When my friend came to me this summer and asked whether he should have his bachelor party at a college football game, I had one simple request; make sure Miami has a bye week. We thought long and hard about where to go. In the end, Clemson became the obvious choice because of the tradition, the affordability, the location, and the chance that the Tigers would be undefeated. All preparations are in place. Two giant RV's have been rented, tickets have been secured, and the excitement is starting to build. When I asked the Clemson parking department where we could go if the RV parking on campus is filled up, the woman responded: "Just leave your RV's at one of the Big-box stores." Hopefully that won't be necessary, but nothing says Southern football more than tailgating and spending two nights outside of a Walmart.
I will be the resident college football expert on this trip. As the only one who has attended a game at Clemson, I have a responsibility to steer everyone in the right direction. Clemson fans are some of the nicest people in the country and I look forward to tailgating with them. We will be in our seats early to watch the Tigers run down the hill. I'll pick this game later in the post and expect Boston College to make things interesting in the first half. In case Miami meets Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, I'll have a full scouting report ready to send over to Al Golden.
After the game, our group will hit College Ave and check out the nightlife. While we have strength in numbers with 18 people in total, our group isn't intimidating at all. Even though I'm built like Ken Dorsey, I weigh the most. I'm also the only one that stands taller than 6-feet. In my opinion, when it comes to a bachelor party in an obscure college town, it is every man for himself. After partaking in a few adult beverages, one member of our group will inevitably say the wrong thing to a football player or a frat guy. I won't be there to help them. I know we aren't visiting LSU, but I don't want to scuffle with Clemson's version of Jeremy Hill. When trouble starts, I'll be the guy talking to a few local South Carolinians about politics, while intently watching Oregon State at Washington State out of the corner of my eye.
My 3-9 performance last week was an aberration. The bad luck is out of my system and my picks are poised to return to glory. Keep the faith. I am 15-4 in ACC games this season so I made sure to pick three on Saturday. My Golden Pick record stands at 5-1 and I’m confident Les Miles and the Tigers will force turnovers against Florida. While I’m not picking the game, I am looking forward to watching Oregon visit Husky Stadium to battle Keith Price and Bishop Sankey. Enjoy Miami’s bye week and start gearing up for the Canes’ visit to North Carolina. Follow me @JPickens15 for picks and Saturday thoughts every weekend.
Florida at LSU -7 330pm – CBS
This is the matchup we’ve all been waiting to see. Florida’s defense might be the best in the nation, especially against the pass. LSU’s offense led by QB Zach Mettenberger has been unstoppable under first-year OC Cam Cameron. Both of these teams have elite talent on the perimeter. LSU RB Jeremy Hill has been dominant since his return from suspension and he will benefit from the Gators being with star DT Dominique Easley, injured for the year. The difference in this game will be the inexperience of Florida QB Tyler Murphy. In starts against Kentucky and Arkansas, Murphy played well but only had to throw 18 and 22 passes. LSU will put points on the board, forcing the Gators to open things up on offense. Murphy hasn’t played in a tough road environment and I expect LSU’s defense to be aggressive and force mistakes. Mettenberger will show the NFL scouts he can find Beckham and Landry against top competition. Death Valley won’t be kind to Mr. Murphy and Will Muschamp. Geaux Tigers.
BOSTON COLLEGE +25 at Clemson 330pm – ABC/ESPN2
Dabo Swinney has said all the right things to the media. He is telling his players not to look ahead to the epic showdown with Florida State next weekend. Unfortunately for the Tigers, that won’t be possible. These players know the magnitude and hype that will surround Boyd vs Winston. I wouldn’t be surprised if Clemson starts a bit sluggish, especially if Boston College is able to sustain a long drive. BC has played well against the Tigers since joining the ACC. Florida State surrendered 400 yards and four touchdowns to the Eagles, as the Noles were often fooled by misdirection plays. Boston College RB Andre Williams is powerful and will have success running against Clemson’s defense. Eventually though, talent and home field advantage will win out. I love Clemson QB Tajh Boyd and expect him to have a big game on Saturday. WR Sammy Watkins has too much speed for BC to handle. Clemson pulls away in the in the second half and wins by 14-20 points.
Navy at DUKE -3 1230pm – ACC Network
I hate to pick against a service academy, but this government shutdown has to be a distraction for Navy. While Duke lost badly to Georgia Tech early in the season, that experience of preparing for the option will help this Saturday. Duke is coming off a bye week and will be prepared. The Blue Devils' offense will put up big numbers led by QB Brandon Connette. Duke plays well at home in a must-win game to keep alive hope for a postseason berth. Despite my horrible Belk Bowl nightmares, Coach Cut gets it done.
