Don't Bet On It!: National Games of Interest (Week 4)

De'Anthony Thomas is smiling because he scores every 2-3 times he touches the ball. No, really.

Mark Richt has lost control of my national picks. Last week, I went 0-7. Yep. I did not pick a single game correctly. That brings my national ledger to an embarrassing 5-16. There's a reason we call this feature Don't Bet On It! Fortunately, there are a lot of great games this weekend, so let's see if we can't finally turn things around.

BYU (+7.5) at No. 24 Boise State
Last Week: The Cougars (2-1) lost the Holy War 24-21 on two missed field goals after staging a 14-0 comeback in the fourth quarter. Broncos' (1-1) RB DJ Harper rushed for 162 yards and 3 TDs in their victory over Miami (Ohio).
The Lean: BYU and Boise State are statistically very similar, but BYU has the edge in every category save rushing yardage. You can't question Boise's coaching staff, and BYU has faced an easier schedule, but I can't see either team taking total control over this game. That's why we're taking BYU and the points; this should be a close one.

Baylor (-7.5) at ULM
Last Week: The Bears (2-0) overcame a sluggish first half against Sam Houston State to win 48-23. The Warhawks (1-1) took Auburn to overtime before falling short by a field goal.
The Lean: ULM has beaten one horrible team (Arkansas) and lost to another (Auburn), and in the process they've made national news. The Bears are a much better team than anything the Warhawks have seen, and they won't overlook the Sun Belt's would-be giant killer.

No. 10 Clemson at No. 4 Florida State (-14)
Last Week: The Tigers (3-0) demolished the Furman Paladins 41-7. The 'Noles scored 52 points in a shut-out of Wake Forest.
The Lean: Neither of these teams have played anyone, but Florida State's defense has been absolutely lights-out, while Clemson actually let its patsies score from time to time. Since both teams have explosive offenses, you have to go with the team whose defense is arguably one of the best in the country. The 'Noles are going to cover.

Maryland at No. 8 West Virginia (-27.5)
Last Week: Like the Cougars, the Terrapins (2-1) fell short despite a furious fourth quarter rally... but they lost to Connecticut rather than Utah. Geno Smith threw for 5 TDs (with just 5 incompletions) in the Mountaineers' (2-0) easy victory over James Madison.
The Lean: Maryland is 99th nationally in points scored and 39th nationally in points allowed going up against the likes of William & Mary, Temple, and UConn. WVU has averaged 55 points per game against similar competition. I'm taking the 'Eers in a boat race.

No. 22 Arizona (+24) at No. 3 Oregon
Last Week: The Wildcats (3-0) rolled up 43 first downs and 689 yards of total offense in a shut-out of South Carolina State. RB De'Anthony Thomas and QB Marcus Mariota accounted for 370 yards and 5 TDs before hitting the bench in the Ducks' (3-0) win-for-hire over Tennessee Tech.
The Lean: Arizona and Oregon are averaging 46 and 54 points per game, respectively, so the easy best here is the over (77.5). While I think the Ducks are the better team and will pull out the win, Arizona should have the fire power to keep up. Let's take the Wildcats and the points.

Oregon State (+10) at No. 19 UCLA
Last Week: The Beavers (1-0) took a week off to savor their upset victory over Wisconsin. The Bruins' (3-0) Johnathan Franklin rushed for 110 yards and caught 4 passed for another 58 in a 37-6 win over Houston.
The Lean: Oregon State's sole accomplishment is beating a Wisconsin team, which, as it turns out, is not particularly good at football. However, they managed to shut down All-American RB Montee Ball. Come to think of it, that's actually more than UCLA has really done, so I guess we're going with Oregon State and the points.

Cal at No. 13 USC (-15.5)
Last Week: The Bears (1-2) beat Ohio State in every statistical category other than points scored. Former Heisman front-runner Matt Barkley threw 2 picks and no TDs in the Trojans' (2-1) fourth consecutive loss against Stanford.
The Lean: Cal's pass defense is absolutely atrocious -- ranking 87th nationally despite playing Nevada and Southern Utah -- and USC will be looking to work out some aggression on the field.

Miami at Georgia Tech (-14)
Last Week: The 'Canes (2-1) found a weapon in Duke Johnson, who scored rushing, return, and receiving TDs in a win over Bethune-Cook. Little Brother (2-1) fell 6 yards shy of an even 600 yards of total offense in a rout of Virginia.
The Lean: Miami isn't very good, and they've looked pretty sloppy. That spells trouble against a Georgia Tech option attack that preys on missed assignments. The Jackets will easily roll, unlike their rambling wreck.

No. 18 Michigan at No. 11 Notre Dame (-6.5)
Last Week: The Wolverines' (2-1) star signal-caller scored 4 TDs in a win over Massachusettes. The Irish (3-0) stunned Michigan State (and pretty much everyone who has watched football over the last decade) in a dominant 20-3 victory.
The Lean: The Irish already beat the best team in the state of Michigan, so why wouldn't they beat the second? They proved that they can stop the run against Navy, they shut down Purdue's and Michigan State's aerial attacks, and they should have a field day against Michigan's lackluster defense. Notre Dame seems like a bargain at only 6.5.

No. 15 Kansas State at No. 6 Oklahoma (-14)
Last Week: K. State (3-0) scored 14 fourth quarter points to survive a bit of a scare against a surprisingly game North Texas team. The Sooners (2-0) took a week off before starting their Big XII schedule.
The Lean: The Sooners crushed the Thundercats on the road last year, and there's really no reason to think that they won't do the same in Norman this year. Either way, it should be a fun game.

Go Dawgs!

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