Last Week: 8-4 Season Record: 8-4
Let’s get picking.
Northwestern vs #10 Wisconsin (-15)
Northwestern is a team I think can be sneaky good in the Big Ten. They’ve had plenty of stability over the last few years with Clayton Thorson and Justin Jackson leading the charge. Pat Fitzgerald has led one of the better runs in program history over the last few years and they’ve gotten off to a solid start to this season as well. However they run into a Wisconsin team that ran roughshod over their non-conference schedule, albeit a relatively weak one, and seems to have not missed a step from the team that won the Cotton Bowl last year, despite losing playmakers such as Corey Clement and TJ Watt. Wisconsin will take this one big, but the final score won’t reflect how well Northwestern actually plays in this game.
Projected Score: Wisconsin 48 Northwestern 21
Vanderbilt vs #21 Florida (-9)
So I was a little off last week in thinking Vanderbilt would beat the spread against Alabama (they lost 59-0). Note to self, don’t ever pick a team to beat the spread against a Nick Saban-coached team. I think Vanderbilt has the guys in place to bounce back, though. The Gators are still trying to figure out what exactly they have on offense. After scoring only 3 points on offense against Michigan (to go with 2 defensive scores), they needed a Hail Mary at the end of regulation to beat Tennessee and a blown coverage late helped them hold off Kentucky.
I still don’t think they totally have their quarterback situation figured out with either Feleipe Franks or Malik Zaire, and that could be a problem against a Vanderbilt defense who, until last week, had looked pretty solid this season. But Florida’s defense has been what’s held this team together and I think it continues to do so this week.
Projected Score: Florida 24 Vanderbilt 7
#7 Georgia (-8) vs Tennessee
Tennessee is a Florida Hail Mary away from possibly being 4-0 to start the season. Quinten Dormady has looked really good for the Vols in replacing Josh Dobbs, though a 17-13 scare against UMass should have Tennessee fans worried for when they take on a top-10 Georgia team. Georgia has looked like the second best team in the SEC this season by a wide margin. Jake Fromm continues to carry the load in Jacob Eason’s absence and the runningback tandem of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel gained a new member in their 31-3 demolition of Mississippi State: D’Andre Swift, who ran for 69 yards (nice) on 10 carries. Georgia’s defense has also been tremendous this season, as they limited potential Heisman candidate Nick Fitzgerald to only 83 passing yards and 2 interceptions last week. I think more of the same continues as UGA moves to 5-0.
Projected Score: Georgia 30 Tennessee 13
Indiana vs #4 Penn State (-18.5)
Indiana absolutely obliterated Georgia Southern last week 52-17 and this came despite the fact that star receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr was held to only 2 catches for 17 yards. Freshman runningback Morgan Ellison really emerged for the Hoosiers, rushing for 186 yards and the first 2 touchdowns of his career. Their competition gets MUCH stiffer this week, however, as they face a Penn State squad that is coming off a last second victory over Iowa and Heisman frontrunner Saquon Barkley has looked unstoppable this season. Indiana was one of the few teams in the country that was able to contain Barkley last season (58 yards on 33 carries) and they look to do more of the same this time around. Barkley looks like a different type of beast this season, however, and I think he puts on a far better performance against an overmatched Indiana squad.
Projected Score: Penn State 42 Indiana 24
Iowa vs Michigan State (-4)
Whoever came up with the line of Michigan State being favored in this game clearly did not watch college football last week. Both teams are coming off losses, but MSU got absolutely throttled last week by Notre Dame whereas Iowa took arguably the team-to-beat in the Big 10 to the final play of the game. Iowa has far more weapons on offense for quarterback Nathan Stanley to play with, such as Akrum Wadley and James Vandeberg while Michigan State has not shown that they’ve recovered a whole lot from the disaster that was last season. Gimme Iowa all day.
Projected Score: Iowa 38 Michigan State 10
#24 Mississippi State vs #13 Auburn (-8.5)
Mississippi State did a complete 180 last week. After whipping LSU through the streets in Week 3, they got demolished by Georgia in Week 4. While both teams are excellent, it still leaves Mississippi State full of question marks. Which team are we going to get when they take on another good SEC opponent in Auburn? Auburn’s offense was non-existent against Clemson (can you blame them?) and they still looked shaky against FCS foe Mercer. You had to be concerned if you were an Auburn fan about whether the hype over Jarrett Stidham was going to come to fruition. Then they dropped 51 on Missouri and seemingly restored the faith in their fanbase. The inconsistencies in the offense have me concerned about their chances against a stingy Mississippi State squad and I think the Bulldogs team that stomped LSU will return this week.
