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October 19, 2012

College Football Report - Saturday Picks - Week 8:

(Give me a ticket to see…)
Michigan State (4-3) @ Michigan (4-2)
3:30 ET, BTN, Sat. Oct. 20, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Few could have foreseen both of these teams being unranked for their October meeting. MSU’s misfortune can rest solely on its offensive production. In all three losses, the Spartans have failed to score over 16 points. Last week, it took double overtime for MSU to reach 16 points in a loss to Iowa. For the Wolverines, it’s been the Denard Robinson story on repeat; turnovers. In two losses this season, Michigan has nine turnovers. Seven are credited to Robinson. MSU has won four straight against the Wolverines, but number five may be the most challenging yet. Averaging just 16.5 points a game against BCS conference teams this season won’t cut it against Michigan, no matter how many turnovers Robinson has. Le’Veon Bell continues to produce, but he can’t do it all. Without an opened offensive playbook, Robinson and Michigan leave home with the win. Pick: Michigan 24 – Michigan State 14
 (Game of the week…)
#7 South Carolina (6-1) @ #2 Florida (6-0)
3:30 ET, CBS, Sat. Oct. 20, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL
Remove the names, colors and logos and these two are split images. They each give up 12 points a game defensively. Each brings in 378 yards a game offensively. The Gamecocks give up 296 yards a game, the Gators, 297 yards. In terms of wins and losses, their strength of schedule doesn’t even bend. Health may be the lone area right now that these teams differ. The Gamecocks bring in six players battling the flu, including leading wideout Bruce Ellington and midseason All-American candidate, defensive end Jadaveon Clowney. The ‘Cocks may also need to limit starting tailback Marcus Lattimore, who’s battling a hip injury. With just four turnovers on the season, Florida has seldom beaten themselves. I liked South Carolina in the upset having been 8-2 in their last 10 SEC away games. But that was before the flu took over. It’s a lingering sickness ya’ know. Pick: Florida 20 – South Carolina 17
(Upset pick…1)
#4 Kansas State (6-0) @ #13 West Virginia (5-1)
7:00 ET, FOX, Sat. Oct. 20, Mountaineer Field, Morgantown, WV
It was only a matter of time before the West Virginia offense went crazy watching its defense from the sidelines. Last week was that time. A 14-7 game into the second quarter, Texas Tech poured 35 unanswered points on the Mountaineers, totaling 676 total yards. If the Mountaineer defense, which ranks No. 112 in the country in scoring defense, didn’t get the message last week, they’ll get it this week from Collin Klein and the Wildcats. Kansas State, averaging 40.8 points a game, showed last week they can also grind it out and win a physical game against Iowa State on the road. A night game in Morgantown is a tough environment, however, and the Mountaineers rank within the top 50 in rush defense, K-State’s specialty. Kansas State will be more worn out than most expect and Geno Smith and the playmaking bunch will be ready to attack after a sleeper last week. West Virginia steals the headlines a week after making them the wrong way. Pick: West Virginia 41 – Kansas State 37
 (Upset pick…2)
#6 LSU (6-1) @ #18 Texas A&M (5-1)
12:00 ET, ESPN, Sat. Oct. 20, Kyle Field, College Station, TX
The Tigers and Aggies tell two very different stories while playing home and on the road. At home, the Tigers offense seems to click, as they average 41 points a game. In two away games, including one against 1-5 Auburn, the Tigers are averaging nine points. The same can be said about the Aggies defense. Away from home, A&M gives up an average of 29 points. At home, just over 14. Home or away, though, the Aggies still have quarterback Johnny Manziel running the show. The freshman leads the team in both passing and rushing and has 24 touchdowns to his credit. LSU has a great defensive front, but Manziel has already faced a great defense in Florida. The Aggies did lose, just 20-17, but it was Manziel’s first collegiate game. At home with the 12th man behind him, Manziel moves his name atop the Heisman list against one of the nation’s best defenses. Pick: Texas A&M 24 – LSU 20
(Upset pick…3)
#20 Stanford (4-2) @ California (3-4)
3:00 ET, FOX, Sat. Oct. 20, Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, CA
The 115th meeting between the two, the Cardinal and Golden Bears have some tight knit battles between them. The “Band is on the field!” ring a bell? I wouldn’t expect this season to be much different, even with the Bears looking to just get to the .500 mark. In two road games this season, Stanford has yet to score an offensive touchdown. Apart from the Duke and Arizona games, Stanford hasn’t done a whole lot of scoring in general. The Bears come in riding high off two straight Pac-12 wins, including a43-17 upset over No. 25 UCLA. Look for the Bears to get quarterback Zach Maynard in a grove early. Against UCLA, Maynard completed 25-of-30 passes for 295 yards and four scores. The Cardinal bring in the No. 106 ranked pass defense and should be worn down with two straight overtime games and an emotional late game collapse against Washington before those. The Cardinal won’t even see it coming. Pick: California 23 – Stanford 17
#14 Florida State (6-1) @ Miami (FL) (4-3)
8:00 ET, ABC, Sat. Oct. 20, Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL
There was a time, when this game used to decide national championships. The only thing it decides this season is recruiting rights. One of the biggest games of the season respectively for recruiting Florida’s cream of the crop high school talent, there’s a lot at stake on both sides. The Seminoles come in three touchdown favorites, but 10 of the last 11 have been decided by a touchdown or less. Miami quarterback Stephen Morris is listed as doubtful, leaving the reins to 6-foot-6 sophomore, Ryan Williams. The Noles bring in the No. 6 scoring offense and No. 4 scoring defense and are looking to get things rolling again following the NC State loss two weeks ago. With most of each team’s players having played with each other or against one another before, it’s closer than the “experts” think. Florida State still takes it with Morris on the sidelines. Pick: Florida State 30 – Miami (FL) 24
#17 Texas Tech (5-1) @ #23 TCU (5-1)
3:30 ET, ABC, Sat. Oct. 20, Amon Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX
The Red Raiders need to be careful here. Riding high off their West Virginia upset last week, they’ll need to avoid the trap in Fort Worth. The Raiders are on game three of a five game stretch against ranked Big 12 opponents. Quite frankly, the Horned Frogs should be the easiest of the gauntlet. The offense has been great once again for Tech, but it’s their defense, giving up just 16 points a game, which has won them games this season. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin has played admirably with the new starting position, but Tech’s defense will be a far tougher test than Baylor’s nationally ranked last place scoring defense. Seth Doege and the Red Raiders continue their path of Big 12 destruction in a surprisingly low scoring affair, however. Pick: Texas Tech 21 – TCU 14
BYU (4-3) @ #5 Notre Dame (6-0)
3:30 ET, NBC, Sat. Oct. 20, Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN
The Cougars sit in a fairly nice position. With Notre Dame sitting on their high horse in recent weeks, having taken down No. 10 Michigan State, No. 18 Michigan, Miami (FL) and No. 17 Stanford, not many, if anyone at all, expect the Cougars to do much against the Irish. That’s a dangerous position to be in for Notre Dame. BYU has dropped three of their last five and will be looking to throw the kitchen sink and then the kitchen at the last ranked team they’ll face this year. Without much of an offense, though, the Cougars throwing everything they’ve got at the Irish looks a lot better on paper than it’ll look on game day. The Irish give up just over 8 points a game. BYU, just over 13. It’s another defensive grind it out game in South Bend. Manti Te’o moves further into Heisman discussion this week. Pick: Notre Dame 22 – BYU 10

