My picks in Week 4 were not too bad. Took a risk with the upset special and lost it, but what is life without risk? Still hoping to improve on 7-3 this week. With a 28-16 overall record, I am ready for what Week 5 has to offer -- even though it is not much in the way of marquee games.
Also, several readers have emailed me asking about why I leave certain teams out of the picks. My assignment is to make picks for 10 to 12 games featuring non-AQ teams, at least one from each conference. I try to look for the best games on the schedule. I could pick the easy ones, but what fun is that? So for that reason, Utah has not been in the picks for a few weeks. The competition has not warranted a spot, and I wanted to give myself something other than a guaranteed win.
On to the picks!
BYU 24, Utah State 20. Can BYU really lose four in a row? The Cougars have never lost three in a row under Bronco Mendenhall until last week, so anything is possible with the way the season is going for BYU. They lost their best defensive player, Romney Fuga, last week after a low hit against Nevada. Jake Heaps gets his first career start on the road. Neither unit has been overly impressive. Both teams are actually desperate for a win at 1-3. But the Cougars have won 10 straight in the lopsided “rivalry” and have more talent.
Air Force 21, Navy 20. I went back and forth on this one. I know Navy has won seven straight. I know Navy always finds a way to win these games. But there is a reason Air Force is the favorite. The Falcons have simply played better than Navy this season.
Upset Special: Army 24, Temple 23. Giving out a little service academy love here. Running back Bernard Pierce is a game-time decision. Without him, Temple could be hurting. Yes, Army has not beaten a tough opponent yet, but I like the way the Black Knights are playing. They are creating turnovers and Trent Steelman has found his groove.
Miami (Ohio) 28, Kent State 21. The Golden Flashes have had a tough schedule to open the season, with back-to-back games at Boston College and Penn State before the bye. They might be without RB Eugene Jarvis once again. Miami has played well at home, and the battle to watch here is Thomas Merriweather against the No. 1 rushing defense in the country. Miami gets the edge at home.
North Carolina 33, East Carolina 30. This game is going to be closer than a lot of people think because the Pirates can score and the Tar Heels are still undermanned. Still, East Carolina has problems on defense, and that is going to be the deciding factor in the end.
Pittsburgh 20, FIU 10. The Pittsburgh Panthers looked pretty awful in a loss last week at Miami. Now they face another team from Miami. Luckily for them, the FIU Panthers don’t pose the same type of threat. Nonetheless, FIU has played its nonconference opponents tough, almost beating Rutgers and Texas A&M. They will keep this one close.
Toledo 24, Wyoming 20. The Cowboys made a rare trip East to Toledo, where coach Dave Christensen spent nine seasons as an assistant. They are struggling while Toledo has reeled off three straight wins on the road, including one over Purdue. Going with the hot team in this one.
North Texas 27, Louisiana 17. The Mean Green unleashed their run game last week with Lance Dunbar, James Hamilton and quarterback Riley Dodge, rushing 54 times for 257 yards against FAU. Seems like a good strategy, considering the team is down to its third quarterback. Louisiana, meanwhile, struggled to stop Middle Tennessee on the ground. Sensing a possible light at the end of the tunnel for North Texas.
Western Michigan 34, Idaho 30. Idaho is a tough team to figure out, after losing on the road to Colorado State. Given the way the Vandals struggled to stop the pass last week, and how Alex Carder is playing for Western Michigan, the Broncos should have the advantage.
Southern Miss 28, Marshall 13. Southern Miss leads the series 4-1 against Marshall, but the only loss game at home two seasons ago in the conference opener. The same scenario awaits this week, but Marshall has struggled all season to find any semblance of consistency.