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September 27, 2012

College Football Report - Weekend Picks: Week 5

(Upset pick…)
#8 Stanford (3-0) @ Washington (2-1)
9:00 ET, ESPN, Thur. Sept. 27, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
Few teams have dominated the Huskies over the last four years quite like Stanford has. Over the last two, the Cardinal have beat Washington by a combined score of 106-21. The Huskies are a sporadic team, though. They’ll have games that make you scratch your head and then games that leave you wide eyed and out of your seat. The Huskies are built around the passing game and arm of Keith Price. Price, off to a slow start much in part to the LSU game, can play like a Heisman contender at times. For the Cardinal, their game will rely on quarterback Josh Nunes, who’s thrown three interceptions in three games, against an experienced Washington secondary. Under the lights on Thursday night, Sean Parker and the Huskies secondary will rattle Nunes and pull off the year’s biggest upset thus far. Pick: Washington 27 – Stanford 17
(Game of the week…)
#14 Ohio State (4-0) @ #20 Michigan State (3-1)
3:30 ET, ABC, Sat. Sept. 29, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
After a 56-10 opening day win for the Buckeyes against Miami (Oh), things have been all downhill. The Bucks have struggled on both sides of the ball. They narrowly escaping Cal in week three then turned in an ugly game against UAB last week. Michigan State has little room to talk, however, as they headed to halftime last week down to Eastern Michigan, 7-3. The Spartans need to find an offensive weapon for quarterback Andrew Maxwell to throw to, opposite tight end Dion Sims. The Bucks, however, are in the same boat. Outside of quarterback Braxton Miller, OSU has few playmakers, particularly in the running game. I’d look for the offenses to struggle, with the better defense of the two taking the win. With the Spartans still holding opponents to 11.8 points a game, they come out on top. Pick: Michigan State 17 – Ohio State 13
#25 Baylor (3-0) @ #9 West Virginia (3-0)
12:00 ET, FX, Sat. Sept. 29, Mountaineer Field, Morgantown, WV
Get one thing clear; this isn’t last year’s Baylor team. Quarterback Nick Florence has been impressive in the Bears pass happy attack, but there is reason for concern. Florence has thrown four interceptions the last two games, two each against Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe. They’re also giving up 29.7 points a game, against a schedule so far that should warrant half the amount of points, and yards, given up. The Mountaineers have been as advertised this season, led by the big arm of quarterback Geno Smith, who’s thrown 12 touchdowns to zero picks through three games. Morgantown isn’t an easy place to walk into either, as the Bears will soon find out. Unlike other conference switching teams this year, the Mountaineers will make their first new conference game look like a walk in the park. Pick: West Virginia 43 – Baylor 24
Tennessee (3-1) @ #5 Georgia (4-0)
3:30 ET, CBS, Sat. Sept. 29, Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA
It always looks promising for the Vols to start the year, then their SEC schedule kicks in. Tennessee packs a big play offense, there’s no question about it. Quarterback Tyler Bray has been accompanied this year by playmakers all-around. Because of the pass rush of the Bulldogs, particularly Jarvis Jones, they won’t be able to rely all on Bray for the win, though. Tailback Rajion Neal, who brought in 151 yards last week, will need to take some pressure off his quarterback. There seems little hope, however, in believing the Georgia offensive attack can be slowed against the Vols, who are giving up nearly 400 yards of total offense a game. The Vols do have eight interceptions on the year, but its freshman running back Todd Gurley, averaging 9.2 yards a carry, who’ll get the bulk of the offensive work. Georgia runs to victory. Pick: Georgia 37 – Tennessee 21
#18 Oregon State (2-0) @ Arizona (3-1)
10:00 ET, Pac-12 Net, Sat. Sept. 29, Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ
Not a bad start to the year for the Beavers. First they knocked off No. 13 Wisconsin at home, and then traveled to UCLA last week, taking down the No. 19 Bruins. This week, however, it’s the Beavers that will be on upset alert, as they travel to an Arizona team that got embarrassed on the road against Oregon last week. OSU has been led by the passing attack of sophomore Sean Mannion, but it’s their defense, giving up just 13.5 points a game through their first two, that has really taken spotlight. The Wildcats had a total offensive collapse last week, but are 3-0 at home and led by the dangerous Matt Scott at quarterback. If OSU can bottle up running back Ka’Deem Carey, much like they did Montee Ball and Jonathan Franklin in the previous weeks, the Arizona offense will become one dimensional and fold. Oregon State gets off to a respective 3-0 start. Pick: Oregon State 32– Arizona 23