Virginia Tech (4-3) @ #19 Clemson (5-1)
12:00 ET, ABC, Sat. Oct. 20, Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
Already, the winner of biggest underachiever of the 2012 season goes to the Hokies. Remarkably, their ship hasn’t sunk just yet, though. Even with a loss to Atlantic division member Clemson, the Hokies can still head to the ACC Championship representing the Coastal. Having lost to two Big East teams helps. The problem for Tech has been its running game, which before freshman J.C. Coleman’s 183 yards last week, seized to exist. They get their toughest test of the year so far Saturday, which isn’t good news for a team with three losses already. The Hokie defense has had trouble stopping much of anything so far and Tajh Boyd, Andre Ellington and DeAndre Hopkins will be an unsightly foe for the Hokies to dance with in Death Valley. Struggles continue without the right personnel for Va. Tech. Pick: Clemson 38 – Virginia Tech 28
North Carolina (5-2) @ Duke (5-2)
7:00 ET, ESPNU, Sat. Oct. 20, Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC
One of the games of the week is North Carolina vs. Duke? Wait, basketball, right? A usual snoozer of a rivalry, the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils have played every year on the gridiron since 1922. Why not, their only eight miles apart. North Carolina has won eight straight, though, and 21 of the last 22 games against Duke. With the Blue Devils on the verge of becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 1994, the rivalry looks to have a bit more bite this season. Quarterback Sean Renfree and Duke are still looking for their first big win of the season, however. UNC on the other hand, has taken down both Virginia Tech and Miami over the last two weeks and the running game is humming. Gio Bernard has rushed for 439 yards in back-to-back weeks and UNC is 5-0 this season when he plays. He’s playing Saturday too. Pick: North Carolina 34 – Duke 26
Last Week: 4-5 – Overall: 21-14 – Upset Pick: 1-3

