"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." - Winston Churchill
MIAMI -7 vs Duke 730pm – ESPN2
Most people around the country have looked at this game and concluded that Miami being favored by 7 points is a mistake. Duke is 4-0 and beat the Canes convincingly last year. But, it's no mistake. It's a classic Admiral Ackbar: "It's a trap." Duke hasn't played anyone yet, building stats and wins against inferior competition. Miami is going to win by double digits on Saturday night.
The attitude and confidence level of Miami fans is downright depressing right now. I've tried defending this team all week, but I understand the obvious. The Duke game is an absolute must win. If Miami falls to 2-3, I might have to disconnect myself from all internet devices for a few days. Al Golden and his staff are under fire, but the players have come to his defense. I'm convinced that the players still have the right attitude and understand how wide open the Coastal Division is. A big win against ranked Duke team can give Miami some much-needed momentum.
Brad Kaaya grew up at Nebraska and his confidence should be soaring. Miami has an advantage on the perimeter and the Canes talented WR's will make plays early and often. I expect Duke Johnson to have a big night and continue to be involved in the passing game. Duke's offense is legit, led by QB Anthony Boone. QB Thomas Sirk comes in as a change of pace, but is primarily a running threat. RB Shaun Wilson dominated Kansas and sports an incredible average of 14.4 yards a carry so far this season. WR Jamison Crowder is one of the ACC's best. This will be a significant challenge for Miami's defense. Denzel Perryman and his teammates were embarrassed by their performance at Nebraska, but also remember allowing a ridiculous 48 points last year at Duke. This is a revenge game and a chance to silence the doubters, at least for now. The Canes defense will find a way, and I'm hoping and praying we'll see a more aggressive gameplan. Go Canes. Stay Positive. Support This Team.
"My expectations of other people, I double them on myself." - James Brown
With a quarter of the season gone, Miami sits at 2-2 and my overall record is 25-27. I expect better results for both going forward. I won't stop working until the wins start rolling in. Conference play is about to be in full swing and I'm ready to turn things around.
With the midterm elections coming up, our country is as divided as ever. I'm a combined 16-7 in the SEC and Big 12, but a combined 6-21 in games involving the Big Ten and Pac 12. I'm conquering the Red states, but being treated like Sarah Palin in the Blue states of liberal America. At this crucial time in our nation's history, we need to come together as one. It's time to start winning all over this great country. United we cover, divided we fall.
TEXAS TECH +14 at Oklahoma State THURSDAY - 730pm - ESPN
This will be one of the most exciting games of the week. Expect a shootout tonight. Texas Tech's DC resigned last week, but that was probably for the best. The Red Raiders could benefit from a new voice after a 49-28 loss to Arkansas. QB Davis Webb didn't play his best against the Hogs, but I expect him to bounce back tonight. OKST QB Daxx Garman is making his second start, replacing injured starter J.W. Walsh. Garman is still unproven and his inexperience has me confident in picking Texas Tech to keep this game competitive. Kliff Kingsbury's team benefited from the week off and will play well. Both teams will score 30+ and the team with the ball lasts wins.
NOTRE DAME -10 vs Syracuse 8pm - ABC
Somehow, Notre Dame has flown under the radar this season. The 8th ranked Irish have been impressive, led QB Everett Golson's strong start to the season. Notre Dame's defense has been impressive and Syracuse's offense doesn't scare anyone, despite putting up big yardage numbers against Maryland. Cuse QB Terrel Hunt is very inconsistent and will make mistakes against ND, especially in primetime at MetLife Stadium. Brian Kelly's team will be ready to play following a bye. The Irish win by double digits.
