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October 8, 2009

Weekend Primer: Let the big games begin

Week 6 is here, and it might be the biggest weekend of the season thus far.

It's a huge weekend in the SEC, with three of the nation's top four teams involved in two conference showdowns. It's an important "shake-out" weekend in the Big Ten, with Iowa and Wisconsin looking to stay unbeaten overall. It's the same in the Pac-10, with Arizona, Oregon and Stanford going on the road to try to prove their worth. And there's also a monster game in the Big 12 North, with Missouri playing host to Nebraska in a Thursday night game that should get the weekend off to a great start.

Here's a look at each game involving an FBS school this weekend:


Purdue (1-4) at Minnesota (3-2), noon, ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Minnesota senior WR Eric Decker has 3,000 career receiving yards, and a 77-yard day will move him into eighth place on the Big Ten's career list in that category. That would put him a yard ahead of former Michigan standout Anthony Carter.
THE LINE: Minnesota by 3.5.
THE PICK: Minnesota 28-17

Vanderbilt (2-3) at Army (2-3), noon, CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: This is the easiest game left on Vandy's schedule. But the Commodores' offense isn't very good. Army's triple-option offense will test Vandy's solid linebacking corps.
THE LINE: Vanderbilt by 11.
THE PICK: Vanderbilt 24-16

Eastern Illinois (4-1) at Penn State (4-1), noon, ESPN Classic
THE BUZZ: Former Iowa quarterback Jake Christensen is EIU's starter at the position and former Florida running back Mon Williams is EIU's leading rusher. That said, there aren't enough other former Iowa or Florida players for Penn State to be too worried about this one.
THE LINE: No line.
THE PICK: Penn State 42-10

Michigan State (2-3) at Illinois (1-3), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Michigan State stopped, at least momentarily, its descent into the abyss last week with a win over Michigan. Illinois coach Ron Zook has benched senior QB Juice Williams in an attempt to stop his team's descent into the abyss.
THE LINE: Michigan State by 4.
THE PICK: Michigan State 34-24

Miami University (0-5) at Northwestern (3-2), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: If Northwestern harbors any bowl hopes, it had better beat the hapless RedHawks. Neither team has run the ball that effectively.
THE LINE: Northwestern by 20.
THE PICK: Northwestern 42-17

Boston College (4-1) at Virginia Tech (4-1), noon, ACC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This could be a preview of yet another BC-Virginia Tech ACC championship game matchup. That noise you just heard? That was every ACC administrator going to his or her knees to make sure that doesn't happen again.
THE LINE: Virginia Tech by 13.5.
THE PICK: Virginia Tech 24-13

Auburn (5-0) at Arkansas (2-2), noon, ESPN
THE BUZZ: Auburn has been surprisingly good on offense this season but surprisingly mediocre on defense. Arkansas has a solid offense but a poor defense. That means the scoreboard operator should be busy. The road team has won the past four games and six of the past seven in the series.
THE LINE: Auburn by 3.
THE PICK: Auburn 35-34

Eastern Michigan (0-4) at Central Michigan (4-1), noon, ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Eastern Michigan might be the worst team in the MAC; Central Michigan appears to be the best team in the league. As such, this should not be close - though EMU did beat the Chippewas last season.
THE LINE: Central Michigan by 22.5.
THE PICK: Central Michigan 41-17

West Virginia (3-1) at Syracuse (2-3), noon, Big East syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: WVU, which has committed 14 turnovers in its past three games, has won seven in a row against the Orange. Syracuse committed seven turnovers in last week's loss to USF. The schools have met each year since 1955.
THE LINE: West Virginia by 10.
THE PICK: West Virginia 34-21

Georgia (3-2) at Tennessee (2-3), 12:20 p.m., SEC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is a huge game for Georgia as it attempts to remain relevant in this season's SEC race. The Bulldogs have won in three of their past four trips to Knoxville. The Vols have to get a big game from RB Montario Hardesty if they're to win.
THE LINE: Tennessee by 1.5.
THE PICK: Georgia 23-17

Kentucky (2-2) at South Carolina (4-1), 12:30 p.m., Fox Sports South/Sun Sports/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: South Carolina has won nine in a row over the Wildcats - though five of the past seven have been decided by seven or fewer points - and Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier has a personal 16-game winning streak over UK. The Wildcats are 8-28 on the road in conference play this decade.
THE LINE: South Carolina by 9.5.
THE PICK: South Carolina 28-16

Oklahoma State (3-1) at Texas A&M (3-1), 12:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: Oklahoma State's offense has sputtered at times this season, with injuries one of the problems, but maybe a game against A&M's shaky defense will help. The winner remains a contender in the Big 12 South; the loser starts hoping it can make a "lesser" bowl.
THE LINE: Oklahoma State by 8.
THE PICK: Oklahoma State 40-28

