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Predictions 101 — Week 3

Dantonio Kelly AP

Once again, the team here is seeing things clearly. In Week 2, we went 4-3 straight, gave you Oregon State over Wisconsin, nearly came through with another big dog in Penn State and pegged the points scored for both Missouri and Texas A&M in their SEC debuts.

Even better, we were 6-0-1 versus “the number.” Not that anybody cares about such things, right?

That’s what we’ve done for you lately. Now, on to what’s up next.

TOP 5 GAMES OF THE WEEK (Thurs., Sept. 13 thru Sat., Sept. 15)

1) No. 20 Notre Dame at No. 10 Michigan State
Sat., Sept. 15 — 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Whaddaya know, the Fighting Irish have a shot to become relevant again. All they need to do is beat the Spartans.

Such an occurrence would mean Notre Dame improves to 3-0 for the first time in 10 years, breaks a six-game losing streak to ranked opponents on the road and effectively eliminates the Big Ten from BCS title contention in mid-September. All fairly amazing. Also quite difficult.

We don’t have much confidence in the Irish offensive line that was able to carve out just 52 rushing yards against Purdue last week. That spells trouble when going against a rugged Michigan State defensive unit that has yet to allow a touchdown, especially with an inexperienced quarterback starting his first game in a hostile environment.

Good luck to redshirt freshman Everett Golson, who had some pre-snap difficulty last week at home, and Tommy Rees when he comes in from the bullpen.

Irish backers will point to their team’s success in last year’s 31-13 victory over the Spartans, but it’s hard to imagine Mark Dantonio’s crew laying another egg like that at home. It hasn’t happened since and there’s certainly no reason to expect a recurrence in this spot.

Opening point spread: Michigan State by 2 1/2

The pick: Michigan State 24-16

2) No. 1 Alabama at Arkansas
Sat., Sept. 15 — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

As we all know, the Razorbacks had an utterly forgettable outing last Saturday. Allowing Louisiana-Monroe to leave Little Rock with a 34-31 overtime victory was an all-time low for Arkansas, which went from No. 8 to No. Nothing in a flash.

The Warhawks made themselves at home, racking up 550 yards of offense (412 through the air) and routinely converted on fourth down (6-of-7). Unreal.

Aside from A.J. McCarron’s expert quarterbacking (14-of-19 for 219 yards and four TDs), the Crimson Tide didn’t have a particularly stellar Saturday either. That sounds strange, considering that Alabama registered a 35-0 victory over Western Kentucky, but you gotta shake your head at the fact that the all-world Tide offensive line gave up six sacks and the Hilltopper offense generated more first downs through the first three quarters.

However, this is less about waving red flags and more about knowing Nick Saban won’t let it happen again anytime soon. All of this and a growing injury list is bad news for the Hogs.

Opening point spread: Alabama by 13

The pick: Alabama 35-13

3) No. 2 USC at No. 21 Stanford
Sat., Sept. 15 — 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX

The Cardinal have dominated this series as of late. They’re on a three-game winning streak and have taken four of the last five from the Trojans, beginning, of course, with that upset of all upsets, the 24-23 stunner over No. 2 and 41-point favorite USC at the Coliseum in 2007.

The Trojans are ranked No. 2 in this spot as well, but judging from recent results, they pale in comparison to Pete Carroll’s juggernaut from five years ago.

Sure, USC has a distinct quarterbacking advantage with Matt Barkley, eons more experienced than Stanford’s Josh Nunes. But Lane Kiffin should show off a little more.

Who else could have a Heisman Trophy caliber quarterback share the field with a pair of seemingly unstoppable All-America wideouts and end up with only 187 yards passing against a limp Syracuse team as Barkley did last Saturday?

He did toss six touchdown passes, because stats are supreme at Troy these days, but to win “Pac-10” (we won’t recognize Utah and Colorado until they are deserving) games on the road, Barkley will have to direct an offense more diverse and explosive than the one that saw him toss 21 of his 23 completions to either Robert Woods or Marqise Lee out in the flats versus the Orangemen.

The Trojans should be wary of Cardinal safety Ed Reynolds, who already has three interceptions and 144 return yards this year, and linebacker Shayne Skov, a playmaker who is back for his senior season after being sidelined by injury.

USC isn’t Duke, but the recipe Stanford used to bottle up the Blue Devil running game and limit pass plays downfield should have some level of success.

