Each week NationalChamps.net will be picking several games to breakdown while predicting against the point spread. NationalChamps.net does not support sports betting and is in no way affiliated with online sports bet organizations including advertising clients. This is strictly for enjoyment purposes only.


A Win Is A Win
More Than A Bird, More Than A Plane
The Luck Of The Irish
Steve Spurrier vs. Ron Zook
El Paso Mismatch
The Pack Is Back?
Contrast Of The Week

Keeping the networks on the ball...


NationalChamps.net owner Todd Helmick will be on several weekly radio shows this fall. Check out our Liner Notes for this week's broadcasts.
KSOM out of Iowa every Thursday at 10:30 am.

Michigan at Notre Dame
Washington State at Ohio State
Iowa State at Iowa
Florida State at Maryland
Nebraska at Penn State

EDGE Breakdown
Washington State at Ohio State

INSIDE99: (5-7-1 overall)
Iowa State +3.5 over Iowa
Pittsburgh -6.5 over UAB
Florida State -14 over Maryland

Ricky Sixx: (6-7 overall)
Michigan -3.5 over Notre Dame
UCLA -7 over Oklahoma State
Georgia Tech EVEN over Clemson


Every Thursday - 10:30 am Eastern Time on KSOM out of Atlantic, Iowa
Friday evening - out of Spokane, WA
2:30 ET on NBC
Coaches: Lloyd Carr and Tyrone Willingham

Series History: Michigan and Notre Dame will meet on the gridiron for the 30th time Saturday. Wolverines hold a 17-11-1 advantage in the all-time series. Only 10 teams can boast a winning record against ND.

Strength: Maybe best defensive front in America with Dan Rumishek, Norman Heur (HOY-er), Shawn Lazarus, Shantee Orr, Victor Hobson. The difference in this one.

Junior QB John Navarre (na-VAR) – bad rap with Michigan fans
Enters ND game eighth all-time on Michigan passing charts ; quite a feat considering Michigan QBs in the pros right now. Wisconsin Gatorade POY out of high school

Senior FB B.J. Askew continues to be a double threat in offense - running and receiving. BIG SURPRISE: Junior TB Chris Perry is fresh off back-to-back 100-yard rushing efforts. Surprise after Kelly Baraka was dismissed from the team after being named the starter in the spring.

Receivers not such a bad deal after all since losing Marquise Walker. This was a huge question mark heading into 2002. Junior wide receiver Tyrece Butler has emerged as Michigan’s leading receiver going into Notre Dame game. Soph WR Braylon Edwards also heads stat charts in both receiving yds and TD catches. TE Bennie Joppru also adds a plus.


- Tyrone Willingham – 25 years in the coaching business, taking over for George O’Leary from GT fiasco / Bob Davie. I do agree ND will be better off in the long run with Willingham.
- Much hype after no offensive TDs, but still 2-0. A win is a win (read MMQB column this week).

Strength: Irish D - Irish rank in the top 30 in the nation in each of the major defensive categories. Two fumbles and an INT returned for TDs last week against Purdue. Standouts from the Kickoff Classic against Maryland on that defensive unit was senior CB Shane Walton. Set a KOC record against Maryland with 3 INTs. Irish DBs have accounted for all four TDs Notre Dame has this season.

Julius Jones Replacements - Junior Vontez Duff returned punt for TD vs. Maryland - has added dimension to the return teams after All American Jones left.

Lou Groza (leading) candidate Nick Setta set KOClassic record as well by kicking five FGs in win vs. Terps. What a weapon!! If the game boils down to FGs, count on the Irish winning.

C Jeff Faine the OL leader. Line averages over 300 pounds.

Through two games in 2002, Holiday has been so-so type of cool-headed cat. 666(EVIL) yards last year rushing.

Soph Ryan Grant not too bad TB - aided by OL.

Edge to Michigan. Wolverine defensive front can winbattle of the bulge up front in this very key match-up, forcing ND to utilize more of Holiday’s passing. Holiday still not a passer in my book - although Willingham’s offense has molded him into passing system. ND has to mix up the run and pass to be successful, can’t win by just dominating either one. Michigan wins.


3:30 ET on ABC
Coaches: Mike Price and Jim Tressel

OSU is 7-0 against the Cougars all-time.
Game Day will be in Columbus for this one - it’s big.

Strength: Senior Jason Gesser’s 2001 totals fourth on WSU’s single season passing and total offense lists, which puts him with Ryan Leaf, Drew Bledsoe, and Rosenbach. Top of Heisman list somewhere between #4 and #8 right now.

