Week 3 Picks

gogamecocks.com

I bounced back with a 4-3 week two to bring the picks to 6-8 for the year. This week’s slate of games doesn’t exactly jump off the screen, which means it will likely be one of the more wild weekends of the season.

Georgia Southern (1-1) at Georgia Tech (2-0)- Saturday noon ET on FOX Sports South: The Yellow Jackets have had a pair of slow starts that look much better on paper than they did on film. Wofford trailed by just five points in the fourth quarter before Tech pulled away for a 38-19 victory.

USA Today Sports

Last week on the road the Yellow Jackets kicked a field just before halftime for its first lead of the game. The second half was all Georgia Tech though, as it went on for a 38-21 win over Tulane.

Georgia Southern is 1-1 after putting up 83 points last weekend against Savannah State (seriously why does this school play football?).

The Eagles ended last year with a big win over Florida in Gainesville and very nearly had another Power 5 victory to start 2014. North Carolina State needed a Jacoby Brissett touchdown pass with 1:37 to escape the opener with a 24-23 win.

Prediction: Vegas is giving the Yellow Jackets 17 points. I think that’s awfully generous and I like the Eagles to not only cover, but I think they come to Atlanta and win. I’ll take Georgia Southern 24-21.

Central Florida (0-1) at No. 20 Missouri (2-0)- Saturday noon ET on SEC Network: Missouri dominated Toledo early last week and never looked back at is moved to 2-0 with a 49-24 win on the road. The Tigers racked up more than 500 yards of total offense in the game.

Quarterback Maty Mauk is completing 64.2 percent of his passes, and has tossed eight touchdown passes to just two interceptions. Still the Tigers haven’t faced a team as good as UCF.

UCF fell to Penn State 26-24 in Ireland in its season opener. The Kinghts offense stalled early in the game, but was sparked when Justin Holman entered the game. Holman completed 9 of 14 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for a pair of touchdowns and is now the starter.

Prediction: Home-field advantage has Missouri as a 10-point favorite in this one. While I think Holman makes UCF much more dynamic on offense than it was with Pete DeNivo under center, I still can’t overlook the Nittany Lions’ 511 yards of total offense in the game. I think Missouri’s offense will be too much for UCF, and the Tigers win 35-20.

West Virginia (1-1) at Maryland (2-0)- Saturday noon ET on Big Ten Network: The Terrapins make their Big Ten Network debut against a geographical rival, who of course plays in conference made up of southwestern teams because… College Football that’s why.

The Mountaineers are 1-1 after hanging with Alabama and shutting out Towson. Clint Trickett is completing a whopping 75.3 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. The former FSU signal-caller even has a rushing TD this year as well. West Virginia’s inability to stop the run was the difference against Alabama in the Georgia Dome as the Crimson Tide racked up 288 yards on the ground.

Maryland had a strong start against James Madison and escaped South Florida with a 24-17 win last weekend. Turnovers have been the Terrapins big bugaboo early this season. C.J. Brown has thrown two interceptions this year, while back-up Caleb Rowe has also thrown a pick. USF’s first points last week came courtesy of a fumble return for a touchdown.

Prediction: Maryland is a three-point favorite in this one. I think Brown and the rest of Maryland’s rushing attack will give West Virgina problems, but I still think the Mountaineers pull it off. I’m going West Virgina 35-28.

No. 6 Georgia (1-0) at No. 24 South Carolina (1-1)- Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS: Obviously this is Saturday’s main course.

USA Today Sports

Columbia, S.C. has been a bit of a house of horrors for the Bulldogs lately with the Gamecocks winning the last two, including a 35-7 drubbing in 2012 that’s still fresh in both fan bases’ memories. UGA avenged the loss last year in Athens with a 41-30 win.

Todd Gurley racked up 132 yards in last year’s win, and looks to be even better this year as the fully-healthy junior piled up 198 yards rushing, three rushing TDs and a 100-yard kickoff return for a fourth score in a 45-21 win over Clemson in the opener.

South Carolina bounced back with a win over ECU last weekend, after Texas A&M scored 52 points in win over South Carolina in Columbia. Even with a win over the Purple Pirates the defense gave up 453 yards of offense in the 33-23 victory.

The good news was that Mike Davis did look healthy as he rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns.

