No pretense. Just picks. Here ya go.
Arkansas (+3) @ Georgia
Dan: Georgia (-3)
Ryan Mallett and Bobby Petrino have the Razorback offense humming. But having lost six straight to the Bulldogs, a trip to Athens will prove a tougher test than the early season competition. I have been a long time defender of Mark Richt and his program at Georgia, despite the recent rumblings. But they haven’t played in an SEC championship game since 2005 and have lost six of the last eight against top 25 opponents, including three straight at home. However, after losing their SEC opener to USC, this is much more of a “must win” for Georgia. Throw in the injury to Dennis Johnson, Arkansas’s key running back and return man and that the Razorback defense does not have the tenacity of the Gamecocks, and I like the Bulldogs to pull a close cover at home.
UGA 28 Arkansas 24
Jeremy: Georgia (-3)
Interesting game. The winds of discontent are starting to swirl around Athens, and another disappointing year could make Mark Richt’s seat extremely hot. A little surprised to see the Dawgs favored here, but I do think they pull out a big win. Arkansas has looked impressive thus far, but hasn’t played anyone yet and Ryan Mallett is almost sure to make a few bad decisions with the Georgia faithful in his ear.
Georgia 24 Arkansas 20
Jimmy: Arkansas (+3)
Attending back-to-back nail in the coffin Twins triumphs over the Sox didn’t give me a chance to jot down any extended thoughts for this week’s slate. (Don’t look now, but Minnesota is only 0.5 games behind the Yankees for home field advantage throughout October! Let’s go Twins!!) Rapid fire picks from me, with a comment here and there.
So maybe the Razorbacks are one of the most overrated teams in the country, wrestling the title away from Georgia, who has held a vice grip on that ignominious title for a number of years. Ryan Mallett sees what’s going on at his former school, Michigan, and wants in on the Heisman race.
Arkansas 23 Georgia 20
Matt: Georgia (-3)
Is this the year where it all finally goes south for Georgia? AJ Green is suspended, QB Aaron Murray is young and inexperienced, and the rest of the offense has been miserable so far, with highly touted Washaun Ealey averaging less than 4 yards a carry in his only game of action. All signs are pointing towards the Hogs walking in between the hedges and knocking off the Dawgs.
As the noted wordsmith Lee Corso says…”somebody knows something, and I’m going with the somebodies.” (You thought I was going to say “not so fast my friend,” didn’t you?) The somebodies in Vegas have installed the reeling Dawgs as three point favorites, and I am not ready to bury them just yet. It seems like the popular opinion is that the Arkansas will be the team that scares Bama this year in the West, but I’m not buying it yet. This is a team that went 3-5 in the SEC last year. Sure they have Ryan Mallett, but I have to see more out of than just two drubbings of Tennessee Tech and ULM before I can predict they will leave Athens with a win. UGA saves the season with a big home win.
Georgia 27 Arkansas 23
Mike: Georgia (-3)
Despite its low point total last week, Georgia showed some positive signs on offense and I expect continued improvement this week for Aaron Murray and company against a suspect Razorback defense that offered little resistance to the Bulldogs in last year’s matchup. Moreover, with Alabama looming on the horizon, this is a potential trap game for Arkansas. The Razorbacks figure to be a contender in the SEC West this year, but they don’t have enough talent to survive on the road against a quality opponent. This one should be entertaining.
Georgia 35 Arkansas 31
Iowa (-1.5) @ Arizona
Dan: Iowa (-1.5)
I have to admit, I am perplexed by this line. In fact, I was all set to take this as my lock of the week. Ricky Stanzi has the Iowa offense looking good and their 11th ranked defense from last year returned 8 starters. Last year in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes cruised to a relatively comfortable 27-17 victory. But then Chad Millman’s “The System” article of the week sided with ‘Zona for various reasons, including Iowa’s lack of a win west of the Rockies since 1987 as well as their long travel after an emotional rivalry victory. Yet, the Wildcats haven’t beaten a BCS non-conference team in over a decade, and really seem to be overmatched on both sides of the ball. While Chad has been good to me so far this year, I’m going to have to stay with the Hawkeyes for this one.
