Week 5 NCAA Game Picks Of The Week

Paul SalmanSenior Analyst ISeptember 30, 2009


I come into this week going 0-3 with last weeks picks. I think many were shocked with some of the outcomes last week and that resulted in my worst week of the season thus far. Last weeks picks dropped me to 3-7 against the spread (yes I know, why even read on with that type of record) and 6-4 in just picking the winners. I am destined to do better this week and am ready to pick three of the biggest games of this 2009 season.

(4) LSU @ (18) Georgia
3:30pm on CBS
Line: Georiga -3

Looking at rankings it easy to think LSU should win this game. However, knowing how this year has gone with top ranked teams being overrated, along with taking a closer look at the stats will show you that #18 Georgia has been much more impressive thus far.

If not for Washington beating USC, LSU would have beaten 4 cupcakes on their schedule thus far. Now the Washington win looks a little better, however, Washington is still not that good.

LSU has been inconsistent on offense, ranking last in the SEC in yards per game (310) and unable to score more than 31 points against these weak teams they have played (Vanderbilt, Louisianna-Lafayette, Mississippi State).

Their defense has not been stellar either, allowing 26 points against their one SEC opponent last week.

On the flip side, Georgia has had a very impressive schedule to open the season. They opened up with a close loss at Oklahoma State, and have since went on to beat South Carolina, Arkansas and Arizona State. Georgia's offense has been much more impressive than LSU this year, especially considering the loss of Stafford and Moreno this off-season.

I do not expect LSU to be able to keep up with Georgia, especially since this game is being played in Athens. Georgia covers -3 easily and wins the game 27-17.


(7) USC @ (24) Cal
8:00pm on ABC
Line: USC -5

Statistically this game is very evenly matched with an offensive edge going to Cal and a defensive edge going to USC. This means the match up to watch is when Cal has the ball against that USC Defense.

Last weeks performance is not The Cal offense we usually expect. With Jahvid Best, the leading rusher in the Pac 10 and Heisman Candidate in the backfield, the Cal offense has put up big numbers all year. The USC defense will have its hand full with Best and quarterback Kevin Riley, who needs to get back on track after a bad performance against Oregon, and was actually benched in the fourth quarter. However, he has been very efficient outside of last weeks game.

In some ways last weeks game could be looked upon as a fluke trap game. Cal was so excited about the USC loss to Washington, they were already looking ahead to this weeks match-up against The Trojans, which could have potentially solidified the Pac 10 championship for them with a win, had they not lost to Oregon. Now that both have a conference loss, this game will give the winner a 1 game lead over the other in the conference.

As for the USC offense, we already have seen how freshman quarterback Matt Barkley performs in hostile environments, so playing at Cal should not be a problem for him. The real problem is how healthy is he? If the USC defense cannot keep Cal in check, I do not think Coach Carroll will be able to hide Barkley by just having Joe Mcknight run the ball. He was able to do so against Ohio State, but this Cal offense is better than the Ohio State offense USC played on September 12th. Matt Barkley may be put in a position where he has to throw to win the game, and being a freshman, and not being 100% healthy, I am not 100% sure he is ready to do that...YET!

With such a close match up statistically, I want to go with the home team, and the more potent offense to win the game, but with the bye week, coming off a huge upset loss, I cannot bet against Pete Carroll. I am going to say USC will win the game, but I take Cal and the points. USC wins 24-21.


(8) Oklahoma @ (17) Miami
8:00pm on ABC
Line: Oklahoma -7

Yes, Oklahoma has looked great since their loss to BYU. Yes, Freshman quarterback Landry Jones has some Oklahoma fans thinking that the loss of Sam Bradford may not be as terrible as they thought. Yes, Oklahoma defense has shut out its last two opponents.

Well going to play The Hurricanes in Miami is not like playing Idaho State and Tulsa at home.

We do not really know how good Oklahoma is without Sam Bradford just yet. All we can say is that their Defense has been solid all year, even in the loss to BYU, but the offense has not been tested since their lousy performance against BYU in week one.

Virgina Tech did provide a wake up call to Hurricane nation last week, as well as to this young Hurricane team. They were riding high after the first two games, having some people discuss the potential of them going to the National Title Game, if they can even go 3-1 in this rough opening stretch. I was one of those people.

I believe this game will really define each of these teams seasons, and we will finally learn who the real Hurricanes and Sooners are.

Jacory Harris looked rattled against a tough Hokie defense, and he will have a tough time again this week against Oklahoma. However, the same can be said for Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. Assuming Bradford is not ready, how will Jones cope with his first big game, against a big time school, on the road in a hostile environment.

If Bradford is ready, do the Sooner fans really feel confident that he is the same Sam Bradford that won the Heisman?

Miami has shown they they do allow a lot of points, and their run defense is suspect, however their pass defense has been solid allowing only 175 passing yards per game. The Miami defense and crowd will rattle Jones which may result in a mistake that decides the game. The key is can Jacory Harris avoid a similar mistake against the stout Oklahoma defense?

In what should be the game of the day, I am going with the home team to squeeze this one out and hand Bob Stoops another key loss on his resume on national TV as a favorite.

In a very tough decision, and a game I would not bet money on because its just to close to call, Miami wins 28-24.

Lets hope this week is better than last for me.