Prediction: Georgia is a favored by 6.5 points on the road. With South Carolina giving up an average of 6.8 yards per play, and Georgia looking potent offensively despite its off-season losses this one looks like it could be a Bulldogs’ blowout. I’m sure the Ole Ball Coach has mentioned this more than a few teams to his club this week, but I just don’t think South Carolina has the personnel on defense to stop UGA. I think Todd Gurley has another big day and Georgia rolls 42-23.

Tennessee (2-0) at No. 4 Oklahoma (2-0) – Saturday 8 p.m. ET on ABC: Time for Bob Stoops to back up all that SEC smack talk he’s been spewing since last summer.

The Sooners have rolled over a couple of cupcakes early in the year, averaging 508 yards of total offense per game. Trevor Knight has been impressive with 552 yards passing, three TDs and a rushing TD as well.

Oklahoma’s defense has been lights out, giving up just 3.8 yards per play against Louisiana Tech and Tulsa. OU has four sacks, and has forced five turnovers in the blowout victories, including four interceptions.

The Volunteers are also 2-0 on the year, but they haven’t been quite as impressive. Tennessee did blow by Utah Sate on Labor Day weekend, but didn’t pull away from Arkansas State until the second half, and even trailed much of the first quarter.

Justin Worely has looked good under center, with a 64.5 completion percentage, 520 yards passing and five touchdowns. Despite the lack of a running game to keep defenses honest.

Prediction: Oklahoma is favored by 21 points. Tennessee is going to look ridiculous next week against Florida thanks to Adidas, but this week they’ll only have themselves to blame. Boomer Sooner rolls 42-17.

No. 9 USC (2-0) at Boston College (1-1)- Saturday 8 p.m. ET on ESPN: The Trojans enter this one after an emotional 13-10 win over Stanford last weekend. Boston College is coming off a 10-point loss to Pitt.

USA Today Sports

Pitt ran it down the Eagles’ throat for 303 yards last week. USC is averaging 496 yards per game on offense, including 216 yards rushing. Buck Allen is leading the way with 287 yards.

The Eagles have had their own success running the ball, with an average of 5.1 yards per rush. Quarterback Tyler Murphy is the leading rusher with 210 yards. USC showed it can stop a physical rushing attack last week, limiting Stanford to 128 yards on 38 carries.

Prediction: Despite a cross-country flight, the Trojans are a 17-point favorite. I think BC is going to surprise some teams this year, but USC isn’t one of them. USC takes down the dudes 31-10.

Texas (1-1) at No. 12 UCLA (2-0)- Saturday 8:15 p.m. ET on FOX: When FOX saw they had UCLA at Texas with this week’s slate of games they had to be ecstatic. A national title contender with a pair of Heisman hopefuls, against Charlie Strong as he rebuilds one of the game’s biggest brands.

Instead what they’ve got is a pair of perhaps the most disappointing teams in college football.

Texas was embarrassed at home by BYU (yes again) 41-7 last weekend. The Cougars racked up 429 yards of total offense, including 248 yards rushing. Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes was 20 of 31 for 176 yards, a TD and an interception as BYU loaded the box and dared him to beat him with his arm.

UCLA hasn’t lost a game in 2014, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. A struggling offensive line has led to narrow victories over Virgina (28-20) and Memphis (42-35). Bruins’ fans may have been able to chalk the UVA game up to a noon game on the East Coast, but the Memphis win came in Los Angeles.

Still the Bruins have a pair of dynamic play-makers in Brett Hundley and Myles Jack. Hundley has thrown for 638 yards, three TDs and a pick, while also rushing for 65 yards and TD. Jack is again playing both ways for UCLA. The sophomore has 19 tackles, one for loss and two pass break-ups on defense. He’s only carried the ball three times on offense, but did have a four-yard TD run against Memphis.

Prediction: UCLA is an eight-point favorite at home in this one. I have no doubt that Strong will have Texas playing better this week, but he still will be missing his starting quarterback and three offensive line starters. UCLA will win this one, but we’ll find out more about them in two weeks in Tempe, Ariz. UCLA wins 24-12.

Week 2 Picks

Goducks.com

It wasn’t the greatest start to the 2014 season for the old picks column. I went 2-5 in week 1 against the spread. The good news is that the only straight-up pick I would have missed was Texas A&M over South Carolina, which went the opposite of how everyone but Kevin Sumlin thought it would.

