After four weeks of picking some of the best college football games in the country, a trend has emerged. It’s called the buddy system.
At the top of the food chain are CU Independent’s co-sports editor Cheng Sio and the weekly guest picker. Russell Cunningham, last week’s guest picker, went 5-3 just like Sio to stay atop the leaderboard.
Staff writer David Starcer was also tied for the lead last week but fell out after going 3-5. On the bright side, he found a buddy in CU:I’s football beat reporter Alex K.W. Schultz. Only a game separates the two in their chase for the lead.
Sharing the cellar are CU:I’s co-sports editor Ron Knabenbauer and staff writer Chris King. Knabenbauer found King after finishing a woeful 2-6 last week. They are now tied at 16-16.
Matt Hanlon, this week’s guest picker, can accomplish what no guest picker has done this season — become top dog.
Guest picker this season — Overall: 21-11, Last week: 5-3
Matt Hanlon – junior broadcast news major
Colorado 17, West Virginia 14: After a long break for the Buffs and coming off a big win for head coach Dan Hawkins, CU should be able to pull this one out in Morgantown, W. Va.
Louisville 34, Pittsburgh 21: There is nothing that stands out with this match-up as neither team has really proven themselves. Louisville will take this one considering they lost a close one to in-state rival Kentucky and a very good Utah team. Pitt has played nobody and lost to North Carolina State.
Wisconsin 24, Minnesota 14: This one is a tossup. Minnesota has lost one game to California but has won the rest. Wisconsin is undefeated going into the game after beating Michigan State and Fresno State. This one is going to go to the Badgers as they pull this one out on the road.
No. 3 Alabama 34, Kentucky 14: Alabama has beaten up on the competition this year, coming into this game undefeated. Kentucky hasn’t really done anything to impress the nation and they lost big last week to Florida with an injured Tim Tebow. Top 10 teams have been dropping like flies lately, but I am going to stick with Alabama. They are too solid on both sides of the ball.
No. 18 Georgia 28, No. 4 LSU 17: The Bulldogs opened the season with a loss to Oklahoma State but have rebounded to beat very good teams including South Carolina. LSU barely beat a mediocre Washington team and barely beat Mississippi State last weekend. The Tigers are going to have to go play Between the Hedges, so I am taking Georgia with this week’s upset.
UCLA 28, Stanford 14: Stanford is coming off a big win against Washington at home, but they haven’t really had any competition besides the Huskies. UCLA is undefeated and beat a good Tennessee team that gave Florida a run for their money. This is a statement game for head coach Rick Neuheisel and the Bruins program. The Bruins will travel north and get the win at Stanford.
No. 24 Cal 35, No. 7 USC 28: This is a big game for both programs. Both lost up in the Northwest, USC to Washington and Cal to Oregon. I believe that both teams will come out wanting to score early and often. USC posted an average win against a bad Washington State team. Cal is coming off an embarrassing loss to the Oregon Ducks, but I feel that at home, they will pull out the win in a shootout up in Berkeley, Calif.
No. 17 Miami 24, No. 8 Oklahoma 20: This is the most interesting game of the weekend. Depending on whether Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford plays could really have an impact on this game. Oklahoma posted two shutout wins the past two games against Idaho State and Tulsa. Miami has faced strong teams early in the year and have proven themselves even though they lost big to Virginia Tech last weekend. I am going to go with ‘Canes down there at home in Miami.
Cheng Sio — sports editor — Overall: 21-11, Last week: 5-3
Colorado 17, West Virginia 12: Will CU win? Probably not. But I’m picking them to do the unexpected because if they lose this game, the Buffs will be staring 1-4 right in the face. Scary.
Pittsburgh 27, Louisville 20: Where art thou Bobby Petrino because the Cardinals miss the good old days? Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe’s hot seat will get a little warmer after he loses on national TV to Panthers head coach Dave Wannstedt and his ‘stache.
Minnesota 28, Wisconsin 20: From a distance, they are two different teams. Wisconsin has its bruising style led by sophomore running back John Clay (398 rushing yards) and Minnesota follows the air attack of junior Adam Weber (879 passing yards). But at the end of the day, they both play close games and it will be the Golden Gophers who will pull through in this one.