#12 Texas (3-0) @ Oklahoma State (2-1)
7:50 ET, FOX, Sat. Sept. 29, Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK
Quietly, Texas has gotten off to an impressive start. The offense, led by quarterback, David Ash, looks to be playing back to what is expected of a Longhorns offense. Ash has played mistake free this season, tossing seven touchdowns to zero interceptions. The big star for the Longhorns, however, looks to be running back Malcolm Brown, who has restored a rushing attack to the Texas program. The Cowboys have been hard to judge thus far, and come into the game with the bad news that their starting quarterback, Wes Lunt, remains doubtful to play Saturday. Joseph Randle and the running attack of the Cowboys have kept them alive, but will it be enough to keep up with the Longhorns new found glory on the offensive side of the ball? My guess is no, as the Longhorns steal one in Stillwater. Pick: Texas 38 – Oklahoma State 31
North Carolina State (3-1) @ Miami (FL) (3-1)
12:00 ET, ESPNU, Sat. Sept. 29, Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL
Far from the marquee ACC matchup of last week, but the `Canes have a chance to reach 3-0 in conference play with a win against NC State Saturday. For the Wolfpack, it’s their first conference game of the year. Last week, the Hurricanes showed resiliency on the road, coming back from a 17 point deficit to force overtime and come from behind win against Georgia Tech on the road. The offense has been led by the running game of freshman Duke Johnson, who comes in with 823 all-purpose yards on the year. The Wolfpack have been one dimensional, relying heavily on quarterback Mike Glennon. Glennon has been under immense pressure this season, proof in having been sacked 14 times already. Much of that is due to a lack of a running game. The Canes new found offensive glory keeps going, in a 3-0 conference start. Pick: Miami 34 – NC State 27
(Give me a ticket to see…)
Wisconsin (3-1) @ #22 Nebraska (3-1)
8:00 ET, ABC, Sat. Sept. 29, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE
Marked as a potential Big Ten Championship matchup to begin the season, the Badgers will be looking to just stay afloat in this one. Offensively, nothing has clicked for Wisconsin. They come in averaging just 312 total offensive yards a game and will now trust the quarterback reins with freshman Joel Stave. They do get a boast this week with the return of running back Montee Ball, but he can’t be expected to carry the entire offense. The Cornhuskers got outplayed in their lone tough matchup of the season against UCLA, but have since been rolling offensively. Nebraska has also been one of the better big play defenses of the Big Ten, coming in with 16 sacks on the season. Lincoln remains one of the toughest places to play in the country and it won’t get any easier Saturday for the Badgers bleak season. I'm watching just for the new uni's. A pair of throwback, meets new school uniforms, made specially for the game. Pick: Nebraska 24 – Wisconsin 14
Last Week: 5-3 – Overall: 9-8 – Upset Pick: 0-2

September 20, 2012

College Football Report - Saturday Picks: Week 4:

(Game of the week…)  
#18 Michigan (2-1) @ #11 Notre Dame (3-0)
Michigan Wolverines Vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
7:30 ET, NBC, Sat. Sept. 22, Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN
Is Notre Dame really back, or are we just being fooled once again by a hot Irish start? Last week’s performance in East Lansing would suggest the Irish are for real this year, with a defense that finally looks athletic and able. If there’s one thing the Irish will need to do this week it’s contain Michigan’s Denard Robinson, who last year compiled over 440 total yards and five touchdowns. In rivalries there's always going to be close plays and late heroics but if it wasn’t for a game of tossup and blown coverage’s in the fourth quarter last season, the Irish would have walked away with the win. As high of a scoring game this was a year ago, I’d expect far less points to be put up this year. In the end, it’s Manti Te’o and the Irish secondary being the difference makers. Although I’m still far from proclaiming the Irish are back, just yet. Pick: Notre Dame 23 – Michigan 21
#22 Arizona (3-0) @ #3 Oregon (3-0)
   Arizona WildcatsVs.