This week’s games have a distinct West Coast flavor as the Pac-12 hosts the two best week two match-ups.

Pittsburgh (1-0) at Boston College (1-0)- Friday 7 p.m. ET on ESPN: This won’t be a particularly compelling match-up in my opinion, but apparently Vegas knows something I don’t. Pitt is just a 4.5-point favorite over BC.

The two teams ran the ball a combined 117 times in their openers, with Pitt racking up 409 yards rushing to BC’s 338.

Prediction: The coastal is wide open, but I think Pitt could be a surprise team in the ACC. Tyler Murphy played well last week for BC, but I like Pitt 28-14.

No. 14 USC (1-0) at No. 13 Stanford (1-0) – Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC: Both teams cruised in their openers last weekend. Head coaches David Shaw (Stanford) and Steve Sarkisian (USC) claim they’ve buried the hatchet after a tiff following last year when Sarkisian was Washington’s head coach and he claimed Stanford was faking injuries in an effort to curb the Huskies’ hurry-up offense.

AP Photo

Against Fresno State the Trojans put up 701 yards of total offense in week one. Redshirt junior Cody Kessler tossed four touchdown passes, and 10 different players caught a pass in the game.

Stanford meanwhile posted a shutout against UC Davis, allowing just 115 total yards. Quarterback Kevin Hogan completed 75 percent of his pass attempts, with three touchdowns and one interception. The Cardinal are still looking for a featured tailback as nine different running backs carried the ball in the first game.

The best match-up in this game will be in the trenches, as Stanford’s offensive line looks to try and hold USC defensive end Leonard Williams at bay. Last week Williams had seven tackles and an interception.

Prediction: Being at home has given Stanford just a 2.5-point advantage according to Vegas. I think Stanford gets revenge on USC for last year’s upset thanks to their offensive line. USC did give up an average of 4.8 yards per rush last week. I think Stanford’s physicality is the difference in this game and they win 24-13.

No. 7 Michigan State (1-0) at No. 3 Oregon (1-0)- Saturday 6:30 p.m. ET on FOX: This is obviously the creme of the crop for week two’s slate of games.

It could turn out to be an elimination game for these two playoff contenders, and if you read by my playoff picks, then you know I think that Michigan State can win this one.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Autzen Stadium is an incredible atmosphere, and that’s why Vegas has the Ducks as a 12.5-point favorite. Both teams cruised in their openers over lesser competition.

Even if it was against Jacksonville State, Connor Cook showed in week one that the Spartans have more firepower on offense than last year’s unit that often failed to provide any sort of a spark. The junior QB completed 12 of 13 pass attempts for 285 yards and three touchdowns.

Marcus Mariota was equally impressive, throwing for three touchdowns and running for another. The Ducks racked up 673 yards of total offense, and averaged 7.7 yards per rushing attempt.

Prediction: I think Michigan State’s defense is the difference here. Oregon traditionally struggles with physical defenses like the Spartans, and despite the fact that Mariota is the best passer the Ducks have had, I think Michigan State wins 28-24.

East Carolina (1-0) at No. 21 South Carolina (0-1)- Saturday 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU: No rest for the Gamecocks as they lick their wounds from the Texas A&M thrashing.

ECU put up 52 points last week and South Carolina obviously has some issues on defense. The injury to Mike Davis’ ribs is another obstacle for Steve Spurrier to work around after a deflating loss.

Prediction: This pick is 100% influenced by years of listening to @MikeMcCall talk about the Purple Pirates and Bojangles being some of the South’s true treasures. South Carolina is favored by 16. I don’t think ECU actually wins this game, but they cover. I’m going South Carolina 42, ECU 31.

Michigan (1-0) at No. 16 Notre Dame (1-0)- Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC: Other than potential bowl games, this could be the last meeting between the two rivals for quite some time. The Fighting Irish claim the series is ending because of its new agreement with the ACC, but then they turned around and announced a home-and-home with Ohio State for 2022 and 2023 on Thursday.

Michigan’s offense looked impressive against Appalachian State with 52 points on 560 total yards. Both App State touchdowns came in the second half.

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson certainly doesn’t look like a guy who went a year without playing football, passing for 295 yards and two touchdowns against Rice.

Prediction: Vegas has Notre Dame as a four-point favorite. I’m inclined to go with that line, I’m just not convinced of Michigan just yet. I think Notre Dame wins the final match-up 28-17.

