Derrick Morgan and the Tech defense really need to step up against Duke.
Last week's "Take 'Em to the Bank" was a disturbing setback for what has been, up until recently, one of college football's greatest prognosticators of scoring and outcomes. (That's me.)
Not only did I completely whiff on FSU at Clemson, but Ohio State at Penn State utterly baffled me as well, and Georgia Tech vs. Wake was much closer than I had thought.
For a slight ray of redemption, I will put it out there that I did correctly predict Stanford's complete and utter annihilation of Oregon.
Last week: 3-2 straight up, 2-3 against the spread.
Thus far: 8-2 straight up, 6-4 against the spread.
Not great, but good enough to win some money, were I a betting man.
On to this week's action.
Florida at South Carolina
When Steve Spurrier first arrived in Columbia in 2005 as the new USC football coach, he set the bar high.
The Gamecocks, who had not been to a bowl since 2001, won five SEC games for the first time in school history, went 7-5, and advanced to the Independence Bowl.
Spurrier was named SEC Coach of the Year.
Oh yeah, they also upset then 12th-ranked Florida 30-22 in Columbia, the first time the Cocks had beaten the Gators since 1939.
Oh, how four years changes things.
South Carolina, once seen as a program on the rise, has settled into mediocrity once again, only breaking the seven-win mark once (8-5 in 2006) since Spurrier was named head coach.
South Carolina came into the season riding a huge wave of confidence, and for good reason: They finally had a real, honest-to-goodness quarterback in Stephen Garcia, a solid defense led by All-American WLB Eric Norwood, and what appeared to be a favorable schedule.
However, it has proven to be, to this point, yet another middle-of-the-road season for the Gamecocks, with a 6-4 record and back-to-back losses to Tennessee and Arkansas.
Which all leads us to this weekend's matchup against the all-powerful Florida Gators and their "Superman," Tim Tebow.
Florida is undefeated and coming off a huge win over rival Georgia and a solid effort over Vanderbilt, and it appears the offense is finally on track. The defense ranks second in the nation in total defense and first in scoring defense and is so fast and disciplined (football-wise) that USC will have a whale of a time just moving the ball past midfield.
Oh, and Brandon Spikes is back.
The USC defense is also struggling, allowing over 30 points per game in the last two losses.
Honestly, Florida looks almost pre-ordained to appear in the big BCS game for a third consecutive time, and South Carolina does not look like much of a roadblock.
Stone Cold Lock: UF wins, covers 17. Spurrier throws visor, headset, possibly Stephen Garcia.
Auburn at Georgia
No Brandon Cox, no problem?
It seems like more than two years ago that the Tigers came into Athens sporting a 7-3 record and having won two out of their last three "Between the Hedges."
Remember what happened?
Auburn got blacked out, and Brandon Cox was intercepted four times on the way to a 45-20 drubbing at the hands of the Dawgs, who went on to a sterling 11-2 record and a Sugar Bowl berth against Hawai'i.
Well, it's 2009, and now it's the Bulldogs who are struggling.
UGA is currently 5-4, with an offense that is having difficulty running the ball and a defense that can't stop anyone (exception: Tennessee Tech).
Fans are calling for the defensive coordinator's job, and even head coach Mark Richt is feeling a little bit of heat for the lackluster season.
Auburn, on the other hand, is defying expectation, with a 7-3 record in Gene Chizik's first season on the Plains and an offense that can score in bunches.
UGA is currently a four-point favorite over the Tigers, but if that Georgia defense doesn't step it up, big-time, they are going to find themselves in a shootout against the 12th-ranked scoring team in the nation; and that's a game the Dawgs probably will not win.
Stone Cold Lock: Take AU with the upset here; their offense matches up nicely against the Dawgs.
Iowa at Ohio State
Last week, I picked Penn State to crush Ohio State, and boy, was I wrong.
The Buckeyes came out and absolutely shut down PSU, holding one of the Big Ten's best offenses to only seven points.
Terrelle Pryor also had himself a pretty good game, limiting mistakes and throwing two touchdown passes on the way to a 24-7 upset.
On the flip side, until last week's game against Northwestern, Iowa had been leading a charmed life. I mean, a horseshoe stuck up their you-know-what type life.
After trailing in eight of their first nine victories, Iowa's luck finally ran out.
Even though they scored the first 10 points against NU, junior quarterback Ricky Stanzi was knocked out of the game with an ankle injury early in the second quarter.
From that point on, it was all Northwestern, and Iowa suffered a humiliating 17-10 loss that derailed any and all of their national championship hopes.
For Iowa to get back on track and make it to the Rose Bowl, they have to somehow get a better performance out of James Vandenberg, Stanzi's replacement, because his numbers against Northwestern are not BCS worthy (9-of-27 passing, 82 yards).
Unlike Iowa, OSU seems to have the answer at quarterback, and they have definitely been down the BCS road before.
I don't see Iowa putting up more than 10 points against OSU, especially in the Horseshoe, and the Hawkeye defense is going to have a tough time stopping a resurgent Buckeye offense.
Stone Cold Lock: Ohio State wins, covers -17 easily.
Stanford at USC
Last time Stanford rolled into the Coliseum, the Cardinal pulled off the upset of the century, knocking off a heavily favored USC 24-23, effectively preventing USC from making yet another national championship game.
That's not going to happen again.
Even though Stanford is much improved (just ask Oregon), and USC seems a little vulnerable, the Trojans remain the heavily favored home team in this year's matchup.
USC is 7-2, with losses to Oregon and Washington marring their record, and they have struggled both offensively and defensively as of late.
However, Pete Carroll has only lost three games or more one time since his arrival at USC (6-6 in 2001), and it won't happen again this year.
Look for big games from Matt Barkley and the stable of USC running backs against a Cardinal defense that is middling at best. I also expect the USC defense to right the ship this weekend, knowing that the key to stopping Stanford is limiting stud RB Toby Gerhart and making QB Andrew Luck throw vertically.
Stone Cold Lock: The Trojans regain their winning form and cover -10.5. Stanford is still at least a year away.
Georgia Tech at Duke
Tech wraps up a spot in the ACC title game (and likely rematch with Clemson) by winning at Duke.
For Yellow Jackets fans, this game is more worrisome than it has been in the past, due to Duke's offensive prowess through the air and a troublesome Tech pass defense.
I look for Dave Wommack to take advantage of Duke's undermanned O-line this week and blitz more than usual to try to throw star QB Thaddeus Lewis (2,428 passing yards, 15 TD, five INT) off his game.
Duke had better bring their defensive "A" game as well, because Georgia Tech's offense has been unstoppable much of the season, averaging nearly 450 YPG, tops in the ACC.
For the Dukies to win, they are going to have to score on a majority of possessions and limit their turnovers, or else face a bruising from Tech's monster running game.
As long as Tech takes care of the ball and limits the number of big plays from Lewis, they won't have a problem winning and covering -12.5.
Stone Cold Lock: Tech by a lot, but Duke is on the rise.
Did I leave anything out? Want different games picked? Let me know!
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