September 15, 2007
Purdue sits at 2-0, after a 52-24 blowout over Toledo, and a 52-6 blowout over FCS-division Eastern Illinois. While they’ve looked good in both of those games, it’s clear that they haven’t yet been tested. Today may, or may not, be that test.
Central Michigan started their season at Kansas, and got absolutely destroyed 52-7, following that up with a trip to Toledo, where they beat the Rockets by a score of 52-31.
So if one thing is clear today, it’s that one of these teams is scoring 52 points.
Central Michigan is a talented team, led by a very capable quarterback, and can both run and throw the ball quite well. That QB, Dan LeFevour, wanted to come to Purdue, but didn’t get a scholarship offer, so he has a bit to prove. This is quite clearly the best offense that Purdue has faced all year long. They laid an offensive egg against Kansas, but it’s possible that Kansas is a pretty good defense, based on their second game of the season.
Thankfully, though, I think it’s quite possible that this is the worst defense that Purdue has faced all season. They’re currently giving up over 500 yards per game, and gave up more passing yards to Toledo than Purdue gave up total yards. Purdue’s offense will shred CMU’s secondary, and should have a choice to beat them on the ground or in the air.
This game can go two ways. If Purdue jumps out to an early lead like they did against EIU, this game will be very ugly. CMU has a pretty solid offense, but if we can force them due to game situations to become a one-dimensional passing team, I think we can shut them down. On the flip side, though, if Purdue makes a few mistakes early, or CMU keeps it close, CMU’s balanced offense can keep them in the game all the way down to the wire.
There is one intangible here as well. CMU’s poor showing was AT Kansas, and their win against Toledo was at HOME. They come to Ross-Ade stadium in West Lafayette today, so it’s possible they may be out of their element.
Purdue will dominate this game, it’s just a matter of how early they put the Chippewas out of commission. Barring turnovers, I think it’s decided early. If Curtis Painter has his first interception or two of the season, or Purdue puts the ball on the ground, I think it might remain in contention early into the second half. I’ll call this one in the middle, and it gets decided early in the second quarter. I’m thinking 21-10 at the half, and then Purdue runs away with it.
Central Michigan 20, Purdue 48
Hopefully we see more downfield blocking like this:
Atlas Blogged linked with Facetime with some Bloggers...
September 8, 2007
Normally, I’d say that since EIU is an FCS (formerly I-AA) team, this isn’t worth previewing… After all, a I-AA team can’t hope to compete with a team like Purdue, right? Well, after last Saturday, that’s no longer the case…
But, EIU isn’t App State. They shouldn’t keep this game close, except for two factors:
Distractions: On Thursday night, charges were filed against 3 Purdue players for an incident that occurred back in March. This includes one of our starting receivers and one of the team captains on defense. At the moment, the stories are full of holes, and coach Joe Tiller has decided to wait until the legal system passes judgement before he disciplines the players. I don’t think I agree with his decision, but right now I’m most concerned with what it might mean to the team. Purdue’s got the talent to blow EIU off the field, but as we saw with Michigan, if your team doesn’t have their head or heart in the game, anything can happen.
EIU’s Passing Game: The last two years have been ugly for Purdue’s defense, particularly their ability to defend the pass. EIU has a very talented, accurate QB, and one very talented receiver. Which sounds similar to what App State brought to the game last Saturday.
However, Purdue has a few major advantages. First, they saw the App State / UM score last Saturday, and they know that they can’t take EIU lightly. Second, EIU is starting 4 completely fresh players in their defensive backfield this year, and Purdue’s deep and talented WR corps should be able to get open at will. Third, Purdue should be able to line up and run the ball straight at EIU without EIU stopping them. And last, EIU’s rushing attack is not anywhere near the threat of their passing game, so Purdue should be able to force them into being one-dimensional.
If Purdue is ready to play today, this game will be ugly. If not, this game should still be a win, but the first half might be rather close, but Purdue has too many weapons on the field to let the game finish close.
Eastern Illinois 13, Purdue 51
And if all goes well, we’ll see Dustin Keller throwing out more stiff-arms like this… This is the kid whose own mother [lovingly] refers to him as a “freak of nature”…
September 1, 2007
Well, I’m still planning to do a Big Ten preview, but considering how Wyatt has affected my “plans”, we’ll see how well that works out. Either way, he’s sleeping and there’s still 4 1/2 hours to kickoff, so let’s break down Purdue @ Toledo.
First, one has to give Toledo their respect. They’re 38-4 at home since 1999, and have a history of knocking off Big Ten teams opening their season in the Glass Bowl (3 in the last decade, including Purdue in 1997). They had a rough season last year, but they’ve got a strong defense, an excellent running back, and the attitude of a players in the MAC, that they should be playing in the Big Ten.
That’s coupled with a Purdue team that’s coming off a tough (but winning) year, with a porous defense and an inconsistent offense. Against a tough team in a road opener, this game smells of a trap.
Purdue Offense vs. Toledo Defense:
As mentioned, Toledo’s got a pretty stout defense for a MAC team. Purdue, though, returns an offense that finished in the top ten in yardage last year, and looks to be even stronger this year. Senior receiver Dorien Bryant used to be the only game-breaker Purdue had, but now with Dustin Keller at tight end, and bookend 6′4″ 200+ lb burners Greg Orton and Selwyn Lymon on the outside, Purdue can stretch the field against anyone. Last year, there were consistency issues regarding receivers running incorrect routes, but another year of experience should halt that, and Curtis Painter has another year of work with these guys, so the only thing that can stop Purdue’s passing game is Purdue. On the ground, Purdue has two very capable backs in Kory Sheets and Jaycen Taylor, and 2nd year OC Bill Legg is implementing something Purdue hasn’t seen in many years: a fullback. I was a big fan of the spread option, but it really hasn’t panned out. The addition of a true power running game may bring the Boilers the ground threat and unpredictability of offense that they’ve been lacking.
All that said, Purdue definitely has the edge here. They have more talent and more experience all over their offense, and should be able to control the game. Purdue can only be beaten by their own mistakes.
Purdue Defense vs. Toledo Offense:
The Purdue defense is widely considered weak, if you pay attention to the pundits. I don’t agree, but we’ll get to that in a later post. The real question is whether Toledo has the horsepower to exploit them. Toledo is starting an untested QB against a veteran Purdue secondary, so I doubt they’ll be putting up a lot of yards in the air. Trying to force a ball into coverage is a mistake with cornerbacks like Terrell Vinson, who has an excellent nose for the football and will be quick to get a pick. Where Toledo may have an edge is in the running game. Purdue last year fielded a few defensive tackles who were simply not physically ready for the game. The word is that they’ve bulked up and gotten there physically, but it’s impossible to know. With the loss of 1st-round pick Anthony Spencer at defensive end, the line may suffer. The linebackers are another question mark, due mostly to the fact that nobody knows whether they’ll be any good as a unit. There’s talent there, but both 1st and 2nd string MLB’s have had injury issues, and the only proven player is Stanford Keglar (who is a strong run-stopper, but not great in pass coverage). Toledo will need to establish a ground game against the Boilers, and their starting RB is capable enough to do it.
