"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

NFL WEEK FOUR PICKS

Things went a little better last week and now we start to get to the meat of the NFL schedule. Only three undefeated teams remain, with just one in action this week. Can the Eagles travel to San Francisco and have enough in the tank to make another comeback?  I'm not sure they can. Here are my picks.

Overall: 31 - 17

Green Bay (1 - 2) 23 @ Chicago (2 - 1) 24: The Packers are struggling, while the Bears are looking a little better. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers is telling the Packer nation not to panic, but after today they may be doing it anyway.

Buffalo (2 - 1) 17 @ Houston (2 - 1) 20: Both teams lost last week after unexpectedly hot starts. I like the Texans' defense and they're the home team, so I'll stick with Houston.

Tennessee (1 - 2) 24 @ Indianapolis (1 - 2) 30: The Colts are trying to dig themselves out of an 0 - 2 hole. Sometimes desperation can be a big motivator. The Titans are still in rebuilding mode.

Carolina (2 - 1) 16 @ Baltimore (2 - 1) 23: This is one of the more interesting games of the week. The Panthers looked pretty bad last week and the Ravens have seemed to recover from the Ray Rice debacle.

Detroit (2 - 1) 27 @ New York Jets (1 - 2) 21: The Lions are on the road, but they don't have to travel too far. The Jets have dodged bullets for the last couple of years, but this week I'm thinking they fall to 1 - 3.

Tampa Bay (0 - 3)  24 @ Pittsburgh (2 - 1) 31: Other than a miserable loss to Baltimore, the Steelers have looked solid. The Bucs have looked, well, not so solid, especially in last week's 56 - 14 drubbing by the Falcons.

Miami (1 - 2) 20 @ Oakland (0 - 3) 24:  The Dolphins had high expectations after an opening victory over the Patriots, but they've failed to win since. The Raiders have simply failed to win. But it's the NFL, the Dolphins are travelling west and will be facing a hostile environment.

Jacksonville (0 - 3) 17 @ San Diego (2 - 1) 34: See above, sort of. The difference is that the Chargers are playing very well and the Jags aren't. This one could get out of hand.

Philadelphia (3 - 0) 27 @ San Francisco (1 - 2) 28: The Eagles have made a habit of coming from behind, the first team to come back after trailing by ten or more points in three consecutive games. The 'Niners are reeling, even to the point where head coach Jim Harbaugh is rumored to be in the running for the soon to be vacant head coaching position at Michigan.

Atlanta (2 - 1) 30 @ Minnesota (1 - 2) 20: The Vikings haven't seemed to get over the Adrian Peterson situation. The Falcons appear to be on the rise.

New Orleans (1 - 2) 27 @ Dallas (2 - 1) 24; This is my pick for the game of the week. The Saints are in pretty big trouble if they lose today and the Falcons defeat the Vikings. The Cowboys have found a way to get to 2 - 1 without playing particularly well. Tough pick.

New England (2 -1) 27 @ Kansas City (1 - 2) 30: The Chiefs finally came to life last week, just in time to take on an always competitive Patriots team. We'll see if Andy Reid can continue to get his Kansas City squad back in contention for a playoff spot. Falling to 1 - 3 would be tough to overcome.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

WEEK 5 COLLEGE PICKS

Just like North Carolina, I'll be looking to rebound from a drubbing last week. Too many upset picks, too few actual upsets. And the upsets I didn't pick were the ones that transpired. But I'm resilient and hopefully should improve. 

Last Week:    11 - 7 (dismal performance)
Overall:          68 - 25

Wyoming (3 - 1) 13 @ (9) Michigan State (2 - 1) 30: Despite a poor performance in the second half against Oregon, Michigan State is still in the national mix.

South Florida (2 - 2) 14 @ (19) Wisconsin (2 - 1) 34: Camp Randall is a tough place to play. Not much of a chance for the Bulls.

UTEP (2 - 1) 10  @ (25) Kansas State (2 - 1) 24: K-State gave Auburn all they could handle. 

Western Michigan (2 - 1) 17  Virginia Tech  (2 - 2) 24: The Hokies are trying to rebound after two last minute losses. 

(1) Florida State (3 - 0) 27 @ N.C. State (4 - 0) 23: Upset alert for the 'Noles, but they should take care of business if they can stay focused after last week's big win over Clemson.

Arkansas (3 - 1) 34 @ (6) Texas A&M  (4 - 0) 31 (in Arlington, TX): I have to go with the homer pick. Arkansas needs to control the ball to have a chance. A&M's defense is vulnerable, but so is Arkansas'. This could be a good one.

La. Tech (2 - 2) 13 @ (5) Auburn (3 - 0) 37: Auburn's back home after a big road win at Kansas State. This is the last breather before the SEC season begins in earnest.

(16) Stanford (2 - 1) 26 @  Washington (4 - 0) 24: The host Huskies are 4 - 0 and will seriously challenge the Cardinal. I have an urge to go with Washington, but I'm sticking with Stanford. 

Cincinnati 16 @ (22) Ohio State 27: If the Buckeyes hadn't been surprised by Virginia Tech, I would give Cincy more of a chance. I think Ohio State will be on guard against another upset.

Missouri (3 - 1) 26 @ (13) South Carolina (3 - 1) 27: The Tigers were shocked by Indiana last week and now have to contend with an inconsistent Gamecock team on their home field. 

UNC (2 - 1) 30 @ Clemson (1 - 2) 34: The Tar Heels were absolutely embarrassed by East Carolina a week ago, but the Pirates are much better than people realize. The Tigers need to get back on track after a heartbreaker in Tallahassee.

Memphis (2 - 1) 20 @ (10) Ole Miss (3 - ) 28: Memphis is improved but not quite enough to knock off the Rebels.

New Mexico St. (2 - 2) 10  @ (17) LSU (3 - 1): 27: This is a good foe for the Tigers coming off a tough loss to Mississippi St. in Death Valley.

(7) Baylor (3 - 0) 34 @ Iowa State (1 - 2) 31: I like Iowa State to sneak up on the Bears a little bit, but Baylor is still better than the Cyclones.

(8) Notre Dame (3 - 0) 27 @ Syracuse  (2 - 1) 21 (in East Rutherford, NJ): The Irish are really playing at a high level. This will be almost like a home game, even though it's on the East Coast. Syracuse isn't quite good enough to challenge Notre Dame without turnovers and sloppy play by the Irish.

Illinois (3 - 1) 17 @ (21) Nebraska (4 - 0) 27: It's hard to believe that the 'Huskers are undefeated and still can't crack the top twenty. I wasn't sold on them earlier in the season and still feel they are vulnerable. The Illini haven't beaten anyone of substance, so that record is deceiving.

Oregon State (3 - 0) 23 @ (18) USC (2 - 1) 27: The Beavers can score, but they haven't faced any major competition yet. Travelling to Los Angeles to take on the Trojans certainly qualifies as major. USC is trying to shake off a disappointing defeat to Boston College a couple of weeks ago.

Colorado (2 - 2) 20 @ California (2 - 1) 24: The Bears are looking at a strong start if they can get by the Buffaloes.

Texas 24 (1 - 2) @ Kansas (2 - 1) 27: The Longhorns are in a serious transition period while the Jayhawks are trying for a statement win. I look for Kansas to continue Texas coach Charlie Strong's pain.

Tennessee (2 - 1) 16 @ (12) Georgia (2 - 1) 30: The Vols need another year or two to compete for the SEC East. Georgia will be looking to stay in the hunt this year.

Vanderbilt (1 - 3) 17 @ Kentucky (2 - 1) 28: Vandy gave South Carolina a game last week, but I like the direction Mark Stoops has the Wildcats heading.

Maryland (3 - 1) 27  @  Indiana (2 - 1) 30: The Hoosiers picked up a big win over Missouri last week and they may actually have a decent team for the first time in a while. Maryland is probably better, but I like the home team in a mild upset.


Duke (4 - 0) 31 @ Miami (2 - 2) 27: I don't see much improvement in the Hurricanes and Duke seems to be close to, if not as good as last year's team. And Miami has no real home field advantage given their embarrassingly low attendance.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

NFL AND COLLEGE THURSDAY NIGHT PICKS

NFL:

New York Giants (1 - 2) 20 @ Washington (1 - 2) 27:

My Washington team takes on the New York Giants in a big NFC East battle. Both teams share an identical 1 - 2 record.  It looks as if Washington might be better without RGIII than they were with him, but Kirk Cousins maintains he's just keeping the starter's place warm for him when he's ready to return from an ankle injury. The Giants weren't even competitive until last week's surprise win over the Texans. Maybe Eli Manning is getting comfortable in their new offensive system. I hope not, which is why I'll stay with the home team tonight.

College:

Texas Tech (2 - 1) 30 @ Oklahoma St. (2 - 1) 41:

Texas Tech had a week off to try to install something different on defense than the scheme that gave up almost 500 rushing yards in a loss to Arkansas. The Red Raiders fired their defensive coordinator, ostensibly for substance issues, but considering they're near the bottom in the FBS in points allowed, he may not have been around long anyway. This should be a good old-, no, wait, new-fashioned Big 12 shootout. The Cowboys gave Florida State all they could handle in the season opener and shouldn't have any difficulty scoring on Texas Tech. Of course, Oklahoma State isn't among the leaders in defense either, giving up 18 points a game against less than stellar opposition in their last two games. But at the end of the night, it will be the Cowboys collecting their first Big 12 victory of the season.

NFL WEEK THREE PICKS RECAP

It was a much better week, but still some surprises kept me below my week one total of 12 correct picks. The Giants finally showed signs of life, just in time to play the Redskins in a big Thursday night battle. Kansas City did the same, emerging from what had been a major hibernation. And the Chargers made the long trip east, but still managed to hand the Bills their first loss of the season.

Last Week: 11 - 5
Overall:   31 - 17 

Tampa Bay (0 - 2) 17 @ Atlanta (1 - 1) 34: Correct. I thought this one could get out of hand, and it did in a big way. Atlanta 56 - 14.

San Diego (1 - 1) 20 @ Buffalo (2 - 0) 24: No. The Chargers improved to 2 - 1, their only loss by one point to a tough Arizona team. Watch out for San Diego. San Diego 22 - 10.

