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The Picks

Celebrate! Another 6-0 week last week. Here’s this week’s predictions:

FBS

No. 5 Texas vs. No. 1 Oklahoma – The biggest game of the weekend and the the one with the biggest capacity to shape the national championship race. Two Heisman quality quarterbacks (Bradford and McCoy) face off as Mack Brown hopes to shake off Bob Stoops’ hold on the Red River Rivalry. Oklahoma 24, Texas 17.

No. 13 Vanderbilt @ Mississippi State – Along with the improvements of Northwestern and Duke, Vanderbilt has been one of the turnaround stories of the season so far. After a huge win over Auburn on a primetime audience, the Commodores will hope to avoid a letdown on the road against the Bulldogs. It’ll be close, but Vandy plays smart enough to get out of Starkville with a win. Vanderbilt 17, Mississippi State 14.

Notre Dame @ No. 22 North Carolina – Butch Davis has the Heels back in the Top 25, but an unranked 4-1 Notre Dame will be eager to take out North Carolina at Kenan Stadium. Notre Dame 24, North Carolina 21.

No. 17 Oklahoma State @ No. 3 Missouri – The Cowboys average over 300 yards per game on the ground while the Tigers average over 300 in the air. Something’s gotta give and I think Chase Daniel has the edge. Missouri 35, Oklahoma State 17.

No. 4 LSU @ No. 11 Florida – Urban Meyer and his Gators have had this match-up circled on their schedule for months after losing so closely to Florida last season. Is the Florida offense talented enough to move the ball on LSU’s downright nasty defense? I have to give the edge to Les Miles here. LSU 17, Florida 13.

No. 6 Penn State @ Wisconsin – Penn State faces a tough road test at Wisconsin this weekend as the Badgers hope to avoid three straight Big Ten losses. The Nittany Lions’ spread attack averages nearly 500 yards per game and should be too much for a emotionally drained Wisconsin team. Penn State 28, Wisconsin 13.

FCS

No. 6 Elon @ No. 21 The Citadel – The Citadel is certainly an improved team but unfortunately for them, they have the play App State and Elon back to back. I think the Bulldogs will get back in the Top 25 by the end of the season, but this loss will knock them out. Elon 28, The Citadel 13.

Season Record

Overall: 29-10

FBS: 24-7

FCS: 5-3

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The Picks

Hoping to gather some momentum from my perfect week, I stumbled mightily last week. I’m not going to jinx myself for this week – here’s the picks.

FBS

Duke @ Georgia Tech – Has David Cutcliffe ushered in a new era of Duke Football? Standing at 3-1 and 1-0 in the ACC, the Blue Devils are different. I’d love to see Duke make a bowl game this year but Georgia Tech is rolling under Paul Johnson. I think the Blue Devils can get to six wins this year, but this won’t be one of them. Georgia Tech 24, Duke 13.

South Carolina @ Ole Miss – Houston Nutt has already earned his first big win as a Rebel coach, upsetting No. 4 Florida in the Swamp last week. The Gamecocks, despite boasting the nation’s No. 1 defense, have looked totally inept on offense. Redshirt freshman Stephen Garcia appears to have injected some excitement and may be too unpredictable for the Ole Miss defense to contain. South Carolina 17, Ole Miss 14.

No. 13 Auburn @ No. 19 Vanderbilt – Wow, how far has Vanderbilt come? Hosting Gameday for the first time ever and standing alone at the top of the SEC East, the Commodores have a legitimate shot at going bowling this year. Auburn may be ranked higher but they haven’t looked very good on offense. Last week’s match-up against Tennessee was a display of offensive ineptitude by both teams. Vanderbilt 17, Auburn 13.

No. 23 Oregon @ No. 9 USC – In what might stand as the upset of the season, USC dropped a game (and possibly out of the national championship game). It was the first time in nearly 25 years that the nation’s No. 1 team had lost to an unranked team. If this game was at Oregon and the Ducks weren’t playing their backup QB, I MIGHT have given them edge. But that’s not the case – USC rolls at home. USC 31, Oregon 10.

