Week Two Predictions
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And just like that, not only is the season amongst us again, but we are now into the games of week two. A couple of SEC newcomer matchups highlight the slate this week as Georgia travels to Missouri while Florida travels to Texas A&M...I had a so-so score of 12-3 in week one of the Pick'em Contest, a week where 53 players equaled or bettered me. It will take a stronger performance this week if I want to be in the group that will compete for this year's Pick'em Contest crown...
Here are my picks for week two:
Penn State at Virginia - 12:00 - ABC - PSU ushered in the Bill O'Brien era with a loss to Ohio University at home a week ago. They now hit the road to face a UVA team that isn't a bunch of world-beaters, but is a pretty decent team, and is improving under second-year Head Coach Mike London. The Hoos will have a bigger than normal crowd show up in Scott Stadium for this high-profile opponent, and I think they will ride the energy in the building to a 2-0 start (defeated Richmond a week ago). Virginia, 30-21.
Miami, FL at #21 Kansas State - 12:00 - FX - You have to go with KSU all the way in this one. Not only are the Wildcats talented and at home, but they know a win here over a big name could boost them up the polls a few spots. Miami just doesn't seem to have the edge I am wanting them to have, and despite the fact I know they have talent lurking around, I am just not ready to give them the nod in a road trip so far away from home against a quality squad. The ACC needs a win like this, and I want to give it to the 'Canes, but I have to predict a KSU triumph here. Kansas State, 37-28.
Auburn at Mississippi State - 12:00 - ESPN - This is a tough game to predict. It has been close in recent history (seven and three point Auburn wins the last two years) and while AU is known to play opponents tough both home and away, MSU is just tough at home - which in this case works for them. So where do I focus to pick a winner? Well, I will go with the Auburn defense to hold MSU to under 25 points, allowing for the offense and other big plays to make up the difference for the win. Auburn held Clemson to just 26 points last week in a bend-but-don't-break manner. I think they do the same this week and win close. Auburn, 27-23.
NC State at UConn - 12:00 - ESPN3.com - The Wolfpack could go from being a darkhorse team to an 0-2 team if they aren't careful. After an opening loss to Tennessee in the Georgia Dome last weekend, NCSU now hits the road to face a Connecticut team that absolutely nobody is talking about - a Husky team that just shut out UMass 37-0. At 1-0 and not a point given up yet, UConn has not even a single vote in either major poll. You can bet their players have noticed that and aren't happy about it. But can they take that anger and shut down QB Matt Glennon and RB Mustafa Greene? They are also hungry for a win. This will be a toss-up, and in that case, until NCSU can step it up, I must go with the home team. UConn, 30-29.
Central Florida at #14 Ohio State - 12:00 - ESPN - Urban Meyer is going to do at Ohio State exactly what he did at Utah and Florida: win quickly. He took those two programs from mediocrity to unbeaten in just two years each, and - in my opinion - he will challenge to do that for a third time next year in Columbus. In 2012, he will lose a game or two, but this will not be one of them. I picture OSU going up big and Urban building some experience by getting some backups in early. I'm telling ya folks, the Buckeyes hit one out of the park luring Meyer back into the game. A national title is just a couple of seasons away. Ohio State, 45-13.
North Carolina at Wake Forest - 3:00 - ESPN3.com - This is one of the better games of the day. I have said it before and I will say it again: Larry Fedora is going to be one of UNC's better football coaches before it is over. He has a hurry-up attitude and is mean and smart. Opposite Fedora, at Wake forest, Head Coach Jim Grobe is the ACC dean of coaches with 12 seasons under his belt. Grobe is Wake Forest football...I respect WFU, and I respect Grobe, but I get the feeling that Fedora is going to turn strong UNC talent into W's and this is a start. A 62-0 drubbing of Elon in Chapel Hill was one thing, a road victory at fundamentally-sound Wake is another. UNC, 35-31.
#2 USC at Syracuse - 3:30 - ABC regional - When "SpiffyGuitarMan" listed this as a "game to see" in his weekly Ten Things article, I thought he had bumped his head. But when you think about it, it could be an upset special if ever there was one. Syracuse is coming off of a tough loss, while USC is coming off of an easy win. USC is highly-rated, but based on little fact, more so based on their name and Matt Barkley's talents. The 'Cuse is at home and waiting, while the Trojans must fly 3,000 miles, doing the whole time-schedule change and all of that....Blah, blah, blah, things do favor Syracuse to pull a big upset. However, I think USC has enough to get by this and still win. In fact, I think they pull away and Barkley gets some love in the NY market for his Heisman campaign. USC, 40-27.
#24 Florida at Texas A&M - 3:30 - ESPN - The same thing I wrote for the Mizzou-UGA game can almost be duplicated here. The Gators will travel into an extremely hostile environment to take on a program that is just dying to win its first SEC game. Normally, I would think the Gators have enough chomp to deal with this sorta thing. But they have shown me little teeth so far in 2012 and I just don't trust 'em yet. TAMU is a team that stumbles in the big ones (they do, it doesn't just seem that way), but I think they finally win a big one. Texas A&M, 30-26.
