NCAA Football Week Four Picks Evaluation

Andrew LaBarberaContributor ISeptember 28, 2009

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 13:  Defensive end George Selvie #95 of the University of South Florida Bulls rushes the pocket against the University of Central Florida Knights on October 13, 2007 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Bulls won 64-12.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

My first week of picks is complete. It's time to see how I did with both my picks and evaluation.

All Italicized text is from my former article before the games were played (

Thursday Sept. 24

No. 4 Mississippi (2-0) @ South Carolina (2-1)—Line: Mississippi -3

A battle of SEC foes takes place on the Gamecocks' home turf on ESPN @ 7:30 Thursday night. All the talk going into this game is about QB Jevan Snead of Ole Miss.

After this game, all of the talk will be about how Spurrier's defense shuts down Snead and the vaunted Rebel offense. Not only do I like SC to cover the spread, but I think they'll win straight up in a low-scoring affair. The Pick: South Carolina +3 Gamecocks 27, Rebels 21.

FinalSouth Carolina 16 Miss 10.

My Pick: USC +3—Win.

Wow! What a great start for my predictions. South Carolina's defense dominates and they win straight up. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but damn, I'm good.

Saturday, Sept. 26

Fresno St. (1-2) @ No. 14 Cincinnati (2-0)—Line: Cincy -16.5

Cincinnati comes off of a huge win down in Corvallis where they shut down the Beavers and Jacquizz Rodgers. They'll need to stifle another great ground game this week with the explosive Ryan Matthews coming to town. Last week, Matthews had three TD runs of 60 yards plus against a solid Boise St. defense.

Cincy is coming off a big win and Fresno coming off a close loss, it sounds like it's time for a letdown game for Cincinnati. The Bearcats win, but in a close battle from Pat Hill's Bulldogs. The Pick: Fresno St. +16.5 Bearcats 34, Bulldogs 24.

Final—Cincinnati 28, Fresno St. 20.

My Pick: FSU +16.5—Win.

Another win here. Just as I wrote it up, Fresno kept in the game with a solid ground game (290 yards rushing). Cincy's passing game was as steady as ever, with surefire future NFLer Marty Gilyard leading the way. The Bearcats are clearly the team to beat in the Big East right now.

Indiana (3-0) @ No. 23 Michigan (3-0)—Line: Michigan -21

This seems strange to call it a matchup of undefeated teams after these teams went a combined 6-18 last year. Michigan had a cupcake game last week after a hard fought win over Notre Dame the week before. That easy game allowed them to rest some of their key players down the stretch and that will pay dividends this week.

Tate Forcier will continue to emerge as a star and Rich Rodriguez will once again prove why he's one of the best coaches in college football. Wolverines pound the Hoosiers in this one. The pick: Michigan -21 Wolverines 42, Hoosiers 7.

Final—Michigan 36 Indiana 33.

My Pick: Mich -21—Loss.

OK. I can't win them all. In fact, I was way off in this game. A lot of credit has to be given to the Hoosiers being able to hang in and nearly win in the Big House. Tate Forcier leads another great comeback, and I'm just happy Michigan won.

Southern Miss (3-0) @ No. 20 Kansas (3-0)—Line: Kansas -13.5

Another matchup of 3-0 teams here, although this one is a little less surprising. This will be a game of which team can shut down the other team's strength. Kansas has an NFL-caliber QB in Todd Reesing, while Southern Miss boasts a very hearty ground game.

I think the Golden Eagles hang around early with solid defense and clock control, but the Jayhawks get a back door cover late. The Pick: Kansas -13.5 Jayhawks 38, Golden Eagles 24.

Final—Kansas 35, Southern Miss 28.

My Pick: Kansas -14—Loss.

I was following this game Saturday afternoon thinking my prediction was spot on again. Here comes the back door cover. Four minutes left, Kansas up seven, and they have the ball 1st-and-10 at the Southern Miss 25 going in.

Then, they fumble the ball away and ruin any chance they have at covering. Oh well, my pick may have been off but I was all so close to that back door cover call and my prediction doesn't seem so bad.

No. 22 North Carolina (3-0) @ Georgia Tech (2-1)—Line: GTech -2.5

The big question this game is whether Jonathan Dwyer will play. If he does, he surely won't be 100 percent, but 80 percent of Jonathan Dwyer is still better than any of the Jackets' other options.

