Tag Archive: Upset


Keleche Osemele is one of the best offensive guard prospects in the country. His combination of size and strength is very intriguing.

Kelechi Osemele, OT, Iowa State- Osemele impressed me tonight. He’s so big and strong that once he locks on he can drive defenders off the ball in the run game. He seems to finish blocks well and will be fine blocking interior defensive linemen because of his great size (listed at 6’6″, 345 pounds) with long arms and great strength. He doesn’t have the foot speed/lateral agility to stick at LT in the NFL in my opinion, and while he might have a shot at RT I think his upside is highest inside at guard. At that spot he is a first round pick. His long arms will help him in pass protection at guard as well, and he doesn’t seem to lean into blocks and reach in pass protection. Doesn’t bend at the waist, he bends at the knees and lets defenders come to him in his stance. He’s a quality prospect, one of the best offensive guard prospects in the country. Don’t have a report on him yet, but I will eventually.

Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa State- I can’t say enough about how well Leonard Johnson played tonight. Weeden throws the ball to Blackmon a lot, but a number of times Johnson’s blanket coverage on Blackmon forced Weeden to look at other receivers, hold onto the ball too long and at times force throws. Johnson was very good in man coverage, particularly down the sideline. He did a great job of taking away Weeden’s windows to throw to Blackmon by using the sideline to his advantage and staying right in Blackmon’s hip pocket making it nearly impossible to throw into that window. I wasn’t sure how impressed I was in zone coverage, and even in spite of his great effort mirroring Blackmon for the entire game he still gave up 10 catches for 99 yards and 1 TD. There wasn’t anything he could do about the TD, it was just a terrific play by Blackmon, but he definitely frustrated him and it was a very heated, competitive battle. Additionally, at least three or four of his catches were on screens at the line of scrimmage. Downfield Johnson had very good coverage for the majority of the game. They both seem to be very intense competitors, and while Johnson was jawing at Blackmon more and more throughout the game he never seemed to get so heated that he lost his cool. I had never specifically watched Johnson before, but he left a terrific impression on me tonight. He played great against arguably the best wide receiver in the country.

Brandon Weeden was on top of many Heisman lists prior to this game, but he won't be after his relatively disappointing performance against Iowa State.

Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State- Weeden has definitely had better nights. He was checking down a lot and throwing a LOT of bubble screens which kind of bothered me. More importantly he was checking down in critical situations. He was throwing underneath and into the backfield on 3rd downs late in the fourth quarter instead of pushing the ball downfield. Now, Blackmon was well covered overall tonight and if it weren’t for some bubble screens he probably wouldn’t have had many catches, and while Moore and Cooper stepped up when Weeden got them the ball it didn’t seem like he was consistently making good reads and good decisions tonight. He didn’t come up big in crunch time when his team needed him (until he made a nice touchdown throw to Cooper in the first OT which was immediately followed by an interception on a tipped ball that was forced to Blackmon against pretty solid coverage) and that’s a problem for me when evaluating QB prospects. Considering his age, his throwing motion which could stand to be tinkered with to speed up his release, and some of his issues in this close game it’s hard for me to grade him as a 3rd round prospect right now.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State- Blackmon had a good statistical game, but he struggled to create separation against Johnson tonight. Definitely not his best game, and while I’m not sure how many drops he had (may not have had any, but I thought I remembered at least one) he did make some nice catches extending his arms fully and had a terrific play against good man coverage by Johnson as he went up and made a great catch in mid-air as he demonstrated great body control and hands. He scored on that play, and it was definitely a highlight reel play. So while Blackmon didn’t have the best game of his career he still managed to make a couple great catches and plays to help his team. I think he could have done more, but some of that blame has to be placed on Weeden. It was encouraging to see him make plays like that, but at the same time I was hoping to see him step up late in the 4th quarter and in the overtime periods.

Darius Reynolds displayed some upside in this game, and I was particularly impressed with his hand-eye coordination as well as his ability to high point the ball in the air.

