Simply put, this is what we do best. As evidenced by our "Most Accurate BCS Predictions" title, we take pride in our season previews and weekly game picks. As we have done each week since we launched the site, the two of us will analyze, preview, and predict the results of the best SIX games each week.
New this season: if your team's game didn't make the cut here, our conference experts have you covered. Find the links (on the RIGHT) for further analysis for every conference game not shown on this page, along with Heisman discussion and our weekly Deion Sanders Award for the Best Pick Six of the Week.
Enjoy your Football Weekend!
PITTSBURGH AT BOSTON COLLEGE
Pittsburgh turned in one of the best cupcake wins of the week as the Panthers stomped Delaware, limiting the Blue Hens to only 64 yards of total offense. Don’t get too excited Pittsburgh fans. Judging teams performances against FCS opponents proves nothing. Nada. Zip. The Panthers certainly did nothing to raise any new concerns though. So that is good. Chad Voytik looked in control under center and I expect him to play well enough to match Tom Savage’s production. However, I still have the Panthers pegged to finish in the lower half of the Coastal, but this division has given me more nightmares than any division or conference I’ve ever predicted. Tyler Boyd is one of the best receivers in the nation and will help Voytik when times get tough. Boyd will be going up against a much-improved BC secondary. If the Eagles don’t prove that they have been able to replace Kevin Pierre-Louis and Steele Divitto they could be in for a long night. Even though it was against Delaware, my eyes tell me James Conner is going to be a load at running back for Pittsburgh all season. On the other side of the ball, I like what Steve Addazio has in QB Tyler Murphy. The Florida transfer is a good fit for the Eagles’ offense and will help relieve the loss of RB Andre Williams. Murphy should be an upgrade over Chase Rettig and was originally recruited for Addazio’s system at Florida. While Andre Williams was quite the one-man wrecking crew on BC’s offense, first-round pick Aaron Donald played the same role for Pittsburgh’s defense last year. It should be a big-time atmosphere in Chestnut Hill for this Friday night affair. The Eagles were 5-1 at home last year with their only loss coming in Florida State’s narrowest victory of the regular season. Boston College 28 Pittsburgh 23
SOUTHERN CAL AT STANFORD
This week the national spotlight is focused primarily on the Pac-12/BigTen matchup of Oregon and Michigan State with the unstoppable Ducks offense hosting the elite Spartan defense. But here in this cross-divisional Pac-12 matchup, we have arguably a better offense/defense showdown, as the Southern Cal Trojans’ offense set all kinds of league records in their opening win over Fresno State while the Stanford defense didn’t allow its opponent to cross midfield until the last play of the game.
After a tumultuous final week of the offseason headlined by Josh Shaw’s lie about jumping off a balcony to save his nephew, and a disgruntled player making false accusations about Coach Sarkisian, the Trojans were happy to return to the field and put it all behind them. They did just that, putting in 4 complete quarters of dominant football. Buck Allen got the majority of the carries with Tre Madden nursing a toe injury; meanwhile Cody Kessler was very efficient and spread the ball around to the talented receiver core. The defense played with high-intensity and will need to continue to play with fire this Saturday.
The Cardinal defense lost 3 All-Americans (Skov, Murphy, and Reynolds) and I was calling for a slight step back. Albeit against an FCS team, the unit looked elite yet again. The key for Stanford will be establishing a run game, which has been their bread and butter for years. Will we see a break out game from Barry Sanders Jr? USC’s run defense is stout and I expect them to slow the run game, placing even more pressure on Kevin Hogan. He has been a solid quarterback when he has a run game booming and play-action opening up. I think USC will be able to take away the run game and overpower Stanford’s young offensive line. While the strength matchup is certainly USC offense vs Stanford defense, the game may be decided on the other side of the ball. I am the only one in the nation to predict USC to win the North Division, and this a crucial step.
Southern Cal 27 Stanford 24
MICHIGAN STATE AT OREGON
This heavyweight bout has been dubbed the best out-of-conference game of the 2014 season, and rightfully so. It’s a dream matchup between the most electric offense in recent years against the nation’s toughest defense last season. Michigan State knocked off Stanford in the Rose Bowl, a team that has been the major roadblock for Oregon the past few seasons. In fact, Michigan State is very similar to the Cardinal; equipped with a stingy defense and a powerful run game, and led by an efficient quarterback. Connor Cook has evolved into more than just “efficient” and is now a playmaker in his own right. Jeremy Langford is a force at RB but it remains to be seen how this new offensive line will fare. The talent pipeline is clearly more elite on the defensive side of the ball, so these offensive losses are question marks for MSU. The defense returns 5 talented starters, but loses the leadership and core of last year’s elite unit. The linebackers are especially depleted, and I expect Oregon’s potent run game to crease them at least a few times and create enough big plays to earn the advantage. Marcus Mariota is a Heisman frontrunner, and has a stable of backs behind him to distribute the ball to (Byron Marshall, Thomas Tyner, Royce Freeman). It must be noted that Oregon’s defense also has some question marks too, but new coordinator Don Pellum has been around a while and the transition should be seamless. Look for Mariota to tight coverage by tucking the ball and hurting the defense with his legs. He will tend to make the new linebackers wrong in his option reads, and the offense will put up solid numbers (maybe not typical Ducks stats, but still). With the rowdy home atmosphere, a Heisman-caliber leader, and a dynamic offense against a Sparty defense missing its leaders, look for the Ducks to earn a major victory for the Pac-12 and remain in playoff contention.
