Maryland v West Virginia

Predictions 101 — Week 5

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We went 4-3 last week (both straight up and vs. “the number”), but feel left out.

How come only the fortunate folks who do this sort of thing for NFL games, get to have fun with the wild card of ridiculous replacement refs? Hey, we’d like to go on rants and blame our losses on officiating too.

Oh well.

Is it just us or does the college football season seem like it’s fast-forwarding away? Here we are at Week 5 already.

TOP 5 GAMES OF THE WEEK (Thurs., Sept. 27, thru Sat., Sept. 29)

1) No. 25 Baylor at No. 9 West Virginia
Sat., Sept. 29 — noon ET, FX

It’s all been building up to this for the Mountaineers, who are making their Big 12 debut. And the Bears have been holding up their end rather well, perhaps unexpectedly.

Some doubted Baylor’s ability to soldier on without Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin III, running back Terrance Ganaway and wideout Kendall Wright, but Nick Florence has stepped up admirably, throwing for at least 312 yards and three scores in all three games this season.

On the flip side, the West Virginia offense led by quarterback Geno Smith has lived up to its lofty preseason hype. With 1,072 passing yards, 12 touchdown passes and zero interceptions on Smith’s resume so far, he is the Heisman frontrunner.

Along with wideouts Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, Smith has to be licking his chops. The prospect of a team that’s allowing 492.7 yards per game coming into Morgantown for the first time is quite inviting and could signal a landslide of points.

Baylor, which is averaging 51.3 points per game (fifth in the nation), should generate some success of its own against a West Virginia defense that allowed Maryland to pass for 305 yards and convert on half of its 14 third-down attempts in a closer-than-expected 31-21 victory last Saturday. We just don’t expect it to be nearly enough.

The Bears are 0-25 versus ranked Big 12 foes on the road and don’t figure to break through on Mountaineer Field.

Opening point spread: West Virginia by 10

The pick: West Virginia 45-27

2) No. 14 Ohio State at No. 20 Michigan State
Sat., Sept. 29 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

This is as good as it gets for the Big Ten at this point, but it sadly feels so incomplete.

Spartan signalcaller Andrew Maxwell has been underwhelming so far, but a sloppy fleet of receivers should share the blame. Thankfully for Michigan State, running back Le’Veon Bell has held up his end of the bargain, grinding out 152.5 yards per game (although only 77 versus Notre Dame).

Perhaps that group will find its groove against a Buckeye defense that’s far below its usual caliber, ranking last in the B1G in yards allowed (394.8).

Michigan State’s defense, on the other hand, leads the league in every major statistical category. That includes surrendering just 69.3 yards per game on the ground.

Buckeye quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde, who has recovered from a sprained knee, have their sights set on rushing for many more yards than that, but it remains to be seen … just like the overall revival expected under the direction of Urban Meyer.

Perhaps they’ve been waiting for this stage to make a statement.

Opening point spread: Even

The pick: Ohio State 24-23

3) No. 12 Texas at Oklahoma State
Sat., Sept. 29 — 7:50 p.m. ET, FOX

Both teams had last week off to look forward to this one.

They also had an opportunity to look around the country and see who was doing what, especially teams they’ve played recently. What each camp saw was quite different.

Last time out, the Longhorns wrecked Ole Miss, 66-31. The Rebels, however, bounced back last week with a 39-0 victory at Tulane. RPI geeks love that stuff!

The Cowboys, on the other hand, are still smarting from a 59-38 loss at Arizona on Sept. 8. Watching those same Wildcats get melted down by Oregon, 49-0, last Saturday must have been pure agony for Mike Gundy.

Oddly enough, Texas visiting Stillwater isn’t the worst thing in the world for Oklahoma State. Although the Cowboys have won only four of the 26 games in the series, half of those victories have come in the last two years.

Most of the early talk about this matchup has focused on who’ll be behind center for OSU, but we won’t quibble either way without that knowledge. Whether it’s Wes Lunt at less than 100 percent or J.W. Walsh, we’re still talking about a young player who hasn’t yet got a taste for the big-time in primetime. No matter who takes the snaps, capable Cowboy running back Joseph Randle will have to carry a large portion of the mail against the Longhorn defense.

Texas’ quarterbacking isn’t in question. Sophomore David Ash has been sensational so far this season, completing 76 percent of his passes, with seven touchdown tosses and zero interceptions. However, astronomical passer ratings built at the expense of Wyoming, New Mexico and Ole Miss don’t really get us going enough to envision a win on the road for the Longhorns, who have won just six league games in the previous two seasons.

Opening point spread: Oklahoma State by 5 1/2

The pick: Oklahoma State 37-31

4) No. 18 Oregon State at Arizona
Sat., Sept. 29 — 10 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network

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

Utilizing good blue-collar football to produce two wins over ranked teams, while holding a pair of Heisman Trophy contending running backs to just 61 and 45 yards on the ground, Oregon State has been impressive and we are Beaver believers.

