Week 2 Picks  

Posted by Walter

Auburn -19 over @ Miss. St.

While I know it is always dangerous to lay so many point on the road, this game appears to be such a mismatch that I am willing to do it. Last week, Mississippi State's game against South Carolina unfurled just as expected. The defense was very good, the offense was very bad, and Steve Spurrier was able to manufacture just enough points for the win. With the loss of starting QB Michael Henig, the Mississippi State offense has gotten worse (if possible). Tray Rutland is probably a more talented player, but his inexperience showed last week in a 6-15, 2 INT showing against the Gamecocks. Auburn is a better team that South Carolina in every aspect of the game and Kenny Irons should have no problem wearing down a Mississippi State defense that will no doubt spend more time on the field than they want to. Really, this game comes down to whether Auburn is going to score 19 points themselves since points from Mississippi State look unlikely. Expect another donut from the Mississippi State offense, and a suprisingly strong game from Auburn QB Brandon Cox as the Bulldogs will not doubt put 8 or 9 men in the box to slow down Irons. It won't be close to enough, call it 30-0 Auburn.

Penn State +7 over @ Notre Dame

This is an intersting game because after Week 1 people seem to be covinced Penn State is better than expected, and Notre Dame may be worse (off course, we here at the323 know better). Notre Dame looked eminently beatable against Georgia Tech but the fact remains that they were able to pull out a big opening week win against a tough ACC opponent. Plus, any road win is a good win. Look for Notre Dame to play much better in the friendly confines of South Bend and under the watchful eye of Touchdown Jesus. That said, the Nittany Lions are a much better team than the Yellow Jackets so the Irish will still have their hands full. The difference for Notre Dame against Georgia Tech was Darius Walker. In fact, after watching about 10 0f their games from the past two seasons, it is apparent that he is their most important offensive player (even more so than Quinn). As great as the Irish offensive line played last week, this Penn State front seven is far better than Georgia Tech's. Look for Penn State's trio of all Big Ten caliber linebackers to shut Walker down. That will leave the game in the hands of Brady Quinn, a seasoned veteran passing against a very young seconday for Penn State. This game will be won by the team who's quarterback plays better. Oddly enough, with Anthony Morelli at the helm, Penn State is more equipped this season to play in this type of shootout game than they were when they went 11-1 in 2005. Quinn is the better player right now so lets call it 31-28 Notre Dame.

@ BC -1 over Clemson

As a rabid BC fan this pick could look like a homer. And it is, BUT I can, and will, defend it. The difference in this game will be the BC running game. The Eagles relied way too much on Matt Ryan (48 pass attempts) to win their opener, and I doubt they will make the same mistake twice. Clemson, aleady without one starting linebacker, lost all ACC caliber linebacker Anthony Waters in their first game and seem vulnerable to a big, physical running attack such as the one BC can now muster. Look for BC to exploit the loss of Waters and pound the ball between the tackles behind all-everything guard Josh Beekman. On the flip side, BC proved that they are very stout against the run by holding Central Michigan's all MAC back Ontario Sneed in check for their entire game. While James Davis and CJ Spiller are more talented backs, the BC front seven is very experienced and anchored by mammoth defensive tackle BJ Raji. Look for the Eagles to move safety Jamie Silva up into the box to stop the run and put the pressure on Will Proctor and the Clemson passing game. Expect a few big plays out of Clemson, but Boston College should be able to control the clock and grind out a win in front of their home crowd. Call it 28-25 BC.

@LSU -14.5 over Arizona

We here at the323 absolutely love what Mike Stoops has done at Arizona. That said, they are not ready to tango with a team as loaded as LSU, especially away from the friendly confines of Tuscon. The Wildcat defense was outstanding in the opener against BYU, holding a very good offense to 13 points. Expect more of the same from them. Conversely, the Wildcat offense was inconsistent at best, abysmal at worst, against a weak BYU defense. While Willie Tuitama's talent is unmistakable, his inexperience showed last week and will no doubt rear its ugly head against a much faster Tiger defense. Unless LSU turns the ball over, or breaks down on special teams, I think it is going to be incredibly difficult for the Wildcats to muster any semblance of a consistent offensive attack. Look for Antoine Cason and Arizona to slow down the LSU offense in the first half, but the opportunistic Tiger defense will come up with a few turnovers that will lead directly to points. The star of this game should be Tiger tailback Alley Broussard who should be motivated to show he is fully healed from his ACL injury before next week's pivotal matchup at Auburn. Arizona is close, but not there yet. Call it 30-14 LSU.