October 18, 2012

College Football Report - Thursday Picks - Week 8

 #3 Oregon (6-0) @ Arizona St (5-1)
9:00 ET, ESPN, Thur. Oct. 18, Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
Oregon needs to be careful walking into Sun Devil Stadium on Thursday night. This game is the start of a very challenging second half schedule for the Ducks, so they'll need to head into the game with some respect for ASU. The Sun Devils rank No. 9 in the country in scoring defense, giving up just over 14 points a game. They know how to get after the quarterback as well, ranking No. 2 in sacks with 26 on the season. Defensive tackle Will Sutton has brought in 8.5 sacks alone. Kelly and the Ducks are smart though, they won’t ask their young quarterback, Marcus Mariota, to do too more than he’s capable of. They average over 302 yards a game on the ground and they’ll use workhorses Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas to keep ASU’s safeties honest and the pass rushers on their heels. Freshman Byron Marshall is even getting into the mix now. Arizona State hangs in there for a bit, but it’s still the Ducks night in the desert. Pick: Oregon 39 – Arizona State 24

October 12, 2012

College Football Report - Saturday Picks - Week 7

#10 Oregon State (4-0) @ BYU (4-2)

3:30 ET, ABC, Sat. Oct. 13, LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT
It’s battle of the backups in Provo this weekend. Both Oregon State and BYU lost their respective starting quarterbacks last week. BYU may be down to their third quarterback of the season, if previous starter Riley Nelson can’t go. The Beavers lost starter Sean Mannion to a knee injury last week and will be forced to go with junior Cody Vaz to continue their undefeated streak. There’s little to expect from Vaz, who has not thrown a pass in a game since 2010 and has never started a collegiate game. The strength of this OSU team, however, has been its defense, which has allowed just eight offensive touchdowns all season. Provo isn’t exactly a walk in the park to play in – BYU is 4-0 at home this season – but the Beavers have taken down both UCLA and Arizona on the road. Vaz’ new job will be easy to handle with big play wideouts Marcus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks on his side. Pick: Oregon State 21 – BYU 14
#17 Stanford (4-1) @ 7 Notre Dame (5-0)
3:30 ET, NBC, Sat. Oct. 13, Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN
There are still few Irish supporters to come by this season. Even at 5-0 and with take downs of Michigan, Michigan State and Miami (FL), believing in the Irish still feels a bit like believing in an American golfer to sink a put. A win Saturday can change that, though, and instill even more confidence in Kelly’s group. Quarterback Everett Golson came off the bench last week playing far beyond anything he’s shown this season. Stanford’s defense is far from the 118th ranked unit Miami puts on the field, though. Keep a close eye on the tight ends matched up against the linebackers. Both teams bring in who may be the best tight ends and linebackers in the country in the Irish’s Tyler Eifert and Stanford’s Zach Ertz. They’ll be matched up against Cardinal linebacker Chase Thomas and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o. In a defensive battle, led by Te’o, the Irish will be too tough to beat at home. Pick: Notre Dame 18 – Stanford 9
#15 Texas (4-1) VS #13 Oklahoma (3-1)
12:00 ET, ABC, Sat. Oct. 13, Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX
Finally, a big game in the state of Texas that’s not at Cowboys Stadium. Turnovers killed the Longhorns last season, as Texas turned the ball over five times, leading to 31 Oklahoma points. The 55 points given up by the Longhorns was the second most ever in this matchup. This isn’t last year’s Longhorn team, however. The Longhorns sit ranked No. 13 in the country with a +1.4 turnover margin. Starting quarterback David Ash has thrown just one interception all season, to 11 touchdowns. The Sooners are once again sound defensively, but it’s surprisingly their offense that looks to need work. Quarterback Landry Jones has few options apart from wideout Kenny Stills. Like last season, big plays can be the difference maker in a rivalry like the Red River Rivalry. I question if Oklahoma has enough in the tank to hang with a Texas team averaging 46.8 points an outing. Pick: Texas 38 – Oklahoma 23
(Game of the week…)
#3 South Carolina (6-0) @ #9 LSU (5-1)
South Carolina Gamecocks Vs.
8:00 ET, ESPN, Sat. Oct. 13, Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Heading in opposite ends of the SEC spectrum, Carolina played one of their best games yet under Spurrier last week, while LSU played one of the ugliest under Miles. Florida ran for 176 yards against what is suppose to be the best defensive front in football employed by the Tigers. LSU turned the ball over three times and ran for just 42 total yards. Carolina heads in fresh off of a 35-7 beatdown of then No. 5 ranked Georgia. Carolina’s defense has been its biggest reason for success this season, allowing just 10.5 points a game. Defensive end Jadaveon Clowney and the Gamecocks defense have terrorized quarterbacks, bringing in 25 sacks through their first six games. With Zach Mettenberger and the Tigers offense struggling to find an identity, the Gamecocks steal one on the road in Baton Rouge. Pick: South Carolina 17 – LSU 10 (OT)