BAYLOR -17 at Kansas State 330pm – FOX
Baylor is an absolute machine on offense. Through four games, the Bears are averaging 70 points and close to 800 yards a contest. QB Bryce Petty is making his first road start, but I'm not concerned. Baylor's ability to create big plays in the running game will keep the pressure off Petty. RB Lache Seastrunk has another huge game and Baylor wins easily in Manhattan. Kansas State is searching for answers this season. The Wildcats turn the ball over too much and might be without their two best playmaking receivers on offense.
NORTHWESTERN +10.5 at Wisconsin 330pm – ABC/ESPN2
Several friends have told me this week: Be very careful about picking Northwestern. It certainly does seem too good to be true that NU is getting 10.5 points. I’m throwing caution to the wind and trusting the Wildcats to bounce back and forget the disappointing loss to Ohio State. Northwestern moved the ball all night on OSU and will have similar success against Wisconsin. The Badgers will have RB Melvin Gordon back from injury and will put up big numbers on the ground. I expect a shootout with the team that has the ball last getting the victory. Pat Fitzgerald has a mature team that understands the ups and downs of college football. Northwestern won’t have a let down.
Virginia at MARYLAND -7 330pm – ESPNU
Maryland QB C.J. Brown is questionable at the moment at taking a monster hit against FSU. The Terps will be anxious to play again to wipe away the embarrassment of the 63-0 loss to the Noles. If Brown can’t go, Caleb Rowe is a capable backup QB. WR Stefon Diggs will make a big play and Maryland’s defense will bounce back. Virginia is a disaster and Mike London is on the hot seat. The Cavs offense is near the bottom in the ACC and Ball State destroyed UVA’s defense. Look for Edsall’s team to get back on track and take advantage of arguably the ACC’s worst team.
MICHIGAN -2 at Penn State 5pm - ESPN
Wolverines will get a boost on defense with the return of LB Jake Ryan from injury. QB Devin Gardner must play smart on the road and I expect a heavy dose of Toussaint and Green on the ground. Brady Hoke will play "Man Ball" against a Penn State team that has limited depth on defense. Michigan has more speed and talent than UCF and Indiana; Penn State's two losses this season. I welcome this opportunity to step into a trap. The White Out in Happy Valley doesn't scare me. Go Blue.
Georgia Tech at BYU-7 7pm - ESPNU
As our 43rd president once said: "Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." I'm 1-3 on the year in BYU games. I've learned from each game and finally have a handle on the Cougars. Georgia Tech is reeling following consecutive ACC losses. The long trip to Provo is taxing and BYU is a tough place to play. BYU has an elite defense that can physically match up with the option. Star LB Kyle Van Noy will make plays in the backfield all afternoon. BYU QB Taysom Hill has shown improvement as a passer and will make plays when he needs to. The Cougars running attack will wear down a Georgia Tech defense that had no answer for Duke Johnson last Saturday.
BOISE STATE -7 at Utah State 8pm – CBSSN
Utah State has been decimated by key injuries. Star QB Chuckie Keeton is out for the year and this team can’t replace his playmaking ability. Backup Craig Harrison was completely overwhelmed last week against BYU and won’t be able to deal with Boise State’s defense. True freshman QB Darell Garretson might see some snaps, but his inexperience will be an issue. Boise State will pressure Utah State and force turnovers. The Broncos and Chris Petersen will capitalize led by QB Joe Southwick. Boise has lost running backs to injury, but has capable depth to replace them. Boise wins big on the road.
TEXAS A&M -6 at Ole Miss 830pm – ESPN
Ole Miss is a frustrated and exhausted team, after road losses to Alabama and Auburn. Confidence will be an issue for a young Rebels team and QB Bo Wallace needs to get back on track. Texas A&M is coming off a bye week and should show improvement on defense. Against Arkansas a few weeks ago, A&M pounded the ball repeatedly in the second half, relying on a superior offensive line and a talented group of running backs. Ole Miss couldn’t stop the run last week against Auburn, allowing 282 yards on the ground. The Rebels had issues with Auburn QB Nick Marshall, who carried the ball 14 times for 140 yards. Those stats spell doom for a team about to face Johnny Football. Manziel won’t be intimidated on the road and the Aggies win by double digits.