How to predict the OU-West Virginia game? How to predict what will happen when the Sooners cross the Cumberland Gap (or get close to it, I forget where it’s at)? How to predict what will happen when the Sooners play in the shadow of Daniel Boone’s homestead (for real, it’s just outside Morgantown)? How to predict a rivalry that has produced games of 50-49 in 2012 and 16-7 in 2013?
I don’t know. I was thinking West Virginia upset until the Mountaineers lost cornerback Daryl Worley, suspended for violating team rules. Who now covers Sterling Shepard?
So here’s what I did. No way this game can be wild as 2012. No way this game can be as humdrum as 2013. I split it right down the middle. Which should make for a heck of a game.
OU at West Virginia: Sooners 33-28. Remember back in 2012, when we thought OU-WVU would be the game of the year in the Big 12? In some ways, it was.
Auburn at Kansas State: Tigers 24-17. K-State will lose because college football is a cold, cruel, dark world.
Central Michigan at Kansas: Chippewas 30-20. Upset special. The Jayhawks are not getting better.
Florida at Alabama: Crimson Tide 31-10. Either Mark Stoops is getting Kentucky a lot better and quick, or this is going to be a long year for the Gators.
Mississippi State at LSU: Tigers 30-17. Most fascinating game of the week. Lots of people see the Bulldogs as SEC darkhorses.
Northern Illinois at Arkansas: Razorbacks 34-26. This is a good game itself. The cream of the MAC against one of the SEC’s weak teams. The Huskies will stop the run better than Texas Tech did.
South Carolina at Vanderbilt: Gamecocks 48-10. South Carolina gets a breather after opening with the nation’s toughest three-game stretch.
Indiana at Missouri: Tigers 55-35. Every time I see this matchup, I forget Missouri’s in the SEC and think of this as a Big Ten battle.
Texas Aamp;M at SMU: Aggies 53-0. Aamp;M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, the pride of Tulsa Union, auditions for the SMU job.
Troy at Georgia: Bulldogs 49-6. What happened to Troy? The Trojans were good a few years ago. Beat Missouri and OSU, and scared the Cowboys in Stillwater. Now Troy is losing to Division II Abilene Christian.
Cal at Arizona: Wildcats 41-31. Golden Bears are better, and UofA I’m not so sure about.
Oregon at Washington State: Ducks 51-10. Mike Leach will be glad to get this one behind him.
San Diego State at Oregon State: Beavers 34-24. Aztecs are competitive. Really competitive.
Georgia State at Washington: Huskies 48-14. It’s hard for a Pac-12 team to play four bad non-conference opponents. First, you only get three non-conference games. Second, there’s league pressure to play a good schedule. But UW has accomplished the feat. The game at Hawaii gave Washington an extra game, and Illinois, the supposed tough game on the slate, stinks.
Hawaii at Colorado: Buffaloes 30-20. Two schools that would be a blast to attend. Except on autumn Saturdays.
Utah at Michigan: Wolverines 34-27. The Utes are better. They’re not bad. And in two 21st-century trips to Ann Arbor, Utah has been outscored just 33-32. Lost 10-7 in 2002, won 25-23 in 2008.
Miami at Nebraska: Cornhuskers 28-25. Bo Pelini has lost four games in each of his six Nebraska seasons. If he loses four games against this schedule, he ought to be fired. But if Pelini loses to Miami, he probably will go 9-4.
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech: Hokies 26-21. Virginia Tech looked awful against East Carolina. But the Hokies looked better than Georgia Tech did against Georgia Southern.
Clemson at Florida State: Seminoles 34-17. When Florida State is down, this is a fair fight. When Florida State is up, this rivalry doesn’t do much for me.
Virginia at Brigham Young: Cougars 28-14. It’s time to start talking about BYU going undefeated. Toughest games left are Virginia, at Boise State, at California.
Iowa at Pittsburgh: Hawkeyes 20-18. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Iowa rallied to win. Kirk Ferentz has more lives than Jerry Brown’s politics.
Maryland at Syracuse: Terrapins 24-23. It’s hard to remember which league these schools are in (Maryland Big Ten, Syracuse ACC), much less how good they might be.
North Carolina at East Carolina: Tar Heels 28-21. You know, Ruffin McNeil, the old Texas Tech defensive coordinator, is doing a nice job at East Carolina.
Tulane at Duke: Blue Devils 38-23. There is no excuse for Duke having the best football program in the state of North Carolina. No excuse at all. Other than David Cutcliffe.
Louisville at Florida International: Cardinals 45-9. If the ‘Ville is going down here for recruiting purposes, good move. It’s Louisville’s second game this season against a team from Miami. Maybe the Cards can get Florida Atlantic on the schedule, too.
Maine at Boston College: Eagles 44-7. New England football stands a little taller after BC took apart Southern Cal.
Army at Wake Forest: Cadets 21-20. Should would be nice if Army could get back in the bowl business.
Presbyterian at North Carolina State: Wolfpack 41-14. When is Lutheran on the schedule?
Rutgers at Navy: Midshipmen 28-27. You know, Rutgers has acquitted itself well in the early days of its Big Ten adventure. Beat a Pac-12 school (Washington State), took Penn State to the wire.
San Jose State at Minnesota: Gophers 24-20. Man, Minnesota was unimpressive in Fort Worth.
Bowling Green at Wisconsin: Badgers 51-21. Don’t expect Bowling Green to shock Wisconsin the way it did Indiana. The Badgers are a little on the serious side.
Massachusetts at Penn State: Nittany Lions 33-7. This game doesn’t even sound right.
Texas State at Illinois: Illini 41-26. And neither does this one. Not that Dennis Franchione’s Bobcats can’t win.
Western Illinois at Northwestern: Wildcats 45-11. Northwestern needs a victory, and I-AA is an easy place to get it.
Southern Illinois at Purdue: Boilermakers 42-13. Wonder if this was some kind of negotiated game after Purdue swiped SIU basketball coach Matt Painter?
Eastern Michigan at Michigan State: Spartans 51-0. These Big Ten/MAC matchups are getting out of hand. I’ll bet there are 20 of them this season. Heck, I’ll just count. Nope, 11. Seemed like more.
Connecticut at South Florida: Bulls 25-14. These programs are trending down and fast.
Miami-Ohio at Cincinnati: Bearcats 33-10. Cincy’s not trending down. And the Bearcats get Ohio State next week.
Nevada-Las Vegas at Houston: Cougars 27-13. Phi Slama Jama meets the Runnin’ Rebels. Or something like that.
Middle Tennessee at Memphis: Tigers 42-28. The battle for Tennessee football supremacy if you throw out the Vols and the Titans.
Delaware State at Temple: Owls 40-14. This one wouldn’t even make a good game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Bethune-Cookman at Central Florida: Knights 34-12. UCF was a big disappointment at Mizzou. Didn’t put up much of a fight.
New Mexico at New Mexico State: Lobos 23-21. The Land of Enchantment really isn’t big enough for two bad football teams.
Utah State at Arkansas State: Red Wolves 38-20. We paid a lot of attention to these teams because both played Tennessee.
Louisiana-Lafayette at Boise State: Broncos 31-11. Cultural opposites.
Florida Atlantic at Wyoming: Cowboys 37-24. This one, too.
Southern Utah at Fresno State: Bulldogs 40-17. Fresno State’s had a rough start. Southern Cal, Utah, Nebraska. Southern Utah is an oasis in the desert.
Last week: 37-10. Season: 147-21.