Week 2 College Football Picks From WhatIfSports.com image

Week 2 College Football Picks

NCAA football predictions for every FBS game
By Paul Bessire, WhatIfSports.com
September 7th, 2009

Each Monday morning, we will preview every college football DI FBS game of the upcoming week. All of our college football content, including our most recent power rankings and links to the pre-season preview are located here. If you want to take WhatIfSports weekly college football and/or NFL picks with you (to your MySpace, Facebook or personal homepage), please see the widget on our WhatIf To Go page.

The inputs to the 10,000 simulations of these games are based on a rigorous analysis of each team that considers strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player ratings and then makes modifications for injuries and depth at each position.

Game of the Week: #3 USC 31 @ #11 Ohio State 14
Before the season, several people asked us how USC's outlook changed with the announcement that true freshman Matt Barkley would be starting over Aaron Corp. "Not much because we don't know how to evaluate either player; and it probably doesn't matter." The key to USC's offense is the other ten players on the field. The entire offensive line is back from 2008, as are seven of the team's top eight rushers and seven of the team's top eight receivers. The Trojans have 94% of their rushing and 76% of their receiving yards returning from a 2008 squad that finished 11th in the nation in yards per game. Say what you will about Navy's unique, option offense; Ohio State, on talent alone, should have been able to shutdown the Midshipmen attack. Instead, the Buckeye's struggled at home, allowing Navy to gain six yards-per-play and score 27 points. Unless something changes significantly, Ohio State will appear drastically overmatched by the Trojans' offense. Matt Barkley's main goal will just be to limit turnovers.

The advantage in the other matchup - OSU's offense vs. USC's defense - is not as clear. Terrelle Pryor and three offensive linemen are back from last season, but the top two receivers and top running back are gone to the NFL. USC's defense is in a similar boat. The Trojans lost almost everyone of note on defense from 2008. They still have three-time All-American Taylor Mays at safety. This matchup appears fairly even, with the slight edge to USC for possessing the best player on the field.

Last week our USC prediction (54-5) was very close to the actual outcome (56-3). Our Ohio State projection (33-9) was not as close to the game on Saturday (31-27). This would suggest that we may have been overvaluing Ohio State, especially on defense, when we originally ranked the Buckeyes in the top ten. This week's official pick is USC over Ohio State 94% of the time and by an average score of 31-14.

Other Notable Games in Week 2
Traditions, rankings and talent dictate that USC @ Ohio State is the unquestioned top game of the weekend, but there are several other interesting non-conference games to follow. In a matchup of two teams that impressed beyond our expectations in Week 1, Notre Dame defeats Michigan 69.1% of the time and by an average score of 22-17. Oregon leverages a great defensive effort to rebound from the loss at Boise State and win at home against Purdue 80.6% of the time and by an average score of 27-14. Oklahoma State avoids the hangover from a big win over Georgia by winning a shootout versus Houston, C-USA's best team. The Cowboys win 85.8% of the time and by an average score of 44-27. Tennessee fends off UCLA 78.0% of the time and by an average score of 22-10. West Virginia exacts revenge on East Carolina 87.2% of the time and by an average score of 27-9. After a scare against Northern Iowa, Iowa plays another in-state rival, Iowa State, and emerges victorious 77.6% of the time and by an average score of 25-17. Nebraska dominates Florida Atlantic, our pick to win the Sun Belt, 77.2% of the time and by an average score of 30-17.

In conference, the SEC and ACC have some intriguing games. Clemson can't overcome Jonathan Dwyer and the Yellow Jackets' homefield advantage as Georgia Tech wins 73.3% of the time and by an average score of 25-14. Vanderbilt struggles in Baton Rouge as LSU gets off to a great start in conference play by winning 82.8% of the time and by an average score of 26-11. Auburn, a team we clearly underrated in Week 1, stays hot with a victory over Mississippi State 62.3% of the time and by an average score of 21-16.

Week 2 Scores for Every FBS Game

MatchupHome Win%Avg Score
Jacksonville State @ Florida State95.0 6.5-40.7
James Madison @ Maryland95.0 6.1-33.8
Marshall @ Virginia Tech95.0 6.8-31.4
Murray State @ North Carolina State95.0 8.6-30.2
Idaho State @ Oklahoma95.0 5.3-48.0
Howard @ Rutgers95.0 7.4-41.0
Southeast Missouri State @ Cincinnati95.0 6.4-37.5
Illinois State @ Illinois95.0 6.4-36.5
Syracuse @ Penn State95.0 7.5-35.7
UCF @ Southern Miss95.0 6.7-33.3
Eastern Washington @ California95.0 4.3-49.9
Northern Arizona @ Arizona95.0 6.7-37.4
Florida International @ Alabama95.0 6.8-34.8
Troy @ Florida95.0 6.7-54.0
Miami (OH) @ Boise State95.0 5.3-46.1
Western Illinois @ Northern Illinois93.4 8.5-29.4
Eastern Michigan @ Northwestern93.2 6.0-27.7
Weber State @ Colorado State93.0 8.9-30.4
Bowling Green @ Missouri92.814.9-36.7
Morgan State @ Akron88.011.8-29.3
New Hampshire @ Ball State88.0 9.1-24.8
Southern Methodist @ UAB87.416.9-35.1
East Carolina @ West Virginia87.2 9.3-27.0
Idaho @ Washington87.211.2-29.6
Houston @ Oklahoma State85.827.1-43.9
Central Michigan @ Michigan State85.6 8.6-23.1
Rice @ Texas Tech85.020.1-36.4
Vanderbilt @ LSU82.810.9-25.5
Kansas State @ Louisiana-Lafayette82.812.6-26.6
Kent State @ Boston College82.610.2-25.0
Purdue @ Oregon80.613.7-26.7
South Carolina @ Georgia78.410.0-21.7
UCLA @ Tennessee78.010.0-21.6
Arkansas State @ Nebraska77.216.7-30.0
Southern Utah @ San Diego State76.211.0-23.0
Texas Southern @ Louisiana-Monroe75.411.1-22.1
Clemson @ Georgia Tech73.313.8-25.0
Louisiana Tech @ Navy70.716.6-25.4
Fresno State @ Wisconsin65.318.0-25.4
Mississippi State @ Auburn62.315.6-21.0
Memphis @ Middle Tennessee61.516.2-22.0
Prairie View A&M @ New Mexico State61.512.3-17.9
Duke @ Army56.113.0-16.6
Stanford @ Wake Forest38.921.5-18.6
Hawaii @ Washington State31.919.9-15.4
Notre Dame @ Michigan30.922.1-17.2
Ohio @ North Texas30.721.0-15.7
Colorado @ Toledo28.722.5-17.8
Western Michigan @ Indiana27.922.4-17.3
North Carolina @ Connecticut23.418.0-11.6
Iowa @ Iowa State22.424.7-16.7
Air Force @ Minnesota21.425.1-16.7
Pittsburgh @ Buffalo19.620.4-10.7
Oregon State @ UNLV16.427.5-16.3
Kansas @ UTEP 7.837.9-18.6
Utah @ San Jose State 7.225.5- 9.5
Tulsa @ New Mexico 6.632.5-14.4
USC @ Ohio State 6.030.7-13.7
TCU @ Virginia 5.031.9- 6.4
Brigham Young @ Tulane 5.037.6-11.3
South Florida @ Western Kentucky 5.033.8- 8.6
Texas @ Wyoming 5.048.9- 8.5

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Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in NCAA Matchup analysis and college football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!

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