Non-AQ Predictions: Week 4

My picks in Week 3 were the best yet. 9-3! Maybe I am getting the hang of this. With a 21-13 overall record, I am picking up steam with full-tilt conference play around the corner.

On to the picks!

BYU 31, Nevada 30. My upset special of the week. The Cougars have given us little reason to believe they can win this game, with the anemic offense and the way it has performed in two straight losses. Nevada, meanwhile, is coming off a huge win over California and has super stud Colin Kaepernick. But the Wolf Pack are going on the road for the first time this season, and BYU finally will have one quarterback playing. Jake Heaps is a true freshman, but this team is in desperate need of a leader, and having one quarterback will begin to help the offense get better. BYU has started 1-3 just once under Mendenhall. The Cougars started 1-2 in 2006 and 2007 -- both times they ended up winning 10 straight.

Boise State 34, Oregon State 21. This is the second of three games for Boise State against a team from an automatic qualifying conference and another opportunity to prove it deserves to be in the national championship conversation. The atmosphere should be wild. The Boise State defense has been impressive in its first two games, and should be able to put enough pressure on Ryan Katz and slow down Jacquizz Rodgers.

TCU 38, SMU 17. The Battle for the Iron Skillet resumes in Dallas, where SMU has asked its fans to wear red for a “Red Out” in the nationally televised game Friday night. The Mustangs are vastly improved, but they are no match for TCU, coming off its best game of the season. Watch for SMU to try and attack cornerback Greg McCoy, the way other teams have so far. Even still, the TCU defensive line could have a big game against a team that has already given up 10 sacks this season.

Ole Miss 24, Fresno State 20. The Bulldogs have won six of their last eight games against AQ teams, but they are 0-3 against the SEC. This is their first trip into Mississippi, and it comes at a really inopportune time. Why? Because Ole Miss finds itself 1-2 with losses to Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt. You can bet the Rebels will be extra motivated to win this one. Fresno State has played well defensively this year but faces its biggest challenge against Jeremiah Masoli.

Marshall 33, Ohio 20. Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl redux! The Herd won their matchup in December, and this is as close to a must-win as you can get so early in the season. It’s not a conference game, but Marshall is 0-3 and in desperate need of a shot of confidence going into conference play. Ohio, meanwhile, still is shuffling its quarterback and has gotten little generated in the way of offense, ranking 119th in the country.

Minnesota 20, Northern Illinois 19. The Huskies played better against Illinois last week and almost had a chance to win. But until they can get Chad Spann going, it is going to be tough to win these games against non-AQ teams. The Gophers have looked shaky, and there is talk that coach Tim Brewster is on the hot seat. They cannot afford to lose this game.

San Diego State 27, Utah State 20. The Aztecs could be 3-0 if not for a block in the back that went unnoticed on Missouri’s game-winning touchdown catch last week. They are running the ball this season more effectively thanks to the contributions of freshman Ronnie Hillman. That has made Ryan Lindley better, too. The Aggies have had nothing but close calls in their two losses. This is going to be another one.

FAU 24, North Texas 10. The Owls go into the game off a bye week and face a team reeling because of injuries. The Mean Green must start their third different quarterback after losing their top two for the season with injuries. Riley Dodge returns to start. Eight other starters have been lost for the season as well. A season that started with coach Todd Dodge on the hot season has only gotten tougher.

Air Force 28, Wyoming 13. Air Force put up a valiant effort against Oklahoma, falling just short of the upset. Its offense is humming with the triple option right now, and the defense is playing well, too. The Falcons were able to slow down Landry Jones last week and should have the same success against Austyn Carta-Samuels this week.

Houston 30, Tulane 10. The Cougars survive Week 1 in the post-Case Keenum era, but mainly because they play the overmatched Green Wave. True freshman Terrance Broadway gets the nod, and there is no question he is going to need help from his supporting cast. He handled himself well against UCLA last week when Keenum and backup Cotton Turner went down for the season with injuries. It may be a good thing he gets to start against Tulane. After a bye week, Houston hosts Mississippi State.