Onto the picks…
Dan: South Carolina (-2.5)
Georgia and South Carolina open their SEC campaigns once gain following opening day blow-outs for both teams. Stephen Garcia may finally be the guy to successfully implement Spurrier’s high scoring offense. Meanwhile, Georgia takes a freshman QB on the road for his first SEC start. Additionally, you have the off the field distractions associated with AJ Green’s garage sale. I had hoped the line would be a little closer to even, because I like South Carolina to win a close one. Georgia’s defense had some serious question marks last year, and I’m not sure they’ve resolved those issues. Throw in the Freshman QB and the AJ Green sideshow, and the Gamecocks get off to a good start in the SEC.
South Carolina 31 Georgia 27
Jeremy: South Carolina (-2.5)
I hate this pick. Every year, Spurrier and the Gamecocks rope me into believing that this might be the year that they put everything together and make a run for an SEC division title. In a year in which the Gators look like they’re going to be having some growing pains,
Jimmy: South Carolina (-2.5)
The news was grim in
Matt: South Carolina (-2.5)
For those loyal readers who read our college football preview, you may remember that I picked South Carolina as one of my sleeper teams. And so while my head tells me to pick the Dawgs here, I am going to stick with my gut and go with the Ol’ Ball Coach at home. Not having to deal with AJ Green due to suspension certainly helps, but the South Carolina offense and defense were in midseason form last week against respectable foe Southern Miss. Look for a defensive struggle, with emerging fantasy stud Alshon Jeffery coming up with a few huge catches down the stretch.
South Carolina 24 Georgia 20
Mike: South Carolina (-2.5)
I could not have been more impressed by
South Carolina 31 Georgia 24
Dan: Tennessee (+13)
The Volunteer faithful will be rocking for a night game at Neyland against a Top 10 opponent coming off a 72 point lambasting last week. Tennessee also looked impressive with a 50-0 shut-out of its inferior in-state opponent (for their first shut-out since 2003!!). Of all the games this week, this is the one I feel least comfortable about. I can easily see Oregon just blowing up the Volunteer defense. But I’m going to have faith that in a night game at home, UT can at least keep themselves within striking distance. Expect them to try and slow the game by keeping the ball on the ground and grinding away at the Ducks’ defense. On Defense, the Vols should try to put plenty of men in the box to try and slow down the Oregon rushing attack and make them pick up slow first downs and convert 3rd and 3s and 4s. I expect them to be successful in their game plan, but that it still will not be enough to overcome the Oregon attack.
Oregon 28 Tennessee 20
Jeremy: Oregon (-13)
I’ll fully admit that I’m taking
Jimmy: Tennessee (+13)
Matt: Tennessee (+13)
So last week I found myself at a University of Tennessee bar in the middle of Manhattan, and I don’t know if it was the unbridled enthusiasm among the Vol faithful, the constant playing of Rocky Top after every score, the 50 spot on the scoreboard or the copious amounts of Bud Light, but I have to admit I got a little excited about this Tennessee team. Having made the trip to Knoxville for the ND game in 2004, I can attest to how great the tradition is there, how hospitable the fans were, and just what a great experience it was to be in Neyland Stadium. Just like my experience at Nebraska, I find myself rooting for teams where I have enjoyed a road trip and been treated well by fans (unlike, say, those fine people of West Lafayette).
As for the game, I couldn’t have been more impressed with Tauren Poole. I know it was UT-Martin, and if I had watched the Oregon bloodletting of New Mexico, I would probably be saying the same thing about them, but that Tennessee offense looked explosive. It was pretty much unlike anything seen in the end of the Fulmer years or under Kiffin. Oregon will win the game, but UT keeps it respectable in front of a great crowd on Rocky Top.
Side note, Derek Dooley is facing an incredible challenge in his first year on the job. Here’s how the schedule shapes up the next two months: #7 Oregon, #8 Florida, UAB, @#19 LSU, @#22 Georgia, #1 Alabama, @#24 South Carolina. Holy Crap. That is maybe the toughest stretch of games I have ever seen. To even go 3-4 in that stretch would be admirable.
