Professional Handicapper Kelso Sturgeon

Kelso Sturgeon is in the middle of a 5-1-1 run in the NBA Playoffs! Don't miss another day of winning action: click here to get with Kelso for the rest of the NBA Playoffs!
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 733 PACERS
 734 HAWKS
4/24/2014 7:00 PM(et)
-2
+2
186 
-2
+2
187 
-3
+3
187 
-2½
+2½
186½ 
-2
+2
187 
-3
+3
187½ 
 735 THUNDER
 736 GRIZZLIES
4/24/2014 8:00 PM(et)
-1
+1
190 
-2½
+2½
190 
-3
+3
190 
-2½
+2½
188½ 
-2½
+2½
190 
-3
+3
190 
 737 CLIPPERS
 738 WARRIORS
4/24/2014 10:30 PM(et)
-1
+1
214 
-3
+3
212 
-3
+3
213 
-2½
+2½
214½ 
-3
+3
212 
-3½
+3½
212 
 739 RAPTORS
 740 NETS
4/25/2014 7:00 PM(et)
+4
-4
191 
+5
-5
191 
 
+5
-5
191½ 
+5
-5
191 
+5
-5
191 
 741 BULLS
 742 WIZARDS
4/25/2014 8:00 PM(et)
+2½
-2½
181 
+3
-3
182½ 
 
+3
-3
182½ 
+3
-3
182½ 
+3
-3
182½ 
 743 ROCKETS
 744 BLAZERS
4/25/2014 10:30 PM(et)
+3
-3
216 
+3
-3
216 
 
+3
-3
215½ 
+3
-3
216 
+3
-3
216 
 747 SPURS
 748 MAVERICKS
4/26/2014 4:30 PM(et)
-3½
+3½
202 
-3½
+3½
202 
 
-3½
+3½
202½ 
-3½
+3½
202½ 
-3½
+3½
201½ 
 749 HEAT
 750 BOBCATS
4/26/2014 7:00 PM(et)
-5
+5
188 
-5½
+5½
188 
 
-6
+6
188½ 
-5½
+5½
188 
-5½
+5½
188 
 901 REDS
 902 PIRATES
4/24/2014 12:35 PM(et)
-120
+120
7½p 
+103
-113
7o 
+102
-112
7o 
-110
-110
7o 
+101
-111
7o 
+105
-125
7o 
 903 CARDINALS
 904 METS
4/24/2014 1:10 PM(et)
-120
+120
7o 
-130
+120
7p 
-136
+126
7o 
-125
+105
7o 
-129
+119
7p 
-145
+120
7u 
 905 DIAMONDBACKS
 906 CUBS
4/24/2014 2:20 PM(et)
+120
-120
off 
+110
-120
10½u 
+112
-122
10½u 
even
-120
10½p 
+110
-120
10½u 
+110
-130
10½u 
 907 PADRES
 908 NATIONALS
4/24/2014 7:05 PM(et)
+160
-160
7½p 
+150
-160
7o 
+151
-166
7o 
+150
-170
7½u 
+146
-158
7o 
+140
-165
7p 
 909 PHILLIES
 910 DODGERS
4/24/2014 10:10 PM(et)
+150
-150
7½u 
+157
-167
7o 
+155
-170
7o 
+155
-175
7o 
+151
-166
7o 
+150
-180
7o 
 911 ROYALS
 912 INDIANS
4/24/2014 12:05 PM(et)
+130
-130
8½p 
+118
-128
7½u 
+117
-127
7½p 
+105
-125
7½o 
+116
-126
7½u 
+110
-130
7½p 
 913 WHITESOX
 914 TIGERS
4/24/2014 1:08 PM(et)
+200
-200
8½p 
+200
-220
7½u 
+195
-225
7½u 
+200
-240
7½u 
+200
-220
7½u 
+205
-255
7½u 
 915 TWINS
 916 RAYS
4/24/2014 1:10 PM(et)
+150
-150
8½p 
+144
-154
8u 
+142
-157
8u 
+130
-150
8u 
+146
-156
8u 
+145
-170
8u 
 917 ORIOLES
 918 BLUEJAYS
4/24/2014 7:07 PM(et)
+120
-120
9p 
+126
-136
9u 
+129
-139
9u 
+120
-140
9o 
+126
-136
9u 
+115
-135
9u 
 919 YANKEES
 920 REDSOX
4/24/2014 7:10 PM(et)
-110
+110
9u 
+107
-117
8½u 
+105
-115
8½u 
+105
-125
8½u 
+110
-120
8½u 
-105
-115
8½u 
 921 ATHLETICS
 922 ASTROS
4/24/2014 8:10 PM(et)
-160
+160
7½o 
-160
+150
8o 
-168
+153
8o 
-170
+150
8o 
-162
+147
8o 
-165
+140
8½u 
 951 PADRES
 952 NATIONALS
4/25/2014 7:05 PM(et)
+200
-200
6½p 
 
 
 
 
 
 953 MARLINS
 954 METS
4/25/2014 7:10 PM(et)
+110
-110
7½p 
 
 
 
 
 
 955 REDS
 956 BRAVES
4/25/2014 7:35 PM(et)
+150
-150
7o 
 
 
 
 
 
 957 CUBS
 958 BREWERS
4/25/2014 8:10 PM(et)
+180
-180
8p 
 
 
 
 
 
 959 PIRATES
 960 CARDINALS
4/25/2014 8:15 PM(et)
+120
-120
7o 
 
 
 
 
 
 961 PHILLIES
 962 DIAMONDBACKS
4/25/2014 9:40 PM(et)
+120
-120
10p 
 
 
 
 
 
