2017 – Week 2 Picks

Week 2.  The perfect time for people to build on the Week 1 overreactions or declare with certainty that Week 1 was definitely not an overreaction for how the team is going to play out the season.  The first week wasn't too bad.  It's usually a tough week to pick because you don't know how teams will come out when they don't have a preseason.  We went 7-3 straight up and 5-5 against the spread.  I think we would take that success all season long.

Week 2 is a loaded week.  There are 4 games between ranked teams and there is a top 5 matchup and a couple top 15 matchups.  Even the matchups that don't have 2 ranked teams are full of name brand programs.  It should be a fun weekend and this is what makes college football great.

Unfortunately there is another hurricane bearing down on the US.  This time it is headed to Florida.  Three games so far have been postponed and we don't know for sure if they will be made up.  It is certainly a bummer for fans and for Jacknife players as you miss out on points, but it definitely pales in comparison to the destruction that people face in the aftermath of these disasters.  Hope everyone comes out ok and for those of us that have the ability to watch the games, remember how lucky you are.

Onto the picks!

Teams on bye:  Texas Tech, Air Force, Coastal Carolina, Georgia State.  Miami-Arkansas State, South Florida-UConn, Northern Colorado-Florida, Memphis-UCF, and LA-Monroe-Florida State have all been postponed due to Hurricane Irma.

   #17 Louisville

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   North Carolina (+10)

Does anyone honestly think UNC has a chance in this game? I sure don’t, and that’s because their defense gave up over 360 yards through the air to, wait for it, Ross Bowers of Cal. If Ross Bowers and Cal (picked to finished last in the Pac 12 North) can throw up 35 points on a very suspect defense I can’t wait to see what the Lamar Jackson Show will do.

One aspect of Lamar Jackson's game that was a question mark coming into the season was his passing accuracy. In his first two seasons, he completed less than 60 percent of his attempts. Against Purdue, though, the junior was spot on. He completed 30-of-46 passes, a rate of 65.2 percent, for 378 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Oh, and he ran for over a hundred yards too.

To begin the post-Mitch Trubisky era, the Tar Heels played two quarterbacks in the loss to Cal, starting Brandon Harris, but the graduate transfer from LSU threw two interceptions and gave way to redshirt freshman Chazz Surratt. Although Surratt did not exactly light things up, he outplayed Harris, but this week the two QBs will be going up against a much tougher defense than the one the Heels faced in week one.

I predict that Louisville comes out of the gates blazing in this one and never looks back, and at 0-2, Larry Fedora’s seat will start to feel a bit too warm for his liking.

Pick: Louisville 52, UNC 27

   Pittsburgh

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   #4 Penn State (-22)

This is one of those classic rivalries that they have brought back after everyone came to their senses and realized they should be playing this game.  Last year Pitt beat Penn State, and little did we know, that had a huge impact on Penn State not making the Playoff.  I'm sure the Nittany Lions would love nothing more than to stick it to them and beat the holy hell out of them.  They want to do that anyway because, you know, rivalry.
 
Penn State is coming off a week where we didn't really learn anything.  They demolished an overmatched Akron 52-0.  Saquon Barkley looks awesome and the announcers love talking about is workouts and his huge quads.  The defense looked stout in holding Kent State to 120 total yards.  Of that 120, 1 yard was passing.  They allowed 1 yard passing!  I don't care who you are playing, that is almost impossible to do unless you are playing Army, and that's because they don't want to pass.
 
Pitt survived in OT against Youngstown State.  Yikes.  I know you don't always want to overreact to Week 1 results, but that's not a good sign.  Lots of previews out there warned this could be a reloading year for Pitt, and the first game sure gave that indication.
 
Penn State is out for revenge and just look loaded on offense.  Penn State should roll at home.
 
PICK: Penn State 41, Pittsburgh 10

  #23 TCU

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   Arkansas (+3.5)

Rematch from last year’s thrilling 41-38 OT victory for Arkansas at TCU.  This was most certainly one of the more entertaining games of 2016.  Expect this one to be another exciting rematch that you won’t want to miss…better D, more mature QBs, questionable O-lines.  They’re eerily similar in strengths and weaknesses.  Both teams are coming off blowout wins, which means we have no idea how good either one of these teams are just yet since they played the likes of Florida A&M (Arkansas 49-7) and Jackson State (TCU 63-0).  We find out on Saturday what we can expect for the rest of the year.

