By: James Ward
Mason Rudolph: The Oklahoma State quarterback had 423 yards and five touchdowns IN THE FIRST HALF against Pittsburgh. While the preseason hype surrounded two quarterbacks in Los Angeles, the two quarterbacks delivering on the hype both play in the state of Oklahoma. Underrated.
San Diego State: The Aztecs are 3-0 to start the season, including two consecutive wins against Pac-12 teams. They lost the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher Donnel Pumphrey to the NFL, but Rashaad Penny looks ready to carry the load. Through three games, he has 588 yards on the ground. Underrated.
Butch Jones: The race for first SEC coach fired this season is getting interesting. Barry Odom at Missouri and Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M are doing their parts, but the bloom is finally off the rose at Tennessee for Butch Jones. Jones is now a 3-2 per BetOnline.AG to be the first SEC coach fired. Overrated.
Derek Mason: Vanderbilt plays Alabama this weekend at home and while I don’t have enough guts to pick Vanderbilt to cover against Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, Derek Mason’s recent success in Nashville has at least made me think about it. That in itself is a win for the Commodores. Underrated.
Three Things You Probably Didn’t Know:
1) When Jacoby Brissett got the start for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, he became the fourth former NC State quarterback to start in the NFL this season. (Including Russell Wilson – who finished his career at Wisconsin).
2) Great note from Ralph Russo of the Associated Press: Clemson has been ranked in the top five for 28 straight AP polls, longer than any other team in the country. Alabama has the second longest streak with 26 straight weeks.
3) Oklahoma State beat Pittsburgh this weekend 59-21 and the Cowboys had four receivers over 100 yards receiving for the game. It was the first time any team had four receivers over 100 yards in the same game since Texas Tech in 2005.
NC State (+13) at Florida State: It’s the fourth full week of the college football season and the Seminoles are just 0-1. Their opening weekend loss to Alabama is still the only mark on their record. True freshman quarterback James Blackman steps in for the injured Deondre Francois and while the talent on the Seminoles roster dwarfs that of the Wolfpack, Blackman versus the NC State defensive front is a major mismatch. The Florida State offensive line was a disaster last season and I thought that was a major reason the Seminoles had no chance to win the College Football Playoff. Now that offensive line is tasked with protecting a freshman quarterback, making his first start, against one of the best defenses in the ACC. Potential top-10 pick Bradley Chubb for NC State has the ability to wreck this game for Florida State.
NC State has one loss this season, but they totaled over 500 yards of offense in that loss to South Carolina. Quarterback Ryan Finley is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in college football and I think he will do enough to keep this game close. Through three games, Finley has thrown for six touchdowns with a 75.6 completion percentage and no interceptions. NC State’s defense will keep this game close and Finley won’t do anything to get in the way. Take the points.
Michigan at Purdue (+10): The Boilermakers are 10-point underdogs at home against a Michigan team that’s struggled to put away Air Force and Cincinnati. The Wolverines are 1-2 against the spread this season, with their only cover coming against Florida in the opener. Purdue is 3-0 against the spread, and while this line makes a lot more sense than their previous numbers, I still think it’s a little high. New Purdue coach Jeff Brohm has done a phenomenal job in his first season in Lafayette and there are already talks about him being a hot commodity this off-season. In the last four seasons, the Boilermakers have just three wins in the Big Ten, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they equal that number this season.
The Purdue bandwagon is crowded, which always makes me nervous, but the Michigan offense has struggled all season. Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight hasn’t done much this year, averaging 190 yards passing through three games with just three touchdowns. Purdue’s defense isn’t a strength of their team, but the Boilermakers should be able to score points through the air, forcing Speight to throw more often and that’s not a good thing for the Wolverines. Unlike last week, I’m not predicting a Boilermaker upset, but the number is too big.
Florida at Kentucky (+2): Last week I went against the SEC ghosts and picked Tennessee to upset Florida in Gainesville and win for the first time since 2003. It looked ok until the SEC ghosts showed up and Florida threw a game winning Hail Mary to win the game. Did I learn my lesson? I guess not, because I’m going against the ghosts again. Florida heads to Lexington with a 30-game win streak. The Gators haven’t lost to the Wildcats since 1986! To say the Wildcats are due would be an understatement. Kentucky is 3-0 for the first time since 2010 and the Wildcats actually look like one of the better teams in the SEC East.
The Wildcats rank third nationally in rush defense, allowing just 57 yards per game. Florida struggled on offense again last week, before Feleipe Franks’ game winning throw, and a well-rounded Kentucky defense should limit the Gators offense. It is completely disrespectful for Kentucky to be home underdogs against a Florida team, but that’s what happens when you lose 30 games in a row. This is the year the Wildcats break the streak and get some respect in the SEC East.
Last Week: 1-2
Season Record: 5-4
Ward’s Winners Overall Record: 63-51-0
James Ward is the Executive Producer of CBS Sports Radio Weekends and Sunday Morning Football. On Saturdays, you can find him in studio producing Eye on College Football and catching as many games as possible. Check him out on Twitter (@JamesWardCBS).