10:30 ET, ESPN, Sat. Sept. 22, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR
What didn’t work at Michigan, has sure taken off out West. The Wildcats have bought into Rich Rodriguez’s system with fervor and run with it in his first year as head coach. As good as the Ducks offense has been this season, the Wildcats have been better, averaging 604 yards and 46.3 points an outing. Neither team has yet to be tested on the road, although the Wildcats do have an impressive 59-38 victory over Oklahoma State to their resume. Ducks freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota has been flawless through the first three, but he’ll need to rely heavily on the weapons around him, particularly running backs Kenjon Barner and DeAnthony Thomas, in this one. Senior Arizona quarterback Matt Scott will get his first taste of a night game at Autzen Stadium, but more importantly, his first taste of the pace he’ll need to keep up with against the Ducks high octane offense. Both will be too much in a lofty scoring affair. Pick: Oregon 49 – Arizona 30
(Upset pick…)
#10 Clemson (3-0) @ #4 Florida State (3-0)
Clemson Tigers Vs. Florida State Seminoles
8:00 ET, ABC, Sat. Sept. 22, Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL
One of the best ACC matchups the past two seasons looks to once again be as good as advertised. The amount of speed in this one could make an Olympic 4x100 relay team jealous. It’s the quarterbacks and the offensive lines that’ll be the key difference makers in this one, though. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd played a model game against the Seminoles last season. FSU’s EJ Manuel on the other hand missed last year’s contest and will be looking for a signature ACC game to write his name on. Through three games this season, the Noles and Manuel have yet to be tested defensively, leaving questions of how mature and good this offense really is. Boyd and playmaker Sammy Watkins, who burned the Noles for 141 receiving yards last season, will give the home Seminoles all they can handle and more Saturday night. FSU won’t make it out of this one, or the ACC, without a blemish. Pick: Clemson 24 – Florida State 23
#15 Kansas State (3-0) @ #6 Oklahoma (2-0)
Kansas State Wildcats Vs. Oklahoma Sooners
7:50 ET, FOX, Sat. Sept. 22, Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, OK
Don’t expect this matchup to go as last year’s game went. After a fast start to the season, the Wildcats were embarrassed 58-17 at home by the Sooners. It’s hard to say where the Sooners stand as a team right now at this point in the season. In the first week of the year OU struggled at UTEP, with a 7-7 tie at halftime, but in the end pulled away with a 24-7 win. In the past, quarterback Landry Jones has had multiple weapons to throw to; opposite receiver Kenny Stills, no one player has stepped up this season. Kansas State’s Collin Klein has been his usual self through three games, and surly has last year’s rout on his mind. Klein had room to run in last year’s matchup, but it was his passing that left the Wildcats behind. With a receiving threat yet to be established for Klein once again, the Sooners sneak past KSU for the sixth straight season. Pick: Oklahoma 35 – Kansas State 27
California (1-2) @ #13 USC (2-1)
California Golden Bears Vs. USC Trojans
6:00 ET, Pac-12 Net, Sat. Sept. 22, Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
It’s hard to tell who this Cal team really is so far this year. The Bears struggled and lost to Nevada on opening weekend at home, then last week nearly pulled off the upset against Ohio State on the road. USC’s identity on the other hand hasn’t altered, and still shouldn’t after their loss  to Stanford last week. The Trojans got out muscled in the trenches when it counted most, which is where they’ll need to be good against a physical Golden Bears team. If there’s one thing Cal learned last week, it’s that sophomore running back Brendan Bigelow, who rushed for 160 yards and two scores on four carries, needs to touch the ball more. It’s an unfortunate situation for Cal, however, as USC and Matt Barkley should be on point after their National Championship aspirations got all the more harder last week. The Trojans continue their dominance over their instate rival. Pick: USC 42 – California 17
