LAST WEEK'S WINNER: It was Bryce Puntenney, who was one of two entrants to go 6-0, but won via tiebreaker by predicting a KU-Toledo score of 41-13 (four points off the actual score).
The University of Buffalo Bulls, in the shadow of Niagara Falls, slowly they turn, step by step, inch by inch, toward respectability. It's a steep challenge, recruiting talent to Western New York, no hotbed for football.
Yet, if anybody can do it - and that is a big if - former Nebraska standout Turner Gill is the man. A Heisman Trophy finalist at Nebraska and then an assistant coach noted for a keen offensive mind and an impressive recruiting touch, Gill is in his second season at Buffalo and takes a 3-12 record into Saturday night's home game against Baylor.
The Bulls don't yet have the talent to play the schedule they play, but signs of improving confidence aren't hard to find. After bullying Temple, 42-7, in the second week of the season, Buffalo lost at Penn State, 45-24. Consider that progress from a season-opening, 38-3 loss to Rutgers.
Oct. 20 is a big date on Buffalo's schedule. That's when the Bulls visit Syracuse, a school with 118 years of tradition and a 1-13 Big East record in third-year coach Greg Robinson's first two seasons heading the Orange program. Upstate New York supremacy is at stake. Oh well, you have to start somewhere.
Gill's a born winner and a skilled communicator, but it's asking a bit much of him to defeat a Big 12 school this early in his tenure. Call it Baylor 31, Buffalo 24.
That outcome would be a moral victory for the Buffalo defense, considering that in the past two weeks, Baylor quarterback Blake Syzmanski has thrown 11 touchdown passes.
Kansas 37, Florida International 7: Sure, the Golden Panthers stayed within 14 points of Miami, but two factors should make this a more lopsided outcome. No. 1, FIU must travel to play this game. No. 2, Kansas is better than Miami at the moment. The Hurricanes serve as a reminder that nearly every time a program changes head coaches the team first takes a step backward before reversing direction. Even when the coaching change involves the promotion of an assistant, as was the case with Randy Shannon, in a lot of ways it's like starting over.
Oklahoma State 41, Texas Tech 38: Recent history suggests that just when it looks as if Oklahoma State is on the verge of making big-time strides, the Cowboys lose a game they should win. Just when it looks as if they are on the verge of a total collapse, as is now the case, they win a game they should lose.
Bobby Reid, who looked terrific so often last season, has been relegated to second string behind Zac Robinson.
Iowa State 20, Toledo 17: The Cyclones defeated Iowa without scoring a touchdown. Toledo's secondary is so weakened by injury and inexperience that touchdowns are in the forecast.
Missouri 52, Illinois State 17: Chase Daniel already has thrown for 1,017 yards, so the Tigers shouldn't have any trouble moving to 7-0 all-time against Division 1-AA foes. (Quick timeout for a back-pat. Did anyone happen to notice that last week's 52-24 victory against Western Michigan predicted on the nose here? Nobody noticed? OK, just wondering).
Colorado 20, Miami (Ohio) 10: Not to put any pressure on him or anything, but every father who starts his son at a prominent position, all the way from Little League and Pop Warner on up, is counting on Colorado freshman quarterback Cody Hawkins justifying father Dan's decision to start him.
(The contest is currently closed. Good luck to all who entered.)