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Boise State heads into SEC territory
Boise St Preview Foot Heal
This Nov. 12, 2010, file photo shows Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore (11) running onto the field in the Kibbie Dome for an NCAA college football game against Idaho, in Moscow, Idaho. Thanks to the Heisman-finalist and a talented cast around him, the Broncos are once again going to be at the center of debate about their worthiness on the national scene. - photo by Associated Press

    College football's most debated team has another referendum game.
    No. 5 Boise State begins a second straight season playing across the country on a field that is neutral only in name.
    But this time the stakes are raised a bit. This time the Broncos are venturing into Southeastern Conference territory.
    As impressive as Boise State's 33-30 victory against Virginia Tech at FedEx Field in Maryland was last season, Kellen Moore and the Broncos have a chance to bolster their credibility even more Saturday in Atlanta against No. 19 Georgia.
    The Boise State debate breaks down like this.

Pro Boise
    Coach Chris Petersen's team can compete and even beat any team in the country if given the opportunity. (See Fiesta Bowl victories against Oklahoma and TCU, plus that victory against Virginia Tech). A relatively weak conference schedule should not preclude the Broncos from playing for a national championship if they go undefeated.

Anti Boise
    Playing in the Western Athletic Conference, the Broncos only faced a few teams per season that were their equals. Moving to the Mountain West Conference this season only provides Boise State with a touch more competition. Because the Broncos' strength of schedule lags well behind the teams that play in the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, etc., Boise State cannot possibly be considered a national championship contender.
    (Note: Often this argument leads to screaming and/or tweeting in all capital letters and, ultimately, language not suitable for youngsters).
    SEC fans seem to get the most riled up by Boise State being included among the nation's elite programs.
    The last time Boise State played an SEC team was 2005, when the Broncos were blasted by the Bulldogs 48-13 in Athens.
    A victory by the Broncos not only means the Boise State debate will rage most of the season, but it might even get them some respect in the Deep South.

The picks:
No. 20 Mississippi State (minus 29) at Memphis
Bulldogs are preseason ranked for first time since 2001 ... MISSISSIPPI STATE 35-10.
No. 14 TCU (minus 6)
at Baylor
QB Robert Griffin III gives Bears upset hopes ... TCU 24-17.
Tulsa (plus 24½) at
No. 1 Oklahoma
Sooners have won five straight against Tulsa, including 45-0 two seasons ago ... OKLAHOMA 58-21
Kent State (plus 38) at
No. 2 Alabama
Tide coach Nick Saban goes easy on his alma mater ... ALABAMA 35-7.
No. 3 Oregon (minus 3) vs.No. 4 LSU at Arlington, Texas
Never, ever, count out Les Miles ... LSU 28-27.
No. 5 Boise State (minus 3½) at No. 19 Georgia
Kellen Moore is no Jared Zabransky ... BOISE STATE 28-24
Louisiana-Monroe (plus 29½) at No. 6 Florida State
After filling in for Christian Ponder, QB EJ Manuel leads Seminoles ... FLORIDA STATE 48-16.

San Jose State (plus 30) No. 7 Stanford
Andrew Luck gets in a solid half of work ... STANFORD 45-10.
Louisiana-Lafayette (plus 37) at No. 9 Oklahoma State
QB Brandon Weeden at 27, could make a Weinke-like run at the Heisman ... OKLAHOMA ST. 55-13.

Chattanooga (no line) vs. No. 10 Nebraska
Sort of an unsatisfying way to begin a new era for Huskers ... NEBRASKA 52-14.
No. 12 South Carolina (minus 20½) vs. East Carolina at Charlotte, N.C.
Steve Spurrier suggests QB Connor Shaw could start over Stephen Garcia ... S.CAROLINA 38-14.
Appalachian State (no line) at No. 13 Virginia Tech
No one takes Mountaineers lightly ... VIRGINIA TECH 37-17.
Missouri State (no line) at No. 15 Arkansas
Tyler Wilson takes over at quarterback for Razorbacks ... ARKANSAS 58-20.
South Florida (plus 10½) at No. 16 Notre Dame
The one time Lou Holtz will be rooting AGAINST the Irish — maybe ... NOTRE DAME 28-20.
Akron (plus 34) at
No. 18 Ohio State
Suspensions shouldn't be a problem for Buckeyes here ... OHIO STATE 35-7.
Miami, Ohio (plus 18) at No. 21 Missouri
New Tigers QB James Franklin makes first start ... MISSOURI 38-17.
Florida Atlantic (plus 35) at No. 22 Florida
Gators won only meeting with Owls 59-20 in 2007 ... FLORIDA 45-3.


Utah State (plus 21½) at No. 23 Auburn

Tigers will slip this season, but not far enough to give Aggies a shot ... AUBURN 52-21.

Minnesota (plus 22) at No. 25 Southern California

Gophers QB MarQueis Gray could give USC trouble ... USC 35-17.


Marshall (plus 22) at No. 24 West Virginia

You want offense Mountaineers fans? Here you go ... WEST VIRGINIA 48-14.

SMU (plus 15½) at No. 8 Texas A&M

Maybe the Aggies can hand over their Big 12 keys to Mustangs? ... TEXAS A&M 35-21.


Last season: 216-72 (straight); 144-133-6 (vs. points).