Tradition rich programs square off this week in a fun slate of games. (Editors note: Mike's picks are stored against his will on an evil computer that refuses internet service. Stay tuned for an update with Mike's witty thoughts added to the mix. The weekend wouldn't be the same without Mike and his wit. What wit and charm! If I didn't know better, I'd think Mike were British.)
Ohio State (-1) at Miami
Dan: Miami (+1)
I will not lay a dime on this game. The suspensions and erratic natures of both these teams just make it too difficult to call. I could see it being close or either team winning by two touchdowns. In the end, I’ll go with the home team with an actual head coach and a more talented QB. However, I caution you to stay away.
Miami 17 OSU 14
Jeremy: Ohio St (-1)
Sounds like Fickell might be taking some heat for last week's performance against the mighty Rockets of Toledo. Was surprised to see the Bucks give up as many points and yards as they did on Saturday. OSU looked pretty dominant on defense against the Zips in Week One. I think they bounce back this weekend down in Miami. The Canes are a walking nightmare right now.
OSU 17 Miami 13
Jimmy: Ohio State (-1)
Who knows who is eligible for the Sanction Party Bowl. One thing is for certain - Jacory “Turnovers are a Way of Life” Harris will be involved on the field. Last we saw him, Harris single-handedly vaulted ND to a lofty preseason ranking replete with a Copperfield-esque illusion trick that the Irish D was turning into a reliable force. With Jacory behind center, the Buckeyes look like the smart pick, even if all is not well in C-Bus. Struggling to avoid “Holy Toledo!” headlines across the country, Fickell’s fearless crew were likely guilty of looking ahead to their South Beach trip. I trust the Buckeyes will be dialed in and looking to release some of their NCAA-fueled aggression. I fear the Hurricanes are in too much disarray to compete.
Ohio State 27 Miami 13
Mike: Miami (+1)
The bloom is certainly off the rose in this matchup, given the lingering cloud of scandal that hangs over both programs. In addition, both teams are lacking depth for various reasons, including the obvious player suspensions. Having said that, the Canes have been hit less hard on the suspension front and they add Jacory Harris back to the starting lineup. Harris is far from perfect, but he is an improvement over Stephen Morris and he is a tested veteran who is far superior to Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller at this point of their careers. Al Golden will score his first career win with the Canes and Luke Fickell will take his first career loss as head coach of the Buckeyes.
Miami 22 Ohio State 17
Phil: Miami (+1)
Speaking of road favorites...we introduce Probation Bowl 2011, winner to face off against the Boise-USC winner! Completely going against my natural tendencies, the return of Jacory Harris is not a good thing for the Canes, however, Al Golden will have them ready to go at home.
Miami 17 OSU 14
LSU(-4) at Mississippi State
Dan: Mississippi State (+4)
I am liking the home dogs this year in the SEC. Mississippi State should bounce back against LSU after a disappointed loss at the buzzer to Auburn. Throw in the Thursday night home game philosophy, and I can’t stay away from the Bulldogs even though it is difficult to any reason on paper why they should be within a touchdown of LSU.
LSU 20 Mississippi State 17
Jeremy: LSU (-4)
Will be interesting to see how Miss. St. responds to last week's heartbreaker on the Plains. Having the Bayou Bengals come to town isn't exactly the best way to exorcise some demons from a tough loss. Needless to say, I don't think the Bulldogs have it in them.
LSU 27 MSU 20
Jimmy: LSU (-4) Lock of the Week
For a brief moment, I started thinking this season has already started its descent into wacky unpredictability - why can’t the Bulldogs come barking back after last week and treat Starkville to a huge win. Then I remembered how badly LSU manhandled Oregon’s excellent offense and came to my senses. This could be entertaining for a half, maybe even 3 quarters, but the Bayou Bengals will see the Bulldogs bark and raise them a mighty roar. Les Miles wins on the River. (Your guess is as good as mine how that pick devolved into a poker metaphor. I just went with it, but it’s an apt description for the Hat’s coaching success.)
LSU 33 Mississippi St. 27
Mike: Mississippi State (+3.5)
LSU certainly looked impressive on defense against Oregon, so they should be able to slow the spread running attack of Mississippi State as well. Still, LSU has not proven that they have any signs of life on offense with Jarrett Lee under center. These two teams are closely matched, which leads me to side with Mississippi State for several reasons: they’re getting points, the game is in Starkville and I like the coaching matchup with Dan Mullen and the Mad Hatter. Cowbell up!
