Week 5 Picks  

Posted by Walter

Rutgers -3.5 over @ S Florida

I nearly picked South Florida in this one based on two players: Stephen Nicholas and Ben Moffit. Trust me, if these two linebackers played for Okalahoma or Miami you would have heard about them by now. The bottom line is that this game features the tremendous matchup of the so-far dominant Rutgers running game (led by Ray Rice and Brian Leonard) against perhaps the best linebacking corpse in the nation. It's very hard to call which way this will go, but I am giving the edge to Rutgers based on balance. Very few teams in the nation feature a better thunder-lightning combo that Leonard-Rice from Rutgers. Leonard will be the difference in this game, even if the stats don't bear that out, because he will wear down Nicholas and Moffit. On the other side of the ball, the South Florida offense is led by true freshman Matt Grothe and has only managed 31 points the last two weeks. They will be hard pressed to score against the no-name Rutgers defense that is in the top 10 in the nation. This looks like a low(ish) scoring game, so call it Rugers 20-10.

Boise State +4 over @ Utah

These are two teams I absolutely love. Both feature innovative offenses and have gamebreakers all over the field. In fact, the better bet on this game might be the over. Boise State has the most offensive talent that Utah will face this season (and that includes a UCLA team that flattened the Utes in week 1). Ian Johnson has been a stud all season, thanks to the dominating play of the Boise State offensive line. Chris Peterson loves to pound the ball and use his running game to open up passing lanes for Jared Zabransky. Utah has an outstanding secondary so I expect Boise State to win this game on the ground. Look for Boise to get back to its roots with more option looks agains the Utes. Against UCLA, Utah did a great job stopping the run and only lost because Ben Olson was super accurate all day long. Zabransky is a veteran starter but he is prone to bouts of erraticness. Boise needs to be careful with him, because Utah safety Eric Weddle has been all over the field making big plays. Boise cannot afford to turn the ball over at all, as their defense has shown kinks over the past few weeks, especially against the pass (Hawaii bombed away on them all day). That said, I expect a ton of points to be scored, with Ian Johnson and the Boise line proving to be just a bit too much for the Utes. Boise takes it 34-32.

@ Florida -13 over Alabama

Alabama is not as good as it's record. They are not as good as they were last season. Florida is better. Much better. The bottom line is that Florida has just way too many playmakers for the Tide defense to handle. Chris Leak has been playing as well as any QB in the nation, and who can blame him with the trio of receivers he has to throw to (Dallas Baker, Andre Caldwell, Percy Harvin). Alabama has struggled on offense all season. They couldn't move the ball against an Arkansas defense that, while tough, does not have nearly the talent that Florida does. The scary thing is that Florida's defense has yet to play to it's full potential. Marcus Thomas and Jarvis Moss have appeared disinterested at times. I believe this is going to be Florida's true coming out party. They almost never beat Alabama, so playing at home they make a huge statement to the nation 30-9.

Georgia Tech +11 over @ Virginia Tech

I do not understand this line. Virgnia Tech hasn't played anyone this season. They have beaten as many 1AA teams as they have 1A teams. We just don't know how good they are just yet, let alone that they are 11 points better than a team that has one of the best players in the nation (Calvin Johnson) and took nearly beat Notre Dame on opening night. I know that the game is in Blacksburg, which is why I am not picking the Jackets to win, but Georgia Tech has too much explosion on the offensive side of the ball to not keep this thing close. Beamer ball is alive and well, but you can't rely on blocked kicks every week. That is the reason Tech always seems to fade down the stretch when they start playing more talented and disciplined teams. Also, we need to give some credit to the Georgia Tech defense. They played extremely tough against Notre Dame, holding them to fewew points than Michigan did. I don't see Tech putting up too many points in this game, as their offense is not the explosive kind to begin with. Tech wins it, but not nearly by enough to cover the spread 21-17.

@ Washington State +14 over USC

Frazier is right, this USC team is impossible to figure out. The pieces seem to be in place for them to dominate teams like they did a year ago, but they have yet to do so. The Dwayne Jarrett injury is going to hurt them. He was by far their best offensive player (BY FAR!!!) and he was the guy that opposing coaches had to gameplan around. It will be interesting to see how the Trojan offense responds to the different style of gameplans that will be thrown at them with Jarrett on the sideline. I would expect a lot more blitzing and man to man coverage (no way would an opposing coach think of covering Jarrett man to man) and Booty will be forced to make quicker decisions. Make no mistake about it, Washington State is a tough opponent. They got waxed by Auburn in Week 1, but that game was thousands of miles away from Wazzou. I expect a classic Pac-10 game here, and Washigton State has a very underrated passing offense that may be able to hang with USC. They have a veteran QB in Alex Brink and a potential first round WR in Jason Hill. The USC defense has been outstanding thus far, but this might be the game where losing starting safety Josh Pinkard starts to hurt them. This will be the first true Pac-10 game for USC (Arizona is more of a big 12 style team) and it will be interesting to see how their defense holds up to a bombs away attack. USC wins, but it ain't easy 28-21.

Michigan -4.5 over @ Minnesota

Minnesota traditionally plays Michigan tough, but this Michigan team looks to be on a mission. They have been playing some of the most physical defense in recent memory, and they have by far the best front 7 in the nation. Minnesota has always made its way by running the football, something they won't be able to do against the Wolverines. QB Cupito is a decent game manager, who doesn't make mistakes and is capable of picking up a first down every now and then but he is not a vertical passer. Minnesota does not have anywhere near a balanced enough offensive attack to hang with Michigan. This past Saturday Michigan dominated a Wisonsin team that is very similar to Minnesota. I say nothing changes this week. Michigan wins 24-10.

@ Iowa +5 over Ohio State

Let me be clear on this, I think Iowa can win this game. Iowa has several things going for it. First and foremost is that the game is in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes will be looking for their first 5-0 start ever under Ferentz and Hawkeye Stadium should be one of the most frenzied atmosphere's in the nation thus far. Second, the Ohio State offense has looked somewhat off kilter ever since the Texas game. Especially last week against Penn State, Troy Smith was picked off twice and Tedd Ginn appears to have gone into his traditional midseason invisibility mode. Antonio Pittman has been by far the Buckeye's best offensive player over the past two weeks, but you don't beat a Kirk Ferentz coached team at home by just running the football. Third, and finally, Iowa has Drew Tate. Tate has been a tremendous QB for Iowa, but he is still searching for a signature Big 10 win (the Bowl victory over LSU counts as his signature victory overall). He is by far the best passer that the Buckeyes have faced this season, and Iowa has the offensive talent to really test the young Buckeye secondary that has yet to be tested. I thought that Penn State had the talent to do this, but Anthony Morrelli proved he was the worst QB in the nation. Tate is the real deal, and he will not be afraid of the Buckeyes. With all that said, though, I still think Ohio State wins the game. This Buckeye team has a little bit of magic in it. Troy Smith played poorly last week, but he still made huge plays when his team needed him to (the TD pass was just awesome). This Ohio State teams reminds me a little of Oklahoma's championship team of a few years ago. Although he is a different type of player, Smith makes plays for his team in the same way Josh Heupel did for the Sooners. The true mark of a great player is someone who can make plays and rise to the occasion even when he is not at his best. Heupel did it for Oklahoma, Smith does it for OSU. In one heck of a game Ohio State takes it 23-21 on a late FG.


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