Arkansas is back to Bielema’s wheelhouse, using the running game to establish dominance and control the clock.  One big problem, the O-Line needs to improve quickly.  QB Austin Allen might need to be on point to keep up with TCU if the Razorbacks get behind.  The Arkansas defense is certainly improved from last year, here comes their first test - TCU QB, Kenny Hill. 

Will Kenny Hill keep it together for TCU or force the issue and throw into triple coverage too often and allow Arkansas to have a field day in the secondary?  Luckily for TCU fans the offense doesn’t start and stop with Hill.  They’ll keep rolling if he needs to be pulled or rely on the running game.  They’ll find a way to score.  The elephant in the room is the defense.  Gary Patterson used to be known for his shutdown D, until he opened up the offense to the spread, then things got iffy on D real quick.  Rumor has it that he’s back to his roots and coaching up a D that should be dominate.  Rumors are still rumors.  Let’s see it on the field this Saturday.  If TCU dominates on D then a lot of Big 12 fans should be fearful of playing these guys, because they’ll be a playoff contender if their “old” D is back.

Clearly, both of these teams are better on defense, which makes us all sad when we would love to see another shootout go into OT.  Chances are, that it will be close to the end, just not as entertaining as last year.  I’m going to take the slight upset here since Arkansas is at home, plus I have this sneaky suspicion that Kenny Hill will always be Kenny Hill - he’ll make the untimely mistake to give Arkansas the win after it’s all done.  TCU’s D isn’t quite back yet, but I’m sure there will be flashes.  I’m just not convinced you can make a 180 degree turn in less than a year.  Looking at Arkansas’ schedule the rest of the way, if they win this game, the hype train could start rolling.

PICK: Arkansas 31, TCU 27

   Nebraska

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   Oregon (-13.5)

If I had to guess the pulse of the Husker fan base, it would go like this:If I had to guess the pulse of the Husker fan base, it would go like this:

  • 13% of you hope that the Oregon game gets canceled due to smoke because you are so worried about being embarrassed by the Husker defense that you’d rather see Nebraska not play this game.
  • 50% of you are going to watch to see what happens because you’re “true fans”.
  • 14% of you want Nebraska to lose so you could tell all your buddies just how right you were about Mike Riley being a bad hire.
  • 6% of you are convinced that Nebraska is going to stomp the living crap out of Oregon. You don’t really need a reason, you are just convinced. I love that 6% of you.
  • 17% of you are only doing this because your boyfriend, husband, or significant other makes you. They make you do this by making it clear that this is the only way you’re going to spend time with them.

Is there really much more to say about this game? Oregon’s offense beats the hell out of Nebraska’s defense everywhere, and Willie Taggart moves to number one on Texas A&M’s next coach list.

Pick: Oregon 55, Nebraska 24

   #13 Auburn

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   #3 Clemson (-4.5)

 
This is a really good game.  The defending champs in a evening/night game at Death Valley.  If there is a team that won't be intimidated by the environment, it would be Auburn.  They are used to playing in super hyped atmospheres spending their seasons playing in places like the other Death Valley and in Tuscaloosa.
 
Both teams rolled in their opening week games against Group of 5 teams.  For one week at least, it looked like Clemson QB Kelly Bryant will be able to hold his own stepping in for departed legend Deshaun Watson.  And isn't this weird.  Just like Penn State against Akron, Clemson gave up only 1 yard passing to Kent State.  You know the defense is going to just reload every year at Clemson at this point.
 
Auburn is having to replace a lot on a strong defense from last year.  When you think of Auburn the first thing that comes to mind is their offense, but last year they had a defense carrying the team.  This year they have Baylor QB transfer Jarrett Stidham at the helm of the offense.  Auburn is looking to get back to their high octane offensive ways that Gus Malzahn likes to run.
 
This game should have a little bit more flow to it than last year's 19-13 Clemson win.  Look for a close game again, but with more points.  Clemson holds serve at home in an early game that will shape the national narrative for the Playoff.
 
PICK: Clemson 31, Auburn 28

   #15 Georgia

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   #24 Notre Dame (-4.5)

I’m not going to lie, I was burned pretty hard by Notre Dame last year. I mean four wins out of a team that was a projected BCS playoff dark horse, come on! But when it comes to college football you have to have a short memory, because the team that burned you last year could lead you to glory this year. Yep, I was deep into Notre Dame this preseason and after week one I’m feeling pretty damn confident.