No. 14 Ohio State @ No. 18 Wisconsin – The Terrelle Pryor Experiment continues at Ohio State. Wisconsin is coming off a huge and embarrassing loss against a very poor Michigan team. A few weeks ago, I would’ve picked the Badgers without a second thought but the Buckeyes appear energized by the freshman QB. After stumbling last week, I’m also not sold on Wisconsin. I like the Buckeyes to get the road win here. Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 17.

FCS

No. 15 Furman @ No. 7 Elon – I wasn’t expecting a big year from the Paladins this season, but their win against Delaware served notice that they might be a factor in the SoCon race. Elon has been rolling along and will be a big challenge for the Mountaineers late in the season. Elon 28, Furman 14.

Season Record

Overall: 23-10

FBS: 19-7

FCS: 4-3

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The Picks

After a couple of weeks of knocking on the door of a perfect week of picks, I finally broke through and went 6-0 last week. I was particularly pleased with my picks of the LSU, Wake Forest and VT wins. I even called the Georgia score exactly. The lesson here – I’m a genius. Here’s your genius picks for the week:

FBS

North Carolina @ Miami – UNC had their chance to establish themselves at the top of the ACC with a win over VT, but blew the lead and lost their starting quarterback. The loss could send the rest of the Heels’ season into a tailspin. Miami, despite its youth, is definitely on the upswing with a dominant win over Texas A&M last week. Miami 24, UNC 10.

Colorado @ Florida State – The Seminoles’ program is a smoldering heap of what it used to be. Last week’s loss to Wake Forest established the passing of the torch. FSU needs to find a way to force Bowden out before things get even worse. Colorado 21, Florida State 14.

Tennessee @ No. 15 Auburn – With all the SEC spotlight on this weekend’s Bama-Georgia game, this game hasn’t received the attention that it might on a different week. Tennessee (and Phil Fulmer) need a win to right the ship after an unimpressive start to the season. The loss to UCLA looks even worse now and the Gators took apart the Vols with ease. A 1-3 start to the season is the last thing the Vols need. BUT – they now have to travel to Auburn who threw away a lead against the defending national champions. Auburn 21, Tennessee 6.

No. 25 Fresno State @ UCLA – After an exciting win on the opening weekend, things have gotten progessively worse for Rick Neuheisel’s reclamation project at UCLA. After an embarrassing loss to one of the nation’s best non-BCS teams, the Bruins follow it up with another lopsided loss to one of the worst teams in the Pac-10. Fresno State rolls. Fresno State 31, UCLA 7.

No. 8 Alabama @ No. 3 Georgia – The game of the week – an epic showdown between two of the SEC’s best. Georgia’s fans and team are planning a blackout to add some extra hype to the game. However, according to one of the Alabama’s coaches, Georgia is only wearing black because they are “going to a motherf*****g funeral.” I’m not completely sold on Bama yet and I don’t think they are truly the 8th best in the nation. I’m going to stick with the smart bet here. Georgia 17, Alabama 10.

No. 22 Illinois @ No. 12 Penn State – Penn State has comprehensively dismantled every team it’s played this season. Even with JoePa coaching from the box, this is a REALLY good football team. I think they’ve managed to stay under the radar with all the attention on Ohio State this year. The Nittany Lions are my pick to win the Big Ten this year. Penn State 30, Illinois 14.

FCS

No. 14 Wofford @ No. 24 Georgia Southern – Another big SoCon game for both of these teams. The Eagles faltered late last week and lost on a late field goal to Elon. Wofford’s offense looked impressive, putting up more yards on the South Carolina defense than Georgia did. I’m giving the edge to Wofford. Wofford 27, Georgia Southern 21.

