NCF Nation: game-predictions-100710

ACC predictions: Week 6

October, 7, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Virginia Tech fans have happily been reminding me that I have only picked right on one of the Hokies’ games so far – East Carolina. They have proved me wrong with back-to-back conference wins. So I’ll give them a little credit this weekend against, ahem, Central Michigan. That being said, Virginia Tech was my only incorrect pick last week as I went 6-1. That brings the season total to 35-10 for a 77.7 winning percentage.

That might be reason to celebrate in, say, the Big East blogosphere, but not here in ACC country.

NC State 35, Boston College 14: BC’s defense is good enough to create a few turnovers and a short field, but is there any quarterback on the roster who can take advantage of it? Virginia Tech exposed some weaknesses in the Pack’s defense last weekend, but the Eagles have had trouble running the ball lately.

North Carolina 21, Clemson 17: The Tar Heels are starting to get some confidence despite their off-field “issues.” The coaching staff has done a good job stabilizing things on the field. Clemson’s offense has some problems to figure out after turning it over six times against Miami, and is about to see a similar defense. UNC’s backups have played well enough to start for some teams in the ACC.

Miami 27, Florida State 24: This should be another heart-stopper for both fan bases. Thanks to a swift kick from Matt Bosher, coach Randy Shannon will get the home win he needs. Christian Ponder is a great quarterback, but Miami will bring the heat, and the Noles don’t have the receiving corps Miami does.

Wake Forest 24, Navy 21: It’s a must-win situation for the Deacs to keep their bowl hopes alive, and the defense will benefit from having played a respectable game against a similar Georgia Tech offense last weekend. The retention will be there, but will the offense?

Georgia Tech 35, Virginia 21: Joshua Nesbitt will make the difference in the end, but the familiarity between the two staffs should keep this game interesting. Virginia didn’t quit at halftime last weekend against Florida State, and Mike London will have them prepared for his former boss’ 3-4 defense.

Virginia Tech 42, Central Michigan 7: This should be a name-your-score type of game, and one Ryan Williams doesn’t need to play in. It’s the start of a three-game stretch in Lane Stadium in which Virginia Tech should go 3-0.

Big East predictions: Week 6

October, 7, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Rutgers' loss to Tulane didn't just spoil the Scarlet Knights' homecoming; it ruined my shot at perfection last week. Still, I'm picking at an 85 percent clip, and it's time to take that momentum into conference play.


Connecticut 20, Rutgers 16: This game is almost always close, and Rutgers has won four of the last five. But how can you have any confidence in the Scarlet Knights right now after the way they played against Tulane and the unsettled quarterback situation? UConn has all the momentum after two solid wins, and the Huskies will hold on for a hard-fought road victory here.


Notre Dame 27, Pittsburgh 24: This is my game of the week. Check my video post later today for a full explanation of this pick.

South Florida 24, Syracuse 17: This is a prove-it game for both sides, and I think the Orange will be more competitive against the Bulls than ever before. USF, though, gets the edge because of home field and a defense that's quietly been playing very well all season.

West Virginia 31, UNLV 14: The Rebels have lost to three ranked teams, but they're giving up more than 32 points per game. Even if Noel Devine isn't fully healthy, the Mountaineers should be able to score a lot of points and put pressure on a team traveling across two time zones. But I do expect this UNLV player to have a record-setting day.

Louisville 31, Memphis 10: The Tigers rank near the bottom of the FBS in just about every major statistical category. This is a bad, bad team, and Louisville will show just how far away Memphis is from being Big East-ready.

Cincinnati 35, Miami of Ohio 14: In the RedHawks' two games against BCS conference teams -- Florida and Missouri -- they gave up a total of 85 points. This should be a good opportunity for the Bearcats' offense to have some fun, provided they keep up the momentum from the Sept. 25 Oklahoma game.

Last week: 4-1

Season results: 28-5 (84.8 percent)

Big Ten predictions: Week 6

October, 7, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

On the walk to Spartan Stadium last Saturday, I wasn't feeling too confident about my Wisconsin-Michigan State pick. Several hours later, I paid the price.

Other than the Badgers-Spartans whiff, it was a pretty good week for the predictions. Let's see if Week 6 is even better.

Ohio State 38, Indiana 23: Hoosiers quarterback Ben Chappell and his talented receivers made some early plays against the bend-but-don't-break Buckeyes defense, but I don't have much faith in the IU defense to contain Ohio State, even if Terrelle Pryor isn't 100 percent. Much like last week, the Buckeyes get a lift from a veteran running back in the second half, while wideout Dane Sanzenbacher adds to his league-leading touchdown receptions total.