SEC Picks - At 11-4, I'm on a short list to join Saban's staff
AUBURN -32.5 vs Louisiana Tech 4pm - SEC Network
Auburn held on to beat Kansas State, but Gus Malzahn had to be frustrated with his team's performance on offense. Auburn's running game couldn't get going and QB Nick Marshall was hurt by a few huge drops that could've been long touchdowns. This is a chance for the Tigers to get back on track. Louisiana Tech has been up and down this season - an impressive win over North Texas, but followed up by a horrendous loss to Northwestern State. LaTech turned the ball over five times in that loss and will struggle with Auburn's strength on the defensive line. LaTech won't have an answer for WR Duke Williams as Auburn rolls to a 40-point win.
KENTUCKY -17 vs Vanderbilt 12pm - SEC Network
I'll admit it. I love this Kentucky team. Vandy QB Patton Robinette is questionable and freshman Wade Freeback will probably play significant time on Saturday. Vandy played their best game of the season against South Carolina, but still lost by 14 points even with two kickoff returns for touchdowns. Kentucky's defense is tough up front and Vanderbilt won't have success running the ball. UK is eager to play again after a tough loss at Florida in triple overtime. Vandy is the perfect opponent to allow the Wildcats to get out some frustration. QB Patrick Towles has played well and showed his poise on the road in Gainesville. Kentucky goes up two scores early and pulls away in the second half.
TEXAS A&M -9.5 vs Arkansas 330pm - CBS
This game will be played at a neutral site in Arlington, TX, home of the Cowboys. Arkansas is much improved and the Hogs have a dynamic running game led by RB Alex Collins. Arkansas will put up points, but Texas A&M's defense is better than we saw in 2013. TAMU's offense is explosive led by emerging star QB Kenny Hill. Even without the injured Speedy Noil, WR's Malcolm Kennedy, Josh Reynolds, and Rick Seals-Jones form one of the best units in the nation. I'll keep picking Kevin Sumlin's team until someone can stop them. Arkansas struggled to defend Auburn in the opener - the Tigers had nearly 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing. A&M moves to 5-0 on Saturday.
SOUTH CAROLINA -5.5 vs Missouri 7pm - ESPN
Steve Spurrier knows how to motivate his team. South Carolina beat Vanderbilt, but the performance disgusted Spurrier, who lit a fire under his team with his comments after the game. Missouri's loss to Indiana was shocking and I'm not sure the Tigers will be able to recover this quickly. South Carolina QB Dylan Thompson has played well this season and the atmosphere in Columbia should be electric on Saturday night. The Gamecocks found a way to beat Georgia at home and I expect a close win over Missouri. Maty Mauk hasn't played in many hostile environments during his career, with most of his starts in 2013 coming at home. Spurrier will be proud of his team as South Carolina moves to 3-1 in the SEC.
Big Ten Picks - At 4-12, there's nowhere to go but up
SOUTH FLORIDA +34 at Wisconsin 12pm - ESPNU
I'm a glutton for punishment. Wisconsin destroyed Bowling Green last week and made me feel foolish. I'm coming back for more. I still have no confidence in Wisconsin QB Tanner McEvoy's ability to make plays in the passing game. RB Melvin Gordon is an incredible talent, but he won't be able to score on nearly every play like he did against BGSU. South Florida has struggled on offense with Mike White at QB, but the Bulls can shorten the game by relying heavily on the ground game and RB Marlon Mack. USF's defense gained confidence in last week's slugfest win over UConn in the rain. Wisconsin wins on Saturday, but only by 17-27 points.
PURDUE +10 vs Iowa 12pm - BTN
No wonder I've been a disaster in the Big Ten - I'm picking Purdue again. Iowa now has a QB controversy given how well backup C.J. Beathard played in a nice road win at Pittsburgh. Purdue played well against Notre Dame and beat Southern Illinois 35-13 last week. QB Danny Etling is gaining confidence each week and Purdue has a talented group of running backs. Iowa doesn't have the explosiveness on offense to blow anyone out, with all four games in 2014 being decided by eight points or less. The Boilers continue to improve under Darrell Hazell and have a chance to win this game in the fourth quarter.