Season Record

Overall: 19-7

FBS: 16-4

FCS: 3-3

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The Picks

Another good 4-1 performance last week in FBS games continue to make me look good in that category, however I’ve struggled in the FCS category. I really didn’t expect James Madison to roll over UMass like they did and I really didn’t expect them to put up 866 yards of offense. For the first time this season, we’ve finally got a full slate of some potentially exciting games. All of the games I’m going to attempt to pick this week will have an impact on either a conference title or who plays in the national title game. Since I haven’t done very well in the FCS games, I’m going to start to focus on Southern Conference games to have a better chance at success.

FBS

No. 4 Florida @ Tennessee – Tennessee has not looked very sharp so far this season, blowing a game to an average UCLA team on Labor Day and then struggling early against powerhouse (feel the sarcasm) UAB last week before blowing the game wide open. Tim Tebow and Co. come to town for their first true test of the season. Even though the Gators have played two Division I teams, they really haven’t been challenged. I really think Tennessee is going to have a down year this season and expect the Gators to stroll. Florida 24, Tennessee 10.

Virginia Tech @ North Carolina – The Hokies have not looked impressive at all in 2008. This isn’t your typical Frank Beamer team. The Heels are hoping to continue their “resurgence” under Butch Davis. I use that term loosely because of the usual arrogance of your sterotypical Tar Heels fan. Regardless of how these teams stand nationally, this is an important match-up in the abysmal ACC. I’ve seen experts who have circled this game as THE game for determining the winner of the division. I think Tech does just enough to keep the Heels on the back foot. Virginia Tech 17, UNC 13.

No. 18 Wake Forest @ No. 24 Florida State – Any joker who has actually ranked Florida State simply because they’ve obliterated two FCS teams is an idiot. Blowing out two of the WORST teams in the Southern Conference does not make you the 24th best team in the land. I still think the Seminoles are no better than an 8-win team. Wake Forest is the class of the ACC (wow, weird to say). I think the Demon Deacons win in Tallahassee and force ol’ Bobby a little closer to the exit. Wake Forest 23, Florida State 17.

No. 6 LSU @ No. 10 Auburn – This may be the most crucial game of the week. The winner here sets the pace in the SEC West and is in the driver’s seat to get to the SEC Title game. I remain steadfast in my belief that the winner of the SEC absolutely should be in the national title game. The stakes here are huge and this is a titanic showdown. The home team has won this game the last eight times. Auburn won a slugfest last week against Miss State and LSU has not been tested yet. However, Auburn’s offense has looked a little sloppy while trying to implement the spread offense which could be trouble against LSU’s fast and talented defense. Home-field advantage aside, I have to go with LSU. LSU 16, Auburn 9.

No. 3 Georgia @ Arizona State – The Bulldogs survived a scare at South Carolina last week (and really should’ve lost). Arizona State suffered a shocking upset against UNLV and will be looking to prove themselves again. Side note, this is Georgia’s first trip outside of the Southeast (not including bowl games) since the 1960s. Despite the new surroundings, UGA is too good. Georgia 27, Arizona State 10.

FCS

No. 17 Elon @ No. 16 Georgia Southern – Big game for both teams.  Georgia Southern is trying to return to prominence and Elon is trying to prove to doubters that they are a playoff team.  Elon is the better team here.  Elon 28, Ga. Southern 17.

Season Record:

Overall: 13-7

FBS: 11-4

FCS: 2-3

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The Picks

I was nearly perfect last week in FBS picks (I just couldn’t go with ECU to pull off an upset two weeks a row and I paid for it). We’re finally getting into the interesting part of the season and there are some really good games on tap this weekend. Obviously the Southern Cal-Ohio State tilt is going to get the most press, but there’s some other very underrated and potentially exciting match-ups.

FBS

No. 13 Kansas @ No. 19 South Florida – Both teams were surprise successes last year and have started out this year’s campaign on a solid note. Kansas QB Todd Reesing has already thrown for 668 yards and 6 touchdowns this year, but South Florida has a fierce front-line which should have some success getting to Reesing. USF’s Matt Grothe does a good job of moving the Bulls’ offense as well. I think their defense and playing home gives South Florida the edge. South Florida 31, Kansas 24.

