They can shut down the government, but they can't shut down the Miami Hurricanes or my Golden Picks. UM showed maturity and pounded USF. Alabama dominated Ole Miss and moved my Golden Pick record to 5-0 on the season, with all wins coming by a touchdown or more. My struggles on weeknights continued as I lost both Thursday night games. Thankfully I bounced back on Saturday and went 6-4-1, despite a late collapse by South Carolina. With September now in the rearview mirror, I am thrilled by both Miami's 4-0 record and my winning percentage hovering above 60. Saturday is a huge opportunity for Miami to send a message to the ACC and the nation. Stephen Morris and company will prove this team is a real contender. I hope to see you all at Sun Life Stadium to give the Canes the support they deserve.
Lane Kiffin's firing was certainly justified. I trusted the Trojans against ASU and was disgusted by their performance. Kiffin was let go due to lackluster results, an inability to connect with people, and his whiny demeanor towards the media. Luckily for Lane, many jobs will be open to him in 2014 that I think would be a perfect fit. Expect to see Kiffin where he belongs: in the United States Congress.
It appears Army, Navy, and Air Force will be allowed to play football on Saturday. If the games had actually been cancelled to score political points, the approval ratings of American politicians would’ve started to make even Craig James look popular.
Success always opens doors. My 5-0 start in Golden Picks and my strong Saturday night showings have attracted attention from coast to coast. In case USC’s AD Pat Haden decides to give my agent a call, I wanted to preempt any speculation. Although I would be flattered by the offer, I am not interested in the Head Coaching vacancy at USC. I will reject all coaching offers until the Miami job opens up in 2035, after Al Golden retires and heads to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Here we go. The Utes step up on Thursday night, Utah State on Friday night, plus all of my picks for Saturday’s action. Miami rolls past Georgia Tech. Home teams defend their turf in conference play. Follow me @JPickens15 to make sure you never miss out on a Golden Pick.
Georgia Tech at MIAMI -5.5 330pm - ESPNU
This Canes team is more mature and focused than we've seen in years. UM's ability to force turnovers is not a fluke and I am surprised this spread isn't 8 or 9. Miami has confidence on both sides of the ball and Stephen Morris will be ready to play on Saturday. Georgia Tech's offense looked dreadful against Virginia Tech, plagued by sloppy penalties and poor execution. QB Vad Lee isn't completely comfortable with running the option and it showed. Once GT fell behind, the inability to make consistent throws in the passing game made it difficult to mount a comeback. The Canes offense has started fast in games this season, notably against UF and USF. Miami is ready to play an important conference game at home and will jump on the Yellow Jackets early. Miami's speed at RB and WR will overwhelm the GT defense. UM DT Curtis Porter will be disruptive in the backfield and Miami's depth on defense will be a factor in stopping the option. Denzel Perryman has a huge afternoon and helps his teammates play their assignments. A convincing win by the Canes will solidify their status as the favorite in the Coastal division. My ACC record is 13-4 so far this season and I feel confident in this pick. Full Speed Ahead.
Tcu at OKLAHOMA -10.5 7pm – FOX
Oklahoma will move my Golden Pick record to 6-0. While I still don’t believe Blake Bell is accurate enough as a passer, I am starting to buy this Oklahoma team as the clear favorite in the Big 12. The Sooners defense has been outstanding under the leadership of Mike Stoops. OK bottles up quarterbacks and should have a field day against TCU QB Trevone Boykin. Expect several mistakes from Boykin throwing the ball into traffic, leading to interceptions. Oklahoma’s powerful offensive line will provide big holes all night and Bell’s ability to convert short yardage situations will be a factor. TCU doesn’t have the maturity to keep this game close in Norman, especially under the lights. Oklahoma wins by 20 or more.
Ucla at UTAH +5.5 THURSDAY - 10pm - FS1
No disrespect to Texas, but this is most intriguing game on Thursday night. NFL scouts will be drooling over two future high draft picks at QB: UCLA's Brett Hundley and Utah's Travis Wilson. The Bruins are very talented and showed their character in a comeback win at Nebraska. Utah has two quality wins over in-state rivals Utah State and BYU. Hundley will make plays and find WR Shaq Evans in space, but I expect Wilson to keep this game close with his dual-threat ability. This game should be a shootout, with the team that has the ball last winning in dramatic fashion. Utah won't roll over for UCLA like Nebraska did. Utes Coach Kyle Whittingham understands the importance of winning this game at home, with a brutal schedule upcoming.
Brigham Young at UTAH STATE -6 FRIDAY - 8pm – CBSSN
Both teams have stout defenses, but Utah State QB Chuckie Keaton will be the difference-maker. BYU will see eight-man fronts all night, forcing QB Taysom Hill to pass on early downs. Hill’s accuracy leaves a lot to be desired. The blowout win over a reeling Texas team skews all of the Cougars statistics and I haven’t been impressed watching BYU this season. The Aggies have won nine straight games at home. Look for Utah State to win by 10-14.