Defensively, if Purdue can handle Toledo on the ground, this will be ugly for the Rockets. The secondary should be able to contain them in the air, so if the defensive tackles can stuff the middle, and the linebackers plug the holes, Toledo will be in trouble. To do that, Purdue’s tackles and linebackers needs to be mean, nasty, and swarm the ballcarrier. Again, the word from practice is that these guys are playing with an enormous chip on their shoulder after the last two years, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
When it comes to kickoff coverage, Purdue is solid. The same goes for punt coverage. Purdue’s returners (Bryant for kickoffs and punts, and Sheets for kickoffs) have the ability to break a long return at any time. However, Toledo also look solid on their coverage teams. I’ll give Purdue a slight edge there.
Where Purdue has an enormous question mark is their field goal kicker. Chris Summers, as a freshman last year, went 8 for 20, and that’s simply unacceptable. Purdue was forced into going for it on 4th and long in opponents’ territory, because we couldn’t trust the kicker to make anything. Summers was always great in practice and choked in games, so I’m not believing anything I’ve heard about his abilities in practice over the off-season. Toledo, to my knowledge, has no FG woes, so I’ve got to give Toledo a big edge in that department.
Purdue 31, Toledo 13
I think Purdue’s offense SHOULD put up more than 40 points, but I really think they might get off to a slow start, and have at least one drive end in no points due to a missed FG. But I’m going to go out on a limb and believe the press clippings about Purdue’s defense. I expect to see them come out with an attitude. I expect to see swarms of Boilers making tackles, and a blitzing-attacking style of defense that we’ve lacked the last two years (as our LB’s had to play pass coverage to make up for injuries to the DB’s).
I’m guessing Purdue will lead 10-3 at the half, with 1 missed field goal and a defense that bottles up Toledo. In the second half, Purdue scores a few offensive TD’s, and the defense contributes either it’s own score, or gets a big turnover in good field position to give the offense an easy score. As the game progresses, Toledo puts up a fight, but can’t hang with the Boilers for 60 minutes.
January 8, 2007
#2 Florida (12-1) @ #1 Ohio State (12-0)
Vegas Says: Ohio State -7.5
Well, my predictions of the bowl games that so far have been pretty weak. I knew I should have picked the LSU/ND game, even though I was traveling that day, because that one was pretty much a lock. ND was (again) overrated, and they got what was coming to them. I hate to say it, but they weren’t a bad football team. Yet they were never as good as advertised.
So with my bad record, I’m going opposite what I originally thought. With a 7.5 point line, I normally would look at two teams like this and say Ohio State would win, but not cover, much the same way they did against Michigan. But I don’t think that’s the case. I’m picking OSU to cover tonight.
Against Michigan, Ohio State had 3 mistakes (two fumbled snaps and an interception), while Michigan has basically no offensive mistakes. That was an oddity in a game of this magnitude that I doubt will be repeated tonight, and even with those mistakes, Ohio State managed to ride Cool Hand Troy to victory.
For Michigan, mistake free, power offense is the name of the game, and they play it to perfection. Florida isn’t quite the same. They’re a big-play offense, and they’re lead by a QB, Chris Leak, who isn’t known for his coolness under pressure. They’re showing up against a defense as good as any they’ve seen all year, and an offense better than they’ve seen all year.
For Ohio State to Cover: Don’t have the mistakes you had against Michigan. You can move the ball and score on this Florida defense. Play a solid game, but if you are -3 in the turnover ratio, all hell may break loose. As Kirk Herbstreit said on ESPN last night, keep Florida in front of you. They can make it happen with the big play, but the more chances you get to force them into 3rd down, the more you force them to earn their points rather than beating you big over the top.
For Florida to beat the spread: Reggie Nelson has to watch Cool Hand Troy, and disrupt his passing game (hopefully getting a couple interceptions in the process). You need to pressure Troy without blitzing too heavily, and even then you can’t expect to sack him. But you need to pressure him into throwing the ball while keeping good coverage. I know, easier said than done. And Chris Leak has to have the game of his career. Chris Leak has all the talent he needs, and can make all the throws. But Florida’s been intercepted 14 times this season, and they need to win the turnover battle to beat the spread.
Prediction: Ohio State covers
Predicted Final Score: OSU 38, Florida 27
January 1, 2007
Purdue (Big Ten #2, 11-1) @ USC (Pac-10 #1, 10-2)
Vegas Says: Michigan -2
It seems to me that Vegas seems to know something that us bettors don’t. The line opened as a Pick’Em, and has slowly moved towards Michigan. It’s now ranging from Michigan -1.5 to -2.5, but most bettors think Michigan will take this one away.
And I’m among that crowd. For the USC/UCLA game, I said that the key for UCLA would be harassing John David Booty, but that I didn’t think they’d be able to get it done. Well, they did so, they stuffed the run, and they got to the QB. Michigan’s front seven is much better than UCLA’s, so I expect them to do so even more. USC hasn’t been able to run against strong defenses, and while they’ve got two incredible receivers, I don’t think they’ll have quite the passing success on Michigan that Ohio State was able to have.
On the opposite side of the ball, USC has a pretty decent defense, but I don’t know if they’ve faced an offense as complete as Michigan’s. Michigan is likely to ride the back of Mike Hart to control the game, and then go up top to Manningham once USC is focusing on stopping Hart. It’s worked all year, it worked against OSU, and it can work against USC.
I don’t think Michigan will have quite the lopsided success they had against ND, but I don’t see USC being able to keep this competitive. I see the game going roughly the same as what I had predicted for the Purdue/Maryland game, and I’ll be highly, highly surprised if I’m equally wrong.
Prediction: Michigan covers
Predicted Final Score: Michigan 31, USC 17
Final Score: USC 32, Michigan 18
December 29, 2006
Purdue (Big Ten #4, 8-5) @ Maryland (ACC #4, 8-4)
Vegas Says: Pick’Em
This is a tough one. Purdue has enough offensive firepower to roll right over Maryland, and Maryland doesn’t have enough offense to keep up. But then, when you look at Purdue’s season, we haven’t seen a defense stop Purdue all year long, despite the fact that Purdue has laid a few offensive eggs this year. Most games where the Boilers sputtered on offense came down to bad execution by Purdue, not overwhelming defense. Even Purdue’s two worst offensive performances, scoring 3 points against Wisconsin and being shut out by Penn State, those defenses were aided by 25-mph gusting winds that completely disrupted Purdue’s passing attack.
But when Purdue’s offense is rolling, anything on the tracks ahead of them is destined for obliteration. Purdue may only be averaging 27 points per game this year, but they’re 6th in the nation in passing ypg, and 12th in total offensive ypg (including Div I-AA schools). Due to offensive miscues, Purdue didn’t score in the first half at Hawaii. When they hit a rhythm in the second half, though, they racked up 35 points in a hurry. With a stable of incredible offensive receivers, and enough of a rushing attack to keep a defense on their toes, the only enemy of Purdue’s offense is Purdue’s offense; Maryland’s defense is a non-factor.
