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The Obstructed NCAA Preview-Week 3

Oct 14, 2017; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) is hit by LSU Tigers linebacker Devin White (40) as he throws during the second half of a game at Tiger Stadium. LSU defeated Auburn 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

A new week is about to begin.

Oddly, this week is one of the “meh” weeks in college football.  Not a lot of major games happening, but we do start hitting teams with conference games, notably in the SEC and the ACC.  So there is enough, despite Hurricane Florence taking some games out, especially key ones for UCF, West Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

Last week I went 10-5, upping my picks to 19-12.  I need to stop thinking with my heart and going with a mix of my brain and gut.  The way both Michigan State and Arizona State played, I knew in my gut Arizona State was going to pull out the upset.  There were a couple of games I went “wait, what?” to when they were being played, notably Florida and Kentucky.  Hopefully this week turns out better.  Unfortunately we will not see West Virginia and NC State do battle thanks to Hurricane Florence.  Not cool.  Not cool at all Mother Nature.  Wish all the best for the people in the Carolinas this weekend.

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BOSTON COLLEGE AT WAKE FOREST, 5:30 (THURSDAY), ESPN:  This isn’t a highlight game by any means as both teams seemingly hover around that 7-5 or 6-6 every year, but this year has a slightly different feel, especially for these two in the ACC Atlantic.  The game is moved up due to the preparations of Hurricane Florence as well.  However, this is big for both teams as with questions surrounding Louisville and Florida State right now not to mention the wonders of if North Carolina State lost a step defensively with Bradley Chubb this could be a game to see who is in 2nd place in the ACC and give a momentum boost to either squad and remember both teams see Clemson at home.  Boston College has AJ Dillon who is still a Heisman sleeper and a tough guy to bring down.  That will bode problems for Wake Forest’s defense and it may be that match-up that really gives the Deacons massive issues.  They escaped a tough game at Tulane to start the year and then wasn’t overwhelmingly convincing in their win against Towson (51-20).  Boston College on the other hand hasn’t been too challenged, but the opponents have been UMass and Holy Cross.  I think it will be down to can Wake get key third down stops and such so they don’t have a healthy dose of Dillon at them the whole game or will Boston College bully Wake Forest to keep them fatigued?  I originally said Wake Forest for the homefield to win this game, but given that this game is somewhat sped up and the uncertainty of what’s happening with that area during this time of the hurricane not to mention AJ Dillon, I think Boston College grinds one out and brings down Wake (going against my original pick).  BOSTON COLLEGE 24, WAKE FOREST 20

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#5 OKLAHOMA AT IOWA STATE, 12:00, ABC:  The lone game that haunted Oklahoma in the regular season last year was that home loss to Iowa State.  Granted they got in the playoff, but one wonders if they would have fared better against Alabama than Georgia if they had the #1 seed.  The Sooners rolled after the Iowa State loss while Iowa State for a short time was the talk of the college football world.  However, the offense struggled mightily for the Cyclones last week against rival Iowa and given how the Sooners defense has been solid to this point, it may not be much better.  Oklahoma however, has a major question to answer in who will replace Rodney Anderson as he really kept teams off balance to have Kyler Murray put up Heisman-like numbers early on.  If the Sooners can establish a run game against Iowa State’s defense, I don’t see it being much of a game, but that is an “if.”  Iowa State has played tough defense and this game could be tight for a while until Oklahoma picks things up in the 2nd half/near the 4th quarter.  OKLAHOMA 38, IOWA STATE 21

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FLORIDA STATE AT SYRACUSE, 12:00, ESPN:  I think this game was a “gimme” for a lot of Seminole fans before the season started.  Now after being humiliated by Virginia Tech and being down late to FCS Samford, Florida State has far more questions than answers.  Syracuse’s offense has been clicking which I think is a concern for the Noles.  However, Florida State hasn’t gotten it going on either side.  Syracuse’s defense still is a work in progress but if Florida State struggles against their defense, there will be some major issues.  I can see Willie Taggart though using a lot of Cam Akers in this one to really take pressure off of Deondre Francois.  But I don’t know if the Seminoles have enough to combat Syracuse’s offense.  The Noles are going to be in trouble, notably Taggart who could end up one and done before the year is out.  SYRACUSE 38, FLORIDA STATE 30

