"Listen up. This is our time now. 2nd half is our time." - Herman Boone, Remember the Titans
MIAMI -3 at Florida State - 330pm (for now)
Enough is enough. After seven straight losses to Florida State, Miami will finally end the streak on Saturday. I wrote about 2nd Half Adjustments earlier this week. Jimbo Fisher has dominated Miami after halftime the past five seasons, outscoring the Canes 86-33. Led by Mark Richt and Manny Diaz, the Canes have won eight straight games, outscoring opponents 155-45 in the 2nd half. This Saturday in Tallahassee, the 2nd half will belong to the Hurricanes.
When this game was originally scheduled for September 16th, the big concern for the Canes was the inexperience of Malik Rosier in his first significant road test. After a strong performance against Duke last week, Rosier is playing with confidence and should be ready to put his mark on this rivalry. FSU's QB James Blackman certainly looked like a freshman against Wake Forest last week. Jimbo didn't have confidence in the passing game and relied heavily on screens on passing downs. Expect Miami’s defense to crowd the line of scrimmage and force Blackman to beat the Canes with his arm.
RB Cam Akers will be a special player for FSU, but he isn't Dalvin Cook just yet. Florida State's offensive line has struggled all season and will have trouble with Miami's talented front seven. For the first time in years, I think Miami has the more explosive players on offense, with Ahmmon Richards and Mark Walton both healthy.
Miami is favored in Tallahassee for the first time since 2005. In years past, I would be worried that my picking the Canes would be an overpowering jinx, but after winning 58% of my games in September, I have no fear. Another actual hurricane won’t slow this team down. Miami wins 27-20.
After 112 picks, my stats table is still full of green numbers. 2017 has been a better year than I could've ever imagined. With a 58% winning percentage, I could just park the bus for the rest of the season and claim success. Part of me thought about just picking five games a week from now on to stay on top. But forget all that. I’m staying true to myself and doing the exact opposite. Counting the Canes (knock on wood), here are 25 winners this week.
NCST +3.5 vs Louisville - 8pm - Thursday
Lamar Jackson can’t do it all alone. NCST is going to win this game outright. The Wolfpack DL will dominate the line of scrimmage against a weak Louisville OL. QB Ryan Finley and Jaylen Samuels will take advantage of an average Louisville defense. NCST is a legitimate challenger in the ACC Atlantic, hosting Clemson in early November.
MICHIGAN -10 vs Michigan State - 730pm - Saturday
Michigan’s defense will dominate this game. Michigan State is averaging less than 25 points per game and the Spartans will face speed mismatches at nearly every position. Michigan QB John O’Korn has starting experience and might play well enough to keep the starting job when Wilton Speight gets healthy.
WEST VIRGINIA +13.5 at Tcu - 330pm
Despite the win over Oklahoma State, I’m still not sold on TCU as a playoff contender. I don’t trust TCU QB Kenny Hill and have been impressed with WVU QB Will Grier. I expect a shootout, with the Mountaineers doing enough to keep pace heading into the fourth quarter. Don’t be shocked if West Virginia wins on the road and shakes up the Big 12.
UCONN +14 vs Memphis - 7pm - Friday
I like what I’ve seen from Uconn’s offense in recent weeks. QB Bryant Shirreffs will be able to put up points on Memphis. The Tigers are coming off a blowout loss to UCF and might not be mentally ready for a Friday night game in Storrs.
BYU +9 vs Boise State - 1015pm - Friday
IOWA STATE +28 at Oklahoma - 12pm
With the Texas game a week away, Oklahoma will be sleepwalking through a noon kickoff against Iowa State. The Sooners gave up 41 points against Baylor two weeks ago. Baker Mayfield will lead his team to a score on nearly every possession, but Iowa State QB Jacob Park will put up at least three touchdowns and earn me a win.
VANDERBILT +17.5 vs Georgia - 12pm
After big wins over Mississippi State and Tennessee, Georgia is due for a letdown. Vanderbilt’s offense is good enough to keep this game interesting for at least a half. Georgia wins by 10-14.