The Fighting Irish destroyed a very good Temple team by 33 points, and junior QB Brandon Wimbush making his first career start, threw for two touchdowns and ran for 106 yards and another touchdown. They face a much stiffer test this week against a Georgia team that also took care of business comfortably beating what may be the best non-power five team in the country in Appalachian State. However, Georgia lost one of its most important players in that victory QB Jacob Eason, who was projected to do huge things this year and lead Georgia back to the SEC title game. All hope is not lost however, as freshman backup Jake Fromm led Georgia to three scoring drives to close out the first half. Fromm is ready to step-up, and his teammates this he will be just fine. I on the other hand think Notre Dame will be looking to rattle him and will force the young QB to make some early mistakes and will take a double digit lead into halftime. Georgia will keep it close, they still have a ton of talent, and a guy named Chubb carrying the rock, but I have to give this one to the Irish in South Bend.

Pick: Notre Dame 45, Georgia 31

   #14 Stanford

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   #6 USC (-6.5)

We get an early treat with a season changing game.  PAC12 is blowing their wad a little early here….whatever, we’ll take it.  Remember before the Playoffs when the first 3 weeks were total trash?  If nothing else, the Playoff has given us a temporary relief from the 3 week blowout fest.  Hopefully the CFP committee doesn’t blow this and show that they don’t care about non-conference strength of schedule, or else we’re going to see schedules go back to the “Dark Ages” of non-conference play…i.e. see Baylor’s schedule the last 5 years.  Sorry for the rant, I know this is a conference game.

The obvious comment here is that USC looked questionable against a W. Michigan team that was super predictable with the run game and for wahtever reason USC let it happen until the 4th quarter.  Heisman God, Sam Darnold, didn’t even throw for a TD and had himself 2 INTs.  Granted he ran for a a couple of TDs, but they still didn’t have that magic we saw in the last 9 weeks of 2016.  They bring that game in Week 2 and Stanford will crush their face in.  Tons of talent for USC.  They just seem to take forever to put it all together before it’s too late.  They lose here and we’re back to the old USC….forgotten and disappointed.  They win and the hype train will become a bullet train with the media, it’s never in-between.

Stanford is built for games like this - pro-style offense, hard nose football with a perennial top 10 defense.  The game will slow down whenever Stanford damn well feels it wants to slow down it down.  You better believe that they’ll be running the ball down the throats of USC for most the game.  Expect short throws and screens to keep the D slightly off balance.  Stanford has seen the footage - the run defense is quite possibly sub-par for USC this year. 

Once again, we have such a small sample size to make a proper decision, so it’s gut feeling for the most part.  Stanford is always put together well, no matter what week we’re in.  I’ll take Stanford to win a fantastic game that will set the pace for the PAC12 the rest of the year.

PICK: Stanford 26, USC 24

   Utah

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   BYU (+1.5)

WARNING: Ugly game ahead!!  The Holy War.  This one is going to be like going to the dentist - no one wants to do it but it has to happen to keep things healthy in the CFB world.  This thing could end up 3-2 in the end.  BYU was shutout by a LSU defense that featured a ton of freshman, albeit some really talented freshman.  Hell, Portland State’s defense looked like Alabama’s defense for 3 quarters against BYU.  Here’s the Mormons' problem, Utah always has a fantastic defense, so get ready for another serious struggle on offense for the Cougars.  That’s honestly all I can elaborate on for BYU on the offensive side of the ball - it’s that bad.  The defense is still up to snuff though, flying all over the place trying to take off guys heads due to sexual deprivation and lack of alcohol (stereotypes are a helluva thing).

Utah comes off of a nice little test by playing FCS juggernaut North Dakota.  The rushing game is in full effect for the Utes and once again the QB play is questionable at best.  I expect a bit of a stalwort in the 1st half of this game with BYU stacking the box to limit the run game forcing the QB Huntley to beat them in the air.  He can throw the short pass with a ton of accuracy, after 10-15 yards he becomes a liability.  If the Utes can connect a few depp passes then expect Utah to run away with things, opening up their dominant running game.

This is a fairly straight forward, smash mouth game that could very well end up close since this rivalry is serious business.  I cannot pick BYU based on previous performances, they’ll need to do something special to change my mind about this team.  Utah will do their thing.

