JACKSON’S PICK: West Virginia 38-21. I’ll take an L.
Colorado 41, Oregon 38
JACKSON’S PICK: Oregon 42-38. An Oregon INT in the endzone away, but L.
Western Michigan 49, Georgia Southern 31
JACKSON’S PICK: Georgia Southern 31-28. Apparently WMU is solid, L.
Arizona State 51, California 41
JACKSON’S PICK: California 45-27. Nobody played defense, Cal played less offense, L.
Guys, first of all I want to take a second to apologize for my lowly performance last week. 0-4 is quite terrible. I expect more out of myself, and frankly, you all deserve more. This week I vow to turn it all around and get back on the winning side of things. My current overall record is 2-6 and this week will get us back on track.
Notre Dame (1-3) vs. Syracuse (2-2), 11:00 AM CDT ESPN
When this season began, Notre Dame fans thought the Irish had just as good a shot at a national title than anybody. Those expectations have quickly dried up and now the Irish are just looking to salvage this campaign before it gets much worse. It’s not often I’ll be writing about a matchup of what seems to be two below average teams, but with Notre Dame being, well, Notre Dame, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about Brian Kelly and his disappointing Irish squad.
One could argue that Notre Dame has played some very challenging opponents. The Irish lost on the road to Texas in Week One in a slug-fest between what looked to be two college football giants. Since then, Texas lost on the road to Cal and has fallen from that category. Furthermore, Notre Dame lost by 8 to then 12th ranked Michigan State in again what seemed like a very formidable foe, until Sparty was eviscerated by Wisconsin at home. To follow those two losses up, Notre Dame spent last week in a tightly contested battle with Duke. To make matters worse, Duke walked out with a win. Quarterback DeShone Kizer has done his share for the Irish, throwing for over 1000 yards and 11 scores. The problem lies within the Notre Dame defense. The only team they have slowed down thus far is Nevada (the lone win for ND), and all other opponents have scored 36 or more on the Irish. Thankfully for them, this week may be a little easier facing the weak defense of the Orange.
Syracuse comes in at 2-2 with wins over Colgate and UConn, and blowout losses to South Florida and Louisville. The Orange have shown serious offensive struggles when facing above average defenses. The problem is that Syracuse can move the ball, but they cannot seem to finish off drives at the same rate as their opponents. It looks like there is a bright future ahead with the main playmakers for Syracuse being sophomores in quarterback Eric Dungey and running back Dontae Stricklan. There have been growing pains so far, however, and I am a firm believer in the development of players. If a player gets reps at a young age, whether successful or unsuccessful, the lessons those players learn will be applied later down the road. I look for Syracuse to build and get better later on but I’m not sure they will have what it takes to hang with Notre Dame in this one.
JACKSON’S PICK: NOTRE DAME 31-17
Arizona (2-2) @ UCLA (2-2), 9:30 CDT ESPN
This matchup is very intriguing to me because after four weeks, I’m not so sure what to think about these two teams. Arizona has lost two heart breakers to BYU and 9th ranked Washington. For UCLA, they have also lost two tough ones, falling by 7 at Texas A&M and by a close 9 (thanks to a bad beat TD on the final play) to Stanford. I’ve seen flashes of good from both squads, as well as an equal amount of bad. What stands out to me here is how Arizona had to come from behind to beat Grambling, as well as UCLA choking up a 4 point lead against Stanford in what I think should have been a win for the Bruins, but their defense failed them late.
Arizona has been dealing with an injury to starting quarterback Anu Solomon, and things don’t look good for him this week. Brandon Dawkins has done a good job of filling in for Solomon to the best of his ability, and Arizona has done a lot to take the pressure off of Dawkins’ shoulders with an impressive rushing attack. J.J Taylor and Nick Wilson have both rushed for over 250 yards and combined for 5 touchdowns. However, Dawkins contributes to the ground game as well. The sophomore has rushed for just under 400 yards and 7 touchdowns. Arizona looks to be a very run heavy team, but that isn’t for lack of talent in the passing game. Dawkins is a very capable passer, and has a plethora of capable receivers at his disposal.
