Miami is playing Syracuse for the first time since 2003, but the 1998 game is still tattooed in my brain. Donovan McNabb and the Cuse destroyed Miami 66-13 in the Carrier Dome. The embarrassing loss helped fuel Miami the following week. Miami beat UCLA in the Orange Bowl behind a 299-yard performance from Edgerrin James, arguably the game that marked the resurgence of the program from the ashes of probation. The Canes made sure to seek revenge on Syracuse from 1999-2003, outscoring the Orange 196-30 in five straight wins.
I have picked Syracuse often this season and was impressed by close losses to NCST and LSU. I was concerned that Miami might overlook QB Eric Dungey, who is one of the most underrated players in the nation. Syracuse has two stud WR in Erwin Philips and Steve Ishmael. Fortunately for the Canes, Syracuse upset Clemson last week in an emotional win, ensuring that Mark Richt won’t have trouble convincing his team to be ready this Saturday. Syracuse hasn’t won on the road yet this season.
Divide and Conquer. In classic coaching terms - Take it one game at a time. That’s my motto for the rest of this season. Miami has every possible goal still within reach. A Coastal title, an ACC Championship victory, and even a spot in the College Football Playoff are all possible. With six games remaining, Miami fans aren’t sure how big to dream. The Canes are absolutely good enough to win out, but are also vulnerable enough to lose to most teams left on the schedule.
If Miami beats Syracuse and then UNC on the road, Hard Rock Stadium and the highly-ranked Canes will be hosting two enormous games to start November. You might notice that I’m not picking Miami this week. The Canes are favored by 17 points at the moment, a number that feels daunting. If Miami shows up in the first half and dominates that would be perfect, but I’m focused on enjoying this winning streak and will be thrilled with a 7-10 point win. The return of Ahmmon Richards and Sheldrick Redwine is key to Miami winning on Saturday. I expect the Canes to win 34-20.
Much like Miami’s impressive start to the season, my picks have exceeded expectations. I’m TWENTY FOUR games over .500. I’ve won 58% through mid-October. I am a specialist at writing self-loathing articles whining about my struggles, but admittedly don’t have as much experience gloating about success. Week after week, people have been waiting for me to revert back to the mean. Miami has found the confidence to make key plays late to win games. Maybe I’ve actually discovered the secret to winning in college football? As my numbers continue to impress, my hat size has increased as it gets harder and harder to reign in my ego. I will do my best to keep a week-to-week approach, divide and conquer, and keep my eye on the prize - a 55% record at the end of the season.
MICHIGAN +9.5 at Penn State - 730pm
Penn State is overrated and Michigan’s offense simply can’t be as bad as we’ve seen in recent weeks. I think Michigan’s defense can hold Penn State to less than 24 points so all I need is a few decent plays from the Wolverines to keep it close.
OLE MISS +7.5 vs Lsu - 715pm
Ed Orgeron will regret his comments about Ole Miss earlier in the week. LSU is still a team with significant flaws and has only scored 23 combined points in two SEC road games this season. Ole Miss WR A.J. Brown will have a big night and the Rebels could win outright.
FAU -3.5 vs North Texas - 5pm
Lane Kiffin has exceeded expectations in Boca already this season and his social media activity is always entertaining. The Owls have more talent and North Texas is coming off an exciting comeback win. FAU jumps on the Mean Green early.
LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE +12.5 at Arkansas State - 730pm
It’s fun to pick against our friends from Jonesboro and ULL has gained confidence by winning two straight games. Arkansas State likely wins by 7-10 tonight.
MEMPHIS +3 at Houston - 8pm
Houston has been a huge disappointment in 2017. The Cougars have turnover problems and won’t be able to slow down the Memphis offense and WR Anthony Miller.
MARSHALL -2.5 at Middle Tennessee State - 7pm
NEW MEXICO +7.5 vs Colorado State - 1015pm
PURDUE -9 at Rutgers - 12pm
TEXAS TECH -6.5 vs Iowa State - 12pm
AKRON +16 at Toledo - 12pm
TEXAS +7.5 vs Oklahoma State - 12pm
Tom Herman is nearly invincible coaching as an underdog. The Longhorns defense will present some challenges for Mason Rudolph and the OKST offense. Texas QB Sam Ehlinger will make enough plays to keep this game interesting in the second half.
NAVY +7.5 vs Ucf - 330pm
UCF has looked unstoppable in 2017, but this is a tricky game on the road. UCF hasn’t faced a team with a strong running game all season. Navy hangs around.
MINNESOTA -13.5 vs Illinois - 330pm
ARIZONA STATE +10 at Utah - 330pm
SMU -7.5 at Cincinnati - 4pm
KENTUCKY +11.5 at Mississippi State - 4pm
Kentucky gets no respect nationally because the Wildcats have won ugly in most games this season, but this team is a FG away against UF from being undefeated. Kentucky will have a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
GEORGIA TECH -7 vs Wake Forest - 730pm
NOTRE DAME -3.5 vs Usc - 730pm
Notre Dame will control the line of scrimmage against an overrated USC defense. USC QB Sam Darnold has yet to prove to me he deserves all of the hype he’s received this season.
CALIFORNIA +3 vs Arizona - 8pm
I love Cal HC Justin Wilcox. The Bears blowing out Washington State should put the rest of the Pac-12 on notice. Cal’s defense will slow down Arizona’s rising star QB Khalil Tate. If Cal can force the Wildcats into passing situations early in the game, the Bears will pull the upset at home.
WASHINGTON STATE -10.5 vs Colorado - 1045pm
Washington State is in a perfect position to bounce back at home after the debacle in Berkeley last Friday. Luke Falk should put up big numbers against a struggling Buffaloes defense.