Darius Reynolds, WR, Iowa State- Reynolds had a pedestrian game by statistical standards with only 4 catches, 39 yards and 1 touchdown. However, I was impressed with his hands overall (though he did have at least one or two drops) as he made a great catch high pointing the ball well above the defender for his only touchdown in the first half. He almost had a second touchdown but it was ultimately ruled an incompletion. I personally believed it was a touchdown, but regardless of how it was ruled he still made a terrific play to get a hand on the ball, focus on it as he his arm was being grabbed while falling in the air and ultimately reel it in before he hit the ground. Broderick Brown stripped it out after it seemed clear to me that he had maintained control of it, but the referees ruled that there was not indisputable visual evidence to overturn the call of an incomplete pass on the field. Regardless, I had never seen Reynolds play before and he flashed some impressive ability. He’s a late round pick right now, but he flashed some upside tonight.

Jared Barnett, QB, Iowa State- Barnett wasn’t overly impressive in this game statistically, but I was convinced he had poise and composure by how he was playing as the game went on. Then the 4th quarter came about and Barnett made some big time throws and plays to help move Iowa State not only within striking distance but led the comeback to tie the game. He’s a redshirt freshman quarterback but his efforts in this game were very impressive. They weren’t all pretty, but he came up big when his team needed him to.

A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State- Klein is a junior linebacker on Iowa State that impressed me tonight. He seemed to be a reliable tackler, showed some ability in coverage by deflecting a pass or two, and seemed to be around the ball consistently in this game. I’d grade him as a 3rd-4th rounder for the 2013 class as he has some ability, but haven’t seen enough of him yet and I don’t think he’s an elite athlete. I liked what I saw from him tonight though.

Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State- Martin is an athletic player and he had a couple nice plays in coverage tonight. He missed some tackles early in the game and overall I think he earned mixed reviews in this game. He’s an athletic specimen, but I don’t know how high I am on him at this point.

Hopefully you enjoyed my thoughts on the Oklahoma State-Iowa State game. It was sloppy at times, but overall it was a fantastic game and a huge upset. It was definitely a very fun game to watch, and it had a number of legitimate NFL prospects to take a look at. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Kirk Cousins and the Michigan State Spartans were the ones celebrating at the end of this thrilling contest between two Big-10 championship contenders.

When I saw the schedule for this 2011 season I pointed this game out to every one of my friends who likes the Badgers and said “This is going to be a critical game not only for the Badgers’ season, but for the entire Big-10 conference.” After Michigan State lost to Notre Dame it didn’t seem like my prediction would come true, but boy did it ever prove to be correct. This game had immense ramifications not only for undefeated Wisconsin and one loss Michigan State, but for the rest of the teams in each division of the conference that are trying to catch both teams for a shot at the Big-10 title game.

I will readily admit that I missed the entire first half of this game. I was on my way back from an away game that my college’s football team lost (63-41, it was quite a shoot-out) and started watching instantly once I got back. I got to see Kirk Cousins and Le’Evon Bell drive down the field for a huge touchdown to put Michigan State up 31-17. I thought Wisconsin was toast at that point, especially because of how much trouble they were having slowing down Michigan State’s running game, plus they were struggling to move the ball effectively on offense. But Wisconsin’s defense made three great stops in a row and kept Wisconsin in the game, and Russell Wilson proved that he is worthy of a lot of the praise that he receives nationally by leading two touchdown drives in the last 10 minutes of the 4th quarter to tie the game at 31. On the game tying drive he was 4/4 with a huge 3rd down conversion, a fantastic throw on an extended play to Nick Toon, and then bought more time outside of the pocket, drew a defender in as he rolled to the sideline and dropped the ball off right over him to Montee Ball for an easy score.

Some of my close friends will remember me questioning how good of a coach Bret Bielema really is when we were freshmen and sophomores. Calling a timeout with 30 seconds left instead of playing for overtime didn't really change my mind.

This is where things got crazy.

