams.  They may have expended their emotional energy in their failed comeback attempt against Florida.  Their defense is no longer winning games for them, while their offense makes too many mistakes.  They will get drilled in Auburn this week if they commit the same amount of miscues.  The Tigers didn't fire on all cylinders last week, but they should whip the dogs by 20 points.



Tennessee @ Arkansas

PiRate Predicts: Arkansas 19  Tennessee 14

Peiser Predicts: The Razorbacks have switched back to a run at all costs team with a new quarterback, Casey Dick, expected to start his first game this week.  Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge is still questionable, and even if he plays, he won't be close to 100%.  Throw in a first half suspension for tailback Arian Foster and an ailing tailback LaMarcus Coker, and the Vols may still be looking for their first score when the second half begins.  Arkansas is going to run, run , run and eat up the clock.  That indicates this game could be lower scoring than expected.  I'll take the home team to improve to 6-0 in the conference and become just a win at Mississippi State away from a date with the Gators on December 2nd.



Vanderbilt @ Kentucky

PiRate Predicts: Vanderbilt 28  Kentucky 27

Peiser Predicts:  I'll have my complete preview and prediction of this game in Friday's subscription only article.  This game should be just as close as the PiRates predict.  I'll tell you why I'm picking one team to have a slight advantage over the other team, making them about a 60% chance of becoming the winner.  You'll see it here only on Vandymania.



25 Other Games of Note


This week, I am expanding the "10 other games of note" to 25 games.  There are so many bowl implications tonight, Friday, and Saturday, it wouldn't be right to leave out some key games.  This is still short by a couple of games, as the Arizona-Cal game and a few others could be considered vital.


Louisville @ Rutgers (Thursday Night)

PiRate Predicts: Louisville 24  Rutgers 23

Peiser Predicts: Somebody "up there" that likes ESPN.  How could they get the best game of the week twice in a row for their Thursday night tilt?  Here's a secret:  Rutgers is going to win this game in a big upset and throw the BCS ratings out of whack.  The Scarlet Knights have a championship caliber defense that has had two weeks to study the Louisville offense.  This will be the biggest game in the state of New Jersey since the New York Giants played in the NFC Championship Game in January, 2001.



Wyoming @ Brigham Young (Thursday Night)

PiRate Predicts: BYU 41  Wyoming 17

Peiser Predicts: This game will be closer than people expect.  The Cowboys have one of the nation's best pass defenses, and they should hold the Cougars' high-octane offense below its norm.  The only problem for the brown and gold is that BYU's defense is strong both against the run and the pass.   A win here clinches the Mountain West title for the Cougars, while a Wyoming upset would give the Cowboys a chance to win it.  I'll take the home team but not by 24 points like the PiRates predict.  Call it a 14 to 17-point win.



Western Michigan @ Central Michigan (Friday Night)

PiRate Predicts: CMU  24  WMU 16

Peiser Predicts: The MAC West title is on the line Friday night in Mt. Pleasant, and the home team Chippewas have the edge.  CMU has a potent passing attack that should find some success against the Broncos' powerful defense.  Throw in an excited Friday night home crowd, and CMU should prevail by a few points.  The loser still has a shot for a bowl bid, but it won't be guaranteed.



Miami (FL) @ Maryland

PiRate Predicts: Maryland 27  Miami 21

Peiser Predicts: The Terps are this year's version of the 1967 Indiana Hoosiers.  They keep winning games in the closing minute of play and never look dominating in any of them.  That 1967 Hoosier team eventually broke down and got drilled by a very good Minnesota team.  Miami is not as good as that Gopher team, and they come to College Park with heavy hearts following the murder of starting defensive end Bryan Pata.  The Hurricanes will play this game in his honor and memory, but they could also be playing this game without starting quarterback Kyle Wright, who broke the thumb on his throwing hand against Virginia Tech last week.  This game should be yet another close one, and I'm picking the Terps to emerge victorious to stay in control of the ACC Atlantic Division race.



Michigan @ Indiana

PiRate Predicts: Michigan 28  Indiana 12

Peiser Predicts: Watch out Maize and Blue!  Indiana is no pushover in Bloomington.  Michigan limped into the locker with a 34-26 win over Ball State last week, while Indiana forgot what time their game with Minnesota started last week, trailing 35-0 well before halftime.  Michigan is coming into this game nursing some wounds to several key players, while Indiana is the perfect picture of health this late in the season.  What that means is the Hoosiers should give Michigan a good battle and keep the final margin below 17 points.  If they can get a cheap touchdown in the first half, IU could still be in the game in the fourth quarter and possibly spoil the big game coming up in Columbus.



