By Stewart Mandel
September 11, 2009
College Football Pickoff
Saturday, September 12
8 p.m. ET, ESPN No. 3 USC (1-0) at No. 8 Ohio State (1-0)
Buckeyes QB Terrelle Pryor invokes comparisons to notorious Trojans-killer Vince Young. However, last week against Navy, Pryor ran just six times for 30 yards. Unless he suddenly starts using his feet like Young, Ohio State will have trouble moving the ball against USC's swarming defense. The Trojans, on the other hand, will run early and often.
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC No. 18 Notre Dame (1-0) at Michigan (1-0)
QB Jimmy Clausen has been unstoppable his last two games, going 37-of-44 for 716 yards and nine TDs. Michigan's defense will be a whole lot tougher to crack than Hawaii's or Nevada's, but Wolverines freshman QB Tate Forcier may also be in for a rude awakening against an Irish D that held Nevada's Colin Kaepernick to 129 yards.
3:30 p.m. ET, FSN Houston (1-0) at No. 5 Oklahoma State (1-0)
All the offensive fireworks that were missing in Stillwater last week will come back in a big way on Saturday. It's unlikely the Cowboys will shut down prolific Cougars QB Case Keenum like they did Georgia's Joe Cox -- but they've got a better chance than Houston's defense, which ranked 100th in 2008, has of containing Dez Bryant and Co.
7 p.m. ET, ESPNU Vanderbilt (1-0) at No. 11 LSU (1-0)
After a rocky start at Washington, LSU returns to the friendly confines of Tiger Stadium ... where the faithful are hungry to see a much better defense. Vandy should provide a bit of a test -- last week against Western Carolina, freshmen RBs Warren Norman and Zac Stacy both cracked 100 yards -- but there's no Jake Locker on this squad.
Noon ET, ESPNU No. 19 North Carolina (1-0) at Connecticut (1-0)
The Tar Heels won last year's game in Chapel Hill handily, 38-12, thanks in part to three blocked punts in the second quarter. Presumably, the Huskies will be working heavily on their punt protection this week. However, their 1-12 record against ranked foes does not bode well, especially for a team coming off a 23-16 win at Ohio.
7 p.m. ET, ESPN 2 South Carolina (1-0) at No. 21 Georgia (0-1)
It's truly amazing how close and low-scoring this series has been lately. Six of the past eight meetings have been decided by less than a touchdown, with the winning team averaging 15.7 points in those games. Considering these teams combined for 17 points in their season-openers, expect more of the same.
4 p.m. ET, ESPN UCLA (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0)
The Vols will be seeking revenge for last year's 27-24 loss at the Rose Bowl, a game that marked the beginning of the end for Phillip Fulmer. Both teams' defenses have improved immensely since that time. However, UCLA's redshirt freshman QB Kevin Prince and uber-young offensive line seem ripe for an Eric Berry interception or two.
Noon ET, ESPN Fresno State (1-0) at Wisconsin (1-0)
Was it really only last season that the Badgers' 13-10 road win at Fresno was considered significant? A year later, both teams are looking to improve on 7-6 records. New Badgers QB Scott Tolzien looked promising with a 15-of-20, 257-yard day against Northern Illinois, but Pat Hill often pulls a surprise in these kinds of games.
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN East Carolina (1-0) at West Virginia (1-0)
Can the Pirates knock off the Mountaineers for a second straight year? It's unlikely they'll hold West Virginia to three points again, but ECU's defense has proven more than capable of slowing down potent opponents (it held powerful Tulsa to 24 points in last year's C-USA championship game). Watch out for an encore.
11 p.m. ET, CBS CS Oregon State (1-0) at UNLV (1-0)
Upset Special: You know how it seems like Oregon State starts out slow every year? Remember how out-of-sorts the Beavers looked at Penn State last season? It's an astonishing stat, but Mike Riley's teams have gone 0-10 in September road games since his 2003 return. The Rebels, meanwhile, knocked off Arizona State last September.
Record Last Week: 5-5

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