NORTHWESTERN +10.5 at Penn State 12pm - BTN
This is Pat Fitzgerald's chance. He's been furious all month, disappointed by the Wildcats' 1-2 start to 2014. Northwestern has an opportunity to turn their season around against the 4-0 Nittany Lions. Senior QB Trevor Siemian will play his best game of the year and give the Wildcats a shot to win. Penn State has struggled running the ball and rely heavily on the elite arm of QB Christian Hackenberg. PSU beat UCF by 2 and Rutgers by 3. James Franklin's team knows how to win, but I doubt Penn State's ability to dominate decent teams from start to finish. PSU probably wins, but the final margin is a touchdown or less.
MICHIGAN -11.5 vs Minnesota 330pm - ABC
I'm trying Brady Hoke, I'm really trying to give you a chance. Hoke's job is in so much jeopardy, he might even throw on a headset this Saturday. Michigan's offense has been a disaster against quality opponents, but mostly due to turnovers at the worst possible times. Despite outgaining both Notre Dame and Utah, the Wolverines lost both games handily. Thankfully for Michigan, playing Minnesota is just what the doctor ordered. Michigan's run defense has been outstanding in 2014 and Minnesota runs on nearly every play. The Gophers have attempted just 65 passes in four games and even if QB Mitch Leidner can play through an injury, Minnesota won't be able to move the ball well in Ann Arbor. Brady Hoke is keeping his QB situation a secret, but I expect Devin Gardner to start. He'll get back on track and allow every Michigan supporter to breathe a sigh of relief, at least for one week.
Pac 12 Picks - At 2-9, I'm about to be banned from entering California
UCLA -4 at Arizona State THURSDAY - 10pm - FS1
I fully expect QB Brett Hundley to start for UCLA on Thursday night. Arizona State will be without starter Taylor Kelly and QB Mike Bercovici will get the first significant action of his career. ASU has an edge playing at home, but Kelly's dual-threat ability is what makes the offense go. Without him, I expect UCLA's opportunistic defense to take advantage of Bercovici's inexperience. Hundley and the Bruins are 3-0, but haven't been impressive yet this season. Thursday night is a chance to make a statement that the Bruins are the team to beat in the Pac 12 South. Look for UCLA to play their best game of the season and win by ten on the road.
WASHINGTON +8 vs Stanford 4pm - FOX
Stanford QB Kevin Hogan and WR Ty Montgomery are both elite players in the Pac 12. Stanford's defense has been outstanding in 2014, but the Cardinal will be playing their first game on the road. Washington has a significant home field advantage and plays like a different team in Seattle. This is new coach Chris Petersen's first big game at UW and his QB Cyler Miles has improved each week. Miles hasn't thrown an interception in three games and has a lot of talent on offense around him. Stanford grinds out a close win, but it won't be easy. This game could come down to a late field goal.
USC -9 vs Oregon State 1030pm - ESPN
Oregon State is an unknown commodity this season, with wins over Portland State, Hawaii, and San Diego State. OSU's best WR Victor Bolden will miss the USC game and he can't be easily replaced, especially with Brandin Cooks now in the NFL. QB Sean Mannion is a solid veteran player, but he may struggle against an angry USC defense. The Trojans couldn't stop the run against Boston College and lost an embarrassing game on the road. QB Cody Kessler has played well this season and I expect the Trojans' running game to get back on track. USC comes off a bye angry and starts fast on the way to a double digit conference win at home.
Because It's on Television on Friday Night
OLD DOMINION -3 vs Middle Tennessee FRIDAY - 8pm - FS1
This is the biggest football game in Old Dominion's history. The Monarchs are 3-1 in their first season in full-time FBS football and QB Taylor Heinicke is the best player in the nation you haven't heard of. Hopefully my jinx won't ruin his career. Middle Tennessee is average across the board and the Blue Raiders struggled last week in a blowout loss to Memphis. MTSU is 0-2 on the road and Old Dominion will be fired up and ready to play in front of a national television audience.
Enjoy Your Weekend. Go Canes.