Given my preview earlier in the week, I must comment briefly on the debate. I hope college football coaches across the country were watching to learn a valuable lesson. Playing a prevent defense never works. It only prevents you from winning. Stay on the attack at all times or you risk being upset. After my last post, numerous Miami fans responded that they were disappointed I chose Romney to represent the Canes. Hopefully they now feel more confident heading into Saturday night. I’m heading to Chicago shortly and anticipate a successful day of picks before I head into the stadium.
MIAMI ND Keys to the Game
- Turnovers – Notre Dame’s 4-0 record is largely due to a +9 turnover margin. The Irish have forced turnovers in bunches on defense all season, and have committed just four. Miami’s defense doesn’t scare anyone and the Canes will give up chunks of yards, so protecting the ball is even more critical. In order for UM to win, we must win the turnover battle. As an underdog in a virtual road game, the Canes need to take advantage of every opportunity.
- Atmosphere – Miami relies on freshmen at key positions on both sides of the ball. This will be the most hyped game of their careers so far and the first opportunity to play at night in front of a sold-out crowd on national television. Miami will also have to avoid focusing on the cold weather, which hopefully will be an issue just for the fans. How will the young Canes respond? A fast start is crucial to build confidence and I expect Miami to take chances on offense early. ND’s secondary hasn’t faced a QB WR combo as talented as Stephen Morris and Phillip Dorsett yet.
- Coaching – So far this season, Brian Kelly has managed his quarterback situation extremely well. Tommy Rees has been crucial to ND’s success late in games and Miami expects to see Rees on Saturday night. If Golson struggles early, it will be interesting how quickly Kelly will turn to the veteran. Al Golden’s team has exceeded expectations this season and his players are starting to believe in each other. Golden’s motivational skills are unquestioned, but his in-game adjustments (particularly on defense) must be impressive in order for Miami to win Saturday. Notre Dame had an extra week to prepare for this matchup and Kelly is a talented playcaller.
- Uniforms – Miami will be wearing their normal uniforms and will thus have an advantage in karma alone. Notre Dame will be wearing strange uniforms and a terrible helmet in this game. Adidas is attempting to prove that it can design new trendy uniforms, but this version will largely be considered a failure. Tradition is vital in college football and Notre Dame should never deviate from the classic golden dome helmet. Maryland has tried to become the next Oregon with a different Under Armour design each week. Ask Randy Edsall how that plan has worked out on the field thus far………
Pittsburgh at Syracuse -1.5 FRIDAY – ESPN – 7pm
The Carrier Dome on a Friday night is a very dangerous place to play for opponents. The Orange have been disappointing this season, but this first Big East game is a chance to turn the season around. Cuse QB Ryan Nassib will make big plays in the passing game and Pitt QB Tino Sunseri will make mistakes as usual. Syracuse worked hard during the bye week on red-zone offense and will show significant improvement.
Boston College -9.5 at Army CBSSN – 12pm
BC is in desperate need of a confidence building win. Army is 0-4, coming off a lost to Stony Brook. The Black Knights have one of the nation’s worst defenses and I expect BC QB Chase Rettig to have a huge afternoon. Rettig and WR Alex Amidon have had a great rhythm this year and that should continue. Army has been plagued by execution issues, fumbling far too often in the option running attack. BC wins by 20.
Mississippi State -10 at Kentucky SEC Network – 12pm
Mississippi St is one of the most underrated teams in the nation. The Bulldogs defense is very talented and I expect them to force numerous turnovers Saturday. Miss St QB Tyler Russell doesn’t get much attention in the SEC, but he is a reliable player and team leader. Kentucky will be playing two true freshmen at QB after the injury to starter Maxwell Smith. The Wildcats also have injury issues at RB and come into this game with zero confidence. Joker Phillips can’t seem to turn things around at Kentucky and will lose by multiple touchdowns again.
Arizona at Stanford -9 FOX – 3pm
Stanford’s talented defensive front seven will lead them to a victory. Arizona lost big on the road against Oregon and will be playing Stanford at the wrong time. The Cardinal are angry and motivated to bounce back after the shocking loss at Washington. QB Josh Nunes will play much better against an Arizona defense that hasn’t shown much resistance this season.
Iowa State +8 at TCU FSN – 330pm
I was planning on taking Iowa State even before TCU’s QB Casey Pachall got arrested for DWI and was suspended on Thursday. Now this game becomes one of my favorites of the weekend. Freshman QB Trevone Boykin will get the start against a very solid Iowa State defense. TCU has major injury issues at RB as well. The Cyclones were let down last week by interceptions by QB Steele Jantz. If Iowa State can protect the ball, I expect them to have a chance to win this game outright. TCU will find that things aren’t as easy in the Big 12.