(Give me a ticket to see…)
Oregon State (1-0) @ #19 UCLA (3-0)
Oregon State Beavers Vs. UCLA Bruins
3:30 ET, ABC, Sat. Sept. 22, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
It’s been a while since both the Bruins and Beavers have established themselves as Pac-12 contenders. The wait could be over this year, however, with their week three meeting being the launch point for conference retrieval. Jim Mora looks to have refocused and revamped UCLA, but they’re at a disadvantage in game planning with the Beavers having played just one game on the season. OSU upset Wisconsin in their lone game this year, holding the Badgers to a total of just 35 yards rushing. The strength of this UCLA team happens to be its rushing attack, led by Jonathan Franklin’s two 200-yard performances on the season. It’s quarterback Brett Hundley, who’s thrown for two 300-yard games this year, who will be the difference in an aerial shootout with Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, a 2011 freshman All-American. Pick: UCLA 34 – Oregon State 29
Rutgers (3-0) @ Arkansas (1-2)
Rutgers Scarlet Knights Vs. Arkansas Razorbacks
7:00 ET, ESPNU, Sat. Sept. 22, Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, AR
How much loss can one team really take? For Arkansas, it doesn’t appear to be over just yet. The Razorbacks lost their head coach before the year began, lost to Louisiana-Monroe and lost quarterback Tyler Wilson in the same week, lost in embarrassing fashion to Alabama 52-0, then replacement coach John L. Smith lost his mind in postgame interviews. Led by its defense and running back Jawan Jamison the Scarlet Knights have been off to a fast 3-0 start this season. Jamison has three straight 100-yard games, including 151 last week against South Florida. As much as the Razorbacks struggled against a physical ‘Bama defense last week, yards won’t come any easier this week against a Knights defense giving up just eight points an outing. With Wilson still questionable, the Big East steals a win from a broken down SEC team. Pick: Rutgers 27 – Arkansas 20
Missouri (2-1) @ #7 South Carolina (3-0)
Missouri Tigers Vs. South Carolina Gamecocks
3:30 ET, CBS, Sat. Sept. 22, Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC
Missouri got its first taste of SEC football against Georgia week two in which the Tigers were outmanned along the lines in a 41-20 loss. They’ll be looking to avoid a 0-2 start in conference play and similar start that Utah faced in their conference move last season. Both teams’ quarterbacks come in banged up. While both are likely to play with their respective shoulder injuries, whichever team runs the ball and keeps it out of their quarterback’s hands has the best chance to win. The advantage has to go to the Gamecocks, with the likes of Marcus Lattimore in the backfield. Lattimore will control the clock and the tempo throughout the game. It might not be pretty, but the Gamecocks send Mizzu home empty handed once again in SEC play. Pick: South Carolina 20 – Missouri 16
Last Week: 4-5 – Overall: 4-5 – Upset Pick: 0-1

September 14, 2012

College Football Report - Saturday Picks: Week 3

#1 Alabama (2-0) @ Arkansas (1-1)
Alabama Crimson TideVs. Arkansas Razorbacks
3:30 ET CBS, Sat. Sept. 15, Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, AR
If there was ever a state working harder to master the art of time travel, it’s Arkansas. The Razorbacks dropped a home game to Sun Belt foe Louisiana-Monroe in overtime last week, while also losing starting quarterback Tyler Wilson to a head injury. Wilson looks doubtful against ‘Bama, leaving the Hogs with true freshman Brandon Allen at the helm. The freshman Allen completed just 37 percent of his passes while taking over for Wilson. What was supposed to be the Tide’s first SEC challenge this season now looks like another tune-up game. It’s still going to take some effort on the Tide’s side against a veteran Hog defense, but a freshman quarterback against Alabama’s D is a recipe for disaster. It’s closer than the Michigan game, however. Pick: Alabama 31 – Arkansas 16
(Game of the week…)
