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September 20, 2013

Week Four Preview

Not many intriguing American Athletic Conference matchups this week, though SMU will get their crack at No. 10 Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel while Rutgers will look for back-to-back wins against Arkansas.

Struggling UConn gets an ABC primetime slot for their home game against No. 15 Michigan.

UCF is one of several teams in a bye week, including upcoming opponent No. 12 South Carolina. After beating Penn State 34-31 in Happy Valley, the Knights find themselves just outside the AP Top 25 and could potentially enter the rankings with a few losses among the poll's bottom teams.

Another team with a week off is South Florida, which probably isn't a bad thing as they look to regroup following their disastrous 0-3 start which has included blowout losses to FCS McNeese State and FBS bottom-dweller Florida Atlantic.

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.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
FIU (0-3) at No. 7 Louisville (3-0) - 12 noon, ESPN3
THE BUZZ: Two years ago, FIU shocked Louisville on the road 24-17. That won't happen this year. The Panthers are one of the worst teams in college football and were trounced by FCS Bethune-Cookman last week, 34-13. Predictably, Louisville has rolled through their weak non-conference schedule which so far has included Ohio, Eastern Kentucky and Kentucky. QB Teddy Bridgewater is averaging 334 passing yards per game.
THE LINE: Louisville by 42
THE PICK: Louisville
Tulane (2-1, 1-0 C-USA) at Syracuse (1-2) - 12:30 p.m., SunSports/FSN
THE BUZZ: Tulane sure would love to have back that 41-39 loss to lowly South Alabama in week two, otherwise they'd be sitting at 3-0 and halfway towards bowl eligibility after last week's somewhat-surprising 24-15 win at Louisiana Tech. Trailing 9-7 at halftime, Wave QB Nick Montana helped stage the rally by throwing for 255 yards and two touchdowns, including 94-yard drive in the third quarter. Syracuse notched their first win against FCS Wagner last week after dropping their first two to Penn State and Northwestern.
THE LINE: Syracuse by 17
THE PICK: Syracuse
Rice (1-1) at Houston (2-0, 1-0 AAC) - 3:00 p.m., Fox Sports Florida
THE BUZZ: "The Bayou Bucket Classic" is being staged at Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL's Houston Texans, while Houston constructs their new on-campus stadium. This is the 40th meeting all-time and UH holds a 28-11 series edge. The Cougars are coming off a bye week, while Rice knocked off Kansas for the second-straight year, 23-14. Houston, whose two wins came against Southern and Temple, leads the American in points (42.0), total offense (565.5) and rushing yards (295.5).
THE LINE: Houston by 3
THE PICK: Houston
Arkansas (3-0) at Rutgers (2-1) - 3:30 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Second all-time meeting following last season's 35-26 win by Rutgers in Fayetteville. This is Arkansas' first trip to the Northeast since a visit to Fordham in 1940. The Scarlet Knights lost a 52-51 overtime heartbreaker to Fresno State in week one, then cruised to easy wins vs. FCS Norfolk State (38-0) and Eastern Michigan (28-10). RB Paul James, who is averaging 8.1 yards per carry, ranks second nationally with 164.3 yards per game. Arkansas is 3-0 with an unchallenging schedule thus far, but did have a surprisingly close result in week two against FCS Samford (31-21).
THE LINE: Rutgers by 2.5
THE PICK: Rutgers
Kent State (1-2, 0-1 MAC) at Penn State (2-1) - 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Penn State returns to Happy Valley after last week's 34-31 loss to UCF. The Nittany Lions had no answer for Blake Bortles and the Knights offense, and trailed 28-10 early in the second half, but at least made a game of it with a late rally that saw them get within three. Kent State narrowly escaped FCS Liberty in week one and has been blown out by Bowling Green and LSU the past two weeks.
THE LINE: Penn State by 22
THE PICK: Penn State
Cincinnati (2-1) at Miami (0-2) - 4:00 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: "The Battle for the Victory Bell," which is the nation's oldest non-conference rivalry. They've played 117 times and every year since 1909, except for 1943 and 1944. Miami leads the series 59-50-7, but Cincinnati has won the last seven. A week after losing starting QB Munchie Legaux to a season-ending leg injury in a 45-17 loss at Illinois, the Bearcats rebounded with a 66-9 win against FCS Northwestern State. Brendon Kay, who has previously started at QB for UC, completed 22 of 30 passes for 407 yards and four touchdowns. Miami, coming off an open date, has lost blowout games to Marshall (52-14) and Kentucky (41-7).
THE LINE: Cincinnati by 23.5
THE PICK: Cincinnati
Arkansas State (2-1, 1-0 SBC) at Memphis (0-2) - 4:30 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: A Mid-South rivalry between two schools located about an hour apart. Memphis leads the all-time series, 28-24-5, though Arkansas State has won four of the past five meetings. In their two games, Memphis has had a fourth-quarter lead (Middle Tennessee) or a fourth-quarter tie (Duke) but couldn't pull out either one. The Tigers play five of their next six games at home, including an Oct. 5 matchup against UCF. Arkansas State is coming off a 41-34 win against Sun Belt rival Troy, previously defeated FCS Arkansas-Pine Bluff and lost at Auburn.
THE LINE: Arkansas State by 4
THE PICK: Memphis
Louisiana Lafayette (1-2) at Akron (1-2) - 6:00 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: First ever meeting. Akron, which hasn't won a road game since 2008 and an FBS game since 2010, almost pulled the upset of the century at Michigan last weekend (yes, it would have been bigger than Appalachian State's win there in 2007). Several questionable calls enabled the Wolverines to hold on, 28-24. Louisiana-Lafayette trounced FCS Nicholls State 70-7 last week following season-opening losses to Arkansas and Kansas State. Is this the week Terry Bowden gets his first FBS win?
THE LINE: Louisiana Lafayette by 6
THE PICK: Akron
SMU (1-1) at No. 10 Texas A&M (2-1, 0-1 SEC) - 7:00 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Following a bye, SMU and June Jones look to try to contain Johnny Football and Texas A&M, who dropped a 49-42 shootout to No. 1 Alabama last week. This is the 80th all-time matchup of two former Southwest Conference rivals. SMU's last win came in 1984, while A&M is 11-0-1 in the 12 meetings since. In week two, SMU needed a touchdown with 12 seconds remaining to escape what would have been an embarassing upset loss to FCS Montana State. A&M could have the nation's best offense, but one of the worst defenses.
THE LINE: Texas A&M by 28
THE PICK: Texas A&M
No. 15 Michigan (3-0) at Connecticut (0-2) - 8:00 p.m., ABC
THE BUZZ: Another lackluster ABC primetime matchup (following last week's Notre Dame-Purdue game) between a Michigan team that should have lost to Akron (Wolverines fans should send roses to the Big Ten officiating crew) and UConn where the AD has publicly fueled Paul Pasqualoni hot-seat talk. Last week, UConn dropped to 0-2 after a 32-21 loss to Maryland. At least that's somewhat respectable compared to the 33-18 loss to FCS Towson in the opening week.
THE LINE: Michigan by 18.5
THE PICK: Michigan


Bye weeks: UCF (3-0), South Florida (0-3), Temple (0-3, 0-1 AAC), South Carolina (2-1, 1-1 SEC), East Carolina (2-1, 1-0 C-USA), Tulsa (1-2), Navy (2-0),


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