Wisconsin @ Iowa

PiRate Predicts: Wisconsin 27  Iowa 17

Peiser Predicts: Iowa is Badger coach Bret Bielema's alma mater.  Wisconsin is the quietest 9-1 Big 10 team ever.  The Badgers have suffered one loss at Michigan and have positioned themselves onto the BCS at-large bowl bubble ready to move up if either Ohio State or Michigan loses twice.


What the PiRates haven't factored into the equation is that Wisconsin quarterback John Stocco will more than likely miss this game due to a shoulder injury.  The Badgers will have to rely on Tyler Donovan, who will be making his first collegiate start and first start since the 2002 WIAA State Championship (where his Arrowhead team lost to my cousin's Marshfield team).


Iowa knows how tough losing a starting quarterback can be, as Drew Tate has missed time this year.  The Hawkeyes are 6-4, but they have more than enough talent to win this game.  I see it going to the wire with the Badgers having to rely on great defense to win a low scoring affair.


Wake Forest @ Florida State

PiRate Predicts: Florida State 24  Wake Forest 14

Peiser Predicts: This looks like the week that Wake Forest's bubble could burst.  The Demon Deacons are catching the Seminoles on an uptrend.  New quarterback Xavier Lee has breathed new life into the FSU offense, while the defense is starting to look more like a Mickey Andrews defense is supposed to look like.  Wake Forest will not approach their normal rushing average, and quarterback Riley Skinner will face a relentless pass rush all day long.  Florida State must win this game to escape the possibility of spending the holidays in Boise, Idaho.  They don't want to play on blue turf.  Give this one to Bobby Bowden's boys by at least a touchdown and probably more.


Marshall @ East Carolina

PiRate Predicts: E C U 28  Marshall 20

Peiser Predicts: Raise your hand if you thought back in August that this game could decide the C-USA's East Division title.  While Southern Miss is still alive in this division, the winner of this game will have the advantage in the race.  ECU's defense is mostly responsible for their improvement this season; they have shaved eight points and 80 yards off their totals from 2005.


Marshall must win two of their final three games to become bowl eligible, but the Thundering Herd may have to win all three to have a realistic shot at a bowl.  If they win all three (ECU, UTEP, and Sou. Miss.), they will be East Division champs and advance to the C-USA title game.  Head coach Mark Snyder is a former Jim Tressel assistant, and the green and white play with the same balance as Tressel's Buckeyes.


The home field advantage should be the difference in this game.  I see East Carolina winning it by less than a touchdown and becoming bowl eligible.



Colorado State @ Utah

PiRate Predicts: Utah 28  CSU 17

Peiser Predicts: Treat this game like you would the first day of the Southeastern Conference Basketball tournament.  The loser is finished for the season (okay they still have to play a couple of games), while the winner is in position to win another game and get into the Big Dance (a bowl). 


Coach Sonny Lubick's Rams are 4-5 after losing consecutive games to Air Force, Wyoming, New Mexico, and BYU.  Fans in Ft. Collins are starting to get a bit uneasy, as CSU hasn't had a great year since 2002. 


Utah is one of the nation's biggest disappointments this season.  Many prognosticators thought the Utes would rebound with a season similar to 2004, but Coach Kyle Whittingham's club is struggling at 5-4 with games remaining at Air Force and against BYU.  A loss here could nearly guarantee a losing season.


Both teams' defenses should control the others' offenses.  CSU cannot run the ball at all this season, as too many of their rushing attempts have been for two yards or less.  The Rams are average through the air.  Utah can run the ball a little better, but their passing game isn't as strong.  Defensively, CSU has a better pass defense, while rush defense is about equal.  Utah has the home field advantage, and that's about all that separates these two.  Give a slight edge to the Utes.



Nebraska @ Texas A&M

PiRate Predicts: Texas A&M 25  Nebraska 24

Peiser Predicts: Here's a game where I disagree with the PiRates.  I think Texas A&M has built up their statistics by padding them against Citadel, UL-Lafayette, Army, and Louisiana Tech.  I don't see the Aggies stopping Nebraska's offense, while the Cornhuskers will be able to slow down A&M's running game and hence their point total.  I'm going with Coach Callahan's Cornhuskers to pick up the road win and wrap up the Big 12 North Division flag.


