Wednesday, September 24, 2014

College Football 2014: Week 5 Story Lines and Picks

Here are the best story lines heading into week five of this 2014 season. Once again, we are left with a largely lackluster slate of games, especially during the first half of the day Saturday, where there may only be two games worth watching. Thursday night's UCLA-Arizona State is an intriguing early PAC-12 match, but there may not be many heavy hitting games played. Let's look at the best of the bunch:

UCLA at Arizona State (Thursday)
Taylor Kelly is out at QB against the Bruins, but you can bet your last buck that Brett Hundley will start for the Bruins after recovering from his elbow injury two weeks ago at Texas. ASU knocked the Bruins off of their South perch last fall, and the Bruins are looking to return the favor in the desert. UCLA has historically played well at ASU, and heads in as the favorite this week.
My Pick: UCLA

Middle Tennessee at Old Dominion (Friday)
MTSU has been up and down in the first month, which is hardly unusual for the Blue Raiders. What is surprising is the early run that ODU has made in their first season in CUSA play. The Monarchs opened conference play with a win over Rice, and a home win here has them 2-0 in conference play and in the early driver's seat.
My Pick: Old Dominion

Tennessee at Georgia
The Vols would certainly love to get between the hedges and upset the Bulldogs, which would strangely place the Vols in the early perch position in the SEC East. The Bulldogs are likely going to have something to say about that, and should bounce back from their loss to South Carolina in conference play behind their power run game.
My Pick: Georgia

Maryland at Indiana
Not a marquee game on name alone, but this game has some early indicators that will be presented when it is over. Maryland has largely been playing better than most people expected, and Indiana has been up and down, losing to Bowling Green before beating Missouri last week. Whomever wins may get a pretender tag temporarily removed.
My Pick: Maryland

Minnesota at Michigan
Mentioned only for the sake that this will be yet another high pressure game for Brady Hoke. Most media folk have Brady already fired at Michigan, but the Wolverines can control the tempo this week. Minnesota has been winning, but has done so rather flatly. The Wolverines will likely bench Devin Gardner at QB, a smart move.
My Pick: Michigan

Florida State at NC State
Jameis Winston returns at QB, like it or not, but the shit storm that is him will follow FSU into Raleigh, a place which has been a thorn in their ass for some time now. The Wolf Pack is 4-0, but albeit against week competition overall. They will likely get up for this game, and that could mean trouble for the distracted Seminoles.
My Pick: NC State (Upset Alert!)

 Arkansas at Texas A&M
The Razorbacks have been majorly improved, but Texas A&M has not fallen off the grid minus Johnny Football. Kenny Hill has done an outstanding job at QB for the Aggies, and they will probably prevail here this week, but they cannot afford to overlook Arkansas anymore.
My Pick: Texas A&M

Stanford at Washington
Sure Stanford has slipped some in 2014, but didn't I tell you they would? Washington is trying to put on their big boy pants at 4-0, and show Stanford that they are the runner up to Oregon in the North, but Stanford is still good enough defensively to ruin the Huskies' day.
I Pick: Stanford

Cincinnati at Ohio State
The Bearcats are riding high after two wins, but struggled against lowly Miami (Ohio), a traditional rival of theirs. The Buckeyes need to show who owns the state, but Cincinnati won't lay down just because. If Ohio State plays less than their best, as they did against Virginia Tech, the Bearcats could lay an upset trap.
My Pick: Ohio State

Missouri at South Carolina
The Tigers and Gamecocks took it down to the wire in Columbia in 2013, and it should be another fight to the end. The Gamecocks are coming in emotional after their win against Georgia, while Missouri is reeling after losing to Indiana. Who knows who will show up Saturday night in Columbia, South Carolina?
My Pick: South Carolina

Duke at Miami
The Blue Devils were my surprise pick in the ACC for a ten win season. Miami is reeling, and the mob is outside with torches and pitchforks demanding Al Golden's firing after the loss at Nebraska dropped Miami to 2-2. Duke has something to prove, and Miami is playing scared. This is a must win game for Miami, but will they get it?
My Pick: Duke

Memphis at Ole Miss
who would've thought that this would be one to watch. The Tigers are a vastly improved football team, and the Rebels are one of the ten best football teams in the country right now. That being said, there is always a trip up game for the Rebels waiting, and this could be it.
My Pick: Ole Miss

Washington State at Utah
Utah is 3-0 after beating Michigan in Ann Arbor, but how strong are the Utes really? Based on early readings of my new QWPI (Quality Win Performance Index), Utah is ranked 15th in the nation. Washington State gave Oregon all they could handle late Saturday night, but do they have enough in the tank to take the Utes down?
My Pick: Utah

Oregon State at USC
Oregon State is playing good football right now, and USC, well, isn't. The Trojans were embarrassed by Boston College on the road, and Oregon State has a history of causing problems for the Trojans. OSU is traveling, and USC is good and pissed. Should be a fun night.
My Pick: Oregon State (Upset Alert!)

Ten Picks Against the Spread

UCLA -3 Arizona State
Fresno State -3 New Mexico
Boston College -2.5 Colorado State
TCU -27.5 SMU
Notre Dame -13 Syracuse
Stanford -4.5 Washington
Duke +5.5 Miami
NC State +27.5 Florida State
UL-Monroe 5.5 Troy
Nevada -1 San Jose State

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