"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 24, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK FOUR SATURDAY PICKS

Last Week: 26 - 6
Overall:      85 - 11

Conference play begins in earnest this week, with a few interesting inter-conference games on the schedule.  Among the headliners are number eleven Wisconsin traveling to eighth ranked Michigan State, nineteen Florida at fourteen Tennessee and seventeen Arkansas taking on tenth ranked Texas A&M at Jerry's World in Dallas. I seem to be drawn to road teams as winners this week, which probably dooms me to a poor performance.

Saturday:

Kent State (1 - 2) 6 @ (1) Alabama (3 - 0) 40 : I'm a big MAC fan, as opposed to a Big Mac fan, which I'm really not. However, I don't think Kent State can hang with the Tide, considering they lost to Penn State by twenty in week one..

(12) Georgia (3 -0) 23 @ (23) Ole Miss (1 - 2) 30: Somehow the Rebels are still ranked after falling below .500 after their loss to Alabama. Georgia hasn't been particularly impressive and barely escaped Missouri with a one-point win. Ole Miss' loss to Florida State doesn't look quite as impressive now that the 'Noles got spanked by Louisville, but I'm looking for Georgia's coach Kirby Smart to get handed his first loss.

(13) Florida State (2 - 1) 27 @ South Florida (3 - 0) 30: Can Florida State bounce back after getting trounced by Louisville last week? If they want to have a chance against the Bulls, they better recover in a hurry. South Florida is on a roll and no one has come within three touchdowns of them yet this season as they try to crack the Florida State, Florida and Miami triumvirate among the state's FBS teams. 

(11) Wisconsin (3 - 0) 27 @(8) Michigan State (2 - 0) 24: Wisconsin begins the most brutal stretch of games in the country for any Power Five team. Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska follow in succession. Michigan State knocked off Notre Dame last week, but I think Wisconsin can beat the Spartans, despite a sluggish game against Georgia State.

Penn State (2 - 1) 23 @ (4) Michigan (3 - 0) 30: It's going to be difficult for Penn State to crack the top of the Big Ten East. I just don't think they have enough to beat Michigan in the Big House, even though I don't think the Wolverines are the fourth  best team in the nation.

(19) Florida (3 - 0) 27 @ (14) Tennessee (3 - 0) 16: These are two teams I was not sold on at the beginning of the season. Florida has totally impressed me, Tennessee not so much, even if they have won nine in a row dating back to last season. The Gators' defense has been as stifling as last year, but they now have some offensive punch to go with it. I like Florida to expose the Vols in a big way.

(18) LSU (2 - 1) 24 @ Auburn (1 - 2) 16: I know there has been a lot of criticism of LSU's offense, particularly at the quarterback position, but I also don't think Auburn is exactly headed in the right direction either. Auburn fans would point out that the Tigers' losses were both to top ten ranked teams. I'll give them that, but their offense just doesn't seem strong enough to penetrate top caliber defenses.

(6) Houston (3 - 0) 45 @ Texas State (1 - 1) 13: After an opening win at Ohio, there was probably some optimism that Texas State could show improvement over 2015. Last week's 42 - 3 beat down by Arkansas probably dampened any enthusiasm. This week won't be much different.

Oklahoma State (2 - 1) 37 @ (16) Baylor (3 - 0) 31: I picked Oklahoma State to win the Big 12 this season, and after having the Central Michigan game stolen from them, it looked like the Cowboys might fade away. But they beat a good Pittsburgh team last week and showed signs of being the team I thought they were. Although Baylor has looked good so far, their level of competition has been very poor.

(20) Nebraska (3 - 0) 27 @ Northwestern (1 - 2) 14: After losing a number of close contests last season, Mike Riley's Cornhuskers seem to have figured out how to close out games. This week they face their first road test against a disappointing Northwestern team that finally got in the win column against Duke. I think the 'Huskers are too much for Northwestern.

(7) Stanford (2 - 0) 23 @ UCLA (2 - 1) 24: UCLA's opening loss at Texas A&M isn't looking so bad at the moment. I watched the Bruins' game at BYU last week and was impressed with the poise of sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen. They didn't put up a lot of points, but the offense managed the game and the defense made enough plays to get a big win on the road. Stanford has been tough, but unspectacular. Look for UCLA to slow down Christian McCaffery and grab a big upset.

(3) Louisville (3 - 0) 42 @ Marshall (1 - 1) 23: The Cardinals pummeled Florida State last week and should do the same to Marshall. But this is a little bit of a trap game for Louisville, wedged between the 'Noles and Clemson. Look for a bit of a letdown, but not enough to cost them the game.

