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October 14, 2011

College Football Report - Saturday Picks - Week 7

(Game of the week…)

#11 Michigan (6-0) Vs. #23 Michigan State (4-1)


12:00 ET ESPN, Sat. Oct. 15, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI

This year’s heated in-state rivalry comes with some added fuel to the fire. The winner of Saturday’s game will be the favorite to take the Legends division of the Big Ten. The Wolverines continue to put points on the board, led by spread option…oh, I mean pro-set quarterback Denard Robinson. The offense for Big Blue may seem nearly the same, but the defense is what’s got Wolverine fans believing this year may be finally different. In East Lansing, the Spartans bring the nation’s No. 1 ranked total defense, allowing just 173 yards a game. MSU already has last year’s game plan at slowing down Robinson, and will look to force him into more interceptions than his nine already this season. Big Blue will be looking up at “Little Brother” for the fourth straight year. Pick: Michigan State 28 – Michigan 24

#20 Baylor (4-1) @ Texas A&M (3-2)


12:00 PM ET, FX, Sat. Oct. 15, Kyle Field, College Station, TX

Not exactly what I saw coming for a Texas A&M team that returned all but two starters from last season’s team. The Aggies pulled in a nail biter against Texas Tech last week to save their sinking ship. Ranked dead last in the country in pass defense, the last three weeks the Aggies have faced three teams which rank within the top ten in passing offense. They’ll get a break this week against No. 14 ranked pass offense, Baylor. Quarterback Robert Griffin III continues to impress, bringing in his first 100 yard rushing game of the year last week. He’s also completed at least 73 percent of his passes in each game. Kyle Field will be his toughest test yet, however, but against a secondary that couldn’t find a football in a sporting goods store, he shouldn’t have a problem. The Bears take their first win at Kyle Field since 1984. Just add it to RG3's resume. Pick: Baylor 38 – Texas A&M 34

(Give me a ticket to see…)

#18 Arizona State (5-1) @ #9 Oregon (4-1)


10:15 PM ET, ESPN, Sat. Oct. 15, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR

This may not be the last time these two face off this season. The way both divisions of the new PAC-12 are heading right now, it may come down to an Oregon-Stanford meeting down the road to hold these two apart again. The Aztecs have pulled in three straight since losing to Illinois, while the Ducks have rolled off a week one loss to now No. 1 LSU. The arm of junior quarterback Brock Osweiler has been the biggest contributor to success for ASU. The Ducks have quite the quarterback of their own in Darron Thomas, who will get a lot of added work with the absence of Heisman candidate running back LaMichael James due to injury. Thomas, who has accounted for 17 touchdowns this season, will air it out, while runners De’Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner fill the void of James. The first meeting goes to the Ducks. Pick: Oregon 46 – Arizona State 28

Florida (4-2) @ #24 Auburn (4-2)


7:00 PM ET, ESPN, Sat. Oct. 15, Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL

Two weeks ago, this one could have had the looks of a far more appealing matchup. The Gators head to Auburn with their tails between their legs after being outscored 79-21 in back-to-back games against No. 3 Alabama and No. 1 LSU. Gators freshman quarterback Jacoby Brissett will get his second straight start, this time on the road. The Tigers were embarrassed at Arkansas last week, where three different quarterbacks attempted a pass. With inconsistency and youth at quarterback on both sides, this one is coming down to whichever team can get their running back moving north-south faster. Smart money is on Auburn sophomore Michael Dyer, whose 679 yards rushing rank him ninth in the country. Pick: Auburn 26 – Florida 21

#6 Oklahoma State (5-0) @ #22 Texas (4-1)


3:30 PM ET, ABC/ESPN, Sat. Oct. 15, Royal- Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX

Which Texas team is the real one? Was last week’s 55-17 loss to Oklahoma a fluke? Or was it their 4-0 start that was a fluke? Maybe that Oklahoma offense was just too good and the Longhorns just couldn’t keep up, no way, no how. But if that is the case, what happens this week against an OK State team which ranks No. 2 in the nation in total offense; No. 1 in scoring offense – 51 points a game? No worries though, the Longhorns have never lost the following week of the Red River Rivalry under Mack Brown. They’re 13-0. Last year it was No. 5 Nebraska who fell at home. However, it’s time to go cliché. Records were made to be broken. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell these Longhorns will keep up with the Cowboys attack. Pick: Oklahoma State 45 – Texas 27

