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.


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Stanford at Notre Dame
Purdue at Iowa
Penn State at Wisconsin
Georgia at Alabama
McNeese State at Nebraska

INSIDE99: (11-9-1 overall)
Clemson +14.5 over Florida State
Brigham Young -17 over Utah State
Notre Dame -8 over Stanford
San Jose State -6.5 over SMU
Wisconsin -2 over Penn State
Oklahoma -13.5 over Missouri
Arkansas State +20.5 over Middle Tennessee

Ricky Sixx: (10-8 overall)
Syracuse -1 over Pittsburgh
Florida -13 over Mississippi
Kansas State -3.5 over Colorado
Oregon -8 over Arizona
Alabama -4 over Georgia
Ohio State -25 over Northwestern
West Virginia -3 over Maryland


Missouri senior cornerback R.J. Jones

Iowa State

Sept. 30, 2002
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Richardson

Senior picks off school-record three passes

DALLAS (FWAA) – Missouri senior cornerback R.J. Jones (Mountain View, Calif.) is this week's recipient of the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week Award for his performance in the Tigers' 44-7 win over Troy State this past Saturday in Columbia.

Jones tied an MU single-game record with three interceptions and returned the last one 39 yards to set up a Tiger field goal. He also broke up three passes on the afternoon and had two tackles, including one for a loss, in the game. Jones was part of a Tiger defense that held Troy State to 300 yards and seven points, well below the Trojans' averages of 402 yards and 23.5 points per game coming into Saturday's contest.

A three-person panel from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) selects the winner of the weekly award.

The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club pick a National Defensive Player of the Week each Monday. Pile will be added to the Watch List for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy which will be presented on Dec. 9 in Charlotte, N.C., by the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club.

2002 Bronko Nagurski Players of the Week
• Sept. 9: Maurice Sikes, Miami
• Sept. 16: Shane Walton, Notre Dame
• Sept. 23: Willie Pile, Virginia Tech
• Sept. 30: R.J. Jones, Missouri



COACH: Tyrone Willingham

Holiday was injured when he landed awkwardly on the shoulder Sept. 21 against Michigan State. Backup is former walk-on Pat Dillingham who everyone recognizes as the hero from the last pass of the MSU game. He is listed now as day-to-day, but has been practicing in some drills without the sling. LOOK FOR HIM TO GO.

Just like the offense can't be without Carlyle Holiday for too long, Notre Dame would be in a world of hurt if something happened to Grant,. He has 60 more carries than the next Irish running back.

The West Coast offense has yet to click, but the Irish have two weeks to work on it.

Defense - It's still the team's strength. The Irish set out to stop Michigan State's rushing attack and succeeded. The Spartans rushed for only 53 yards; leading rusher Dawan Moss gained only 9 yards on nine attempts.

COACH: Buddy Teevens

Two QB’s - Neither Chris Lewis nor Kyle Matter played like a first-stringer against Arizona State. They will continue to push each other in practice, and both are likely to see the field this week against Notre Dame.

Young defense was supposed to be a work in progress this season -- and it is. The current depth chart lists six sophomore starters -- plus one redshirt freshman -- and the inexperience showed against Arizona State. The Cardinal has yielded 125 points in three games, and that 41.7-point average.

Starting RB Kerry Carter (knee) and starting WR Luke Powell (sprained ankle) did not play at ASU, and are listed as questionable for this week's game at Notre Dame.

Considering the way Stanford gave up passing yards in huge chunks in a deflating loss at Arizona State, the outlook for the rest of the season in the pass-happy Pac-10 suddenly looks more bleak. ASU set a school record for points in a Pac Ten game with a 65-24 victory.



IOWA (4-1) Big Ten: (1-0)
COACH: Kirk Ferentz

After blowing a 24-6 lead against Iowa State and a 22-point fourth-quarter lead against Penn State, Iowa settled down during an overtime that must have felt oddly familiar. C.J. Jones caught a 6-yard touchdown pass in the extra period.

The Hawkeyes played well on both sides of the ball for three quarters against PSU. The run defense was especially stout as the Penn State was held to just 59 yards on the ground. Keep that up throughout the Big Ten season and the Hawkeyes have a chance to go to the Rose Bowl.

RB Fred Russell -- He was a workhorse against Penn State, carrying 35 times for 150 yards and a touchdown. Russell has the speed to break the long runs, but he is also an effective inside runner. I really feel this is the biggest break through as opposed to what I felt in the preseason after losing a guy like Ladell Betts. In comes Russell.

Banks was sensational in the win. He threw four TD passes and kept his cool in overtime. Banks completed 18 of 30 passes for 260 yards and 2 int’s.

PURDUE (3-2) Big Ten: (1-0)
COACH: Joe Tiller

The Purdue defense continues to make big plays. When the Boilermakers came out of the locker room for the second half last week, the Boilermaker defense was not about to let Minnesota walk out of Ross-Ade Stadium with a win. The defense made life miserable for Minnesota QB Asad Abdul-Khaliq in the second half.

The Purdue passing games still needs to improve. QB Kyle Orton is making some progress -- he was 19-of-32 for 190 yards and one TD against the Gophers -- but head coach Joe Tiller would like to see a breakout game from him.

