JACKSON’S PICK: KANSAS 27-24… Not quite Jayhawks… L
Tennesee 49, Kentucky 36
JACKSON’S PICK: KENTUCKY 27-21… Looks like Tennessee still has life… L
Troy 28, Appalachian State 24
JACKSON’S PICK: TROY 28-24… Games like this make me feel like I know what I’m doing… W
LSU 38, Arkansas 10
JACKSON’S PICK: LSU 31-17… I had LSU by 2 TDs, not 4, but I’ll take the W.
Overall through 7 total weeks of picks… 13-15. Hanging on the brink of .500, we’ll get there.
Kansas State (5-4) @ Baylor (6-3), 11:00AM CDT ESPN2
Okay, let’s start this off by just putting it out there. No one likes Baylor right now. If you do like Baylor, you’ve got problems. Everything surrounding their football program and university is sickening. The way they handled this sexual assault cases was, and is, atrocious. Baylor needs to clean house. Instead, they just replaced the head man, and not the infrastructure he built to think just like he did, and to make it worse, the university had a blackout game boasting “#CAB” shirts for Coach Art Briles, trying to bring him back. It’s absolutely disgusting. Okay, rant over, let’s talk football.
Seth Russell is done for the year due to a broken leg. The poor kid has been through a lot. He had to sit out the end of Baylor’s undefeated run due to a neck injury, then play through the worst scandal many of us have ever seen, and get pelted with harsh words like mine towards the team as a whole, for something that he wasn’t even a part of. Now, in his senior year, he’s done due to the broken leg. Life’s rough, and I’m sorry to see a kid’s season end like that. Russell’s replacement is freshman Zach Smith, who was 6/15 for 144 yards and a score when he replaced Russell against Oklahoma. Starting a freshman with a lot of inexperience is going to be a tough transition for any team, but Baylor has a ground game that combines Shock Linwood and Terence Williams, and the duo will put up great numbers. They’ve combined for 1300 yards and 10 scores, and I think if Baylor will win this game, they have to perform to the best of their abilities against a stout Kansas State defense.
Kansas State got a bye this past week after giving up a 9 point 4th quarter lead at home against Oklahoma State. The Wildcats led for a majority of the game, and it was their game to lose. Unfortunately for Bill Snyder’s men, that’s exactly what they did. Now, with an extra week to prepare for the Bears on the road, I look for the Cats to get some revenge on a struggling Baylor team. Quarterback Jesse Ertz not only is capable of pasing the ball efficiently, but he’s also K-State’s leading rusher. Ertz has tallied nearly 1800 yards combined, and 16 touchdowns this season. Kansas State is just a win away from bowl elligibility with 3 games to go against BU, Kansas, and TCU. With that KU game on the schedule, it’s not a matter of if for a bowl, but when and where. I look for Ertz and a plethora of Wildcat rushers to combine for a big day in Waco against a Baylor defense that gives up over 270 yards on the ground a game. Guys like Charles Jones and Justin Silmon, in my mind, will play a big role in K-State walking out of Waco with a win.
Northwestern travels in to Minneapolis searching for their 6th win on the season to get them into a bowl. Minnesota is sitting pretty with 7 dubs already this season, trying to get themselves into a bowl game of greater quality. The Gophers have won 4 of their last 5 but those four wins didn’t come against the toughest Big Ten teams (Maryland, Rutgers, Illinois and Purdue). The one loss in that stretch came against Nebraska, the only team worth a darn on their schedule in the last month. Northwestern has played several tough teams lately, but will they have enough on the road?
Of the 7 wins Minnesota has tallied so far this year, I would argue that 5 or 6 of them came against teams that are “sub par”. Colorado State is a fringe decent team, and Maryland with their 5 wins may just find their way into a bowl. Outside of that, the Golden Gophers haven’t exactly played a juggernaut loaded schedule. All three of their losses are to quality opponents by close scores, but Minnesota hasn’t yet shown the ability to get a big win against a good team. This may be their best chance to do so. Big time running back Rodney Smith has crossed the 1000 yard barrier. He has also tasted the sweet nectar of the end zone 14 times this year. His ability to run the ball has been a huge part of what Minnesota does offensively, but against a strong Northwestern run defense, Minnesota may be forced to air it out more than they are comfortable with, given the turnover struggles of quarterback Mitch Leidner, who has 7 INTs.
