Breaking news, rankings, predictions and analysis all in one place.

College Football Picks 2017: Week Three

Lamar Jackson, Louisville
College Football Picks 2017: Week Three
Current Record: 11-5

(2-0) 3 Clemson Tigers vs. (2-0) 14 Louisville Cardinals
@ Papa John's Stadium (Louisville), 7:00 PM Saturday on ABC

Last season, Lamar Jackson used a tremendous start to the season to jumpstart his Heisman candidacy before facing Clemson, a game they lost but in which his impressive play really solidified him as the Heisman favorite. This year, he has once more jumped off to a great start, absolutely shredding North Carolina last week, and will try to once more do serious damage against the Tigers but come up with a different result. Jackson has led a very explosive Louisville offense, but one that should be in store for their toughest challenge yet of 2017 going up against Clemson. The Tigers prepare as well as anybody in the country on the defensive side of the ball, and they have the personnel to shut down anybody. They should be creative with how they contain Jackson and while it is tough to completely contain the speedy junior, they should at least be able to handle him. For the Tigers, their offense will have to step things up after an uneven Week 2. Considering QB Kelly Bryant missed some time with a brief injury scare, and the unit was going up against a solid Auburn defense, it wasn't completely surprising. Bryant is fully healthy for this one, as is his usual supporting cast, which includes a deep stable of running backs, Hunter Renfrow and Deon Cain at receiver, along with a very good offensive line. Louisville did a pretty fine job holding Clemson's explosive offense in check for much of this game a season ago, but Bryant does present an interesting challenge. He isn't quite the passer nor leader (at least not yet) that Deshaun Watson was, but Bryant's a more dangerous runner and can really open up games. If the Cardinals aren't properly prepared, the junior could really have a coming out party. Louisville is hopeful All-American cornerback Jaire Alexander, who had a huge game in the battle last season, and the rest of the ball-hawking secondary can force the young signal-caller into mistakes, or else it is tough to stop Clemson's rhythm. Last year's battle between these two was one of the most exciting games of the year and had a major impact on the Playoff race and Heisman. Once more, I expect Jackson to work some magic and keep things close, but Clemson is the much better team overall. They should be able to go on the road and still get things done.

The Pick: Clemson, 31 Louisville, 26

(2-0) 23 Tennessee Volunteers vs. (0-1) 24 Florida Gators
@Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Gainesville), 2:30 PM Saturday on CBS

After over a decade of losing to rival Florida, Tennessee finally flipped the script in 2016, coming from behind to overtake the Gators. Now, they hope to get a winning streak of their own in the rivalry as the 2017 edition rolls around. The Volunteers opened up the year with an uninspired start against Georgia Tech before a wonderful comeback, and then promptly handled Indiana State last week. The offense is still adjusting to new QB Quentin Dormandy and lead back John Kelly, but it has dropped 42 the past two weeks and proven it can be effective. It will have to be on its A-game once again, because Florida's defense is fast and athletic, and capitalizes on turnovers incredibly well. However, the same old issues seem to be haunting UF, and they almost all are on defense. The Gators managed just a field goal (granted, against a very good Michigan defense) in Week One and they struggled to move the ball at all. Redshirt frosh Feleipe Franks started the opener for Florida, and he is expected to as well in this one. Franks is a young QB with great potential, but he looked lost at times going upa against the Michigan defense and I won't be surprised at all to see Notre Dame grad transfer Malik Zaire, who saw some action in the opener, to get some playing time. The real X-factor for the Gators is the status of receiver Antonio Callaway and running back Jordan Scarlett. The two were just a couple of the ten Florida players suspended for the season opener, and their status for this one is completely unclear. Head coach Jim McElwain hasn't made it clear at all whether we will see the two on the field this Saturday, which is definitely unsettling if you're a Gator fan. Callaway, the team's most explosive weapon on the outside, and Scarlett, their top rusher from a year ago, are two huge components to this offense and they could be in store for another very long day if neither play. That could push youngsters like back Lamichael Perine (the younger brother of former Oklahoma back Samaje) and some fresh faces at receiver into larger roles. The Volunteers have been far from a good team defensively so far this season, and the loss of stud linebacker Darrin Kirkland, who's out for the year, only further hurts them. But, this team does have a pretty good pass defense, and they are passable against the run. Against the very limited Gators' offense, that may just be enough to put them in good position. It's hard to imagine any team walking into The Swamp and coming out with an easy victory, and Florida does certainly want vengeance for last year's loss. However, unless the current suspensions looming over this team are cleared up and the offense figures things out fast, the Volunteers seem like the safe pick here, in what should, as usual, be a hard-fought game.

The Pick: Tennessee, 24 Florida, 21

(2-0) 4 USC Trojans vs. (1-1) Texas Longhorns
@Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (LA), 7:30 PM Saturday on FOX

For the first time since Vince Young led Texas to a wonderful, heroic National Title victory over the Trojans, Texas and USC collide. The states of the program are quite different than they were during that night over a decade ago. Texas is in their first year under Tom Herman and still figuring things out, as they started the year with a frustrating loss to Maryland. Meanwhile, the Trojans appear to be well on their way back to national relevancy after a rough couple of years, led by their superstar QB, Sam Darnold. The Trojans did start their opener slow against Western Michigan, but responded by pounding Stanford. Darnold, who had a poor game against WMU, played like the Heisman-type player he is capable of, and big-play threats like receivers Deontay Burnett and Steven Mitchell Jr. emerged. That should be worrying for a Longhorns' defense that continues to struggle, despite a new DC (Herman assistant Todd Orlando) and some other new pieces. The unit continues to be susceptible to big plays, and unless they take a big step forward in a week, they could be absolutely torched by Darnold. Offensively, Texas looked good this past week, but that was against a very poor San Jose State team. QB Shane Buechele is expected to retain the starting job, but he has continued to struggle with turnovers and decision-making and he'll face a very aggressive and hungry 'SC secondary. Back Chris Warren III had a great showing against SJSU, with 166 yards and two scores and the Longhorns will likely lean heavily on the workhorse back once again. But, this USC defense did shutdown Bryce Love and Stanford's rushing attack last weekend, and they should be well-equipped to do much the same this week, with linebackers Cameron Smith and Porter Gustin leading the charge. Another concern Texas is hoping they can figure out quick is the O-Line, which much like many other parts of this team, has serious talent, but has underperformed early on. If the unit has a poor day against the Trojans, it is very hard to imagine the offense really being able to do anything at all against USC. Even though none of the players nor most of the coaches were on the sidelines last time these two squared off, you have to feel like two of the biggest blue bloods in the sport feel like they have something to prove. Tom Herman is clearly a good football coach and I firmly believe he'll have the Longhorns playing better ball after a rocky start to the 2017 campaign but I'm not sure they are at USC's level just yet, particularly considering they would need to go on the road and win with one of the sport's youngest rosters.

The Pick: USC, 41 Texas, 28

Other Picks
(#12) LSU, 28 Mississippi State, 24
(#9) Oklahoma State, 37 Pittsburgh, 31
(#10) Wisconsin, 28 BYU, 17
(#7) Michigan, 30 Air Force, 22
South Carolina, 35 Kentucky, 24

No comments:

Theme images by LUGO. Powered by Blogger.