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.

Power Rankings

SEC-ACCBeen a little busy this week getting trained for my new job as an NBA League Pass Operator at Turner (basically I send you national commercials when you’re watching an out of market NBA game on all platforms but Direct-TV), so we’re doing an energy efficient double dip today with both the SEC and ACC rankings in one post.

Since I’ll be watching so many NBA games this year that may lead to some more NBA posts in the future but for now let’s stick to college football.

Let’s start with the SEC rankings first (I mean the ACC is getting all the attention this week).

SEC Power Rankings

14. Kentucky (1-5, 0-3 SEC): As expected Kentucky didn’t put up much of a fight against Alabama this week in a 48-7 loss. The next two weeks are really the last chance the Wildcats will have a legitimate shot at putting back-to-back wins together. They travel to Mississippi State on Saturday, followed by a visit from Alabama State.

13. Mississippi State (3-3, 0-2 SEC): The Bulldogs avoided conference shame over the weekend with a 21-20 win over Bowling Green. Maybe we don’t schedule MAC teams that can actually beat us next time around, ok guys? MSU will take a step down in competition this weekend as it hosts UK.

12. Vanderbilt (3-3, 0-3 SEC): After a week off Vanderbilt starts a three-game stretch against Georgia, Texas A&M, and Florida with the Dawgs at home on Saturday. So far this season the Commodores have allowed at least 24 points in four of six games. That doesn’t bode well for games with UGA and the Aggies.

11. Tennessee (3-3, 0-2 SEC): The Vols had a week off to get over a heartbreaking overtime loss to Georgia, but unfortunately for them it looks like South Carolina got its act together during that week. Barring a big upset during the final stretch of the season, Butch Jones will be able to get a head start on recruiting evaluations during bowl week.

10. Arkansas (3-4, 0-3 SEC): With Saturday’s 52-7 loss to South Carolina, the Hogs have now lost four straight games going into this week’s tilt with Alabama. After a great start, Arkansas may not find the W column again until it host Mississippi State on November 23.

 

9. Ole Miss (3-3, 1-3 SEC): The Rebels put on a heck of a show against Texas A&M, but ultimately couldn’t come up with a stop in a 41-38 loss. Now Ole Miss’ defense gets the chance to try and slow down Zach Mettenberger and LSU’s air attack on Saturday. Good news is after that week the Rebels have three very winnable games to get bowl eligible.

8. Auburn (5-1, 2-1 SEC): Auburn handled Western Carolina 62-3 over the weekend, and were impressive enough to enter the Top 25 at No. 24. The Tigers now have a chance to prove that Gus Malzhan really does have the program back on track with a trip to College Station this weekend.

7. Florida (4-2, 3-1 SEC): Florida’s offense stalled in a 17-6 loss at LSU Saturday. The Gators defense is still the best in the county, but once again it looks like against good teams the offense will be non-existent this season. Especially with running back Matt Jones lost for the year to a knee injury.

 

6. Georgia (4-2, 3-1 SEC): Georgia’s injuries and inability to tackle anyone with a pulse finally caught up to them on Saturday in a 41-26 loss to Missouri. Running back Todd Gurley is close to returning according to UGA, but it might be in there best interest to give him minimal work against Vandy with Florida looming.

 

5. Missouri (6-0, 2-0 SEC): Missouri and Gary Pinkel earned their signature win in Athens over the weekend. The Tigers are just one of two undefeated teams left in the SEC and currently sit at No. 14 in the polls. But things aren’t as great as they seem, quarterback James Franklin was likely lost for the rest of the regular season against UGA with a separated shoulder. I don’t like Missouri’s chances against UF (this weekend) or USC (next weekend) without that guy.

4. South Carolina (5-1, 3-1 SEC): Well it would appear that Jadeveon Clowney and the USC defense heard Steve Spurrier’s message loud and clear last weekend. The Gamecocks dismantled Arkansas on the road, a place they never play well. With the way Connor Shaw and Mike Davis are playing, USC could be in the driver’s seat for control of the East.

3. LSU (6-1, 3-1 SEC): LSU’s defense came up huge in its win over Florida this weekend. The struggling unit gave up just 240 yards of offense and recorded four sacks. (yes UF’s offense isn’t very good, but it’s the only game LSU hasn’t allowed a TD in this season). The defense will be put to the test in Oxford this weekend against Ole Miss.

2. Texas A&M (5-1, 2-1 SEC): The Aggies won another thriller over Ole Miss this weekend. They’ll face another good test in dual-threat QB Nick Marshall and Auburn this weekend, but if TAMU can get by the Tigers they’ll set up a pretty dramatic three-way race to the finish line for SEC West. As long as Johnny Football stays healthy, the Aggies are a contender.

