Last Week: 21 – 5 80.7%
Overall: 72 – 14 83.7%
Thursday (From an earlier post):
Temple (2 – 1) 24 @ (21) South Florida (3 – 0) 34: South Florida finally looked like the team that they were expected to be prior to the season. I had thought Illinois might give the Bulls some problems, but Sough Florida’s offense is very good. Temple was the AAC champ last year, but it looks like the Bulls are the class of the league. There are still some pretty good teams in the league, like Memphis, Tulsa, Houston and Navy, so I still expect a battle for the title.
Friday (From an earlier post):
Virginia (2 – 1) 27 @ Boise State (2 – 1) 30: Virginia has already equaled their win total from last season, but a trip to Boise will put coach Mendenhall’s rebuilding process to the test. I believe the Cavaliers are better this year, but not improved enough to beat Boise State on the blue turf. The difference in this one will probably be Boise’s defense, which should be able to hold down Virginia’s offense enough for the Broncos to get the win.
(23) Utah (3 – 0) 27 @ Arizona (2 – 1) 31: This is tough one to predict. In their two wins over inferior competition, Arizona has been able to put up over sixty points in each game, but against Houston they managed only sixteen. Can they generate enough offense against the Utes’ stingy defense to pull out a victory? I like Arizona’s offense better than Utah’s and I think their defenses aren’t all that far apart.
UNLV (1 – 1) 14 @ (10) Ohio State (1 – 1) 37: After getting dusted by Oklahoma a week ago, Ohio State needs to rebound against the Wolfpack. Quarterback J.T. Barrett didn’t look confident, but a lot of that might have been the way the Sooner defense played. I look for the Buckeyes to get their feet back under them.
NC State (2 – 1) 24 @ (12) Florida State (0 -1) 30: Florida State hasn’t played a game since losing to Alabama in the opener. With a new starting quarterback, this is a scary game for the ‘Noles. The Wolfpack’s opening week loss to South Carolina is looking better by the game as the Gamecocks keep reeling off wins. I still t think Florida State has too much talent to lose this one, but it could be a lot closer than people think.
Kent State 13 (1 – 2) @ (19) Louisville (2 – 1) 42: Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson was exposed a bit against a tenacious Clemson defense, but should regain his form against Kent State. Even with the loss, the Cardinals are still in the hunt for the ACC Atlantic crown. Kent State won’t offer much resistance, so it’s possible for Jackson to put up some big numbers and perhaps re-energize his campaign to be the first player since Archie Griffin in the 70’s to win back to back Heismans.
Texas Tech (2 – 0) 37 @ Houston (2 – 0) 31: Texas Tech’s offense has been virtually unstoppable, while Houston has won primarily with their defense. This will be strength against strength, weakness against weakness. I like Tech in a shootout, but Houston can win if they find a way to exploit the porous Red Raider defense.
Texas A&M (2 – 1) 28 vs. Arkansas (1 – 1) 30 (Arlington, TX): Arkansas has yet to defeat Texas A&M in the six years the Aggies have been in the SEC. Unless Razorback quarterback Austin Allen and his receivers can get on the same page, that streak won’t end today. However, Arkansas’ 28 – 7 defeat was a lot closer than the score indicated, with two trips inside the five yielding no points and a defense that actually played pretty well. I’ll make a totally homer pick and predict the Hogs find a way to get it done this time while wearing replica uniforms of the Dallas Cowboys.
Old Dominion (2 – 1) 16 @ (13) Va. Tech (3 – 0) 34: This game has particular significance for me. As an alum of Va. Tech and having lived in the Tidewater, Virginia area, where Old Dominion is located, I’ve imagined this match-up for more several decades. Old Dominion didn’t add their football program until 2009, but with a decent stadium and a talent rich local area, it’s not surprising that the Monarchs have found bowl level success so quickly. The Hokies are coming off a second half beatdown of East Carolina, but need to be careful not to look ahead to next week’s much anticipated rematch with defending national champions Clemson. ESPN’s College Game Day has already announced plans to broadcast from Tech’s Lane Stadium for the game, which will be nationally televised by ABC. Va. Tech should have too much for the ODU, but past history suggests letdowns happen in college football, and these so-called trap games can be dangerous for the favorites.
(1) Alabama (3 – 0) 23 @ Vanderbilt (3 – 0) 17: Vanderbilt throttled a decent Kansas State team last week, defeating the Wildcats 14 – 7 to move to an uncharacteristic 3 – 0 in advance of this week’s showdown with Alabama. If the Commodores can keep it close going into the fourth quarter, and defensively they’ve shown that it’s a possibility, Alabama might be forced to take some chance on offense. I still think the Tide has too much for Vanderbilt, but this one could be tight.
Boston College (1 – 2) 6 @ (2) Clemson (3 – 0) 38: Usually I would put Clemson on possible letdown alert following the big win at Louisville last week. But despite a bowl appearance last season that was fueled mainly by a pathetic non-conference schedule, BC just doesn’t have the players or the coaching to stay on the field with Clemson.