Northwestern started the year 0-2 with losses by a total of 3 points to Western Michigan (who has turned out to be one of the final undefeated teams in FBS play), and FCS Illinois State. Since then, the Wildcats have gone 5-3 with a nailbiting loss on the road to Ohio State, one of the nation’s premiere teams. Northwestern will look to stifle the strong ground game of Minnesota, and counter with the dynamic duo of quarterback Clayton Thorson and wide receiver Austin Carr, who have hooked up 75 times for over 1100 yards and 12 TDs. Thorson’s favorite target will find ways to get open, and when he does, watch out. Carr gains over 14 yards per catch. He’s a deep threat that will hurt you all game long if your secondary has problems. It’ll be an interesting matchup with Minnesota, who allows just 177 through the air a game. The Wildcats may just have a little too much offensively for the Gophers in this one though.
JACKSON’S PICK: NORTHWESTERN 27-17
Ole Miss (5-5) @ Vanderbilt (4-6), 7:00PM CDT SECN
This matchup will go a long way in determining the postseason fate of these two teams. Ole Miss has fallen far below expectations this season, and with Chad Kelly’s season ending due to a knee injury, it’s tough to envision much success past 6 wins. However, if there were ever an opportunity for the bowl qualifying win, it’s this one. Vanderbilt needs 2 wins to get a bowl bid, and they have the opportunity to knock off a down Ole Miss squad to do so.
Ole Miss will sorely miss the leadership and performance of Chad Kelly. He provided a spark offenssively and a leadership role that was unparalleled amongst the Rebels. It’s sad to see such a stud of a player have their college career ended by an injury. Ole Miss will have the fate of their season fall on the shoulders of freshman Shea Patterson. The Rebels burned Patterson’s redshirt to have him start at quarterback to finish the season. It’s frustrating to have that happen for any team I’m sure, but you have to do what’s best for the squad in the end. Luckily, Patterson has several tools at his disposal to create offense. Akeem Judd will take pressure away from Patterson, as Judd is on the brink of a 1000 yard year. He’ll look to put together a strong performance against a Vanderbilt defense that allows over 150 yards on the ground a game.
Let’s get one thing straight. If Vanderbilt scores a touchdown in this game, 9/10 times it will be on the ground. The Commodores have scored through the air just 5 times this season. The ground is a different story, as Vandy has punched it in 17 times. Most of these will be by the legs of Khari Blasingame, as he sees most of the red zone carries, and has found pay dirt 8 times this year. Should the offensive line open some big holes, the TDs may flow the way of Ralph Webb. Webb is the primary back who has rushed 188 times for 935 yards and 7 scores. Ole Miss’ defense generally gives up huge numbers through the air, but with the way that Vanderbilt struggles to score while passing, they may become one dimesional in this game, and become easier for Ole Miss to stop.
JACKSON’S PICK: OLE MISS 31-21
Tulsa (7-3) @ UCF (6-4), 7:00PM CDT ESPNN
This game pins two bowl eligible AAC teams up against each other. Tulsa, with a quiet 7 wins already, have put themselves in great position to get a quality bowl game. UCF started the year slowly but has picked things up well, earning 6 wins and also the driver’s seat to get into a solid bowl. This matchup also puts two very capable offenses against each other, but one is just a bit more prolific than the other.
Central Florida puts up 31 points per game behind starting quarterback McKenzie Milton. Milton’s 1350 yards and 9 passing TDs lead the team offensively, but running back Dontravious Wilson is one of the more explosive tools at his disposal. Wilson has tallied 426 yards rushing and found paydirt 8 times, averaging 3.8 yards per carry. He will get plenty of touches in this game. Right behind Wilson is Juwon Hamilton, who has rushed for 415 yards and 3 scores. Four more Knights have over 100 yards on the ground, and Adrian Killins has over 300. The UCF rushing attack will be a big test for Tulsa to stop, as the Golden Hurricane gives up nearly 250 per game on the ground.
Tulsa has one of the most prolific offenses in the NCAA. They average over 42 points and over 500 yards a game. Tulsa has two rushers with over 1000 yards on the year, with two games still left to go. D’Angelo Brewer has rushed for 1054 yards and 5 scores. Those are solid numbers for any number one back but Brewer isn’t even Tulsa’s leading rusher. James Flanders has 1169 yards and an impressive 14 scores this season. The two have combined for 19 of the Tulsa 50 TDs this year. That’s incredibly impressive, but the Tulsa offense isn’t done yet. Quarterback Dane Evans has thrown for 2600 yards and 22 scores this year to 13 different targets. Three of them have tallied over 600 yards of their own. I think the Tulsa offense will have too much for UCF, and they’re my pick in this one.