Week Five Predictions
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Still in the midst of my worst performance ever in the Pick'em Contest, it is time to hunker down! I still have nine weeks of games to work back up towards the top. There are another group of exciting games for this weekend, and lots of hot players to keep me down the list. Here are my choices for the games of week five...
* All times EST, all rankings AP
#25 Baylor at #9 West Virginia - noon - FX - Even with RGIII from a year ago, I think Baylor would have trouble in this one. Without him, I don't think they have much of a shot. The Bears are a pretty good team, and in college football, anything can happen. But I see WVU scoring plenty enough to win, and then having their defense play well enough to limit Baylor in points to a reasonable number. WVU has the ability to score into the 50's and up in a hurry, but I see this one not getting that out of hand. West Virginia, 49-28.
Minnesota at Iowa - noon - ESPN2 - The Golden Gophers are 4-0 and are not receiving even a single vote in the AP poll (11 votes in USA Today Poll, 38th). That tells you all you need to know right there about the annual medicocrity of this program and the national perception of it. Iowa, meanwhile, a team that does have a national name, sits at 2-2, having just lost at home to Central Michigan. This is definitely a switching of characters for this contest...Minnesota plays two QB's: a passer (Max Shortell) and a runner (MarQueis Gray). If Iowa can shut down one or the other, and get a defensive or special teams score to boost the point total, they start to get things going in 2012 with a win here. Iowa, 27-25.
NC State at Miami - noon - ESPNU - Here is a battle of two ACC teams that really, really need a win. Miami won at GT a week ago, but have yet to put together any kind of streak since Al Golden arrived. A second-straight ACC win would really help get some momentum going...As for NCSU, they already have a loss (Tennessee), and a second loss would really start up the grumblings in Raleigh over sixth-year coach Tom O'Brien (18-22 ACC record so far). This is a tough one to pick, but NC State has shown me very little once again under O'Brien, while the 'Canes seem to be showing at least a little bit of life under Golden. Miami, 28-21.
Tennessee at #5 Georgia - 3:30 - CBS - Folks, here is your game of the day! In a heated rivalry (both of these schools seem to have several rivals), Sanford Stadium will be rocking. The Dawgs enter ranked in the national top five and need a statement kind of win to start getting the same love that Oregon (speed), FSU (defense), LSU (athletes) and Alabama (everything) are getting. Tennessee comes into the game desperately needing a big win under Derek Dooley. His team is better in 2012, yes, but until he beats a big-names SEC team on the road, UT fans will be wishing for more. Georgia, 30-24.
#17 Clemson at Boston College - 3:30 - ESPN2 - After one of their biggest games in years (a loss at #4 FSU last week), CU needs to focus on the task at hand, and not dwell on what could have been against the 'Noles. If the Tigers are caught napping, a second loss in seven days is very possible - even to lowly BC. Clemson is far more talented on both sides of the ball, but execution is the key to victory. If the Tigers play fundamental football, they win by three scores. Clemson 40-17.
#14 Ohio State at #20 Michigan State - 3:30 - ABC - If Michigan State can learn how to score, this could be a great game. The Spartans are currently 104th in the country in points scored with just 21 per game. The defense is one of the best out there, but I think Ohio State has enough offensive firepower to outscore MSU. If the Buckeye defense shows up at all, I feel that Michigan State will put very, very little on the scoreboard. With that bold prediction, expect MSU to now morph into an Oregonesque-type state. Ohio State, 20-13.
Arizona State at California - 4:00 - FX - The Bears are 1-3 and are 70th or worse in both points for and points against. They keep Jeff Tedford (48-38 overall Pac-12 record, one league crown in ten years, tie in 2006) why again? Cal is consistently one of the most average teams in America. That said, if the numbers average out, then they are due for a win I suppose. Enter Arizona State. Speaking of not having made much nosie in a while, the SUn Devils sit at 3-1, losing just to Mizzou - and close - on the road. ASU appears to have the overall better team, balanced out with a ranking of 15th in defensive ppg, and 14th in offensive ppg. Arizona State, 39-31.