Dallas (1 - 1) 27 @ St. Louis (1 - 1) 24: Correct. Both teams showed up, just in different halves. The jury is still out on the Cowboys, but 2 - 1 isn't bad considering how they've played. Dallas 34 - 31.

Washington (1 - 1) 27 @ Philadelphia (2 - 0) 30: Correct. I got this one pretty much on the money. Once again the Eagles dug themselves a hole, but came back to win. Philadelphia 37 - 34.

Houston (2 - 0) 24 @ New York Giants (0 - 2) 20: No. "...this being the NFL, I wouldn't be surprised if the home team pulled a surprise." That was my comment in my pick, but I didn't back it up with the correct prediction. New York Giants 30 - 17.

Minnesota (1 - 1) 17 @ New Orleans (0 - 2) 30: Correct. The Saints won, but still not by dominating on offense. Not sure what's wrong in New Orleans, but Brees and Company need to score more points going forward. New Orleans 20 - 9.

Tennessee (1 - 1) 16 @ Cincinnati (2 - 0) 27: Correct. The Bengals are looking like a real contender in the AFC. However, the AFC North appears to have some teeth again, so they need to keep up their quality of play to win a division crown. Cincinnati 33 - 7.

Baltimore (1 - 1) 23 @ Cleveland (1 - 1) 20: Correct. As predicted, this one was close, but the Ravens found a way to come through. Three AFC North teams are tied at 2 - 1. Of course, something will have to give in the coming weeks. Baltimore 23 - 21.

Green Bay 27 @ Detroit 24: No. I was so conflicted on my pick in this game I thought I'd picked up a win when the Lions won. Not so. I had gone with the Packers against my normal home team bias in close games. Oh well. Detroit 19 - 7.

Indianapolis (0 - 2) 30 @ Jacksonville (0 - 2) 23: Correct. I gave the jags way too much credit in my pick. But I was right in that the Colts were due for a big game. Indy 44 - 17. 

Oakland (0 - 2) 16 @ New England (1 - 1) 31: Correct. The Pats prevailed, but they weren't exactly dominant against a weak Oakland squad. Fortunately for New England, no other team in the AFC East looks like a world beater. New England 16 - 9.

San Francisco (1 - 1) 24 @ Arizona (2 - 0) 27: Correct. The Cards have emerged as a true contender to defending Super Bowl champions Seattle in the NFC West. Arizona was the only team to defeat the Seahawks on their home field last season. If they can replicate that feat, a division crown could be theirs. Arizona 23 - 14.

Denver 20 @ Seattle 27: If Seattle would have had to kick the extra point in overtime, I'd have picked this score on the button. But the Broncos certainly looked like an improved team in this Super bowl rematch. Seattle 26 - 20.

Kansas City (0 - 2) 21 @ Miami (1 - 1) 27: No. It looks like the Chiefs finally woke up, or the Dolphins are not as improved as I thought. Kansas City 34 - 15.

Pittsburgh (1 - 1) 17 @ Carolina (2 - 0) 27: No. The Steelers looked a lot more like the first week winners than last week's loser. I was surprised at the lack of defensive intensity by the Panthers. Pittsburgh 37 - 19.


Chicago (1 - 1) 23 @ New York Jets (1 - 1) 20: Correct. The Jets seem to be this season's close but no cigar winners. They could be 3 - 0, but can't seem to get over the hump. Chicago 27 - 19.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

NFL WEEK THREE PICKS

There are some very compelling and important matchups in week three's NFL action.  It's virtually impossible for a team to start 0 - 3 and still make the playoffs, much less win a division. So that puts teams like New Orleans, Indianapolis and Kansas City on the hot seat. Two of those teams have been in conversations regarding the possibility of making the Super Bowl, Now it's desperation time.

San Diego (1 - 1) 20 @ Buffalo (2 - 0) 24: If the Bills aren't the most surprising team in the league, they certainly are on the short list. Those top draft picks on the offensive side of the ball are starting to pay off for Buffalo, and the defense is playing very well. The Chargers are a field goal from being 2 - 0, so this should be an interesting game. I'll take the home team against the west coast squad.

Dallas (1 - 1) 27 @ St. Louis (1 - 1) 24: Wow. This game is tough. Just when I thought the Rams would be one of the worst teams in the league, they pulled a surprise last week. A similar thing can be said about the Cowboys. Which teams will show up today? Hard to say.

Washington (1 - 1) 27 @ Philadelphia (2 - 0) 30: The Eagles can really put their early stamp on the NFC East with a win today. Washington looked like a different team last week with Kirk Cousins at the helm. As much as I would like to pick the 'Skins, the Eagles have the edge at home.

Houston (2 - 0) 24 @ New York Giants (0 - 2) 20: The Texans are in the running for most surprising team. The Giants need to retool at a lot of positions, but this being the NFL, I wouldn't be surprised if the home team pulled a surprise.

Minnesota (1 - 1) 17 @ New Orleans (0 - 2) 30: The Saints are desperate and the Vikings are in a bit of disarray from the Adrian Peterson issue. I like New Orleans to right the ship today.

Tennessee (1 - 1) 16 @ Cincinnati (2 - 0) 27: The Titans showed last week that they might not quite be ready to take a big step toward playoff contention. Cincy is just continuing to build on a solid foundation they've built the last few years.

Baltimore (1 - 1) 23 @ Cleveland (1 - 1) 20: This is always a grudge match as the new Browns host the old Browns. The Ravens got an extra couple of days to prepare, always an important advantage in the NFL.

Green Bay 27 @ Detroit 24: This is a big early season NFC Central game. Every team in the division is 1 - 1, so it's important for someone to start to distance themselves from the pack. Before the season, I thought the Lions would be tough to beat, but they laid an egg last week.

Indianapolis (0 - 2) 30 @ Jacksonville (0 - 2) 23: The Colts need a win in a big way, and the Jags are probably the best team they could face on the road to keep the season from slipping away.

Oakland (0 - 2) 16 @ New England (1 - 1) 31: The Pats are once again in position to contend for the AFFC East title. The Raiders probably won't offer much of a problem.

San Francisco (1 - 1) 24 @ Arizona (2 - 0) 27: The Cardinals have emerged as a real force in the NFC West, while the 'Niners are struggling to get the magic back.  I think they'll continue to struggle.

Denver 20 @ Seattle 27: In a rare Super Bowl rematch, I doubt the Broncos have improved enough to win this one in Seattle.

Kansas City (0 - 2) 21 @ Miami (1 - 1) 27: Neither team is playing particularly well, but I'm going to stick with the home team.

Pittsburgh (1 - 1) 17 @ Carolina (2 - 0) 27: The Panthers might be the most under the radar team in the league, even with Cam Newton at QB. I'll pull for the Steelers, but I have to go with Carolina.


Chicago (1 - 1) 23 @ New York Jets (1 - 1) 20: The Jets are very intriguing. They gave the Packers a tough game last week, but I think the Bears will prevail.

Friday, September 19, 2014

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK FOUR PICKS

The season starts to ramp up a bit, with a smattering of intra- and inter-conference match-ups on the schedule. Of course, the Florida State - Clemson game, for a variety of reasons, is the headline game. But there are a few others that intrigue me, including Miami at Nebraska, a surprising Virginia team heading to BYU, Oklahoma at West Virginia and of course the battle of the ACC Techs in Blacksburg. We won't really get a good idea of where the top teams stand until league play starts in earnest next week, but this week will give us a sneak peak.

Bowling Green (2 - 1) 20 @ (19) Wisconsin (1 - 1) 45: Wisconsin is one of those teams that suffered an early road defeat to a quality team, LSU, and could still be alive for a playoff berth. Unfortunately, the rest of the Big Ten doesn't give the Badgers many chances for quality wins. Bowling Green is okay, with a win over bad Big Ten member Indiana. But they won't be able to stay with Wisconsin.

Eastern Michigan (1 - 2 ) 6 @ (11) Michigan State (1 - 1) 42:  Michigan State is similar to Wisconsin, having lost to Oregon on the road in Week 2. They've had a couple of weeks to lick their wounds and come out fired up against an overmatched Eagles team.

Troy (0 - 3) 13 @ (13) Georgia (1 - 1) 48: This is not the same quality of Troy team that has been able to stay with top teams in the past few years. The Bulldogs have to feel they let one get away last week against South Carolina. This game will be over early.

Florida 16 @ (3) Alabama 30: These two teams don't meet all that often, the last time a 2011 win for the Tide by the score of 38 - 10. I expect this one to be a little closer, but there's no way Gator coach Will Muschamp has the players to compete with Alabama.

(6) Texas A&M (3 - 0) 55 @ SMU (0 - 2) 10: SMU head coach June Jones quit two games into the season. A&M hasn't been challenged. This one is already over. Just sayin'.

Virginia (2 - 1) 27 @ (21) BYU (3 - 0) 19: Both teams have signature wins already: BYU in a romp over Texas, Virginia in a surprise over Louisville. I don't know why, but I think the Cavaliers will show up and put a licking on the Cougars.

Indiana (1 - 1) 17 @ (18) Missouri (3 - 0) 38: Missouri appears to be improving week by week, and that's a bit scary since they were pretty good already. I wasn't sold on them at the beginning of the season, but I'm on the Tiger bandwagon now. They're my pick to win the SEC East.

Mississippi State (3 - 0) 17 @ (8) LSU (3 - 0) 30: It seems fashionable among the national media to look at this game as an upset opportunity for Mississippi State. Really? Death Valley on a steamy Saturday night? Since spotting Wisconsin a 24 - 7 lead with almost 13 minutes left in the third quarter of their opener, the Tiger defense has yielded no points. Forget it. LSU big.

(4) Oklahoma 30 @ West Virginia (2 - 1) 31: The Mountaineers played Alabama extremely tough in Week 1, losing 33 - 23 in the Georgia Dome that was largely populated by Alabama fans. Morgantown can be a graveyard for national championship hopes. Just ask another team from the Sooners' own state. Oklahoma State had their hopes derailed a couple of years ago. I'm taking West Virginia in a huge upset.

