Day Time Free College Football Picks (10/2/10)

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Matchup: Ohio State Buckeyes @ Illinois Fighting Illini
Date: Saturday, October 2nd, 12:00 ET
Location: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
Game Line: Illinois +17
Over/Under 50.5

This game has the makings to be a very interesting one. The 2010 Buckeyes have never seen what it's like to play on the road, while the 2010 Illini have never felt what it is like to go up against a defense on this caliber. Here's what we do know. QB Terrelle Pryor is going to get his yards and his points, and there's nothing that Illinois can do about it. Pryor is just that good. There's a reason that he leads this team in rushing and is starting to put up passing numbers that can rival anyone in the nation. Pryor is completing 66.4 percent of his passes, is averaging right around 235 passing yards per game, and a 10/2 TD/INT ratio. Here's what else we know. The Buckeyes have an amazing defense. The 'D' did look relatively mortal last week, allowing three TDs to the Eastern Michigan Eagles, the lowliest team on the schedule, but prior to that, the unit had only allowed three TDs all season. The other three scores came via special teams blunders. For Illinois, RB Mikel LeShoure is going to have to take the pressure off of freshman QB Nathan Scheelhaase. If Scheelhaase is forced into trying to make things happen, he is going to be in for an incredibly long day. The frosh is only completing 54.4 percent of his passes, and he is just barely over 120 yards per game on average. However, the Fighting Illini had two weeks to prepare for this game, and the Buckeyes might be caught napping just a tad. This could be closer than the experts think.

Free College Football Picks: Illinois +17
Prediction: Ohio State 31 – Illinois 20

Matchup: Louisiana Monroe Warhawks @ Auburn Tigers
Date: Saturday, October 2nd, 12:00 ET
Location: Jordan Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL
Game Line: Auburn -35
Over/Under 54

The Warhawks might be coming into this battle at 1-2, but they are clearly going to be outmatched by a very strong Auburn team. Perception on the Tigers is awfully high right now after they took out both the South Carolina teams, the South Carolina Gamecocks and Clemson Tigers in close calls at home in the L/2 weeks. QB Cam Newton is still in the discussion for the Heisman Trophy, and for good reason. It's not what Newton is doing with his arm that is so dangerous. It's what his legs are accomplishing. Newton has rushed for 485 yards and five TDs, and he has directly accounted for all but three scores for Auburn all season long. Newton parlayed with RBs Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb creates a backfield that cannot be stopped by a team from the Sun Belt. The three are the majority of the Tigers' seventh ranked rushing attack in the land. The defense has been shoddy at times, but when push comes to shove, Auburn knows how to buckle down and get three and outs and turnovers when need be. The same just can't be said about ULM. The Warhawks are averaging just 16.0 points per game offensively and are conceding 413.0 yards per game in total, a number that is significantly higher against FBS foes. This will be a blowout from the start.

Free College Football Picks: Auburn -35
Prediction: Auburn 41 – Louisiana Monroe 3

Matchup: Miami Hurricanes @ Clemson Tigers
Date: Saturday, October 2nd, 12:00 ET
Location: Clemson Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
Game Line: Clemson +3
Over/Under 50.5

These two ACC foes have only locked horns three times in their existence, and all three games have been classics won by the road team in overtime. Clemson is already 2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS against Miami all-time. However, the Tigers have some real problems right now. QB Kyle Parker was supposed to be the savior this year, but that just hasn't been the case since he decided to come back and play another year at quarterback for Clemson instead of pursuing a baseball career. Though Parker's 6:1 TD/INT ratio is rock solid, he is only completing 58.3 percent of his passes and has just 504 yards through the air in three games. The defense has been even more questionable, allowing 388.3 yards per game and 19.3 points per game. Those numbers might not all seem that bad, but the game against the Auburn Tigers was the only game of substance on the schedule. For the Canes, they took care of the Pitt Panthers last week in resounding fashion with a 31-3 victory on primetime football on Thursday night. The victory more than atoned for the 36-24 defeat at the Horseshoe back on September 11th. QB Jacory Harris has an outside shot at winning the Heisman Trophy this year, but the defense is going to have to carry this team. This unit has only allowed 131.7 passing yards per game, a number that Parker had better test for the Tigers to have a shot at victory in this one. Don't be shocked if Miami jumps out to another quick start in this one and runs away with it in the second half.

