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September 12, 2013

Week Three Preview

UCF's visit to Happy Valley to take on Penn State is the marquee game for the American Athletic Conference in week three.

A win would go a long way to gain some national credibility for the Knights, who have never began an FBS season 3-0, and also for the league which has suffered some disappointing early losses.

Other highlights in the American schedule including No. 7 Louisville battling in-state Kentucky for the "Governor's Cup" and Maryland head coach Randy Edsall's return to UConn, the school he departed following the 2010 season.

The action begins on Thursday as future American member Tulane takes on Louisiana Tech in a Conference USA matchup.

Here's a look at every game involving the American, future league members East Carolina, Tulane, Tulsa and Navy, plus UCF's non-conference opponents.

Yahoo! College Football Scoreboard

Lines are for entertainment purposes only, picks are head-to-head.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12
Tulane (1-1) at Louisiana Tech (1-1) - 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1
THE BUZZ: For one year only, the two Louisiana schools will be members of the same conference. Tulane holds an 8-0 advantage in the series, but the two squads haven't met since the Green Wave's undefeated season in 1998. Tulane blew out FCS Jackson State in week one, but dropped a close 41-39 decision to South Alabama in week two. Louisiana Tech was blown out by NC State and is coming off a win against FCS Lamar.
THE LINE: La Tech by 7
THE PICK: La Tech
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14
Akron (1-1) at No. 11 Michigan (2-0) - 12 noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: In his two seasons at Akron, Terry Bowden is a perfect 2-0 against FCS teams as the Zips rallied last week to beat James Madison 35-33. The downside is that's he's 0-12 against FBS competition. It will be 0-13 after this weekend's clash in Ann Arbor. Michigan is coming off a solid 41-30 win against Notre Dame.
THE LINE: Michigan by 37
THE PICK: Michigan
No. 7 Louisville (2-0) at Kentucky (1-1) - 12 noon, ESPN
THE BUZZ: Kentucky holds a 14-11 lead in the "Governor's Cup" series, but Louisville has won the last two, and holds an 11-8 edge since restarting the series in 1994. The Cardinals have feasted upon light competition to begin the season and enter the game fifth nationally in passing offense, 16th in scoring offense and 9th in scoring defense. Kentucky lost to Western Kentucky in week one, but rebounded to beat Miami (Ohio) in week two.
THE LINE: Louisville by 13.5
THE PICK: Louisville
Tulsa (1-1) at No. 14 Oklahoma (2-0, 1-0 Big 12) - 12 noon, ESPN2
THE BUZZ: It's an in-state showdown that's been heavily slanted towards the Sooners, who are 6-0 against Tulsa since 2001. The Golden Hurricane got in the win column for the first time last week with a last-second field goal against Colorado State. Oklahoma held on to beat West Virginia 16-7 to take an early lead in the Big 12.
THE LINE: Oklahoma by 24
THE PICK: Oklahoma
Virginia Tech (1-1) at East Carolina (2-0, 1-0 C-USA) - 12 noon, Fox Sports 1
THE BUZZ: A matchup that's become a regular series as the two schools have met six times in the last seven years. ECU has only won one of those, a 27-22 decision in 2008 when the Hokies were ranked No. 17. The Pirates have a couple extra days to prepare having defeated FAU last Thursday, 31-13. Virginia Tech bounced back from their 35-10 blowout loss to No. 1 Alabama with a blowout of their own against FCS Western Carolina, 45-3.
THE LINE: Virginia Tech by 7.5
THE PICK: East Carolina
Fordham (2-0) at Temple (0-2, 0-1 AAC) - 1:00 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: Playing in the first American game of the year, Temple couldn't hold on to a 13-9 halftime lead as Houston rallied to win, 22-13. They better hope the game doesn't come down to a kick as Temple's two kickers have combined to go 0-for-3 on field goals and 1-for-3 on PATs. Fordham and Temple previously played a four-game series from 1950-53. The Rams are coming off a 27-24 win vs. Villanova.
THE LINE: Temple by 21.5
THE PICK: Temple
Delaware (2-0) at Navy (1-0) - 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
THE BUZZ: With a bye week to begin the season, Navy shocked Indiana with a 41-35 win in Bloomington last week. The Midshipmen also knocked off the Hoosiers a year ago. With 444 rushing yards in the win, it's not surprising to see Navy No. 1 nationally in that category. The Fightin' Blue Hens of Delaware are 2-0 after beating Jacksonville and Delaware State.