We get the feeling that Kiffin plays to not lose. Maybe that’s the scholarship reduction talking. Maybe it’s the paranoia. In any case, the Cardinal won’t need Andrew Luck to give the Trojans, sans their kicker Andre Heidari, all they can handle up on The Farm.

Opening point spread: USC by 6 1/2

The pick: USC 29-27

4) No. 18 Florida at No. 23 Tennessee
Sat., Sept. 15 — 6 p.m. ET, ESPN

Here’s how coaches earn those big bucks: Texas A&M’s offense had it all figured out in the first half of its SEC debut against Florida last week. But after working in some halftime adjustments, the Gator defense rose up and put a halt to it all, forcing five consecutive three-and-outs on its way to an easy second-half shutout.

Next up for Will Muschamp and the rest of the Florida braintrust is figuring out a way to slow down the Volunteer pass-catch combo of Tyler Bray and Justin Hunter, who judging by his sensational performance in last week’s 51-13 victory over Georgia State (eight receptions for 146 yards and three scores) appears fully recovered from ACL surgery.

Expect an unpolished performance out of Gator signalcaller Jeff Driskel, who will find himself under siege by a Tennessee defense that has shown a nose for the football.

It’s good to see this matchup return to an elevated status with ranked squads on both sidelines for the first time since 2007.

Could the Vols possibly drop four in a row to Florida in Knoxville and eight overall in this series? Nah.

Opening point spread: Even

The pick: Tennessee 24-20

5) California at No. 12 Ohio State
Sat., Sept. 15 — noon ET, ABC

The Buckeyes carry the extra weight of the Big Ten’s nightmarish showing against the “Pac-10” (Utah and Colorado not worthy) last week as Wisconsin whiffed at Oregon State, Nebraska made UCLA famous and Arizona State rocked Illinois.

The Bears were less than golden in their opener, losing to Nevada. Yet to impress, Cal bounced back last Saturday, sleepwalking to a 50-31 victory over Southern Utah. A rash of penalties this season calls coaching and overall focus into question. And key injuries aren’t helping either.

Ohio State will need someone other than sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller (296 yards and four scores in last week’s 31-16 win over Central Florida) to carry the mail. With a banged up backfield, that would normally be difficult. But the Bear run defense appears to be soft and unorganized.

As we have said in the past, Cal is Cal and will always be Cal. That ain’t a good thing.

Opening point spread: Ohio State by 13

The pick: Ohio State 34-10

UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK

Virginia at Georgia Tech
Sat., Sept. 15 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

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

Incomprehensible placekicking inefficiency got in the way of last week’s upset special as favored Virginia escaped with a 17-16 win over visiting Penn State thanks to a quartet of shanks and a blocked extra point.

We’ll give credit to Cavalier quarterback Michael Rocco, who capped a game-winning 86-yard touchdown drive by tossing a six-yard scoring strike with just 1:28 left. The Virginia defense deserves some credit too, forcing the Nittany Lions to settle for field goal attempts after inheriting excellent field position throughout the contest thanks to four turnovers.

Georgia Tech was victimized by field goals, as well, in its overtime loss at Virginia Tech and gets no bonus points for racking up more than 700 yards of total offense against Presbyterian last week.

The Yellow Jacket wishbone should find sticky going against a Virginia defense that has allowed less than 75 rushing yards per game this season.

Virginia returns 14 starters from a squad that spoiled then-No. 12 ranked Georgia Tech’s 6-0 start last season, becoming the first team to out rush the Yellow Jackets since Iowa did it in the Orange Bowl, following the 2009 season.

Don’t look now, but the Cavs break into the Top 25 after improving to 3-0.

Opening point spread: Georgia Tech by 9 1/2

The pick: Virginia 23-17

RIVALRY GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 25 Brigham Young at Utah
Sat., Sept. 15 — 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2

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

The Cougars take their undefeated start, national ranking and the sour taste from last year’s turnover-plagued 54-10 loss to the Utes into Salt Lake City for the latest battle in the “Holy War” (sorry, the new politically correct “Desert Duel Rivalry Game” moniker doesn’t get us going).

This will be a defensive battle between teams in their sophomore seasons of independence and the Pac-12.

Utah has the brightest individual standouts on both sides of the ball, in running back John White and nose tackle Star Lotulelei, but BYU has the team edge on offense and defense.