LSU 20 Mississippi State 17
Phil: LSU (-4) Lock of the Week
Short week for the billions after a brutally physical game vs the Champs. Relf provided me a glimpse of the frustration it must have been defending Cam last year, as he repeatedly found a way to convert on 3rd down. I fully expect LSU defense to be more stout than Auburn's, and those third down conversions to be more scarce. An interesting tidbit- Dan Mullen is 2-9 vs the SEC West, with both wins coming against Ole Miss. Poor. I think this game will be close, and would like LSU better at -3, but I hate Mullen and the dogs, as they miserably try and stay relevant.
LSU 28 Mrs St 20
Auburn (+3.5) at Clemson
Dan: Auburn (+3.5)
I understand that Auburn is due for a twist of bad luck after two lucky and close wins. But Clemson has played Troy and Wofford. I find it hard to lay 3.5 points against the defending national champions when the team hasn’t even played anyone this year. I was all set to take Clemson with this game, but not laying 3.5 forget about it.
Auburn 34 Clemson 31
Jeremy: Auburn (+3.5) Lock of the Week
Can't say that I really get this line. I suppose Vegas probably thinks that there's no way Auburn can pull out another miracle on the road, but I don't think Clemson is any good at all. Got a sneaking suspicion that this could be a big win for the War Eagle.
Auburn 34 Clemson 17
Learning my lesson the hard way about the power of Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn. They get results. Clemson is a fine team with a nice tradition playing in the lesser Death Valley (should we start calling it Faint Pulse Valley?) When it comes down to it, Clemson’s football program has delusions of SEC quality, when in reality they’re an above-average ACC school. They always seem to disappoint in the end, despite plenty of NFL talent over the years. Auburn knows full well they have to play above themselves to win. They did it last week. They’ll do it again this week in a close one. War Eagle.
Auburn 37 Clemson 34
Mike: Auburn (+3.5)
Very difficult game to call. I am convinced that the cardiac (Auburn) Tigers are long overdue for a loss, but Clemson has looked weak in the first two weeks, having struggled to defeat Troy and Wofford. Both offenses should be able to move the ball effectively, so this game figures to be somewhat high scoring. In a close game, who do you trust: the team coached by Gene Chizik or the team coached by Dabo Swinney? I’ll cast my lot with the former.
Auburn 31 Clemson 30
Phil: Auburn (+3.5)
What can I say? Insert your cliche here. "Bend but don't break." "We believe in each other." "We don't know how to lose." The champs have lived dangerously each of the last 2 weeks, but they have "found a way," and they actually have improved each game. The D line had a better push, and as predicted, some subtle O line changes had us running the ball much better. This week is our first road test vs a Clemson team that sleep walked through Wofford. I look for our special teams to make a big play this week. Tre Mason!! I expect a very physical, fast matchup, but until they prove me different, I'm going with my boys.
Auburn 37 Clemson 34
Oklahoma (-3.5) at Florida State
Dan: Oklahoma (-3.5) Lock of the Week
This is the type of game OU wins. Other than Texas, I feel like OU’s success in the regular season against Top 10 teams has been very good under Stoops. I know FSU will be motivated after last year’s blow out, but I think Landry Jones can keep his cool in Doak Campbell and leave with a victory (and cover).
OU 28 FSU 21
Just not quite ready to buy into the FSU hype quite yet. EJ Manuel is still pretty green, and I'm going with the better QB, even in the Doak.
OU 24 FSU 20
Jimmy: Florida State (+3.5)
Heavyweight matchup! Jimbo Fisher’s revitalization of the Seminoles program happened with Tamarick Vanover speed. Becoming largely irrelevant in the twilight of Bowden’s reign (3 of his last four years were 6-loss seasons - not since Bowden’s first season in 1976 had FSU lost 6), the sleeping giant is on Adderall these days with the top recruits flocking to Tallahassee (by that same token, the state’s other top “talent” flocking to become the next Jenn Sterger on campus). Doak Campbell has a great gameday atmosphere, as discussed here previously. The Sooner faithful making the trip will enjoy themselves.