(14) South Carolina (2 - 1) 27 @ Vanderbilt (1 - 2) 16: I wouldn't be surprised by a letdown from the Gamecocks after their big win against Georgia. But the Commodores are trying to recover from the loss of coach James Franklin and haven't looked good against top competition.

(22) Clemson (1 - 1) 24 @ (1) Florida State (2 - 0) 30: I could write an entire blog just on this game. The bottom line is that I don't see that Clemson has much more of a chance than it did in last year's shellacking on their home field. So Jameis Winston is out for the whole game now, but the last time I checked he doesn't play defense, which is where the Seminoles have an advantage over the Clemson offense. Sorry Tiger fans. It's FSU again.

Miami 30 @ (24) Nebraska 28: It's time for the gig to be up for the Cornhuskers. Although the Hurricanes laid an egg at Louisville in their opener, I'm just not sold on Nebraska. Sure, they put up big numbers against Fresno State, but so has everyone they've played. In fact, Nebraska's 55 points only ranks second behind Utah's 59  and barely ahead of USC's 52.

(2) Oregon 47 @ Washington State 24: There have been years where this could be a real trap for the Ducks, but the Cougars aren't really capable of staying with Oregon in this one. I watched Washington State get totally dominated by a good, but not great, Rutgers team. Oregon is better than good, better than great. No contest.

Georgia Tech (3 - 0) 21 @ Virginia Tech (2 - 1) 27: The Hokies are trying to rebound after a disappointing last minute loss to an ECU team that may end up being one of the surprises of the season. Bud Foster's defense has owned Georgia Tech in recent years, and I see no change at Lane Stadium on Saturday.

North Carolina (2 - 0) 23 @ East Carolina (2 - 1) 34: I don't think this one will even be close. The Pirates' skill players really showed their prowess in last week's win over Virginia Tech, and the UNC defense is not anywhere close to the Hokies'.

Utah (2 - 0) 27 @ Michigan (2 - 1) 31: I think Michigan's loss at Notre Dame was a bit of an anomaly. Utah's wins have come over teams that anyone can dominate. I'll stick with the Wolverines in the Big House. But it'll be close.

Northern Illinois (3 - 0) 24 @ Arkansas (2 - 1) 37: With the exception of a poor second half at Auburn, the Razorbacks have been virtually unstoppable, especially in the running game. Their size and depth will simply be too much for a very good Huskie team that may be able to make it a game if Arkansas turns it over. It looks like Bret Bielema has the Hogs on a roll, and they'll be calling them a lot Saturday night in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

NFL AND COLLEGE THURSDAY NIGHT PICKS

A divisional matchup in the NFL and a game between top 20 teams in college will have many of us switching channels to catch all of the action tonight. Of course, there's always the DVR if you're adept at avoiding scores of the game you want to watch later. I say watch the NFL on CBS, since they're less likely to show the score of the college game as frequently. I use a strip of painter's tape on the bottom of my screen to cover any scores that run across there, especially on ESPN. Just a suggestion!

Tampa Bay (0 - 2) 17 @ Atlanta (1 - 1) 34: The Bucs had the supposed early season advantage of opening with two home games in sultry Tampa. But it didn't seem to do much good as they let both of them get away. Now the team that many thought would be vastly improved needs to win in what has been, except for last season's debacle, one of the toughest places for a visiting team to triumph. And going 0 - 3, with two division losses to begin the year, is a kiss of death in the NFL. It will be interesting to see how Tampa responds and whether the Atlanta defense can stop the Bucs. The Falcons will be facing a tough defense that's only given up 39 points in those two losses. I think there's a good chance that Atlanta rolls tonight over a frustrated Tampa team facing a short week on the road.

(5) Auburn 41 @ (20) Kansas State 28: In my opinion, the home team is perhaps the most overrated in the country. In wins against Arkansas and San Jose State, Auburn's offense has been virtually unstoppable. K-State rolled over a decent FCS foe in Sam Houston State, and then barely avoided an upset at Iowa State in week two. Both teams has last Saturday off, giving the Wildcats' legendary coach Bill Snyder an extra week to game plan. This game will generate a lot of interest as the debate continues to rage on regarding the SEC's supposed dominance among the college power conferences. This could be a high scoring affair, but in the end, the Tigers should help to solidify their conference's high standing. I just don't see the Wildcats slowing them down enough times to come away with a victory.

COLLEGE WEEK THREE RECAP

Not a horrible week, but I missed a few close ones. Virginia Tech almost had it into overtime before an inexplicable last minute collapse. And I'm not so sure how Virginia has rebounded from a dismal season in 2013. Then there was a similar finish as Boston College stunned USC. On the plus side, West Virginia and Arkansas came through in nice fashion.

Last Week: 17 - 5
Overall:      57 - 18


Thursday:

Houston (1 - 1) 20 @ (25) BYU (2 - 0) 27 : Correct. BYU wins again. Three down, nine to go if they want to give the playoff committee something interesting to consider. BYU 33 - 25.

Friday:

(8) Baylor (2 - 0) 47  @ Buffalo (1 - 1) 20: Correct. Baylor keeps rolling along. Baylor 63 - 21.

Saturday:

Kent State (0 - 2) 13 @ (22) Ohio State (1 - 1) 30: Correct. The Buckeyes took out their frustration on an overmatched opponent. Ohio State 66 - 0.

East Carolina (1 - 1) 20 @ (17) Virginia Tech (2 - 0) 27: No. Another frustrating loss for the Hokies following the euphoria of their big win over Ohio State. But the Pirates look awfully good at the skill positions. A victory over UNC this week could set the stage for a great season. ECU 28 - 21.

UCF (0 - 1) 24 @ (20) Missouri (2 - 0) 27 : Correct. Missouri finally has me convinced that they're a real threat in the SEC East.  Missouri 38 - 10.

(21) Louisville (2 - 0) 24 @ Virginia (1 - 1) 19: No. UCLA's narrow victory at Virginia to open the season was seen as a disappointing performance for the Bruins. However, the Cavaliers may be the most improved team in the country. Virginia 23 - 21.

Wyoming (2 - 0) 16 @ (2) Oregon (2 - 0) 38: Correct. I'm not sure who will be able to stop the Ducks this year. Oregon 48 - 14.

(6) Georgia (1 - 0) 30 @ (24) South Carolina (1 - 1) 27: No. Great game, Not a lot of defense. The SEC East is wide open now. South Carolina 38 - 35.

La. - Lafayette (1 - 1) 17 @ (14)  Mississippi (2 - 0) 37: Correct. Another SEC rout. Mississippi 56 - 15.

Army (1 - 0) 18 @ (15) Stanford (1 - 1) 31 : Correct. Stanford bounced back nicely after the tough loss to USC. Of course, Army was traveling west. Stanford 35 - 0.

Southern Mississippi (1 -1) 10 @ (3) Alabama 38: Correct. The Tide appear to on cruise control, at least in their pre-conference schedule. Alabama 52 - 12.

La. Monroe (2 - 0) 13 @ LSU (2 - 0) 30: Correct. Ditto for LSU. It will get tougher this week as Mississippi State hits Baton Rouge. LSU 31 - 0.

Purdue (1 - 1) 10 @ (11) Notre Dame 34: Correct. The Irish could really be in the running for a playoff berth, but their schedule gets significantly tougher, with games against Florida State, USC, Stanford, Arizona State and Louisville on the horizon. Notre Dame 30 - 14.

(9) USC (2 - 0) 27 @ Boston College (1 - 1) 17: No. Stay west, young men. This was a trap game if there ever was one. Boston College 37 - 31.

(12) UCLA (2 - 0) 27 @ Texas (1 -1) 23: Correct. The Bruin offense still isn't hitting on all cylinders. They better figure something out before heading to Tempe to take on Arizona State next Thursday night. UCLA 20 - 17.

Tennessee (2 - 0) 17 @ (4) Oklahoma 34: Correct.  Score one for the Big 12 over the SEC. It appears Butch Jones still has a lot of work to do in Knoxville to get the Vols back to national prominence. Oklahoma 34 - 10.

Rice (0 -1) 16 @ (7) Texas A&M (2 - 0) 41: Correct. The Aggies keep on scoring and winning. Things will get tougher soon. Texas A&M 38 - 10.

(16) Arizona State (2 - 0) 30 @ Colorado (1 -1) 28: Correct. This one wasn't as close as I thought it might be, but the Buffaloes made a game of it. Arizona State 38 - 24.

Kansas (1 - 0) 24 @ Duke (2 - 0) 34; Correct. The Blue Devils look like they're ready to show that last year was no fluke. Duke 41 - 3.

Arkansas (1 - 1)  31@ Texas Tech (2 - 0)  27: Correct. The Razorbacks are rounding into form on the offensive side of the ball, particularly in the running game. If they can control ball, then we might see them look more like they did in the first half against Auburn. Arkansas 49 - 28

West Virginia (1 - 1) 30 @ Maryland (2 - 0) 28: Correct.  Sometimes you just have a feeling. The Mountaineers could be a factor in the Big 12 if they can pull out a big upset when they host Oklahoma this week. West Virginia 40 - 37.

Nevada (2 - 0)  27 @ Arizona (2 - 0) 24: No. And sometimes you don't. But Nevada gave the Wildcats all they could handle. Arizona 35 - 28.

NFL WEEK TWO RECAP

I opened the week with only one correct pick in the first six games, but made a nice comeback to go positive at 8 - 7 prior to Monday night's game. When I turned it off in the third quarter, the Colts were comfortably ahead. Oops! Tuesday morning I found out the Eagles made another second half turnaround to defeat Indy 30 - 27. I avoided a total disaster by picking the Chargers and the Bears in upsets.

Last week:  8 - 8
Overall:      20 - 12

Thursday:

Pittsburgh (1 - 0) 27 @ Baltimore (0 - 1) 21:  No. This game looked like a total farce. It was tough for the Steelers to play 11 on 17. I think the NFL threw the Ravens a bone for having to deal with the Ray Rice fiasco.  I've been watching football for almost my entire 56 years and obvious is obvious. Baltimore 26 - 6.