Michigan State got the ball back and Cousins did not start strong. He checked down for three yards on his first pass, then short-armed a throw to the near sideline on a curl at the marker. 3rd and 7, and he threw a dart underneath to convert. Michigan State continued to try to move the ball, but couldn’t get significant chunks of yardage. With 30 seconds left, they were content to let the clock run out and take the game to overtime. But to my disbelief Bret Bielema called his second timeout of the half and stopped the clock, foolishly hoping to get the ball back to Russell Wilson and his suddenly potent offense. But with the ball around the 40 yard line, even if the Badgers had stopped the Spartans at that point they would have punted it and at best the Badgers could have hoped for the ball on the 30 yard line with 15 seconds or possibly less remaining. Not much time even with a timeout and Russell Wilson’s strong arm.

But Bilema decided to do it anyways, and Michigan State managed to convert and the game seemed to be slipping away from Wisconsin. But with 10 seconds left the Spartans found themselves outside of field goal range with only one timeout left. They snapped the ball and Cousins started scanning the field but the clock never started. In fact, the clock didn’t start running until after the play had nearly concluded and it continued to run after the play was over (all the way down to four seconds). Suffice it to say, in all the years I have been watching football I have never seen anything quite like that, and no one in the stadium seemed to notice nor did they seem to care. You’d think Michigan State would be interested in seeing if more time should have been allotted for that final play, but apparently not.

Ohio State and Michigan were both watching this game intently. Ohio State started slow, but is gaining momentum. Michigan has had a terrific start to the year, but needs to catch Michigan State.

Then the craziest thing of all happened. After the timeout, Michigan State lined up with trips on the right side of the formation, Cousins rolled out to his right side to buy time and lobbed up a hail mary. Jared Abbrederis and a number of other players were down waiting for the ball near the end zone and Abbrederis jumped to try to catch it or knock it down but he didn’t time it right. The ball bounced off of a Michigan State receiver in the end zone and Keith Nichol, a former quarterback who transitioned to wide receiver after losing the starting job to Cousins, managed to catch it on the one yard line. He then fought tooth and nail to BARELY claw the ball over the goal line for a touchdown. Initially it was ruled that he was down on the one yard line, but when looking at the replays of the play it was clear that the ball crossed the plane of the end zone (even if it barely crossed it).

So, with that, the Spartans beat the Badgers for the second year in a row during a critical portion of the season. This doesn’t dramatically hurt the Badgers’ bid to ultimately become Big-10 champions because Michigan State and Wisconsin are in separate divisions, but it does all but dash Wisconsin’s chances at the BCS National Championship. Ohio State is looming after coming off of a quality win over then-ranked Illinois. Wisconsin travels to Columbus next, and it is imperative that they win this game to keep Ohio State from roaring back in the second half of the season. Michigan State maintained their lead in the opposite division ahead of Michigan, and if they win out they will be in the Big-10 Championship Game. Wisconsin is in the same boat, and I for one hope both win out so that we can see a rematch of this game. It probably won’t be as exciting or as unpredictable as this one was, but it would likely be a great game.

This was a fantastic game. I know I’m very late on posting this write-up, but it’s been a hectic week and I haven’t had a lot of free time. This was a very fun game to watch and it involved a comeback in the fourth quarter after the Sun Devils took a 14 point lead with 14:23 left when Brock Osweiler ran for a 12 yard touchdown. James Franklin saved his best stuff for the 4th quarter as he delivered both of his touchdown strikes in the 4th. One was to L’Damian Washington with 12 minutes left in the quarter, and the final strike was to Michael Egnew with 2:50 remaining to tie the score.

Brock Osweiler was the star of this game without question in my opinion, and really burst onto the scene as a prospect as far as I'm concerned. He's shot up my personal quarterback rankings this year, and I can't wait to watch him play the rest of the year.

