The college football season continues to progress, with the top teams looking to start off conference play on the right foot. Here’s a look some of the best matchups of the week, accompanies with college football picks for each.
California @ #13 USC (6 PM, PAC-12 Network)
With dreams of a perfect season down the toilet, USC will have to settle for simply trying to win the PAC-12. California should be the perfect bounce back game for them, since they get to return home and play a Bears team that lost a heartbreaker in Columbus, Ohio last week.
Matt Barkley struggled mightily last weekend, but USC also missed the services of center Khaled Homes and kicker Andre Heidari. They are both back this week, and with a chip on their shoulders along with the rest of the Trojans.
This could really turn into a blowout. California isn’t a bad team, but they are not on the same level as USC. Considering the home crowd and the anger the team probably has built up from last week’s disappointment, and fans should see the best game of the year from USC.
Pick: USC 35-14 (USC -17, under 57)
#18 Michigan @ #11 Notre Dame (7:30, NBC)
Notre Dame continues its brutal schedule Saturday as it plays host to Michigan. The Wolverines have been eyeing this game ever since getting embarrassed on national television against Alabama. Getting a chance to knock off an undefeated Fighting Irish squad is definitely on the mind of Denard Robinson, Brady Hoke and the rest of the Michigan squad.
Some had doubts if Notre Dame was for real, but a lot of the country officially bought into them after their win last week in East Lansing against Michigan State. Few are predicting that Notre Dame can survive their schedule undefeated, but even a loss or two should still put them in position for a BCS bowl.
Everyone will want to look at the quarterback matchup, but the key to this game is how Manti Te’o and the rest of Notre Dame’s defense plays. Notre Dame will score points. They can’t let Robinson run and pass all over them though. Everett Golson continues to impress with his maturity under center for Notre Dame, and some even trust him to make smart plays over Robinson.
Despite the offensive firepower, this should be a low scoring game. If that is the case, Notre Dame is stronger, older and wiser on defense and ball control. Look for them to grind out a victory, remain perfect on the season and move into the top 10.
Pick: Notre Dame 17-10 (Notre Dame -6, under 51)
#15 Kansas State @ #6 Oklahoma (7:50, FOX)
After getting demolished by Oklahoma at home last year 58-17, the Kansas City Wildcats are looking to go into Norman and issue a payback of sorts. Both teams have an early eye on the Big 12 title, so a win here could put them in the early driver’s seat.
Both teams have not really put an entire game together, so it will be interesting to see how this matchup plays out. Both have had to grind out at least one game this year already against weaker teams.
With that being said, it’s hard to go against the Sooners. They dominated last season, they have better players at nearly every position and they get to play at home. The fans in Norman always give their team the edge. Oklahoma will win, but it will be closer than the current spread. Kansas State is a good team with a lot of pride, so they will not let it get as ugly as it was a season ago.
Pick: Oklahoma 33-27 (Kansas State +17, over 58.5)
#10 Clemson @ #4 Florida State (8:00, ABC)
Two top 10 teams face off in the capital of Florida on Saturday night, with the winner in the driver’s seat for the ACC title. Clemson got the better of Florida State last year, but the Seminoles are not only at home, but a year older as well. The team has only allowed a single field goal so far this season, albeit against much easier competition than the Tigers.
Having a ESPN Gameday crowd in attendance will certainly make the home field advantage big for Florida State, but Clemson has been able to go into tough places and win in the past.
The problem Clemson will have with Florida State is that they are simply an average defenseive team at this point of the season. The Seminoles have a potent offensive attack, and they will be picking them apart all night long. Only because of the long history of close games between these two schools should be a cause for concern. Clemson will most likely find a way to stay around and within striking distance for most of the game, but Florida State is for real this season. Take the favorites.
Pick: Florida State 30-23 (Clemson +13, under 55.5)
#22 Arizona @ #3 Oregon (10:30, ESPN)
Oregon should finally get somewhat of a test when they face off against #22 Arizona at home. The Ducks have had one of the easiest schedules to start the season, giving the backups almost as much playing time as the starters.
The Ducks will enter PAC-12 play hosting an Arizona team that can put up points in a hurry just like Oregon. This should be a high-scoring affair, since neither team is exactly known for playing stellar defense. Rich Rodriguez sees this as an opportunity to get his first signature win at Arizona.
Both teams are well rested after complete blowouts in Week 3. This is a game both had circled on their schedule as the real start to the season. Oregon has many naysayers when it comes to their #3 ranking, but a statement win here could shut them up a bit.
As long as Oregon can contain Arizona quarterback Matt Scott enough, and they continue to stay strong on the offensive line, Oregon should win this matchup somewhat easily. Look for a 10+ point win, as the Ducks simply can’t be slowed down on offense.
Pick: Oregon 40-21 (Arizona +26.5, under 75)