THE LINE: Navy by 16
THE PICK: Navy
UCF (2-0) at Penn State (2-0) - 6:00 p.m., Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: UCF's first true test after crushing weak competition (Akron, FIU) to begin the season. Penn State escaped Syracuse 23-17 in week one, and cruised past Eastern Michigan 45-7 last week. Penn State coach Bill O'Brien is one of several former George O'Leary assistants to become a head coach. Since elevating to FBS in 1996, UCF has never started the season 3-0.
THE LINE: Penn State by 5.5
THE PICK: UCF
Eastern Michigan (1-1) at Rutgers (1-1) - 6:00 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: First meeting. Rutgers hopes they fare better than they did vs. last year's MAC opponent (a 35-23 loss to Kent State). The Scarlet Knights rebounded from their 52-51 loss at Fresno State to beat FCS Norfolk State 38-0, which punted twice on third down. Eastern Michigan is 2-10 all-time vs. current members of the American.
THE LINE: Rutgers by 27.5
THE PICK: Rutgers
Bethune-Cookman (2-0) at FIU (0-2) - 6:00 p.m., No TV
THE BUZZ: FIU began the week as a three-point favorite, but ended the week as a three-point underdog to FCS Bethune-Cookman. The Panthers were rocked in the first two: 43-10 at Maryland, and last week's 38-0 loss to UCF. BCU is 2-0 after wins against Tennessee State (12-9) and Virginia Union (66-7).
THE LINE: Bethune-Cookman by 3
THE PICK: Bethune-Cookman
Vanderbilt (1-1, 0-1 SEC) at No. 13 South Carolina (1-1, 0-1 SEC) - 7:00 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: South Carolina's top five dreams - at least right now - ended with last week's 41-30 loss at Georgia. Needless to say, Steve Spurrier wasn't happy with that defensive effort. Star DE Jadevon Clowney hasn't gotten off to a great start in 2013 with just six tackles and a sack. Vanderbilt lost a 39-35 heartbreaker in week one to Ole Miss and beat FCS Austin Peay 38-3 last week.
THE LINE: South Carolina by 13.5
THE PICK: South Carolina
Florida Atlantic (0-2, 0-1 C-USA) at USF (0-2) - 7:00 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: ESPN ranks this as their "Pillow Fight of the Week." A week after being humiliated by FCS McNeese 53-21, USF did put up a better fight in a 21-6 loss at Michigan State. The Bulls' offense struggled in East Lansing as they could only muster 155 yards. The defense fared better, though Michigan State's offense isn't anything special. Third straight road game for FAU after losses to Miami (34-6) and East Carolina (31-13).
THE LINE: USF by 12.5
THE PICK: USF
Memphis (0-1) at Middle Tennessee (1-1) - 7:00 p.m., CSS
THE BUZZ: With a bye in week one, Memphis' season began last week with a 28-14 setback to Duke. The Tigers drew a big crowd to the Liberty Bowl with 44,237 fans, which is the biggest number since 2009 and the most for a non-SEC opponent since 2005. MTSU has won four of the last five meetings and holds an all-time 10-2 advantage in games played in Murfreesboro. The Blue Raiders opened the year with a win vs. FCS Western Carolina and lost 40-20 to North Carolina last week.
THE LINE: Middle Tennessee by 7
THE PICK: Memphis
Northwestern State (2-0) at Cincinnati (1-1) - 7:00 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: Cincinnati starting quarterback Munchie Legaux was lost for the season after suffering a gruesome leg injury during their 45-17 loss at Illinois. Brendon Kay, who finished the 2012 season as starter, takes his place. Despite the injury, the loss to Illinois was a disappointing one as the Bearcats had easily handled Purdue, another Big Ten bottom feeder, the week before. Northwestern State is unblemished with wins against Southern (55-14) and Missouri State (23-17).
THE LINE: Cincinnati by 30.5
THE PICK: Cincinnati
Maryland (2-0) at UConn (0-1) - 7:30 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: The "Edsall Bowl." Maryland coach Randy Edsall returns to UConn, the school he left following the 2010 season. UConn won last year's meeting in Maryland, 24-21. The Huskies had a long bye week following their season-opening 33-18 loss to FCS Towson. Maryland has outscored their first two opponents (FIU, Old Dominion) by a margin of 90-20.
THE LINE: Maryland by 6.5
THE PICK: Maryland


Bye weeks: Houston (2-0, 1-0 AAC), SMU (1-1).


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