Favorite target in the two games this season has been Devard Darling - FSU transfer… twin brother of departed DeVaughn Darling. Mike Bush is NationalChamps.net AA. Bush has received preseason hype.

The Cougar defense is giving up 300.0 yards of offense/game, 220.5 yards of which have come through the air.

IT’S WHAT’S UP FRONT THAT COUNTS: WSU returns four of five starters on OL and three of four on the DL, prompting preseason publications to take notice.

TRUFANT GRABS NINTH INTERCEPTION: Marcus Trufant intercepted pass against Idaho - nine career thefts. Needs to step up this week big time.

DUNNING SETS RECORD: Sophomore Drew Dunning is Groza Candidate - hit 18 of 22 FGs in 2001.

- 2ND Year coach Jim Tressel from Youngstown State
- Defensive leaders - LBs right now with Kevin Perry and Matt Wilhelm (and safety Mike Doss). Senior Doss is two time All-American. Make it three.

STRENGTH: 3-Headed monster at RB. Freshman tailback Maurice Clarett leads Big Ten in scoring -15 points/game. RB’s are deep with Maurice Hall and Lydell Ross. But Maurice has been the man as anyone watching could plainly see. Mr. Ohio Football last year. Also last year’s USA Today high school offensive player of the year, rushed for 175 yds and three TDs in opener against Texas Tech. 230-pound TB.

Unbelievable Receivers - Chris Vance, Michael Jenkins, Chris Gamble…NC.net top 5 unit ranking

Buckeyes’first two games, junior QB Krenzel has completed 23 of 28 passes.
6-4, redhead - has not been intercepted this year and has completion percentage of 82%. Receiver have a lot to do with that.

Intriguing Match-up…
Two high powered offenses face two solid defenses. Both teams averaging over 40 points and 440 yards on offense and both averaging 7.0+ yards per play.

*Key match-up: WSU LIMITS LONG RUNS: For the second straight week WSU has not allowed run of more than 18 yds - going to get tested. Krenzel descent QB for OSU, but not quite championship caliber yet - the RB’s have made life real easy for him.

I underrated OSU in December, and slowly moved them up during the spring and summer as I learned more. Tressel’s great recruiting classes are shining through in just his second year. Like OSU in this one simply because game is in Horseshoe of Columbus. We’ll see, but definitely a very intriguing match-up (Maybe most intriguing all weekend). Huge as far as who moves on to the national race.


Iowa City, IA
5:00 Central Time on ESPN 2 (The Deuce)

- 50th anniversary of this in-state matchup, Iowa leads overall series 33-16.
- Iowa State is seeking fifth straight win over the Hawkeyes.
- Seneca Wallace Factor – JUCO transfer from Sacramento City.
5 TD’s, he is averaging 259 yards a game, and is the teams third leading rusher.
- Heisman Candidate, why he is not listed with the top candidates right now is beyond me.
- Scouting report - a deadly accurate arm, not just a running QB.

IOWA (2-0)
- Senior Iowa QB Brad Banks: 23 of 35 with no interceptions so far. From Belle Glade, FL.
- Junior RB Aaron Greving (GREV-ing) should be back - missed first two games with ankle sprain.
- Junior RB Fred Russell over 100 yards in first two games while filling in.
- Senior LB Fred Barr leads defense with 18 tackles.
- Allowed only 81 rushing yards in first two games.
- One of the biggest strengths is OL, not yielded a sack yet in 2002
- Iowa advantage in kicking as Nate Kaeding (KAY-ding) has converted his 8 straight FG attempts.

- Biggest surprise has been OL, big question mark heading into season, especially after losing starting G Luke Vander Sanden for half the year.
- ISU has a solid secondary, all first and second starters on the depth chart back except for Adam Runk from a year ago.
- Interesting side note: Dan McCarney coached at Iowa for 13 seasons in the 1980’s and was an assistant with Kirk Ferentz.

ISU has outscored its opponents 120-16 over 10 quarters ... Iowa State’s offensive average of 467 yards per game through the first three games is the best start in school history.

I know the game is at Iowa, but I honestly feel Iowa State is one of the big surprise teams of 2002 and will be when all is said and done. They had back-to-back bowl seasons while playing in one of the nation’s best conferences…the Big 12. Iowa is still trying to find an identity since the departure of Hayden Fry. Coach Kirk Ferentz has gone 7-5, 3-9, 1-10 in those 3 seasons. This is Iowa’s best team since Coach Ferentz arrived. In-state battles are generally close, but I just think Seneca Wallace provides the edge right now. Close but take Iowa State and the 3.5 points.