Head coach Joe Tiller liked his running backs at the start of the season. He thought the group -- led by speedy Joey Harris and Montrell Lowe -- gave Purdue its best running attack during his tenure at Purdue. Then they started fumbling the ball. Those fumbles badly hurt the Boilermakers in their inexplicable home loss to Wake Forest and got them in trouble against Minnesota in the Big Ten opener.



COACH: Joe Paterno

Penn State needs to start the game more efficiently and not depend on last-minute comebacks. The Nittany Lions clearly were not ready at the start of the game, while Iowa came out focused and efficient. A well-rested Wisconsin team should be prepared for the Nittany Lions this week.

Penn State’s pass defense is suspect, we knew it to start the season. The safeties Yaacov Yisrael (knee) and Ben Lago (knee) are out for the season and their losses have hurt. Bollinger is licking his chops this week. The run defense is also questionable.

Zack Mills is PSU at this point. The Penn State quarterback was unable to come through in overtime, but he threw four TD passes and led the team to a 22-point fourth quarter comeback.

WR Bryant Johnson had a big game for the Nittany Lions as he caught eight passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns against the Hawkeyes. Johnson is a big-play threat who can use his athleticism to make big plays over the top of the defense.

COACH: Barry Alvarez

The Badgers are coming off a bye week.

Return of Lee Evans? Everyone’s #1 Preseason All-American. Evans went down with a torn ACL in the spring game. He is listed as questionable. I thought Wisconsin was doomed at that point. Now they are 5-0 and if Evans can get back to at least 90%, look out.

QB Brooks Bollinger is not the most physically gifted player in the league, but he has toughness, heart and character. In addition to those strengths, he makes his best throws when the game is on the line.
RB Anthony Davis has speed to burn and could give the Penn State defense a terrible time if he can get to the second level. Davis should be at his best after the bye week.
The Wisconsin defense is not overly talented, but the unit is very aggressive and competitive. Only 3 starters back from 2001. The Badgers have made big defensive plays down the stretch throughout the season and the team seems to play with a swagger when the game is on the line.



ESPN Gameday will be here in Tuscaloosa.

This game will be a huge measuring stick for both teams. Alabama might be on probation and not eligible to play a bowl game, but they sure act like they're playing for a national championship.

COACH: Mark Richt

Georgia barely beat South Carolina and Clemson before playing Northwestern State and New Mexico State the past two weeks, so it's really difficult to tell just how good the Bulldogs are.

Top five unit rankings at WR - WRs Terrence Edwards, Fred Gibson and Damien Gary. It's a talented, experienced position for the Bulldogs, but the receivers are dropping way too many passes. Still waiting for the offense to shine with all of the fire power they have…David Greene was last season’s SEC Freshman Of The Year. Dawgs have played a weak schedule and still 89th in the nation in total offense.

Georgia's improving defense allowed only one touchdown for the third consecutive game, but it has yet to see the kind of hard-nosed offensive line and running game it will face at Alabama.

COACH: Dennis Franchione

QBs Tyler Watts and Brodie Croyle -- This is the game within the game. Both QBs are capable of winning for the Tide, but coach Dennis Franchione isn't likely to play both on a regular basis. Brodie Croyle's standout performance against Arkansas last Saturday makes him the starting quarterback IMHO.

Alabama's defensive line continues to lead the way against both the run and the pass. The combination of Kenny King, Jarret Johnson, Kindal Moorehead makes it tough to run between the tackles

THE BEST OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE LINES IN THE NATION! It doesn’t matter who is injured at QB and RB. I called it before the season started. Georgia is headed into a beehive. I like Bama an awful lot this year.



COACH: Frank Solich

Out of the AP for first time since 1981

Power in the Big 12 North has shifted, at this point you have to think the favorites to win the division are Iowa State and Kansas State.

Is there a QB controversy now? Solich pulled Jamaal Lord in favor of Mike Stuntz in the loss to Iowa State. Not sure who will start this week. Lord had two critical turnovers that led to scores by Iowa State on Saturday while going 5 for 10 for 120 yards, but 90 came on a TD pass.

Can’t blame struggles on the QB as The offensive line has not been able to open holes for the running backs, who have not broken free for many big runs.

Nebraska running back Thunder Collins had his eligibility restored by an NCAA committee Tuesday and could play Saturday against McNeese State after sitting the last 4 games.

VS. IOWA STATE- The Huskers committed five turnovers in the game, leading to 17 Cyclone points and ISU controlled the football, holding a 15-minute advantage in time of possession.

COACH: Tommy Tate

McNeese State is one of the top programs in Division I-AA and enters Saturday’s game with a 4-0 record and a No. 2 national ranking.

The Cowboys feature a run-oriented offensive attack, averaging 230.8 yards per game on the ground

Quarterback Scott Pendarvis triggers the Cowboys’ offensive attack. The sophomore has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes.

The MSU rushing attack is led by junior tailback Vick King, who averages nearly 90 yards per game and has scored

Defensively, the Cowboys have been very strong against the run, allowing four opponents to run for an average of just 70.5 yards per contest.

Obviously this game in Lincoln is small potatoes. But many of the predictions labeling the Huskers with 4-5 losses this year look to be about right. Nebraska getting to the Big 12 title game is not going to happen period. The defense isn’t the same, and the passing game is the same if not worse. The OL is not producing.



(Aug. 24)
Week 1
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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