Free College Football Picks: Miami -3
Prediction: Miami 27 – Clemson 13

Matchup: Northwestern Wildcats @ Minnesota Golden Gophers
Date: Saturday, October 2nd, 12:00 ET
Location: Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN
Game Line: Minnesota +5.5
Over/Under 53.5

There's something fishy that's bothering us about this game. The Wildcats are 4-0 this year, and even though they haven't looked all that great in doing so, there's a great chance for them to crack into the Top 25 with wins in these next few weeks. QB Dan Persa has been one of the most efficient signal callers in the entire land, as he has accounted for 1,221 yards of offense and ten total scores against just one pick on the year. His 80.2 completion percentage is also the tops that the country has to offer for QBs with at least 100 attempts. The Northwestern defense also ranks 22nd in the nation in scoring defense at 15.5 points per game and hasn't allowed more than 25 all season long to a foe. Meanwhile, Minnesota is a mess. The Gophers have lost three straight, all at home, and they haven't covered any of the three games. The offense has totally lost its identity after rumbling all over the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders on opening night on the ground. As for the defense, is it ever a good thing to give up 41 points to South Dakota? 32 to USC was remotely acceptable, but 34 to Northern Illinois really wasn't either. So why on earth are the Wildcats only short favorites? Logic tells you that at some point, the Golden Gophers are winning a game at home, and with the only home dates left after this one coming against Penn State, Ohio State, and Iowa, there is certainly a desperation to avoid a winless season at home. Don't be shocked if this one ends with the mild upset.

Free College Football Picks: Minnesota +5.5
Prediction: Minnesota 37 – Northwestern 31

Matchup: Navy Midshipmen @ Air Force Falcons
Date: Saturday, October 2nd, 2:30 ET
Location: Falcon Stadium, Colorado Springs, CO
Game Line: Air Force -10
Over/Under 49.5

If you like the triple option, this is the game for you! The Middies and Falcons clearly do it as well as anyone in the country, and they'll do it down after down after down regardless of what the situation is. The bottom line here is that these offenses are both stellar and both know exactly what the other defense is up to. For Navy, it's QB Ricky Dobbs that is going to be leading the way one year after he led the nation in rushing TDs. For Air Force, QB Tim Jefferson has the ability to throw some as well as running the option to a high level of success. The question that is going to separate these two teams is whether either can really stop the other or not. So far this year, no team is holding foes to fewer passing yards per game than the Naval Academy at 99.3, while the defense ranks in the Top 25 in both total 'D' (262.0 YPG, 12th) and scoring 'D' (15.7 PPG, 24th). For Air Force, the unit has been a little bit more modest at 306.8 yards per game and 19.0 points per game. The difference that we must consider though, is strength of schedule. The Falcons have already taken on BYU, Oklahoma, and Wyoming this year, a far cry from Louisiana Tech and Maryland Terrapins for Navy. This is a lot of points, but we are going to trust the hosts to sink the Middies in what could be a big statement game towards the Commander in Chief Trophy.

Free College Football Picks: Air Force -10
Prediction: Air Force 45 – Navy 28

Matchup: Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners
Date: Saturday, October 2nd, 3:30 ET
Location: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX
Game Line: Oklahoma -3
Over/Under 45

Speaking of games that look a little fishy… Ok, we'll be the first to admit that the two combatants in the Red River Rivalry this year haven't played up to par, especially last week when the 'Horns were trashed at home by the UCLA Bruins 34-12. Oklahoma hasn't played well either, except when good competition comes calling. The Florida State Seminoles were dumped 47-17. Aside from that, the Sooners haven't beaten anyone by more than a TD this year. Still, we tend to think that DC Will Muschamp is going to be the difference maker in this game. We aren't quite sure how he does it game in and game out, but Muschamp always finds a way to frustrate opposing quarterbacks and come up with great game plans. He got a great look at QB Landry Jones last year and knows what the sophomore is up to. Now, it will be up to the likes of DE Sam Acho to get to Jones and pressure the OU offense into some dumb decisions. The season is on the line for the Longhorns, who absolutely will not be able to recover from defeat. We tend to believe that Texas got its wake up call last weekend and will be able to shake it off. Oklahoma has had some close calls, but has yet to be defeated. If the Sooners just try to coast by in this one, they'll get beaten and potentially beaten bad. We love the Longhorns on Saturday afternoon.

Free College Football Picks: Texas +3
Prediction: Texas 27 – Oklahoma 16

Matchup: Wisconsin Badgers @ Michigan State Spartans
Date: Saturday, October 2nd, 3:30 ET
Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Game Line: Michigan State +2
Over/Under 50.5

Will the real Wisconsin Badgers please stand up? The Badgers have had three very questionable games and one totally dominating one this year, but that doesn't instill a lot of confidence in us that this is a squad that is really ready for Big Ten play this year. We know what we're getting out of Michigan State, a team that we are convinced is incredibly overrated. Without that "Little Giants" play, the Spartans are 3-1 right now and are probably 5-6 point underdogs against the Badgers, particularly off of their 70-3 romp over Austin Peay last week. We tend to believe that we've seen as good as it gets out of HC Mark Dantonio's men. We know that we haven't seen the best from Wisconsin yet. There's a reason that this is a Top 10 team in the nation. The combination of a massive, veteran offensive line, a second year quarterback that many think is a pro prospect (QB Scott Tolzein), a Heisman Trophy caliber running back (RB John Clay), and a defense that is historically stifling should be too tough to tame. If the Badgers can give this one everything that they have, they'll pick up a monstrous win in Big Ten play to start off their march towards the Rose Bowl this year.