 963 ROCKIES
 964 DODGERS
4/25/2014 10:10 PM(et)
+140
-140
7½u 
 
 
 
 
 
 965 ANGELS
 966 YANKEES
4/25/2014 7:05 PM(et)
+120
-120
9u 
 
 
 
 
 
 967 ROYALS
 968 ORIOLES
4/25/2014 7:05 PM(et)
+110
-110
8½o 
 
 
 
 
 
 969 REDSOX
 970 BLUEJAYS
4/25/2014 7:07 PM(et)
+130
-130
8½u 
 
 
 
 
 
 971 RAYS
 972 WHITESOX
4/25/2014 8:10 PM(et)
-130
+130
9u 
 
 
 
 
 
 973 ATHLETICS
 974 ASTROS
4/25/2014 8:10 PM(et)
-180
+180
8p 
 
 
 
 
 
 975 TIGERS
 976 TWINS
4/25/2014 8:10 PM(et)
-130
+130
8½p 
 
 
 
 
 
 977 RANGERS
 978 MARINERS
4/25/2014 10:10 PM(et)
-120
+120
7½u 
 
 
 
 
 
 979 INDIANS
 980 GIANTS
4/25/2014 10:15 PM(et)
+160
-160
7½u 
 
 
 
 
 
 461 PACKERS
 462 SEAHAWKS
9/4/2014 8:30 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
+3½
-3½
44½ 
 
 463 SAINTS
 464 FALCONS
9/7/2014 1:00 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
-
pick
51½ 
 
 465 VIKINGS
 466 RAMS
9/7/2014 1:00 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
+4
-4
45½ 
 
 467 BROWNS
 468 STEELERS
9/7/2014 1:00 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
+5
-5
41½ 
 
 469 JAGUARS
 470 EAGLES
9/7/2014 1:00 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
+11½
-11½
51½ 
 
 471 RAIDERS
 472 JETS
9/7/2014 1:00 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
+4½
-4½
40 
 
 473 BENGALS
 474 RAVENS
9/7/2014 1:00 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
+1½
-1½
44 
 
 475 BILLS
 476 BEARS
9/7/2014 1:00 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
+5½
-5½
48½ 
 
 477 REDSKINS
 478 TEXANS
9/7/2014 1:00 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
+1½
-1½
46 
 
 479 TITANS
 480 CHIEFS
9/7/2014 1:00 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
+5½
-5½
44½ 
 
 481 PATRIOTS
 482 DOLPHINS
9/7/2014 1:00 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
-2½
+2½
46½ 
 
 483 PANTHERS
 484 BUCCANEERS
9/7/2014 4:25 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
-3
+3
41 
 
 485 49ERS
 486 COWBOYS
9/7/2014 4:25 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
-3
+3
47½ 
 
 487 COLTS
 488 BRONCOS
9/7/2014 8:30 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
+6½
-6½
55 
 
 489 GIANTS
 490 LIONS
9/8/2014 7:10 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
+3½
-3½
45 
 
 491 CHARGERS
 492 CARDINALS
9/8/2014 10:20 PM(et)
 
 
 
 
+3
-3
44 
 

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No College Basketball games scheduled.

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Kelso Sturgeon has been a professional handicapper for 40 years and has a deep understanding of all facets of the game, be it football, basketball, baseball or horse racing. He's worked as a football scout in the SEC and studied under Hall of Fame coaches like Alabama's Bear Bryant, winner of five national titles and Hank Stram of the Kansas City Chiefs, who won the 1970 Super Bowl. He's been a Regional Sports Editor for the Associated Press, worked as a successful jockey agent and authored several books teaching people how to be a handicapper, including the bestseller, THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO SPORTS BETTING. Kelso also understands that to be a successful handicapper means knowing the business of gambling, and to that end he is personal friends with most of the big linesmakers in Las Vegas and gets the daily scoop on what is happening on the other side of the counter. There is no one better qualifed to be your personal handicapper than Kelso Sturgeon.

Contact us or call 1-800-755-2255 to get Kelso Sturgeon as your personal handicapper. Enter here to get today's free pick!

Extra Point - Week Eight: Early Playoff Synopsis

The Sports Network Mid-Major Top 10 to set up this showdown of that polls top teams. But even with the Bulldogs success at the Mid-Major level, the Toreros should win this game going away if they are a top 25-caliber team. Drake lost to Northern Iowa, 48-7, in its home opener, and lost by more than 30 points to UNI and Illinois State last year. They did play San Diego tough in a 31-26 loss in 2005, so the Toreros have to turn it up a notch to match what other top 25 teams did against the Bulldogs. That will be hard to do, since this is a conference game where Drake will want to prove it can contend for the top spot in the PFL and the Mid-Major level. But this is a better San Diego team, which has too much going right to slip up right now. They might not be able to match what UNI did, but should win fairly easily in their last real statement game before they can think about any type of schedule re-arrangement in hopes of a playoff berth. Prediction: San Diego 34, Drake 17

No. 20 Alabama A & M (5-1, 3-1) at Arkansas Pine-Bluff (3-3, 2-2), 3:30

Things just arent going to come easy for Alabama A & M this year. Every Bulldog game has been decided by seven points or less, and they couldnt even put away a poor Division II team last week, with a 21-14 victory against Stillman. But, close games or not, the Bulldogs are winning, and they are in position to make a trip to Jackson State on Nov. 4 the deciding game for the SWAC East title and a berth in the league title game. They just have to keep finding a way with road games against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Alabama State until that point, and those contests are looking tougher. The Golden Lions started the season with a 1-3 mark, but they have won two in a row after knocking off Grambling State, 33-28, last week. Quarterback Chris Wallace completed 12-of-15 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns in that game, and Martel Mallet led a productive ground game with 143 yards. That pair will need those type of efforts again, because the competition steps up a notch this week. Alabama A & M is holding opponents to 3.5 yards per carry, and has allowed less than 300 yards per game overall. The Bulldogs figure to keep the Golden Lion offense from breaking out, and get a favorable matchup on the other side of the ball. Alabama A & M runs the ball for 183 yards per contest, and a deep backfield should give them an edge against a defense that allows 4.7 yards per carry. The Bulldog offense isnt potent enough overall to run away with this game, but they have a seasoned team that is obviously comfortable in close games. It will probably be decided by less than a touchdown again, but Alabama A & M will get closer to a showdown with Jackson State by edging the Golden Lions. Prediction: Alabama A & M 24, Arkansas Pine-Bluff 20

