Archive for the ‘NCAA Football’ category

Boston College Eagles at the 2010 NFL Combine

February 27, 2010

All the usual suspects have arrived in Indianapolis for the 2010 NFL Combine this weekend and each promising player will be poked, prodded, and interviewed sufficiently before even hitting the carpet for their workouts. Boston College may not necessarily be the first school that comes to mind for producing NFL talent but with 25 players in the league in 2009, three consecutive first round draft picks (including two top 10 selections); you can be assured that the scouts love the kids BC churns out.

Center Matt Tennant and Linebacker Mike McLaughlin earned invites to the combine and will look to improve upon their stock after having noteworthy weeks at the Senior Bowl last month. A consistent team that runs a pro style offense and possesses a stalwart defense is an excellent breeding ground for players to make it to the next level. Let’s take a look at these two standouts:

Matt Tennant

Tennant started over 40 games during his career at BC

It should be noted that BC, often referred to as “O-Line U”, had eight different offensive lineman drafted in the last decade, two of them in the first round. Tennant came to BC by way of Cincinnati powerhouse Archbishop Moeller high school and proceeded to start his last 41 games at center for the Eagles. The only senior on the Eagles’ offensive line, Tennant was named team captain for his senior campaign and led the way for RB Montel Harris’ breakout season in which he topped 1,400 rushing yards and recorded eight 100-yard contests. At 6’5”, 300 pounds, he may be considered tall for his position but he is nimble enough at his lighter weight to keep in front of any oncoming blockers.

He was solid all during Senior Bowl week during drills and will likely be a strong addition to any team, even if he is not elite at this point. Only six centers were drafted in 2009, we often see the position filled by converted guards, but Tennant is pure at the position. He will likely need to add some bulk to his frame in order to be a star in the league but many said the same about former BC center Tom Nalen and he fashioned an All-Pro, Super-Bowl winning career for himself in Denver.

Analysis: Teams looking for a center will not reach on Tennant so he is a mid-to-late round selection in April’s draft. His pedigree and game tape speak for themselves so the combine will solidify his status and could even push him up a round or two but don’t expect him to fly up draft boards based on anything that happens in Indy this weekend.

Mike McLaughlin

"Mac" impressed NFL scouts at Senior Bowl Week

As the defensive captain for the last two seasons at Boston College, inside linebacker Mike McLaughlin set the tone for a defense that ranked in the top 20 in scoring defense both seasons. Considering this defense included NFL players B.J. Raji, Ron Brace, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Robert Francois, and All-American Mark Herzlich it is no small feat that he earned that type of respect. Known as a very vocal leader, he impressed at Senior Bowl week with his ability to run the defense as well as showing the versatility to be a long snapper when called upon.

His senior campaign at Chestnut Hill was hampered somewhat by a ruptured Achilles suffered during an offseason workout. He came back from the injury after missing the first three contests to contribute in the middle and on special teams throughout the remainder of the season. At 6’0”, 240 lbs, “Mac” may not have the elite athleticism of some linebackers but as you can see in this clip at the 13-second mark, he can certainly hold his own:

Analysis: BC linebackers have found their way in the NFL for a long time and McLaughlin should be no different.  He is a tireless worker who will be fighting his way for a starting job in the league for the next several seasons. His versatility on special teams—and long-snapping if he chooses to do so—will be an asset for any team in the league. Expect a mid-round selection for McLaughlin but if he runs well at the combine next week then his stock will absolutely be on the upswing.


College Football Picks – Week 13

November 27, 2009

We got back in the winners’ column last week, going 6-4 (42-49 YTD), and face the toughest of all weekends…rivalries abound.

This is never an easy week as emotions run high for a lot of these teams, making this their make-or-break game of the season when we throw most of the stats out the window.

So, we’ll do our best and as always, here are the picks…

No. 3 Texas at Texas A&M (+21)—The Longhorns simply need to keep their eyes on the prize and not get tripped up against the Aggies this weekend. Texas’ Colt McCoy became the winningest QB in NCAA history last weekend but is only 1-2 against A&M, losing in 2006 and 2007. While the ‘Horns second-ranked offense has put up a ton of points, the Aggies have managed to put up over 33 points a game which is good for 17th in FBS. Unfortunately, their defense punches in at 99th place, which will be their downfall. Texas 42, Texas A&M 20.

No. 2 Alabama at Auburn (+10)—The games are only going to get bigger from here for Alabama and Auburn would like to end a potential championship run before it starts. The Crimson Tide ended their six-year Iron Bowl losing streak last season and will bring a dominant defense (No. 2 in FBS) and prolific rushing attack (No. 10 in FBS) to this year’s contest. Auburn runs similarly well but has had trouble keeping opponents out of the end zone. This is the biggest rivalry in college football by most accounts so there’s no need to hype it any further, just watch and enjoy. Alabama 30, Auburn 13.