Penn State 19, Illinois 14: This is my prediction of the week. Check back this afternoon for a video that breaks down my selection.

Wisconsin 37, Minnesota 27: The Badgers endure a bit of a hangover from the Michigan State loss and fall behind Adam Weber and a motivated Golden Gophers squad. But Minnesota's defense never really shut down Northwestern last week, and it will need to force a bunch of turnovers to slow down Wisconsin. I don't see it happening as running backs John Clay and James White combine for three second-half rushing touchdowns as the Badgers retain Paul Bunyan's Axe.

Michigan State 37, Michigan 35: This one will live up to the hype and certainly could go either way. Michigan State starts slow in its first road game of the season, as Denard Robinson breaks off a big play or two in the first half. But Michigan's defensive ineptitude will finally cost it a game, as Spartans quarterback Kirk Cousins continues his second-half brilliance and fires a pair of touchdown passes. Cousins also drives Michigan State in the closing minutes, setting up a game-winning Dan Conroy field goal.

Northwestern 34, Purdue 23: Purdue showed good resilience in Danny Hope's first season, and despite all the injuries, the Boilers will hang tough under the lights in Evanston. Freshman Rob Henry makes some big plays with his feet, but his inexperience shows up in the second half with two costly turnovers. Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa takes control in the third quarter and the Wildcats clean up some of their mistakes to improve to 6-0.

Bye: Iowa

Last week: 4-1

Season record: 42-5 (.894)

Big 12 predictions: Week 6

October, 7, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

I'm making my way to Manhattan, Kan. today for tonight's game between the Wildcats and Huskers, but I'll be back in Dallas in time to see the Aggies and Hogs go at it in The House That Jerry (or some guys he paid) Built.

Last week was a rough one for the Big 12 Blog, with my missed picks equaling my total from the previous four weeks. You knew the breakdown had to come sometime.

I missed my upset pick of Texas A&M over Oklahoma State and whiffed on a couple of swing games in Ames and Boulder.

Here's how I stand:

Last week: 2-3 (.400)

Overall: 41-6 (.872)

Let's get to this week's picks:


No. 7 Nebraska 31, Kansas State 21: This thing smells like another possible upset, and Kansas State should be able to move the ball pretty well with Daniel Thomas, but the Wildcats don't have the talent or speed in the front seven to slow Taylor Martinez's legs. Look for defensive backs Emmanuel Lamur, Troy Butler and Tysyn Hartman to make a lot of tackles, on Martinez and receivers Brandon Kinnie and Mike McNeill. That's not a good thing. Martinez wasn't rattled in the passing game in his first road start, and him throwing a couple of costly interceptions is the only thing that turns this in Kansas State's favor.


No. 22 Oklahoma State 51, Louisiana-Lafayette 20: The Sun Belt has some good teams. The Ragin' Cajuns are not one of them. Georgia lost at Colorado on Saturday night, but beat these guys 55-7 in Athens for its only win of the season. Puntos, puntos, golly.


Baylor 27, Texas Tech 24: This is definitely the toughest pick of the week. Comparing the depth charts, Texas Tech looks like the better team, but Baylor is getting it done and has all the momentum and confidence. Texas Tech looks lost on defense and inconsistent on offense. In 2008, the Bears almost took down the best Tech team in recent history, losing 35-28 after taking a lead into the fourth quarter. They almost did it again in 2009 in Cowboys Stadium. With Robert Griffin back, they get it done this time. Enjoy the corny dogs, Bears.

No. 11 Arkansas 38, Texas A&M 28: Come back later today for a video of me explaining my pick of the week.

No. 24 Missouri 41, Colorado 17: Colorado says it's sick of getting blown out by the Tigers. They'll still be sick on Saturday night after hitting the road for the first time since a 52-7 loss at Cal. All of the Buffaloes' wins have come over mediocre teams. Missouri's running backs have carried the load so far this year, but Blaine Gabbert has his first big game, staying away from big-time corners Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown in favor of more bubble screens to the flats and underneath routes to T.J. Moe and Michael Egnew. The Buffaloes can stop Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson. Good luck with the rest of the Tigers' offense.

No. 10 Utah 24, Iowa State 21: I really do think Iowa State has a great chance to upset the Utes. I just don't have the guts to pick it. Iowa State's offense is better, but it's not "hang 52 points every week" better. Two of the Cyclones' touchdown drives were less than 40 yards, and another score came on an onside kick return. One other scoring drive was a one-play, 61-yard run by Shontrelle Johnson. Can't count on those every week.

Idle: Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas.

Pac-10 predictions: Week 6

October, 7, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Went 2-2 last week. Season's record is 29-9.

Call this the week of risky picks

California 30, UCLA 24: Cal is tough at home and it should have a far better understanding of the pistol offense after the hard lesson it learned at Nevada.

Oregon 58, Washington State 20: Will this game still be interesting at halftime? Does coach Chip Kelly give Heisman Trophy candidate LaMichael James 25 carries to pad his stats?

Oregon State 27, Arizona 24: Toughest pick of the week. Zona Zoo is brutal, but the Beavers already have suffered through a pair of tough road tests. Got a sense that Beavers quarterback Ryan Katz found his rhythm last week. Part of this -- see below -- is a continued belief that Arizona State is a good team.

USC 35, Stanford 30: Everyone is writing off USC. When everybody thinks one thing, it's often worthwhile to go against the flow.

Arizona State 33, Washington 30: The Sun Devils have lost three close games to three good teams -- two on the road -- that would be favored versus the Huskies. Thus the pick. Huskies defense continues to be a concern.

SEC predictions: Week 6

October, 7, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

OK, that was a little more like it last week.

I can live with 6-1, although I guess I need to have my head examined for continuing to pick Georgia. I’ve picked the Bulldogs for the last three weeks, and they’ve lost all three games.

Sorry, Dawg fans. I’m not doing it on purpose.

Georgia’s 29-27 loss to Colorado was the only game I missed last week, even though I probably deserved half a loss for picking LSU over Tennessee.

No, I didn’t frantically change my pick with only seconds remaining before the deadline or submit 13 picks for that one game. I just feel sheepish about counting it as a win.

But, hey, if the Mad Hatter’s not going to give it back, I’m sure not.

For the season, I’m now 34-9 (.791). Another one-loss week would put me right at .800, which is the minimum standard I’ve set for myself. I refuse to settle for anything less.

In honor of Miles, I can tell you there’s a tremendous want to achieve victory.

By the way, I asked Heather Dinich from the ACC if she wanted to come over and help me pick this week. But she said something about basketball practice getting ready to start.

Oh well, maybe next week.

Here are my picks for Week 6:

Alabama 23, South Carolina 17: Lost in Mark Ingram's stirring performance last season was the fact that South Carolina was right there and did an excellent job of shutting down Alabama’s passing game. If the Gamecocks can make the Crimson Tide one-dimensional again, they’ll have a shot, especially playing at home. That’s easier said than done. Greg McElroy has been masterful running this offense, and Alabama’s defense is on a tear of forcing turnovers. South Carolina, meanwhile, has already turned it over eight times in four games.

Florida 24, LSU 10: If only the Tigers could score, this is a game that could easily go down to the last few possessions. Maybe it still will. LSU’s defense is the real deal, and the Tigers have the kind of athletes on offense that surely will break out at some point. It will be interesting to see how healthy Florida quarterback John Brantley is. Sore ribs are never a good thing for a quarterback. And even though the Gators have been inconsistent on offense, their defense is as stout as ever and will be the key to breaking this game open in the second half.

Arkansas 38, Texas A&M 24: Something says the Hogs are poised to make a few teams pay for their bitter loss to Alabama two weeks ago. This is a team that still has a lot out in front of it this season, and playing in Cowboys Stadium is always a nice perk. Running the football successfully remains a concern for Arkansas, but this figures to be more of a shootout with Ryan Mallett spreading the ball around and putting up big numbers to give the Hogs a renewed sense of confidence heading into the Auburn game next week.

Georgia 27, Tennessee 21: Here we go again. Yes, I’m picking Georgia for the fourth straight week. And, yes, I think the Bulldogs are better than they’ve played to this point. The Vols, despite their youth and inexperience, have hung in there under Derek Dooley and fought back from that second-half embarrassment against Oregon the second week of the season. Both teams need something good to happen. Georgia is probably a little more desperate, and with A.J. Green back in the lineup for a second straight week and playing at home, that should be enough to squeeze out the Bulldogs’ first SEC win.

Auburn 34, Kentucky 21: The Tigers’ only other road game this season was a close one, and the defense saved them in the second half in a 17-14 win at Mississippi State. Since that game, Cameron Newton and the offense have taken off. Plus, the Tigers had a chance to rest a lot of their starters in the second half last week in the 52-3 romp over Louisiana-Monroe. The Wildcats are talking like this is a make-or-break game for them. They’re good enough offensively to pull it off, but they’re not quite there defensively.