#11 USC (4-1) @ Washington (3-2)
7:00 ET, FOX, Sat. Oct. 13, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
Another trap game for Pac-12 supremacy? The Huskies are tough at home in their CenturyLink Field bubble, having taken down Stanford already this season. USC, although having lost to Stanford, heads to Seattle with far more firepower offensively than the Cardinal. Scoring hasn’t been an issue for the Trojans this season, with quarterback Matt Barkley having thrown 15 touchdowns already. For the Huskies, scoring has been their kryptonite. Averaging just 22.8 points a game – good for No. 97 in the country – quarterback Keith Price has had little time to set his feet, let alone get a pass off. To be fair, the Huskies have played LSU, Stanford and Oregon this season. The Trojans can’t afford another conference loss, though. Washington will make it closer than it should be, but Barkley will find a way. Pick: USC 27 – Washington 21
(Give me a ticket to see…)
#6 Kansas State (5-0) @ Iowa State (4-1)
12:00 ET, FX, Sat. Oct. 13, Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
Pick a Klein on either side; they’ll most likely be the game changer. Iowa State linebacker A.J. Klein gives Kansas State’s Collin Klein (no relation) a run for his big play money. In his career, A.J. Klein has returned interceptions for touchdowns of 78, 69, 25 and this season, 87 yards, making him Iowa State’s all-time leader in defensive return touchdowns. Collin Klein has been as advertised this season, if not better than last year’s Heisman worthy season. The quarterback has led an offense that averages 43.6 points a game, with 15 total touchdowns to his credit. The two Klein’s will certainly clash heads Saturday, but I’d expect Collin, to get the best of A.J. Of all the games KSU has played so far, however, this one ends up as the closest. Pick: Kansas State 31 – Iowa State 28
North Carolina (4-2) @ Miami (FL) (4-2)
2:30 ET, ESPNU, Sat. Oct. 13, Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL
Notre Dame threw a FEMA blanket over the Hurricanes last week. Just when everything started heading in the ‘Canes direction. Miami says goodbye to their non conference BCS schedule, which left them 0-2 this season and hello to an ACC schedule in which they already sit at 3-0. UNC has pulled off three straight wins, including a 48-34 thrashing of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg last week. Averaging 44 points a game, the Heels are led by Gio Bernard and their ground attack. Miami has played at a high school level defensively this season, placing big pressure on their offense and quarterback Stephen Morris. Morris, however, has responded quite nice, particularly against the ACC. The ‘Canes have played UNC tough over the last few seasons, leaving me to expect they’ll rebound in the warmth of their ACC schedule. Pick: Miami 43 – North Carolina 37 (2OT)
(Upset pick…)
#22 Texas A&M (4-1) @ #23 Louisiana Tech (5-0)
9:00 ET, ESPNU, Sat. Oct. 13, Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA
Originally scheduled for the first week of the season, Hurricane Isaac pushed the meeting back to this weekend. Dating back to last season, there have been few teams on a hotter streak than the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech. Tech has won 12 of their last 13 with their lone loss coming in the Poinsettia Bowl to TCU by one score. The Aggies have been led by the big play ability of freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, who’s leading A&M in both passing and rushing through their first five. He’ll go up against a defense ranked No. 109 in the country, giving up 35.8 points an outing. The Bulldogs can score, however, bringing in nearly 54 points a game. Quarterback Cody Cameron spreads the ball to multiple weapons and has yet to turn the ball over. In an upset that feels bigger than it looks on paper, Tech pulls off the nighttime thriller at home. Pick: Louisiana Tech 41 – Texas A&M 36
Iowa (3-2) @ Michigan State (4-2)
12:00 ET, ESPN, Sat. Oct. 13, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
What happened to the Spartans? Preseason Big Ten favorites, MSU has been lucky to get by Eastern Michigan and Indiana this season. Just last week the Spartans were down 17-0 by the end of the first quarter to the Hoosiers and 27-14 at halftime. It won’t get any easier for them this week with a visit from Iowa. Le’Veon Bell remains questionable to play with an ankle injury and quarterback Andrew Maxwell’s favorite target, tight end Dion Sims, is doubtful. Luckily for the Spartans, this isn’t the same Iowa team of recent years. They’ll need to stop bruising tailback Mark Weisman, who’s brought in 515 yards and seven scores on the ground this season, to have a chance. They took a relapse last week, but the defense has been solid overall for MSU. If they stop the run, they’ll sneak by a frustrated Iowa team. Pick: Michigan State 23 – Iowa 16
Last Week: 7-1 – Overall: 16-9 – Upset Pick: 1-2
All writing and views subject to © Drew P. Kochanny, All Rights Reserved. Photo's credited to rights owner.