General Sports: February 12

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-The Indianapolis Colts have hired former Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive coordinator Frank Reich to be their next head coach. Reich had been the Eagles’ OC each of the last two seasons as the team saw a significant uptick in production between year 1 and year 2. While many credit Doug Pederson for calling the “Philly Special” (despite it being an illegal formation…yes I’m still salty), Reich played a huge role in designing and developing that play. As Trey Wingo noted on Twitter, this may actually be an upgrade over the failed Josh McDaniels hire, as the Colts will now be landing the OC that won the Super Bowl, rather than the one that lost. Reich’s offensive scheme relies heavily on run-pass options, or RPO’s, and they were extremely effective in the Eagles’ wins over the Vikings and Patriots. Under his system, Carson Wentz went from an intriguing quarterback with a lot of potential to the MVP frontrunner and after his injury, Nick Foles went from a guy who hadn’t been good since 2013 into Super Bowl MVP. With so much uncertainty surrounding the Colts’ quarterback situation given Andrew Luck’s unknown health, getting a guy like Reich could become an excellent hire.

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-Paul Pierce had his number 34 retired by the Celtics and it was quite the ceremony as Celtics legends were spotted all over the place, from Bill Russell to Kevin Garnett to Rajon Rondo. It didn’t end well for the Celtics as the new-look Cavaliers smoked the boys in green 121-99, but it was a nice moment for the Celtics legend Pierce. Speaking of the Cavs, they looked really sharp as a new unit and it seems like they made all the right trades at the deadline. It’s still early, but early returns are promising.

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-People are just now freaking out over Eagles tackle Lane Johnson’s comments about the Patriots’ culture even though the interview in which that took place on Pardon My Take aired on Friday. I’m what PMT refers to as an “Award-Winning Listener” and when I heard what Johnson had to say, I didn’t really care. He said that the Patriots seem to build their culture around fear and doesn’t get the sense that Patriots players really enjoy their time in Foxboro. He also went on to state that he would rather win 1 Super Bowl and have a blast doing it than win 5 and be miserable. I don’t know why people are making such a fuss over this. One little complaint I’d have with this statement is word choice and it’s literally just one word I disagree with: fear. I don’t think the Patriots build their culture around fear, I think they build it around what’s best for business. It’s no secret that playing for the Patriots requires one to be pretty uptight and about as professional as humanly possible. But professional football is a business, it’s not about having fun at that stage. If you are having fun, great, you’re one of the luckiest people on Earth that you get to not only play football for a living, but have a blast doing it. But that business-like mentality isn’t exclusive to the Patriots. Most teams try and conduct themselves in a similar fashion, the Patriots get more publicity for it because of their run of success. You could tell that the Eagles were a much more laid back group from as early as Week 1, as their endzone celebrations were some of the best in the newly relaxed league. It worked out well for them, just like the Patriots’ business-like approach works well in Foxboro. So really, I think people need to calm down about Johnson’s comments.

-I almost got caught looking very silly during my wrestling broadcast on Sunday.

During this match, I was reading my notes and giving off information about each wrestler when I happened to glance up at the perfect possible moment when Devin Skatzka landed the pin. This would’ve gotten pretty ugly because it was a huge win for Indiana to get themselves back into the meet with Northwestern. Northwestern ended up winning reasonably handily, but this pin made things interesting. It actually happened so fast (28 seconds) that I never even got a chance to introduce the Northwestern wrestler. Had I missed the pin, it could’ve derailed the whole broadcast. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

-The NCAA released their first bracket preview where they showcased where each team stands right now in the March Madness rankings, only doing the top 4 seeds for each region. The teams are:

1 Seeds: Virginia (#1 Overall), Villanova, Xavier, Purdue

2 Seeds: Cincinnati, Duke, Auburn, Kansas

3 Seeds: Michigan State, Texas Tech, Clemson, North Carolina

4 Seeds: Tennessee, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Arizona

I haven’t been keeping up with college basketball like I wanted to but I promise I’ll at least post my bracket when the time comes. But overall I find these seedings to be very interesting, especially considering where a lot of these teams were at the start of the season. I doubt very many people would’ve guessed that traditional football schools like Auburn, Clemson, and Ohio State would rank very highly as well as Xavier and Purdue being 1 seeds along with Cincinnati and Texas Tech being amongst the 16 best teams. But I’m very excited for March Madness season because I have no effing clue who’s going to win. Usually there’s one team you can confidently point to and say “those guys are going to go far” but I could very easily see all of these teams collapsing at any given time. Is it March yet?