Oregon 35 Tennessee 27
Mike: Oregon (-13)
This is a lot of points to lay against a
Dan: Miami (+9.5) LOCK OF THE WEEK
Here we have another big line for a ranked road team. That said, I don’t get this line. I know the OSU offense is not the typical offense. But, deep down, Jim Tressel still wants to play Tressel-ball in big games. Additionally, I think Jacory Harris’s ability to read the defense and identify his hot read will be a big factor since OSU will likely need to blitz to try and put pressure on Harris. Additionally, while Prior put up good numbers last week, he has still shown a tendency for an errant pass occasionally. While that was not a big issue against the Thundering Herd, expect the Canes to make him pay for those mistakes. I’ve been anti-Randy Shannon for some time, but I think the Canes have the potential for a big season. That said, OSU has really dominated the Horseshoe under Tressel, and despite the fact that I don’t see the match-ups that favor OSU, they still find a way to get it done.
OSU 27 Miami 24Jeremy: Miami (+9.5) – LOCK OF THE WEEK
On a bit of an underdog kick here. Just think this is too many points in this game. Tressel always plays it pretty close to the vest in big time games, even at home, and Jacory Harris will find a way to keep the Canes in it. Should be fun to watch Pryor up against the speed of Miami’s defense – the Bucks don’t get too many helpings of SEC-type athletic ability in the Big Ten. Bucks win, but in a tight one.
Jimmy: Miami (+9.5)
A pure cover pick. Jim Tressel will have his hands full with the athletic Hurricanes. The Buckeyes defense will need to answer the bell as Jacory Harris looked pretty comfortable last week, albeit against inferior competition. I fully expect Tressel to impose his will on this game, slowing things down and playing his close-to-the-sweater-vest Tressel Ball, barely loosening the reins on Terrelle Pryor. It’s a shame this isn’t in a primetime slot as this matchup is far more fascinating than the Penn State-Bama shellacking that will take place. If this game were in Coral Gables, I think the Hurricanes could come away with the victory – that’s how close in talent I believe the programs are. But the Horseshoe is an imposing place to steal a victory. Will be listening for Mike Collins’ updates on this one inside the stadium.
Matt: Miami (+9.5)
For all of the talk that the U is back, they haven’t really won a BIG game yet under Randy Shannon. Jacory Harris has been talked about, but what has he actually accomplished yet? They have had a few nice seasons, but any proclamation that Miami is somehow suddenly a national power again seems a little premature to me.
Having said all that, I have been on the Randy Shannon bandwagon for years, so I expect them to make a leap again this year. An opening game shutout over the dregs of football was a nice start, but shutting down Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes will obviously be a totally different challenge. I think the game will be close, but ultimately no revenge will be paid for the pass interference flag from ’03. Bucks win.
Ohio State 24 Miami 20
Mike: Miami (+9.5)
I'm not nearly as high on the Hurricanes as many commentators because I'm not certain that Randy Shannon is capable of fielding a championship caliber team, but I do believe that they are almost as talented as
Ohio State 27 Miami 20
Dan: Florida State +9
What a match-up! Really wish I could see this game. And I love all these large road dogs this week. It makes for some interesting betting, particularly on teasers. OU’s defense looked soft in their opening match-up against Utah State. However, I have to imagine the Sooners were a little guilty of looking past Utah State towards the looming match-up with the Seminoles. That said, Ponder should make the defense pay and has more weapons around him to utilize than Utah State. I expect the Seminoles to score on the Sooners. However, I also expect DeMarco Murray to have a big game. It takes more than 1 game for a defense to adopt an entirely new scheme, particularly one that was one of the weaker run defenses in college football last year. Look for the Seminoles to slip up in their zone coverage and allow large cut-back lanes for Murray. This should be a high scoring game that the Sooners will pull-off, but I think the spread is just too big.
