There's no place like Saturday...

September 17, 2011

College Football Report - Saturday Picks - Week 3

(Game of the week…)

#1 Oklahoma (2-0) @ #5 Florida State (2-0)


8:00 ET ABC, Sat. Sept. 17, Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL

There’s something about this game that makes me scratch my head. On the surface, it’s a top five matchup. Underneath the surface, however, not so much. There are reasons the Sooners carry the nation’s top ranking, most notably the leadership and talent on both sides of the ball. Florida State’s ranking feels a bit premature. The defense is stacked, with All-ACC defensive end Brandon Jenkins and cornerback Greg Reid leading the way. The offensive, though, is still unproven with a first year starting quarterback at the helm. It won’t be last year’s 47-17 rollover by the Sooners, but FSU is still a year off offensively. Pick: Oklahoma 30 – Florida State 16

#15 Michigan State (2-0) @ Notre Dame (0-2)


3:30 PM ET, NBC, Sat. Sept. 17, Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN

A move to the Big Ten Conference has to be looking more and more appealing every year for the Irish. Instead of a heavy early schedule, how’s an FCS game and Indiana sound to start the year? Better than 0-2? It has to sound better than 0-3, which is what’s on the table this weekend. Led by senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Spartans have an offense that can match anyone in the country. If Michigan’s receiving core can torch the Irish defense for 338 yards, B.J. Cunningham and the MSU wideouts should have a field day. I can’t imagine what kind of color Brian Kelly’s face will be when 0-3 sets in, but I have a feeling it won’t exactly be an appealing shade. Pick: Michigan State 35 – Notre Dame 24

(Upset pick…)

#17 Ohio State (2-0) @ Miami (Fla.) (0-1)


7:30 PM ET, ESPN, Sat. Sept. 17, Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL

Tagged the Ineligibowl, the Buckeyes and Canes have seven players between them suspended for their matchup. Unlike the Canes, however, the Buckeyes will still be without their biggest offensive weapons in wideout DeVier Posey and Dan Herron. The biggest change from the Hurricanes week one loss to the Terrapins will be the return of defensive starters Sean Spence (OLB), Marcus Forston (DT) and Adewale Ojomo (DE). The three bring a much needed boast to a defense loaded with young faces. Last week, the Buckeyes secondary gave up 145 receiving yards to Toledo’s speedy Eric Page, which nearly cost them the game. This week, they meet wideout Travis Benjamin, one of the fastest players in college football. Pick: Miami (Fla.) 31 – Ohio State 21

#21 Auburn (2-0) vs. Clemson (2-0)


12:00 PM ET, ABC, Sat. Sept. 17, Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC

One of these times, Auburn might actually go down in a tight game. The Tigers stockpile of nine wins decided by a touchdown or less in the last year all started against Clemson in overtime last season. A year later, the other Tigers have their chance for revenge. Neither team has impressed so far this year. Clemson struggled against Wofford last week, Auburn against Utah State week one. A lot of this game will depend on the play of Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, who has impressed, throwing for 525 yards and six scores through the first two games of the year. In the end, however, the Auburn coaching staff will be the difference maker once again. Pick: Auburn 24 – Clemson 18Ta

Washington (2-0) vs. #11 Nebraska (2-0)


3:30 PM ET, ESPN/ABC, Sat. Sept. 17, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE

It’s time to settle the score. Meeting for the third time in two years, the series between the two lies deadlocked. Nebraska laid a 56-21 beating on Washington week three of last season, only to receive a 19-7 physical loss in last year’s Holiday Bowl. Memorial Stadium painted red is no friendly place to play, especially with a healthy Taylor Martinez leading the way for the Huskers. Led by new starting quarterback Keith Price on offense and linebacker Cort Dennison on defense, the Huskies are looking for a statement win to further their progression under head coach Steve Sarkisian. In the end, though, it’ll be the home field advantage for the Huskers, where they lost just once last season. Pick: Nebraska 42 – Washington 27

(Give me a ticket to see…)

Tennessee (2-0) vs. #16 Florida (2-0)


3:30 PM ET, CBS, Sat. Sept. 17, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL

It’s not exactly the old Tennessee – Florida rivalry, but it’s still a fiery rivalry with huge SEC East ramifications on the line. Tennessee head coach Derrick Dooley is looking for his first big win over an SEC foe in his second season. On the other side, Florida head coach Will Muschamp will be looking for his first ever SEC win in his first year as the Gators head man. The difference maker for the Vols will be quarterback Tyler Bray, who is 6-1 as a starter. Bray missed out on the Gators last season, but the big armed sophomore will light up the UF secondary on his way to his sixth 300 yard passing game. Pick: Tennessee 27 – Florida 20

#18 West Virginia (2-0) vs. Maryland (1-0)


12:00 PM ET, ESPNU, Sat. Sept. 17, Byrd Stadium, College Park, MD

I have to admit, I’m a huge Dana Hulgorsen fan. The former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator and current Mountaineer head man is one of the best offensive minds in the game. Because of it, I expected big things out of quarterback Geno Smith this season and he hasn’t disappointed. The only thing that has plagued West Virginia so far are a pair of slow starts, one including being down at halftime to Norfolk State last week. Against quarterback Danny O’Brien and the Terp’s, however, another slow start isn’t going to cut it. Maryland first year head coach Randy Edsall builds a strong bond with the home faithful, getting his second win as a Terp in as many tries. Pick: Maryland 36 – West Virginia 31

#23 Texas (2-0) vs. UCLA (1-1)


3:30 PM ET, ABC/ESPN, Sat. Sept. 17, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA

It’s hard to say who needs a win in this one more: The Longhorns football program or UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel. Last season the Bruins won their third straight over the Longhorns, bringing in 264 yards on the ground. Since that meeting, it’s been nothing but chaos for both. A plethora of quarterbacks may see the field Saturday adding to the bedlam. For the Longhorns, sophomore Case McCoy gets his first start, replacing the mistake prone Garrett Gilbert. Freshman David Ash may also see the field. For UCLA, junior Richard Brehaut should start with fellow junior Kevin Prince filling in if needed. With both programs desperately needing a win, I have to side with the home team and better offense of UCLA. Pick: UCLA 17 – Texas 13

Central Michigan (1-1) vs. Western Michigan (1-1)


12:00 PM ET, ESPN GamePlan, Sat. Sept. 17, Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI

Few outside of the state of Michigan know the heated rivalry between the Chips and Broncos, but as far as small conference rivalries go, not many are better. History has been kind to the home team in the series, with the host taking 17 of 21 games. Last year’s game was no different with the Chippewa’s winning a 26-22 contest. This season, both teams offenses are equipped to hang with the conference’s best. The difference maker should be Broncos quarterback Alex Carder. The junior has yet to stretch the field in the first two games of the season, but last season passed for over 3,000 yards and 30 scores. With Waldo Stadium and a talented group of play makers behind them, the Broncos will take the win. Pick: Western Michigan 37 – Central Michigan 23

Last Week: 5-4 – Overall: 14-5– Upset Pick: 1-1

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