So it all comes down to the first half. If Purdue can hit an offensive rhythm and get out to an early lead, they can play loose and confident, and can blow the doors off this game. Purdue’s defense isn’t exactly “stout”; in fact it’s atrocious. But the same label can be applied to Maryland’s offense. The bad against the bad will result in some Maryland points, but if Purdue’s offense can keep the pressure on, they can force Maryland into mistakes.
Ahh, but there’s the question. If Purdue’s offense sputters, Maryland has a history of winning close games all year long (thankfully, so does Purdue). If Purdue doesn’t get out to an early lead, this could easily be an ugly 17-15 game like the Purdue/MSU game earlier this year. Maryland has experience and confidence in close games, and that may be too much for Purdue to overcome.
And then there’s the preparation. Maryland’s coach has prepared his teams the last two years for bowl game routs, while Joe Tiller has— in the past— treated bowl games like a vacation for his players. Tiller has stated publicly that he’s not going to do that this year, and the team traveled down to Orlando before Christmas to get ready for business. Preparation will determine a lot of how the first quarter goes, and thus may determine the whole tempo of the game. Maryland is going to want to keep this a low-scoring affair, while Purdue wants a shootout.
Personally, I think Purdue got a bit of an advantage with the Hawaii game. That is a bit of a bowl game, with distant travel and a different climate. They started slow, but they got rolling in the second half. If they can carry that offensive success into the early stages of the bowl game, this one isn’t close. If they don’t, though, all bets are off.
Prediction: NO OFFICIAL PREDICTION (but as a Boiler Fan, I’m personally picking them to win)
Predicted Final Score: Purdue 31, Maryland 17
December 2, 2006
When you start a 5-game pick 0-3 on the day, it really doesn’t make you feel very good. I did so, and it makes me wonder how good my analysis skills are doing… But I’ve looked at these games, and the analysis was sound. I correctly saw what the teams could do to each other, and what they needed to do to win. Where I was wrong is my prediction of whether they’d take care of that business.
1) Wake Forest @ Georgia Tech
I said Wake would have an offensive letdown against GT. I further said that wake had a good rush defense, and that GT would need to exploit Wake’s pass defense to win the game, and if they could do so, they’d win easily. Wake’s offense was inept against GT’s defense. GT’s rushing attack didn’t do much against Wake’s defense. I said that if Ball and Johnson could hook up, they could run rampant on Wake’s pass D. So what did they do? Ball threw for a 31% completion rate and 2 interceptions. They had the talent to beat Wake, they just didn’t execute.
2) USC @ UCLA
My pick was that UCLA would score a mere 17 on USC’s defense. They underperformed slightly, scoring 13. I said the key to the game would be UCLA’s defense rattling John David Booty, and that I didn’t think they could do it (due to the low number of sacks and interceptions he’s thrown). So what did they do? Prove me wrong with several sacks, generally keeping him “hearing footsteps” all game long, and throwing a pick.
Really, even with UCLA doing what I expected, I still didn’t think they’d win it. But this is a rivalry game, and these things happen. I can’t wait to see the uproar in the BCS, though… Fodder for blog posts for the next month!
3) Arkansas @ Florida
I said Florida would need to stop Darren McFadden, and that since nobody else had done so, they wouldn’t either. They proved me wrong, and held him to 99 total yards. Without McFadden, Arkansas had to rely on their passing game, which I said would have to be average, and they couldn’t afford interceptions. So they threw for under 50%, 182 yards, 3 TD’s and 3 INT’s.
Florida’s defense stepped up, taking Arkansas’s offense out of their gameplan. Add 4 turnovers, and Arkansas had basically no chance of making the upset.
4) Rutgers @ WVU
Well, you don’t get more right than this. I said this game would come down to a 25-24 score in favor of WVU. In regulation, they tied 23-23. That’s pretty close. I said Rutgers would have decent success running the ball. It wasn’t a huge game, rushing for 137 in regulation, but it was enough of a game to take some pressure off the passing attack (which then did some damage).
Once you get to overtime, all bets are off. But Rutgers kept the game close (and in the general scoring totals I had thought) to force an overtime, and that’s a pretty good job when you’re a 10.5 point dog on the road.
5) Nebraska @ Oklahoma
They’re into the 4th quarter as I’m heading to bed, with Oklahoma up 21-7 on Nebraska… So far it looks like Oklahoma’s defense is taking care of business, and Oklahoma is scoring at a decent rate. Unless something crazy happens in the next 9 minutes of football, this is looking like a fairly solid pick.
The Unrepentant Individual linked with 2006 NCAA Football Predictions — Week 14
Ahh, the final week of the regular season. How did it come so quickly? It seems like just yesterday, I was sitting in Maui with a sad case of jet lag at 3:30 AM, eagerly awaiting the start of College Gameday at 4. According to my calendar, that was September… And three months have passed? I must really be getting old!
Not too old for my mind to still work, though, judging by my record. Heading into this week, I’m 51-30 on the year, for just under a 64% winning percentage against the spread. Since you need to win greater than 55% (actually, slightly less on some online betting houses) to beat the juice, I’m doing pretty well. If I had been betting $100 a game (which I think I’ll start next year), I’d be up $1800. Let’s see if I can keep it up.
ACC Championship Game
#16 Wake Forest (10-2, 6-2) @ #23 Georgia Tech (9-3, 7-1)
Vegas Says: Georgia Tech -2
Can the Wake Forest Dream walk its way into a BCS Bowl, quite possibly with the help of Georgia Tech shooting themselves in the foot? Can Georgia Tech respond after their loss to rival Georgia, giving Reggie Ball and [probably] Calvin Johnson a proper sendoff? Wake undoubtedly has the emotional edge here, as they don’t usually sniff at a berth to the CCG, while Georgia Tech tends to have a decent enough team every few years to sit near the top of the conference.
When you analyze what these teams have done, though, you realize that Wake has to overcome a better opponent with that emotion, and that’s not an easy thing to do. I see two things that stand out. Wake’s two losses to were teams with great defenses. Tech has a great defense. Second, Wake appears to have a pretty good defense, but they give up a lot of passing yards. That tells me that if Ball & Johnson are on the same page, Calvin might light it up. Provided that Ball doesn’t have a meltdown (like all his games against Georgia), I think Tech wins easily.
Prediction: Georgia Tech covers
Predicted Final Score: Georgia Tech 24, Wake 17
Final Score: Wake Forest 9, Georgia Tech 6
trap Last Hurdle Game
#2 Southern California (10-1, 7-1) @ UCLA (6-5, 4-4)
Vegas Says: USC -13
USC’s been getting stronger and stronger all year. Except for a puzzling loss to Oregon State, they would be undefeated right now, and riding the wave of blowing out Arkansas, Nebraska, and Notre Dame, three teams who will potentially be playing BCS bowl games. USC should win this game easily. But that’s my initial perception, and I need to ask myself why I’m wrong before I accept it.
There’s only one way UCLA can beat this spread, and that’s by rattling Trojan QB John David Booty. Against any other QB in his first year as a starter, I’d say that UCLA’s menacing defensive ends could do that. But not against USC, and not against Booty. He’s been sacked a mere 11 times this year, and has only thrown 8 picks. That tells me his offensive line is giving him protection, and that he’s not making bad decisions with the football. All that’s occurring with an almost nonexistent rushing game (although having two incredibly talented WR’s help).
