We've held off a bit on our national coverage so far this season, for two reasons. First, with so much Longhorn stuff to cover between opening kickoff and Ohio State, there just wasn't much time or desire to look too far outside the bubble. But second, we didn't feel particularly well suited to be making picks on games played between teams we'd not seen play.
With the big game behind us and two games under most teams' belts, we're ready to dive in.
Pay close attention to how the picks will work. Each week Andrew and I will select 5-6 games, comment on them, and pick a winner. Important for you: each week we'll bring in a guest reader to pick alongside us. For the first week, that'll be last season's BON winner, Alex Ernst, who won week two of the ESPN Fantasy Pick Em contest with 55 points. Obviously, Alex can pick a game or two.
If you've NOT yet signed up for the BON ESPN Fantasy Pick Em league, follow these steps to register:
- Go to the ESPN Fantasy Page
- Join the public group Burnt Orange Nation
- Enter the password: Longhorns Make sure you capitalize the 'L'
- Make your picks
Anyway, on to this week's games:
Iowa State +13.5 at Iowa
PB: The Cyclones shocked many of us last season with an early season in-state victory. No way they're winning on the road this year, but is that spread too high? Drew Tate is supposed to be healthy for this game, but if he's not, the Hawkeyes may have trouble covering. Still, the Cyclone offense is the strength of this team; I can see them getting into a bit of a shootout. I'm taking Iowa to win, but I'll take the points for Iowa State. Iowa wins it 30-24.
AW: If Drew Tate plays, this one could get ugly fast. Iowa State hasn't been impressive in either of their first two wins. They didn't play defense against Toledo and couldn't even score 20 on UNLV. The Hawkeyes get revenge in a big way. Iowa 31-14
Alex Ernst: Well, we won't be looking ahead to Texas quite yet. Todd Blythe should catch more passes than he has in the previous two games, and the Cyclones should take advantage of a rundown Hawkeye secondary. Facing a more traditional offense, I expect the Cyclone D to step up as well. To be honest, I don't know. Iowa State wins 6-5......err...34-31
Florida -3.5 at Tennessee
PB: If this game's at the Swamp, I feel good about Florida. As is, I wonder whether they'll score enough to win. On the other hand, I think the Gator defense is every bit as good as I hoped it would be. Tennessee, meanwhile, had one outstanding defensive game, and one lousy defensive game. The offense, though, was great twice. I'm torn here, so consider my confidence in this pick a 2 on the 1-10 scale. Tennessee escapes at home, 21-17.
AW: This one is a real toss up for me too. Was Tennessee simply looking ahead last week or was Cal overrated to enter the season making the Vols' opening win not that impressive? Urban Meyer's club conquered the giants last season at home but this one is on the road. I'll hedge, Florida wins but doesn't cover. Florida 21-20,
Alex Ernst: Tough, tough game to read. I think that Rocky Top might just be one of this year's surprise teams, while Florida may just be a disappointment. I do think Tennessee will cover. Will they win? Gotta go with the Vols, 28-21 in OT.
Michigan +5.5 at Notre Dame
PB: Well... I just don't know. Again. So many tough games to call this week. If Brady Quinn takes what Michigan is likely to give him - six to ten yard passes underneath, the Irish will score some. I seriously question Walker's ability to run much on this unit. What, then, will the Wolverines score? I say the first team to 28 wins. Give me Michigan in a close one, 28-27.
AW: I love the points here. Michigan shouldn't have trouble scoring with Henne and Hart on the still improving ND defense. Michigan's defense won't stop but should be able to slow down Brady Quinn and Walker. Michigan may not end the main stream media love fest with all things Irish but they won't lose by a touchdown. ND 24-21.
Alex Ernst: You like giving us tough games, eh Peter? If this game is in the Big House, I give it to Michigan, but I think we saw the real Notre Dame last week. I'm not an Irish backer by any stretch, but I do think they take it. ND wins 31-17.
Oklahoma +4.5 at Oregon
PB: This is a lot to ask of Adrian Peterson. Too much, I think. Look for the Ducks to score enough to win this one, and I think ahead of that spread. Give me Oregon 30-21.
AW: Agreed. Peterson was able to single handedly beat UAB and Washington. Oregon is much better than both of those teams. This one will be frustrating for Bob Stoops. Paul Thompson struggles and Jonathan Stewart scores two touchdowns. Neither team will reach the Red River Rivalry undefeated this year. Oregon 26-17.
Alex Ernst: Oklahoma will finally crash. The close calls have been too close. The fugly uniforms should prevail, as the Ducks beat down the Sooners. Quack. Quack. 21-14
Miami +4 at Louisville
PB: I want to believe. I really do. Miami's defense is awfully fast, but we'll get our first good look at where Louisville really lies. You know what? I think they do it. Louisville wins, 38-30.
AW: No way. Miami's defense is maybe the fastest in the country, and they may only have to defend the pass. The secondary will get beat a few times but Brohm is going to get pounded by the Miami defensive line. Kyle Wright perfects the perfect handoff as Tyrone Moss and company slice through the untested Louisville defense. Miami wins with ball control and sacks. The U 24-21.
Alex Ernst: I'm a big Coker fan. He just coaches in that state. That one, down there. No, not Texas......America's wang. Lousiville's mascot looks awfully close to the Cyclones, so cool points for that , but I'm gonna go with the U. Canes, 27-21
LSU +3.5 at Auburn
PB: I just want a great game. That's all I want. I think Auburn will win this game at home, but LSU's talent is really up there; I won't be surprised if they pull one out either. Given that, I'll take the points, but its close. Auburn wins 20-17.
AW: I am on the Tiger bandwagon, Auburn's that is. Les Miles is still the coach at LSU and it takes a ton of talent to overcome him. Brandon Cox and Kenny Irons will find their way to the end zone at least twice. While Auburn's defense is not outstanding, they will be solid enough. Auburn wins and covers barely. Auburn 24-20.
Alex Ernst: Almost seems too early in the season for a game like this. I'm going strictly on home-field advantage here, as I think LSU is just as good of a team. Just like Peter, I don't think Auburn will cover. However, I pick Aubie to win, 16-13.
Nebraska +18 at USC
PB: Well, I don't like to do it, but I think Southern Cal's got plenty they want to prove on Saturday. And I don't think Nebraska's got the firepower to score much on this defense. Hate to say it, but my bet of the week: Southern Cal over Nebraska 45-17.
AW: This line is extremely high for a match up of two top 20 teams. It won't matter. It is not a lock but I expect John David Booty to torch the Nebraska secondary. Even without their starting safety the USC defense isn't likely to give up much. The Cornhuskers are improved and improving. Unfortunately, they are nowhere near the level of USC. Trojans roll 32-10.
Alex Ernst: Ahh, our top contender for the Big 12 North. Missouri will be up there too, but no one cares to hear about them. Anywho, Nebraska looked pretty decent in their last two games, but they go on the road to face a USC team that apparently hasn't lost as much as we thought they would. Zac Taylor throws 3 interceptions. Nebraska loses 52-21.
Thanks for inviting me to appear on this BON panel of experts. It's kind of strange being a fan of a conference rival who frequents a Longhorn blog, but, hey, you guys have been nothing but friendly. I'll go out with a final prediction. Texas beats Rice.