A LOOK BACK AT WEEK 9
I want to start this week by talking about the officiating debacle on Saturday in Durham, North Carolina. Duke had a 27-24 lead over Miami with six seconds left, when the unthinkable took place. The Hurricanes returned the ensuing kick off 91 yards for the game winning score. I have watched the play numerous times and still cannot fathom how this ACC officiating crew could uphold the call. There were a total of eight laterals on the play. At one point a Miami player was clearly down, while pitching the ball. There was also two clearcut clipping penalties on the play! It took the ACC crew nine minutes to make a final decision on a play that should have been overturned! ACC commissioner John Swofford, released a statement Sunday listing four errors the suspended crew made. Swofford has suspended the officiating crew two games.
BIG 10, AMERICAN ATHLETIC, CONTINUE TO IMPRESS
In the Big 10, Michigan State and Iowa remained unbeaten, joining the Ohio State Buckeyes at 8-0. The Spartans struggled early against Indiana leading only 21-20 at the half. A 24 point fourth quarter explosion, put the game on ice. Iowa used an 88 yard interception return by Desmond King, to seal the win over Maryland 31-15. The Buckeyes had a bye week, but were still in the news, when quarterback J.T. Barrett, was suspended for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
Memphis and Houston each won again moving to 8-0. The Cougars played their best game of the season, shutting out Vanderbilt 34-0. “Unbelievably impressed,” Houston coach Tom Herman said of the defense. “Four turnovers and a shutout. There’s a lot to be impressed with. That’s a pretty good day at the office.” The Tigers struggled early at home, before pulling away late in a victory over Tulane . The win moved the Tigers to No. 13 in the initial CFP selection committee rankings. I was also impressed with a valiant effort by Temple in their loss to Notre Dame 24-20. It was the first loss of the season for the Owls, who fell to 7-1.
TOP GAMES THIS WEEK
No. 8 TCU (8-0) AT No. 14 OKLAHOMA STATE (8-0) The Cowboys got down early last week at Texas Tech, only to roar back and claim a 70-53 win. It was the third time this season the Cowboys had to battle back from a halftime deficit. Head coach Mike Gundy has played the hot hand at quarterback, using both Mason Rudolph and J. W. Walsh. Oklahoma State has scored 128 points in its last two games, piling up 1,245 total yards — including a whopping 859 through the air! The Horned Frogs have gotten better each week on defense, as they get more injured players back, on that side of the ball. There is no stopping the dynamic duo of Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson. The tandem could go down as one of the best in college football history. I feel like the Cowboys have gotten to 8-0 using a “smoke and mirrors”, approach. TCU is the better team and will prove that this Saturday. COWBOYS GET THE HORN, 55-44.
No. 6 BAYLOR (7-0) AT KANSAS STATE (3-4) The bye week may have come at the perfect time for the Baylor Bears. It was learned after the win over Iowa State that quarterback Seth Russell had a broken bone in his neck. Russell, the FBS’ top-rated passer, is expected to make a full recovery, however he is out for the season. This opens the door for freshman Jarrett Stidham to take way for the #6 ranked Bears. Stidham is a dual-threat quarterback who is loaded with high-end potential. He has appeared only in a mop up role so far this season. A loss by the Wildcats will drop them to 0-5 in the Big 12 for the first time since finishing 0-7 in the Big Eight in 1989. Bill Snyder will certainly have his team revved up for the prime time Thursday night affair in Manhattan. The Bears just have to many weapons! BEARS IMPROVE TO 8-0 IN STIDHAM’S DEBUT, 54-30.
