There's no place like Saturday...

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

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