Predictions 101 — Week 6

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People keep waiting for the hot-streak to end (honestly, we do, as well), but it rolls on. Our weekly Dabo Swinney postgame quote fits P101’s situation just as nicely as Clemson’s — “Maybe there’s some people out there that might start believing in this team a little bit.”

We didn’t set any records during Week 5, but still got the job done at 7-4-1 vs. “the number.” The 9-3 straight-up mark was highlighted by Auburn’s upset of double-digit favorite South Carolina.

After 60 games, we’re sitting pretty at a documented 41-15-2 (two games weren’t on the board) and 45-15.

My goodness … why go anywhere else?

We’re strongly considering, putting out a tip jar.

TOP 10 GAMES (Thurs., Oct. 6 thru Sat., Oct. 8 )

1) No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 Texas (at Dallas)
Sat., Oct. 8 — noon ET, ABC

This is more like it. It never seems right when the Sooners and Longhorns aren’t undefeated upon arrival at the annual renewal of the Red River Rivalry. This marks only the second time in the last seven years that both teams are attempting to stave off their first setback of the season.

But maybe next year, it’ll be more of a fair fight.

Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0 in Big 12) has a massive advantage in big-game experience. This is the third time Sooner quarterback Landry Jones will be playing a major role at the Texas State Fair and he has rock-solid senior wideout Ryan Broyles and others to lean on. Their considerable talents easily mask some question marks along the offensive line.

Dealt a much different hand, Texas (4-0, 1-0) will rely heavily on players getting their first taste of the RRR to provide the offensive production. Bob Stoops and defensive coordinator Brent Venables are ready to pounce. We smell turnovers.

Opening point spread: Oklahoma by 9 1/2

The pick: Oklahoma 34-20

Final: Oklahoma 55-17

2) No. 17 Florida at No. 1 LSU
Sat., Oct. 8 — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

On one side you’ve got the Tigers, who are trying to find snaps for two quarterbacks.

On the other, you’ve got the Gators with freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel making his first collegiate start on the road at top-ranked LSU (5-0, 2-0 in SEC), in place of injured senior starter John Brantley. At least the game isn’t at night. That would push matters over the edge, if they aren’t already.

Gator offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will really be tested here, sending out a youngster with only 16 career pass attempts, two of which were intercepted.

It’s hard to imagine that this game won’t be a continuation of the misery Florida (4-1, 2-1) went through during the second half of last week’s 38-10 loss to Alabama, which was the Gators’ worst loss at The Swamp since 2002. Interestingly enough, the visitor that day was none other than LSU, which won 36-7.

It won’t be that sort of blowout this time, but it will be convincing.

Opening point spread: LSU by 12

The pick: LSU 31-10

Final: LSU 41-11

3) No. 15 Auburn at No. 10 Arkansas
Sat., Oct. 8 — 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Hogs are out to abuse a Tiger defense that currently ranks 106th in total defense (allowing 440 yards per game) and 109th in rushing defense (207). In addition to those two categories, Auburn (4-1, 2-0) also ranks last in the SEC in scoring defense (27.4) and passing efficiency defense.

Tiger defenders feel that they turned the corner with last week’s upset victory over South Carolina and its all-everything tailback Marcus Lattimore, but Arkansas (4-1, 0-1) represents the SEC’s ultimate offensive exam. The Razorbacks are averaging 52 points and 610 total yards per game.

The determining factor in this prediction is that with all that said, Arkansas’ defense is worse than Auburn’s at this point.

We’re thinking overtime might be required.

Opening point spread: Arkansas by 10

The pick: Arkansas 43-36

Final: Arkansas 38-14

4) No. 24 Texas A&M at Texas Tech
Sat., Oct. 8 — 7 p.m. ET, FX

We try not to take this stuff personally, but the Aggies make it so hard. We had faith in them during the previous two weeks (albeit waning faith since we had Arkansas with the points last Saturday) and they let us down each time after starting so well.

One thing’s for sure … no coffee for Texas A&M (2-2, 0-1 in Big 12). “Coffee’s for closers.”

Texas Tech (4-0, 1-0) has a shot to remain undefeated, especially if the Red Raiders are able to make all their offensive possessions count. That’ll probably happen since the Aggies have forced only two turnovers this season.