Iowa State (3-2) at Kansas (4-0), 12:30 p.m., Versus
THE BUZZ: Kansas figures to be a leading contender in the Big 12 North, along with the Missouri-Nebraska winner, and contenders don't lose to Iowa State. Kansas senior WR Dezmon Briscoe needs three catches and 33 receiving yards to become the school's career leader in both categories.
THE LINE: Kansas by 19.5.
THE PICK: Kansas 48-21

Houston (3-1) at Mississippi State (2-3), 12:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Houston had been riding high, but it was pounded by UTEP last week and you have to wonder about the Cougars' psyche. Houston is trying to move to 4-0 in non-conference games, and it hasn't won all its non-conference games since 1990.
THE LINE: Mississippi State by 1.
THE PICK: Houston 42-37

Ball State (0-5) at Temple (2-2), 1 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Temple got the 400th victory in school history last week; unfortunately for the Owls, they need to win 141 more in a row to get to the .500 mark. Playing Ball State should get them off to a good start, though.
THE LINE: Temple by 13.5.
THE PICK: Temple 20-17

New Mexico (0-5) at Wyoming (3-2), 2 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: New Mexico has won eight of the past nine in the series and has held Wyoming without an offensive touchdown in each of the past two seasons. But the Lobos are 117th nationally in scoring offense and 116th in scoring defense. Wyoming can't score either, though, ranking 100th in scoring offense.
THE LINE: Wyoming by 10.
THE PICK: Wyoming 27-14

Wisconsin (5-0) at Ohio State (4-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: The Badgers have started 5-0 for the fifth time in eight seasons. To get to 6-0, they must remain balanced on offense and force Ohio State to the air.
THE LINE: Ohio State by 16.
THE PICK: Ohio State 24-16

Alabama (5-0) at Ole Miss (3-1), 3:30 p.m., CBS
THE BUZZ: This is huge for Ole Miss. A loss basically means the Rebels were a top-10 fraud. Alabama has won 19 of the past 22 meetings and leads the series 45-9-2. This will be just the ninth meeting in Oxford.
THE LINE: Alabama by 6.
THE PICK: Alabama 24-14

Oregon (4-1) at UCLA (3-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Oregon has forced a Pac-10-high 13 turnovers - but the Ducks have committed 12 themselves. UCLA is one win away from matching last season's victory total. The Ducks are banged-up, especially in the secondary, and QB Jeremiah Masoli may not play.
THE LINE: Oregon by 3.5.

Connecticut (3-1) at Pittsburgh (4-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Pitt leads the nation with 23 sacks; UConn has given up 11. This is UConn's Big East opener, and it'll be an interesting pecking-order game for both teams.
THE LINE: Pitt by 8.
THE PICK: Pitt 23-20

Baylor (3-1) at Oklahoma (2-2), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Oklahoma has some issues, especially on offense. If Baylor had QB Robert Griffin, the Bears would have legit upset hopes. But Griffin is out for the season. OU has the nation's longest current home winning streak at 26 games.
THE LINE: Oklahoma by 25.
THE PICK: Oklahoma 35-13

Navy (3-2) at Rice (0-5), 3:30 p.m., CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: Navy ranks first in the nation in fewest penalty yards per game (24) and fewest penalties per game (2.8). Last season, Navy finished second in both categories (26.77 penalty yards per game and 3.2 penalties per game).
THE LINE: Navy by 11.5.
THE PICK: Navy 35-17

Bowling Green (1-4) at Kent State (2-3), 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Ohio/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This basically is a must-win game for Bowling Green if it wants to stay in the hunt for the MAC East Division title. The Falcons are averaging just 2.5 yards per rush, which is third-worst in the nation. The road team has won each of the past three meetings.
THE LINE: Bowling Green by 3.5.
THE PICK: Bowling Green 33-21

Marshall (3-2) at Tulane (2-2), 3:30 p.m., Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast
THE BUZZ: The season-ending injury to Southern Miss QB Austin Davis makes things more interesting in the East Division of C-USA, and Marshall is one of the teams that will try to take advantage.
THE LINE: Marshall by 4.
THE PICK: Marshall 27-20

Georgia Southern (3-2) at North Carolina (3-2), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: UNC's offense has been abysmal of late, so a visit from an FCS program might be just the needed tonic. An aside to Butch Davis: How about recruiting some talented offensive linemen?
THE LINE: No line.
THE PICK: North Carolina 38-7

Indiana (3-2) at Virginia (1-3), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This one matches an ACC team vs. a Big Ten team, so why isn't it on TV? Oh, that's right - it's an ACC bottom-feeder vs. a Big Ten bottom-feeder.
THE LINE: Virginia by 6.5.
THE PICK: Virginia 23-20

