Miami is favored by 23.5 points against Wake Forest on Saturday. The Canes are certainly capable of blowing out Wake, but I'm hesitant to pick the game. I don't want to be even slightly disappointed with a 17 point win. With an appearance on College Gameday and an 8pm ABC kickoff at Florida State looming next week, the Canes can't afford to lose focus on the task at hand. The NCAA news on Tuesday was an enormous relief for everyone associated with the Miami program. I was very happy with the way the University handled the release, especially limiting media exposure for players and coaches. With the threat of sanctions finally out of the way, everyone can enjoy the potential for a special season on the field. Al Golden will have his team ready and I continue to urge fans to attend the game. Noon kickoffs can be dangerous and a large crowd makes an early letdown less likely. Remain confident in this team and take things one game at a time.
I believe Stephen Morris will bounce back from a poor performance against UNC. Morris is the quarterback and leader of this team. Fans need to support him and help improve his confidence as he plays through an ankle injury.
Louisiana Lafayette dominated Arkansas State on Tuesday night, giving me a rare weeknight win. The strong showing by the Ragin Cajuns gives me confidence heading into the weekend.
UCLA +23 at Oregon 7pm - ESPN
Although the Bruins lost to Stanford last weekend, I was impressed by UCLA's defense led by star LB Anthony Barr. Even a few stops on Saturday by the Bruins could be enough for me to win. While clearly the Ducks have one of the best offenses in the nation, I have my doubts about Oregon's defense. This will be Oregon's toughest challenge to date. Mariota and his talented group of running backs will have nice games, but I expect UCLA and Brett Hundley to put up some points as well. Hundley has an opportunity to impress NFL scouts in a showcase game and he won't disappoint. I love WR Shaq Evans and he'll make plays for the Bruins. UCLA is dealing with injuries so I'm trusting Jim Mora to have his young depth ready. Oregon wins by 10-17 in Saturday's marquee matchup.
Kentucky at MISSISSIPPI STATE -10.5 730pm - ESPN - THURSDAY
Dan Mullen is great against bad teams. Mississippi State's defense has been solid this season and the Wildcats struggle to score. Kentucky fans have lost interest in football and can't wait to watch John Calipari's talented group of freshmen. MSU should be able to run the ball consistently so expect huge games on the ground from RB LaDarius Perkins and QB Dak Prescott. The home crowd in Starkville will be a factor, energized by the national exposure of a Thursday night ESPN game. The Bulldogs win by double digits.
NEBRASKA -10.5 at Minnesota 12pm – ESPN
Nebraska is far more talented and is getting dual threat QB Taylor Martinez back for this contest. Despite their solid record, Minnesota is completely one-dimensional on offense and lacks big play ability. The Gophers are in a strange place leadership wise, with HC Jerry Kill still missing time to deal with his recent seizures. Look for talented Huskers RB Ameer Abdullah to be a big factor offensively on Saturday. Nebraska pulls away in the second half and gets an important Big Ten road win.
NORTHWESTERN +4 at Iowa 12pm – BTN
Northwestern is coming off a stunning loss to Minnesota last week, but don’t let that fool you. The Wildcats have all the pieces once they recover emotionally from the close loss to Ohio State earlier in the month. NU nearly beat the Buckeyes and hasn’t been able to deal with that disappointment the past few weeks. Thankfully, Northwestern’s leader and QB Kain Colter returns to the lineup on Saturday. Pat Fitzgerald won’t let his team quit fighting and a trip to Iowa is an opportunity to save the season. The Hawkeyes are likely a bit drained after playing a close game at Ohio State last week. Iowa starts off sluggish and NU takes advantage. Look for Northwestern to reassert themselves in the Big Ten over the remainder of this season.
Texas Tech at OKLAHOMA -7 330pm - FOX
Texas Tech is undefeated and has been climbing in the polls. Increased expectations and being ranked 10th will be a lot to handle for the Red Raiders. Freshman QB Davis Webb has played great the past few weeks, leading Kliff Kingsbury's spread passing offense. That success will end on Saturday. Oklahoma allows the fewest yards passing per game in the nation. The Sooners D is aggressive under Mike Stoops and will force Webb into a few mistakes. Texas Tech will struggle on the road in a tough environment. OK will win in spite of QB Blake Bell, controlling the ball and the line of scrimmage with their running game.
Michigan State at ILLINOIS +10.5 330pm - ABC
This is the definition of a trap game. Michigan State is 6-1 and looking forward to the annual rivalry game with the Wolverines on November 2nd. Illinois has struggled in Big Ten play, but is playing at home. The Spartans have trouble creating explosive plays on offense and won't be able to take advantage of a struggling Illini defense. Michigan State has one of the country's best defenses, but Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase has played well this season. His veteran leadership will lead Illinois to a few scoring drives and keep this game interesting.
SOUTH CAROLINA +3 at Missouri 7pm – ESPN2
Can Missouri deal with the expectations of being ranked 5th in the nation? We’ll find out on Saturday night. Freshman QB Maty Mauk crushed me last week in a strong performance over a banged up Gators defense. He’ll have his hands full with Clowney and company and will need to play well to give the Tigers a chance. South Carolina can keep SEC East hopes alive with a win in Columbia and I expect Steve Spurrier’s team to be motivated following a loss to Tennessee. Dylan Thompson will start at QB for the Gamecocks in place of the injured Connor Shaw. Thompson is a talented playmaker with significant SEC experience over the past two seasons. Missouri won’t be ready for this stage and Mauk will struggle to repeat his performance from a week ago. South Carolina returns the SEC to a state of normalcy and ruins Missouri’s undefeated season.
TEXAS +2 at Tcu 730pm - FS1
With no quality wins and a 3-4 record, TCU lacks confidence and momentum. QB Trevone Boykin has looked shaky all year and the Horned Frogs commit too many turnovers. His offensive line hasn't played well and even the Texas defense will be able to create pressure. Case McCoy will start at QB for the Longhorns. He has shown an ability to make plays in big moments. Texas is reenergized thanks to a convincing win over Oklahoma and a much needed bye week. Daje Johnson scores on a long touchdown and RB Johnathan Gray has a nice night on the ground. Hook em Horns, Texas wins another rivalry game and Mack Brown exhales.
STANFORD -3.5 at Oregon State 1030pm - ESPN
Stanford got back on track with a strong defensive performance against UCLA. The Cardinal D frustrated Brett Hundley all afternoon. Oregon State QB Sean Mannion and WR Brandin Cooks have put up staggering numbers this season, propelling the Beavers to a 6-game winning streak. Stanford's defense will be Oregon State's toughest test so far and I expect Mannion to come back to earth. Stanford will control the clock with the power running game and get a crucial Pac-12 road victory. WR Devon Cajuste may be ready to return from injury, which would be a significant boost to Stanford's offense.
FRESNO STATE -8.5 at San Diego State 1030pm - ESPN2
I'll be up late on Saturday night. These final two picks will cap off another great weekend of college football. Fresno QB Derek Carr and WR Davante Adams don't get enough national attention. The duo will have a monster night, taking advantage of the Aztecs' poor pass defense. San Diego State can put up points, but has struggled with turnovers and consistency. Fresno State stays undefeated and plays well on the road.