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Predictions 101 — Week 5

The Swami AP

We’re beginning to feel a little bit like Dabo Swinney. “Our team believes! We’ve got heart!”

Against all odds, this hot streak continued through Week 4 as we went 8-4 vs. “the number” (half of those losses were by half-a-point, but we’ll take it). Our straight-up record was 11-1, with the only setback coming courtesy of the Burbank satellite office’s ill-fated belief in Texas A&M. Oh well.

After four dozen games, that puts us at a wicked 34-11-1 (two games weren’t on the board) and 36-12.

We believe in what we’re saying here, but now is not the time to jump on the bandwagon. Hopefully, you’ve been riding. If that’s the case, consider jumping off.

TOP 10 GAMES (Sat., Oct. 1)

1) No. 3 Alabama at No. 12 Florida
Sat., Oct. 1 — 8 p.m. ET, CBS

There was lots of competition for the top spot, but it’s next to impossible to surpass this matchup when things are going well for the Crimson Tide and Gators.

Alabama (4-0, 1-0 in SEC) is coming off an impressive defensive performance against Arkansas last Saturday. The Tide allowed the Razorbacks to gain just 226 yards of total offense and score only14 points, far less than what they came in averaging (517 and 47). Offensively, Bama just continues to roll behind the running of Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy.

Florida (4-0, 2-0) counters with their speedy duo of ground gainers, Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, who were major contributors to the whopping total of 405 rushing yards in last week’s 48-10 victory over Kentucky. We believe in Charlie Weis’ ability as an offensive coordinator with the same voracity as we discounted his suitability to be a head coach. However, Nick Saban’s defense is up for any challenge.

The Tide rocked the Gators, 31-6, last season, winning for the fifth time in the last seven meetings. They won’t get that kind of separation this year, but they’ll survive The Swamp.

Opening point spread: Alabama by 5

The pick: Alabama 23-21

Final: Alabama 38-10

2) No. 8 Nebraska at No. 7 Wisconsin
Sat., Oct. 1 — 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Seriously, how much history can you squeeze into Camp Randall Stadium along with those 20,000 Cornhusker fans?

Not only is this Nebraska’s first Big Ten game, but it’s also the first time since 1962 that two top-10 teams are going head-to-head in Madison … and they could meet again in Indy at the conference’s first championship game.

Russell Wilson leads the Big Ten with 1,136 passing yards, owns a completion percentage of 75.8 and has tossed 11 touchdown passes, against only one interception. However, take a look at who all of those numbers were compiled against. Wisconsin (4-0) has waltzed past UNLV, Oregon State, Northern Illinois and South Dakota, and won’t play a true road game until Oct. 22.

Nebraska (4-0) has played a tougher slate, but the 81 points allowed in the last three games (Fresno State, Washington and at Wyoming) is cause for concern when facing such a powerful attack.

Bret Bielema has lost only three of his 37 home games, and all three of those conquerors went on to do some BCS bowling. We don’t see the Huskers being at that level just yet.

Opening point spread: Wisconsin by 8

The pick: Wisconsin 38-23

Final: Wisconsin 48-17

3) No. 14 Texas A&M vs. No. 18 Arkansas (at Arlington, Texas)
Sat., Oct. 1 — noon ET, ESPN

These former Southwest Conference rivals are future Southeastern Conference rivals, now that the Aggies have officially finalized their move from the Longhorn League to the Big League.

Texas A&M (2-1, 0-1 in Big 12) denied P101 of a clean sweep last week, allowing Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden to throw for 438 yards in that 30-29 come-from-ahead loss.

That sort of defensive performance is a far cry from what Arkansas (3-1, 0-1 in SEC) experienced last Saturday at Alabama, which yielded just 226 total yards and 14 points to the Hogs. But that doesn’t mean quarterback Tyler Wilson will be out there doing as he pleases against an Aggie unit that leads the nation with 14 sacks.

The Razorbacks are riding a 12-game winning streak in non-SEC games, but since this is something like half a conference contest, we feel OK about bucking the trend.