BYU (1-0) at Texas (1-0)- Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1: Sometimes you have to break something down to bring it back down.

Photo courtesy of BYU

Charlie Strong is burning it to the ground in Austin, Texas.

This week alone Strong has suspended (although some outlets are reporting it’s an indefinite suspension for the entire season) starting tackles Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle.  Making matters worse, starting center Dominic Espinosa suffered a broken ankle against North Texas and is out for the year. Quarterback David Ash is also out this week after suffering a concussion.

Last year BYU defeated Texas 40-21, setting the gears in motion for Strong to take over at Texas. Cougars’ quarterback Taysom Hill ran wild last year, and last week he racked up 97 yards rushing with two TDs, but he did most of his damage through the air with 308 yards passing and three more TDs.

Prediction: Vegas has BYU as a one-point favorite with all the Longhorns’ turmoil. I think that Texas is still the better team in this one. I’m intrigued by Tyrone Swoopes and believe that Strong’s defensive principles will contain Hill. I think Texas wins 17-13.

Virginia Tech (1-0) at No. 8 Ohio State (1-0)- Saturday 8 p.m. ET on ESPN: Ohio State had an impressive comeback victory over a good Navy team in week one. Yes you read that right. I think Navy is a good team and there’s no shame in how Ohio State played against the midshipmen.

The Hokies rolled by William & Mary 34-9. So in summation Ohio State may have learned something about itself in week one, while Virgina Tech is still a mystery.

One of the real mysteries is just how much of a difference quarterback Michael Brewer can be. The Texas Tech transfer was 23 of 30 for 251 yards, two touchdown and an interception in his Hokie debut.

The Buckeyes also have a new QB in J.T. Barret, who went 12 of 15 for 226 yards, a TD and an interception. He also added 50 yards rushing. While Navy is impressive, Bud Foster’s defense will be a better test for the redshirt freshman.

Prediction: Ohio State is favored by 11 points at home in this one. I think the Buckeyes are better, but wouldn’t be surprised to see VT keep it close. I’m going with an Ohio State win 21-16.

ACC Power Rankings

A little movement in the energy efficient ACC rankings this week. Virginia Tech makes the biggest jump going from No. 10 to 5 with a win over Georgia Tech. North Carolina brought shame on the conference by getting blown out by ECU, thus the Heels fall from 6 to 13.

14. Wake Forest (2-3 0-1 ACC): The Demon Deacons fell to Clemson 56-7 last weekend. Wake Forest gave up 573 yards of total offense. They gave up a 64-yard touchdown pass just 45 seconds into the game. Wake remains the worst team in the ACC.

 

13. North Carolina (1-3, 0-1 ACC): Really North Carolina? You let East Carolina come into Chapel Hill and put up 55 points on Homecoming? The Purple Pirates racked up 603 yards of total offense in the game. Afterwards the Tar Heels admitted they didn’t bring any energy because they were playing ECU. How does that happen Larry Fedora?

12. Duke (3-2, 0-2 ACC): The Blue Devils won a shootout at home with Troy 38-31 on Saturday. The defense has looked really bad for Duke the last three weeks, and while quarterback Brandon Connette has filled in nicely with 11 touchdown passes, there aren’t many surefire wins left on the schedule. Duke is scheduled to play Navy on Saturday but politics could get in the way.

11. Boston College (2-2, 1-1 ACC): Boston College put a scare into Florida State early, jumping out to a 17-3 lead. FSU looked like it was going to run away with it for a while, but the Dudes never gave up and made it closer than the 48-34 score indicates. With the government shutdown, the Eagles could be off this weekend with a visit from Army on the schedule.

10. Syracuse (2-2, 0-0 ACC): It’s time for Syracuse’s welcome to the ACC moment this weekend. They host the fourth-ranked Clemson Tigers. So far this season the Orange have looked over-matched against BCS AQ schools. I’ll be interested to see how the Carrier Dome reacts to its first ACC game, especially with a top-four opponent.

9. Virginia (2-2, 0-1 ACC): Virginia just looked sad on Saturday against Pitt. The Cavaliers fell 14-3 on the road. UVA’s offense just couldn’t get anything going. The defense allowed just 199 yards of total offense and eight yards rushing. UVA hosts Ball State on Saturday.

