"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.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK THREE PICKS

Thursday night:

(8) Clemson (2 - 0) 30 @ Louisville (0 - 2) 20 (from a previous post): Clemson hasn't been challenged in two games against what borders on no competition while Louisville opened with pair of losses to pretty good offensive football teams. My pick to win the ACC is in a virtual must win situation to try to salvage coach Bobby Petrino's season. The Cardinals have been unimpressive in losses to Auburn and Houston, a surprising setback. I can't stick with Louisville, even at home, particularly after the way Auburn played and almost lost to FCS Jacksonville State last week.

Friday night:

(9) Florida State (2 - 0) 34 @ Boston College (2 - 0) 21: The Eagles opened their season against not one, but two FCS teams, a disgraceful bit of scheduling by the Athletic Director, who should be ashamed at such a soft slate. I'm not generally a Florida State fan, but I hope they kick the tar out of Boston College for playing a couple of cupcakes while their peers are playing teams from the SEC and Big Ten. I like FSU anyway, as they've shaken off a couple of sluggish starts to win going away. Transfer QB Everett Golson is starting to get a handle on the offense and I look for continued improvement against the Eagles.

Saturday:

Connecticut (2 - 0) 20 @ (22) Missouri (2 - 0) 31: Another soft schedule by a major conference contender is the one being played by Missouri. In addition to dodging Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M from the SEC West, they've played SE Missouri State and Arkansas State. Meanwhile UConn has victories over FCS Villanova and woeful Army after going 2 - 10 last season. Really, Missouri? They'll win but I don't like their chances in the SEC this year.

Nevada (1 - 1) 24 @ (17) Texas A&M (2 - 0) 47: Nevada got smacked around a little by Arizona last week and the Aggies continued their momentum from an opening win by downing Ball State. I look for more of the same this week.

Tulsa (2 - 0) 17 @ (16) Oklahoma (2 - 0) 34: Tulsa has put some points on the board in their first two games, but they take a big step up in class this week. But the Sooners can't take the Golden Hurricane lightly in this intrastate clash.

Air Force (2 - 0) 27 @ (4) Michigan State (2 - 0) 37: This is a classic trap game for the Spartans. A decent Air Force team coming into East Lansing a week after the Spartans pulled off a big win over Oregon to vault into the playoff picture. But this isn't a good matchup for the Falcons, with their offense geared to run the ball, and Michigan State pretty much designed to defend the ground game. I wouldn't count out Air Force, but I like Michigan State to contend in the Big Ten so I'll give them the nod in a closer game than you might think.

(23) Northwestern (2 - 0) 20 @ Duke (2 - 0) 24: In their opener, Northwestern prevailed in the SAT Bowl, now they take on Duke in the ACT Classic, traveling to Durham as the twenty-third ranked team in the country. On a day that looks more like the ACC - Big Ten challenge, it's amazing that this game actually has national relevance. Duke is a little under the radar after a couple of impressive seasons, but coach David Cutliffe is having to replace a lot of starters, particularly on offense, and this will be big test of whether the Blue Devils can reload from year to year. If they can, a favorable league schedule could help them compete for a division title.

Georgia State (1 - 1) 17 @ (12) Oregon (1 - 1) 58: This should be a good bounce back game for the Ducks after a tough loss at Michigan State. The Panthers are giving up almost 500 yards a game to opponents who don't come close to the potency of the Oregon offense. This one won't be a contest for long.

(18) Auburn (2 - 0) 27 @ (13) LSU (1 - 0) 30: LSU escaped Starkville with a win over Mississippi State last week and now they get to host a disappointing Auburn team. The visitors are undefeated, but it really doesn't feel like it. A close win over now 0 - 2 Louisville lacks luster and an overtime win over a team they should have beaten by thirty has people doubting coach Gus Malzahn's troops. I was impressed with LSU's defense last week and I'll take them to keep rolling.

Northern Illinois (2 - 0) 17 @ (1) Ohio State (2 - 0) 45: NIU is a quality mid-major program, but I just don't see how they stay with Ohio State, no matter how confusing the Buckeyes' QB situation is. The Huskies might be able to stay in this game for a quarter, or maybe even the first half, but it will probably get away from them in the second half. Their defense just isn't good enough to make enough stops in this one.

Troy (1 - 1) 14 @ (24) Wisconsin (1 - 1) 45:Troy got drilled by NC State, a middle of the pack ACC team in their opener, so the Badgers should be able to get past the Trojans. Wisconsin's rushing stats are deceiving because they opened against Alabama, but with Troy's porous run defense, I expect the Badgers to roll up a lot of yardage on the ground.

UTSA (0 - 2) 17 @ (25) Oklahoma State (2 - 0) 51: UTSA, with games against Arizona, Kansas State and Oklahoma State, have one of the most challenging non-conference schedules in the nation. After giving the Arizona  a good fight in week one, they were less successful against their second Wildcat opponent last week. The Cowboys, on the other hand, end a pathetic non-conference slate with what should be a rout.

