We went 9-1 the first week because we thought Virginia Tech would take care of Boise, which the Hokies almost did. But now it starts to get interesting with perhaps the best slate of second-week games that I’ve ever seen. So let’s get on with the Fearless Friday Forecast. Feel free to disagree with any picks, but if you do disagree, tell me WHY I’m wrong:
1. Georgia at South Carolina: Both teams looked very impressive in their openers (against bad teams) last week and the winner of this one gets an early lead in what appears to be a wide open SEC East. Georgia will welcome the return of running back Washaun Ealey but not wide receiver A.J. Green, who has been suspended for four games. The key here will be Georgia’s ability to run the ball effectively and take a wild crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium out of the game. This is the first SEC road game for Georgia QB Aaron Murray. You don’t want to ask him to do too much. I think Georgia will run the ball effectively and get a late field goal from Blair Walsh to win. Georgia 17, South Carolina 14.
2. Georgia Tech at Kansas: Kansas, under first-year coach Turner Gill, really stumbled out of the gate last week losing to North Dakota State 6-3. For the Jayhawks that 2007 trip to the Orange Bowl must seem like a million years ago. Georgia Tech is only going to get better as the offensive line continues to jell and Al Groh’s defense grows more confident. On what is a big weekend for the ACC, the Jackets do their part with win a road game against the Big 12. Georgia Tech 35, Kansas 10.
3. Florida State at Oklahoma: For a team that is ranked in everybody’s Top 10, Oklahoma sure did struggle last week in barely getting by Utah State. The Sooners are better than that with quarterback Landry Jones and a 1,000-yard rusher in DeMarco Murray. Florida State was impressive in its opener against Samford, but I’m afraid new defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, brother of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, doesn’t have the athletes to win a game like this on the road. Oklahoma 28, Florida State 17.
4. Miami at Ohio State: Brady Ackerman, my broadcast partner at CSS, tells me the Hurricanes have the right stuff to go up to the Horseshoe and win this game. Miami does have a bunch of good looking athletes and when quarterback Jacory Harris is playing well, the ‘Canes are tough to beat. But I just can’t see Miami going on the road and winning in such a tough atmosphere. So I’m going with the Buckeyes. But I’m not going to be shocked if Miami finds a way to win. Ohio State 17, Miami 14.
5. Penn State at Alabama: The Crimson Tide will be without two of its best players, running back Mark Ingram on offense and end Marcell Dareus on defense. Normally, that would mean trouble when you’re playing Penn State anywhere. But Penn State has a true freshman at quarterback, Robert Bolden, who looked pretty good last week in his debut at home against Youngstown State. But young Mr. Bolden will find out that playing in front of 101,000 of your fans is a lot different than playing in front of 101,000 of theirs. Alabama 24, Penn State 14.
6. South Florida at Florida: Florida beat Miami of Ohio last week but it sure didn’t feel like a win for the fans in The Swamp. That’s because the Gators had a grand total of 25 yards of total offense after three quarters. And did we mention that they bobbled the center-quarterback exchange 13 times? With a trip to Tennessee coming up next week there is a lot that needs to get fixed at Florida. Saturday begins that process. Florida 35, South Florida 10.
7. Oregon at Tennessee: The Ducks, who return 17 starters from a Rose Bowl team, were supposed to take something of a dip after losing quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. But even without their best offensive player, running back LaMichael James (suspension), Oregon was unstoppable against New Mexcio, winning 72-0. This is where Tennessee’s personnel gaps really begin to show. Tennessee fights hard at home but Oregon has too many athletes. Oregon 24, Tennessee 10.
8. Michigan at Notre Dame: Quarterback Denard Robinson gave Michigan fans reason to hope for a better season and coach Rich Rodriguez hope that he could keep his job when the Wolverines beat UConn last week. Notre Dame had a pedestrian win over Purdue in Brian Kelly’s debut as head coach. I just get the sense that Kelly saved a little something special for Michigan. This guy can coach. Notre Dame 24, Michigan 20.
9. LSU at Vanderbilt: Les Miles and the boys were very fortunate that they didn’t get beat by an undermanned North Carolina team at the Georgia Dome last Saturday. I saw a couple of things that really concerned me about LSU: No.1, they still can’t run the football effectively. No. 2, the defense of John Chavis is not as athletic as I thought it was going to be (aside from All-World cornerback Patrick Peterson). Still the Tigers go to 1-0 in the SEC. LSU 31, Vanderbilt 13.
10. Ole Miss at Tulane: It’s a little early in the season to have “must wins” but after losing to Division I-AA Jacksonville State last week, Ole Miss has to shake off the rust and blow Tulane out of the Superdome. Last week was a very strange one for Ole Miss, which began the week thinking quarterback Jeremiah Masoli would not be eligible and by Friday he was. The Rebels right the ship in New Orleans. Ole Miss 42, Tulane 14.
Please follow me on Twitter:
Programming note: I’ll be in Birmingham for today’s “Barnhart and Durham Show” (10 a.m., 790 The Zone). Among our guests will be Paul Finebaum of the Paul Finebaum Radio Network. Please join us.