Normally, I would prefer to make my predictions on around midnight on Saturday. Then, I would be sure of getting most of them right - with the possible exception of Hawaii if they are playing at home. But, as it is, I will make them around midnight on Friday this week.
Here are 4 games of most interest to me...
Navy v. Massachusetts
This will be the first time these two schools have met. But Navy Coach Paul Johnson has squared off against UMass Coach Don Brown twice before while Johnson was the head coach at Georgia Southern and Brown was defensive coordinator at UMass. The series stands tied at 1-1.
Both squads won their first game of the season. Navy rushed for 403 and passed for 3 fathoms (6 yards for you landlubbers) in upending East Carolina 28-23. Navy Senior QB Brian Hampton rushed for 149 yards in his first start. Meanwhile, UMass cruised past Patriot League power Colgate, 28-7.
Expect 33,000 fans to fill Navy-Marine Corps Stadium on Saturday. Navy averaged of 33,000 in attendance last year. Not bad for a school with under 4000 students.
A few interesting tidbits about Navy...
- Navy has lost 40 straight games when they give up more than 300 yards rushing. But, the Middies have won 19 straight when they rush for more than 300. Last week, UMass AMassed (clever huh?) 294 total yards and 179 on the ground. If Navy runs like they should, they will beat UMass. Unless...
- Navy is 0-3 under Paul Johnson when they pass for more yards than they rush. Unless they exerience a better than 50x increase in their passing attack, Navy should be safe on this statistic. Curiously...
- Navy has not returned a punt for a touchdown in 113 consecutive games (the longest such streak in the country.) Will this matter? Not if...
- Navy scores first. The Middies have won 12 straight when scoring first in the contest.
- Georgia connection... Navy kicker Joey Bullen, from St. Simons Island, GA, has made 56 of 57 PAT attempts and is 5th on the all-time list at Navy.
Navy 31 - UMass 13
Now for a few games of lesser importance...
Texas v. Ohio State
Did you know this will match #1 against #2? Did you know ESPN and ABC will bring you full-circle on this story from the moment you pour your Cheerios until you spoon down a couple of shots of Mylanta around midnight? Did you know that Vince Young and AJ Hawk are not going to be on the field in Austin? Did you know the University of Texas named said field in honor of a slick plaintiff's lawyer? Yep, the inside track to number one will be decided on Joe Jamail Field.
Colt McCoy has taken the reigns of the Longhorn offense and looked sharp in his first outing, leading Texas to and easy victory of North Texas State. (Sidebar - in 1995, Texas State was officially the worst team on the NCAA1995 Playstation game.) Texas remains loaded with great talent and bring a 21 game winning streak into this 8:00 pm thriller.
The Buckeyes are tremendously talented on offense with a great pitch-catch combination between Troy Smith and Ted Ginn, Jr. However, they had to replace an awesome pair of linebackers, without whom, last year's game in the Horseshoe would not have been so close.
The eyes of Texas and many other eyes will be on this game. Indeed, my wife will be looking in just in hopes of seeing a cameo by Matthew McConnaughey.
If the Horns are as tenacious as the namesake of their gridiron, the Buckeyes will find themselves being touted as the greatest one-loss team since, ummm, last year's OSU squad just before their match against Penn State.
Texas 24 - Ohio State 20
Notre Dame v. Penn State
If Notre Dame can't show more ability to move the ball than they showed against Ga. Tech, Penn State will walk away with a big win. Somehow, I suspect Charlie Weis will have Brady Quinn and crew dialed in for a better performance. But, I don't think it will be enough. Old Joe will lead the Nittany to victory on the road. This will create a media battle debating whether Ohio State or Notre Dame is the best "one-loss team in the country." It will be riveting copy.
Penn State 33 - Notre Dame 26
Georgia - South Carolina
It is getting late, so I am going to get to the point here... Kyle King at DawgSports breaks it down in excruciating detail and even a little more relavant material. Over at Hey Jenny Slater, we get a glorious tour of the history of Gamecock Football.
The Dawgs have struggled in Columbia many times regardless of the relative talent of the two teams. This year, Georgia is clearly a more talented team. But, Carolina has the biggest Cock in Steve Spurrier, who is pure evil and he channels all of his satanic wiccan powers into his team's performance against Georgia. Evil powers notwithstanding, Charles Johnson and Quentin Moses are so damn good on the ends, that the visored evil one has surely lost some sleep this week. Hopefully, Paul Oliver can contain the great Sidney Rice and force the Gamecock QB (Mitchell or Smelley) to look for other targets. I do not expect the Cocks to run well against the Dawgs speedy defense.
Yes, Joe T III will start at QB for Georgia. Yes, Stafford will be in the breech all afternoon if needed. My prediction is that Stafford will not be required for the Dawgs to secure this victory. Stafford may see some playing time, but it will not be the deciding factor in this game. Georgia will establish a strong running game and will orchestrate an effective short passing game so long as the receivers will catch the ball - especially on third down. Mike Bobo is a master at using the short passing game and this suits Joe T III's throwing ability. Anyway, we shall see.
As will be the case most weeks this season, if not all weeks, Georgia has the edge in the kicking game. It remains to be seen if Mikey Henderson will have a healthy hamstring and if he will have another thrilling outing, but you know there will be some breath-holding going on if he finds a seam through the first wave of defenders.
The Georgia defense and running game will make Joe T III a winner in Columbia. Then next year we will bring the Cocks to "Cale Conley Field" in the Texas tradition.
Georgia 24 - S. Carolina 13