Week 5 Picks

The State Press

Hopefully none of you are actually putting any money down based on my bets. Last week I was 3-4, which drops me to 13-15 for the year.

No doubt this is the week that things turn around. Probably not. Either way, hopefully I’ll have no idea after having my mind blown to pieces by Outkast on Friday night.

No. 11 UCLA (3-0) at No. 15 Arizona State (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12)- Thursday 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1: Nothing like a pair of ranked conference opponents kicking off the week with their back-up quarterbacks.

Well maybe it will be with their back-up signal callers. UCLA hasn’t said whether or not Brett Hundley will play after injuring his elbow two weeks ago against Texas.

Getty Images

The Sun Devils are going with Mike Bercovici as Taylor Kelly sits with a foot injury.

Bercovici has played in all three games this season, completing 9 of his 17 pass attempts for 79 yards and TD. Bruins’ No. 2 signal caller Jerry Neuheisel lead UCLA to a 20-17 win over the Longhorns, as he threw for 178 yards and two TDs.

Inexperience may show up early with the two QBs, but the key to the game will come down to Arizona State’s ability to run the ball.  UCLA is giving up just 3.8 yards per carry on the ground, and has allowed only three rushing TDs all year. Junior Arizona State tailback D.J. Foster has fun for 510 yards and five TDs, which ranks eighth in the country.

Prediction: Even with all the will he or won’t he regarding Hundley, UCLA is favored by four points on the road. I think this is  the week that the Bruins’ struggling offensive line finally costs them. I’m going with Arizona State 20-14.

Tennessee (2-1) at No. 12 Georgia (2-1, 0-1 SEC)- Saturday Noon ET on ESPN: It’s the SEC opener for the Vols, while Georgia looks to stay in contention in the East division after losing to South Carolina two weeks ago.

After two straight wins to open the year, Tennessee was shredded by Oklahoma two weeks ago. The Sooners racked up 454 yards of total offense, including 308 yards passing.

Justin Worley looks much-improved under center this season. He’s completed 58.3 percent of his passes this season, and already thrown for 721 yards (after tallying up just 1,239 all last year).

Even with an improved offense, I’m just not sure Tennessee has the defensive personnel to slow Georgia’s offensive attack. Georgia is averaging 471 yards per game, and Todd Gurley has racked up 402 yards rushing.

Prediction: Georgia is a 17-point favorite at home in this one. I think Georgia runs wild against the Volunteers 42-23.

Arkansas (3-1, 0-1 SEC) at No. 6 Texas A&M (4-0, 1-0 SEC)- Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS: Here’s what we know about these two teams- Arkansas is going to run the ball. Texas A&M is going to throw it.

The Hogs average 324.5 yards per game on the ground (seventh best in the nation), and the Aggies average 405 yards passing.

In Kenny Hill TAMU has another quarterback that could end the season in New York. The trillest signal caller in all the land is completing 69.8 percent of his passes with 13 TDs and an interception.

Arkansas should have a blue print to follow on defense for how to slow down the Aggies spread offense. The Hogs have already faced Auburn and Texas Tech this season. Auburn did rack up 595 yards, but the Red Raiders and Kevin Sumlin protege Kliff Kingsbury were held to just 353 yards in a 49-28 Arkansas win.

Prediction: Texas A&M is favored by nine points. I think Arkansas’ rushing attack will be tough enough for the Aggies to stop that they cover. I’m going Texas A&M 38-31.

No. 1 Florida State (3-0, 1-0 ACC) at North Carolina State (4-0)- Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN 2: After escaping Clemson 23-17 in over time with a back-up quarterback, Florida State looks to make it 20-straight wins this weekend in a place they’ve struggled over the years.

Tallahasse.com

Tallahassee.com

Jameis Winston will return to the huddle after watching from the sidelines last weekend following his suspension for lacking self-awareness.

After a slow start, N.C. State has looked much better the last two weeks in wins over South Florida and Presbyterian. Former Florida QB Jacoby Brissett is completing 69.7 percent of his passes for 10 TDs and one interception. N.C. State is averaging 248.8 yards per game rushing, good for 24th best in the country.

The Seminoles’ defense still needs better play from its linebackers, and it may need to adjust some of the roles the secondary is playing, but they looked pretty darn good against Clemson. Eddie Goldman played his best game in garnet and gold, and Mario Edwards continues to hold the edge.

Prediction: Florida State is favored by 19 points on the road. I think Winston and the Seminoles go scorched earth on N.C. State 42-17.

