Week 5 NCAA Football Picks and Preview
LAST WEEK: 7-7 (I know, bummer, right?)
All Season: 27-21-2
South Florida (-3) at Pittsburgh
This is a matchup between two of the top three contenders for the Big East title. West Virginia is a clear front-runner but these two teams are both capable of beating the Mountaineers. It’s the Thursday night football game for ESPN.
Pitt and South Florida have both played a common opponent. South Florida beat a Notre Dame team that was throwing up all over itself and Brian Kelly screaming at them the whole game. Notre Dame had five turnovers against USF and lost by three, and the Fighting Irish had 2 turnovers against Pitt and won by 3. This game will be really close as there is no clear differentiation, but the South Florida Bulls are averaging more than 40 points a game and have BJ Daniels at quarterback.
Minnesota at Michigan (-20)
The Battle for the Little Brown Jug is one of the best trophy games in college football. Denard “Shoelace” Robinson continues to amaze even in a pro-style set. The Wolverines are undefeated heading in to this game and are 11th in the country in points against per game with 12.8. Unreal improvement for a defense that allowed 63 points to Illinois last year.
The Golden Gophers on the other hand have been freefalling since their two-point loss to USC. Since the game in Los Angeles Minnesota has only beaten Miami of Ohio and has lost to New Mexico State and North Dakota State. Yikes. The only concern is that the spread is huge in this game. I think “Shoelace” can get it done though.
Texas A&M at Arkansas (+3)
SEC. SEC. SEC. SEC. SEC.
Texas A&M absolutely fell apart against Oklahoma State with one of the worst third quarters of football I’ve ever seen. Arkansas also lost last week, but that was to one of the best teams in football, the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Razorbacks had two turnovers in that contest. I will always lean to the side of an SEC team and when the game is at Arkansas, and they’re getting points, I’ll go with them.
Nevada at Boise State (-27)
Boise State has to be pissed. Nevada was the only team to beat them last year and knocked them out of the BCS hunt. Nevada is without Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua who were amazing last year, and this time the rematch is on the turf. Kellen Moore will continue to be his stellar self and Chris Peterson and the Broncos are out for blood in this one. Take no prisoners!
Michigan State at Ohio State (-3.5)
The Spartans have handled teams they were supposed to. They beat Youngstown Sate, Florida Atlantic, and Central Michigan, 28-6, 44-0, and 45-7. They played a Notre Dame team in front of Touchdown Jesus who basically played a perfect four quarters and lost by 18.
Ohio State boasts the same record as Sparty but they lost to Miami when the Buckeyes showed their hand and were without a quarterback. Braxton Miller is apparently the starter and young quarterbacks against the Michigan State defense is pretty scary. They struggled against Toledo and needed a punt return for a touchdown to get a 5-point win. This one is in the horseshoe and Ohio State wins by a touchdown.
Clemson at Virginia Tech (-7)
Many are picking Clemson to be this year’s Auburn. Both are named Tigers, and both have first year quarterbacks shining, this year’s version being Tahj Boyd. I was really worried about Clemson after their small win over Wofford, but they then beat undefeated Auburn and top ten opponent Florida State.
However, Virginia Tech has been the dominant force in the ACC these past five years. The Hokies haven’t played any great teams yet this season, the best team is probably East Carolina and it makes me nervous seeing a top team play a big opponent for the first time, when the other team has been tested. There are three things that Virginia Tech is good at year in and year out no matter who is playing. They are excellent at defense, see the 10 points per game against, the special teams, and rushing the football, averaging 211.8. That’s the recipe to win every game a team plays and will allow them to capitalize on any Clemson mistake, and Clemson will make mistakes.
Alabama (-4) at Florida
LSU and Alabama are both in the SEC and have amazing defenses. After the last four weeks it’s clear that it is hard to even run plays against these guys. Florida, while much better this year offensively, is going to have troubles running the football. All the pressure will be on John Brantley, improved from last year, to throw the ball enough to break the twenty-point mark. Florida’s defense has some questions marks, allowing 23 to Tennessee, but this is also a sturdy group that will force AJ McCarron to play well for the Crimson Tide to roll out of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with the win.
Nebraska (+10) at Wisconsin
Wisconsin is one of the best teams in the country and my pick to win the Big-10. The addition of
Russell Wilson at quarterback made this team a national title contender and they have operated with stone-cold efficiency. As I’ve stated before, Wisconsin hasn’t played a good team yet, and the black shirts have already played the likes of Washington and Fresno State. Taylor Martinez is a much better quarterback this year when compared to last. This game is in Wisconsin so I like the Badgers to win, but Nebraska to cover.
UCLA at Stanford (-21)
UCLA, is awful. They barely beat Oregon State last week, and I thought Oregon State was one of the worst teams in a BCS conference, if not the worst. Stanford is one of the best teams in the country with Andrew Luck steering the offense and the Cardinal have a big defense that will match up well with the rushing attack the Bruins have.
Arizona (+12) at USC
Arizona has lost by at least 14 in their last three games. They don’t have a rush defense and have poor pass protection. Nick Foles was running for his life most of last Saturday’s game against Oregon. USC lost to ASU last week in the desert by 21, and that does give me pause. USC seems to always have struggles covering with Lane Kiffin at the helm (and winning for that matter). I like USC to win, but Arizona to cover.
PAC-12 Picks Straight Up
Last week: 3-2
All season: 28-9
Stanford beats UCLA
Arizona State beats Oregon State
Oregon State is just awful and the Sun Devils are coming off a huge win over USC. Sparky may be a little overconfident and not cover the 18.5 spread, but it’s not likely, the Beavers will bail them out at some point.
Utah beats Washington
Who would’ve thought that Utah’s defense would keep them in the PAC-12 race? A good team will beat Washington this year, and the battle for number three supremacy in this inter-division matchup will be exciting.
USC beats Arizona
Colorado beats Washington State
Edge goes to Colorado who historically plays well at home.