Picks: Buckeyes stay perfect; Sun Devils handle Irish
Ohio State hasn't lost under Urban Meyer and I expect them to stay perfect as the Buckeyes beat Northwestern in a close game. ASU over Notre Dame and other predictions in this week's picks column.
I'm coming off a good week, going 10-5 against the spread to put me at 53-40 this season against the line. The good: picking Central Florida to give South Carolina some problems. The bad: picking Ole Miss to keep it close at Alabama. The ugly: picking Notre Dame to beat Oklahoma. Here are this week's guesses:
UCLA 34, Utah 24: Dennis Erickson has boosted the Utes' offense, but he has to face a more talented defense than his group has seen all season. UCLA also has a bunch of guys on staff who coached under Erickson at Arizona State. The Bruins should be able to exploit a shaky Utah pass defense (No. 111 in passing yards allowed) and pull away in the second half.
Florida State 38, Maryland 20: The Terps have never won in Tallahassee in 11 trips and even though they're improved, they haven't faced anywhere near the athleticism they're going to see this weekend.
Miami 35, Georgia Tech 21: Miami's offense has too much speed for a visiting Tech team that won't be able to rattle an experienced Canes D with its scheme.
Texas Tech 44, Kansas 17: Kliff Kingsbury faces his former coach with the New England Patriots and his Red Raiders have a big edge in firepower and scheme over Charlie Weis' inept Jayhawks (No. 103 in scoring).
Louisville 55, Temple 10: Teddy Bridgewater should carve up an Owls defense that is No. 121 in pass defense and just lost against a mediocre Idaho team.
Alabama 63, Georgia State 3: Even with their best DB, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Tide will have no trouble with an overmatched Georgia State squad that is 0-4 and has surrendered 35 ppg in three losses to FCS teams.
Clemson 35, Syracuse 17: We know that the Cuse has some confidence since it has contained some stellar QBs in recent years (Geno Smith and Teddy Bridgewater most notably). As good a defensive coach as Scott Shafer is, this team's still trying to get some things sorted out on D (No. 76 in pass efficiency defense) and that doesn't bode well against Tajh Boyd.
Oklahoma State 35, Kansas State 17: After a dreadful showing at West Virginia, OSU should be able to get back on track at home against a visiting Wildcat team that lost in its last road trip at Texas.
Michigan 44, Minnesota 21: Last week the Gophers were mauled by a physical Iowa attack led by Mark Weisman. Look for Fitzgerald Toussaint to have a similarly big day while the Wolverines D is able to handle a Minnesota offense that is too one-dimensional.
Georgia 45, Tennessee 17: Even though the Dawgs seem ripe for a letdown after last week's rousing win over LSU, the Vols just don't have the firepower right now to take advantage and they're also underwhelming on defense to handle Aaron Murray and Co.
Fresno State 49, Idaho 14: Paul Petrino's squad is coming off a win against a hapless Temple team, but now they'll face a very good group from Fresno eyeing a perfect season. The Bulldogs will have some fire this week after Tim DeRuyter watched his team almost squander a five-TD lead against Hawaii.
Oregon 66, Colorado 14: The Ducks have routed everyone and that'll continue this week against a CU team that is coming off surrendering 44 points to Oregon State and is No. 91 in scoring defense.
LSU 30, Mississippi State 24: John Chavis' defense got carved up on the road last week as the Tigers lost an emotional game at Georgia. Not sure how easy it will be for them to get dialed back in for another SEC road test. MSU doesn't have the talent the Dawgs have, but Dan Mullen is a sharp guy and will give the Tigers some problems.
Florida 17, Arkansas 10: The Hogs, led by Alex Collins and a good O-line, are rolling up 230 rushing yards per game, but they'll have their hands full against the nation's No. 2 D, a group that is holding opponents to just 66 rushing yards per game. If this game was in Arkansas I would be very tempted to go with the Hogs, but I'll stick with UF in the Swamp.
Ole Miss 24, Auburn 23: Two programs now led by old high school coaching pals, Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn, meet at Auburn. The Rebels are coming off getting shut out at Alabama, but my hunch is Freeze will get them back up for Auburn and Ole Miss' edge at skill talent will be the difference in a tight one.
Oklahoma 28, TCU 14: I get that this is the proverbial "trap" game for OU since it's sandwiched between the payback game at Notre Dame and the Red River rivalry, but the Sooners are too smart to take a Gary Patterson team lightly. The Sooners D also shouldn't have too much trouble with an inconsistent Horned Frogs offense.
South Carolina 30, Kentucky 13: Mike Davis has been terrific sparking the Carolina offense and he should have a blast against the nation's No. 100 run defense.
Arizona State 27, Notre Dame 17: The Sun Devils are coming off a second-half blowout of Southern California and should be able to carry that momentum against a hobbled Irish team that is too limited on offense with QB Tommy Rees' struggles.
Baylor 52, West Virginia 35: Expect much better defense in this matchup this season, but Baylor's offense is still ridiculously explosive. The Mountaineers' offense is not.
Ohio State 30, Northwestern 28: The Wildcats get the explosive Venric Mark back and that means trouble for a Buckeyes D that was gashed last week by Jared Abbrederis, but ultimately I think Braxton Miller's arm and feet will be too much for Northwestern. And I'm sticking to my Urban Big Ten rule by not picking against the Buckeyes in a conference game until someone proves it can beat a Meyer team.
Stanford 27, Washington 21: Keith Price has been extremely sharp this season, but Stanford's physical D should be able to neutralize the U-Dub QB while Kevin Hogan. The physical Cardinal O gets revenge on the Huskies as David Shaw's underrated skill guys continue to step up.
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