Week 3 Picks - Walter  

Posted by Walter

Tennessee +8 over @ Florida

Look we all know I hate Tennessee like it’s my job, but when a line is too high you gotta move on it. Florida is everyone’s darling this year, despite the fact that they’ve played nobody, and their defense (especially in the secondary where they miss Reggie Nelson badly) has been inconsistent. I guess its just everyone all over the country trying to make up for the lack of respect the Gators got last year until they pasted Ohio State in the national title game. Whatever the reason, 8 points is just a lot to lay in this type of game for several reasons. First, this is Florida’s first legit game. On the other hand, Tennessee has already traveled to California and beaten a very solid Southern Mississippi team at home. Second, the strength of this Tennessee offense is Erik Ainge and the passing game. Florida might have the horses up front, but so far David Cutcliffe’s team has exhibited a controlled, quick release passing game. That should neutralize Florida’s pass rushers and put the pressure on a very young secondary. And finally, this is a rivalry game that is almost always close. In the past 10 meetings there have been as many games decided by more than 10 points as there have been decided by less than 3. Tennessee will be fired up for this game. They may not have quite enough in the tank to pull the upset at the Swamp, but they’ll be close enough. Call it 24-20 Florida.

@ Washington +3.5 over Ohio State

OK let me get this straight. This game features two teams both in the top five nationally in scoring defense. Team A has achieved that ranking against Syracuse (at ‘Cuse) and Boise State. Team B has achieved that ranking against Youngstown State (1AA) and Akron (MAC). Moreover, both teams have inexperienced starting quarterbacks. Team A’s QB was one of the top recruits in the country, while team B’s QB languished as a backup for a full year. Finally, the game is being played in a hostile stadium in front of fans that are simply starving for a winning football team. Team A rolls out of bed and walks onto the field with the fans cheering them, Team B flies 6 hours across the country (and 3 hours back in time) and will barely be able to hear the guy next to him let along the snap count over the rabid fans. So who do you think should be favored by 3.5 points in this game? Exactly. Ohio State has the name, but Washington has everything else, including a crafty offensive coach who is on his way towards salvaging his once left-for-dead career. This is a statement game for Ty Willingham. Washington 17, Ohio State 14.

@ Alabama -3 over Arkansas

So maybe you didn’t hear it but apparently over 70,000 people showed up at Bryant-Denney stadium to watch Nick Saban’s first scrimmage as Alabama head coach. You think they’re gonna be ready to go for the home opener? The bottom line is that Arkansas, as good as they can be, is simply walking into a buzz saw here. Nick Saban has been slowly building momentum from the moment he took the job. Last week’s big win at Vanderbilt, against a team many thought could be an SEC sleeper this year (over ‘Bama might I add), has set the stage for the “official” beginning to the Nick Saban era in Tuscaloosa. Arkansas has been OK this year. Yes Darren McFadden and Felix Jones are a great 1-2 combination, but Alabama’s defense actually matches up fairly well. The Razorback passing game has struggled all year (especially without Marcus Monk) so my guess is that Saban will stick all everything cornerback Simeon Castille in man coverage all game, and use his other 10 defenders to stop the run. Unless McFadden has a superhuman game, which isn’t out of the question, a Casey Dick led team is not going to be able to cover a field goal spread in Tuscaloosa. Expect Alabama to exploit a young Razorbacks secondary early, and force them to play catch up all game. This one could be over for all intents and purposes by halftime. The score will be closer than the game, but not close enough. Give me Alabama 27-17.

@ Kentucky +6 over Louisville

This should be amongst the best matchups of the day, nay the year. Clearly the two best pro prospects at the quarterback position going at it for 4 quarters. While this game might read Louisville v. Kentucky, it might as well say Brohm v. Woodson, because that’s what the NFL scouts will be looking at. Personally, I am thrilled the game is happening early in the year, because neither team has any injuries and we’re going to see two outstanding passers operating with all their weapons available to them. Harry Douglas and Mario Urutia have been as good as advertised, but Woodson has some toys of his own to play with in Keenan Burton and Rafael Little. Throw in the fact that neither of these teams has any interest in playing defense and you’ve got the makings of an old fashioned shoot out. My tendency in these types of games is to lay the points, because while the teams can trade scores for a few quarters, eventually the underdog ends up making a mistake on offense (a tipped ball, a dropped pass, a costly penalty…). But in this game, I’m just not sure either defense is capable of forcing such a mistake. I mean these two offenses are just so much better than their defensive counterparts that they are both gigantic mismatches. Seriously, we may not see a punt the entire game. Moreover, this game is being played at Kentucky. Now we know these teams don’t like each other on the basketball court, and I’m betting that animosity will transfer to the gridiron now that both teams are good. The longer the Wildcats hang with the Cardinals the more fired up the fans will get, the more confidence the team will get, and the harder it will be for the favorites to execute. This one goes down to the wire. Let’s give it to the home team on a two point conversion to end the game. In an absolute shocker call it Kentucky 54, Lousville 53.

@ Nebraska +10 over USC

I may end up regretting this one….but they again maybe not. Let’s not forget that last year Nebraska hung right with USC in the Coliseum, only to be undone by their coach wussing out on the gameplan halfway through the second quarter. Physically, the Cornhuskers were right there with one of the elite teams in the nation. The same can be said about this year’s teams. Physically they belong on the same field together. What remains to be seen is whether Bill Callahan is anywhere near the class of coach that Pete Carroll is. I’m still betting he’s not, but I’m also betting that he (a) learned a little something from last year’s game, and (b) will be a lot bolder with his play calling at home. I kind of get the feeling that Callahan’s been saving something for this game. He really hasn’t turned his star QB Sam Keller loose yet and this might be the day. For the first time in, well forever, the Cornhuskers have a Pac-10 caliber offense who can air it out with the best in the land. Yeah I know everyone is up in arms about the close call this past week, but did I miss something or did Nebraska go on the road and beat last year’s ACC champions? I know nobody wants to believe in Wake Forest but where I come from that counts as a very solid win. The Cornhuskers are battle tested and that stadium should be absolutely rocking with fans who have been waiting for years to re-enter college football’s elite. Can the Cornhuskers do it? Absolutely. Will they? Probably not. Let’s give it to USC in a heartbreaker for the Lincoln faithful, 30-27.

Last Week: 2-3

Overall: 6-4


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