"You're never going to be a great program if you lose a game and your season's over and you act like the world's coming to an end, none of the other games matter. That's a bad attitude and you're probably going to live a miserable life." - Dabo Swinney (talking about his team's positive response after losing to FSU in 2013)
MIAMI +7 vs Clemson - 12pm
Despite all of the doom and gloom that followed Miami's loss to Florida State, the Canes bounced back and beat Virginia Tech. Now comes a bigger challenge. There is no doubt Clemson is a legitimate playoff contender. The past four seasons, the Tigers are undefeated against unranked teams. Clemson has been very fortunate to play five of their first six games this season at home. Memorial Stadium is one of the toughest places to play in the country. Clemson's only road game was a 20-17 win at Louisville. The Cardinals were driving in the final minute and almost had a chance to tie the game. Brad Kaaya is 8-2 at home as a starter (2-6 on the Road, but that's a discussion for another time). Clemson's QB Deshaun Watson is probably the most dynamic in the ACC. He'll be a tough matchup for a UM defense that seems to have trouble with mobile quarterbacks. Miami can't afford to lose contain on the outside and will need strong showings from Chad Thomas and Al-Quadin Muhammad, especially on third downs. Watson has seven INT's on the season and has thrown at least one in every game against FBS competition. Miami is 7th in the nation with 11 INT's. If Artie Burns and Miami's safeties can continue to create game-changing turnovers, the Canes have a good chance of getting a win on Saturday.
When Clemson lost WR Mike Williams to an injury last month, the Tigers had to adjust their offense. Williams was Clemson's best deep option. Watson now relies heavily on the short and intermediate passing game, with screens galore in an effort to get their fastest playmaking WR Artavis Scott the ball in space. Miami's secondary has given up some big plays down the field this season, but I've noticed a more physical approach when defending short passes, especially compared to recent years. We'll find out on Saturday how much progress has really been made. While the injury to Raphael Kirby is a tough break for Miami's defense, I loved how aggressive Juwon Young played last Saturday.
After struggling on third downs early in the season, Brad Kaaya has stepped up as the leader of this team, putting up strong performances against FSU and Virginia Tech. Clemson's defense leads the nation in yards allowed at 260 per game, led by CB Mackensie Alexander and DL Shaq Lawson, but the Tigers haven't faced quarterbacks with experience and talent. Kaaya will likely be the best quarterback Clemson plays against this season.
The Miami Hurricanes will Bring Their Own Guts to the Sun Life Stadium on Saturday morning and show up ready to play. Miami doesn't get to host top ten teams very often. The line opened at 2.5 or 3, but it's up to 7 now. I'm not scared and will confidently pick the Canes. This is a huge opportunity. It's time (FINALLY) for that statement win this program desperately needs.
I resisted the temptation of enrolling at UF this week just to attend Kicker tryouts and eventually sabotage the program from within. My success has allowed me to fully focus on picks in the hopes of having a truly special season. If my streak continues, people are going to start accusing me of having Grays Sports Almanac hidden away in my abnormally large pile of Miami jerseys. I've been Bringing My Own Guts for three straight winning weeks now. After finally winning some weeknight games by going 4-1, I went 9-7 on Saturday to finish the week at 13-8. All of the trends are pointing upward. Precise Mediocrity is starting to look like a relic of the past. Arkansas State already earned me a win on Tuesday night so the momentum is still rolling. Enjoy your college football weekend.
EAST CAROLINA -2.5 vs Temple - 7pm
East Carolina has a QB rotation that is working, alternating between Blake Kemp and James Summers. Temple is undefeated, but it may be difficult for the Owls to avoid looking ahead to a primetime matchup with Notre Dame next Saturday night. ECU wins a close one at home.
CAL +4 at Ucla - 9pm
I love picking against UCLA. The Bruins have been decimated by injuries on defense and won't have an answer for Cal QB Jared Goff, who is eager to redeem himself after a poor performance at Utah. UCLA QB Josh Rosen will make a few mistakes once Cal takes an early lead.
TULSA +10.5 vs Memphis - 8pm
Memphis has to play on the road just six days after a physical win against rival Ole Miss. Tulsa has an explosive offense and the Golden Hurricane will keep this one close throughout.
