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Predictions 101 — Week 2

Mark Richt AP

While we went 6-1 overall last week, we pulled a Houston when it comes to the pocketbook. It was bad, but no one “got resigned” … yet. Maybe we just need to add a “few bad citizens” around here to find more success.

The fear this week is that our team will get caught peeking ahead past this week’s task at hand — an uninspiring quintet rescued only by SEC expansion — to next week’s far more attractive board that includes: Alabama at Arkansas, Florida at Tennessee, USC at Stanford, Notre Dame at Michigan State and BYU at Utah.

Week 2 doesn’t contain a single game pitting ranked foes against each other. We really had to scrounge around to fill out our Top 5 this week. It’s such a sad Saturday that Thursday’s Pitt-Cincy pillow fight made it.

Oh well, still way better than baseball.

TOP 5 GAMES OF THE WEEK (Thursday, Sept. 6 thru Saturday, Sept. 8)

1) No. 7 Georgia at Missouri
Sat., Sept. 8 — 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN2

With nearly half of its starting defense out of uniform (four suspensions and one injury), Georgia was underwhelming in a 45-23 victory over Buffalo last Saturday. Mark Richt will need more hands on deck in Columbia to slow down the Tigers’ slippery spread led by dual-threat quarterback James Franklin.

Missouri, which is making its SEC debut, also deserves your attention in the other phases of the game, after reaching the end zone four times while the offense wasn’t on the field in its 62-10 smackdown over Southeastern Louisiana. Punt returner Marcus Murphy accounted for half of those non-offensive scores in the opener.

Even with all that firepower on the opposite sideline, the Bulldogs still figure to set the pace. Junior quarterback Aaron Murray has a pair of senior wideouts to target and freshman running back Todd Gurley had an impressive debut last week with a TD hat-trick that included a 100-yard kickoff return.

They’ll put the Bulldogs out in front and Jarvis Jones & Co. will make sure they stay there.

Missouri defensive end Sheldon Richardson disagrees, but “old man football” still wins the games in this league.

Opening point spread: Georgia by 3 1/2

The pick: Georgia 27-20

2) No. 24 Florida at Texas A&M
Sat., Sept. 8 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

As the Gators’ 27-14 victory over Bowling Green last Saturday illustrates, it’s good to open versus an opponent that you can work out the kinks against without a heavy threat of getting tagged with a loss.

The Aggies had their version of that sort of runout all set up against Louisiana Tech, but Hurricane Isaac forced a postponement, leaving this visit by Florida as their lidlifter. Yowza.

No pressure, Kevin Sumlin. Your first game in charge at College Station is just Texas A&M’s debut in the SEC. Don’t worry, no one will remember that billboard. And Herbie, Desmond and Coach Corso will be there with you to break the matchups down.

It’s a tough spot for redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel. He has  wideouts Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu, and rebuilt running back Christine Michael to lean on, but Florida’s ultra experienced defense will swallow up most of what the Aggies have to offer from their new attack.

On the other side, Gator sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel has emerged from a competition with Jacoby Brissett, but it’s still a shaky situation, which isn’t helped much by inexperienced receivers. But they’ll be going against an Aggie secondary that is similarly young and senior running back Mike Gillislee seems capable of shouldering a significant share of the offensive burden.

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

The pick: Florida 23-17

3) Washington at No. 3 LSU
Sat., Sept. 8 — 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

This prediction comes courtesy of Shane Hedani from the P101 satellite office in Maunawili, Hawai’i.

Keith Price is back to trigger a Husky offense that’s expected to be explosive. Early in the opener versus San Diego State, the attack appeared as advertised, but when tackle Ben Riva went down, the offense went with him for the final three quarters.

Against a far-from-dominant defense, the Washington offense showed that it will struggle in the post-Chris Polk era. Without a take-charge running back, the play-action game will struggle and Price won’t be able to take advantage of an unsettled LSU defensive backfield.

Tigers in Seattle are nothing like Tigers in Death Valley. It’ll be a long night for the Dawg offense.

We’ve been hearing that new coordinator Josh Wilcox will work with a much improved Husky defense. Well, giving up 199 rushing yards to the Ronnie Hillman-less Aztecs doesn’t bode well when Alfred Blue, Kenny Hilliard and a bigger, meaner offensive front brings it in the trenches. Both Tiger backs will go over the century mark for the second week in a row.

