College Pick ‘Em Week 4

Last week was a tough one for pick ’em fans as even my lofty expectations took a bit of a hit. On the outside, only picking 4 of 10 right is pathetic and I should lose my right to give my opinion on a weekly basis. But looking closer, only 1 of those 6 games was decided by more than 3 points (amazingly enough it was Arkansas by 21 over Texas Tech). So I don’t think I’m all that crazy for making the selections I did. And if you got the opportunity to watch any (or all) of those games, you’d know that most of them really could have gone either way (rather than teams making the final score appear closer than it actually was). This week offers 10 more interestingly close games as well as another Maryland game (I swear I’m not putting this list together).

Clemson at Florida State. The Clemson Tigers come into this game without a clear read on who they are. But when you lose players for Tahj Boyd and Sammy Watkins, you’re going to have some trouble getting back to the exact same level as last year. So there’s not any expectation that they should be at that level. With that said, Dabo Swinney is a great recruiter and has tons of talent on the roster. On the other side of the ball for the Seminoles is a team of studs. And yet there isn’t tons of proven depth behind Rashad Greene and Karlos Williams. Naturally, Jameis Winston is set up to have a little of a “sophomore slump”. Now Winston’s slump and the average mediocre signal-caller on an FBS team is a bit different, but the biggest difference can be found on the defensive line (which hasn’t been as impressive as last year so far). Florida State 41, Clemson 28

Ameer Abdullah will need a big game for the Cornhuskers to come out on top.
Ameer Abdullah will need a big game for the Cornhuskers to come out on top.

Miami at Nebraska. Two big-time programs meet in Lincoln on sort of low-note for what may have been expected when this matchup was first put together. Neither team is very strong or looking like an early favorite to compete in their respective programs (though the Cornhuskers have a weaker division in the B1G to contend with). Miami is coming off two wins over weaker competition and thus doesn’t have much to be based on other than their loss to Louisville to open the season. That particular game wasn’t impressive in the slightest. But the Hurricanes have the talent to amp up the offense. The Cornhuskers have won their first three games and are coming off a good drubbing of Fresno State, but the close win over McNeese State where they were actually tied late is still a bit of red flag. Nebraska 21, Miami 17

Mississippi State at LSU. Both teams come in with unblemished records as they each open their SEC conference slate. The Bulldogs have played three weak regional opponents while working out the early kinks and while the offense appears to be balanced, expect more of a running game if this is a close game. MSU isn’t known for having an impressive aerial attack like their in-state rival Ole Miss, so keep an eye on how Dak Prescott handles the LSU defensive front. The LSU Tigers come into the game having outscored their opponents 87-0 in the past two games but opened the season in grand fashion at home against Wisconsin. With pro style QB Zach Mettenberger gone, the Tigers will revert back to the old way of playing with hard running, a few big passing plays, and some crazy athleticism on defense. LSU 31, Mississippi State 14

Oklahoma at West Virginia. In what was supposed to be the first test of the young season for the Sooners, Oklahoma instead trounced Tennessee and showed us all that their preseason ranking was deserved. Trevor Knight is beginning to show that last year’s bowl game was no fluke and that his talent is immense. The run game and pass defense will be most important in a game that could easily total 90 points, but is best suited to total 60 or less if Oklahoma has their way. The Mountaineers are coming off an emotional 40-37 win at Maryland that featured instant offense early in the game and then a bit of a letdown as it came to a close. For West Virginia to stick around in this one they need to limit the big plays and when their running game gets going they need to stick to it. Oklahoma 48, West Virginia 38

Utah at Michigan. The Utes have limited results so far against limited competition. Balance will be key against a team with more big, athletic bodies than they have seen up until this point in the season. Michigan laid an egg against Notre Dame and then underwhelmed against lowly competition in the other two games. Still, playing at the Big House with the talent on that roster can’t possibly be as bad as they’ve looked up until this point. Michigan 28, Utah 10

The triple option will confuse Rutgers to no end.
The triple option will confuse Rutgers to no end.

Rutgers at Navy. Rutgers did better than many would have expected against Penn State last week even though it was their B1G debut in a raucous home environment. However, this game isn’t being played at home and the triple-option just isn’t an offense you see every day. Ohio State may not be world-beaters but their talent-level struggled with the offensive scheme of the Midshipmen, as will the Scarlet Knights. Navy has veteran team of capable players that will likely be bowl-eligible within the next 4 games. Navy 24, Rutgers 14

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech. No one can get a good read on what this Virginia Tech team really is, but we do know that they have the talent. Maybe East Carolina is better than anyone thinks. My guess it was a bit more of fate intervening and telling them that any kind of magical run to the BCS Playoff wasn’t going to happen any time soon. Either way, this game should shape up to be a pretty good one. Paul Johnson brings his triple-option that was so successful at Georgia Southern and Navy to a Georgia Tech team with solid speed and a plethora of backs to “carry” the workload (bad pun). The Hokies have the best chance in this one playing at home with the stronger defense. Virginia Tech 27, Georgia Tech 24

Iowa at Pittsburgh. Prior to the beginning of the season there might have been an assumption that the Hawkeyes would run away with this one based on talent alone (a few different NFL prospects), but the Panthers have begun this season winning their first 3 games in relatively comfortable fashion. One of those games was a 10 point win at Boston College, which is now even more impressive after the Eagles stunned USC. Iowa has had trouble getting any clearance on opponents as all three games have been decided by 8 points or less, including a 3 point loss to Iowa State. Pittsburgh 24, Iowa 17

North Carolina at East Carolina. The Tar Heels come into this one after a week off that saw them barely beat San Diego State 31-27. Neither of their first two games has been impressive for a team that was ranked in the preseason AP poll. Maintaining some kind of balance on offense will be key if they want to win on the road. East Carolina has one of the more impressive schedules if we are just counting the last two weeks. The win over NC Central was just a warmup for their tough fight against South Carolina before an upset win last win on the road against Virginia Tech. Shane Carden leads a top 10 passing offense into this one. If the Pirates can keep along that trajectory it is quite possible that another mini upset will take place. East Carolina 28, North Carolina 27

Maryland at Syracuse. In a matchup of two teams that were in the same conference for a year, each comes with something to prove before getting into difficult conference schedules. Syracuse barely beat Villanova and then walloped Central Michigan. Offense isn’t really their strongsuit, which may be a problem if the Terps don’t turn the ball over. The run game will be important on both sides of the ball and if the Orange can be successful in both instances their chances of winning will increase. The Terrapins are coming off a heartbreaking loss to West Virginia in the final seconds after coming back from a few touchdowns down early in the game. If CJ Brown can improve his accuracy and the run game (specifically the running backs) can find more holes the offense should be just fine. Maryland must improve in the secondary if they wish to be successful this season. Last week featured too many go routes with defensive backs looking lost. Maryland 38, Syracuse 20

 

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