"Lloyd: You know, you should tell your dad that "Serenity Now" thing doesn't work. It just bottles up the anger, and eventually, you blow.
George: What do you know? You were in the nut house.
Lloyd: What do you think put me there?
George: I heard they found a family in your freezer.
Lloyd: Serenity Now. Insanity later."
The first six weeks of Miami's season have been very difficult to deal with. As most of you know, I'm always Mr. Glass Half Full, trying to stay relentlessly positive at all times. I was disappointed, but was able to deal with the losses at Louisville and at Nebraska. The Georgia Tech game was a different story. I can't remember being more frustrated by a Canes' performance in recent memory, and the saddest part about it was the fact that I wasn't surprised by what I saw. Seinfeld's famous "Serenity Now" episode, which shows how people deal with anger and frustration, applies to my current state of mind.
Everywhere I turn, there is negative energy focused on Canes Football. Media members seem to be fed up with the coaching staff, Miami fans have become unbearably depressing to talk to, and #CanesTwitter is a nonstop carousel of pictures of defensive alignments. Ex-Miami players have criticized the coaches all week in the local papers. I'm doing my best to stay positive, but it's getting harder and harder. On the outside, I can't wait for the Cincinnati game and a chance to hopefully gain some much needed momentum. On the inside, I'm a mess, struggling to deal with another year of mediocrity if things don't turn around soon.
I'm very nervous about the size of the crowd on Saturday afternoon. The UM athletic department must do something to incentivize fans to go to the game. I propose an official Canes waterpik giveaway to each fan that is seated by 11:55am. A Miami win will calm things down for a bit heading into the bye week and I, for one, need the break. I'll keep saying "Serenity Now" this week as I read all of the negativity, but if Miami loses to Cincinnati, I'm going to smash every computer I can find.
Miami is a 14.5 point favorite over Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon. I won't pick the game because I'm hoping my staying away will be the spark the Canes need. Miami caught a break with the news that Cincy QB Gunner Kiel will likely miss the game due to injury. Backup QB Munchie Legaux has a lot of starting experience, but doesn't have Kiel's ability to throw consistently downfield and find his talented wide receivers. Miami fans hate everything about their defense, but Cincy's has been far worse in 2014. The Bearcats have lost blowouts to Ohio State and Memphis the past two weeks. Cincinnati is averaging just 104 yards a game on the ground, which bodes well for the Canes, given how poorly Miami's run defense has looked this season. This is an opportunity to improve and gain confidence in the areas Miami has struggled with. My wish list is as follows: Get Stacy Coley on track. Be better on 3rd downs on offense. Play aggressive defensively and take some chances. Finally make a play on special teams. WEAR TRADITIONAL HELMETS. A Canes win and a few of my wishes coming true will allow me to get through the bye week in a decent mood. Hope to see everyone at Sun Life on Saturday.
While Miami disappointed on the field, my picks actually showed signs of life. What an exciting Saturday for the sport. I accurately predicted the state of Mississippi's SEC takeover and although Michigan State's near epic 4th quarter collapse robbed me of a win on Saturday night, I was still encouraged by my performance. I went 10-7, highlighted by a perfect 5-0 record on underdogs and two Golden Pick winners. I'm now above 50% for the season and things are trending up. Even though the Playoff Committee members would have you believe they are watching more tape than Ron Jaworski, no one is consuming more college football games than I am. Conference games should continue to lead to better results as October rolls along.
CLEMSON -9.5 vs Louisville 330pm - ESPNU
With Deshaun Watson at QB, Clemson is a top 10 team in my opinion. I expect the Tigers to win their next seven games and finish 10-2 on the season. Clemson dominated NCST from start to finish last week, in route to a 41-0 victory. Watson is playing at a very high level and his young WR's are improving each week, led by Mike Williams. Star DE Vic Beasley and the Tigers's defense will make things difficult for a Louisville offense that struggles to score. UL WR DeVante Parker should be back this week, but his return won't be enough to keep this game competitive. UL QB Reggie Bonnafon got his first road start at Syracuse last week, but playing in Death Valley is a very different experience. Clemson rolls by 20+ while Dabo Swinney keeps dancing and lip synching on the sideline.