Hofstra (2-4, 1-2) at No. 19 Maine (4-2, 3-0), 2:00

I couldnt believe it myself when I thought of this possibility, but its not completely out of the question for Maines emergence to help the Atlantic 10 to send five teams to the postseason. Now, before the East Coast bias and A-10 lover complaints come out, Im not saying it will happen. Even if that many teams were in playoff position, the selection committee would probably find any reason they could to keep one conference from saturating the field. But is it really unrealistic to think the Black Bears will put that question to the committee? Maine should win its next three games, and go into games against Massachusetts and New Hampshire with a 7-2 record. If the Black Bears win one of those games, they can get to 8-3 with a 7-1 Atlantic 10 mark. All three of those teams could have playoff-worthy records, and James Madison and Richmond could be sitting there with the necessary records. For now, thats a lot of speculation and a long way off, but the Black Bears can at least pose the question if they keep playing defense like they have lately. Maine forced Villanova into a ridiculous -39 total in rushing yardage in last weeks 20-7 victory, and now places second in the nation in rush defense with 70.2 yards per game and 2.23 yards per carry allowed. The Black Bears are giving up 16.5 points per contest, and should do well against an upcoming schedule that includes Hofstra, Rhode Island and Northeastern if the offense comes along like it did last week. Ron Whitcomb threw for 209 yards, and the Black Bears displayed one of their most balanced efforts of the season with 337 total yards. They still need to keep it up until the tough final stretch, but the matchup is favorable this week. Hofstra has lost four of its last five games, and could not get anything going on offense in a 10-6 loss at Delaware on Saturday. The Pride has struggled to run the ball, and will have trouble winning with a one-dimensional attack against the Maine defense. Hofstras defense should keep it close, but Maine will prevail with another big effort from its defense and a few plays from the offense. Prediction: Maine 20, Hofstra 10

Southern Utah (3-4, 0-1) at No. 18 UC Davis (3-3, 0-1), 4:00

Last weeks 33-13 victory against Central Arkansas had to feel good for the Aggies. After starting the season with a 2-3 record on a five-game road trip that ended with losses to Youngstown State and Cal Poly, the Aggies finally got to return home and got a quality effort from quarterback Jon Grant and their strong defense. Grant completed 26-of-37 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns, and the Aggie defense recorded four interceptions and held Central Arkansas to 31 rushing yards to pull away in the second half for the victory. Now the Aggies have a chance to gain some momentum to end the season on a high note with four of the final five at home before becoming playoff eligible next year. They also want to come back in the Great West race with the next three games in conference play, and should get that quest off to a nice start against the Thunderbirds. Southern Utah is vastly improved this year after finishing 1-9 last season, but they have dropped four of the last five games and are just 1-4 against Division I foes. There are some good performances in losses against Cal Poly and McNeese State, but the Thunderbirds arent quite at the level where they can seriously compete for the Great West crown. Running back Johnny Sanchez and quarterback Wes Marshall form a nice pair, but they will have a difficult task against the UC Davis defense. Marshall has tossed nine interceptions, and a UC Davis secondary that picked off four passes last week should be ready for another solid effort. Grant should do better against the Southern Utah pass defense, and a UC Davis team that is going to enjoy the comforts of home for a while should be in good shape for a win against a team at the end of a brutal four-game road stretch. Prediction: UC Davis 31, Southern Utah 14

Murray State (1-6, 0-4) at No. 17 Eastern Illinois (4-3, 3-0), 2:30

With a 4-3 overall mark, its almost easy to overlook Eastern Illinois. Even though the Panther losses came to I-A Illinois and Hawaii and at Illinois State, they were kind of middling with a 2-3 mark a few weeks back and hadnt knocked off anyone to speak of while Tennessee-Martin was making waves in the OVC. Well, everything hasnt changed with Tennessee-Martin still as a major player in the race, but Eastern Illinois has shown it might just still be the class of the league in the last two weeks. The Panthers dominated Southeast Missouri State two weeks ago, 21-0, and jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter before holding on for a 28-21 victory at Eastern Kentucky. That win moved the Panthers to 3-0 in the league, and keeps them in line for a showdown at Tennessee-Martin next week. Running back Vincent Webb ran for 124 yards on only 14 carries in the win at Eastern Kentucky, and has established himself as a top running back with 864 yards and more than six yards per carry this year. Wide receiver Micah Rucker already has 674 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging more than 20 yards per catch, and the defense has come along nicely after struggling against its tough early schedule. That type of balanced team should make next weeks game at Tennessee-Martin very interesting. And while that may be looking ahead too much, the Panthers can probably afford to have one eye on next week when you consider this Saturdays opponent. Murray State is in year one of a rebuilding effort with first-year head coach Matt Griffin, and clearly still has a long way to go with one of the worst defenses in the country. They have survived somewhat because of 18 turnovers, but have given up possession 21 times as well. Theres nothing that indicates this should be a game, as the Panthers win their third straight game in impressive fashion to set up next weeks big matchup. Prediction: Eastern Illinois 45, Murray State 17