1. Alabama (6-0, 3-0 SEC): Here’s the goal for Alabama the next two weeks: Stay healthy against Arkansas and Tennessee prior to its November 9 showdown with LSU. After a bit of a slow start (for Bama standards), the running game and defense seem to be back up to speed.

ACC Power Rankings

14. North Carolina (1-4, 0-2 ACC): North Carolina didn’t play this week, but that wasn’t long enough for me to forget just how bad the Tar Heels have started 2013. They stay in last-place heading into Thursday night’s home game against No. 10 Miami.

 

13. Virginia (2-4, 0-2 ACC): Virginia almost stole on over the weekend from a banged-up Virginia, but fell 27-26. The Cavs racked up 505 yards of total offense, behind 112 yards rushing by Kevin Parks. While the signs of life are good to see from UVA, I don’t really see another W for them in 2013.

12. North Carolina State (3-3, 0-3 ACC): We can keep talking about how this is still Tom O’Brien’s fault, but at some point Dave Doren has to get his new guys to buy in. A 24-10 loss to Syracuse didn’t help matters. N.C. State has the week off before traveling down to Tallahassee in two weeks. The good news is that Jacoby Brisset will take over at QB next season.

11. Wake Forest (3-3 1-2 ACC): After an off-week its Wake Forest’s turn to see if they can give Maryland a nice ACC parting gift in Winston-Salem this weekend. The Demon Deacons have look pretty pedestrian so far this season, but somehow Jim Grobe has found ways to win games. They have work to do to go bowling, but somehow it might not be out of the question.

10. Boston College (3-3, 1-2 ACC): Boston College once again but a scare into a superior opponent this weekend in a 24-14 loss on the road to No. 3 Clemson. The Eagles look physical and if they can find a way to play like they did in the first half against Clemson and FSU, they could bloom into the dudes that Steve Addazio always dreamed of.

9. Duke (4-2, 0-2 ACC): Duke came up with a nice 35-7 win over Navy on Saturday. The Blue Devils are averaging 35.8 points per game this season, and will be boosted by the return of Anthony Boone at QB. They travel to UVA this weekend.

 

8. Georgia Tech (3-3, 2-2 ACC): The Yellow Jackets free fall continued this weekend with a 38-20 loss to BYU on the road. It’s the third-straight loss for GT heading into this weekend’s home game against Syracuse. Vad Lee can’t seem to get out of his own head, throwing his fifth interception of the season Saturday. 

7. Syracuse (3-3, 1-1 ACC): Syracuse picked up its first ever ACC win on Saturday in Raleigh. The Orange are playing pretty good football so far this season with a rushing attack ranked 23rd in the nation, and a defense allowing 24.5 points per game.

 


6. Pittsburgh (3-2, 2-2 ACC): For the second straight game, the Panthers offense struggled on Saturday against Virginia Tech in a 19-9 loss. Pitt had just 23 yards rushing in the loss and a Tom Savage completed just 13 of 28 pass attempts. Pitt has a chance to build some momentum the next three weeks before hosting Notre Dame on November 9.

5. Maryland (5-1, 1-1 ACC): So here’s what we know about Maryalnd so far this season: They’re way worse than Florida State and just one point better than Virginia when they don’t have starting QB C.J. Brown. Brown (concussion) should return this weekend against Wake Forest.

4. Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0 ACC): With the way Logan Thomas has been playing the last few weeks I think that Frank Beamer and the Hokies would like to skip the BYE week this weekend if they could. VT is up to No. 19 in the polls. Perhaps Virginia Tech can find a running game during the week off.


3. Miami (5-0, 1-0 ACC): The Hurricanes became a Top-10 team during the BYE week. The trick now for Miami will be to avoid the ACC trademark of losing to inferior opponents. That task begins with a Thursday night road game against UNC this weekend, with a classic trap game against Wake Forest trapped between that game and a trip to Tallahassee.

89-004312. Florida State (5-0, 3-0 ACC):  The Seminoles were off last week, giving them an extra week to prepare for the colossal showdown with Clemson this weekend. Jimbo Fisher seems to have loosened the reigns a little bit this week, allowing the football players to judge and help the basketball team with their dunk contest and inviting ESPN in all day on Monday for multiple live All-Access shots on SportsCenter.

1. Clemson (6-0, 4-0 ACC): After a slow start, Clemson’s defense and Tajh Boyd carried the Tigers in the second half of a 24-14 win over BC. Boyd finished with 334 yards passing, while a sack and forced fumble by Tony Steward sealed the deal as Vic Beasley returned it for a score. Saturday’s game against FSU will catapult either team firmly into the BCS Championship discussion.

Week 7 Picks

The News Tribune

College Football picks are back this week. After going 5-2 in week five I’m sitting at 22-13 for the year.