USC is in danger of having a letdown game, but I don’t think it’s the week for it. This USC offense is too powerful, and the UCLA offense just doesn’t have the horses to keep up.
Prediction: USC covers
Predicted Final Score: USC 38, UCLA 17
Final Score: UCLA 13, USC 9
SEC Championship Game
#8 Arkansas (10-2, 7-1) @ #4 Florida (11-1, 7-1)
Vegas Says: Florida -3
Arkansas came out of nowhere in 2006, riding the legs of
a Formula 1 Race Car Darren McFadden to heights unknown for the Hogs. They don’t appear to have a passing game of any repute, but with a guy like McFadden, getting Heisman buzz as a sophomore, they don’t need one. Florida has been a bit inconsistent behind Chris Leak, but with occasional appearances of Godzilla Tim Tebow as a running QB, they’ve been doing what’s necessary to win. This game will be a heck of a matchup. Arkansas needs to beat Florida’s stifling rush defense to have a chance. Florida needs to get success through the air to keep their playbook balanced.
Right now, I’m leaning towards Arkansas in this one. Florida gave up 200 yards on the ground in their loss to Auburn, and I don’t know if they can stop McFadden. At best, they can hope to outscore the Hogs. Of course, but for a 92-yard kickoff return, LSU wouldn’t have been able to outscore the Hogs. Florida has a lot going for them, but something tells me that Arkansas has more. The one thing Arkansas can’t do, though, is throw up an interception, something the Florida defense has been more than happy to snag when available (and sometimes when not). It doesn’t matter if the passing game isn’t working for Arkansas— after all, it rarely is. But turning the ball over could be the difference in this one.
Prediction: Arkansas beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Arkansas 26, Florida 24
Final Score: Florida 38, Arkansas 28
Big Twelve Championship Game
#19 Nebraska (9-3, 6-2) @ #8 Oklahoma (10-2, 7-1)
Vegas Says: Oklahoma -3.5
Bill Callahan has done some good things in Nebraska, returning them to near-power status. Nebraska has a heck of an offense. But has he forgotten? Defense wins championships! Oklahoma is still wondering why the loss of Adrian Peterson hasn’t destroyed their season (hint: it’s their offensive line), and they know how to play defense. They’ve only lost a game and a half (how else do you count the Oregon non-win?). So why is Oklahoma favored by only 3.5?
For the life of me, I can’t figure it out. Nebraska has been held to 20 or less on two occasions, both to defense that are statistically worse than Oklahoma’s. Oklahoma has only been held under 20 twice, to defenses that are statistically far better than Nebraska’s. I think Nebraska needs quite a bit to beat this spread, and I don’t think they’ve got what it takes to do it on Oklahoma’s defense.
Prediction: Oklahoma covers
Predicted Final Score: Oklahoma 27, Nebraska 17
Final Score: Oklahoma 27, Nebraska 7
GAME OF THE WEEK
#13 Rutgers (10-1, 5-1) @ #15 West Virginia (9-2, 4-2)
Vegas Says: West Virginia -10.5
Hmm… West Virginia by 10.5? Rutgers has a pretty good rush defense, although against West Virginia, that’s hardly a predictor of success. West Virginia, statistically, has a heck of a rush defense, but something tells me that’s a product of them getting so far ahead of their opponents so early this year, that the opponents are forced to go to the air. It’s a good defense, but both Louisville and Maryland rushed for decent totals, and Rutgers has a much better rushing attack than either team.
This also comes with the news that WVU QB Pat White is coming off injury, so he’ll be a bit less effective than usual. I think WVU wins this game, but Rutgers keeps it close enough. And Rutgers has a defense capable of upsetting WVU.
Prediction: Rutgers beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: WVU 25, Rutgers 24
Final Score: WVU 41, Rutgers 38 — 3 OT
UPDATE: 2-3 ATS, 2-3 straight up. Not a good week, but after starting 0-3, it could be a lot worse. I’ve posted more thoughts on why I was wrong, as well.
Below The Beltway linked with Greg Schiano: Coach Of The Year
November 25, 2006
There’s only one true game of consequence today, and that’s Notre Dame @ USC. It’s going to be a game of consequence in the Warbiany household as well, since the wife is From Southern Cal but grew up a Notre Dame fan. She actually wants to watch this game, and I think we’re going to be rooting for opposite teams.
Then, I need to figure out how to either watch or listen to the Purdue @ Hawaii game. Purdue is now a 19-point underdog, so I’m thinking I really don’t want to pay the $10 to order it and watch it online. So that might be internet radio all the way…
South Carolina (6-5) @ #24 Clemson (8-3)
Vegas Says: Clemson -5.5
South Carolina has lost 5 games this year. Every one of those games was lost to a ranked (at the time) opponent. Two of those losses are to teams currently ranked in the top 10, two to teams ranked in the top 20, and the final loss (to Georgia early in the year) was a blowout to a team currently not ranked. Of their last four losses (to the teams all currently ranked in the top 20), no game was decided by more than 7 points.
Clemson looks like a tough team this year, with a high-powered offense and dominating defense. But it appears that they’ve dropped off in recent weeks, failing to score more than 20 points in each of the last three games.
South Carolina is going to keep this one close. Given the spread, and that Clemson is at home, I’ll still predict a Tiger victory, but I don’t see this being a blowout. I don’t like 5.5, because a one-touchdown margin is a loss on the bet, but I’m going to call this one for Spurrier leading the ‘Cocks to beat the spread.
Prediction: South Carolina beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Clemson 20, South Carolina 17
Final Score: South Carolina 31, Clemson 28
#4 Florida (10-1) @ Florida State (6-5)
Vegas Says: Florida -9
Usually, there is a war in Florida between the Gators, ‘Canes, and ‘Noles, to see who is the dominant team. Florida won that war in mid-September, as Miami and FSU have both imploded, with Miami firing their head coach yesterday, and FSU’s nepotism-hired offensive coordinator resigning a few weeks ago. Florida, though, has been rolling offensively, with the two-headed monster of Leak and Tebow taking snaps.
This is a rivalry game, so again, stats mean little. What does mean something is what these teams are playing for. Florida State is already bowl-eligible, and this isn’t a conference game, so it really won’t affect which bowl they attend. Florida is working to impress poll voters in the hopes that they can amass a ranking high enough to get into the MNC game.
Another loss on their record, and Florida would be likely resting their starters a bit after they get a lead today. But they’re trying to make a statement, so I don’t see them taking their foot off the throttle. I think Florida is going to get an early lead, break FSU’s spirit, and then run it up.
Prediction: Florida covers
Predicted Final Score: Florida 34, Florida State 17
Final Score: Florida 21, Florida State 14
#16 Georgia Tech (9-2) @ Georgia (7-4)
Vegas Says: Georgia -3
An interesting line here… Georgia has been inconsistent all year, with their strongest showing a surprising blowout of Auburn a few weeks ago. Yet they lost to Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and just barely beat Miss St. Georgia Tech has beaten most everyone they should, with a close loss to Notre Dame, and a blowout loss to Clemson.