I think Dwyer plays and although Butch Davis has done a tremendous job in North Carolina, I don't see them moving up inside of the top 20 at any point this year. A loss against Tech this week would surely put them out of the Top 25, and that's what will happen. The Pick: Georgia Tech -2.5 Yellow Jackets 38, Tar Heels 24.

Final—Georgia Tech 24, North Carolina 7.

My Pick: GTech -2.5—Win.

Jonathan Dwyer may not have been 100 percent, but he played...and played very well. There's no doubt his 158 yards on the ground were a big part of Georgia Tech controlling the ball (getting off 80 plays to UNC's 44) and winning this game easily. Here's another win for me and now I'm back on track!

South Florida (3-0) @ No. 18 Florida St. (2-1)—Line: FSU -14.5

This isn't the same South Florida team that it was a week ago. Nor is this the same FSU team that played Miami a few weeks ago. The Bulls lost their best player (QB Matt Grothe) for the year due to an ACL injury, while the 'Noles are coming in with a ton of confidence after knocking off then-No. 7 BYU last week.

Grothe's injury will destroy that Bulls' offense and the FSU defense alone will outscore the Bulls. Florida State in a rout. The Pick: Florida St. -14.5 'Noles 34, Bulls 10.

Final—South Florida 17, Florida St. 7.

My Pick: FSU -14.5—Loss.

I was way off base with this one. I predict a 'Noles blowout and they lose straight up at home to South Florida.

Florida State's defense did their part, holding the Bulls to 17 points while forcing two turnovers and getting two sacks.

Their offense was simply awful averaging only 0.7 yards per rush and putting the ball on the turf five times, losing it four of those times. Those turnovers were clearly the key to this game. Congrats to South Florida for at least not being the worst team in Florida.

No. 7 LSU (3-0) @ Mississippi St. (2-1)—Line: LSU -13

The Bulldogs have proven over the years that they're much tougher at home, and this game will prove no different.

Granted, I do not think they can beat LSU, but I see this being a surprisingly close game. The Miss St. defense and crowd keep them close, but the Tigers are simply too much and win a close one. The Pick: Miss St +13 LSU 20, Miss St 14.

Final—LSU 30, Miss St 26.

My Pick: Miss St +13—Win.

Yet again the Bulldogs play a close one at home, and yet again they taste defeat. An amazing goal line stand by the Tigers is the only thing that stopped Miss St. from winning straight up. Another great effort going unrewarded for the Bulldogs and their fans, but another win for me because they easily covered.

No. 15 TCU (2-0) @ Clemson (2-1)—Line: Clemson -3

TCU comes in boasting one of the best defenses in the country. Clemson has a great ground game focusing on CJ Spiller along with a fast-maturing QB with a rocket for an arm in Kyle Parker.

This game will be a matter of who wins the battle of the Clemson offense versus the TCU defense. In this matchup, which seems to be such a close one, I have to go with the home team. Clemson the final minutes. The Pick: Clemson -3. Tigers 24, Horned Frogs 20.

Final—TCU 14, Clemson 10.

My Pick: Clemson -3—Loss.

This game was a very evenly matched game. Both defenses played well and TCU's offense did just enough to win with a late scoring drive. I went with the home team and that didn't quite work out this time.

Illinois (1-1) @ No. 11 Ohio St (2-1)—Line: Ohio St -14.5 **Lock of the week**

Ron Zook is a great recruiter, not such a great coach. Jim Tressel is great at both. The rapid development of Terrelle Pryor will be the difference in this one. The Buckeyes start strong and finish just as strong. It's a blowout. The Pick and lock of the week: Ohio St -14.5 Buckeyes 38, Illini 10.

Final—Ohio St 30, Illinois 0.

My Pick: Ohio St -14.5—Win.

My first lock of the week makes me look like a genius. The Buckeyes dominated this game from start to finish and posted a shutout of the Illini.

Terrelle Pryor didn't have a big game, but he didn't need to. He only threw the ball 13 times, completing eight of them, including a three-yard touchdown.

The defense really came to play and held Juice Williams and the rest of the Illini offense to a meager 170 yards, forcing three turnovers and getting five sacks.

