NCAA Week 2 Picks and Preview
Last week: 6-5
All Season: 6-5
Arizona at Oklahoma State (-14)
Arizona receiver Junior Criner is out for this game, meaning Nick Foles loses his top target. The Wildcats scored 41 points last week against Northern Arizona but face a much better defense this week in Stillwater. This will be a true measuring stick for how well the five new offensive linemen are for Arizona.
The Oklahoma State offense knows how to score points and showed no dropoff from the departure of offensive coordinator Holgorsen. Blowing up for more than 60 oints last week, the Cowboys will score more points in this game.
Missouri at Arizona State (-7)
Missouri struggled a little against Miami of Ohio last week, pulling out an 11-point win. Looks like they are missing Blaine Gabbert a little more than they thought. They do have one of the smoothest offenses in college football, one that is very efficient. A true finesse offense.
Arizona State looked much improved from last season last week. They had no turnovers and had very few penalties. If Vontaze Burfict keeps his cool and the Sun Devils don’t turn the ball over then this one could get out of hand. The Sun Devil defense is fast, fast enough to slow Oregon and an offense talented enough to score a lot of points.
Oregon State at Wisconsin (-21.5)
The Badgers have one of the most efficient offenses in college football. They can grind the defense down with power running games. Quarterback Russell Wilson is an accurate passer and is faster than almost anyone on the Beaver defense.
The Beavers lost to Sacramento State last week in one of the worst Beaver performances I have ever seen. Apparently they didn’t have a great first couple days of practice either. Katz played awful Saturday, barely got first team reps this week in practice, but head coach Riley says there isn’t a quarterback competition. They also lose running back Malcom Agnew who ran for 235 yards in the loss to Sacramento State. Oregon State has to get back on track, and this one is a bodybag game for the Beavers.
Mississippi State (-6) at Auburn
Both of these teams had completely different games last week. The Mississippi State Bulldogs led by Dan Mullen ran over Memphis, one of the worst teams in college football. They won 59-14 and almost doubled Memphis’ total yards.
Auburn on the other hand should have lost to Utah State if not for the worst special teams play by the Aggies. They could not have done worse trying to field the onside kick. Aggie quarterback Cuckie Keeton looked like a redshirt senior for a big-time program, not a true freshman. Auburn looked bad on all phases except for special teams. Mississippi State is better than Utah State and won’t make such god-awful mistakes.
Hawaii (+7) at Washington
Bryant Moniz of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors rushed for 121 yards and threw for 178
yards last week against the Colorado Buffaloes. With an equal number of turnovers Hawaii outgained Colorado by 103 yards.
Moniz must be foaming at the mouth to get at a Husky defense that allowed 473 passing yards last week against FCS opponent Eastern Washington. The Eagles outgained Washington by 254 yards while turning the ball over four times. This Washington team is in trouble, and against better competition they will not only not cover, they’ll also lose.
California (-7) at Colorado
Zach Maynard leads the Bears in to Boulder, Colorado to face the Buffaloes. Part of me thinks I should take the points because these teams are somewhat similar on paper, but Cal crushed Colorado last year in Berkeley. With a coaching change in Colorado and a good quarterback for the Golden Bears I like Cal again to cover.
Stanford (-21) at Duke
The Cardinal are led by Andrew Luck, obviously, the savior of the Stanford football program and the heir apparent to the greatest quarterback of all time throne. The Blue Devils are hosting and their mediocre program that doesn’t have anywhere near the talent Stanford does is going to get overrun. Even the backup quarterback at Stanford, Brett Nottingham, threw for a touchdown and didn’t throw an incompletion.
Alabama (-10) at Penn State
A rematch of last year’s game in Tuscaloosa is in Happy Valley this year. Joe Paterno’s Penn State, with severe quarter back issues (between Robert Bolden and Matt McGloin) takes on the best defense in college football. There are probably more pros on the Alabama defense than on the Jacksonville defense.
Sure, Alabama has quarterback problems of their own, but they have a great offensive line, one of the best running backs in the country in Trent Richardson, and great receivers. Penn State beat up the Indiana State Sycamores and is debatably a worse team than they were last year when they got shellacked 24-3.
South Carolina at Georgia (+3)
It’s do or die time for Georgia coach Mark Richt. This game puts one of these teams in the driver’s seat for the SEC West and the sacrifical lamb to the winner of the SEC East. I think Georgia is better than people give them credit for. They did lose to Boise State, but Boise State makes every good team look subpar. The Broncos execute at all times.
South Carolina found itself in a shootout with East Carolina, a good team but a non-BCS team. Garcia showed poise in leading the Gamecocks to a comeback win. Georgia is better than East Carolina and this is a must win for their season, but I just don’t have any faith in Mark Richt at this point. After rewatching the Boise State game it was clear the Bulldogs looked overwhelmed on defense and too simple on offense. I keep going back and forth on this game and have decided to stay with my pick to win the SEC East, although I have no confidence in this pick.
BYU at Texas (-7)
Another measuring stick game between the Mormons and the Republic of Texas. BYU needed a fourth-quarter comeback and some special teams magic to beat Ole Miss. Their first year being independent will be great if they can get a win in Austin.
Texas on the other hand is flirting with being independent and needs this win badly. They had an unimpressive win over Rice last week, just like last year, but cemented starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert and the true freshman Malcom Brown should have a great day as the first featured back at Texas since Jamaal Charles.
Utah (+9.5) at USC
This has backdoor cover written all over it. Utah plays their first in-conference game as a member of the PAC-12. Jordan Wynn played okay in their last game.
USC got out of the gates quick and then struggled against Minnesota who almost came back for the win in Los Angeles. Matt Barkeley to Robert Woods looks like a great combo. The line for the Trojans has been struggling and we’ll see how they face against a team short on talent but great in execution.
Notre Dame at Michigan (+3.5)
The first ever night game in Michigan Stadium is nothing short of a marketing ploy at a
time where Michigan is losing interest nationally. There is no reason for this game to be played at night, it would get national views either way with Notre Dame coming to town. It comes down to attention and getting College Gameday to show up, to ensure that people are tuning in to a game that is supposed to have some sort of extra significance.
Michigan has Denard Robinson returning in the first year of Brady Hoke’s career at Michigan. Notre Dame is in its fifteenth year of rebuilding, second under head coach Brian Kelly who caught a lot of grief for his sideline behavior last game. Notre Dame outgained South Florida twice over but the turnovers did them in. I like Michigan to cover this game and pull out the win.
PAC-12 Games Straight Up
Last week: 8-4
All season: 8-4
Oklahoma State beats Arizona
Arizona State beats Missouri
Wisconsin beats Oregon State
Oregon beats Nevada
Hawaii beats Washington
Washington State beats UNLV
USC beats Utah
CAL beats Colorado
Stanford beats Duke
UCLA beats San Jose State