As for game prediction, I think FSU’s defense will relish the limelight and slow the Sooners attack enough to make things very competitive. Bob Stoops hasn’t had the best big-game record the last 7 or so years, especially on the road. The Tomahawk Chop will be loud, repetitively obnoxious and the right inspiration for a FSU statement win. After taking most of the 2000s off, the Noles look primed to return to their 90’s dominating self.
FSU 29 OU 27
Mike: Oklahoma (-3.5)
FSU has not played a meaningful game yet, so the jury remains out on the Seminoles, who were a trendy sleeper pick to contend for the national championship this year. Likewise, the nation’s current #1 team, Oklahoma, enjoyed an opening day cupcake followed by a rare break in week 2. Without any further evidence to the contrary, I am hard pressed to conclude that the Seminoles, who lost their starting QB to the NFL draft, have closed the talent gap with a Sooner program that embarrassed them last season. The change of venue will help FSU, but not enough.
Oklahoma 41 Florida State 27
Phil: FSU (+3.5)
What an early season matchup! I haven't seen either team play yet, but the talking heads seem to think this is a national quarterfinal game. FSU is returning to prominence, OU has been near the top for sometime. FSU is at home, OU has had struggles in big games. Only cause I'm taking LSU, and want to avoid picking too many road favorites. That, and I love a black QB.
FSU 30 OU 27
Dan: UT (+9.5) @ Florida
I may be shooting myself by putting myself in the Volunteer camp in a visit to Ben Hill Griffin, but nearly 10 points feels a little large. Florida may have tons of talent still, but it isn’t the same Florida team as recent years. Forgive me for not being impressed by wins over UAB and FAU. Tyler Bray, and his talented wide receivers Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers, have been putting up some pretty impressive passing numbers. I think they put enough on the board to get the cover and obtain a single digit loss in Gainesville.
Florida 27 UT 21
Jeremy: West Virginia (-1.5) at Maryland
Another questionable line, in my opinion. Is this newfound confidence in the Terps based solely on their performance against a POS Miami squad that's on the verge of completely falling apart? Mountaineers win big here.
WVU 35 Maryland 20
Jimmy: Wisconsin (-17) vs. Northern Illinois (at Soldier Field)
The Badgers have steamrolled two opponents collectively 86-17. The Huskies have proven they can put up 40+ against Army and Kansas. Big whoop. Russell Wilson looks like a magical fit in Madison. Has Wisconsin ever had such an athletically talented QB? It seems like the last 20 years have been chock full of Brooks Bollinger, Scott Tolzien, Jim Sorgi, John Stocco, etc. types. As if their impressive rushing attack needed another dimension. It looks like the Leaders Division goes through Grateful Red this year.
Wisconsin 48 NIU 14
Mike: Pittsburgh at Iowa (-3.5)
The Hawkeyes stubbed their toe against their in-state rivals (who, in turn, accidentally destroyed the redesigned Cy-Hawk Trophy whilst celebrating), but they nonetheless seem to be a stronger program than a struggling Pittsburgh team whose starting QB, Tino Sunseri, seems to have regressed in his second year. Look for Iowa to bounce back at home and notch a comfortable non-conference win against Todd Graham’s Panthers.
Iowa 28 Pittsburgh 10
Phil: Tennessee (+9.5) @ Florida
Early on, I predicted Florida would come out of the East, only because Garcia is a drunk and I believe Weis will have those swamp athletes putting up some points. While I still feel this way, Tennessee and Tyler Bray have looked surprisingly good, especially given the fact that Dooley has kicked off players that could make up an all-conference team. Ten points is alot, given the rivalry game, but UF should still win. What happened to the days of the 10-6 SEC game??
Florida 28 Tenn 24
Last Week's Picks:
Dan: 3-2-1 (+ Lock of Week)
Jeremy: 4-1-1 (+)
Jimmy: 3-2-1 (+)
Mike: 4-1-1 (push)
Phil: 1-4-1 (push)
Dan: 7-4-1 (2-0)
Jeremy: 6-5-1 (1-1)
Jimmy: 5-5-2 (1-1)
Matt: 2-4 (0-1)
Mike: 5-6-1 (0-1-1)
Phil: 3-8-1 (0-1-1)