No. 3 Alabama 40, Kentucky 24: Facing a flu-ridden Tebow, the Wildcats allowed the Gators to rack up 362 yards on the ground last week. ‘Bama will do the same. The only reason Kentucky gets 24 points is because of the karma they received from knocking out Tebow.
No. 18 Georgia 27, No. 4 LSU 9: Congratulate the Tigers for being the latest overrated team to receive a top five ranking. And like the previous four predecessors (No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 5 Oklahoma State, No. 3 USC and No. 4 Ole Miss), they will fall out in embarrassing fashion.
Stanford 16, UCLA 7: Stanford is on the rise and they have third-year head coach Jim Harbaugh to thank. Of course, this season doesn’t mean a thing without a bowl game. The Cardinal still face Oregon State, Arizona and No. 7 USC on the road as well as No. 16 Oregon, No. 24 Cal and Notre Dame at home. They need this game and they will get it.
No. 24 Cal 30, No. 7 USC 20: If you look up the word humiliated, you will find Cal’s logo. They lost last week 42-3 to Oregon and fell 18 spots in the rankings. Eighteen freaking spots! If Heisman Trophy candidate Jahvid Best and the Golden Bears have any pride, they will beat the Trojans.
No. 17 Miami 34, No. 8 Oklahoma 13: It’s amazing how people are tripping over themselves just to get off “The U’s” bandwagon after one bad week in the rain. Thankfully, I’m not one of them. Also, did people forget that Bradford, last season’s Heisman Trophy winner, is attempting to return from a sprained throwing shoulder? Guess not.
Ron Knabenbauer — sports editor — Overall: 16-16, Last week: 2-6
West Virginia 31, Colorado 24: I’m all for the Buffs to win. But let’s face it, after barely winning last year in Boulder, they will have no chance at repeating this year in Morgantown.
Louisville 32, Pittsburgh 28: There is just something about Louisville that I like about them this season. Pitt will keep it close, but the Cardinals will win in the end.
Wisconsin 33, Minnesota 22: The Badgers will show the Gophers who’s boss in Minnesota’s brand new stadium.
No. 3 Alabama 42, Kentucky 23: Almost all of us would like to see an upset here, but it’s just not going to happen this year. Roll Tide!
No. 4 LSU 31, No. 18 Georgia 30: Watch for LSU to compete for the Southeastern Conference and national championships this season. That includes sneaking past the Bulldogs in Athens, Ga., this week.
UCLA 27, Stanford 19: Stanford is on the upswing, but the Bruins should win this game.
No. 7 USC 35, No. 24 Cal 17: After losing last week to Oregon, Cal will keep on falling this weekend. But this time, it will be to the top 10 Trojans.
No. 8 Oklahoma 37, No. 17 Miami 25: I’m a Miami guy all the way, but the Sooners offense should have a pretty easy time picking apart the Hurricanes defense in this one.
Alex K.W. Schultz — CU:I’s football beat reporter — Overall: 18-14, Last week: 4-4
West Virginia 37, Colorado 24: I hate doing this, but I just don’t see the Buffs stopping the Mountaineers’ high-powered offense. Colorado’s defense has allowed 1,230 yards in three games, and speedy West Virginia junior RB Noel Devine and Co. have the weapons to gash the Buffs for a few more.
Pittsburgh 33, Louisville 21: The Panthers embarrassed the Cardinals 41-7 last season at Heinz Field. While I don’t think Friday night’s contest will be as lopsided, Louisville hasn’t improved by 34 points in one year.
Wisconsin 31, Minnesota 27: This heated rivalry dates back to 1890 with the Golden Gophers leading the all-time series 59-51-8. However, the Badgers are 4-0 behind junior QB Scott Tolzien’s eight touchdown passes and sophomore RB John Clay’s 398 rushing yards. Wisconsin will eke out a close one and retain Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the sixth straight year.