No. 16 Tennessee-Martin (5-1, 2-0) at Samford (3-4, 1-3), 3:00

Tennessee-Martin enjoyed a week off to reflect on its amazing turnaround over the last two seasons, which is now in full stride with a 5-1 overall record, No. 16 overall ranking and share of the lead in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Skyhawks can really make a statement that they are an upcoming team and take the lead in the conference race by winning at home against defending OVC champion Eastern Illinois next week, but they cant look past the Bulldogs before getting to that point. Samford is only 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the league, but did put up a respectable effort against Eastern Illinois and got going against Murray State last week. The Bulldogs scored 33 points and notched 348 yards of total offense in that game, but four interceptions and a strong defensive effort has to concern Tennessee-Martin even more. The Samford pass defense ranks 18th in the country with only 154.3 yards per game, and should shut down a Tennessee-Martin passing game that only tallies 135 yards per game and has more interceptions than touchdowns. Of course, that hasnt stopped the Skyhawks before. They completed just 2-of-12 passes for 40 yards in a 35-16 win at Tennessee Tech two weeks ago, but got 214 rushing yards from Donald Chapman in that game and notched 289 yards as a team. The Skyhawks are averaging 216 yards and five yards per carry for the year, and should hold their own against a fairly good Samford defense. They probably wont need much offense in this game anyway, as a Tennessee-Martin defense that ranks sixth in the nation overall and allows less than four yards per play matches up well with a Samford offense that hasnt done much well. Winning without much production from the passing game could bite the Skyhawks eventually, but they have the edge in the running game and defense to win here. Prediction: Tennessee-Martin 20, Samford 13

Western Kentucky (3-3, 2-1) at No. 13 Southern Illinois (5-1, 2-1), 7:00

Southern Illinois game at Illinois State drew all the headlines last week, as the then No. 7 team in the country traveled to No. 5 with first place in the Gateway Conference on the line. But really, this game could be even more important for the Salukis. While they could have cemented their status as a top national team by moving to 6-0 with a win over Illinois State, a road loss to a higher-ranked team is going to be acceptable come playoff selection time. With games remaining against Youngstown State and UNI, a loss to Western Kentucky might not be as easy to endure. The Salukis had another great day from outstanding running back Arkee Whitlock last week, as he tallied 140 yards against the Redbirds and now has 823 yards and nine touchdowns this season. But nothing else went all that well, as quarterback Nick Hill had his first tough outing and the defense was shredded by the Redbirds rushing and passing games. Western Kentucky doesnt have as much firepower, but the Hilltoppers can put points on the board if the Salukis dont pick it up. They only scored 17 in a three-point win at Missouri State last week, but are averaging 24 points per game. Running back Lerron Moore (526 yards, 6 TD) is ending his career on a high note, and quarterback Justin Haddix has 1,267 yards and nine touchdowns through the air. The Hilltoppers scored 27 points against Illinois State and 38 against Western Illinois, so they are capable of putting up points on a Southern Illinois defense that showed some holes. Whether they can stop the Salukis might be a different story. Whitlock will get to go up against a defense that has surrendered 165 yards per game and 15 touchdowns on the ground, and Hill can at least play an efficient game against a team that only has two interceptions this year. The Hilltoppers have played all of their five I-AA opponents to within seven points or less, and the offense should score enough to keep this close. But they could have trouble stopping Whitlock, and hell combine with a strong offensive line to control the game down the stretch and help the Salukis prevail in a high-scoring game. Prediction: Southern Illinois 34, Western Kentucky 27

Chattanooga (3-4, 2-2) at No. 12 Furman (5-2, 3-0), 2:00

Two weeks ago, Furman was sitting pretty with the No. 3 ranking in the country and looking like one of the top national title contenders. After losing to Coastal Carolina, 29-27, and just holding off The Citadel in a 23-17 game last week, the Paladins now have to be more concerned with just getting in the playoffs before they can think about making a long run. They played a Division II game and still have to travel to No. 1 Appalachian State, so the Paladins cant afford to stumble in games against Chattanooga, Elon and Georgia Southern. They might have to stay above water at least for one more week with starting quarterback Renaldo Gray, who missed last weeks game after suffering an ankle injury against Coastal Carolina. Freshman Jordan Sorrells did have good numbers against The Citadel (20-of-31, 251 yards), but the Paladin running game was not the same and totaled only 88 total yards on 45 attempts. If Sorrells is back under center, hell have a chance to exploit a Chattanooga defense that has given up 230 yards per game against the pass. The Mocs arent that much better against the run, and Jerome Felton and Cedrick Gipson can get the Furman running attack back on track against a team that has surrendered 15 rushing touchdowns. And while Furmans defense has given up a few good efforts against opposing quarterbacks recently, it has a good matchup against a Chattanooga team that does most of its damage with running back Eldra Buckley (903 yards, 5 TD). Buckley will probably get in his yards and maybe even find the endzone, but a pair of inconsistent signal-callers wont be able to get enough through the air to beat the Paladins. Furman isnt playing that well of late, but it gets a favorable matchup to get on track before traveling to Appalachian State next week. Prediction: Furman 30, Chattanooga 17

