While MC&J pretty much tread water last week, there was a couple bright spots last week. The Johnny Football garbage time TD and the close call on the Tennessee/Oregon score made up for the complete misses on the Akron/Michigan and UCLA/Nebraska predictions. Some fine tuning here and there and MC&J should be running with the efficiency of the Urban Meyer offense.
Last week ATS: 7-8 (3-2 National, 4-6 B1G)
Season ATS: 21-23 (8-8, 13-15 B1G)
#3 Clemson (-14.5) vs. N.C. State - Thursday 7:30 PM EST - ESPN
The normally tasty Thursday night ESPN home dog isn't quite as appealing this week after taking a look at this year's Wolfpack team. Yes, the last time these two teams met in Raleigh, North Carolina State upset a eight-ranked Clemson team 37-13, but at least in that contest the Wolfpack had Mike Glennon. This year backup Pete Thomas will be taking the snaps for the Wolfpack after Brandon Mitchell suffered a foot injury in the season opener. After barely squeaking by a very good FCS team in Richmond last game, Dave Doeren's team will be tasked with trying to slow down Chad Morris' offense. Good luck with that. Another big performance from Tajh Boyd in primetime could vault him into the Heisman Trophy conversation. This is a different Clemson team from years past when you just knew that the Clemson'ing was coming at some point. It may come later in the season, but this won't be the game.
Clemson 48 N.C. State 24
Boise State vs. Fresno State (-3) - Friday 9:00 PM EST - ESPN
In a week full of duds, this Friday night matchup is sneaky good and should be one of the most entertaining games this weekend has to offer. While the recent results in this series might not support that, with Boise State winning 11 of the last 12, this is the best Fresno State team that has faced Boise State in quite a while. The quarterback battle between Boise's Joe Southwick and Fresno's Derek Carr should provide for some fireworks. But, this isn't your usual Boise State team. While they are still a solid team they have some holes, as evidenced by their season opening blowout loss to Washington. The Bulldogs played the Broncos tough last year, dropping a 20-10 game in Boise, and the home-field they have Friday should be the difference. Also, Tim DeRuyter is 10-0 as Fresno State head coach when the Bulldogs score at least 30 points. I think Fresno State scores at least 30 on Friday and keeps that streak going.
Fresno State 38 Boise State 30
#23 Arizona State vs. #5 Stanford (-7.5) - 7:00 PM EST - Fox
Arizona State will hit the road for the first time this season after being gifted a game last week in Tempe against Wisconsin. Stanford hasn't covered in their first two games of the season, but they weren't exactly dealt any favors last week when they had to go to the east coast for a noon kick against Army. Stanford's pass defense is ranked seventh nationally which could cause a long night for Tommy Kelly, who threw for 352 yards last week against Wisconsin. The QB/RB combo of Kevin Hogan and Tyler Gaffney aren't household names but they do what has to be done for the Cardinal to win. I think Stanford will really impress on Saturday night, taking it to the Sun Devils in what is the only game this week between ranked teams.
Stanford 33 Arizona State 21
Auburn vs. #6 LSU (-18) - 7:45 PM EST - ESPN
Under Gus Malzahn, Auburn has already won one more SEC game than they did last year and matched their overall win total. Nick Marshall passed for 339 yards last week against Mississippi State and showed that the quarterback position might be in good hands. LSU has also gotten strong starts from Zach Mettenberger and Odell Beckham and scored at least 37 points in all three games they have played this season. LSU has blended the passing game and running game under Cam Cameron to form an offense that might be one of the hardest to stop in the country. Les Miles' team wins this game but I like the up-tempo Auburn offense to keep it closer than the spread in this one.
LSU 35 Auburn 24
Utah vs. BYU (-7) - 10:15 PM EST - ESPN2
For the fifth game of this weekend I was contemplating putting the Tennessee/Florida matchup, but who wants to see me predict a once-great SEC rivalry when we have the "Holy War" which figures to be a lot more competitive. BYU has had a week off since their demolition of Texas, while Utah lost in overtime at home to Oregon State last week. The Cougars haven't won in the series since 2009 but the performance of QB Taysom Hill against Texas has to have them thinking they will end that skid. The last time that a Utah team lost by more than seven points to BYU was back in 1996, so taking the points seems to be a smart move in this matchup. This game will be the last game in this series for a couple years, as the series will take a two year break. Expect both teams to leave everything out on the field to gain bragging rights for a couple years.
BYU 31 Utah 28
Florida A&M vs. #4 Ohio State (-50) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Even with Florida A&M being a FCS team, 50 points is still a lot of points to lay to any team. Ohio State will get Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde back, but will there be a little bit of rust to knock off for the duo? With the Buckeyes having Wisconsin and Northwestern on deck, I could see Urban turning off the jets a little earlier than normal in this matchup. While even the backups and the backups of the backups could still do damage against the Rattlers, why risk showing anything with the Big Ten schedule looming. A fluky play here or a late garbage time touchdown for Florida A&M there could be the difference in this large spread. Ohio State obviously cruises but not quite by 50 points.
