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.

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No hits keep coming

Oregon State Athletics/NCAA.com

When college baseball elected to make changes to the bats the sport was using in 2011, many coaches feared the changes were too drastic. The game was not quite at the level of gorilla ball in in the late 90s, but safety of pitchers and high scores were a concern, so the game switched to BBCOR bats and the scores have dramatically dropped.

The fact that changes may have gone too far the other way has been evident so far in 2014. Despite a season that is just four weeks old, there have been at least six Division I no-hitters.

Saturday saw not one, but two games that ended with zeros in the hit column.

Alabama used three pitchers to complete a 7-0 no-hitter over Mississippi Valley State, and Oregon State’s Jace Fry struck out 10 as he no-hit Northern Illinois. The trio of Justin Kamplain, Jay Shaw and Geoffrey Bramblet combined for the first no-no for the Crimson Tide since 1942.

Earlier in the week Miami’s Javi Salas tossed just the 23rd perfect game in college baseball history, as he struck out six in a 17-0 win over Villanova. It was the sport’s first perfect game since Virgina’s Will Roberts in 2011.

On Thursday BYU’s Kolton Mahoney threw the seventh no-hitter in school history against Nicholls State.

While the no-hitters are good for college baseball exposure, the lack of runs will only hurt the sport in the long run. Luckily ping ball fans don’t have to wait long for changes to be made. In October the NCAA voted change to a flat-seamed baseball that will boost offenses without bringing back the gorilla ball power numbers.

2014 College Baseball No-Hitters*

February 21, Reed Garret of VMI, 3-0 over Lafayette

March 1 Jake Stinnett of Maryland, 4-0 over UMASS

March 5, Javi Salas of Miami, 17-0 over Villanova

March 6, Kolton Mahoney of BYU, 5-0 over Nicholls State

March 8, Justin Kamplain, Jay Shaw and Geoffrey Bramblet of Alabama, 7-0 over MVSU

March 8, Jace Fry of Oregon State, 2-0 over NIU

*Let me know if  you know of any no-hitters I missed. College Baseball isn’t the easiest sport to track.

Week 4 Picks

Photo from N.C. State

Lets just be honest about this week’s slate of games. It’s not one that inspires much enthusiasm. I mean College Gameday is in Fargo, North Dakota for North Dakoka State and Delewarte State.

With that, I’m not going to bore you with the usual breakdown of the top three match-ups of the weekend and just give you seven short picks this week. Last week I was 6-1 against the spread, but I’m only giving myself credit for a 5-2 week since I said Texas A&M would win outright. That puts me at 14-7 for the season.

Now lets get into this week’s picks.

No. 3 Clemson at North Carolina State- Thursday 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN: Clemson is a 13.5-point favorite on the road, on a Thursday night. That’s usually a recipe for disaster, but I think the Tigers are talented enough to win by two touchdowns in Carter-Finley Stadium. N.C. State hasn’t found much rhythm on offense since Brandon Mitchell went down in week one against Louisiana Tech. Junior Pete Thomas threw two picks as the Wolfpack escaped Richmond 23-21 last time out.

Prediction: Clemson rolls to a 35-17 victory.

SIMON WARBY/The Stanford Daily

No. 23 Arizona State at No. 5 Stanford- Saturday 7 p.m. ET on FOX: This only the match-up of the weekend that features two ranked teams. Arizona State is fresh off a bizarre win over Wisconsin. Stanford again looks like it will battle with Oregon for Pac-12 supremacy. The spread is the Cardinal by six and I like them to cover that home.

Prediction: Standford wins 24-13 over Arizona State.

North Carolina at Georgia Tech: Saturday Noon ET on ESPN: The Yellow Jackets are 6.5-point favorites over the Tar Heels. Last year these two teams combined for 118 points as Tech won 68-50. GT looked impressive last weekend in its 38-14 win over Duke in Vad Lee’s homecoming. I think that UNC has to play better on defense if they’re going to challenge Tech and Miami for the Coastal Division title.

Prediction: Georgia Tech continues to roll at home and wins another shootout over UNC, this time 42-35.

Michigan State at No. 22 Notre Dame- Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC: Notre Dame just escaped Purdue last weekend with a comeback 31-24 victory. Michigan State has been a disaster on offense this season, but scored 55 points last week against Youngstown State. The Spartans have scored just nine offensive touchdowns this year, but the defense has scored four times in addition to allowing just 10 points per game. Tommy Rees avoided turning the ball over against Purdue, which allowed the Irish to come from behind. If he can do that again on Saturday then Notre Dame will be in good shape against Michigan State’s anemic offense.

Prediction: Notre Dame is favored by five points and I think the Irish win by less than that. I think Michigan State’s defense keeps it close in a 17-14 loss.

Tennessee at No. 19 Florida- Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS: Both teams enter this SEC opener with bruised egos. Florida looked awful in a sloppy 21-16 loss to Miami two weeks ago, while Tennessee is fresh off a 59-14 thrashing from Oregon. Ultimately I think that Florida’s defense will be able to control this one. The Gators are favored by 17 points, but we’ll see if they can even put that many points on the board.

Prediction: Tennessee covers but it’s an ugly 17-10 victory for the Gators.

Utah at BYU- Saturday 10:15 p.m. ET on ESPN: The Holy War should be an entertaining ending to the fourth week of the season. The Utes are averaging 49.3 points per game this year and are fresh off a 51-48 overtime loss to Oregon State. BYU had last week off, but ended Manny Diaz’s career at Texas in a 40-21 win in week two. BYU is a 6.5-point favorite, and I think the Cougars rushing attack will be more than enough to cover that.

Prediction: Maybe I’m underselling Utah here but I think that Taysom Hill and BYU cruise to a 49-28 victory at home.

Boise State at Fresno State- Friday 9 p.m. ET on ESPN: This game likely will decide who wins the Mountain West. Boise State has bounced back nicely from a loss to Washington in the opener with wins over Tennessee-Martin and Air Force. Fresno State is 2-0 and I’ve already written this year that I think with Derek Carr the Bulldogs have a chance to be the final BCS-busters. Plus they ran the most amazing play of all-time (posted above) two weeks ago against Cal-Poly, allowing lineman Austin Wentworth to score. Fresno State is a 3.5-point favorite.Prediction: I’ve got to keep riding with Fresno here. I think the Bulldogs win 35-28.