(5) USC (3 – 0) 27 @ California (3 – 0) 24: This is one of the more fascinating games of the weekend. Although USC is ranked fifth and stands at 3 – 0, they haven’t looked all that impressive. Their signature win so far was what appeared to be a throttling of another top ten team in Stanford. But the Cardinal lost last week to San Diego State and the Trojans needed overtime to beat Texas, so the jury is still out on how good this USC team is. Cal was picked by some publications to finish at or near the bottom of the Pac-12, but a big road win over North Carolina to start the season and then a home defeat of Ole Miss last week should definitely change that thinking. Although I’m tempted to take California, I’ll stick with conventional wisdom that suggests USC will do enough to win the game.
(16) TCU (3 – 0) 20 @ (6) Oklahoma State (3 – 0) 37: Oklahoma State routed Pittsburgh last week with a first half offensive explosion that the Panthers had no answer to. TCU is playing better defense this season, but they take a big step up in class today, as Mason Rudolph and his receiving corps poses the biggest challenge the Horned Frogs have faced in a long time. I think TCU can slow them down, but won’t be able to completely stop the Cowboys, while Oklahoma State’s defense is playing well enough to keep TCU from pulling the upset on the road.
Toledo (3 – 0) 31 @ (14) Miami (1 – 0) 34: Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a big proponent of the MAC (Mid-American Conference). While Toledo isn’t at the top of the league, they are near it and will pose problems for Miami, a team that hasn’t played since week one due to complications from Hurricane Irma. Toledo can score, so it will be interesting to see if the Hurricanes can keep up with a team that outscored a good Tulsa team 54 – 51 last week. I’m sticking with Miami, but it wouldn’t shock me to see Toledo pull off an upset.
(8) Michigan (3 – 0) 27 @ Purdue (2 – 1) 14: Purdue gave Louisville all they could handle in week one, but the Michigan defense presents a very different challenge. Although the Boilermakers are improved and Michigan didn’t look sharp last week against Air Force, the Wolverines should have enough on both sides of the ball to come away with the win.
Nevada (0 – 3) 24 @ (18) Washington State (3 – 0) 41: This will be a breather for the Cougars, but they need one before they face a difficult Pac-12 schedule, including hosting USC next week.
(3) Oklahoma (3 – 0) 45 @ Baylor (0 – 3) 17: Things are a mess in Waco and I don’t see much chance for Baylor to give Oklahoma much of a game. It’s still early in the season, but the annual season-ending Bedlam game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State is looming as a huge one in college football. Unfortunately, the Big 12 might have out thought themselves, because the Big 12 has reinstated a championship game, which means that if the Sooners and Cowboys split hose games, the conference could be left out of the playoffs…again!
(17) Mississippi State (3 – 0) 24 @ (11) Georgia (3 – 0) 27: This is a very compelling game, especially after Mississippi State drilled LSU last week. If this game was at Starkville, Mississippi I’d definitely go with the home team. But Mississippi State is a little different team on the road, so I’ll stick with the home Bulldogs to win behind their defense.
(22) San Diego State (3 – 0) 30 @ Air Force (1 – 1) 21: We’ll see how good San Diego State is today as they head to Colorado Springs to play an Air Force team that hung tough with Michigan last week. I believe they are very good and might make a deep run at a New Year’s Day Bowl game.
Syracuse (2 – 1) 20 @ (25) LSU (2 – 1) 27: LSU looked bad in a lot of ways in their loss to Mississippi State and will need to do a lot to redeem themselves at home against an overmatched Syracuse team. Another loss wouldn’t be tolerated in Baton Rouge and put pressure on first year head coach Ed Orgeron. The Tigers were outplayed and outcoached last week and need to make significant improvement to challenge in the SEC West.
(4) Penn State (3 – 0) 27 @ Iowa (3 – 0) 17: If Penn State is going to contend in the Big Ten, they need to find a way to win in Ames against a pretty good team. Despite the identical records, Penn State has a lot more offensive firepower and a defense about as good as the Hawkeyes. I’ll be watching this one, but it looks like the Nittany Lions have the edge.
(15) Auburn (2 – 1) 30 @ Missouri (1 – 2) 13: Auburn hasn’t looked impressive, but they won’t need to be to beat Missouri. It might also be a good opportunity for head coach Gus Malzahn to get his offense moving as they head into the meat of the SEC schedule.
(20) Florida (1 – 1) 16 @ Kentucky (3 – 0) 24: I’m not impressed with Florida who got just plain lucky against Tennessee last week. Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops has Kentucky playing well. I think this one is as easy an upset pick I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m not alone.
(7) Washington (3 – 0) 31 @ Colorado (3 – 0) 20: This is a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 championship game. I don’t see much of a difference in the result, except it might be a closer game in Boulder. I think the difference will be the Washington offense, which has more explosiveness than the Buffs.
(24) Oregon (3 – 0) 45 @ Arizona State (1 – 2) 28: Oregon is looking like Oregon again and Arizona State is looking like, well, they’ll have a new coach in 2018. The Sun Devils are a mess on defense and the Ducks can light up the scoreboard.
Notre Dame (2 – 1) 27 @ Michigan State (2 – 0) 21: Notre Dame is a point from being undefeated. Depending on how Georgia finishes the season, that loss might not look so bad in December. Michigan State is rebuilding and I think the Irish are farther along that path.
UCLA (2 – 1) 37 @ Stanford (1 – 2): 27 Both of these teams suffered embarrassing defeats on the road to non-Power Five schools last week. Stanford seems to have dropped a notch defensively and I don’t see them having enough offense to stay in a track meet with UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.
Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/
Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show
Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.