Iowa State at Iowa - 3:30 - Big Ten Network - When writing this capsule, I shallowly admit that the first thing I did was look at Iowa QB James Vanderberg's numbers from last weekend's game against Northern Illinois. He went 21 of 33 for 129 yards and no scores. That is pretty weak for a QB that we all know can do so much more. No, he didn't throw any picks either, but if Iowa is going to beat Iowa State, Vanderberg will have to play like the QB he is capable of playing as, not a QB hesitant to make a mistake. He will have to throw a couple of TD's and sustain some long scoring drives, as well...Kinnick Stadium will be rowdy and not good to the visitors, who haven't won in Iowa City since 2002. Iowa, 30-20.
#13 Wisconsin at Oregon State - 4:00 - FX - Once again, another very long road trip is in store to see an OOC game go down. And that is good as I enjoy seeing how these games turn out....Here, you have a power program from the Big Ten going up against a second-tier program from the Pac-12. My first instinct is to have Wisconsin winning big. But it isn't quite that easy. In fact, I'm going to pick this as my upset pick of the week. I think Wisconsin - with a new QB for this year in transfer Danny O'Brien - will struggle somewhat against a very experienced OSU secondary (three of four starters back). OSU has the home crowd and plenty of motivation for a program-changing win. When the dust clears, this is my upset special. Oregon State, 28-24.
Washington at #3 LSU - 7:00 - ESPN - If you like purple and gold, then Baton Rouge is the place for you this Saturday. For Husky fans, the bonus is that if you travel the 2,000 miles it takes to see this game in person, at least you get LSU and Tiger Stadium at night - something they say you just have to do in your lifetime if you are a college football fan....As for the game itself, I think LSU wins, but not as crazily decisive as folks think. I believe it will be a fairly reasonable score, but yes, LSU is the stronger team and at home. LSU, 33-14.
#16 Nebraska at UCLA - 7:30 - FOX - Due to our vocal contingent of Nebraska folks in the forum, I am always leaning towards wanting to pick NU despite the opponent. But dang if the Huskers aren't a mystery team - especially under Bo Pelini (40-16 in four plus years at Nebraska). In this week's case, they travel to LA to face a UCLA program that is looking for a spark under new head man Jim Mora. Can Nebraska man-up and knock UCLA back into the shadows that they seem comfortable in? Or will the Bruins step up and decide to join the BCS fun in 2012 and compete for some hardware and rankings? This is a nearly impossible game to pick because of all of the outside storylines: Nebraska has to deal with the hassle of travel, UCLA has been as up-and-down as a bear doing push-ups in recent years, these teams cannot possibly know all that much about each other, etc, etc, etc....In the end, I will pick an upset here. NU fans won't like it much, but perhaps they will prove me wrong! UCLA, 32-28.
#7 Georgia at Missouri - ESPN2 -7:45 - I see Mark Richt's boys hunkering down for a game that is desperately needed as the SEC welcomes Missouri into conference play. UGA fans are on the fence with Richt in year twelve, and a big road win over a good Tiger program would be just what the doctor ordered. That said, it will be tough. Missouri features junior QB James Franklin who is very talented, and more importantly, very experienced. This has been a true top 25 program for several years now. Add to that a home crowd like Faurot Field has never seen, and this will be a tall task for the Dawgs. Georgia is improved and a good squad, so this prediction is no knock on the visitors, but I respect what Head Coach Gary Pinkel has done at Mizzou, and I think the atmosphere will be majorly in his team's favor. In the end, in one of the more exciting games of the early part of this season, I think UGA falls just short on the highway. Missouri's players and fans will be off-the-chain with emotion in their SEC debut and I think they ride that to a big win to get things started. Missouri, 36-31.
#18 Oklahoma State at Arizona - 10:30 - Pac-12 Network - Typing this capsule just made me think about how big the American West really is. I mean, OSU is known as the "Cowboys," and yet they must travel over a thousand miles to Arizona to face a team from the desert, home of another whole type of cowboys....Shew! Anyway, back to football, and the OSU Cowboys are just more superior - at this point - than the Wildcats of the desert. Mike Gundy has turned his program into a perrenial power and I don't see him losing a shootout here. His offense will score in bunches, and his defense will make just enough stands to fend off a rowdy home crowd in Tucson. Oklahoma State, 47-37.
Illinois at Arizona State - 10:30 - ESPN - In games where I honestly do not know who to take, I usually go with the home team. In this case, it rings true for sure as ASU also has a bit better team than Illinois - at least according to the websites I have read thus far in studying this game. The Illini have a new head man in Tim Beckham, so that alone is an uncertainty. Another uncertainty is that ASU is withut starting QB Nathan Scheelhaase, who has a hurt ankle....I don't know, I just get this bad vibe about teams making long trips, especially when there is a new head coach and little stability in the program. I will go with the home team. Arizona State, 30-20.
(all rankings AP, all times Eastern)
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