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Miami Duke Pick - Winning Takes Talent

I pick and preview the Miami Duke game and talk about how I’m dealing with my impressive start to the season.

NCAA Football: Miami at Duke Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

After a demoralizing second quarter, Miami dominated Toledo in the second half, scoring six touchdowns. The Canes finished with 52 points, 587 yards, and averaged almost 10 yards a carry. Other than one ugly interception, Malik Rosier played very well, showing poise under pressure and nice touch on several touchdown passes. Heading into the Duke game, the most important news of the week is that Mark Walton and Ahhmon Richards should both be ready to play. Miami's receivers have played well in his absence, but Richards takes this offense to another level.

Miami's defense is another story. Through two games, Manny Diaz's group hasn't performed up to the level we all were expecting. The Canes forced one turnover against Toledo and the Rockets converted on 13 of their 23 third downs. Miami did have four sacks and had more success once Toledo was trailing in the second half.

MIAMI -6 at Duke - 7pm

I'll never forget where I was when I watched Corn Elder's touchdown to beat Duke two years ago. Even though that season wasn't a success, The Return is one of the most memorable plays in Miami history. Malik Rosier led the Canes to a win in his first career start and Artie Burns and his teammates had an emotional night after dealing with tragedy earlier in the week.

In 2017, Duke is averaging 227 rushing yards a game after taking advantage of some weaker defenses - NCCU, Northwestern, Baylor, and North Carolina. The Blue Devils are 4-0 and confident with the Canes coming to down. Duke QB Daniel Jones is a talented dual-threat and Miami needs to put pressure on him early.

UM RB Mark Walton has been incredible in both of Miami's wins, but he'll face a tougher test this week. Duke has held opponents to 2.3 yards per carry so far this season.

Since joining the ACC, Miami is 11-1 against Duke. Even though the Blue Devils look to be much improved this season, there is still a sizable talent gap between the two rosters. Miami struggling early against Toledo and shaking off the rust of a long layoff will prove to be beneficial tomorrow night. Duke's three FBS wins came against teams with a combined 3-8 record. If Miami shows up ready to play, the Canes should pull away in the second half.

“Winning takes talent. To repeat takes character.” - John Wooden

There isn't a speck of red on my entire scorecard. I went 14-7 last week and my head is exploding with confidence. My picks have been so successful that my agent has been buried with calls all week. We keep telling shoe companies to leave us alone. If I continue to win at this rate all season, I expect to be asked for numerous profiles and photo-ops. I want to put this issue to bed once and for all - I will not be going to the White House, even if invited. Precise Mediocrity could always be looming around the corner, but through four weeks I have silenced my arch nemesis temporarily.


FLORIDA STATE -7.5 at Wake Forest - 330pm

Florida State is 0-2 and still has games against Miami, Louisville, Clemson, and Florida. The Noles need a win to get their season back on track. QB James Blackman played pretty well in his first start last week. Against Wake, I expect FSU to solve some of the problems they've had in the red zone so far this season. FSU's defense will play better and should be able to control the line of scrimmage.

TEXAS A&M - 8 vs South Carolina - 730pm

Texas A&M's offense led the Aggies to a victory against Arkansas, with QB Kellen Mond continuing to impress. WR Christian Kirk will be the best player on the field Saturday night. South Carolina's offense can't replace the production and presence of injured star Deebo Samuel and struggled to score last week against Louisiana Tech. Texas A&M will put together a complete game and win with relative ease at home.

CALIFORNIA +14 at Oregon - 1030pm

Cal is the most improved team in the nation, led by new head coach Justin Wilcox. Cal has beaten UNC and Ole Miss and is 3-1 on the season. The Bears turned the ball over six times against USC and managed to lose by only 10 points. Oregon allowed 35 points against Nebraska and 37 against Arizona State. Cal will score enough to stay within striking distance.


TEXAS -4.5 at Iowa State - 8pm

Texas lost this game in Ames 24-0 in 2015 and the Longhorn players are motivated by that painful memory. Tom Herman's team earned a moral victory by playing into overtime against USC, but a loss to the Cyclones would drop Texas to 1-3 on the year. It's not clear whether Sam Ehlinger or Shane Buechele will be starting for UT tonight, but either way I expect Texas to play well. The Texas defense will control Iowa State QB Jacob Park.


NEBRASKA -5.5 at Illinois - 8pm

Nebraska QB Tanner Lee has thrown NINE interceptions in four games, three of which have been returned for touchdowns. If he can simply protect the football for a few quarters, the Cornhuskers should win this game by double digits. Illinois is 2-1, but is only averaging 21 points per game.

