Week Seven Predictions
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Another great batch of games awaits us Saturday as we move deeper into the season. I am still near the top of the Pick'em Contest standings at 80%. A victory in that event still eludes me as we battle it out in the fifth version. Here are my predictions for week seven...
#11 Michigan (6-0, 2-0) at #23 Michigan State (4-1, 1-0) - 12:00 - ESPN - To me, this was just about the toughest game of the 15 games to pick this week. Michigan is on a roll with QB Denard Robinson and company off to an incredible start. But the Wolverines haven't won this game since a player referred to MSU as "Michigan's little brother" in 2007. The Spartans took that to heart and are now trying to beat UM four straight times for the first time in 50 seasons...Wow, this really is a tough pick. Rivalry, good defenses (both under 12 ppg), and a lot at stake. In almost a coin-flip type of pick, I am going with the visitors to break the streak in the series. Michigan, 33-28.
#20 Baylor (4-1, 1-1) at #21 Texas A&M (3-2, 1-1) - 12:00 - FOX - TAMU is a weekly adventure for me. I don't see them as a top 15 team, but I do see them as a top 25 team. To stay that way, they will have to beat Baylor at home. The Bears are better than their norm, but they are still very beatable. The key for A&M will be keeping the Bear offense on the sideline. They rank 4th nationally in ppg scored (46.3), and if Baylor gets a few turnovers, the Aggies could be in trouble. But I think Texas A&M will score some of their own (39 ppg, 17th nationally), and the home team's defense is slightly better. Texas A&M, 35-30.
#15 South Carolina (5-1, 3-1) at Mississippi State (3-3, 0-3) - 12:21 - SECN/ESPN3.com - QB Connor Shaw came in last week taking over for Stephen Garcia, and provided the Gamecocks with some much needed spark on offense. But that was against Kentucky. At home. This game is a much stiffer test as MSU can play some D (20.2 ppg given up), and they will have a rowdy home crowd inspiring them towards their first SEC win (losses were at Auburn, LSU and at Georgia). If Shaw can perform well again, and deliver a W in this SEC roady, USC might be onto something big. I have to see it first, though. Mississippi State, 29-24.
Miami (2-3, 0-2) at North Carolina (5-1, 1-1) - 12:30 - ESPN3.com - A top 25 ranking should await the Heels if they can get by ACC Coastal foe, Miami. Going into the season, big things were expected from 'Cane first-year Head Coach Brady Hoke. And that is still possible. But it is UNC's first year Head Coach Everett Withers that is making the most noise. His team has won five of six, with the loss coming to GT in Atlanta in a great game. The athletes are there for UNC, and apparently Withers can coach a bit. North Carolina, 33-24.
#12 Georgia Tech (6-0, 3-0) at Virginia (3-2, 0-1) - 3:30 - ESPNU - In college football, anything is possible. Really. So with that said, let me show you a near impossible situation: GT losing at UVA. The Jackets have had a couple of relatively close games of late, winning by five over Maryland last week at home, and needing 24 fourth quarter points to close out NC State the week before. But in this one, I think the ACC's top offense opens back up as UVA has really struggled. In the last two weeks the Cavaliers have lost to SMU and squeeked by Idaho (in OT) - both were at home. Georgia Tech, 40-21.
#1 LSU (6-0, 3-0) at Tennessee (3-2, 0-2) - 3:30 - CBS - The Vol Nation will be rocking trying to cheer their team to a program-changing win. But I think it will be a Sunday of hangovers in Knoxville as LSU is just too good right now. The UT offense is one-dimensional (11th nationally in passing, but 114th in rushing) and the last thing they want is to line up across from that Bayou Bengal defense. They are nasty. I expect a very strong home atmosphere in the beginning - and maybe even some fireworks from the Vols early - but once the game gets going, LSU will take it. LSU, 30-17.
South Florida (4-1, 0-1) at UConn (2-4, 0-1) - 3:30 - ESPN3.com - Both of these teams have had enough sucess in the Big East in recent seasons that they both make me want to pick them. But I think it is USF that is better at this point. The Bulls lost on the road to Pitt, but have looked good against everyone else. The Huskies haven't really impressed me at all with what they have done in 2011. I will go with the Bulls in this one and their nationally 15th-ranked offense, averaging nearly 40 ppg. South Florida, 38-28.
