The College Football Report

By Mike Luce

We will hear a great deal this weekend about the "so-and-so ranked offense battling against the nation's such-and-such defense." Ignore this data. Every college football team in the nation has played only two, at most three, games. Do we care that Kansas is third in total yards on offense or that Ryan Mallet (QB, Arkansas) is the country's top passer? No.

This week, I am only focusing on a few pieces of information. First, I am looking for road favorites playing decent opponents. Second, can we identify any teams that might be a bit overrated? I am thinking of good teams that have played well, yet could find themselves looking too far ahead. Keeping giddy 20-somethings focused on the task at hand may be the least-discussed aspect of coaching.

Finally . . . does the home team have a prayer? I mean, really. Theories are fun, but I'd rather not pick a bust. As always, the following is for entertainment purposes only.

Game: #4 Mississippi (-4) @ South Carolina (6:45 p.m., Thursday)

Comment: Ole Miss smoked Memphis and SE Louisiana (Directional Louisiana School #2), but I think they will have a much tougher time on Thursday night. Two weeks ago, South Carolina blew a surprising comeback bid against Georgia when QB Stephen Garcia tried to force a pass into the end zone as time elapsed. Most, myself included, had not given SC much of a chance in that game. Last week, the Gamecocks pulled away from creampuff Florida Atlantic (Directional Florida School #1) with three touchdowns in the second half.

Mississippi starts this week with the highest ranking in school history. (The Rebels reached the same rank in 1970.) Dating back to last season, Ole Miss carries an eight game winning streak. The Rebels think highly of themselves, maybe a bit too highly. I can imagine a few players glancing at the schedule, noting only two games against ranked teams (both at home), and starting to think of the possibilities . . .

I don't relish the thought of backing South Carolina. The Gamecocks' all-time record of 1-31 against top-five teams and Spurrier's 1-7 mark at SC versus the Top 10 do not inspire confidence. But playing to a national prime-time audience in a sold-out Williams-Brice Stadium should help. I'll take my chances with the home team.

*

Game: #7 LSU (-13) @ Mississippi State (11:00 a.m., Saturday)

Comment: Readers of The College Football Report know I have been underwhelmed by this Louisiana State team. Even so, the Tigers might be an exceptional team and could beat Mississippi State easily. But I doubt it.

We will toss out LSU's performance (a 31-23 win) against Washington in Week 1 for now. After shocking USC last week, I don't know what to do with the Huskies. In Week 2, LSU sophomore QB Jordan Jefferson passed for 138 yards against Vanderbilt and followed up with 165 yards versus Louisiana-Lafeyette last week. I'm not inspired.

At Mississippi State, the offensive system brought in by first-year head coach Dan Mullen seems to be catching on. Mullen worked as the offensive coordinator at Florida, so the guy has seen some talent. While MSU QBs Tyson Lee and Chris Relf won't be mentioned in the same breath as Tebow, the Bulldogs could take a few teams by surprise this year. A traditional basement-dweller in the SEC West, MSU could react well if Mullen plays the "nobody respects us" card. My money is (hypothetically, of course) on a spirited game by the Bulldogs.

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CFR Notes
* I love #20 Kansas (-13.5) at home over Southern Miss and #23 Michigan (-21) to trounce IU in the Big House. Boise State (#8) visits Bowling Green as a heavy favorite (-17), but the Broncos might be gassed from the track meet with Fresno last week. If BGSU didn't suck so badly, I would have considered picking the underdog in this game as well.

* And one other game matches my criteria . . . but I'm unable to comment on it due to conflict of interest. A certain team from the Bluegrass State hosts the Gators on Saturday, and, well . . . the final margin might be quite a bit more than three touchdowns.

* Finally, the Beachwood Sports Seal is looking fat and glossy after a 3-0 record last week. Must be all that Vitamin E in the congratulatory fish heads. Let's see who he likes this week:

~ #22 UNC @ Georgia Tech (+2.5)
~ #9 Miami (-2.5) @ #11 Virginia Tech

Wait, one moment. Sorry, had a brief problem there with the ball and the floating hoops. Okay, all set. The last pick is . . .

~ Arizona State (+11.5) @ #21Georgia

And there you have it - the week in preview. Come back next Tuesday for the recap.

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Dr. Mike "Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He welcomes your comments.

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