No. 11 Hampton (7-0, 5-0) at South Carolina State (3-3, 3-1), 1:30

At the beginning of the season, this game looked like the game of the year in the MEAC. Then, two weeks ago, it appeared that it might not be all that meaningful. Now, the tide has turned again, as a resurgent South Carolina State team looks like Hamptons top competition in the MEAC after a slow start. The Bulldogs started the season with a 1-3 record that included ugly losses to Bethune-Cookman and Coastal Carolina, but have turned it around with wins in the last two weeks against Norfolk State and Florida A & M. They dominated the Spartans in every area, and came up with a 315-yard effort on the ground for a 28-21 win at Florida A & M that was not as close as the final score indicates. South Carolina State has amassed an incredible 590 rushing yards in the last two weeks, and is starting to play better on defense after holding Florida A & M to just 90 rushing yards. So can I go back to my preseason MEAC prediction and pick the Bulldogs to knock off Hampton at home? Right now, nope. The Bulldogs are playing better, but they still got a 3-for-14 effort and just 65 yards from Cleveland McCoy and the passing game last week. Hampton is much stronger against the pass than the run, but the Pirates are giving up less than 3.5 yards per carry on the ground and arent going to get beat by a team that can only produce in one area of the offense. Hamptons offense has grown up to compliment the defense, and an attack that features more passing is thriving because quarterback Princeton Shepherd (1,132 yards, 15 TD/1 INT) is playing at a high level to go along with Alonzo Coleman and Kevin Beverly in the backfield. South Carolina States defense is better, but it still has poor numbers this season and will have its hands full with a balanced attack. Hamptons defense shouldnt have as many problems against the one-dimensional Bulldogs, and the Pirates will take the MEAC game of the year for the third season in a row. Prediction: Hampton 31, South Carolina State 17

Delaware (3-3, 1-2) at No. 10 Richmond (5-1, 2-1), 6:00

Richmond did what it needed to after losing at New Hampshire, as the Spiders came right back with a commanding performance in a 31-6 victory at Rhode Island. They ran for 285 yards and totaled 400 yards of total offense, and scored the last 31 points of the game. Tim Hightower and Josh Vaughn carried the load in the running game, and the defense held the potent Rhode Island running game to just 123 yards. It could be the same story this week for the Spiders, though Delaware is getting healthier. Running back Omar Cuff could be back in the lineup after missing the last two weeks, and a few key cogs are returning for the depleted Blue Hen defense. Delawares defense did its job last week, with just no touchdowns and just 262 yards allowed in a 10-6 victory over Hofstra. Cuffs return would provide a little bit of life to the offense, and at least give the Blue Hens a chance to pull the upset at Richmond. But the matchup does not look good for Delaware here. The Blue Hen defense is giving up 4.8 yards per carry and 181 yards per game this year, and could have trouble duplicating last weeks solid performance against a Richmond running attack that goes for more than five yards per carry and features two quality backs. The situation on the other side of the ball might be even worse, because no one has really produced against the Richmond defense all season. The Spiders are in the top 15 nationally in every statistical category, and would seem to have the edge against an average Blue Hen attack even if Cuff takes the field. The Spiders cant look past Delaware with a huge home test coming against James Madison next week, but they should stay focused and win by a couple of scores. Prediction: Richmond 24, Delaware 10

No. 9 North Dakota State (6-0) at Minnesota (I-A, 2-5), 3:30

Winning three games against Big 10 opponents, and seven overall against I-A squads, would be a great accomplishment for I-AA teams. And while recording a victory at Minnesota is not an easy task, North Dakota State is the type of team that can do it. The Bison are off to a 6-0 start, and already have great experience on the road with wins against Ball State, Georgia Southern and Stephen F. Austin. In the win over Ball State, quarterback Steve Walker had a breakout performance with a 29-of-46 effort for 451 yards and three touchdowns, and the Bison held the Cardinals to just 14 rushing yards for a come-from- behind, 29-24 victory. That type of formula has worked all season for the Bison, though they usually do feature more balance on offense. The defense leads the nation against the run with a paltry 41.5 yards per game and 1.55 yards per carry allowed, and will need to be at its best against a Minnesota running game that still produces without the departed Laurence Maroney. The Gophers average 4.5 yards per carry and 170 yards per game, and will give a heavy dose of carries to Amir Pinnix (650 yards, 5 TD) to break down the Bison defense. Bryan Cupito (1,398 yards, 11 TD/4 INT) leads a proficient passing game, and the Bison will have their hands full with an offense that scores 28 points per contest. That will put a lot of pressure on Walker, Kyle Steffes and the Bison offense, which should be able to produce against a suspect Gopher defense. Steffes has 653 yards and seven touchdowns and averages more than five yards per carry, and will be counted on to grind out yardage. But the Bison will likely need a big day from Walker to beat a team like Minnesota. Walker has been stellar all year by completing 65 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and only one interception, but hell need a performance similar to the Ball State game to lead the Bison to a victory here. He is certainly capable of it, but going into an environment like Minnesota and coming out with a win will be tough. The Gophers are down this year, but they take on a tough schedule and just took Penn State to overtime at home two weeks ago. I want to pick North Dakota State for the upset, but the Bison would need a huge performance from Walker and the offense, because the defense figures to give up more than it usually does against the Gophers. Thats a lot to ask, especially since the Bison have already knocked off one I-A team this year. They put up a good performance, but Minnesota has too much firepower for North Dakota State to pull out the win. Prediction: Minnesota 28, North Dakota State 20