 

8. North Carolina State (3-1, 0-1 ACC): The Wolfpack scored in all three phases of the game on Saturday with a pick-six and a punt return for a touchdown in a 48-14 win over Central Michigan. Junior wide receiver Bryan Underwood had 190 yards of total offense, including 148 yards receiving.  Just have to avoid the road slip-up this weekend at Wake Forest.


7. Pittsburgh (3-1, 2-1 ACC): Talk about an ugly win. Neither team reached 200 yards of total offense. Pitt turned the ball over three times and yet still came out on top of UVA 14-3. The Cavs turned it over twice and the Panthers’ defense carried the team in the first off day of the year for Tom Savage really. Pitt has a chance to really make a statement at Virginia Tech on Saturday.

6. Georgia Tech (3-1, 2-1 ACC): Remember when I said this was Paul Johnson’s most dynamic offense since he arrived at Tech? Yeah so maybe I’m partially to blame for the Yellow Jackets’ offensive ineptitude on Thursday in a 17-10 loss to VT. GT averaged just 3.1 yards per carry on the ground and turned it over three times. There’s no time to wallow on the loss for GT though, with a trip to Miami this weekend.

5. Virginia Tech (4-1, 1-0 ACC): The Hokies make the biggest jump in the ACC poll this week going form 10 to 5. Logan Thomas looked almost like an actual quarterback on Thursday, completing 19 of 25 pass attempts for 221 yards and a touchdown. He also was VT’s leading rusher with 58 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. If he can just not be terrible, then VT could control the Coastal because it has the best defense in the conference (and maybe the country).

4. Maryland (4-0, 0-0 ACC): The Terps were off this week as they prepared for a trip to Tallahassee to face No. 8 Florida State. C.J. Brown has been impressive this season, completing 66.7 percent of his passes and rushing for 283 yards and six touchdowns already. I can’t wait to see what crazy helmets Maryland breaks out for one of the biggest games in Randy Edsall’s tenure.


3. Miami (4-0, 0-0 ACC): The Hurricanes open up ACC play against GT this weekend after a 49-21 win over South Florida last weekend. Still not sure what to make of this Miami team, but until they slip up they’ve earned the No. 3 spot in this poll and are No. 14 in the Coaches’ Poll. Stephen Morris was injured against USF but did practice on Monday.

2. Florida State (4-0, 2-0 ACC):  Florida State looked anything but crisp early against Boston College before Jameis Winston and the offense took over. The defense raised cause for concern, but the No. 8 Seminoles still won by 14 points. Saturday will be the fist time this season really that the offense will truly be tested as Maryland comes to town. FSU fans and ESPN execs will be holding their breath throughout the Noon tilt with the Terps.

1. Clemson (4-0, 2-0 ACC): Not much to update you with on the Tigers except that they’re still really good. Clemson cruised by Wake Forest 56-7 and shouldn’t have any trouble with Syracuse in its first trip to the Carrier Dome. Tajh Boyd is making a legitmate Heisman stake with his start to the year. The reigning ACC player of the year has already thrown for 994 yards, nine touchdowns and no picks, while rushing for four scores as well.

ACC Power Rankings

Ok we’re four weeks into the season so it’s time for some Power Rankings (or just rankings, I guess there is no real power behind them). I’ll start with the ACC tonight and then put up my SEC rankings tomorrow.

14. Wake Forest (2-2 0-1 ACC): The Demon Deacons had a nice win, 25-11, over Army this week but still have a ways to go before moving up at all in this pole. Wake Forest’s longest run of the season is 23 yards. Defensively they’ve been ok, giving up just 15.8 points per game, but they still have work to do to move up at all.

13. Duke (2-2, 0-2 ACC): The Blue Devils have plenty of work to do on defense. It’s off to an 0-2 start in the ACC after losing 58-55 to Pittsburgh this weekend, following a 38-14 loss to Georgia Tech. In those two losses Duke gave up a combined 1,067 yards.

12. Boston College (2-1, 1-0 ACC): The Eagles do have a conference win under their belt thanks to a 24-10 win over Wake Forest in the rivalry, but they followed that up by losing 35-7 to a Southern Cal team who scored just 17 points on Utah State this weekend. I think Steve Addazio is the dude to get BC back on track, but he’ll need a few years.