UCLA @ No. 18 BYU – UCLA will be looking for revenge after losing to BYU on a blocked FG in last year’s Sun Bowl. The Bruins haven’t played since their opening weekend win over Tennessee while BYU needed a blocked extra point on the last play of the game to beat Pac-10 doormat Washington. If this game was in LA, I’d give the edge to UCLA – but I’m going to go with BYU at home. BYU 17, UCLA 14.

No. 5 Ohio State @ No. 1 USC – Like many of you, I’m tired of seeing Ohio State in the BCS Title game. I’m not a huge Southern Cal fan either, but I do think they have the edge in this one. Unless Beanie Wells is able to come back 110%, I don’t expect the Buckeyes to keep this one very close. They looked terrible last week against lowly Ohio. Southern Cal 31, Ohio State 7.

No. 10 Wisconsin @ No. 21 Fresno State – Fresno State will be geared up for this one as they get to welcome a BCS and nationally prominent team to Fresno. The Badgers love to pound the ball and Fresno State will be expecting the run. I think the hostile environment will be a big test for Wisconsin and this will be a close one. Wisconsin 21, Fresno State 20.

Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech – I went with Georgia Tech last week on the picks (I promise I won’t put them up every week). Virginia Tech struggled last week against Furman. The Yellow Jackets picked up a key win at Boston College last weekend. VT has yet to impress me this year and I think GT gets another crucial ACC road win. Georgia Tech 24, Virginia Tech 13.

FCS

No. 3 UMass @ No. 7 James Madison – Two of the powers of the Colonial Athletic Association square off in Harrisonburg in a crucial conference clash. The Apps roll into JMU next weekend and the Dukes might not be totally focused on their game against the Minutemen. If UMass can shut down the Dukes’ running game, they’ll be in good shape. UMass 17, James Madison 13.

Season Record

Overall: 9-5

FBS: 7-3

FCS: 2-2

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The Picks

Last week was a pretty solid start (if I can say so). I managed to call the ECU upset pick but Clemson and Tennessee dropped the ball and prevented a perfect start for me. I don’t feel too bad about those picks. On paper, both the Tigers and the Vols win those games. I guess that’s why they play them.

FBS Picks

Georgia Tech @ Boston College – This is the first conference game for each of these teams. GT looked solid against Jacksonville State as they showcased Paul Johnson’s new offense for the Ramblin’ Wreck. BC looked unimpressive against MAC foe Kent State. Georgia Tech 23, Boston College 17.

Oregon State @ No. 19 Penn State – The Beavers surprisingly lost to Stanford on the opening week of the season, despite outgaining The Cardinal by nearly 200 yards. Turnovers were costly as Oregon State fell 36-28. Penn State smashed Coastal Carolina in its season opener, 66-10. This one will be closer than people think, but Paterno adds one more win to the total. Penn State 31, Oregon State 21.

No. 8 West Virginia @ East Carolina – Fresh off their thrilling upset win over Virginia Tech, the Pirates would love to claim an even bigger scalp at home with a win over the Mountaineers. Too bad it’s not going to happen. West Virginia 35, East Carolina 20.

Ole Miss @ No. 20 Wake Forest – Both teams had solid debuts as Ole Miss pounded on Memphis and the Demon Deacons rolled on Baylor. Ole Miss will be better this year under Houston Nutt, but Wake Forest will be better on Saturday. Wake Forest 24, Ole Miss 14.

Miami (FL) @ No. 5 Florida – This is kind of a gimme pick as the Hurricanes are 21-point underdogs to the Gators. The U is looking to get to back to its winning ways but they’ll have to start after Saturday. Florida 42, Miami 14.

FCS Picks

No. 14 Youngstown State @ No. 21 South Dakota St – Both teams are coming off big losses to BCS opponents – Youngstown St losing to Ohio State 43-0 and S.D. State dropping a 44-17 game to Iowa State. I’m giving the edge to the Penguins. Youngstown State 28, S.D. State 17.