No. 3 Alabama 28, Kentucky 13: Anything can happen when two SEC teams hook up, but don’t expect an upset here. The Wildcats had their chance last week at home against No. 1 Florida, but they laid an egg and were drubbed 41-7. The Crimson Tide might not bite as hard as the Gators but they won’t have any problem getting out of Commonwealth Stadium with a “W.”
No. 18 Georgia 24, No. 4 LSU 21: The Tigers are highly overrated. They traveled to take on Mississippi State last week, which finished 4-8 in 2008, and escaped with a 30-26 victory. I expect LSU to show its true colors Saturday and fall victim to senior QB Joe Cox and the 18th-ranked Bulldogs.
UCLA 24, Stanford 17: The Bruins’ offense is pathetic but their defense, which is allowing an average of 12.7 points per game, will save them here. I expect UCLA to turn the Cardinal into a one-dimensional team and improve to 4-0.
No. 7 USC 26, No. 24 Cal 13: The Trojans lost their leading scorer, senior RB Stafon Johnson and his five TDs, to a weightlifting accident Monday when the 275-pound bar he was bench pressing fell on his throat. I still feel, however, USC can compete with anybody in the country. And after seeing the Golden Bears’ 42-3 shocking loss Saturday to Oregon, wow, yeah, I’m not picking them.
No. 8 Oklahoma 35, No. 17 Miami 21: The Sooners have pitched back-to-back shutouts in their last two games and they could have Bradford back behind center. I feel Oklahoma has worked out its cobwebs after falling 14-13 to BYU to open the season.
Chris King — staff writer — Overall: 16-16, Last week 4-4
West Virginia 35, Colorado 20: As much as my heart yearns to pick the beloved Buffs, I can’t — not after watching Colorado State’s Grant Stucker look like Peyton Manning in his first ever start or after the abuse Toledo put on our poor team. Last year’s game was an overtime thriller with CU sneaking out a win. But that was last year, and in Boulder. Expect this one to be the Jarrett Brown show as the Mountaineers quarterback with the cannon arm tears apart the Buffaloes’ secondary.
Pittsburgh 27, Louisville 17: Remember back in 2006 when Louisville was playing Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl and ended the season ranked in the top 10? Those days are long gone as the Cardinals have been on a slide ever since. You can bet Kragthorpe is feeling the heat. Things won’t get any easier when the Panthers come to town. Pitt is reeling from a heartbreaking loss to North Carolina State and will be looking for revenge. Expect freshman Dion Lewis to have a big day.
Wisconsin 31, Minnesota 28: The Badgers have managed to get off to a 4-0 start while Minnesota’s one loss came to Cal. Each team has struggled with the teams they were “supposed” to beat with Wisconsin going to OT against Fresno State and Minnesota doing the same against Syracuse. Each team has had close games this season and this one shouldn’t be much different.
No. 3 Alabama 45, Kentucky 10: Offering Kentucky 10 points in this game seems generous. Alabama might have the most stifling defense in the nation, holding the “explosive” Arkansas offense to a single touchdown and making stud Razorback QB Ryan Mallett look like a punching bag. Don’t expect the intensity to stop. The Wildcats got mauled by the Florida Gators last weekend and you can bet the folks in Lexington, Ky. aren’t looking forward to this match-up much more.
No. 4 LSU 34, No. 18 Georgia 24: Each of these teams are coming off of near losses to unranked opponents with LSU’s goal-line stand being one of the more exciting moments this season. The Tigers’ defense looked mortal against Mississippi State but Georgia’s defense has looked abysmal much of this season, giving up over 40 points to Arkansas. Expect the Bayou Bengals to take this one and march towards their clash with Tebow and Co. in Baton Rouge, La. next week.
Stanford 24, UCLA 21: Had it not been for a late Wake Forest drive in week two, the Cardinal would be 4-0 and most likely ranked. RB Toby Gerhart has been a monster, rushing for 200 yards last week, and freshman QB Andrew Luck has been stellar. Unfortunately for the Bruins, their frosh phenom QB Kevin Prince is out after suffering a broken jaw against Tennessee three weeks ago. Without him, the Bruins won’t have the magic to overtake Stanford.