UTEP (1-2) @ No. 1 Texas (3-0)—Line: Texas -36

The Horns come off of a close game with Texas Tech in which they looked very sluggish in the first half. Colt McCoy has flu-like symptoms, so that didn't help. UTEP isn't as lucky as TTech was last week and a healthy McCoy shreds the Miners' D. The Pick: Texas -36 Longhorns 56, Miners 14.

Final—Texas 64, UTEP 7.

My Pick: Texas -36—Win.

McCoy simply dominated. Aside from one mistake (a 60-yard INT return for TD), he showed why he is a true Heisman Trophy candidate. He completed 80 percent of his passes for 286 yards and three scores, and he only played one possession in the second half.

The Longhorns' defense was even more impressive, though. They held the Miners to 53 total yards on the day, forcing five turnovers and getting four sacks. This was obviously just a huge mismatch and leads me to believe that Texas may be the true No. 1 team in the country.

No. 9 Miami (3-0) @ No. 13 Virginia Tech (2-1)—Line: Miami -3

If you told anyone at the start of the year that Miami would be a favorite at Virginia Tech, they'd surely think you're crazy. Speaking from personal experience, I know Blacksburg is loud on game day.

Jacory Harris is certainly this year's breakout performer in college football, but I'm sure Frank Beamer will have a thing or two up his sleeve for the 'Canes.

The U is playing inspired football under head coach Randy Shannon, but will it be enough? This game will certainly live up to its billing as game of the week and Tyrod Taylor ran out of magic last week. The Pick: Miami -3 'Canes 31, Hokies 24.

Final—Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7.

My Pick: Miami -3—Loss.

Here's a case of why you shouldn't bet on your favorite teams. My heart was simply bigger than my head on this one. All signs in my head led to Miami losing this one, but my heart said they'd win, so I went with that.

The Hokies' defense and special teams were great and in a game with bad weather, that's the recipe for success. Va. Tech controlled the ball and Miami couldn't get the passing game going. Much to my chagrin, the 'Canes were manhandled and this game was over by halftime.

No. 6 California (3-0) @ Oregon (2-1)—Line: Cal -6

California's Jahvid Best did everything for the Golden Bears last week aside from kicking the extra points. Yahoo!'s Michael Silver would sure be proud, and right now he'd be my pick for Heisman.

That being said, Autzen Stadium is one of the toughest places to play in the whole country. You can bet that this Saturday that place will be packed and loud. Oregon wins this one by stacking the box, forcing the Bears to throw, and the crowd's noise causing miscommunication between Kevin Riley and his wide receivers.

The fans storm the field, but at least they don't punch anyone in the face. The Pick: Oregon +6 Ducks 31, Golden Bears 30.

Final—Oregon 42, Cal 7.

My Pick: Oregon +6—Win.

This was an absolutely shocking performance by the Ducks. I thought it would be a close battle that could go either way, but the Bears were outplayed from start to finish. The supposed best running back in the country was held in check all day and the Ducks ran up the score on Cal. I got the pick right, but thinking it would be a close game was way off base.

Arkansas (1-1) @ No. 3 Alabama (3-0)—Line: 'Bama -17

Where's Huston Nutt when you need him? Arkansas simply doesn't have the talent or coaching to play with Nick Saban's Tide. There's really nothing else to say except maybe "Roll Tide." The Pick: 'Bama -17 Crimson Tide 45, Razorbacks 14.

Final—Alabama 35, Arkansas 7.

My Pick: 'Bama -17—Win.

I didn't say much before this game and I won't say much after. This game was a no brainer for me and easily could have been lock of the week. The Tide keep rolling.

Colorado St. (3-0) @ No. 19 BYU (2-1)—Line: BYU -15

After Week One, this looked like it was going to be BYU's year. Finally, a mid-major with a chance at a national title. Then, they go out and get embarrassed on their home field by Florida State.

Colorado St. comes into this one 3-0 and playing their best football since they had Cecil Sapp on their team. T

hey're playing great, BYU looked terrible last week, and it simply doesn't matter. BYU has too much talent on offense for the Rams to win a low scoring game like they've been doing so far this year. The Cougars make a statement after their huge home loss. The Pick: BYU -15 Cougars 49, Rams 17.