11. Syracuse (2-2, 0-0 ACC): Syracuse has bounced back nicely from an 0-2 start with two cupcake wins, including last weekend’s 52-17 thrashing of Tulane. The Orange have been balanced on offense but we’ll find out how good they are in two weeks when they make their ACC debut at home against No. 4 Clemson.

10. Virginia Tech (3-1, 0-0 ACC): Somehow the Hokies are 3-1 going into Thursday’s ACC opener against Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech needed triple overtime to take down a second straight regional rival in a 29-21 win over Marshall. Logan Thomas and the Hokies offense don’t inspire much confidence at all, but VT could ride it’s defense to another bowl eligible season.

9. Virginia (2-1, 0-0 ACC): The Cavaliers have one of the stranger wins of the 2013 season as it took down BYU 19-16 in its season opener. UVA then came crashing back down to earth thanks to a 59-10 loss to No. 2 Oregon. The Cavs passing attack needs work, starter David Watford is just 65 of 98 for 481 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions. We’ll find out more about UVA as it travels to Pitt on Saturday.


8. North Carolina State (2-1, 0-1 ACC): The Wolfpack feel short on Thursday night for another top five upset in Raleigh. The defense looked surprisingly good, but until Brandon Mitchell returns I don’t know how many Ws N.C. State will be racking up. The good news is with the exception of a trip to Tallahassee, the Wolfpack have a very manageable schedule.


7. Pittsburgh (2-1, 1-1 ACC): The Panthers received a rude welcome to the ACC thanks to Jameis Winston and Florida State, but bounced back for its first ACC win over Duke on Saturday. Pitt’s defense will give up points all year, but quarterback Tom Savage should be able to win his fair shair of the shootout.s

6. North Carolina (2-1, 0-1 ACC): The Tar Heels let a big lead slip through their fingers on Saturday against Georgia Tech. I can’t figure UNC out just yet. I really like quarterback Bryn Renner, but the offense has stalled against both GT and South Carolina this season. UNC needs a statement win over East Carolina this weekend (easier said than done).

5. Georgia Tech (3-0, 2-0 ACC): I think this Yellow Jacket offense could be the most dynamic attack that Paul Johnson has had in Atlanta. Vad Lee is off to a great start as the full-time starter and he actually has a nice crop of receivers to compliment the option rushing attack. Defensively things look much better this year under Ted Roof than they did a season ago.

4. Maryland (4-0, 0-0 ACC): In its final ACC season Maryland is off a quiet 4-0 start. The Terrapins thumped West Virginia 37-0 last weekend in College Park. C.J. Brown has been efficient this season with 1,050 yards passing, seven touchdowns and just one interception. The Terps are off this week before heading to Tallahassee on October 5. We’ll see just how improved Maryland is then.


3. Miami (3-0, 0-0 ACC): The Hurricanes have the second most impressive win in the ACC this season, a sloppy 21-16 victory over No. 12 Florida. Still I’m not that sold on Al Golden’s extremely young team. Miami travels to USF this weekend and then will host Georgia Tech in two weeks. Until its meeting with the Yellow Jackets we won’t know if this Miami team is truly different than last year’s mediocre squad.

2. Florida State (3-0, 1-0 ACC):  The Seminoles have been very impressive so far this season. They’re ranked No. 8 in the country, have averaged 52.3 points per game and given up just 8.7 points a game. Jameis Winston sure does look like the real deal, but the schedule hasn’t allowed us to really know just how good he or this team is. That won’t change after a trip to Boston College this weekend.

1. Clemson (3-0, 1-0 ACC): The Tigers are riding a ton of momentum right now. Clemson defeated LSU in the Chic-fil-A Bowl to end the 2012 season and started 2013 off with a 38-35 victory over Georgia. Perhaps most impressive though was Clemson’s performance on Thursday night. The Tigers started slow and quarterback Tajh Boyd didn’t have his A-game. Yet they found a way to get it done on the road 26-14 over N.C. State. They’ll be on cruise control until their October 19 showdown in Death Valley with Florida State.

Week 3 Picks

John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

After a hot start to the year I came back down to reality last week with a 3-4 performance. Although I’m not all that upset because I alluded to the fact that I thought Miami would hang with Florida, I just didn’t realize it would be because the Gators were completely inept on the offensive side of the ball.

That puts me at 9-5 for the season. Now lets get into the week three slate of games.

No. 1 Alabama at No. 6 Texas A&M- Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS

Times Daily/Gary Cosby Jr.