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-There have been reports that the Nationals are interested in signing Jake Arrieta, which should be absolutely TERRIFYING for the rest of the National League. A potential rotation of Max Scherzer, Arrieta, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark is so wildly unfair that the Nats may go weeks without letting up a run. Roark could be the number 1 pitcher on a weak staff but on this possible Nationals’ staff, he’s the fifth man. Though signing Arrieta would take the Nationals from slim chances to re-signing Bryce Harper to zero chance. We saw that Yu Darvish got a 6-year $126M deal with the Cubs on Saturday and Arrieta has a far more impressive resume so he’s certainly going to command more money. He may want to sign soon, though, because pitchers and catchers report for most teams on Valentine’s Day.

That’s going to do it for this edition of General Sports, let me know what you think of each storyline in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

Has there been an uglier coaching search than Tennessee?

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This has to be one of the most frustrating times to be a fan of a college sports program or to work in that school’s athletic department. Since Tennessee fired Butch Jones a few weeks ago, they have had miss after miss in trying to name their new head man. While teams like Florida have already gotten their new coach, Tennessee has gone through seemingly endless problems in trying to find Jones’ replacement. Here is a list of candidates that have not worked out.

Duke’s David Cutcliffe said no.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy said no, even though Tennessee would’ve made him the highest paid coach in the SEC.

Purdue’s Jeff Brohm was reportedly targeted, then falsely reported that he was going to be given the job (which really broke my heart, Brohm is a heck of a coach and I really wanted him out of West Lafayette so the Boilermakers can be bad again).

Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was considered.

SMU’s Chad Morris was called about the job, no word if he said “no” or if Tennessee decided he wasn’t a fit.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was reportedly considered.

And worst of all, Ohio State defensive coordinator and former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano was announced as the hire, but Tennessee students protested his hiring so hard that the Vols athletic department backed out.

So the reason Tennessee students were protesting Greg Schiano’s hire was because he was a coach at Penn State during the whole Jerry Sandusky business that rocked the college football world. Allegedly, according to court documents, Schiano had witnessed Sandusky do something to a boy in a shower, briefly mentioned it to former Penn State quarterback Mike McQueary, and then did nothing after that.  This was both a social media protest and a physical protest, which you can see below:

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photo credit: CBS News

Yeah, that’s going to be hard to ignore if you’re trying to make a guy the face of your football program. Both Schiano’s former employer and current employer Penn State and Ohio State, respectively, have come to the defense of Schiano’s character. Penn State has even come out and said Schiano had nothing to do with the Sandusky situation, but that still has Tennessee taking the safe route and backing out on their hire of him. As of this writing, Tennessee is still without a head football coach.