Oklahoma -5 at Texas Tech ABC – 330pm
The demise of the Oklahoma Sooners has been greatly exaggerated. NEWS FLASH – Kansas State is a very good football team. The Sooners loss to KState has been overblown and I still think OK can be a Top 10 team. Texas Tech enters this game with the highest rated defense in America, but that is a fraud resulting from an embarrassing non-conference schedule. OK QB Landry Jones will play well and avoid the mistakes he made against KState. Texas Tech QB Seth Doege is underrated, but he hasn’t faced a defense as talented as the Sooners. Bob Stoops will right this ship, starting on Saturday.
LSU -2.5 at Florida CBS – 330pm
I’m not sold on this Florida team yet. The Gators haven’t faced a defense nearly as good as LSU’s and QB Jeff Driskel will need a great performance. LSU’s strength up front on both sides of the ball will be the difference. Until proven otherwise, I back Les Miles in almost every opportunity. QB Zach Mettenberger will finally show off the big arm that the Bayou Bengals have been waiting to see. The sloppy performance against Towson was probably good for the coaching staff, providing an easy motivational tool in practice this week.
Michigan -3 at Purdue BTN – 4pm
Coming off a bye week, Michigan has a lot to prove. QB Denard Robinson has taken the blame for the 2-2 start and I expect him to play much better down the stretch. Michigan coaches will finally allow Denard to run the ball now that we are in Big Ten play. Purdue will not be able to deal with the hype surrounding this matchup. People are calling this the biggest Purdue home game in the last decade, and the Boilers aren’t used to dealing with that type of pressure. The moment will be too big for Purdue, and I expect Brady Hoke’s team will play Michigan football. Caleb Terbush will struggle against a Michigan defense that has impressed this season. Go Blue – Michigan wins by 7.
West Virginia +7 at Texas FOX – 7pm
Texas showed me a lot in the close win at Oklahoma State. The Longhorns made explosive plays on offense and QB David Ash continues to gain confidence. Texas will be able to score on West Virginia, but so can everyone. If this line was even, I’d be inclined to take Texas at home. Getting seven points makes West Virginia the easy pick because QB Geno Smith will continue to thrive in this offense. His accuracy has been scary good this season and he is blessed with probably the best WR duo in the nation. This game will be back and forth all night and the team with the ball last will win.
Georgia at South Carolina -1 ESPN – 7pm
UGA will miss WR Michael Bennett after he was injured in practice this week. The Bulldogs defense looked very pedestrian against Tennessee and I expect South Carolina to run the ball even more effectively. This is the game of the year in the SEC East and South Carolina is ready for the opportunity. QB Connor Shaw has played better than expected thus far. South Carolina’s talented defensive line will be able to slow Georgia’s running game, led by two stud freshmen RB. South Carolina wins an exciting close game in the fourth quarter.
Miami +14 vs Notre Dame NBC – 730pm
I’ve previewed this game to death over the past few days, so I’ll keep this one short. Miami’s offense will make enough plays to keep this game close heading into the fourth quarter, where anything can happen. The Irish haven’t seen an offense like Miami’s and the ND secondary will finally be tested by a vertical passing attack. The Canes play well and ND will have to rely on Tommy Rees in the second half if the Irish want a chance to go 5-0. The game will be decided by seven points or less and should be a fun one to watch.
Nebraska at Ohio State -3 ABC – 8pm
Braxton Miller will bounce back from a shaky performance last Saturday. The Buckeyes are tough to beat in Columbus and Urban Meyer’s team will force some mistakes from Taylor Martinez. Nebraska looked very average during most of their win over Wisconsin and I’m not impressed with the so called “black shirt” defense. OSU will continue to win close games and get the job done at home.
UCLA -2.5 at California PAC 12 Network – 10pm
Cal has been a terrible disappointment in 2012 and things won’t get better on Saturday night. UCLA’s offense has been dominant and I expect another huge game from QB Brett Hundley. Cal QB Zach Maynard has been sacked an astounding 25 times this season in 5 games. Maynard struggles when he has time to throw, so things really get ugly when he is pressured. If UCLA gets an early lead, this game has the potential to be a blowout given the confidence level of the 1-4 Bears.
Washington +24.5 at Oregon ESPN – 1030pm
The entire UW program was rejuvenated after the huge win against Stanford last week. The Huskies played with energy on defense and that effort will carry over to this matchup in Eugene. UW allowed just 70 yards rushing on 28 carries against Stanford and need a similar showing to have a chance. Oregon hasn’t been as dominant on offense as we normally expect in Pac 12 games this season. Even if Oregon starts fast, UW will have enough opportunities to shave the deficit below 20. Chip Kelly hasn’t run up the score much this season, winning by just 23, 17, and 25 against FBS teams.