Opening point spread: Texas A&M by 3 1/2

The pick: Texas A&M 30-28

Final: Arkansas 42-38

4) No. 13 Clemson at No. 11 Virginia Tech
Sat., Oct. 1 — 6 p.m. ET, ESPN2

This week’s No. 13 team vs. last week’s No. 13 team should produce a fantastic battle.

Headlined by quarterback Tajh Boyd and freshman phenom wideout Sammy Watkins, Clemson (4-0, 1-0 in ACC) is the hot topic in college football right now. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ stock is rising rapidly. His mastery of third down is stunning, having converted on 23 of 35 opportunities in the recent victories over Auburn and Florida State.

As usual, Virginia Tech (4-0, 0-0) will provide a tough test defensively. Although they’ve only faced second-tier opposition so far, the Hokies rank within the nation’s top six in rushing defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense and scoring defense.

The Clemson defense, which has been much less impressive so far, will have to step it up. We don’t expect the young Tigers on the offensive side of the football to be fully comfortable during their first road game of the season.

Opening point spread: Virginia Tech by 7 1/2

The pick: Virginia Tech 26-24

Final: Clemson 23-3

5) Auburn at No. 10 South Carolina
Sat., Oct. 1 — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

This prediction comes courtesy of Marc Doche (@MDoche) from the P101 satellite office in Burbank, Calif. He’s breaking away from his usual focus on thoroughbred horse racing to take another shot. The kid’s got some guts. He ain’t taking an easy route to break his maiden.

Sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore may be the best player in the country and is a beast both running the football (leads SEC with 611 rushing yards) and catching it (13.4 yards per reception).

Against Auburn (3-1, 1-0 in SEC), which is allowing over 477 yards and 31 points per game, Lattimore (28 career TDs) and junior wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey (16 trips to the end zone and more than 2,500 receiving yards) should have big days.

However, fifth-year senior Stephen Garcia is a serious crimp in South Carolina’s (4-0, 2-0) stride. His bevy of unconscionable mistakes have led to seven interceptions this year and could prove too much for the Cocks to overcome against a team they have lost to six consecutive times, including twice last year.

Despite youth on both sides of the ball, third-year coach Gene Chizik has the firepower with sophomore running back Michael Dyer and junior wide receiver Emory Blake to not only keep this game within the generous number, but pull off the outright upset.

Opening point spread: South Carolina by 11 1/2

The pick: Auburn 35-34

Final: Auburn 16-13

6) No. 17 Texas at Iowa State
Sat., Oct. 1 — 7 p.m. ET, FX

The nadir of last season’s 5-7 Longhorn campaign was a 28-21 loss to the Cyclones in Austin that wasn’t as close as the final score seems to indicate. It was an old fashioned thumping, plain and simple.

This season, Texas (3-0) has been talking openly about giving a “little something extra” back to the teams that contributed to their misery last year. UCLA got its share, plus the interest, two weeks ago.

Iowa State (3-0) has won its first three games for the first time since 2005. Each victory has been a nail-biter. The Cyclones’ combined margin of victory is just eight points, which includes a 44-41 overtime win over Iowa on Sept. 10.

Quarterback Steele Jantz runs a little too hot-n-cold to hang around with Texas, but the Longhorn youngsters won’t be able to run away on the road.

Opening point spread: Texas by 9

The pick: Texas 27-24

Final: Texas 37-14

7) Kentucky at No. 1 LSU
Sat., Oct. 1 — 12:21 p.m. ET

The last time the Wildcats faced the Tigers they beat top-ranked LSU, 43-37, in double overtime. That was back in 2007 and up in Lexington. The payback time bomb has been ticking ever since.

Kentucky (2-2, 0-1 in SEC) has turned the football over 10 times already this season, ranking ninth in the SEC in turnover margin. LSU (4-0, 1-0) is first in the league in turnover margin (+2). Yikes. We smell a lot of extra possessions.

The Wildcats also have trouble protecting the passer. Only two teams in the nation have allowed more sacks than Kentucky (16). That’s a recipe for disaster when facing a wrecking crew Tiger defense, averaging 8.5 tackles for loss per game.

