Each week NationalChamps.net will be picking several games to breakdown while predicting against the point spread. NationalChamps.net does not support sports betting and is in no way affiliated with online sports bet organizations including advertising clients. This is strictly for enjoyment purposes only.


Texas A&M Coaching Fiasco
Maryland Afraid Of Marshall
Me, Myself, and Irish

Top 25 Breakdown



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KSOM out of Iowa every Thursday at 10:30 am.

Nebraska at Iowa State
Iowa at Penn State
Michigan at Illinois
Alabama at Arkansas

EDGE Breakdown
Oregon State at Southern Cal

INSIDE99: (8-8-1 overall)
Cincinnati -4.5 over Temple
Michigan -7.5 over Illinois
Minnesota +3 over Purdue
Hawaii -22 over Southern Methodist*
* Gotta make that 3am game interesting

Ricky Sixx: (8-7 overall)
Kansas -4 over Tulsa
UCLA -14.5 over San Diego State
Colorado State -11.5 over Nevada


Every Thursday - 10:30 am Eastern Time on KSOM out of Atlantic, Iowa
Friday evening - out of Spokane, WA.
All information provided by university official releases.


COACH: Dan McCarney

Now here's a twist: Iowa State will be the higher-ranked team when it plays Nebraska – first time that has ever happened.

Iowa State coach Dan McCarney is 0-7 against the Cornhuskers.

A victory over the Huskers would put the Cyclones at 2-0 and, more importantly, perhaps signal a changing of the guard in the Big 12 North (well, for a season at least). A Husker win, especially a lopsided one, would indicate that Dan McCarney still has a ways to go in his rebuilding project in Ames.

Nebraska did a fairly decent job of containing Wallace in last season's 48-14 win in Lincoln, but that contest was just his fourth as the ISU starter.

If the Cyclones are going to make a game of it, the ISU defense will need to keep from putting itself in a hole as it did against Florida State and Iowa. The Cyclones were able to right the ship in both games.

COACH: Frank Solich

Nebraska has had an extra week to recover from the disaster at Penn State.

The Cornhuskers' record streak of nearly 21 years of being ranked in The Associated Press media poll is in jeopardy after a humbling loss at Penn State.

The Huskers are playing their first season with Jammal Lord as the starting quarterback. There are also three new starters on the offensive line and the adjustment has been slow.

The offense is averaging 343.8 yards per game, more than 100 yards off last year's mark of 451.2.

The defense has yielded 350.5 yards per game, also way off last year's average of 287.2. Expected to be the strength of the team, Nebraska's defense ranks 61st nationally heading into the Iowa State game.

Nebraska enters the week ranked 76th nationally in total offense. In order to get the offense jump-started, the Huskers might be looking to unleash I-back Dahrran Diedrick on the Cyclones. He'll be facing an Iowa State defense that has had difficulty stopping the run, which leads some to believe that this could be a breakout week for Diedrick.



IOWA (3-1)
COACH: Kirk Ferentz
They beat Penn State at Happy Valley two years ago.

RB Fred Russell (shoulder) should play vs. Penn State after sitting out last week. SS Bob Sanders is still nursing a sprained foot but will try to play this week.

Brad Banks is improving every week. The key to Banks' game is his ability to run the football. He ran for 65 yards vs. Utah State and his running plays came at big moments. When Banks and the rest of the running game is productive, it opens up the passing game for big plays.

The defense has been consistent this season -- with the exception of the second half vs. Iowa State. The group appears to have depth as well as talent.

Now they have to show they can compete with the Big Ten's upper-level teams.

COACH: Joe Paterno.
Penn State was a disaster the last two seasons, but Joe Paterno has bought them back with an offense that has a ton of options. Start with the creativity of Zack Mills, who doesn't have the strongest arm in the Big Ten but is very accurate. Larry Johnson runs with power and cuts well and WRs Tony Johnson and Bryant Johnson are playmakers.

