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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.