2016 – Week 3 Picks
It felt good to get some picks correct last week, going 7-3 straight up. It's those darn point spreads that get us. 4-6 against them last week. And we keep picking the wrong upset so far. If we make every pick the upset of the week, we will eventually hit on one.
Week 2 was a dull slate of games. There was not a single match up between ranked teams. There were some interesting take aways from the week however. LSU still looks terrible. They had a backup come in and go 6-14 with a TD and a pick and the fans think he is the second coming. That's probably not good. TCU still can't stop anybody. That 15 yard penalty for a throat slash by Kenny Trill would not have mattered on that last drive. TCU wasn't stopping Arkansas. Oklahoma State lost because of a play that shouldn't have been allowed to run. But if you fancy yourself a contender in the Big 12, that game shouldn't have been close to begin with. And how about Clemson looking terrible against Troy? We've seen this before. A team that is coming into the season off a great year with tons of talent coming back will be even better. Shades of Ohio State and Florida State the past couple seasons. At least so far. Georgia could barely beat Nicholls. SEC east looks a bit down this year.
A mixed bag for our favorite MACtion conference this past weekend. We know about the Central Michigan game. Western Michigan so far looks like they are as good as advertised in clobbering an FCS foe, like the big boys do. But that win against Northwestern isn't looking as impressive. Toledo is also taking care of business. But MAC teams had 2 losses to FCS foes and Bowling Green barely beat their FCS opponent by 1 point. Perennially solid Northern Illinois has also been a hot mess so far. They are giving up 6.59 yards per play. That's been against Wyoming and South Florida. South Florida is solid, but still.
There are some good matchups this week. What's the deal with Florida State-Louisville being an 11:00 AM kickoff? They couldn't move that to primetime? You can't make the Playoffs in September, but you sure as heck can torpedo your chances at the end of the year with a loss. Looking at you, Oklahoma.
Teams on bye: Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue, West Virginia, Air Force, Boise State
#2 Florida State
#10 Louisville (+2)
Who would have thought this was going to be the top 10 matchup of the week before the season started and not Ohio State-Oklahoma. Louisville is rolling. QB Lamar Jackson is the frontrunner for the September Heisman. In 6 quarters of play he has put up 1,015 yards of offense with 13 TDs. That is bananas. Granted the competition hasn't been the best, but those are hard numbers to put up in practice. This has shades of Oklahoma last year when everyone couldn't decide if TCU or Baylor was going to win the Big 12, and then Oklahoma came out blazing and won the conference. Could we be seeing the same thing with Louisville considering the Florida State-Clemson debate all offseason? Sure we could. But the problem is Louisville has to play Florida State. The Seminoles are absolutely loaded (like every year.) Redshirt Freshman QB Deondre Francois had some adjustments to make. It took him all of 1 half to do that. Against a top 20 SEC team, he torched them in a humongous 2nd half comeback opening weekend. The defense also looks nasty after that terrible first half against Ole Miss. The defense will be without top safety Derwin James, but they should have enough talent to slow down the Louisville attack. If the front can stay disciplined and keep Lamar Jackson contained, the Seminoles should be able to win. Florida State's defense is better than Louisville's if they can just keep up on the offensive side. Should be a good game, but I will go with Florida State. PICK: Florida State 35, Louisville 31
App State (+3.5)
This is a very dangerous game for Miami. We saw what App State can do when they went on the road to Tennessee and barely lost in overtime. Now they get the Hurricanes at home. I'm 100% positive the crowd will be in a frenzy this game. They want to knock off one of the glamour programs plus a top 25 team to boot. (Can they still be called a glamour program relying on decades old awesome-ness?) The line is only 3.5 points. You normally don't see a spread like that for a Sun Belt team. Appalachian's defense is good. They are good at getting in the backfield and creating pressure. Last year they were top 20 in the nation with almost 3 sacks per game. They will need to do that this game to get to Hurrican QB Brad Kaaya, who is embarking on his 6th season at Miami. Seriously, how long has he been there? He's still only a junior? Good quarterbacks love getting blitzed. That means they have some man-on-man coverage to exploit down the field. And he's a good quarterback. I like to say "Beware the Home Dog." App State is a home dog, so I say go with them to win outright. That's more fun than picking Miami. PICK: App State 28, Miami 24