NORTHWESTERN +14.5 vs Penn State - 12pm
I trust Northwestern at home. The Wildcats played well for most of the game against Wisconsin and can have similar success against Penn State. The Nittany Lions’ only other road trip this season was a win over Iowa on the final play. Penn State wins by a touchdown on a big run from Heisman favorite Saquon Barkley.
MISSISSIPPI +21 at Auburn - 12pm
SYRACUSE -3.5 vs Pittsburgh - 12pm
Syracuse was embarrassed at Pitt last season, losing 76-61. Dino Babers will have his team ready for revenge on Saturday. QB Eric Dungey is quietly one of the most exciting players in the ACC - 7 passing TD and 7 rushing TD in 2017.
NOTRE DAME -14 at North Carolina - 330pm
ND QB Brandon Wimbush has a foot injury and might not be able to play, but it won’t matter. Notre Dame is averaging over 300 yards rushing per game and North Carolina is giving up 222 yards rushing per game. RB Josh Adams will have another huge game en route to an easy win.
NAVY -7 vs Air Force - 330pm
PURDUE -3.5 vs Minnesota - 330pm
Minnesota’s defense was very disappointing against Maryland last week and the Gophers face a tougher challenge on Saturday. Purdue will be honoring the late Joe Tiller, one of my favorite coaches growing up. The Boilers are coming off a bye week and QB David Blough should be healthy enough to play.
FLORIDA -3 vs Lsu - 330pm
THIS IS A TRAP. I KNOW IT’S A TRAP. THIS LINE SHOULD BE 7. WHATEVER. I’m picking Florida because the Gators always seem to find a way to win close games. The LSU players and coaches have spent all week reading about and discussing Ed Orgeron’s massive buyout.
ARKANSAS -2 at South Carolina - 4pm
Bret Bielema’s job is on the line and his players know it. South Carolina played tough against Texas A&M, but just doesn’t have enough talent on offense to win SEC games without Deebo Samuel. Arkansas QB Austin Allen will play well and keep his coach off the hot seat for at least a week.
FAU -4.5 at Old Dominion - 6pm
Lane Kiffin finally has things figured out at FAU. RB Devin Singletary has been the bright spot for the Owls and had four touchdowns in a win last week against Middle Tennessee State. Jason Driskel looked comfortable as the starter at QB. Old Dominion lost by 30 to North Carolina at home, the only win of the season for the Tar Heels.
SMU +7 at Houston - 7pm
TEXAS -3.5 vs Kansas State - 7pm
Texas QB Shane Buechele is practicing this week and should be ready to play Saturday night. The Longhorns have a talented defense that gained confidence from impressive performances in road games against USC and Iowa State. Kansas State is always tough to beat, but the Wildcats haven’t proven much in 2017 with wins over Charlotte and an 0-5 Baylor.
TEXAS A&M +26.5 vs Alabama - 715pm
Christian Kirk and Trayveon Williams will help the Aggies put up at least 20 points in this matchup. This will be the toughest road test for Alabama so far this season. I fully expect Nick Saban’s team to pull away but this game has the potential to be close in the first half.
COLORADO -6.5 vs Arizona - 8pm
Colorado played well enough to beat UCLA and will be eager to bounce back at home. Buffs’ QB Steven Montez and RB Phillip Lindsay will take over the game. Colorado’s defense should be able to take advantage of a turnover-prone Arizona offense.
WASHINGTON STATE -2 at Oregon - 8pm
I know Oregon has depth at the skill positions, but the loss of QB Justin Herbert is the main reason I’m picking Washington State. None of his replacements can threaten the Cougars with a downfield passing attack. WSU QB Luke Falk will continue to climb up Heisman lists with another impressive performance.
NEBRASKA +12 vs Wisconsin - 8pm
UTAH +5.5 vs Stanford - 1015pm
Troy Williams is likely to start at QB for the Utes. Williams is an experienced leader and is eager to prove himself against a talented Stanford squad. Rice-Eccles Stadium is a tough place for road teams, especially at night. Stanford’s star RB Bryce Love has had an incredible start to the season, but Utah’s defense is far better than the ones he’s faced in the Pac-12 - UCLA, USC, Arizona State. Utah has a legitimate chance to win this game outright.