This might be the first time that I’ve ever seen a team back out from a coach, especially the very day he was announced as the hire. Schiano had basically signed on the dotted line but because of these protests from Tennessee fans, they took the safe route and changed their minds. I really do feel bad for Schiano in this scenario. Hear me out. Before I get into this, I should preface this by saying obviously child molestation or any form of sexual assault is horrifying and Sandusky totally deserved what he got. What I’m about to say may be a bit controversial and if I offend any of my readers, please tell me because the last thing I want to do is make you uncomfortable as a reader. This is a really touchy subject that I’m going to try and word as carefully as humanly possible. But put yourself in Schiano’s, Hell even Joe Paterno’s, shoes in this situation. Sandusky was a close friend (I don’t know if he and Schiano were ever close, I was only 5 years old when Sandusky retired). Now close your eyes and picture your closest friend, someone who has been your ride-or-die for as long as you can remember. Now picture them doing what Sandusky did. Would you straight away go to the police in this situation? The right thing to do in this situation is of course, yes, you would go to the police. But if I picture any of my friends doing something like this, I’m not so sure I would go straight away to the police. I would probably end up doing what Paterno did and tell him to cut the shit. Hell in Schiano’s case, he did tell somebody, that being a young quarterback on the roster. And this happened 20 years ago. But because of the severity of what Sanudsky did, anybody who was linked to him is considered partly responsible. I find it really hard to blame Schiano or Paterno for what happened or loop them into the same boat as Sandusky because I’m not so sure I would have done anything differently, same goes for many other people. The right thing to do isn’t always the easy thing, in fact, more often than not the right thing is often the harder thing to do. But Sandusky had been close to these guys and they considered him a good friend, even though he really wasn’t because a good friend wouldn’t put them in this situation in the first place. But while Paterno passed away when the details of the scandal were still coming out, Schiano has to live with the repercussions and it just cost him the top job at a major college football program.

As for Tennessee’s coaching search, there are a few more options they can look at. Texas A&M just fired Kevin Sumlin, who I think could be a good replacement. He’s had good success at A&M in the past, they’d just been trending in the wrong direction the last couple years and it was time for a change. I think he can be really beneficial for their program. Jim McElwain could also be a guy to target, as he had been fired from Florida (a decision I disagreed with) midway through a down season following an appearance in the SEC title game. So despite not landing Schiano, there are still plenty of quality options on the market for the Volunteers without checkered pasts.

Well that blog got uncomfortable. Again, if you had any issue with what I said about the whole Sandusky situation, please let me know. I tried to word that as carefully as I could because it really is a subject you have to tiptoe around. Also, one last bit before I close this thing out, Tennessee really considered Jason Witten? You do realize he’s still the starting tight end of the Dallas Cowboys right? A guy that’s making $7.4 million to play a sport he loves and has been great at for 15 years? Okay, then. Good luck with that. Let me know what you think of Tennessee’s coaching situation in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

College Football Picks: Week 7

Last Week: 9-3                       Season Record: 27-9

So my misses last week were Michigan, Oregon, and Florida. The Oregon pick was more of my upset pick, my Michigan pick I honestly didn’t feel great about because of how non-existent the offense has been and the Florida pick was mainly because they couldn’t hit a damn extra point. So I like to think I’m 12-0 every week. That being said, last week was the season average for me so I’m going to try and beat that this week. And one of these days, I will accurately predict a score and when I do, I will never shut up about it for as long as I live. Without further ado, let’s get picking.

#17 Michigan (-8) vs Indiana

Michigan is coming off a heartbreaking loss to in-state rival Michigan State that came down to the final play of the game. Indiana shut out FCS opponent Charleston Southern 27-0 and didn’t let up a single completed pass. It’s Indiana’s homecoming game this Saturday and you can bet the Hoosiers are going to bring it. New quarterback Peyton Ramsey will get his first real chance at a major college defense, as he torched Charleston Southern for 321 yards on a rainy afternoon. Michigan has struggled to move the ball this year and it’s been their defense that has kept them in games. I’m actually going to make a bold call here, I think Indiana is going to win this. Last time a 17th ranked team came into Bloomington was Michigan State last year and Indiana won in OT 24-21. I think the field is going to be stormed by the fans, just as it was against the Spartans last year.

Projected Score: Indiana 28 Michigan 24

#6 TCU (-6.5) vs Kansas State

TCU has looked like the best team in the Big 12 this year and that was reaffirmed after Oklahoma lost a stunner to Iowa State last week (thank God I didn’t do that game for my picks!). Kenny Hill has been a star for the Horned Frogs as they look to enter the playoff mix for the first time in school history. Kansas State spent some time this year ranked but they haven’t beaten anyone good. Their victories are against Central Arkansas, Charlotte, and a winless Baylor team while their losses have come against Vanderbilt and Texas. TCU is going to be the first big test for Bill Snyder’s Wildcats team but I don’t think they will keep it super close. TCU wins this one.

