Sep 16

Week Three Predictions

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags: college football

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Another great slate of games await us this Saturday with the ACC taking center stage for a change. Four out-of-conference games for that league go down starting at noon. Florida State tangles with top-ranked Oklahoma, Clemson hosts Auburn, West Virginia visits Maryland, and Ohio State travels down to Miami. In two of these games, both schools have new head coaches...Here are my picks for week three... 

#18 West Virginia (2-0, 0-0) at Maryland (1-0, 0-0) - noon - ESPNU - Both of these teams have new head coaches in 2011, and both are off to nice 2-0 starts. This is an incredibly tough game to pick because I like West Virginia. I also think they happen to have a good thing in the works with Coach Dana Holgorsen. But I think Maryland also has a good thing going under new head man Randy Edsall, and will ride the emotion of the home crowd to a win. I was impressed with the Terps in their win over Miami. Both of these teams like to score in big numbers, so expect some excitement! Maryland, 38-35.

#21 Auburn (2-0, 1-0) at Clemson (2-0, 0-0) - noon - ABC -Featured Game of the week - If recent history provided the outcome of this game, Clemson would lose close. The Tigers from South Carolina have lost all three meetings with Auburn in recent years (they have lost more than that to Auburn, but you have to go back to the 70's to pick the series back up), and all three have been painful. The 1998 Chick-Fil-A Bowl was a thriller, with Auburn winning close, 21-17, and the 2007 Chick-Fil-A Bowl was even closer, with Auburn winning in OT, 23-20. And then there is last year, where Clemson lost in OT again, 27-24, only this time in Jordan-Hare Stadium. So the games have been good ones - if you are an Auburn fan...Saturday in Death Valley, Clemson has a chance to lay some of those memories to rest. Though I think Auburn is the better team and better program, there is a reason the games are still played, and I think with the game being in Clemson, the playing field becomes nearly level. The teams, offensively, have similar characteristics. Both have new, relatively unknown quarterbacks in Tajh Boyd (CU) and Barrett Trotter (AU). Both have solid running backs, as well. Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb are a solid one-two punch with some experience for War Eagle. They were a key part of last year's title run. Just like Dyer from two years ago, Clemson true freshman Mike Bellamy was one of the nation's top running back prospects coming out of high school just eight months ago. He is listed behind Andre Ellington, a premier back who returns from a 2010 injury. Both teams are talented, but inexperienced on defense...I cannot wait for this game. I think it will be an instant classic that will be discussed for years to come. Honestly, I have mulled this pick for months. And all week long I have gone back and forth like a squirrel in the middle of a highway. But when I get to my seat Saturday, and feel the energy in the crowd, I will have regretted picking my opponent if I did so. I feel my squad has a chance against anyone in the country in our home stadium, and so I am picking CU. And this pick isn't all based on emotion. Auburn is solid, but very beatable. And Clemson has talent galore, but is young and unpredictable. Auburn is long overdue to lose a close game, and Clemson is long overdue to win one. In reality, Auburn should have the advantage, mentally, because they know how to win. But even with that said, nothing lasts forever (including 17-game winning streaks), and as hungry as Auburn is to prove the doubters wrong, I think Clemson is every bit as hungry to get a huge win and be a factor in the top 25....  Clemson, 31-30. 

Pittsburgh (2-0, 0-0) at Iowa (1-1, 0-0) - noon - ESPN2 - I am shocked that Iowa lost to lowly Iowa State. I really am shocked. But I am betting this past week's practices will get the Hawkeyes back in line. Pitt is one of those teams I am not real crazy about. So despite the fact that I don't know much about the Panthers, I would probably pick the home-field Hawkeyes either way. Iowa, 34-20.

#23 Texas (2-0, 0-0) at UCLA (1-1, 0-0) - 3:30 - ABC - It worries me to pick Texas because of the distractions of visting Los Angeles, but since I picked them preseason to be one of my bounce back teams by including them in my top 25, I will stick with them. So far the 'Horns have held up their end of the deal, with two wins, including beating BYU a week ago - albeit close. As for UCLA, I cannot believe that Rick Neuheisel is still around as head coach. The dude is 16-23 with a conference record of 8-19 in four plus years. That is awful. So I can't possibly pick UCLA in this game, although these long road trips can be tricky. Texas, 28-17.

Washington (2-0, 0-0) at #11 Nebraska (2-0, 0-0) - 3:30 - ABC - I get this weird feeling inside that Nebraska better be careful in this game. The Huskies aren't as bad as they have been, and with a Big Ten schedule on the horizon, Nebraska's mind may not be fully in this one. Coach Bo Pelini and QB Taylor Martinez must provide strong leadership for NU to bring their best game. Washington's Keith Price has thrown for seven touchdowns and 417 yards in the Huskies' 2-0 start. Nebraska, 30-24.

Virginia (2-0, 0-0) at North Carolina (2-0, 0-0) - 3:30 - ESPNU - Here are a pair of ACC teams looking to take an early lead in the ACC Coastal race. While VT is probably the class of the division, someone will have to challenge them, and the winner of this game may be a strong candidate. Mike London is trying to get UVA on track in his second year (4-8 year one) while Everett Withers takes over for UNC following Butch Davis' dismissal. These two teams are a mystery with so much newness going on. So like I usually do in these situations, I will go with the home team. UNC, 30-24.

