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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Defense was optional, but Michigan/Illinois sure was fun

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Tate Forcier #5 of the Michigan Wolverines greets running back Brandon Minor #4 during warmups for the game against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Michigan Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Michigan won 45-17.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

I’m a huge fan of tough, defensive football. Not sloppy, crazy turnovers which make the defense look better football, but simply teams that make plays on the defensive side of the ball.

That being said, I don’t know if many games this season will match the excitement and entertainment value that Illinois and Michigan provided today. Michigan won 67-65 in overtime in a game that featured over 1,200 yards of total offense. It was the highest scoring game of the season between two Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

It featured everything that we have come to expect from a Michigan game. No defense. Explosive offensive plays. Long third down conversions. An injury to Denard Robinson. A great play from Tate Forcier. A brutal interception from Tate Forcier. A brutal fumble by Tate Forcier. A redemption TD drive by Tate Forcier. An absolutely atrocious defensive breakdown in overtime. A tip-drill touchdown on a crucial play in overtime. It really was a treat.

It’s a tough loss for Illinois which was in the middle of a huge turnaround year (it still is, with a chance to turn three wins into eight), but it’s not going to change anything the Illini do going forward. For Michigan, however, this could get interesting.

I have no clue what the Michigan administration is going to do with Rich Rodriguez, but I have to imagine that a bowl berth is enough of an improvement for him to see another year. At least that’s what I hear from my Michigan-fan friends.

This certainly cements the fact that Rodriguez needs to fire Greg Robinson in the offseason, if not yesterday. I understand Michigan’s defense is young, and there have been key injuries all around. But this is ridiculous. Purdue is pitiful, and it will probably score 30-plus against the Wolverines. I can’t imagine any scenario short of a Big Ten rule that states Michigan opponents must play offense with seven players that will see Wisconsin and Ohio State not score 40.

Although keeping Robinson around for a year would make for good viewing for the rest of us.

It’s time for Joe Paterno to let Penn State move on

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittany Lions walks out onto the field during warmups before facing the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 11, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

I’m not the first person to write that headline. Heck, I wouldn’t have been the first had I written it 10 years ago.

But after today’s showing against Illinois, and this season in general, I think we can all agree that it’s time for Joe Paterno to step down at Penn State and let a new regime come in. In all honesty, he probably should have hung it up last year, as Daryll Clark walked out the door with a host of seniors, leaving behind a young team in a rebuilding state.

There’s no need for Joe Paterno to go through any kind of rebuilding, not at 83 years old. He probably didn’t need to be going through it as a 76-year-old, either, but he did and managed to make it out with a few more quality seasons. Whether or not that was good for the future of the Penn State program, who knows. I don’t know what coaches would have taken that job in 2004 or 2005, and even if I did, there’s no way to say they would have succeeded.

But now — with a young team that, even though it’s hitting some serious bumps in the road this year, has quite a bit of talent — would be a good time for Paterno to hand the reins to someone else. Whether it’s his son Jay or Greg Schiano (not the wisest move, in my opinion) or a great up-and-coming coach like a Jim Harbaugh (this is the best-case scenario for Penn State), it’s time.

Paterno has given more to college football than most anyone in history. He basically put Penn State on the map, and that will never be forgotten. But he needs to realize that now is clearly the time to step away and let the program grow without him.

2010 Big Ten College Football Preview: Ohio State back on top

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 26: Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes hands off to running back Brandon Saine #3 of the Buckeyes during a game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Ohio Stadium on September 26, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Here’s a quick and dirty look at how I see things playing out in the Big Eleven this season:

#1 Ohio State
Some believe the Buckeyes’ offense might be close to catching up to their defense in terms of dominance, which is saying something with the way OSU’s D played a year ago. The Buckeyes return all three leading rushers from 2009 in Brandon Saine, Dan Herron and quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who some believe has become a more committed teammate over the offseason. The key to OSU becoming a national title threat is Pryor, or more specifically, whether or not he’ll make opponents respect his passing game. The good thing for him and the Buckeyes on a whole is that they return four starters to a veteran offensive line that will open up plenty of holes for a deep and talented group of running backs. Defensively, OSU was a top five unit last season and could be once again this year assuming they can generate a pass-rush and the safeties can hold up in coverage. Cameron Heyward is one of the nation’s best defensive ends and Ross Homan is a playmaker at the outside linebacker spot. The secondary isn’t flashy, but cornerbacks Chimdi Chekwa and Devon Torrence are solid. From a schedule standpoint, if they can beat Miami in Columbus in the second week of the season, they should be 6-0 heading into Madison on October 16. From there, they’ll be tested by Wisconsin, Penn State and Iowa, but this is your clear favorite to win the Big Ten.

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Illinois edges Wisconsin, punches NCAA bid

They should be tournament-bound, anyway.

Joe Lunardi had the Illini as his last team in this morning, so after a good 58-54 bounce-back win against a resilient Wisconsin team, Illinois should be dancing next week.

It was just one of those days for the Badgers, who couldn’t buy a shot until the final few minutes of the game. To illustrate the point, Wisconsin had just 38 points in the first 38 minutes and then scored 16 points in the final 1:46. Trevon Hughes, Jason Bohannon and Jordan Taylor went a combined 8-35 (23%) from the field and as a team, Wisconsin shot 29% for the game. Give Illinois credit — they were playing defense like their tournament lives depended on it…and it did.

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