Brock Osweiler had a great game and he really impressed me. He has a fantastic combination of size (listed at 6’8”, 240 pounds) and arm strength. He’s got an extremely strong arm, perhaps comparable to Ryan Mallett’s. He has terrific zip on throws to all levels, a quality release (though it looks a little like a 3/4 release at times, I haven’t quite pinned down what it is, but it looks a little funny to me every now and then) and good mechanics when he throws the ball. He generates a lot of power when he plants and drives, but doesn’t always spin a clean ball when he releases it. More often than not I would say he does though. He also placed the ball very well in this game and displayed overall great accuracy as evidenced by his 24/32 performance for 353 yards (with an 11 yards per attempt average), three touchdowns and no interceptions. He even had 5 carries, 34 yards and one touchdown rushing despite not having great mobility. He didn’t display consistent poise in the pocket in this game, but he did flash the willingness to take a hit to deliver a throw. He left the pocket prematurely a few times in this game, so that is something to note. Overall I was very impressed with him as a prospect and if he continues to play well he will be one of my top junior quarterbacks behind Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley and Landry Jones. After four games (three against ranked teams- Missouri, Illinois and USC) he is 93/135 (68.9% completion), 1,094 yards, 8 TD’s and 3 INT’s. He also has 94 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Aaron Pflugrad had a breakout game of sorts against Missouri. He had two touchdowns in the opening game against UC Davis, but he had a huge game against Missouri when he totaled 8 catches, 180 yards (for a 22.5 ypc) and 2 TD’s. I had never seen him play before, but he was definitely the deep ball threat for Osweiler in this game and Missouri just couldn’t seem to keep him from getting behind their secondary. He’s only listed at 5’10”, 184 pounds but he was the playmaker in this game. He really stole the show. It’ll be interesting to see if he continues to be targeted by Osweiler the rest of the season, as after four games he has 22 receptions, 344 yards (15.64 yards per reception) and four touchdowns.

Gerell Robinson had a solid game, but I am not very impressed with his hands. He had a couple drops in this game including one on a potential third down conversion. He has good size for a WR at 6’4”, 222 pounds and a listed 4.58 40 yard dash time. He produced two catches, 66 yards (33 ypc) and 0 TD’s despite a couple drops. He has solid upside as a possession receiver, but if he doesn’t make critical catches on third down it really limits his value as a prospect.

Jamal Miles is a 5’10”, 180 pound WR who does it all for Missouri. In this game he had two carries for 13 yards, six catches for 50 yards and 2 TD’s, and three punt returns for 27 yards. This year he has 16 receptions, 110 yards and three touchdowns receiving. He also has six rushes for 53 yards, five kickoff returns for 169 yards (and one TD), and seven punt returns for 87 yards. He even has a touchdown pass this year (1 pass attempt completed for 35 yards). He even scored the winning touchdown on a swing pass from Brock Osweiler in OT to put the Sun Devils ahead for good. He had a good game even if he had a couple incidents returning punts. He’s very versatile, so it’ll be interesting if he continues to prove his value in so many different phases of the game.

Junior Onyeali is a dynamic, albiet undersized, defensive end. He's underrated because of his size, but he has the potential to be extremely disruptive as he continues to develop.

Junior Onyeali is a very undersized DE on Arizona State. He’s listed at 5’11”, 244 pounds which is very small for a defensive end, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by his burst off the ball and his speed off the edge. I was impressed with him as a freshman and he flashed the same ability as a sophomore against Missouri. He hasn’t been producing at the same level statistically, but he was able to create relatively consistent pressure against Missouri. He definitely has upside even if he’s undersized.

Jamaar Jarrett is a senior defensive end on Arizona State. He’s listed at 6’5”, 260 pounds and while his production has been more limited as a senior he had 40 total tackles (23 solo), 10.5 TFL and 4.5 sacks as a junior. He doesn’t have a lot of burst off the ball or off the edge if I remember, but he is pretty solid against the run. It’ll be interesting to see how he does in the remainder of the games I watch of him.

Vontaze Burfict is one of the top linebacker prospects in the country because of his great combination of size and athletic ability. He’s listed at 6’3”, 250 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.67. He packs a serious punch as a hitter and is an effective blitzer, and plays with a lot of aggressiveness as a football player. The problem is, sometimes that aggression spills over on and off the field (such as when he punched one of his teammates in the locker room, or when he draws unnecessary late hit penalties). I’m not sold on his instincts and ability to read and react to plays yet, nor am I confident in his ability in coverage. However, he does play the run well and he is very effective when he can flow to the ball, play downhill or attack blockers. He’s strong and aggressive enough to be a very effective linebacker.