This is a very intriguing game. A recent national power is trying to show that they aren't on the decline. (How many schools would like to consider the past 2 seasons with a championship game loss and then 9 wins a decline?) An old school power is trying to regain that magic from a couple decades ago. That's what the narrative is, although I don't know if either is more true depending on the outcome of this game. Oregon has maybe the best set of skill players in the nation. They have speed all over the place. They have an Olympic hurdler at receiver (Devon Allen) and Royce Freeman at running back. They have FCS transfer quarterback Dakota Prukop running the show. So far he has been good. If he stays within himself and lets the talent around him do their thing, Oregon is tough to contain. Nebraska has QB Tommy Armstrong Jr., who is a holdover from the Tom Osborne era. (The quarterback who has been around forever seems to be a theme.) He's looked pretty good in year 2 of Mike Riley's system. They are averaging a healthy 6.73 yards per play and are taking care of the ball. They are +7 in turnover differential so far on the year. I like Nebraska this year, and they have good stats so far, but I don't think they can keep up with the Oregon attack. PICK: Oregon 38, Nebraska 28
#19 Ole Miss (+10.5)
Ole Miss comes into this game riding a 2-game winning streak against the Tide. You don't see that very often in the Nick Saban era. Ole Miss had a collapse against Florida State opening weekend and then rebounded with a taking-care-of-business outing against Wofford. Even with that cupcake game, Ole Miss is languishing at 76th in the nation in total offense. Not what you would have expected from a Swag Kelly led attack. The defense also lost key contributors from last year's team and are 102nd in total defense so far. It seems like they are still adjusting. So it's not a good thing they get Alabama so early in the season. Alabama is running on all cylinders. They are destroying everything in their path. Saban is not letting complacency set in as he is talking about being disappointed after a 38-10 win over a solid Group of 5 foe. That on the heels of completely dismantling the mind, body, and soul of USC in week 1. Even though this game is in Oxford, I have a really hard time seeing Alabama lose this game. Give me Alabama minus anything in this one. This proclamation is sure to make me look like a fool Saturday evening when this one is over. PICK: Alabama 45, Ole Miss 20
Oklahoma St. (-6)
The key to this one will be to see if the Cowboys let Central Michigan beat them twice. You see it all the time in college football. A team loses on a controversial call/play and their season goes into a tailspin. Not only that, they have to go against a very good opponent in Pitt. Pitt is going to rush they ball, and then they will rush the ball some more. They ran the ball 56 times against Penn State in their huge rivalry win. It's no secret what they will do. Can Oklahoma State stop them? Recent evidence of Big 12 defenses says no. The Cowboys will try to throw the ball all over the field, and that could be a problem for the Pitt defense. They were picked apart pretty good through the air by Penn State last week. If Pitt can control the clock by running the ball, and not turn it over, they have a good chance of pulling out a road win here. It's hard to say where OK State's heads will be. Let's go with Pitt in a road win. PICK: Pittsburgh 33, Oklahoma State 27
#17 Texas A&M
In the past, this matchup has been a game of explosive offenses. Now, these 2 teams have awesome defensive lines. A&M defensive end Myles Garrett puts fear into every quarterback he goes against. Auburn does not have a particularly great QB. So that means they will have to try and run the ball. I suppose they will bank on Garrett trying to get to the quarterback relentlessly and just let him go up the field while they run a draw past him. Or they will just run the opposite direction. Auburn's offense has not looked good the past couple years, and this won't be the game where it turns things around. Texas A&M can still put up some points, and although Auburn's defense will slow them down, they should be able to score enough to win this one on the road. PICK: Texas A&M 21, Auburn 16
#12 Michigan St.
