News, thoughts and more from the world of college sports across the nation and Long Island.
Fearless predictions: Saturday games
No. 4 Oklahoma State at Missouri, 12 p.m.
Henry’s pick: This game has trap written all over it for Oklahoma State. The way Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden has played, that won’t happen. Weeden threw for a season-low 218 yards in last week’s win at Texas. His low production was negated by the Cowboys getting 202 yards on the ground. Jeremy Smith ran for 140 yards on just seven carries, while Joseph Randle ran for 68 yards. Outside of giving up 30 points to Arizona State in an overtime loss and 38 to Oklahoma loss month, Missouri’s defense has been solid. It won’t be this weekend. Oklahoma State 33, Missouri 20
Rose’s pick: This is a trap game for Oklahoma State. Missouri’s three losses have been to Arizona State (37-30 in OT), Oklahoma (38-28) and Kansas State (24-17). Quarterback James Franklin has been solid with 1,488 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. Plus, Missouri is 14th nationally in rushing yards per game (236.50). Oklahoma State has the second-ranked offense in the nation (551.17 yards per game) and also the 100th-ranked defense. Expect a high-scoring thriller. Oklahoma State 38, Missouri 34
North Carolina at No. 7 Clemson, 12 p.m.
Henry’s pick: Clemson’s confidence is likely at an all-time high, and with good reason. The Tigers are one win from equaling their best start in 11 seasons. If freshman WR Sammy Watkins does anything close (8 catches, 105 yards, 207 return yards) to what he did against Maryland last week, the Tigers will continue to roll. North Carolina has had a solid season thus far, but suffered a huge blow in last Saturday’s home loss to Miami. The Tar Heels’ secondary had no answers for Jacory Harris and won’t have any for Watkins. Clemson 23, North Carolina 13
Rose’s pick: North Carolina definitely does not want to get into an offensive game with Clemson. The Tigers proved last week at Maryland that no deficit is too big to overcome. The big concern for the Tar Heels should be their 92nd-ranked pass defense. Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins could have a field day. North Carolina sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner and freshman running back Giovani Bernard have been very solid this season. But the Maryland game likely put a scare in Clemson, which should help the Tigers re-focus on Saturday. Clemson 38, North Carolina 20
Cincinnati at South Florida, 12 p.m.
Henry’s pick: South Florida’s season may be slipping away after suffering a second straight loss to Connecticut on Saturday, and Cincinnati needs the win to keep up with Rutgers and West Virginia. The Bearcats have won four in a row in impressive fashion. And the wins have been driven by the defense, which has surrendered just 11 points per game over that stretch. Granted Cincinnati’s opponents – Akron, N.C. State, Miami (OH) and Louisville – aren’t exactly top-10 caliber, but wins are wins when talking about the Big East. Cincinnati 26, South Florida 20
Rose’s pick: What has happened to South Florida? The Bulls got blown out at Pittsburgh and suffered a bad loss at UConn last week. Now comes a game against a Cincinnati team playing well and flying under the radar. The Bearcats have won four straight after losing at Tennessee earlier in the season. South Florida has the top rushing offense in the Big East (215.17), while Cincinnati allows only 70.50 rushing yards per game. That should be a key matchup. But South Florida desperately needs this win to stay in the Big East title race. B.J. Daniels has a big game and the Bulls get a big win. South Florida 30, Cincinnati 27
No. 20 Auburn at No. 1 LSU, 3:30 p.m.
Henry’s pick: Another big test for LSU, except this time the Tigers will be without top rusher Spencer Ware and star defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. Both were suspended for reportedly failing a drug test. The good news for the Tigers is former starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson has gained 73 yards on 14 carries and should be able to step in for Ware. Another positive is the play of current quarterback Jarrett Lee, who has 11 touchdowns and just one interception. All of this equals another win against a ranked opponent for LSU. LSU 33, Auburn 16
Rose’s pick: LSU star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, defensive back Therold Simon and running back Spencer Ware are suspended and won’t play in this game. But LSU is deep and should have enough to beat Auburn this week. LSU responded nicely to adversity earlier this season when quarterback Jordan Jefferson and wide receiver Russell Shepard missed time. Auburn head coach Gene Chizik announced earlier in the week that sophomore Clint Moseley is making his first career start. LSU’s defense, even without Mathieu, will make it a very long day for Moseley. LSU 31, Auburn 13
No. 22 Georgia Tech at Miami (Fla.), 3:30 p.m.
Henry’s pick: There’s no way around Georgia Tech’s 24-21 loss at Virginia last week. Tech’s offense has been very suspect the last two weeks. Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets, they are running into a Miami that has played well the last three weeks. The Hurricanes won at North Carolina and lost by three at Virginia Tech the week before that. Hurricanes quarterback Jacory Harris has completed 33 of his last 51 passes for 534 yards and six touchdowns. Look for that trend to continue on Saturday. Miami 33, Georgia Tech 29
Rose’s pick: Georgia Tech is coming off its first loss of the season, a 24-21 setback at Virginia. Miami (Fla.) nearly knocked off Virginia Tech two weeks ago and got a nice win at North Carolina last week. Quarterback Jacory Harris has played well over the last three games and the Hurricanes will need that to beat the Yellow Jackets. One big concern for Miami (Fla.) is its horrible rush defense, which is allowing 187 yards per game. Georgia Tech is averaging 348 yards per game on the ground. The Yellow Jackets, however, need to throw the ball better than last Saturday. Miami (Fla.) 27, Georgia Tech 23
Tennessee at No. 2 Alabama, 7:15 p.m.
