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College Football Week Three Picks

Chris Conley
6 Georgia vs. 24 South Carolina
While Florida, Missouri and even Tennessee have all looked good, this matchup is widely considered as the game that will decide the SEC East. The Gamecocks, whose Playoff hopes took a serious hit after losing to Texas A&M (and then barely escaping East Carolina) will need a healthy Mike Davis, who has had issues with ribs prior. The versatile runner can hurt defenses in so many ways and will keep the Georgia defense guessing. While Steve Spurrier will also be leaning on a big day from inconsistent senior Dylan Thompson, the biggest concern for the South Carolina is their pass defense, which has been embarrassed by the Aggies' Kenny Hill and East Carolina's Shane Carden. The secondary has been so prone to big plays but they need some help from the pass rush. The pass rush has been so weak, quarterbacks are having enough time to make those big plays happen. Even if the Gamecocks can contain Hutson Mason and the vast amount of weapons the Bulldogs pose in the air attack, they will have their hands full dealing with Todd Gurley. The junior made a serious Heisman statement back in Week One, running for nearly 200 yards and recording 4 total touchdowns against a strong Clemson defense. Add to that true freshman Nick Chubb, who also looked really good against Clemson, and South Carolina's defense will have all sorts of troubles. Although it struggled in the first half against Clemson, Georgia's defense figured it out and looked shutdown against the Tigers in the second half. Dangerous linebacker Leonard Floyd will be very disruptive off the edge while the Bulldogs will rely on senior leader Ramik Wilson in run support. Even if Davis has a huge game for South Carolina, the Gamecocks will have quite the challenge, even at home. Until their defense proves it can stop someone consistently, I'm going to pick Georgia in this one all day long.
Georgia, 37 South Carolina, 24

12 UCLA vs. Texas
These two teams enter this meeting with one thing on their mind; getting a big win that could turn their seasons around. While UCLA hasn't lost, they have been far from impressive in close victories over both Memphis and Virginia. Meanwhile, the Longhorns were absolutely embarrassed by Taysom Hill and the BYU Cougars, and there is certainly a lot of room for improvement, especially on defense. To nobody's surprise, David Ash is once more injured for Texas, out indefinitely. That means Charlie Strong will count on raw sophomore Tyrone Swoopes once more, after a decent outing in his first ever collegiate start against BYU. While Swoopes leaves something to be desired as a passer, the sophomore is a proven dual threat, who will give the UCLA defense some problems. Along with Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown, Swoopes will form a pretty dangerous ground attack. Unfortunately, that will leave the offense one-dimensional and UCLA does have a defense that is stout against the run. Jim Mora and the Bruins will rely on senior tackling machine Erik Kendricks and sophomore Myles Jack to stop the Longhorns' ground attack. Offensively, UCLA has been inconsistent and downright weak. The offensive line has been a major issue; Brett Hundley has down a good job dealing with the pressure but the O-Line has to step up. Texas defensive end Cedric Reed will be ready to go and if nobody on the Bruins' O-Line can stop him, he could take over. Another thing that the Bruins need to improve is their running game, which has been average at best. Paul Perkins has been the feature back for UCLA but he hasn't necessarily locked down the job. Hundley is a great runner and he will continue to pick up the slack though; it is possible Jack could see snaps at tailback after seeing a decent amount last year, if the offense struggles. Obviously Texas isn't the powerhouse they once more, but a win here could really give UCLA some momentum before they dive into Pac-12 play. Unless the offensive line falls apart and the defense can make any stops, UCLA should win, relatively comfortably.
UCLA, 27 Texas, 17

4 Oklahoma vs. Tennessee
Perhaps one of the biggest things that could hold Oklahoma back from a Playoff appearance this year could be a weak non-conference slate. Although they were dominant, wins over Louisiana Tech and Tulsa won't exactly make voters too happy. That is why getting an impressive win over Tennessee would be great here. While Tennessee still has a long way to go, there is no denying the amount of talent on this roster, and how much it has grown since Butch Jones took over. Tennessee has gotten two quality wins over two pretty strong teams in Utah State and Arkansas State but neither present the offensive firepower the Sooners do. Led by improving Trevor Knight, Oklahoma will certainly put up some big offensive numbers. Running back Keith Ford is a powerful runner who is so tough to bring down, while receiver Sterling Shepard is among the best in the Big 12, a receiver's league. Knight has been very good this season, making plays with his arm along as with his improving feet but he will still make mistakes, like any young quarterback. Tennessee needs to capitalize on those mistakes because if they don't Oklahoma will get ahead early and never look back. Linebacker A.J. Johnson is Tennessee's star and he will be counted on to stop the Oklahoma offense. Johnson is a superb tackler who is also gifted with incredible instincts. If he makes some big plays and someone in the secondary steps up big time, the Vols have a chance to tame the Sooners. On offense, Tennessee will lean of Justin Worley at quarterback, another player who is still growing. Worley is not a game-changing QB but he is an efficient one who won't turn the ball over too much. The ground attack features speedy athlete Jalen Hurd along with a more punishing runner in Marlin Lane. Mix that in with two big play threats in Marquez North and Von Pearson and the Vols can score in bunches, although the line does still have some weak patches. It will be interesting to see what this game turns out to be; it could turn into a shootout, or each team's defensive speed could spell serious issues for the other's offenses. Either way, Oklahoma could be on upset alert, even at home, though they should be able to survive.
Oklahoma, 30 Tennessee, 21

Other Picks
17 Virginia Tech, 27 East Carolina, 13
2 Oregon, 59 Wyoming, 20
Iowa, 34 Iowa State, 17
11 Notre Dame, 42 Purdue, 18
15 Stanford, 35 Army, 21
Current Picks Record: 11-5

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