Missouri (3-1) at No. 13 South Carolina (3-1, 2-1 SEC)- Saturday 7 p.m. ET on ESPN: Both teams enter Saturday following a disappointing performance last weekend.

Missouri brought shame to the whole SEC with a 31-27 loss to Indiana, and South Carolina needed 21-fourth quarter points to put away lowly Vanderbilt. A Tigers’ win could really throw a wrench into an already chaotic division race.

Despite being ranked 13th in the polls, South Carolina is giving up an average of 480 yards per game this year. Missouri’s offense is averaging 430 yards per game. Maty Mauk has thrown 14 touchdown passes and 978 yards.

Dylan Thompson had his first turnover free game of the year against Vanderbilt last weekend. The Senior QB is completing 62% of his passes, has 11 touchdowns and just three picks.

Prediction: South Carolina is favored by six points at home. I’m still not sure how the Hoosier beat the Tigers last weekend, but I’m going to overlook and go with Missouri. The Tigers beat South Carolina 24-17.

Duke (4-0) at Miami (2-2, 0-1 ACC): Through four games, Duke has been flat-out dominant (albeit it against Elon, Troy, Kansas and Tulane). The Blue Devils are giving up just an average of 11.5 points per game, while putting up 43.5.

Jamison Crowder has 22 grabs for 296 yards and two scores to pace the offense.

Due to injuries and off-the-field issues Miami has been forced to play true freshman Brad Kaaya earlier than expected. The Californian has thrown for 1,052 yards with 10 TDs, but he’s been intercepted seven times.

The Hurricanes real issues have been on the defensive side of the ball. Opponents are averaging 308 yards per game, and 24.8 points. Last week Nebraska reeled off 343 yards rushing in a 41-31 victory. The Blue Devils are averaging 261 yards per game, and 6.4 yards per attempt.

Prediction: For some reason Miami is a seven-point favorite in this one. I think Duke opens up conference play with a 35-24 win.

Oregon State (3-0) at No. 18 Southern Cal (2-1, 1-0 Pac-12)- Saturday 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN: This is a pretty good way to cap off the college football weekend.

The Trojans are looking to bounce back from a 37-31 upset loss at Boston College, while Oregon State is undefeated with weak schedule thus far.

USC allowed 452 yards rushing to the Eagles two weeks ago. The Beavers top two rushers are averaging more than five yards per carry, but the passing game is what makes the offense go. Quarterback Sean Mannion has completed over 70 percent of his pass attempts in his last two games, and racked up 903 yards passing already this year.

Mannion will be without his top target on Saturday as Victor Bolden (18 grabs for 192 yards) is out with a dislocated pinkie finger.

The Beavers defense is giving up just 113 yards per game on the ground (30th best in the country), but USC is running for an average of 151 yards per game. Buck Allen is leading the way with 318 yards, but had just 31 against BC.

Prediction: USC is a nine-point favorite at home. With a week to lick their wounds, I think USC bounces back with a 35-21 win.

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Final Four picks

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Here is my billion dollar bracket ladies and gentleman. No way does this not make me rich enough to buy a private island.

My Final Four is Florida, Duke, Arizona and Iowa State. I feel least confident in the Cyclones obviously, but Duke is far from a lock as well. I think that the Gators truly are the best team in all the land, and with Billy Donovan on the sideline they’re my pick to cut down the nets.

I can’t wait until 3 p.m. tomorrow when like the rest of you, my dreams of being a billionaire are dashed again. Enjoy the madness everyone.

ACC Power Rankings

14. North Carolina (1-4, 0-2 ACC): With no Bryn Renner (foot) the Tar Heels fell to Virginia Tech 27-17 on Saturday. This season is quickly turning into a nightmare for Larry Fedora and North Carolina. It’s doubtful that UNC will be able to get to six wins, and with another loss this weekend they move into last spot in the ACC Power Rankings this week.

13. Virginia (2-3, 0-1 ACC): Seriously how did Virginia beat BYU in week one? The Cavaliers lost to Ball State at home this weekend, 48-27. The offense turned the ball over four times (three lost fumbles) and the defense allowed 506 yards of total offense. UVA travels to Maryland this weekend.

 

12. Wake Forest (3-3 1-1 ACC): Big win for the Demon Deacons Saturday against North Carolina State. Quarterback Tanner Price powered the Wake Forest offense, completing 24 of 39 pass attempts for 268 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He also lead the team in rushing with 82 yards and a touchdown. Wake is off this week, which means that Demon Deacons could enjoy two weeks of not being in last place in the power rankings.