No. 5 Montana @ No. 11 Cal Poly – Cal Poly was the only team from the FCS ranks to score an “upset” over an FBS opponent on the opening weekend of the season, knocking off San Diego State 29-27 on a last-second field goal. Montana, a perennial national championship contender, plays their first game of the season after ending last season on a losing note. The Grizzlies were upset by Wofford at home in the first round of the FCS playoffs. Cal Poly 24, Montana 21.

Season Record

Overall: 5-2

FBS: 3-2

FCS: 2-0

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The Picks

Finally, it’s here! College football is back! I originally intended this post to be about just FBS, but I had a several requests to include some FCS picks as well. As is usually the case, the first week of games doesn’t offer many appetizing choices. I didn’t want to just throw up a bunch of FBS vs. FCS picks – that’s too easy. The pickings at the FCS level are very slim this week, so there’s not very many this week. As the season progresses, it’ll obviously get much more difficult. Let’s hope my powers of prognostication hold up.

FBS Picks

N.C. State @ South Carolina – The OBC is hoping to turn the Gamecocks into winners and opens up the season on ESPN on Thursday night. The SC defense is expected to be the strong point of the team. The Wolfpack are hoping for a better second year under head coach Tom O’Brien, but they are still at least a year away. South Carolina 24, N.C. State 10.

No. 17 Virginia Tech @ East Carolina (Charlotte) – This one is being played at Bank of America Stadium, so there won’t really be any home-field advantage for either team. The Pirates played the Hokies close last season in Blacksburg. VT has some questions to answer this season and I think ECU might have what it takes for the upset. East Carolina 17, Virginia Tech 13.

No. 24 Alabama @ No. 9 Clemson (Atlanta) – Nick Saban brings an improved Alabama team into the Georgia Dome to face the highly rated Clemson Tigers. Clemson is expected to win the ACC this season with a roster loaded with talent. While I still think Clemson will be an underachiever this year, they’ll still beat the Crimson Tide easily. Clemson 31, Alabama 13.

No. 20 Illinois @ No. 6 Missouri – Other than the blowout loss in the Rose Bowl, Illinois had a magical season with their impressive turnaround from years of losing. The Illini return QB Juice Williams and WR Arrelious Benn. Mizzou narrowly missed out on a BCS bowl last year and will be looking to reach the BCS title game this year under QB Chase Daniel. I think the Tigers will be too much for Ron Zook and his team. Missouri 35, Illinois 14.

No. 18 Tennessee @ UCLA – The Vols take a trip into Pac-10 country to face Rick Neuheisel’s Bruins. I don’t think Tennessee will have the type of year they had last season but I think they’ve got the edge in this one. Tennessee 27, UCLA 17.

FCS Picks

No. 15 Elon vs. No. 4 Richmond – This is the marquee match-up of the first week of games. Elon finished at 7-4 last year in the SoCon with true freshman QB Scott Riddle passing for 3,817 yards and 31 TDs. Richmond welcomes first-year head coach and alum Mike London back home after former head coach Dave Clawson left for the offensive coordinator job at Tennessee. The Spiders return 16 starters, 14 of which were freshmen and sophomores last season. Richmond won 11 games last year before losing to Armanti Edwards, I mean Appalachian State, in the NCAA Semifinals. I expect the scoreboard operator to be busy in this one. Richmond 42, Elon 28.

No. 6 James Madison @ Duke – This isn’t your typical FBS vs. FCS game. The Blue Devils are famous for their perpetual struggles in football, while the Dukes are a solid football team. As many of you probably remember, they were seconds away from ruining a 3Peat. It’ll be close, but I think David Cutcliffe will have Duke prepared enough to eke out a win. Duke 20, James Madison 17.

Season Record

Overall: 0-0

FBS: 0-0

FCS: 0-0

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