Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 9/14/12

The third week of college football is here, so here are the staff picks (all times are Eastern Daylight Time):

Cal at No. 12 Ohio State: Saturday, Noon, ABC               

Andy Coppen's Take: Ohio State may not be able to play for the Big Ten title, but thanks to Tim Brando we all know they can play for the division title. They sure are playing like a team wanting to play for something even though the postseason is out of their reach.

Braxton Miller has been getting all of the attention for the Buckeyes, but it's been the defense that has been key to the 2-0 start as they are giving up just 13 points a game. Cal on the other hand has had an effective offense, but are giving up 31 points a game defensively and that can't be a good thing when you're staring Miller and Co. in the face at the horseshoe.

If the Golden Bears want to have a chance they need to play to their strength, which is running the football. They have two very good running backs in Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson who both average better than 5 yards a carry.

Frankly, I don't like the matchup of Miller vs. the Cal defense and for as bad as the Big Ten is out west, the Pac-12 is just as bad coming to the Midwest. Look for this to be another Buckeye blowout.

The Pick: Ohio State 38, Cal 21

Everybody Else's Take:

Aaron Torres: Cal 24, Ohio State 17

Allen Kenney: Ohio State 35, Cal 7

Kevin McGuire:Ohio State 34, Cal 17

Michael Felder: Ohio State 31, Cal 17

Tom Perry:Ohio State 38, Cal 14

No. 13 Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh: Saturday, Noon, ESPNUTom Perry's Take: As long as Tino Sunseri is starting at quarterback for Pitt, it's hard to see how the Panthers will ever be consistent on offense — even with Ray Graham back running the ball. Virginia Tech is 2-0 and won't be fazed by going on the road for this one. Frank Beamer's task is to keep his team from getting too confident. The Hokies are more talented and should roll behind Logan Thomas and a stout Bud Foster defense.

The Pick: Virginia Tech 45, Pitt 3

Everybody Else's Take:

Aaron Torres: Virginia Tech 20, Pitt 10

Allen Kenney: Virginia Tech 17, Pitt 12

Andy Coppens: Virginia Tech 38, Pitt 10

Kevin McGuire: Virginia Tech 27, Pitt 13

Michael Felder: Virginia Tech 24, Pitt 10

UConn at Maryland: Saturday, 12:30 PM, GamePlan/ESPN3

Andy Coppen's Take: The Randy Edsall bowl has arrived, too bad you can't see it unless you have a computer and ESPN3 access. But, that might be appropriate given where Edsall's Terps are and how bad of shape the Huskies program is now that Edsall isn't there.

Maryland is undefeated to start this season and does hold a nice win over Temple, but they've played some uninspiring football so far this year and this will be their biggest test so far.

UConn has only given up 10 points all season long, granted they haven't played the hardest of teams in UMass and NC State - but you have to like the trend they are setting defensively. For that the Huskies should be able to pull out the road victory over their former coach.

The Pick: UConn 27, Maryland 14

Everybody Else's Take:

Aaron Torres: Maryland 13, UConn 10

Allen Kenney: Maryland 16, UConn 13

Kevin McGuire: Maryland 28, UConn 20

Michael Felder: Maryland 17, UConn 13

Tom Perry: UConn 18, Maryland 17

No. 1 Alabama at Arkansas: Saturday, 3:30 PM, CBS

Allen Kenney's Take: A friendly, unsolicited piece of advice for Tyler Wilson: Sit this one out.

Wilson's status for this weekend remains undetermined. The Arkansas quarterback tends to absorb an abnormally high level of punishment in the course of the average game. If Nick Saban knows he's dinged up, release the hounds.

I'm sure he'd disagree, but Wilson playing won't change the outcome of this game anyway. Bobby Petrino's absence will loom larger every week in Fayetteville as the season wears on.

The Pick: Alabama 35, Arkansas 14

Everybody Else's Take:

Aaron Torres: Alabama 35, Arkansas 13

Andy Coppens: Alabama 31, Arkansas 24

Kevin McGuire: Alabama 31, Arkansas 27

Michael Felder: Alabama 41, Arkansas 10

Tom Perry: Alabama 55, Arkansas 9

Virginia at Georgia Tech: Saturday, 3:30 PM, ESPNU

Michael Felder's Take: Last season the Wahoos beat the Jackets to hand Paul Johnson his first loss of the season and start the Yellow Jackets tumble into relative obscurity in 2011. This year, the game is in Atlanta and Georgia Tech enters as a team no one really knows much about. They lost a tight game to a Virginia Tech team who returned a lot of players on defense and they've beaten a bad Presbyterian team. Now they get their first home challenge and it should be interesting to see where they stand.