The Huskies are still a few years away from approaching college football’s elite.

Opening point spread: LSU by 22

The pick: LSU 38-10

4) No. 13 Wisconsin at Oregon State

Sat., Sept. 8 — 4 p.m. ET, FX

We don’t know what to expect from the Beavers, who had their opener versus Nicholls State postponed due to Hurricane Isaac. But, really, what would we have learned? Perhaps it serves them well that the Badgers didn’t get a peek and they’ll be better rested.

Wisconsin wasn’t impressive against Northern Iowa, needing to bat down a pass on fourth-and-1 to preserve a 26-21 victory in Madison.

The Badger offense led by new quarterback Danny O’Brien (a “Russell Wilson rule” graduate of Maryland), new coordinator Matt Canada and good ol’ Montee Ball was vanilla as usual and generally effective versus the FCS squad.

The Wisconsin defense, however, could be a concern in Corvallis as the Panthers seemed to figure out coverage schemes and took advantage in the second half.

Oregon State’s young backfield of Sean Mannion (sophomore) and running backs Storm Woods (redshirt freshman) and Malcolm Agnew (sophomore) could be just balanced enough to topple the visitors.

The Beavers are usually good for at least one of these a season, having beaten nine ranked teams since 2005.

Opening point spread: Wisconsin by 11

The pick: Oregon State 28-24

5) Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
Thurs., Sept. 6 — 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Last week wasn’t a good one for teams from Pennsylvania with new coaches at the helm, hosting teams from Ohio.

Road games after wakeup calls have a way of bringing clear focus to a squad, at least that’s what Paul Chryst is hoping happens for his Panthers.

Except for the fact that Pitt has a short week to rest and retool before this Thursday tilt, this all puts Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones in a difficult spot. Not only would he have preferred the Panthers take care of Youngstown State as expected, but to have a played a game prior to this conference opener would have been nice too.

Pitt, which also might be bolstered by players coming off suspensions, has several wicked weapons. They just weren’t sharp right out of the box.

The Bearcats will go down that same road.

Opening point spread: Pittsburgh by 2

The pick: Pittsburgh 23-21

UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK

Penn State at Virginia
Sat., Sept. 8 — noon ET, ABC

This prediction comes courtesy of Marc Doche (@MDoche) from the P101 satellite office in Burbank, Calif.

Maybe a home game against a team they were supposed to beat wasn’t the best recipe for the Nittany Lions to begin their new regime and get the attention back to business on the field.

Often times a road trip does a squad in turmoil some good. And while there’s no escaping the past and the emotional rollercoaster that comes along with it, Penn State players now have the experience of dealing with the distractions.

The Lions seemed in control of their opener versus Ohio, but the bubble burst after halftime when they surrendered 301 yards of total offense and allowed the Bobcats to convert on 11-of-12 third-down attempts.

Virginia junior triggerman Michael Rocco was 25-of-37 for 311 yards and a touchdown in last Saturday’s 43-19 victory over Richmond, spoiling the Spider coaching debut of his uncle, Danny Rocco.

Penn State might be drained and shorthanded, but it ain’t no FCS squad. If Nittany Lion running back Bill Belton can overcome an ankle injury and help control the ball on offense, the defense can regroup to avoid a repeat of the sloppy second half effort against Ohio that saw them outscored 21-0.

Smiling faces in Happy Valley are long over due.

Opening point spread: Virginia by 5

The pick: Penn State 24-20

RIVALRY GAME OF THE WEEK

Iowa State at Iowa
Sat., Sept. 8 — 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

It’s the 60th renewal of the Cy-Hawk Series, which dates back to 1894.

This isn’t the most balance rivalry around as Iowa owns a 39-20 advantage. Last year, however, Iowa State broke a three-game losing streak with a 44-41 triple-overtime win in Ames. The last time the Cyclones won on the road in Kinnick Stadium was in 2002, but that 36-16 upset was a doozy (the Hawkeyes’ only setback of the regular season).

Judging from their respective openers, this one is a tossup, especially since our friends in the desert tend to underestimate the Cyclones.