The Nittany Lion defense is active and aware. DT Jimmy Kennedy takes up space in the middle of the line and DE Michael Haynes has become a solid pass rusher. The secondary makes big plays and doesn't give many up.



COACH: Ron Turner
Big problems tackling. Ron Turner's team is reeling, as the Big Ten season is about to start.

With a pre-conference schedule that included three gimmes (Missouri, Arkansas State and San Jose State) and one fairly tough road game (Southern Miss), the Illini expected to start the conference schedule with a 3-1 or 4-0 mark. Instead, Illinois is 1-3 and a complete collapse is a possibility.

The team has had difficult at the QB spot since the first game of the season. While Turner has settled on Jon Beutjer (BYOU-cher) as his starting quarterback and he appears to be a solid thrower, the Illini are not getting the leadership from that position that they did last year from Kurt Kittner.

Illinois get the early award for first-to-worst season so far.

COACH: Lloyd Carr
The Wolverines need to show they can finish drives and stick the ball in the end zone. If they can do that against a very inviting Illinois defense, Michigan should open the Big Ten schedule with a significant road win.

How can you have a team that leads the Big Ten Conference in sacks (15) for 2002, but still only ranks 9th in the conference in pass defense? Michigan fans may still be wondering.

PK Philip Brabbs is making Michigan suffer. He has missed so many big kicks thus far this season, which ends up putting the Wolverines in situations much like the 10-7 score over Utah last week.

Navarre has become one of the most criticized quarterbacks in recent Michigan history. After a solid first half of last season, Navarre has had a hard time putting the ball on the money when the Wolverines need a big play.



COACH: Dennis Franchione
Both teams like to run the ball. Both teams know how to stop the run.

Tailback Ahmaad Galloway's career is over after he tore ligaments in his left knee during Saturday night's 20-7 victory over Southern Mississippi. Galloway, one of the team's captains and a senior, led the Tide in rushing the past two seasons.

The loss of TB Ahmaad Galloway wouldn't be so bad if the quarterback situation didn't remain unsettled because of a foot injury to senior Tyler Watts. While Watts missed more than three quarters of the Southern Miss game, redshirt freshman Brodie Croyle came in and ran for a touchdown but also completed just 4 of 15 passes for 15 yards and two interceptions, including one that USM returned 54 yards for a touchdown.

Alabama's defensive success starts up front with seniors Jarret Johnson, Kindal Moorehead and Kenny King. The trio has 49.5 career sacks, including seven this season. This is one of the best DL’s in the nation.

Houston Nutt

Arkansas is off to a nice start, but the Razorbacks really haven't played anyone yet. Alabama will test Arkansas' offensive and defensive lines, especially in the running game, and force the Razorbacks into their first real physical challenge of the season. QB Matt Jones is just a sophomore, but will need to learn how to pass the football rather quickly this week.

Nationally, the Razorbacks rank No. 1 in rushing defense (37.5 yards per game) and scoring defense (8.5 points per game), However, those stats came against two pass-oriented spread teams, while Alabama runs a more physical, run-oriented offense behind an experienced line that returned all five starters.


written by Jeff Davis

Edge: Oregon State

This may be one of the clearest advantages Oregon State has in this game. Oregon State has a good pass defense, as does Kansas State, and K-State held the USC passing attack in check until the fourth quarter of last week’s game. QB Carson Palmer of the Trojans finally adjusted to Kansas State’s defense by the fourth quarter and USC can hope this adjustment carries into this week at the LA Coliseum. Palmer overall has more consistency this year compared to last, and makes less mistakes. Another bright spot with the Trojan passing attack is that junior Keary Colbert has become quite the go-to receiver. As opposing teams start to take notice, this may free up Kareem Kelly more for big play potential. Oregon State’s pass defense has three experienced starters and is lead by senior corners Dennis Weathersby and Terrell Roberts. The safeties Mitch Meeuwsen and Lawrence Turner have been pulling in the interceptions along with MLB Richard Siegler, who last week proved his is a threat to take it all the way. The secondary as a unit has been flat shutting down opponents passing games so far.

