College Football Week 3 Picks & Predictions

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 6 Texas A&M, 3:30PM ET
The most anticipated matchup of Week 3 will take place at Kyle Field in College Station today. One thing that has made Nick Saban so successful is his ability to get his team focused on one game at a time. But you know he and the Crimson Tide have circled this date since Johnny Manziel and A&M rolled into Tuscaloosa and upset ‘Bama a year ago. The Aggies are just 1-4 all-time at home against top-ranked teams and since the start of the 2008 season, the Tide are 41-0 when it has fewer turnovers than its opponent. Look for ‘Bama to limit its mistakes, keep the ball on the ground (they’re 51-0 when rushing for at least 140 yards) and generate pressure on Manziel. If they can stay disciplined defensively and maintain good gap responsibility, they should get their revenge.

Tennessee vs. No. 2 Oregon, 3:30PM ET
Butch Jones tried to ratchet up the tempo this week in practice in order to get his players ready for what they’ll see today in Eugene. But Oregon is too fast, too athletic and too skilled on the perimeter for an overmatched Tennessee squad. The Ducks are 4-0 against the spread in their last four games overall, 4-1 ATS in their last five home games, and 6-1 ATS in their last seven games following an ATS win. The Vols, meanwhile, are 0-4 against the number in their last four games versus the Pac-12 and 0-7-1 ATS in their last eight games following an ATS win. Look for Marcus Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas to run wild on a gassed Tennessee defense in the second half.

No. 19 Washington vs. Illinois, 6:00PM ET
This game has become more interesting in the past two weeks. Washington turn heads by crushing Boise State in Week 1 and Illinois surprised the masses by routing a previously underrated Cincinnati team 45-17 last Saturday. While quarterbacks Keith Price and Nathan Scheelhaase will receive all of the attention tonight, keep an eye on Huskies junior middle linebacker and defensive leader John Timu (13 tackles vs. Boise), and the duo of Jonathan Brown and Mason Monheim for the Illini. The under is 5-1 in Illinois’ last six neutral-site games and 4-0 in the Huskies’ last four games in September. While defense won’t dominate this game, the combined score should fall under the total.

No. 21 Notre Dame vs. Purdue, 8:00PM ET
The Fighting Irish have won five straight games against the Boilermakers but two of those contests were decided on Notre Dame’s final drive. The Irish have new players on both sides of the ball that are growing on the job, which is part of the reason why their defense allowed 411 yards per game over their first two contests. Quarterback Tommy Rees is still trying to find his rhythm as a passer too, so look for this game to be somewhat tight. The underdog is 6-2 against the spread in the last eight meetings between these two teams and the Irish are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall.

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Oregon comes under scrutiny for $25K payment to recruiting service

Once again this week, the University of Oregon has come under fire for potential recruiting violations.

Andy Staples of reports the Ducks paid $25,000 to a Texas man named Will Lyles who is connected to at least two current players. While Oregon maintains that the payment to Lyles was for legitimate recruiting video services, some are questioning the expensive price.

Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly is interviewed at Media Day for the BCS Championship game at the media right in Phoenix, AZ January 7,2011. The BCS Championship between the Ducks and the Auburn Tigers will be held at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10. UPI Photo/Art Foxall

“This is no different than services purchased by a number of colleges and universities throughout the country,” a statement released by the school said. But a longtime provider of recruiting video services — who counted Oregon as a client before his company was absorbed by video giant XOS Digital — said the $25,000 payment seems high. “For $25,000, it better provide a hell of a lot,” Scouting Evaluation Association founder Dick Lascola told late Thursday. “That’s an exorbitant amount of money to pay for something.”

Lyles did not return calls from His Web site features a “JUCO price list” that offers videos for a particular state for $3,000. A multi-state region costs $5,000. A “trifecta package” that includes any three states costs $8,000, while a “national package” costs $15,000. No single service is priced at $25,000.

Staples goes into further detail in his article, which you can read here.

One question I have is why Oregon would even bother putting the $25,000 payment on an expenditure report if the school was violating a rule? Is it a case of hiding something in plain sight or is Oregon clean?

If the Ducks are clean, then they should have evidence of what they purchased from Lyles. This doesn’t seem to be a hard concept to grasp: If they paid Lyles for videos, then those videos should be in the schools possession, right? The NCAA still could question Oregon for what it paid so much for Lyles’ services, but at that point all the school would have to say is, “Hey, we got ripped off.”

It’ll be interesting to see where this story goes from here. At this point, Oregon still doesn’t have much to worry about but it seems every day something new comes to light.

Oregon’s De’anthony Thomas questioned by NCAA

Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly greets the Ducks fans before the Ducks game against the Auburn Tigers at the BCS Championship game at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, January 10,2011. UPI/Art Foxall

De’anthony Thomas of Crenshaw High was one of the most decorated prep players to ever come out of the city of Los Angeles. He was ranked No. 16 in the ESPNU 150 and in early February, he signed his letter of intent to play for the University of Oregon.

It’s not surprising that a top recruit would want to play for a program that just appeared in the national title game, nor is it shocking that a prep running back would want to be a part of Chip Kelly’s explosive spread offense. But what was surprising was that Thomas had already committed to USC and then flipped to Eugene later on.

Granted, even though he committed to the Trojans at first, the young man has the right to change his mind. He did say that he felt comfortable at Oregon and always had his eye on the Ducks despite committing to SC. But just one day after a report was released that Oregon may be outed for major recruitment violations, Thomas left this on his Twitter page (hat tip to SPORTSbyBROOKS for the link):


There’s a good chance that the NCAA just wanted to talk to Thomas about his decision to flip from USC to Oregon and wanted to make sure everything was on the up-and-up. It’s their job to ensure that gifts aren’t given to recruits in order to sway them into choosing a certain school. (It’s also their job to ruin college football by using the BCS format instead of a thrilling playoff system that would make most fans happy, but that topic is best left for another post.)

Thus, the fact that the NCAA spoke with Thomas doesn’t mean that Oregon is the subject of major recruiting violations. In fact, it might not mean anything. The story that came out earlier this week may have nothing to do with Thomas being subjected to the heat lamps of the NCAA.

But it does make you wonder…

Update: Thomas apparently has been caught in a lie about the NCAA tweets. Rut-roh.

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