Ohio State 52 Florida A&M 7
San Jose State vs. Minnesota (-3.5) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN2
The Golden Gophers should have Jerry Kill back on the sidelines on Saturday as they try and move to 4-0 for the first time since 2008. It won't be easy for Minnesota though, as they will be faced with stopping San Jose State QB David Fales and his favorite target Noel Grigsby. Fales has gone 12-3 in his career as starting QB, with two of those losses coming to Stanford. On the other side of the coin, Minnesota's Philip Nelson suffered a hamstring injury against Western Illinois and redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner took over for him. Nelson is questionable for Saturday's game. Even with a west coast team playing a early game in the midwest, I think San Jose State hangs tough behind the leadership of Fales and pulls the upset.
San Jose State 27 Minnesota 24
Western Michigan vs. Iowa (-16) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
This will be the third Big Ten team that Western Michigan has faced this season, and so far this season they have covered against Michigan State and Northwestern. After losing their first game of the season, Iowa has rebounded to win their last two games. In those two wins Iowa has really done work on the ground, with Mark Weisman carrying the bulk of the load. Weisman has carried the ball 65 times for 325 yards in wins over Missouri State and Iowa State. It might be surprising to find out that in the two previous meetings between these teams Western Michigan has won both, winning 27-21 in 2000 and 28-19 in 2007. I don't think that Western Michigan wins this one, but Iowa's reliance on the ground game churns clock and keeps it within 17 points.
Iowa 31 Western Michigan 21
Michigan State vs. #22 Notre Dame (-7) - 3:30 PM EST - NBC
After two weeks of struggling offensively, Michigan State was able to gain a little confidence on offense with a 55-17 over Youngstown State last week. Connor Cook was able to put a little distance between himself and the other quarterback candidates that the Spartans have, with 202 yards and four touchdown passes in the first half against Youngstown State. Meanwhile, Notre Dame were in danger of losing their second straight game last week, using a fourth quarter comeback to knock off Purdue. Tommy Rees has been solid in stepping in for the suspended Everett Golson, but he will have his work cut out for him against a tough Spartan defense. Michigan State's win last week doesn't impress me too much, and I think the Notre Dame defense will harass Cook into mistakes that will lead to some Notre Dame points. While Sparty's defense will keep them in it, I still think the Fighting Irish wins by double digits.
Notre Dame 27 Michigan State 17
Purdue vs. #24 Wisconsin (-24.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC/ESPN2
How does Wisconsin respond to what happened to them in Tempe late Saturday night? Do they come out and roll Purdue or do they have a hangover from the disappointment from losing a game they should have won? I'm thinking the former is the response, especially if the Badgers trust in Melvin Gordon to lead them to victory. On the season, Gordon is averaging a Playstation-esque 12.9 yards per carry and has 240 more rushing yards than the whole Purdue team. Rob Henry and the Boilermakers gave Notre Dame a game effort last week, but the Badgers should be able to key on Henry with the Purdue rushing game being pretty much non-existent at this point of the season. Wisconsin has won the last five meetings by at least 21 points and I see more of the same on Saturday in Madison.
Wisconsin 45 Purdue 17
Kent State vs. Penn State (-21) - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Penn State will look to bounce back from last Saturday's 34-31 loss against UCF, and should get some help with Kent State's Dri Archer being listed as doubtful for the game. Had Archer been in the lineup for the Golden Flashes I would have been more inclined to take the points in Happy Valley. After getting routed by LSU last week 45-13 in Baton Rouge, now Kent State will be facing an angry Penn State team. Christian Hackenberg has lived up to the hype in his first three games, completing almost 72% of his passes and throwing for over 250 yards in each of his three games. Allen Robinson has been Hackenberg's prime target, hauling at least seven catches in each of his first three games this season. The ground game with Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton, and Akeel Lynch should be able to find some holes against the Kent State defense.
Penn State 41 Kent State 14
Missouri (-2.5) vs. Indiana - 8:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
A team from the SEC is traveling into Big Ten country, are my eyes deceiving me? The scoreboard in Bloomington should get quite a workout on Saturday night, with both teams entering the contest ranked in the top-20 in total offense. The Indiana defense was able to gain a little confidence going into this matchup after not allowing Bowling Green to score an offensive touchdown last week. The Hoosiers should have their hands full with trying to stop James Franklin, Henry Josey, and Dorial Green-Beckham. Missouri will have similar problems trying to slow down Nate Sudfeld and the pass-happy Indiana offense. As much as I want to take Indiana in this matchup, I think that Missouri will get a couple more stops on defense and be able to squeeze out a tough victory in Bloomington.
Missouri 40 Indiana 34
#15 Michigan (-18.5) vs. Connecticut - 8:00 PM EST - ABC
So last week Michigan is a 37-point favorite at home to Akron and barely beats them and now heads on the road and is a two touchdown+ favorite. Pound UConn right? Wrong. For as bad as Akron is, UConn might honestly be worse. In their season opener at home, UConn lost to Towson by FIFTEEN points. So much for home-field advantage for the Huskies. Michigan could have been dealing with a little bit of a hangover from the big win against Notre Dame, so maybe their preparation for Akron wasn't quite as sharp. The Wolverine defense shouldn't need to prepare too much for the UConn running game, which is only averaging 59 yards/game in their first two contests. Add to that the passing game is quarterbacked by a guy that has 12 touchdowns and 19 interceptions on his career, and might be missing their top wide receiver. If you are thinking after last week that you might not want to lay the points with Michigan just think of it from the other side, do you really want to back a Paul Pasqualoni team? Didn't think so.
Michigan 44 UConn 13