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Kenny Hill has done it all for TCU this season (photo credit: Sporting News)

Projected Score: TCU 42 Kansas State 20

#24 Texas Tech vs West Virginia

Texas Tech doesn’t seem to have missed a step in replacing Pat Mahomes. Nic Shimonek has kept this offense moving at a prolific rate, which includes an impressive performance in a close loss to what is on paper a far superior Oklahoma State team. They dropped 65 on Kansas last week and find themselves in the rankings for the first time this season. West Virginia has quietly been just as impressive as Texas Tech. They’re actually scoring over 40 points a game and their only losses this year have been by identical scores of 31-24 against TCU and Virginia Tech, two highly ranked teams. This is going to be a close game, as Will Grier has looked very comfortable in this Mountaineers’ attack. I think West Virginia wins it and may find themselves back in the rankings next week.

Projected Score: West Virginia 45 Texas Tech 41

South Carolina vs Tennessee (-3)

South Carolina is coming off a blowout win over Arkansas 48-22 and have looked pretty solid this season. Jake Bentley has been the best passer the team has had since Connor Shaw and defensively they’ve quietly been one of the better teams in the country, allowing only 21 points per game on the season, 4th best in the SEC. Tennessee has been a frustrating team. Ever since an impressive win over a good Georgia Tech team, these guys have just looked lost and it culminated by getting embarrassed on their home field by Georgia 41-0 a couple of weeks ago. This will be their first game since that thrashing and while I definitely think they will play better (can’t do much worse), I think South Carolina leaves Knoxville with a W.

Projected Score: South Carolina 38 Tennessee 27

#10 Auburn (-7.5) vs LSU

LSU may have saved their season in their victory over Florida last week, after having been embarrassed by Troy the week prior. They just haven’t been able to get a passing game going with Danny Etling and come to think of it, LSU hasn’t really had a good passing QB since Zach Mettenberger and even he had his hiccups. It puts a lot of pressure on running back Derrius Guice, who is a tremendous talent but only has 364 yards on the season through 6 games. It won’t get any easier against an Auburn team that has been throttling the SEC this year. They’ve crushed Missouri and both Mississippi schools in their last three games and their only loss on the season was against the team that currently sits at #2 in the country, Clemson (thought they are most certainly falling after losing to Syracuse last night), and they only lost that game 14-6. I think Auburn is going to win this one and they’re going to win it big. People will once again question whether Ed Orgeron is the man for the job at LSU.

Projected Score: Auburn 35 LSU 10

Georgia Tech vs #11 Miami (FL) (-6.5)

This is a makeup game from the hurricanes that hit South Florida. Georgia Tech has actually been the #1 yards against defense in the nation this season as well as having the nation’s second best rushing attack on offense. Their only loss was Tennessee on opening night and that was because they went for 2 to win it instead of kicking the extra point to send the game to another OT. Their last game was a 33-7 beatdown of North Carolina as they come into Miami to square off with the Hurricanes, who are coming off a thrilling last second victory over Florida State. I think this is a trap game for Miami and the Yellow Jackets will sneak a win out of this one.

Projected Score: Georgia Tech 30 Miami (FL) 21

#12 Oklahoma (-9) vs Texas

Ah, the Red River Rivalry. This is probably the biggest rivalry game in college football that isn’t played on the regular season’s final week. It hasn’t quite been the same since Colt McCoy left Texas but that hasn’t stopped the Longhorns from competing in these games. They catch Oklahoma at the perfect time because they are reeling right now, having lost to Iowa State last week. Baker Mayfield was terrific despite the loss, throwing for 306 yards on 24-33 passing. The Sooners defense just couldn’t stop the Cyclones. Texas was able to beat Iowa State a couple of weeks ago 17-7 and are coming off a 40-34 victory over Kansas State while also playing USC really tough a few weeks back. I don’t think Texas is quite back just yet under Tom Herman, but they will compete with Oklahoma, though a win will elude them.

