Thursday, September 13, 2012

Week 3: When We Separate the Teenagers from the Toddlers

Ah, mid-September. The pretenders have been unmasked; we’re looking at you Wisconsin, and Arkansas. And the big games are just beginning to form. Now we can settle in and see who gets the wins, until the NCAA later vacates them.

How'd I do last week? Let's take a quick look:

Straight Up: 1-2 (6-2)
ATS: 2-1 (4-4)

GAME OF THE WEEK: #20 Notre Dame (2-0) vs. #10 Michigan State (2-0) 7 p.m., ABC.
The ACC’s newest team, Notre Dame vs. Big Ten favorite Michigan State.

The Irish have a mini QB controversy. Everett Golson will start over Tommy Rees.  They will get some help with last year’s leading rusher Cierre Wood returning from suspension. How quickly he will be up to speed is anyone’s guess.

The Spartans are led by Le’veon Bell. But as Wisconsin proved last week, you need more than a big running back to win. So it will come down to Andrew Maxwell. How ready is he? We don’t know.

State probably has the better defense with big DE William Gholston and friends. They are 8th in NCAA defense allowing 225 yards per game.

The Line: Spartans are now 6-point favorites after starting out as 4 and a half point favorites.

The Pick: My guess is that both teams struggle to score early. Michigan State is at home. Running the football and defense are never bad things. State 21 Irish 16.

#2 USC (2-0) at  #21 Stanford (2-0) Saturday, 6:30 p.m., FOX
Remember how wild this one was last year? Andrew Luck and the Cardinal won in 3 overtimes? Yeah, well that was last year.

That said, Stanford has won 3 straight against the men of Troy. Winning a fourth would be unprecedented. Not only that, it’ll be really, really difficult.

Matt Barkley leads the PAC12 favorites on offense. He has 10 touchdowns before we even get to the quarter pole of the season. The Trojans are 14th in the nation, scoring 46.5 ppg.

Stanford’s QB Josh Nunes will get his first real test of the young season.  He will rely on HB Stepfan Taylor who has had back to back 1,000 yard seasons.

The Line: Opened at 10 and now down to SC -8.5.

The Pick: Stanford is not the same team post-Luck and this line is low. SC wins big 38- 21.

Navy (0-1) At Penn State (0-2) Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ABC.
Penn State’s offense has been brutal. Its 15 ppg ranks 107th in FBS and its rushing attack is 103rd. Still they almost did enough to win on the road against Virginia. In fact, if they had a field goal kicker who wasn’t 1 of 5 they would have one. But, it’s a tough situation there with personnel losses before the season, as you all know.

The Naval Academy knows something about tough situations. They lost 50-10 to Notre Dame in Dublin two weeks ago. QB Trey Miller captains (Get it. Navy.) the triple-option offense. ND was able to slow it down, will Penn State?

This is no gimme for the Lions. Navy would love to steal one in Happy Valley. The Lions, though, really need a win.

The Line: PSU by 5.5. One side note, the O/U is 46.5…the under is enticing.

The Pick: Penn State 14 Navy 10.

#25 Brigham Young (2-0) at Utah (1-1) Saturday, 9 p.m., ESPN2.
An old WAC matchup to end the night.

The Utes lost starting QB Jordan Wynn for good, as he decided to retire rather than risk an injury. Jon Hays, who filled in for him last year, will take back over. Expect RB John White to get a lot of carries.

The Cougars are ranked 25th and in their second year of playing Independent Football. QB Riley Nelson leads the 21st ranked passing offense in the nation. Still Salt Lake City has not been kind to BYU, who has lost 4 of their last five there.

The Line: Cougars by 4.

The Pick: Too much change for the Utes. Cougars 31 Utah 21.

#1 Alabama (2-0) at Arkansas (1-1) 2:30 p.m., CBS.
Well, at least the suspense is gone from this game. If not for ULM, it would have been a week of huge hype, followed by a big Alabama win.

The biggest suspense is whether Hog play caller Tyler Wilson will be available this Saturday.  His status is still uncertain because of a head injury.  Meanwhile, Crimson Tide signal caller A.J. McCarron hasn’t thrown an interception in 5 games.

The Hogs gave up 21 points to ULM to blow the lead last week. Something tells me the Tide will move the ball. Last year it was 38-14 in Tuscaloosa.

The Line: Alabama has moved to a 21-point favorite.

The Pick: No doubt, its ‘Bama straight up. 21 points though is a pretty big margin going on the road against a team with a chip on its shoulder and nothing to lose. But the odds makers are right. It's a push, Bama 38 Arkansas 17.


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