PICK: Utah 27, BYU 17

   Boise State

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   #20 Washington St. (-10)

I didn’t watch either of these two teams play opening weekend, but both teams took care of business defeating opponents that they should have. However, neither team looked particularly impressive, and although Cougars are ten point favorites in this one I like Boise St.

Stay with me hear, let me begin by saying that WSU should be a stiff challenge for the young Bronco defense. They handled their business against Troy, but the secondary will be tested time and again by Mike Leach’s Air Raid. IF the Broncos pull off the upset, it will be the 4th year in a row that they’ve beaten at least one Pac-12 foe, and the second consecutive year that they’ve knocked off the Cougars.

For me I think the team that wins this game will be the one that wins the turnover battle. The Broncos flirted with losing this battle on Saturday, but at the last-minute decided not to tempt fate. It would be bad to lose this way to WSU on Saturday. The Bronco offense was rather vanilla on Saturday and I think they need to be a bit bolder (and a bit trickier) this weekend.

 

Maaan...this is going to be a tough game. If the Broncos offense isn’t better they’ll be hard-pressed to keep pace with the fireworks that will be on display all game from the Cougars. I think the defense should play well, but they can only do so much. I mean Cougar QB Luke Falk threw 71 passes for 480 yards last year and Washington State still lost! That’s the key to this game, hold Falk under 500 yards passing and the Broncos will be the toast of Idaho, and will be at the head of the pack for a non-power five New Years bowl.

Pick: Boise St. 38, Washington St. 35

   #5 Oklahoma

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   #2 Ohio State (-7)

Upset of the Week!!!

Another rematch from 2016.  The ol’ home and away matchups that were scheduled back in the 1970s or so.  Oklahoma was the bell of the ball in the preseason last year and OSU was the team that was too young to dominate all year.  Surprise, surprise!!  OSU dominated Oklahoma after JT Barrett threw all over that terrible Sooner secondary.  Barrett doesn’t pick secondaries apart.  He throws short passes and relies on the run, so this was our red flag for how awful the OU secondary was last year.  Turn to 2017, and OU has a deep secondary that is most certainly not their weakness.  Then cue the season long injury to one of their top CBs from last game and all of a sudden the secondary isn’t as deep, making Sooner fans if we’ll have a repeat of 2016.  It's not. 

The Buckeyes are going to run the ball until we wonder if we’re watching GA Tech or Navy play.  The OSU defense is freaking stacked beyond belief.  It’s going to take some time to get everything straightened out though….like maybe half a game…like against Indiana.  Indiana QB Lagow was having his way in the 1st half last week until that pick at the 1 yd line that seemed to have changed the momentum towards the Buckeyes.  On offense, you’ll see Barrett try for a few long balls to keep the OU secondary honest, but they’ll go back to 5 yd outs, screens, and other frustrating short passes to get 1st down after 1st down to wear down the Sooner D.  Then kick in the run game to control the clock and punch in a few scores for good measure.

The Sooners are going to do something of the opposite, let Mayfield do his thing…maybe throw over 40 passes and sprinkle an attempt at a sustained run game to keep the dominate OSU D-Line honest.  Wait, there’s a catch this year!!  The Sooners have (arguably) the best O-Line in the country.  They will give Mayfield some time and allow their RBs a little room and the Buckeyes will have more than their hands full.  Here’s a fun stat: Mayfield has not lost a TRUE road game with the Sooners, and the Sooners haven’t lost a true road game since mid-2014.  They seem to lose often at neutral sites and blow it home, paying for the karma for the years of almost never losing at home through the decades.  My personal opinion, is that Mayfield loves the “road hate” so much that it picks his game up – road silence is golden.  I’ll add that on top of the revenge factor, sprinkle a little “you’re done with the CFP committee if you lose this one” and we have ourselves some true motivation.  The Sooners have pretty much everything on the line this weekend….YES, OSU always has a chance to climb back.  If you are part of the Big 12 it’s clear that you are the first conference out for now and the near future until the conference invents some defense.  We all know that OSU can afford to lose a game, the division, or whatever and still get into the Playoff. 

After all of that, I’m going to call our UPSET OF THE WEEK here.  Yes, I know it’s a stretch picking against OSU in the “Shoe”, but IDGAF!!!  The Sooners barely pull it off the win and the Buckeyes get to crawl back to the Playoff the remainder of the year!!

PICK: Oklahoma 34, Ohio State 31

Season Record - Straight Up: 7-3

Season Record - Versus Spread: 5-5

Upset of the Week: 0-1

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