UCLA came into this season with high hopes and aspirations, but those aspirations seem to have quickly gone away with two losses in games where the Bruins had every chance to win. After last week, UCLA may come out and play angry against the Wildcats. Quarterback Josh Rosen hasn’t quite lived up to his expectations this season throwing for 5 touchdowns but 4 interceptions as well. This week, I expect it to be Rosen’s coming out party where he just goes off. Arizona has had some question marks surrounding it this season, and UCLA has the talent to really expose those weaknesses. The Bruins have six receivers with over 100 yards, and two talented running backs in Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi. The two have a combined 332 rushing yards and five scores. I look for UCLA to get back into the win column this week.
JACKSON’S PICK: UCLA 38-24
Missouri (2-2) @ LSU (2-2), 6:30 PM CDT SECN
This game is intriguing to me more for the off the field storyline surrounding it, rather than the game itself. If you have been living under a rock and don’t know this, LSU fired head coach Les Miles on Sunday and named Ed Orgeron their interim head coach. Where this really gets interesting is when you look at Les Miles’ performance at LSU.
Les went 114-34 while at the head of the program. Along with this came 2 BCS Championship appearances, and a national title. Miles won 77% of his games at LSU. In most places, that’s enough to get you enshrined. If David Beaty comes into KU and wins 77% of his games, that man will never leave. But at LSU, that will get you fired, and I don’t understand why. I’m not sure where LSU thinks they are going, and who they think they will hire, but I can guarantee you that 3-4 years down the road LSU will wish they still had Les Miles.
Now, onto the football side of things. This analysis may be a little bit brief, but I promise I will make my point, and you will understand why. Missouri is bad at football. The two average teams Missouri has played (West Virginia and Georgia), they lost to. Mizzou has hung up some crooked numbers but their opponents in those games were Eastern Michigan and Delaware State. I think that in Baton Rouge at night, this one could get rough for our “friends” out east.
LSU might come out a little bit slow in the first quarter while adjusting to a new coach, but the way I see it, the LSU Tigers will have just way too much talent for the Missouri Tigers. I look for Leonard Fournette to have his biggest game yet, and I think LSU will slowly pull away and turn this one into a blowout by the third quarter.
JACKSON’S PICK: LSU 38-17
Kansas State (2-1) @ West Virginia (3-0), 2:30 PM CDT ESPNU
This game is one of the more interesting matchups in the Big 12 this week. From what I have seen, West Virginia has been incredibly underwhelming. The Mountaineers had a chance to really pull away from BYU last week but let the Cougars get back in it, and needed two late interceptions to seal their victory.
But for Kansas State, their lone loss is to the only truly talented team they’ve faced so far, and that was on the road at Stanford. The two wins for the Wildcats have come against Florida Atlantic and Missouri State, and they won them convincingly, though I’m still not totally sure what I see when I look at Kansas State.
West Virginia moves the ball well, there’s no denying that, as Rushel Shell, Justin Crawford, and quarterback Skyler Howard have all shown the ability to run the ball, combining for over 530 yards and four scores. On the passing side, Shelton Gibson has proven to be Howard’s favorite target, hitting him 16 times for 354 yards and two touchdowns. Where the questions really start to pop up for me are with Skyler Howard and his decision making. He has thrown for 974 yards and 6 touchdowns, but he has also thrown three interceptions, and I think he may get himself into some trouble against a very talented Kansas State secondary.
Kansas State had serious questions surrounding them offensively heading into this season, and facing Stanford on the road in week one didn’t do much to help their confidence. But after the last two weeks, quarterback Jesse Ertz and the Wildcats are looking very confident. Where I look for Kansas State to really make a statement this week is through the defense. The Wildcats are lead by junior linebacker Elijah Lee who has 19 tackles thus far in 2016. In the secondary, Dante Barnett and Duke Shelley will look to slow down Howard’s passing game. Kansas State has allowed just 11 points per game in their first three contests, and West Virginia could prove to be one of their toughest tests yet, and that’s saying something considering the Cats took on Christian McCaffrey in Week One. However, an important stat to realize in this one, is that Kansas State is undefeated against West Virginia since they became members of the Big 12 conference. I look for Bill Snyder to have his men ready to go in this one to continue their streak against the Mountaineers.