Burfict is an intimidating presence at the heart of Arizona State's defense, but I don't know how good his instincts are, how effective he is in coverage, and he has a tendency to draw unnecessary penalties.

Shelly Lyons is an outside linebacker on Arizona State who’s relatively undersized for a linebacker even though he is 6’2”, but he only weighs 228 pounds. He’s got ability and he’s a good tackler, and he seems to flow to the ball well. I’m not sold on his ability to shed blocks, but he gets pretty good depth in his drops and seems comfortable in coverage. He actually recorded an interception and returned it for a touchdown this past weekend against USC. He’s an under the radar senior in my opinion, so it’ll be interesting to see how he progresses this year.

I’m not sure how good of a game he had because it’s hard to watch the secondary due to ESPN’s camera angles, but Eddie Elder is a safety on Arizona State that had a productive season last year despite only being 5’10”. He’s another under the radar guy to keep an eye on, though he’s had a relatively slow start to the season statistically.

James Franklin is the sophomore quarterback on Missouri that has stepped up to replace Blaine Gabbert. He isn’t a very good passer, but he had a productive game completing 26/42 pass attempts, throwing for 319 yards (with a 7.6 YPA), plus 2 TD’s and no interceptions. He also had 27 carries, 84 yards (3.1 ypa) and 1 TD on the ground. He led Missouri in rushing attempts against Arizona State, and he seems to have a pretty strong arm, but I wasn’t impressed with his mechanics or his pocket poise. I don’t think he has a ton of upside as a passing quarterback (like a number of past Missouri quarterbacks excluding Gabbert) but he can still be an effective college starter for them due to his arm strength and his ability to gain yardage on the ground.

Shelly Lyons is an underrated linebacker, but I was impressed with him when I watched him last year and he continues to flash ability as a senior. Keep an eye on him.

Henry Josey is Missouri’s very athletic running back. He’s listed at 5’10”, 190 pounds but he’s got a lot of speed to make plays in open space. He had very limited touches in this game as he only had nine carries and two catches, but produced 94 yards rushing (a 10.4 ypc average) and 51 yards receiving. In four games he has produced more yards rushing than his freshman year (533 yards versus 437) and is averaging an absurd 12.4 yards per carry. He also has four touchdowns after producing five as a freshman. He also has five receptions, 65 yards versus only four receptions for 19 yards a year ago. I really like him as a potential 3rd down back and he’s used as the complement to James Franklin who generally gets far more carries.

Marcus Lucas, a sophomore receiver on Missouri, intrigues me because of his size (6’5”, 205 lbs) and because he had a pretty big game against Arizona State’s secondary. He had 5 receptions, 97 yards, and one touchdown in the game, and his receptions were critical ones for a touchdown or some big first down conversions. He’s definitely a guy to keep an eye on since Missouri likes to spread the ball around and he’s a great red zone threat for them.

T.J. Moe is a smaller, squattier looking receiver who is listed at 5’11”, 195 pounds. He might not be the tallest, the fastest or the quickest, but he’s got great hands and he rarely drops anything. He looks like a running back running routes and I’m not sure he is going to be able to create consistent separation in the NFL, but if you’ve got hands like he does you can find a way to stick in the NFL somehow. He’s tough too so while he is probably a 4th round grade this year he could definitely have a shot at getting drafted in the 2013 draft after he graduates. He had 92 receptions, 1,045 yards and 6 TD’s last year and was one of Gabbert’s more reliable targets as a sophomore. He probably won’t replicate those numbers this year, but that won’t change the fact that he’s got great hands.