UTAH STATE -5 at San Diego State - 1030pm
SDSU has won three straight, but Fresno State, Hawaii, and SJSU are among the worst teams in the conference. Utah State dominated Boise State by forcing turnovers and playing nearly perfect on offense. The Aggies are the better team and HC Matt Wells will have his team prepared on the road.
AUBURN +6 at Arkansas - 12pm
Auburn beat Kentucky on the road last week and QB Sean White continues to gain confidence. The Hogs are desperate at 2-4, but aren't explosive enough on offense to beat the Tigers convincingly. Arkansas hasn't scored more than 24 points in a game since the opener against UTEP. Auburn hangs around and has a chance to win in the 4th.
TEXAS -4 vs Kansas State - 12pm
Texas beat Oklahoma two weeks ago and saved their season. The Longhorns will play with confidence against a Kansas State team that will struggle to bounce back from two difficult losses (a heartbreaker vs TCU and 55-0 shutout against OK).
LOUISVILLE -7.5 vs Boston College - 1230pm
Louisville is 2-4, but the Cardinals are far better than their record indicates. I love the dual threat ability of QB Lamar Jackson. BC's defense is good statistically, but had no answer for Clemson last week. BC has literally zero offense - scoring just 41 points in five games against FBS opponents.
BOWLING GREEN -14.5 at Kent State - 1pm
Kent State can't score and Bowling Green has one of the most explosive offenses in the country. QB Matt Johnson has 24 TD and 3 INT on the season. Expect another huge game from Johnson and BGSU's offense in a blowout win.
ILLINOIS +7 vs Wisconsin - 330pm
Illinois played close games against Nebraska and Iowa. Wisconsin struggles in the red zone and hasn't been able to finish teams off. The Illini and QB Wes Lunt will do just enough to keep this one interesting. This game will be decided by a late field goal.
TENNESSEE +15.5 at Alabama - 330pm
Tennessee is 3-3, but the Vols have led by double digits in every game. Alabama will have a tough time blowing Tennessee out. The Tide win by 7-10 behind RB Derrick Henry, setting up the showdown against LSU in two weeks.
VIRGINIA TECH -3 vs Duke - 330pm
I know Duke's ranked and is 5-1, but the Blue Devils haven't played a real road game yet (Tulane and Army don't count). QB Michael Brewer is back as the starter for Virginia Tech and he'll be the difference maker on Saturday. The Hokies need a win or their season could spiral out of control. VT wins by a touchdown.
MISSOURI -2.5 at Vanderbilt - 4pm
Missouri QB Drew Lock struggled against Florida and Georgia, but he'll find some success on Saturday afternoon. Both Missouri and Vandy have quality defenses and limited offenses. Against FBS opponents, the Commodores have put up 12, 14, 16, 17, and 10 points. Expect a low-scoring slugfest, with the Tigers finally pulling away in the 4th quarter.
ARIZONA -7.5 vs Washington State - 4pm
This should be a shootout with limited defense. I expect Arizona to win by two scores at home. The Wildcats will be able to run the ball at will on the Cougars and QB Anu Solomon should have a big game.
CINCINNATI -12.5 vs Uconn - 430pm
Cincinnati is a much better team than their record indicates, losing to two undefeated teams (Memphis and Temple) and at BYU. Gunner Kiel and Hayden Moore might both play at QB for the Bearcats and either one is capable of a beating UConn by three scores.
TEXAS A&M +6 at Ole Miss - 7pm
Ole Miss can't run the ball and has been devastated by key injuries on defense. Texas A&M will bounce back from the loss to Alabama. Even with multiple pick-sixes, the Aggies still were within striking distance in the 4th quarter against the Tide. A&M is the better team and Kyle Allen will redeem himself with a big game on the road.
USC -3.5 vs Utah - 730pm
This line surprised everyone and is the definition of a trap. Utah is the team with all the pressure with talk about the playoff starting to heat up. USC will play with nothing to lose and the Trojans have more talent on offense if they can avoid turnovers. USC wins at home in an "upset."
OHIO STATE -21 at Rutgers - 8pm
With J.T. Barrett finally at the controls of the offense, the Buckeyes will blow out Rutgers easily. Ohio State played a complete game against Penn State and the QB change will spark a dominating performance once again.
COLORADO +2 at Oregon State - 1030pm
I saw the Beavers play in person last month. Colorado has more talent on both sides of the ball. The Buffs win and keep their bowl dreams alive.