(Upset pick…)

19 Virginia Tech (5-1) @ Wake Forest (4-1)


6:30 PM ET, ESPN3, Sat. Oct. 15, Groves Stadium, Winston-Salem, NC

The Hokies and Demon Deacons face off with a realistic chance of meeting once again in the ACC Championship later this season. Wait, wait, wait. Did I just type what I think I typed? Why, yes I did. Wake knocked off preseason conference favorite Florida State last week, on their way to a four game winning streak and 3-0 ACC start. Sophomore quarterback Tanner Price has been the difference maker for the offense, turning the ball over just twice all season. The Hokies walk away from a draining home game against Miami Fla. last week, narrowly escaping with the win. Despite a good game last week, Wake needs to make Tech quarterback Logan Thomas prove he can beat them with his arm. Either way, I’m riding the hot hand of the Demon Deacons in another close one. As Dickie V would say in this situation: It’s pandemonium in Carolina baby! Pick: Wake Forest 27 – Virginia Tech 24

(Double upset pick…)

#17 Kansas State (5-0) @ Texas Tech (4-1)


7:00 PM ET, Sat. Oct. 15, Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX

How long can the Wildcat’s streak of close calls and upsets continue? According to me, three times a charm is all these ‘Cats are getting. Wins over Miami Fla., Baylor and Missouri have been impressive, but hanging with the high powered offense of the Red Raiders in Lubbock is another story. Led by junior quarterback Seth Doege – 17 touchdowns, one interception – the Red Raiders have scored 45 or more points in all but one game so far this season. Lubbock hasn’t exactly been KSU’s best friend either, as they haven’t won there since 1997. There’s only so much a talented K-State defense can do to keep their offense in games. If it comes down to a Texas shoot out between the quarterbacks. Collin Klein will show his first flaws of the season. Pick: Texas Tech 43 – Kansas State 30

Utah (2-3) @ Pittsburgh (3-3)


12:00 PM ET, ESPN U, Sat. Oct. 15, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA

Not exactly the way either wanted to start off the 2011 season of new beginning and change. For Pittsburgh, it’s the start of a new era of Pitt football led by new head coach Todd Graham and his offensive mind. So far, not good. For Utah, it’s been the start of BCS title game eligibility with their move to the PAC-12. They’re first year of BCS conference football has begun with an 0-3 start, losing by an average of 16 points. Now, both are looking for a clean slate against a none conference foe. Pitt’s struggles, as well as the Utes, have come from the quarterback position. Pitt running back Ray Graham ranks first in the country with 899 yards, but is questionable for game time. With the pressure on quarterback Tino Sunseri and Graham fighting through injury, the Panthers pull off a close one. Pick: Pittsburgh 21 – Utah 17

Last Week: 3-3 – Overall: 33-19– Upset Pick: 3-3

October 8, 2011

College Football Report - Saturday Picks - Week 6

(Game of the week…)

#3 Oklahoma (4-0) Vs. #11 Texas (4-0)


12:00 ET, ABC, Sat. Oct. 8, Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX

The Red River Rivalry has long been one of college football’s best rivalry games. This season, add in an outright conference title and undefeated record on both sides, and you’ve got one of the best games to begin the 2011 season. The Longhorns have been riding the young arms of quarterbacks David Ash and Case McCoy, both of which went 7-for-12 in a win over Iowa State last week. For the Sooners, it’s the same ole story. Quarterback Landry Jones continues to be one of college football’s best, while the defense has held opponents to just seven touchdowns in four games. While Texas looks to be light years away from its 2010 debacle, this matchup is still heavily weighted towards the Sooners veteran team. Pick: Oklahoma 35 – Texas 20

#17 Florida (4-1) @ #1 LSU (5-0)


3:30 PM ET, CBS, Sat. Oct. 8, Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA

