Conferences in the Crosshairs: ACC, Pac-12 picks

Ken Cross

September 26, 2017 at 11:19 pm.

Sep 23, 2017; Berkeley, CA, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold (14) runs the ball against the California Golden Bears in the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Photo Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 23, 2017; Berkeley, CA, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold (14) runs the ball against the California Golden Bears in the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Photo Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

I made a huge mistake in giving the points with Louisville and the opposite with Clemson, as Boston College kept it close before giving up 27 points in the fourth quarter in a 34-7 Tigers win.

In the Pac-12, I gave too much credence to the return of the Oregon Ducks as Todd Graham’s Sun Devils survived a character check in a huge way in shading Oregon, 37-35, after a 21-point Ducks rally saw them take a 35-34 lead late.


USC at Washington State – The Trojans haven’t put together a smooth and consistent game yet, wire-to-wire, but they are 4-0. That could be good news as the season unfolds because this team could hit its groove now during Pac-12 play. This is a matchup between the sexy quarterback pick in Sam Darnold and the forgotten and highly productive quarterback in Luke Falk. Mike Leach will unleash a rising defensive star in Hercules Mata’afa against Darnold.
Trojans (-3.5) 38, Cougars 33.

Arizona State at Stanford – Stanford running back Bryce Love cut through the UCLA defense for 263 yards on the ground as the Cardinal rolled to a 59-34 win. The Arizona State defense has had similar problems against the run. Todd Graham would love to see his rushing game pick up as it averages only 2.6 yards per carry. Both teams lost to run-heavy San Diego State.
Cardinal (-16) 44, Sun Devils 28.

Washington at Oregon State – Chris Petersen has rebuilt the Huskies’ defense after losing so many important pieces and some schools of thought say this team is even better than last season’s team on the defensive side. The Huskies have too many pieces on both sides of the football as focused quarterback Jake Browning, running back Myles Gaskins, and a fleet of wide receivers led by Dante Pettis will have this one put away by halftime.
Huskies (-26.5) 51, Beavers 10.

Colorado at UCLA – Both teams come off resounding losses to Washington and Stanford, respectively. Colorado was gashed on the ground by Myles Gaskins, who ran for 202 yards. The Bruins do not have that potent of a rushing attack, but Josh Rosen and Darren Andrews should be able to connect through the air, although the key will be to stop Philip Lindsey, who struggled last week against the Washington defense. UCLA has lost two in a row, giving up 85 points in those combined.
Buffaloes (+6 1/2) 31, Bruins 26.

Cal at Oregon – The Bears’ defense is much improved under first-year coach Justin Wilcox. It pushed USC into making a myriad of adjustments on Saturday. Ross Bowers could have another big game through the air for Cal as Oregon’s defense proved it is still a work in progress as Manny Wilkins had a huge game for Arizona State in the 37-35 win over Oregon.
Ducks 45, Bears (+13 1/2) 34.


Clemson at Virginia Tech – The Frank Beamer era at Virginia Tech was littered with highly ranked teams coming into Blacksburg and taking the ‘L’ as Lane Stadium at night is not a fun place foo play. No. 2 Clemson enters this game getting stellar quarterback play from Kelly Bryant, who is now four games in as the heir apparent for DeShaun Watson. He has completed 68 percent of his passes and is the Tigers’ second leading rusher. New Tech quarterback Josh Jackson has 11 touchdown passes and only one interception in 115 attempts.
Tigers 26, Hokies (+7) 20.

Miami at Duke – Malik Rosier and Mark Walton destroyed the Toledo Rockets’ defense in the Hurricanes 52-30 win. Rosier threw for 333 yards, while Walton ran for 204 yards as Miami showed great balance in netting a solid win over a solid team after having its last two games were not played due to hurricanes. Duke is on a roll at 4-0 and the Blue Devils have designs on winning their second Coastal division title of the David Cutcliffe era. Duke got a couple of fourth quarter scores to overtake North Carolina, 27-17. The capper was a 61-yard interception return by Bryon Fields. How well the Blue Devils’ defense holds up against several developing Miami weapons will be the key.
Hurricanes 35, Blue Devils (+6 1/2) 32.

North Carolina at Georgia Tech – How well North Carolina can handle a physical Georgia Tech front will go a long way in telling if the Tar Heels can stay around in this game. The Yellow Jackets rushed for 436 yards and five touchdowns in their win over Pitt. Since the UNC defense has had trouble stopping anyone all season, TaQuon Marshall could be in for another big rushing day from his quarterback position in concert with the physicality of the Tech offensive line.
Yellow Jackets (-10) 41, Tar Heels 24.

Syracuse at NC State – The Wolfpack have to be feeling good about themselves in picking up the 27-21 win in Tallahassee over the Seminoles. The running back combo of Nyheim Hines and Jaylan Samuels causes matchup issues as they have different ways of attacking defenses. The Orange has an attacking spread offense behind Eric Dungey who has completed 63.6 percent of his passes as Steve Ishmael and Ervin Phillips are a tough cover. The Wolfpack could get caught living off last week’s win. Syracuse lost 35-26 at LSU, but rallied to within two late in the game after trailing 28-10.
Orange (+13) 38, Wolfpack 31.

Florida State at Wake Forest – Sam Blackman threw for 278 yards in his first start of his Seminoles career; however, he couldn’t sustain drives or make the key play when FSU needed it. That’s to be expected from a true-freshman in his first start. Wake Forest is a quiet 4-0, but really hasn’t seen a team close to the talent level of FSU. It will be a tough adjustment as the 0-2 Seminoles come in hungry for a win.
Seminoles 20, Demon Deacons (+ 7 1/2) 13.

Straight Up

Last week – 11-2
Overall – 42-13

Vs. the spread

Last week – 8-5
Overall – 25-25

Follow Ken on Twitter @KennyBuckets333 or @CollHoopsWatch