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!
AUBURN AT KANSAS STATE
Coming into the season I pegged this matchup as one of the best non-conference games and a top Thursday night game, and both teams enter 2-0 as expected. It's a rare Big12-SEC matchup that features former JUCO stars at quarterback and two coaching geniuses. Kansas State's Jake Waters broke Cam Newton's records at the Junior College level, and looks primed for a breakout year. Meanwhile, Nick Marshall looks to continue the high success of last season, running the new-age option and no huddle rushing attack. Non-Conference games are hard enough to predict as is, but even more difficult is evaluating teams on such a small sample size. I was a huge K-State buyer this preseason, placing them 3rd in the Big12. Is it fair to shift expectations after their struggles against lowly Iowa State? Is Iowa State actually "lowly," or a legit win (they just beat Iowa)?
I expected more of an aerial attack from Kansas State this season with Waters at the helm, but he has proven to be an efficient runner out of the shotgun delay QB draw that Snyder has trademarked. It looks like the same play that Collin Klein mastered a few seasons back, such patience and vision allow for consistent gains. Waters is in fact the leading rusher on the team, in both yards and carries. While the Wildcat offense may have some success against the Tiger defense, I do not see them keeping pace with Auburn's feared unit. Sammy Coates returns which adds yet another weapon to Malzahn's attack. The Kansas State defense looks to be the weaker unit, and I expect Auburn to win in a shootout.
Auburn 41 Kansas State 34
VIRGINIA AT BYU
After their 2nd straight blowout win over Texas, I featured BYU here in a look at their shot at an undefeated season and how the Playoff Committee would handle the situation. Originally circled as a sure victory, Virginia certainly looks tougher than expected after knocking off Louisville and taking UCLA to the wire. Mike London has the Wahoos playing at a very high level, especially on defense. That unit has its hands full Saturday, as BYU brings a punishing rushing attack and a dynamic leader at quarterback in Taysom Hill. Behind an offensive line that returned intact from 2013, Hill has run the zone read to perfection, making the defense wrong time after time. Virginia has some issues to work out on offense, namely at quarterback. For as strong as the UVA defense looks, its offense will not be able to match the high level of play of Bronco Mendenhall’s defense. This BYU defense is a never-give-an-inch, energy-filled unit that is truly a joy to watch. Allowing just 2 yards per carry (5th best in NCAA), BYU will stop the run game, placing the emphasis on the passing game, a UVA weakness. The Cougar D will keep UVA in check while Taysom Hill will make enough impact plays to secure the victory. BYU gets to 4-0, a perfect start to its underrated schedule.
BYU 30 Virginia 20
FLORIDA AT ALABAMA
This game has lost some its luster after Florida’s disappointing performance last week. Kentucky is certainly making strides and is no slouch. But they are not yet ready to compete for the conference crown and Florida was expected to bounce back into such contention. Patrick Towles tore apart the Gator secondary after looking a little shaky against Ohio. Florida QB Jeff Driskel did not show much improvement under Kurt Roper and relied almost exclusively on Demarcus Robinson.
Fortunately, if there is a top-ten team that the Gators would want to play, it is probably Alabama. The Tide have shown to have a solid passing attack, but after losing AJ McCarron the focal point of the offense is certainly the rushing attack. The Florida front seven shut down Kentucky’s rushing attack rendering it useless, which led to a high number of attempts from Towles. While Alabama has much more talented runners and offensive linemen than UK, this Gator defense should be able to have success, especially if Blake Sims struggles. However, the same can be said on the opposite side of the ball. Alabama’s secondary looked uncharacteristically vulnerable against West Virginia. However, Jeff Driskel, at this point, probably isn’t quite the passer that Clint Trickett is. And the Bama front seven is great against the run, which was the Gators’ strong suit led by Matt Jones. In the end, I think these two teams are very similar—they play the same style of football and have the same strengths. However, Alabama is better at playing the same game. Alabama 30 Florida 20
MISSISSIPPI STATE AT LSU
Here we have an early season matchup with one team completely untested. This is probably the toughest type of game to predict because we can’t just look at the roster and predict the game like we would in week one. We have to use some of the games that have been played in our judgment, but with such a small sample size, there is a good chance we have seen some aberrations. How much weight do we put on LSU’s victory over Wisconsin? How good is Wisconsin?
I don’t like how easily Wisconsin ran on LSU with Melvin Gordon. At the same time, LSU did improve in that regard when it wasn’t Melvin Gordon, the Heisman candidate so for now I’m going to assume that was mostly Melvin Gordon’s greatness and not LSU’s Achilles heel. Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson will attack this defense in a different way, the Dan Mullen way. I expect the Bulldogs to have success on the ground and through the air. Prescott is throwing a touchdown every eight times he throws the ball and may have the best stable of receivers at Mississippi State in a while. There are six legitimate targets at WR and LSU’s secondary is still young. Last year was one of the worst year’s LSU has had from its secondary in a long time. This will be the first time that they are tested as Wisconsin’s passing attack leaves a lot to be desired.
