Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 9/22/12

Upsets continued in week 3, furthering the chaos of this young season.  Most notable was USC’s loss to Stanford, marking the fourth consecutive win for the Cardinal over the Trojans.  USC had looked so good early on that it was hard to see this one coming. 

Our records on the year are still ugly…we have to claw our way back to positive ground, hopefully in week 4.

Zach Bigalke: 10-14 (4-5)
John Mitchell: 11-13 (3-6)
Matt Strobl: 10-14 (4-5)


Week 3 Picks

The Trojans will look to get back on track against the Cal Bears, who looked surprisingly decent in Columbus last week.  Notre Dame has another big matchup with that team from up north after dispatching the rival Spartans in week 3.

Here’s what the Tailgater crew is predicting. Rankings are according to the AP Top 25 poll. All times are eastern. All picks are against the spread as defined by Yahoo! Sports’ final lines.


Saturday, 3:30pm. Columbia, SC
Missouri Tigers @ South Carolina Gamecocks (-10)

Strobl: This is a large spread for an intra-conference matchup between two respectable SEC teams.  However, with the exception of their win over Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks have shown themselves to be highly effective on both sides of the ball.  I had expected Mizzou to hang with, or even beat, Georgia earlier in the season.  Instead, the Tigers were manhandled at home.  Now they head to an unfriendly Columbia for more of the same rough treatment. PICK: South Carolina

Mitchell: South Carolina is the better team, and should win this game, but 10 points feels like too much for this one. In South Carolina’s only test in 2012, the Gamecocks struggled to beat Vanderbilt 17-13. The experts have become bullish on South Carolina once again after blowout wins over two Conference-USA opponents. Missouri is looking to have a better performance in their second SEC game than they did in their first against Georgia. The Tigers responded well last week with a quality win over Arizona State. Look for South Carolina to win, but by single digits. PICK: Missouri

Bigalke: All you really have to do is think about all the trouble Vanderbilt gave the Gamecocks in their season opener, a 17-13 victory for South Carolina. Missouri hasn’t had as dynamic an offense this season as in recent years, but the Tigers still have enough weapons that they match up well against Spurrier’s charges. This should be more of a defensive battle, with both sides in the top quarter of the country in yardage allowed per game. This one is closer than the betting line, and should swing by less than a touchdown either way. PICK: Missouri

Saturday, 3:30pm. Pasadena, CA
Oregon State Beavers
@ UCLA Bruins (-7)

Strobl: UCLA has looked better than advertised, and playing at home, the Bruins are the logical pick here.  Oregon State could be considered an upset threat, but quite honestly that win over Wisconsin looks less and less impressive by the week.  The Badgers are really struggling, and that indirectly undermines my confidence in the Beavers’ chances. PICK: UCLA

Mitchell: I’m not sure what to make of Oregon State. They’ve played just one game this year with their season opener being postponed, but that one game was an impressive victory over Wisconsin, albeit the Badgers have looked pretty bad this year. Jim Mora Jr. has shifted the tides in Los Angeles as the Bruins have looked like a legitimate Pac-12 contender. Running back Jonathan Franklin is on the shortlist of Heisman favorites at the moment, however the Beavers did completely shut down Montee Ball. In the end, if this game was being played in Corvalis, I would have Oregon State covering the spread, but it’s not. PICK: UCLA

Bigalke: Is Rick Neuheisel that bad, or is Jim Mora just that good? Either way, UCLA has suddenly transformed from punching bag to puncher. They take on a Beavers team that has just one game under their belt, a then-upset against a Wisconsin team that is nowhere near its Rose Bowl form of the past two years. The Bruins will be looking to start a season 4-0 for the first time since 2005, and with Jonathan Franklin carrying the load and Brett Hundley directing the offense, UCLA should get there. (Now finishing 10-2, as they did in 2005, is another question altogether.) PICK: UCLA

Saturday, 6:00pm. Los Angeles, CA
California Golden Bears 
@ USC Trojans (-16)

Strobl: USC looked mighty average in its loss to Stanford, but Cal isn’t Stanford by a long shot.  And before you go thinking that week 3′s narrow loss at Ohio State means that the Golden Bears have turned a corner, remember that the Buckeyes aren’t yet “back” and Cal has an endless capacity to disappoint. PICK: USC

Mitchell: The Golden Bears were impressive last week and gave Ohio State all they wanted and more in Columbus. Unfortunately they are running into an angry USC team at the Coliseum that is looking to take out their frustrations over their loss to Stanford on California. Khaled Holmes should be back this week for the Trojans, and his presence will immensely help an offensive line that was manhandled by Stanford’s defensive front last week. Matt Barkley should have a bounce back game as well, and USC should look like the title contender we were expecting to see in the preseason. PICK: USC