Iowa 24 Arizona 17
Jeremy: Iowa (-1.5) – LOCK OF THE WEEK
I’d really like to pick the upset here because I think Iowa is overrated. But they’re clearly better than Arizona in almost every facet of the game. Absent a Ricky Stanzi injury, I just can’t see any way that the Wildcats pull off the shocker here. This game could get ugly in the 2nd half if Arizona doesn’t watch out.
Iowa 27 Arizona 17
Jimmy: Iowa (-1.5) LOCK OF THE WEEK
Very high on the Hawkeyes right now. Expecting a big game from TE Allen Reisner, a fantasy pickup this week. Go to your big target Stanzi. While we’re name-dropping Hawkeyes, can’t not mention a name game hall of famer, one Marvin McNutt.
Iowa 21 Arizona 16
Matt: Iowa (-1.5) LOCK OF THE WEEK
I’ll admit it – I know next to nothing about Arizona. They’re never on tv, they never seem to be particularly relevant, and if they are playing a big game you can usually pencil them in for a loss. This years edition appears to have a potent offense, but the impressive stats of Nick Foles have to be taken with a grain of salt because they came against Toledo and the Citadel. The defense is giving up only 4 points a game, leaving the Wildcat faithful dreaming of the Desert Storm defense of yesteryear. (Are there any Arizona football “faithful”, or are they too busy partying and talking about the glory days of Lute Olson, Miles Simon and Mike Bibby?)
I’ve seen enough of Iowa and Ricky Stanzi over the years to know that they’ll play solid defense t hat will more than likely bail out a Stanzi turnover or two. Look for them to squeak out a road win that will look less impressive as the season goes on.
Iowa 31 Arizona 27
Mike: Arizona (+1.5) LOCK OF THE WEEK
I am really high on Arizona this year. To be sure, the Wildcats have several areas of concern, particularly at linebacker, but they are loaded with offensive talent. On the contrary, while the Hawkeyes looked impressive in their win over rival Iowa State last week, they don’t appear to have the firepower to hang with a team like Arizona on the road. Iowa will hang tough, but Arizona will prevail.
Arizona 27 Iowa 20
Nebraska (-4) @ Washington
Dan: Washington (+4)
There is nothing more comforting to a road game than the ability to run the football. I expect the Huskers to keep the pace of the game slow, pound the football against a week Husky defense allowing four yards a carry so far this year. On the other side of the ball, Washington has shown the panache to pull off major upsets in the past. I expect a mildly low scoring game, with maybe one or two big plays by Locker to keep it close enough for the cover, but come up short of the upset.
Nebraska 20 Washington 17
Jeremy: Nebraska (-4)
Not much confidence in the ‘dogs this week. Jake Locker hasn’t seemed like a Heisman candidate or top draft pick so far this year. I’m thinking Bo Pellini will find a way to neutralize him a bit and the Huskers roll behind a rejuvenated offense.
Nebraska 31 Washington 17
Jimmy: Nebraska (-4)
I believe in the Blackshirt renaissance. Taylor Martinez might be following in the footsteps of Tommie Frazier, Eric Crouch and Scott Frost. Go Huskers.
Nebraska 30 Washington 24
Matt: Nebraska (-4)
Are the Blackshirts back? It certainly appears so, and this will be a good road test for the Big Red. Jake Locker has put up solid numbers, although he has not been running nearly as much this year, totaling just 40 yards in their first two games. On the other side of the ball, the Huskers have found their QB of the future in Taylor Martinez, who is averaging an unbelievable 13.5 yards per carry. Nebraska is back to being your father’s Nebraska, 3rd in the nation in rushing with Roy Helu doing damage out of the backfield.
I don’t think the UDub defense can slow down the Huskers rushing attack, and Nebraska will win comfortably. It will be interesting to see how Locker looks against a top flight defenses. I have not been bowled over by him in the times I have seen him, and am still skeptical of his lofty draft status.