7:45 ET on ESPN
Coaches: Bobby Bowden, Ralph Friedgen

Maryland is ACC defending champion which if it sounds odd, is. FSU owned league since entering in1992.

Terps have major problem right now in that most inexperienced positions are in the most important skills…QB and RB. There is talk of last season’s sensation Jr. Bruce Perry coming back at RB for this one after missing Orange Bowl last year, spring game, and first two games. He won’t make a difference if he even plays at all.

Biggest problem: bottom line is Friedgen’s QB- offense based on the option. QB is Friedgen’s pride and joy. Has to be hurting that neither soph QB (Chris Kelly or Scott McBrien) can run the option or read the field for passing success. Both will play. They are very young. No more Shaun Hill (Minn. Vikings).
*This is your difference right here.

Defensively Maryland has been gritty. EJ Henderson is oneman tackling machine, but I have reservations about Terp’s secondary, which got scorched last season by FSU.

The big news out of FSU has been 253 lb TB Greg Jones. (Picture on NC.net).
Career high against UVA 173 yds. FSU 397 rushing total in that game. My judgement is that Jones splits early after this year to the NFL. He is that tremendous.

Practically an All-senior OL group. Huge in size.

Typical receivers…athletic, can burn you deep

Rix disappointing somewhat so far. His numbers have dropped first two games. Has to do with FSU running the ball so much and what defenses have been giving. Defenses trying to stop the deep balls, dropping 5-8 men at times.

FSU D strong against the rush.

The question with FSU has been a lackluster pass defense, last year and so far this season. To beat FSU need to throw the football. With opposing QB’s still to come (such as Dave Ragone, Ken Dorsey, Rex Grossman, Philip Rivers), FSU soon has their hands full. To beat FSU, you need to throw it…Maryland doesn’t excel in that area. A blow out.

When FSU comes out on the field and sees 2002 ACC Championship Banner hanging above entrance for both teams, things will get heated. Seen it living in Baltimore and it is a strange site.

On paper this game spells blowout city. Teams just do not match up. But then again, Maryland as ACC champions doesn’t spell right on paper, why you play the game.

ACC did not catch up with FSU last year, but FSU caught up with the ACC and played down. 8-4 season…blowouts to Miami and Florida…come on.


8:00 ET on ABC
Coaches: Frank Solich and Joe Paterno

- Nebraska on the road for the first time this season.
- First meeting between schools since 1983 - 12th time overall.
- PSU 6-5 advantage, including 4-1 edge at Happy Valley.

Following the lead of Tom Osborne, Coach Solich is own offensive coordinator, calling plays.

Nebraska has won eight straight games against Big Ten Conference foes.

?Punt Returns... Groce 10 punts for 251 yards first two games, remarkable 25.1 average, eighth in the nation.

Junior QB Jammal Lord is charged with difficult task of replacing departed Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch as Husker signal caller. Against Arizona State, Lord made a strong debut leading the Huskers to a 48-10 victory - Rushed for 103 yds. When comparing Lord with 2002 Heisman winner, Lord has size advantage - Crouch stood 6-1, 200 and Lord 6-2, 220. Coach Solich said Lord has great scrambling abilities.

Senior I-back Dahrran Diedrick latest in long line of outstanding Husker RBs. Diedrick was the Big 12’s leading rusher a year ago with 1,299 yards.

Senior SE Wilson Thomas go-to-player in Husker attack this season.

Defensive, Nebraska lost NT Jason Lohr and big DB Willie Amos *could be a big difference in this one.

Idle last week after beating UCF

Offensively, sophomore quarterback Zack Mills leader of the attack. Opened 2002 campaign by throwing for 194 yards and two
TDs against Central Florida.

Starting TB Larry Johnson leads PSU ground attack. Against Central Florida, rushed for 92 yards on 18 carries. Johnson also led PSU in receiving, grabbing four passes for 30 yards and a touchdown.

Wide receiver Bryant Johnson and Tony Johnson give Mills goto weapons.

Defensively, Penn State led by senior DT Jimmy Kennedy, who has earned preseason All-America recognition from several publications. FS Shawn Mayer PSU’s top returning tackler.

