Every week, Maxwell Award winner, Heisman Trophy finalist, former NFL starting quarterback and CBS Sports analyst Brady Quinn will be here offering his picks on some of the closest, most-competitive college football games.
We have already seen some surprises, but you can set your mind at ease this weekend with these straight-up winners.
Last week: 2-1 | Season: 16-13
Appalachian State at Troy: A Sun Belt matchup that's drawing a lot of attention. One of the nation's stingiest defenses (App State is No. 14 in total defense, No. 10 in scoring defense) is taking on one of the most balanced offensive attacks in college football. Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers is averaging nearly 280 yards passing per game while the team is rushing for nearly 200, led by Jordan Chunn (112 ypg). The balance has allowed for a high level of execution in the red zone, which is why Troy has one of the top scoring offenses in the country (18th). Troy also has the Mountaineers coming to their house, but don't expect that to make it any easier. Eric Boggs and the Appalachian State defense will look to get off the field on third down, and the Mountaineers' offense will play keep away with one of the top rushing attacks in the country led by Jalin Moore. I think this game will be close but I like the Trojans in a close one. Pick: Troy
SportsLine ATS projection: Troy -1.5 (-3) -- Analysis
Vanderbilt at Missouri: This game isn't going to be pretty, but I do believe the Tigers have an edge. The matchup to watch is Missouri's offense vs. Vanderbilt's defense as the teams' strengths will go head-to-head. Mizzou QB Drew Lock has been one of the pleasant surprises this season in Columbia, Missouri. Lock throws for almost 280 yards a game and has 19 touchdowns to eight interceptions this season. His accuracy has been inconsistent, and Mizzou has suffered five straight losses, including one to Middle Tennessee. Commodores coach Derek Mason has his team trending in the right direction. Vandy is 1-4 in SEC play but has been in close games with a 6-point average margin of defeat. This game will be tight but good defense travels on the road. As bad as Vanderbilt's offense has been, I believe its defense will create opportunities for Mason and his crew to get their second SEC win of the season. Pick: Vanderbilt
SportsLine ATS projection: Mizzou (-3.5) -- Analysis
Stanford at Oregon: The traditional powerhouses of the Pac 12 North have both taken a step back this year. Two of the top rushers last season in the Pac-12, Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and Oregon's Royce Freeman, have been almost silent this season. Freeman has dealt with injuries, as has McCaffrey, but it also seems that teams are hell bent to stop both in the running game. This is another game that could be ugly given Stanford's methodical approach and offensive style. For Oregon, its defense is trying to transition to a 4-3 scheme under coordinator Brady Hoke. They transition hasn't been easy considering they don't have the bodies and players are still trying to learn the technique the coaching staff is implementing. This plays to the hands of Stanford, and I expect McCaffrey and RB Bryce Love to go off for the Cardinal against one the nation's worst rush defenses (116th out of 128 teams).
Oregon has decided to go with true freshman QB Justin Herbert, who has played well in his time behind center, but there's still some fundamental mistakes. For example, the Ducks almost ran two plays with 10 players on the field against Arizona State. Clearly, if you are a quarterback, there is something noticeable when you don't have one of your five eligible receivers on the field. Fortunately for Oregon, it ran the football and still got a first down. These sorts of mistakes don't work against one of the best coached and most disciplined teams in the Pac-12. Expect a low scoring game. Pick: Stanford
SportsLine ATS projection: Oregon (+3) -- Analysis