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After being ruthlessly called out by Dan Regester, it’s high time for the sort of run my college friends refer to as a “Jim Connerty.” Jim, mirroring the condition of my bank account after the first three weeks of this season, entered a casino with an overdrawn bank account, past due rent, two packs of Marlboros, and $48 in cash. He left with three grand and a renewed sense of pride. It’s all I can hope for at this point.
Here are week 4’s locks:
Clemson vs. Georgia Tech
Line: Clemson -9
This is the definition of a trap game, with a short week and Paul Johnson’s triple option attack an unusual opponent for a Clemson team dealing with two days of reduced practice time. Though this is a sexy upset pick for week 4, the actual quality of this year’s Georgia Tech roster is greatly overstated. Squarely on the hot seat after back to back subpar seasons and a downtick in recruiting, Johnson has never needed a marquee win more during his tenure as the head man of the Yellow Jackets. Conversely, this might be his worst overall team.
Deshaun Watson is a veteran and as reliable as any signal caller in the nation, unlikely to wilt in one of the ACC’s smallest stadiums. Clemson found a nice rhythm offensively in a proverbial practice game week 3 vs. South Carolina State, in which things got so ugly both teams agreed to 12 minute quarters in the second half, and will exploit a very suspect Tech secondary.
Pick: Clemson 41 Georgia Tech 20
USC vs. Utah
Line: Utah -2
This is a shocking line. USC is a complete disaster both on and off the field, with rumors of physical altercations between players and coaches and whispers of upcoming transfers nearing double digits. Sprinkle in a nationally televised whooping at the hands of Bama and a one-sided start to PAC 12 play against rival Stanford, and Clay Helton’s first season may be his last.
Utah, as is tradition since Urban Meyer ignited the program, does more with less as well as anyone in the country. Kyle Whittingham has another stout defense, strong running game, and if he can get any sort of consistency from the quarterback position, a PAC 12 title game sleeper. The Trojans keep it close early, but the Utes control of the line of scrimmage as the Trojans again crumble.
Oh, and USC has already swapped quarterbacks, opting for a freshman making his first career start. Max Browne, the former starter, is reportedly looking to transfer.
Pick: Utah 30 USC 17
BYU vs. West Virginia
Line: BYU +7
While both teams are wholly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, this is my favorite game of the week solely for what I imagine to be the terror on the faces of visiting BYU fans at the debauchery taking place in Morgantown on game day. Imagine Mitt Romney attending the closing stages of Beer Olympics x10000. I cannot wait.
On the field, the Cougars have been solid in Kalani Sitake’s first season at the helm of his alma mater, showcasing a stout run defense and ability to get after the passer. Their 1-2 record is deceiving, with last second losses to Utah and UCLA, and a solid road win at Arizona. Quarterback Taysom Hill is back from his 100 knee injuries with less mobility, but still has the improvisational skills and arm talent that had him in the 2014 Heisman conversation by mid-season.
West Virginia still can’t play any defense as Dana Holgersen searches for a new landing spot, and Rich Rodriguez yearns to return home.
Pick: West Virginia 31 BYU 30
Penn State vs. Michigan
Line: Michigan -17
Frankly, this spread should be even bigger. Coming off of what Harbaugh described as “the worst week of practice” of his Michigan tenure, I’m betting the insane man in khakis was not especially kind to the Wolverines this week, despite their #4 ranking. Penn State is terrible on defense for the first time in what seems like forever, surrendering half a hundred to Pitt (yes, Pitt) and nearly 28 points per game overall, while facing far lesser opponents than the Wolverines.
Michigan struggles against the spread, but is as stout as any front I’ve ever seen against pro-style run attacks, even Saquan Barkley James Franklin and Co. are hopeless against the Don Brown lead defense.
Pick: Michigan 41 Penn State 10
Florida State vs. USF
Line: FSU -6.5
Talk about a knee jerk reaction. Last week FSU was the second most likely team to win the national championship, according to Vegas. After a trip to Louisville and a beat down at the hands of one of the nation’s most dynamic players, the Seminoles are not even a touchdown better than South Florida. I just don’t see it.
Jimbo Fisher has not lost two consecutive games at FSU in the last half-decade and has defeated unranked out of conference opponents by an average of 26 points per game. The Bulls are a fringe bowl caliber team taking on what should be an infuriated Florida State in what could become a de facto home game for the well traveled Seminole crowd.
Jimbo Fisher will not allow this game to be close, with Dalvin Cook slicing the Bulls defense to the tune of 175+ yards.
Pick: Florida State 38 USF 17.
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