Iowa waited until 2:15 remained in the fourth quarter to score its only touchdown in an 18-17 come-from-behind victory over Northern Illinois at Solider Field last Saturday. Four field goals normally won’t get the job done against anybody, but the Hawkeyes escaped. Credit the Iowa defense, which held the Huskies to just 201 total yards, only 54 of which came through the air.

Iowa State, on the other hand, overcame a horrific start and scored 24 unanswered to beat a decent Tulsa squad, 38-23, last week in Ames. Quarterback Steele Jantz was 32-of-45 for 281 yards. He sprayed his aerials around to nine different receivers and accounted for three touchdowns.

The Cyclones, who displayed a sturdy defense in the final three quarters versus the Golden Hurricane, will be tested by Hawkeye sophomore tailback Damon Bullock, who rushed for 150 yards and that lone touchdown (a 23-yarder on third-and-9). However, Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg passed for only 129 yards and was sacked six times, giving something new offensive coordinator Greg Davis to work on.

Opening point spread: Iowa by 4

The pick: Iowa 26-24

Week 1 record: 6-1

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25 Responses to “Predictions 101 — Week 2”
  1. klownboy says: Sep 5, 2012 1:01 PM

    Your boy must be high if he thinks that PSU will beat Virginia on the road…

  2. vmhawk says: Sep 5, 2012 1:13 PM

    A.J. Klein plays for Iowa State, not Iowa.

  3. gopokes0714 says: Sep 5, 2012 1:20 PM

    “Oh well, still way better than baseball.”

    lol, so true. I got roped into going to a couple of baseball games and by the time anything good happened I had already stopped paying attention.

    And I seriously dont understand the smoothing of the dirt every 4 innings. Baseballs downfall is that is has become more about getting perfect stats than playing a game.

  4. gopokes0714 says: Sep 5, 2012 1:27 PM

    @ knownboy
    I agree, I took Penn St last week and it cost me money. If they only had to play the first half they might win a game this year. Heart can only get you so far. The spread opened at Virginia -5, and now its -10. I would still take Virginia giving 14.

    Eventually Jantz will be too beat up to be effective but its only the second game of the season. Take Iowa State.

  5. suprmous says: Sep 5, 2012 1:48 PM

    I’ll gladly take what you’ve said bout LSU over Washington but with l’il more than a “grain of salt” and question the spread you gave. The puppies may be findin that the Tigers will definitly test their perseverance of becomin the elite as you say. However they’ll learn what the SEC’s all about. Good bad or indifferent they couldn’t find out from a better teacher than the Mad Hatter himself.

  6. pricecube says: Sep 5, 2012 1:54 PM

    I really hope the Texas A&M billboard story doesn’t disappear. There has to be a money trail. I want to know if it was some rogue Aggie booster or something else. Seeing these former Big 12 teams arrive in the SEC is going to be very interesting, both this weekend and throughout the entire season. I predict they end up somewhere in the middle to lower middle of the pack in their respective divisions.

  7. tigersgeaux says: Sep 5, 2012 2:17 PM

    suprmous: Good writing!

    pricecube: That has piqued my curiosity as well. I keep wondering if it may just be a Florida fan/booster trying to motivate his team toward a better performance. But this is such a fascinating story because it does have so many possibilities. There will be antics brought on the new SEC teams by some of the pillars of the SEC sort of like a hazing before it is over, but I thought they would give them the first year free from that, but this may be one of those starting early.

    I am not good at picking all the games that our resident prognosticator can, but I will pick:

    LSU over Washington with some hot sauce thrown in. (an exclamation point!)

    The Gators putting a bite on the Aggies.

    Dem ‘Dawgs getting some former Big 12 flesh in Missouri motivated with some fervor by Sheldon’s very ill advised remarks, coming away with it at the end.

    Virginia will beat Penn State

    I hope all the players stay healthy this weekend. Too many injuries this early in the season.

  8. lucky5936 says: Sep 5, 2012 2:18 PM

    No offense but if Penn State can’t knock off Ohio, they stand no chance against Virginia.

  9. cyraider says: Sep 5, 2012 2:27 PM

    Iowa wishes they could have a LB like AJ Klein.
    Way to do your homework. You even posted a link that takes you to him in a CYCLONES uniform.

    Also, the ISU D will be tested by Iowa’s running game? Yeah, he had 150 yards on 30 carries against a MAC team. Shontrelle Johnson had 120 on 18 against far superior competition.