Henry’s pick: Will the Vols be another sacrificial lamb for Alabama? Probably. The Crimson Tide’s defense, ranked No. 1 in the country, is good enough to carry the squad to a championship. Penn State, Florida and Arkansas scored a grand total of 35 points against Alabama. Vols QB Matt Simms, who made his first start of the season in last week’s 38-7 loss to LSU, was mediocre at best. He completed just 6-for-20 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Simms might be lucky to get that against the Crimson Tide. Alabama 31, Tennessee 3
Rose’s pick: This game looked better before Tyler Bray and Justin Hunter got hurt. Still, Alabama is playing at such a high level it wouldn’t have mattered much. The Crimson Tide defense has been spectacular this season. Alabama is No. 1 nationally in total defense and No. 1 in scoring defense (7 points per game). Offensively, Trent Richardson has had a sensational stretch. He’s rushed for over 100 yards for six straight games, including 183 and four touchdowns last week against Mississippi. Tennessee has lost two straight to Georgia and LSU. It will be three straight after Saturday. Alabama 38, Tennessee 3
USC at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m.
Henry’s pick: There is a lot riding on this game for both teams. A win in South Bend would be a major highlight for a USC team ineligible for a bowl game this season. Notre Dame needs to keep its BCS bowl hopes alive. USC needs to watch out for its defense, which sprung a serious leak two weeks ago in its 48-41 win over Arizona. Notre Dame’s offense, led by an improving Tommy Rees (1,503 yard passing, 14 touchdowns, 6 interceptions), should pose a stiff challenge for the Trojans defense. Add to that talented running backs Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray and it might be too much for the Trojans to handle. And we can’t forget about Irish secret weapon Andrew Hendrix. Notre Dame 37, USC 31
Rose’s pick: Notre Dame has been on a roll since a two-game losing streak to start the season. Quarterback Tommy Rees (1,503 yards and 14 touchdowns) has been a huge key in Notre Dame’s success. Another big key has been Notre Dame’s much-improved defense, which is giving up 21 points per game. USC isn’t eligible for a bowl game this season so a trip to South Bend and a victory would be a nice accomplishment. USC quarterback Matt Barkley has been solid this season with 1,782 yards and 16 touchdowns. Robert Woods has 60 catches for 783 yards and six touchdowns. The concern for the Trojans is their defense. USC gave up 43 points in a loss to Arizona State and 41 points in a win over Arizona. USC’s pass defense is ranked 105th nationally. Notre Dame 37, USC 27
No. 6 Wisconsin at No. 16 Michigan State, 8 p.m.
Henry’s pick: How big is this game for Michigan State? It doesn’t exactly lock up the Big Ten Legends title, but it will give the Spartans some breathing room. Michigan State’s defense has been nothing short of brilliant. The Spartans have surrendered 14 or fewer points in five of their six games this season. Wisconsin’s defense has actually been better and it was on full display two weeks ago in a 48-17 win over Nebraska. Something has got to give. Even money says Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins will make the big plays. Michigan State 17, Wisconsin 13
Rose’s pick: Keep an eye on Wisconsin’s mammoth offensive line going against the Michigan State front seven. Although the loss of defensive lineman William Gholston, who was suspended for his conduct in the Michigan game, is a huge loss. Wisconsin’s only Big Ten loss last season came against the Spartans in East Lansing. The key difference this year is that the Badgers have Russell Wilson at quarterback. Wilson’s ability to throw the ball has a huge impact since defenses must gear up to stop Montee Ball and James White. Michigan State, which has the second-ranked defense in the country, beat up Denard Robinson and slowed down Michigan’s offense last Saturday. Wisconsin’s offense, however, is completely different. Plus, Michigan State is going to need production and balance on offense. The Spartans are 66th in the country in total offense. Wisconsin 24, Michigan State 20
No. 25 Washington at No. 6 Stanford, 8 p.m.
Henry’s pick: Stanford has been waiting for a test all season. And it will come in the form of the Washington Huskies on Saturday night. Andrew Luck (1,718 yards, 18 touchdowns) can pick apart a defense in his sleep. The Cardinal defense has been just as effective, surrendering just 11.2 points per game. The Huskies have a big quarterback of their own in Keith Price (1,466 yards, 21 touchdowns). Washington running back Chris Polk has 728 yards on the ground. The Huskies will push Stanford, but the Cardinal will prevail. Stanford 44, Washington 35
Rose’s pick: This game hasn’t gotten a ton of hype this week, but it should be a good one. This will be Stanford’s first real test of the season. Washington is 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the Pac-12. The Huskies’ only loss came at Nebraska (51-38). Washington quarterback Keith Price has been very solid this season with 1,466 yards and 21 touchdowns. Chris Polk has rushed for 728 yards and three touchdowns. Polk is the second-leading rusher in the Pac-12 with 121.33 yards per game. Stanford, however, has the top defense in the Pac-12 (294.83 yards per game). Both teams like to run the football and both do a good job stopping the run. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is completing 71 percent of his passes (1,719 yards and 18 touchdowns). Luck and Price both rank in the top 5 nationally in passing rating. So who wins this Pac-12 showdown? Washington’s defense is giving up 29 points per game. Stanford’s defense is fifth nationally and hasn’t allowed more than 19 points in a game this season. Stanford 38, Washington 23