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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

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