Rice @ Tulsa

PiRate Predicts:  Tulsa 35  Rice 20

Peiser Predicts: Okay, you must be asking why I have this game in the list of 25.  I never thought this game would have much bearing until last week.  When Tulsa lost to Houston and Rice beat UTEP, it made this game an important one.  Can you believe the Owls are looking at a chance to become bowl eligible if they can win two of their final three games?  Rice was last in a bowl game in 1961, when Coach Jess Neely (yes, the Vanderbilt legend) guided his club to the Bluebonnet Bowl, where they lost to John Hadl's and Curtis McClinton's Kansas Jayhawks that day.


Tulsa needs help from SMU if the Golden Hurricane are to repeat as C-USA West Champs.  The loss to Houston has dropped TU to second place.  Tulsa should win this game thanks to a superior defense.  Rice is in their first year using a passing offense, and the inexperience should show up against Tulsa's ranked stop troops.  Call it a two touchdown win for Tulsa, but Rice will have a chance to win their final two and finish 6-6.



Houston @ S M U

PiRate Predicts: Houston 31  SMU 22

Peiser Predicts: Houston is expected to win this game and move to within one win over Rice from making the C-USA title game.  As Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast, my friend."  SMU is breathing down their neck at 3-2 in league play.  The Mustangs are one win away from becoming bowl eligible; they have not been to a bowl game since they were given the death penalty 20 years ago.


While Houston's passing game should be too much for SMU to handle, the Ponies could dump Cougar quarterback Kevin Kolb enough times to make a difference.  Houston will not run all over the Mustangs, so they will be forced to pass the ball.


SMU is a different team at home than on the road.  The Mustangs are 4-0 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium and only 1-4 away from home.  Don't expect the Mustangs to fold, and they could very well stampede their way to an upset win.  It should be closer than the experts predict.  Another thing working in SMU's favor is that teams who pull off upset wins at home one week usually bounce when they play on the road the following week.  Houston upset Tulsa in a home game last weekend.


Minnesota @ Michigan State

PiRate Predicts: Minnesota 35  Michigan State 30

Peiser Predicts: This is a "put out of misery" game.  Both teams are 1-5 in the Big 10 and 4-6 overall.  The loser is out of the bowl picture, while the winner would have to win their finale.  Michigan State closes at Penn State, while Minnesota has their annual battle with Iowa for the Floyd of Rosedale (pig) trophy.


The big question in this game is how fired up the Spartan players will be for lame-duck coach John L. Smith in his final home game?  Do they have anything left at this point?  If they can avoid the numerous mistakes and lapses of judgment, MSU could win this game by several points.  The Spartan offense is capable of producing 40 points and 500 yards against the Gophers' weak defense.


If the Spartans make their usual number of mistakes, then Minnesota will capitalize on them and outscore the Spartans.  I think the green and white could be ready to play their best game of the year and win one for Smith.  What that means is the Big 10 will miss out on one bowl eligible team.


Ohio State @ Northwestern

PiRate Predicts: Ohio State 28  Northwestern 6

Peiser Predicts: Until last week, this game would have been picked to be 56-0 or somewhere in that neighborhood.  All of a sudden, the Buckeyes were proven to be human against Illinois, while the Wildcats played their best defensive game since a 14-7 win at Penn State in 2004.


For the second consecutive week, I believe the Buckeyes will struggle some.  They won't be forced to defend on the final play of the game to preserve the victory, but I think they will win by less than 20 points.  Northwestern will shorten the game and stay in it longer than anyone figured.  When a team wins an impressive and shocking game at home one week and stays at home the following week, the good play usually continues.



Notre Dame @ Air Force

PiRate Predicts: Notre Dame 38  Air Force 29

Peiser Predicts: It's been four years since these two teams hooked up.  In the past, Air Force has done quite well against the Irish when the game was in Colorado Springs.  This year should be no different.


The Falcons should rush for more than 200 yards and pass for less than 100 yards against the Irish, while Notre Dame should pass for 300 yards and run for another 100.  Brady Quinn may be too much for the Academy, and I think the Irish will feel happy to escape with a seven to 10-point win.  Should Notre Dame lose this one, then the bowl scenarios are really messed up.



T C U @ New Mexico

PiRate Predicts: TCU 24  New Mexico 17

Peiser Predicts: New Mexico coach Rocky Long is a minor miracle worker.  Every season, it looks like the Lobos don't have enough talent to compete for five wins.  Yet, New Mexico always improves during the course of the season and finishes up each year stronger than they start it.  Several prognosticators were calling for the Lobos to finish near or at the bottom of the Mountain West standings, and here they are in November still alive in the MWC race.