#20 Notre Dame (2-0) @ #10 Michigan St. (2-0)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Vs. Michigan State Spartans
8:00 ET, ABC, Sat. Sept. 15, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Will the real Andrew Maxwell please stand up? As the Spartans new starting quarterback, Maxwell opened the season with a forgettable three interception performance against Boise State, then followed it up last week with a 275 yard, two touchdown game against Central Michigan. He’s got the arm and the command, does he have the poise to find a balance against Notre Dame’s defense? The Irish face a quarterback question of their own, with first year starter Everett Golson at the lead against one of the nation’s toughest defenses. Where the Spartans hold the upper hand however is in the running game on the legs of Le’Veon Bell. With Bell opening up play-action and the defense wreaking havoc, we might just find out who the Spartans new signal caller really is. Nine of the last 12 have been decided by single digit points, so don’t expect a blowout from either side. Pick: Michigan State 26 – Notre Dame 20
#18 Florida (2-0) @ #23 Tennessee (2-0)
 Florida GatorsVs.Tennessee Volunteers
6:00 ET, ESPN, Sat. Sept. 15, Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN
Finally. After what feels like a decade, it at last feels like the Gators vs. Vols of old. It’s not exactly Fulmer vs. Spurrier, but Dooley vs. Muschamp and what looks to be an even matchup will at least do. The Vols have put together one of the most potent offenses in the SEC this season, lead by the arm of a more poised Tyler Bray. The 6-foot-6 junior has already compiled 643 yards this season, with six scores and zero turnovers. On the other sideline, the Gators are still searching for an offensive identity, relying mostly on its defense through two games this season. It appears to be a perfect time for the Vols, who’ve lost seven straight to the Gators, to seek some revenge on a UF team that won’t be able to hang offensively. Florida hangs tough early, but Tennessee rattles the Gators cage late. Pick: Tennessee 34 – Florida 17
#2 USC (2-0) @ #21 Stanford (2-0)
USC TrojansVs.Stanford Cardinal
7:30 ET, FOX, Sat. Sept. 15, Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA
Last week the PAC-12 beat up on the rest of the country, shining in their non-conference games. This week two of its best look to beat up on one another. At this point though, is it fair to call Stanford one of the best in the PAC-12? The Cardinal opened the season with struggles against San Jose State, then faced a weak Duke team a week ago. USC quarterback and Heisman favorite Matt Barkley has yet to beat Stanford in his career and looks to do so against one of the better Stanford defenses this decade. With the abundant set of weapons Barkley has at his disposal however, open matchups should be easy to find. The home team isn’t at an advantage in this one, as they’ve dropped five of the last six meetings. A short, upbeat plane ride home comes again for the visitor. Pick: USC 34 – Stanford 24
North Carolina (1-1) @ #19 Louisville (2-0)
 North Carolina Tar HeelsVs. Louisville Cardinals
3:30 ET, ABC/ESPN2, Sat. Sept. 15, Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY
Apart from FSU, Louisville looks like the best team from Florida right now. With 34 players on the Louisville roster from the state of Florida, ex-Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong has built his program through the sunshine state, while taking advantage of its speedy players. Strong’s stellar recruiting classes over the years appear to be hitting their stride, with an early fast start to the season. Strong has an offense that looks to give opponents headaches this season, led by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Miami native has opened the season completing 81.7 percent of his passes. The Tar Heels are in the process of rebuilding departed talent from a year ago. A completely different team when All-ACC running back Gio Bernard plays for the Tar Heels, it’s yet to be determined whether the explosive sophomore will play after missing last week. Pick: Louisville 23 – North Carolina 13
(Give me a ticket to see…)
#25 BYU (2-0) @ Utah (1-1)