Bigalke: The Bears probably don’t win this contest. USC is going to be fired up to make a statement, show they shouldn’t be out of the national championship race. But I also don’t see a team whose defensive depth issues have been exposed being able to mercilessly pummel a team that went toe-to-toe with Ohio State last week. For all the hype that ushered the Trojans into this season, their vaunted passing attack is only 41st in passing efficiency and outside the top 30 in yards per game. Cal can at least keep this one close. PICK: California

Saturday, 7:00pm. Auburn, AL
LSU Tigers
@ Auburn Tigers (+20.5)

Strobl: It wasn’t too long ago that this might have been a competitive matchup.  Unfortunately, Auburn is lucky to have a win this season.  It’s too much to expect the host Tigers to even cover this large spread, much less make a game of it against the Bayou Bengals. PICK: LSU

Mitchell: This game will be close in warmups and that’s it. LSU has the vastly superior football team, and they shouldn’t have much of a problem against the other Tigers even with the game being played at Jordan-Hare. It’s been a rough start to the season for Auburn with their lone win coming against Sun Belt foe in overtime. They lost their season opener to Clemson and were dominated my Mississippi State in Starville. Kiehl Frazier hasn’t looked much like a starting QB in the first three weeks and now he has to go up against a ferocious LSU defense. The Bayou Bengals have flown under the radar this year, but there is no denying they are legitimate contender for the National Championship. PICK: LSU

Bigalke: LSU is good… really good. Auburn is bad… really bad. LSU’s offense has found a new gear with Zach Mettenberger, and Auburn’s has regressed under Kiehl Frazier. Auburn by every right should be 0-3 heading into this game, providence allowingthem to upset Louisiana-Monroe in overtime. (Yes, I said an SEC home win over a Sun Belt opponent was an upset, and it was.) This one is going to get ugly really quick, and you’ll probably find yourself flipping to the prime-time games an hour later already knowing LSU has covered the spread. PICK: LSU

Saturday, 7:30pm. South Bend, IN
Michigan Wolverines
@ Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-5.5)

Strobl: Which is the real Notre Dame?  The one that struggle against Purdue, or the one that rolled Michigan State?  One wonders how it’s possible for the same team to put up such vastly different performances.  Michigan, on the other hand, has been consistent but not spectacular.  On the road, it’s hard to see the one dimensional Wolverines pulling out a win if the Irish play like they did in week 3.  I’m violating my own rule…never bet on Notre Dame.  PICK: Notre Dame

Mitchell: The Irish were dominant on the road against Michigan State last week, and I feel like the Spartans have a better team than the Wolverines. After being manhandled by Alabama in the season opener, Michigan struggled to beat Air Force before blowing out UMass last week. Denard Robinson came up big against Notre Dame last year, but this Irish defense has looked great in 2012 led by Manti Te’o. Everett Golson will make enough plays for the Fighting Irish’s offense to get the win in South Bend. PICK: Notre Dame

Bigalke: The Irish could be 4-0 once the dust settles in South Bend, and the trumpeting of that team’s national title hopes will intensify. The Wolverines were soundly beaten by Alabama and nearly lost to Air Force, playing unspectacular yet effective football. Notre Dame has been stout defensively, among the top ten units in the country at keeping opponents out of the endzone and off the scoreboard. Michigan has had ND’s number the past three years, but this time Shoelace learns what it feels like to lose under the watchful eyes of Touchdown Jesus. PICK: Notre Dame

Saturday, 7:50pm. Norman, OK
Kansas State @ Oklahoma (-14)

Strobl: Kansas State, with Collin Klein at QB is a very dangerous team.  Oklahoma is one the nation’s elite, or so we’ve been told.  We have yet to see the Sooners face a truly tough test, but they’re about to get one here.  I expect Big Game Bob to pull out a win in front of the home crowd, but a spread of 14 is too risky for my taste.  The Wildcats are good enough to cover. PICK: Kansas State

Mitchell: I’m a little concerned about this pick considering Oklahoma went to Manhattan and throttled Kansas State by 41 points last year, but this spread feels a little too big considering how the teams have played in 2012. The Sooners struggled in their season opener against UTEP and blew out an overwhelmed Florida A&M team two weeks ago. Kansas State has played down to its competition against Missouri State and North Texas, but the Wildcats routed Miami 52-13. The Sooners should win this game because they don’t lose in Norman, but the Wildcats should keep it within two touchdowns.  PICK: Kansas State

Bigalke: Yeah, we’ve all heard about what happened last year in Manhattan. But while this K-State team is more seasoned, the Sooners are a team in transition. Hell, I think the Wildcats are better than Oklahoma this year in the Big XII; the Sooners are in better poll position thanks merely to name recognition and mindblowing stats built on contests against cupcakes. This weekend will prove it, and I fully expect Collin Klein to force another readjustment of the standings in college football. And even if they don’t win, you should thanks to a generous two-touchdown spotting. PICK: Kansas State

