Man, I sneezed and we’re already at week eight in the CFB regular season. This season has been sort of like my non-existent golf game - all over the place, lost balls and a few curse words to go right along with the action. Well, all of that, and the fact that like my drives off the tee, there’s no telling what will happen each and every weekend. I’ve been absent with my picks lately and I apologize profusely for that being the case. So, let’s dive in with some quick thoughts on this week’s action, one of the sketchiest looking weekends on paper, yet what have I’ve said for a while - that’s when the magic truly happens.
Let’s take a look at a few games this way…(home team’s name is bold)
Game of the Weekend, Part I
Tennessee at Alabama - Talk about sandwich games. Alabama just traveled to College Station and will go to Baton Rouge on November 7th for a titanic struggle with LSU. All that stands between the Crimson Tide and a monumental Saturday Night in Death Valley is a talented Tennessee squad that can disrupt the entire season. Unfortunately, the injuries in Knoxville have essentially crippled the Vols’ firepower, so to speak. Tennessee RB Jalen Hurd is probable for the Saturday tilt and he’s one of a few still able to go. On the other hand, Alabama could be without C Ryan Kelly who suffered a concussion in the win at Texas A&M. When Kelly was out of the game, the Crimson Tide struggled to run the ball against A&M, so that could slow Derrick Henry and the Tide run game.
Buuuuuut, that won’t be enough as the Tide defense has become one of the best in the nation at creating turnovers and winning on special teams. Consequently, it’s not that surprising to be honest. S Eddie Jackson is the key in the middle of the field, but ILB Reggie Ragland will truly be in the spotlight v. QB Josh Dobbs and Hurd in the run game.
Alabama - 34 vs. Tennessee - 24
Game of the Weekend, Part II
Texas A&M at Ole Miss - A potential championship opportunity is on the line for both of these teams. Both have one loss in the SEC - Ole Miss lost at Florida, while A&M lost last week to Alabama at home. Both still have LSU on the docket as well (Ole Miss plays LSU at home, while A&M goes to Baton Rouge in the season finale), so a loss here pretty much ends Championship Dreams for one of these teams. Most eyes in Vaught-Hemingway will be on Ole Miss LT Laremy Tunsil as he returns from a half-season suspension and his matchup with Texas A&M star DE Myles Garrett is worth the price of admission alone.
Ole Miss’ speed mystified the Aggies in College Station last year and that worried me when I thought about this game at the outset of the season. But the Rebels’ injuries nearly mitigate the home field advantage they have in this one and it’s not like the loss last week to Memphis gave anyone any more confidence that Ole Miss can get it right this week. But, injuries and all, I’ll give the slight edge to Ole Miss to win in desperation fashion. What do they call it - winning ugly? That’s what it’ll be, without question, and it won’t matter to Hugh Freeze in the slightest.
Ole Miss - 33 vs. Texas A&M - 29
West Coast Chaos?
Utah at USC
Nah. Not happening. The Utes are better in just about every single way right now than the Trojans.
Utah - 31 vs. USC - 19
Potential upset special?
Memphis at Tulsa - the Tigers are coming off of a truly dominant win over an SEC power last week, have to travel to Tulsa on a short week and rain is a 50% possibility on Friday night. Ultimately, I don’t think Tulsa has enough firepower to pull off the win, but I’ll take the ten points Vegas laid down as the spread.
Memphis - 38 vs. Tulsa - 31
Game most expected to follow the script
Iowa State at Baylor - The Cyclones have been valiant in defeat the pass few weeks...okay, that’s me trying to be nice. In losses to Texas Tech in Lubbock and in Ames v. TCU, the Cyclones gave up 111 points. What awaits them this week? A trip to McLane Stadium to face the most explosive offense in college football. Yeah, this one is about to get ugly and Baylor will go medieval on Iowa State. The biggest question is whether Baylor gets to 60 for sixth consecutive game. I say yes.
Baylor - 64 vs. Iowa State - 24
Top 25 most certain to go down in defeat
Florida State at Georgia Tech - I just can’t see FSU losing but stopping the option, on the road against a desperate Yellow Jacket squad isn’t going to be easy. At all. I don’t ultimately think that Georgia Tech wins this game, but you know what, why not? I’m rolling the dice on an upset to knock FSU from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Georgia Tech - 28 vs. Florida State - 24
Huge game, flying under the radar
Western Kentucky at LSU - WKU HBC Jeff Brohm has done a whale of a job with this Hilltopper program. Outside of a loss to Indiana in Bloomington, the Hilltoppers have run the table with wins over Vanderbilt and Louisiana Tech. LSU? That’s a whole different ball game, but considering the fact that LSU has Alabama up next, there’s a good chance that the Tigers will look well past WKU and forward to the trip to Tuscaloosa in two weeks. That’s music to Brohm’s ears, especially with QB Brandon Doughty slinging the rock all over Baton Rouge. Then again, WKU yields over 172 yards per game on the ground, so stopping Leonard Fournette and company is not going to happen. Expect Fournette to hit 200 by the third quarter and Doughty to go well over 400. But, in the end, LSU will outlast the Hilltoppers in the last 15 minutes.
LSU - 49 vs. WKU - 31
Game Predictions for Friday October 23, 2015 - Home team is Bold
Utah State - 37 vs. San Diego State - 17
Game Predictions for Saturday October 24, 2015 - Home team is Bold
Houston - 45 vs. UCF - 20
Southern Mississippi - 42 vs. Charlotte - 24
Texas - 27 vs. Kansas State - 26
NC State - 20 vs. Wake Forest - 12
Pitt - 22 vs. Syracuse - 16
Rice - 27 vs. Army - 14
Arkansas - 30 vs. Auburn - 28
Clemson - 31 vs. Miami - 19
Louisville - 20 vs. Boston College - 16
Navy - 35 vs. Tulane - 13
Bowling Green - 49 vs. Kent State - 31
Air Force - 45 vs. Fresno State - 23
Western Michigan - 42 vs. Miami (OH) - 13
Toledo - 45 vs. UMass - 21
BYU - 56 vs. Wagner - 3
Central Michigan - 30 vs. Ball State - 20
Northern Illinois - 51 vs. Eastern Michigan - 16
North Carolina - 42 vs. Virginia - 24
Ohio - 34 vs. Buffalo - 17
La. Tech - 34 vs. MTSU - 21
Marshall - 54 vs. North Texas - 6
Wisconsin - 24 vs. Illinois - 20
Penn State - 20 vs. Maryland - 16
Michigan State - 38 vs. Indiana - 29
Duke - 23 vs. Virginia Tech - 19
Oklahoma - 51 vs. Texas Tech - 40
Oklahoma State - 59 vs. Kansas - 17
Arizona - 41 vs. Washington State - 35
Missouri - 20 vs. Vanderbilt - 9
USF - 36 vs. SMU - 20
Nevada - 29 vs. Hawai’i - 17
Cincinnati - 35 vs. U Conn - 24
ULM - 27 vs. Idaho - 24
FIU - 31 vs. Old Dominion - 20
UTEP - 39 vs. FAU - 37
South Alabama - 26 vs. Texas State - 21
San Jose State - 31 vs. New Mexico - 29
Mississippi State - 30 vs. Kentucky - 26
Ohio State - 49 vs. Rutgers - 17
New Mexico State - 7 vs. Troy - 6
Boise State - 48 vs. Wyoming - 24
Oregon State - 25 vs. Colorado - 21
Stanford - 35 vs. Washington - 14