Two weeks down, two fantastic weekends for college football fans, and two weeks of sub-par picks for me. Just like last year, I have plummeted near the bottom of the Streaking The Lawn Yahoo! Pick Em League. But I’m confident that my strategy for the season (which I’ll reveal at the end of the year) will pay off.
Week 3 brings a number of interesting out-of-conference games to go with one of the biggest ACC games of the season. Let’s take a look at each of them, shall we?
(Please note, these picks are for entertainment purposes only)
Category 1: The Big Game
#2 Florida State is a 2-point favorite on the road at #10 Louisville
The storylines here surround who will be playing for Louisville and who won’t be playing for Florida State. The Cardinals feature soon-to-be Heisman candidate Lamar Jackson. The sophomore quarterback has been positively electric in Louisville’s first two games, throwing for seven touchdowns and rushing for six more. He’ll go up against a Florida State defense that just lost safety Derwin James to injury. The Noles are still stacked on defense and still boast one of the nation’s best running backs. But I look for Louisville to eke out a cover here, and potentially win the game outright.
Category 2: Other Conference Games
Virginia Tech is a 5.5-point favorite at home against Boston College
Last week I got burned by both the Hokies and the Eagles. I thought Tech would cover in Bristol and BC would fail to score enough to cover against UMass. This week I’m going with the Eagles again. Boston College’s defense has remained stout enough to keep it in most games. Tech’s offense is still adjusting to life under new coach Justin Fuente and has developed a severe case of fumble-itis. Look for a low scoring game in Blacksburg. Tech will win by 3.
Category 3: Power 5 FBS Games
Georgia Tech is a 6.5-point favorite at home against Vanderbilt
Pittsburgh is a 6-point underdog on the road at Oklahoma State
Duke is a 4-point underdog on the road at Northwestern
I remain a believer in Coach Cutcliffe and Duke, at least until they lay another egg. I think the Devils will get it together enough to potentially pull out a win against a struggling Northwestern squad. Pitt, meanwhile, heads into a tough situation in Stillwater. The Panthers are coming off an emotional win against Penn State, while the Cowboys will be looking to take out their frustrations after losing to Central Michigan. I think Oklahoma State will win by a touchdown. Finally, I’m not quite sold on Georgia Tech yet. If the line was 3 or 4, I’d pick Georgia Tech. At 6.5, I’m taking Vanderbilt and the points.
Category 4: FBS Games against Group of 5 opponents
Miami is a 3.5-point favorite on the road at Appalachian State
Virginia is a 4-point underdog on the road at Connecticut
Syracuse is a 14-point underdog at home against South Florida
NC State is a 21.5-point favorite at home against Old Dominion
Under Randy Shannon or Al Golden, I’d pick Miami to lose to Appalachian State outright. But under Mark Richt, I think the Canes will be ready. This is probably the most intriguing game of the day outside of FSU-Louisville. I look for Brad Kaaya and the Canes to cover the spread somehow. I’m going to take both Syracuse and NC State to cover at home. The Cuse had its doors blown off in the second half against Louisville, but they hung in there for the first 30 minutes. I think their offense is gimmicky enough that it will take South Florida quite a while to figure it out. NC State, meanwhile, gets a breather against ODU after losing to East Carolina. ODU isn’t quite to the point where it can compete with Power 5 teams yet.
Finally, I think the Virginia-UConn game is the most mismatched game on the board. Bill Connelly’s stats have UConn as a .5-point favorite. Sagarin has the game even. I like the improvement I saw from UVA last week. Progress never happens in a straight line, of course, but I’m optimistic Virginia can take another step forward this weekend. I’d take Virginia to win even if it was giving 2 points. I love them to cover when getting 4.
Category 5: Games against FCS Opponents
Clemson is at home against South Carolina State
North Carolina is at home against James Madison
Wake Forest is at home against Delaware
A Wake Forest-James Madison contest would be interesting to watch. Unfortunately, that game isn’t happening. None of these three games should be close. I will be keeping an eye on Clemson’s offense, however.