Texas Southern (1-3) at Rutgers (3-1), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Rutgers has won 10 of its past 11 games, and it will be 11 of 12 after this one. Texas Southern is a bad FCS program and, frankly, Rutgers should be embarrassed to be playing the Tigers.
THE LINE: No line.
THE PICK: Rutgers 56-3

Gardner-Webb (3-1) at Buffalo (1-4), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Buffalo hasn't won since its opener at UTEP, and this is a great opportunity for the Bulls to get back on the plus side of the ledger.
THE LINE: No line.
THE PICK: Buffalo 25-14

Duke (2-3) at N.C. State (3-2), 4 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Because basketball practice starts in a week, Duke fans couldn't care less about football anymore. The flipside: Because basketball practice starts in a week, NCSU fans start to care even more about football.
THE LINE: N.C. State by 14.5.
THE PICK: N.C. State 37-17

Arizona State (2-2) at Washington State (1-4), 5 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Arizona State has had trouble moving the ball of late. The Sun Devils get the perfect tonic this week - a game against the lowly Cougars. This is Washington State's first home game since Sept. 19, and it is not at home again until Nov. 14.
THE LINE: Arizona State by 21.
THE PICK: Arizona State 38-7

Utah (3-1) at Colorado State (3-2), 6 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: Utah has won five of the past six in the series, which began in 1902. Utah has had an interception in eight consecutive games; Colorado State has had one in six consecutive games.
THE LINE: Utah by 7.5.
THE PICK: Utah 21-16

Ohio (3-2) at Akron (1-3), 6 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the fourth road game of the season for Ohio, which plays four of its final six at home. Akron LB Brian Wagner is fifth in the nation in tackles per game at 11.5, while Ohio LB Noah Keller is tied for sixth in the same category at 11.4.
THE LINE: Ohio by 4.
THE PICK: Ohio 30-21

Maryland (2-3) at Wake Forest (3-2), 6:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Believe it or not, the Terps are the only ACC Atlantic Division team that's unbeaten in conference play, which makes this an important game.
THE LINE: Wake Forest by 11.
THE PICK: Wake Forest 24-16

Stanford (4-1) at Oregon State (3-2), 7 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: A big one in terms of the Pac-10 pecking order. Stanford is unbeaten in league play, while the Beavers already have one league loss. Which running back will have the better game - Stanford's Toby Gerhart or Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers?
THE LINE: Pick 'em.
THE PICK: Oregon State 26-21

Kansas State (3-2) at Texas Tech (3-2), 7 p.m., Fox Sports Southwest/Fox Sports Midwest/Fox College Sports Pacific
THE BUZZ: The Red Raiders have been sluggish offensively, and it's likely that backup QB Steven Sheffield gets the start in place of Taylor Potts, who apparently suffered a concussion last week. Tech has won 11 in a row at home, one short of the school record. If the Red Raiders lose this, the season easily could spin out of control.
THE LINE: Texas Tech by 16.
THE PICK: Texas Tech 42-20

North Texas (1-3) at Louisiana-Lafayette (2-2), 7 p.m., Sun Belt syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is the first game in a key four-game stretch that could enable ULL to be 4-0 in the conference going into the second half of its Sun Belt schedule. A loss would make it hard to take ULL seriously as a league contender.
THE LINE: ULL by 5.5.

Western Michigan (2-3) at Toledo (3-2), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is a big one in the MAC West. Toledo rallied late last week to beat Ball State, while Western Michigan was hammered by Northern Illinois. Toledo QB Aaron Opelt has thrown 14 TD passes, which is tied for the national lead with N.C. State's Russell Wilson.
THE LINE: Toledo by 7.5.
THE PICK: Toledo 34-31

Florida A&M (4-0) at Miami (3-1), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the seventh meeting in the series. FAMU actually won the first, on a field goal by Vince Coleman (yes, that Vince Coleman) in 1979. Since then, UM has won six in a row - by an average score of 51-5. That streak will be seven after this one.
THE LINE: No line.
THE PICK: Miami 51-7

Florida International (0-4) at Western Kentucky (0-4), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Western Kentucky's David Elson, 38, is the fourth-youngest coach in the FBS; FIU's Mario Cristobal, 39, is the fifth-youngest. The loser of this one has a great chance to finish last in the Sun Belt.
THE LINE: FIU by 3.5.

Colorado (1-3) at Texas (4-0), 7:15 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Texas likely will be thinking ahead a bit to next week's showdown with Oklahoma, but it shouldn't matter against a struggling Colorado team. The Buffs have been especially bad against the run.
THE LINE: Texas by 32.
THE PICK: Texas 52-17

Southern Miss (3-2) at Louisville (1-3), 7:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Southern Miss begins life without starting QB Austin Davis, who is out for the season with a foot injury. These teams used to be rivals in Conference USA, but this is their first meeting since Louisville joined the Big East.
THE LINE: Pick 'em.
THE PICK: Southern Miss 23-21

TCU (4-0) at Air Force (3-2), 7:30 p.m., CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: Air Force hasn't scored an offensive touchdown in the past two games, but the Falcons are 1-1 in that span. TCU's defense will be the best the Falcons have seen this season. Air Force is second nationally in rushing offense (291.8 ypg), while TCU is first in rushing defense (47.0 ypg).
THE LINE: TCU by 10.