    This whole article smells like crap

  10. houndofthebaskervols says: Sep 5, 2012 2:38 PM

    Not a happy weekend for Big12 traitors and unwelcome additions to the SEC.

  11. cubano76 says: Sep 5, 2012 3:16 PM

    WHAT??!?!?!? No Temple vs. Maryland pick?

  12. beenocook says: Sep 5, 2012 3:31 PM

    Even I was surprised to see a Joe Paterno coached team lost to Ohio, but I can’t see them winning at Virginia.

    Also, I agree. When betting use the Randy Edsall paradigm. Any team with players coached by Randy Edsall, be it at Maryland, or wherever they have transferred to have been bitten by the Edsallilla, and losing will happen.

    Lastly. The three worst inventions of the week of September 5th, 2012. Styrofoam, it makes my coffee taste like crap. #2. Sushi. Raw fish, what the hell? #3. The Wave. Sit the hell down, I’m trying to watch the game.

  13. blitz4848 says: Sep 5, 2012 3:37 PM

    I have to confess–I put ALL my $$$ on UCF +18
    against The Ohio State. Not a UCF fan more a gambler looking for the best opportunity and I believe UCF has enough talent and depth, good special teams and kickers to give Urban ALL he wants and then some………..

  14. gtizzo says: Sep 5, 2012 3:38 PM

    The Florida pick doesn’t make any sense. Florida gave up 14 points to Bowling Green and plays a far more talented team in Texas A&M are only gives up 3 points more? Pitt got beat by Youngstown state, and the bounce back against the Bearcats…I hope your willing to share those drugs.

  15. blitz4848 says: Sep 5, 2012 3:50 PM

    The Florida pick is “right on!” Gators have more talent, depth and experience and their BIGGEST problem is Muschamp is “still learning” how to be a head coach.

    Gators had the #8 defense in the nation last yr and returned 10. T^hey aren’t great but they have enough to go to College Station and take care of the Aggies…….

  16. titanqb3 says: Sep 5, 2012 3:54 PM

    How does Kansas State-Miami not make the list?

  17. txstatebobcats1868 says: Sep 5, 2012 4:30 PM

    No Texas State v. Tech?? Bout to be back to back upset weekends in Texas.

  18. beedubyatoo says: Sep 5, 2012 4:48 PM

    Wisconsin at Oregon St. doesn’t qualify for the upset of the week? Badgers shut them out last year 35-0.

  19. thefiesty1 says: Sep 5, 2012 9:31 PM

    Iowa will be pressed to score with Greg Davis as OC. They’ll figure it out soon enough. Bubble screen just doesn’t get you first downs. Get used to it.

  20. floridaconservative says: Sep 6, 2012 9:27 AM

    If it makes you feel any better, you were spot-on about how many points BYU would score last week. The problem was not realizing how assignment-sound the blue Cougar defense is. The red Cougars learned quickly but couldn’t do much about it.

  21. dmvtransplant says: Sep 6, 2012 10:34 AM

    @ titanqb3

    Because teams in fly-over states not named Nebraska 0r Iowa, never get the attention they deserve.

  22. mountaineer50415 says: Sep 6, 2012 4:12 PM

    One thing is for sure. Someone is really wrong here. I picked Virginia, Cincinnati, Missouri, and Texas A&M. The only thing we agree on is that LSU will win. Guess we will find out soon. The only one I really can not find a way for is Penn St. If they win on the road against Virginia, that will be a desaster for Virginia. They are surely better than that. Say it ain’t true Cavaliers.

  23. omniusprime says: Sep 8, 2012 10:02 AM

    Pedophile State doesn’t deserve to be happy. I’m rooting for Pedophile State to have a perfect season – 0-12, now that would be perfect! Go Virginia! Funny how Virginia got a lot of new fans this Saturday.

    Go USC #1 !!

  24. bigugly2005 says: Sep 8, 2012 5:09 PM

    Bwahahahaha!!!

    Penn State got smoked, and ATM is dominating the big bad SEC Gators.

    Horrible picks you bunch of homers!!!

  25. bigugly2005 says: Sep 8, 2012 7:34 PM

    I stand corrected. Frickin noob coach took his foot off the gas!! Crap!!

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