Not such a great job last week, but not many people thought the Oregon Ducks would lay an egg against Utah or that Virginia Tech would squander a 14 - 0 first quarter lead at ECU. Arkansas and Georgia Tech were also big disappointments. I did have Kentucky over an overrated Missouri team and I correctly picked road wins in the desert for UCLA and USC.
We're far enough into the season where I can begin to utilize offensive and defensive performances to add more analysis to my picks. A lot of football is about how team match up on both sides of the ball.
Last Week: 15 - 6
Overall: 81 - 19
(23) West Virginia (3 - 0) 30 @ (15) Oklahoma (3 - 0) 28: This is an interesting match-up of strengths. The Mountaineer defense is ranked 17th against the pass, while the Sooners' air attack is eighth nationally. Of course that is due in large part because West Vifgiia played a running team in Georgia Southern and shut down one of the worst passing attacks in another win over Maryland. Oklahoma will pose a much bigger challenge this week in Norman. West Virginia has a balanced attack that could pose a lot of problems for the home team. I'm smelling upset here.
Texas (1 - 3) 30 @ (4) TCU (4 - 0) 54: Texas can't stop the pass and TCU has among the best air games in the country. I gave the Longhorns a chance last week against Oklahoma State, but I don't give them a prayer against the Horned Frogs. They'll score some points, but not nearly as many as TCU.
(22) Michigan (3 - 1) 34 @ Maryland (2 - 2) 13: It looks like coach Jim Harbaugh might have the Wolverines a year ahead of schedule, especially on defense. They totally manhandled BYU last week to jump into the national picture. With the emergence of Northwestern, the Big Ten has suddenly gotten very interesting.Although Michigan has struggled at times on offense, a porous Maryland defense will make it easy on them.
Purdue (1 - 3) 24 @ (2) Michigan State (4 - 0) 27: Michigan State surged to second in the polls on the heels of a win over Oregon. But now that victory is not as impressive given the Ducks' performance against Utah. The Spartans have been underwhelming in their other games, and they're going to have to get it done through the air against the Boilermakers. I think they will, but Michigan State needs to improve or they're looking at a loss in Ann Arbor on October 17.
Minnesota (3 - 1)13 @ (16) Northwestern (4 - 0) 28: Minnesota's first four game have been decided by a total of 15 points. Their opening loss to TCU was impressive, but offensively they've struggled against Colorado State, Kent and Ohio, not exactly a murderers' row. This just isn't a good matchup for the Gophers. I look for Northwestern to be able to rack up big yardage on the ground.
Iowa (4 - 0) 24 @ (19) Wisconsin (3 - 1) 23:The Badgers have run off three big wins since their opening loss to Alabama. But Hawaii, Troy and Miami-Ohio are all in the bottom thirteen in total offense. Not a particularly stellar group. The Hawkeyes haven't exactly played a monster schedule either, but Pittsburgh's defense is tough and Iowa got out of there with a win. These teams are more evenly matched than you might think. Another upset pick here. This one might even go into overtime.
Texas Tech (3 - 1) 37 vs. (5) Baylor (4 - 0) 48 (Arlington, TX): Last week's game against TCU was a much better match up for Texas Tech. The Horned Frogs aren't playing solid defense and the Red Raiders were able to take advantage of that, staying score for score with TCU almost to the very end. This week is a much different story, as Baylor's attack is more balanced than TCU's and a bit more potent. I see Tech hanging around for a while, but this is one track meet they won't win.
(1) Ohio State (4 - 0) 37 @ Indiana (4 - 0) 24: Indiana's off to a good start, but they will probably be exposed through the air by starter Cardale Jones. The Hoosiers are next to last in pass defense and Southern Illinois, Florida International, Western Kentucky and Wake Forest are hardly top-tier competition. Jones should be able to pretty much shred the Indiana defense through the air.
(13) Alabama (3 - 1) 27 @ (8) Georgia (4 - 0) 28: The game of the week for sure. The fashionable pick is Georgia, but the Bulldogs count on the run to win and the Tide stop the ground game as well as anyone. That will put pressure on Georgia's QB Greyson Lambert to complete passes and move the chains. The real key in this game will be whether Alabama can get their offense going against a decent Bulldog defense. If they can, they should win.
(11) Florida State (3 - 0) 27 @ Wake Forest (2 - 2) 13:Florida State likes to run the ball, which is a good thing because Wake is fairly effective at defending the pass. On the other side, the Deacons prefer to throw it, but the 'Noles have a stout pass defense. It could be a long day for Wake.