Tech quarterback Seth Doege should have a field day against an A&M pass defense that ranks dead last in the nation, allowing 337 yards per game through the air.

Can the SEC send the Aggies back before they even get there?

Opening point spread: Texas A&M by 7

The pick: Texas Tech 37-34

Final: Texas A&M 45-40

5) Miami (Fla.) at No. 21 Virginia Tech
Sat., Oct. 8 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN

It’ll be interesting to see how the Hokies respond to the sting of last Saturday’s 23-3 loss to Clemson. That was their second worst loss at home in the last three decades. Virginia Tech (4-1, 0-1 in ACC) was held out of the end zone for the first time since 1995.

Miami (2-2, 0-1) would love to continue that theme, but its run defense is tailor made for Hokies tailback David Wilson, who will be gunning for his fifth 100-yard game this season. The Hurricanes are allowing 202 yards per game on the ground, which ranks them way down at 105th in the nation.

Opening point spread: Virginia Tech by 8 1/2

The pick: Virginia Tech 26-24

Final: Virginia Tech 38-35

6) California at No. 9 Oregon
Thurs., Oct. 6 — 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

We’re not sure what was short circuited in Chip Kelly’s spread-n-conquer attack in last November’s meeting at California, but the Golden Bears held the top-ranked Ducks to just 15 points and 377 yards. That sounds like numbers attributed to an upset victory, but Cal is Cal … and losing is served in all shapes and sizes in Berkeley. A false start by the field goal kicker being the blunder that got in the way of a massive win and provided a 15-13 defeat.

Oregon (3-1, 1-0 in Pac-12) and Cal (3-1, 0-1) both had last week off. With that extra time, we expect Bear defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast to slow the spread some, but not nearly enough to deny the Ducks their 19th consecutive victory at Autzen Stadium.

Opening point spread: Oregon by 24 1/2

The pick: Oregon 37-20

Final: Oregon 43-15

7) Air Force at Notre Dame
Sat., Oct. 8 — 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC

The Fighting Irish’s recent woes versus Navy indicate that the Falcons have a shot to fly out of South Bend with a victory.

Air Force (3-1, 0-1 in MWC), fresh off its 35-34 overtime decision over Navy, will be facing a Notre Dame team that has allowed only one rushing touchdown so far this season. The Domers also have allowed only one 100-yard rusher (Michigan’s Denard Robinson, 108) since that devastating 35-17 loss to the Midshipmen on Oct. 23, 2010. So, the Irish have all of that going for them, but executing the proper assignment defense on the edge won’t be any easier if defensive end Ethan Johnson (ankle) can’t go.

Notre Dame (3-2) played impressively on offense last week, piling up 551 yards and 34 first downs in a 38-10 victory at Purdue. But stats have never been the problem with this crew. Most importantly, the Irish were selfish when it came to the football, playing turnover free. Can they do it again?

Opening point spread: Notre Dame by 17

The pick: Notre Dame 30-24

Final: Notre Dame 59-33

8 ) Ohio State at No. 14 Nebraska
Sat., Oct. 8 — 8 p.m. ET, ABC

This prediction comes courtesy of Shane Hedani from the P101 satellite office in Maunawili, Hawai’i. “Coach Hedanz” is banned from Oregon games for the time being.

After being so rudely welcomed to its new conference by Wisconsin last Saturday, Nebraska (4-1, 0-1) has to suck it up for its inaugural Big Ten home game as Ohio State (3-2, 0-1) comes to Lincoln.

With freshman quarterback Braxton Miller making his first road start, the Buckeyes were hoping to add reinforcements in the form of running back Dan “Boom” Herron and wide receiver DeVier Posey, but those hopes were dashed when they received additional suspensions on Monday. Therefore, look for another inept performance from an Ohio State offense that cannot regularly find the end zone against teams with any semblance of defense.

On the flip side, the “Blackshirts” are out to redeem themselves after giving up nearly half-a-hundred to the Badgers.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Ohio State defense holds up against Nebraska’s attack. The feeling here is that the Buckeyes will hold their own early, but fade as the lack of production from their offensive counterparts keep them on the field far too long against the Cornhuskers’ relentless ground game.

