"Fame can take interesting men and thrust mediocrity upon them." - David Bowie
I'm not quite famous, but I am known for unyielding Canes' positivity. I'm certainly mediocre when it comes to picking games, but am I interesting? I sure hope so. The season is halfway over so it's time for some reflection. 99 games is a nice sample size to evaluate performance. I'm 49-49-1: the very definition of Precise Mediocrity, a phrase I coined last season (and should've copyrighted). Since no one is reading his articles anymore, Nate Silver had time to run the numbers for me. The chances of getting exactly 49 heads on 98 coin flips is 8 percent. It's not impressive, but at least I achieved something that is hard to duplicate.
"Energy and persistence conquer all things." - Benjamin Franklin
Despite shaky results, my weekly column has stayed the course and avoided dwelling on the negativity. To achieve fame, my results must improve dramatically in the 2nd half of the season. Miami's bye week gives me the chance to take a breath and focus on winning. I wasted my energy worrying about "fans" flying banners at Sun Life Stadium. I dwelled too much on the seemingly endless jokes about Miami's attendance. This weekend, the Canes get a much needed break from all of the noise. There are five games left and still a lot to play for. I expect a big second half for both my picks and Al Golden's team. I'm as persistent as ever and my confidence is still sky high. Get on board before it's too late. Go Canes.
My stats table is undergoing a makeover so it will return next week. I’ve been very busy since Miami’s win over Cincinnati, so I’m going with short write-ups for each pick today. I’m taking a mini bye week alongside the Canes. Writing seven sentence paragraphs for each game hasn’t been working, so it can’t hurt to shake things up a bit. EIGHTEEN GAMES on the docket this week. Saturday is Moving Day. Go big or go home.
FLORIDA STATE -11.5 vs Notre Dame 8pm – ABC
It’s going to be the World against Jameis Winston and Florida State on Saturday night. Most people want to see Jameis fail, but they’ll be disappointed. FSU has been doubted all season, but will show their full potential at home. Notre Dame has squeaked by in close games the past two weeks. Winston always seems to rise to the occasion, despite the outside noise around him. FSU wins by 20.
PITTSBURGH -1.5 vs Virginia Tech 730pm – ESPN - THURSDAY
Virginia Tech has been decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball. Pitt has lost three straight close games and needs a spark to turn their season around. The Panthers win a close one at home and keep the Coastal race exciting. Pitt RB/DE? James Conner dominates the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
UTAH -3 at Oregon State 10pm – FS2 - THURSDAY
I love the Utes on Thursday night. Oregon State and Sean Mannion will struggle against Utah’s strong front seven. Whether Utah relies more on Travis Wilson or Kendal Thompson at QB won’t matter. I think either one is capable of leading this team to victory.
HOUSTON -7.5 vs Temple 9pm – ESPNU - FRIDAY
Houston is coming off a huge win over Memphis. Temple has a 4-1 record, but hasn’t beaten a team as balanced as UH. The Cougars have a very solid defense and force a ton of turnovers. Houston has more talent on both sides of the ball and Tony Levine’s squad gets the win at home.
OKLAHOMA -7.5 vs Kansas State 12pm – ESPN
Kansas State is a different team away from Manhattan. Oklahoma hasn’t played well in recent weeks, but I expect the Sooners to bounce back in a big way. QB Trevor Knight plays better and leads his team to a win to get back into the playoff conversation.
BAYLOR -8 at West Virginia 12pm – FS1
Both teams have incredible offenses and won games last week on game-ending field goals. This should be a high-scoring exciting game. Despite their struggles against TCU, I think Baylor has the better defense. The Bears offense was unstoppable against the Horned Frogs and Bryce Petty finally played the way he is capable of. Baylor wins by two scores.
DUKE -2.5 vs Virginia 1230pm – ACC Network
Duke got back in the Coastal race last week with an impressive win at Georgia Tech. Both Duke and Virginia have solid defenses, but I think Duke’s offense is better, especially playing at home. Cutcliffe outcoaches London and the Blue Devils win a close one behind the play of senior QB Anthony Boone.
