Florida Atlantic at Wyoming
MIKE’S PICK: Wyoming’s offense showed positive flashes in the loss at Oregon, running the ball effectively and spreading the ball around to a number of capable receivers. Back at home this week, the Cowboys’ offense will continue to find its rhythm. The defense needs to avoid a hangover, but if it does Wyoming will earn its third victory of the season against a scrappy opponent in Florida Atlantic.
THIS WEEK: Boise State found a closer game than it expected last week, holding a narrow lead through three quarters at Connecticut before pulling away for a 38-21 victory. The 2-1 Broncos return home this week, hosting Louisiana-Lafayette late on Saturday night.
BIG MAN ON CAMPUS: Matt Miller. Boise State’s senior wide receiver holds the longest streak for consecutive games with a catch in the country, and he extended that and then some in the victory over UConn last week. Miller hauled in five catches for 74 yards and two scores. Quarterback Grant Hedrick will be looking to Miller early and often throughout the season.
MIKE’S PICK: Boise State and Louisiana-Lafayette have both fallen at the hands of Ole Miss, as the Broncos lost to the Rebels in the opener and the Ragin’ Cajuns lost 56-15 last week. At home, Boise State should have much more firepower than its opponent from the Sun Belt Conference. Expect the Broncos to pull out a sizable victory.
THIS WEEK: Fresno State was bulldozed by a ‘Power 5’ team for the third straight game last week, surrendering at least 13 points in each quarter in a 55-19 home loss to Nebraska. The Bulldogs will search for a small dose of release on Saturday night when they host 0-3 Southern Utah.
BMOC: Brian Burrell. When you lose by at least 30 points for the third consecutive game, it’s hard to anoint any stars. But Burrell held his own, completing 30 of 59 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown while running for 59 yards and another score. It may not be an extraordinary effort, but right now the Bulldogs are very far from extraordinary.
MIKE’S PICK: Fresno State looks bad, but Southern Utah is worse. The Thunderbirds of the Big Sky Conference have lost to Nevada, Southeast Louisiana and South Dakota State to begin their season. In a battle of winless teams, the Bulldogs will spread the ball around and the Southern Utah defense will tire. It may be a long time coming, but Fresno State will pick up its first win of the 2014 season.
THIS WEEK: Isn’t victory sweet? Hawaii tasted it for only the second time in its last 15 games last week, overcoming the loss of senior running back Joey Iosefa to eek past FCS opponent Northern Iowa 27-24 at home. The Rainbow Warriors head to the mainland for the first time this season, taking on their third Pac-12 foe in four games — Colorado.
BMOC: Kennedy Tulimasealii. Hawaii’s 6-foot-1, 280-pound sophomore defensive lineman made a huge impact in the win over Northern Iowa, stuffing running lanes and helping hold the Panthers to 55 rushing yards and 1.5 yards per carry. Tulimasealii finished the game with four tackles and a team-high three tackles for loss.
MIKE’S PICK: Iosefa’s loss may have done real damage to Hawaii, which put up strong efforts in losses against Washington and Oregon State but barely sneaked by an FCS opponent at home last week. Colorado is far from the pride of the Pac-12, but I expect the Buffs to key in on stopping the Hawaii run game. And in recent years, the Rainbow Warriors have played much worse on the road. Pencil in a Colorado victory.
THIS WEEK: New Mexico still has problems on defense. Two weeks ago, the Lobos surrendered 58 points in a loss to No. 17 Arizona State, a week after being outscored in a surprise loss to UTEP. While they’re on the road this week, the Lobos won’t travel far. New Mexico travels to play in-state rival New Mexico State on Saturday night.
BMOC: Teriyon Gipson. The Lobos’ talented sophomore did it all against Arizona State, combining 73 rushing yards on only 15 carries and 65 receiving yards and a touchdown. Regardless of how New Mexico uses him, the 5-foot-8, 176-pound speedster is a viable threat at any position.
