Season Record: 36-13
Last Week’s Record: 12-6
Welcome back to The Campus Game and Week 4 of Professor’s Picks for the 2010 season.
Each week, predictions for all SEC games and a selected number of national games will be posted here.
Comment: The professor posted a mediocre 12-6 mark last week, about a C unless we grade on a curve of some sort. This week features several games matching unbeaten teams, making for an exciting weekend of college football action.
Best Pick: Alabama over Duke. Hey – just kidding … no picks really jump out on the positive side of the grade book. Perhaps going with homestanding Auburn to beat Clemson earns top score.
Worst Pick: A few contenders here, but let’s go with calling for Washington to nip Nebraska. The Cornhuskers only handled the Huskies by 35. Oh my.
Here are this week’s SEC picks and national picks of interest.
UAB (1-2) at Tennessee (1-2, 0-1)
12:21 p.m. ET SEC Network UT (XM 199 Sirius 220)
Knoxville, Tenn. • Neyland Stadium (102,455)
Comment: Big Orange needs to win badly because a brutal four-game stretch awaits (@LSU, @Georgia, Alabama, @South Carolina). Vols get this one.
Professor’s Pick: Tennessee
Alabama (3-0, 0-0) at Arkansas (3-0, 1-0)
2:30 p.m. CT CBS Sports (AL 143/122 AR 200/219)
Fayetteville, Ark. • Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)
Comment: The Razorbacks have been waiting on this one a long time but remember the old saying … be careful what you wish for. Alabama seems really anxious for a test against a legitimate threat, so the guess here is that the Tide rolls in ready to rumble. Bama boasts a very balanced offense. Last season, Arkansas committed to stuffing the run (and did so), but Bama QB Greg McElroy shredded them through the air. With Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson healthy and fresh, the Bama offense probably will not have to air it out and may actually be able to play keep away. Arkansas, for all Ryan Mallett’s skills is not balanced. A tenet of Nick Saban defenses is to take away one aspect of the opposing offense, typically the strongest part. If Alabama commits to defending the pass and getting to Mallett, it’s tough to see the Hogs doing much damage on the ground. One potential concern for Alabama is the lack of a pass rush (last in the SEC with only two). Mallett’s arm is too dangerous to allow him a whole bunch of time. Must see TV this week for college football fans.
Professor’s Pick: Alabama
Georgia (1-2, 0-2) at Mississippi State (1-2, 0-2)
6 p.m. CT FSN (UGA 141/121 MSU 200/219)
Starkville, Miss. • Davis Wade Stadium (55,082)
Comment: The Dog days of summer should be over but you would have a hard time convincing anybody in Athens or Starkville. Georgia made a pretty gutsy comeback against Arkansas last week, only to falter with less than a minute left and lose. The UGA Dawgs are now 0-2 in the SEC for the first time in Mark Richt’s tenure, enough of a slow start to get the lunatic fringe of fans (and a few more) riled up. A big problem for Georgia is lack of play-makers on both sides of the ball. At State, the Bullies also have nothing in the way of game-breakers. After pointing all off-season to a Thursday night showdown with Auburn then losing to the Tigers at home, MSU is in danger of struggling to find six wins this season. Two wounded programs and it may get ugly for the loser.
Professor’s Pick: Georgia
Kentucky (3-0, 0-0) at Florida (3-0, 1-0)
7 p.m. ET ESPNU (UF 199/220)
Gainesville, Fla. • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548)
Comment: You have to like Kentucky. Four straight bowl games closed out the Rich Brooks era, and new coach Joker Phillips has kept the Big Blue caravan rolling to start the season with an offense scoring over 40 points per game. The competition has not exactly been the 1967 Green Bay Packers however. A nice opening win at in-state rival Louisville was followed by gulping down a couple of cupcakes in Western Kentucky and Akron. Scarfing down the mighty Gators in the Swamp will prove more difficult. Florida didn’t seem right much of last year (when unrealistic expectations meant they should win every game 100-0), and the decisive loss to Alabama in the SEC title game really pierced the pride of the boys from the Sunshine State (especially their head coach). Sloppy and inconsistent offensive play has overshadowed any positive aspects of Florida’s season. The team has not established a solid passing game (103rd rank nationally at 150 ypg) or a dominant ground attack (53rd nationally at 167 ypg). Still, this is the most athletic team in the league top to bottom, the special teams are stellar, and the squad is itching to get to Tuscaloosa next week unbeaten. They will.