Florida (4-0) at LSU (5-0), 8 p.m., CBS
THE BUZZ: Forget all the mystery about whether Tim Tebow will play. The determining factor in this game will be Florida's defense.
THE LINE: Florida by 8.
THE PICK: Florida 20-14

Michigan (4-1) at Iowa (5-0), 8 p.m., ABC
THE BUZZ: Iowa is 5-0 for the first time since 1995; the Hawkeyes then lost four in a row and finished 8-5. Michigan's run defense will be in the spotlight.
THE LINE: Iowa by 8.
THE PICK: Iowa 28-24

Georgia Tech (4-1) at Florida State (2-3), 8 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: As poorly as it has started the season, Florida State still has a legit shot at the ACC's Atlantic Division title, making this a must-win game for the Seminoles. Tech ended a 12-game losing streak to Florida State with a victory last season.
THE LINE: FSU by 2.5.
THE PICK: Georgia Tech 31-27

East Carolina (3-2) at SMU (2-2), 8 p.m., Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
THE BUZZ: ECU now looks like the clear favorite in the East Division of C-USA. This will be the first home game for SMU in 35 days. The Mustangs lead the nation with 12 picks.
THE LINE: ECU by 6.5.

UTEP (2-3) at Memphis (1-4), 8 p.m., Fox College Sports Atlantic
THE BUZZ: UTEP is coming off a big upset, a demolition of what had been an unbeaten Houston team. Memphis is having all sorts of trouble at quarterback, but Tigers RB Curtis Steele is healthy.
THE PICK: Memphis 37-31

Idaho (4-1) at San Jose State (1-3), 8 p.m.
THE BUZZ: As unbelievable as it might sound, Idaho is two wins away from bowl eligibility - and it has seven opportunities to get those two wins. The Vandals' only loss was at Washington in a game in which they outgained the Huskies 412-374.
THE LINE: San Jose State by 4.
THE PICK: Idaho 27-20

Utah State (1-3) at New Mexico State (2-3), 8 p.m., Altitude2
THE BUZZ: The hounds make their way to Las Cruces; this is the dog of the week. Something has to give: Utah State has lost nine consecutive road games overall, but New Mexico State has lost eight consecutive WAC home games.
THE LINE: Utah State by 12.
THE PICK: Utah State 35-20

BYU (4-1) at UNLV (2-3), 10 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: After UNLV surrendered 559 rushing yards last week to Nevada, UNLV coach Mike Sanford said "I need to watch the tape" to figure out what went wrong. Hmmm. I'd bet BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff watch the same tape and come to this conclusion: UNLV's run defense has issues.
THE LINE: BYU by 17.

Arizona (3-1) at Washington (2-3), 10 p.m., Fox Sports Net Northwest/Fox Sports Arizona/Fox College Sports Pacific
THE BUZZ: Washington's offense has been surprisingly good behind QB Jake Locker and TB Christian Polk. The Huskies' defense, though, has struggled. Arizona has run the ball extremely well, and that rushing attack is the key to the Wildcats' hopes.
THE LINE: Arizona by 3.
THE PICK: Washington 28-23

Fresno State (1-3) at Hawaii (2-2), 11 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the first game for Hawaii without QB Greg Alexander, who is out for the season with a knee injury suffered in a loss at Louisiana Tech. This is the first home game in 36 days for the Warriors, who have lost two in a row; they haven't lost three in a row since 2000.
THE LINE: Fresno State by 9.5.
THE PICK: Fresno State 28-21


Arkansas State (1-3) at Louisiana-Monroe (3-2), 8 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: ULM has been an early season surprise in the Sun Belt, and the Warhawks would have to be taken seriously as a league title contender if they win this. ULM leads the league in rushing offense, Arkansas State leads the league in rushing defense.
THE LINE: Pick 'em.
THE PICK: Arkansas State 32-21


Boise State (5-0) at Tulsa (4-1), 8 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Including this one, Boise State plays three of its next four on the road, and all are long trips (Tulsa, Hawaii and Louisiana Tech). As for Tulsa, it lost 45-0 to Oklahoma, and a Boise team in line for a BCS berth should be expected to roll.
THE LINE: Boise State by 9.5.
THE PICK: Boise State 41-23


36-16 straight up, 26-22-1 against the spread.


247-70 straight up, 107-129-1 against the spread.

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

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