Welcome to week three of Pick Six, a weekly column published every Thursday where the RTI team plus a weekly guest picker calls their shots on six games. We’ll do our best to pick the most competitive games each week and will focus heavily on the SEC when possible. Spreads are listed and will occasionally be mentioned in the comments. We’ll keep a running tally of records (straight up, not ATS) throughout the year and compare those to how Vegas fared.
Last week we all whiffed on USC and Virginia Tech. Our panel went 4-2 including our guest picker Blake Hatfield. For the year, each RTI writer is 8-4, our guest pickers are 7-5 and Vegas favorites are 9-3 (we’ll get ’em, just wait).
This week’s guest picker is Richard Daugherty, co-host of The Drive (which airs weekdays from 3-6 pm ET) on 94.3 FM Knoxville or KnoxTalkRadio.com. Give him a listen and a follow Vol fans.
Penn State (-3.5) @ Rutgers TV: Big Ten Network 8pm Saturday
Daniel: Both teams have started the season 2-0, but neither has really stood out yet. In many ways, this is somewhat of a statement game for both programs. Rutgers is playing its first game as a member of the Big Ten and Penn State has a new lease on life after finding out this week that its NCAA sanctions have been lifted. When overall personnel is fairly similar, I look at quarterbacks and coaches. I think PSU has the edge there with Christian Hackenberg and James Franklin, so I’ll take the Nittany Lions on the road. Winner: Penn State 24-21
Houston: This is an interesting game. My heart wants me to pick against James Franklin but my head knows he’s the better coach in this matchup. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg may turn the football over too much for my liking, but he has the best arm in college football and a great group of receivers that should give Rutgers a lot of trouble in their secondary. I’ll take another close, come-from-behind win for the group from State College. Winner: Penn State 31-27
Reed: At Vandy, Franklin consistently got his teams to play above their talent level and they just didn’t lose to inferior opponents. Vol fans hate him (and I think he’s a slime ball) but James Franklin is an excellent motivator and gets the best out of his teams. Considering the Nittany Lions are already more talented than Rutgers, this line seems way too low to me. Penn State wins big and emerges as a top-tier Big 10 team, which means they’ll have a shot to lose to an SEC team in a bowl. Winner: Penn State 31-17
Richard: This will be Rutgers’ first conference game as a member of the Big 10. I assume that will lead to some excitement around their campus if they aren’t too busy distancing themselves from Ray Rice. However, I don’t think Penn State will be too rattled by the environment at High Point Solutions Stadium. Penn State will probably have to overcome an initial wave of excitement from Rutgers, but that should hardly be a Herculean task. Last week, Rutgers wasn’t very impressive in their 38-25 win over Howard. Given that Howard was shutout in week 1 by Akron, it appears Rutgers isn’t equipped to take on a Nittany Lion offense led by Christian Hackenburg, one of the top QBs in the nation. Further, Penn State should be riding a high after receiving news on Monday that they will be bowl eligible this season. Penn State has a pretty good chance of getting to a decent bowl game, because they have a favorable schedule, and as a whole the Big 10 isn’t very good. The Scarlett Knights just don’t have the talent to beat Penn State, and James Franklin generally doesn’t lose games against lesser opponents. Besides, winning their Big 10 opener wouldn’t be a very Rutgers thing to do. Losing games is just what they do at the state university of New Jersey. Winner: Penn State 35-10