Final—BYU 42, Colorado St 23.

My Pick: BYU -15—Win.

The Cougars got off to an early lead and never looked back. The Rams made a late run at a cover, but a late BYU TD sealed up the spread. Max Hall will have to play better if the Cougars want to win the Mountain West this year.

No. 1 Florida (3-0) @ Kentucky (2-0)—Line: Florida -22

Florida is the only team in the country that can win by 10 over a well-coached team that used to be one of the best in the nation and be mad. They simply did not play up to their potential in last week's game against the Vols.

This week, Urban Meyer has them ready to play and the Wildcats are the victims. The Pick: Florida -22 Gators 42, Wildcats 0.

Final—Florida 41, Kentucky 7.

My Pick: Florida -22—Win.

The Gators were covering 13 minutes into the game after taking a quick 24-0 lead and they were never threatened after that.

It was an easy win for the Gators, but the true story from this game is Tim Tebow getting taken to the hospital after taking a huge hit late in the third quarter.

Hopefully for Florida he's alright. If not, it looks like the Longhorns or Tide are the new favorites to win the national championship.

No. 8 Boise St. (3-0) @ Bowling Green (1-2)—Line: Boise -17

At first, I looked at this game and thought, "Wow, here's my lock of the week."

How is Boise only giving 17 to a 1-2 team from the MAC conference? Then, I looked into it a little further.

First off, the game is away from the Blue Turf in Boise, where they surely are much worse and more vulnerable.

Secondly, Bowling Green played step for step at Missouri two weeks ago. Their defense looks sound and while I don't think they can win, I think they'll keep it close with solid defense. The Pick: BG +17 Broncs 27, Falcons 17.

Final—Boise St 49 Bowling Green14.

My Pick: BG +17—Loss.

People always tell me to go with my first instinct because it's usually the right one. Well, I should have listened to those people in this game.

The Broncos overmatched the Falcons in every aspect of the game for an easy win. I can already hear a complaint coming as to why they should be in the national title game after an undefeated season.

With that huge win over Oregon looking better every day, I have to say if they continue playing the way they've been, then their complaint will be justified.

Grambling St. (2-1) @ No. 16 Oklahoma St (2-1)—NO LINE

No line here, as the Cowboys are playing a sub-division team. The Cowboys romp though, in case you were wondering. Cowboys 56, Tigers 10.

Final—Oklahoma St 56, Grambling 6.

My Pick: No Line.

Well, I have to say my score was remarkably accurate, even though there was no spread. Too bad, it would have been an easy win for me.

Louisiana Lafayette (2-1) @ No. 25 Nebraska (2-1)—Line: Nebraska -26.5

The Huskers are simply too strong up front for the Rajun Cajuns to compete. Maybe if this were basketball, they could stay within 27 points, but not in this one. Cornhuskers have a nice, easy win after their heartbreak last week. The Pick: Nebraska -26.5 Cornhuskers 45, Rajun Cajuns 10.

Final—Nebraska 55, ULL 0.

My Pick Nebraska -26.5—Win.

The Blackshirts on defense pitched a shutout and the Huskers cruised to an easy victory. This was supposed to be an easy win for them and it certainly was. I'm sure it still doesn't make them feel any better about that Virginia Tech game, though.

Arizona St. (2-0) @ No, 21 Georgia (2-1)—Line: Georgia -12.5

The Bulldogs came into this season losing their big play makers in Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno and were expected to win with defense. Well, that hasn't been the case so far, and it certainly wasn't the case last week in a 52-41 shootout win over Arkansas.

This week, the bulldogs get back to defense between the hedges at home. They control the clock and physically manhandle the Sun Devils. The Pick: Georgia -12.5 Bulldogs 31, Sun Devils 14.

Final—Georgia 20, Arizona St 17.

My Pick Georgia -12.5—Loss.

The Bulldogs' defense certainly played up to expectations. They held the Sun Devils to 204 total yards and 10 points. The offense for Georgia had too many turnovers for them to cover the spread. One fumble and two picks (one of which was returned for a TD) was enough to negate their great defensive effort.

They still pulled out the victory, although they didn't cover for me.