Free College Football Picks: Wisconsin -2
Prediction: Wisconsin 34 – Michigan State 16

Matchup: Tennessee Volunteers @ LSU Tigers
Date: Saturday, October 2nd, 3:30 ET
Location: Tigers Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Game Line: LSU -16.5
Over/Under 42.5

Perception is certainly down right now on HC Derek Dooley's team, especially after needing OT to just narrowly knock off a bad UAB Blazers squad last week. However, this is a team that finds ways to scrap and claw in games and just stick around to be a thorn in the opposition's side, something that the Bayou Bengals will be finding out on Saturday afternoon. We still have absolutely zero confidence in QB Jordon Jefferson's abilities to run this offense. The Tigers rank 116th in the nation in passing 'O' at 110.0 yards per game and just 102nd overall at 299.8 yards per game. The toughest part of this schedule hasn't even gotten started yet. In order to cover 16.5 points in NCAA football betting action, you have to find a way to score at least 17 points. Though this is a team that has scored at least 20 in all four of its games, it is also one that has not scored more than 30 against anyone either. Meanwhile in Rocky Top, QB Matt Simms is starting to round into his own, and it could get scary for the opposition as this season wears on. Simms has a 6/3 TD/INT ratio and has thrown for 836 yards in four games. No, he's not better than his departed brethren QB Jonathan Crompton, but he is doing the little things to make this work. The Vols were victorious here in 2005, so they know that beating the Bayou is possible. We might be a little adventurous to be calling for the outright upset, but this is certain a ton of points that we are catching regardless.

Free College Football Picks: Tennessee +16.5
Prediction: Tennessee 17 – LSU 14

Matchup: Michigan Wolverines @ Indiana Hoosiers
Date: Saturday, October 2nd, 3:30 ET
Location: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, IN
Game Line: Indiana +10.5
Over/Under 65

Last year, it was a 36-33 win by the Michigan Wolverines in this series that really started the downward spiral for Big Blue, as things never really got better from there. The Hoosiers have to be beaming with confidence right now from the standpoint that they are 3-0, albeit against lousy competition, but that they have a legitimate chance to go bowling, especially if they can pull off this upset. QB Ben Chappell, again, against bad competition, has been stellar this year and is really learning how to take care of the football. He is completing 72.4 percent of his passes for 890 yards and nine scores without an INT. Meanwhile, all eyes are going to be fixated on Heisman Trophy favorite QB Denard Robinson. All of a sudden, Robinson went from being the second best signal caller on his team to one of the best in the country. He still leads the nation in rushing with 688 yards, and his six rushing scores leads the team. Michigan ranks second in the country in rushing offense at 331.2 yards per game and is tops overall at 562.8 yards per game. An experienced Indiana offense which returns the majority of the players from last year's team that also went into Ann Arbor at 3-0 should be able to move the ball against the offense. The key last year was keeping QB Tate Forcier, and eventually Robinson in the pocket. The two quarterbacks only combined for 21 carries, 39 yards, and a TD. If that's all that Robinson comes up with on Saturday on the road, the Wolverines are in a boatload of trouble. There could be an upset brewing in the Big Ten, but we tend to believe that Big Blue will find a way to narrow survive, just like last year.

Free College Football Picks: Indiana +10.5
Prediction: Michigan 42 – Indiana 38

Matchup: Virginia Tech Hokies @ NC State Wolfpack
Date: Saturday, October 2nd, 3:30 ET
Location: Carter Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC
Game Line: NC State +3.5
Over/Under 53

When are the oddsmakers going to learn that the Wolfpack are for real? HC Tom O'Brien has a winning team that gained all sorts of momentum from last year's narrow escape at home against the North Carolina Tar Heels to end the year. Since that point, the Wolfpack are 5-0 SU and ATS. QB Russell Wilson is largely to thank for that. The third year starter has thrown for 1,112 yards and 11 TDs against just one INT this year. Many probably don't realize it, but NC State is averaging 434.2 yards per game against a respectable schedule that includes games against C-USA favorites, the UCF Knights, a team that went undefeated last year in the regular season, the Cincinnati Bearcats, and last year's ACC champs, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Though it is fairly clear that this Virginia Tech team is significantly better than your average unranked 2-2 team, we still don't quite buy in yet. RB Ryan Williams is out once again from this game, which really leaves some big question marks at running back. QB Tyrod Taylor is the only man averaging more than 45 rushing yards per game on the season. If NCSU can lock down Taylor in the pocket and keep him from finding deep threats WR Jarrett Boykin and WR Danny Coale, this game will be relatively easy. Time for some R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the Wolfpack in a game in which the wrong team is favored by the oddsmakers.

Free College Football Picks: NC State +3.5
Prediction: NC State 31 – Virginia Tech 20

Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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