BYU +3 at Central Florida 730pm - ESPN - THURSDAY
UCF isn't a good football team. The Knights somehow beat Houston, thanks to some horrendous red-zone execution by the Cougars. UCF can't move the ball consistently and QB Justin Holman was just 6-18 passing last Thursday. BYU is looking to recover from the loss to Utah State, which was largely due to losing their star QB Taysom Hill to a broken leg late in the first half. Christian Stewart takes over at QB and I expect him to play better this week. Stewart had success moving the Cougars' offense down the field, but threw three interceptions in his first playing time this season. BYU is a mature team that can deal with adversity. Look for the BYU defense to set the tone early, making things easier for the offense to gain confidence without their leader.
WASHINGTON STATE +17 at Stanford 9pm - ESPN - FRIDAY
Despite's Washington State 2-4 record, no player has more confidence than QB Connor Halliday, coming off a massive game against Cal. WSU's defense is a disaster, but Stanford QB Kevin Hogan hasn't shown he can take advantage. Stanford has lost two close games due to an offense that consistently shoots itself in the foot, especially in the red zone. The Cardinal have one of the best defenses in the nation, but won't be able to completely shut down the Cougars passing game. Stanford grinds out a 10-14 point win and moves to 4-2 on the season.
OKLAHOMA -14.5 vs Texas 12pm - ABC
Oklahoma suffered a disappointing loss to TCU, but I still believe in the Sooners. QB Trevor Knight played his worst game of the season, perhaps after being distracted by Katy Perry's advances. Look for Knight to play better and rely heavily on RB Samaje Perine on Saturday afternoon. Texas is 2-3 on the season, with a very strong defense and a disastrous offense. QB Tyrone Swoopes hasn't proven he can be a threat in the passing game, allowing teams to load the box to stop the Longhorns' running game. Texas might hang around early, led by a few defensive stops, but the Sooners will eventually pull away and start their climb back up the national polls.
NORTHWESTERN +4 at Minnesota 12pm - BTN
I'm going to keep riding the Northwestern bandwagon. The Wildcats beat Penn State and Wisconsin to start 2-0 in the Big Ten, tops in the West Division. NU has found a running game, led by RB Justin Jackson. Northwestern's defense has been the biggest reason for their surprising turnaround, allowing just 16 points a game this season. The Gophers have their own talented RB in David Cobb, but Minnesota is almost last in the country in passing offense. Despite a big day from Melvin Gordon, NU has a very stout run defense and will make things difficult for the Gophers. Pat Fitzgerald's guys will win a close game on the road.
TEXAS TECH +6 vs West Virginia 12pm - FS1
Texas Tech is 2-3, losing three straight to quality opponents - Arkansas at a neutral site, at OKST, and at Kansas State. The Red Raiders finally return home to Lubbock and I expect them to play their best game of the season. QB Davis Webb has all the talent required to be an elite quarterback, but he's already thrown ten interceptions this season. West Virginia's defense is the perfect opponent for Webb to get back on track. WVU and QB Clint Trickett have put up huge numbers through the air and WR Kevin White leads the nation in receiving yards. This game will be a shootout, with both teams scoring 35+. Texas Tech will stay close throughout and have a chance to win in the 4th quarter. The team with the ball last wins.
GEORGIA -3 at Missouri 12pm - CBS
This is a difficult game to pick. Both teams are 4-1, but still somewhat unproven. If all else is equal, I'm relying on RB Todd Gurley to be the difference maker on Saturday afternoon. Missouri's loss to Indiana is still something I cannot explain. The Bulldogs pull out a close game on the road and move into the driver's seat in the SEC East.
MIAMI (OH) +14 at Akron 2pm - ESPN3
I didn't pick the Hurricanes, but that doesn't mean I'm staying away from all games involving a Miami. The RedHawks completed a huge comeback to beat UMass last week, led by ND transfer QB Andrew Hendrix, who has played well all season. Miami (OH) snapped a 21-game losing streak and heads to Akron to face the 3-2 Zips. People assumed Akron was for real after a win at Pittsburgh, but the Panthers have now lost three straight. Akron takes control in the second half, but the other Miami does just enough to lose by ten.
