No. 24 Oregon State vs.
No. 6 Texas Christian at Arlington, Texas
Saturday, 4:45 p.m. PDT, ESPN
This is the first of two key weekend games involving possible Bowl Championship Series gate crashers. Two days before Boise State takes on Virginia Tech in Maryland, the Texas Christian Horned Frogs get first shot to prove they belong in the national title conversation. Oregon State, led by tailback Jacquizz Rodgers, also plays at Boise State on Sept. 25. The pick: Texas Christian.
No. 21 Louisiana State vs.
No. 18 North Carolina at Atlanta
Saturday, 5 p.m. PDT, Channel 7
Louisiana State is 17-9 since winning the BCS championship, making this an important season for Coach Les Miles. The promise of North Carolina's year is being compromised by a brewing academic scandal that could leave the Tar Heels short on players. The pick: Louisiana State.
No. 3 Boise State vs.
No. 10 Virginia Tech in Landover, Md.
Monday, 5 p.m. PDT, ESPN
This is one of the most important games in Boise State history as the Broncos take the first step toward a possible national title run. The loser is likely eliminated from the BCS chase. This could be Virginia Tech's best team since the days of Michael Vick. The pick: Boise State.
— Chris Dufresne