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Small schools take on big-time opponents Saturday

Posted: Friday September 23, 2005 11:33AM; Updated: Friday September 23, 2005 3:34PM
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Last Saturday, the University of California-Davis, a I-AA school, stunned most of the nation by taking down Stanford in Palo Alto, 20-17. In so doing Cal-Davis not only struck a blow for I-AA football (humbling pompous writers such as myself who observe dramatic differences between I-A and I-AA play. See most recent column), but also found itself trading spaces with Paige Davis in my personal "Davis Rankings".

My top five Davises, as of Sept. 22:
5. Mac
4. Geena
3. Paige
2. Cal
1. Sammy ("Davis, Jr., babe")

This week a pair of I-AA schools draw my attention for polar-opposite reasons. Western Kentucky is 2-0 and ranked No. 1 in the I-AA poll.

The Hilltoppers travel to Auburn on Saturday to face the 2-1 Tigers. Indiana State, on the other hand, is 0-3, with all of the Sycamores' losses coming to fellow I-AA members. On Saturday Indiana State travels to Lubbock to face Texas Tech, a school that hung 80 points on Sam Houston State last weekend. Auburn should win. Texas Tech will definitely win.

Week Four
Did the Vols learn anything from their pilgrimage to Gainesville last Saturday? Hopefully, they learned that Gerald Riggs Jr. is their meal ticket no matter who is taking the snaps. The Bayou Bengals have emotion and everyone outside of Knoxville on their side -- and, should they win, they'll have the most impressive 2-0 record in the country.
LSU 24, Tennessee 22
No. 1 USC (2-0) at No. 24 Oregon (3-0)
Matt Leinart, beard or no beard, reminds me more and more of Vincent Chase in Entourage. He's got youth, looks, fame, his homies and he's not so dumb as to turn down the lead role in Aquaman. I mean, you'd have to be an idiot. Does this mean that Reggie Bush is Turtle?
USC 45, Oregon 21
The Hokies have pitched consecutive shutouts -- true, they were against Duke and Ohio -- and in Aaron Rouse and Jimmy Williams Virginia Tech has some of the most physical defensive backs in the nation. Here's an early prediction -- and it's not fair -- but Va. Tech may be this year's Auburn. If USC and Texas win out, the Hokies, who could easily go undefeated, may miss out a trip to Pasadena come January.
Virginia Tech 38, Georgia Tech 27
The Green Day memorial Wake Me Up When September Ends game for the loser, who will enter October with two losses. This Big Ten clash in Columbus is an informal NFL Linebacker Combine, as the Buckeyes' A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter and the Hawkeyes' Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge strut their stuff. A copy of American Idiot for the Hawkeyes, please.
Ohio State 31, Iowa 17
No. 11 Purdue (2-0) at Minnesota (3-0)
It's Shakeout Saturday in the Big Ten, as its six top schools (we didn't forget you, Indiana; we're just not sold yet) face off. If you think of this trio of games as Charlie's Angels -- and who can help but do that? -- then the Boilermakers at Golden Gophers is Sabrina. At first glance, the least attractive, but, well, OK it's still the least attractive, but you could do much worse.
Minnesota 33, Purdue 31
The Buffaloes go from their Rocky Mountain high all the way to sea level, and the Hurricanes will bring them down to earth. Miami returner Devin Hester, who returned four punts or kickoffs for touchdowns last season, is due for a breakout game.
Miami 24, Colorado 13
No. 14 Michigan (2-1) at Wisconsin (3-0)
Lloyd Carr is 7-6 in September road games and three of those wins came at Illinois. Then again, Carr is 6-0 against the Badgers. If the Wolverines cannot stop the rushing attack of Brian Calhoun following 6-foot-2, 266-pound fullback Matt Bernstein, then the Cheeseheads will pull off the mild upset in Mad-town.
Wisconsin 29, Michigan 27
The last time Ty Willingham faced his former team (Notre Dame at Stanford in '03) he was on the fat end of a 57-7 butchering. Now those same Irish who ran up the score with Willingham that day will oppose him in Seattle. The "Ty Bowl" may not be pretty.
Notre Dame 49, Washington 17
Top-ranked USC, with two of the three Heisman front-runners, rolled up 736 yards of total offense last Saturday ... which was only second-best in the Pac-10. The Sun Devils, with a quarterback whose name you may not know (Sam Keller), gained 773 yards while crushing Northwestern, 52-21.
Arizona State 41, Oregon State 27
Western Kentucky (2-0) at Auburn (2-1)
The Hilltoppers strut into Jordan-Hare Stadium with the top ranking in I-AA. Tailback Lerron Moore is averaging 150 yards per game, but the Tigers have outscored their last two opponents 91-3 following a season-opening loss.
Auburn 55, Western Kentucky 7