Brigham Young Cougars VsUtah Utes
10:00 ET, ESPN2 Sat. Sept. 15, Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT
The 88th meeting between the two schools, the “Holy War” is never a friendly meeting. Apart from last season – a 54-10 blowout by the Utes – the matchups between the two schools have been incredibly close. BYU has gone on to win 11 of their last 12 games since the embarrassing loss to the Utes last season. More importantly, quarterback Riley Nelson, who didn’t play in last year’s matchup, has taken over for the Cougars. The Utes were handed a loss to instate rival Utah State last week,  in which they lost starting quarterback Jordan Wynn for the year. If the Cougars expect to walk away with some revenge, they’ll need to contain Utes running back John White, who rushed for 174 yards and three scores in last year’s meeting. No worries though, a stingy BYU defense will do just that. Utah drops two in a row to instate foes. Pick: BYU 31 – Utah 20
(Upset pick…)
Wake Forest (2-0) @ #5 Florida State (2-0)
Wake Forest Demon Deacons  Vs. Florida State Seminoles
12:00 ET, ESPN, Sat. Sept. 15, Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL
If there was ever a clear definition of a trap game in college football, this is it. The Seminoles have yet to face an opponent with any bite this season, facing the likes of FCS schools Murray State and Savannah State, leaving little challenge. In walks a Wake Forest team hot off a week two upset over North Carolina. The Demon Deacons have played the spoiler against FSU in the past, including winning four of the last six games against the ‘Noles. Last week FSU lost its best defender for the season in pass rusher Brandon Jenkins. Wake quarterback Tanner Price turned in a flawless performance against the Seminoles last season in a 35-30 win and he’ll need to do the same this year. Look for wideout Michael Campanaro to be the difference maker  in week three’s biggest upset. Pick: Wake Forest 31 – Florida State 28
Utah State (2-0) @ Wisconsin (1-1)
 Utah State AggiesVs. Wisconsin Badgers
8:00 PM ET, BTN, Sat. Sept. 15, Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
What happened to the Badgers?  Once a team of road gravers and first round offensive lineman, Wisco has gotten off to an ugly start to the 2012 season, barley squeaking by FCS Northern Iowa and losing to Oregon State last week.. The Badgers fired offensive line coach Mike Markuson this week after his unit gave up four sacks and failed to open lanes for Heisman contender Montee Ball. Ball has rushed for just a 3.9 average this season and one score. Utah State heads to Madison fired up over their win over rival Utah last Friday on the road. Chuckie Keeton, the Aggies Sophomore quarterback, has shown poise and maturity after starting as a true freshman last season. It’s the Aggies defense that has them off to a 2-0 start, however. With the offense sputtering and with turmoil in Madison, the Aggies steal another big win. Did someone say BCS Buster? Pick: Utah State 21 – Wisconsin 14 

Arizona State (2-0) @ Missouri (1-1)
Arizona State Sun DevilsVs.Missouri Tigers
7:00 ET, ESPN2, Sat. Sept. 15, Faurot Field, Columbia, MO
I’m all about gratitude. I was taught my please and thank yous early and I use them often. But when someone kicks my teeth in, I’m not giving them either. Missouri fans sent out a thank you to the Georgia student newspaper this week, thanking them for their first and “memorable” game in the SEC. The Tigers were outscored by the Dawgs 32-3from the end of the third quarter on. Memorable, yes. Thank you, no. Last year’s meeting between these two turned out to be one of the better games of the year, with the Aztecs pulling away with the overtime victory. ASU is off to a 2-0 start this year, but has yet to face a test. Mizzu, fresh off their first SEC taste will rely heavily on the arm and decision making of quarterback James Franklin, who’ll make sure no thank you notes are sent out this week in their first FBS win as an SEC member. Pick: Missouri 32 – Arizona State 23
Last Week: N/A – Overall: N/A– Upset Pick: N/A
All writing and views subject to © Drew P. Kochanny, All Rights Reserved. Photo's credited to rights owner.