A huge game for both squads as a loss means certain question for media and fans. Both teams want to prove something. Penn State needs to prove two year drought is over and Top 25 slot is legit. Nebraska needs to prove they reloaded after abnormal low preseason rankings. Mills is a better QB than Lord in passing and this gives PSU a distinct advantage. Jammal Lord needs to prove himself against a top 25 team, this is his big chance. TOs play a huge roll Saturday. I like Penn State in the so-called upset this week under the lights of Beaver Stadium. Zach Mills is the difference. But Nebraska has a huge edge in game experience - played 3 games already to PSU’s one.

Interesting note: Arizona State blasted UCF last week 46-13. Penn State slipped by UCF 27-24. Nebraska whipped Arizona State. Don’t make anything of this - emotions will be running at full throttle.


by Ricky Sixx

Washington State Pass vs. Ohio State Pass Defense
Slight Edge: Washington State
If senior QB Jason Gesser wants his shot to show the world what he and his team's
offense is capable of, here's his chance. The Hawaiin born QB will have his two
main targets running on all cylinders. Senior wide-out Mike Bush and FSU transfer
Devard Darling have played extremely well, as has the OL. Trying to limit the time Gesser has in the pocket will be essential to Ohio State's success. Because Washington State has the advantage on the edges with their WRs, the Buckeye CBs will need all the help they can get from jr. DE WIll Smith and sr. frontman Kenny Peterson, who look to keep Gesser from getting comfortable in the pocket.

Washington State Run vs. Ohio State Run Defense
Edge: Ohio State
We haven't learned much about Washington State this year because they have yet to
be tested against a solid defense. What we have found out is that the Cougars have been
very inconsistent when it comes to running the ball. JUCO transfer Jermaine Green has yet
to blossom into the star most thought he'd be. And the RB committee of John Tippens and
Jonathan Smith has been spotty vs. less than stellar competition. Expect a strong OSU
front 7 to contain the Washington State running ground for the most part of the day.

Ohio State Pass vs. Washington State Pass Defense
Slight Edge: Washington State
The name of the game for jr. QB Craig Krenzel will be time- exactly how much
will his OL be able to give him? We're well aware of the ability the Cougars have in their pass–rushing, so it will be critical that Krenzel has enough time to look at his first and second options. With a CB like Marcus Trufant patrolling the secondary, the number two and three receivers will have to step up and have a big game. Look for senior Chris Vance and sophomore sensation Chris Gamble to fill in that needed role.

Ohio State Run vs. Washington State Run Defense
Edge: Ohio State

The three-headed monster of sophs Lydell Ross, Maurice Hall, and blue-chip
freshman Maurice Clarrett make up one of the most formidable backfields in college football.
Yet, most impressive thus far has been the play of the Buckeye OL. So far it has dominated the first two games and looks to make this its third versus a good Washington State front line led by jr.DE D.D. Acholonu. The most responsibility will be placed on the shoulders of the young Cougar LBs. They will need to play the game of their lives if they wish to stop the Buckeye offense.

Special Teams
Edge: Even

Washington State's kicking game thus far has been solid with P Kyle Bassler averaging
45 yards and Drew Dunning showing he is one of the most dependable kickers in
the Pac-10. Ohio State has shown solid special teams with a strong kicking game as well.
Look for any difference between these units to come with the ability of Chris Gamble and
Maurice Hall returning kicks for OSU, while the speedy Sammy Moore and Devard Darling is also capable of giving WSU excellent field position.

We both know Washington State can pass the ball and Ohio State can run the ball. The question is which team will be most successful doing the things at which they aren't exceptional.
Washington State is still trying to find out its own identity on the ground while the Ohio State faithful wonder if QB Krenzel can win a game with his arm. The advantage in these types of games tends to go with the team that controls the clock. It’s only natural to think the Buckeyes have an edge here (running games chew clock). Washington State has the advantage at the QB position, but the home field should neutralize that. Expect a strong ball control offense to keep WSU’s Gesser on the sidelines while the Ohio State OL tires out WSU’s defense by the fourth quarter.

Ohio State 34 Washington State 21



(Aug. 24)
Week 1
(Aug. 31)
Week 2
(Sept. 7)
Week 3 (Sept. 14)
Week 4 (Sept. 21)
Week 5 (Sept. 28)
Week 6 (Oct. 5)
Week 7 (Oct. 12)
Week 8 (Oct. 19)
Week 9 (Oct. 26)
Week 10 (Nov. 2)
Week 11 (Nov. 9)
Week 12 (Nov. 16)
Week 13 (Nov. 23)
Week 14 (Nov. 30)
Week 15 (Dec. 7)

Editor: David Hershorin