Sunday:

Miami (1 - 0) 27 @ Buffalo (1 - 0) 21:  No. It certainly seems as if the Bills have a pretty good team. The Dolphins aren't bad and Buffalo dominated them and are now at the top of the AFC East.  Buffalo 29 - 10.

Atlanta (1 - 0) 20 @ Cincinnati (1 - 0) 24: Correct. The Bengals are quickly moving up the NFL food chain. Solid offense, tough defense. That translates to more than regular season success.
Cincinnati 24 - 10.

New Orleans (0 - 1) 27 @ Cleveland (0 - 1) 20: No. The Saints have lost two close games, this time unable to stop the Browns on a last second game winning drive. And it looks like Johnny Football will have to sit for a few more games. Cleveland 26 - 24.

Dallas (0 - 1) 20 @ Tennessee (1 - 0) 30: No. The Cowboys looked like the kind of team Jerry Jones wants to see every week. Good running game, tough defense. But I need to see more to be convinced. Dallas 26 - 10.

New England (0 - 1) 24 @ Minnesota (1 - 0) 30: No. The loss of Adrian Peterson seems to have affected the Vikings a lot more than I thought it would. Of course, the Patriots also had a lot to play for. Don't count New England out quite yet, I guess. New England 30 - 7.

Arizona (1 - 0) 27 @ New York Giants (0 -1) 19: Correct. The Giants could be the worst team in the league. Arizona could be among the best. No surprise in this one. Arizona 25 - 14.

Jacksonville (0 - 1) 17 @ Washington (1 - 0) 27: Correct. Maybe RGIII isn't the future of the Redskins, instead it may be Kirk Cousins. I doubt Griffin steps foot on the field against the Eagles. As a Washington fan, I hope he sits for a while. Washington 41 - 10.

Detroit (1 - 0) 31 @ Carolina (1 - 0) 24: No. The Lions have come out of the gate flat, while the Panthers seem intent on repeating as NFC South champs. I'll need to see more from Detroit before I pick them again.

Seattle (1 - 0) 23 @ San Diego (0 - 1) 24: Correct. The Chargers are for real and the Seahawks just aren't the same team on the road. San Diego 30 - 21.

St. Louis (0 - 1) 13 @ Tampa Bay (0 - 1) 24: No. The Rams pulled one out over a team a lot of people predicted would be much improved from last season. Maybe the Bucs are, but the record doesn't indicate it. St. Louis 19 - 17.

Kansas City (0 - 1) 20 @ Denver (1 - 0) 34: Correct. This one was a lot closer than I thought it would be. But the Chiefs still continued their slide. Denver 24 - 17.

New York Jets (1 - 0) 24 @ Green Bay (0 - 1) 27: Correct. The Jets gave Green Bay the battle I expected. Green Bay 31 - 24.

Houston (1 - 0) 23 @ Oakland (0 - 1) 14: Correct. The Texans look like the surprise team in the league, but it's still early. The Raiders look like, well, uh, you know...the Raiders. Houston 30 - 14.

Chicago (0 - 1) 28 @ San Francisco (1 - 0) 24: Correct. Despite a boisterous home crowd for the opening of their new stadium, the Niners couldn't stop the Bears. Chicago 28 - 20.

Monday:

Philadelphia (1 - 0) 30 @ Indianapolis (0 - 1) 31: No. Really? I turned the game off in the third quarter, thinking the Colts had a comfortable lead. That's two big comebacks for the Eagles to start the season. Next up for Philadelphia is Washington. Philadelphia 30 - 27.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

NFL WEEK TWO PICKS AND COMMENTARY ON RAY RICE

As if having to air a game on September 11 wasn't bad enough, amid the controversy surrounding the Ray Rice domestic violence incident, the NFL has the misfortune of having Rice's Baltimore Ravens featured on the first Thursday night broadcast on CBS. Criticism is being hurled at everyone from Rice himself to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome and even at the victim.

This story is getting more airtime than anything happening in Washington, which is ludicrous considering it's one jerk beating on his then girlfriend, now wife, and ultimately getting what he deserves. In contrast, the jerks in Washington are beating on the American people and totally getting away with it. So from a big picture standpoint, a stupid punk like Ray Rice doesn't really rate much more than a not very fond farewell.

But since it's a story, I'll devote a few more lines to it. Roger Goodell works for the NFL team owners: no one else. He doesn't work for the players, he doesn't work for the fans, he doesn't work for the media. His job is to protect their investments, which are sizable. He hasn't broken any laws and at last glance, the value of NFL teams are rising faster than any other investments these ultra rich owners could make. So the media, fans and players can complain and call for his head all they want. But at the end of the day there are only 32 votes that count, and unless you can come up with the cash to buy a team, you'll never get one of those.

Did Goodell sit on evidence that he should have acted on a several months ago? Perhaps. Has Ray Rice played in a meaningful game or cashed a paycheck since the scandal broke in April? No. Did the league drag its feet in meting out the proper punishment. Probably. But at the end of the day, they got it right. There is no place in sports or society for men beating up on women just because they can. There are 30 guys waiting to take Rice's place in the league. He blew it, plain and simple. Goodell acted properly, but a little late. Let's all move on, because there will inevitably be more idiots like Ray Rice for Roger Goodell to deal with.

Last week:  12 - 4
Overall:      12 - 4

Thursday:

Pittsburgh (1 - 0) 27 @ Baltimore (0 - 1) 21: Back to back divisional games to open the season for both teams. The Ravens fell to the Bengals in week one, while the Steelers overcame a comeback from the Browns. A Ravens loss would give them a big hill to climb in the division. The Steelers can taste an early season advantage amid the controversy in Baltimore.

Sunday:

Miami (1 - 0) 27 @ Buffalo (1 - 0) 21: Both teams pulled surprises last week. An argument could be made that the Bills was a bit more stunning since it came on the road. I still like Miami.

Atlanta (1 - 0) 20 @ Cincinnati (1 - 0) 24: Once again, two winners from last week. The Bengals have been making steady progress the last few seasons, while the Falcons are trying to continue improving on last year's debacle. I'll take the home team.

New Orleans (0 - 1) 27 @ Cleveland (0 - 1) 20: Brian Hoyer brought the Browns back last week against the Steelers, just about the time most fans were calling for Johnny Manziel. The Saints won't be happy about the prospect of going 0 - 2, so I look for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to make it difficult for Cleaveland.

Dallas (0 - 1) 20 @ Tennessee (1 - 0) 30: Maybe Dallas isn't as bad as they looked and maybe the Titans aren't as good as they looked, but I still think Tennessee is improved and the Cowboys are, well... still the Cowboys.

New England (0 - 1) 24 @ Minnesota (1 - 0) 30: It might not be time to sound the panic bell yet for the Patriots, but they might want to send someone to find it. Could New England go 0 - 2 for the first time since 2001? It's possible.

Arizona (1 - 0) 27 @ New York Giants (0 -1) 19: Who is that guy playing QB for the Giants and what have they done with Eli Manning? Whatever it is they've done, it's not working.

Jacksonville (0 - 1) 17 @ Washington (1 - 0) 27: RGIII looked like anything but the sensation who electrified the league two years ago. Maybe it will take some time for he and Jay Gruden to mesh. As a Washington fan, I hope that time is Sunday.

Detroit (1 - 0) 31 @ Carolina (1 - 0) 24: The Panthers got by Tampa Bay last week without Cam Newton. He should be back this week, but the Lions appear to finally be living up to their potential. This is a tough pick, but Detroit has too many weapons, even for Ron Rivera's defense.


Seattle (1 - 0) 23 @ San Diego (0 - 1) 24: The Seahawks looked dominant again last week when they hosted the Packers. Meanwhile, the Chargers lost a tight one to the Cardinals. I'm going against the grain and taking San Diego.

St. Louis (0 - 1) 13 @ Tampa Bay (0 - 1) 24: Someone has to go 1 - 1 after this one. I think it will be the Bucs.

Kansas City (0 - 1) 20 @ Denver (1 - 0) 34: The Chiefs are 2 - 9 going back to last season and they didn't look like a team on Sunday that could go into Denver and derail Peyton Manning. KC coach Andy Reid and his staff have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball.

New York Jets (1 - 0) 24 @ Green Bay (0 - 1) 27: Aaron Rodgers is likely to test the Jets' defense a lot more than the Raiders did. However, this one might be a good deal closer than most people think.

Houston (1 - 0) 23 @ Oakland (0 - 1) 14: That Texans' defense looks pretty ferocious, even without Jadeveon Clowney. The Raiders just continue to be the Raiders, which means they still aren't very good.

Chicago (0 - 1) 28 @ San Francisco (1 - 0) 24: This game is really a tough one. Neither team performed as expected in week one, especially Chicago. The Niners definitely didn't look as good as the score indicated, thanks to an awful performance by Cowboys' QB Tony Romo. I'll stay with the Bears to outscore a still questionable San Francisco offense in the debut of the Niners' new stadium.

Monday:

Philadelphia (1 - 0) 30 @ Indianapolis (0 - 1) 31: The Colts' comeback fell short last week against the Broncos while the Eagles started to click on offense in the second half versus the Jags. Another close pick, but I'm going with the home team in a thriller.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 3 PICKS

Way too many upset picks last week that knocked my record down to 19 - 8. I plan on being more selective with the underdogs this time around. There are not too many compelling match-ups this week, with only one game involving two ranked teams. My Hokies have to erase the upset victory over Ohio State as they face an always dangerous East Carolina team.

Thursday:

Houston (1 - 1) 20 @ (25) BYU (2 - 0) 27 : The Cougars went into Austin last week and thumped Texas. They finally get a home game after two road wins to start the season. A favorable schedule could result in BYU going undefeated, perhaps giving the college football playoff committee something to think about. But it's too early for that.

Friday:

(8) Baylor (2 - 0) 47  @ Buffalo (1 - 1) 20: Baylor goes on the road to take on a competitive, but in this case overmatched Bull squad. The Bears might not be as explosive on offense as they were last season, but should still be able to take care of Buffalo, a team they scored 70 on in last year's meeting.

