I hope none of you went out and bet based on my picks from last week. While I did manage to go 3-1 in picking games correctly, I was 0-4 ATS (against the spread). Oh well, another week, another chance to get things right. This week’s games are Georgia vs. South Carolina, Arkansas vs. Texas Tech, UCLA vs. Texas, and Tennessee vs. Oklahoma.
Georgia vs. South Carolina
Steve Spurrier has his wish of playing Georgia early in the season again, but this time the Dawgs don’t seem to have any major players suspended as usual. Of course, that’s partially because they dismissed so many players in the offseason that there can’t be that many troublemakers left right? Just kidding, I’m not naïve, but for now Georgia is healthy and unsuspended. This could spell trouble for the Gamecocks who had significant trouble defending Texas A&M, before beating ECU last weekend.
There has been a lot of hype surrounding the Georgia running backs, particularly since the Clemson game. However, that’s not the key matchup in this one. That will be the Georgia secondary against the South Carolina passing game. Even in the loss to the Aggies, South Carolina managed to keep the scoreboard closer than it should have been by making a few big plays downfield in the passing game. The Georgia secondary was decimated by unexpected attrition in the offseason, and it showed some in the first half of the Clemson game. Dylan Thompson will look to find his playmakers like Nick Jones, Damiere Byrd, and Shaq Roland downfield early and often in this one. If the UGA secondary has trouble with them it will slow down the pass rush, and open running lanes for the Cocks’ bruising back Mike Davis.
Prediction: Georgia-31 South Carolina-28
Arkansas vs. Texas Tech
Two teams with extremely opposing philosophies and images. Arkansas brought in Bret Bielema from Wisconsin last season to give the Razorbacks a more hard-nosed approach. Bielema might also double as the mascot, because he looks strikingly similar to the Arkansas logo. There is nothing remotely “hard-nosed” about Texas Tech or their coach, Kliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury is charismatic and handsome; some have gone so far as to call him the Ryan Gosling of college football. This game pits a high-flying, spread ‘em out, and throw it around the lot Red Raider offense vs. an Arkansas team that’s content to run 10 plays a quarter and try to win 7-0. Texas Tech is better at what they do, however, and because of this they will win the game.
The key matchup here is between the two coaches. Bielema the drill sergeant vs. Kliff Kingsbury the future Oscar winner.
Prediction: Texas Tech-34 Arkansas-24
UCLA vs. Texas
Three weeks ago this looked like a much more significant matchup. UCLA was a media darling Pac-12 favorite, and Texas was a bounce back, dark horse Big-12 contender. Fast-forward to the present, and UCLA has two wins by a combined 15 over teams who combined to go 5-19 last season. Yikes! Likewise, Texas is one week removed from getting beat like a drum by BYU for a second straight year.
Brett Hundley may be the Heisman contender for the Bruins, but their key to victory in this one lies in the defensive front seven. They have plenty of talent with defensive linemen like Eddie Vanderdoes and Owamagbe Odighizuwa, and linebackers like Eric Kendricks and Myles Jack. On the other side, Texas has lost its preseason starting quarterback David Ash for the year (and unfortunately probably for his career). Tyrone Swoopes is young and talented, but looked very shaky against BYU. If the Bruins can pressure him, then he will have a long evening. However, if they let him get into a rhythm, then he can make things interesting.
Prediction: UCLA-28 Texas-17
Tennessee vs. Oklahoma
Tennessee created some hype for themselves with their blowout win over Utah State, who some considered Mountain West favorites. However, the Vols seem to be overmatched in this one. Oklahoma has looked all Worlds, albeit against significantly inferior competition, so far in 2014, and Bob Stoops will almost certainly be looking for some fuel to add to his “SEC is overrated” fire.
Oklahoma is going to score. It isn’t a question. It’s a statement. So the key is going to be whether or not Tennessee can keep up. Justin Worley is an experienced QB and Marquez North and Pig Howard are a talented group of wideouts. The only way to stay in the game is for big numbers in the passing game. If Oklahoma can put the clamps on them, then it’s going to be Boomer Sooner all night, which is admittedly infinitely better than having to sit through three hours of Rocky Top.
Prediction: Oklahoma-41 Tennessee-14