Week Three Predictions
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The latest "Game of the Century" is among us as Alabama makes the roughly ten-hour drive from Tuscaloosa to College Station seeking revenge from their only loss a year ago. But let's not get hung up on #1 at #6, there are several other good games this Saturday, as well!
Here are my picks for the games of week three...
#16 UCLA (1-0) at #23 Nebraska (2-0) - 12:00 - ABC - The Husker nation is well represented on Fans25, this we know. So it is a bit tough to pick against NU, especially at home, and then post it in the forum for my Husker friends to read. But in this one, I have to go with the Bruins. I really like the direction they headed last season under Jim Mora, and I think sophomore QB Brett Hundley can play ball. He went for 274 yards and two TDs in the opener against Nevada without throwing a pick. Of course Nebraska's defense - in a packed Memorial Stadium - will be tougher than that of the Wolfpack, but I still think he gets it done...Again, I don't like picking these impossibly tough games, but I get a more exciting feeling about Mora and Hundley than I do about Bo Pelini and Taylor Martinez. A rowdy scene and a breakout performance by Martinez could prove me wrong, but I am taking my chances on the visitors. UCLA, 37-31.
#1 Alabama (1-0) at #6 Texas A&M (2-0) - 3:30 - CBS - If you haven't been force-fed Johnny Manziel all week long, and you are actually still wanting to watch this game by the time it gets here, then here is what I think may happen (maybe not, who knows). I think Manziel is a very good player, depsite the fact he annoys me to no end. He can play. But he cannot do the magical things he does forever, and he proabably cannot do them with an Alabama defensive end in his face all day. The Tide will be extra motivated in this game, and we know Saban's teams are disciplined. The A&M crowd will put on a display for the ages pregame, and the home team will come out fired up, but I think Bama is better overall and Saban will have them as focused as they have ever been. Yea, Manziel will make three or four plays that make the crowd and announcers oooh and aaaah, but I think the Tide will get going behind an offensive line that has been catching hell for two weeks. Alabama, 30-24.
Tennessee (2-0) at #2 Oregon (2-0) - 3:30 - ABC - This is an interesting home-and-home, with the first meeting in Neyland Stadium three seasons ago. The Ducks took that one 48-13, symbolic of the different levels of success of these two programs over the last five years or so. Oregon has consistently appeared in the national top five, while the Vols have been in and out of the top 25...In this one, I think the Ducks have too much firepower for Tennessee. I would think that the guys in orange have a little bit better defense than most in the Pac-12, but I don't see it slowing the quack attack down a whole lot. I think UT gets a score or two early, but Oregon wins this one going away. Oregon, 40-20.
Iowa (1-1) at Iowa State (0-1) - 6:00 - FOX Sports 1 - Two losses in three combined games for these two teams just adds fuel to the fire of this rivalry. Who is worse? Don't want to be that team! Iowa junior running back Mark Weisman appears to be the key in this game. He is a big back at 6'1" and nearly 240 pounds and will get the ball plenty. It will be up to Iowa State to stop him. I don't know much about the Cyclones, but I hear they have an experienced secondary. Iowa sophomore QB Jake Ruddock is very inexperienced and has thrown three INTs in just two career college games. The Cyclones know Iowa is going to try to run the ball first, pass if they simply have to. The game of chess there will be the basis of this game. I am going to pick Iowa if for nothing else than Iowa State has never shown me a thing. Iowa, 24-17.
#19 Washington (1-0) at Illinois (2-0) - 6:00 - Big Ten Network - The Huskies are one of the up and up teams of 2013 after an opening day dismantling of Boise State. With a newly renovated Husky Stadium and perhaps the top uniform colors in the game, UW has it goin on right now! Can they keep it going on the road at Illinois? It will be a tough task. Illinois features Nathan Scheelhaase who has started for four seasons now and has thrown six TDs through two games. QBs with that much experience are tough to beat at home. Washington's QB is also a senior, Keith Price. He started all of the last two seasons and had a very impressive game against Boise State...This game is tough to pick, but I am going to go with Illinois. Home-field advantage might be what decided this pick, and I hope it is what decides the game. Illinois 36-29.