Kansas State (3 - 0) 20 @ (20) Oklahoma State (4 - 0) 31:Kansas State's woeful non-conference schedule will probably come back to haunt them this afternoon. They've put up big numbers against bad teams. Not that the Cowboys went out and played much of a slate, either, but K-State will need to generate some offense, something I don't see happening.
Washington State (2 - 1) 30 @ (24) California (4 - 0) 38: Mike Leach's Cougars are totally one-dimensional on offense, while Cal likes to run the ball a little more. Both teams can throw it, so look for a lot of points.
(3) Ole Miss (4 - 0) 30 @ (25) Florida (4 - 0) 23: The Gators have won their last three games by a total of 13 points, not exactly a dominant start. But ECU, Kentucky and Tennessee aren't exactly chopped liver either. Ole Miss heads into the Swamp off a little bit of a letdown against Vanderbilt. If the Rebels are going to continue to contend in the SEC West, they need this game against a Florida team that's trying to regain relevance in both in the conference and on the national stage.
Eastern Michigan (1 - 3) 9 @ (9) LSU (3 - 0) 58: LSU has the seventh rush offense in the nation, EMU brings the last ranked ground defense into Death Valley. This could be extremely ugly if Les Miles wants his Tigers to put up a lot of points.
(21) Mississippi State (3 - 1) 23 @ (14) Texas A&M (4 - 0) 27: These are two evenly matched teams, the main difference being A&M's ability to run the ball a little better than Mississippi State. I haven't been a big fan of the Aggies and they should have lost last week against Arkansas. The Bulldogs came up a couple of points short against LSU in what is now looking like a quality loss. A&M's big win against Arizona State has also been a bit diminished.
Arizona State (2 - 2) 17 @ (7) UCLA (4 - 0) 31: UCLA emerged as the favorite in the Pac-12 South with their win at Arizona last week. Arizona State is in survival mode today and will need to find a way to play some defense against freshman sensation Josh Rosen. I like the winner of the USC - UCLA game later in the season to have a shot at a playoff berth.
(6) Notre Dame (4 - 0) 20 @ (12) Clemson (4 - 0) 24: In big game 1A, weather could be a factor tonight in Clemson, SC. The Irish, despite a rash of victories, are a very good football team and will give the Tigers all they can handle. Clemson will have to rely on a defense that is ranked in the top ten in the country to stop Notre Dame's running attack. If they do, I think they win. On the other side of the ball, the Clemson offense is pretty evenly matched against a decent Notre Dame defense.
Arizona (3 - 1) 37 @ (18) Stanford (3 - 1) 34: Rich Rodriguez's high powered rushing offense needs some help from a defense that was shredded for 56 points last week by UCLA. Since a shocker in week one at Northwestern, the Cardinal have righted the ship and appear poised to contend for a Pac-12 North title. But the Wildcats turned the ball over three times and UCLA didn't give it up at all last week. I just have a feeling about this one.
Pittsburgh (2 - 1) 23 @ Virginia Tech (2 - 2) 27: The Hokies are 2 - 2, but still has no conference losses. An uncharacteristically porous Tech run defense needs be get shored up if they want to make a run at the Coastal division crown. Pittsburgh is having trouble getting yards, especially through the air. Hokie All-American DB Kendall Fuller is out for the season, so Tech will have to make some serious adjustments in the secondary. It doesn't look good for the home team, but my heart won't let me take the Panthers.
Arkansas (1 - 3) 24 @ Tennessee (2 - 2) 21: Both of these teams are coming off losses in games they probably had in hand. The Vols want to run the ball, but Arkansas has a very good running defense. The key here is whether Tennessee can stop the Hogs' passing game. I think Arkansas will be able to throw the ball and win the game.
South Carolina (2 - 2) 27 @ Missouri (3 - 1) 17: Missouri is just about the most overrated teams I've seen in a long time. There's a lot of speculation about the future of Steve Spurrier's future at South Carolina and he can make a big statement today about what kind of team the Gamecocks have this season. I'll take the old ball coach to pull off a big SEC East game on the road.
North Carolina (3 - 1) 27 @ Georgia Tech (2 - 2) 34:The Yellow Jackets are sixth in the nation in rushing offense, while the Heels are 114th against the run. This is clearly a bad matchup for North Carolina and I look for Georgia Tech to bounce back from consecutive tough losses to Notre Dame and Duke.