Week Six Predictions
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I am scratching and clawing my way back up the ladder. I went 13-2 a week ago, which is definitely a step in the right direction. This week, with a plethora of great games, I will look to climb a few more spots. Here are my picks for the games of week six:
*all times EST, all rankings AP
#24 Northwestern at Penn State - 12:00 - ESPN - Nittany Lion senior QB Matt McGloin has already beat Northwestern twice, and he played well both times in doing it (six TD's, no interceptions combined). So he is comfortable in this game, and comfort for a QB is huge. On top of that, PSU played their best game all season a week ago, beating Illinois 35-7 on the road. Northwestern is 5-0, but they have done this several times before, then fizzling out once the schedule gets tough. In this one, I am going to pick the home squad to knock the Wildcats from the top 25, and for McGloin to get a third straight win over Northwestern. Penn State, 28-14.
Arkansas at Auburn - 12:00 - ESPN2 - What in the world is going on at Arkansas? Anyone have a guess? I will give you one clue: John L. Smith. Besides announcing he was bankrupt a couple weeks back, the Razorback head coach has been the center of a couple of the weirdest pressers I have seen in my life this season ("just smile"). But the biggest problem Smith has is that his team has fallen apart on him and has zero chemistry. I expect Auburn to take out some season frustrations on Arkansas, going up early and scoring often. The Razorbacks have no leadership, and in a game in a tough road situation, you need leadership. Auburn, 36-10.
Virginia Tech at North Carolina - 12:30 - ESPN3.com - In UNC's three wins (Elon, East Carolina and Idaho), they won by a combined score of 155-6. In their two losses, they lost by one-point (Wake Forest) and six points (Louisville). What I am geting at is that Larry Fedora's first team at UNC is not far from being undefeated, and that when they do win, they win big. As for VT, they just don't give me an exciting feeling this year. They opened up with a performance against GT that made me think they would have a big year. But a half-ass showing against Pittsburgh and a close loss to Cincinnati make me think something is missing. Beamer's boys could turn things around, but I think Fedora gets his first big win with a victory Saturday in Kenan Stadium. North Carolina, 31-27.
Arizona at #18 Stanford - 3:00 - FOX - Both of these teams are coming of of losses (two straight for Arizona), so it will be interesting to see which team is able to get up off the ground and play football. My guess is that the team to do that will be Stanford. A home crowd is always good to get you back on track after a tough road loss (at Washington). The Cardinal feature one of the nation's top defenses, giving up just 15.3 ppg. Arizona has an improving offense, but I think Stanford's defense and running game will be the key to their victory. Stanford, 37-27.
#17 Oklahoma at Texas Tech - 3:30 - ESPN2 - Here is my upset of the week. TTU is eleventh in defense (10.8 ppg) and fifth in offense (43.8 ppg) and they aren't ranked in the AP poll. They are 4-0 and are at home in a big game. All the little things point to TTU pulling an upset over OU in this one, including that Oklahoma has lost in their last three visits to Lubbock. As always, the Sooners were ranked very high in the preseason. But after already losing once (Kansas State), Oklahoma will have to play an extremely solid game Saturday or they will suffer loss number two. Following this game, the then 5-0 Red Raiders will crack the polls. Texas Tech, 39-33.
#4 LSU at #10 Florida - 3:30 - CBS - The Tigers and Gators rank ninth and tenth, respectively, in defense so far in 2012. So one would expect a defensive struggle Saturday afternoon from Gainesville, right? I wouldn't be so sure. LSU is averaging 39 points scored, while Florida is averaging 31. I would expect some fireworks to break out. Will Muschamp needs a huge win like this to solidify where he is going with this program. He has two nice road wins (Texas A&M and Tennessee), now he gets a nice home win. Florida, 33-26.
Georgia Tech at #15 Clemson - 3:30 - ABC Regional - Every Tiger fan knows that GT is the nemesis. I could get into the stats of the wins and losses over the last 20 years, but that would take a ton of actual research and effort. Just know this: GT and Clemson always battle close....This year, the records and rankings go in Clemson's favor, but will it matter come kickoff? Probably not. GT once again features a tricky running game under Paul Johnson, and once again I expect it to give Clemson fits. With the Tigers already struggling with stopping the run, it would not surprise me to see the Jackets score 30 points, maybe more. So I think CU - at home - will need to score 31...or more. Can they do it? Yes. And they will. Clemson, 40-30.
Washington State at #14 Oregon State - 6:00 - Pac-12 Network - Mike Leach is going through some growing pains in his first season as Wazzu head man. And while I still think he will do some good things there, it may be year two or three before that happens. On the flip-side, Beaver coach Mike Riley has been there twelve up and down seasons (two stints). This year looks to be one of those up years. The Beavers have already beaten then #13 Wisconsin and then #19 UCLA. Now they get a Cougar team that is 97th nationally in points against (32.8 ppg). I am going with the home team. Oregon State, 35-21.