William & Mary (2-4, 0-3) at No. 8 James Madison (5-1, 3-0), 3:00

With a deep Atlantic 10, James Madison could easily have received a tough matchup with letdown potential after steamrolling New Hampshire last week. They do get a rival, as William & Mary and James Madison have always played close games with each other and have developed even more of a rivalry after they met in the semifinals in 2004. But while the history and proximity of the rivalry make for the possibility of an intriguing game, theres no evidence on the field to indicate that the matchup will be close. William & Mary survived to get a win against Liberty last week, but the Tribe is 0-3 in the conference and lost in an ugly, 48-7, blowout at Massachusetts two weeks ago. The offense that has been such a staple of the program has tallied 17 points or less in five games, and the Tribe has very regular numbers in both the running and passing game. The Tribe defense is having a lot of trouble against the run with 211 yards allowed per game, so this matchup should be a very favorable encounter for the Dukes. James Madisons offense has been in stride during its four-game win streak, and running back Eugene Holloman (459 yards, 4 TD) has provided an extra kick for the running game with 6.5 yards per carry and quarterback Justin Rascati has solid numbers once again. The James Madison defense is giving up less than three yards per carry and has only allowed three touchdowns through the air, and should control a matchup against a mediocre attack. The rivalry factor should give the Tribe some added inspiration and maybe keep it close for a half or so, but James Madison is just playing too well and has the edge on both sides of the ball to win going away. Prediction: James Madison 35, William & Mary 13

No. 7 New Hampshire (5-1, 2-1) at Northeastern (2-4, 1-2), 2:00

After spending the first half of the season as the toast of the I-AA town, New Hampshire has to pick up the pieces of a bad home loss to James Madison and answer the questions that have come up in recent weeks. Can the defense, which struggled against the Dukes, hold up in the long run? Can the running game, which had produced at a high clip early in the year, perform against the top defenses in I-AA? And what about Ricky Santos and David Ball, who are putting up good numbers but are being held from completing the big play in the last couple of weeks? The Wildcats also have to add an injury to Corey Graham to their list of new questions, as the All-America cornerback is out for at least a few weeks with a broken left fibula. Now, they go on the road to a Northeastern team that has actually played fairly well on defense against a tough schedule and comes off a bye. The Huskies defensive numbers arent very good, but they did have to get through a very tough schedule and played well against both North Dakota State and Richmond. Running back Maurice Murray (433 yards, 4 TD) averages 4.6 yards per carry, and the Huskies can test the New Hampshire defense on the ground. So do the Wildcats have to add a chance for consecutive losses to their question list? Not likely. Santos threw for 352 yards and a score last week, but was limited until the final minutes. But hes rarely limited in consecutive weeks, and will be happy to face a defense that, while good, is not at the elite level of Richmond or James Madison. Ball could be in line for a big game as well after notching just one touchdown in the last three weeks, and the New Hampshire defense has to like its matchup more this week. Northeastern has enough of a running game and defense to keep it competitive, but New Hampshires offense should be ready to get back on track and get the Wildcats back in the win column. Prediction: New Hampshire 38, Northeastern 21

Rhode Island (2-4, 0-3) at No. 6 Massachusetts (5-1, 3-0), 1:00

For playing in a conference that boasts four of the top ten teams in the country, Massachusetts sure has enjoyed an easy road. The Minutemen deserve their ranking and might even be better than their No. 6 spot with the way they have looked in four easy victories, but an Atlantic 10 schedule of games against Villanova, William & Mary and Towson sure didnt hurt the Minutemen get off to an impressive start in the conference. They beat up on Towson, 35-0, in a game that showed how solid Massachusetts can be and just how overrated Towson might be at once. The Minutemen controlled every phase of that game, as the balanced offense led by quarterback Liam Coen and running back Steve Baylark continued to excel. Coen threw for five touchdowns last week, and leads I-AA quarterbacks in passing efficiency with 13 touchdowns and 1,409 yards while completing nearly 69 percent of his passes with only four interceptions. Baylark is on his way to closing out his stellar career with four 1,000-yard seasons, as he already has 657 yards and six touchdowns this season. The defensive numbers are there as well, as the Minutemen are in the top 15 of every statistical category and rank third in the nation with 10.5 ppg. And the numbers arent going to change anytime soon, as the Minutemen should dispose of Rhode Island and Northeastern before traveling to New Hampshire on Nov. 4. The Rams were blown out against Richmond last week, and just dont have the horses on either side of the ball to pose a threat to a team that has won its last three games by a combined score of 131-7. The Minutemen win big a couple more times before making the trip to New Hampshire. Prediction: Massachusetts 38, Rhode Island 7

South Dakota State (3-3,0-0) at No. 4 Cal Poly (5-1, 1-0), 7:00

This game out in San Luis Obispo, California feels more like one of those old slobber-knocker games back in the NFC East or NFC North in the early 90s. Both of these teams can play defense and run the ball, but there arent going to be a ton of plays made on the passing game for either side. Most I-AA followers are familiar with Cal Polys defense, and this years Mustangs might be better than ever. They are 14th in the nation against the rush, first against the pass with just 104 yards allowed per game, and second in scoring defense with 9.7 ppg. The running game part of their equation comes from James Noble, who has 501 yards and three touchdowns while recording more than five yards per carry. But while Cal Polys defense understandably gets all the attention in the Great West, South Dakota State joins most of the other teams in the league with a pretty good unit of their own. The Jackrabbits have given up just 41 points in their current three-game winning streak, and are doing a solid job with 20.2 ppg allowed this year. They are very tough against the pass, and do a decent job against the run. Still, thats not in Cal Polys league. The Mustangs make more big plays than the Jackrabbits and are among the national leaders in sacks once again, and should also bottle up South Dakota States running attack. And while the Jackrabbits defense is very tough against the pass, Noble should break a few plays. Cal Poly really needs this game with a stretch at San Diego State, Montana and North Dakota State coming up, and will get another win on the strength of a strong defensive effort and Nobles running. Prediction: Cal Poly 17, South Dakota State 7

