It was a good week for us last week, at least on the college gridirons. Armando had the best week, going 8-2. I was 7-3, while TJ was 6-4. All above .500 so not bad at all for us. Now we look ahead to this week.
Notre Dame (-450) at Purdue
This one hasn’t been much of an in-state rivalry in the last few years as Purdue has been down on their luck recently. This year, they’ve put together the 10th best rushing attack so far this season, averaging 258.7 yards a game on the ground. Granted, all those yards have only brought a beating of Southeast Missouri State and barely getting past Middle Tennessee. Notre Dame seems to be just hitting their stride, with 2 straight wins including their upset of Michigan State two weeks ago. They’re a pass-first offense with Tommy Rees finally settled into the starting QB role. Their rush defense has been solid (95 ypg allowed) and they’ve got too much talent. Purdue gets overwhelmed and falls to .500.
Casey’s pick: Notre Dame
#21 Georgia Tech (-375) at NC State
The Wolfpack is winless against FBS teams so far this year. Georgia Tech is 4-0, their best start since winning the national title in 1990. The Yellow Jackets lead the nation in total offense and is second in rushing offense. Not much of a game here.
Casey’s Pick: Georgia Tech
#14 Texas A&M; (-140) at #18 Arkansas
An SEC West matchup of the future, the Aggies want to put Oklahoma State’s comeback last week while the Razorbacks want to put their loss to Alabama in the rear view mirror. These two schools have nearly identical passing games statistically, and the Aggies’ pass defense is porous. They are getting burned for 279 yards a game through the air, but the front seven has been able to shut down the run. The Aggies have a slight advantage in the run and that’s enough for me to give this one to them, although it will be a bruising game.
Casey’s pick: Texas A&M;
Auburn at #10 South Carolina (-375)
Last year, Auburn escaped this game on their way to the national championship. This year, the tables look to be reversed. I’ve been on Marcus Lattimore as a Heisman contender all year. He averages 152 rushing yards a game and has scored 8 touchdowns. Add in the fact that Auburn’s front seven is one of the worst against the run in the FBS (112th, 226 ypg). Granted the passing game has sputtered and USC has struggled in three of its four wins. The thing is that Auburn really hasn’t looked much better and is still more of a team looking for purpose. The Gamecocks take some frustration out on the Tigers on Saturday to move to 5-0.
Casey’s pick: South Carolina
Air Force at Navy (-165)
Do you like rushing? Because that’s about all these teams do. Air Force is the top rushing team in the nation (412 ypg), while Navy ranks 4th (358). The rushing defenses sit on the other side of the scale. Air Force’s is better (97th, 192 ypg allowed), but not much better than Navy’s (101st, 199 ypg allowed). It’s a rough matchup to pick as every thing points to which ever team can take care of the ball and score on a few prolonged drives to control the clock. I don’t expect to see much of a passing game, although there’s no better way to throw off a defense that’s expecting you to run than to air it out. Navy has the momentum after playing with South Carolina for three and a half quarters last week before having all momentum destroyed by Jadevon Clowney in the 4th quarter. Navy’s looked better against some better competition, which decides it for me.
Casey’s pick: Navy
#15 Baylor (-170) vs. Kansas State
KSU is another team with a sputtering offense, despite their 3-0 record. They’re a very solid rushing team with an anemic passing game. What’s kept them alive is their top 20 defense. They did beat Miami in Sun Life last week, but this is currently a Hurricane squad that can’t find it’s collective ass from a hold in the ground. Baylor on the other hand has been cruising behind Heisman contender Robert Griffin III. He’s thrown more TDs (13) than incompletions (12) this season and doesn’t have a interception. He’s well on his way to shattering Colt Brennan’s season passer rating records and even some other single season marks as well. He’ll be tested against a pass defense that’s allowing only 157 yards a game. But he’s shown tonight that he’s a game changer and Kansas State’s offense is not up to the task of keeping pace with the Bears.
