Tiger fans, I'd like to apologize for not doing a Goldin Guarantees column last week. I was pretty busy, and let that slide. For those of you who I disappointed, I'm sorry. For those who thought I was not doing this column anymore, I'm also sorry for getting your hopes up. I'm here to make it up to you with some quality (sort of) picks and analysis. Now, on to the picks!
Va Tech (+1.5) @ Pitt (-1.5) 7:30 (ESPN)
The Hokies NOT favored on a Thursday Night? What's going on here? To be fair, this game won't be in Lane Stadium, but it think this still gives a pretty adequate evaluation for the state of Beamer Ball right here. Neither team is impressive. And while the game is at Heinz Field, Heinz hasn't been as raucous for Panther games as it has been for Steeler games. Mapquest shows it being at quickest a 5 hour and 19 minute drive from Blacksburg to Pittsburg. If this was a Saturday game, I'd for sure expect there to be more Hokies than Panthers there, because it seems like a reasonable drive for a weekend trip. I know not all Hokies live in Blacksburg, but we can assume for most Va residents it would fall between a 5-7 hour trip. Expect a good group of Hokies to take a long weekend and show up and be
obnoxious loud. As for the action on the field, It's kind of a toss up. The Goldin Guarantee: VT 20 Pitt 17
Virginia (+3) @ Duke (-3) 12:30 (ESPN3/ACC Network)
Duke shocked us all by beating undefeated Georgia Tech in Atlanta in a game that had major ACC Coastal title implications. That felt so weird writing that. This week, they'll host the 4-2 Virginia Cavaliers, who currently lead the ACC Coastal. Okay, seriously, what is going on in the Coastal? UVA has actually been an impressive team, and Duke is continuing their roll from last year's Coastal winning season. While we expected Duke to be this good, the Wahoos have definitely been the surprise team so far in the ACC. The Goldin Guarantee: UVA 35 Duke 34
NC State (+17.5) @ Louisville (-17.5) 3:30 (RSN/ESPN3)
The last two teams that Clemson has played (and beaten) square off in the bluegrass state. From what I can tell, Bobby Petrino hasn't given the Wolf Pack any bulletin board material. Louisville has a stout D, and James Quick really impressed me last week. NC State looked absolutely terrible against Clemson after looking semi competent against FSU, and then continued the downward slide by losing to Boston College. Expect a 4th loss in a row for State. The Goldin Guarantee: Louisville 27 NC State 7
Clemson (-5) @ Boston College (+5) 3:30 (ESPNU)
This game shouldn't have me so worried, but it does. After the NC State game, I would've said we'd high step into Chesnut Hill and stomp the Eagles, but now with no Deshaun Watson, I'm a bit worried. It doesn't help that Clemson-BC games, win or lose, usually leave me with an uneasy feeling. Obviously all the games against Matt Ryan were heartbreaking, but even with a 5-1 record vs BC since then, they usually give us a tight game or do something that makes you worry about next week. Last year's game was too close for comfort for the whole game until Vic Beasley's fumble return for a touchdown.
In 2011, we beat them handily 36-14, but Tajh Boyd was injured at the end, leaving us nervous until Dabo said he'd be good for the next game. In 2009 we won 25-7 with all special teams scoring, behind 6 field goals by Richard Jackson and a punt return by CJ Spiller, in a game that had 2 lightening delays and took over 5 hours to finish. What I'm getting at, is that weird things happen when we play for the O'Rourke-McFadden trophy. That being said, we are still the better team. As long as our defense plays to it's potential, we shut their offense down. Their defense won't be as good as Louisville's is, so not having any offensive touchdowns this week would be even more of a disappointment than last week.
