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College Capper: Picking Games Week 4

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

I'm not sure when it happened exactly, but at some point in the past 15 years, we as a viewing public became obsessed with the future.

It started with the "this guy is making himself a lot of money right now" comment often heard when a player performed well in postseason during a contract year.

From there we started looking at college athletes in their senior year and began projecting where they might fall in the upcoming draft.

Now it appears that just two weeks into a college football season, we feel the need to look ahead to not only the draft prospects of Johnny Manziel, but also what team he might play for, how well he will play, if he will have an impact in his first year, if he will make the Pro bowl in his second year, if he will lead his team to the playoffs in years 3-5 and finally, if he will end up in the HOF.

How did we get here?

Am I the only one who doesn't give a rat's behind how Manziel will be as a pro QB, at least not now, not two weeks into the college football season?

I get it, he moves the needle like no one else and people like all things Johnny Football, but at what point does it all become too much?

I, for one, will put Manziel in the rear-view mirror until his TEAM becomes relevant again.

As for his Heisman prospects? To be honest, I don't really care. I don't give much thought to the Heisman until October because so many things can change. Anyone who tells you that a Heisman can be won or lost in the first month, doesn't follow the game. Just ask Geno Smith.

Oh, and if I hear about Manziel's transcendent performance one more time, I'm going to puke. It was a good game against a good, not great defense. Anyone who watched how Alabama's secondary futilely attempted to cover Mike Evans has to come away with the conclusion that Bama's D needs work, at least the back four needs work. You can't be a great defense with a gaping hole in your secondary. And while I'm at it, Alabama outscored A&M by 28 in quarters 2-4. None of that falls on the QB?

OK, I'm done, I won't even mention how a large chunk of his numbers last week were earned while in catch-up mode and how Mike Evans saved his bacon not one, not two, but three times accounting for more than 200 of his 400-plus yards. Nope, not going there.

Why are we here again? Oh, yes, we're picking games, so let's do it.


Cream of the Crop
(Week: 1-2/Season: 3-4)


Boise State at Fresno State:
Fresno State is licking its chops. It's been a long time since the Boise State was vulnerable and the Bulldogs see an opportunity to pounce. Those that have underestimated the Broncos the last decade have paid the price, time and again, but I have to admit, this team seems different from the ones we've become accustomed to the last 10 years. The reason behind the withering confidence in Boise State is the defense, specifically, the run defense. Last week the Broncos struggled to stop the Air Force ground attack, an attack that was stopped in its tracks the week prior against Utah State. Anytime there's a gaping hole on a defense, it opens up everything else. And this time around, Fresno State is well equipped to take advantage.

Side: Fresno State -3


SMU at Texas A&M:
A couple things in play here. First, it is pretty apparent that no one is stopping the Aggies offense this season, save for maybe LSU. Second, do you think the Aggies defense is a little sick and tired of taking all the blame for the loss last week? Yes, they deserve most of it - heck, maybe all of it - but there comes a point where you say enough is enough. This week the challenge in front of them isn't nearly as steep, and I expect them to at least show up. This game should get out of hand early in the second half.

Side: Texas A&M -28.5

Missouri at Indiana:
If you watched the Indiana game last week, you saw more than a few unfortunate breaks go against anyone who had the over. Twice the Hoosiers turned the ball over inside the opponent's five-yard line, yet they still managed to put up 42 points. The fact that Bowling Green could only manage 10 points was more an issue of offensive ineptitude as opposed to anything Indiana's defense did. That really doesn't matter, though, because this week we are talking about Missouri, and we all know that the Tigers can put up the points. Entering this week the Tigers are 10th in the nation in scoring, while the Hoosiers are sixth.

Total: Over 71

Best of the Rest
(Week: 2-2/Season: 9-5)


Utah State at USC:
I'll be the first to admit when I'm wrong, and I was flat-out wrong about the USC game last week, but what exactly I was wrong about is still in question. I got the pick wrong, yes, but was it because the Trojans finally showed up or because Boston College is just plain bad? I'm still not sure, but one thing I am certain of is Utah State is a pretty good team, and I'm guessing Trojans won't be quite as amped up this week as they were last week. This one will be close.

Side: Utah State +7

Colorado State at Alabama:
Again, like A&M, Alabama's defense is probably a little ticked off after last week's performance and looking to get right. There could be a bit of a hangover effect, but I doubt it will matter. Look for Bama to score every which way in this game.

Side: Alabama -41

Vanderbilt at Massachusetts:
At first glance, it looks like Vandy is off to a tough start this year and at 1-2, I'm sure no one associated with the program is pleased, but look at the losses and it's easy to blame the slow start on the schedule. A tough opening-week loss to Ole Miss and road loss at South Carolina last week account for the two losses. The schedule eases up a bit this week as the Commodores travel to UMass, a team that isn't known for putting up much of a fight. Look for Vandy to take out some frustration this week on the Minutemen and get back to .500.

Side: Vandy -32.5

Michigan at Connecticut:
The days of the Huskies being a thorn in the side of bigger programs is long gone. The Huskies are 0-2 this season against the likes of Maryland and Townson. Any chance the Huskies had of pulling an upset in this spot went out the door when the Wolverines nearly lost to Akron. Michigan got its early season wake-up call and luckily didn't lose in the process. You can bet that it will be ready from the opening kick this week.

Side: Michigan -18.5

PASSing Thoughts
(Week: 0-2-1/Season: 5-6-1)


Clemson at North Carolina State:
Honestly, I don't have a good feel for this game, but it's the only game in town Thursday, so I'll put in my two cents. Clemson is near its peak value in the public's eye. and N.C. State looks like just another bump in the road. The problem is, the Tigers are laying a huge chunk here, and although the Wolfpack aren't at the level of the Tigers, they are capable of putting up a fight in front of a legitimate home crowd.

Side: NC State +14.5


Michigan State at Notre Dame:
What's that I always say about totals in the 40s? Well, I'm not technically breaking my own rule in this one because MSU has a legitimate defense. The problem for the Spartans, of course, is the offense. The total is extremely low for a college game, but I can easily see this as a 17-10 game.

Total: Under 40.5

Kansas State at Texas:
This is the last stand for Texas this season, the last chance to salvage anything. Despite the results from the last two weeks, the Longhorns can still win the Big 12. Now back to reality. While everything above is true, the fact of the matter is, this team is in disarray. Kansas State looked like a team in disarray just a couple weeks ago, but the Wildcats have seemingly righted the ship. While Texas is likely to bring a strong effort this week, I don't see the Longhorns winning this game by more than a FG.

Side: Kansas State +5.5

Louisiana-Monroe at Baylor:
Baylor is off to a quick start to put it mildly, but the Bears have feasted on some really poor competition. LA-Monroe is not exactly a huge step up in class, but Warhawks should provide a slight bit of resistant this week and hopefully slow the game down enough to stay under this huge number. ULM held Oklahoma to 34 points earlier this year, and if it can keep Baylor near 50, this one should go under.

Total: Under 74.5