Published September 11, 2013
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – Rice opened its season at Texas A&M, where the host Aggies defeated the Owls but failed to cover. In fact, Rice led after the first quarter and only trailed by a touchdown at halftime.
The game turned when Johnny Manziel completed three touchdown passes in the second half. Still, it was a decent showing on the road against one of the top teams in the country, especially without the services of cornerback Phillip Gaines, who missed the contest due to suspension.
After a week off, the Owls face Kansas, a club that has not won a game versus FBS competition since Week 2 of the 2011 campaign.
Last season, Rice defeated the Jayhawks, 25-24, in Lawrence on a last-second field goal from Chris Boswell, who had four on the day. That contest was the lone victory for the Owls in the first half of the season. They went 6-1 thereafter with the only defeat coming by four points at Tulsa.
Suffice to say, this Rice squad is so much better than the one that played Kansas last September.
The Jayhawks won their 2013 opener over South Dakota, a team that went 1-10 in 2012. The game was close for a half as Kansas went into the locker room with a 14-7 lead. Charlie Weis' team pulled out a 17-point win in a game it was favored by more than four touchdowns.
This year's Kansas club returned just one of its top seven tacklers from a season ago, so look for Rice to pile up the yards, as well as points.
Take the Owls minus 6.5 points in the first five-star play.
The other top selection comes from Pittsburgh, where the Panthers host New Mexico.
Pittsburgh has had a week off after getting destroyed by Florida State, 41-13. Tom Savage, playing in his first game in years, threw for 201 yards, but with two interceptions. The odds are strong he'll perform better against New Mexico's defense, one that is allowing opposing quarterbacks to hit on 67 percent of its passes.
However, it also is likely the Lobos will stay in this game due to their ground attack. They rushed for 395 yards in Week 2 with Kasey Carrier going for 291 yards and four touchdowns.
Pittsburgh has topped the 35-point mark only twice in its last 28 FBS contests. To that end, look for New Mexico to cover the inflated spread, particularly because the Panthers might not be used to the option attack.
Take the Lobos plus 21.5 points.
The two three-star plays involve teams from the Pac-12.
First, Colorado hosts Fresno State. The Buffaloes have been a pleasant surprise under new head coach Mike MacIntyre. In fact, they already have more wins (two) than they picked up all of last season. It also must be mentioned that MacIntyre is extremely familiar with Fresno State during his time at San Jose State. The Spartans gained an outright victory over the Bulldogs two years ago and covered the number three years back.
The Buffaloes should be able to exploit a Fresno secondary that is struggling without the likes of Phillip Thomas and Sean Alston. Furthermore, they should be pumped for revenge after getting clobbered by the Bulldogs, 69-14, last September.
Fresno State is 2-0 despite allowing 76 points in two games. The Bulldogs are ranked 109th nationally in scoring defense and 101st in pass defense. Offensively, they are 90th in rushing, so it is obvious they miss Robbie Rouse, the school's all-time leading rusher.
Don't forget Fresno State has its most important game of the season next week when Boise State comes to town, so the Buffaloes might catch the Bulldogs looking ahead.
Take Colorado plus 9.5 points.
The second game is Boston College at USC and one can only imagine how the fans will react if the Eagles take an early lead. Lane Kiffin clearly is the least- liked figure in all of California these days and it could get ugly if the Trojans struggle in the first quarter.
USC is an offensive mess and both Kiffin and new offensive coordinator Clay Helton are under heavy fire. The Trojans are tied for 97th nationally in scoring and 113th in total offense. That's what happens when a team lacks a decent quarterback. Remember, USC is 1-4 straight up and 0-5 against the spread since Matt Barkley was injured during the UCLA contest.
As for the Eagles, they have been riding running back Andre Williams, who is averaging 5.5 yards per carry after two weeks. Additionally, quarterback Chase Rettig has been effective when called upon, with four touchdown passes and a 68 percent completion percentage.
Prior to the season, this looked like an easy spot for USC. After Saturday, don't be surprised if there are major changes off the field.
Take Boston College plus 14 points.
Take Illinois +9.5 (Washington) and Memphis +7 (Middle Tennessee).
Take Air Force +24 (Boise State) and Georgia Tech -8.5 (Duke).
THIS YEAR'S RECORD
After two weeks, my record stands at 16-16. The five-star plays went 2-1 last week for a 5-3 mark, the three-star selections went 1-2 and now stand at 3-4. The two-star choices went 2-2 for a 5-4 overall record and the one-star picks went 1-2 for a 3-5 total.
THIS WEEK'S JEFF FRANK "DIRTY DOZEN"
1) Alabama, 108.5; 2) Oregon, 107; 3-T) Florida State and Georgia, 99; 5) LSU, 98.5; 6) South Carolina, 97.5; 7-T) Ohio State and Oklahoma State, 97; 9) Texas A&M, 96.5; 10-T) Louisville and Arizona State, 96; 12-T) Clemson and Stanford, 95.5
(The Dirty Dozen is not a reflection of a given team's won-loss record. It is based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all FBS teams are assigned a power number, which changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous week.)