L’Damian Washington hasn’t gotten a ton of looks this year but he has good size (6’4”, 185 pounds) and has been good for vertical plays despite only having eight catches on the season. He has produced 149 yards (18.63 yard per catch average) and two touchdowns on those catches, including a big score against Arizona State. He’s only a sophomore, but he’s got good size and has flashed good hands. Missouri is deep at receiver this year but it will be fun to see Washington and Lucas step up as they move up the depth chart. They’ve got a lot of potential and they’ll be developing right along with James Franklin since they are all sophomores.

Michael Egnew is without a doubt the best senior tight end in my opinion, and he and Orson Charles of Georgia are 1 and 1a in this potential 2012 Draft class.

Michael Egnew is one of the best TE prospects in the draft despite limited targets this year he continues to prove it. He’s a great red-zone threat thanks to his 6’6”, 245 pound frame and he’s got very good hands. He’s not the best blocker, but he is developing a bit in this area. But he’s athletic enough to be split out like a super-sized receiver, and he can create enough separation to attack the seam. As his blocking continues to improve he will become a more and more complete tight end, but he is definitely one of the best draft-eligible tight ends in the draft along with Orson Charles from Georgia.

Jacquies Smith was the DE playing opposite Aldon Smith last year, and he had a good year producing 35 tackles, 10 TFL, 5.5 sacks, one fumble recovery, three pass deflections, two forced fumbles and one blocked kick/punt. He has good size (6’4”, 250) and has shown speed off the edge, but he just hasn’t produced at the same level without Smith opposite him. He’s only been healthy for two of their four games this year, but he has to pick it up if he’s going to prove that his good season last year wasn’t just a product of teams ignoring him to try to deal with Smith.

Sorry this post took me so long to get done, but there were a lot of things to touch on and I haven’t had much time. It feels good to have it done, and hopefully you enjoyed reading it.

–Tom

NCAA Top 25 Picks Post

Here is a post where I make some picks for the games the top 25 teams are playing for the week. I’ll try to do this every week, but I might not always have time. I’ll track them to see how well (or poorly) I do over the course of the season. Enjoy!

Week Four NCAA Picks Post:

Oklahoma over Missouri

Analysis: Oklahoma’s offense and defense are both very good, and Missouri didn’t prove they could win against Arizona State, losing 37-30 in OT. James Franklin will probably struggle to carve up the Oklahoma defense like he did the ASU secondary, and I wonder just how much pressure their defense will be able to apply to Landry Jones. Jones will make poor throws when he has pressure in his face, so that will be the key to hanging in on this game. The problem is, I don’t think Missouri’s secondary can hold up consistently if the Tigers are forced to blitz to create pressure.

Oklahoma by 17

LSU over West Virginia

Analysis: LSU’s defense is the best in the country as far as I’m concerned. They were tested right off the bat against Oregon and stood very tall. I’ve never seen a defensive tackle rotation like theirs in all my years of watching football. I believe that they have four starting caliber defensive tackles, and they arguably have three starting caliber cornerbacks in Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon. Claiborne is a junior and Mathieu and Simon are both sophomores, but they might be the best trio of cornerbacks in the country. LSU’s run defense and pass defense are both very good and their defense is very fast, and I think they are going to cause a lot of problems for Geno Smith and his offensive counterparts. On defense, West Virginia will have to pressure Jarrett Lee, but also stop LSU from establishing the running game because they love to run play action after establishing the run (and they’re quite good at it). Without the play action fake LSU struggles to threaten downfield due to Lee’s lack of arm strength. However, I think WVU will struggle to take away the run game, end up loading the box, and therefore allowing Rueben Randle, Odell Beckham and Deagnelo Peterson to get behind the secondary.