(17) Arkansas (3 - 0) 26 vs. (10) Texas A&M (3 - 0) 24 (in Dallas, TX): This has the potential to be a terrific game at a great neutral venue. The Hogs haven't been able to put the Aggies away in recent years, despite holding second half leads. I believe that changes Saturday in Dallas.

(9) Washington (3 - 0) 34 @ Arizona (2 - 1) 27: With virtually no quality opponents and all of their games at home this season, it's difficult to determine if Washington is as good as expected. Arizona had a chance at a good start, but couldn't get past BYU in week one. I have a real urge to take the home team here, but I'll stick with the road favorite.

East Carolina (2 - 1) 17 @ Virginia Tech (2 - 1) 30: The Hokies are 11 point favorites at home even though ECU has won the last two meetings between these teams. If Va. Tech plays offense like they did last week in trouncing Boston College, they should be able to snap that skid. But if they put the ball on the ground and give the Pirates extra possessions, we could see a repeat.

Duke (1 - 2) 14 @ Notre Dame (1 - 2) 31: It's been a tough start for Notre Dame with losses at Texas and at home to Michigan State. Duke is in a rebuilding phase for coach David Cutcliffe and they'll be playing their second consecutive game in the Chicagoland area. The Irish should be too much for the Blue Devils.

Pittsburgh (2 - 1) 35 @ North Carolina (2 - 1) 38: This one is a key early season match between two of the favorites in the ACC Coastal. I haven't seen the Tar Heels play since their opening loss to Georgia, which looks even more disappointing given how the Bulldogs have underwhelmed since. UNC has struggled defensively, giving up 28 to FCS James Madison last week. Pittsburgh hasn't been any better, yielding a total of 84 points to Penn State and Oklahoma State.

BYU (1 - 2) 20 vs. West Virginia (2 - 0) 23 (Landover, Maryland): This is technically a neutral site, but it's a whole lot closer to Morgantown than it is to Provo. The sample size is pretty small for West Virginia so far, but I believe BYU's schedule is catching up to them. A lot of travel and too many tough early games. I'll take the home team, uh, well, there really isn't one, but you catch my drift.

Wake Forest (3 - 0) 27 @ Indiana (2 - 0) 17: Indiana has wins over Florida International and Ball State, two Group of Five programs that combined for eight wins in 2015. Wake Forest's defense is very good, with a lot of speed. I like the Demon Deacons on the road in this inter-conference showdown.

Colorado State (2 - 1) 18 @ Minnesota (2 - 0) 31: Neither team has beaten anyone of consequence, but Colorado State was run over by their instate rivals, Colorado 44 - 7. At least Minnesota has a win over a Power Five team. I'll take the Golden Gophers at home.

Iowa (2 - 1) 34 @ Rutgers (2 - 1) 13: Iowa was embarrassed at home by FCS North Dakota State and I'm expecting them to take it on the Red Storm. 

Boise State (2 - 0) 24 @ Oregon State (1 - 1) 21: Boise State appears to be ready for the national stage after a down year by their standards. The Beavers will be a good test, but I think the Broncos defense will be the difference.

Colorado (2 - 1) 23 @ Oregon (2 - 1) 34: Colorado is definitely improved over the last few seasons, but Oregon returns home after a tough loss at Nebraska. This probably isn't the time for the Buffaloes to be able to surprise the Ducks.

California (2 - 1) 41 @ Arizona State (3 - 0) 45: California can really put some points on the board, but Arizona State played another team like that in Texas Tech and put hung 68 on them. This is a tough pick so I'll just take the home team in a close shootout.

South Carolina (2 - 1) 20 @ Kentucky (1 - 2) 17: South Carolina isn't really very good, but Kentucky is even worse. The Wildcats fans just count the days until the basketball team hits the court.

Vanderbilt (1 - 2) 24 @ Western Kentucky (2 - 1) 26: The SEC, while generally considered the top football conference, still has Vanderbilt to bring the league down a little bit. No Conference USA team should be able to hang with one from the SEC, but it's the Commodores we're talking about here.

Central Michigan (3 - 0) 30 @ Virginia (0 - 3) 21: There's a new coach at Virginia, but it feels a lot like the 1970's in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers are among the worst of the Power Five teams and Central Michigan has already taken out a much better team than Virginia in a controversial ending.

San Jose State (1 - 2) 27  @ Iowa State (0 - 3) 31: Even though I think that San Jose State is probably a little better team, Ames can be a difficult place to play and west coast teams struggle in early games when coming east.

Nevada (2 - 1) 24 @ Purdue (1 - 1) 28: This is another early game for a west coast team. Purdue isn't very good, but they might have enough to get by the Wolfpack.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.