For Virginia, a team that's an ugly 2-0 following the Penn State game, this game they have to hope their offense returns for them to get a win. Michael Rocco and the stable of running backs have to get some help from the wide receivers to get the win in Atlanta. Expect Mike London to push the envelope on offense for two reasons; one to jump start his team and two, to get up on the Jackets early and force them to play catch up.

The Pick: Virginia 20 Georgia Tech 17

Everybody Else's Take:

Aaron Torres: Georgia Tech 33, Virginia 30

Allen Kenney: Georgia Tech 24, Virginia 17

Andy Coppens: Virginia 23, Georgia Tech 20

Kevin McGuire: Georgia Tech 26, Virginia 20

Tom Perry: Georgia Tech 34, Virginia 24

Navy at Penn State: Saturday, 3:30 PM, ABC/ESPN

Kevin McGuire's Take: If not for their massive special teams implosion last week Penn State may have walked away with a solid victory at Virginia last week. How do they come back after a second straight tough loss, with a battered offense that sees their top running back lingering and the loss of a starting receiver this week (oh, and Matt McGloin's elbow was roughed up last week too)?

The good news is despite the state of the offense at Penn State, they have a defense that is more than capable of holding back any serious threat from Navy, but watch to see if Midshipman quarterback Trey Miller can find some cracks in a rebuilding Penn State secondary. Miller was accurate and productive against Notre Dame, despite the Mids being torpedoed by the Fighting Itish. Penn State finds a way through another tough game to pick up Bill O'Brien's first career victory on Military Appreciation Day.

The Pick: Penn State 24, Navy 20

Everybody Else's Take:

Aaron Torres: Penn State 16, Navy 10

Allen Kenney: Penn State 27, Navy 14

Andy Coppens: Navy 28, Penn State 13

Michael Felder: Penn State 24, Navy 21

Tom Perry: Penn State 23, Navy 10

No. 18 Florida at No. 23 Tennessee: Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN

Aaron Torres's Take: For the first time in a long time, college football relevance returns to Rocky Top, as Tennessee hosts Florida in what could turn out to be a crucial game in determining the eventual SEC Champs.

But while the old "You can't spell Citrus without UT" days were dominated by Florida, this time around it'll be the Vols who get the edge.

No, Tyler Bray won't put up the great numbers he did against NC State, but one thing that will carry over from that game two weeks ago in Atlanta is the Vols defense. Sal Sunseri has this unit playing at a near-elite level, and with Jeff Driskel still figuring things out at quarterback, he'll spend the entire day confused and on the run.

Bray, Justin Hunter and Coradarrelle Patterson may be the headliners entering this one, but it's the Vols defense which will win it for them.

The Pick: Tennessee 20, Florida 13

Everybody Else's Take:

Allen Kenney: Tennessee 23, Florida 21

Andy Coppens: Tennessee 33, Florida 17

Kevin McGuire: Tennessee 33, Florida 28

Michael Felder: Tennessee 20, Florida 10

Tom Perry: Tennessee 26, Florida 23

Arizona State at Missouri: Saturday, 7:00 PM, ESPN2

Dave Singleton's Take: It's a rematch of one of the more interesting finishes from last season's slate, when Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel iced his own kicker at the end of regulation. The kicker missed and the Tigers lost in overtime, 37-30.

Pinkel is still at Missouri and has moved the Tigers to the SEC, while Arizona State, after collapsing late last season have a new head coach in Todd Graham. Arizona State has only allowed 20 points this season, but that's against Northern Arizona and a bad Illinois team. Missouri blew out SE Louisiana State and hung tough for three quarters in their SEC debut before coughing up the ball multiple times in the fourth quarter and losing to Georgia, 41-20.

This is the first test this season for Arizona State and it's on the road with conference play starting next week. Missouri is at home for the third straight week, but can they recover from a fourth quarter collapse to beat the Sun Devils? If the Tigers are caught peeking ahead to next week's game at South Carolina, they could be caught napping. Missouri is the favorite, but it will be closer than the experts think.

The Pick: Missouri 30, Arizona State 27

Everybody Else's Take:

Aaron Torres: Arizona State 34, Missouri 27

Allen Kenney: Missouri 34, Arizona State 14

Andy Coppens: Missouri 33, Arizona State 23

Kevin McGuire: Missouri 24, Arizona State 20

Michael Felder: Missouri 31, Arizona State 27

Tom Perry: Missouri 44, Arizona State 21

No. 2 USC at No. 21 Stanford: Saturday, 7:30 PM, FOX

Tom Perry's Take: The Trojans weren't on their game last week in a sloppy win over Syracuse, but the Trojans are 2-0 and still considered a title contender with Matt Barkley & Co. Stanford rebounded well last week with a huge win over Duke, but this Cardinal team does not have Andrew Luck and it's hard to see how they win ... even at home. Stanford will try to control the tempo with its running game, but USC's offense is too explosive.