With quarterback Jordan Wynn now retired from football due to repeated shoulder injuries, senior Jon Hays and/or freshman Travis Wilson will have a hard time leading the Utes to the Promised Land in this one.

BYU ballcarrier Michael Alisa will outrush White, atoning for last year’s limp team output of just 11 yards on the ground. That’ll give quarterback Riley Nelson enough run support to make this game manageable.

Sadly this old and bitter rivalry, which Utah claims began in 1896, won’t be played in 2014 and 2015, and its future after a meeting in 2016 is in question. Enjoy it while you still can.

Opening point spread: Utah by 1

The pick: Brigham Young 31-21

Week 2 record: 6-1
Overall record: 12-2

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26 Responses to “Predictions 101 — Week 3”
  1. tubaplayingprof says: Sep 12, 2012 3:38 PM

    Any cupcake upset of the week predictions?

  2. southernpatriots says: Sep 12, 2012 3:52 PM

    Alabama over Arkansas 42-21. Chances are the team leader and QB Tyler Wilson will not be there, if Razorback coaches have much sense, because Alabama put some hurt on him last year and will again on Saturday.

    Stanford over USC 28-21.Somehow Standford has USC and will pull it out after the game see sawing back and forth until late the 4th. Standford will find a way to win.

    LSU over Idaho 42-10. Idaho may not score 10 on the Tiger defense. LSU will put the Idaho QB on his rear many times with several picks. LSU special teams along with RBs will ramble. Zach will continue to lengthen his field with average passes being in the high teens with several over 35 yards. A balanced attack and good tune-up game for Auburn and the SEC West.

    Florida over Tennessee 24- 21. This one is a toss up but Florida showed me something last week. They can adjust and come out and win. I think Muschamp and crew is determined this season.

    Missouri over Arizona State 48-41 The Tigers will get their offense moving along with a good enough defense to pull out a win and be entertaining along the way.

    TAMU over SMU 33 – 21. A&M will begin to play more of a full 60 minutes and enough in this game to bring home a win.

    Auburn over UL-Monroe- 24 – 21. Though UL-Monroe is poised to try to be a giant killer again this week, the defensive ends for Auburn along with defensive team speed will disrupt the Warhawks enough to create turnovers and a much shorted field. However, with the buoyed emotions and confidence the Warhawks could pull another one out.

    This season has started even more entertaining that last. May all college teams keep it that way. May the players not be injured more than minor sprains and such.

  3. greggatx says: Sep 12, 2012 4:48 PM

    The aggies will lead at half time 17-0 and will lose 21-17. Who have to play both halves to win! hahahaha Go SMU!!

  4. florida727 says: Sep 12, 2012 4:49 PM

    I’m feeling pretty good about the Gators chances in Knoxville, mainly because “southernpatriots” picked the Gators to prevail and CFT did NOT :) (call it a “double-bonus” if you will) Actually should be a good game. Hate to be skeptical, but even I can see only about 6 dozen ways the Gators lose this one. Just hoping they don’t. The defense is going to have to rule the roost.

    I actually like ULM’s chances at Auburn. Although the challenge of course is coming too far down off the Arkansas high, I’d bet the rent their coaches are preaching the Gospel according to Mike (Slive) this week. “Beat an SEC team TWO weeks in a row? No way.” No letdown here. They have a chance to make history. Has any other team from outside the SEC in recent memory beaten two SEC teams, both on the road no less, in consecutive weeks? Bragging rights for a long, long time for ULM if that happens.

    I don’t see USC losing at Stanford. Too much recent history. USC will not overlook them or have any kind of letdown. If anything, they had that last week (a “letdown”, I mean), which contributed to their lackadaisical effort v. Syracuse.

    I, too, see Alabama winning big. Even if Wilson plays, how effective will he be, and what happens the first time he gets put on his back? Or the second time? Or the third time? Or the… oh heck, you get the idea. Roll Tide.

  5. greggatx says: Sep 12, 2012 4:57 PM

    There will be a low tide on Sat. and the Hogs will swim to a 28-24 victory. Go Hogs!!

  6. tigersgeaux says: Sep 12, 2012 5:02 PM

    LSU will win in a landslide. Similar game as the last or last season v. Oregon. LSU will dominate on the line–offense and defense and from there will rule the game. Many players will be standouts. Mettenberger will continue to improve. LSU coaches will not overlook Idaho.