No. 9 Pittsburgh at West Virginia (PK)—The “Backyard Brawl” causes a lot of blood to boil in this yearly matchup that will likely produce another classic. Pitt ended WVU’s run at a national title with a major upset in 2007 so payback will be on the mind of the Mountaineers on Friday night. The teams are relatively evenly matched statistically and there will be no overlooking this game for Pitt who likely plays Cincy next week for the Big East Title. I’m glad this is a pick ‘em because this might be the most fun game to watch all weekend. Pittsburgh 27, West Virginia 24.

Nevada at No. 6 Boise State (-13 ½)—We have two of the top five offenses going against each other for the WAC title when Nevada meets up with Boise State on Friday night. Both teams move the ball up and down the field with such proficiency that I think we can see an absurd amount of points put up on the board in this matchup. Boise’s defense gives them a clear advantage in addition to the famed blue turf but Nevada should hang tough for a while. Boise 56, Nevada 40.

No. 18 Clemson at South Carolina (+3)—A tricky game here as it is meaningless in the overall picture for Clemson. South Carolina is a disappointing 6-5 but a ‘state championship’ would put a nice bow on the season. Clemson is playing for the ACC title next weekend but will need to be focused against a solid Gamecocks defense. The Tigers have won the past two, six of the last seven and 10 of 12 so I can buy into their focus on this game. Clemson 24, South Carolina 16.

Florida State at No. 1 Florida (-24 ½)–The top-ranked Gators have won a school-record 21 straight games, also the nation’s longest current streak. The Seminoles’ program has been besieged by critics all year calling for Bobby Bowden’s job who, by the way, guided his team to a 28th consecutive year of bowl eligibility. I would like to say that you throw the stats out for this one, but the Gators give up less than 10 points per contest and ‘Noles freshman QB EJ Manuel won’t be prepared well enough for this. Tim Tebow will chomp away in his last game at The Swamp. Florida 42, Florida State 17.

No. 21 Utah at No. 19 Brigham Young (-7 ½)—With Utah’s two losses coming to Oregon and TCU, one would think they would garner a little bit more respect. Don’t expect the Cougars to argue their case for them as BYU is looking for payback after last year’s 48-24 drubbing at the hand of the Utes. The only game between two ranked opponents this weekend should be a close one. Utah 27, BYU 25.

Notre Dame at Stanford (-10 ½)—Charlie Weis’ tenure as Notre Dame Head football coach will come to an end with this game after a disappointing season ended without BCS bowls or championships yet again. Stanford may also be looking for a new top man if Jim Harbaugh decides to leave for alleged greener pastures in the NCAA or NFL; clearly tempered expectations have left him looking rosy even at 7-4 with a loss to their biggest rival. Offense should rule the day yet again for these two teams who have struggled defensively and the Cardinal win a close one. Stanford 35, Notre Dame 34.

Georgia at No. 7 Georgia Tech (-8)—Georgia is going to have a hard time getting used to this second fiddle thing…the Bulldogs had won seven straight over the Yellow Jackets before last season’s loss. Tech will be playing for a chance at the ACC title and a BCS bid next week but will certainly need to be dialed into this matchup against a team they have not beaten at home since 1999. This game is often dubbed “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate,” something Paul Johnson’s triple option attack will engender in UGA fans by the end of this contest. Georgia Tech 31, Georgia 21.

UCLA at No. 20 USC (-13)—USC is experiencing its worst national ranking in seven years when they take on cross-town rivals UCLA on Saturday night who will look to improve their bowl status with a win. UCLA has turned things around during a three-game win streak, which has seen them give up only 14 points per contest. USC is in unfamiliar territory having seen their defense get rolled over twice in the last three games. I think the week off will do wonders for the Trojans and they will try to earn back some pride to finish the last two weeks of the season strong. USC 28, UCLA 14.

NCAA Football Picks ATS – Week 12

November 19, 2009

Well, I’ve taken my lumps the last two weeks going 6-14 in the process but we’ll see if I have something to be thankful for next Thursday after the games this weekend.  It’s a funky week with a lot of big spreads and almost no home underdogs so I tried, as I normally do, to pick the games that I find most compelling for one reason or another. As always, here are the picks…

No. 10 Ohio State at Michigan (+11 ½)—“The Game” does not have much to hype up about it other than your typical border war; Ohio State is already Rose Bowl-bound and Michigan is trying to avoid losing seven straight Big Ten games. Ohio State has knocked off two consecutive ranked opponents and will use their tenacious defense (ranked 6th in scoring defense in FBS) to shut down Michigan’s spread attack. The Wolverines need this game to somewhat salvage another miserable season. Coaching change rumors and last-place standings are far away from where they thought they would be this season but a win over their hated rival would cure what ails them. No chance but it’s closer than some might expect. Ohio State 27, Michigan 20.