Oddsmakers aren’t as sold. We aren’t sure if they realize that the Beavs have taken six in a row from the Cats in Tucson.

Coach Mike Riley has the defense to do it again. Oregon State defenders are disciplined in their assignments, limit big plays and tackle well. However, the Arizona offense will see more production within the comfortable confines of the Zona Zoo.

We have to understand that the Oregon defense played well in last week’s 49-0 cruise past Arizona, but the football Gods also were smiling down on the Ducks. The Cats really set themselves up for the shutout by botching a field goal that would have put the first points on the board. In the end, they had six fruitless trips into the red zone and four turnovers.

That won’t happen two weeks in a row. The Arizona offense will get back into rhythm and Oregon State is in for a fight.

One might wonder how the Beavers will counter the Cats’ speedy 3-3-5 defense, which limited Oregon to just 13 first-half points. They’ll use freshman running back Storm Woods to control the pace, wear the UofA D down and win on a last-second score.

Opening point spread: Arizona by 3

The pick: Oregon State 33-31

5) Tennessee at No. 5 Georgia
Sat., Sept. 29 — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

It’s a bit of unfamiliar territory for the SEC’s marquee matchup to be this far down the P101 list. But most of that has to do with us being unable to trust a Volunteer defense that has been prone to give up big plays.

That bad habit won’t serve them well against a Bulldog offense triggered by Aaron Murray and powered by freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, which hasn’t scored less than 41 points in any game this season.

Not only is Georgia fresh off an impressive 48-3 victory over Vanderbilt, it might (only Mark Richt knows for sure) regain the services of safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree, who have been sidelined by suspension since the start of the campaign.

The Bulldog defense has been stout, but some reinforcements would help in the effort to slow down the effectiveness of Vol quarterback Tyler Bray, who has the luxury of two show-stopping wideouts in Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Opening point spread: Georgia by 15 1/2

The pick: Georgia 38-27

UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK

No. 17 Clemson at Boston College
Sat., Sept. 29 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

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

For the second time in three weeks, the P101-USOTW suffered a one-point defeat courtesy of a kicker failing in spectacular fashion. We’ll safeguard against that happening again by leaning on the leg of Eagle placekicker Nate Freese, who has connected on all 15 of his attempts this season (seven field goals and eight PATs).

Despite a 1-2 record, Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig has settled in nicely in his third year on Chestnut Hill, tossing just one interception while leading the ACC with 317 passing yards per game. He should continue his prolific connection with junior wide receiver Alex Amidon to give the Eagles scoring opportunities against a Clemson defense that was picked apart for 380 passing yards by Florida State’s E.J. Manuel last week.

After getting the better of the Seminoles for nearly three quarters, the Tigers will have to regroup from a devastating loss, which is much easier said than done. Last year, Clemson pulled a Clemson, going into a swoon that saw it go 2-3 the rest of the way after suffering its first defeat.

The Eagle defense features the nation’s leading tackler in senior linebacker Nick Clancy. He can help muck things up to produce a result similar to their 16-10 victory at Alumni Field two years ago.

Perhaps this is more “under” than upset.

Opening point spread: Clemson by 11

The pick: Boston College 19-13

RIVALRY GAME OF THE WEEK

Houston vs. Rice (at Reliant Stadium)
Sat., Sept. 29 — 3:30 p.m. ET,

Separated by less than five miles, the warring factions in the Bayou Bucket Classic are as close as you’ll find at the FBS level.

Last year’s matchup, however, wasn’t close at all, as Houston accounted for 73 of the game’s 107 points.

Rice’s defense seems intent on repeating that limp performance. The Owls currently rank dead last in the country in scoring defense, allowing nearly 46 points per game.

But they won’t have to deal with Case Keenum this time. In fact, Rice might have the more effective offense.

Houston has turned the football over 10 times already this season, which is one of the reasons the Cougars have yet to hold a lead over anyone.

The Bayou Bucket hasn’t stayed in the same place since the Cougars won three in a row from 2005 to 2007. It’s the Owls’ turn to take it over to their side of town.

Opening point spread: Houston by 7

The pick: Rice 35-34

Former 5-star Chris Casher no longer on Florida State roster

TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 16: Chris Casher #21 of the Florida State Seminoles runs in a fumble made by Terrel Hunt #10 of the Syracuse Orange during the Second half at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Tallahassee, Florida. The Seminoles beat the Orange 59-3.(Photo by Jeff Gammons/Getty Images)
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It seemed clear by now Chris Casher would never fulfill the promise he arrived to Tallahassee with five seasons ago.

Rated the No. 3 defensive end in the class of 2012 by 247Sports, Casher suffered a season-ending injury two games into his 2012 campaign, then never accumulated more than 28 tackles in a season before moving to tight end before this season.