OU 31 FSU 28
Jeremy: Florida St. (+9)
I’m not as ready to hop onto the Jimbo Fisher bandwagon as some of our compatriots, but there’s something fishy going on with the defense in
Jimmy: Florida State (+9)
The Sooners scored an underwhelming 31-24 victory last week against Utah State, while the Seminoles looked quite the opposite in an impressive 59-6 vs. Samford and Sons. Bob Stoops will motivate the boomer out of his defense in this huge home game. Jimbo Fisher’s first road test as an actual head coach won’t be easy in Norman. Christian Ponder won’t be able to move the offense with the same ease and is sure to make some costly turnovers. A healthy DeMarco Murray is the best player in college football, looking the part with 218 yards and 2 TDs. Since it was a little too close for comfort, Murray was leaned on heavily for 35 carries, much more than Stoops wants to risk for his star player. But they may need to do it again if Landry Jones doesn’t shake off the cobwebs. I think Oklahoma narrowly avoids defeat and Florida State’s star keeps rising, even in defeat.
Oklahoma 31 FSU 27
One of the more fascinating games of the season, as the new look Noles go up against the Sooners in a battle of the Stoops brothers. The real question is this: was last week’s shredding of the OU secondary by Utah State QB Diontre Borel a . Hardly a household name, but the guy threw for 341 yards! Unless there are some serious adjustments, expect Christian Ponder to pick on the young corners, and this game could evolve into a shootout.
The other question for OU is the performance of Landry Jones. He wasn’t very good last week statistically, and it’s unreasonable to expect Demarco Murray to crank out 200 yard games every week. I know it has only been one game, but it really feels like everything I have read about FSU under Jimbo Fisher has been positive from the minute he took over. (Side note: Enough already Bobby Bowden. We get it, you were forced out, you feel bad, you may never be able to have a relationship with the people who did this to you. Guess what – it should have happened 5 years ago.) If I had any guts I would take the Noles to straight up win this one, but I will go with a close Sooner win.
OU 31 FSU 28
Mike: Oklahoma (-9)
Prior to last week, I would have picked
Oklahoma 37 Florida State 27
Dan: Alabama (-11.5)
We have some very large spreads in ranked games this week. However, unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, this line makes much more sense than the Seminoles line. Even without standout DT Marcell Dareus, I have a difficult time seeing how the Lions are going to score on the Tide defense. Penn State doesn’t see these types of defenses in the Big 10. On the other side of the ball, Alabama will likely have to change the way it plays its game with Mark Ingram likely on the sideline. Expect Julio Jones to be even more involved and expect a step-up performance from the big #8. Alabama doesn’t tend to blow teams out, but they should be able to hold Penn State to few enough points to get the cover late.
Alabama 24 Penn State 10
Jeremy: Alabama (-11.5)
Wary of this game as well – Bama is playing without (arguably) its best players on both sides of the ball. If he weren’t a returning Heisman winner, I’d say that Mark Ingram is about to get Wally Pipp’ed by Richardson, who at times last year impressed me much more than Ingram. In the end, the big absences don’t matter as Bama pounds freshman QB Robert Bolden into dust, causing 4 turnovers and winning big.
This dandy of a matchup between historic programs looks terrific on paper. Little did I know there was such a rivalry forged in the 70’s and renewed nearly every year of the 80’s. A legendary coach against a legend in the making. Two of the most iconic jerseys in the game waging gridiron war. Only problem is this Penn State team is more equipped for the Civil War, while the Crimson Tide boast the finest weaponry on offense and defense. (Not only do I hate comparing football to war, but I extended the metaphor. Why? Call it the Michigan Week jitters. Let’s see where it goes anyways). JoePa may be as old as General William Tecumseh Sherman, but there will be no razing of this Southern power. Not to mention JoePa is lacking in the grizzled beard department.
I feel sorry for true freshman Rob Bolden being thrown to the wolves in his 2nd career start. It won’t be pretty. Evan Royster may be All-Big Ten, but he’ll be lucky to find any daylight on the ground. Meanwhile, the Tide will keep rolling without the defending Heisman winner. That’s how much talent Nick Saban has on his sideline. Here’s hoping these schools don’t go another 20 years before their next meeting.
Alabama 33 Penn State 14
Matt: Alabama (-11.5) LOCK OF THE WEEK
This line couldn’t be high enough for me. In case folks haven’t noticed, Mark Ingram may be the most replaceable player in football despite being the reigning Heisman winner, with a host of young backs led by Trent Richardson, who didn’t even need to strap on the helmet in the 2nd half against San Jose State. Meanwhile, up in State College, there should be some real worry over the fact that Youngstown State freshman QB completed 84% of his passes with 2 td’s (admittedly one was in garbage time.) If he can do that, what is the Alabama aerial attack going to do? And Joe Pa’s decision to play the freshman Robert Bolden may be wise, but making your second career start in Tuscaloosa against the Tide is just asking for trouble. I think this one gets ugly early.