North Carolina at Boston College (-3 ½)—The Tar Heels come to Chestnut Hill with a chance to end the Eagles’ bid for a third consecutive ACC Championship Game appearance. North Carolina has been an up-and down team but are on a three-game roll that resulted most recently in an upset of No. 14 Miami last weekend; their 13th ranked defense has been their biggest asset. BC has had similar issues staying consistent but they are 6-0 at home and will play at noon not knowing the result of the Clemson game; the Tigers need to lose for BC to have a shot at the ACC Title. BC struggled badly against the good defenses in Clemson and Virginia Tech but you can never count the Eagles out of a must win game. BC 21, UNC 20.

Connecticut at Notre Dame (-6)—UConn has lost their five games this year by a combined 15 points and have been in every game to the last minute. The Huskies can become bowl-eligible with a little late-season run starting with this one at South Bend. Notre Dame comes in besieged by rumors of head coach Charlie Weis’ imminent departure but will try to salvage these last two games, run their record to 8-4, and let the chips fall. While it’s possible to think that ND has checked out during another disappointing season, keep in mind Clausen, Tate, and others are still showcasing for the NFL. Notre Dame 30, UConn 20.

No. 8 LSU at Mississippi (-4)—One of the eye-opening spreads of the week has Ole Miss as a favorite against the LSU Tigers who lost their only two games in hard fought contests versus the nation’s top two teams in Florida and ‘Bama. The Tigers allow less than 14 points a game (10th in FBS) but have struggled throughout the season on offense (107th in yardage in FBS). Mississippi’s lethal combo of QB Jevan Snead and RB Dexter McCluster can punish any time as Tennessee learned last week in a 42-17 blowout. A win here would give Ole Miss a second place finish behind Florida and I think they will get it in a close one in a strange upset-but-not-an-upset showdown. Ole Miss 24, LSU 21.

Virginia at No. 23 Clemson (-20 ½)—Clemson comes into this game with a chance to close out the ACC Atlantic Division which would put them in the ACC Championship Game for the first time. The Tigers are averaging 42 points per game during a five-game winning streak and will host the struggling Cavaliers in order to advance and try to win their first ACC title since 1991. Virginia ranks 118th in the nation with 266.7 yards per game and 106th in scoring offense, averaging 19.8 points and will try to move the ball against Clemson’s 20th ranked defense that leads the nation in INTs. This should be a blowout as the wheels came off the wagon for UVA over a month ago and they will play only the role of spoiler on Saturday. But, I think Clemson calls off the dogs in the second half after the game is in hand – back door cover. Clemson 37, UVA 17

Southern Methodist at Marshall (-4)—In another amazing (and under-the-radar) turnaround job by head coach June Jones, SMU can actually lock up a bowl with a win over Marshall this Saturday. The Mustangs sit in first place in their division in C-USA and will try to hang on to it for their last two games. Marshall will also be looking to become bowl-eligible despite being banged up and sporting an offense that ranks in the 100s in the scoring department. I think SMU finally gets noticed after this win. SMU 27, Marshall 24.

Gerhart has dominated in recent wins over Oregon and USC

No. 25 California at No. 17 Stanford (-7)—Generally, one would not expect that Stanford would become a weekly entry regarding the “hot” games on the college gridiron but here we are again chatting about the Cardinal. Stanford is now bowl-eligible for the first time since 2001 thanks to Heisman candidate RB Toby Gerhart who leads the way for the 10th-ranked offense in the country. Cal will be without star RB Jahvid Best when they take on their biggest rival. Points should be abundant in this contest and the PAC-10 has been tricky this season but Stanford should take care of business at home. Stanford 35, Cal 27.

No. 11 Oregon at Arizona (+6)—Oregon needs to practice the mantra “Win and advance” which is usually reserved for basketball teams in March. As the only one-loss team remaining in the PAC-10, the Ducks control their road to the Rose Bowl and will take their ninth-ranked offense to Tucson and try to waddle past the Wildcats. Arizona fell from the rankings after a loss to Cal last week but actually control their own destiny for the Rose Bowl if they can win their last three games. Zona was gashed last week by Cal which was a terrible way to enter the game against Oregon whuch has the most powerful offense in the conference. Ducks take it and cover…Oregon 41, Arizona 30.

