November arrives with little college football fanfare. The marquee game of the week is the battle of unbeatens between Florida State and Miami, which in yesteryear would have been cause for great revelry, but now is anticipated with a great yawn. Many figure the Seminoles, three-touchdown favorites, will have that spread covered by the first quarter. The No. 2 game nationally is, yes, in Lubbock, Texas, where OSU and Texas Tech play the only other game pitting top-20 teams. Let’s get to the predictions:
OSU at Texas Tech: Red Raiders 24-21. Remember when the Cowboys always laid their biggest egg of the season in Lubbock? Losses of 24-17 in ’98, 58-0 in 2000, 49-24 in ’02, 31-15 in ’04, 30-24 in ’06, 56-20 in ’08. Well, the last two trips to Lubbock, OSU has won 34-17 and 66-6. Overall, the Cowboys have beaten Tech four straight years, by a combined 183-61. But I don’t think that will matter if OSU can’t complete more than 40 percent of its passes.
West Virginia at TCU: Mountaineers 23-16. Upset special. One of these teams is not going to a bowl. Maybe both of them.
Kansas at Texas: Longhorns 52-10. The Big 12 race is a little like the back nine of the U.S. Open on Sunday. A win is a par. A loss is a bogey. UT and Baylor are tied for the lead, with five holes to play. OU and Tech have four holes left. OSU, five. Having Kansas on your schedule is like getting to play a really easy hole.
Iowa State at Kansas State: Wildcats 42-20. You know, K-State is turning into a decent team. Whacked West Virginia. Played OSU tough in Stillwater and Texas tough in Austin. Scared the daylights out of Baylor. KSU won’t be an easy out for Tech or OU in the coming weeks.
Auburn at Arkansas: Tigers 45-15. Eight years ago, Gus Malzahn was the head coach at Springdale High School, just a few miles from Razorback Stadium. Now he’s back in the Ozarks, visiting as head coach of the nation’s 11th-ranked team.
Tennessee at Missouri: Tigers 30-20. Missouri and Tennessee are border states. But until last November, they had never played in football. Now the Volunteers make their first trip to Faurot Field.
Georgia at Florida: Bulldogs 30-17. This game long has meant supremacy in the SEC East. But now it’s the difference between third and fourth place.
Mississippi State at South Carolina: Gamecocks 33-17. If South Carolina can win out and Texas A&M beats Missouri, the Gamecocks win the SEC East.
Texas-El Paso at Texas A&M: Aggies 62-16. It’s 682 miles from El Paso to College Station. I’ve never made that drive and I hope I never have to.
Alabama State at Kentucky: Wildcats 51-10. At least this is a better game than Kentucky State at Alabama.
Southern Cal at Oregon State: Beavers 28-12. Friday night football at its best. Better keep an eye on all these Pac-12 games. The Sooners and Cowboys could be matched up with a couple of these teams in the Alamo and/or Holiday bowls.
Arizona State at Washington State: Sun Devils 34-27. You know, I have no idea why Mike Leach is not coaching Arizona State. Literally no idea. He was available 22 months ago when ASU hired Todd Graham. Surely the school of Frank Kush was not willing to take a run at Mike Leach.
Arizona at California: Wildcats 38-27. That Pac-12 South is going to be a wild division race. ‘Zona could finish the weekend tied with ASU and UCLA and maybe USC at the top.
Colorado at UCLA: Bruins 41-12. Remember when Colorado had the baby blue jerseys? Not too many schools can pull it off like UCLA. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m running out of things to say about Colorado futility. But I gave it a good shot this week.
Miami at Florida State: Seminoles 42-8. I made an offhand remark last week that Texas Tech was the most overrated top-10 team ever in the BCS era. It was a stupid thing to say, because Tech wasn’t even the most overrated top 10 team OF LAST WEEK. That would be Miami.
Wake Forest at Syracuse: Demon Deacons 27-21. Jim Grobe remains a coach for the ages. Wake lost to Louisiana-Monroe in September. But the Deacons beat North Carolina State and Maryland, and dang near won in Miami. If Wake can find two wins from Syracuse, Duke and Vanderbilt, the Deacons are going bowling.
Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech: Yellowjackets 30-14. These schools haven’t played since 1976. Haven’t played in Pittsburgh since 1920.
Clemson at Virginia: Tigers 44-14. Clemson’s goal now is clear. Win out and get to a BCS bowl.
North Carolina at North Carolina State: Tar Heels 31-29. Let’s try to think of a less-interesting intrastate football rivalry. Hmm. Nothing’s coming to me.
Virginia Tech at Boston College: Hokies 23-14. If Virginia Tech can somehow keep from tripping over itself, it plays at Miami next week for the probable Coastal Division title. Not that either one wants a piece of Florida State.
Michigan at Michigan State: Spartans 21-20. Winner becomes the favorite in the Big Ten’s M&N Division.
Wisconsin at Iowa: Hawkeyes 23-20. Upset special. Don’t look now, but Kirk Ferentz is at it again. Taking an underachieving team and getting it to play halfway decent after the cows long ago left the barn.
Northwestern at Nebraska: Cornhuskers 33-14. Man, what is going on at Nebraska?
Minnesota at Indiana: Hoosiers 35-33. Parity in the SEC means an Auburn can beat Texas A&M, or Tennessee can upset South Carolina. Parity in the Big Ten means Minnesota and Indiana don’t stink as much as they once did.
Ohio State at Purdue: Buckeyes 69-0. I actually wrote down 49-0. Then I remember conference travel squad limits. Urban Meyer will be hard-pressed to hold down the score, even on the off chance he wants to.
Illinois at Penn State: Nittany Lions 35-7. Penn State beat the Illini 35-7 last year and wanted to win 135-7, after Illinois coach Tim Beckman sent his staff to Happy Valley to raid the Nittany Lion roster, after the NCAA declared open season on Penn State players.
Cincinnati at Memphis: Bearcats 21-13. OK, I know Cincy won 34-21. But I made this pick Wednesday afternoon. Promise.
South Florida at Houston: Cougars 41-21. I promised old pal David Bassity, now the Houston publicist, that I wouldn’t pick against the Cougars again until they lost twice.
Temple at Rutgers: Scarlet Knights 35-24. Isn’t this really the caliber of competition Rutgers ought to be playing, rather than the Big Ten?
Navy at Notre Dame: Fighting Irish 41-14. I’m telling you. The Irish are having a nice season. They might make a BCS bowl.
Army at Air Force: Cadets 29-28. Army hasn’t won the Commander-in-Chief Trophy since 1996. Hope springs eternal.
Boise State at Colorado State: Broncos 35-22. A Boise State-Fresno State rematch in the Mountain West title game seems likely.
Nevada at Fresno State: Bulldogs 49-13. Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter is headed for some quality job offers.
New Mexico at San Diego State: Aztecs 29-17. San Diego State is the heartbreak kid. Could have — should have — beaten Oregon State and Fresno State.
Hawaii at Utah State: Aggies 34-14. Utah State not out of the running in the Mountain West’s Mountain Division. Boise State still has to go to San Diego; Utah State’s games all are easier.
San Jose State at Nevada-Las Vegas: Spartans 36-27. San Jose State still in the Mountain West title hunt.
Texas-San Antonio at Tulsa: Roadrunners 27-21. What a disappointing year for Tulsa; 2-5 and might not win again.
Rice at North Texas: Mean Green 20-18. Only North Texas can prevent a Tulane-Rice showdown for Conference USA’s West Division title.
Southern Miss at Marshall: Thundering Herd 56-16. Golden Eagles have lost 19 straight.
Tulane at Florida Atlantic: Green Wave 45-6. Carl Pelini fired for drug use? What in the name of Youngstown is going on?
Middle Tennessee at Alabama-Birmingham: Blue Raiders 43-38. Rough going for UAB coach Garrick McGee, who is 5-14 over two seasons.
East Carolina at Florida International: Pirates 39-10. You’d have a hard time convincing me that East Carolina still isn’t the best team in Conference USA.
Last week: 29-14. Season: 333-103.