No. 3 Illinois State (5-1, 2-0) at Western Illinois (3-4, 0-3), 8:05

Everyone loves the Illinois State program right now. The Redbirds showed how strong they can be in every area in a 37-10 statement win over Southern Illinois that solidifies their position among the big names and proven contenders in I-AA. The offense and defense all came together in that game, and I-AA voters took notice as the Redbirds captured more first-place votes than any team outside of Appalachian State. But for all the good vibes in Normal this week, they have to come out and prepared and ready to play well to avoid a letdown against a good Western Illinois team that just hasnt been able to finish its games. The Leathernecks have lost to Western Kentucky, Southern Illinois and Youngstown State by a combined 17 points in the first three weeks of Gateway Conference play, and are effectively out of the postseason race despite playing well so far, especially on offense. Running back Herb Donaldson has 777 yards and 10 touchdowns while recording more than six yards per carry this year, and quarterback Steve LaFalce has done his part with 1,279 yards and nine touchdowns against only three interceptions. The Leathernecks are averaging 32.6 points per game, and theyve been potent in Gateway play with at least 24 points in every game. Illinois States defense played very well to shut down Southern Illinois last week, but they had tougher outings earlier in the year against Eastern Illinois and Western Kentucky. But while Western Illinois can score in this game, the matchup on the other side of the ball will keep the Redbirds rolling. Pierre Rembert has 812 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground this season, and quarterback Luke Drone is continuing to excel with 1,412 yards and 12 touchdowns with just three interceptions. The Redbirds are averaging 30.8 points per contest, and showed they might be just hitting stride with last weeks dominating performance. That should continue against a Western Illinois defense that has been shredded in Gateway play and gives up more than 190 rushing yards per game. Its a tough matchup after a big win for the Redbirds, but an elite team wins this type of game against a team that has dropped three in a row. It will be close, but Illinois State will prevail in a shootout. Prediction: Illinois State 31, Western Illinois 27

No. 2 Montana (5-1, 4-0) at Weber State (2-4, 1-2), 3:00

Is there any team that feels more secure about its spot in the postseason than Montana? The Grizzlies have reeled off five wins in a row since losing the season opener at Iowa, and have a chance to open up an early two-game lead in the Big Sky if Montana State loses at Idaho State. They were expected to be the only sure thing in a Big Sky race that lacked depth with the loss of key offensive players from the league before the season, and have lived up to the billing with an early 4-0 mark in the conference. While the offense has been solid overall, Grizzly defense is emerging in the class of any team in the country with the exception of Cal Poly. Montana holds opponents to 3.3 yards per carry and 108 yards per game on the ground, and has been just as tough against the pass by allowing less than 50 percent of passes to be completed and notching 10 interceptions. They held Northern Arizona to just 191 yards of total offense, and limited Lumberjack quarterback Jason Murrietta to 16-of-32 passing for only 93 yards. One of the best return games in I-AA has also contributed nicely, as Montana has as much depth between offense, defense and special teams as any team in the country. The offense didnt blow away Northern Arizona, but has developed balance with Josh Swogger passing and Brady Green and Reggie Bradshaw running. It will take a good effort from the offense and defense or a dominating performance from a defense like Cal Poly to beat Montana. At any rate, Weber State doesnt offer that type of threat to the Grizzlies. The Wildcat defense has played well, especially against the pass with six interceptions and just three touchdowns allowed. But the Weber State offense is totaling just 246 yards and 14.5 points per contest, and will have a hard time even hitting those numbers against the Grizzlies. The Wildcat defense can keep it close for a while, but Montanas defense should have a field day to lead to another Big Sky win. Prediction: Montana 27, Weber State 10

BIG GAMES

No. 1 Appalachian State (6-1, 3-0) at Georgia Southern (3-3, 2-1), 12:00

Ill be in Statesboro for this Homecoming matchup, and if history holds it could be a good day for the Eagles. The home team has won the last five games in this series, and Georgia Southern has earned a victory in four of the last six meetings overall. The Mountaineers have not earned a victory in Statesboro since 1996, and Georgia Southern made quick work of them in a 54-7 thrashing in the 2004 matchup. And the last time the Eagles played a No. 1 team, they knocked off Furman, 27-24, to make the playoffs. To make Eagle fans even happier, I was in attendance for that game as well, so lightning could strike twice. But history might be the only thing on Georgia Southerns side in this game, because the Mountaineers present a very tough matchup on both sides of the ball. The Appalachian State defense has been sound all season, and is giving up just 2.7 yards per carry while recording more interceptions than touchdowns. The Mountaineers feature a standout player at every position, especially at defensive end and safety. Marques Murrell and Gary Tharrington have combined for 11 sacks this year, while Jeremy Wiggins has already notched five interceptions. The Mountaineer running game is racking up more than five yards per carry and 215 yards per contest, and running back Kevin Richardson (583 yards, 10 TD) has recorded three consecutive 100-yard efforts. The biggest question for Appalachian State comes at quarterback, but freshman Armanti Edwards is making those doubts go away. Edwards has 13 combined touchdowns while making only five starts, and hes run for at least 70 yards on three occasions. He does come of his worst game to date, a 12-of-24 effort in a 14-7 game against Wofford, so the Eagle defense does have hope to limit the passing game. But there arent many matchups that go in Georgia Southerns favor. The running attack led by Chris Covington (569 yards, 7 TD) and Lamar Lewis (432 yards, 5 TD) has dropped off against tougher opponents, and faces a very stiff test against the Mountaineers. Quarterback Travis Clark (1,175 yards, 5 TD) comes off a strong 29-of-37 effort for 375 yards against Elon, and will need to turn in that performance again for the Eagles to have a chance in the fourth quarter. Even if he does, the Eagle defense will have a tough time limiting a Mountaineer team that will be primed for a good performance after a mediocre effort against Wofford. Georgia Southern has alternated losses and wins all season, which would mean it is due for a loss in this game. They should be pumped up for Homecoming against a rival, but the Eagles just arent as sound all the way around here. Georgia Southern keeps it close for a half or so, but Appalachian State pulls away down the stretch to win by a few scores. Prediction: Appalachian State 28, Georgia Southern 14