MIKE’S PICK: New Mexico likes to run, and it’s going to run effectively against New Mexico State. Gipson, running back Jhurell Pressley and quarterback Lamar Jordan will all receive a significant share of carries, steadily wearing the Aggie defense down. The Lobos will earn their first win of the season.
San Diego State
THIS WEEK: Another week, another challenge. After nearly defeating No. 21 North Carolina on the road two weeks ago, the Aztecs — fresh off a bye week — travel to play another ‘Power 5’ team in Oregon State in a late game on Saturday night. Better believe Rocky Long’s team is thinking upset after letting one slip through its grasp against the Tar Heels.
BMOC: Donnel Pumphrey. San Diego State’s 5-foot-9, 170-pound running back went off against North Carolina, running 17 times for an even 100 yards and two touchdowns. He also added five catches for 18 yards. Through two games, Pumphrey has run for at least 100 yards and scored two touchdowns in each.
MIKE’S PICK: Oregon State hasn’t looked particularly impressive in either of its two wins this season, defeating lowly Portland State by two scores at home and topping a 1-11 Hawaii team from 2013 by only eight points. Meanwhile, San Diego State nearly took a game from a ranked team on the road. Both teams are coming off bye weeks, and I like San Diego State to pull the upset here.
San Jose State
THIS WEEK: Last season, San Jose State hoped to walk into Minnesota and pull a major upset. Instead, the Golden Gophers cruised in a 43-24 victory. A year later, the Spartans will give it a shot without the services of departed quarterback David Fales.
BMOC: Tyler Ervin. Ervin is a big-play receiver, and he certainly made a big play in San Jose State’s 59-13 loss at Auburn two weeks ago. Before the Tigers poured it on, Ervin — a 5-foot-10, 178-pound junior — took a pass 75 yards to the end zone to tie the game in the first quarter. He’ll look for more home runs against Minnesota as well as in the conference season.
MIKE’S PICK: The jury is still out on San Jose State. The Spartans easily put away North Dakota in their season opener, then were thoroughly drubbed by No. 5 Auburn two weeks ago. This game against Minnesota could be a measuring stick for the team. And in time, the Golden Gophers will pound the ball on the ground and run through the Spartan defense. Minnesota scores the win.
THIS WEEK: UNLV lost the battle of the mid-majors last week, surrendering 48 points in a loss to Mid-American Conference foe Northern Illinois at home. The Runnin’ Rebels have given up an average of 36 points per game in their first three games. Bobby Hauck’s team travels to play Houston on Saturday.
BMOC: Devante Davis. Davis showed why he’s one of the premier wide receivers in the Mountain West last week, racking up 150 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the loss to NIU. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior has two 100-yard receiving games in his first three games.
MIKE’S PICK: The Runnin’ Rebels haven’t proven they can consistently defend. And though Houston doesn’t own as prolific an offense as it has in recent seasons, the Cougars have begun to find their form in the last two games. Expect lots of points, big plays and busted coverages on both sides. And in the end, Houston will earn the victory.
THIS WEEK: Once again, Utah State is Darell Garretson’s team. The Aggies defeated Wake Forest last week, but lost starting quarterback Chuckie Keeton to another knee injury in the process. After he went 6-1 as a starter last year, Garretson will lead Utah State into a road game at Arkansas State on Saturday night.
BMOC: Zach Vigil. Utah State’s senior linebacker filled the stat sheet last week, registering four tackles, four quarterback hurries, 2.5 tackles for loss, one pass break up and an interception that he returned 37 yards for his first career touchdown. He’ll have a hard time topping that performance against Arkansas State.
MIKE’S PICK: Utah State’s defense seems to be rounding into shape, and the offense is far from lost with Garretson at the helm. The sophomore passed for 1,446 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, so any inexperienced jitters are behind him. Arkansas State is also no slouch, but the Aggies will do enough to pick up their third consecutive victory on the road.