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October 1, 2011

College Football Report - Saturday Picks - Week 5

#14 Texas A&M (2-1) Vs. #18 Arkansas (3-1)


12:00 ET ESPN, Sat. Oct. 1, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX

The Aggies will take center stage for the second week in a row, this time at Jerry Jones Cowboys Stadium, no bigger stage in Texas. Both teams are heading off what could have been season defining wins, as both are now looking to bounce back. The Razorbacks potent offense was shut down by the Tide last week, but will need to be working on full cylinders once again to hang with the Aggies. Three turnovers for A&M in the second half were as much to blame as anything last week, but that’s not typical of this group of players. The Aggies have one of the more balanced teams in the country and will come back fighting against their future conference opponent. Pick: Texas A&M 45 – Arkansas 31

(Game of the week…)

#8 Nebraska (4-0) @ #7 Wisconsin (4-0)


8:00 PM ET, ABC, Sat. Oct. 1, Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI

At first, I thought Nebraska would roll through the Big Ten with ease on their way to their first conference championship in as many years in their new league. I’ve since witnessed the play of the Badgers led by former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson. Wisconsin has continued to pound the ball on the ground with their badgering (see what I did there) offensive line and skillful running backs Montee Ball and James White. Now they’ve added a passing attack to an offense that averages just over 530 yards a game. The Huskers have played up to par this season, steamrolling early opponents. This one could come down to whichever team has more men standing at the end, though. My guess is the home field of Camp Randall will be too much to deal with for Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez. Pick: Wisconsin 29 – Nebraska 23

Michigan State (3-1) @ Ohio State (3-1)


3:30 PM ET, ABC/ESPN, Sat. Oct. 1, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH

Who would have thought two of the Big Ten favorites wouldn’t carry a ranking in this meeting. The Buckeyes have been a team without an identity so far this season, although one is begging to emerge with freshman Braxton Miller now thrust into the starting quarterback role. The Spartans regained their confidence last week against Central Michigan, but will need to bring more intensity throughout this one. They’ve dropped seven straight to the Bucks by an average of 18 points an outing. Luckily for the Spartans, the Buckeyes are without three of its best another week, leaving the offense in a state of puzzlement yet again. Pick: Michigan State 20 – Ohio State 17

(Give me a ticket to see…)

#13 Clemson (4-0) @ #11 Virginia Tech (4-0)


7:30 PM ET, ESPN, Sat. Sept. 17, Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA

There’s no arguing which sideline holds the momentum in this matchup. The Tigers knocked off the defending National Champion Auburn Tigers, only to turn around last week and beat ACC favorite Florida State at home. There aren’t many teams hotter than Clemson right now, with a big reason for that being the play of quarterback Tajh Boyd. The sophomore has accounted for 15 touchdowns on the season, with just one interception. The Hokies have done just enough to get past a modest early schedule. Running back David Wilson ranks sixth in the nation in rushing with 516 yards. The key for Clemson will be to make quarterback Logan Thomas beat them with his arm, as he’s struggled out of the gates. In the end, though, the home field advantage of Lane Stadium at night will be too big of an atmosphere for the Tigers young team to play over. Pick: Virginia Tech 24– Clemson 18

(Upset pick…)

Northwestern (2-1) @ #24 Illinois (4-0)


12:00 PM ET, ESPN2, Sat. Oct. 1, Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL

Where did this Illinois team come from? The Illini have snuck into the back end of the rankings with close wins over ranked Arizona State and a tight battle against Western Michigan last week. Led by a stingy defense that has allowed just five touchdowns in four games, the Illini are 4-0 for the first time in 60 years. This week, they’ll have to deal with the return of Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa, back for the first time since rupturing his Achilles last season. The Wildcats dropped their game last week at Army, but Persa brings a different set of abilities to the table that not many in the Big Ten can match. He’ll be just enough for the Wildcats to end the momentum of the Illini. Pick: Northwestern 27 – Illinois 17

#3 Alabama (4-0) @ #12 Florida (4-0)


8:00 PM ET, CBS, Sat. Oct. 1, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL

Things are never dull when these two get together. The Tide have taken the last two by an average of 22 points a game. This one should be as much about Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis scheming against ‘Bama head man Nick Saban’s dominating defense. The Tide bring the second ranked unit in total defense in the country, holding opponents to 184 yards a game. Florida on the other hand, has averaged 40 points an outing. Although the Gators are playing good defense too, there aren’t any better than the Tide. If they shut down Florida all-purpose back Chris Rainey, the Tide should be able to put up just enough points on the road. Pick: Alabama 26 – Florida 21

#15 Baylor (3-0) @ Kansas State (4-0)


3:30 PM ET, ABC/ESPN, Sat. Oct. 1, Bill Snyder Stadium, Manhattan, KS

Led by quarterback Robert Griffin III, this isn’t your grandpa’s Baylor. RG3, as Griffin’s referred to around Waco, has thrown more touchdowns this season – 13 – than interceptions – 12. He’s yet to throw an interception and has also rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown. He’ll have his toughest test yet, however, up against a K-State defensive unit which ranks sixth nationally in total defense. The Wildcats are coming off of a road win at Miami Fla. and led by a playmaking quarterback of their own in junior Collin Klein. If Baylor’s defense can contain Klein and make him beat them with his arm, there’s no way they’ll keep up with Griffin and company. Pick: Baylor 41 – Kansas State 27

Minnesota (1-3) @ Michigan (4-0)


12:00 PM ET, BTN, Sat. Oct. 1, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI

At this point, the offense installed by the Wolverines is about as pro style as it can get with Denard Robinson at the helm. Big Blue continues to run what appears to be spread formations, with Robinson rushing nearly 20 times a game. So far it’s worked, again. But for how long, again? Minnesota started the season with a tough bout against USC, only to follow with losses to New Mexico State and FCS North Dakota State. Quarterback Marquise Gray is a special talent in the open field, but an injury may sideline him again this week. The Little Brown Jug appears safe in the Wolverines possession. Pick: Michigan 30 – Minnesota 14

#17 Texas (3-0) @ Iowa State (3-0)


7:00 PM ET, FX, Sat. Oct. 1, Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA

Payback part two for the Longhorns. Last season UCLA rolled into Texas Memorial Stadium and walked away with a 34-12 win. The Cyclones did the same in October, coming away with a 28-21 win over the Longhorns. This year, Texas paid UCLA back with a 49-20 stomping on the road. They’ll be looking to do the same to Iowa State, as Mack Brown just doesn’t lose to inferior opponents two years running. To do so, the Longhorns will need to have quarterback Case McCoy on point with his group of playmaking wideouts. Iowa State will be pumped to host the Longhorns though, and brings an intimidating defense to the table. Mack Brown is the difference in the end, however. Pick: Texas 28 – Iowa State 23

Washington (3-1) @ Utah (2-1)


7:00 PM ET, Sat. Oct. 1, Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT

The Utes really don’t want to start their first season in a BCS conference with an 0-2 conference record. The defense has clearly been the strong point once again for the Utes, with the offense playing second fiddle led by quarterback Jordan Wynn. Washington has played a tough early schedule, with newcomer quarterback Keith Price playing as good as any quarterback in the PAC-12. Averaging just over 34 points a game, the Huskies won’t be an easy team to slow down. Steve Sarkisian’s team is also one of the more physical of the conference, as shown in a battle against Nebraska on the road. If the Utes hesitate at all to put points up, they’ll be left 0-2 in their new home. Pick: Washington 30 – Utah 22

Last Week: 6-2 – Overall: 24-12– Upset Pick: 3-1

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