Perhaps the biggest question is if the Wildcats will score a touchdown. In their past two trips to Baton Rouge combined, they’ve absorbed an 83-0 whitewashing.

Opening point spread: LSU by 28

The pick: LSU 45-7

Final: LSU 35-7

8 ) Nevada at No. 4 Boise State
Sat., Oct. 1 — 2:30 p.m. ET, Versus

Remember the Bronco debacle last November? That 34-31 overtime loss to the Wolf Pack knocked Boise State out of the BCS, all the way down to the Maaco Bowl in Las Vegas.

Distracted by the dramatic missed field goals at the end, many people forget about the furious comeback by Nevada, which trailed, 24-7, at halftime.

So much is different this season. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Vai Taua no longer fuel the backfield for Nevada (1-2, 1-0 in WAC). And Boise State (3-0, 0-0 in MWC) has yet to even attempt a field goal this season.

The Broncos won’t mess up this opportunity to redeem themselves for last year’s second half collapse versus the Wolf Pack.

Opening point spread: Boise State by 28

The pick: Boise State 42-20

Final: Boise State 30-10

9) Notre Dame at Purdue
Sat., Oct. 1 — 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Boilermakers had last weekend off. Prior to that, they dismantled Southeast Missouri State, 59-0. And since Purdue (2-1, 0-0 in Big Ten) opened the season against Middle Tennessee and Rice – albeit with varied success – a case can be made that the Boilermakers have been preparing for Notre Dame (2-2) ever since fall camp opened.

Whether or not that results in being able to send the Fighting Irish back under .500 remains to be seen.

We’ll side with the Brian Kelly’s battle-tested crew, figuring that the rash of turnovers and critical mistakes will subside.

Opening point spread: Notre Dame by 13

The pick: Notre Dame 24-19

Final: Notre Dame 38-10

10) Michigan State at Ohio State
Sat., Oct. 1 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN

Both of these 3-1 teams lost the only real games on their schedule so far. The Buckeyes failed to compete at Miami (Fla.) and the Spartans got beat up at Notre Dame.

Guess what, someone’s about to post a legit victory in this Big Ten opener.

We’ll go with Michigan State, which leads the nation in total defense, yielding just 172 yards per game (only 101 through the air). That figures to be a tough nut to crack for Ohio State freshman quarterback Braxton Miller.

Just his luck … Luke Fickell is the first Buckeye coach to open conference play against the league’s defending champ since Big Ten play began in 1913.

Opening point spread: Ohio State by 2 1/2

The pick: Michigan State 24-23

Final: Michigan State 10-7

TWO MORE YOU SHOULDN’T IGNORE

Air Force at Navy
Sat., Oct. 1 — noon ET, CBS

This game kicks off the 40th year of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy competition … and will likely decide it.

After seven consecutive years of naval domination, Air Force (2-1, 0-1 in MWC) captured the coveted hardware last season, due in large part to its 14-6 victory over the Midshipmen.

Dating back to last year, Navy (2-1) has scored on 42 of its last 45 trips into the red zone (38 touchdowns). That kind of execution, combined with the fact that the Falcons will be missing four defensive starters, makes it hard to imagine that the Middies won’t prevail, especially in Annapolis where head coach Ken Niumatalolo is 14-3.

Opening point spread: Navy by 2 1/2

The pick: Navy 26-20

Final: Air Force 35-34, OT

UCLA at No. 6 Stanford
Sat., Oct. 1 — 10:30 p.m. ET, FSN

Why this unimpressive matchup? C’mon, we couldn’t totally ignore the Pac-12 this week … and we’re tired of picking up those go-against-USC gimmies on account of Lane Kiffin being a complete fraud.

UCLA (2-2, 1-0 in Pac-12) is averaging 214 rushing yards per game. That might mean something at some point, but not this Saturday.

Stanford (3-0, 1-0) currently leads the nation in run defense, allowing just 36 yards per game on the ground.

The Cardinal have allowed only nine touchdowns in their last nine games, dating back to last season. The Bruins will be lucky to get into the endzone once.