TCU, on paper, should thump the Lobos by two to three touchdowns, but that isn't going to happen.  In fact, the Horned Frogs only have a 50-50 chance of winning this game in Albuquerque.  This one should be low scoring and go down to the wire.  I'll give TCU a razor thin edge in a game that could go to overtime.



Boise State @ San Jose State

PiRate Predicts: Boise State 38  San Jose St. 23

Peiser Predicts: This is the first of two major tests for the Broncos if they are to get rewarded with a BCS Bowl bid.  The Broncos must visit the surprise team of the West Coast this week.  Former Hawaii and Arizona coach Dick Tomey has produced a winner in year three in San Jose.  The Spartans have improved defensively by leaps and bounds under Tomey.  They gave up 43 points and 441 yards per game in 2004; 33 points and 441 yards per game last year; and just 19 points and 338 yards per game so far this year.


Boise State is getting it done this year via the ground.  The Broncos rush for 234 yards per game, while they give up a paltry 80 yards rushing per game.  Two of their nine wins have been by just seven points, and they now face a road opponent as strong as the two teams that lost by just a touchdown.  It all adds up to a closer than expected game.  I wouldn't be all that surprised if more than one undefeated team lost this week (one must lose when Louisville plays Rutgers).  San Jose State is primed for the upset, and I give them a 35% chance of doing so.  Call it a six-point win for Boise.



Texas Tech @ Oklahoma

PiRate Predicts: Oklahoma 31  Texas Tech 16

Peiser Predicts: Once the Sooners lost Adrian Peterson for the season, their defense was forced to bear the brunt of the load.  It's not like the OU stop unit wasn't doing a fine job already.  In the last four games, Oklahoma has given up 38 points and just 136 passing yards per game.


Texas Tech had trouble moving the football against Colorado and TCU, but in all their other games, the Red Raiders have looked like the past four editions.  Since the loss to Colorado, TTU is passing for 465 yards per game.


Something's got to give this week.  Will the Tech offense shred the great OU defense, or will the Red Raiders get run over by the Sooner Schooner?  How about finding a happy medium?  Tech will pass for 275 to 300 yards, but it won't be enough to win.  Oklahoma improves to 8-2 with a double digit win, while holding the Red Raiders to 21 points or less.



North Carolina State @ Clemson

PiRate Predicts: Clemson 35  N.C. State 16

Peiser Predicts: North Carolina State is the Michigan State of the South.  They always find a way to drop a crucial pass, have a defensive back forget his assignment and leave a receiver wide open, commit a penalty at the wrong time, or just miss a tackle.  The Wolfpack have lost their last four games by two, six, seven, and eight points.  In three of those losses, they have outgained the victorious opponent.  N.C. State athletics director Lee Fowler has said that Coach Chuck Amato's job is safe, but should the Pack lose to North Carolina next week (Tar Heels' coach John Bunting's last home game), the fans in Raleigh might speak loudly enough to force Fowler's hand.  If that happens, the former Vanderbilt basketball star may dial a familiar phone number that begins with a 615 area code.


Tommy Bowden hasn't been able to witness his Clemson teams close the deal like he was able to do at Tulane.  The Tigers were approaching BCS bowl competence until Georgia Tech stung them two weeks ago and Virginia Tech pummeled them last week.  Now, CU is playing its final two games for bowl seeding.  Two losses could send them out to the desolate outpost of blue Idaho.  I think they will recover this week and add more heat to Amato's hot seat.  Call it a double digit win for the Tigers.


Texas @ Kansas State

PiRate Predicts: Texas 38  Kansas State 23

Peiser Predicts: If you have ever watched the Miss USA pageant, you see at the end where the first runner-up can ascend to the top if Miss USA becomes Miss Universe or must abdicate her title for another reason.  Texas is the first runner-up for the BCS Championship game in my opinion.  I expect the Longhorns to win their final two regular season games plus the Big 12 Championship game, while Louisville and Florida stumble and drop below the ‘horns.


Kansas State's first-year coach Ron Prince is to be commended for guiding the Wildcats to bowl eligibility.  However, KSU is not ready to upset one of the five best teams in the land.  Call it a 17 to 24-point win for Mack's men.



Washington State @ Arizona State

PiRate Predicts: Arizona State 35  Washington State 34

Peiser Predicts: This type of Pac-10 game is the most difficult to predict.  Both of these teams play like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Which ones will show up this week?  The Sun Devils have dropped four out of their last six games, three of those by huge margins.  Their two wins in that stretch have come against the bottom two teams in the league.  That is a huge downtrend.