This is it.

The match-up we’ve been talking about since the 2012 season ended. Last year Johnny Manziel and the Aggies were the lone blemish on the Crimson Tide’s second straight championship with a 29-24 upset in Tuscaloosa. Now Alabama is looking to come away with a win of its own onn the road. Under Nick Saban, Alabama is 7-1 in ‘revenge’ games.

We don’t really know a whole lot about either team so far in 2013. Texas A&M’s offense has led the way in wins over Rice (52-31) and Sam Houston State (65-28), while Alabama defeated Virgina Tech 35-10 in the Chic-fil-A Kickoff Game. Christian Jones did emerge as a star with a 72-yard punt return, a 94-yard kickoff return and a 38-yard touchdown catch.

The Tide should be concerned about the offensive line’s performance as they gave up four sacks to the Hokies. The Aggies have given up at least 390 yards in each game this season, but they do get two starters back from suspension on Saturday.

Pregame Reading: Jimmy Burch writes for the Star-Telegram that Texas A&M is preparing for its most-anticipated home game in school history.

Prediction: Alabama is favored by eight points. I think that Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M don’t just cover, but they win outright. I’m taking the Aggies over Alabama 24-21.

No. 16 UCLA at No. 23 Nebraska- Noon ET on ABC

Tim Bradbury- Daily Bruin

Last season Brett Hundley put on a show against Nebraska as he threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns in a 36-30 win. UCLA is 1-0 this year with a 58-20 win over Nevada.  Hundley threw for two scores and ran for two as well in that game.

UCLA will come into the game with a heavy heart after the death of receiver Nick Pasquale during the BYE week.

Nebraska is 2-0 after escaping Wyoming 37-34, and taking down Southern Miss 56-13. The Cornhuskers have a solid running game behind junior Ameer Abdullah, freshman Tereell Newby and sophomore Imani Cross. Quarterback Taylor Martinez is a threat to run as well.

I’m not overly impressed by either defense and think that both running games won’t face much opposition on Saturday.

Pregame Reading: LA Times: UCLA football coaches and teammates mourn Nick Pasquale.

Prediction: The Cornhuskers are favored by four and a half points, but I like UCLA to win outright. Brett Hundley is the truth, and I think an emotionally charged Bruins team wins 31-21.

Tennessee at No. 2 Oregon – Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

US Presswire

Both teams have gotten off to great starts offensively. Tennessee is averaging 48.5 points per game, while Oregon averages 62.5.

Oregon went on the road and dismantled Virginia 59-10 last weekend. So far this season De’Anthony Thomas has run for 252 yards and five touchdowns.

Tennessee is 2-0 under new head coach Butch Jones with a 45-0 win over Austin Peay and a 52-20 win over Western Kentucky. Quarterback Justin Worley has completed 68 percent of his passes so far this season with four touchdowns and one interception. Running back Rajion Neal is also off to a nice start with 215 yards and four touchdowns.

The Vols forced five turnovers against Bobby Petrino and WKU, but they haven’t seen an offense anywhere close to the Ducks.

Pregame Reading: The Oregonian writes that preparing for Oregon’s offense is easier said than done for Tennessee.

Prediction: Oregon is a 28-point favorite over the Volunteers, and I don’t think it’s enough. I like the Ducks to continue to cruise in a 42-10 win.

No. 24 TCU at Texas Tech- Thursday 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN: Maybe it’s just because I think Kliff Kingsbury is really dreamy but I think the Red Raiders will win this game. TCU is favored by three points, but I think that Texas Tech and its walk-on quarterback win 35-28.

Georgia Tech at Duke- Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU: With Duke starting quarterback Anthony Boone out with a broken collarbone the Yellow Jackets are favored by 10 points. I think that Vad Lee will put on a show in his homecoming and Tech wins 28-14.

UCF at Penn State- Saturday 6 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network: Penn State is a 5 1/2 point favorite over the Knights (don’t say Golden). I like UCF to cover here. Blake Bortles is a good quarterback and I think that they may have a shot to win outright. Penn State hangs on 20-17 over UCF.

Boston College at USC- Saturday 3 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Network: It was tough to decide if it would be Southern Cal or Texas who fully derailed this weekend. Ultimately I think the Eagles can beat USC on the road. The Trojans are 14-point favorites and I’m picking BC to win 21-14.