Projected Score: Mississippi State 31 Auburn 24
South Carolina vs Texas A&M (-8)
Texas A&M must have read my blog last week and used it as bulletin board material because they really showed up against Arkansas after I tore them to shreds and basically called for the firing of Kevin Sumlin. Offensively they looked very sharp in the OT win. Defense still has some work to do but last week had to be a breath of fresh air for this Aggies squad. South Carolina has had a rough few years since the departure of JaDeveon Clowney. They finally appeared to be trending in the right direction after a 2-0 start over NC State and Missouri. The passing attack of Jake Bentley to Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards had the team looking really sharp in those games. However they’ve hit a bit of a slump in their last two games, a loss to Kentucky and a 1-point victory over Louisiana Tech. I think this game will be a high scoring affair, but A&M will pull away late.
Projected Score: Texas A&M 49 South Carolina 35
#2 Clemson (-7) vs #12 Virginia Tech
Kelly Bryant has looked really good in replacing Deshaun Watson, a seemingly impossible task following Watson’s heroics in the National Championship. He’s led blowout victories over Kent State, Louisville, and Boston College (one of the top defenses in the nation) and has shown he can win the nail biters as well, with a 13-6 win over Auburn in Week 2. Virginia Tech is also breaking in a new quarterback in Josh Jackson, who you could argue has been even more impressive than Bryant. In fact, I think that the true freshman Jackson has been the most impressive quarterback in the ACC, if not the entire country. Yes, even more impressive than reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. Josh Jackson has thrown for 1127 yards this year with 11 TDs and only 1 INT and has been instrumental in Virginia Tech’s 4-0 start. He faces his first true test in the Clemson defense, with the best DT duo in the nation in Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence looking to be in his face all day. I think Jackson will finally struggle this week.
Projected Score: Clemson 38 Virginia Tech 17
Ole Miss vs #1 Alabama (-28)
So that’s the last time I ever pick a team to beat the spread against Alabama. I did just that in their game against Vanderbilt and Bama went on to win 59-0. The Tide face an Ole Miss squad that has given them lots of problems over the last few years, however with Hugh Freeze being about as interested in hookers as he is his own program, this won’t be the same Rebels squad. I think Bama not only covers this week, but does so with room to spare.
Projected Score: Alabama 52 Ole Miss 10
Colorado vs UCLA (-7.5)
Colorado struggled mightily against Washington last week and it won’t get any easier against UCLA. This game is going to be played at the Rose Bowl and the spotlight couldn’t be more appealing to UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen right now. Of the top 3 draft QBs entering the season (Rosen, USC’s Sam Darnold and Wyoming’s Josh Allen), Rosen has far and away looked the most impressive to me. Through 4 games, he already has over 1700 passing yards and 16 TDs. The rest of his team needs to step up, though. UCLA is 2-2 despite Rosen’s heroics and came dangerously close to being 1-3 if not for a comeback for the ages against Texas A&M in week 1.
UCLA is riding a 2 game losing streak against Memphis and Stanford and this game could go a long way toward deciding if UCLA really wants to compete for a Pac-12 title this year. I think Rosen continues to run roughshod over the NCAA and has a big performance in a Bruins victory
Projected Score: UCLA 48 Colorado 27
California vs Oregon (-15.5)
I picked Cal as my big upset last week over USC. And quite frankly, they could have done it had they not turned the ball over six freaking times. Despite their ball control issues, they only lost that game by 10. Offensively, Oregon has looked as good as any team in the country and are coming off a heart-breaking 37-35 loss against Arizona State. But prior to that, they’ve had scoring outputs of 77, 42, and 49. Those wins also include holding Josh Allen’s Wyoming squad to a measly 13 points. I think even if Cal is able to limit the turnovers, Oregon’s offense will be too much to keep up with as Royce Freeman runs all over the Golden Bears.
Projected Score: Oregon 55 Cal 35
Bonus Game: Miami (OH) vs #22 Notre Dame (-21)
This game is getting picked due to my relatively sizable Notre Dame following. Otherwise, based on the matchup, I wouldn’t bother. Brandon Wimbush has looked like a poor man’s Cam Newton over the last couple of games and that’s exactly what the Fighting Irish have needed. He won’t need to quite be THAT good against the Redhawks, as they’ve struggled against the likes of Marshall and Cincinnati. Notre Dame’s defense has been very stingy this year as well and shouldn’t have too big of a problem against Miami (OH) QB Gus Ragland, who has barely completed 50% of his passes on the year. This game will be over by halftime.
Projected Score: Notre Dame 59 Miami (OH) 14
Those are my picks for this week. If you have any other games you would like my thoughts on, or any questions in general, you can hit me up on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.