No. 7 USC 28, No. 24 Cal 20: Before the Golden Bears laid an egg in Eugene, Ore. last weekend and the Trojans were stunned in Seattle two weeks ago, this looked like the match-up of the year for the Pac-10 Conference. Each of these teams has something to prove, but after Best’s terrible performance against the Ducks, it’s hard to have faith in the Bears. USC comes in still smarting from its loss and have something to prove. In a battle of the coaches, USC’s Pete Carroll gets the “W.”
No. 8 Oklahoma 34, No. 17 Miami 10: After opening their season with a shocking loss to BYU, the Sooners got even worse news: reigning Heisman winner Sam Bradford would be out several weeks with a sprained right shoulder. While Oklahoma was on the way down, the Hurricanes were on their way up, beating back-to-back ranked opponents. The talk was that “The U” had returned. Then, the Hokies handed them a beat down and the talk stopped as quickly as it started. The Sooners backup QB Landry Jones has looked great in his last two starts and the defense has been dominant. Expect Oklahoma to win this one and stick their name back in the national championship conversation.
David Starcer — staff writer — Overall: 19-13, Last week 3-5
Colorado 28, West Virginia 27: Yes Buffs fans, I am staying strong to our team by picking Colorado for the fourth time this year even though football logic and common sense tells me otherwise. West Virginia has put up a lot of points this year and up until the Wyoming game, the Buffs’ D had performed well below expectations. But I think the key to this game is how well Colorado runs the football. Big games by Rodney Stewart and/or Darrell Scott equals the Buffs controlling TOP (time of possession). If they do this, and it’s a big if, I really do like CU in an upset.
Pittsburgh 20, Louisville 14: Louisville has lost back-to-back games and is not the same team of years past. Pittsburgh is coming off a tough loss to NC State but has looked good this season, especially running the football. I like the Panthers in a tight one.
Wisconsin 24, Minnesota 21: The Badgers are 4-0 and may look past this game to their matchup with Ohio State next week. The Golden Gophers will put up a fight but I like Wisconsin to pull out the win. By the way, does anyone else think this rivalry game — the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe — is being played way too early?
No. 3 Alabama 48, Kentucky 13: Everyone saw what Tebow and the Gators did to Kentucky in the first half last week, 31 points and a zillion yards of offense. Alabama is averaging 40.5 points per game this season. Hmmm….you do the math.
No. 4 LSU 16, No. 18 Georgia 13: Both of these teams have played a lot of close games so far this season, with LSU barely beating the likes of Washington and Mississippi State and Georgia squeaking by South Carolina and Arizona State. The difference in their records is the Bulldogs loss to Oklahoma State. The difference in this game will be LSU’s run defense.
Stanford 31, UCLA 27: Hey, I’ve picked all road teams so far. Time to mix it up, I guess. Seriously though, I like the Cardinal in this game. They held Washington scoreless in the second half and beat a Huskies team fresh off their upset of USC. UCLA is 3-0, but their real season starts now. After this, they play Oregon and California back-to-back.
No. 7 USC 34, No. 24 Cal 24: Speaking of Cal, how terrible did the Golden Bears look last week against Oregon? 42-3 is an embarrassing loss, something a team that was ranked sixth in the nation should never have happened. As much as I like this team, and I do think they will rebound the rest of the way, I can’t pick them over USC after last week. I hope they prove me wrong but I’m taking the Trojans by 10.
No. 8 Oklahoma 30, No. 17 Miami 20: After losing to BYU, the Sooners have beat their last two opponents by a combined score of 109-0. Granted, those games were against Idaho State and Tulsa, but it’s an impressive feat nonetheless. This game is eerily similar — to me — to USC vs. Cal. I like what I’ve seen from Miami and I want to pick them, but I’m too scared by their performance at Virginia Tech (31-7 thrashing). I’ll go with the sure thing, aka DeMarco Murray, and pick Oklahoma to beat the ‘Canes in Land Shark Stadium.
Contact CU Independent Co-Sports Editor Cheng Sio at Cheng.Sio@colorado.edu.