The Swami

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

CFT Previews: The Big Ten

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 15: J.T. Barrett #16 of the Ohio State Buckeyes carries the football during the first quarter of the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on November 15, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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If there was ever a season the Big Ten looked like the Big Two and the Little Ten, this was it. Michigan State is reloading, while the rest of the conference scraps for space amongst themselves as Ohio State and Michigan take off into their own stratosphere.

Here’s a quick glance at how we think the Big Ten shakes out.

EAST
1. Ohio State (12-1 overall in 2015, 7-1 Big Ten): Losing all but six of your 22 starters would be a problem for anyone but Ohio State. If the 2014 team played like a pack of lions, the 2015 bunch was a pack of lions playing with a belly full of antelope: the ability was there, the desire wasn’t. This year’s group is just as talented, they just haven’t had the chance to prove it yet.

2. Michigan (10-3, 6-2 Big Ten): Many think next year will be The Year for Michigan. Jim Harbaugh doesn’t like working on other people’s timelines. I like this year’s team to lose to Ohio State but still reach the College Football Playoff.

3. Michigan State (12-2, 7-1 Big Ten): Seemingly every year Michigan State reaches a height previously thought to be unattainable, but last year’s second-in-three-years Big Ten championship and CFP appearance feels like the farthest Mark Dantonio can take this team now that Michigan is no longer out to a decade-long lunch.

4. Penn State (7-6, 4-4 Big Ten): With college football’s most miserable marriage of James Franklin and Christian Hackenberg at long last over, this should be the year Penn State starts to look like the Penn State Franklin wants it to be, especially with Joe Moorhead running the offense. The residual effects of the sanctions, though, say 2017 may be more like it.

5. Maryland (3-9, 1-7 Big Ten): Might as well place a giant “Under Construction” sign out side the program as D.J. Durkin works to build Maryland into a program after Jim Harbaugh‘s image.

6. Rutgers (3-9, 1-7 Big Ten): Ditto as above, but with an even larger “Under Construction” sign and Harbaugh’s mug crossed out from it and Urban Meyer‘s pasted crudely on top.

7. Indiana (6-7, 2-7 Big Ten): Kevin Wilson has done some nice things in Bloomington. He’s run the ball as well as anyone in the conference, he put a scare into Ohio State last season and he took the Hooisers to a bowl game. The rest of the Big Ten East is getting better, though, and Indiana is, well, Indiana.

WEST (A.K.A.: THE BIGGEST TOSS-UP IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL)
1. Nebraska (6-7, 3-5 Big Ten): In a division that will largely come down to who gets lucky at the right time, go with a team whose luck is due to flip after losing six one-score games in 2015.

2. Northwestern (10-3, 6-2 Big Ten): Normally Northwestern takes a tumble after Pat Fitzgerald‘s bunch builds to a 10-win peak, needing to reload after losing the bulk of a senior-laden team. The 2016 Wildcats bring back enough to contend again.

3. Iowa (12-2, 8-0 Big Ten): Kirk Ferentz‘s teams zig when they’re supposed to zag, and zag when they’re supposed to zig. Last year’s undefeated regular season, coming one stop shy of an improbable Cotton Bowl run, was a zig. Most expect the Hawkeyes to zig again this year. We know better.

4. Wisconsin (10-3, 6-2 Big Ten): Feels like Paul Chryst, while a solid coach, will only take the Badgers to heights seen previously under Gary Andersen and Bret Bielema, but not above them.

5. Illinois (5-7, 2-6 Big Ten): New AD Josh Whitman made a bold move in hiring longtime NFL coach Lovie Smith to head a program to which he had no prior connection. Building the Illini to a contender will take time, but keeping Wes Lunt healthy may be all Illinois needs to reach a bowl game this fall.

6. Minnesota (6-7, 2-6 Big Ten): ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit has the Gophers winning the Big Ten West. I’m willing to be wrong in saying he’ll be way, way wrong.