Saturday:

Kent State (0 - 2) 13 @ (22) Ohio State (1 - 1) 30: The Buckeyes will probably be in a foul mood following their loss to Virginia Tech (man, that sounds good). After a couple of losses, I doubt the Golden Flashes will be any match for Ohio State.

East Carolina (1 - 1) 20 @ (17) Virginia Tech (2 - 0) 27: There's no better way for the Hokies to come back down to earth after defeating Ohio State and entering the national rankings than to play old nemesis East Carolina. The Pirates have made a habit of upsetting the Virginia Tech and ruining more than a couple of seasons for the home standing Hokies. But they'll need to solve a pretty good defense to do it Saturday.

UCF (0 - 1) 24 @ (20) Missouri (2 - 0) 27 : I'm still not totally sold on the Tigers, but they went a long way in making me a believer by going into Toledo and crushing the Rockets. UCF lost a last second heartbreaker in Ireland to Penn State and have had a couple of weeks to lick their wounds and get over their jet lag. This is a tough call.

(21) Louisville (2 - 0) 24 @ Virginia (1 - 1) 19: The Cavaliers gave UCLA a good fight in week one, so they may be vastly improved over last season. Louisville spanked Miami to start the season and head to Charlottesville as a possible contender to Florida State in the ACC Atlantic.This one might be closer than expected.

Wyoming (2 - 0) 16 @ (2) Oregon (2 - 0) 38: The Ducks jumped over Alabama to number 2 after running away from Michigan State in the second half last week. Wyoming is undefeated, but haven't scored more than 17 points in either game. It will take a lot more than that to overcome Oregon.

(6) Georgia (1 - 0) 30 @ (24) South Carolina (1 - 1) 27: The Bulldogs have been sitting since putting a hurting on Clemson in the first game. The Gamecocks rebounded from their drubbing by Texas A&M with a win over East Carolina. A Georgia win could solidify them as the favorite in the SEC East with a South Carolina loss ending any hopes for the Gamecocks. I'm not sold yet on South Carolina's defense, so I'll go with the Bulldogs.

La. - Lafayette (1 - 1) 17 @ (14)  Mississippi (2 - 0) 37: Ole Miss has been impressive while the Ragin' Caguns got manhandled by La. Tech last week. I like the Rebels to stay on a roll.

Army (1 - 0) 18 @ (15) Stanford (1 - 1) 31 : Despite a close loss to USC, Stanford didn't fall very far in the rankings. Army defeated Buffalo, but takes a big step up in class when they travel to Palo Alto. I look for the Cardinal to bounce back, but it won't be a walkover.

Southern Mississippi (1 -1) 10 @ (3) Alabama 38: The Tide fell a spot in the rankings, but they have plenty of opportunities against quality opponents to move back up. The Golden Eagles were scorched by Mississippi St. in week one and don't look to fare significantly better this week.

La. Monroe (2 - 0) 13 @ LSU (2 - 0) 30: LSU appears to have reloaded quite nicely after sending another crop to the NFL. The Warhawks have a couple of wins under their belt, but seven point victories against Wake Forest and Idaho hardly put them in the same class as the Bayou Bengals.

Purdue (1 - 1) 10 @ (11) Notre Dame 34: I'm not sure I've ever felt this way before, but I believe the Fighting Irish might actually be underrated. Purdue was one of the Big Ten teams that led what was really an embarrassing collective performance by league teams last week. Look for the Irish to continue their good play.

(9) USC (2 - 0) 27 @ Boston College (1 - 1) 17: Having to travel coast to coast following a big victory over Stanford hardly seems fair, but it is what it is. The Trojans will be facing a Boston College team that will be trying to avenge last year's 35 - 7 to USC loss in Los Angeles. Despite BC's bowl appearance last year, I think USC will have enough firepower to win this one on the road.

(12) UCLA (2 - 0) 27 @ Texas (1 -1) 23: This is a match-up of two teams that have been disappointing so far early in the season. The Bruins have managed close wins over a couple of schools that many thought they could win handily. Texas was embarrassed at home by BYU last week, surfacing doubts about how far along their rebuilding program has come.

Tennessee (2 - 0) 17 @ (4) Oklahoma 34:Butch Jones' Volunteers have put up two victories, but heading into Norman to face a top-5 Sooner team is definitely a step up. Oklahoma hasn't really been challenged, so it's tough to know how they'll respond if Tennessee poses some problems. I don't think they will, though.

Rice (0 -1) 16 @ (7) Texas A&M (2 - 0) 41: The Owls face Notre Dame in week one, then got a week to prepare for the Aggies. I'm not sure a month of preparation would help.

(16) Arizona State (2 - 0) 30 @ Colorado (1 -1) 28: The high flying Sun Devils face UCLA, USC, Stanford and Washington in their next four games...I mean after this one, of course. Yeah, you get my point. If I'm thinking it, perhaps they are too. A classic trap game on the road against an opponent with absolutely nothing to lose.

Kansas (1 - 0) 24 @ Duke (2 - 0) 34; Wait...this is football. I was about to predict a 84 - 79 Duke victory. Well, this one will be played outside at a facility that's hardly worthy of a Power Five conference school. But I digress. Duke is just better.

Arkansas (1 - 1)  31@ Texas Tech (2 - 0)  27: The Red Raiders have two close wins over less than impressive opponents. The Razorbacks are still trying to dig out of the dismal hole of the last two seasons. If Arkansas can play 60 minutes the way they played in the first half at Auburn, this one should go their way.

West Virginia (1 - 1) 30 @ Maryland (2 - 0) 28: These two teams are pretty even in my book. Maryland got some early season notoriety by knocking off the Mountaineers last season, but this year I like West Virginia.

Nevada (2 - 0)  27 @ Arizona (2 - 0) 24: This is another close contest. You can't accuse me of choosing easy picks with my choices of games outside of the top 25. I have to lean toward Nevada, even if they're on the road against the bigger conference foe.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NFL WEEK ONE RECAP

I wasn't sure I could follow up last season's success with another wining campaign, but a 12 - 4 start is a good way to begin. Surprisingly, three of the games I missed were probably ones that I felt most positive about, but that just shows the unpredictable nature of the NFL.

Last week: 12 - 4
Overall: 12 - 4

Thursday (predicted in a prior post)

Green Bay @ Seattle: Seattle 27 Green Bay 23 Correct. The Seahawks don't look like they've missed a beat from their Super Bowl winning season. They made Aaron Rodgers look average, and he'd anything but. Seattle 36 - 16.

Sunday

Buffalo @ Chicago:  Chicago 31 Buffalo 21 No. This is one of those games that I didn't think could go the way it did. If I was in a survivor league, I would probably be out of  the running, because Chicago's schedule gets a lot tougher and this one looked like a no brainer for the Bears. Buffalo 23 - 20.

Washington @ Houston: Washington 24 Houston 20 No. RGIII actually looked okay, but the receivers and running backs had difficulty hanging onto the football. Fortunately for Washington, their division is up for grabs. The Texans will be wreaking more havoc with that defense, even without Jadaveon Clowney. Houston 17 - 6.

Cincinnati @ Baltimore: Cincinnati 27 Baltimore 20. Correct. It looks like my whim paid off, but now I'm looking seriously at the Bengals to lead the division again. Cincinnati 23 - 16.

Tennessee @ Kansas City: Kansas City 30 Tennessee 16. No. I didn't see this one coming at all. The Chiefs seem to continuing the swoon that began late last season. Of course, the Titans could just be vastly improved. Tennessee 26 - 10.

New England @ Miami: Miami 34 New England 30. Correct. This one may have surprised a lot of others, but not me. Miami 33 - 20.

Minnesota @ St. Louis: Minnesota 24 St. Louis 20. Correct. Actually, this probably would have been my survivor pick. The Rams may be able to get on a roll later, but they're still trying to adjust to the loss of Sam Bradford. Minnesota 34 - 6.

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh 24 Cleveland 20 Correct. It looked for a while like the Browns might go with Manziel, but Hoyer got things going and Cleveland almost pulled it out. Pittsburgh 30 - 27.

Jacksonville @ Philadelphia: Philadelphia 30 Jacksonville 20. Correct. It took awhile, but the Eagles finally caught fire. Philadelphia 34 - 17.

Oakland @ New York Jets:  Jets 27 Oakland 17. Correct. The Jets were in a dogfight, but pulled it out. It still doesn't mean they're a good team. Jets 19 - 14.

New Orleans @ Atlanta: Atlanta 28 New Orleans 27. Correct. Unlike my college upset picks, this one played out. The Falcons appear to be back in form. Atlanta 37 - 34.

San Francisco @ Dallas: Dallas 24 San Francisco 20. No. It might be about time to push the panic button in Big D. Romo looked lost and the defense is just plain terrible. San Francisco 28 - 17.

Carolina @ Tampa Bay: Carolina 31 Tampa Bay 21. Correct. Even without QB Cam Newton, the Panthers got a big opening win on the road. Carolina 20 - 14.

Indianapolis @ Denver: Denver 34 Indianapolis 31.Correct. Manning looked like Manning and Indianapolis, well they looked like the comeback Colts of the last few years. But it just wasn't quite enough. Denver  31 - 24.

New York Giants @ Detroit: Detroit 30 Giants 17. Correct. My comment in the prediction was "the Giants are just plain awful". Well, nothing changed to convince me otherwise. Detroit 35 - 14.

San Diego @ Arizona: Arizona 30 San Diego 28. Correct. This game promised to be close and it was. The Cardinals were fortunate to win despite missing a pair of two-point conversions. Arizona 18 - 17.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 2 PICKS RECAP

I went out on a limb and predicted a lot of upsets this week, particularly in the non-marquee games. On the upside, I picked USC, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech to prevail in games that really mattered. I'm off to a pretty slow start, but there are 12 weeks left to redeem myself.

Last week: 19 - 8
Overall: 40 - 13

(20) Kansas State (1-0) 41 @ Iowa State (0-1) 17:  Correct. Iowa State gave the Wildcats all they could handle. Kansas State 32 - 28.

(24) Missouri (1-0) 28  @ Toledo (1-0)  30:  No. Maybe Missouri is better than I thought. Missouri 49 - 24.

