This is a segment I will be doing on a weekly basis until the end of the season. The analysis will be short and sweet. Think of it like ESPN’s College Gameday, but on a blog…but don’t actually because that sounds insanely boring and I’m trying to build an audience here.
On to the picks:
NC State vs #12 Florida State (-12.5)
Believe it or not this is FSU’s first game since losing to Alabama week 1 and losing their starting quarterback, Deondre Francois, for the season. Normally, I would put FSU on upset alert in this situation, especially considering NC State has some exciting playmakers, such as pass rusher Bradley Chubb. But the Seminoles have had 3 weeks to prepare for this game and Jimbo Fisher is a good enough coach to where I believe he will have true freshman QB James Blackman ready to go.
Projected Score: Florida State 35 NC State 19
Texas A&M vs Arkansas (-2.5)
TAMU coach Kevin Sumlin has been on the hot seat all year and it caught fire after the Aggies blew a 34-point lead against UCLA in the opening week. Suddenly 28-3 doesn’t look so bad, Falcons fans. They were also put to the test by Nicholls State, who nearly rallied to upset the Aggies, and they trailed Louisiana-Lafayette at halftime. If they struggled against low level competition such as these teams, then an SEC team such as Arkansas is going to go to town on them. Kevin Sumlin’s hot seat:
Projected Score: Arkansas 28 Texas A&M 17
Pittsburgh vs Georgia Tech (-9.5)
Oklahoma State just scored again. The Pitt defense was absolutely embarrassed by Mason Rudolph and the Oklahoma State Cowboys last week. This team lost a lot last season, including quarterback Nathan Peterman and runningback James Conner, a former ACC player of the year as well as a point of inspiration for the team after his bout with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Pitt was so bad last week that the university was offering free drinks to anyone who stayed the entirety of the game. The contents of those drinks are unknown, however. Georgia Tech barely lost to a good Tennessee team in week 1, electing to go for the win rather than a tie to send to another overtime and failing, then did their jobs and stomped all over Jacksonville State. For whatever reason, their wishbone triple option offense seems to work. Yellow Jackets big.
Projected Score: Georgia Tech 45 Pittsburgh 13
#1 Alabama (-18.5) vs Vanderbilt
Alabama is unquestionably the top team in the country facing a Vanderbilt team that traditionally is a bottom dweller in a loaded conference. However Vanderbilt has played very well to start this season, especially on defense, having only given up 1 total touchdown in their first 3 games, which includes a victory over then 18th-ranked Kansas State. This could be a dangerous game for Alabama. However, Nick Saban is the greatest coach in the history of college football and his guys will outlast the Commodores. I have Bama winning, but I think Vandy beats the spread.
Projected Score: Alabama 27 Vanderbilt 17
#5 USC (-17) vs California
I’m going to be frank: USC has NOT impressed me this season. For a team with as much preseason hype as they’ve gotten (Lee Corso picked them to win it all), they haven’t shown me much these first few weeks. They barely beat Western Michigan in a Week 1 game where I legitimately felt that they were dangerously close to losing. They did bounce back nicely and beat then #14 Stanford pretty convincingly, but they follow that up by escaping a Texas team that refuses to prove they’re still a legitimate football program. Cal, on the other hand, already has 2 non-conference Power-5 wins and has looked pretty solid offensively. Plus, this game is being played in Berkeley. I think Cal scores the upset.
Projected Score: California 42 USC 34
#16 TCU vs #6 Oklahoma State (-13.5)
This is going to be a fun game, I can feel it. Both offenses have shown they can light up a scoreboard with the best of them. OKST QB Mason Rudolph looks like a legit Heisman contender after he scorched Pitt for 497 yards and 5 TDs through the air. Did I mention his day was done midway through the third quarter? TCU’s Kenny “Trill” Hill (remember when he was supposed to be Manziel’s heir at TAMU?) was also really sharp in a 56-36 beatdown of SMU, throwing for 365 and 4 TDs. This one is going to be a defense-optional shootout that will last 5 hours but the plethora of offense will totally be worth it.