(14) Georgia Tech (2 - 0) 34 @ (8) Notre Dame (2 - 0) 27: The Irish may have had a very promising season derailed by injuries. Starting QB Malik Zaire is out, as well as running back Terean Folston and tight end Durham Smythe. They could really use those weapons against a Georgia Tech team that's tough to stop if you're not used to seeing the innovative offense of head coach Paul Johnson. The Yellow Jackets have rolled over easy competition by averaging almost 460 yards on the ground. Tough luck for the Irish.

South Carolina (1 - 1) 17 @ (7) Georgia (2 - 0) 23: Can the old ball coach rally his Gamecocks to rebound from a disappointing home loss to Kentucky? Can Georgia finally live up to the expectations and take the heat off Mark Richt? Yes and yes, but Georgia is just a better team than South Carolina, and even though Spurrier has had Richt's number since their days battling it out in Florida, I look for the Bulldogs to win a close one.

SMU (1 - 1) 13 @ (3) TCU (2 - 0) 47: Baylor drilled the Mustangs 56 - 21, and I expect more of the same from TCU.

Stanford (1 - 1) 24 @ (6) USC (2 - 0) 30: Stanford stubbed their toe at Northwestern to start the season, taking a bit of shine off this clash. USC is one of my picks for the playoffs, and I haven't seen anything from either of these teams that would lead me to change my view. The Trojans appear to be all the way back after several years of sanctions and Cardinal QB Kevin Hogan doesn't look like a Heisman candidate at this point.

(15) Ole Miss (2 - 0) 31 @ (2) Alabama (2 - 0) 30: This is being called a revenge game for Alabama, losers to Ole Miss last year. Tide coach Nick Saban rarely loses to the same team in consecutive years. The Rebels have put up big numbers against a couple of cream puffs, so it's hard to know what they can do against Alabama's defense. I'm still not sold on the Tide offense, even if they put up 35 against Wisconsin in the opener. I'm going with a stunner.

 (19) BYU (2 - 0) 21 @ (10) UCLA (2 - 0) 30: Two games, two successful Hail Mary's for BYU. But they'll need to keep the game close enough to have a chance at the end. I think the clock is about to hit midnight on the Cinderella season. Freshman Josh Rosen has thrown for almost 300 yards a game for the Bruins. But the real difference will be the defense of UCLA.

(21) Utah (2 - 0) 37 @ Fresno State (1 - 1) 13: The Utes will feast on the Bulldogs' porous defense to go to 3 - 0 before beginning league play in the Pac-12.

 Northern Arizona (2 - 0) 27 @ (20) Arizona (2 - 0) 44: Arizona's defensive issues will likely get exposed in a big way once they begin their Pac-12 schedule, but they should have enough to outscore NAU.

Illinois (2 - 0) 24 @ North Carolina (1 - 1) 27: Another ACC - Big Ten clash, and Illinois travels to North Carolina to try to continue a great start. The only problem is that those first two wins came against Kent State and Western Illinois, not exactly a couple of powerhouses. Kent State one two games in 2014 and Western Illinois is a sub-.500 FCS team. 

Nebraska (1 - 1) 27 @ Miami, FL (2 - 0) 24: Game three of the battle of the conferences. This is a tough one to predict because Miami hasn't played anyone. The 'Huskers were the victims of BYU's Hail Mary I and were in control of that game. The question is whether Miami can shed the Mediocrity label and overcome losing their last four games in 2014, while returning only a handful of starters.

Virginia Tech (1 - 1) 34 @ Purdue (1 - 1) 20: The Hokies lost their starting QB in the opening loss to Ohio State, but backup Brenden Motley looked comfortable in an easy win over FCS Furman last week on a very short week. Purdue lost a tough game at Marshall in week one, then also came back with a win over an FCS team. I have to go with the Hokies, especially if Motley can continue to make plays.

Pittsburgh (2 - 0) 24 @ Iowa (2 - 0) 30: Pittsburgh has been unimpressive against soft competition while Iowa at least has a win over rival Iowa State on the road.

Texas Tech (2 - 0) 27 @ Arkansas (1 - 1) 37: The Razorbacks did everything they could to hand Toledo a victory in Little Rock last week. I look for a lot more running plays and a more motivated offensive line against an improved Red Raider team. This one could be a high scoring affair.

California (2 - 0) 34 @ Texas (1 - 1) 30: Texas got a win last week against Rice, but still gave up 28 points. Cal can score but will definitely stepping up in class after easy wins over San Diego State and Grambling. Texas is still a mess and I don't see them competing with the big boys. Cal has 15 starters back from a deceptively good 5 - 7 team from last season, one that lost at Arizona by four, UCLA by two and USC by eight. The Bears definitely have something to prove.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.