LSU will once again rely on a power running game to lead the offense. Anthony Jennings has been a little shaky under center but has proven to be a good leader and a clutch performer. He shined in his late-game heroics against Arkansas last year, and led the comeback charge against Wisconsin. Travin Dural looks like a future Biletnikoff winner and Malachi Dupre had an amazing touchdown grab last week. The game will really depend on LSU’s ability to run the ball. Mississippi State will be able to score the ball, but LSU has the potential to score more. I’m going with LSU at night in Death Valley. LSU 36 Mississippi State 30
MIAMI (FL) AT NEBRASKA
Nebraska and Miami might be completely opposite programs in every noticeable way, but ever since their historic 1984 Orange Bowl, they have been linked to one another. Including that night, 3 of Miami’s 5 national championship wins came against Nebraska, while Tom Osborne’s first title came against the Canes in the 1994 season. Since their 2001 National Championship matchup, the dynasties have fallen, and they are now linked together eternally as they both attempt to drive back to national prominence. (Feature Article HERE)
The Championship Rivalry returns, but this time there is no crystal football at stake; rather, bragging rights between 2 of college football’s most iconic brands, along with respectability in the national spotlight that each so desperately needs. Nebraska has the rare homefield advantage here, as the two met so often in the Orange Bowl in the 80s and 90s. Yet decades later, the storyline sounds familiar: Nebraska’s vaunted rushing attack faces a nasty Miami front seven. Ameer Abdullah is joining Heisman discussion, and rightfully so! His 7 yards per carry stand out, as does his pass catching ability which was put on display in his game-winning score against McNeese State. Miami ‘s front seven has been fierce – stars like Anthony Chickillo and Denzel Perryman leading the charge. In terms of rushing yards per carry, Nebraska’s offense is #3 nationally, while Miami’s defense is #2. The key will be if Tommy Armstrong can make the correct reads and avoid the errant throws that were plaguing in 2013. Even if this strength on strength is a draw, a major advantage exists for Big Red on the other side of the ball. Miami’s offense has struggled with freshman Brad Kayaa filling in for suspended Kevin Olsen (3 DUI’s). Look for the athletic Husker defense to force the freshman into several errors similar to those he committed in the opener at Louisville.
Nebraska 27 Miami 17
CLEMSON AT FLORIDA STATE
The ACC’s signature game will once again be Clemson vs. Florida State. After last year’s thumping in which we saw the Seminoles rack up 565 yards on its way to a 51-14 rout in Death Valley, there is a little less excitement about this matchup this time around. There is less star power on Clemson’s side, and we have seen some vulnerability from the Florida State side, something we really didn’t witness in 2013. When we watch Florida State there isn’t that new excitement as we marvel at Jameis Winston, Kelvin Benjamin, Rashad Greene, and a two-deep of thoroughbred defenders and wonder if this is one of those rare times we are actually witnessing a new changing of guard in the national landscape of college football. The same sensation we felt as we witnessed Alabama dismantle top-ranked Georgia in Athens. Now Alabama is just Alabama, the same ole powerhouse year after year. Now Florida State is great once again, but we can’t help but to compare them to one of the best teams in recent memory and point out there flaws rather than take them for what they are, still the number-one team in football with a Heisman-winner under center, albeit for only the second half.
Clemson isn’t as bad as you think they are either. Truth be told, they are probably going to end the season higher than a fringe-top 25 team. Enjoy watching Deshaun Watson grow in the time that he gets. He shows flashes of brilliance; he has the potential to be better than Boyd. The Tigers are recruiting very well once again and have a stout defense. Don’t forget that this team outplayed Georgia in the first half. Is the world ending because a young team had a collapse in the second half in a hostile environment against a great team? No, its not.
Unfortunately, Clemson doesn’t get much of a break in its scheduling. They don’t have much time to grow in between the Georgia game and this game. They get an even later kickoff time than they did in Athens and the FSU faithful is going to be loud as they get their first ‘real’ game of 2014 in Doak Campbell Stadium. FSU defenders PJ Williams, Eddie Goldman, Justin Shanks, and Nile Lawrence-Stample are all questionable for this game. And with Winston’s first half absence, this offense that is still adjusting to new personnel may be even more dysfunctional. Clemson can stop the run. It was worn down in the second half against Georgia, but I think it will be able to handle a heavy dose of running in the first half. Depending on how that goes, Florida State may turn to Winston in the second half. If that is the case, the game will at least be a game. It will be interesting to see if Mario Pender and Dalvin Cook get a greater work load. While Karlos Williams is an absolute freak of nature, Pender and Cook look like more natural running backs. The FSU rushing attack will need to be great with QB Sean Maguire in the game.
Clemson’s offense should be able to score especially if PJ Williams doesn’t play. Mike Williams and Charone Peake are big, athletic targets and true freshman Artavis Scott looks like he will be a playmaker this year. However, these aerial targets will be moot points unless Clemson can have better success on the ground. Against Georgia, the Tigers rushed for 2.05 yards per carry. I do think this game is one of the most intriguing games of the year. I expect this big-time ACC clash to be more eventful than last year’s drubbing. In the end, the Seminoles should prevail. If you like late-game heroics and witnessing greatness, the stage may be set perfectly for Jameis Winston to come back in the second half of a tight game and pull out the crucial victory. Florida State 30 Clemson 23
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