#15 TCU @ #8 Utah
With all the focus on mid-majors like Utah and Boise State, TCU has really flown under the radar this year. Their only loss so far was a hard-fought battle against Oklahoma, and the Horned Frogs looked like a legitimate BCS team in their handling of then-undefeated BYU. Meanwhile Utah hasn’t beaten anyone particularly good this year, but if they win out they are all but assured a spot in a BCS game. Don’t let the unfamiliar names fool you; either of these teams would easily take second place in the Pac-10, and they’d be pretty much favored to win the Big East and the ACC. Both have looked good this year, but TCU has done it against tougher competition. This one feels like an upset.
TCU 31, Utah 27
#9 Oklahoma State @ #2 Texas Tech
When Mike Leach isn’t busy pulling kickers out of the student section and using the off-season to study up on pirates, he’s also been known to conduct a ridiculously potent offense or two in his day. This year’s version might be his best yet, but if any coach can out-crazy the Mad Scientist it’s got to be Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy. Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree are hitting on all cylinders, Tech’s got the home field advantage, and the Red Radiers’ stars seem to be aligning. Is it even so? Then I defy you, stars. Cowboys in another classic shootout.
Oklahoma State 35, Texas Tech 31
#1 Alabama @ #16 LSU
The intrigue for this game is off the charts; LSU fans still hate Nick Saban with the fire of a thousand suns for abandoning them to the NFL. The Tigers got their revenge on their old coach last year, but this year Saban rolls into town as the favorite. This year’s Alabama team is like a bulldozer and steroids, and after winning the BCS Championship last year LSU looks to be having on off-year. LSU’s defense picked a bad time to MIA, and you’ve got to figure if Alabama loses this year it will be to Florida and the SEC Championship Game. Get ’em next year, Les.
Alabama 31, LSU 14
#3 Penn State @ Iowa
Iowa has been dancing the Dress Rehearsal Rag for a couple years now, but the Hawkeyes might have started to turn the ship around. Although just 5-4 on the year, the four losses have come by a total of 12 points; a couple more breaks and Iowa could be undefeated. Meanwhile Joe Paterno has the Good Ship Penn State sailing through calm waters with cannons roaring. Penn State is still playing for a spot in the title game, while Iowa has its sights set on. the Motor City Bowl, I guess. Point being, Penn State’s the better team and Iowa shouldn’t give them much trouble.
Penn State 34, Iowa 20
#21 California @ #7 USC
Pete Carroll spent his week off complaining about the BCS system after watching his Trojans fall two spots after a 56 point victory. He might have a point, as USC has outscored their last five major conference opponents 214-20. Still, it’s going to be hard to get respect as long as they play in the weak, weak, weak Pac-10. California leapt into the top 25 with a victory over Oregon, but it feels like a sympathy vote; if you haven’t heard, the Pac-10 is weak. USC is probably better than No. 7 and Cal is probably worse than No. 21. It doesn’t take Cardano to see the writing on the wall.
USC 42, California 21
Record so Far: A Sometimes-Prescient 23-19