Maryland at FLORIDA STATE -16 12pm – ESPN
I’ve been riding the Maryland bandwagon early this season, but the Terps face a tough challenge on Saturday. Florida State will play better this week, motivated by a lackluster showing on the road at Boston College. The Noles are bigger and faster on both sides of the ball and I expect them to control the line of scrimmage. Stefon Diggs will be facing physicial corners and I expect FSU to blitz C.J. Brown often. FSU QB Jameis Winston continues to impress and will be helped by a trio of talented running backs. Maryland’s only road game was against a UConn team that has already fired its coach. FSU continues on a collision course with Clemson, beating Maryland by 20 points or more.
Michigan State at IOWA +1.5 12pm – ESPN2
MSU’s offense lacks explosiveness and will struggle against a solid Iowa defense. Michigan State is averaging just 154 yards passing per game, near the bottom in the nation. It won’t matter which quarterback gets the majority of the snaps on Saturday for the Spartans. Iowa QB Jake Rudock is gaining confidence and RB Mark Weisman will power his way to a nice afternoon. MSU’s defense will play well, but in the end, the Spartans’ continued struggles on offense will be the difference. Iowa gets a crucial conference win at home and moves to 5-1 on the season.
RUTGERS -4.5 at Southern Methodist 12pm – ESPNews
Wait, this is a conference game? Welcome to the AAC. Rutgers is coming off a big win over Arkansas two weeks ago. The extra week of preparation will help Rutgers’ defense adjust to SMU’s passing offense led by QB Garrett Gilbert. SMU has shown zero ability to run the ball and the Mustangs are allowing more than 40 points a game through four games. Rutgers QB Gary Nova will play well and find his big talented WR Brandon Coleman. With the struggles of the 1-3 Mustangs, there likely won’t be an intimidating crowd on hand in Dallas. Rutgers wins with relative ease.
Kansas State at OKLAHOMA STATE -14 330pm – ABC
Despite the shocking loss at West Virginia, I haven’t given up on Oklahoma State. Kansas State hasn’t been able to stop the run this season and I expect a big afternoon from OKST RB Jeremy Smith. Cowboys QB J.W. Walsh will play better at home and regain his hold on the starting job. Kansas State has had turnover issues this season without Collin Klein at the helm. Bill Snyder’s team is in rebuilding mode in 2013. OKST returns to form and blows out the Wildcats.
OLE MISS -2.5 at Auburn 7pm – ESPNU
These two up-tempo offenses will play an exciting game on Saturday night. Ole Miss was embarrassed after being shut out at Alabama. I expect Bo Wallace to bounce back in a big way. Auburn QB Nick Marshall has made strides this season, but struggled against LSU’s defense. Ole Miss will challenge Marshall and force a few turnovers. The Rebels have more talent at the moment and Wallace’s experience gives his team an edge in the 4th quarter. Ole Miss understands how vital this game is, with two tough home matchups with Texas A&M and LSU following this trip to Auburn.
Ohio State at NORTHWESTERN +7 8pm - ABC
This game will live up to the hype. Evanston finally gets to play host to College Gameday once again. Northwestern's program has made significant strides in the past few years under Pat Fitzgerald. The Wildcats are far more athletic than most people think thanks to improved recruiting. RB Venric Mark returns to the lineup and provides a spark to NU's offense. The two-quarterback rotation between Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian has been effective so far this season. In Ohio State's win over Wisconsin, Braxton Miller showed everyone why he began the year as a Heisman favorite. He will be challenged more on Saturday night on the road against an opportunistic NU defense. OSU's secondary was beaten repeatedly by Wisconsin and I expect big plays from Northwestern's physical receivers on the perimeter. I hope the Wildcats can pull off the upset, but they will at least keep this game close throughout.
West Virginia at BAYLOR -27.5 8pm – FS1
Baylor’s stats in 2013 are incredible. The Bears have scored on 22 of 26 drives and are averaging nearly 70 points per game. Baylor is coming off a bye week and will dominate WVU throughout. The Mountaineers beat OKST last Saturday in a big upset at home and will be emotionally drained. WVU’s offense isn’t explosive and won’t have any answers after falling behind early. QB Clint Trickett is still hampered by injuries and will struggle to move his team down the field. Bears QB Bryce Petty and RB Lache Seastrunk will have monster nights and introduce themselves to much of the nation that hasn’t seen this Baylor machine in action.
Washington at STANFORD -7 1030pm – ESPN
Stanford lost a devastating game at Husky Stadium last season and will be ready for revenge on Saturday night. Both teams have had terrific quarterback performances so far this season. Keith Price leads the Huskies and Kevin Hogan has shown dramatic improvement as a passer in 2013. The Cardinal are throwing downfield more often, allowing WR Devon Cajuste and WR Ty Montgomery to emerge as stars in the Pac-12. While I like UW RB Bishop Sankey, I expect the Stanford defensive front seven to take control of the line of scrimmage. Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian is now dealing with the distraction of being a potential candidate for the USC job. Stanford scores a late touchdown to win by 10. Barry Sanders Jr. will make at least one highlight worthy run.