Alabama 37 Penn State 16
Mike: Alabama (-11.5) LOCK OF THE WEEK
The jury is still out on Alabama's defense given its inexperience, but Nick Saban's track record suggests that the Tide will be stingy on that side of the ball. Furthermore, Alabama should have an improved offense this year, thereby allowing them to offset any declines on defense. More importantly, I don't bet on true freshman quarterbacks who are making their first career road start against a superior opponent, so you can be certain that I'm not taking Penn State this week. This game could turn really ugly for the Nittany Lions if they fall behind early because it is extremely doubtful that Robert Bolden will be able to thrive in front of 100,000 rabid 'Bama fans.
Alabama 35 Penn State 6
Dan: Auburn (-1.5) @ Mississippi State
The road teams on these Thursday night games are always a dangerous pick. However, when I look at the match-ups on paper, I just see victory for the Tigers at every turn. Cameron Newton and their multi-threat offense should move the ball on a relatively inexperienced Bulldog Defense. While the Auburn secondary struggled last week, their defense line and linebacking corps are solid, and should really hamper the ability of the Mississippi State offense to mobilize, particularly given the lack of fluidity with a two-quarterback system. I think the road and Thursday night angle cause the game to be closer than it should be (maybe Cameron Newton comes back to earth a little with a couple fumbles), but that Auburn gets the cover in the end.
Auburn 23 Mississippi State 17
Jeremy: South Florida (+16.5) @ Florida
I’m not ready to bury the Gators yet, but boy did they look terrible last week. I’m making this pick fully expecting them to bounce back in a big way this week, but the fact that they were unable to execute a simple shotgun snap has to be awful worrisome for Urban Meyer. The Bulls shocked the Noles last year, and although I don’t expect them to win in
Florida 31 USF 17
Jimmy: Georgia Tech (-14) @ Kansas
First off, a personal shout out to WeIs Heisman hopeful James Rodgers – 4 catches for 75 yards and the games first TD paced the Beavers against a stout TCU defense. He also carried twice for 8 yards and handled all kick and punt returns, adding up to 210 all-purpose yards. He may not be cracking the Heismanpundit.com polls just yet, but we’re keeping his candidacy on the back-burner. More to come from such a terrifically named human, especially with another marquee matchup looming in 2 weeks on the blue turf of Boise State.
My Bonus pick this week goes to Georgia Tech in a nod to my college fantasy QB, Josh Nesbitt. Nesbitt will shred the same Jayhawks defense that was exposed by
Matt: South Florida +16.5 @ Florida
As long time readers know, I have been a South Florida supporter for quite some time. And I can’t really explain why – my mother is a proud graduate of The U, I almost went to grad school at UF, and Bobby Bowden is in my top 10 of people I would like to have a meal with (preferably breakfast, in a southern diner with Bobby bantering back and forth with a plump older waitress named Mabel or Gertrude. It would be awesome), but for some reason I like the underdog status of the Bulls and the way they have literally built the program from scratch in the past 15 years. And Irish fans, if you don’t think one year from now in the home opener that Skip Holtz and the Bulls will match ND athlete for athlete, you’re mistaken.
Up the interstate in Gainesville, the Gators couldn’t have looked worse against a Miami team coming off an 11 loss season. They had 25 yards through three quarters! I watched a fair amount of this game, and what it comes down to is that Florida just doesn’t have a running game it can rely on. Guys like Rainey and Demps and Moody are smaller guys with big play potential, but really not every down power backs. And there is no Tebow to bail out the offense. Don’t get me wrong, Urban is too good of a coach not to figure out how to get the offense rolling, but things could get a little dicey early on in the season and I fully expect at least 2 losses for the Gators this year. The Bulls keep it close, but Gators win in the 4th quarter.
Florida 32 USF 21
Mike: California (-9) over Colorado
Don’t be fooled by
Locks of the Week: