SIOC makes our weekend picks...

South Florida at Rutgers. And so the season has come to this: two Big East teams who didn't even play football a decade ago (that includes you, State University of New Jersey), in a showdown with major national title implications, on a Thursday night (never mind that that's when high school JV teams usually play), in an affront to all that is holy and tradition-rich about college football. Somewhere Beano Cook is rolling over in his grave. Pick: Bulls by 3

Florida International at Louisiana-Monroe. Sure, it's easy to poke fun at teams with a combined 1-9 record, but in a season like this, how do you know they're not still in the national title picture? Pick: ULM by 14

Tracking the fortunes of college football's greatest corporation, Notre Dame, we find the stock to be ... holding steady, after the Irish picked up their third straight (moral) victory by losing to Boston College 27-14. Charlie Weis has built his entire college reputation on that epic 34-31 loss to USC in 2005, after which he cashed in on a big contract extension. If history is any indication, his bank account will swell again after yet another narrow loss to the Trojans. Pick: USC by 7 (in a game so punchless you'll have a hard time believing these are two of the most storied programs in the history of the sport.)

USC's quest to fulfill Jim Harbaugh's now-Nostradamus-esque prophecy as the greatest college football team ever (to lose to a 41-point underdog) continues in South Bend. In yet another week of stunning upsets, USC won a conference game thanks to big plays from its backup quarterback and fourth string tailback ... and still dropped three spots. It's as if voters woke up this past Sunday and said, "Wait a minute -- you lost to who last week?!"

As the SEC continues to back up Les Miles' claim that USC has an easier road than if they played in Dixie, sixth-ranked South Carolina takes on Vanderbilt. Last week, the pesky 'Dores blew a shot at upsetting Georgia for the second straight season (then again, don't confuse 'pesky' with 'good'). Meanwhile, given that Steve Spurrier has made a career out of pithy insults directed at over-inflated teams, it's a real shame that we'll never get to hear how overrated he thinks the Gamecocks are. Then again, if the Cocks lose to Vandy, we just might. Pick: Gamecocks by 13

This week's law enforcement roundup takes us to where the couch fires are still smoldering: Lexington, Kentucky, where exuberant Wildcat fans celebrated their team's win over LSU with wild riots that left 22 people arrested. They'll have to buy new furniture to burn if they manage to knock off defending champion Florida this week. Don't sleep on the slumping Gators, who were mediocre for much of last season, too; they're right on track to become the first 2-loss team to play for the BCS title. Pick: Gators by 7 (sparing furniture all over Bluegrass Country)

The Kentucky Wildcats' march to fulfill Coach Rich Brooks' claim that his team is in the class of USC, continues against UF. After the way the Trojans have played the last three weeks, Coach Brooks shouldn't sell his team so short.

In recent years the Tennessee-Alabama feud has included lawsuits, subpoenas and accusations flying in federal court. Hard to believe that people in SEC country would ever get so carried away ... Texas Tech takes on Missouri this week in a battle of Big 12 teams that will boast nice rankings for a while and ultimately go nowhere ... This might be hard for all the younger fans to grasp, but once upon a time Miami-Florida State was one of the most important rivalries in the sport. This year they'll take the field with one singular thought: no, not "This game could help decide the national championship," but rather, "South Florida? Seriously?"... After Oregon lost running back Jeremiah Johnson and receiver Cameron Colvin to season-ending injuries, the pressure has been ratcheted up on Ducks' quarterback Dennis Dixon (the player loyal reader Rob from Dallas calls "Vince Young starter kit") ... Oklahoma can pretend it's avenging that Orange Bowl humiliation against USC by beating up on a team with uniforms nearly identical to the Trojans'. Iowa State may look like USC out there in their cardinal and gold, except for one major difference: the Cyclones' offense is far more potent ... Speaking of USC, they are arguably the most talented (albeit underachieving) team in the nation. Now, with roughly half of their original starters healthy, they're probably the nation's 28th-best team. So let's split the difference and say they're the 14th-best - which would match their BCS ranking. Who says the BCS doesn't get it right?

"I don't expect to win enough games to be put on NCAA probation. I just want to win enough to warrant an investigation." - Bob Devaney, former Nebraska coach

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