When Colorado headed into halftime down just 3, I was feeling confident. Then Arizona State returned the 2nd half kickoff for a touchdown, completely deflating the Buffs and their crowd. ASU scored 31 unanswered points, forcing me to spend the rest of the night reanalyzing the VP debate. My facial expressions during the football game mirrored Joe Biden’s reactions of disbelief, but I never smiled. I simply cannot figure out the PAC 12, so I will stick with conferences that have gotten me results so far this season. After speaking with Cam Newton’s father Cecil, I have decided to work on my postgame attitude following a loss. You will notice a different demeanor going forward……for at least a week. Conference play is in full swing and there are interesting games in each time slot on Saturday. Thankfully the SEC has 9pm kickoffs so I can still have some picks going late at night. The SEC West will rise up and squash this new en-vogue idea that the East is the better half.
If you have trouble sitting through four-hour baseball games, there is another option tonight. Navy visits Central Michigan for what should be an exciting high-scoring matchup. Arod may even have time to watch the first quarter from the Yankees clubhouse.
Texas vs Oklahoma -3 ABC -12pm
Oklahoma got back on track with a convincing win at Texas Tech. I think the experience of QB Landry Jones will be a factor on Saturday. David Ash struggled in last year’s Red River game and Texas is looking to bounce back after a tough loss to WVU. OK has been in desperate need of help at WR and the Sooners prayers have been answered. Jalen Saunders, a talented transfer from Fresno State, is now eligible to play and he’ll have an impact. Turnovers will be the key in this matchup of two pretty even teams. The Texas running game is effective early, but Landry makes a few big plays in the second half to seal the victory.
Northwestern -3 at Minnesota ESPN2 – 12pm
After watching Iowa blowout Minnesota, it was clear the Gophers improvement is less than I thought. QB MarQueis Gray will play some snaps on Saturday, but expect him to be rusty after missing a month with an injury. The Gophers defensive line was dominated by Iowa, and I expect Northwestern will have success on the ground with star RB Venric Mark. NU will use Kain Colter more effectively this week, mixing in some passing plays to keep Minnesota off balance. Northwestern was a defensive play away from a 6-0 start and the Wildcats will get back on track Saturday. I’m undefeated picking NU this season so follow the trend.
Wisconsin at Purdue -1.5 BTN -12pm
Purdue did everything wrong last week in a loss to Michigan. The Boilermakers now have a chance to redeem themselves. This game is vital for both teams because it may decide the Leaders Division. Wisconsin’s offense is still struggling and Purdue’s defensive line will slow down Montee Ball. Purdue DT Kawann Short will have a significant impact in this game. Purdue WR O.J. Ross should have a big afternoon and I expect the Boilers to put up 30+ points at home.
Iowa +8 at Michigan State ESPN -12pm
Some people seem to think that the Spartans had their wakeup call last week in a comeback win over Indiana. I simply think Michigan State has been overrated this season and the lack of a consistent passing game has made MSU easy to defend. Making matters worse, MSU’s best pass catcher TE Dion Sims is injured and will not play Saturday. Iowa should return prepared following the bye week and QB James Vanderberg will play better in Big Ten games. RB Mark Weisman and the Iowa offensive line will continue to produce and help keep the clock moving. This game will be decided by a field goal in the 4th quarter.
Toledo -15 at Eastern Michigan 1pm
Eastern Michigan is arguably the worst team in the country. Sitting at 0-5, Ron English’s squad has no confidence and has show no signs of improvement. EMU has zero home field advantage so the location of this game is irrelevant. Toledo has been impressive in 2012 and the Rockets have won five in a row after opening with a close loss to Arizona. Toledo QB Terrance Owens and RB David Fluellen should both have big afternoons in a blowout victory. Eastern Michigan averages just 260 yards a game and will fall behind early against the dynamic Toledo spread offense.
West Virginia -3.5 at Texas Tech ABC – 330pm
Here it is. The Trap of the Week. West Virginia silenced critics with an impressive road win in Austin last Saturday. This matchup with Texas Tech promises to be a shootout, similar to the Mountaineers game with Baylor a few weeks ago. TT QB Seth Doege was hot in the first four games, but threw three interceptions against Oklahoma this past Saturday. Both offenses put up big numbers in the passing game, but Texas Tech doesn’t have the playmakers at WR to compare with Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. With the emergence of RB Andrew Buie for WVU, I don’t see how the Red Raiders will be able to get more than a few defensive stops. If WVU forces a few turnovers early, this game could be over by halftime. QB Geno Smith continues his Heisman campaign and leaves Lubbock with another impressive Big 12 victory.
Oregon State +6 at BYU ABC – 330pm
BYU is going back to QB Riley Nelson, now that Taysom Hill is out for the season with an injury. Nelson looked awful earlier in the year and is still recovering from an injury of his own. Both teams have great defenses and I’m going with Oregon State because the final score could see both teams in the teens. Oregon State is without QB Sean Mannion, so the Beavers turn to the inexperienced Cody Vaz. He will be helped significantly by two stud WR – Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks. BYU wins a grinding defensive struggle 17-13. Eventually I have to get a BYU game right…..
TCU at Baylor -7 FSN – 7pm
Before the season began, this game looked like a tough matchup for Baylor. We’ve since found out how explosive the Bears offense is with QB Nick Florence at the helm. WR Terrance Williams has been dominant and I expect Baylor to put up 40+ points once again. TCU will play the remainder of the season with freshman QB Trevone Boykin, after its star player headed to rehab. TCU’s defense isn’t quite as good as in years past, and the Horned Frogs will turn the ball over after facing an early deficit.
South Carolina at LSU -2.5 ESPN - 8pm
Is South Carolina mature enough to handle the new expectations of being ranked in the Top 5? Unfortunately for Steve Spurrier, I think he is running into the Tigers at the wrong time. LSU is coming off a frustrating loss to Florida, in which the Tigers were dominated up front in the second half. LSU’s defense has too much pride and talent to allow that performance to define them this season. LSU QB Zach Mettenberger will play better at home and his team will feed off the energy of the crowd, much like South Carolina did last week against Georgia. USC has played well all season, but this LSU defense is the best they will have faced by far. QB Connor Shaw’s near perfect season will come to an end. LSU at night in Tiger Stadium is tough to pick against. Les Miles circles the wagons and his team gets a much-needed bounce-back win.
Tennessee at Mississippi State -3 ESPN2 – 9pm
Miss State is the most underrated team in the country. The Bulldogs defense is impressive, led by two stud corners that can lock down Tennessee’s talent on the perimeter. Tennessee QB Tyler Bray’s confidence has been shaken following two straight losses and I expect a few mistakes from him on the road. Miss State QB Tyler Russell has thrown 10tds this year and only one int. The home crowd in Starkville will be a factor and I’ll stick with my theme – Pick quality home teams in night games in the SEC.
Texas A&M vs Louisiana Tech +7.5 ESPNU – 9pm
This game will be played at a neutral site in Shreveport, LA. Both teams are red-hot and enter the game averaging 45+ points a game. Louisiana Tech will prove to the nation that this team is for real. QB Colby Cameron has been flawless (13td, 0int) and the LaTech defense has forced fifteen turnovers in five games. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel is already one of the country’s most exciting players. This game will be a shootout and I think defensive stops will be hard to come by. These teams are evenly matched and the game will be decided by whoever has the ball on the final possession.