Opening point spread: Nebraska by 10

The pick: Nebraska 27-13

Final: Nebraska 34-27

9) Colorado at No. 7 Stanford
Sat., Oct. 8 — 7:30 p.m. ET, Versus

What’s with the AP Top 25? Are these media people jealous that they didn’t get in to Stanford? C’mon … the P101 chief got over it (and promptly went to CU).

The Cardinal beat UCLA, 45-19, last Saturday, winning their 12th consecutive game. Nevertheless, the Cardinal dropped a spot in the AP poll on Sunday, slipping to No. 7.

Two weeks ago, The Farm was No. 5.

If form holds, Stanford (4-0, 2-0 in Pac-12) will crush Colorado (1-4, 0-1) and drop another rung to No. 8.

At least the coaches poll has the Cardinal moving in the right direction, currently holding steady at No. 4.

The average score of Stanford victories this season is 45.8-11.5.

Opening point spread: Stanford by 27

The pick: Stanford 42-16

Final: Stanford 48-7

10) Georgia at Tennessee
Sat., Oct. 8 — 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Thanks to Auburn and Alabama posting road victories at South Carolina and Florida last week, the SEC East is up for grabs … and the Bulldogs and Volunteers certainly have their hands in the mix.

Tennessee (3-1, 0-1), which posted a convincing 41-10 victory over Buffalo last Saturday, has the home-field and psychological advantage, seeking revenge for that brutal 41-14 loss between the hedges last season.

Even though the season-ending injury to wideout Justin Hunter slows them down, we still like the Vol attack led by quarterback Tyler Bray.

Georgia (3-2, 2-1) hasn’t scored a second-half touchdown in its last two games. The Dawgs will need at least a couple of those to get the job done in Knoxville.

Opening point spread: Georgia by 1

The pick: Tennessee 30-26

Final: Georgia 20-12

TWO MORE YOU SHOULDN’T IGNORE

Kansas at No. 6 Oklahoma State
Sat., Oct. 8 — 3:30 p.m. ET

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. Marc broke his maiden in a big way last week, bringing home Auburn over South Carolina.

These teams have combined to average a whopping 67 total points in each of their last seven meetings, dating back to 1998. The Cowboys (4-0, 1-0 in Big 12) have been victorious in six of those games, including the 48-14 smackdown last year in Lawrence, when they scored the final 38 points.

After using a similar come-from-ahead approach in a 45-35 loss to Texas Tech at home last week (squandered a 20-0 lead), the Jayhawks (2-2, 0-1), who allow more than 44 points per game, have no shot at stopping a well-rested Oklahoma State attack that ranks third nationally with 571 yards per game and sixth in scoring at nearly 47 points per game.

Opening point spread: Oklahoma State by 33

The pick: Oklahoma State 52-13

Final: Oklahoma State 70-28

Connecticut at No. 16 West Virginia
Sat., Oct. 8 — Noon ET

As much as we’d like to, we couldn’t blow off the Big East.

The Connecticut defense will have a ton of work to do against a Mountaineer offense that might have found a running game to balance out the aerial attack piloted by quarterback Geno Smith.

True freshman tailback Dustin Garrison exploded on the scene in last week’s 55-10 victory over Bowling Green with 291 rushing yards (nearly as many as West Virginia had in its previous four games combined).

We know the Huskies (2-3) upset the Mountaineers (4-1) last season, but that was when Paul Pasqualoni wasn’t around and we certainly didn’t see anything in their 38-31 loss at home to Western Michigan last week that indicates they’ve got anything in them to even keep it close in this conference opener for both teams.

Connecticut allowed Bronco quarterback Alex Carder to pass for 479 yards and five scores, with three receivers going over 100 yards. Smith should have an easy time carving up the Huskies.

Opening point spread: West Virginia by 21

The pick: West Virginia 42-17

Final: West Virginia 43-16

Week 6 record: 10-2
Total: 55-17

SMU graduate assistant GJ Kinne to call plays in Frisco Bowl

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New SMU head coach Sonny Dykes has been busy assembling his staff as he prepares to jump right in the saddle to coach the Mustangs in the Frisco Bowl next week, but he will have one holdover from the previous staff to help call the shots on offense. Graduate assistant GJ Kinne will call the offensive plays for the bowl game, according to Adam Grosbard of The Dallas Morning News.

