Is it

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 14, 2006

really gameday?

After one full week of predicting games, I must say, I have had my ups and downs.

Week one went well with the correct prediction of the Fort Dale Eagles over the Edgewood Wildcats.

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Week two, however, I was not so fortunate.

The Greenville Tigers sent my prediction of a 24-22 win by Georgiana out the window.

But now it is time to turn my attention to NCAA football.

Yes, college football is back.

Here are my predictions for this week's games: (home team listed first)

Alabama vs. Hawaii

The Crimson Tide is coming off a 10-win season, but several departed seniors leaves many question marks on both sides of the ball.

John Parker Wilson will get his first start for the a Crimson Tide team that will take the field for the first time in the newly expanded Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Although Tyrone Prothro is out and D.J. Hall is questionable due to disciplinary action, running back Ken Darby should be able to carry the load for the Tide, thus opening up the passing game for Wilson.

The last time these two teams squared off, Hawaii passed the ball all over the field and dropped the Tide, 37-29.

This time, with a rocking Bryant-Denny Stadium full of more than 92,000 screaming Tide fans, the Rainbow Warriors won't be as luckyŠ

Alabama 27, Hawaii 13.

No. 4 Auburn vs. Washington State

The Tigers have stumbled out of the gate in recent years with losses to USC in 2002-03 and Georgia Tech in 2005.

Preseason hype has the Tigers playing for or in the hunt for the national title.

The road to Tempe starts today and if the Tigers expect to contend for a national championship, a loss in the first game cannot happen.

Brandon Cox is back and although the Tigers lose many talented receivers, Cox has thrown only one interception since throwing four in last season's opening loss.

Kenny Irons was last season's leading rusher in the SEC and returns for his senior season with Heisman hopes.

If the offensive line can open holes for Irons and keep Cox off his back, the Tigers should be heading into Starkville 1-0Š

Auburn 33, Washington State 10.

No. 23 Tennessee vs. No. 9 California

Tennessee is reeling from a disastrous 2005 season in which the Vols posted a 5-6 record and lost to Vanderbilt for the first time since Davey Crockett was rounding up Volunteers to fight the Mexican army.

The Vols are annually one of the most talented teams in the land and with offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe back in Knoxville, Tennessee could fly under a lot of people's radar.

However, quarterback Erik Ainge is back, and that isn't a good thing.

The embattled junior started as a freshman with high hopes, but that all came crashing down when the Auburn Tigers came to Knoxville and battered Ainge and his other freshman counterpart, Brent Schaffer, who will start behind center for the Ole Miss Rebels this season, to the tune of a 34-10 stomping.

Cutcliffe has found ways to make adequate quarterbacks good, but he has also had the pleasure of coaching some great quarterbacks, which Ainge is not.

Jeff Tedford is amazingly still at Cal and that will spell bad news for the Big Orange nation. Bear fans better enjoy it though, because Tedford will be moving on to high pastures when the right offer comes alongŠ

California 28, Tennessee 17.

Georgia Tech vs. No. 2 Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish are back in the national spotlight and many are picking Notre Dame to go all the way to the BCS National Championship.

Brady Quinn is a phenomenal quarterback who made great decisions for the Fighting Irish last season and is a legitimate favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

Charlie Weiss is getting settled in his second season at the helm of the Irish and his players should be adjusted to his system.

Former Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix takes over play calling duties for the Yellow Jackets and quarterback Reggie Ball is extremely athletic.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is the Jackets' go-to guy and if Georgia Tech can find a way to get him in the end zone while keeping the defense off of the field, this one could be close, real closeŠ

Notre Dame 23, Georgia Tech 20.

Arkansas vs. No. 6 USC

The Trojans absolutely dismantled the Razorbacks last season, 70-17, and the Hogs are looking for revenge.

Gone are two Heisman-Trophy winning players from the USC backfield, quarterback Matt Leinhart and running back Reggie Bush, and also NFL running back LenDale White.

Leading receiver Dwayne Jarrett is back and that could be dangerous for the Hogs.

Arkansas running back Darren McFadden was one of the best rushers in the SEC last season as a freshman but will not be playing due to an injury.

Question marks at quarterback and running back spells trouble for the Hogs but Fayetteville has become a tough place to play and, if Arkansas can keep it close early like last year and if the Razorback faithful can stay in the game and stay loud, this one could be a shockerŠ

USC 30, Arkansas 13.

Last week: 1-0

This week:


Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor. He can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 382-7104 or by e-mail at