Nebraska 38 Washington 21
Mike: Nebraska (-4)
Although I believe that Nebraska is a tad overrated, I think Washington is extremely overrated. The Huskies beat up on a bad Syracuse team at home, but they also looked bad in a loss at BYU, which appears to be in a rebuilding mode. Meanwhile, the emergence of Taylor Martinez has given Nebraska a more competent offense to complement its stingy Blackshirt defense. The Huskers’ offense will control the clock and their defense will slow down Jake Locker enough for a solid road win.
Nebraska 33 Washington 24
Clemson (+6) @ Auburn
Dan: Auburn (-6) LOCK OF THE WEEK
Cameron Newton is the real deal. I watched a decent amount of the Auburn game last week, and despite going on the road into a tough venue, making several mistakes, they were still able to come away with the win and cover. The ACC has been embarrassed so far this year, particularly on the road and Clemson has a history of coming up short. Clemson’s strong defensive line will cause some troubles for Auburn, particularly with starting LT Ziemba out with an injury, but Newton’s mobility will be able to counter this disadvantage. If one of the Auburn running backs (possibly speedy freshman Michael Dyer if he can improve his vision and continue to adjust to the college game), can step up in support with a big break-away run or two, look for a mini-rout by the Tigers.
Auburn 34 Clemson 17
Jeremy: Clemson (+6)
Not too thrilled about taking Clemson here. I think Auburn is poised for an explosion, but they might be a week or two away. I really have no justification for this pick, other than the ugly game Auburn played against Mississippi St. last week.
Auburn 17 Clemson 13
Jimmy: Auburn (-6)
Three words suffice: War Damn Eagle
Auburn 34 Clemson 26
Matt: Auburn (-6)
Clemson, welcome to the 2010 season! After beating up on North Texas and Presbyterian, the Tigers go on the road to face an Auburn team that squeaked out a road win over Miss State last week. As resident SEC expert Philip told me this week, any road win in the SEC is a good win. The offense wasn’t spectacular, but the defense looked dominant. I think they will be able to shut down a Clemson offense under Kyle Parker that so long has relied on the big plays.
Auburn 27 Clemson 13
Mike: Clemson (+6)
Auburn definitely appears to have found itself a quarterback with Cameron Newton, who clearly possesses elite athletic ability. With Newton at the helm and Gus Malzahn calling plays, the Tigers should be able to score plenty of points this year, even in the SEC. Despite not having played anyone of note yet, Clemson is my favorite to win the ACC Atlantic Division, as the Tigers have a talented veteran quarterback, two explosive running backs and a solid front four on defense. These two teams seem to be evenly matched, but the home field edge, as usual, will be the difference.
Auburn 28 Clemson 24
Texas (-3.5) @ Texas Tech
Dan: Texas (-3.5)
Two years ago when the Longhorns visited Lubbock, we were treated to one of the most exciting college football games ever. Unfortunately, Crabtree, McCoy, and Shipley have moved on. This year, Texas seems to match up very well against the Red Raiders. Their secondary is one of the best in the country, and their aggressive defensive line should be able to put Taylor Potts on the ground. I know the Longhorn offense has struggled out of the gate, but they have a defense they can rely on while their ground game builds up momentum. I think Texas does find some offense success this week and gives Tommy a sore welcoming to the Big 12.
Texas 31 Texas Tech 21
Jeremy: Texas (-3.5)
Another high-powered offense that seems stuck in neutral. They haven’t really been tested yet, so I’m willing to give Gilbert and Co. the benefit of the doubt. But they’re going into a hostile Lubbock atmosphere where Texas hasn’t had much success lately. Plus, Tuberville appears to have introduced some defense to the Red Raiders. This game is not as high-scoring as some might predict, but Texas pulls out a big win on the road, exorcising some of those demons from 2008.
Texas 27 Texas Tech 21
Jimmy: Texas (-3.5)
Texas defense wins this game more than their offense.
Texas 24 Texas Tech 10
Matt: Texas (-3.5)
Tommy Tuberville has for the most part kept the pass happy attack of Mike Leach, with Taylor Potts having slung the ball 87 times in two games. However, there is cause for concern, as the rushing game has been anemic, ranking 93rd in the country despite playing SMU and New Mexico. Starting running back Baron Batch is averaging only 3.4 YPC. Not good. Look for Will Muschamp to dial up the pressure on Potts and force turnovers.