7. Purdue (2-10, 1-7 Big Ten): Make no mistake: this is a make or break year for Darrell Hazell, especially with new AD Mike Bobinski now in place. I think he’ll break.

USC’s star LT won’t start vs. ‘Bama; backup LB suspended

BOSTON, MA- SEPTEMBER 13: Quarterback Cody Kessler #6 of the USC Trojans looks to pass behind the protection from offensive tackle Chad Wheeler #72 of the USC Trojans during the first half at Alumni Stadium on September 13 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
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Chad Wheeler will not start at left tackle for USC in their opener against top-ranked Alabama, Clay Helton confirmed Monday night.

Instead, the head coach announced during a radio appearance, Chuma Edoga will be charged with protecting the blindside of the first-year starter at quarterback, Max Browne, against one of the top defensive lines in the country.  Wheeler has been dealing with a lingering foot injury — plantar fasciitis, to be specific — that’s kept him sidelined for most of summer camp.

Helton allowed that Wheeler could play “a couple of series” against the Tide, although that would, outside of an extreme emergency, seem unlikely.

Wheeler, a second-team All-Pac-12 selection last season, has started 34 games the past three seasons.  As a true freshman last season, the 6-4, 290-pound Edoga started two games at right tackle and played in 13 games total.

Helton also announced that linebacker Osa Masina has been suspended for the opener and will not travel to Arlington for the neutral-field game.  Masina played in 12 games as a true freshman last season, and was credited with 25 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.  The highlight of his first season as a Trojan was a fumble return for a touchdown in the season-opening win over Arkansas State.

On the preseason depth chart released a week ago, Masina was listed as a backup to starting inside linebacker Michael Hutchings.

Washington announces three-game suspension for WR Brayden Lenius

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 17:  Cornerback Ugo Amadi #14 of the Oregon Ducks intercepts a pass against wide receiver Brayden Lenius #81 of the Washington Huskies in the fourth quarter on October 17, 2015 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Ducks defeated the Huskies 26-20.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Washington will be missing one of its top returning pass-catchers for the first quarter of the upcoming season.

Brayden Lenius, head coach Chris Petersen announced, “will not make a contribution the first three games” of 2016.  Other than your standard unspecified violations of team rules, no reason for the three game suspension was given.

The suspension means the wide receiver will miss the opener against Rutgers Sept. 3, and the next two weeks against Idaho and Portland State as well.  Provided he has crawled out of Petersen’s doghouse by then, the 6-5, 231-pound junior would be eligible to return for the Pac-12 opener against Arizona in Tucson Sept. 24.

Last season, Lenius, who started six games, was fourth on the Huskies with 26 receptions and fifth in receiving yards with 307.  His three receiving touchdowns tied with two other players for the team lead.

With the departures of leading receiver Jaydon Mickens (58 catches) and second-leading receiver Joshua Perkins (36) for the NFL, Lenius is UW’s second-leading returning receiver.

Car accident will sideline starting FAU lineman Reggie Bain for 2016

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On off-field incident late last week will cost FAU one of the top offensive linemen in Conference USA moving forward.

Over the weekend, FAU confirmed that Reggie Bain sustained injuries that were described as “not life threatening” in a car accident Friday. However, the non-specified injuries will likely sideline the true junior offensive tackle for the entire 2016 season.

“I have been in constant contact and have visited with both Reggie and his family,” a statement from head coach Charlie Partridge began. “His FAU football family has surrounded him with support and will continue to do so. Out of respect for Reggie, his family and our team, all questions should only be directed to me. I know that inquiries may be well-intentioned, under the HIPPA law, and per the request of Reggie and his family, there is very little I can disclose.”

No details surrounding the accident have been released.

Bain has started all 24 games in his two-year career with the Owls, earning second-team all-conference honors following the 2015 season. Coaches made Bain a preseason all-league selection last month.