Oregon 34 Michigan State 27
BYU AT TEXAS
Mack Brown’s departure may have been building over the three seasons prior, but it seemed as though BYU delivered the final blow last September. Brown’s program had turned stale after the 2009 undefeated regular season, and it was this 550-yard rushing performance by BYU that turned his hot seat up to a boiling point. A year later, Texas has found a jolt of electricity in coach Charlie Strong, while BYU again brings its Mendenhall trademarks: a punishing rushing attack, a never-give-an-inch defense, and dual-threat leader Taysom Hill. On a Saturday loaded with top-notch matchups, this one may be a bit overlooked, but it surely wont disappoint, especially when BYU’s offense goes toe-to-toe with Strong’s defense.
BYU’s entire offensive line returns intact from 2013, the same unit that mauled the Longhorn front en route to 550 yards rushing. 5 key players return from one-game suspensions, furthering BYU’s depth on both sides of the ball. Jamaal Williams rushed for 1000+ in 2013 and is one of those players coming back for Week 2. The key here will be mobile QB Taysom Hill’s decision-making, something that he has excelled at. While I am certain that 550 yards wont be eclipsed, I am confident that BYU will be able to move the ball enough to stay competitive with the talented defense.
I see the breaking point coming on the other side of the ball, where Texas (yet again) loses its star quarterback David Ash to concussions. The offensive line did a poor job protecting him, allowing him to take several major hits and collisions. If they struggled against lowly North Texas, this nasty BYU defense will also be wreaking havoc on the new QB. Even worse news for the O-line is the absence of all-conference center Dominic Espinosa; making all the line protection calls will be tough for his replacement. It is tough to evaluate just how tough the Texas defense is after playing a team like North Texas, but I have confidence in the BYU defense shutting down the Texas offense, with the X-Factor in Taysom Hill being the difference.
BYU 23 Texas 20
MICHIGAN AT NOTRE DAME
Yet another classic rivalry is coming to an end as Michigan and Notre Dame face off for the final time in the foreseeable future. These two historic programs have battled essentially every year since 1978 and, especially recently, have produced some incredible finishes. Notre Dame is glad to divert attention from its on-going investigation into major academic fraud from several star players, while Michigan also welcomed the opportunity to erase old memories of the 2007 Appalachian State upset by thrashing them in the rematch. As a side note, I will never understand why Michigan scheduled them again…even with the blowout victory, all attention was on reliving the 2007 upset and it will certainly never be forgotten.
Everett Golson looked comfortable in his return to South Bend, passing for 295 yards and 2 touchdowns en route to a 48-17 drubbing of Rice. His level of opposition increases greatly, as the Michigan LB unit is some of the BigTen’s strongest. The true wild card in this matchup is Michigan QB Devin Gardner; he has shown flashes of brilliance against Ohio State and Notre Dame, but also turned in multiple dud performances where his decision-making was poor. The offense looked powerful under new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier (Alabama), albeit against a Sun Belt team. I feel that Michigan is deserving of a top 25 ranking, but it may take even longer to crack the polls after this week. This matchup has been tricky to predict the last few years, but look for the home team to defend its turf (literally, nowadays in South Bend), and close the rivalry with an Irish victory.
Notre Dame 31 Michigan 30
VIRGINIA TECH AT OHIO STATE
Well, Ohio State fans continue to lose hope after starting fall camp off with sky-high expectations. After Braxton Miller went down with another shoulder injury, JT Barrett and the rest of Ohio State’s football team failed to show much promise in week 1 against Navy. Now, all things considered, this was a nice win against one of the best mid-major teams in the country. Navy has its most talented team in the Ken Niumatalolo era and a 17-point victory cannot be bashed too badly. However, for a team with National Championship aspirations it can’t be viewed positively, either. Ohio State’s trenches disappointed me the most. JT Barrett looked raw in his first real college game and Urban Meyer did not let his bird fly too far from the nest. Barrett did a nice job except for his interception, but will not be close to the same type of player Braxton Miller is at the most important position. The Buckeye’s offensive line was struggling against small—and I mean small—Navy defensive linemen. While Virginia Tech doesn’t have the front it had last year, it could exploit this novice line. The Buckeyes have some playmakers in Dontre Wilson and Devin Smith, but Barrett’s inexperience should allow Virginia Tech to play a lot of single coverage with one of the best secondaries in the nation. Kendall Fuller and Kyshoen Jarrett should have a good day at cornerback. Virginia Tech’s offense started off slow against William and Mary but eventually pulled away. I wasn’t too impressed with OSU’s defense against Navy, but I still think the Buckeye’s hold the clear advantage in this matchup. Freshman Shai McKenzie will need to have a huge day running the ball for the Hokies to escape with a win. I want to pick the upset here, but I will go with the home team and call for a tight Buckeye victory. Ohio State 23 Virginia Tech 20
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