Picks: Notre Dame, LSU and Buckeyes win tight games
Oklahoma-Notre Dame, LSU-Georgia, Wisconsin-Ohio State and Ole Miss-Alabama lead a great slate of games this week. Here are those picks plus reasons why Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Washington and Oregon will cruise to victory.
I'm coming off a shaky week, going 10-9 against the spread, putting me at 43-35 for the season against the number. The good: picking NC State to hang with Clemson. The bad: picking Louisiana-Monroe to not get blasted by Baylor. The ugly: Alabama to blow out Colorado State. Here are this week's guesses:
Oklahoma State 45, West Virginia 30: Dana Holgorsen's team limps into a matchup with his old school. WVU has actually been decent on defense (No. 33) and dreadful on offense (No. 108). The Cowboys are going to be too much for a Mountaineers squad that comes back home licking its wounds.
Miami 48, South Florida 21: Al Golden's team leads the country in turnover margin while the Bulls are ranked No. 114. The anemic USF offense (No. 119), even with a week off, doesn't have enough juice to keep up with the Canes' weapons.
Clemson 44, Wake Forest 13: The Tigers are coming off a shaky performance and have had a few extra days to get ready for the visiting Demon Deacons, who haven't faced an opponent yet with Clemson's speed. Tajh Boyd and the Tigers will bounce back big here.
Florida State 31, Boston College 13: The Eagles have had two weeks to get past losing by four TDs at Southern California, but the Noles are a much more explosive team and should blow this one open by the third quarter.
South Carolina 23, Central Florida 20: Blake Bortles is one of the better QBs the Gamecocks will face this season and the Knights, coming off a nice road win at Penn State, have plenty of speed, but they won't be able to finish off an SEC powerhouse.
Notre Dame 15, Oklahoma 13: The Irish D hasn't been as sharp as many expected early but Stephon Tuitt and the defensive front look ready to step up. If this game was in Norman, I would probably go with OU, but my hunch is the Irish will win a sloppy game as their defense takes over in the second half in Blake Bell's first road test.
Alabama 34, Ole Miss 20: Hugh Freeze's team has won on the road in a big place already this season, beating Texas. But winning at UT is nothing like winning in Tuscaloosa these days. The Rebels do have some serious weapons at wideout and that bodes well against the suspect Bama corners, but I still feel like Ole Miss is too young to win here.
Texas A&M 38, Arkansas 24: I'll admit I figured the spread would be bigger in this one. The Hogs D has put up good stats (No. 17 in total defense) but hasn't really slowed down anyone decent yet. Rutgers scored 28 on Arkansas last week in a win. Also, as good as the Hogs' running game is, it's a very one-dimensional offense.
Washington 34, Arizona 17: Keith Price is sizzling, completing 77 percent of his passes with a 7-to-1 TD-INT ratio while Rich Rod's team really hasn't played anyone yet. Plus, the Cats are 2-9 in their past 11 Pac-12 road games.
Florida 24, Kentucky 14: The Gators are really banged up and UK has had two weeks to get ready and healthy after a respectable showing vs. Louisville. The Cats will keep this one interesting, giving Tyler Murphy some trouble.
LSU 28, Georgia 27: As great as Todd Gurley is, LSU's Jeremy Hill and the Tigers' dynamite receiving corps are even bigger problems for defenses. I'm buying that more polished, more focused Zach Mettenberger can lead LSU to a big road win here.
Ohio State 28, Wisconsin 24: The Badgers are fantastic grinding out big yardage on first down and the Buckeyes really haven't been tested at all yet. But I'm sticking to my rule from last year ... until someone in the league beats him, I'm not picking against Urban Meyer in a Big Ten game.
Oregon 58, California 20: Young Jared Goff has been impressive but the Bears don't have enough experience or firepower to keep up with the big-play Ducks attack. Omen stat: Only one team (Eastern Michigan) has allowed more plays of 30 yards or longer than Cal. Uh-oh.
Stanford 28, Washington State 24: The Cougars are improved on both sides of the ball but still will struggle on the O-line against the huge Cardinal D while streaky Connor Halliday again won't be able to avoid the costly pick.
Fresno State 55, Hawaii 24: The Derek Carr-for-Heisman campaign will get a bit more momentum as the explosive Bulldogs have their way with the overmatched UH defense.
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