Opening point spread: Stanford by 21

The pick: Stanford 41-13

Final: Stanford 45-19

Week 5 record: 9-3
Total: 45-15

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18 Responses to “Predictions 101 — Week 5”
  1. cburmester85 says: Sep 28, 2011 2:43 PM

    I’m not a fan of the SEC, but I can’t for Bama to break the heart of the Gaytor nation when they pound ‘em. All these Gaytor fans in FL which most of don’t even have a high school diploma will be making excuses for another year.

  2. jamie54 says: Sep 28, 2011 3:04 PM

    Like every one of the picks except for the AU – SC score. Think SC’s defense is finally showing up but their offense is so bipolar you have to think Lattimore is going to get the ball more often than not. Still think AU will win but lower point total.

  3. blueglaze says: Sep 28, 2011 3:09 PM

    Love it how the gator nation’s passion for the game and overall spirit leaves other fans having to result in spelling words wrong while insulting our education… Fuel for my fire! Go G-A-T-O-R-S!!! Win or lose we are still supporting our boys in the swamp

  4. drummerhoff says: Sep 28, 2011 3:18 PM

    Its been 49 years since the vaunted Camp Randel has witnessed 2 top ten programs!

    …And just think, if it wasn’t for the 2 recent Big10 imports … Nebraska & Rusell Wilson … the streak could have gone on in perpetuity.

    Yeah, I’m still watching Slive’s primetime gem on the Eye.

  5. cburmester85 says: Sep 28, 2011 3:22 PM

    @blueglaze

    I spelt the word wrong as an insult you dummy. Obviously you’re UF alumni judging by you quickly picking up on that… I bet your shaking at the thought of BAMA the same way your savior Tebow shakes when he looks across the line and sees an NFL defensive lineman. Oh wait Tebow rarely plays. lol

  6. southernpatriots says: Sep 28, 2011 3:24 PM

    LSU is going to be glad to be home, just as LSU fan Marcus Mason and his wife are glad to be home after white thugs in Morgantown almost ended his life. Our best and prayers to Marcus, his wife Hannah and their friends.

    LSU will be able to relax and see what the rested defense can do and the rested offense can do. That is a curiosity for us fans because they have been on the road against top 25 ranked teams for 3 games in the past 4 weeks. Wing is back who is a tremendous punter, averaging 49 yards a kick and putting the ball out near the 5 yard line numerous times. He was special teams player of the week. Tyrann Matthieu is rested, he was national defensive player of the week last week. Not enough can be said for the talented offensive line which gives QB Lee all the time he needs to pass. We know of the LSU defensive backs and secondary. With proper rest this week the defensive line may show what they did to Oregon in the first game.

    Every SEC team can be trouble. We think Miles has the team focused on Kentucky and that means trouble, great trouble, for the Wildcats.

    We are not good at calling the score (that is why we don’t gamble..ha.)…but we offer 53 to 10 LSU.

  7. sportfan23 says: Sep 28, 2011 4:04 PM

    @cburmester85

    Nice work using “Gaytor” as an insult. Real original. Keep spouting that homophobic garbage, it’ll get you far in life.

    Before you insult how others pick up on your spelling ability why don’t you form complete sentences. I believe you meant to say that you can’t “wait” for Bama to break the heart of Gator Nation. Keep putting that high school education to good work my friend.

  8. blueglaze says: Sep 28, 2011 4:16 PM

    @cburmester85. Your right I am. Is that really What your intentions were? I never knew. How many many nat champs did your school QB win? He must have made some kind of major impact cuz other fans talk about him more than gator fans. But before I was blindsided by that ignorant comment I was going to just give my thoughts on how we may not win this time… If so great… But if not we will see them again in Atlanta. You can bet on that.

  9. florida727 says: Sep 28, 2011 4:23 PM

    @Deb, go easy on us, after all, it is in Gainesville.

    As much as I love the track meet that Demps and Rainey have put on thus far (BTW, best sign in the history of sign-making for purposes of getting on TV: “Today’s Forecast – Rainey”), I think this is when my Gators get exposed.

    Too inconsistent in the O-line, and they’re lacking a steady alternative via the passing game. Brantley isn’t the talent he was billed as coming out of high school, and this is the game he gets flushed out in. I think their chances would be better if Driskell was under-center.