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RUTGERS AT KANSAS, 12:00, ESPN:  “But why is this up here?” Because I can!  It’s a match-up of two teams in power 5 conferences (notice how I didn’t say power 5 teams).  This won’t be mistaken for Alabama/Clemson for sure, but it’s football, right?  RUTGERS 26, KANSAS 20

Georgia Tech

GEORGIA TECH AT PITTSBURGH, 12:30, ACC:  Whoever loses this game, the head coach will be on a scalding hot seat (if they aren’t on one now).  Pittsburgh got embarrassed by Penn State last week on national TV.  Georgia Tech imploded in the 4th quarter to USF and people were furious about how Paul Johnson called that game late.  So conference play begins for both and both need a win to at least avoid hearing the “hot seat” bit.  It’s a hard game to really decide.  Both teams can play well in spurts and both teams can really crash and burn on itself.  The big question will be can Pitt take a commanding lead where they have to force the option/run minded Georgia Tech to pass the ball, which is a live nightmare to see with Taquon Marshall.  Tech’s offense actually clicked when Marshall went down with injury and Tobias Oliver came in and actually looked like the Yellow Jackets could pass.  As for Pittsburgh, they need to convert red zone opportunities and make the needed kicks as it really changed the tempo in Penn State’s favor last week.  I’m somewhat accustomed to saying Tech wins as they do well against the Panthers and it is always when Paul Johnson’s back to the wall that the Jackets do well.  For some reason, I am not sold on it this time.  The defense has too many “growing pains” (as what Johnson keeps saying) even that Pitt could take them.  PITTSBURGH 20, GEORGIA TECH 17.

Notre Dame

VANDERBILT AT #8 NOTRE DAME, 2:30, NBC:  Many probably had this game as a “gimme” for Notre Dame.  And honestly, I’d still expect them to win here.  However, the Ball State game wasn’t too comfortable for the Irish as it seemed they handled Michigan far better at times.  Vanderbilt is normally considered the red-headed stepchild of the SEC and many projected them to be at or near the bottom of the SEC East and even entering this game 0-2.  However, the Commodores have handled Middle Tennessee and Nevada with ease.  Vanderbilt has a different feel to this team unlike in year’s past and seem to have that “let’s go about our business quietly” mentality.  Last year Vanderbilt got too full of themselves and talked a lot to Alabama before the Tide annihilated them in Nashville.  This year has been quiet.  The question will be can Vanderbilt make key defensive stops on Notre Dame and can they make key third down plays to keep drives alive.  Notre Dame on the other hand needs to play mistake-free I think because this is not a team you want having to hang around in the 4th quarter or things will be too tight.  It will be closer than what many think, but I think the Irish talent wins out.  NOTRE DAME 26, VANDERBILT 23

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#12 LSU AT #7 AUBURN, 3:30, CBS:  While the two teams common outlier is that they are not each other’s primary rival but Alabama’s, this game always is a huge one for both, maybe moreso than the Alabama game.   Whoever wins this game it feels like it sets the tempo for both teams the rest of the way.  Last year Auburn didn’t have that problem despite losing but in the past whenever one of these teams take an L, it really sucks the lives out of their season.  So this game is huge.  Auburn struggled against a very good secondary against Washington to start the year and the Huskies gave fits to the entire offense.  LSU by what many feel has a better defense than what Washington has (and that says a lot because Washington has a darn good one and could give the same problems to Auburn.  However, LSU, despite the nice win agianst Miami didn’t exactly strike fear with the offense against Southeastern Louisiana State last week and the whole “the offense remains LSU’s Achilles’ heel” is back in play.  This game will be a knock-down drag out fight.  It will be low scoring and I think any turnover made will change the outcome of the game and probably for both teams the rest of the season.  But I have to go with the home team Auburn as crazy things happen and Auburn is the greatest team ever when they play at Jordan Hare Stadium.  AUBURN 14, LSU 10