@ South Carolina +2 over Georgia

Simply put, we here at the323 just do not believe in Joe Tereshinski as a legitimate Division I quarterback. Well, that and Steve Spurrier being the best coach of the past 20 years. In anti-Spurrier fashion, though, the Gamecocks are going to try to win this game on defense. After shutting out an admittedly terrible Mississippi State offense last week, South Carolina should have some defensive confidence entering this matchup. And while the Georgia offense is a much more talented offense than that of Mississippi State, they have yet to bear that out on the field. In their opener against Western Kentucky, the Bulldogs couldn't muster 300 yards of total offense with Tereshinski leading the ineptitude. While the Georgia trio of backs is as good as anyone in the nation, the passing game is just terrible. In addition to the mediocre play of Tereshinski the recieving corpse was virtually invisible last week. Georgia's leading reciever was RB Thomas Brown with three catches for 30 yards. Supposed number 1 wideout Mo Massaquoi hauled in just one pass for 2 yards. Look for the Gamecocks to stack the box against the Georgia running game with 8 and sometimes 9 guys. The South Carolina linebackers and secondary are athletic enough to run with the Bulldog recievers, and I don't think Tereshinski can win this game by himself. Oh, and as usual Spurrier will squeeze just enough out of his mediocre offense to win the game. This is a statement game for South Carolina and Steve Spurrier and will put the rest of the country on notice that they have arrived in the SEC. Let's call it 21-17 South Carolina.

@ Arizona State -14.5 over Nevada

I love and respect this Nevada team. But I also love and respect this Arizona State team. I think Dirk Koetter made the right choice by choosing Rudy Carpenter as his starter, even if it meant losing Sam Keller to Nebraska. Any faithful read of the323 knows that I think Jeff Rowe is the real deal for Nevada. What this game will come down to is skill position talent, and Arizona State just has more. Converted RB Rudy Burgess was outstanding at WR for Arizona State in game one, notching over 100 yards. He is virtually uncoverable because of his straight line speed, agility, and ability to quickly change directions. Look for a huge game from both him and Carpenter. On the flip side, Jeff Rowe and Robert Hubbard (over 100 yards last week against Fresno) are no slouches. But Arizona State showed surprising pass rushing ability last week, led by Derron Ware who was credited with 3 sacks against Northern Arizona. He will create problems for Jeff Rowe and the Pistol Pete offense. Look for a ton of points to be scored in this one, with the Sun Devils just having too much offense for the Wolfpack to contend with. Call it 45-30 Arizona State.

@ Fresno State +3.5 over Oregon

I am not ready to admit defeat on Oregon just yet. Their domination of Stanford notwithstanding (Stanford is awful), I am not ready to drink the Mike Belloti Kool-Aid just yet. Let's see what the Ducks can do outside the confines of comfy Autzen Stadium against a team that is going to smack them right in the mouth as Fresno State will. In their opening win against Nevada, Fresno tailback Dwayne Wright looked like a man possessed. He was ripping through tackles all night and I doubt he was brought down by the first man at all. Oregon will have their hands full stopping him. However, the same can be said for Duck tailback Jonathan Stewart. He was everything Oregon hoped he would be an more against Stanford rushing for 168 yards. However, Stewart did hurt his ankle late in that game and it is unclear whether he will be 100 percent against Fresno. If the game is put in the hands of QB Dennis Dixon, the advantage goes to Fresno in front of their home crowd. This pick may look foolish if Stewart is healthy (if he is Oregon should win this game), but for now lets go with Fresno 24-23 over Oregon.

Ohio State +2.5 over @ Texas

There aren't enough superlatives to describe this game. I am tired of hearing about all the comparison's to last year's game and how the roles are totally reversed from when they met in 2005. It's just silly. The 2005 Longhorns beat the 2005 Buckeyes. That has no bearing on what will happen on Saturday at 8 PM. When analyzing this game it is actually quite easy to see where it will be won or lost. The key matchup is the Texas Offensive Line against the Ohio State front seven. If Mack Brown had his way, Colt McCoy wouldn't throw a single pass the entire game. Texas has perhaps the best offensive line in all of college football. They are big, strong and ugly (trust me, as a former offensive lineman ugly is complimentary). The Ohio State front seven looked lost against Garrette Wolfe and Northern Illinois. The Buckeye's didn't tackle (at all), they didn't get off of blocks, they didn't run to the ball......the list goes on. The bottom line is that this Buckeye defense is not as good as what we have come to expect from them. Against Northern Illinois they looked slow, something they haven't been since Jim Tressell took over. I can't say I expect them to look any fast playing against the Big Uglies from Austin in the unbearable Texas heat and humidity (game time temperature is supposed to be close to 90 degrees). BUT, with all that said, Texas is going to have to run the ball to put points up and that takes time. This is both good and bad because it keeps the powerful OSU offense on the sidelines, but it also makes it difficult to overcome an early deficit or put points up in the last few minutes of the half. The loss of Tarell Brown (suspended) in the secondary is a huge one for Texas. They still have enough talent back there to take away Tedd Ginn Jr. (who is due for an invisible performance after busting out against Northern Illinois), but look for Troy Smith to find Anthony Gonzalez several times. In fact, that is where the loss of Brown is really going to be felt. Gonzalez is a talented reciever and I believe he is going to break out in this game. This game is too close to call so I do what I always do when that is the case.....take the points. But forced to choose, as a former offensive lineman I will go with the team who can pound the ball, pick up first downs, and eventually run out the clock. Plus, being in Austin doesn't hurt. Call it Texas 21-20.

Last week: 6-5
Season: 6-5


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