I mentioned last week that the visiting team always wins when Ohio State and Oklahoma play — and so it was again when the teams met in Columbus, Ohio, last Saturday.
The Sooners moved up to #2 in the poll with their victory and face a cupcake against Tulane in Norman this week. Tulane has only had one winning season since 2002.
Obviously it is still early in the season, and many things can happen, but it is certainly looking as though we could have two programs rich in tradition — Alabama and Oklahoma — facing each other in the national championship next January.
What a game that would be.
Idle: #11 Florida State, #17 Miami (Fla.)
- Illinois at #22 South Florida, 6 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: The Illini went 3–9 last year.
I doubt they can keep up with the Bulls. I pick South Florida.
- Colorado State at #1 Alabama, 6 p.m. (Central): These schools' only previous meeting came almost exactly four years ago on Alabama's home turf. And the Crimson Tide rolled, 31–6.
Alabama should win again.
- Tulane at #2 Oklahoma, 5 p.m. (Central): In the old days, the fact that this game wasn't being televised would have hardly raised any eyebrows. But we live in an age when just about every team can have its games televised somewhere.
The fact that no one is picking this one up suggests to me that the expectation is for a blowout — and that is not an unreasonable expectation.
I expect Oklahoma to win.
- #3 Clemson at #14 Louisville, 2:30 p.m. (Central): I'm not convinced that the defending national champs shouldn't be ranked #1, considering they have perhaps the toughest early season schedule of any of the national contenders.
A trip to Louisville the week after a match with Auburn? That's more demanding than any other early schedule in college football.
I think the Tigers are up to it. The pick is Clemson.
- Texas at #4 Southern Cal, 7:30 p.m. (Central) on Fox: If you're a football fan, you must remember the last time these teams faced each other — in the Rose Bowl for the national championship on Jan. 4, 2006.
The schools had met four times before, twice in the '50s and twice in the '60s, and the Trojans won all four. But Texas triumphed in the Rose Bowl.
Southern Cal might be good enough to play for the national title this year, but Texas clearly is not. I definitely believe Southern Cal will win.
- Georgia State at #5 Penn State, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on Big Ten Network: I can imagine no circumstances that could produce a Georgia State win in this game.
My pick is Penn State.
- Fresno State at #6 Washington, 8:30 p.m. (Central) on Pac–12 Network: I hope Fresno State is being compensated handsomely for starting the season with road games against Alabama and Washington.
The Bulldogs lost to Alabama, and I am quite sure that Washington will win this one.
- Air Force at #7 Michigan, 11 a.m. (Central) on Big Ten Network: You know, it really doesn't surprise me that Michigan is a 23½–point favorite at home.
Air Force has been better in recent years. It's not my father's Air Force.
But it will seem like old times when Michigan wins this game.
- Army at #8 Ohio State, 3:30 p.m. (Central) on Fox: Ohio State is bound to be in a bad mood after losing to OU last week.
Army had a pretty good year last year, but that came on the heels of several losing seasons. It seems a little unfair for Army to have to take the punishment Ohio State would like to inflict on Oklahoma. But that is the way things go.
I expect Ohio State to prevail.
- #9 Oklahoma State at Pittsburgh, 11 a.m. (Central) on ABC or ESPN2: Pittsburgh only lost by a touchdown at Oklahoma State last year — and might make it closer as the host team this year.
But I expect Oklahoma State to win.
- #10 Wisconsin at Brigham Young, 2:30 p.m. (Central): Wisconsin is favored by more than two touchdowns, which sounds about right to me.
I pick Wisconsin.
- #12 LSU at Mississippi State, 6 p.m. (Central): LSU has dominated this series, losing only twice since 1991.
I see no reason to expect anything different this time. I pick LSU.
- Samford at #13 Georgia, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on SEC Network: There really isn't anything to say about this one except ...
I confidently pick Georgia.
- Mercer at #15 Auburn, 3 p.m. (Central) on SEC Network: I refer you to the prediction immediately preceding this one.
I see even less reason to pick the visitor in this one.
Auburn is my pick.
- #16 Virginia Tech at East Carolina, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on CBSSN: This is a pretty good regional rivalry. The teams played for the first time in 1956, but they really started playing each other on a nearly annual basis in the late 1980s.
Virginia Tech usually wins, but the games are frequently competitive, no matter who wins.
In this case, I am inclined to pick Virginia Tech.
- #18 Kansas State at Vanderbilt, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPNU: It's been more than 30 years since the only other time these schools faced each other.
Times have certainly changed. Back in 1984, Vanderbilt won. But the programs have been going in opposite directions.
Kansas State should win.
- #19 Stanford at San Diego State, 9:30 p.m. (Central) on CBSSN: Stanford's football players must feel wistful when they look at the current rankings — and realize they might have been in the Top 5 if they had beaten Southern Cal.
It's bound to be a sore spot.
Beating San Diego State won't alleviate that, but nevertheless I pick Stanford.
- SMU at #20 TCU, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPNU: These are not just old Southwest Conference rivals, they are regional rivals. Depending on traffic Dallas and Fort Worth are less than an hour apart. With a 2:30 kickoff, the Mustangs can sleep in, then board a bus and be at the stadium in plenty of time.
They might as well. I don't expect much from SMU in this game.
TCU should win.
- Oregon State at #21 Washington State, 4:30 p.m. (Central) on Pac–12 Network: Historically Washington State holds the advantage in this Pac–12 series, which is 92 games old.
In recent times, though, the edge belonged to Oregon State — until Washington State won the last two meetings.
The Cougars are on the upward trajectory, and I pick Washington State to win.
- #23 Tennessee at #24 Florida, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on CBS: These SEC East rivals have faced each other nearly 50 times over the years, and the Gators have won nearly 58% of the time.
They have had some good games — two of their last three meetings were decided by a single point — and they have had some blowouts.
This one could probably go either way, and that seems to be reflected in the point spread. The Gators are only favored by 4½ at home.
In an upset special, I will take Tennessee.
- #25 UCLA at Memphis, 11 a.m. (Central) on ABC or ESPN2: These teams have met only once before — three years ago in Los Angeles. UCLA won the game by a touchdown.
Like Pittsburgh in its game with Oklahoma State, I expect Memphis to keep it close.
But I also expect UCLA to prevail.
Postponed by hurricane: 4
Last week's upset specials: 1–2
Overall upset specials: 1–4