As for Texas, I am not sold that this is the typical dominant Mack Brown team. The offense has yet to start pumping on all cylinders under Garrett Gilbert, and there is always the possibility when you go to Lubbock that you might find yourself in a shootout. Texas has to keep the Red Raiders off the scoreboard early, and I think they will.
Texas 34 Texas Tech 20
Mike: Texas Tech (+3.5)
While the season is still young, it seems clear that Texas will be down a notch this year. The Longhorns have been rather pedestrian in their first two games against Wyoming and Rice and, despite an avowed commitment to the run, they still have a revolving door situation at tailback with no clear frontrunner. On the other hand, Texas Tech appears to be improved on defense under Tommy Tuberville and the Red Raider offense has not skipped a beat. Given Tuberville’s track record in big games, I feel pretty comfortable siding with the Red Raiders in this one.
Texas Tech 28 Texas 24
Dan: Mississippi State (+8) @ LSU
I don’t see how LSU has the offense to beat any SEC team by more than a touchdown. Jordan Jefferson continues to be unimpressive, and the Bulldog defense has shown they can put together a good defensive performance. Expect a low scoring game that should make for an easy cover, even though LSU should still win the game at home.
LSU 14 Mississippi State 10
Jeremy: BYU (+9.5)
LOTS of points for an FSU team that looked extremely mediocre last week in their loss to the Sooners. I don’t expect the Cougs to roll into the Doak and pull off a shocker (especially not with a freshman QB at the helm), but I do expect this game to be close into the 4th quarter, with a late Seminole TD allowing FSU to pull away.
FSU 31 BYU 23
Jimmy: BYU (+9.5) @ Florida State
Bounce back game for Jimbo & Co., but that’s a lot of points to lay against a frisky Cougars squad. Play this one in Provo and I like BYU to win outright. Quick did you know about BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall: Bronco has three children--Raeder-Steel, Breaker, and Cutter. Those kids were destined to become middle linebackers at BYU some day. I’m assuming they’re all boys…
FSU 31 BYU 27
WeIs Unofficial James Rodgers Heisman Candidacy Update: James rested up with the Beavers on an early bye week. They welcome the Louisville Cardinals to Corvallis this weekend. Kudos to the Oregon State athletic dept. and coaching staff for having the marbles to schedule TCU, Louisville and Boise State for their non-conference slate. A model that should be emulated by every BCS conference.
Matt: Wake Forest (+17) @ Stanford
College football fans, don’t go to bed early this Saturday. The #1 team in the ACC is traveling west to take on the # 1 team in the PAC 10 for a late night 11:15 EST kickoff in Palo Alto. While the ACC teams were tripping all over themselves last week, Wake Forest was busy picking up a conference win over Duke while lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 54 points. Ok, so it was Duke, but so far Jim Grobe’s option offense has been dynamite, ranking 4th in the country in rushing offense.
Stanford completely destroyed a lifeless UCLA team (start updating that resume Rick Neuheisel), and Stanford is no doubt looking ahead to their big game next weekend in South Bend. Can I dare to dream that the Deacons pull out a huge road win? They did beat Stanford last year in Winston…
No. Andrew Luck is too good, and Wake is outmatched on both lines of scrimmage. But, I think they pull out a cover. This game will prove a cure to Irish fans who are crying into their beers.
Stanford 38 Wake Forest 28
Mike: Maryland @ West Virginia (-11)
West Virginia played poorly for about 55 minutes last week in Huntington before eventually launching a furious rally to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Obviously, the Mountaineers would have preferred a much better performance, but they deserve credit for playing with great poise in an extremely hostile environment. The comeback road win should be a big confidence booster to sophomore QB Eugene Smith, who was tremendous in the 4th quarter against Marshall. As for Maryland, the Terrapins were extremely fortunate to defeat Navy, as the Midshipmen uncharacteristically committed multiple turnovers deep in Maryland territory. In the process, however, the Terps were exposed as a team that appears to have one of the worst passing games among the “Big Six” conferences. West Virginia will grab an early lead, thus forcing Maryland to play from behind, which is a recipe for disaster.
West Virginia 41 Maryland 14