Well, that could’ve gone better.
After a stellar start to the year, a pretty big slump in week 3 have my picks below the .500 mark for the first time this season. Entering this weekend, I’m sitting at 17-18 overall, which in the grand scheme of things is actually not terrible. But I’d like to stay on the positive end so we can all stay in the green.
Big winner in last week’s comments was Ukedadnole, who went 5-5 on his picks — though one was the FSU game that I didn’t have on my slate.
But the Noles are back on my list for this week’s games so let’s not waste any more time. All lines come from tallysight.com.
- Wake Forest (+4.5) at Virginia (7 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN2)
Two weeks in a row, I’m going to get the party started on Friday night. This time, we’ll do it with a conference game that could impact Florida State — if they can turn things around this season. Wake Forest is coming off last week’s thumping of the Seminoles while Virginia suffered its first loss of the year at the hands of the North Carolina Tar Heels. I don’t want to overreact to last week, but the Demon Deacons looked like a solid, experienced bunch last week and those traits travel well so I’m riding with them this week.
Prediction: Wake Forest +4.5
- No. 12 Notre Dame (+6.5) vs. No. 18 Wisconsin at Soldier Field in Chicago (Noon ET, FOX)
Notre Dame is back again as they play one of the more fun games of the weekend. They’ll travel to Chicago to face the Wisconsin Badgers. Sconny gets the benefit of rest coming into this game thanks to an early bye week. The Fighting Irish, on the other hand, enter Soldier Field fresh off their best performance of the year so far in a win over Purdue. Wisconsin’s a team that always seems to linger around the playoff picture late in the year, but Brian Kelly’s bunch is getting better and getting points. If they’re there, I’ve got to take ‘em.
Prediction: Notre Dame +6.5
- LSU (-2.5) at Mississippi State (Noon ET, ESPN)
To get back on the positive end of these picks, I’m turning to a team I think I know pretty well in my LSU Tigers. As I’ve chronicled before, I’m an LSU alum so I follow them pretty closely — though that didn’t help me in their Week 1 game against UCLA. Regardless, I know this team has looked better the last two weeks against McNeese State and Central Michigan, but that’s McNeese and Central Michigan. This team still has an open competition at left tackle, a nonexistent run game and could be without star defensive back Derek Stingley Jr., who Coach Ed Orgeron called “very questionable” on Thursday. With his NFL prospects to consider, I doubt he plays so I expect Mike Leach’s crew to find success through the air.
Prediction: Mississippi State +2.5
- Boise State (-9.5) at Utah State (Noon ET, CBS)
I’m not sure there’s a weirder game on the schedule this season than whatever is going on in Utah this weekend. This game is huge in the Mountain West Conference and, in my opinion, should be a primetime kickoff, but CBS has the rights. Because of their deal with the SEC occupying the afternoon slate and the network’s desire to never bump their evening schedule (despite it all being reruns), we get a 10 a.m. local time kickoff. I don’t even want to begin to guess what impacts that might have on the players, but what I do know is I really like what I’ve seen from Utah State this season. They’ve got a win over Washington State under their belts already. I saw their win against North Dakota and was really impressed with former Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson’s team. I know Boise’s a perennial power in this conference, but I’m taking the Aggies.
Prediction: Utah State +9.5
- No. 7 Texas A&M (-4.5) vs. No. 16 Arkansas at AT&T Stadium in Arlington (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
I like to call this game the Jerry Jones Classic since the billionaire Arkansas alum hosts it every year in the house he built, though it’s properly referred to as the Southwest Classic. Since joining the SEC, A&M has dominated their former southwestern rival, but there have been a ton of bonkers game between the two. Jimbo’s crew was expected to compete for a national title this year, but, without their starting quarterback, they look nothing of the sort. They narrowly escaped a Colorado team that hasn’t impressed me in the games I’ve seen them play. Plus, Arkansas dominated Texas just a few weeks ago. I can’t believe I’m putting faith behind Sam Pittman’s crew, but they’ve earned it.
Prediction: Arkansas +4.5
- Louisville (-1.5) at Florida State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Yeah, Florida State is a home underdog to Louisville. That alone speaks to the season they’ve had so far, but this line is actually closer than I expected it to be. I mean Florida State has two very close losses at home, but they’ve looked more and more lost with each passing week. I said it on the Seminole Wrap podcast this week and the staff predictions for this game that FSU desperately needs to get to the bye week to retool and refocus. They just couldn’t do anything right last week and I’m concerned that a week isn’t enough time to correct those issues.
Prediction: Louisville -1.5
- No. 9 Clemson (-9.5) at NC State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Another ACC game to pay attention to in case the Seminoles can fix those problems and get a win. Clemson nearly lost to Georgia Tech last week and seemed to almost be trying to give them the win down the stretch. Dabo Swinney’s team has looked awful offensively with the second fewest points scored in the conference so far. Now, they’re on the road and laying a decent amount of points to NC State. If I had any confidence in the Wolfpack, I think go with them, but they also struggled offensively in their only real game this season.
Prediction: Clemson -9.5
- No. 25 Kansas State (+5.5) at Oklahoma State (7 p.m. ET, Big 12 Network/ESPN+)
I was so impressed with Kansas State in their opening win against Stanford that I couldn’t wait to get them on one of these picks. Hats off to our writer Tommy Mire who told me to keep an eye on the Wildcats in that game because it was worth it. Their running back Deuce Vaughn was decisive and explosive. Pair that with a well-disciplined defense and you’ve got a football team that can play well on the road. My big fear is the injury to quarterback Skylar Thompson that will have him out for a long time, but I really like the rest of this team enough to believe they can still get this done.
Prediction: Kansas State (+5.5)
- Kentucky (-4.5) at South Carolina (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
This game features another one of my favorite teams of the early season in Kentucky. These Wildcats have a great QB-RB combo in Will Levis and Chris Rodriguez Jr. that allows them to point up points week-in, week-out. South Carolina is going with a new starter at quarterback after their original injury replacement got hurt himself. Shane Beamer’s team got trampled last week at Georgia so they should be thrilled with more opportunities to score against a weaker Kentucky defense. But I trust Kentucky to get a late score and cover.
Prediction: Kentucky -4.5
- West Virginia (+17.5) at No. 4 Oklahoma (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
I’m closing out the slate with yet another one of my early season favorites. This time, it’s the Mountaineers. I love what running back Leddie Brown brings to the table in the run game and passing attack. Last week, they defeated a Virginia Tech team that made North Carolina look pedestrian in the opener. I’ve been impressed and expect the momentum of last week’s victory to carry over. Meanwhile, OU let Scott Frost’s Nebraska team cover and really hang in the game very late last week. I know West Virginia has a loss to Maryland on their record, but I’m taking their confidence and the points.
Prediction: West Virginia +17.5