Mississippi State (1-1) at Auburn (2-0) - 7:00 - ESPN2 - Gus Malzahn has passed his first couple of tests as Auburn's new head man. The first was Washington State, the second was Arkansas State. Next up, though, is a test against an SEC foe, Mississippi State. And while the Bulldogs aren't a top-tier SEC West team, they still have very good players and a pretty good gameplan. At home in this contest, Malzahn needs to take the next step with an SEC win....I was expecting big things under Dan Mullen, but three years in and Mississippi State seems to be the same old MSU. In this one, I think Auburn has more exciting things going on than the Bulldogs, and the athletes are there to control the game. Auburn has not had time yet to fine-tune the Malzahn spread offense, but I still think they are good enough to beat MSU at home. Auburn, 27-20.
#4 Ohio State (2-0) at California (1-1) - 7:00 - FOX - I have never been able to figure out why Cal isn't good at football. Here sits a major state university in the middle of California - a recruiting candy store - with super cool uniforms and a bear for a mascot (a Golden Bear at that). If that isn't the formula for success, then I don't know what is. And yet, they are medicore...time and time again. 2013 appears to be no different as they have already lost a home game (44-30 to Northwestern) amd squeeked by a pasty (Portland State, 37-30). It looks like the Bears might start the season with two quick losses as a more talented and better-coached Ohio State team rolls in. Buckeye QB Braxton Miller was banged up last week, but he is expected to play. Regardless of whether Miller plays or backup Kenny Guiton plays, OSU is the better team. As long as Cal doesn't take some kind of wonder drug pregame, the Buckeyes should get the road win. Ohio State, 38-27.
Vanderbilt (1-1) at #13 South Carolina (1-1) - 7:00 - ESPN - In my "Ten Things" article from Tuesday, I wrote about not giving up on a talented Gamecock team. I still believe they are top ten worthy despite the Georgia loss. But the Gamecocks better be careful because Vanderbilt is looking to get their season back on track after a heartbreaking, last-second loss to Ole Miss. The Commodores know how to play ball under James Franklin and they will give USC all they want for 60 minutes. I look for the home guys to win this game, but it is a scary pick. The big names for South Carolina - Jadeaveon Clowney, Connor Shaw, Dylan Thmpson, Mike Davis - will need to play as well as they can, because Vandy is a true SEC team now, not just a team with that patch on their jersey. South Carolina, 28-24.
#25 Ole Miss (2-0) at Texas (1-1) - 8:00 - Longhorn Network - If ever there was a good time for the Rebels to get a big-time OOC win against a big-name team, it is now. UT is a mess, plain and simple. Mack Brown may have 232 career wins and a national title (2005), but his current team is all over the place. Last week, he fired his defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz, after the 'Horns gave up 679 yards to BYU. Diaz is replaced by Greg Robinson, whose credentials are questionable in my opinion. Can Robinson get the unit straightend out in time for Ole Miss? I would think that would be tough. I see him putting in a plan that is extremely simple just so his players can go out there and play....In the end, it's hard not to pick Texas at home, but the day has come where I have lost faith in the 'Horns. Ole Miss, 35-24.
#20 Wisconsin (2-0) at Arizona State (1-0) - 10:30 - ESPN - Sadly, I admit I do not know all that much about the Arizona State Sun Devils. Why? Well, they are 3,000 miles away and haven't exactly set the world on fire the last however many years. But if they win Saturday, I will pay them more attention. Wisconsin is a team that I do know just a little bit about, and I know they are damned solid - like always. The Badgers travel out to Tempe, home of Sun Devil Stadium, for a very intriguing interregional game - a game where neither defense has given up a point yet this season. Second year Head Coach Todd Graham has his Sun Devils picked to win the division by some publications, something that hasn't happened around there in a while...Wisconsin is one of my favorite teams year in and year out. I like their style of play with a power running game and tough defense. But in this one, I think Graham will have his team ready for one of the biggest games in Sun Devil Stadium in years. College football is a lot about emotion, and I think ASU will have that edge Saturday night. Arizona State, 38-30.
* All times EST, all rankings AP
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