This game comes down to defense. Georgia Tech has enough defensive power to slow down Georgia’s offensive attack. That matchup should favor Tech. But the defense on the other side will decide this game. Can this Georgia defense force Reggie Ball into bad decisions with the football. Georgia didn’t defeat Auburn with offensive fireworks, they did it by intercepting Brandon Cox. Likewise, if Georgia doesn’t get the win in the turnover battle, they’re not going to win today.
I think we’re going to see Reggie Ball and Calvin Johnson hook up for a TD or two, and Georgia Tech’s defense make sure that they can cause more turnovers than the Georgia Tech offense will cough up. This is the year that GT has experienced offensive skill players, and Georgia is rotating through unproven QB’s. Today that’s too much for Georgia to overcome, and their win streak over GT comes to an end.
Prediction: Georgia Tech beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Georgia Tech 24, Georgia 20
Final Score: Georgia 15, Georgia Tech 12
Prediction: NO DECISION
#12 Boise State (11-0, 7-0) @ Nevada (8-3, 5-2)
Vegas Says: Boise State -3
This is a pressure-cooker game for Boise State. Had they lost a game earlier this season, I’d be picking them to easily cover. But they know that the only thing standing between them and a BCS bowl berth is a win over Nevada. Nevada doesn’t have much on the line in this game as far as bowls are concerned, but the ability to claim an undefeated Boise St as a pelt will be a major victory for their team, and will win them respect.
Nevada had a rough start to the season, but has come on strong over the last 4 weeks. Boise State had a scare against SJSU, but outside of that has been solid all year. This game comes down to who wants it more, and I have to give the edge to Boise. They’ve endured a scare in that SJSU game, and I think they understand that you have to bring your A game if you want to go to the BCS. They’ll have the memory of San Jose State in their mind when they look at a tough Nevada team. I think they’ve simply got more to play for today than Nevada, and when you add that to the talent they’ve been building over several years as a WAC powerhouse, they should be able to take care of business today.
Prediction: Boise State covers
Predicted Final Score: Boise State 41, Nevada 27
Final Score: Boise State 38, Nevada 7
#20 Wake Forest (9-2, 5-2) @ Maryland (8-3, 5-2)
Vegas Says: Maryland -1.5
This is a big one. With Boston College losing to Miami on Thursday, the winner of this game goes to the ACC championship game to face Georgia Tech. The loser basically drops to somewhere between 3rd and 6th place in the conference, in a group of teams that will all be battling for prominent bowl selections. There’s a huge amount on the line for both teams. With a 1.5 point line for the home team, it seems that Vegas thinks they’re pretty evenly matched.
Statistically, the offenses look identical: somewhat anemic. Wake’s defense looks a bit better, but neither team’s defense looks all that bad. Wake’s two losses have come to Clemson and VATech, two very dominant defenses, to which Maryland doesn’t compare. Maryland, though, has been the king of close games, with seven games this year decided by a TD or less (they’re 6-1 in those games).
But a couple of stats stick out at me. Wake has had decent sack numbers this year. While their pass defense leaves a lot to be desired, they should be able to get to the Maryland QB. The second stat is that Maryland is giving up 48% on third-down conversions. Wake, though they don’t have a great offense, should be able to sustain drives a little better than Maryland, especially since they’ve got a more balanced offensive attack. Last week I picked VATech to beat Wake, because they have the defense to do it. Maryland doesn’t have the defense to do it.
Prediction: Wake Forest beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Wake Forest 17, Maryland 13
Final Score: Wake Forest 38, Maryland 24
Purdue (8-4) @ @ #25 Hawaii (9-2)
Vegas Says: Hawaii -19
This game worries me… Purdue cannot afford a big blowout before facing their bowl game. The only bowl-eligible team we’ve beat this year has been Minnesota (6-6), and if we get ourselves embarrassed in Honolulu it will be damaging to the team’s psyche heading into Orlando. If any team has the ability to do it to us, it’s Hawaii, with the #1 offense in the land. Judging from what the coaches are saying (Tiller doesn’t want to be anywhere near this game), this could be a bad day for the Boilers.
But this could also be a statement. Hawaii is a heck of a football team, but let’s face it, they’re not in a power conference. Purdue should have the size and power advantage in this game. Purdue doesn’t have a great defense, but it’s probably better than most Hawaii has faced. Purdue doesn’t have the offensive consistency that Hawaii has, but then, they’ve been playing tougher defenses than Hawaii as well.
I firmly believe that Purdue CANNOT let this game become a shootout. We simply don’t have enough consistency in our passing game to be sure we can keep up. Purdue needs to play a ball-control offense and let their superior size grind it out against Hawaii. The O/U in this game is 74 points, and if it gets anywhere near that, Purdue loses big. But I want to see Purdue keeping the ball on the ground, milking the clock, and reducing the number of times Hawaii gets to touch it. If Purdue can keep the score down in that fashion, and it’s within 10 points heading into the 4th quarter, Purdue might just be able to win this game. If they let Hawaii off to an early lead, though, and get into a game of trading scores, it’s going to be ugly. As usual, there’s no official prediction in this game, but I don’t think Purdue is going to get embarrassed today. I think we can play them to within 13 or so, and if a few breaks come our way, we can win this game.
Prediction: No Official Prediction
Final Score: Hawaii 42, Purdue 35
GAME OF THE WEEK
#6 Notre Dame (10-1) @ #3 USC (10-1)
Vegas Says: USC -8
In my opinion, both teams are a bit overrated. I think USC is at least more accurately rated, as they haven’t gotten themselves blown out at home by 26 points. I think USC is a very talented team, but they don’t stand a chance against Ohio State. I think Notre Dame is even less of a team than USC, with a defense that Ohio State would absolutely shred (again). But neither of these thoughts has much to do with what happens today.
Today we’ve got two very good coaches matching up, in possibly the second-most storied rivalry in football. You’ve got Pete Carroll and USC, who almost never lose at home, against Charlie Weis, who I also think is overrated, but is still a very, very good coach and nearly led his team to a defeat of USC last year. These teams are very well-matched, and I think this is going to be a very interesting game.
But USC is more tested. USC has been through a number of close games this season, and I think they are going to be more of a test for Notre Dame than anyone ND has faced outside of Michigan. I think USC will win this game, and they’ve got the talent to cover the spread. But I don’t think they’ll cover. There is too much emotion in this game, there is too much on the line for Weis and Notre Dame here. This is Brady Quinn’s last game against USC, and you know he’s still upset about last year’s loss. Charlie Weis, it has been said, has spent far more time preparing for the USC game in both of his years with Notre Dame than any other game. This game isn’t going to be a blowout for USC.
I’m picking Notre Dame with a score of 28. There’s a reason I’m not picking any field goals. I think Weis is going to outcoach himself today, and go for it on 4th and short at least once or twice in USC territory. I think he’ll do this and either ensure a ND touchdown on that drive, or give the ball up. Either way, I don’t know that they’ll attempt a field goal all day, despite the fact that they’ve got a good FG kicker.