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#17 BOISE STATE AT #24 OKLAHOMA STATE, 3:30, ESPN:  This game is intriguing too as Boise State, “the Best of the Rest” for like ever, is really trying to see if they can crash the party on the playoff.  And so far, they have been untested, including a beyond stunning beatdown of Sun Belt power Troy to begin the year.  And the Cowboys haven’t been challenged yet either having two beatdown wins too (Missouri State, South Alabama).  The Broncos could easily run the table, but this is THE MUST-WIN game for them.  No questions asked.  Oklahoma State many blew off with Mason Rudolph and James Washington going to the NFL, but so far, the mullet-less mullet man Mike Gundy is getting them rolling early.  The game is in Stillwater but with Boise State it doesn’t matter.  They can win anywhere if you put them in a hostile environment.  This is a tough game to figure out honestly and the game could be a good, old-fashioned shootout as that is what both teams like.  I’m thinking the Cowboys make one or two more needed stops than the Broncos.  But I can see it go either way.  OKLAHOMA STATE 45, BOISE STATE 41

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DUKE AT BAYLOR, 3:30, FS1:  This game would have been far more intriguing had Daniel Jones not been injured.  Duke is a team that looks like it is a year where they find ways to win despite injuries and other challenges.  However, Baylor looks like the last two seasons were a thing of the past at least early on.  But the opposing squads aren’t necessarily barn burners (Abilene Christian and UTSA) and they have allowed 47 points in the two games.  This would have been a perfect situation for Jones to have a nice game against, but he is not here and the Devils did struggle a bit in the 2nd half scoring points to Northwestern, so it will be something to see.  I think with homefield and at least the offense is clicking again, that the Bears will take this one just because of Jones not playing and Duke’s concern of the hurricane at their home they will be thinking of other things.  BAYLOR 34, DUKE 16

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HOUSTON AT TEXAS TECH, 4:15, FOX:  For all the talk about the likes of Boise State and UCF, Houston may be the team nobody is paying attention to.  They are well-rounded on both sides, and can get after anybody thanks to having Ed Oliver.  Texas Tech struggled defensively to Ole Miss (but to be fair, for them allowing 38 points is pretty good) and offensively (only 28?) in week 1.  However, the Red Raiders had a very nice tune-up winning 77-0 to FCS Lamar.  So maybe their questions are answered on both sides?  But Houston will be a far tougher defense than Lamar and even Ole Miss to this point, but the Red Raiders will have to do two things I think to win this game: get turnovers and get an early lead and dictate the tempo (I figure Ed Oliver is going to be double teamed all the time Saturday).  If that happens, I see Texas Tech winning at home.  But if Houston making key plays and Ed Oliver is in the backfield, Houston will have an argument again they are the best team in the state of Texas.  I think the Red Raiders take this game in close one and a relative shootout score with them being at home and taking a key turnover or two.  TEXAS TECH 38, HOUSTON 35

Alabama

#1 ALABAMA AT OLE MISS, 7:00, ESPN:  After Week 1 when Ole Miss took it to Texas Tech, many have had this game on upset alert for Alabama.  Until last year when the Tide destroyed Ole Miss 66-3 the previous 3 games the Rebels fought Alabama tooth and nail, winning two of them.  On top of it, two of those games the Rebels had double digit leads as Bama had no answers for Ole Miss’s offense.  Well, Ole Miss has a pretty strong offense again and while Alabama could have probably sleepwalked and thumped Louisville and Arkansas State on both sides, you wonder what kind of defense the Tide really has at this point.  My assertion is they will be giving up points in this game.  However, Alabama’s strength so far isn’t the defense, but the offense as right now the two-QB system is working nicely (still two games and a small sample size).  Worse, for Ole Miss, they allowed 41 points to Southern Illinois.  No disrespect to the Salukis as they have a good offense, but I think Alabama’s offense is going to be better and Alabama’s defense, despite questions will be far better.  Vaught-Hemmingway will be loud and proud Saturday night, but I don’t see the Rebels stopping Alabama’s offense though points will be put up.  ALABAMA 49, OLE MISS 38

