Week Two Predictions
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I got off to a good start in week one, posting a mark of 13-2. But a lot of other players also posted strong scores, nobody in the entire contest going worse than 9-6 for the week. The games of week two are here, and these are my predictions for what will go down...
#12 Florida (1-0) at Miami (1-0) - Noon - ESPN - Both of these teams had an appetizer in week one, and now they get the entree. In-state bragging rights are at stake as the Gators roll down to Miami to face a Hurricane team hungry to make a national impact for the first time in years. This on-again, off-again rivalry will come to an end after this game so both teams want to get the last smack in....Stephen Morris, Miami's sophomore quarterback, and Jeff Driskel, Florida's junior quarterback, will be the keys to the game. The guy who can protect the ball and lead a few scoring drives will win. I see the teams fairly even as The Swamp will not be a factor here, so quarterback play is usually the difference in games like this...So who do I pick? Well, that's the tough part. Miami is way past due for a huge win. Florida, meanwhile, is more experienced in big-time games. My heart wants me to go with my ACC brethren, but my brain says to pick the Gators. Florida, 27-24.
South Florida (0-1) at Michigan State (1-0) - Noon - ESPNU - The Bulls took one on the snout last weekend against McNeese State, 53-21. How in the world has a program come down as far and as fast as USF? The Spartans beat Western Michigan by 13 points, which is not impressive, but compared to the Bulls' total embarassment, it looks like they won the Super Bowl...In this one, it is a no-brainer to go with the home team. Michigan State is perennially a Top 25 program, while USF has become the laughing stock of the state of Florida. Easy picks will not be around much longer this season, but here is one for now! Michigan State, 40-10.
#2 Oregon (1-0) at Virginia (1-0) - 3:30 - ABC regional - In week one, the Cavaliers took down BYU in beautiful, historic Scott Stadium on their campus in Charlottesville. Can they beat another team from out West in the same stadium seven days later? Probably not. Enter the Ducks of Oregon, ranked #2 in the nation and with possibly the most potent offense in the game. They will give UVA all they want and then three times more in a very intriguing matchup, but one that will go the Ducks' way with ease. Virginia is not one of the top teams in the ACC, and this one could get ugly if they don't show up and play their best ever game. Last week, QB David Watford accounted for just 124 total yards for the Cavaliers. That kind of offensive performance won't get you through the first half against Marcus Mariota and company. Oregon, 47-20.
#6 South Carolina (1-0) at #11 Georgia (0-1) - 4:30 - ESPN - As a rival of both of these schools, this is the game each year where I cannot win. Yes, one of these two teams will win a big game Saturday, it is a total fact. But then again, one of these two teams will lose a big game Saturday. Ah, after years of being negative, I now finally see there is good in this matchup, after all!...The Gamecocks bring a 3-0 record against Georgia over the last three years into Athens in two days. With Coach Steve Spurrier's dual-threat QB combination, a running game that was very impressive in game one, and a defense that has NFL guys in several positions, it is hard not to pick South Carolina. But Georgia has an offense that is dangerous, as well, and they have their usual early season loss out of the way now. I think the Dawgs' Aaron Murray matches wits with Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson throughout the day, and running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall rack up yards to counter those of the Gamecocks' Mike Davis and Kenny Wilds...This is a huge contest that plays an enormous role in the SEC East race. It is nearly impossible to pick because both teams are very good and I have an emotional factor in my pick, with both being rivals. I think it is a back-and-forth game, filled with big plays, and in the end, one big play will go the way of the home squad. Georgia, 27-25.
Syracuse (0-1) at #19 Northwestern (1-0) - 6:00 - Big Ten Network - The Orange started play as members of the ACC by losing to Penn State in a neutral site OOC game. Way to pick up the conference flag and run with it, Syracuse. Now, they look to start off 0-2 in OOC games representing their new league as they face a good Northwestern team on the road. I have a feeling that an 0-2 overall and non-conference record is just two days from being a reality. I am not trying to be hard on Syracuse - I like the Orange just fine. All I know is that the ACC does not need another team losing all of its OOC games, and in this one, I think Northwestern delivers the league another blow. The Wildcats just stomped Cal on the Road, 44-30, and now return home to a more comfortable environment. I think they outclass the 'Cuse across the field en route to an easy win. Northwestern, 36-20.
West Virginia (1-0) at #16 Oklahoma (1-0) - 7:00 - FOX - Last year OU won a thriller in Morgantown, 50-49, with quarterbacks Geno Smith and Landry Jones putting on a show. Smith threw for four TDS, but Jones upped him by throwing for six TDs and 554 yards. It was Jones who had the game-winner with under 30 seconds to play...Fast forward a year, and both teams are breaking in new quarterbacks. WVU is going with junior Paul Millard, who went 19 for 25 and 235 yards against William and Mary, not throwing an INT. The Mountaineers won by just one score over the FCS school. Oklahoma pitched a 34-0 shutout against Louisiana-Monroe, led by freshman Trevor Knight. Knight threw threee Tds in game one, but also threw a pick...In this one, WVU seems to be rebuilding more so than the Sooners. With home-field advantage behind them, I am going with Oklahoma in this one. Oklahoma, 36-21.
#15 Texas (1-0) at BYU (0-1) - 7:00 - ESPN2 - A week ago, BYU hit the road to Virginia and lost to the Cavaliers by a FG. They return home to face a Texas team that is playing with its back to the wall (despite being undefeated) as Coach Mack Brown is hearing louder and louder grumbings with each passing mediocre season. Can the Cougars bounce back at home and beat a team superior to them in talent? Or will UT come in, assert its physical dominance, and make quick work of the less talented home team?...My guess is that Texas takes care of business. Early on I will be nervous as BYU scores a time or two. But after a long 60 minutes, I see Texas on top. If the 'Horns lose this one, and eliminate themselves from the national title race in week two, Coach Brown might not want to go back to Austin without personal security....Texas, 41-27.
#14 Notre Dame (1-0) at #17 Michigan (1-0) - 8:00 - ESPN - Ever since the BCS Title Game where ND was steamrolled by Alabama, my opinion of Brian Kelly's squad has fallen like a rock. The Irish looked completely overmatched in every facet of the game that night. Meanwhile, Michigan played perhaps the most exciting bowl game of the year against a very good South Carolina team. Everyone knows about the famous Clowney hit from that game, and that the Gamecocks won on a last second pass, but what is overlooked is that the Wolverines played toe-to-toe with one of the SEC's best teams for 60 minutes, and were a sack away from winning...So with that said, and with Michigan at home, I am going with the Wolverines. They beat Central Michigan by 50 points last weekend, so regardless of opponent, I know some firepower exists. The defense is yet to be tested that much, but in huge home night games like this, defenses seem to step things up a notch...Michigan, 33-26.
Washington State (0-1) at #25 USC (1-0) - 10:30 - FOX Sports 1 - Fresh off of a successsful trip to the Islands and a win over Hawaii, the Trojans are back in LA and ready to host Washington State. The Cougars lost a close game with Auburn down South, and face their second long road trip in seven days. That alone is enough reason for me to lean towards the home team who is surely better rested (right?)....A big story is that USC senior running back Silas Redd will return. Redd is recovering from a knee injury but should be back in the lineup and ready for action. Another storyline is Washington State QB Connor Halliday, who threw it 65 times last week at Auburn. He completed 35 of those passes, one for a TD, but he threw three INTs. If USC gets in his grill, he will probably throw a few more. USC, 37-27.
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