(4) Oklahoma (1-0) 37 @ Tulsa (1-0) 14: Correct. No surprises in this one. Oklahoma 52 -  7

Western Illinois (1-0) 10 @ (18) Wisconsin (0-1) 48: Correct. At least one Big Ten team put up some numbers. Wisconsin 37 - 3

McNeese State  31 @ (19) Nebraska 30: No. This one went like I thought it would, except for the last minute Cornhusker TD.  Nebraska 31 - 24..

Florida Atlantic (0-1) 13 @ (2) Alabama (1-0) 41: Correct. The Tide did what they needed to do to win.  Alabama 41 - 0.

South Carolina St. (1-0) @ (23) Clemson (0-1): Correct. It wasn't fun to go into Clemson following a tough Tiger loss.  Clemson 73 - 7.

(14 USC (1-0) 27 @ (15) Stanford (1-0) 24:Correct. I got the game and the spread right. I really like the Trojans now.  USC 13 - 10.

(15) Ole Miss (1-0) 34 @ Vanderbilt (0-1) 13: Correct. Vandy has a lot of work to do.
Ole Miss 41 -3

(7) Michigan State (1-0) 31 @ (3) Oregon (1-0) 30:  No. I clearly overestimated the Spartans, but they at least made it a game for three quarters. Oregon  46 - 27.

San Jose State (1-0) 13 @ (5) Auburn (1-0) 37: Correct. The Tigers are on track to contend again. Auburn 59 - 13.

(17) Arizona State (1-0) 47 @ New Mexico (0-1) 21: Correct. We didn't learn much as the Sun Devils delivered as expected. Arizona State 58  New Mexico 23.

East Carolina (1-0) 34 @ (21) South Carolina (0-1) 30: No. The Gamecocks rebounded as they prepare to face Georgia next week. South Carolina 33 - 23.

Murray St. (1-0) 13 @ (25) Louisville (1-0) 37: Correct. The Cardinals, in Petrino fashion, kept their foot on the pedal.  Louisville 66 Murray St. 21.

Michigan (1-0) 24 @ (16) Notre Dame (1-0) 27: Correct. Is Notre Dame's defense that good or is Michigan in for a long season?  Notre Dame 31 - 0.

Citadel (0-1) ?? @ (1) Florida State (1-0) Whatever: Correct. Should the 'Noles be concerned? FSU 37 - 12.

Northwestern St. (0-1) 10 @ (10) Baylor (1-0) Infinity:  Correct. I guess Baylor got tired of scoring. Baylor 70 - 6.

Sam Houston St. (1-1) 7 @ (12) LSU (1-0) 54: Correct.  These useless games are getting tiresome. LSU 56 - 0.

Lamar (1-0) 7 @ (9) Texas A&M (1-0) 42: Correct. See above.  Texas A&M 73 - 3.

Virginia Tech (1-0) 27 @ (8) Ohio State (1-0) 24:  Correct. The Hokies were supposed to be a year away. Maybe the future is now. Virginia Tech 35 - 21.

San Diego State (1-0) 34 @ (20) North Carolina (1-0) 31: No. I wasn't far off on this one. Still not a fan of the Heels. North Carolina 31 - 27.

Memphis (1-0) 17 @ (11) UCLA (1-0) 27: Correct. The Bruins haven't shown the expected dominance yet.   UCLA 42 - 35.

Georgia Tech (1-0) 30 @ Tulane (0-1) 24: Correct. The Yellow Jackets spoiled the Tulane stadium debut. Georgia Tech 38 - 21.

BYU (1-0) 20 @ Texas (1-0) 27: No. Didn't see this one coming. BYU 41 - 7.

Maryland (1-0) 37 @ South Florida (1-0) 20: Correct. This one was a little closer than expected.  Maryland 24 - 17

Ohio (1-0) 20 @ Kentucky (1-0) 27: Correct. A much needed win for the Wildcats. Kentucky 20 - 3


Oregon State (1-0) 21 @ Hawaii (0-1) 24: No. Hawaii's comeback came up a little short.  Oregon State 38 - 30.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 2 PICKS

After a terrific first week, college football takes a step back in the number of quality games. Even some early season conference games are potential mismatches. The gem of the week could be Michigan State traveling to Oregon, with the sentimental favorite being Notre Dame's final game against longtime rival Michigan. The only other game of note could be unranked, but always dangerous Virginia Tech, going into The Horseshoe to take on an uncertain Ohio State team that was challenged last week for three quarters by an outmanned Navy squad.

Last week: 21 - 5 (But it really wasn't that good)

(20) Kansas State (1-0) @ Iowa State (0-1): Iowa State got rolled by FCS power North Dakota State last week and now take a big step up to face the Wildcats. I just don't see how the Cyclones can be competitive this week. Kansas State 41 Iowa State 17

(24) Missouri (1-0) @ Toledo (1-0): Toledo is a mid-major program with just enough firepower to give the Tigers some concern, especially on the road. Missouri wasn't particularly impressive last week in its win over South Dakota State. If I was looking for an upset this week, this one would be it. Just for the record, even though Missouri is in the SEC, I really don't consider them an SEC team, if that makes any sense. Toledo 30 Missouri 28.

(4) Oklahoma (1-0) @ Tulsa (1-0): In some years, Tulsa may be able to give the Sooners a run for their money, but not this one. Oklahoma should win this one going away. Oklahoma 37 Tulsa 14
Western Illinois (1-0) @ (18) Wisconsin (0-1): The Badgers let on get away against LSU last week and they'll be looking to take it out on a team that went 4 - 8 in the FCS last season.
Wisconsin 48 Western Illinois 10

McNeese State @ (19) Nebraska: McNeese State got to the FCS playoffs last season and put up some big numbers on the way. They shocked South Florida in a 53 - 21 rout, so Nebraska should be on guard. I'm not a big Cornhusker fan and the Cowboys have a lot to play for. Nebraska has a recent history of stubbing their toe early in the season.  McNeese State 31 Nebraska 30.

Florida Atlantic (0-1) @ (2) Alabama (1-0): The Tide struggled a bit against West Virginia, but shouldn't have any trouble with the Owls. Alabama 41 Florida Atlantic 13

South Carolina St. (1-0) @ (23) Clemson (0-1):  Clemson had a monumental fourth quarter collapse against Georgia last week while their opponent this week was defeating Benedict 63 - 0...yeah, I've never heard of them either. I find it hard to believe that Clemson could lose this week. Clemson 37 South Carolina State 16

(14 USC (1-0) @ (15) Stanford (1-0):This is one of the premier games of the week, although it's not too hard to qualify for that distinction since most top FBS  teams are taking the week to pad their records with blowout wins against FCS opponents.  Both of these squads have playoff aspirations, but with the strength of the Pac-12, a loss here would probably eliminate one of them. I really like USC this year, so I'll take the Trojans, even on the road. USC 27 Stanford 24

(15) Ole Miss (1-0) @ Vanderbilt (0-1): Vandy looked terrible in an opening loss to Temple, while Ole Miss put some late  window dressing on their victory over Boise St. The Rebels are just plain better here. Ole Miss 34 Vanderbilt 13

(7) Michigan State (1-0) @ (3) Oregon (1-0): From a rankings perspective, this is THE game of the week. Michigan State's defense will be tested in ways that no Big Ten team can match, and Oregon's offense will have to face perhaps it's toughest foe of the season. I've been a big Spartan believer for a couple of years and I won't get off the bandwagon this week. Michigan State 31 Oregon 30.

San Jose State (1-0) @ (5) Auburn (1-0): Auburn looked pretty average, at least defensively, for the first half last week before Arkansas brought out a different team for the second half. However, San Jose State hasn't performed well in contests against the big boys, and the Tigers are definitely a member of that club. Auburn 37 San Jose State 23

(17) Arizona State (1-0) @ New Mexico (0-1): The Sun Devils should have little difficulty with the Lobos. While New Mexico's offense can produce points, their defense is porous and Arizona State can light up a scoreboard. Arizona State 47 New Mexico 21

East Carolina (1-0) @ (21) South Carolina (0-1): The Gamecocks were all but embarrassed last week against Texas A&M while East Carolina rolled over an FCS opponent. It's always difficult to assess teams after the first game, because the Aggies could end up being very good, which would put the loss into perspective. However, East Carolina always plays the Big Five conference teams tough, as the Pirates usually have a chip on their shoulder in those games. I didn't like what I saw last Thursday, so I'll make one of my friends happy by picking a big upset here. 
East Carolina 34 South Carolina 30.

Murray St. (1-0) @ (25) Louisville (1-0): Bobby Petrino led his Cardinals to a big win over MIami last week and the only way they lose this one is if they experience a huge letdown. I don't see that happening. Louisville 37 Murray St. 13

Michigan (1-0) @ (16) Notre Dame (1-0): The story here is the end to what has been a longstanding and historic college football rivalry. The other story is the game. Notre Dame was impressive last week and I think they'll continue that success against the Wolverines. Notre Dame 27 Michigan 24

Citadel (0-1) @ (1) Florida State (1-0): Really? No comment here. Florida State 310  Citadel -27

Northwestern St. (0-1) @ (10) Baylor (1-0):  Really again? Baylor - as many as they want to score   Northwestern St. 10

Sam Houston St. (1-1) @ (12) LSU (1-0): Sam Houston State plays someone called Incarnate Word later in the season. Come on. Why bother?  LSU 54 Sam Houston St. 7

Lamar (1-0) @ (9) Texas A&M (1-0): Oh brother, it just gets better and better. Or is that worse and worse? Texas A&M 42 Lamar 20

Virginia Tech (1-0) @ (8) Ohio State (1-0):  A young Hokie squad could give Ohio State fits. They're athletic and very fast. Ohio State struggled last week against a team not nearly as physically gifted. My sister will be in the Horseshoe for this one and hopefully will see the Hokies give the Buckeyes a good fight. I have to go with the homer pick in this one. Virginia Tech 27 Ohio State 24

San Diego State (1-0) @ (20) North Carolina (1-0): San Diego St. finished last season on a 5 - 1 roll after a close loss to Fresno State. I'm still not a big believer in the Tar Heels, especially after giving up 29 points to Liberty last week. The late east coast start is a benefit to the visiting Aztecs. Although I'm an ACC guy, this one really worries me.
San Diego State 34 North Carolina 31