LSU by 16

Alabama over Arkansas

This one was tough for me to call. Alabama probably has the #2 defense in the country behind LSU (at least as far as I’m concerned, but it’s definitely close) and they have a quarterback with limited experience as well in AJ McCarron. Luckily, they have two talented running backs to take the pressure off of him in Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. Marquis Maze has stepped up as I thought he would and has 15 receptions, 186 yards and 1 TD in the first three contests. I think Alabama will be able to move the ball on offense against Arkansas’ defense, but I think that Alabama will be able to slow down the Razorbacks offensive attack. I love their WR’s, led by Cobi Hamilton as of now (13 receptions, a team leading 252 yards, 19.4 average per catch and 1 TD) and Tyler Wilson has stepped in to fill the void left by Ryan Mallett like I thought he would. However, Alabama’s defense is vastly better than Missouri State, New Mexico, Troy (the three teams he has faced this year) and much better than Auburn’s defense that struggled mightily to stop big, physically gifted receivers every time they matched up against them. Arkansas won’t get shut out by any means, but Alabama is going to be Tyler Wilson’s first real taste of what it’s like to play against a SEC caliber defense, and I don’t think he’s going to enjoy it.

Alabama by 13

Boise State over Tulsa

This really isn’t a hard pick in my opinion. Boise State’s defensive line is fierce and I expect Billy Winn and company to be in GJ Kinne’s face for the majority of this game. Boise State’s offense is still clicking thanks to Kellen Moore, so I expect this to be a relatively easy win. Kinne has a chance to show talent evaluators what he can do though, as his team is clearly overmatched.

Boise State by 21

Wisconsin over South Dakota

This shouldn’t be much of a contest either, as Wisconsin’s offense has the potential to be one of the best in the Big 10 if it isn’t already the best. Their running game and play action game will be way too much for South Dakota to handle, and hopefully they have continued to work on their run defense. If they don’t have it tuned up soon they will have a lot of trouble stopping Nebraska.

Wisconsin by 21

Texas A&M over Oklahoma State

This one was very tough for me to call as well. This could very easily go either way considering it is a rare battle between the #7 and #8 teams in the country. Oklahoma State’s offense is a juggernaut still led by Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, but Weeden has thrown 6 interceptions already this season, so that is a concerning stat for OSU fans. However, Joseph Randle has stepped up to replace Kendall Hunter very nicely, running for 378 yards and 7 TD’s on only 62 carries (6.1 average). Ryan Tannehill is a dangerous quarterback though, and he’s got a number of weapons to work with. I’m not sure which defense is better than the other, but I do think that Texas A&M will miss Von Miller rushing the passer in this game. However, Oklahoma State’s defense is traditionally their weakness, so that is why I had to go with Texas A&M. I will be at an away game during this contest and I am very angry that I will miss it. It should be a great game. But I had to give A&M the slight edge.

Texas A&M by 6

Nebraska over Wyoming

Not a very tough call on this one. Nebraska should win this game easily even if Taylor Martinez doesn’t dazzle as a passer.

Nebraska by 28

Oregon over Arizona

This one wasn’t as easy for me to pick as I thought it might be. Oregon has a pretty good defense, but Arizona can move the football pretty well. I’m still confident in Oregon, but Nick Foles has a habit of surprising people when they sleep on him. I don’t think Oregon will take him for granted though especially after losing a tough one to LSU in Cowboys Stadium, and that’s why I think they will end up with a big Pac-12 win here.

Oregon by 14

Clemson over Florida State (Upset)

Clemson is absolutely on fire right now, and this is the worst time for Florida State to be playing them. This isn’t a guarantee by any means, but Clemson’s offense is firing on all cylinders and Florida State didn’t get consistent pressure on Landry Jones last week. Clemson’s offensive line isn’t nearly the equivalent of Oklahoma’s, but they have enough weapons on offense to at least make this a plausible upset. I don’t think Clemson has the defense to keep them in the game if they can’t score, so unless their defense steps up and slows FSU down they are going to make me look foolish for this pick.

Clemson by 7

South Carolina over Vanderbilt

This isn’t as easy of a pick as I thought it would be, especially since South Carolina is in a state of flux and Vanderbilt is undefeated for the first time in recent memory after three weeks. I don’t think Vanderbilt will be able to hold off South Carolina, but stranger things have happened. If it was ever going to happen, I think it would happen now. Steve Spurrier doesn’t seem to have much faith in Stephen Garcia and even though they have one of the best backs in the country in Marcus Lattimore you just never know what will happen in the SEC. I don’t expect Vanderbilt to pull it off, but this is one I would watch as a POSSIBLE upset.