MISSOURI AT PURDUE, 7:30, BTN: Given how Missouri and Purdue have started their years, you’d think last year’s meeting was an eternity ago when Purdue walloped Missouri.  Purdue took two punches on the chin, first to Northwestern and then Eastern Michigan, both at home.  Ouch.  Missouri, though not tested have looked sharp on both sides of the ball.  So I think the Tigers will exact a measure of revenge on Purdue this weekend.  Purdue can make it close if they cut down on the mistakes, especially on special teams (which doomed them in to Eastern Michigan), but I think Drew Lock could have a field day here.  The only other question will be would Missouri start to eyeball past Purdue and look at their home showdown next week at Georgia?  MISSOURI 37, PURDUE 17

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#4 OHIO STATE AT #15 TCU, 8:00 ABC:  Ohio State hasn’t missed Urban Meyer at all on his suspension, but then again, not many would mess up losing to Oregon State and Rutgers with the talent the Buckeyes have.  TCU is more of a formidable opponent, but like Ohio State really hasn’t been tested.  The Frogs got off to a slow start to SMU but picked it up fast afterward.  Their defense is stout, but will be tested by probably the best offense in the nation right now.  That’s the scary part.  Worse, TCU not having Ross Blacklock is a big problem and Ohio State can really punish them with that.  The Frogs probably know the Buckeyes will put up points but it will be can TCU dictate the tempo of running it on the Ohio State defense, which will need to show they are more like the one against Rutgers and less like the one against Oregon State.  They do have a running back by committee for them which means if they can run the ball effectively and keep Ohio State’s defense on the field, it can also wear them out mentally.  However, I don’t think TCU has enough to take down on the Buckeyes on offense that will keep them off the field.  Ohio State wants to show that they are still Big Ten’s big boy and I think they will do that as I don’t see any answer for the Buckeyes offense.  OHIO STATE 41, TCU 31

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#22 USC AT TEXAS, 8:00, FOX:  When this home-and-home was announced, both teams would be sitting pretty in the top 10.  However, it hasn’t worked that way.  USC has major questions on offense to answer and Texas just has major questions.  We figured USC would take a step back losing Sam Darnold, but the offensive line, which was a problem last year, is still a problem this year and JT Daniels is a freshman, not a miracle worker.  Texas lost to Maryland again and had to fight tooth and nail to escape a W at their own home against Tulsa last week.  There are problems and you sense both Clay Helton and Tom Herman are having some warm seats for two programs and fan bases DEMANDING to be in the top 10 every year.  Whoever loses this game will be under the scope big time for the rest of the season.  I know this game is at Texas and USC struggles away from the Coliseum, but I still see a Texas team that makes too many mistakes on offense and a USC defense who can hold their own.  That may be what give the Trojans a road W and gets Longhorn fans wanting Tom Herman gone.  USC 24, TEXAS 17

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#10 WASHINGTON AT UTAH, 10:00, ESPN:  There are teams in each conference that quietly makes a lot of noise and is a threat (Northwestern, Mississippi State, NC State, etc.) in the conference.  Utah is one of them.  We don’t hear about the Utes compared to even some of the other PAC-12 schools.  They aren’t as glamorous as USC, Oregon, Washington, Arizona or even Stanford.  They play tough football and play physical football on teams in that conference that often don’t like playing that kind of football.  Now Washington has a bevvy of talent and is a very physical team.  However, even though they fought tooth and nail with Auburn, they should have won that game.  Poor coaching decisions hurt them and Jake Browning still doesn’t look like 2016 Browning.  That’s a problem.  Worse, the offensive line will have their hands full on the Utes defensive line which can give both the passing and running games fits.  On top of this, the game is in Salt Lake City and it seems like when Utah is on it, and they are running the ball effectively like they are with Zack Moss and Tyler Huntley, it may be a big problem for Washington State.  They struggled against Northern Illinois, but Northern Illinois has a very tough defense and that game was up in Illinois.  I think Utah will fare much better back home.  It will be close, but I think Utah will get a late lead and hold onto it.  UTAH 23, WASHINGTON 17

That’s it for this week!

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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