Just call me Oklahoma. I’m winning big. In each of the past two weeks I’ve gone 9-1 for a winning percentage of 80.6 after three weeks. Clemson proved me wrong last week with its upset of Auburn, but I’m not making the same mistake twice. Quarterback Tajh Boyd has me convinced about the Tigers’ offense. Florida State? Not so much. Here’s a look at this week’s picks, and just for the record, I came really, really close to picking UMass …
Cincinnati 33, NC State 30: The Bearcats’ experience at quarterback and success in the running game will be too much for NC State’s defense, which has been plagued by injuries to key players. Cincy quarterback Zach Collaros has thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions in 69 pass attempts this season, and the Bearcats are averaging 51.33 points.
Clemson 24, Florida State 21: The prediction is that EJ Manuel will play, but the Noles still won’t be able to surpass Clemson’s offensive output. Clemson hasn’t been as good as advertised defensively, but Tajh Boyd is making a believer out of doubters, and he’s got plenty of playmakers to get the ball to. FSU’s running game is No. 100 in the nation, and the lack of production there will be a factor in this game.
Maryland 28, Temple 17: The Terps will rebound at home and won’t suffer the same kind of scare the Owls gave Penn State last weekend. Quarterback Danny O'Brien will redeem himself for his three interceptions against West Virginia, and Maryland will improve its record in the series to 7-0.
Boston College 14, Massachusetts 13: UMass will play in the FBS next season, and this game will show you why. It's ranked No. 19 in the latest FCS coaches’ poll, and has the No. 1 rushing defense in the Colonial Conference. BC is still looking for its first win of the season, has struggled in all three phases of the game, but should still be expected to beat an FCS team.
Duke 38, Tulane 24: Unless the Blue Devils turn it over, they should get their second straight win. Quarterback Sean Renfree seemed to turn the corner in last weekend’s win over Boston College, and the defense showed improvement. Tulane’s biggest asset might be its ability to pressure quarterbacks this season, as it is No. 16 in the country with 3.3 sacks per game.
Georgia Tech 31, North Carolina 21: The Yellow Jackets will be contained better than they have been all season, but not enough for the Tar Heels to get their second Coastal Division win. Georgia Tech will wear down UNC’s defense, control the clock, and make one-too-many big plays. This game will determine whether Georgia Tech is for real, and based on what we’ve seen so far, UNC has reasons to worry.
Miami 45, Kansas State 14: K-State barely beat Eastern Kentucky in its season opener, and its best win so far has been a 37-0 romp of Kent State. If Miami plays as soundly as it did against Ohio State, the combination of the Canes’ running game and stingy defense should make for a convincing win.
Virginia 31, Southern Miss 24: This should be a bounce-back game for the Cavaliers. This is not 2009, when Southern Miss edged the Hoos for a home win. Southern Miss does have one of the nation’s best rushing defenses, but so does North Carolina, and UVa ran for 170 yards against the Tar Heels.
Virginia Tech 42, Marshall 7: Virginia Tech’s offense has been exposed the past few weeks, and this is the final opportunity for the Hokies to show improvement before conference play begins. Marshall’s struggling defense should help them look good, though, and Virginia Tech’s defense should have a chance for a shutout against a scoring offense that ranks No. 107 in the country with 15.33 points per game.