Memphis (1-0) @ (11) UCLA (1-0): The Bruins struggled at Virginia last week, but were pretty much in control most of the game. That game kicked off at 9:00 am PDT, so I'll give them a bit of a pass. This time, Memphis has to play at 9:00 pm CDT, so the situation is reversed. Look for UCLA to bounce back, but Memphis won't go away easily.  UCLA 27 Memphis 17

Georgia Tech (1-0) @ Tulane (0-1): Tulane will be breaking in a brand new campus stadium, giving them a home field feel they never had in the cavernous Superdome. The Yellow Jackets had trouble putting away Wofford last week. This is actually a tough pick, but I'll stick with Georgia Tech to run their way to victory. Georgia Tech 30 Tulane 24

BYU (1-0) @ Texas (1-0): Texas comes into this game short-handed, with injuries and suspensions depleting the starting lineup. However, I think Charlie Strong's club will find a way to win. 
Texas 27 BYU 20

Maryland (1-0) @ South Florida (1-0): South Florida has struggled the last couple of years, while Maryland hopes to continue to rise now that they're in the Big Ten. Both teams took on FCS opponents last week. The Bulls struggled to defeat Western Carolina while Maryland easily dumped James Madison. Maryland 37 South Florida 20

Ohio (1-0) @ Kentucky (1-0) : After a dismal 2 - 10 season in 2013, the Wildcat faithful hope that Mark Stoops can field a competitive team in 2014. The Bobcats from the MAC pose a good test, but I look for Kentucky to prevail.   Kentucky 27 Ohio 20


Oregon State (1-0) @ Hawaii (0-1): The Rainbows gave Washington all they could handle last week. Oregon State struggled. I like Hawaii to put an island licking on the Beavers. 
Hawaii 24 Oregon State 21

Thursday, September 4, 2014

NFL WEEK ONE PREDICTIONS

Last regular season: 176-97-1. That's a pretty tough act to follow, but I'll give it my best shot. Week one is always difficult, with nothing but last year and very limited preseason action to go by.

Thursday (predicted in a prior post)

Green Bay @ Seattle: The defending Super Bowl champs have a formidable opponent to open the defense of their title. This is a tough pick and I'm tempted to go with the Packers in an upset. But Seattle is next to unbeatable at home and not much has changed from the team that won it all last season. Seattle 27 Green Bay 23

Sunday

Buffalo @ Chicago: The Bears have what is potentially the most potent offense in the NFC. Buffalo has been mired in mediocrity for two decades. I'll admit that this is an upgraded Bills squad, but I don't think they have the defense or the firepower to beat Chicago in a shootout. Chicago 31 Buffalo 21

Washington @ Houston: Questions about RGIII's ability to be productive from the pocket persist, but what I like about my Skins is the stingy defense. A strong running game and tough defensive front should be enough to get by on the road in Houston. Washington 24 Houston 20

Cincinnati @ Baltimore: The Bengals have been one of, if not the most, overlooked teams the past four years. Andy Dalton has progressed nicely, but it remains to be seen if Jay Gruden's departure for Washington will affect his play. I'm taking Cincinnati on a whim, nothing more. 
Cincinnati 27 Baltimore 20

Tennessee @ Kansas City: The Chiefs started out on fire last season against a weak first half schedule. Despite their second half problems and melt down in the playoff contest against Indianapolis, I think Kansas City will have enough, especially at raucous Arrowhead Stadium, to hold off the Titans. 
Kansas City 30 Tennessee 16

New England @ Miami: It's as if the Patriots can just be penciled in to win 11 or 12 games every year, especially in a division that doesn't really offer much in the way of consistent opposition. Well, this season they're going to have to battle out of an 0 - 1 hole. Miami 34 New England 30

Minnesota @ St. Louis: The Rams have been devastated by the loss of QB Sam Bradford, and they really don't have a particularly good plan B. The Vikings have opted to go with veteran Matt Cassel at QB over rookie Terry Bridgewater, a move that should at least give them the victory this week. Minnesota 24 St. Louis 20

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh: The Browns decided to wait to launch the Manziel era in favor of Brian Hoyer, at least for a few games. Pittsburgh appears to be in a rare rebuilding mode. They missed the playoffs by a game but don't really seem to be on the way up. Cleveland, suffering from ownership, management and coaching turmoil that goes back to their reinstatement as a team, is hopeful that it's time for improvement. Not yet. Pittsburgh 24 Cleveland 20

Jacksonville @ Philadelphia: Last season Chip Kelly's fast paced offense got the Eagles off to a fast start. The Jags haven't been relevant in a long time and judging from Nick Foles' recent regular and pre-season success, they'll have to wait another week to turn it around. Philadelphia 30 Jacksonville 20
Oakland @ New York Jets: The Jets' Gino Smith is probable better than what he's given credit for and the Raiders are just a mess. I don't think either of these teams is ready for prime time, but someone has to win. Jets 27 Oakland 17

New Orleans @ Atlanta: This is one of those really big division rivalries, going back to when these teams were expansion franchises at about the same time. Saints fans flock to Atlanta in a big way.  A lot of experts like New Orleans to make a deep playoff run, while the Falcons are trying to shake off a 4 - 12 season. I'm going out on a limb here. Atlanta 28 New Orleans 27

San Francisco @ Dallas: The 'Niners are hindered by injuries while the Cowboys are just hindered. Dallas is as potent as anyone on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense is just terrible, especially against the run. However, San Francisco has very few weapons offensively. As much as I hate to do it, I have to go with Jerry's 'Boys in this one. Dallas 24 San Francisco 20

Carolina @ Tampa Bay: The Bucs are a trendy pick to show major improvement this season, but they have to open up against the defending division champs led by star QB Cam Newton. The Panthers play great defense for former Bear Ron Rivera and Newton has more than enough weapons to win the opening game on the road, even if it's in the Tampa heat. Carolina 31 Tampa Bay 21

Indianapolis @ Denver: Talk about your great opening Sunday night game, this one is it. Even if Manning is a couple of seasons removed from his days as a Colt, there will still be emotion around this one. These are two of the top teams in the AFC, if not the league, and they're forced to show up and deliver week one. I have to go with the home field and altitude advantage the Broncos get to open the season. Denver 34 Indianapolis 31

Monday

New York Giants @ Detroit: The Giants are just plain awful and the Lions have been perhaps the most underperforming team in the league the last two or three years. It's time for Detroit to step up and make a statement. Detroit 30 Giants 17


San Diego @ Arizona: The Chargers were the surprise of the season, both by getting into the playoffs and then by winning a game when they got there. The Cardinals were undoubtedly the best team not to make the playoffs last year, and they'll be hungry to make a statement early. This should be a great one to stay up late for to end week one. I like Arizona at home. Arizona 30 San Diego 28

THURSDAY NIGHT NFL PREDICTION

The 2014 NFL season begins tonight before what promises to be a raucous crowd welcoming the Seattle Seahawks. The defending champs open their title defense against the Green Bay Packers who are hoping to spoil the party. The game kicks off what will be an interesting week for predictions. My record for last season was a fairly impressive 176 - 97 -1. Not bad in a league where parity is the goal. I'll post the full slate of this week's games on Friday, but for now, let's take a look at tonight's match-up.

Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks:

The Packers and QB Aaron Rodgers head into Seattle hoping to do what few teams have been able to do the last couple of seasons. The Seahawks enjoy what is currently the best homefield advantage in the league. Century Link Field is amazingly loud for an open air stadium. Combine that with the talent that the Seahawks put on the field and you end up with a very difficult combination to beat. The Packers start a rookie center in front of Rodgers, so I wouldn't be surprised to see an inordinate number of false starts and other offensive line problems tonight. Green Bay is going to have to be able to effectively run the football to slow down Seattle's aggressive defensive play.

Another factor will be the new emphasis on cracking down on illegal contact by the defense. After the Seahawks' secondary mugged the Broncos receivers on their way to winning the Super Bowl, the league decided to take action. We'll have to see if the officials have any impact on giving the Packers a better chance at executing their passing game. If so, this one could be a little closer than if the Seahawk defenders get to wreak havoc on the Green Bay receivers.

I just don't see, unless Seattle experiences a post championship letdown, the Packers pulling off the upset tonight. Russell Wilson on one side and Richard Sherman on the other will be too much for Green Bay.

Seattle 27 Green Bay 23

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

WEEK ONE COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECAP

It was a rough start to the prognostication season . A couple of very poor picks combined with some other upsets conspired to doom me to a very mediocre week one record. It looks glossy at 81%, but I was only 50% in games that were really up for grabs. At least there are 13 weeks left. Last week 21 - 5.

Thursday, August 28

(21) Texas A&M  @ (9) South Carolina: Both teams lost high profile athletes that dominated any coverage last season. But Johnnie Football and Jadeveon Clowney are both at the next level, so we'll see what's left in College Station and Columbia. Manziel was able to compensate for a terrible Aggie defense, while the Gamecocks have balance on both sides of the football. This one won't even be close. South Carolina 34 Texas A&M 20. Ouch! Either the Gamecocks are highly overrated or the rest of the SEC is in big trouble.  No. Texas A&M 52 - 28.

Boise State @ (18) Ole Miss: If Ole Miss wasn't in the SEC, would anyone think they were a top 20 team? So you lose to really good teams. You have to win games to impress me, and they won't win this one. Boise State 27 Ole Miss 24. The Boise State of the Peterson era appears to be a thing of the past. No. Ole Miss 35 - 13.

Weber St. @ (19) Arizona State: I really like Arizona State, but we won't get a good gauge of their team this week. Weber St. has won four games in the last two years and replaced their coach after last season's 2-10 campaign. Arizona St. 57 Weber St. 10 It took a couple of games for me to get a pick correct. Of course, anyone could have gotten this one right. Correct. Arizona State 45 - 14.

Rutgers @ Washington State: Rutgers begins their first season in the Big Ten by traveling across the country to face the Cougars. Both teams had identical 6 - 7 records last season. I'll go with the home team in this one. Washington St. 27 Rutgers 24 A late Rutgers TD doomed the Cougars as they let down and allowed the comeback. Maybe Mike Leach should consider putting a defense on the field too. No. Rutgers 41 - 38.

Friday, August 29

Jacksonville State @ (8) Michigan State: Jacksonville State advance to the second round of the FCS playoffs last season, so the Spartans need to be paying attention to this one. Big Ten teams have proved to be vulnerable to these apparent walk overs in the past. But I think the Michigan State defense will prevail. Michigan State 31 Jacksonville State 14 Not exactly a tough one, but the Spartans actually showed up and won this one the way they should have. Correct. Michigan State 45 - 7.

Colorado State @ Colorado: We don't usually see big rivalry games to open the season, but this one  traditionally comes in week 1. Last year, Colorado kicked off what ended up being a disappointing 4 - 8 year by defeating the Rams, who finished with a bowl victory over Washington State. Look for a different result this time. Colorado State 30 Colorado 27 The Buffaloes have a lot of work to do if they hope to be relevant on the national scene any time soon. Correct. Colorado State 31 - 17.

Saturday, August 30

(5) Ohio State @ Navy (Baltimore): Navy's ground oriented offense can always cause problems for opponents. Ohio State will be starting a freshman QB following Braxton Miller's season ending injury. The game will be in Baltimore before a large crowd, many of which will be looking for an inspiring performance from the home standing underdog. Navy is a formidable opponent that won games against Big Ten and ACC opponents last year. They also gave Notre Dame all they could handle in a 38 - 34 loss. Surprise in Kingstown. Navy 27 Ohio State 24 I totally whiffed on this one, although the Middies hung tight for three quarters. No. Ohio State 34 - 17.

(7) UCLA @ Virginia: There are real problems with Virginia's football program and Jim Mora has UCLA on the rise. This will be an old fashioned butt kicking in Charlottesville. Of course, my Hokie roots have no impact on this pick.  UCLA 51 Virginia 14 The Bruins escaped Scott Stadium with a win, but the Wahoos looked a lot better than a year ago. Correct. UCLA 28 -20.

West Virginia @ (2) Alabama: At some point you have to figure the Crimson Tide will stub a toe. But after struggling through a 4 - 8 season, it's hard to believe the Mountaineers will provide the door jam that will get in the way of Alabama's big toe. Alabama 34 West Virginia 13. Either the Mountaineers are vastly improved, or it may be a long season for the Tide. Correct. Alabama 33 - 23.

Rice @ (17) Notre Dame: As usual, the Irish are grossly overranked, especially this season as they are in the midst of an academic scandal within their football program. Rice was an overachiever last season, going 9 - 3 in the regular season and advancing to the Liberty Bowl where they got ripped by Mississippi State. If there was a time for the Owls to surprise Notre Dame, this would be it. But not this time. Close, but no cigar. Notre Dame 30 Rice 27  The Irish opened in very impressive fashion, giving hope to the Notre Dame faithful that they could be part of the playoff picture. Correct. Notre Dame 48 - 17.

South Dakota State @ (24) Missouri: Another game matching a strong FCS division team against a top 25 (okay, according to the polls) program. I don't think Missouri will come close to their success of a season ago, and there's a good chance that the Jackrabbits, yes, the Jackrabbits, could be a formidable opening week foe for the Tigers. But as much as I think Missouri will fail to follow up on 2013, they'll probably prevail in this one. Missouri 31 South Dakota State 20 The Tigers performed as expected, looking neither overwhelming nor disappointing. Correct. Missouri 38 - 18.

Florida Atlantic @ (22) Nebraska: The FCS Owls finished last season with four consecutive victories and even defeated FBS South Florida after losses to Miami and East Carolina to start the 2013 campaign. I'm not a huge Nebraska fan, mainly because the team reflects the inconsistency and volatility of head coach Bo Pelini. But the 'Huskers should be able to get by FAU. Nebraska 28 Florida Atlantic 17 Despite their lopsided win, I'm still not a big Nebraska fan. But I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again. Correct. Nebraska  55 - 7.

Arkansas @ (6) Auburn: This game is compelling for a number of reasons. Can Auburn duplicate last season's success, much of which came in close (okay, some call lucky) wins? Is Arkansas coach Bret Bielema playing it close to the vest or are the Razorbacks just not very good? Auburn is coming off a season where they were 13 seconds from a national championship. Arkansas was horrible, losing its final nine games to finish 3 - 9. Auburn QB Nick Marshall will sit this one out, but it probably won't matter. Auburn 27 Arkansas 17. The Hogs kept this one close for a half, then disappeared. Confidence in Arkansas coach Bielema and his staff is starting to be questioned. Correct. Auburn 45 - 21.

UC Davis @ (11) Stanford: If this was a wine making competition, then my money would be on the Aggies. Unfortunately, this is big time college football and the only stomping will be by the Cardinal. Stanford 45 UC Davis 14. It didn't take much skill to predict this one. Correct. Stanford 45 - 0.

(16) Clemson @ (12) Georgia: In what both teams hope will be a national championship elimination game, the outcome could come down to a big play late in the game. Clemson lost a couple of big weapons on offense and will need to find replacements quickly to derail the Bulldogs. I'm not sure they can do it. Georgia 24 Clemson 20 I'm sure I alienated my nieces with this pick, but the second half performance of their Tigers should have been more distressing. It looks like Clemson will miss Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins more than they thought. Correct. Georgia 45 - 21.

Liberty @ (23) North Carolina: I don't think I buy into the Tar Heels' preseason ranking, but they'll have enough to defeat the Flames, coming off a respectable 8 - 4 season in FCS. North Carolina 34 Liberty 16 It took a while, but the Heels finally put the Flames away. I'm still not convinced UNC can be relevant. Correct. North Carolina 56 - 29.

Louisiana Tech @ (4) Oklahoma: The Sooners shouldn't have much to worry about as they attempt to carry that number four rating to the playoffs in January. Oklahoma 41 La. Tech 14 No surprises in Norman.  Correct. Oklahoma  48 - 16.

Stephen F. Austin @ (20) Kansas St.: The Lumberjacks give up a lot of points, not a great formula for pulling a big opening week upset on the road against a ranked opponent. Kansas State 45 Stephen F. Austin 14 True to form, Stephen F. Austin gave up a lot of points. And they lost. Correct.
Kansas State 55 - 16

Fresno State @ (15) USC: This contest is a replay of the Las Vegas Bowl in which the Trojans overwhelmed Fresno State, a team I thought was overrated all season long. I don't see this one ending much differently, especially since new USC head coach Steve Sarkisian has had a full preseason to put his stamp on the team. USC 34 Fresno State 14 I'm a fan of USC, not so much of Fresno. I like this one. Correct. USC  52 - 13

(1) Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (Arlington, TX): Jerry Jones' billion dollar house will play host to this game, a pretty good one to gauge whether the Seminoles have what it takes to repeat as national champions. The crowd should be overwhelmingly  partisan for the Cowboys, who despite a lot of recent success, enters the season unranked. Florida State 30 Oklahoma State 20 The Seminoles tried to let Oklahoma State hang around, but finally put them away late, then let them back in. It looks like Louisville may be team to beat on their way to another championship run. Correct. Florida State 37 - 31.

(14) Wisconsin vs. (13) LSU (Houston, TX): LSU is ranked pretty highly for a team that lost a lot of talent from last season. Both teams played brilliantly at times last season, and looked rather average at others. Despite what will be a big LSU crowd in Reliant Stadium, I like Wisconsin to pull a minor upset. Wisconsin 27 LSU 24 Wisconsin let LSU back in this one with sloppy play and a careless turnover. The SEC won three big interconference matchups, doing nothing but strengthen the league's image. No. LSU 28 - 24.

(25) Washington @ Hawaii: Steve Sarkisian left Chris Peterson a Washington program that is on the rise. The Rainbows are considering dropping football. This doesn't bode well for Hawaii.
Washington 37 Hawaii 13 After the first half, it looked like the Washington offense headed for Waikiki beach. They escaped the islands with a tight victory, but at least it was a win. Correct. Washington 17 - 16.

South Dakota @ (3) Oregon: This game won't do anything in Oregon's attempt to make the playoffs. South Dakota is a mediocre FCS team and running up the score won't help the Ducks' cause.
Oregon 47 South Dakota 10. I thought Oregon might take their foot off the gas pedal earlier, but instead ran it up into the sixties. Really? Correct. Oregon 62 - 13.

William and Mary @ Virginia Tech: It wasn't that long ago that the highly regarded Hokies lost to FCS  James Madison following a close loss to Boise State. Although the Tribe is a pretty good FCS team, I look for the Hokies to have enough for an opening victory. Virginia Tech 27 William and Mary 13. The Hokies struggled a bit in the first half, but eventually wore down their intrastate foes. It was workmanlike and Tech's new QB, Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer, was efficient in the win. Next up, Ohio State at the Horseshoe. Correct. Virginia Tech 34 - 9.

Sunday, August 31

SMU @ (10) Baylor: SMU went 5 - 7 a year ago and at times gave up a lot of points. Baylor went 11-2 and except for their loss for Oklahoma State, scored a lot of points. This one could be ridiculously lopsided. Baylor 56  SMU 27 No surprise here, except for the shutout. Texas Tech QB Bryce Petty has a back injury, but it doesn't appear to be season-ending. Correct. Texas Tech  45 - 0.

Miami, FL @ Louisville: In another bowl game rematch, the Cardinals are welcoming back Bobby Petrino and playing their first game in the ACC against a former national power that has yet to win an ACC title. The Hurricanes are trying desperately to recapture that past glory. The fact that Louisville would hire Petrino again will be the subject of an upcoming blog. The Hurricanes rose to #6 in the rankings last season before getting drilled by Florida State and Virginia Tech. Charlie Strong left Louisville in very good shape so I don't see how much could have changed in the last eight months.     Louisville 30  Miami, FL 28 The Hurricanes continue to underwhelm as they try to get back to national prominence. They weren't impressive on either side of the ball Monday night as Bobby Petrino's squad easily won their ACC debut. Correct. Louisville  31 - 13.