“He was a very, very good receiver out of high school,” ‘Noles head coach Jimbo Fisher told the Palm Beach Post this spring. “He is a really good basketball player. He has a lot of natural offensive skill. … catches the ball and has natural hands.

“When I played quarterback, I knew who I wanted to throw it to. And the guys that caught my eye. So our guys have been bragging about him. We’ll see what he does.”

But Fisher confirmed Friday Casher is no longer on the roster.

Casher was placed a one-year probation by Florida State for his involvement in the Jameis Winston sexual assault case and, according to USA Today, was briefly detained alongside Winston by FSU police for carrying a pellet gun on campus.

The reason for Casher’s departure was not known at press time.

Louisville LB Trevon Young to take medical redshirt

LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 24:  Trevon Young #91 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrates a defensive stop against the Boston College Eagles at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on October 24, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Louisville linebacker Trevon Young will miss the 2016 season to continue recovering from a dislocated and fractured him suffered in the Cardinals’ Music City Bowl victory over Texas A&M. Head coach Bobby Petrino confirmed the news Friday at ACC media days.

“We’re going to miss Trevon,” Petrino said 93.9 The Ville, via Card Chronicle. “He’s very, very good player, particularly on third down. He put a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks, made some big plays to help us win games. He was really stressing out about trying to come back for this season, and he just got to a point where he didn’t better for a while. So I think it’s been a relief to him to know that he’s redshirting. His mother tells me that it’s really helped relieve some anxiety that he was going through. He still has a very bright future ahead of him.”

A senior out of Council Bluffs, Iowa, by way of Iowa Western Community College, Young finished the ’15 season with 32 tackles, 10 TFLs and ranked 33rd nationally with 8.5 sacks. He was an Honorable Mention All-ACC performer.

Young has not used a redshirt season yet, meaning he will be automatically eligible to return in 2017.

 

ACC has no immediate plans to move football title game out of Charlotte following HB2

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 05:  Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers runs the ball against Donnie Miles #15 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the 2nd half during the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship at Bank of America Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The NBA moved its All-Star Game out of Charlotte earlier this week out of backlash to controversial law House Bill 2, but ACC commissioner John Swofford said at his conference’s media days there is no immediate plan to follow suit with the league’s football championship game.

“We had a long discussion about this issue in May at our spring meetings, and at that time made the determination as to where our championships would be held for the ’16-17 year,” Swofford told ESPN. “Whatever we do won’t be because of what the NBA does. And I don’t mean that disrespectfully. We’ll do what we think is right and best for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Right now what our schools want to do is to see how this plays out and where it ends up, because it’s still in process to one degree or another and the courts may well ultimately decide that.”

Many view the passing of HB2 as discriminatory to the transgender community. Others view it as a necessary law to protect women and children.

The ACC said in May it would monitor the situation and require “commitments to provide safe and inclusive environments from sites for which there are current commitments for ACC championships.” Swofford said Thursday the conference would revisit the topic at its meetings in October.

“The next time we’re together is October for our fall meetings and, depending on what’s happened at that point in time, I’m sure our schools will want to have some further discussion about it,” Swofford told the Charlotte Observer.

The ACC has held its football championship game at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium since 2010. The Charlotte championship games have been significantly better attended than their predecessors in Jacksonville and Tampa.

The ACC has agreed to hold its title game in Charlotte through 2019. The ACC’s men’s basketball tournament has commonly taken place in Greensboro, N.C., but moves to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center over the next two seasons before returning to Charlotte in 2019 and Greensboro in 2020. The ACC is headquartered in Greensboro, N.C.

UGA RB AJ Turman transferring to FAU

BOCA RATON, FL - OCTOBER 31:  Florida Atlantic Owls players celebrate after defeating the FIU Golden Panthers in the game at FAU Stadium on October 31, 2015 in Boca Raton, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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You’re likely aware of the injury trouble beset upon Georgia’s running backs room in recent years. There was Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, each of whom spent his fair share of time on the shelf.

But also dealing with injuries over the past two seasons was A.J. Turman. Turman redshirted in 2014 and did not accumulate a carry in 2015.

In an odd way, Turman’s biggest mark on Georgia football didn’t pop up until he decided to leave. His case became the tempest for Kirby Smart‘s restrictive transfer policy. Initially, Smart released Turman to schools only in Florida but not Florida or Miami. He eventually relented, barring him only from SEC schools and Georgia Tech, but Turman has decided to move on to Florida Atlantic.

“It was hard at first, just leaving Georgia and everything, the fans and all my good friends. I love Georgia, I still do. I just feel like it’s the best thing for me,” Turman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I was blessed to have the opportunity that a lot of schools were still interested in me. I took a lot of visits.  … It’s been a long journey, but I’m just glad it’s at an end, and I can go on and play football.”

Turman will have to sit out 2016, but hopes to gain back a year through a medical redshirt. “And it’s looking like I should be able to get it,” he said.