The Pick: USC 58, Stanford 20

Everybody Else's Take:

Aaron Torres: USC 45, Stanford 14

Allen Kenney: USC 24, Stanford 20

Andy Coppens: USC 33, Stanford 17

Kevin McGuire: USC 23, Stanford 17

Michael Felder: USC 45, Stanford 20

No. 20 Notre Dame at No. 10 Michigan State: Saturday, 8:00 PM, ABC

Michael Felder's Take: In this ball game you've got the history of the rivalry and the revenge factor as Michigan State tries to atone for last years embarrassing loss. A loss that likely kept them from getting an at-large bid to a BCS Bowl. On the defensive side of things both teams are quite solid; Michigan State with their dynamic blitzing attack and Notre Dame with their aggressive 3-4 scheme.

The offensive side of the ball is where the questions lie for both squads. Everett Golson and the Irish offensive line will have to solve the riddle of the Michigan State blitz. The last high profile, young quarterback the Spartans faced was Braxton Miller and they made the kid look silly by confusing him. They'll look to do the same against Golson. For the Spartans the question is who steps up besides Le'Veon Bell. Andrew Maxwell will have to beat Notre Dame because the Irish are going to load up the box and dare the kid to throw the football.

The Pick: Michigan State 24, Notre Dame 20

Everybody Else's Take:

Aaron Torres: Michigan State 24, Notre Dame 17

Allen Kenney: Michigan State 28, Notre Dame 20

Andy Coppens: Michigan State 20, Notre Dame 17

Kevin McGuire: Notre Dame 23, Michigan State 21

Tom Perry: Michigan State 30, Notre Dame 20

No. 14 Texas at Ole Miss: Saturday, 9:15 p.m. ESPN

Allen Kenney's Take: Despite their glistening 2-0 records, we don't know much about either of teams right now. JUCO transfer QB Bo Wallace and the rest of the Rebels appear to have a handle on new coach Hugh Freeze's high-tempo spread offense, but playing Central Arkansas and UTEP can mask plenty of warts. Likewise, Texas' offense seems to be improving under sophomore QB David Ash, but Wyoming and New Mexico aren't the stiffest tests.

Expect Ole Miss to use tempo to try to negate the UT defense's match-up advantages. When Texas has the ball, the Rebs will likely stack the line of scrimmage to stop the run and force Ash to make plays in the passing game on the road. That sounds like a plan to keep Ole Miss close for a half, but not a full game.

The Pick: Texas 21, Ole Miss 10

Everybody Else's Take:

Aaron Torres: Texas 24, Ole Miss 10

Andy Coppens: Texas 41, Ole Miss 10

Kevin McGuire: Texas 24, Ole Miss 10

Michael Felder: Texas 24, Ole Miss 10

Tom Perry: Texas 27, Ole Miss 0

No. 25 BYU at Utah: Saturday, 10:00 PM, ESPN

Aaron Torres's Take: Of every takeaway from Week 1, one of the biggest ones for college football fans had to be: "Wow, BYU is really good."

Of every takeaway from Week 2, one of the biggest ones for college football fans had to be: "Wow, Utah is bad." Don't expect much to change Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

Defensively the Utes have the guys up front to keep Riley Nelson and company honest, but without Jordan Wynn on offense, they won't have nearly enough to put up the points needed to win. Look for BYU's defense- which stifled Washington State in their opener- to have a similar performance on Saturday.

BYU should win this one comfortably.

The Pick: BYU 24, Utah 3

Kevin McGuire's Take: It's been a tough week for the Utah Utes, first with an overtime loss at Utah State and the sudden retirement of quarterback Jordan Wynn. Now they must somehow prepare for a BYU team that is riding high two weeks in to the season. This is one of the best rivalries in the west that tends to fly under the radar so no matter what has developed so far I expect Kyle Whittingham ready to play this game at home.

But BYU has been showing some good defense, although against weak competition. Are these Cougars for real, or will they drop back to Earth in The Holy War? For now, I'm riding with the Cougs until next week's game at Boise State.

The Pick: BYU 30, Utah 20

Everybody Else's Take:

Allen Kenney: BYU 20, Utah 17

Andy Coppens: BYU 33, Utah 10

Michael Felder: BYU 27, Utah 10

Tom Perry: BYU 29, Utah 17


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