Louisiana-Monroe at Louisiana-Lafayette (+2 ½)—Louisiana-Monroe (their nickname is the Warhawks for all those keeping score) is looking to become bowl-eligible for the first time in school history. The Ragin’ Cajuns will also be looking to go bowling if they can win their last two. The reality is not many of us have seen these teams play this year but it is a HUGE game for both teams determining potential bowl games and definite bragging rights for a year at least. This is my one chance to take the home underdog this week, so I will. ULL 28, ULM 24.

Kansas at No. 3 Texas (-27 ½)—The Longhorns have the opportunity to put away their division against Kansas and continue their run toward the BCS Championship Game in Pasadena on Jan 7th. With an offense that is as prolific as the defense is fierce, Texas is on a mission right now and the Jayhawks are simply in their way. Adding to this mix is Kansas’ inability to keep teams out of the end zone and a dark cloud hanging over head coach Mark Mangino’s head. Allegations of mistreatment of his players, both present and former, have hit the news and will only serve as further distraction. Texas’ second stringers should see some time on Saturday. Texas 52, Kansas 21.

Last week: 4-6

Season: 46-45

NCAA Football Picks ATS – Week 10

November 7, 2009

Navy at No. 22 Notre Dame (-12)—Navy brings their signature triple-option rushing attack to South Bend this week in a bid to upset the Irish for the second time in three years. The Midshipmen, currently the third-ranked rushing attack in the nation, are led by QB Ricky Dobbs who leads the nation with 16 touchdowns. The Irish have a QB standout of their own in Jimmy Clausen who is second in the nation in pass efficiency having thrown 18 TDs to only two INTs. Clausen may very well lead the Heisman race at this point of the season and will continue the campaign with a comfortable win over Navy. Notre Dame 34, Navy 17.



Ingram hopes to roll the Tide and himself to the BCS title game

No. 9 LSU at No. 3 Alabama (-7 ½)—Undoubtedly the ‘Game of the Week’ in college football this weekend, the Tigers head to Tuscaloosa to try to pull off the upset over the Tide. LSU has won four straight at Alabama but their offense has had some well-chronicled struggles finding the end zone this season. ‘Bama RB Mark Ingram will continue pacing the rushing attack which is averaging 217 yards per contest. With two top 10 scoring defenses playing for keeps, this will be another low-scoring affair, I think LSU keeps it close but ‘Bama will prevail on their home turf. Alabama 20, LSU 13.

No. 8 Oregon at Stanford (+7)—Everything about this game screams “letdown” as Oregon goes to The Farm to take on Stanford who are undefeated at home in 2009. The Ducks were so impressive last week against USC that they have launched themselves into talks regarding the BCS title game if they get a little help from some teams losing ahead of them. Stanford QB Andrew Luck ranks first in the PAC-10 in passing efficiency and RB Toby Gerhart leads the conference in rushing but they will have their work cut out for them against Oregon’s defense which lets up only 17 points a game. Oregon’s eighth-ranked rushing attack will simply be tough for Stanford to handle. Oregon 38, Stanford 27.

No. 16 Ohio State at No. 11 Penn State (-4)—The stakes are high in this Big Ten matchup and Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor will visit Beaver Stadium, a place the western Pennsylvania native spurned last year to end a highly publicized recruiting battle. The Buckeyes still control their own destiny in the conference but have struggled to find an identity on offense this season even with the talented Pryor. The Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten in offense and have the nation’s stingiest defense, yielding just 9.3 points per contest. Expect a hard-hitting, low scoring affair (even with some possible defensive scores) and Penn State to shut down Pryor when it counts. Penn State 16, Ohio State 10.

No. 6 TCU at San Diego State (+24 ½)—At this point, TCU is focused on winning one game at a time…but some style point wouldn’t hurt in their quest for a BCS bowl. The Horned Frogs have the nation’s top-ranked total defense (yardage) and will look to grind it out with their rushing offense that averages over 233 yards per game. San Diego State’s offense is almost exclusively an aerial attack which ranks in the top 20 in the FBS. There is not much debate as to who will win this game but can TCU provide another blowout to impress voters? I think they may be looking towards the big contest with Utah next week…TCU 35, San Diego State 14.

Florida State at Clemson (-9)—The ACC has become an impossibility in regards to predictions but this game holds major importance in the divisional race for Clemson who controls their own destiny. Seminoles’ QB Christian Ponder has become a leader of this team and a standout player in a tumultuous year for FSU; he is banged-up but ready to go against the Tigers in Death Valley. Clemson will be missing pass-rushing monster Da’Quan Bowers for this contest and their inconsistent offense will need to be in check against the ‘Noles who always have enough talent to beat anyone. Clemson is so bad in these games that everyone is picking the upset but I say they squeak one out. Clemson 30, FSU 28.

