As the calendar turns to October, let’s hope we have better luck with the Fearless Friday Forecast:
1. Florida at Alabama: Alabama proved last week at Arkansas that it is good enough and certainly tough enough to at least think about repeating as national champions. The Crimson Tide secondary was vulnerable to the pass but grew up as the game went along. Florida also did some growing up last week by using freshman quarterback Trey Burton in the Wildcat package. He scored a school-record six touchdowns against Kentucky. Alabama coach Nick Saban will try to turn this into a blue collar football game while Florida will hope to hit some big plays against a rebuilt Crimson Tide secondary. Alabama 24, Florida 14.
2. Miami at Clemson: Clemson has had a week off since a tough overtime loss at Auburn. The question I have is whether or not Miami quarterback Jacory Harris can keep from being an interception machine on the road. He had four at Ohio State on Sept. 11 and two last week at Pittsburgh. Clemson won a shootout (40-37) last year at Miami. This one, played at Death Valley, will feature less scoring but the outcome will be the same. Clemson 17, Miami 14.
3. Georgia Tech at Wake Forest: Wake Forest got off to a 2-0 start by beating Presbyterian and Duke and scoring 107 points in the process. Since then it’s been pretty bleak for the Deacons, losing 68-24 at Stanford and 31-0 at Florida State. The Deacons have given up 147 points against their three Division I-A opponents. I’m not sure why, but Georgia Tech didn’t really have a sense of urgency in last week’s 45-28 loss to N.C. State. The Yellow Jackets bounce back and go to 3-2. Georgia Tech 42, Wake Forest 21.
4. Georgia at Colorado: It was tempting pick Colorado because I don’t know if there is any fight left in this Georgia team. But Colorado (2-1) is so bad and A.J. Green is finally available for the Bulldogs. Colorado will be welcoming back its 1990 AP national championship team but, fortunately for the Bulldogs, Eric Bienemy will not be suiting up for the Buffs. But you know what? I just talked myself out of picking Georgia. It’s time for this team to man up. I’ll believe it when I see it. Colorado 21, Georgia 20.
5. Virginia Tech at N.C. State: The Wolfpack is 4-0 and showed it was legit last week by winning at Georgia Tech. The young Virginia Tech defense has improved since a 33-30 loss to Boise State on Sept. 6. But has it improved enough to handle N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson? I think not. N.C. State 28, Virginia Tech 24.
6. Tennessee at LSU: LSU has won four ugly games and on Saturday in Baton Rouge the Tigers will win ugly again. Undermanned Tennessee has played four straight home games to open the season. The Vols needed double overtime and five missed UAB field goals to win last week. LSU’s defense may be the best in the SEC. Its offense, given the talent at hand, might be the worst. LSU 24, Tennessee 3.
7. Stanford at Oregon: If not for Florida-Alabama this would be the best game on the board this weekend. Oregon had to work to win at Arizona State last week but I still think the Ducks are a Top 10 team. Stanford is just mashing everybody they play and Andrew Luck is the best quarterback in the Pac-10. I like the speed of Oregon and the home field edge of Autzen Stadium, where Stanford has lost its last four visits. Oregon 28, Stanford 24.
8. Texas vs. Oklahoma (Dallas): Man, the air sure went out of this game when Texas lost to UCLA (34-12) last week. It was the worst Texas loss at home in the Mack Brown era and the Longhorns simply we not ready to play. That’s won’t be the case this week. Oklahoma has had close wins over Utah State, Air Force, and Cincinnati. It could be that we are looking at two pretty average teams. Look for Texas to commit to stopping the run and hope that OU quarterback Landry Jones won’t beat them. He will. Oklahoma 28, Texas 24.
9. Kentucky at Ole Miss: Kentucky has come back down to Earth after last week’s trip to the woodshed at Florida. But the Ole Miss defense has struggled all season and it won’t be better without DE Kentrell Lockett, who is out for the season with a knee injury. Kentucky 31, Ole Miss 21.
10. Wisconsin at Michigan State: Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio returns after suffering a heart attack two weeks ago after a win over Notre Dame. Dantonio will work from the press box. I like Sparty at home. Michigan State 21, Wisconsin 17.
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Programming note: Among our guests on the “Barnhart and Durham” show on Friday will be Caulton Tudor, veteran columnist of the Raleigh News & Observer. He will give us the latest on the growing story surrounding the troubled football program at North Carolina. Rachel Baribeau of TideSports.com joins us to break down Saturday’s Florida-Alabama game. The fun starts at 10 a.m. on www.790thezone.com.