Underdogs Dominate Top Dawgs Picks for College Football Saturday

College football Saturday is back on us and, like every week, there are some intriguing matchups. While the Top Dawg has a standout record to date (24-11), this week offers some tough picks along with some locks.  Here are some of the top games:

Oklahoma (-7.5) at Texas:  This games features the front runner for the Heisman in Kyler Murray against an very dangerous Texas Longhorn defense that is vastly improved since their opening day loss against Maryland.  Murray’s thrown 17 touchdown passes in 5 games while completing 70% of his passes.  He is athletic, smart, and has no trouble avoiding the rush to make big plays. On the other side of the ball, Texas is as dangerous as they come because they are an improving club.  They attack on defense and have an experienced quarterback playing at home.  This is a signature game for the Longhorns, a chance to get back to national prominence.

Pick:  Texas plus 7.5

Kentucky at Texas A&M (-6):  Like Texas, this is a signature game for fast improving No. 13 Kentucky.  The Wildcats are looking to start 6-0 for the first time since 1950 when, oddly enough, Bear Bryant was their coach.  Mark Stoops has Kentucky believing and you should too because they are legit.  Besides having one of the most electrifying players in the country in running back Benny Snell, Kentucky sports a ball hawking defense that is third in the country in scoring at just over 12 points a game.  On the other side of the ball, the Aggies have two losses, to No. 1 Alabama and to No. 4 Clemson.  Quarterback Kellen Mond and running back Trayveon Williams give A&M one of the most dynamic one-two punches in all of college football.  Whoever scores first is probably the winner in this game, but it won’t be easy for either side.  It”s a tough decision, but I am taking Texas A&M at home.

Pick:  Aggies -6

Northwestern at Michigan State (-9):  This game is one of the more interesting match-ups all weekend.  Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson is experienced and he has knocked off Sparty each of the last two seasons.  While the Wildcats are 1-3, they could easily be 3-1.  Michigan State comes in getting better and better each week.  The Spartans boast the No. 1 ranked rush defense in the country, so expect Thorson to throw it early and often.  Michigan State’s only loss was on the road against a sleeper, Arizona State, who almost knocked off Washington.  Expect the Spartans to exact their revenge in a close game.

Pick:  Northwestern plus 9.

Boston College at NC State (-3.5):  The state of the game falls on the health of BC running back A.J. Dillon.  BC’s offense is built around Dillon, who is third in the country in rushing with 652 yards.  If Dillon can’t go, it creates problems for Boston College because they will have a hard time keeping up with NC State’s explosive offense.  Dillon is a game-time decision.  The real question is can we trust the Wolfpack at 4-0.  While they have a nice win against Virginia, the other three victories aren’t anything to write home about.  Their marquee match-up with West Virginia was cancelled because of bad weather, so now is the time for Dave Doeren and quarterback Ryan Finley to show how good they really are.  Finley leads the ACC in passing and has, to this point, lit up the board.  Big game, big stakes for the Wolfpack heading into a showdown with Clemson.  I expect North Carolina State to win big.

Pick:  NC State -3.5

LSU (-3) at Florida:  Every week it seems like Ed Orgeron is trying to keep his job at LSU, which is pretty sad considering he has the Tigers ranked No. 5 in the country.  For years, Florida dominated the series but, recently, the last few match ups have been decided by a touchdown or less.  Last season, LSU jumped on Florida early, only to see Florida kicker Eddie Pineiro miss a late extra point to squeak out an LSU 17-16 win.  Now, the Tigers have to go into a hostile environment in The Swamp to try to solidify their top-5 ranking.  This should be a low scoring affair as two of the countries best defenses face off.  The wildcard in all of it is LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who tore up Ole Miss last week for 4 touchdowns.  If Burrow gets hot, Florida is in trouble because the Gators can’t score consistently.  Tough, tough match up for both clubs.

Pick:  Florida plus 3.

Washington (-21) at UCLA:  This one is an easy one.  UCLA has no talent and Washington has one of the countries top defenses.  Everyone thought that Dorian Thompson-Robinson might be the guy to lead UCLA, but in the past four games he has proved to be, well, just another guy.  Couple that with UCLA’s lack of depth and talent, and what you get is a rout.  Washington, on the other hand, has depth and talent at almost every position.  Greg Gaines is a monster on the defensive line, while quarterback Jake Browning brings talent and experience to a game that, for the most part, is a mail-in type contest.  Expect Browning and Washington to score early and often, while UCLA will have trouble scoring at all.

Pick:  Washington -21

Notre Dame (-5.5) at Virginia Tech:  Not sure what to think about Virginia Tech.  They beat down Florida State pretty easily on opening night, then get their ass handed to them by unheralded Old Dominion in one of the most shocking upsets in recent memory.  Regardless, they are always dangerous at home.  Ryan Willis, who got his chance at QB when Josh Jackson went down with a fractured leg, threw the ball all over the field against Duke last week, dominating the Dukie defense to the tune of 332 yards and three scores.  Notre Dame seems to have found their stride, too, since inserting Ian Book at quarterback.  Book managed a masterful game last week against No. 7 Stanford as the Irish got a much needed high profile win.  Barring any let down by Notre Dame, this should be one of the marquee games of the weekend.  While the Irish have impressed, I don’t think anyone knows how good Willis really is.  Well, we are all about to find out.

Pick:  Va Tech plus 5.5


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