    I don’t know if Stanford can win, I just hope they will. Arrogant USC fans with no defense to be arrogant about are obnoxious.

    florida727: Roll Tide.???? I don’t see a Geaux Tigers!

  7. irisheyesnate says: Sep 12, 2012 5:33 PM

    GO IRISH!!!3-0

  8. houndofthebaskervols says: Sep 12, 2012 5:36 PM

    Good call on UT, Vols will win in a nail-biter with our walk on kicker. 26-24

    Ordinarily, Bama would beat Arky by 40+ points, but Saban shows mercy on John L (who is gone anyway) Bama 35 – 13

    Auburn takes out a lot of frustration on ULM. 48-17

    Upset of the Week: Ole Miss and Bo Wallace over Texas. 27-24

    Josh Nunes is not ready…USC rolls.

    The only other game I have any interest in is Oregon and the Tennessee Tech Da’Ricksters. There is no line on this game for the simple fact that nobody can count that high.

  9. takingbovadasmoney says: Sep 12, 2012 5:49 PM

    The SEC’s big 2 roll, while their little 12 have mixed results. The Big Ten favorite, Northwestern, covers v. BC. Take the under on MSU and ND. UMass covers the 47 1/2 v. Michigan. ACC, uh, who cares? PAC12, SC by 10. UCLA mollywhops Houston.

  10. askbri says: Sep 12, 2012 9:45 PM

    You weren’t 6-0-1 against the number last week.

    You lost the Pitt game.

    Great week anyway.

  11. gotampabay52 says: Sep 12, 2012 9:56 PM

    Go VOLS yo bullgators or bullwinkles whatever yo call you little frat bring it to Knoxville going to get a rocky top asswhippin and then we will sing rocky top and jug Shine bring it gators going to be sweet

  12. frank booth says: Sep 12, 2012 11:18 PM

    irisheyesnate says:
    Sep 12, 2012 5:33 PM
    GO IRISH!!!3-0
    ====================================
    Notre Dame actually has to play someone good this week. No more Navy or Purdue.

    Of course, the idiot domers are going nuts, because their team has won two games.

    Notre Dame fans are the most annoying with the least to be cocky about.

  13. norcalirish says: Sep 13, 2012 1:28 AM

    We play somebody every week, brah. Comes with having the toughest schedule in the country.

    Go Irish.

  14. frank booth says: Sep 13, 2012 2:13 AM

    Navy’s not that good, brah. Neither is Purdue.

    Domers should save the squealing until they beat someone good, brah.

    No doubt that they have a tough schedule- and between that schedule, crappy quarterbacking and an overall lack of talent to compete with the big boys, it will be their downfall.

  15. florida727 says: Sep 13, 2012 8:17 AM

    tigersgeaux says:
    Sep 12, 2012 5:02 PM
    florida727: Roll Tide.???? I don’t see a Geaux Tigers!

    ———————————————

    My bad. Probably my own ignorance/oversight for not knowing how to spell “Geaux” :) (do you know that it doesn’t pass spell-checker?)

    In any event… GEAUX Tigers!

  16. tigersgeaux says: Sep 13, 2012 9:32 AM

    florida727:

    Thanks, now that is equal time! (As you know I was just pickin’)

    I wanted the CFT alias as GeauxTigers but when I joined that was taken so I went backwards with tigersgeaux. Spell checker….ugh. I know it is helpful but with names of different languages and such it gives trouble. Our governor had some trouble with that unique spelling when he was a Congressman.

    Have a great day. Off to work I go, to help provide American gasoline from American crude.

  17. omniusprime says: Sep 13, 2012 11:31 AM

    Notre Dame might as well join the SEC, the most overrated conference in the country. Watch always overrated Notre Dame crumble against a vastly superior Michigan State team.

    Stanford is going to be blown out by USC. After three lucky years USC is going to go for revenge and it’s not going to be pretty for the Cardinals.

    USC #1 !!

  18. frank booth says: Sep 13, 2012 12:14 PM

    omniusprime says:
    Sep 13, 2012 11:31 AM
    Notre Dame might as well join the SEC, the most overrated conference in the country. Watch always overrated Notre Dame crumble against a vastly superior Michigan State team.

    Stanford is going to be blown out by USC. After three lucky years USC is going to go for revenge and it’s not going to be pretty for the Cardinals.

    USC #1 !!
    ===================================
    You don’t have to be a genius to realize that the SEC is clearly the best the conference in the country, and that the PAC-12 is basically USC and Oregon (Stanford is vastly overrated this year).