Prediction: Notre Dame beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: USC 31, Notre Dame 28
Final Score: USC 44, Notre Dame 24
November 24, 2006
Well, Boston College let me down yesterday, which is no way to start a weekend. Thankfully, I have two full days of college football to make up for it. Since I gave in and went shopping, I should have enough husbandly-duty-credit with the wife to watch quite a bit of these games too!
I’ll break this out into two posts… One for each day of games. This should be a particularly good week, too, as it’s Rivarly Week!
Texas A&M (8-3, 4-2) @ #11 Texas (9-2, 6-1)
Vegas Says: Texas -13
We’ve got two good football teams here. aTm is coming off two straight 1-point losses to ranked teams. Texas is coming off a puzzling loss to mid-level program Kansas State. With a win today, Texas will clinch the Big 12 South, but if they lose, and Oklahoma wins (which is likely), Oklahoma will take the division and head to the championship game. aTm, with a win, simply clinches their 4th place spot in the conference, and for bowl selection purposes will be much better off at 5-3 than 4-4 in conference. Both teams have things riding on the line here.
I think aTM is going to come out to play today. Statwise, both teams have very good offenses, and both have mid-level defenses. Where the problem may occur is in the matchups. Texas has a very strong rush defense, while aTm’s attack hinges on establishing a rushing game. Texas is a little better able to throw the ball, but they don’t want to put the game on the line in Colt McCoy’s hands. He’s shown some great poise in recent weeks, but you simply don’t want to overload a freshman QB.
This game is going to come down to who wins the battle of the line. Texas should have the edge in that matchup on both sides of the ball. They should be better able to establish a running game, and should be able to shut down aTm’s running game and pressure the QB. So a Texas win is pretty well established. But can they cover 13 points? I’m going to say no. I think aTm is going to play their hearts out today, but in the end they won’t be able to overcome the defense. Either way, I think they’ll score 17-20 points, and I see Texas with about 27-30. Plus, 13 points is a good “edge” number, so if it comes down to 13 exactly, it’s at least a no-decision.
Prediction: Texas A&M beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Texas 31, Texas A&M 20
Final Score: Texas A&M 12, Texas 7
#9 LSU (9-2, 5-2) @ #5 Arkansas (10-1, 7-0)
Vegas Says: LSU -2
LSU’s going on the road to play a 1-loss Arkansas team (undefeated in the SEC), and they’re 2-point favorites. I guess that’s what happens when you have a top-10 rush defense, a top-10 scoring defense, and the #1 total yardage defense in the league. Not to mention that you’re on a 5-game winning streak and your team, which struggled offensively early in the season, has been lighting it up.
But they haven’t faced a rushing attack like Arkansas. Arkansas can throw several runners (including McFadden when he’s taking snaps as a QB) at you, and they’re racking up 230 rushing ypg. For LSU to win, they must force Arkansas to beat them through the air. Nobody has really been able to force Arkansas to do that all year, but I think LSU has the defense to at least force them to open the game plan a bit.
Arkansas, running the ball and controlling the clock, is going to keep the score down overall in this game. Their offense is going to try to grind the clock, limit the number of times LSU touches the ball, and keep their defense fresh. Even so, LSU is going to get some yards and points. I think the game is going to be decided in the 4th quarter, and LSU has been solid at the end of games, coming from behind to beat Tennessee. Arkansas has to be ahead by a big margin, in my opinion, to hold the game against the likes of Tennessee.
Prediction: LSU covers
Predicted Final Score: LSU 24, Arkansas 20
Final Score: LSU 31, Arkansas 26
Oregon (7-4, 4-4) @ Oregon State (7-4, 5-3)
Vegas Says: Oregon State -3
Oregon State has been a strange team. They’ve been blown out by Boise St, Cal and UCLA. Yet they beat USC? This is a team that has certainly ridden their ups and downs all year. They’re not an exceptionally powerful team either offensively or defensively, but they’ve been doing enough to win 5 games against conference foes, including a great USC team and a decent Arizona squad. Where they appear to have trouble is against teams who can pressure the QB. Oregon State has given up nearly 30 sacks on the year, and when you get a QB to start hearing footsteps, you can throw an entire offense of kilter.
That doesn’t bode well for Oregon, though. Oregon hasn’t been able to create many sacks so far this year. If they’re going to beat you, it’s going to be with offensive fireworks. Oregon has a balanced, yardage-eating monster of an offense, gaining 5.2 ypc on the ground, and has been greater than 48% converting 3rd downs (an indication that they’ve been strong on 1st and 2nd down). This team can score points with the best of them. When they’re not turning the ball over, that is. Last week’s blowout loss to Arizona included 6 turnovers (4 INT, 2 fumbles lost).
If Oregon can keep from losing the turnover battle, or probably keep that margin down to 1, they should win this game. They simply have too much offensive firepower to not put up some serious points, and it’s not clear Oregon State has the weapons to match. I’m going to predict an Oregon win here, and hopefully they’ll manage to hang onto the ball this week.
Prediction: Oregon beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Oregon 31, Oregon State 27
Final Score: Oregon State 30, Oregon 28
The Unrepentant Individual linked with 2006 NCAA Football Predictions — Week 13 part 3
November 23, 2006
As you can see, I’ve been busy today. So I’m going to make a pick in tonights’ Boston College/Miami game, and will get to the other games of the weekend later…
#18 Boston College (9-2, 5-2) @ Miami-FL (5-6, 2-5)
Vegas Says: Boston College -3.5
This is an odd one. You have Boston College, a team going through an absolutely great season, with only close losses to NC State and Wake Forest. Then, you’ve got Miami who has been an emotional basketcase, and has lost several blowout games. Somehow, though, the line started around 4.5 and has been trending downwards late to 3.5… It’s almost like someone out there really believes Miami will put it together in this one.
Statistically, BC is scoring a good 10 points more per game, and allowing 1 less. So I don’t see a reason to think they won’t be capable of covering, even factoring in Miami’s home field advantage. BC has only scored less than 20 in their two losses, and I don’t expect them to do it tonight. Miami has had trouble scoring more than 15 in their six losses, and I doubt they’ll do it today against BC’s defense.
I don’t know why these lines are trending downwards, but I think BC covers easily.
Prediction: Boston College covers
Predicted Final Score: Boston College 27, Miami 13
Final Score: Miami 17, Boston College 14
UPDATE: Wow, the Miami defense played lights-out today. Boston College never got it going on offense. Truthfully, neither did Miami. Three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, really hurt them today. They really didn’t sustain long drives, but they had a couple of big deep shots that got them just enough to get the lead, and then the defense took over.
The Unrepentant Individual linked with 2006 NCAA Football Predictions — Week 13 part 3
The Unrepentant Individual linked with 2006 NCAA Football Predictions — Week 13 part 2
November 18, 2006
Ahh, the biggest week of the year. The one that is always important, regardless of the record. That’s right, it’s the Old Oaken Bucket game! Every year, Purdue and Indiana play for this traveling trophy. Each year, the winner gets to hold the bucket for the next year, and a “P” is added to the chain for a Purdue win, an “I” for an Indiana win. In the case of a tie, an “IP” is added. Since the trophy was created, there have been 52 “P”s, 25 “I”s, and 3 “IP”s. Mark it down, there will be 53 “P”s on the chain come tomorrow.
