Nebraska has something to prove. So does Kentucky. And Maryland. Throw Alabama in there. Tennessee, too.
Call them measuring-stick games or temperature-takers. They're games that can give a glimpse at the direction and health of a program and there are several on tap this weekend.
The Cornhuskers have the most notable. Top-ranked Southern California comes to the Heartland on Saturday.
Big Red has been taking baby steps toward returning to elite status in three seasons under coach Bill Callahan. There's been progress, Nebraska won the Big 12 North last season, but the Huskers have yet to prove they're capable of slugging it out with the best in the nation.
Last year in Los Angeles, Nebraska hung around but never actually threatened USC in a 28-10 loss. Hanging around at home isn't what HuskerNation is looking for this year.
Kentucky and Maryland face traditional rivals who have dominated them in recent years. The Wildcats host Louisville and the Terrapins get West Virginia on Thursday night, with the underdog home teams looking to swing those series back in their favor.
Arkansas visits Alabama for Nick Saban's first Southeastern Conference home game and the first chance to see how the Crimson Tide is coming along under their $4 million-a-year coach.
Tennessee has been in a rut for the past couple of seasons. Beating the defending champions would be a great way to get out of it.
The picks:
Thursday
No. 4 West Virginia (minus 16 1/2) at Maryland
Mountaineers have won three straight meetings ... WEST VIRGINIA 34-20.
Saturday
No. 1 Southern California (minus 10) at No. 14 Nebraska
Trojans have won seven straight nonconference road games ... USC 33-13.
Middle Tennessee (plus 40 1/2) at No. 2 LSU
Blue Raiders are 3-25 against SEC - all three wins against Vanderbilt ... LSU 55-13.
Utah State (plus 45 1/2) at No. 3 Oklahoma
Sooners lead series 3-0 and average 58 ppg against Aggies ... OKLAHOMA 58-3
No. 22 Tennessee (plus 8) at No. 5 Florida
Home team has won only two of last seven meetings ... FLORIDA 27-24.
No. 6 Texas (minus 19) at UCF
Knights are 6-1 in home openers ... TEXAS 40-14.
The Citadel (no line) at No. 7 Wisconsin
First Big Ten opponent for The Citadel ... WISCONSIN 55-3.
Louisiana Tech (plus 33 1/2) at No. 8 California
Bears lost to Bulldogs in only meeting, 41-34 in '97 ... CAL 58-14.
No. 9 Louisville (minus 6 1/2) at Kentucky
Cardinals are 7-1 with four straight wins in series ... LOUISVILLE 49-44.
No. 10 Ohio State (minus 4) at Washington
Buckeyes are 7-3 against Huskies ... OHIO STATE 24-17.
No. 11 UCLA (minus 13 1/2) at Utah
Bruins are 8-0 vs. Utah, including last year's 31-10 victory ... UCLA 32-14.
Buffalo (plus 34) at No. 12 Penn State
Bulls beat Nittany Lions in only meeting - in 1900 ... PENN STATE 48-10.
Norfolk State (no line) at No. 13 Rutgers
Scarlet Knights have lost to two former I-AA teams since '02 ... RUTGERS 50-3.
No. 21 Boston College (plus 7) at No. 15 Georgia Tech
First meeting as ACC rivals; Tech is 4-1 vs. BC ... GEORGIA TECH 24-21.
No. 16 Arkansas (plus 3) at Alabama
Tide has lost two double-OT games to Razorbacks in last four years ... ALABAMA 25-20.
South Carolina State (no line) at No. 17 South Carolina
Bulldogs coach Buddy Pough is former Gamecocks assistant ... SOUTH CAROLINA 51-7.
Ohio (plus 20 1/2) at No. 18 Virginia Tech
Hokies rank second-to-last in offense in ACC ... VIRGINIA TECH 34-10.
Fresno State (plus 16 1/2) at No. 19 Oregon
Ducks won 31-24 at Fresno State last year ... OREGON 39-27.
Furman (no line) at No. 20 Clemson
Tigers are 20-0-1 in last 21 against Furman ... CLEMSON 43-14.
Western Carolina at No. 23 Georgia
Catamounts second game of season vs. SEC team ... GEORGIA 49-7.
M
M 44-14.
---
Last week's record: 21-0 (straight); 10-7 (vs. points).
Season: 44-1 (straight); 19-18 (vs. points).

Recent NCAAF Discussions

2017 Heisman Odds on Wed, Mar 2017 by Blade
College / NBA today on Sun, Mar 2017 by TtomBoBadly
SNOW on Tue, Mar 2017 by Michael Cash
EARLY COLL PLAYS FOR WED. on Wed, Mar 2017 by Timmy1961

NCAAF Headlines

  • (STATS) - Coming off its best record, Houston Baptist's young FCS program will kick off the 2017 season at Texas State and play four times at home as part of an 11-game schedule.
    The Huskies f...
  • JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) Ken Sparks, a football coach who won 338 games for Division II Carson-Newman to rank fifth on the NCAA's all-time list, has died. He was 73.
    Carson-Newman athletic ...
  • (STATS) - McNeese will play five home games and open the season with a conference matchup for the first time since 1975 as part of an 11-game 2017 schedule which was announced Wednesday.
    The C...
  • (STATS) - The rivalry matchup between Maine and New Hampshire has been moved up two days to Aug. 31 at Wildcat Stadium in Durham, New Hampshire.
    Traditionally the season-ending matchup between...
  • LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) An Arkansas House committee advanced a measure Tuesday to exempt college sporting events from a state law allowing guns after the Southeastern Conference appealed for guns t...

NCAAF Top Stories

Thumbnail Michigan vs. Florida Week 1 Odds One of the featured games in Week 1 of the College Football Season has two historic programs colliding when Michigan faces...
Thumbnail Updated National Championship Odds With over five months before kickoff of the new season, is Alabama still favored to win it all in 2018?
Thumbnail VA Tech opens as favorites vs WVU Some of the Week 1 lines have been released for college football and Virginia Tech has opened as a small favorite versus West Virginia.
Thumbnail Stanford QB on track for camp Stanford head coach David Shaw said that quarterback Keller Chryst is "right on schedule" for training camp.
Thumbnail Clemson has big challenge this spring The biggest question the defending national champion Clemson Tigers face this spring is who will replace leader Deshaun Watson at...

NCAAF Team Pages