Connecticut at No. 5 Cincinnati (-17 ½)—The Cincinnati Bearcats will be showing off their squad in prime time when they host the UConn Huskies on Saturday night. UConn’s season has been heartbreaking both on and off the field but they have played extremely hard every step of the way. Cincinnati boasts a top 10 offense and a top 10 defense and will look to go 9-0 for the first time since 1951, a school record. The Bearcats will be just too much for most teams in the Big East this season and the buzz saw continues. Cincinnati 34, UConn 14.

No. 24 Oklahoma at Nebraska (+4)—This historic rivalry may not carry the weight it used to but the teams will be going at it just like the teams of the 60s and 70s used to in its heyday. The Sooners are back on track with QB Landry Jones filling in well for Sam Bradford and still leading an explosive offense. Nebraska has a top 10 defense led by DT Ndamukong Suh and will look to slow down the Sooners by pressuring the quarterback. I think Oklahoma has had some bumps in the road but is clearly the better team this season. Oklahoma 27, Nebraska 17.

No. 15 Houston at Tulsa (+1)—Houston QB Case Keenum takes his Heisman dark-horse aerial show on the road to Tulsa who is looking to avoid a four-game losing streak. The Cougars score more points than anyone in the country not named Texas and will likely continue the onslaught this Saturday. The Golden Hurricane has been inconsistent and will have a QB question with starter G.J. Kinne questionable with a concussion. This spread is the ultimate red flag since it should be a blowout but I am going against the home underdog this time. Houston 45, Tulsa 31.

Fresno State at Idaho (+8)—Idaho has put themselves in position at 7-2 to receive their first bowl bid since 1998 and will try to continue the good feelings this week against Fresno who looks to gain bowl eligibility this weekend. Both teams rank in the top 25 in yards and points on offense so expect a back-and-forth contest in Moscow. Idaho will have to avoid the trap of looking ahead to an even bigger game in Boise but the real question is whether or not they can slow down the nation’s leading rusher in RB Ryan Mathews. I expect a fairly close one like most Idaho games this season but Fresno State may be too much for the Vandals, just as Nevada was two weeks ago. Fresno State 40, Idaho 30.

Last Week: 8-2

Season: 40-31

College Football Picks ATS – Week 9

November 2, 2009

No. 8 Cincinnati at Syracuse (+15 ½)—Tony Pike is likely to remain sidelined recovering from arm surgery as Cincinnati tries to stay unbeaten this week at Syracuse. The Bearcats’ second-ranked offense did not miss a beat without him last week as backup Zach Collaros paced them to a 41-point effort.

The Orange are 3-27 in Big East play since the start of 2005, and will look to avoid their fifth straight loss to the Bearcats. My guess is Akron was not the Orange’s best warm-up game for Cincy, who should roll right over them. Cincinnati 49, Syracuse 17.

No. 25 Mississippi at Auburn (+4 ½)—Ole Miss has not beaten Auburn twice in a row in 57 years, which means Auburn would like to keep tradition in check this weekend. The Rebels racked up over 550 yards of offense in a victory at Arkansas last week and will look to expose Auburn’s defense who ranks 10th in the SEC. Auburn’s offense has been in a downward spiral after opening up the season well but will need to right the ship against the nation’s ninth-ranked scoring defense in Ole Miss. Home underdogs in the SEC are tempting but I think Auburn is still a year away from really turning it around. Mississippi 27, Auburn 17.

Southern Miss at No. 18 Houston (-6 ½)—The Cougars will look to extend their home winning streak to 13 games this Saturday against Southern Miss. Houston QB Case Keenum leads FBS by averaging 417 passing yards per contest yet played a very balanced role in last week’s win over SMU. Southern Miss has been tweaking their offense due to injuries, but still relies heavily on senior tailback Damion Fletcher. The home track should be a bit too fast for the Golden Eagles this time around and Houston will outdistance them in what could be a shootout. Houston 40, Southern Miss 30.

Georgia vs. No. 1 Florida (-15) [in Jacksonville, FL]Many have debated whether or not there is still animosity over UGA’s famous (or infamous depending on whose colors you wear) TD celebration in their 2007 upset of the Gators. Regardless of where you stand on that debate, the stats do generally go out the window during this game and it should be another hard-hitting affair. Georgia has struggled to put it together on both sides of the ball during every game and their offense really will have a tough time against the top-ranked Gators’ Defense. Florida has yet to impress the critics enough to solidify their votes as the number one team, but I think they make a push this week by covering against the Bulldogs. Florida 38, Georgia 13.