Of course, that’s the appetizer. Even as a die-hard Purdue fan, tomorrow’s main course is the Michigan/Ohio State game. There’s something to be said for a rivalry between two storied programs, that is widely considered one of the biggest rivalries in sports, being played when the teams are ranked #1 and #2, both undefeated. We’re talking here about THE game. And we’re talking about two schools whose fans have had a pleasant hatred for decades.
When it wasn’t possible to get any bigger, it was reported that Bo Schembechler passed away the day before the game, and the significance impossibly grew. Bo, say hi to Woody for us up there when you’re watching this one!
#21 Maryland (8-2, 5-1) @ #20 Boston College (8-2, 4-2)
Vegas Says: Boston College -7
Two evenly-ranked teams are facing each other, and one is favored by 7… Initially I don’t like it. You don’t figure that unless there’s a matchup issue. But this week, there is. Looking at the average points scored per game, Boston College is leading Maryland by about 4. On the opposite end, BC is allowing 7 less points per game than Maryland.
Maryland doesn’t gain a lot of yards, nor do they manage to score very well. It’s surprising, then that they’ve got an 8-2 record. Boston College can both score and play defense. It’s no surprise that they’re 8-2. I have to think BC has the edge here, especially being at home. They can cover 7.
Prediction: Boston College covers
Predicted Final Score: Boston College 28, Maryland 17
Final Score: Boston College 38, Maryland 16
Iowa (6-5, 2-5) @ Minnesota (5-6, 2-5)
Vegas Says: Minnesota -3
It shows just how far Iowa has fallen that they’re 3-point underdogs to Minnesota. Iowa was supposed to challenge for the Big Ten title this year. Instead, out of a big win over Purdue on their best showing of the season, they’ve been a big bust. Minnesota had their typical mid-year slide, but somehow seems to have righted the ship, with a blowout win over Indiana and a strong beating of Michigan State.
But something doesn’t sit with me on this one. Iowa, in their defeats, have turned the ball over in large doses. Their baffling 21-7 loss to Northwestern included 3 turnovers. Outside of those, they were > 50% on 3rd down, threw at a 66% completion percentage, and but for the fact that Northwestern actually appears to have found a balanced offense, may have overcome those deficits. Coming off that loss, they played inspired football against a very strong Wisconsin team, in a 24-21 loss.
Iowa looks like a team on the skids, but I think they’ve got more talent on both sides of the ball than Minnesota. This week, they’re not facing the Wisconsin defense (that they gained 300 yards on), and Iowa has a stronger defense than either Michigan State or Indiana. Drew Tate has had a rough year, but he’s a gamer. Lose a rivalry game to Minnesota? He ain’t goin’ out like that!
Prediction: Iowa beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Iowa 27, Minnesota 24
Final Score: Minnesota 34, Iowa 24
Indiana (5-6, 3-4) @ Purdue (7-4, 4-3)
Vegas Says: Purdue -12
As I said earlier, this is a big one. This is one of those games where all the rules go out the window. Back in the days when both teams sucked, the season was a success if you went 1-10 and that win came in this game. In the state of Indiana, Purdue is probably the best overall university. But we’ve got a bit of a complex about that. We’re in the northwest corner of the state. Notre Dame is in the northeast corner, and Indiana is in the southern half. When it comes down to it, everyone from Indianapolis south are IU fans, most of the northern Indiana folks are Notre Dame fans, and people who actually attended Purdue are Purdue fans. Beating IU is important for all the kids on the roster who grew up in Indiana, because many of them come from towns where everyone supported IU or Notre Dame.
This game comes down to one thing: anger. If the Boilers win, they ruin the Hoosiers’ season. Indiana needs this win to go to their first bowl game since 1993, and Purdue is already bowl-eligible. While you’d think that would give Indiana more to play for than Purdue, Purdue wants to win not to improve our own standings (which it will), but to destroy IU’s season and keep the Bucket. There’s a certain sense of purpose that whatever happens during the rest of the season, IU should not walk away from this game with the Bucket, and that IU should have taken care of their bowl aspirations before coming into Ross-Ade Stadium.
When it comes to analysis of the game, Purdue will have the ability to throw at will on Indiana’s defense. They’ll probably run at will also. Indiana has a few offensive threats, namely 6′7″ wide receiver James Hardy, and dual-threat QB Kellen Lewis. Purdue basically needs to have Hardy at least double-teamed at all times. Luckily for Purdue, Indiana’s offensive line is a bit undersized, so I think defensive end Anthony Spencer will make his introductions with Lewis early and often.
Purdue wins this one. I don’t know if it will be as much of a blowout as some folks are expecting, but Purdue takes it.
Prediction: No official prediction
Final Score: Purdue 28, Indiana 19
Illinois (2-9, 1-6) @ Northwestern (3-8, 1-6)
Vegas Says: Illinois -2
Boilermakerfootballblog suggests that this game is going to determine the best Division I-A football team in Illinois. Not so fast, my friend! Northern Illinois may be a MAC team, but they’re looking pretty good this year!
Northwestern appears to have found a balanced offense with QB CJ Bacher behind center, which is opening up their game. Illinois has found balance between QB Juice Williams running the ball and RB Pierre Thomas running the ball, but if you’re looking for the forward pass, they seem to have a rulebook from 1903 which doesn’t allow such shenanigans. Illinois may not have a balanced offensive attack, but they do have a defense, something which Northwestern is conspicuously lacking. This may be a road game for Illinois, but it’s in Evanston, so it will be less well-attended than high school football, so that shouldn’t be a factor. Illinois wins this one based on Ron Zook’s recruiting, and this week even Ron Zook’s coaching can’t stop them!
Prediction: Illinois covers
Predicted Final Score: Illinois 34, Northwestern 20
Final Score: Northwestern 27, Illinois 16
Oklahoma State (6-4, 3-3) @ Texas Tech (6-5, 3-4)
Vegas Says: Texas Tech -6.5
Do you like scoring? If so, this game between two offensive powerhouses, with an over/under of 69 points, might be just for you! Both teams are averaging big offensive numbers (4 TD’s) per game, and this one will be in a rare non-windy day in Lubbock, TX, so it’s probably a good day for the defensive coordinators to call in sick…
As for the line, I don’t like it much. Texas Tech has a slight advantage in yards gained and defensive yards allowed, but they’re scoring less points and giving up roughly the same amount. These are two evenly-matched teams, and despite Texas Tech’s offense, they’ve been held to under 25 points four times this season, while OK State has only had that happen once. I’m not sure who will win this one, but Oklahoma State will get their points. This will be a shootout, and while I’m expecting Oklahoma State to beat the spread (and going out on a limb picking them to win), I’d be a lot happier with 7.5 than 6.5.