#18 Notre Dame (-7.5)
No one, and I mean no one, is talking about Michigan State this year. It seems like the media just expects them to lose a few games and be irrelevant in the Big 10 race behind Michigan & Ohio St. Don't brush them off so easily. The defense is where it is every year under Dantonio, pretty damn good....although how good? They've only played Furman, and they allowed Furman to score 13 pts. The last couple of years I would expect that to be an automatic shutout. We've seen what ND can do on offense after they decided to leave in their #1 QB the entire game. Get ready for a Malik Zaire transfer (possibly to Oregon) unless Kizer gets hurt. What made Notre Dame so scary last year was that defense of theirs.....well folks, it's mostly gone (to the NFL) and now they have a few pieces to work with, but the secondary looks like trash at times. If Michigan State QB O'Connor can throw the rock around a little they can make a legit run at a W here. Speaking of questionable secondaries, Michigan State is supposed to have problems against the pass. That's not good against ND's Kizer. Spartan DL Malik McDowell will need to play out of his mind to pressure Kizer and keep him from having a field day. He's only one man though. The running game for ND might just be abandoned early to pick the Spartans apart. Michigan State will look good and should pick off OSU or Michigan this season. I just don't think they're ready to beat a high quality team yet. ND all the way here. PICK: Notre Dame 31, Michigan St 20
#3 Ohio State
#14 Oklahoma (+1.5)
Rumor has it that Houston HC Tom Herman is talking to his old boss, OSU HC Urban Meyer, on how to beat Oklahoma. I wonder if he just told him to go with 2 running plays that go nowhere, then throw up a deep pass on 3rd down for a 40 yd completion. Oh, and run back a missed FG for a TD. Oklahoma did not play all that well against Houston, as we all know. The Sooners have their back against the wall, and if they lose this game the season is lost. Oklahoma is a good team, but just not a great team from what I have seen. They need to establish the run game and stick with it. OU has Mixon and Perine, two phenomenal talents to lean on. Once they do that, then let Mayfield do his thing with less pressure. OSU's defense has only let 2 yds per carry, so if the Sooners can get the run game moving then the world is their oyster. The Buckeyes have destroyed 2 Group of 5 teams. Don't let that fool you though. They beat a good Tulsa team 48-3, and after looking over the stats for that game it was all about the turnovers. Tulsa kept up with OSU on offense. It's just those multiple TOs in the Red Zone that killed them. That tells me that OSU's defense isn't as great as they seem to be. A good team will be able to pass on this young defense. Just avoid those TOs and you'll be right next to the Buckeyes on the scoreboard. Obviously OSU's offense is just fine with JT Barrett at the helm, and they'll be able to move the ball against a pedestrian OU defense. OU's defense has already been their downfall and will continue to be the reason they lose games. The only problem I have picking OSU to win this game is that they have to play in Norman, OK. The Sooners are ridiculously tough to beat at home, so I'm going to go with the Sooners here for the fact that they are at home and Baker Mayfield needs to burst out against a good team. This game will be it. Look for over 300 yds passing and 4 TDs from Mayfield. OU's defense will make it close though. The line started out with OU as a 1 pt favorite, but it has flipped to OSU by 2 pts now....take that bet. PICK: Oklahoma 38, Ohio St 34
I fully expect Texas to take care of Cal this week. The only reason Cal will keep it close is because they are at home. Cal is doing their normal thing on offense - scoring a ton on quick drives and hanging the defense out to dry....not that the defense is any good in the first place. Texas has finally found an offense and have an average defense. Even though Texas held UTEP to 7 pts last week, Cal QB Webb should have no problem slicing up the secondary and throwing up 5 or more TDs. Texas is allowing almost 5 yds per play on defense, which is pretty gross and that number is only going to go up after this one. On the flip side, Cal is allowing 6.65 yds per play. Get ready for a 4 hour game of catch. Once Texas goes up in the 4th quarter, they will most definitely bring in the "18-wheeler package" to control the clock. Key to the game is to keep Davis Webb off the field in the 4th quarter. Texas could very well make this a blowout or lose this game by a couple of points. I'm going right down the middle. Chances are that Texas does just fine since they've passed the eye test and beaten a pretty solid Notre Dame team. Texas by 6. PICK:Texas 54, Cal 48
#7 Stanford (-9)
Does USC really have that feeling of beating who they're supposed to beat and lose who they're supposed to lose to? Possibly. If you have watched any of the action for the Trojans, you'll notice that their QB Max Browne takes his sweet time delivering the ball and tends to telegraph almost every pass. USC's defense should be able to pressure Stanford's O-Line and stay on top of QB Ryan Burns. Stanford's offense ain't what it used to be, but Christian McCaffrey is even better. As usual most of the attention will be on McCaffrey, so Ryan Burns is gonna have to step and throw the deep ball to keep the USC D in check. It looks to me that USC got punched straight in the mouth by Bama which caused them to wake up very quickly if they want this season to be any sort of a success. Stanford seems to be still figuring out what they have on offense (besides McCaffrey). I don't know if Burns has it in him yet to take this team on his back to be a quality opponent. UPSET PICK OF THE WEEK: I'm gonna go against the grain here and take USC to win the game in an awfully exciting 2nd half. Trojans win this game catapulting their confidence for the rest of the season and a nice start to their PAC12 season. PICK: USC 28, Stanford 26
Season Record - Straight Up: 12-8
Season Record - Versus Spread: 7-13
Upset of the Week: 0-2