#6 Oklahoma State (5-0, 2-0) at #22 Texas (4-1, 1-1) - 3:30 - ABC/ESPN regional - The Horns were my sleeper pick to make noise on a national scale this season. And up to the Oklahoma game a week ago, I had predicted right. But then OU laid 55 on them in a beatdown, and exposed UT's issues. I expect OSU to pick up where the Sooners left off, firing up their offense to the misery of an unhappy home crowd in Austin. We will see what happens, but I am thinking Mack Brown's squad isn't up to what I predicted for them this year. Oklahoma State, 44-24.
#2 Alabama (6-0, 3-0) at Ole Miss (2-3, 0-2) - 6:00 - ESPN2 - Fans across the Magnolia State are wishing for a new head coach - and rightfully so. Houston Nutt has one SEC win in his last nine tries, and is just over .500 overall in three and a half seasons. Neither of those records will improve Saturday as Nick Saban's Tide will roll into Oxford. Ole Miss may hang early, but this will get ugly. Bama is perhaps the top team in the nation, and Saban doesn't let his team slip up in games like this one. Alabama, 38-13.
#19 Virginia Tech (5-1, 1-1) at Wake Forest (4-1, 3-0) - 6:30 - ESPN3.com - If you simply look at who has the bigger "football name," then this pick is a no-brainer. But if you look at who is actually playing better football this fall, the pick swings the other way. I am impressed with WF so far, enough so that I am going to take them here. They are 17th nationally in passing, and are averaging 34.6 ppg. That will beat a lot of teams (the loss was at Syracuse in OT to start the season). VT has talent, and a road victory here wouldn't surprise me a bit. But, I think Wake has it going on again like they did a few years back. Wake Forest, 33-26.
#8 Clemson (6-0, 3-0) at Maryland (2-3, 1-1) - 7:00 - ESPNU - The Tigers enter this game with a ton on the line, unbeaten and nationally ranked. UM enters the game as loose as a goose, just trying to improve under first-year Coach Randy Edsall. It will be interesting to see if CU can shake the pressure that comes with suddenly being mentioned in the BCS talks. On paper, Clemson has the players to win easily. But we all know that isn't how college football works. This will be a very tricky game for CU, especially having to prepare for two QBs (UM hasn't named a starter yet). I am taking the Tigers for the win, but this will be stressful - mark it down. Clemson, 32-24.
Georgia (4-2, 3-1) at Vanderbilt (3-2, 1-2) - 7:00 - ESPN3.com - The Dawgs have picked themselves up off of the mat and are trying to put together a season worth remembering. Losses to Boise State and South Carolina had UGA fans in the dumps. But four straight wins, including SEC wins over Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tennessee have Georgia back in the fight in the SEC East. Vanderbilt could wreck this winning streak (they have ruined many-a-SEC season for their conference foes in years gone by), but I see UGA on a mission to make this a big year after all. Georgia, 33-24.
Florida (4-2, 2-2) at #24 Auburn (4-2, 2-1) - 7:00 - ESPN - I have picked against Auburn the last two weeks (something I don't think I did twice all of last year), and I went 1-1 in those two games. This week I won't need to worry about that as I am picking them at home to beat the Gators. With a win here, Auburn will find themselves still in the thick of the SEC West race as LSU and Alabama are still on the schedule. The Tigers will need to get RB Michael Dyer rolling early, score while burning clock, and keep UF off the field offensively. Florida has weapons, but so far, they haven't found a way to unleash them the right way. Auburn, 31-26.
#7 Stanford (5-0, 3-0) at Washington State (3-2, 1-1) - 7:30 - Versus - It has been a while since the Cougars have had some success, so I am digging them with a 3-2 record and .500 in the Pac-12. But I think they could take a beating this weekend. As I say weekly, I am very impressed with what the Cardinal have going on. QB Andrew Luck (1,383 yards and 14 touchdowns) will lead the way, and Stanford will continue to stay in the top ten in the national polls. What folks aren't seeing is the Stanford defense, which is sixth best nationwide at just 10.6 ppg. Stanford, 47-27.
#18 Arizona State (5-1, 3-0) at #9 Oregon (4-1, 2-0) - 10:15 - ESPN - ASU is on a roll and has a national ranking. But that may not be the case when the polls come out Sunday. Oregon lost its opener to LSU, but has been unstoppable since then, averaging 56 points per game in their four wins. The Sun Devils play some D (giving up just 19 ppg), but I am not sure they can stop the Ducks. I hope I can stay up and watch this one, but by this late on the East Coast - after ten hours of watching football and, um, tailgating - it can be tough. Those Pac-12 games are always fun to watch, though, when I do stay up. Oregon, 42-24.
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