South Carolina by 10

Virginia Tech over Marshall

Analysis: This shouldn’t be much of a challenge for Virginia Tech, but it should be a good tune-up game for Logan Thomas. I think he has tons of upside, and it’ll be interesting to see how he develops throughout the season.

Virginia Tech by 17

Florida over Kentucky

Analysis: Kentucky isn’t a terrible team, but Florida’s defense is vastly better than I expected it to be even without Janoris Jenkins. Chris Rainey really impressed me last week and if he can stay healthy I think he could really improve his draft stock. I’m pretty high on Jonathan Bostic, Jaye Howard and Dominique Easley on their defense, so I’m excited to see them play against Kentucky again. I don’t anticipate the Gators having a lot of trouble in this game.

Florida by 14

Baylor over Rice

Analysis: Robert Griffin has been absolutely LETHAL this year. He’s 41/49 for 624 yards (83.7% completion), 12.74 yards per attempts and he has 8 touchdowns and no interceptions. On top of that, he has 116 yards rushing. Kendall Wright has been huge for Baylor with 20 receptions (14 more than the next receiver), 312 yards (184 yards more than the next receiver) and 3 TD’s. I don’t think Rice has much of a chance to slow Griffin down. The first time he might slow down in my estimation would be October 15th against A&M once they get into the real meat of their schedule. I haven’t been able to watch much of him, but it will be interesting to go back and watch him play to see if he has corrected any of the things I said he needed to work on in my preseason scouting report.

Baylor by 21

South Florida over UTEP

Analysis: South Florida is having one of their best seasons in recent memory, at least to start the season, and BJ Daniels seems to be maturing rather nicely. As long as he continues to develop the sky is the limit for USF, and I don’t think UTEP will have much of a chance to slow them down this week.

South Florida by 17

TCU over Portland State

Analysis: TCU lost a tough one against Baylor in week one, but they seemed to have bounced back in recent weeks. Portland State shouldn’t pose much of a threat, even with an inexperienced quarterback still getting a feel for the starting role.

TCU by 17

Michigan over San Diego State

Analysis: Brady Hoke welcomes his former team into the Big House as the Head Coach of the Wolverines this week as pretty heavy favorites. Denard Robinson isn’t my favorite quarterback but he is incredibly fast and I’m not sure SDSU has the speed to keep up with him in this game. Junior Hemingway has really stepped up this year (even though he looks like a TE rumbling downfield sometimes on go routes). It’ll be interesting to see how Michigan does in this game, but I would be pretty surprised if they botched this game after clawing their way into the top 25.

Michigan by 17

USC over Arizona State

Analysis: Before the game against Illinois last week I might have picked Arizona State in this one, but Brock Osweiler is still developing and even though the Sun Devils had a huge win against Missouri a couple weeks ago I don’t think they are ready to knock off USC. USC has a big chip on its shoulder because of the bowl ban that was placed on them, and I think they will approach this game with something to prove even though they are favored.

USC by 10

Illinois over Western Michigan

Analysis: This shouldn’t be a challenging game for Illinois. Western Michigan isn’t a bad program, but I don’t think they have the firepower to stick with Illinois on either side of the ball. They just fought their way into the top 25, so I don’t think they’ll get upset after just earning their #24 ranking.

North Carolina over Georgia Tech (Upset)

Analysis: I have to admit that I am a UNC fan, so that may have had something to do with this pick (which really isn’t much of an upset, though technically it is). I think UNC’s offense can score on Georgia Tech’s defense, and I think UNC’s defense is fast enough and disciplined enough to slow down Georgia Tech’s option offense that absolutely dominated Kansas last week. Georgia Tech is flying high, but UNC usually plays them pretty well and they are talented enough to pull this off. I really wish I could see this game, but I will be traveling and working while it goes on.

Those are my picks for this week. Hopefully you enjoy them and I look forward to seeing some good football this week. Thanks for reading!

–Tom