Casey’s pick: Baylor
#8 Nebraska vs. #7 Wisconsin (-375)
Prime time at Camp Randall. Nebraska can ask Ohio State how tough of a place Madison is to play on a Saturday night. Russell Wilson is making his case for the Heisman, feasting on the soft part of the Badgers’ schedule (69-91, 1136 yds, 11 tds, 1 int). Here’s the strangeest part of this matchup to me. Nebraska’s defense has just been meh, allowing 22 points a game to mostly inferior competition. The rushing game has been dominant (8th in FBS), but Taylor Martinez has looked hurried when having to pass (43-85, 647 yds, 4 tds). The Badgers have been very good against the run, only allowing 89 yards a game on the ground. But Northern Illinois is the best rushing offense they’ve faced (28th in FBS, 214 ypg), so how they handle Nebraska’s 8th-ranked 272 ypg attack will determine the game. I think Wisconsin will get their points. Getting the big stops will be the difference in the game. Having an insane fan base backing them up doesn’t hurt either.
Casey’s pick: Wisconsin
#13 Clemson at #11 Virginia Tech (-275)
The Hokies are probably the quietest top-15 team so far this season. After a bit of a scare against East Carolina, they’ve handled their cupcake portion of the schedule as they should have, with a rushing attack that averages 211 yards a game and led by David Wilson (129 rypg). The defense has been nothing to sneez at either. Actually, it’s been the second-best in the land, allowing just 43 yards a game. Granted, this has been against Appalachian State, Arkansas State and Marshall, but still. Clemson made me look like a fool the last two weeks against Auburn and Florida State. This is a much better team than many knew and Tajh Boyd has been prolific (90-136, 1255 yds, 13 tds) and will find a tough test in Va Tech’s corners. Then again, Florida State has a statistically better pass defense and he still lit them up for 344 yards and 3 touchdowns last week. However, this is Clemson’s first road test and Blacksburg is no easy place to play. The last time here in 2006, Clemson came in riding high on a ton of momentum and got sent home with a 24-7 loss. Another tough call here, but I’ve got to give it to the home team.
Casey’s pick: Virginia Tech
Michigan State at Ohio State (-155)
The Buckeyes can’t pass the ball, period. Actually, they can’t settle on a quarterback this season. Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller have been able to move the ball on the ground, but that’s about it. Outside of Joe Bauserman and Jake Stoneburner hooking up 3 times in the opener against Akron, the passing game has been miserable. Now, that rushing game takes on the 9th-best rush D in the nation. Sparty’s front seven have only allowed 71 yards a game. Michigan State has also looked lackluster on offense and is still reeling from the Notre Dame loss two weeks ago. They’ve picked apart their other opponents, but neither Le’Veon Bell nor Edwin Baker have been able to get going, mostly thanks to injuries and inexperience on the offensive line. If there was ever a time for the young Buckeyes D to assert itself as one of the nation’s elite units once again, this game is it. I think they can rise up at home in prime time.
Casey’s (homer) pick: Ohio State
#3 Alabama (-175) at #12 Florida
I save what could be this week’s best game for last. Florida’s rushing attack is 10th, Alabama’s is 15th. The Gators’ rush defense is 5th, Bama’s is 3rd. Their passing games are close as well (UF: 79th, Bama: 64). These teams are almost mirror images of each other, so we have to look at individual playmakers. John Brantley and Chris Rainey have been leading the Gators, while Trent Richardson has put the Tide on his back (67 car, 441 yds, 8 tds). He’s been Mark Inghram, just stronger which is scary. If it comes down to who can get yardage through the air on 3rd down, Alabama’s got the advantage. While John Brantley is looking better in his second year starting, AJ McCarron has looked like the better passer, despite having nearly identical numbers to Brantley. Alabama hasn’t fared well recently in the Swamp, dropping their last visit to Gainesville in 2006. This year, a little bit different when they bring in what could be the nation’s top defensive unit.
Casey’s pick: Alabama
UPDATE – the other guys’ picks:
|Georgia Tech vs. NC State||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech|
|Baylor vs. Kansas State||Baylor||Baylor|
|Alabama vs. Florida||Florida||Alabama|
|Texas A&M; vs. Arkansas||Texas A&M;||Arkansas|
|Air Force vs. Navy||Navy||Navy|
|Michigan State vs. Ohio State||Ohio State||Michigan State|
|Auburn vs. South Carolina||Auburn||South Carolina|
|Clemson vs. Virginia Tech||Clemson||Virginia Tech|
|Notre Dame vs. Purdue||Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|Nebraska vs. Wisconsin||Wisconsin||Wisconsin|