Lewis will lead Duke to a bowl game this season

Duke at Virginia (-7 ½)—It is not often that you can say Duke controls its own destiny to win the ACC in near-November but it is true even though they have five wins to go. The Blue Devils will head to Charlottesville to take on the ACC’s biggest yearly enigma in UVA who still can salvage their 3-4 season. This year’s matchup is a bit more interesting as it features the ACC’s top passing defense (UVA), against the top passing offense (Duke) led by Thaddeus Lewis. I think this will be a tight one and an upset for the Dukies. Duke 24, Virginia 20.

No. 12 Penn State at Northwestern (+17 ½)—Penn State has seemingly been forgotten about since their loss to Iowa last month yet here they stand at 7-1 entering this week’s action. QB Daryll Clark leads the conference’s top offense up against the Wildcats who had to rally from 28-3 down at home just last week. Northwestern’s escape against Indiana may have been what they were waiting for to kick start the back half of their season. I don’t often expect blowouts in the Big Ten, but I don’t see how Northwestern can score against the nation’s stingiest point givers. Penn State 30, Northwestern 10.

No. 11 Georgia Tech at Vanderbilt (+12)—Georgia Tech is coming off a major conference win and will try to avoid a letdown against out of conference opponent Vandy who stumbles in at 2-6. The Yellow Jackets will provide the usual heavy dose of the ground attack (291 yards per game) against Vandy’s 85th ranked rushing defense, a potential perfect storm. The ‘Dores will need to step up to end a four-game slide that has seen them score only 40 points. Don’t expect a letdown. Georgia Tech 28, Vanderbilt 14.

No. 22 South Carolina at Tennessee (-6)—South Carolina goes to Knoxville this week to face a Vols team that is still steaming mad over the heartbreaking loss to Alabama last week. Hopefully, they can catch them still thinking about it because they are 1-13 at Tennessee in their history. QBs Stephen Garcia (South Carolina) and Jonathan Crompton (Tennessee) will have their work cut out for them against the nation’s third and sixth best pass defenses, respectively. There will be no style points in this game, expect another low-scoring affair. Tennessee 21, South Carolina 14.

No. 3 Texas at No. 14 Oklahoma State (+9 ½)–Texas hasn’t lost to Oklahoma State since 1997 and leads the all-time series 21-2. QB Colt McCoy continues to lead the nation’s highest-scoring offense as they try to take complete control of the Big 12 South and push towards the BCS No. 1 ranking. Oklahoma State is missing a big piece in WR Dez Bryant but has plenty of weapons for a good old-fashioned shootout. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they have yet to see a defense like this one. Texas 45, Oklahoma State 24.

No. 5 USC at No. 10 Oregon (+3)—Oregon is the one hanging onto first place come this year’s marquee matchup of the PAC-10’s top two squads. The Trojans’ early stumble against Washington can be rectified in Autzen Stadium on Saturday night but they will need to tighten up a defense that has allowed over 900 yards in two games. Oregon has been on fire offensively plus leads the PAC-10 in takeaways with 19, a potentially huge factor going up against USC frosh QB Matt Barkley. USC usually comes through in these big games and I bet against Barkley once already at Notre Dame…not again…USC 27, Oregon 23.

Last Week: 4-6

Season: 32-29

Mike Blewitt’s NCAA Football Picks – Week Seven

October 15, 2009

College football rolls right along and the big match-ups continue (hello, South Bend) in an effort to get to January’s BCS Championship game with as little controversy as possible…not likely…

No. 8 Cincinnati at No. 21 South Florida (+2 ½)—This game is about as high profile as a game can get for the Big East Conference, a national TV contest with two undefeated, ranked teams vying for first place and increased recognition. Cincinnati boasts the nation’s third-ranked scoring offense led by Heisman dark horse Tony Pike. South Florida is led by dual-threat QB BJ Daniels and a stout defense that allows less than 10 points per game. In a game that will go a long way to legitimizing both programs, I give the edge to the Bearcats. Cincinnati 20, South Florida 17.

No. 20 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Texas (-3 ½ – game is in Dallas)—It says a lot about the Longhorns that they lead the nation in scoring offense (47.20 points per game) and many pundits are left unimpressed mainly due to the caliber of their opponents to this point. Oklahoma has Sam Bradford back in the mix and ready to take on the fourth stingiest defense in FBS. Despite OU’s rough start, this game will ultimately decide the Big 12 title as well as the BCS Championship game. I think the ‘Horns are still salty about last year’s decision to send OU to the Big 12 title game. Texas 38, Oklahoma 27.