This would seem to be the most logical choice for Dykes to make in this scenario. Kinne has been working in the SMU system all season long under former head coach Chad Morris, who has moved to Arkansas with a handful of assistants. Having the most experience with the current roster and a better comfort level makes sense to have Kinne take on this responsibility so close to the bowl game. This will be a major promotion for Kinne, the former Tulsa quarterback, even if just for one game.

I certainly trust G.J. It’s going to be fun to give him an opportunity to be highly involved and it’ll be one of those things he remembers for the rest of his life,” Dykes said of the decision to have Kinne calling the offense from above. “When you’re a GA and you get to call a bowl game, it’s a pretty awesome opportunity.”

Just how smoothly this all goes is anyone’s guess. Fortunately, if things go awry, Kinne and Dykes can always just resort to going back to a chuck-it-deep mentality and see what happens.

SMU faces Louisiana Tech in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20.

Pitt loses second QB to transfer in as many days

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Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi may have been signed to a contract extension recently, but the Panthers are quickly getting shallow at the quarterback spot on the depth chart for 2018. For the second time in as many days, Pitt is losing a quarterback to a transfer.

Ben DiNucci is the most recent of the two to announce his decision to leave the program. Though DiNucci did not say where he is heading next, he did say in a brief message on Twitter he will be enrolling in January. He will have two years of eligibility to use, although he would have to sit out the 2018 season if he transfers to another FBS program. He would be eligible to play right away if he transfers to a lower division football program. A report from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggests the latter will be the case, with James Madison and Towson the two leading candidates to add DiNucci.

DiNucci was Pittsburgh’s leading passer this season with 1,091 yards and five touchdowns, although he was used mostly as a backup for Max Browne until Browne was injured after appearing in six games. DiNucci also added 126 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown, which came in Week 2 against Penn State.

DiNucci’s announcement comes just one day after Thomas MacVittie announced his own decision to leave the Panthers behind. The redshirt freshman did not appear in any games this season and was passed over on the depth chart by freshman Kenny Pickett. Pickett now becomes the top option in the passing game for the Panthers heading into the spring, unless Pitt happens to add a transfer to the mix.

Pitt will have another scholarship quarterback on the way in 2018 with the addition of incoming freshman Nick Patti out of New Jersey. Patti is not expected to be enrolling early, so he will not be around in the spring.

Royce Freeman will not play in Las Vegas Bowl

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Oregon senior running back Royce Freeman will not play in this weekend’s Las Vegas Bowl, thus bringing his collegiate career to a close before he moves on to the NFL next year. Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal announced Freeman’s lack of availability to reporters today ahead of the bowl game against Boise State.

Freeman played in all 12 games for the Ducks this season, rushing for 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns. Freeman’s career at Oregon has been a highly productive one under two different coaches. As a freshman in 2014, Freeman rushed for 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns to quickly begin gaining some national attention as the Ducks advanced to the national championship game in the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff (but some guy named Marcus Mariota was doing some good things too at the time to grab the majority of the national attention).

Freeman rushed for 5,621 yards and 60 touchdowns for Oregon, and he was also responsible for four touchdown receptions.

Freeman will join a growing list following a growing trend of sitting out of a bowl game before moving to the NFL.

West Virginia QB Will Grier announces return in 2018

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West Virginia quarterback Will Grier will be back for another season of football in Morgantown. Grier announced today he will be back in the blue and gold in 2018, his senior season.

Citing a desire to see his team accomplish more next season, Grier said he is “completely focused and looking forward to building off the success” experienced in 2017.

“West Virginia is my home, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future here,” Grier said in his released statement.

Grier’s return to West Virginia will be a boost for the offense next season. In his first year back playing college football after parting ways with Florida amid a drug-related suspension, Grier played in 11 games and passed for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns for the Mountaineers. He was one of three quarterbacks in the Big 12 to average more than 300 passing yards in a game, with the other two being Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. With Mayfield and Rudolph moving on to the NFL next year, Grier will be one of the top offensive players returning to play football in the Big 12 in 2018.