UTAH STATE +2 vs Byu - 8pm

After barely beating Portland State in the opener, BYU scored just 19 total points in three straight losses to LSU, Utah, and Wisconsin. QB Tanner Mangum is banged up with a leg injury and the Cougars have no answers on offense. Utah State QB Kent Myers will lead his team to a close win at home. The Aggies gained confidence with an impressive blowout win last week over San Jose State.

USC -3.5 at Washington State - 1030pm

USC is 9-1 in the last 10 games in this series. USC's star QB Sam Darnold hasn't played up to his potential so far this season, but I still trust him to take advantage of Washington State's average defense. The Cougars are led by veteran QB Luke Falk and I expect this game to be a shootout. In the fourth quarter, look for the speed of USC to be the deciding factor. The Trojans have two elite RB's in Ronald Jones and Stephen Carr and Deontay Burnett is a dynamic playmaker at WR.


NORTHWESTERN +14.5 at Wisconsin - 12pm

For whatever reason, the Wildcats usually play well against Wisconsin. Northwestern is 5-5 in the last 10 meetings and the last three games in this series were incredibly low-scoring. After a disappointing loss to Duke, Northwestern bounced back and dominated Bowling Green. Both teams are coming off a bye week. NU QB Clayton Thorson and RB Justin Jackson will make enough plays to keep this game close throughout.

MINNESOTA -13 vs Maryland - 12pm

Maryland QB's are cursed. The Terps have already lost their top two for the season and won't be able to move the ball consistently against the Gophers. Minnesota has been impressive this season and I will continue to support P.J. Fleck until he lets me down.

VANDERBILT +10 at Florida - 12pm

I love picking against the Gators. Vanderbilt was embarrassed by Alabama and Derek Mason will use that performance as a motivator this week. Florida's offense found success with the wildcat against Kentucky, but still isn't explosive enough to blow teams out. If Vanderbilt doesn't leave wide receivers completely uncovered Mark Stoops' style, the Commodores could make this an interesting game.

SYRACUSE +12 at NC State - 12pm

Syracuse can put up points and QB Eric Dungey is one of the most underrated players in the nation. After a huge win at FSU last week, I don't expect this NCST team to show much maturity. I expect a letdown, allowing the Cuse to hang around all afternoon.

TENNESSEE +7.5 vs Georgia - 330pm

I think this game will be decided in the final possession. Georgia barely escaped with a win at Notre Dame in its only road this year. With a loss already to Florida and a trip to Tuscaloosa later the season, this is an absolute must win for the Vols. Butch Jones will have his team ready to play..... and will likely lose by a field goal.

MICHIGAN STATE -3 vs Iowa - 4pm

Michigan State and QB Brian Lewerke will bounce back at home after a poor showing against Notre Dame. Iowa's heart-breaking loss on the final play to Penn State will linger all week and the Hawkeyes will find it difficult to refocus on the trip to East Lansing.

ARIZONA STATE +16 at Stanford - 4pm

Arizona State won't be able to stop Stanford's star RB Bryce Love, but Sun Devils QB Manny Wilkins is playing as well as anyone in the nation. Wilkins hasn't thrown an interception this season and Arizona State gained confidence in a win over Oregon last week. Stanford wins by 7-10.

CINCINNATI -4 vs Marshall - 7pm

UCF -4 vs Memphis - 7pm

UCF was ready to play Memphis a few weeks ago before Hurricane Irma intervened. Both teams are coming off big wins - UCF 38-10 over Maryland and Memphis 48-45 over UCLA. This is a statement game for the Knights and QB McKenzie Milton.

CLEMSON -7.5 at Virginia Tech - 8pm

It has become a reflex at this point. In tough games, pick Clemson. In difficult games on the road, pick Clemson. Virginia Tech's freshman QB Josh Jackson has been very impressive so far this season. He'll be challenged by Clemson's incredible defense. The Tigers will force a few critical turnovers and pull away late.

OKLAHOMA STATE -9.5 at Texas Tech - 8pm

Oklahoma State's offense won't be held down two weeks in a row. Despite an impressive win over Houston last week, Texas Tech won't have enough firepower to beat OKST. Mason Rudolph and his talented group of receivers will get back to making big plays and take control of the game early.

COLORADO +7 at Ucla - 1030pm

I'm 3-0 picking against UCLA so why stop now. Colorado is a better team than what we saw in a disappointing loss to Washington Saturday night. UCLA's defense is dreadful and has given up 45, 48, and 58 points in games so far this year. UCLA QB Josh Rosen will make plays against the Buffaloes, but I won't be surprised if Colorado wins the game outright. The Bruins didn't show much fight in the second half against Stanford.