No. 11 Iowa at Wisconsin (+2 ½)—Amazingly, Iowa will be looking for its 11th straight win when they travel to Madison this weekend, its longest winning streak in 86 years. Their opportunistic defense is second in the FBS in takeaways with 19, which has been a huge factor in three if their wins coming by three or fewer points. Wisconsin looks to bounce back after a loss at Ohio State where they failed to secure the ball leading to two defensive TDs for the Buckeyes, something they can’t afford to do this weekend. I felt an upset brewing with all of Iowa’s close calls and a tough road game, but the Badgers’ turnover issues scared me away from it. Iowa 24, Wisconsin 20.

Arkansas at No. 1 Florida (-25)—The statistics would lead you believe that we may see a track meet this Saturday in Gainesville, with two of the top 11 scoring offenses in the nation matching up. Arkansas has gotten their season back on track after the upset win versus Auburn last week and will look to knock off another top-ranked team which they did to LSU in November 2007. Florida expended every ounce of energy they had in shutting down LSU in Baton Rouge last weekend and may have a bit of a letdown against the Razorbacks at home. Fortunately for the Gators, even their letdowns can be impressive. Florida 34, Arkansas 17.

Can he provide a magical moment for the Notre Dame faithful?

Can he provide a magical moment for the Notre Dame faithful?

No. 6 USC at No. 25 Notre Dame (+10)—The recent slate of games between these two teams has been anything but competitive, with USC in the midst of a seven-game winning streak. The Trojans’ sixth-ranked defense goes to South Bend having allowed just 256 yards and three points TOTAL in the last two meetings with the Irish. Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen has been brilliant through five hard-fought games for the Irish and has actually eeked into the Heisman picture. USC Freshman QB Matt Barkley may find this even tougher than Columbus and if ever there was a time for a signature win for a player, coach, and a school – this is it. No guts, no glory…Notre Dame 21, USC 20.

Memphis at Southern Mississippi (-14)—Southern Miss is in a tailspin having lost three straight putting them right in the middle of the C-USA race. RB Damion Fletcher is on pace for his fourth 1,000-yard season and will look to dominate this Saturday against Memphis. The Tigers caught UTEP sleeping after an upset of their own but are 1-4 against FBS schools on the season and have struggled offensively throughout. Southern Miss 34, Memphis 13.

No. 4 Virginia Tech at No. 19 Georgia Tech (+3)—In a conference that has become nearly impossible to predict, we have a pivotal game in the race for the ACC Coastal division crown. Virginia Tech is on a hot streak, having won five straight including a couple of blowouts over alleged peers Miami and Boston College. Georgia Tech’s No. 1 ACC offense will pave quite the road to the conference title game with an upset in Atlanta this weekend. Frankly, there have not been too many teams as good and balanced in the ACC in recent memory as the Hokies are in 2009. Virginia Tech 31, Georgia Tech 23.

No. 22 South Carolina at No. 2 Alabama (-17)—Alabama is on a mission right now to avenge last year’s loss in the SEC Championship game to Florida and South Carolina is just another team in their way. The second-ranked tide has the nation’s second-ranked defense and will look to shut down the Gamecocks on Saturday night. South Carolina has but one close defeat at the hands of Georgia and brings the 15th-ranked defense into Tuscaloosa. The bad news for South Carolina is that Alabama is averaging over 220 yards per contest on the ground, not the strong suit of their defense, which means the Tide continues to roll. Alabama 27, South Carolina 17.

Missouri at No. 16 Oklahoma State (-7)—Everything seemed to be going according to plan this season for Missouri until the fourth quarter of last week’s loss to Nebraska – turnovers led to touchdowns which led to a loss. The Tigers are led by the aerial attack of QB Blaine Gabbert who will look to put them back in the rankings with an upset in Stillwater. The ENTIRE story for the Cowboys is the suspension of All-American WR Dez Bryant who will likely be out for this game as well. The OSU offense is still explosive (ninth in the nation in points scored) and will need to stay focused in order to fend off a feisty Missouri team. The distraction will be there but the ‘Boys are simply the better team. Oklahoma State 37, Missouri 27.

Washington at Arizona State (-6 ½)—Washington is having the most up-and-down of seasons but everyone associated with the program will take it after last season’s winless debacle. While head coach Steve Sarkisian is working aout the kinks on offense, it’s the 90th-ranked defense that needs some stops to produce more consistent wins. Arizona State has managed to solidify its defense but the next four games after this one (Stanford, Cal, USC, Oregon) mean they need to earn their wins immediately to even think about bowl season. Washington 24, Arizona State 23.

