Last week ATS: 8-7 (1-4 National, 7-3 B1G)
Season ATS: 26-24-1 (7-8 National, 19-16-1 B1G)
Last week was pretty much the inverse of the prior week. Last week I was terrible at picking the national games, while I excelled with most of the Big Ten games. One of these weeks I’ll put everything together for a complete week. Now whether that week will be completely great or completely awful still remains to be seen.
N.C. State v. No. 12 Florida State (-13) - 12 PM EST - ABC/ESPN2
It feels like it has been years since Florida State has last been on the field thanks to Hurricane Irma. Not only did the Seminoles game against Louisiana-Monroe from two weeks ago get cancelled, but last week’s rivalry battle with Miami was pushed back to later in the season.
Luckily for Florida State they have had some extra time to prepare for spending the rest of the season without Deondre Francois, who was injured in the loss to Florida State. True freshman quarterback James Blackman will assume the responsibilities behind center for the Seminoles.
North Carolina State doesn’t nearly have the issues at quarterback that Florida State does, with Ryan Finley having a firm hold on the job. Finley has thrown 192 passes without tossing an interception, which is the longest active streak in the country. H-back Jaylen Saunders is Finley’s most trusted playmaker, with the senior already having five touchdowns on the season, three of them on the ground and two of them through the air.
The battle between Saunders and Derwin James will be worth the price of admission itself. Who knows if Florida State will be rusty after all the time off or fresh and ready to go. Maybe three weeks is the perfect amount of time before getting back on the field after playing Alabama. Florida State wins at home, but they certainly don’t cover the spread.
Florida State 27, N.C. State 24
No. 1 Alabama (-19.5) v. Vanderbilt - 3:30 PM EST - CBS
Alabama just keeps rolling along. Last week the Crimson Tide beat Colorado State 41-23, but in all honesty it wasn’t that close, as a couple of touchdowns later in the game by the Rams made the score look closer than it actually was. Now Alabama makes their first trip to Vanderbilt since 2007 to open up their SEC schedule.
Vanderbilt is coming off an upset win over Kansas State, and now they are looking to make it two straight wins against ranked foes. The Commodores rely on a stout defense, but they do have solid quarterback in Kyle Shurmur, who has thrown for eight touchdowns already this year.
At first I was thinking there was no way I was going to lay the points in this matchup, but the more I thought about it, the better Alabama is looking. Shurmur is a good quarterback, but he’ll get nothing against the Crimson Tide defense. Sabanbot 3000 can’t be happy Alabama gave up nearly 400 yards to Colorado State, and Alabama responds with a blowout win in Nashville.
Alabama 37, Vanderbilt 10
No. 5 USC (-16.5) v. California - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
Will USC decide which team they are actually going to have show up the rest of the season because they aren’t helping my picks record so far this year. I expected the Trojans to have problems with Stanford two weeks ago, and last week to have little trouble with Texas. Obviously those picks were way off.
Sam Darnold has been sharp at times, but also has thrown two interceptions in each of USC’s first three games this year. Those mistakes might not fly against a California team who is noticeably improved under new head coach Justin Wilcox, who served as defensive coordinator at USC in 2014 and 2015.
It’s hard to believe we might be wondering if Cal has enough offense to keep pace here, but Wilcox has already flipped the culture in Berkeley. Not only is USC coming off a tough game against Texas, but next week they play Washington State in Pullman on Friday. The Trojans win, but they don’t put together all that impressive of a performance in victory.
USC 33, California 23
No. 16 TCU v. No. 6 Oklahoma State (-14) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN
The last few years I have really hated on Oklahoma State, mostly because I thought their teams were overrated. I’m definitely changing my tune this year. The Cowboys are for real, and if you need anymore evidence that they are, just watch last week’s first half against Pitt.
Mason Rudolph has himself firmly in the Heisman Trophy race through three games, throwing for over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns despite getting a bunch of time off in the second half of those games after building some big leads. The Cowboys are averaging 54 points per game this year, which is fourth in the country.
TCU won a couple weeks ago against Arkansas, but what else really have they done this year? Sure the 20-point win over SMU was nice last week, but Oklahoma State isn’t SMU. After two weeks on the road, Oklahoma State returns home and continues their impressive start to the season with a convincing win over Kenny Hill and the Horned Frogs.
Oklahoma State 48, TCU 24
No. 17 Mississippi State v. No. 11 Georgia (-11) - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN
Mississippi State might have pulled off the shocker of last week’s college football action with their destruction of LSU. How good is LSU really though? Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald accounted for four touchdowns in the win over the Tigers, but I’m not convinced he can do it two weeks in a row, especially on the road against a very tough Georgia defense.
Georgia has been able to navigate some injuries so far this year, and now will be looking to win their SEC opener. Sony Michel was held out of last week’s game with an ankle injury he suffered against Notre Dame, and quarterback Jacob Eason is back practicing after getting injured in the season opener against Appalachian State. Georgia has trips to Tennessee and Vanderbilt on tap after this week’s game, which makes earn a win to start off conference play even more important.
I trust this Georgia team a little more than I trust Mississippi State. While Dan Mullen’s squad has the edge at quarterback, I can see Georgia shutting down Fitzgerald and leaving Mississippi State searching for answers more than I can see Mississippi State putting together another convincing win against an SEC foe for the second straight week.
Georgia 23, Mississippi State 14