  19. scalpemseminoles says: Sep 13, 2012 1:48 PM

    tigersgeaux, florida727:

    twenty one to zereaux?

    ;P

  20. martyfnemec says: Sep 15, 2012 3:29 AM

    I have a college football blog. Come check it out and let me know what you think.

    Also, I agree with every pick here, although my scores were different.

  21. chazsunderland says: Sep 15, 2012 6:46 AM

    Go Vols!

  22. bigugly2005 says: Sep 15, 2012 11:31 PM

    @omniusprime

    Bwahahahaha, USC and Matt Barkley SUCK!!!
    50% passing, ZERO TD’s and 2 INT’s!!

    I reiterate….Bwahahahahahaha!!!

  23. tigersgeaux says: Sep 15, 2012 11:41 PM

    There is a reason I listen to the doctor at southernpatriots. He is so often right. He picked Stanford over USC, stating that Stanford knew how to beat USC and he was so right. Maybe now we won’t have to deal with arrogant USC fans who have nothing to be arrogant about. Where was the best offense in the nation? ha. A bunch of hot air. Maybe we should call USC the cotton candy football team, a little substance and alot of air?

    LSU exceeded our expectations, with a huge victory. So now, I expect both polls to put Alabama #1 and LSU #2 and if the pollsters have any sense just get USC out of the top 10 and maybe top 15. If two passes down near the goal line are removed from Mettenberger, he has had a spectacular season.

    Florida beat TN as southernpatriots predicted.

    TAMU over SMU and Auburn over UL-Monroe by 3. The doc predicted that as well.

  24. dirtyharry1971 says: Sep 16, 2012 10:22 PM

    How did that work out for ya Frank? You were not just wrong once but twice! hahahahahaha eat crow loser!

    frank booth says:Sep 13, 2012 12:14 PM

    omniusprime says:
    Sep 13, 2012 11:31 AM
    Notre Dame might as well join the SEC, the most overrated conference in the country. Watch always overrated Notre Dame crumble against a vastly superior Michigan State team.

    Stanford is going to be blown out by USC. After three lucky years USC is going to go for revenge and it’s not going to be pretty for the Cardinals.

    USC #1 !!
    ===================================
    You don’t have to be a genius to realize that the SEC is clearly the best the conference in the country, and that the PAC-12 is basically USC and Oregon (Stanford is vastly overrated this year).

  25. frank booth says: Sep 17, 2012 1:27 AM

    @dirtyharry1971

    Genius- the first post was from omniusprime- my post under the double lines was my response to him- I didn’t pick MSU over Notre Dame nor did I pick USC over Stanford. I don’t even like USC, if you’ve read my other posts. I still think Stanford is overrated, and I hope they are, since that makes USC look even worse.

    It’s not really that hard to follow these threads. At least make an attempt to read.

    How does that crow taste? I’ve never had it.

  26. alligatorsnapper says: Sep 17, 2012 5:13 PM

    omniusprime says:
    Sep 13, 2012 11:31 AM
    Notre Dame might as well join the SEC, the most overrated conference in the country. Watch always overrated Notre Dame crumble against a vastly superior Michigan State team.

    Stanford is going to be blown out by USC. After three lucky years USC is going to go for revenge and it’s not going to be pretty for the Cardinals.

    USC #1 !!

    ******************************
    omniusprime is one of the great examples of USC fan arrogance, which also spilled over to the team. The team was not prepared for Stanford. Stanford is not that good. If they played South Carolina, or Georgia, or Florida over the next 4 weeks you would see. They do not even have to play Alabama or LSU, just any of these other 3 teams, maybe even 4 others.

    Stanford played a decent defense at times, and their QB was not great, just good. So a good team, played the Almighty #1 USC Trojans and whipped their butt. But this should not be news. Stanford has whipped USC’s butt now each year in recent history. Stanford without Luck, USC with Barkley, Stanford still whipped their butt.

    Maybe if omniusprime and other USC arrogant posters are wise they will stay away for awhile and give us a break from their arrogance and hubris. You do really wonder what they had to be arrogant about…they would say, “the best offense in the nation”…what a bunch of crap. Not best at anything. Just about a non-existent defense and a crappy offense which cannot succeed against a middling defense. USC never deserved to be at #1. Don’t prop them up. Like some other teams, they will fold when they meet decent competition, and really cave when they meet great competition.

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