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Game of Skill? Miami North Carolina and Weekend Picks

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I preview Miami's trip to Chapel Hill and set the record straight on DFS, Ben Carson, and more. The SCOTT Pick continues to thrive and I can't wait for another college football Saturday.

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In the industry of picking winners, you can never be too careful. That's why I want to state something for the record so the NY Attorney General understands. As clearly shown by my weeknight picks, my weekly column is not a game of skill. I know it is unlikely that State of the U appears on his radar screen given our limited marketing budget, but I wanted to be safe in case I become a legend by going undefeated during bowl season. 

While we're being careful, I've been closely following America's favorite surgeon Ben Carson. He's taught me that apparently if you write something in a book or in print (even with a co-author), that people expect you to be telling the truth. So let's set the record straight in case it comes up in my presidential run in 2032. I wasn't violent as a kid. I wasn't enrolled in Perceptions 301, but that's only because i passed out of it via AP credit. I've never tried to injure family members. And last but not least, my football scholarship to West Point was revoked when they found out I took boat rides in high school with Nevin Shapiro.

I'm not putting up huge scores and blowing everyone out, but I have been steadily improving my numbers every week. If Stanford gets a 9am kickoff pass from the committee, then I should get the same treatment regarding weeknight picks. It's clear that my body clock only works on Saturdays, where I've won an impressive 55% of my picks. The SCOTT Pick has been a huge success so far, going 6-2 the past two weeks. After a 2-1 record in MACtion games this week, I'm ready for the weekend and eager to watch Miami battle the Tar Heels.

MIAMI +13 at North Carolina - 330pm

One thing is clear. No one is giving Miami much of a chance to beat North Carolina on Saturday. The Tar Heels have won eight straight and QB Marquise Williams has been playing as well as any QB in the country. UNC has a group of talented and big receivers and a strong RB in Elijah Hood, who has 8 touchdowns in five ACC games. Gene Chizik has completely turned UNC's defense around. (According to the @LeBatardShow, he also looks like the guy who tosses a bullet to his daughter's boyfriend and says "2nd one comes at you faster if you're late.") UNC is only giving up 18 points a game. UNC made a statement last week by blowing the doors off Duke, leaving David Cutcliffe without anyone to blame this time. Larry Scott and the Hurricanes have a tough challenge ahead.

Miami is still alive in the Coastal division and faces a must-win situation on Saturday. Brad Kaaya wasn't his best early in the game against UVA, but he finished 20-26 with 286 yards and 2 touchdowns. The importance of WR Stacy Coley's emergence cannot be overstated. His explosiveness gives Miami's offense another dimension. The Canes are gaining confidence on defense and I've seen a more aggressive attack the past two weeks.

I won't call for an outright win because of jinxing concerns, but I am confident that the Canes will be in this game throughout. Before the blowout over Duke, North Carolina played close games against Pitt, UVA, and Georgia Tech. The key for Miami is to force turnovers. Marquise Williams threw three interceptions in the opener against South Carolina, costing his team a game they should've won. He's only thrown 3 INT's in five ACC games, but Corn Elder and the Miami defense have twelve on the season. This stat is significant - In Miami's 6 wins, the Canes have 11 interceptions, but in Miami's 3 losses the Canes have just one.

SCOTT Pick

FLORIDA -7.5 at South Carolina - 12pm

The Gators had a wakeup call last week against Vandy. Expect a much better effort from Florida's offense on Saturday. UF's defense will dominate and QB Treon Harris will do enough to lead his team to a two-touchdown victory.

TEXAS TECH -5.5 vs Kansas State - 330pm

Kansas State hasn't been able to finish games and is 0-5 in the Big 12. Texas Tech should put up 40+ points and pull away in the second half.

OREGON +10 vs Stanford - 730pm

The Ducks have been much better since the return of QB Vernon Adams. This game will be one of the best games of the day. Look for Oregon to do enough offensively to keep pace with Stanford and Christian McCaffrey.

Thursday

GEORGIA TECH -3 vs Virginia Tech - 730pm

ESPN thought this game would be deciding the Coastal, but both teams have been incredibly disappointing. Georgia Tech will find a way to win and put Frank Beamer on the brink of bowl eligibility.

Friday

COLORADO +16.5 vs Usc - 9pm

I have a standing agreement to pick the Buffs basically every week it seems and it's always for the same reasons. QB Sefo Liufau and WR Nelson Spruce are underrated and will keep the game close at home.

Saturday

MICHIGAN STATE -15 vs Maryland - 12pm

Maryland will be facing an angry team on Saturday. The Spartans lost a heartbreaker to Nebraska and will be motivated to blow out the Terps. QB Connor Cook should have a huge day in the passing game.

AUBURN -1.5 vs Georgia - 12pm

After a strong performance against Texas A&M, Jeremy Johnson will likely start again on Saturday for Auburn. The Tigers finally looked like the team we'd expected and Will Muschamp's defense forced turnovers. Georgia's QB situation is a disaster and the Bulldogs have lost their last two SEC road games.

WEST VIRGINIA -8.5 vs Texas - 12pm

West Virginia is 4-4, but far better than their record indicates. All four losses came against top 15 teams (Baylor TCU OKST OK) and three of those were on the road. The Mountaineers are always tough at home and they'll beat the one-dimensional Longhorns.

VIRGINIA +13.5 at Louisville - 12pm

The Cavs haven't won a road game since 2012, but they tend to stay within striking distance. Louisville's offensive line is weak and the Cardinals beat NCST, BC, and Wake by a combined 11 points.

FLORIDA STATE -10 vs Nc State - 1230pm

The Noles will bounce back and Dalvin Cook should have a big game against NCST's defense. FSU's defense is good enough to slow down Jacoby Brissett.

MISSISSIPPI STATE +8 vs Alabama - 330pm

Dak Prescott is quietly having a terrific season. The Bulldogs can test Alabama's secondary by throwing vertically, something LSU struggled to do. Miss State keeps it close throughout.

IOWA STATE +14 vs Oklahoma State - 330pm

Classic trap game here. The Cowboys are now in the Playoff conversation after beating TCU and face Baylor next Saturday. Trips to Ames are tricky as the Cowboys found out in 2011 in a similar situation. The Cyclones keep this one interesting.

HOUSTON -7 vs Memphis - 7pm

Houston stays perfect behind the stellar play of QB Greg Ward Jr. The Cougars have the better defense.

TULSA +17.5 at Cincinnati - 730pm

Tulsa's offense is explosive and Cincy's defense is prone to big plays. The Golden Hurricane put up 20+ and lose by just a touchdown.

MINNESOTA +12.5 at Iowa - 8pm

The Gophers will rally around Tracy Claeys, who was officially given the head coaching job this week. The Hawkeyes are now 5th in the Committee Rankings and will start to feel the national pressure. The game will come down to the final possession.

UTAH -6 at Arizona - 10pm

The Utes are quietly still in the mix for the Playoff. Arizona has been a huge disappointment this season, losing three straight games and sitting at 2-5 in the Pac-12. Travis Wilson will lead his team to a win on the road.

UCLA -10.5 vs Washington State - 1045pm

The Cougars have been impressive this season, but UCLA's talent on offense will be too much to overcome. Rosen and Perkins have big nights for the Bruins and WSU QB Luke Falk throws a few interceptions.