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 This will be an educational weekend in college football. With a host of big games on the slate, we'll learn a lot about several teams, such as:
-Do LSU and Virginia Tech have enough offense to go with their stellar defenses? The Tigers and Hokies meet in Baton Rouge, La., in the week's most compelling matchup. Both sputtered offensively last week and face much stiffer tests in Week 2.
-How good is Oklahoma and what's the early progress report on Miami under new coach Randy Shannon? The Sooners dropped 79 points on North Texas last week with new quarterback Sam Bradford and new tailback DeMarco Murray having huge games against a helpless opponent. The Hurricanes' defense won't be so soft. If the 'Canes can win in Norman, there's no reason they can't win the Atlantic Coast Conference.
-How bad is Notre Dame? The Irish managed three points at home against Georgia Tech. It won't get any easier in Happy Valley against a Penn State team looking for payback for last year's 41-17 South Bend beat down.
-Should Texas be worried and can TCU contend for a national championship? The Longhorns were less than inspiring in a 21-13 victory over Arkansas State last week. Maybe they were just sleepwalking? The Horned Frogs have a chance to vault up the rankings with a road victory.
The picks:
Thursday
Middle Tennessee (plus 39) at No. 8 Louisville
Cardinals scored 201 points in last four games against Sun Belt teams ... LOUISVILLE 55-14.
Friday, Sept. 7
Navy (plus 16 1/2) at No. 15 Rutgers
Scarlet Knights shut out Navy 34-0 last season ... RUTGERS 35-17.
Saturday, Sept. 8
No. 9 Virginia Tech (plus 12 1/2) at No. 2 LSU
Hokies won only meeting 26-8 in '02 at Blacksburg ... LSU 21-7.
No. 3 West Virginia (minus 24) at Marshall
Last Mountaineers game in Huntington was 1915 - they won 92-6 ... WEST VIRGINIA 52-10
Troy (plus 26 1/2) at No. 4 Florida
Gators are 10-0 under Urban Meyer in nonconference games ... FLORIDA 50-20.
Miami (plus 10 1/2) at No. 5 Oklahoma
In 1985, unranked 'Canes beat No. 3 Sooners in Norman ... OKLAHOMA 24-16.
No. 5 Wisconsin (minus 25 1/2) at UNLV
Badgers last nonconference loss was to Rebels in '03 ... WISCONSIN 44-17.
No. 22 TCU (plus 7) at No. 7 Texas
Last met in 1995; Longhorns have won 27 of last 28 meetings ... TEXAS 23-21.
No. 10 California (plus 14) at Colorado State
Rams won only meeting in '03 ... CALIFORNIA 48-28.
South Carolina (plus 5) at No. 11 Georgia
Bulldogs have won five straight in series ... SOUTH CAROLINA 20-17.
Akron (plus 29) at No. 12 Ohio State
Zips are 1-15 against Big Ten with win over Buckeyes - in 1894 ... OHIO STATE 39-7.
BYU (plus 7) at No. 13 UCLA
UCLA leads series 6-1 ... UCLA 24-20.
Notre Dame (plus 17 1/2) at No. 14 Penn State
Joe Paterno is 8-6 vs. Fighting Irish ... PENN STATE 28-14.
No. 16 Nebraska (minus 8) at Wake Forest
Brett Hodges replaces injured QB Riley Skinner for Wake ... NEBRASKA 36-24.
South Florida (plus 7) at No. 17 Auburn
Auburn 5-1-1 against current Big East teams ... SOUTH FLORIDA 23-17.
No. 20 Hawaii (minus 28) at Louisiana Tech
Warriors lead series 4-1 and average 36 points vs. Bulldogs ... HAWAII 44-24.
Samford (no line) at No. 21 Georgia Tech
Tech coach Chan Gailey coached Samford in 1993 ... GEORGIA TECH 48-10.
No. 22 Boise State (minus 3) at Washington
Broncos 2-0 vs. Pac-10 ... WASHINGTON 30-28.
M
M 35-20.
Southern Mississippi (plus 10 1/2) at No. 24 Tennessee
Volunteers are 4-0 against Golden Eagles ... TENNESSEE 29-14.
Louisiana-Monroe (plus 27) at No. 25 Clemson
Tigers are 3-1 after Florida State game last four years ... CLEMSON 55-14.
---
Record: 23-1 (straight); 10-7 (vs. points).

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