11. Duke (3-2, 0-2 ACC): Duke was off this weekend and will host Navy on Saturday. Earlier this year against Georgia Tech’s triple option, the Blue Devils’ defense gave up 469 yards of total offense and 344 yards rushing. Obviously Navy doesn’t have the same skill guys at GT, but the Midshipmen are 3-1 this year and could give Duke trouble.

10. North Carolina State (3-2, 0-2 ACC): Do we really have to talk about how you can’t lose games to Wake Forest N.C. State? The Wolfpack fell to Wake Forest 28-13 as quarterback Pete Thomas threw two interceptions. The Wolfpack secondary was abused by Michael Campanaro, who had 12 grabs for 153 yards and two TDs. N.C. State hosts Syracuse Saturday.

9. Boston College (3-2, 1-1 ACC): Boston College had an offensive explosion Saturday against Army in a 48-27 win. The Eagles put up 523 yards of total offense as senior running back Andrew Williams dominated. Williams ran for 263 yards and five touchdowns, as he averaged 8.8 yards per carry. Safe to say that Williams was a dude on Saturday. BC travels to Clemson on Saturday.

8. Syracuse (2-3, 0-1 ACC): Syracuse’s move to No. 8 is more due to the fact that Virginia and N.C. State had truly embarrassing losses, while the Orange fell to Clemson 49-14 in its inaugural conference game. Like many teams this season, Syracuse had no answer for Clemson’s offensive attack. Syracuse had just 74 yards passing in the game, but did gash the Tigers for 323 yards rushing. Jerome Smith led the way with 125 yards and a TD.

7. Maryland (4-1, 0-1 ACC): Speaking of embarrassing losses… Maryland was dismantled by Florida State in its final ACC trip to Tallahassee. Nothing went right for the Terrapins, including losing quarterback C.J. Brown to a concussion (I’m not sure how it wasn’t a late hit by Jacobbi McDaniel). Maryland will have a chance to lick its wounds the next two weeks against Virginia and Wake Forest as it tries to prove it’s 4-0 start wasn’t just a product of a weak schedule.

6. Georgia Tech (3-2, 2-2 ACC): After a great start Georgia Tech dropped its second straight game Saturday against Miami. The Yellow Jackets led 17-7 in the fist half before ultimately falling 45-30. Tech’s triple option looked crisper, with an average of 5.4 yards per run, but it was the defense that took a step back on Saturday. GT allowed 551 yards of total offense. GT travels to BYU on Saturday as it looks to get back on track.


5. Pittsburgh (3-1, 2-1 ACC): Pittsburgh had the week off to get things cleaned up after an ugly win against UVA two weeks ago. Now the Panthers have a chance to make a big statement as it travels to No. 24 Virginia Tech on Saturday. This game will go a long way towards determining whether it will be Pitt or VT challenging Miami for the Coastal Division.

4. Virginia Tech (5-1, 2-0 ACC): For the second straight week Logan Thomas didn’t look like a tight end playing quarterback. Thomas was 19 of 28 passing for 293 yards and three touchdowns. UNC actually moved the ball on the Hokies’ defense a little bit, but I still think Bud Foster has the best defense in the conference.


3. Miami (5-0, 1-0 ACC): The Hurricanes opened up conference play with a 45-30 win at home against Georgia Tech. Stephen Morris, who was hobbled by an ankle injury, passed for 324 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Duke Johnson racked up 184 yards rushing, as Miami averaged 7.3 yards per rushing attempt. Miami has the week off before a Thursday night trip to UNC next week.

89-004312. Florida State (5-0, 3-0 ACC):  After an up and down win against Boston College last weekend Florida State sent a message to the whole country Saturday with its 63-0 beat-down of Maryland. It tied the largest margin of victory ever over a Top-25 team. Jameis Winston was spectacular again with 393 yards passing and five touchdowns. More impressive than Winston was the Seminoles’ defense. Maryland had just nine first downs and was 2 of 15 on third down. Perhaps Jeremy Pruitt has figured out how to best use his personnel.

1. Clemson (5-0, 3-0 ACC): Tajh Boyd kept Clemson on cruise control Saturday with 455 yards passing and two touchdowns. He did turn it over twice but it didn’t matter as the Tigers rolled Syracuse. Clemson’s run defense was porous, but the secondary came away with four interceptions (including two by Darius Robinson). Clemson hosts Boston College Saturday before the biggest ACC game in years in two weeks against FSU.

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.