Louisiana Tech (1-0) at Western Kentucky (1-0)
Not only is it the best game on the FBS side on Thursday night, it’s the only game on Thursday night in FBS football due to it being the opening night of the NFL season.
The Bulldogs rolled to a relatively easy win over FCS Southern last weekend, so they get their first real challenge, and it’s a huge one at that, as they must travel to Bowling Green, Kentucky to take on the Toppers in an epic clash of CUSA contenders. The winner here gets a head up in the conference race that may come to play out at the end of the season. WKU is coming off a game where they largely struggled to get their high octane offense off the ground, and they are looking to rev up the engine.
Pick: Western Kentucky
Pick: Michigan State
Oklahoma (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0) Iowa (1-0) at Iowa State (1-0) Western Michigan (0-1) at Georgia Southern (0-1)
Neither OU nor UT are what they were years ago, but this is still an interesting match of power opponents this Saturday, and I’m happy that it will be played at a true home stadium, and not some soulless neutral site. The Sooners destroyed the Vols in Norman last season, but Tennessee looks a bit better this time around. OU will get Baker Mayfield throwing early, as UT gave up 400 yards passing to Bowling Green last week. The Sooner must avoid early mistakes like they had last week, as that would allow the Neyland crowd to get oud, and would allow Tennessee early opportunities.
Pick: Boise State
Kansas State (1-0) at UTSA (0-1)
The Wildcats were decent, but not great in a 34-0 win over FCS South Dakota last weekend. UTSA was a 35 point dog to Arizona, but played tight before losing 42-32. This may not be a marquee matchup, but the Roadrunners gained some confidence in their loss last week, and Kansas State is lost at QB, as starter Jesse Ertz was lost for the season with a knee injury. If UTSA catches some breaks, this could get weird.
Pick: Kansas State
ISU has taken 3 of the last 4 between the two in the CyHawk Classic. Both teams got much needed wins for their embattled coaches last week, but a loss here would really undermine Kirk Ferentz at Iowa moving forward. A win for Paul Rhoades would get the Cyclones to 2-0, and may lessen the heat on Paul Rhoades. It’s make or break for both this week.
The Aztecs played less than inspired football against FCS San Diego last week, but are still a dangerous challenge for the Cal Bears, who destroyed FCS Grambling. We still don’t know an awful lot about either side, but Cal cannot trip up in this huge trap of a game at home this week if they want to be taken seriously moving forward.
Both teams lost to Power 5 schools last weekend, but both are still high rollers in the MAC and Sun Belt respectively speaking. Whomever wins this challenging bout will get back on track, while the loser will likely be in a deep hole heading into conference play in a couple of weeks. This is an important G5 game this week.
Pick: Western Michigan
The winner gets an early jump in SEC East play. Both teams had good moments and bad last week, but my advice to UK QB Towles would be to avoid South Carolina DB Skai Moore, especially near the end zone this week. The winner could be a dark horse in the divisional race.
Pick: South Carolina
Rice (1-0) at Texas (0-1)
Not that I am getting overly pumped about Rice football, but Texas was really terrible last week in only gaining 163 yards against Notre Dame. Rice is an up tempo offense that could give the Horns fits, but Texas should be able to move the ball much easier this week. This is interesting because if Texas should be upset, the locals will want Charlie Strong to put Shawn Watson’s head on a pike in front of Memorial Stadium, or they’ll start calling for his own.
FIU (1-0) at Indiana (1-0)
Again, we have a game between embattled coaches. FIU got a huge win over UCF last week that took some heat off of Ron Turner, but IU nearly got upset by FCS Southern Illinois at home, and the locals are none too pleased with Kevin Wilson. FIU, who is pretty good on D, may be able to convert some opportunities into upset material if the Hoosiers don’t get it together. This could turn into an upset special, and could eventually cost Wilson his job should IU lose.
Temple (1-0) at Cincinnati (1-0)
This is a huge early clash in the AAC East, and Temple is coming off what could be the biggest win in school history after beating Penn State last week. Cincinnati is coming off an easy win against Alabama A&M, so we know nothing about them just yet. If Temple can push the pocket on defense like they did last week, Gunner Kiel could be in trouble, and Temple could find themselves in the drivers seat in the AAC East.
Eastern Washington (0-1) at Northern Iowa (0-1)
Both lost to FBS schools last week, but both need a win this week to be able to have a clearer path to the playoffs. Look for the high powered EWU attack to overwhelm UNI, but this could be a tough road trap for the Eagles.
Pick: Eastern Washington
Lehigh (1-0) at James Madison (1-0)
Both clubs are looking to get on the national radar early on, and a win here on either side would do just that. This is the kind of game that goes into making decisions for bubble teams late, so it is very important to come out on top here.
Pick: James Madison
New Hampshire at Colgate
Stetson at Mercer
Western Carolina at Citadel
Duquesne at Bucknell
Coastal Carolina at South Carolina State
St. Francis at Towson
Portland State at Idaho State
Bethune-Cookman at Grambling
Iowa (1-0) at Iowa State (1-0)
Western Michigan (0-1) at Georgia Southern (0-1)