Back and refreshed from a week up in Maine (Go Black Bears!) where, despite the 3:30 p.m. start of the wedding we were attending, I did get to watch some great games (Notre Dame – Michigan was a classic). For Week 3, I am looking forward to seeing a lot of football…in fact, I will be attending the West Virginia – Maryland game on Saturday…so I give you my Top 5 Games of the Week, plus a short bit of information on the other five!
PLEASE NOTE: The point spreads quoted are as of Thursday morning!
ALL GAMES ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17: TOP FIVE GAMES OF THE WEEK
1. West Virginia at Maryland (Noon, ESPNU) - The Terps are favored by a 2 points, but that’s because no one knows which color combination they’ll wear. Seriously, the winner of this annual border war has usually gone on to have an outstanding season. I think both teams this year are bowl-bound…to good games! IF Maryland’s defense steps up and can stop the Mountaineer offense, the Terps will not only win, but could win big. Terps QB Danny O’Brien has shown maturity this year, but he still needs to get more points than the defense is allowing…and that could be tough. Our favorite player, and family friend, from 2010, Devon Brown, has transferred from Wake Forest after graduating, and now is the leading receiver for the Mountaineers. A big family shout-out to Number 83. Even though I hate to pick against my Terrapins, I just don’t see the defense stopping the Mountaineer offense so, unfortunately, I have to pick West Virginia to cover…and win outright.
2. Tennessee at Florida (3:30 p.m. CBS) – This matchup allows me to tell my Tennessee-alum wife, Edith, one thing…I love to quote the Ol’ Ball Coach who famously said (back in the day when he coached the Gators and UT was not going to a major bowl), “You can’t spell Citrus (Bowl) without UT.” Well, the Vols aren’t going anywhere this season, and a visit to The Swamp will not help their team at all. Florida, favored by 9-1/2 points, covers and wins this one!
3. Michigan State at Notre Dame (3:30 p.m. NBC) – Can the Golden Domers win this game? Absolutely. Any team averaging 510.5 yards of offense should be able to win most games. They are just 74th in the nation in points scored (25.5 per game; 12th in the NCAA)…but unfortunately, they are 83rd in points allowed (29 per game). And that’s where the problem lies. Defensively, ND is giving up 353 yards a game. I was called out by one reader after my Week 1 observation that South Florida made the Irish look small and slow. Well, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration on my part, but yes, turnovers have killed this team. That being said, last week’s game against Michigan was one of the most amazing games I have ever witnessed. Denard Robinson (436 yards per game, 172.5 QB rating)…the Heisman is calling. Leaving a reception early is never in my plans, but this time I was very happy to be able to watch most of the second half to witness an instant classic. Sparty will come in with terrific numbers…QB Kirk Cousins rating is 30 points higher than ND’s Tommy Rees. They average 415 yards a game on offense (47th in nation) and allow just 151 (7th). They are allowing only 3 points per game, which is third in the nation. IF Notre Dame’s defense (like Maryland‘s) can come together, they will win…but (like the Terps), I don’t see that happening. Michigan State, getting 4-1/2 points, wins by more than that.
4. Oklahoma at Florida State (8:00 p.m. ABC) - No. 1 vs. No. 5. I still need to be convinced that the Seminoles are the fifth-best team in the country. They could convince me Saturday night…but it will take quite an effort to slow down the Sooners. Beating up on a Big South team last week isn’t enough to allow me to change my thinking. Gaudy numbers come easily when you don’t play anyone…so I don’t expect them to roll up nearly 510 yards in offense this week. Neither do I expect the Sooners to attain their NCAA-best 663 yards per game. I do expect them to win. Landry Jones is an experienced QB and he delivered in their opener vs. Tulsa. Going to Tallahassee will be different. If OU is going to be playing in the BCS title game, as so many people think, this is a must-win for them. This has the markings of a great inter-sectional game…great players, great coaches and two outstanding teams. Oklahoma, favored by a field goal over FSU, wins this one and covers!
5. Stanford at Arizona (10:45 p.m. ESPN) – Heisman favorite, Andrew Luck, had a nice game last week in Durham, when Stanford beat the Duke Blue Devils by a mere 30 points. Throwing 4 TD passes will do that. Arizona is off to a 1-1 start, and now, they face a Cardinal team that is averaging 438.5 yards of offense, while allowing 286. The Cardinal, by the way, are averaging 50.5 points a game (4th in NCAA) and allow just 8.5 (10th). Yep, it appears the Wildcats are stuck between a rock and hard place. The Cats were torched by Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden in a 37-14 loss, and that just does not bode well for the Tucson-based home team this week. Andrew Luck, going against the 99th-ranked defense in the NCAA…Sorry. Stanford covers the 10 points, and wins by more!
And 5 More Games To Watch:
1. Wisconsin at Northern Illinois (12:30) – How can you not like Wisconsin after their first two games. Russell Wilson IS a game-changer and will continue to put up big numbers this week. Wisconsin, favored by 16-1/2 points, is my favorite to win by more than that! I like the Badgers!
2. Ohio State at Miami (4:35 p.m. ESPN2) – Huge. That’s about all I need to say. Miami, at home, is favored by 2-1/2 points. I’m going the other way. OSU has too much to prove after nearly losing to Toledo last week. I think the Buckeyes will rebound and win outright in Miami.
3. Navy at South Carolina (6:00 p.m. ESPN2) – Navy’s offense always is trouble for opposing defenses, and the Gamecocks‘ D will have to come up big to win. There’s a reason USC is favored by 17 points. Their offense will not have trouble scoring on the Midshipmen this week. USC covers…and wins!
4. Central Florida (UCF) at Florida International (FIU) (6:00 p.m.) – Two of Florida’s “other” schools meet in the Miami area under the lights. FIU has already won twice (North Texas and Louisville), so they will be prepared for the Golden Knights. They average 32.5 (55th in NCAA) points a game, while giving up just 16.5 (33rd). UCF destroyed Boston College, 30-3 last week, and are serving notice that they are to be taken seriously. They average 46 points a game, and allow an NCAA-best 1.5! 27 Golden Knights call South Florida home, so there will be some feudin’ going on! I like UCF to cover the 5 point spread and win outright.
5. Louisville at Kentucky (7:00 p.m. ESPNU) - Just one of those in-state rivalry games better suited for the hardwood. I’d rather see these two play indoors, but not this week. UK has opened their season with two wins…their defense is 8th in the nation in points allowed (8) per game. Their offense is pathetic…they rank 107th. On the other hand, the team that plays their home games in Papa John’s Stadium over by Churchill Downs…they are challenged offensively when it comes to scoring. They average just 19 points a game (99th), and allow 16.5 (33rd). Beating Murray State would be nice, if, again, we were talking about hoops…but we aren’t. I like Kentucky at home to cover their 5.5 points and win.
I’ll be back on Monday with my “5 Things I Liked About Week 3″ feature!