Until last week, Washington State had lost games to Auburn, Southern Cal, and Cal, making them one of the top three-loss teams in the land.  Then, they laid an egg at home against Arizona, giving the Wildcats some life in the bowl picture.  It means there are now nine Pac-10 teams fighting it out for bowl eligibility.  Can you say, "Wild?"


I'm going with Washington State to come out and play their fannies off this week to make amends for last week's omelet.  Look for WSU to win the game in a mild upset, and cause Sun Devil fans to be more than mildly upset with Coach Dirk Koetter, who could be on his way out in Tempe.


Oregon State @ U C L A

PiRate Predicts: Oregon State 26  UCLA 21

Peiser Predicts: UCLA has this game plus games at Arizona State and against Southern Cal remaining.  The Bruins must win at least two of these final three games.  If they don't win this game Saturday at the Rose Bowl, don't count on them coming close in the finale against the Trojans.


This game will look more like a Canadian Football League Game in strategy.  Both teams will pass the ball all over the field because neither team can run the ball against the others' defense, and neither teams' secondary can stop the other teams' passing game.


The Beavers are one of the hottest teams in college football right now.  They have won four consecutive games, all against Pac-10 opponents.  Last week, they built on their upset over Southern Cal by blowing Arizona State off the field.


Now comes the real challenge for Coach Mike Riley's squad.  They must keep that level of play as they go on the road.  Combine that with the fact that the Bruins know they must win this game to avoid a losing record, and it should be really close.  The experts believe it's a 50-50 proposition this week, and I endorse their opinions.  I'll go with OSU to keep the winning streak alive and move into contention for a nine or even 10-win season.


Oregon @ Southern Cal

PiRate Predicts: USC 33  Oregon 24

Peiser Predicts: The Trojans must get by the Ducks to make next week's game with Cal mean something.  USC cannot overlook the Quack Attack, because Oregon has enough talent to end the long Trojan winning streak at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.


The key to this game will be if Oregon can run the ball against the USC defense.  The Trojans can win this one with relative ease if they stop the Duck running attack and force them to throw pass after pass.  Oregon averages over 200 rushing yards per game, so it won't be an easy task for Pete Carroll's crew.


I look for Oregon to slow down the Trojan offense.  John David Booty should be held to less than 220 yards passing in this game, while the Trojan backs gain about 140 yards rushing.  It all adds up to a lower than expected final score, but Southern Cal should eventually emerge with a five to 10-point win.



Troy @ Florida Atlantic

PiRate Predicts: Troy 17  FAU 14

Peiser Predicts: This is one of two crucial games in the Sunbelt Conference this week.  Troy is 3-0 in conference play, one game behind Middle Tennessee.  This is a tough road game for them. 


Owls' starting quarterback Sean Clayton was knocked unconscious in the MTSU game last week and suffered a concussion; red shirt freshman Rusty Smith came in and threw for over 200 yards in the 35-14 loss.  He will get the start this week.


I expect this game to be dull and low scoring.  FAU has a good shot at pulling off the upset, but I give a slight edge to Troy. 



M T S U @ Arkansas State

PiRate Predicts: MTSU 20  Arkansas State 14

Peiser Predicts: The Blue Raiders are creeping closer toward their first Sunbelt Championship and first Division I-A bowl berth.  At 5-0 in conference play, a win Saturday in Jonesboro would leave them one win away from going to the New Orleans Bowl.


This is going to be a quite difficult game for the Blue Raiders to win.  These teams are close to equal in talent, and statistics verify that.  Neither team is an offensive juggernaut; both average less than 300 total yards per game.  Both get about 50% of their offense via the run and 50% via the pass.  Their defensive statistics against the run and pass are also extremely similar.  Both teams give up about 21 points per game.  There is one glaring difference on the stat sheet.  MTSU averages 24 points per game, while Arkansas State averages just 14.  Coach Rick Stockstill's club takes advantage of superior special teams play and gets the most bang for their buck with the limited yardage they produce.


It adds up to another impressive win for the Blue Raiders.  Look for MTSU to pull away in the second half and win by a touchdown or more, improving to 7-3.