There’s a pretty solid slate of games this week so lets get into it.

No. 2 Oregon at No. 16 Washington- Saturday 4 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1: The Huskies (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) gave Stanford all it could handle last week in a controversial 31-28 loss on the road.

Govolsxtra.com

Keith Price was terrific against one of the nation’s best defenses, completing 33 of 48 pass attempts for 350 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Junior running back Bishop Sankey ran for 125 yards and two TDs. A late completion by Price was overturned by the officials to thwart Washington’s comeback attempt.

Meanwhile Oregon (5-0, 2-0) cruised by Colorado 57-16. The Ducks have dominated so far in 2013, with a scoring average of 59.2 points per game, while allowing just 11.8 points per game. Both are good for second best in the nation.

Marucs Mariota is the Heisman frontrunner with 1,358 yards passing, 14 TDs and no interceptions, to go along with 338 yards and seven TDs on the ground. Running back De’Anthony Thomas is questionable with an ankle injury.

Prediction: Oregon is favored by 14 points on the road in this one. I really like Price and Washington, and for the most part the defense did a good job of slowing down Stanford despite allowing 31 points. Still I just think the Ducks are firing on all cylinders and are the best team in the country, I’m taking Oregon 49-30.

No. 17 Florida at No. 10 LSU- Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS: Something’s got to give in this one.

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

LSU is averaging 45.5 points per game behind the arm of Zach Mettenberger, while Florida is allowing just 12.2 points per game this year.

In the three games that quarterback Tyler Murphy has played, including two starts, Florida (4-1, 3-0 SEC) has scored at least 24 points and had at least 355 yards of total offense. The junior from Connecticut has been just the boost Florida’s offense was looking for after stumbling early in the season.

LSU’s (5-1, 2-1 SEC) young defense has struggled to find its footing so far this season. The Tigers allowed 468 total yards of offense to Mississippi State in a 59-26 win last weekend, while also forcing two turnovers.

Prediction: Most Vegas books are giving LSU 6.5 points in Death Valley. Murphy did get a road start under his belt, but it was Kentucky so he only gets half-credit for that one. LSU’s offense is firing terrific, but UF is the best defenses in the country, so I’m expecting a low-scoring game (for the SEC… wait what?). I think that LSU wins the game, but the Gators cover in a 17-12 loss.

No. 25 Missouri at No. 7 Georgia- Saturday Noon ET on ESPN: Missouri (5-0, 1-0 SEC) couldn’t be getting Georgia (4-1, 3-0 SEC) at a better time.

Jason Getz / AJC

The Bulldogs are banged up after losing running back Keith Marshall, receiver Justin Scott-Wesley and Michael Bennet to injuries last week. Starting tailback Todd Gurley is still listed as doubtful. Aaron Murray showed against Tennessee that he is capable of carrying the load himself, but Missouri is a little better than the Vols.

The Tigers are undefeated but have played a weak schedule, even for an SEC team, to start the season. Thus this is their first week in the Top-25. Missouri can score in bunches (46.6 points per game), which is not what UGA’s defense wanted to hear after allowing 32.2 points per game in its first five contests.

This is a big chance for Gary Pinkel and Missouri to show they can hang with their new conference brethren.

Prediction: Despite all of its injuries Vegas is giving Georgia 7.5 points at home. I think Missouri could end up being a decent team, but I just don’t think they’re on Georgia’s level. The Bulldogs top Missouri 38-28.

Pittsburgh at No. 24 Virginia Tech- Saturday Noon ET on ESPNU: Logan Thomas has played like a real quarterback the last few weeks, which makes the Hokies a nine-point favorite at home Saturday. I do think VT is back on track, but I like Tom Savage and I never think VT will win games by double-digit points. I think VT escapes with a 14-13 victory over Pitt.

No. 12 Oklahoma vs. Texas- Saturday Noon ET on ABC: Call it’s Mack’s last stand, the Red River Shootout or whatever you want. The Sooners are by far the better team in this one and they’re getting 13.5 points. I think OU beats Texas 35-17 in Mack Brown’s final match-up with the Sooners.

No. 19 Northwestern at Wisconsin- Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN2 mirror: The Wildcats might be ranked, but Wisconsin is  actually favored by 10 in this one. I’ll take Northwestern and those points all day. Wisconsin goes down 21-17 at home.

No. 9 Texas A&M at Ole Miss- Saturday 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN: Maybe I’m missing something in this one, but the Aggies seem like easy money against the Rebels at just -6. Ole Miss allowed Nick Marshall and Auburn to rack up 375 yards of total offense last weekend. Yes TAMU’s defense is suspect this season and the Rebels can score, but I’m taking Johnny Football and the Aggies 49-35 on the road.

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.

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.

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.