A week after welcoming the nation’s third ranked total defense to the swamp, Florida now travels to one of the more hostile college stadiums to take on the No. 9 ranked defense. There is hope, however, as the Gators matchup better against a speed oriented LSU team and bring a top ranked defense of their own to Baton Rouge. A concern to begin the season, the Tigers offense has been a strong reason they’re ranked where they are. With physical runners Michael Ford and Spencer Ware – both of whom are 215 pounds plus – anchoring the offense and a punishing defensive line, Florida will be left to air it out on the nation’s best secondary just to keep up. It looks like a rough day for Florida quarterback John Brantley once again. Pick: LSU 27 – Florida 16

(Upset pick…)

#12 Michigan (5-0) @ Northwestern (2-2)


7:00 PM ET, BTN, Sat. Oct. 8, Ryan Field, Evanston, IL

Wildcat quarterback Dan Persa returned last week to deliver a four touchdown performance in a near upset over a ranked Illinois team on the road. The Wildcats now have their leader, and identity, back on their football team with Persa at the Helm. Michigan will travel away from the Big House for the first time this season, into an environment that hasn’t always been an easy place to walk away from for Big Ten road teams. Last week the Wolverines crushed Minnesota to begin their Big Ten schedule, but Pat Fitzgerald’s team is far better coached and talented than anything the Wolverines have seen since Notre Dame. For the third straight season, the Wolverines easy opening and home field comfort will turn to ruins in week six. Pick: Northwestern 34 – Michigan 28

#15 Auburn (4-1) @ #10 Arkansas (4-1)


7:00 PM ET, ESPN, Sat. Oct. 8, Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, AR

The Tigers shot back into the rankings with a win over tenth ranked South Carolina Saturday. Meanwhile, the Razorbacks came back onto the national scene with a win over a tremendously talented Texas A&M team at Cowboys Stadium. The Razorbacks held their own in this matchup last season, including leading in the fourth 43-37. An injury to quarterback Ryan Mallett and 28 unanswered by Auburn halted any upset, though. This year, it’s the Razorbacks heading in with the upper hand. The Hogs passing attack has been on point all season. Auburn has held onto games this year with their defense leading the way, but their better suited to stop the run, than the pass. Tyler Wilson and the Hogs should be in for another big day and surprise move up the rankings following week six. Pick: Arkansas 40 – Auburn 30

Miami Fla. (2-2) @ #21 Virginia Tech (4-1)


3:30 PM ET, ABC/ESPN, Sat. Oct. 8, Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA

Last week the Hokies were tested for the first time this season at home against a fast and athletic Clemson team. Needless to say, they failed. Ironically, this year’s Clemson team has been compared to some of the Miami teams of old. But this Canes team isn’t a Miami team of old. The offense runs off the energy of running back Lamar Miller, who has rushed for at least 102 yards in all four games this season. Miami quarterback Jacory Harris has played better second half football this season, but needs to become better acquainted with his tight ends and check-downs. Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas has struggled, tossing five interceptions to just four touchdowns. Running back David Wilson should get a lot of touches against a Miami defense that has given up huge chunks of yards to runners this season. In the end, though, it's hard to see this Miami team drop to 2-3 on the year at this point, especially with an shaky quarterback on the opposite sideline. Pick: Miami Fla. 21 – Virginia Tech 20

(Give me a ticket to see…)

Iowa (3-1) @ Penn State (4-1)


3:30 PM ET, ABC/ESPN, Sat. Oct. 8, Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA

The way the Big Ten is shaping up this season, this matchup brings a bit more importance than at first glance. Although both Iowa and Penn State lie on opposite sides of the Big Ten’s alignment, neither can afford a loss to dive into the thickness of their conference schedule. The Nittany Lions have struggled mightily on offense, but hold the nation’s fifth ranked defense. Thought to be another pound the ground Iowa team to begin the season, the Hawkeyes have been led by junior quarterback James Vandenberg, who’s accounted for 13 touchdowns to just one interception. If not for an overtime loss to rival Iowa State, the Hawkeyes would have a 4-0 start. The Lions defense is stifling, but the offense won’t have an answer to keep up with Iowa. Pick: Iowa 23 – Penn State 17

Last Week: 6-4 – Overall: 30-16– Upset Pick: 3-2

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

All writing and views subject to © Drew P. Kochanny, All Rights Reserved. Photo's credited to rights owner.