Bowl Projecting


Due to the extended game previews, I'll only present a skeleton look this week


Atlantic Coast Conference


1. BCS Bowl—Orange:  Georgia Tech vs. Rutgers


2. Chick-fil-a:  Virginia Tech vs. Georgia


3. Gator: Clemson vs. West Virginia


4. Champ Sports:  Miami vs. Iowa


5. Meineke Car Care: Wake Forest vs. Navy (Already accepted bid).


6. Emerald: Maryland vs. Washington St.


7. Music City: Boston College vs. South Carolina


8. MPC Computers: Florida State vs. Boise State


Big East


1. BCS Bowl—Orange: Rutgers vs. Georgia Tech


2. BCS Bowl—Sugar: Louisville vs. Arkansas


3. Gator: West Virginia vs. Clemson


4. International: Cincinnati vs. Western Michigan


5. Texas: Pittsburgh vs. Oklahoma State


6. Birmingham: South Florida vs. East Carolina


Big Ten


1. BCS Bowl—BCS Title Game: Ohio State vs. Michigan


2. BCS At-large—BCS Title Game: Michigan vs. Ohio State


3. Capital One:  Wisconsin vs. Florida


4. Outback: Penn State vs. Tennessee


5. Alamo: Purdue vs. Texas A&M


6. Champs Sports: Iowa vs. Miami


7. Insight: Minnesota vs. Missouri


8. Motor City: Wyoming (at-large) vs. Central Michigan


Big 12


1. BCS Bowl—Fiesta: Texas vs. Notre Dame


2. Cotton: Oklahoma vs. L S U


3. Holiday: Nebraska vs. California


4. Alamo: Texas A&M vs. Purdue


5. Sun: Texas Tech vs. Oregon


6. Insight: Missouri vs. Minnesota


7. Independence: Kansas State vs. Alabama


8. Texas:  Oklahoma State vs. Pittsburgh


Conference USA


1. Liberty: Houston vs. Kentucky


2. GMAC: Tulsa vs. Ohio U


3. Armed Forces: SMU vs. TCU


4. Birmingham: East Carolina vs. South Florida


5. New Orleans: Southern Mississippi vs. Middle Tennessee




1. BCS At-Large—Fiesta: Notre Dame vs. Texas


2. Meineke Car Care: Navy (already accepted bid) vs. Wake Forest





1. GMAC:  Ohio U vs. Tulsa


2. Motor City: Central Michigan vs. Wyoming (at-large)


3. International: Western Michigan vs. Cincinnati


Mountain West


1. Las Vegas: Brigham Young vs. Oregon State


2. Armed Forces: TCU vs. SMU


3. Poinsettia: Air Force vs. San Jose State (at-large)


4. New Mexico: New Mexico vs. Nevada


Wyoming gets Motor City Bowl as at-large team vs. Central Michigan




1. BCS Bowl—Rose: Southern California vs. Auburn


2. Holiday: California vs. Nebraska


3. Sun: Oregon vs. Texas Tech


4. Las Vegas: Oregon State vs. Brigham Young


5. Hawaii: Arizona State vs. Hawaii (already accepted bid)


6. Emerald: Washington State vs. Clemson




1. BCS Bowl—Sugar: Arkansas vs. Louisville


2. BCS At-large—Rose: Auburn vs. Southern California


3. Capital One: Florida vs. Wisconsin


4. Outback: Tennessee vs. Penn State


5. Cotton: L S U vs. Oklahoma


6. Chick-fil-a: Georgia vs. Virginia Tech


7. Liberty: Kentucky vs. Houston


8. Music City: South Carolina vs. Boston College


9. Independence: Alabama vs. Kansas State




1. New Orleans: MTSU vs. Southern Mississippi


Western Athletic


1. MPC Computers: Boise State vs. Florida State


2. Hawaii: Hawaii (already accepted bid) vs. Arizona State


3. New Mexico: Nevada vs. New Mexico


Poinsettia: San Jose State (at-large) vs. Air Force



And The Rest

Winner		Loser		Margin
Akron		Buffalo		20
U T E P		U A B		2
Illinois		Purdue		3
Penn State	Temple		47
South Fla.	Syracuse		12
Boston Coll.	Duke		34
Georgia Tech	North Carolina	14
West Va.		Cincinnati	16
Navy		Eastern Mich.	13
Virginia Tech	Kent State	31
Southern Miss.	Tulane		12
Washington	Stanford		28
Colorado		Iowa State	15
Fresno St.	New Mexico St.	13
California	Arizona		13
Nevada		Utah State	38
Oklahoma St.	Baylor		15
Pittsburgh	Connecticut	10
Central Fla.	Memphis		2
San Diego St.	UNLV		12
Hawaii		La. Tech		41
UL-Lafayette	N. Texas		14
Fla. Int'l	UL-Monroe		4

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