BAYLOR -8 vs Tcu 330pm - ABC/ESPN2
Baylor has quietly started 5-0 once again, but the Bears' defense isn't getting nearly enough national attention. Baylor is more than just QB Bryce Petty and an explosive offense. TCU looked great against Oklahoma, with QB Trevone Boykin thriving in a new offense. That being said, I still need to see more from the Horned Frogs to truly believe in this team. Baylor has been dominant at home in recent years and I expect the Bears to pull away in the second half. The crowd in Waco will be a factor as Baylor continues to stay perfect in 2014.
AUBURN -3 at Mississippi State 330pm - CBS
In just a few short weeks, Miss St has moved all the way up to #3 in the rankings and Starkville is hosting College Gameday. QB Dak Prescott is the leading candidate for the Heisman and the expectations are sky high for the Bulldogs. How will Dan Mullen's team deal with all of this attention? Miss St's offense has been great this season, but it will take another huge game to outscore Auburn and Nick Marshall. I think Auburn has the better defense and give the edge to the Tigers because Auburn's players are used to playing in these high-profile national matchups. I still love MSU, but the Bulldogs aren't on Auburn's level just yet.
NCSTATE -3 vs Boston College 330pm - FSN
Boston College will be able to run the ball effectively against NCST, but the Eagles are completely one-dimensional. NCST was blown out at Clemson and will be looking to bounce back and get QB Jacoby Brissett back on track. I think NCST has more talent on both sides of the ball and give the Wolfpack the edge playing at home. If Brissett starts fast and leads his team to an early lead, BC's offense isn't built to come from behind with QB Tyler Murphy under center.
OREGON -2.5 at Ucla 330pm - FOX
Both Oregon and UCLA lost close games at home to double digit underdogs. Both teams have terrible offensive lines that are unable to consistently protect their star quarterbacks. Oregon has been very successful against UCLA in recent years and I'm trusting QB Marcus Mariota to keep that trend going. He still hasn't thrown an interception this season and I think he brings more to the table than Brett Hundley. This is one of the most interesting games of the weekend, with the loser being eliminated from Playoff contention. The Ducks win a close one and start to look more like the team we saw beat Michigan State at home in September.
LSU -1.5 at Florida 730pm - SECN
Things are a mess in Gainesville. Will Muschamp will have to trust QB Jeff Driskel to get the job done, with Treon Harris suspended. Driskel has been awful at times this season and the Gators have been very fortunate to escape with close wins over Kentucky and Tennessee. LSU has been a disappointment as their talented freshmen haven't been able to grow up fast enough. Florida will have to overcome the distractions off the field this week to try to win a close game in the fourth quarter. Les Miles will have his team playing loose and I expect a better performance from QB Brandon Harris. Geaux Tigers.
TEXAS A&M -2 vs Mississippi 9pm - ESPN
I rode the state of Mississippi to two wins last week, but both teams will return to Earth on Saturday. The Rebels are still basking in the glow of the upset win over Alabama, while Texas A&M is eager to bounce back from a poor performance in Starkville. TAMU QB Kenny Hill will play well and his talented wide receivers will make plays after the catch. Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace won't play a perfect game like he did against the Crimson Tide, giving Texas A&M's defense a few chances to create turnovers. Kyle Field is a very difficult place to play for road teams, especially at night. Kevin Sumlin's team gets it done and makes the SEC West even more confusing.
ARIZONA +3 vs Usc 1030pm - ESPN2
Arizona's win over Oregon got lost in the shuffle given all of the upsets we saw last Saturday. The Wildcats enter the USC game with confidence on both sides of the ball. QB Anu Solomon is getting better each week and RB's Nick Wilson and Terris Jones-Grigsby have become a formidable 1-2 punch. USC will still be dealing with the aftershock of the Hail Mary loss to Arizona State. I won't be surprised if the Trojans come out flat on Saturday night. USC's defense couldn't stop the Sun Devils passing game and Arizona should be able to move the ball most of the night. It feels weird to say, but my motto this week is: "In Rich Rod I trust."