No. 16 FLORIDA STATE (7-1) AT No.1 CLEMSON (8-0) The Tigers (8-0, 5-0 ACC), voted No. 1 in this week’s initial College Football Playoff rankings, can lock up a spot in the league’s title game Saturday with a win over Florida State. The Seminoles are in a must-win situation if they hope to remain in the hunt for a national championship. Injuries to multiple starters on both sides of the ball could hinder a solid effort here. Several key Seminoles might be game time decisions. The hope is that quarterback Everett Golson will pass his concussion protocol and that running back Dalvin Cook will be ready to go as well as he recovers from an ankle injury. The Tigers have an eleven game winning streak on the line, but have lost three straight to the Seminoles. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been solid completing 70% of his passes, good for 20 touchdowns. He will be the difference in this game. HOME COOKING SENDS CHEIF OSCEOLA HOME WITH A LOSS, TIGERS 27-23.
DUKE (6-2) AT No.21 NORTH CAROLINA (7-1) Duke’s loss to Miami on Saturday knocked them out of the top 25. However, the path to first place in the Coastal Division is exactly the same as it was a week ago. To get there, they must win their next two games, starting Saturday against their top rival. Last year, the Tar Heels kept Duke from a second straight ACC championship game with a 45-20 victory. It’s customary for the winning team in the rivalry to spray-paint the Victory Bell in its specific shade of blue when the traveling trophy changes hands, but the celebration irked the Blue Devils because the carpet and inside and outside walls of the visitors’ locker room at Wallace Wade Stadium were damaged by paint. The Heels are 7-0 since a season opening, head scratching loss to South Carolina. Defense has been the key in the last three victories for the Heels. They have allowed only 46 points in those contests behind new defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. It’s homecoming in Chapel Hill and the Heels have won 22 out of the last 25 meetings in this series. That’s enough to convince me! BLUE DEVILS TARRED AND FEATHERED BY CAROLINA, 38-21.
No. 9 IOWA (8-0) AT INDIANA (4-4) The Hawkeyes travel to Indiana Saturday and have an opportunity to match their best start in school history. Iowa’s run-first strategy, with nearly twice as many run plays called as passes in Big Ten play is hardly a surprise. This is the first time in nearly four years that the Hawkeyes have a bevy of running backs. The Hoosiers can’t stop the run, ranking 12th in the Big 10, allowing 166 rushing yards per game. That being said, I still think the Hoosiers have a great shot in this game. The Hoosiers can score! They have had a week off to prepare for this game and nearly beat Ohio State here five weeks ago. I really believe this game goes to the wire. I’ll side with the Hawkeyes, as they seem to have lady luck on their side. LATE FIELD GOAL LIFTS HAWKEYES, 34-31.
No.2 LSU (7-0) AT No.4 ALABAMA (7-1) This is by far the biggest game this weekend. It will also have potentially the most impact when it come to the playoff committee. The “Ole Miss”, factor will go along way in deciding the SEC West. The Rebels control their own destiny if they win out, as they still have yet to play LSU. An Alabama loss would should eliminate them form a playoff spot. A win by the Tide will throw this division into total chaos. When looking at this game, I will focus on three factors. First, who has the edge at quarterback? I’ll take Brandon Harris over Jake Coker, advantage Tigers. Second, who has the edge at running back? I’ll take Leonard Fournette over Derrick Henry, advantage Tigers. Thirdly, who has the better defense? I’ll call that a toss-up. TIGERS ROLL TIDE 23-20.
PICK SIX—-SIX GAMES, SIX WORDS, SIX PICKS
PENN STATE AT NORTHWESTERN——Evenly matched game, offense is key, HACKENBERGERS 27-24.
STANFORD AT COLORADO—–I’ll be there; Mccaffrey too much, CARDS 41-30.
NAVY AT MEMPHIS——First meeting ever, goes to overtime, TIGERS WIN THRILLER 45-42.
CALIFORNIA AT OREGON——Two teams trending in opposite directions. QUACK ATTACK 55-45.
CINCINATTI AT HOUSTON——Cougars sway valiant effort by Bearcats. COUGARS 45-42.
ARMY AT AIR FORCE——Falcons won nine of last ten. THE STREAK CONTINUES 33-20.
SEASON RESULTS TO DATE
KEY GAMES 30-15
PICK SIX 35-18
UPSET EXPRESS STRAIGHT 5-4 SPREAD 6-3