Saturday, 8:00pm. Tallahassee, FL
Clemson Tigers @ Florida State Seminoles (-14.5)

Strobl: Florida State has done nothing but destory every opponent that takes the field.  Clemson is obviously a major step up in competition, but until the Seminoles demonstrate otherwise, they are one of top teams in the nation as far as I’m concerned.  This is a large sread considering both are ostensibly Top 10 teams, but even so I’m going with FSU. PICK: Florida State

Mitchell: 14.5 is an absurdly high spread for a game between top ten teams, but I think the Seminoles are going to cover it. The Seminoles defense has been swarming through three weeks and has given up a grand total of three points after shutting out Wake Forest 52-0 last week. Clemson’s spread attack with Tajh Boyd and playmaker Sammy Watkins will be the toughest test yet for the ‘Noles defense. Clemson’s defense has struggled to stop the run so far this year, giving up 180 yards per game, and Florida State boasts one of the best rushing offenses in the country. PICK: Florida State

Bigalke: This is another game just like the Oklahoma-Kansas State contest to me. FSU has amazing defensive stats against a pair of scrubs and against a Wake Forest team that will be scraping the bottom of the ACC barrel come December. Clemson continues to be overlooked… and yes, I’ve been guilty of skepticism in the past with the Tigers as well. But right now that ACC skepticism is squarely pointed toward a team everyone wants to assert is back among the elite. Even if they eke out a win, this won’t be the blowout Vegas wants you to think it will be. PICK: Clemson 

Saturday, 10:30pm. Eugene, OR
Arizona Wildcats @ Oregon Ducks (-22.5)

Strobl: I still don’t respect the Oregon defense.  While the offense is inarguably one of the best in the country (if not the best), the Ducks continue to allow too much yardage and too many points for my liking.  It’s not that I want to see teams run up the score, but when you’re giving it up in chunks to the likes of Fresno State and Arkansas State, what will happen when you face the USCs of the world?  This is an interesting game, because Arizona has some real talent.  I don’t expect the Wildcats to win, or to even come close when it’s all said and done.  But a spread this big makes it tempting to pick the underdog.  I fully anticipate a high-scoring affair, perhaps something in the 60-40 range.  And in the end, the Oregon offense is just too good for me to go against the Ducks at home. PICK: Oregon

Mitchell: Are the Wildcats for real? Rich Rodriguez has done some great things in Tuscon, leading Arizona to a 3-0 start that included a thumping of Oklahoma State. Reality should set in this week against one of the best teams in college football. Oregon has been superb this year led by freshman QB Marcus Mariota and playmaking running backs DeAnthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner. This is a game that should probably be close for the first half or so, but the Ducks will flex their muscles and show their superior depth in the second half as the Wildcats wear down and Oregon cruises. PICK: Oregon

Bigalke: This one, however… this is going to be close to that spread, one way or another. I’d be a lot more confident in this pick if Carson York and John Boyett weren’t knocked out for the season with injuries, but Oregon has a much deeper platoon of reinforcements than the Wildcats. In a game where everyone is talking about the schematic duel between Chip Kelly and Rich Rodriguez, Saturday night under the Autzen lights is going to be defined by a different coach — Oregon DC Nick Aliotti and how his group challenges Arizona’s newfound spread acumen. PICK: Oregon


Picks of the Week: Our Favorite Point Spreads

Strobl: Arkansas (-7) over Rutgers   Yes, Rutgers is 3-0.  Yes, Arkansas has looked lousy in consecutive weeks.  But Hogs’ QB Tyler Wilson has been cleared to play, the team is going to be embarrassed and angry after being exposed by Alabama, and the Big East is still the Big East.  A one-TD spread for an SEC team that came into the year as a Top 10 team is too tempting to ignore.   Mitchell: Louisville (-13.5) over Florida International   Stay away from this one because all of my spread of the week picks have been wrong so far. But, this one doesn’t make much sense to me. Yes, Louisville lost at home to FIU last season, but that was largely due to T.Y. Hilton, who now plays for the Indianapolis Colts. This is a different FIU team, a team that lost by 20 on the road against Duke. The Cardinals are also a much improved team from a year ago and are off to a 3-0 start led by QB Teddy Bridgewater. My 0-3 streak in these picks ends this week   Bigalke: Fresno State (+7) over Tulsa   I know this game is in Oklahoma rather than California, but that’s hardly enough to justify a touchdown spread in Tulsa’s direction. Fresno State obliterated Colorado last week, after holding Oregon to their lowest point total since losing to USC last season. With Derek Carr under center and Robbie Rouse rushing all over the field, Fresno is going to make Golden Hurricane fans in the stands long for the days of G.J. Kinne and company.   ***** Join us in the coming weeks as Tailgater continues to present its weekly picks and previews along with reactions to the best and worst of what college football has to offer.
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