There's no place like Saturday...

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

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