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Baker Mayfield has been one of the most exciting QBs in college football since arriving in Norman (photo credit: The Ringer)

Projected Score: Oklahoma 45 Texas 38

#25 Navy vs Memphis (-3.5)

Navy is once again a quietly good team despite running possibly the single most boring offense in college football. It’s efficient, though, as it has Navy 5-0 to start the year. Zach Abey leads the way for the Midshipmen as he ranks among the leaders in the NCAA with 870 rushing yards on the season. They face off against a really good Memphis team and a quarterback in Riley Ferguson that managed to outduel Josh Rosen earlier this year. Memphis is 4-1, their only loss being a bad defeat to a good UCF team 40-13, however they rebounded nicely last week against UConn, dropping 70 points on the Huskies. This will be an interesting game, but I think Navy will win it for two reasons: number 1, you don’t pick against the Midshipmen. Number 2, I think Navy will control the clock all game and Memphis won’t have enough opportunities to give Ferguson a chance to make plays.

Projected Score: Navy 24 Memphis 14

Texas A&M vs Florida (-3)

Both teams are coming off heartbreaking losses against SEC blue bloods. Texas A&M was the first team all season to give Alabama a challenge as they lost 27-19 while Florida was a missed extra point away from taking LSU into OT. A&M has looked really good since I bashed them in my first ever picks segment and they look to carry that momentum into Gainesville where the Gators offensively just seem to always take one step forward then go two steps back. Just when I think Feleipe Franks is going to have a big day and prove himself as a passer, he goes and lays an egg, throwing for only 108 yards against the Tigers. I think the Aggies will win this but it will be a tight, low-scoring affair.

Projected Score: Texas A&M 17 Florida 10

Utah vs #13 USC (-13)

I predicted last week that the Utes would get blown out by Stanford as their 4 victories on the year have been pretty unimpressive. They kept it a LOT closer than I anticipated, losing the game on a late field goal, but I was really impressed by their defense. USC is coming off the stunning loss against Washington State and have had a couple extra days to prepare for Utah. While Sam Darnold hasn’t put together the Heisman campaign people were expecting of him coming into the season, he has still been pretty solid and a lot of his problems have to do with factors out of his control, whether that be a missed block by a lineman or a pass that goes through a receiver’s hands. I think Darnold will throw a pick or two in this game, but I have USC prevailing nonetheless.

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Despite heavy interception numbers, Sam Darnold is still projected to be a high pick in next year’s NFL Draft (photo credit: Sports Illustrated)

Projected Score: USC 28 Utah 17

#21 Michigan State (-4.5) vs Minnesota

The Spartans defensively have looked really good all season, though some really bad late penalties against Michigan nearly doomed them. They managed to hold on and win in the Big House 14-10 but they will need to keep that up against another good defense in Minnesota. The Golden Gophers lost to Purdue last time out and will be looking to get back on track against the Spartans. It’s expected to rain with a temperature in the 50’s in Minnesota so prepare for a classic Big Ten defensive slugfest. I have Michigan State winning in a low-scoring game.

Projected Score: Michigan State 13 Minnesota 7

Oregon vs #23 Stanford (10)

My upset pick of Oregon over Washington State did NOT go well last week, as the Cougars trounced the Ducks 33-10. It doesn’t get any easier for Oregon this week as they face Bryce Love and the Stanford Cardinal. Love leads the nation in rushing at 1240 yards. At the rate he’s going, he will be approaching Barry Sanders’ single season record of 2628 set back in 1988 during Stanford’s bowl game. Last week was his lowest rushing output of the season at 152 yards on 20 carries. Now that’s saying something when that’s your worst performance. It came right after his best game against Arizona State where he ran for 301 on 25 carries. The guy has been insane this year and is a leading candidate for the Hesiman Trophy. I have Stanford winning on Love’s back.

Projected Score: Stanford 35 Oregon 24

Those are my picks for Week 7. There isn’t a single matchup between ranked teams this week so that kind of hurt the overall matchups but I think we’ll still get plenty of excitement come noon on Saturday. Let me know if you want any other games talked about in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

College Football Picks: Week 5

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.

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Hokie Freshman QB Josh Jackson celebrates a Touchdown during a Week 1 win over #22 West Virginia (photo credit: Tech Sideline)

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.