Week Three Predictions
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The games of week three are among us. Here are my predictions as I struggle to get back into the thick of things in the Fans25 Pick'em Contest:
Wake Forest at #5 Florida State - Noon - ESPN - Seminole fans should have Doak-Campbell Stadium ready to go as Jimbo Fisher's third FSU team is ranked in the top 5 and looking to go 1-0 in the ACC. The task at hand will not be as easy as some think, however. WFU is a nemesis to many teams in the ACC, and have bitten the 'Noles a couple of times over the years, including 30-0 in Tallahassee in 2006....In a closer game than is expected, I still take the home boys. Florida State, 30-24.
California at #12 Ohio State - Noon - ESPN - The Bears - a team that has defined mediocrity under eleventh-year HC Jeff Tedford - come into this game having already lost (Nevada). They run into a program that is headed in the opposite direction - up. Ohio State will have a pumped home crowd to their advantage, and Urban Meyer's teams have shown over the years that they can protect the ball and play smart. If they do that in this game, they will win easily. Ohio State, 38-21.
#13 Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh - Noon - ESPNU - This needs to be a game where VT shows some serious focus. The Hokies are known for losing an odd early season game and that L making a great season just average. This could be that game if VT doesn't watch out...That said, I think the Hokies take care of business against Pitt. The Panthers are 0-2, and neither loss was close. Virginia Tech, 33-10.
#16 TCU at Kansas - Noon - FX - The Jayhwaks lost a tough one-pointer to Rice a week ago. Can they bounce back and win a game against a much better squad this week? Unlikely, but possible. TCU comes in relatively untested (beat Grambling State, 56-0) but I know they are well-coached. If Kansas is to win, they will have to play one of the better games they play all season. And after the kind of practice weeks that can go down following a loss, the birds may do just that. This is my upset special of the week. Kansas, 30-28.
Furman at #11 Clemson - 3:00 - ESPN3.com - The major storyline for weeks has been that WR Sammy Watkins would return from his supension to play against Furman in week three. Well, the game has arrived, and the excitement is for real. Watkins and the Tigers will host nearby Furman and I do think Watkins will get the ball a lot early.That said, I think it would be wise for Dabo to let him see the sideline a bit more, too. While I am a somewhat adopted Furman fan with my house minutes from their campus, I know CU will breeze through this one. Let him wow the crowd a few times, but no need to play Watkins too much. Clemson, 48-10.
#1 Alabama at Arkansas - 3:30 - CBS - I know a bunch of folks out there see the Razorbacks playing for blood this week to make up for the loss a week ago. But I think they lost a week ago because they aren't as good as they have been (new coach in John L. Smith, new QB in injured Tyler Wilson, etc). In this one, I see Nick Saban and the Tide doing what they want, when they want. Saban is a master at breaking down the opposition on film, and then demanding his players follow the game-plan. Alabama, 36-17.
North Carolina at #19 Louisville - 3:30 - ABC regional - This should be a dandy. UNC is talented, but unpredictable. Despite a loss to Wake Forest a week ago, I still like the Heels to improve this year under Larry Fedora. Louisville, meanwhile, has already caught the country's eye as they sit nationally ranked...An interesting note to this game is that the two head coaches, Charlie Strong and Fedora, were the defensive and offensive coordinators, respectively, for Florida in '03...This is a tough one to pick, a toss-up. In that case I pick the team I will root for. UNC, 30-27.
Boston College at Northwestern - 3:30 - Big Ten Network - After an opening win over Syracuse in the Carrier Dome and a home win over Vanderbilt, Northwestern is 2-0 and thinking this could be a big year. It is my guess that they are about to become 3-0 after a win over Boston College Saturday at home. The Eagles are a very average football team. At 1-1, they aren't the worst team to ever strap on the pads, but they should be handled by the guys in purple. Northwestern, 35-21.
Virginia at Georgia Tech - 3:30 - ESPNU - I was impressed with what GT showed me in their opener on the road in Blacksburg against VT. Though they took an OT loss, they showed they have a solid squad for 2012. They are at home in this one - a place they usually are tough to beat. I haven't seen UVA shake things up in years, but they are 2-0 after squeeking by Penn State, 17-16. It could be an upset, but the pick here is the Yellow Jackets with home-field. Georgia Tech, 30-27.
#18 Florida at #23 Tennessee - 6:00 - ESPN - Here is your game of the day, folks. I know Michigan State-ND is a big'en, but this is the most intense war of the day in my opinion. Both teams need a big season - especially the home Volunteers. Ole' Smokey hasn't shown much growl in a while, but a special player named Cordarelle Patterson could change all of that. The Gators have talent galore, but are still trying to make an impact under Will Muschamp. This one will be a classic. Tennessee, 35-31.
Arizona State at Missouri - 7:00 - ESPN2 - I almost made this another upset game. ASU put 63 on Northern Arizona and then put another 45 on Illinois in weeks one and two. They can play ball it seems. But even though Mizzou lost to UGA a week ago at home, I still like the Tigers as a program under Gary Pinkel. I also still think QB James Franklin is a very solid player, as well. This could become one of the better games of the day before it is over with! Missouri, 40-38.
UAB at #8 South Carolina - 7:00 - ESPN3.com - If all goes as planned, USC will be 5-0 when the Dawgs of Georgia come to town in three weeks. This game against UAB is followed by another home game against Mizzou, then Kentucky on the road. In this one, I would again rest QB Connor Shaw if I were Coach Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks have plenty of weapons to win this one without Shaw, so let the starting QB get as healthy as possible while Dylan Thompson gains experience. Nothing fancy here, just Marcus Lattimore TD's early, and then run the clock out. South Carolina, 38-13.
#2 USC at #21 Stanford - 7:30 - FOX - Junior QB Josh Nunes has thrown for four TDS and exactly 400 yards in two Stanford wins over San Jose State and Duke. Not exactly Andrew Luck. With Luck gone, and coach Jim Harbaugh gone (two years removed), I just wonder if t Stanford really is good, or just still riding that recent wave...As for USC, I have had my doubts, as well, but the Trojans are growing on me. In this one, I think USC just has too much going on for Stanford. QB Matt Barkley is the real deal and will be good for at least three scores. USC, 39-27.
#20 Notre Dame at #10 Michigan State - 8:00 - ABC - Of the two teams, I honestly think MSU has more reason to be nationally ranked, and thus they are ranked higher in the major polls and my own. The Spartans have been good for quite a few years now, and their D is one of the best out there (gave up just 13 to Boise State, and seven to Central Michigan so far). I think ND is getting better, and Brian Kelly will do things with time. But for now, I think you pick the better team at home. Michigan State, 28-17.
#14 Texas at Ole Miss - 9:15 - ESPN - If ever a team could use a huge home win to celebrate, it is Ole Miss and their loyal fans. The Longhorns come in nationally ranked, and so that opportunity presents itself once more for Mississippi. Texas has one of the better defenses in America, ranking 8th in ppg. They also have a decent O that has scored 37 and 45 in the first two games - good but not great. The key is simple: Ole Miss needs turnovers to win this game. Get those, and get the crowd in it, and there is a chance. Texas, 36-21.
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