Week 5 picks

Allen Sullivan / AJC.com

Last week didn’t turn out so hot for me and my picks. I went 3-4, but at least Fresno State stayed alive! We can all drift off to sleep with Derek Carr and the Bulldogs this weekend as they travel to Hawaii for a Midnight kickoff here on the east coast.

I’m now 17-11 for the year so go ahead and put your mortgage payment on this week’s picks.

Nathan Gray/ Independent Mail

No. 6 LSU at No. 10 Georgia- Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS:

For the second time in three weeks Georgia (2-1, 1-0 SEC) puts its SEC (and National) title hopes on the line. LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC) is coming off a 35-21 win over Auburn in its SEC opener, while special team miscues made a 45-21 win over North Texas seem closer than it was for UGA.

The Bulldogs offense is firing on all cylinders right now. Aaron Murray is completing 72 percent of his passes and has tossed seven touchdowns and just two interceptions. On the ground Todd Gurley still looks like the best back in the country, even though he’s banged up. The sophomore has 377 yards, four touchdowns and is averaging six yards per carry.

The young defense has come along slowly, but looked better in stretches against South Carolina and North Texas.

LSU is also off to a great start. Former UGA quarterback Zach Mettenberger (pictured at the top of the post alongside Murray) has been crisp this season. He’s thrown for 1,026 yards, 10 touchdowns and just one interception. Odell Beckham (20 catches for 389 yards and four TDs) and Jarvis Landry (24 catches for 364 yards and six TDs) are a terrific receiving tandem, but no other Tiger has more than three catches this season.

Jermey Hill, who probably shouldn’t be allowed to suit up for LSU, is averaging 8.3 yards per carry on the ground. Teams are averaging 19.5 points against LSU’s revamped defense so far this season.

Vegas has Georgia as a three-point favorite at home.

Prediction: I’ve gone back and forth on this all week. I even told a UGA fan on Tuesday I wasn’t sure that LSU would even punt in the game because the Dawgs are so lackluster on defense. But the more I think about it I just can’t bring myself to go against Mark Richt in Athens.

Georgia has the advantage at quarterback and I think playing in the stadium where he was supposed to star (and his mom works at) will all be a bit much for Mettenberger. He’ll eventually try to do too much and turn the ball over. I think UGA wins another SEC shootout over LSU 35-31.

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech- Thursday 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN:

The Yellow Jackets (3-0, 2-0 ACC) are a seven-point favorite at home against Virginia Tech (3-1, 0-0 ACC). Georgia Tech erased a 13-point deficit last weekend in a 28-20 win over North Carolina, while Virginia Tech needed triple overtime to defeat Marshall. The Hokies defense is one of the better units in the ACC, but unfortunately they don’t get the luxury of playing against Logan Thomas. The senior signal caller has thrown six interceptions and just four touchdowns so far this season.

Prediction: VT’s second trip to Atlanta this season goes a lot like its first (expect with out the moral victory for the defense) and Georgia Tech likely moves into the Top 25 with 24-10 victory.

No. 12 Oklahoma at No. 22 Notre Dame- Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC:

For the second straight week Notre Dame had to grind out a victory last weekend, taking down Michigan State 17-13. Tommy Rees didn’t turn it over and the Fighting Irish took advantage of MSU’s mistakes with the football to move to 3-1 on the year.

Oklahoma (3-0, 1-0 Big 12) had the week off to prepare for its trip to South Bend, Ind. Blake Bell has changed the complexion of the Sooners offense since replacing Trevor Knight. Bell is completing close to 70 percent of his passes and hasn’t thrown a pick yet. He’s been so impressive that OU is a 3.5-point favorite on the road this weekend.

Prediction: I just don’t know if Tommy Rees can stay turnover-free against the OU defense (which is giving up just nine points per game this year). I think that Blake Bell gets a big road win for the Sooners over Notre Dame 23-17.

No. 21 Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama- Saturday 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN:

The Rebels (3-0, 1-0 SEC) are off to a great start this year with wins at Vanderbilt and Texas. Bo Wallace is an exciting quarterback and Jeff Scott is as slippery a player as there is in the county. Now things get real with a trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Alabama dismantled Colorado State 31-6 last weekend after an emotional win at Texas A&M two weeks earlier. The Crimson Tide look beatable this season, but Ole Miss is not the team to get it done, hence the 14.5 points Vegas is giving the Rebels.

Prediction: I really like Ole Miss, but the only thing they’re winning on Saturday is the tailgate. The Tide roles on 42-28.

No. 13 South Carolina at Central Florida- Saturday Noon ET on ABC:

It’s the biggest home game for UCF (3-0, 0-0 AAC) since the Knights hosted Texas to open up Bright House Networks Stadium in 2007. UCF enters Saturday following a BYE, and defeated Penn State on the road 34-31 two weeks ago. Blake Bortles is a terrific quarterback, he’s completing 71.4 percent of his passes and has thrown seven touchdowns to just one interception.

South Carolina (2-1, 1-1 SEC) comes into the game off of a BYE as well. The Gamecocks have defeated UNC and Vanderbilt at home, and fallen to Georgia on the road, this season. Surprisingly the strength of the Gamecocks has been their balance on offense with running back Mike Davis and quarterback Connor Shaw.

Prediction: USC is favored by seven points and I’m feeling crazy. I don’t know if UCF can win outright but I think they can make South Carolina work for it. I’ll take USC 17-14 over UCF.

No. 24 Wisconsin at No. 3 Ohio State- Saturday 8 p.m ET on ABC:

The Badgers (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) bounced back from a tough loss to Arizona State with a 41-10 thrashing of Purdue last weekend. Wisconsin is averaging 348.9 yards rushing per game this season and is giving up just 10.5 points per game.

Ohio State (4-0) is in a bit of a predicament as Braxton Miller has been cleared to play this weekend. In Miller’s absence Kenny Guiton has lit it up for the Buckeyes with 664 yards passing, 13 touchdowns and two interceptions against a handful of cupcakes. Guiton looks like a better passer but Miller’s athleticism is what made him the starter in the first place.

Prediction: Ohio State is favored by a touchdown at home and I think they’ll be able to cover that. Ohio State is the best team in the Big Ten and I think they’ll show that no matter who plays quarterback on Saturday. Wisconsin goes down 28-17.

No. 9 Texas A&M at Arkansas- Saturday 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2:

62.5 points is the over in this one and I’d take it. The Aggies (3-1, 0-1 SEC) are up there with Oregon for the best offense in the country and the Razorbacks (3-1, 0-0 SEC) have a big-time rushing attack.

Texas A&M bounced back from its loss to Alabama last Saturday with a 42-13 win over SMU. All that Johnny Football kid did was generate 346 yards of total offense, run for two scores and throw another in the blowout win.

Arkansas let a win over Rutgers slip right through its fingers last weekend 28-24. Now it’s time for freshman Alex Collins and head coach Bret Bielema to make their SEC debuts.

Prediction: Texas A&M is getting 14.5 points on the road, and as much as I do like Arkansas rushing attack the Razorbacks gave up 28 points to Rutgers last weekend. TAMU rolls Arkansas at home 42-28.

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