#4 Florida State at South Florida - 6:00 - ESPN - These teams have gone in opposite directions in recent years. USF was nationally ranked and had things going just a couple of years back, while FSU was rebuilding and nowhere near the top 25. Fast forward to 2012 and the Seminoles are back to challenging for a national title, while the Bulls have fallen off the radar. It could be a decent game if USF gets an early break or two, but I doubt that will happen. FSU's defense is just too strong for any shenanigans. Florida State, 37-10.
UCLA at Colorado - 6:00 - Pac-12 Network - After three ugly losses to get to 0-3, I wondered what the hell ever happened to the Buffaloes. But then they rose from the dead to beat Washington State on the road...UCLA had a hot start going under first-year coach Jim Mora, but a loss to Oregon State a week ago has temporarily derailed a huge surprise season and sees them at 3-1...I expect UCLA to get back on track in this one. Colorado obviously has major problems to lose to three teams they did (Colorado State, Fresno State, Sacramento State), and I expect Mora to expose those problems even more. UCLA, 38-17.
#6 South Carolina at Kentucky - 7:00 - ESPN2 - The Gamecocks need to be careful here. Though they are far superior to UK, they need not forget what happened in 2010, when a visit to Commonwealth Stadium wrecked what could have been a very big season. I don't think coach Steve Spurrier will let that happen again. He will count on his ferocious defensive front to continuously give the ball back to QB Connor Shaw and company. South Carolina wins easily in this one. South Carolina, 29-13.
#12 Texas at Oklahoma State - 7:50 - FOX - Longhorn sophomore QB David Ash is starting to prove that he is the man for the job. Many thought Case McCoy would be the one in the spotlight this fall, but Ash won the starting role in fall practice and is now starting to prove why. Against Ole Miss, he threw for 326 yards and four TD's. Most importantly, though, is that he has his team at 3-0. That unbeaten record will be seriously tested against OSU. The Cowboys are the defending league champs and are sure to come out firing. They took a loss at Arizona, but rank first in the nation in points score at 62+ a game. This should be a dandy. Oklahoma State, 44-39.
Wisconsin at #22 Nebraska - 8:00 - ABC - In the preseason, this was looking like a game that would have national implications. But both teams have lost, and now are fighting to get back into the national pictuere before thinking national title. Still, this is a big one, as two teams that wear the color proud come together with a lot of football season still to go. Running back Monte Ball of Wisconsin will be a game-time decision to play after suffering a second head injury last week against UTEP. He was brutal on the Huskers a year ago in Madison with four TD's...In this one, play or not, he won't be as much of a factor I wouldn't think. With home field, and against a Badger team I'm not feeling the 2012 love for yet, I will go with NU. Nebraska, 28-22.
Ole Miss at #1 Alabama - 9:15 - ESPN - The Rebels are not the only team in America that would see a night game against the rolling Tide - in Tuscaloosa - as a near impossible mission. No matter what the opposing coach had to say to fire up his guys, most every team out there, deep down inside, would feel a big ugly L was on the way....In this one, the expected will happen. Alabama will score early and often and cruise to a win behind the norm of a strong running game and a defense that sunlight would have a hard time getting through. Alabama, 48-13.
#18 Oregon State at Arizona - 10:00 - Pac-12 Network - Arizona got pounded last week at Oregon, 49-0. It will be interesting to see if the Wildcats can bounce back as a good Beaver squad rumbles into town. OSU has defeated two ranked teams, Wisconsin, and UCLA, after their first game was postponed. Arizona started hot but was brought harshly back down to reality against the Ducks...In this one, it is offense vs. defense as the Beavers rank 18th nationally in defensive points allowed (13.5 ppg), but are awful at O, ranking 113th (18.5 ppg). Arizona is more balanced at 39th best O (34.8 ppg) and 75th best D (26 ppg). Like always when I cannot decide, I choose the home team. Arizona, 37-34.
#2 Oregon at Washington State - 10:30 - ESPN2 - In a few years, this might be one heck of a game, but until Mike Leach can get his Cougars offense flying like he did at Texas Tech, the scoring in this one will be done by the Ducks. But Oregon has proven that they can do more than just move the ball, they can also put up a brick-wall defense. This one should have some excitement early on, but the men in green will pull away before the clock runs out. Oregon 48-24.
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