Mississippi State 28, Houston 21: The Bulldogs felt like they got the shaft a year ago in their 31-24 loss to Houston when a penalty that went against them was never even reviewed and wiped out a big gain. But getting back to the present, this is a win that could go a long way toward putting the Bulldogs in prime position for a bowl game. The Cougars’ two top offensive players (quarterback Case Keenum and receiver James Cleveland) are out, and the Bulldogs are fourth in the SEC in scoring defense (16.2 points per game). Look for Manny Diaz to turn his guys loose and bring home Mississippi State’s first road win of the season.

Vanderbilt 34, Eastern Michigan 14: The Commodores will be getting one key defensive player back this week, but will be losing another. Senior defensive tackle Adam Smotherman went through his first contact work this week in practice since tearing his ACL in the spring and is expected to start Saturday. However, junior middle linebacker Chris Marve underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Wednesday and will miss this game. Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter. Eastern Michigan has lost its last 17 games and given up 214 points in its five losses this season.

Non-AQ predictions: Week 6

October, 7, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

My picks in Week 5 were pretty bad. If Army had not blown a lead, if North Texas had not had an extra point blocked, if only … Sigh. The tally came out to 5-5, an embarrassing day to be sure. With a 33-21 overall record, I am ready for Week 6. I think.

On to the picks!

No. 10 Utah 31, Iowa State 28. This will be the biggest test of the season for the Utes, who played three of the worst teams in college football after struggling to beat Pittsburgh. They should be prepared for Austen Arnaud after getting a bye week. Utah has a powerful run game with Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata, and the Cyclones have one of the worst run defenses in the country. That will make the difference.

Northern Illinois 34, Temple 30. Both teams are evenly matched going into what many believe to be the MAC championship game preview. But the edge goes to the Huskies because they have been able to run the ball more consistently with Chad Spann and Chandler Harnish.

New Mexico State 21, New Mexico 17. Bowl of Disenchantment, Take 1. Where do we begin? There are issues everywhere for both teams, which rank near the bottom of nearly every NCAA statistical category. They can’t score, but they can’t stop anyone from scoring, either. Both also have issues at quarterback, with injuries to their starters. Neither team knows who will start. Good luck to anyone attempting to watch. The Aggies get the nod because they are at home. Not because they are good.

FIU 28, Western Kentucky 10. FIU has been able to hang with its nonconference opponents, at least in the first two games anyway. The Golden Panthers need to find some consistency from their offense, and they should be able to against Western Kentucky. But the key could be how the FIU defense handles RB Bobby Rainey, one of the top-ranked rushers in the country.

San Diego State 30, BYU 17. I have wanted to believe in a BYU turnaround, hence all my upset picks the last few weeks. But the Cougars have let me down, big time. They have given nobody any reason to believe they can turn things around in a matter of a week. The Aztecs have a balanced offense, and a great runner in Ronnie Hillman. The defense is vastly improved, too, and already has nine sacks. BYU, meanwhile, has struggled everywhere. Not sure more involvement from Bronco Mendenhall is the answer.

Southern Miss 35, East Carolina 20. The Golden Eagles are on a roll, having won four straight, including a blowout win over Marshall. The Pirates, meanwhile, suffered a big blow when they lost defensive end Justin Dixon for the season. That leaves them very thin along the line. If last week is any indication, expect Southern Miss to run. A lot. The Golden Eagles had 205 yards on the ground against Marshall. East Carolina gave up 263 yards rushing in a loss to North Carolina.

Navy 17, Wake Forest 13. The Midshipmen are facing a must-win game on the road after their loss to Air Force last week. They have struggled to get their triple option going, partly because quarterback Ricky Dobbs has struggled through injuries, and partly because defenses are keying in on him. Dobbs says the injuries are not a problem headed into the Wake Forest game. Maybe he will be rejuvenated going against a defense that is giving up 182 yards a game on the ground.

Mississippi State 30, Houston 20. Houston won this game last season behind Case Keenum. But Keenum is out and coach Kevin Sumlin has yet to announce whether Terrance Broadway or David Piland will start the game. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, have been impressive so far this season behind Chris Relf and Tyler Russell, and Vick Ballard in the run game.

UPSET SPECIAL: Hawaii 48, Fresno State 41. The Warriors are hot on offense right now behind Bryant Moniz, who threw for 532 yards last week against Louisiana Tech. They have won three of the last four games in Fresno. The Bulldogs are so banged up, injuries start to take a toll in this one despite a good game from Ryan Colburn.

Cincinnati 24, Miami (Ohio) 20. This one is going to be closer than expected. The RedHawks are much improved on offense and defense, while the Bearcats are struggling for any momentum. Good matchup here between Zach Collaros and Zac Dysert in the “Battle for the Victory Bell.”