No. 15 Harvard (5-0, 2-0) at No. 22 Princeton (5-0, 2-0), 12:00

To say this is the biggest game in the history of Princeton football would be a disservice to a program that originated in the 19th century and had plenty of long winning streaks, undefeated seasons, and even national championships to its name. Its not even the biggest matchup in the history of the Harvard- Princeton series, as the Tigers won, 10-3, in Cambridge in a matchup of 6-0 teams in 1922, and went on to win the national title in that season. But this is probably Princetons biggest game at the I-AA level. The Tigers are ranked for the first time since 1993, and playing their first matchup of ranked opponents since losing to Penn in that campaign. This is also the first Ivy League contest between teams with two teams with at least 5-0 records since Harvard knocked off Penn, 28-21, in 2001 in a battle of 8-0 teams. Princeton is off to its first 5-0 start since winning the Ivy League title in 1995, but the turnaround did not just come in one season. The Tigers were 7-3 last year, which included a 27-24 victory over the Crimson in Cambridge that snapped a nine-game Tiger losing skid in the series. They posted that win despite a 203- yard effort from Harvard running back Clifton Dawson, but probably dont want to try and win with that formula again. Harvard has won the other 16 games when Dawson has reached the century mark, and hes enjoyed a 195.7 yard per game average in his career against Princeton. Dawson is once again establishing himself as a top I-AA running back with 686 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, and hell provide a big test for a Princeton defense that has been very tough against the run with just three yards per carry and less than 90 yards per game allowed. The Tigers also have to deal with a Crimson passing game that averages 246 yards per contest, so it would probably be too much to expect that they can just shut down the Crimson offense. That will put a lot on the shoulders of Tiger quarterback Jeff Terrell, because Harvards No. 1 ranked run defense has a favorable matchup against the Tiger ground game. Terrell has 1,085 yards and eight touchdown passes, and will have to make plays against a Harvard defense that gives up a lot of yardage through the air. With both defenses holding strong, the outcome could come down to whoever makes more plays, Dawson or Terrell. Terrell is playing well, but Dawson is an elite player that will be ready for a big performance in crucial game. Look for Harvard to finally put a dent in the Princeton run defense, as Dawson carries a heavy load down the stretch for a three-point win. Prediction: Harvard 27, Princeton 24

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 14 Northern Iowa (4-2, 2-0) at No. 5 Youngstown State (6-1, 3-0), 4:00

Youngstown State could take a cue from Illinois State about how to make a statement in a showdown game. The Redbirds thrashed Southern Illinois, 37-10, last week, to prove that they are a valid playoff and national title contender despite not making the postseason since 1999. The Penguins find themselves in the same spot here, with a chance for an impact win against a top 15 team to show they are a legitimate top playoff and national title contender and ready to break a five-year run of missing out on the playoffs. Youngstown State has already scored a few victories that prove that its for real, as the Penguins knocked off top 20 Maine and UC Davis teams at home earlier in the year. But a win here would put any doubts of their status to rest, since UNI is a perennial playoff contender, made a national championship appearance last year, and just happens to own the Penguins. The Panthers hold a 14-6 edge in the all-time series, which includes a victory over the Penguins in Youngstown States 1997 national championship season. More importantly, the Panthers have a five-game winning streak in the series and UNI head coach Mark Farley has a perfect 5-0 mark against Youngstown State head coach Jon Heacock. The biggest game in that stretch came last season, as UNI scored a 21-7 victory at home to propel its run to the playoffs and national title game and start a two-game Penguin slide that ultimately kept YSU out of the playoffs.

The Penguins are rolling and should be motivated to gain revenge in this game, but it wont be easy. UNI has won its last two contests and looked very good since losing to Division II North Dakota earlier in the season. A strong running game has keyed the run, with the Panthers ranking fourth in the nation with nearly 250 rushing yards per contest and averaging 5.7 yards per game. They have a stable of backs that have shared the work, and Darian Williams had his best day with 174 yards and two touchdowns to lead a 439-yard effort in a 34-14 victory over Indiana State last week. The rushing attack would get an even greater boost if Corey Lewis returns to provide a home-run threat against a Penguin defense that has struggled against the run with 4.6 yards per carry and 160 yards per game surrendered. The Youngstown State defense should hold its own against the pass, however. UNI quarterback Eric Sanders has a great pedigree and history, but the UNI receivers dont have as much experience as last years group and the Youngstown State defense is strong at cornerback with Codera Jackson and Jason Perry. But while the defense could have its hands full against the Panthers, an improved and more explosive offense gives Youngstown State a boost in this game. Running back Marcus Mason (900 yards, 12 TD) is playing as well as any back in the country after recording 266 yards on just 20 carries last week, and hell go at a UNI defense that has played well recently but has not faced a running game with Youngstown States potential. Quarterback Tom Zetts has 963 yards and nine touchdown strikes this year, and will need to make a few plays to loosen up the UNI defense. History is not on the Penguins side here. They have an 11-game home winning streak, but the last loss came to UNI in 2004. The Panthers need the game just as much as well, especially since they already sit with two losses. But this is a championship-caliber Youngstown State team, and theres no better time to show that than at home against a rival. The Penguins have a tendency to make a few big plays on defense, and have forced 14 turnovers this year. They will come up with some key stops in a close game late, and Mason and the offense will do the rest to give the Penguins a huge win and make a significant step for a resurgent program. Prediction: Youngstown State 31, UNI 24

10/18/2006 2:09:38 PM