Picks: Bama edges Auburn; Stanford handles Irish; Duke over UNC
Auburn-Alabama, USC-UCLA, Ohio State-Michigan, Florida-FSU, Clemson-South Carolina, ASU-Arizona headline a great group of rivalry games in this week's picks column.
I'm coming off a decent week, where I went 11-9 against the spread to put me at 120-120 for the season against the number. The Good: Picking Arizona State Sun Devils to handle UCLA Bruins . The Bad: Picking Texas A&M Aggies to beat LSU Tigers . The Ugly: Picking Toledo Rockets to hang around with Northern Illinois Huskies . Here are this week's guesses:
LSU Tigers 42, Arkansas Razorbacks 10: Bret Bielema's team is averaging 12.5 ppg in the past two months (going 0-6) and going into Tiger Stadium against a talented LSU team sounds ominous, especially with the way the Tigers backs are running the ball and knowing how undermanned the Hog LBs are.
Fresno State Bulldogs 45, San Jose State Spartans 40: Tough task for the Spartans to try and get to six wins, especially after falling in three OTs last week against Navy. My hunch is David Fales can keep SJSU in this one by rising to the challenge of facing Derek Carr . Fales threw for almost 500 yards and five TDs (and no INTs) in a win over Wyoming Cowboys and its stud QB Brett Smith , but Carr has better WRs and Fresno State Bulldogs will still get the W.
Oregon Ducks 45, Oregon State Beavers 27: Both teams are back-sliding, but the Ducks are more talented and balanced on both sides of the ball. Expect Oregon to dodge losing three of four, although the Beavers should do some damage against a Ducks defense allowing 30 ppg in the last three games.
UCF Knights 37, South Florida Bulls 17: The Bulls have dropped four straight, each by double-digits, and don't have enough offense to knock off Blake Bortles and company.
Duke Blue Devils 21, North Carolina Tar Heels 20: Quietly the Tar Heels have rattled off five wins in a row, while the Blue Devils have won seven straight. I'll go with the visitors, 4-0 on the road, finding a way to scrap out one more W.
Florida State Seminoles 48, Florida Gators 6: Will Muschamp and the Gators have been free-falling. Florida is headed for significant staff changes and is coming off the most embarrassing loss in school history, and now they have to deal with a rampaging FSU squad. The rout's on by the second quarter.
Michigan State Spartans 24, Minnesota Golden Gophers 6: As solid as the Gophers have been, they don't have enough firepower to challenge the ferocious Spartans defense and Michigan State's offense has started to emerge now that Connor Cook has stepped up to complement a potent ground attack.
Ohio State Buckeyes 31, Michigan Wolverines 21: The combo of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde have run over just about everyone in the Big Ten in the past two months and I expect the Buckeyes to take it to the Wolverines on the road, although I think Michigan will keep it interesting for three quarters.
Southern California Trojans 30, UCLA Bruins 24: A young and patched-up UCLA offensive line was overwhelmed last week against Arizona State Sun Devils and now it has to deal with another talented defensive line at USC. The fired-up Trojans, primed for revenge after losing last season to the Bruins, should make it seven in a row in Pac-12 play.
Wisconsin Badgers 42, Penn State Nittany Lions 21: The Badgers are 6-0 at home this season and have crushed their opponents by an average of 35 ppg. They've also only allowed three TDs at Camp Randall but in Christian Hackenberg and the gifted Penn State receivers, it won't be quite as much of a cakewalk.
Alabama Crimson Tide 23 Auburn Tigers 17: Nick Saban has the deeper roster and more big-game experience, led by AJ McCarron , but Gus Malzahn has a stud tailback in Tre Mason and a really talented crew of defensive linemen, who should keep this one tight for four quarters.
Baylor Bears 40, TCU Horned Frogs 21: Art Briles' team is back in Texas where it's most comfortable and the Bears will get back in gear after being held to a field goal in the first half last week in Stillwater.
Clemson Tigers 23, South Carolina Gamecocks 17: I know that Dabo Swinney has had all sorts of trouble with Steve Spurrier's team, but my hunch is Tajh Boyd and the speedy Tiger wideouts will rise up for a big performance.
Stanford Cardinal 17, Notre Dame Fighting Irish 6: The Irish have sputtered quite a bit this season, especially on the road where they're 2-2 with the two Ws over opponents that are a combined 3-19. Stanford will be too physical and too strong for Notre Dame this time around.
Texas A&M Aggies 41, Missouri Tigers 38: Johnny Manziel played the worst game of his career last week. Even with a banged-up thumb and a shaky defense, I don't see Manziel or the Aggies losing two in a row even though the Tigers do have an excellent D-line rotation.
Arizona State Sun Devils 35, Arizona Wildcats 21: A tandem of B.J. Denker and Ka'Deem Carey gave Oregon fits last week, but my hunch is ASU will be able to slow down Denker some and the Sun Devils attack will be sharper than the Ducks were last week on the road.
Northern Illinois Huskies 55, Western Michigan Broncos 10: Jordan Lynch probably won't get to NYC for the Heisman but he'll run all over the Broncos in what'll be a blowout by the third quarter.
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