Weather wise, playing them before November should help. Saturday the high is projected be 72 and the low will be 47, compared to a high of 78 and low of 48 in Clemson. If that holds up, this weather will be nothing that our guys haven't experienced before. A lot of Clemson fans typically make this trip, and it always seems like a good time up there. It's definitely on my Clemson road game bucket list. The Goldin Guarantee: Clemson 27 BC 16
Texas A&M (+11) @ Alabama (-11) 3:30 (CBS)
Ever since Johnny Football took the Aggies to Bryant-Denny Stadium and knocked off the #1 ranked Tide two years ago, this game has had an extra spark. While it's nowhere near the level of Auburn-Alabama intense, and probably not as intense as LSU-Alabama, it has all the makings to become an entertaining SEC West rivalry. This year, Kenny Hill (aka Kenny Trill) will be leading the team into Tuscaloosa after 2 straight losses in the state of Mississippi. Bama has arguably the best receiver in the country in Amari Cooper, but has been lackluster on offense over the past 2 weeks. A&M brings in a defense that is ranked 48th in average points against (giving up 22.6 per game), while the Bama O is also ranked 48th in the average points scored category (scoring 33.2 per game). On the flip side, the Tide's defense is ranked 6th for average points scored against (15.3 per game), while the Aggies Offense is, you guessed it, 6th in average points scored per game (with 43.9 per game). Something has to give. I feel like the Aggies are going to find a way to get into the end zone, but it probably won't be as frequently as they liked. Still, Lane Kiffin will have to get more production from Alabama's offense, or they could drop their second game. The Goldin Guarantee: Texas A&M 21 Alabama 19
Georgia (-3.5) @ Arkansas (+3.5) 4:00 (SEC Network)
Last week, while I didn't make my picks, I was pretty certain that Mizzou would knock of the Dawgs. Then the news about Todd Gurley was announced, and I was positive. UGA proceeded to prove me wrong by beating the brakes off of Mizzou, and teaching me a lesson about doubting them. That being said, Arkansas is off to a rough start at 0-3 in the west, but those 3 losses have been to top 10 teams. They were ran over by then # 6 Auburn, lost an overtime shootout to then #6 Texas A&M, and then went toe to toe with #7 Alabama and lost by 1 point. This three game stretch against A&M, Bama, and Georgia has to be one of the toughest in the country. And while they get a non-conference breather against UAB, the next week they go to #1 ranked Mississippi State (another sentence that feels weird to write) to play. The Hogs could very easily be 0-5 in conference play before taking on LSU in Fayetteville. They'll be facing a Gurley-less Dawg squad at their home away from home of War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, which is smaller than Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. The Dawgs will limit the pain of not having Gurley by keeping a steady diet of freshman Nick Chubb, who was dubbed "baby-Gurley" by CBS announcers, yet has a lot of the folks in red and black thinking "baby-Hershel". Chubb had 143 yards last week vs Mizzou. Freshman back Sony Michel is still out, but Keith Marshall will be back this week. Him and Brendan Douglas should be enough to give Chubb some breaks thorough the game. Expect Arkansas to give it their all and make the Dawgs sweat, but I don't see Arkansas picking up their first SEC win this week. The Goldin Guarantee: UGA 27 Arkansas 21
Georgia Tech (-2.5) @ North Carolina (+2.5) 7:00 (ESPNU)
The Yellow Jackets' undefeated season ended last week at home vs Duke. This week, Paul Johnson takes his squad to the Chapel Hill, where the fans are already geared toward basketball season. That has nothing to do with the Tar Heel's gridiron struggles, it's just always hoops season in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels are a 2-4 team that actually have a pretty good offense, but a bad defense. The Heel's offense has scored 41 against ECU, 35 against Clemson, and 43 against Notre Dame. Impressive. The bad news for the folks wearing baby blue argyle: they gave up 70 to ECU, 50 to Clemson, and 50 to Notre Dame. Georgia Tech is the same old clock killing, veer-running, triple option, more fun than a barrel of monkeys offense that we've gone accustomed to under Johnson. This has the making to be like somewhat similar to Clemson-GT in the 2009 ACC Championship game, only with a lot less talent on the field. Expect UNC's offense to go for the Jacket's throat, but if that defense can't keep the Ramblin Wreck offense off the field, then I don't see the Heels winning this game. Th Goldin Guarantee: Georgia Tech 55 UNC 48
Notre Dame (no line) @ Florida State (no line) 8:00 (ABC)
Once again, Famous Jameis Winston is in the news the week before a big game for something that happened off the field. Basically, the NCAA is seeing if he's taken money in exchange for autographs. It looks like he's done signings for autograph dealers, including the same dealer that busted Todd Gurley, but that in itself is not against the rules. If he did in fact take money for the autographs, then he would be breaking the rules Regardless, it most likely will not effect this weeks game, but Vegas has decided to pull the line just in case. #5 Notre Dame opened as a 13.5 underdog to the 'Noles. The Irish are a pretty good team, but we haven't really seen them make a statement. Jameis vs Everett Golson should be fun QB matchup to watch. The Goldin Guarantee: FSU 34 ND 23