#8 West Virginia at #11 Texas - 7:00 - FOX - I have been thinking all week about how WVU fans must be so excited their heads are spinning. They are unbeaten, ranked in the top 10, in a new league, and traveling to one of the biggest names in college football for a showdown. Yes, the 'Neer die-hards are taking their beards and overalls to Texas to mix it up with dudes in chaps and cowboy hats. This should be a dandy!...But who to pick? How do I not go with West Virginia, who has scored 53 points per game this season? That should make it easy. But, then again, how do I pick against Texas, at home, when Mack brown seems to have his team rolling towards another BCS championship appearance?...After much head scratching and much staring at the ceiling, I will choose the visitors to outscore the home guys. West Virginia, 55-45.
#5 Georgia at #6 South Carolina - 7:00 - ESPN - This is the biggie this weekend, the must-see game. Georgia. South Carolina. The Border War (as it is now being labeled)...Columbia, SC will be the scene of ESPN's College Gameday morning special, and all of the hoopla and shenaningans that come with that. The most highly-anticipated game in years for South Carolina will see their Gamecocks tangle with a UGA squad that is loaded with talent, including freshman running back Todd Gurley, who is on a mission to join the all-time great Bulldog backs. Gurley has sparked UGA on offense, as the Dawgs rank eighth in points for at 48.2 ppg. They will need all of that and then some, as South Carolina's defense is one of the nation's best, ranking sixth in points against at 11.2 ppg....This is one of those games that is almost too hard to pick. Both teams will be sky-high, and I feel they are evenly matched. If I have to make a choice (and it appears that I do), then I will go with the home team. The support of the crowd in a game of this magnitude cannot be overstated. With the running of Marcus Lattimore, and the newfound, brickwall Gamecock defense, I will pick South Carolina to defend Willy-Brice. South Carolina, 30-24.
Miami at #9 Notre Dame - 7:30 - NBC - This game has a ton of history to hype it up, but really, the players in this game weren't even born yet when the 80's showdowns of "The Catholics vs. The Convicts" were grabbing the sports world's attention. Still, it is fun I suppose to build it up and relive those old moments....If ND plays their game, they win this one by two touchdowns. Nothing against Miami, but they are in hostile territory and playing against a team that is better. ND is probably not quite ready to be a challenger for a national title this season, but I do think they are good enough to fend off an average (but improving) Hurricane team on their home field. Notre Dame, 36-21.
#21 Nebraska at #12 Ohio State - 8:00 - ABC - Wow. I might have to give this game a little more thought and come back to it. What a tough one to pick! OSU, under first-year Head Coach Urban Meyer, is probably the most-improved team in America. His squad is led by QB Braxton Miller, who has rushed for seven TD's and passed for eight. If Miller plays well, a ton of pressure will be on his counterpart: Nebraska's Taylor Martinez. Martinez has a lot of talent, but can be up and down. A solid game by him is a must if Nebraska goes into the Horseshoe and gets a league road win. Again, this is a tough pick, but I think Meyer's team is disciplined enough to hold onto the ball and move the chains. This will be a classic. Ohio State, 29-23.
#3 Florida State at NC State - 8:00 - ESPN2 - This could be a season-wrecker for FSU if they are not careful. While NCSU has been a disappointment under Tom O'Brien, the 'Pack are still decent enough, and will have a rowdy home crowd of support on their side in Carter-Finley Stadium. If they turn the ball over early, they could find themselves in a tight spot...That said, if they do find themselves down early, they could explode for 35-straight like the did against my squad two weeks ago. I have this feeling that this could be the upset special of the week as NCSU has played FSU tough - especially at home - over the years. But I think FSU is just too strong, and no matter what happens early, the 'Noles come back and win. Florida State, 38-26.
#25 UCLA at Cal - 10:00 - Pac-12 Network - Here is a game that seems like it would just be so very easy to pick. UCLA is 4-1 and playing with excitement with a rookie coach, Jim Mora. On the flip side, Cal is 1-4 and is stagnant in year eleven with Jeff Tedford. But just when you think you have the Pac-12 or college football all figured out, it jumps up and bites you...That said, I will still pick the favorite, the 4-1 Bruins. Senior Jonathon Franklin at running back and freshman Brett Hundley at quarterback are a very productive combo. You never know what Cal will do, but I think UCLA is really starting to get things together. UCLA, 34-20.
#23 Washington at #2 Oregon - 10:30 - ESPN - Whenever the opposing, losing coach says things like "we are better equipped to deal with that this time around," it makes me think whatever happened before is about to happen again. In this case, I am referring to Husky Head Coach Steve Sarkisian, whose first team lost 34-17 to the Ducks a year ago in Seattle. This time, in rowdy Autzen Stadium, I see Oregon winning big, like the 53-16 score they rolled up the last time they played here in 2010....I watched Washington's game against Stanford, and they do have some good players (and some damned fine road uniforms, even in black). But Oregon's defense is improved and the offense is potent as always. Oregon, 44-19.
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