Professor’s Pick: Florida
Fresno State (2-0) at Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1)
6:30 p.m. CT CSS (UM 201/218)
Oxford, Miss. • Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580)
Comment: Ole Miss lost a home game by two touchdowns to Vanderbilt last week, meaning the Rebels now have two terrible setbacks on the season (an earlier loss to Jacksonville State being the cake taker). Now for the bad news … the next five opponents on the Ole Miss schedule are all unbeaten going into this weekend (Fresno, Kentucky, @Alabama, @Arkansas, Auburn). Ole Miss has done very little well, but the most surprising aspect has been the failure of the two lines – thought to be strong points – to dominate. Fresno is somewhat unusual for a West Coast team in that the Bulldogs prefer to run the ball. Pat Hill’s squad should not be intimidated and this figures to be a close one.
Professor’s Pick: Ole Miss
South Carolina (3-0, 1-0) at Auburn (3-0, 1-0)
6:45 p.m. CT ESPN (SC 143/122 AU 198/217)
Auburn, Ala. • Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
Comment: Two more unbeaten teams meet. Auburn survived a stinker of a first-half to come back and beat Clemson in overtime last week, but expect South Carolina to be an even tougher test. The Gamecocks are physical, run the football well with freshman Marcus Lattimore (who very nearly went to Auburn), and are better on defense than the Tigers. If SC plays under control (not easy in the cauldron of Jordan-Hare Stadium), Steve Spurrier’s team will hand Auburn its first loss of the season.
Professor’s Pick: South Carolina
West Virginia (3-0) at LSU (3-0, 2-0)
8 p.m. CT ESPN2 (LSU 197/216)
Baton Rouge, La. • Tiger Stadium (92,400)
Comment: Two of the more unpredictable teams in America meet on the bayou. LSU has a roster full of talent, but the Bengal Tigers border on atrocious on the offensive side of the ball. They rank 105th in the nation in passing, and why Jarrett Lee has not been given a chance to unseat the ineffective Jordan Jefferson is a mystery. Defensively, the Tigers have been very solid except for a letdown in the second half of the season opener against North Carolina. WVU has played a weaker schedule on the way to 3-0 (beating Coastal Carolina, Marshall in OT, and Maryland. Not a Mardi Gras for the Tigers, but they should win.
Professor’s Pick: LSU
Open: Vanderbilt (1-2, 1-1)
(all times Eastern)
TCU at SMU (Friday 8:00 ESPN) … Horned Frogs continue quest for yet another BCS bowl (why do these teams from “non-BCS” conferences ever complain … they have an easier route to the big money games than teams in the big six conferences). June Jones and the ponies from SMU will be no pushover, but TCU looks good. Professor’s Pick: TCU
NC State at Georgia Tech (12:00 ESPN) … State has gotten off to a nice start, but typically swoon in ACC play. The opposite holds true for the Yellow Jackets; expect them to wreck State handily. Professor’s Pick: Georgia Tech
Stanford at Notre Dame (3:30 NBC) … Since Jim Harbaugh arrived at Stanford, he has been a professor’s pet on this site. Harbaugh brings toughness and a rushing attack to the all-too-often soft PAC-10, and this Cardinal team is typically gritty. ND arrives back home after yet another late loss (seems like a dozen or so in the past few years). Sooner or later Brian Kelly will right the Irish ship, but the guess here is it will not happen this week. Professor’s Pick: Stanford
Temple at Penn State (3:30 Big Ten) … Will Joe Paterno be staring across the field at his successor? Al Golden has turned the Temple program around and seems destined for a bigger job – perhaps even replacing his old coach at the alma mater in Happy Valley. JoePa shows the youngster he’s still boss. Professor’s Pick: Penn State
Oregon State at Boise State (8:00 ABC) … The boys from the blue field get yet more national publicity (as if they need it). No word on whether Herby and “big-event” Brent will shine Chris Petersen’s sneakers before the game – but you know they’ll be polishing apples on behalf of the Broncos’ BCS title dreams during the game. Unless Oregon State jumps ahead that is … Brent Musberger shifts allegiances faster than Don King (who once entered the ring with Joe Frazier and left it with George Foreman after big George knocked out Smokin Joe – Brent would wear a blue Boise cap on the telecast if ABC let him, but would just as easily slip into a beaver coat should OSU win). By the way … one more time for you Herby – yes Boise could beat anybody on one given night … so what? Could they go unbeaten or lose only one if they played tough teams every week? You know the answer. Professor’s Pick: Boise State
Enjoy the games!