Alabama's big one should be a nail-biter 

September, 23, 2010

I had a mediocre Week 3, going .500 against the line, keeping me at a robust four games under .500 for the young season. The good: picking the UCLA Bruins to knock off the Houston Cougars. The bad: picking the USC Trojans to, um, not go for -- and miss -- all those two-point conversions and really beat the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The ugly: picking the Texas Tech Red Raiders to upset the Texas Longhorns at home.

A couple of housekeeping notes here: First, all game times listed below are ET. Secondly, in this blog every Thursday I only pick Thursday and Friday night televised games, then Saturday games involving teams ranked in the Top 25. Usually, I will jump in the comments on the blog and pick other games of interest to different fans who ask. If I had to pick every FBS game, this entry could get a bit long.

Here are this week's guesses:

Thursday and Friday games

Miami (FL) Hurricanes at Pittsburgh Panthers
7:30 p.m., Thursday (ESPN)

It seems like the Canes have had a month off since their turnover-filled loss at Ohio State. In the interim, Randy Shannon has reportedly chewed out his team, something that apparently hasn't happened too often in his time there. My hunch is that the Canes' passing game will bounce back well against a Pitt team missing its best defender, DE Greg Romeus. Jacory Harris' ability to work downfield is a great barometer for UM. In wins, he's at over 52 percent on passes at least 15 yards downfield or longer. In losses, he's at under 34 percent on that distance. I don't think Pitt can get him out of his comfort zone to disrupt him. Miami 35-21.

TCU Horned Frogs at Southern Methodist Mustangs
8:00 p.m., Friday (ESPN)

The Horned Frogs dominated a Baylor team that has quite a bit of speed, while TCU QB Andy Dalton was nearly perfect. I don't see the Mustangs' D having enough athletes to slow down the TCU offense. I do think QB Kyle Padron can be effective but am not sold on the idea that rugged RB Zach Line can do much damage. TCU 37-20.

Saturday games

Austin Peay Governors at Wisconsin Badgers
12:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

The Badgers are coming off a big scare against ASU. I think they'll pound Peay, which just gave up over 650 yards to Middle Tennessee. Wisconsin 54-13.