Last Week: 4-6

Season: 21-20

NCAA Football Picks ATS – Week 6

October 9, 2009

No. 21 Nebraska at No. 24 Missouri (+4) – Both teams have proven they can move the ball ranking in the Top 20 in the country in points scored and yards gained. Interesting back-story: Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert, who has yet to throw an interception in four games, originally committed to the Huskers before backing out and committing to the Tigers. This is a huge game in the battle for the Big 12 North; I like Mizzou as the home underdog playing in inclement weather. Missouri 24, Nebraska 20.

Boston College at No. 5 Virginia Tech (-13 ½)  – This will be the fifth meeting in the last three seasons as these two rivals have matched up in the regular season and the ACC Championship for two years running…and possibly a third this December. Boston College is the last team to win in Lane Stadium (October 2007) and is revitalized by the play of 25-year old freshman QB Dave Shinskie. Virginia Tech is fighting for more than just an ACC title this season as their No. 5 overall ranking suggests. BC will put up a good fight (and barely cover) but the Hokies are a bit too strong for them defensively and on special teams this time around. Virginia Tech 30, BC 17.

No. 17 Auburn at Arkansas (+2.5) – Auburn has raced off to a 5-0 start and go into this SEC battle ranked for the first time this season. Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has the Tigers in the Top 5 nationally in points scored and yardage. Arkansas has been airing it out with talented QB Ryan Mallett with mixed results and will try to avoid a three-game conference losing streak. Arkansas’ inability to stop their SEC foes has been their undoing so until they do, I can’t wager with them even as a home ‘dog. Auburn 35, Arkansas 27.

No. 3 Alabama at No. 20 Mississippi (+4) – Many would argue that Alabama is the most impressive team in the country at this stage of the season, with dominant performances on both sides of the ball in each of their first five games. Ole Miss stumbled against South Carolina early and looked to fold under the pressure of being a Top 5 team for the first time in decades. Frankly, if they walked into this game undefeated it wouldn’t change my outlook – Bama takes care of business again in Oxford. Alabama 34, Ole Miss 14.

Connecticut at Pittsburgh (-6 ½) – Pitt’s offense has looked much improved this season with QB Bill Stull leading them to 37 points-per-game. UConn will try to grind it out on the ground in their Big East opener and try to win a smash mouth contest but can their defense hold up? This one may not be easy to watch but Pitt covers very close. Pittsburgh 30, UConn 23.

Wisconsin at No. 9 Ohio State (-16) – The under-the-radar Badgers are 14th in the country in rushing behind John Clay as they have sped off to a 5-0 start. The Buckeyes have not let up a 100-yard rusher since September of 2008 and will be looking to take command of the Big Ten Conference. I just don’t see that many points being scored in Columbus so take them and run. Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 16.

Stanford at Oregon State (Pick) – Stanford is making an argument for a ranking and will look to go 4-0 in the Pac-10 led by the 1-2 offensive punch of QB Andrew Luck and RB Toby Gerhart. However, Corvallis is never a soft landing spot for opponents (see USC 2008) and sophomore RB Jacquizz Rodgers already has nine touchdowns on the season. This truly is a coin flip but I think Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh secures another signature win. Stanford 24, Oregon State 23.

UTEP at Memphis (+2 ½) – UTEP managed 18 yards rushing two weeks ago against Texas only to come back and upset No. 12-ranked Houston by scoring 58 points and picking up 305 yards on the ground. Memphis has struggled mightily to score points but I like them as the home underdog playing a team who will have a huge letdown after a major upset. Memphis 23, UTEP 20.

No. 1 Florida at No. 4 LSU (+7 ½) – There have been some very big matchups early on this season (USC-Ohio St., Bama-Virginia Tech) but none takes on the ultimate meaning quite like this game. The winner of this game is in charge of the national championship race, period. While there is cause for concern with Tebow, there is no doubt he will be out there playing his heart out for the Gators. LSU has won 32 consecutive Saturday night games but has been far from impressive on offense during their 5-0 start.  The winner of this game has gone on to capture the last three BCS championships and this year will make it four for the Gators. Florida 33, LSU 20

Michigan at No. 12 Iowa (-8) – Iowa is 5-0 for the first time since 1995 and has won nine straight dating back to last season. Michigan suffered an OT heartbreaker to in-state rival Michigan State last week and will look for redemption in another huge Big Ten matchup. Michigan may be using a freshman QB in Tate Forcier but they look incredibly dynamic at times while Iowa has been inconsistent enough to keep the doubters filled with ammo. Michigan 33, Iowa 30.

Last Week: 8-2

Season: 17-14