Explaining Knoxville, FSU and 4-6

USC backup quarterback Dylan Thompson is 1-0 vs. ranked teams on the road.

I can explain our 4-6 Pigskin Picks records last week.

Brent Musburger distracted me going into ABC’s Florida State-Clemson telecast, constantly asking if any players had girlfriends that looked like Katherine Webb.

Warren Peper, esteemed Post and Courier ambassador, had a busy week kissing babies and shaking hands.


Should have known. Jameis Winston, after a 51-14 victory in Death Valley, appears on his way to the Heisman Trophy. Florida State’s two Heisman winners vs. Clemson: Charlie Ward, 57-0 win in 1993; Chris Weinke, 54-7 win in 2000.

South Carolina?

The Gamecocks never do well in SEC games against first-year Tennessee head coaches in Knoxville: Butch Jones (23-21 loss in 2013), Lane Kiffin (31-13 loss in 2009), Phil Fulmer (55-3 loss in 1993).

For Clemson, it gets easier. Maryland has enough injury problems to get sympathy from Georgia and Florida.

“All I can say is that it’s football,” Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said this week. “This sport is pretty much 100 percent guaranteed that you’re going to get hurt playing the game.”

It’s harder for South Carolina. Missouri, despite the loss of quarterback James Franklin, is No. 5 thanks to luckier health after injuries ruined 2012. The Tigers had one offensive lineman start all 12 games during a 5-7 season.

“I’ve never seen injuries like we had last year,” head coach Gary Pinkel said, “and I’ve been in this business a long time.”

This 7-0 Missouri team has four offensive linemen who have started every game this season.

Back to the Pigskin Picks fundamentals:

USC at Missouri

Gamecocks quarterback Dylan Thompson is 1-0 vs. ranked teams on the road (Clemson in 2012), and 1-0 vs. teams named the Tigers (ditto).

Gene Sapakoff pick: South Carolina, 31-14

Warren Peper pick: South Carolina, 27-21

Clemson at Maryland

The Terrapins are crawling to the Big Ten. Goodbye to a series that started in 1952 (Clemson leads, 33-26-2).

Sapakoff pick: Clemson, 34-14

Peper pick: Clemson, 48-20

The Citadel at Chattanooga

The Bulldogs scored 28 unanswered points to win 28-27 in Chattanooga in 2011. The Mocs probably got reminders this week.

Sapakoff pick: Chattanooga, 24-17

Peper pick: Chattanooga, 27-17

Charlotte at CSU

Justin Bolus, a James Island High School graduate, scored the first touchdown in Charlotte football history, a 1-yard catch vs. Campbell on Aug. 31.

Sapakoff pick: Charlotte, 24-21

Peper pick: CSU, 23-20

S.C. State at Bethune-Cookman

A Daytona Beach clash with defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champ Bethune-Cookman likely is for the league title.

Sapakoff pick: Bethune-Cookman, 28-21

Peper pick: S.C. State, 27-14

Tennessee at Alabama

A bit more house cleaning and then Alabama has two weeks to prepare for LSU.

Sapakoff pick: Alabama, 35-7

Peper pick: Alabama, 34-17

N.C. State at FSU

Senior cornerback Lamarcus Joyner didn’t force any fumbles his first three seasons at Florida State but forced two in the first half last week at Clemson.

Sapakoff pick: Florida State, 42-10

Peper pick: Florida State, 48-14

Boston College at UNC

Tar Heels tight end Eric Ebron already has 31 catches. Eagles QB Chase Rettig makes his 40th start.

Sapakoff pick: North Carolina, 24-23

Peper pick: North Carolina, 24-20

UCLA at Oregon

“GameDay” in Eugene. Here is where Ducks must start proving their defense is elite.

Sapakoff pick: Oregon, 38-14

Peper pick: Oregon, 35-27

Penn State at Ohio State

So strange. Buckeyes on pace to go undefeated over two seasons without a BCS Championship Game appearance.

Sapakoff pick: Ohio State, 31-14

Peper pick: Ohio State, 34-24

Last week: Warren Peper 4-6, Gene Sapakoff 4-6

Season: Peper 57-23, Sapakoff 55-25

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff