NCF Nation: game predictions 101713

ACC predictions: Week 8

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
9:00
AM ET
AA missed on her upset pick last week, and both of us missed the Syracuse upset over NC State. Heather won the week, going 5-1, and now we are tied 50-9 overall.

Let's see what Week 8 has in store.

Thursday night

No. 10 Miami (5-0, 1-0) at North Carolina (1-4, 0-2), 7:30 p.m., ESPN. #MIAvsUNC. The Tar Heels host just the second Thursday night home game in school history, desperately hoping to turn around their season. They face a tall task against the surging Hurricanes, who are making their first trip outside the state of Florida this season. North Carolina has won four of the past six meetings, including an 18-14 victory last season. Quarterback Bryn Renner is expected back in the starting lineup, but the big question is whether this Tar Heels squad will find its running game against a much-improved Miami D that's ranked No. 12 in the nation in total defense. Miami should be able to put up some points on a shaky North Carolina D. It is just hard to imagine the Tar Heels being able to keep up. AA picks: Miami 35, North Carolina 21

HD picks: Miami 38, North Carolina 24

Saturday

Syracuse (3-3, 1-1) at Georgia Tech (3-3, 2-2), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. #CUSEvsGT. This game most certainly has bowl implications for both teams as the second half of the season gets underway. The Orange have momentum on their side after a big road win over NC State last week, while the Jackets have dropped three straight. But those three losses have come against teams with a combined 15-3 mark. This is going to be a ground-and-pound type of game, and Georgia Tech gets the edge based on the scheme. Syracuse has put up monster rushing numbers in the past two games, but the Tech defense has allowed just five running plays of 20 yards or more this season and is in the top 25 in rush defense. So is Syracuse's defense, but I think the Jackets' run offense will be able to make more plays. AA pick: Georgia Tech 28, Syracuse 23.

HD pick: Syracuse 31, Georgia Tech 28: The Orange will win because of their ability to run the ball and control the clock -- the most effective defense there is against Paul Johnson’s spread-option offense. In a game that will feature two struggling quarterbacks in Vad Lee and Terrel Hunt, Cuse’s ground game will be the difference. Syracuse has rushed for more than 300 yards in each of the past two games and will continue that success on the road.

Maryland (5-1, 1-1) at Wake Forest (3-3, 1-2), 3:30 p.m, ESPNU. #MDvsWAKE. Quarterback C.J. Brown is back in the starting lineup -- great news for Maryland, which is trying to become bowl eligible. But injuries have started to take a toll on the defense. The Terps already lost starting cornerback Dexter McDougle for the season and now starting linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, who was playing very well before he got hurt last week. Maryland gave up more than 500 yards to Virginia Saturday, a team with no playmakers. While the Wake offense has been shaky at times, we saw much improvement last time out against NC State. Wake Forest has won three straight in the series at home. AA likes the Deacons in an upset: Wake Forest 24, Maryland 23.

HD pick: Maryland 28, Wake Forest 21 -- Brown's return to the lineup after missing last week with a concussion will be the difference in the game. The Terps’ ability to run the option and Brown’s skills as a dual-threat quarterback will make life difficult for the Deacs. Wake Forest has one of the ACC’s best receivers in Michael Campanaro, but Brown has more playmakers around him. The Terps will become bowl eligible for the first time under Randy Edsall -- and they’ll get it done in Winston-Salem.

Duke (4-2, 0-2) at Virginia (2-4, 0-2), ESPN3. #DUKEvsUVA. Duke has won four of the past five in the series and got a major boost when Anthony Boone returned to the starting lineup last week, earning ACC weekly honors. Boone made his first career start against the Hoos in 2012 and had four touchdown passes. Virginia, meanwhile, has looked a little better on offense the past few weeks, but it has not been able to get into the win column since Sept. 21. The defense has been inconsistent as well. Boone makes the difference in this game for the Blue Devils. AA picks: Duke 35, Virginia 28

HD picks: Duke 28, Virginia 24

Old Dominion (4-2) at Pitt (3-2), 7 p.m., ESPN3. #ODUvsPITT. The Panthers get a break from ACC play against Old Dominion, which lost to Maryland earlier this season 47-10. Pitt has worked on shoring up the offensive line and establishing the run game at practice this week. Believe it or not, it is the defense that has played more consistently the past several weeks. The Panthers really do need to get their run game going to help take some pressure off Tom Savage. AA picks: Pitt 40, Old Dominion 3

HD picks: Pitt 48, Old Dominion 7

No. 5 Florida State (5-0, 3-0) at No. 3 Clemson (6-0, 4-0), 8 p.m., ABC. #FSUvsCLEM. One of the biggest games in ACC history is nearly here, putting the spotlight squarely on the conference at the midway point of the season. We don't think either team will disappoint. The big story everybody has focused on pits Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, but really, we should be talking about how each will fare against the best defenses they have seen to date. It may all come down to how they both handle pressure. Winston has been slightly better than Boyd in this respect, completing 69.6 percent of his passes when teams bring five or more pass-rushers. Boyd is completing just 57 percent of his passes in similar situations, and both his interceptions this season have come against the blitz, according to ESPN Stats & Information. But Winston has not seen a pass rush as good as the one Clemson has this season, nor anybody as talented as end Vic Beasley. Boyd, meanwhile, has been in these big-game situations before, so he gets a slight edge. Home-field advantage also gives the Tigers a big edge in the intangibles department. AA picks: Clemson 31, Florida State 30

HD picks: Clemson 35, Florida State 31

SEC predictions: Week 8

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
9:00
AM ET
Les Miles wasn’t real thrilled with the analogy last week, but I sort of liked it.

You know, the hammer-and-nail analogy that set Miles off on one of those tirades that makes the Mad Hatter, well, the Mad Hatter.

I won’t go there this week as we look ahead to our SEC picks, but I do believe that my young (and sharply dressed) colleague, Edward Aschoff, would agree that I’m the hammer right now and he’s the nail.

It’s not a matter of “if” I’m going to pass him but “when.”

He’s still one game ahead of me, but waffles a little more each week on his picks. We both went 6-1 last week. He missed South Carolina’s 52-7 win over Arkansas, and I missed Missouri’s 41-26 win over Georgia.

For the season, Edward is 59-6 (.908), and I’m 58-7 (.892).

The second half of the season is where you make your money in the picks business, and I plan on hammering away these next few weeks.

Here are our picks for Week 8:

ARKANSAS at ALABAMA

Chris Low: This stretch of games looked ominous enough for Arkansas back in September. It looks even worse now with Saturday’s trip to Alabama looming on the heels of four straight losses. The Crimson Tide are starting to hit their stride defensively, which means simply getting into the end zone might be a chore for the Hogs. … Alabama 41, Arkansas 6

Edward Aschoff: Last year, the Crimson Tide walked into Fayetteville and blanked the Hogs 52-0. With how well Alabama is playing and how much the Razorbacks are struggling, you could see a similar result in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. … Alabama 45, Arkansas 7

GEORGIA at VANDERBILT

Low: The Dawgs are preparing to play without Todd Gurley for the third straight week, and boy, do they need him. They also need the defense to hold Vandy under 30 points. It won’t be easy, but they’ll climb on Aaron Murray's shoulders (again) and head into the bye week with a very important win. … Georgia 35, Vanderbilt 28

Aschoff: Let's hope there aren't any unnecessary shouting matches between coaches this time. Both of these teams are limping into this matchup, and if Georgia wants a shot at making it back to Atlanta, the Dawgs have to win this one. With Aaron Murray at the helm, Georgia pulls this one out. ... Georgia 34, Vanderbilt 24

SOUTH CAROLINA at TENNESSEE

Low: The Gamecocks hadn’t been able to finish anybody until last week when they clobbered Arkansas on the road. They go back on the road this week and are playing as well as they ever have offensively under Steve Spurrier. The Vols won’t be able to score enough points to keep up in this game. … South Carolina 34, Tennessee 21

Aschoff: And just like that, South Carolina is a real contender in the SEC East again. Tennessee should have some sort of momentum to feed off of after a close loss to Georgia, but the Gamecocks just have too much talent on both sides of the ball. ... South Carolina 34, Tennessee 20

AUBURN at TEXAS A&M

Low: The good news for the Aggies is that they have Johnny Manziel, who’s pretty much been unstoppable. The bad news is that the Aggies haven’t been able to stop anybody on defense. But they’ll find a way to win another shootout, this one at home against the Tigers. … Texas A&M 42, Auburn 30

Aschoff: Expect a lot of points down in College Station when these two get together. Manziel continues to be the country's best and most exciting player, but Auburn has become a really fun team to watch. I'm not sure this Auburn team has the horses to keep up with Johnny Football at Kyle Field. ... Texas A&M 45, Auburn 31

LSU at OLE MISS

Low: The Rebels are hurting physically and emotionally after a bitter, last-second loss to Texas A&M at home last week. Now, they have to face an LSU offense that’s equally explosive, and the Tigers are playing as well as anybody right now in the SEC. … LSU 38, Ole Miss 28

Aschoff: The Rebels have now lost three straight and LSU is coming off a solid defensive performance. These games are always close, so expect some wackiness. Ole Miss needed to get a win during this treacherous stretch, but LSU is playing too well right now and Jeremy Hill will have a field day in the Grove. ... LSU 38, Ole Miss 30

FLORIDA at MISSOURI

Low: Losing starting quarterback James Franklin last week was a tough blow for Missouri, but the Tigers are confident that Maty Mauk can step in and keep them in the East race. Florida’s defense is no picnic, but the Gators have also been decimated by injuries. They just haven’t shown enough offensively to win a game like this on the road. … Missouri 24, Florida 17

Aschoff: These Tigers have one of the hottest offenses in the country, while Florida's offense sputtered at LSU last week. However, Mizzou has been bitten by the injury bug making its rounds in the SEC East, with Franklin out. Florida still owns the SEC's best defense, and the Gators will find a way to make Mauk uncomfortable and force much-needed turnovers to help the offense. ... Florida 21, Missouri 17

Pac-12 predictions: Week 8

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
9:00
AM ET
Ted went 5-1 last week. Kevin went 4-2. Both missed Utah's upset of Stanford. Ted correctly picked Oregon State over Washington State.

Wait. Ted got an Oregon State pick correct? Oh no ... the sun has turned black and is that ... on the horizon ... THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE!

Run for your lives.

For the season, they are both 46-6.

Utah at Arizona

Kevin Gemmell: I’m curious to see what Utah does with its new-found momentum. If the Utes play the way they did against Stanford, they should win. If they play the way they did against Oregon State and UCLA, well, they still might win. Like what Utah has done defensively in recent weeks. Utah 31, Arizona 24.

Ted Miller: I agree with what Kevin said. But I also wonder what happens if the Wildcats get four quarters from QB B.J. Denker like his fourth quarter against USC. RB Ka'Deem Carey will be tough to contain if the Wildcats produce some reliable balance. Further, the Utes have yet to beat a quality Pac-12 foe on the road. So … it's time for that to happen. Utah 35, Arizona 30.

Washington at Arizona State

Kevin Gemmell: This feels like one of those games in the past we thought Washington should win, but it didn’t. This year’s team is different, and I think the defense can be disruptive enough and the offense explosive enough to pick up a quality win on the road. Washington 38, Arizona State 34.

Ted Miller: A critical game for both teams. Washington has struggled on the road against quality foes, and the Sun Devils are a far tougher test than Illinois. Yet here's a guess that the Huskies bounce back after consecutive losses to top-five teams, winning with a superior defense and better offensive balance. Washington 35, Arizona State 28.

USC at Notre Dame

Kevin Gemmell: Looks like my streak of picking road dogs continues … not a great recipe for success. But this USC team seems to have a little more confidence and pep in its step. It gets peppier with the presumptive return of Marqise Lee. Going crazy and picking the Trojans. USC 31, Notre Dame 21.

Ted Miller: The good news for the Trojans is Notre Dame's offense won't tax its lack of depth like up-tempo offenses in the Pac-12. The bad news is the Fighting Irish might tax the Trojans with their physical play up front on both lines. The Orgeron magic might not travel as well away from the Coliseum, too. Notre Dame 24, USC 21.

UCLA at Stanford

Kevin Gemmell: This feels like one of those games where everyone is down on Stanford and expecting them to go in the tank. Maybe. UCLA has the credentials and the momentum. And something special is brewing in Pasadena. But Stanford is at its best when its back is against the wall and they can rally around the “us vs. the world” mentality. Stanford 27, UCLA 24.

Ted Miller: It's hard to ignore the different results both teams got at Utah. Further, a little bird -- read: someone with NFL interests -- told me a few weeks back the loss of DE Henry Anderson was going to be bigger than many thought. I like the Bruins’ two superstars, OLB Anthony Barr and QB Brett Hundley, to live up to their marquee billing. UCLA 31, Stanford 28.

Washington State at Oregon

Kevin Gemmell: Cougs, Cougs, Cougs. Every time I put my faith in you, you let me down. No upset this week. Ducks roll. Oregon 56, Washington State 27.

Ted Miller: A nice matchup for the Oregon secondary, which was outstanding at Washington last weekend. A good matchup for the Ducks' offensive line against a strong Cougars D-front. But the Ducks starters probably won't be needed too deep into the fourth. Oregon 47, Washington State 24.

Oregon State at California

Kevin Gemmell: Curious to see if Oregon State’s run game picks up against a depleted Cal team. But then again, when you have Sean Mannion-to-Brandin Cooks cranking, it’s all good. Oregon State 42, California 17.

Ted Miller: At some point you'd think Cal is going to shock someone. Its beleaguered defense will have an inspired effort and its passing attack will tie an opposing secondary in knots. But I don't think it happens this weekend. (Beavers fans, you still should probably retain possession of your Miller Prediction Countering Rabbit's Foot). Oregon State 44, California 31.

Charleston Southern at Colorado

Kevin Gemmell: A midseason switch to a true freshman quarterback feels like a move that the Buffs are looking to the future. Maybe. Or maybe he gives them their best option to pick up win No. 3. Full disclosure, I don’t know much about Charleston Southern, other than it is undefeated. But I’m a firm believer that FBS teams from BCS conferences are supposed to beat FCS teams. Colorado 30, CSU 21.

Ted Miller: I suspect Colorado will take out some frustration on the Buccaneers and pick up a third win. The larger question is whether the Buffs will get No. 4. Colorado 41, CSU 17.

Big Ten predictions: Week 8

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
9:00
AM ET
The second half begins this week, and it should be a very close race -- in our predictions contest, that is.

Adam leads by one game, thanks to his correct pick of Penn State in a quadruple-overtime thriller. Yep, it's that close. Let's kick off the second-half picks now:

MINNESOTA at NORTHWESTERN

Brian Bennett: Last week's loss at Wisconsin was one of the worst performances in a long time for Northwestern. Pat Fitzgerald promised this week that his team would bounce back and play well, and I believe him. The Wildcats ought to be mad for this one, and though Mitch Leidner will lead Minnesota to a couple of scores, Northwestern will seize control in the second quarter. ... Northwestern 35, Minnesota 20

Adam Rittenberg: Will this be The Hangover Part II? I think Northwestern gets it together behind quarterback Kain Colter, who records a rushing touchdown, a passing touchdown and a receiving touchdown. Minnesota finds some gaps in Northwestern's defense early on, but the Gophers' one-dimensional offense dooms them in the second half. Tony Jones gets back on the touchdown train as Northwestern records its first Big Ten win. ... Northwestern 34, Minnesota 21

PURDUE at MICHIGAN STATE

Rittenberg: This isn't the type of matchup Purdue needs with all of its issues right now. Michigan State records two first-half takeaways, one for a touchdown, and rides Jeremy Langford and Delton Williams on the ground for three more touchdowns. The Spartans continue to take care of business against weak competition and improve to 3-0 in Big Ten play. ... Michigan State 31, Purdue 7

Bennett: The Spartans, who rolled up 42 points on Indiana last week, will continue to enjoy the Hoosier State this week. Purdue isn't doing much of anything right and didn't score until the final minute last week versus Nebraska. Good luck against the Spartans defense. Connor Cook throws for three TDs in an easy win. ... Michigan State 34, Purdue 6


INDIANA at MICHIGAN

Bennett: Do the Hoosiers have a shot? Their run defense is awful, but so is Michigan's rushing attack. I foresee a hot start by Indiana as Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson each lead first-quarter scoring drives. IU leads at halftime as Ann Arbor starts to panic. But Michigan takes over in the second half, and Devin Gardner puts up 350 total yards (250 passing, 100 rushing). ... Michigan 38, Indiana 28


Rittenberg: I might pick Indiana if the game was in Bloomington, but Michigan has been perfect at home under Brady Hoke and won't stop now. The Wolverines finally have some success in the run game as Fitzgerald Toussaint scores two first-half touchdowns. Indiana mounts a third-quarter comeback behind Roberson and wideout Cody Latimer (120 receiving yards, 2 TDs), but Michigan responds in the fourth quarter with two Gardner touchdown passes. ... Michigan 35, Indiana 27

IOWA at OHIO STATE

Rittenberg: Iowa is an improved team on both sides of the ball, but the Hawkeyes haven't seen an offense like Ohio State's. Carlos Hyde becomes the first player to rush for a touchdown against Iowa this season, and finishes with 125 yards on the ground. Iowa gets a boost from tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, but the Buckeyes pull away late in the second quarter and cruise to 7-0. ... Ohio State 42, Iowa 20

Bennett: This is a tough matchup for Iowa, as Ohio State has the second-best rush defense in the Big Ten and the Buckeyes can exploit some speed advantages. It's a big week for Braxton Miller, as he throws three touchdown passes and breaks Iowa's streak by running for another. ... Ohio State 37, Iowa 17

WISCONSIN at ILLINOIS

Bennett: The Illini will come out firing after the bye week and burn the Badgers for a couple of early scores. But then the Wisconsin defense shuts things down, and the running game grinds out 290 yards against the Illinois defense, led by Melvin Gordon's 160. ... Wisconsin 31, Illinois 14


Rittenberg: I agree that Illinois takes the early lead as Nathan Scheelhaase connects with Josh Ferguson and Ryan Lankford for touchdowns. But Wisconsin will crank up the run game as Gordon and James White both eclipse 100 yards. Tight end Jacob Pedersen hauls in a touchdown from Joel Stave as the Badgers march on. ... Wisconsin 34, Illinois 20

Now it's time to hear from our guest picker. As a reminder, throughout the season we'll choose one fan/loyal blog reader each week to try his or her hand at outsmarting us. There's nothing but pride and some extremely limited fame at stake. If you're interested in participating, contact us here and here. Include your full name (real names, please), hometown and a brief description of why you should be that week's guest picker. Please also include "GUEST PICKS" in all caps somewhere in your email so we can find it easily.

This week's guest picker is Micah Tweeten from St. Paul, Minn. Take it away, Micah.
"I would love to be your guest picker of the week. I grew up in Nebraska, now live in Minnesota, and have been a Hawkeyes fan all my life (don't get me wrong though, Husker Nation is great too, it's definitely crazy at the games). I've been reading your (and Adam's) predictions and posts for a while now. Now let's see. Why should I be the guest picker of the week? Well it's simple. Iowa plays Ohio State this week, and being that they have only won two games against OSU since 1988 and this year isn't looking to promising for a win for the Hawkeyes either, I don't have much hope for this Saturday. I would love to have at least something to look forward to for this upcoming weekend. Thanks!"

Here are Micah's Week 8 picks …

Northwestern 31, Minnesota 17
Michigan State 34, Purdue 10
Ohio State 38, Iowa 24
Michigan 31, Indiana 21
Wisconsin 35, Illinois 18

SEASON RECORDS

Adam Rittenberg: 51-8
Brian Bennett:
50-9
Guest pickers:
45-14

Big 12 predictions: Week 8

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
9:00
AM ET
Last week, Tyler, the K-State fan from California who is getting married this weekend, flaked out on being the guest picker.

Or so I thought.

I assumed Tyler’s bride-to-be was getting on his case about focusing on his picks instead of his wedding. Sure, getting married is a big deal. But being the guest picker? Way bigger deal.

Turned out, my correspondence kept getting dumped into his spam folder. And once this was cleared up, Tyler pleaded for another early wedding present. What can I say? I’m a romantic.

From Tyler:

So I missed out on my chance to be the guest picker last week, and Trotter let me have it in the Week 7 predictions. You'll have to excuse me for making my wedding a bigger priority than being the guest picker. As they say, a happy wife is a happy life, and as a K-State fan, I need all the happiness I can get. Fortunately, Jake gave me a second chance to get my priorities straight before I tie the knot.

When I thought Tyler was blowing off the blog, Curtis from Washington D.C., stepped in as the guest picker. It was a rough week for Curtis, whose Sooners took it on the chin in a Red River wipeout. I just hope he was stuck in that military office with no TVs so he didn’t have to witness it.

This weekend, the Big 12 team will be canvassing the conference landscape. Brandon will be in Stillwater for TCU-Oklahoma State; Max will head to Waco for Iowa State-Baylor; and I will be reunited with my favorite league mascot -- “The Mountaineer” -- in Morgantown for Texas Tech-West Virginia. Have the deer jerky ready, Jon.

Congratulations, too, to Tyler and his bride, who will be honeymooning in France.

To the Week 8 picks:

SEASON RECORD

Trotter last week: 3-1 (.750)

Guest picker (Curtis in Washington D.C.) last week: 2-2 (.500)

Trotter overall: 33-11 (.750)

Guest picker overall: 19-8 (.704)

SATURDAY

Texas Tech 21, West Virginia 20: Last season, the Mountaineers were in a spot similar to where Tech is now. And the Red Raiders thrashed West Virginia in Lubbock, sending the Mountaineers into a tailspin that lasted the rest of the season. As a result, the Red Raiders are very aware just how precarious this 1,500-mile road trip back is. Tech, however, appears to have more staying power than last season's Mountaineers, who were really just a three-man show. These Red Raiders have more defense and more depth, and sneak out of Morgantown with their biggest win of the season yet.

Tyler’s pick: Eventually, Kliff Kingsbury is going to turn Tech into a team that can consistently compete for a Big 12 championship. His youth and coaching style will be a magnet for blue-chip recruits. Unfortunately, inexperience trumps hype here. West Virginia, 34-31

Oklahoma State 16, TCU 13: If the Cowboys couldn’t move the ball against West Virginia or Kansas State, why would anyone have confidence they’ll be able to against the best defense in the Big 12? Cornerback Jason Verrett and Co. will have Oklahoma State’s receivers on lockdown, not that QB J.W. Walsh has been able to get them the ball anyway lately. The problem is, TCU can’t score, either.

Tyler’s pick: TCU fans can't wait to have QB Casey Pachall back, as the offense continues to struggle without him. TCU's defense keeps the first half close, but Oklahoma State pulls ahead with Jeremy Smith rushing for 100 yards and a score. OSU, 24-17

Oklahoma 30, Kansas 17: Bob Stoops is 14-0 the week after Texas with an average margin of victory of 27 points. Stoops, however, doesn’t have Josh Heupel, Jason White, Sam Bradford or Landry Jones at quarterback this time. And Texas showed this Oklahoma defense isn’t anything special without linebacker Corey Nelson or tackle Jordan Phillips, who are both out for the season. The Sooners win. But their problems on either side of the ball remain very evident as Kansas keeps this one relatively close.

Tyler’s pick: After Oklahoma takes out its frustrations, Charlie Weis calls the Jacksonville Jaguars to see if they'll be needing a new offensive coordinator. OU, 54-3

Baylor 66, Iowa State 28: The scariest part for the rest of the Big 12 about Baylor’s win over K-State last week? The Bears were sluggish offensively -- and they still scored 35 points. Who knows if this is the best offense in Big 12 history? But it certainly is the fastest scoring. Iowa State is one of 11 teams in college football that has yet to allow a touchdown in three plays or fewer. That changes Saturday.

Tyler’s pick: As a K-State fan, I am required to comment about how amazing Bill Snyder is. Since K-State is off this week, we will add the Snyder love here. Last week, he showed the country how to beat Baylor. Unfortunately for Iowa State, Snyder doesn't coach the Cyclones. If Snyder coached the talent Texas and OU had, he’d have five national championships. Baylor, 58-35

SPONSORED HEADLINES