    I’ll root like heck for the Gators, but I’m fearful this could turn ugly by midway through Q3. Hope I’m wrong.

    ‘Bama then LSU in back-to-back weeks? The schedule maker should be shot on principle alone :)

  10. perezjl36 says: Sep 28, 2011 4:23 PM

    cburmester85

    I have never blogged before but after reading the cyber filth that you posted not once, but twice, I couldn’t help but register to say a few things. First, You clearly meant to spell Gaytors. Bravo. You got us, and by us I mean the Gator Nation. Now that everybody has seen your impressive vocabulary I invite you to put both your feet in this conversation and tell everybody who your team of choice is. I only ask becuase they had better be a far more advanced school than UF in academics and athletics. If not, then this conversation is not only humiliating for you but also hilarious for all the readers. While it would be easy for me to pick apart all the gramatcal errors you made I’m sure you could probably find them yourself if you tried really hard. I’d rather go at this as a college sports fan. One fan to another. Who’s your team and when was the last time they did anything worth mentioning?

  11. myopinionisrighterthanyours says: Sep 28, 2011 4:29 PM

    cburmester85 says:
    Sep 28, 2011 3:22 PM

    @blueglaze

    I spelt the word wrong as an insult you dummy. Obviously you’re UF alumni judging by you quickly picking up on that

    @cburmester85:
    People who live in glass houses …

  12. pb420 says: Sep 28, 2011 8:53 PM

    @cburmester85:
    Why the hate, did UF destroy your school or something? Why waste energy on us when you can focus on your team?
    @southernpats:
    As always, thx for the good posts, and many well wishes to the Mason family, a royal shame that should never have hapoened. To all, be careful out there, as many are unbalanced sports fans, unlike ourselves, a true pleasure to converse with u all!!

  13. southernpatriots says: Sep 28, 2011 9:30 PM

    pb420:

    Thank you. We will pass the word along to the family. They are a very class act. Not bitter, and don’t blame anyone (other than the men who did it). We are trying to get the radio and tv stations outside of Morgantown to air a description of the men (it is vague) and of the sports utility vehicle because these men may not be from Morgantown but outlying areas. So far, we have met resistance but we are determined to do all we can for them and to help the police all we can.

  14. trbowman says: Sep 29, 2011 5:10 AM

    Another week, another scrub Boise opponent.

  15. florida727 says: Sep 29, 2011 9:39 AM

    cburmester85 says:
    Sep 28, 2011 2:43 PM

    Thanks for the illiterate post. Funny how you criticize Gator fans and/or their education considering the school rejects many 4.0 GPA students for admission. You had a 4.0, right? Should be easy for you to answer the question: just add your last 3 years of high school GPAs together and see if it adds up to… oh, never mind.

  16. southernpatriots says: Sep 29, 2011 1:05 PM

    florida727: You can use our old pappy’s antique shotgun which we just discovered. It is in mint condition, kept in perfect condition, oiled,etc. We are going to use the first shells on our Assistant AD…wait we forgot, we won those games this year! Whew! He lives to shine for another year!

    Then you can have the first shots, give it to ‘em double barrels! (better say we are just kidding, less someone accuse of something serious…like conspiracy to have a sensible schedule for our teams while the team that plays on Smurf Turf plays cupcakes and sits in the top 10!

    Bring back Strength of Schedule AP, USA Today coaches (I almost put UPI, that shows we are not young)!!! You guys will get into the top 10 again very soon.

    What does Casey Kasem say, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” or something like that. Have a wonderful and blessed day!

  17. florida727 says: Sep 29, 2011 6:45 PM

    Thanks “southern…”. Good luck Saturday night. It’ll be a fun game to watch no matter what. As long as the national championship rolls through the SEC, I’ll be happy. If it makes its way through Gainesville, the smile just gets a little wider that’s all :)

  18. gatortail007 says: Sep 30, 2011 1:30 PM

    burmeister, you can not even spell so you must be the illiterate one. obviously the gator fans are smarter ! and alabama will not survivor the swamp!

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