PURDUE +12.5 at Minnesota 12pm – BTN
I love what Purdue has done in recent weeks. The Boilermakers are running the ball effectively with RB Akeem Hunt and QB Austin Appleby has played well in his two starts. Minnesota is 5-1 on the year, but the Gophers offense isn’t built to pull away from opponents with big plays. Both teams will rely heavily on the ground game, keeping this game low-scoring. Purdue hangs around and has a chance to pull the upset in the 4th quarter. Minnesota has beaten me two weeks in a row, but I’m going back to the well again.
NCSTATE +17 at Louisville 330pm – FSN
NCST may have suspended a large portion of the roster thanks to the BB gun epidemic that has swept the ACC, but the Wolfpack will still keep this game competitive. Louisville’s offense isn’t good enough to win this game by more than three scores. Look for L’Ville to win an ugly low-scoring affair by 7-10.
TEXAS TECH -13.5 vs Kansas 330pm – FSN
Texas Tech won for me last week, but still couldn’t close the actual game out, losing on a last second field goal. The Red Raiders will finally win a conference game this weekend. QB Davis Webb should have a huge afternoon and Charlie Weis’s former team will be overwhelmed at the skill positions. Kansas is 0-2 on the road this season, losing 33-14 and 41-3 to West Virginia and Duke respectively.
MICHIGAN STATE -15.5 at Indiana 330pm – ESPN
Indiana lost their starting QB Nate Sudfield to a season-ending injury and will be starting true freshman Zander Diamont. Good luck young man. You’ll need it. The Spartans defense is one of the nation’s best and Diamont will be running for life all afternoon. Michigan State wins by 20+ led by QB Connor Cook.
ARKANSAS +3.5 vs Georgia 4pm – SECN
This is the week Arkansas finally wins an SEC game. The Hogs have been so close this season, but haven’t been able to finish in the 2nd half. Georgia dominated Missouri last week thanks to Maty Mauk’s disastrous day throwing the ball, but won’t be as lucky this Saturday. Arkansas will have success in the running game and keep this game tight throughout. Bret Bielema ends the school’s 15 game conference losing streak behind a big day from RB Alex Collins and RB Jonathan Williams.
MISSOURI +6 at Florida 7pm – ESPN2
Florida is still feeling the after effects of a devastating loss to LSU at home. Missouri’s QB Maty Mauk has played terrible the past few games, but the coaching staff has showed confidence in him this week. Florida’s offense is still a work in progress and if Mauk can protect the football, this game stays close throughout. UF wins by a field goal.
KENTUCKY +9.5 at Lsu 730pm – SECN
I’ve been a huge Kentucky fan all season. The Wildcats are for real. LSU’s offense isn’t explosive enough to blow out quality opponents. Patrick Towles has a nice game against a vulnerable Tigers’ defense and UK has a chance to win in the 4th quarter.
NORTHWESTERN +7 vs Nebraska 730pm – BTN
These teams have played close, thrilling games in recent years. This one will be no different. Both offenses will have success on the ground and I expect Saturday’s game to be relatively low scoring. The team with the ball last, wins in dramatic fashion.
WASHINGTON +20.5 at Oregon 8pm – FS1
Washington played a near perfect game last week against Cal. Shaq Thompson is one of the best defensive players in the country and he’ll make things difficult for Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. UW’s QB Cyler Miles is getting better each week. Look for the Huskies to keep this game closer than most people expect.
TEXAS -12.5 vs Iowa State 8pm – LHN
Texas turned a corner last week. QB Tyrone Swoopes had his best game as a Longhorn and UT’s defense has been impressive all season. Texas eliminates some mistakes and controls both the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Charlie Strong gets a much needed convincing win at home.
STANFORD -3 at Arizona State 1030pm – ESPN
This is the week Stanford finally puts it together. The Cardinal have been horrendous in the red zone and really should be 6-0. I’m confident that David Shaw’s team will play their best game of the season in a crucial matchup in the conference race. ASU’s defense hasn’t shown up in big games and will struggle with the physicality up front. If QB Taylor Kelly is available for the Sun Devils, he’ll provide a spark, but it won’t be enough.