Picks: Ducks, Buckeyes, Cardinal cruise; Tigers stay unbeaten
A couple of compelling games in Oregon Saturday with Stanford visiting Oregon State and UCLA visiting the Ducks highlight a decent slate of games. Here are this week's picks, including a big battle in the Big 12 where undefeated Texas Tech tries to survive a trip to Oklahoma.
I'm coming off a bad week, going 9-11 against the line, dropping me to 80-71 vs. the spread for the season. The Good: picking Florida State to win at Clemson. The Bad: LSU to have no trouble at Ole Miss. The Ugly: Picking UCLA to knock off Stanford. Here are this week's guesses:
Miami 34, Wake Forest 9: The Canes play their first game in years free from the black cloud of an NCAA investigation and they should be fired up to take on a Wake team that has won two in a row in the ACC. The Deacons are too one-dimensional on offense to hang with UM on the road unless the Canes (12 turnovers in the past three games) continue to be sloppy with the ball.
Nebraska 32, Minnesota 17: The Huskers, fresh off a bye week, have blown out their two Big Ten opponents this fall and shouldn't have that much more trouble with a decent Gopher team. Minnesota did just beat Northwestern, but it was a beat-up Wildcats team with Venric Mark and Kain Colter hobbled. Ameer Abdullah should produce another impressive performance this Saturday.
Oklahoma State 31, Iowa State 10: ISU comes home after getting thumped 71-7 at Baylor and faces a Mike Gundy team that lost on its last road trip. My hunch is OSU won't be that sloppy this time around against a worse defensive unit.
Louisville 28, South Florida 10: The Cards' hope for a perfect season is gone after losing last week to UCF. Teddy Bridgewater and U of L will have much less trouble against a Bulls team that's actually above them in the AAC conference race and now has won two in a row. That little streak ends against the Cards.
Central Florida 35, UConn 10: The Huskies are winless and looked dreadful at Cincy. Now they have to cope with a more physical UCF team playing with a ton of confidence. This will be a rout before halftime.
Texas A&M 45, Vanderbilt 28: The Commodores are coming off a great comeback win while A&M is fresh off a crushing last-second loss to Auburn. Vandy goes on the road for the first time in a month. Johnny Manziel's shoulder is dinged up, but he will play. That -- and the Aggies' crew of big, athletic wideouts -- will be a problem for a D that gave up 51 points to Mizzou two weeks ago.
Clemson 35, Maryland 17: Both programs are coming off dismal showings last week. Even though the Terps are home, they are too banged up to scare the Tigers, having lost standout wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. Tajh Boyd also should be able to take advantage of a D that is 70th in big pass plays allowed.
Virginia Tech 23, Duke 7: David Cutcliffe's team is just one win away from becoming bowl eligible, but Tech is a big step up and has the best D that Duke has seen. Expect the Hokies defensive line to take over and VT not to fall into the deep hole it ended up in against Duke last time out. Logan Thomas also has settled into a nice rhythm, going three games in a row without an INT.
Florida State 38, North Carolina State 14: Dave Doeren's program is sputtering in his debut season in the ACC, going 0-3 in conference play and now has to visit the best team in the league. Much of Doeren's staff does have some familiarity with the Noles since they faced them in the Orange Bowl at NIU. They haven't seen Jameis Winston yet and he's gonna have another big day.
Northern Illinois 47, Eastern Michigan 6: The Eagles are bad on offense and even worse on defense. They've lost six in a row and haven't beaten an FBS program. Now they have to deal with Jordan Lynch and the MAC's best team. Ouch.
Alabama 35, Tennessee 14: After a huge win over South Carolina, the Vols step up even more in weight class and they don't have the manpower to stay with this team for four quarters.
Oklahoma 27, Texas Tech 23: The Red Raiders' first big test comes on the road in Norman and against a team that has held visiting opponents to 11 ppg. Then again, this Sooners D is depleted without Corey Nelson and Jordan Phillips and Kliff Kingsbury is a wiz at exploiting weaknesses. Tech's attack and big TE Jace Amaro will provide OU with problems, but my hunch the Sooners will overtake Kliff Kingsbury's young team late in this one.
Oregon 35, UCLA 27: The Bruins come to Autzen and will start four true freshmen, one redshirt freshman and three sophomores on offense, but I do think their D matches up better with the Ducks than it did Stanford. Still, how badly Jim Mora's O-line was overmatched last week has to be a huge concern for him on the road in Eugene. Going with a hunch here that UCLA and Brett Hundley will keep it interesting and the Bruins LBs will be up to the challenge.
Missouri 17, South Carolina 16: Both teams' starting QBs are banged up. The Tigers seem more focused and even with a rejuvenated Jadeveon Clowney, Mizzou may have the better D-line. Can Mizzou slow down Mike Davis? I think they can just enough to sneak out with another W.
Baylor 55, Kansas 7: The Bears have only played on the road once this season and it was the one time they struggled. KU isn't as good as K-State and Art Briles' team should overwhelm a Jayhawks squad that has broken down after some solid first quarters.
LSU 62, Furman 6: As bad as Zach Mettenberger was last week at Ole Miss, the Tigers will bounce back big against a 3-4 FCS team.
Auburn 31, Florida Atlantic 13: Carl Pelini's squad has been scrappy the past month, but Auburn's offense shouldn't have too much trouble asserting itself at home against the Owls.
Ohio State 31, Penn State 20: Christian Hackenberg has handled himself pretty well. PSU has some good receivers to attack what has been a shaky secondary that has surrendered four pass plays of 60 yards or more (only one FBS team has allowed more -- Colorado State). Still, the Buckeyes' ground game is cranked up with Carlos Hyde and OSU should continue to march through the Big Ten under Urban Meyer.
Stanford 30, Oregon State 21: No one has been able to slow down Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks, but Stanford is, by far, the best D that the Beavers have seen. The Cardinal O-line is also major step up for the nation's No. 75 D that is allowing over four yards per carry. Expect Tyler Gaffney, coming off a 171-yard rushing effort against UCLA, to have another big day.
Fresno State 45, San Diego State 27: Derek Carr and Devante Adams have been on a roll and they shouldn't have too much trouble snapping the Aztecs' three-game winning streak.
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