Locksmith’s pick six for week 3
There’s no shortage of quality games this weekend, from Alabama-Florida (Bryce Young’s first test drive) to Auburn-Penn State (Bo Nix’s last attempt at a major test drive) to the 50th anniversary of ” The Game of The Century, ”when former rivals Nebraska and Oklahoma go head-to-head (and how much could the Cornhuskers be using a Johnny Rodgers guy right now?).
Two games in particular provide additional intrigue. Cincinnati visits Indiana in a game that will help shape the winner’s season and the always pesky Fresno State visits the undefeated UCLA, which is still trying to prove itself.
So much for the intro. Let’s go straight to the games after a 5-1 ATS mark last week.
Florida State on WAKE FOREST, taking 5
Here’s the reflection: 2-0 Wake isn’t that good yet and 0-2 Florida State isn’t that bad. It’s not to wrap the Seminoles’ loss to Jacksonville State, but the reality is that they’ve now lost twice in the last game of the game (the other being against Notre Dame). Mike Norvell has at least one QB option at McKenzie Milton if Jordan Travis keeps his momentum going and RB Jashaun Corbin (253 rushing yards) is averaging 8.4 yards per carry. Wake beat ODU and Norfolk State – two teams that didn’t even play last year. This is a huge step forward for a suspicious offense.
Cincinnati to INDIANA, giving 4
Until the Bearcats are officially in the Big 12, all of those games against the Power 5 teams are a referendum for their playoff prospects. Cincy is nowhere near playing his best – a bright spot so early on – and quarterback Desmond Ridder knows how to lead this team to victory. He did it in a lot of big spots. Offensive balance and physical defense remain Cincy’s traits. I don’t know what to do with the Hoosiers yet. They suffered a bad loss to a good team from Iowa and beat Murray State hands down, but QB Michael Penix Jr. still seems to be recovering from his injury. The offense was uneven at this point.
Nebraska on OKLAHOMA, taking 22
I’m not predicting an upheaval here, but isn’t it time Scott Frost’s side showed they can be competitive in a big spot? A bad loss to Illinois started the year and wins against Fordham and Buffalo followed, with one bright spot throughout: Veteran QB Adrian Martinez is finally playing the best football of his career, yet no interceptions and 256 rushing yards leading the team. Earlier ones have a lot of firepower, but is anyone convinced their defense is playoff-caliber after giving Tulane 35 points? Spencer Rattler, for all his hype on Heisman, already has two INTs. Thinking that Cornhuskers can be competitive here. Otherwise, already shoot Frost.
PENN STATE on Auburn, giving 6
We’ve already seen quarterback Sean Clifford take an important place in the Nittany Lions’ 16-10 win at Wisconsin. Perhaps he has finally developed the consistency that has eluded him so far. That Penn State defense looks to be good and James Franklin’s side now know the Big Ten East and a playoff berth is up for grabs with Ohio State showing their vulnerability. The Tigers have beaten Akron and Alabama State and no one ever knows which Bo Nix will show up for QB. Too often it has been prone to mistakes. It’s a huge test in a tough environment – against a quality defense. This is not the recipe for success for Auburn.
Virginia Tech on WEST VIRGINIA, taking 3
Still skeptical of QB Braxton Burmeister’s ability to raise the Hokies, but he played well and Tech already has a quality win in beating North Carolina. It’s a defense that has already registered nine sacks with four interceptions in two games. The Mountaineers, losers in the opener against Maryland (allowing 499 yards to the Terps), had a scrum in the last game against LIU that was to no avail. QB Jarrett Doege can be pushed to make mistakes, which Tech needs to capitalize on.
Fresno State vs. UCLA, taking 11 1/2
I’ve been on the Bruins bandwagon from the start, but after a pair of peak performances this game oozes disappointment – and the Bulldogs are more than capable of upsetting. The tandem of UCLA running backs Brittain Brown and Zac Charbonnet have been outstanding so far, and Chip Kelly will no doubt be on those two here again. Fresno isn’t a team that will curl up in the Rose Bowl, having previously forced Oregon to a 31-24 victory. QB Jake Haener has eight touchdowns, no interceptions and rushed for three scores. It’s a huge game for Fresno; it really looks like a deception game for UCLA.
LAST WEEK VS. SPREAD: 5-1
SEASON TO DATE VS. SPREADING: 9-3
CAPS reception team