Ward’s Winners: Week 3

By James Ward

Overrated/Underrated:

Nick Saban Tantrums:  So Alabama beat Western Kentucky last weekend, by a score of 38-10, and following the game, an irate Nick Saban said, “I don’t know if I’ve ever been this disappointed after winning a game, maybe ever.”  Love it.  Additionally, Saban chewed out his offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin because a late Tide turnover allowed the Hilltoppers to score a touchdown.  Underrated.

Battle at Bristol:  A college football game at Bristol Motor Speedway.  In theory, a very cool idea, unless you actually went to the game and had to try to make sense of what was happening on the field.  The sight lines were terrible.  Imagine watching a basketball game from the top of the Empire State Building.  Basketball is New York and the Empire State Building is the Big Apple, but the two things don’t go very well together.  Sort of like college football at Bristol Motor Speedway.  Overrated.

Penn State vs. Pitt:  After a 16 year hiatus, this rivalry game was back on the college football schedule last weekend and the game was awesome.  The Panthers were up by two touchdowns for most of the game, but the Nittany Lions scored 18 points in the second half and actually almost won the game.  Next year’s game takes place at Beaver Stadium in State College, PA.  Underrated. 

Clemson:  Through two games this season, Deshaun Watson has completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, considerably lower than last year’s completion percentage of 67.8.  The Tigers have the most talented group of offensive players in the country, but last week they struggled to score against Troy.  Right now: Overrated.

Derwin James:  Florida State’s utility tool and defensive stud got hurt last week during the Seminoles win against Charleston Southern.  The knee injury will keep James out 5-7 weeks and the impact will be felt immediately, as the Seminoles are tasked with stopping Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson this Saturday.  If James were a quarterback, his injury would be the biggest story in college football.  Underrated.

Kentucky:  The Wildcats made a rare SEC on CBS appearance last Saturday against Florida and they didn’t exactly change anyone’s opinion about Kentucky Football.  The Gators now have a 30 game winning streak against the Wildcats.  With games looming against Alabama, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Georgia and Louisville, it looks like another lost season in Lexington.  Overrated.

 Three Things You Probably Didn’t Know:

  1. Three of the last four coaches at Bowling Green left the Falcons for Power Five coaching positions.  Last year’s coach Dino Babers is now tasked with turning around the Syracuse football program. Before Babers, Dave Clawson left Bowling Green to coach Wake Forest.  The Demon Decons are 2-0 to start this season and Clawson joins CBS Sports Radio’s Eye on College Football on Saturday afternoon.  Who’s the third coach?  Urban Meyer.
  1. The Colorado Buffaloes head to the Big House this weekend to take on the Michigan Wolverines.  This is the fifth meeting between the two schools and Colorado only has one victory in the series matchup.  You may remember Colorado’s lone victory: The Miracle in Michigan. 
  1. The Army Black Nights are 2-0 for the first time since 1996 and third year head coach Jeff Monken has the Black Nights playing well. This week, the Black Nights look to go 3-0 with heavy hearts as they honor cornerback Brandon Jackson who was killed in a car accident earlier in the week.

Ward’s Winners:

Texas A&M (+3.5) at Auburn:  The Auburn defense looked great in Week 1 against Clemson, but when the Clemson offense sputtered against Troy in Week 2, the performance in Week 1 held a lot less weight.  Texas A&M’s offense has looked good so far under transfer quarterback Trevor Knight.  The Aggies have the offensive firepower to score against the Tigers defense.  The Aggies are first in the SEC in scoring and total offense.  Also, Texas A&M leads the league in longest plays from scrimmage, with a whopping 38 plays of at least 10 yards so far this season.

Auburn’s offense looked a lot better last week against Arkansas State, but they simply don’t have the talent to score with A&M.  While going with a road underdog is always dicey, the home team is 0-4 since the Aggies joined the SEC.  Take the points, but Texas A&M will win the game.

Florida State (-1.5) at Louisville:  Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has been the most impressive player in college football this season and he has accounted for 13 touchdowns for the Cardinals offense.  Louisville has scored 132 points and beaten Charlotte and Syracuse handily.  All sounds good for the Cardinals, right?  Not so fast.  Last week, Syracuse scored 28 points and the Orange were actually in the game in the fourth quarter before Louisville pulled away.  Jackson was great, but his teammates made a lot of mistakes.  Against a great team like Florida State, the Cardinals will have to play a perfect game.

As for Florida State, they now have the second best odds to win this year’s National Championship behind Alabama.  After a scary first half against Ole Miss in Week 1, the Seminoles have dominated for the last six quarters of football.  Florida State should be able to run the ball on Louisville.  Florida State running back Dalvin Cook has yet to have a 100-yard game this season.  I think Cook has a big game this week and Florida State wins easily.  By the way, last year’s game between Florida State and Louisville was supposed to be close and the Seminoles won by 20 points, and Deondre Francois is already much better than last year’s quarterback Everett Golson.

Ohio State (-1.5) at Oklahoma:  Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett still talks to Houston head coach and former Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman weekly and this week’s conversation centered mostly on football and the Buckeyes upcoming matchup against the Sooners.  Houston beat up on the Sooners in Week 1 and the connections between the Cougars and the Buckeyes are obvious.  They run very similar offenses through Barrett and Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr.  Both Barrett and Ward are gifted athletes, and I think Barrett could have the same success against the Sooners that Ward had in Week 1.

The last time these teams played each other, Earle Bruce was coaching Ohio State and Barry Switzer was coaching Oklahoma, and this time around, the coaching matchup favors Ohio State.  For the Buckeyes, Urban Meyer is the best coach in college football, outside of Nick Saban, and Sooners coach Bob Stoops has had issues winning this sort of game throughout his career.  Expect a big game from J.T. Barrett and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Last Week: 2-1

Season Record: 4-2

Ward’s Winners Overall Record: 34-22-0

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