College football’s week starts tonight

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 22, 2005

It will get increasingly difficult throughout the coming months of college football to tell exactly when one week ends and another begins. TV-wise, this week got going Wednesday night.

Skip the mid-week offerings for the most part, except for one match-up tonight, and if more football is still craved, go watch Nansemond River, Lakeland, or Nansemond-Suffolk at home Friday night (King’s Fork’s at Western Branch).

Air Force (2-1) at Utah (2-1) (7:30 – ESPN)

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The Falcons are averaging 260 rushing yards a game and the Utes (which is now &uot;re-allowed&uot; by the NCAA headquarters in INDIANapolis) are averaging 243 passing yards a game.

Both those averages will actually go up during the rest of the season.

This is a battle between Fisher DeBerry’s old school triple option and the Urban Meyer-designed (even though he’s now moved on) shotgun option.

Only USC, Texas and LSU would completely stop the Air Force running game; and Utah’s showing vs. TCU last week certainly suggests Air Force could go for 300+ on the ground.

All indications point to a great finish; even given Utah’s last two seasons, Air Force has still scored 35 and 43 points vs. Utah in close losses.

My pick – Air Force 37, Utah 34

Moving on to Saturday…

First course – #11 Purdue (2-0) at Minnesota (3-0) (Noon – ESPN)

Thanks to Minnesota’s cupcake non-conference schedule so far, they aren’t ranked.

But looking at future first round pick RB Laurence Maroney, he’s reason enough to not discount the Gophers in this one.

Purdue could quietly make their way into the BCS, making all BCS-haters cringe as to why.

See, the Boilers have lucked out, not having to face Michigan or Ohio State.

Is Purdue better than those two teams?

No one will ever know.

Then, does an 11-0 Purdue out-BCS a 10-1 Texas, USC, Florida, LSU, etc…well that’s still a ways down the road.

Kyle Orton has replaced Rex Grossman for the Bears, but Joe Tiller has done an even better job of replacing Orton at Purdue.

The Boilers have Notre Dame and Iowa following this one, so looking ahead could be a possibility.

My pick – Purdue 28, Minnesota 21

During commercials – Penn State (3-0) at Northwestern (2-1) (Noon – ESPN2)

If JoePa wants to return bowling to Happy Valley, he needs this Big Ten opener.

Games at Illinois and vs. Wisconsin are the only two games, as of now, Penn St. would be favored in the rest of the year.

The Wildcats are always a tough test in Evanston, and they can put up points, which makes them dangerous if Paterno’s still questionable offense cannot match up in a shootout.

Northwestern has experience at quarterback and running back, and this one’s just as important for their hopes of a winning season as it is for PSU.

My pick – Northwestern 41, Penn State 27

Why not watch Miami and Colorado?

What redeeming quality is there in this game?

Sure, talent-wise, this is probably the best of the noon-time starts, but what if your kids wander into the room and want to watch?

Second course – #15 Georgia Tech (3-0) at #4 Virginia Tech (3-0) (3:30 – ABC)

The Yellow Jackets were very impressive in their season-opening win at Auburn.

But, possibly being without QB Reggie Ball for this one would be extremely good news for the Hokie defense, which doesn’t really need it.

Sure, it’s been against Duke and Ohio, but the Hokies haven’t allowed a point since week one.

It’s the first big home game of the year at Lane Stadium, another advantage for Va. Tech.

As long as the Hokies remain unbeaten, they’ll be on this weekly list a lot.

My pick – VT 27, GT 21 (with Ball) 13 (without Ball)

During commercials – #14 Michigan (2-1) at Wisconsin (3-0) (6:00 – ESPN2)

Recommending Florida vs. Kentucky, after UF’s win vs. Tennessee and UK’s loss to Indiana, that’s not possible, so at least there’s this for the second half of Tech vs. Tech.

Madison, even without November-like weather, is still a tough place to play.

It’s actually even more difficult if you’re a visiting favorite, as is Michigan.

If Michigan had trouble with Notre Dame’s running game, Wisconsin (6th most rushing yards per game in the NCAA) at home with newly-transferred Brian Calhoun (5.1 yards per carry), could mean the Wolverines go from top five to 2-2 before September’s over.

My pick – Wisconsin 20, Michigan 17

Night cap – #10 Tennessee (1-1) at #3 LSU (1-0) (7:45 – ESPN)

LSU’s first home game of the year, the emotions that usually entails down in Death Valley multiplied by about five this year, Tennessee coming off a loss last week at Florida and still not having a true number one QB, nothing sounds good about this one for the Vols.

There are many more reasons to like LSU, here’s a couple.

If Gerald Riggs Jr. couldn’t run against Florida, will LSU be any lesser of a challenge?

LSU is coming off a double-digit fourth quarter comeback in their opener against Arizona State, which was a game originally scheduled to be an LSU home game.

All signs point to a blowout, like last week, Tennessee’s defense has to give the Vols a chance.

My pick – LSU 30, Tennessee 17