#15 Michigan State (2-0, 0-0) at Notre Dame (0-2) - 3:30 - NBC - If I pick them enough, maybe eventually they will come through for me. This is a MUST win if you are Coach Brian Kelly. The Irish are 0-2, but have played two tough games. South Florida never gets enough credit, and beating Michigan in the Big House is a tall task regardless of how UM is playing. Both losses could have been wins. I am certainly not defending the Irish, but I think they can finally get it together for a huge game this weekend. I still think Kelly will be successful in South Bend, but he needs to go ahead and get it going! Notre Dame, 28-22.

Tennessee (2-0, 0-0) at #16 Florida (2-0, 0-0) - 3:30 - CBS - One of the South's most exciting and storied rivalries, UT and UF go at it for the 41st time, with the Gators holding a 21-19 lead in the series. On top of that series lead, it was 2004 the last time the Volunteers won this game. I went to the 2007 version in the Swamp, and it was a great scene, just as Saturday will be. The Vols are looking decent so far under Derek Dooley in year two. Florida is under new coach Will Muschamp, and are 2-0 with 80 points scored to three given up (NCAA best). The Gators have home field (and a strong D), and in big games like this, I usually go with that. Florida, 31-27.

Navy (2-0) at #12 South Carolina (2-0, 1-0) - 6:00 - ESPN2 - Gamecock fans across the globe cringe when they hear the word "Navy." In 1984, USC was 9-0 when a loss to Navy dashed national title hopes. South Carolina finished 10-2...Fast forward to 2011, and the Gamecocks are again thinking national title. This time, though, Navy will come in game three - not with three games left. This should be a win as long as Coach Steve Spurrier doesn't try anything strange - like taking out the starting quarterback. Navy is a quality squad, having been to eight straight bowl games. But USC should win this. South Carolina, 38-21. 

Louisville (1-1, 0-0)  at Kentucky (2-0, 0-0) - 7:00 - ESPNU - Louisville is terrible, this much I know. And Kentucky is decent, this much I know. Combine that with home-field advantage for UK in a rivalry game, and I will pick the Wildcats. Yeah, yeah, I know, anything can happen in a rivalry game (just ask Iowa), but I think the Cardinals have some serious issues to tackle before they beat anyone on the road. Kentucky, 26-20.

#17 Ohio State (2-0, 0-0) at Miami (0-1, 0-1) - ESPN - 7:30 - ESPN - Ohio state may have a new head coach, and a whole lot of new guys scattered throughout the starting line-up, but they still have excellent players and appear to be focused under new Coach Luke Fickell. They dominated game one over Akron (42-0), but then squeeked by opponent two, Toledo (27-22). Miami, under first-year Coach Al Golden, lost a close one at Maryland in the opener and have now had 14 days to get ready for the Buckeyes. This is a tough pick, and initially I had OSU as the winner. But more and more signs point towards Miami, and since that is who I am pulling for, I might as well pick the 'Canes. Miami, 30-27.

#1 Oklahoma (1-0, 0-0) at #5 Florida State (2-0, 0-0) - 8:00 - ABC - As an ACC fan, and this being the nation's showcase game of the weekend, I should pick FSU. But I just don't know if they are ready to be a true national title factor. If they beat top-ranked Oklahoma Saturday, obviously I will have been proven wrong. The atmosphere in Tallahassee should be insane, and Seminole fans will have sore arms for days from so much tomahawk chopping. But on the actual football field, I feel that OU is still ahead of FSU, and I will go with the Sooners. Oklahoma, 27-21.

Syracuse (2-0, 0-0) at USC (2-0, 1-0) - 8:00 - FX - As anyone that ever reads this site could tell you, I am not big on Lane Kiffin coaching USC. But with that said, I have to give him credit for a 2-0 start. If he wants to be 3-0, he will have to have his Trojans ready Saturday. Under Doug Marrone, Syracuse has improved greatly the last two years. I expect them to make even more improvement in 2011. USC will win this game, but for those expecting a blowout, I would think again. USC, 30-21.

Utah (1-1, 0-1) at BYU (1-1) - 9:15 - ESPN2 - I have never been to Utah, nor do I know much about either squad here. But I do know this should be a doozie. Both Utah and BYU - though having a loss already - are not bad teams at all. They lost on the road at USC and Texas, respectively, in the second weekend, in close games, and will be ready to get back on track in week three. Once again, in what is common for me, I will go with the home team when I cannot decide. BYU, 38-31.

#6 Stanford (2-0, 0-0) at Arizona (1-1, 0-0) - 10:45 - ESPN - I remain commited to Stanford as a serious national title contender. With the top Heisman candidate in QB Andrew Luck and guys who play fundamental football, look for Stanford to win big here. I wasn't impressed with the Wildcats in a road loss to Oklahoma State, and I think they get steam-rolled at home here by the Cardinal. They may make some noise early, but it won't last long. Stanford, 42-17.


*** All times ET, all rankings AP

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