Projected Score: Oklahoma State 56 TCU 52
#8 Michigan (-10.5) vs Purdue
I’ll be the first to admit, I am SHOCKED at how well Purdue has played these first three games. This was a team that struck fear into the hearts of MAYBE a Mighty Might team these last few years, but no one else. Yet they take Louisville and reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson to the limit in Week 1, beat down on Ohio in week 2, and absolutely embarrass Missouri on their home turf in week 3. Whatever new head coach Jeff Brohm is doing over there is Big Ten Coach of the Year-level stuff, and this is coming from an IU student who would rather chug Everclear than think about a Purdue victory. Michigan, on the other hand, has looked sluggish offensively. Being mediocre against Florida is one thing, but looking slow against the likes of Air Force and Cincinnati? Unacceptable. The defense hasn’t missed a step from last year, however, despite losing 10 starters to the NFL. Michigan will still win this game, but it will be on the strength of their defense, not their offense.
Projected Score: Michigan 20 Purdue 14
#17 Mississippi State vs #11 Georgia (-4.5)
Holy shit, did Mississippi State put the beatdown on LSU or what? I’m not sure if I’ve ever been more impressed by a single effort than I was last week by Nick Fitzgerald and the Bulldogs. Fitzgerald has officially taken the torch from Dak Prescott as the new face of Mississippi State football and has a legitimate Heisman case. However, the other Bulldogs in the SEC will have something to say about that. Despite the loss of starting QB Jacob Eason for an unknown period of time, Georgia has looked very good to start this new season, which included a very physical victory over Notre Dame and a convincing win over an underrated Appalachian State squad. Jake Fromm has looked pretty sharp to start the young campaign and the best runningback duo in the nation in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel has given the Bulldogs a huge lift.
Projected Score: Georgia 24 Mississippi State 20
#4 Penn State (-12.5) vs Iowa
Penn State has not missed a beat after winning the Big Ten last season, though that’s to be expected considering how little they lost in the offseason. Saquon Barkley continues to cement his claim as the best runningback in the nation and Trace McSorley continues to prove that Christian Hackenberg’s struggles were his own, not James Franklin’s. The defense has also been impressive. They’ve shut out 2 out of their 3 opponents so far this season. Granted those shutouts came against Akron and Georgia State, but a shutout is a shutout. Even Alabama let up points to Chattanooga last year. Iowa is going to struggle to score and will struggle to stop this Penn State attack, despite the talent they have on both sides of the ball. Penn State will get some voters considering them for the number 1 ranking after this week’s game.
Projected Score: Penn State 49 Iowa 17
Notre Dame (-3) vs Michigan State
It is hard to tell what to make of either of these two teams. Both had disastrous campaigns last season and have gotten off to solid starts to begin this new year. Notre Dame has been inconsistent offensively, though that could be due in large part to Brandon Wimbush adjusting to being in the starting role. The defense has impressed, however, especially considering how poor they were last season. Michigan State’s 2016 season was an unmitigated disaster and despite being 2-0 to start this new season, they haven’t really impressed in those two wins over lower level competition. But 2 wins is 2 wins and the Spartan defense has also looked impressive to begin the year. But I think Notre Dame avenges the loss last year and gets themselves back on track.
Projected Score: Notre Dame 27 Michigan State 20
#7 Washington (-11.5) vs Colorado
A rematch of last year’s Pac 12 championship game, Washington will look for a repeat performance, where they throttled Colorado en route to a playoff spot. Colorado will look for revenge, but they simply don’t have the weapons to compete with Washington’s talent in all three phases of the game. Sefo Liufau overachieved for them last year and he’s now being stashed away by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (was totally rooting for him to make the team, he came off as very likable on Hard Knocks). Washington, despite losing record-breaking burner John Ross, still has too many weapons for Colorado to keep up with and will coast to another victory.
Projected Score: Washington 45 Colorado 20
Bonus Game: Georgia Southern vs Indiana (-24)
This is more a bonus for me than anything as I’m the only person in the world who would really give a damn about watching this game. I’ll be enjoying this one from the comforts of the IU student section. IU looked really good in the first 2 and a half quarters against Ohio State and rebounded nicely against Virginia the following week. Due to Hurricane Irma cancelling their tilt with Florida International, IU has had a week to prepare for the triple option of Georgia Southern and their staunch defense should have no problem containing the winless Eagles.
Projected Score: Indiana 38 Georgia Southern 14
Those are my picks. Probably will have made an absolute fool of myself with a few of them but that’s the fun in picking games. Unless you’re using this blog for insights on who to bet on. In which case, you’re getting REALLY desperate and should probably go seek out help if you’re using a barely established blog written by some kid who isn’t making any money off of it…yet.