Iowa (3-0) @ No. 5 Penn St. (3-0)—Line: Penn St. -10

Kirk Ferentz has the Hawkeyes playing physical in the trenches again this year. They're playing low-scoring, ball control games. If they can keep a slow-paced game, they're sure to stay in contention in this one.

I think they'll keep the pace down, but I see Penn St. winning in a redemption game for them after losing to Iowa a year ago and ruining their national title hopes. The Pick: Iowa +10 Nittany Lions 24, Hawkeyes 19.

Final—Iowa 21, Penn St 10.

My Pick Iowa +10—Win.

Iowa plays physical in the trenches. Check. They control the ball. Check. They play a low-scoring game. Check. They lose a close one. Not today.

The Hawkeyes surprised everyone with a huge win over Penn State again. I figured all of the above to be true, but I didn't think they had enough talent to beat the Nittany Lions. My pick was right, although I wouldn't have had the stones to bet the money line on this one.

No. 24 Washington (2-1) @ Stanford (2-1)—Line: Stanford -7

Coach Harbaugh has the Cardinal playing inspired football once again for the first time since they had John Elway back in the 80s.

Washington is coming off a huge upset of the Trojans. This match has sucker bet written all over it. Everyone will surely pound a No. 25 U-Dub team that just beat USC over an unranked Stanford team and those people will be severely disappointed.

The Cardinal score again...and again...and again...and they beat the Huskies going away. The Pick: Stanford -7 Cardinal 44, Huskies 28.

Final—Stanford 34, Washington 14.

My Pick Stanford -7—Win.

The Cardinal totaled 424 yards of total offense and set the tone early and often. They put up 24 in the first half on a big night from Toby Gerhart and never looked back. The Huskies proved that they were just a flash in the pan and not a legit contender for the Pac-10 title. They're improved greatly, no doubt, but still not at the level of other top 25 teams yet.

Texas Tech (2-1) @ No. 17 Houston (3-0)—Line: Houston -1.5

The Cougars have an offense that can score with anyone in the country. Mike Leach's teams are perennially known for their ability to run up the score on anyone. The over/under for this game is sure to be over 70 points, but we're not talking over/under here, we're talking spread.

With the spread near a pick 'em, the pick is basically who do you think will win? I think the Red Raiders win this one simply because Mike Leach doesn't allow mid-majors to beat him. He will outcoach Kevin Sulman and lead the Raiders to victory in this one.

Usually after one big win, your team will have a letdown and I think that will surely be the case here for the Cougars. The Pick: Texas Tech +1.5 Red Raiders 51, Cougars 42.

Final—Houston 29, Texas Tech 28.

My Pick TTech +1.5—Win.

Well, I guess I was wrong about this game simply being who wins. These odds makers never fail to impress me. They set a 1.5 point spread in this game and Houston goes out and wins by one. I said Mike Leach would outcoach Sulman—I was way off there. Sulman's coaching (in the second half only) was the difference in this one. Well, that and Case Keenum. I may have been off base on this one, but at least I covered.

Washington St (1-2) @ No. 12 USC (2-1)—Line: USC -45

Excuse me, what's that line say? 45 points?! The thing is, with a 45-point line this game is pure luck.

Will the Trojans blow out the Cougars? Of course they will. They're coming off an upset loss and want to prove that they should still be considered among the elite teams in college football.

They sure would like to run up the score as much as possible, but we're talking 45...4-5...points here. Do I think they'll cover? Sure, why the heck not? The Pick:USC -45 Trojans 56, Cougars 0.

Final—USC 27, Washington St 6.

My Pick USC -45—Loss.

The Trojans took care of business in the first quarter and then seemed to ease up. Once they knew victory was at hand, they gave up and seemed to just go through the motions. That hurt any chance I had at the cover, and getting stopped on fourth and goal inside the three yard line twice didn't help.

Overall for the week, my record was 14-8 (15-8 if you include how close I was to guessing the Oklahoma St. game with no line). I'd say that's a pretty good week by anyone's standards, especially including the easy Lock of the Week victory.

Let's say you were to bet 100 "units" on each game I picked. Well, then you'd be 520 "units" richer. Stay tuned later this week for my Week Five picks, and hopefully I can be as successful next week as I was this week. Maybe if you're lucky, I'll even throw in some NFL picks.


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