Edge: USC

Oregon State’s passing attack has been ripping defenses so far this year, and last week’s performance by soph QB Derek Anderson against Fresno State is an example of how well he’s done so far this season. He is averaging 316 yards per game, and has amassed 15 TD’s with only one interception. However, the defenses they have faced so far are bottom tier. USC has the top rated passing defense in the nation at this point, lead by SS Troy Polamalu, who has All-American written all over him, and is always coming up with big plays and big hits. FS DeShaun Hill is an experienced senior. CB Darrell Rideaux anchors one side of the secondary, but the other side is up in the air with Ronald Nunn injuring his knee. USC’s pass defense, one could say, is also untested so far this year against weak passing teams. Planning on testing that number one ranking is Oregon State’s WRs James Newson and Shawn Kintner and TE Tim Euhus. Between these two top performing units something has got to give, and we’ll know a lot more after this week, once they have been tested.

Slight Edge: USC

Neither of these two units is highly vaunted, nor have they performed exceptionally well. Oregon State is talented up the middle though, lead by tackles Eric Manning and Dwan Edwards. Nick Barnett and Richard Seigler, two of the Beaver LB’s, often penetrate for losses. What may give the Trojans a slight edge here is that RB Justin Fargas returned last week against Kansas State for a few carries and felt comfortable. With Fargas coming in this week to frequently spell McCullough, add to that Malaefou MacKenzie’s services, the Trojans become very deep at this position. Fargas and McCullough provide the change of pace that Tailback U. has needed to throw defenses off. If Fargas is still too rusty, then Oregon State may win this battle.

Edge: Oregon State

If you tuned in to last week’s Oregon State game versus Fresno State, you know that RB Steven Jackson provides Oregon State with a potent running attack. Remember though, that those 227 yards came against a subject Bulldog run defense. Before that, he was still averaging over 100 yards per game. Last year as a true freshman he averaged 5.3 yards per carry and performed well as a backup to Simonton. One of his best outings was against USC. The Trojan defense did well against Colorado’s running backs (with Ochs out for CU, they focused on the run). But against Kansas State’s rush they gave up too many yards (188 between the QB and RB). With USC’s pass defense, look for the Beavers to try their luck pounding the ball up the middle and around the sides. Matt Grootegood, Melvin Simmons, and Mike Pollard are the tough Trojan LB’s who will try to stop them.

Edge: EVEN

Oregon State’s DL has plenty of experience with Noah Happe, Eric Manning, and Dwan Edwards. The question will be, as it was last year, whether they will be able to stop the run. Opposite them will be some more experience and depth in the Trojan OL. Jacob Rogers, Lenny Vandermade, and Eric Torres are all returning starters who have good unity. True freshman Winston Justice was a Super Prep and Parade All American, and has earned a starting role over senior Zach Wilson at RT.

Edge: USC

USC’s Shaun Cody at tackle and Kenechi Udeze at end are tireless sophomores who highlight the Trojan DL. Mike Patterson and Omar Nazel also make big plays. They all make a tough front. Oregon State’s OL is fairly young and inexperienced and can allow some pass rushers to get by them. The left side has experience with senior Mike Kuykendall at guard. LT Brian Kilkenny is injured, so senior Lee Davis will take his starting position back.

Edge: EVEN

Although Oregon State improved their special teams play last week, neither side has a clear advantage and neither are very impressive.

Oregon State has not won at the Coliseum since 1960. Both teams are markedly better this year than last. USC has two big Pac 10 games at home, this one and Washington, and they know that they must win those. Especially having to go to Pullman next week and later to Autzen Stadium in Eugene. Oregon State’s Steven Jackson must have a big game against USC’s defense. Which team comes out ahead in the match up featuring the top rated passing defense of the Trojans versus a top ten Beaver passing offense is the key to the game. Both teams also have great turnover margins. With a game this close to call, the home field advantage goes to the Trojans of USC.

PICK: USC Trojans



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Editor: David Hershorin