Prediction: Oklahoma State beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Oklahoma State 38, Texas Tech 35
Final Score: Texas Tech 30, Oklahoma State 24
#15 Auburn (9-2, 5-2) @ Alabama (6-5, 2-5)
Vegas Says: Auburn -3
I saw this line, and my initial reaction was “WHAT?!” Auburn only by 3? Against a team who is 2-5 in conference? But with a little bit of digging, I realized that 4 of Alabama’s 5 losses came playing currently-ranked teams, two of which were close games. Auburn has big wins over LSU and Florida, but got blown out by Arkansas and an inconsistent Georgia team at home. And this is a major rivalry game (although today, nobody outside the state of Alabama will be watching it).
On paper, the teams seem pretty well matched. Auburn has an advantage in scoring offense and points allowed, but overall the two teams look just about identical. I think Auburn does have an advantage in that Alabama seems to throw more effectively than they run, and Auburn does a decent job defending the pass. Really, I think this game will be close, but it will come down to one thing. Auburn has the running game to score in the red zone, while Alabama settles for a field goal, in a fairly low-scoring affair.
Prediction: Auburn covers
Predicted Final Score: Auburn 17, Alabama 13
Final Score: Auburn 22, Alabama 15
#19 Virginia Tech (8-2, 4-2) @ #14 Wake Forest (9-1, 5-1)
Vegas Says: PICK’EM
Oh, how I really want to pick Wake Forest. They’re looking like they’re in the middle of a dream season, with potential ACC championship and BCS hopes. They’ve faced some tough teams, and but for a sloppy, turnover-laden loss to Clemson, could be undefeated right now. Virginia Tech, of course, is a team that looked like it might be in trouble in the middle of the season, after a 22-3 drubbing by then-unranked Boston College. But they’ve picked things up and played strong since.
Everyone’s pulling for Wake in this game, but I don’t see it happening. Statistically, Virginia Tech is better on both offense and defense. Wake has had decent luck scoring, but it’s going to be a lot tougher against the Hokies. For Wake to win, they need to establish a running game against a defense giving up 2.9 yards per carry. Or, get a passing game going against the second-ranked pass defense in the NCAA. I don’t see it happening. Virginia Tech is hungry for interceptions, and I think their defense will win out in the end.
Prediction: Virginia Tech wins
Predicted Final Score: Virginia Tech 13, Wake Forest 10
Final Score: Virginia Tech 27, Wake Forest 6
#17 Cal (8-2, 6-1) @ #4 USC (9-1, 6-1)
Vegas Says: USC -5.5
USC has been tested this year, and has been playing with fire. They may be able to sneak into an MNC berth if they win out the rest of their schedule, but I, for one, don’t believe they can do it. I think USC is overrated. They’re pretty likely to lose one of their next three, and given that I also think Notre Dame is overrated, I think this might be the week.
USC has been a bit inconsistent this year. They have the weapons, in Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett, to beat Cal. This is a game, though, where they can’t allow mistakes, or Cal will punish them. Cal is coming off an unexpected loss @ Arizona, and you know they’re playing now for the Pac-10 Title, the Rose Bowl berth, and a chance to destroy USC’s championship aspirations. They’ve got an offense more than capable of hanging with USC all game.
So it’s going to come down to offensive execution and defensive play. Advantage Cal on the execution side, as USC has been inconsistent. Advantage USC on defense, as they appear to be pretty solid against the run, which is Cal’s specialty (not to say Cal can’t throw, though). In this one, I think Cal has the offensive firepower to overwhelm USC’s defense in a way nobody else has, and USC will get in just enough trouble executing on offense to make this a very close game. Cal wins in a squeaker.
Prediction: Cal beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Cal 34, USC 30
Final Score: USC 23, Cal 9
GAME OF THE
WEEK YEAR CENTURY
#2 Michigan (11-0, 8-0) @ #1 Ohio State (11-0, 8-0)
Vegas Says: Ohio State -7
Battles don’t get much more epic than this one. The winner of this game will be the odd-on favorite to win it all. The loser of this game will be the favorite to win in the Rose Bowl. These teams are just that good. And every matchup is an epic. The explosive Ohio State offense vs the stingy Michigan defense. The only potential chink in Ohio State’s armor, their run defense, against the goliath offensive line and shifty Mike Hart.
So many questions. Can Michigan’s run defense defend Troy Smith if he goes mobile? Can either defense defend Mario Manningham and Ted Ginn? Can Michigan even score against the nation’s #1 scoring defense? And if so, will it be defensive scores, or will their offense take care of it? Something has to break today, and it’s either Ohio State’s offense, or Michigan’s defense. The only team that can stop Ohio State’s offense is Michigan, and the only team that can beat Michigan’s defense is Ohio State. Add to the mix that this is college football’s most storied rivalry, and you’ve got yourself a game!
But the Bucks by 7? I realize Troy Smith is a steel-eyed and cool-handed in big games, but Texas’ defense is not Michigan’s. Nor will Michigan pull the Texas strategy of (successfully) attacking OSU in the run for the first quarter of the game, and then quitting and going to the air. Lloyd Carr is too patient (read: conservative) to do that. I personally think Michigan answers the call and the defense wins this game, but I can’t see OSU winning by large numbers unless Henne has a meltdown and gifts them some turnovers (which the OSU secondary will be more than happy to take). Either way, I don’t see this game being decided by more than 7 points. If anyone has the ability to blow a game open, it’s Ohio State, but Michigan will put up more of a fight than either Texas or Penn State, OSU’s two biggest tests to date.
Something tells me that the world has crowned Ohio State the champion before their time, and the reason they’ve done so is purely that Michigan finished last season 7-5. Ohio State might pull this one out, and if anyone can do it, it’s Troy Smith. He has already beaten Michigan twice. But that Michigan defense wasn’t coached by Ron English, and there wasn’t a healthy Mike Hart. Add those two into the mix, and Michigan might surprise some folks. If they can get out to an early lead, they can control the game, and keep this from being an OSU blowout. If OSU gets the early lead, Michigan might be in trouble (and so will my pick).
Prediction: Michigan beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Michigan 17, Ohio State 16
Final Score: Ohio State 42, Michigan 39
UPDATE: Well, at the end of the day, I somehow managed another 5-3 day against the spread, which perfectly continues my 62.5% percentage. Oddly enough, I was only 3-5 straight up, which is never a good sign… On the year, I’m 45-27 against the spread, and 49-23 straight up.
Purdue/IU was a comedy of errors, but my Boilers came through, which is all I really care about. Michigan/OSU was a heck of a game, although someone needs to look for Michigan’s run defense, I think the bus got lost on the way to Columbus. Rutgers lost, so the Big East is officially out of the national championship picture, although given the close UM/OSU game, those two teams may be in a rematch on Jan 8. All I can ask is that somehow, some way, Notre Dame is kept out of the MNC game.
Below The Beltway linked with Four Hours And Counting
November 11, 2006
The drain of a long season has got to be wearing on a lot of players by now, especially since the NCAA added a 12th game to the schedule. It’s wearing on me, as well, as I’m finding these picks harder to generate each week. This week is an especially tough week, as I have vowed not to pick Michigan State games (too inconsistent), I can’t objectively pick Purdue (as a fan), and between two games I would normally pick this week (Wisconsin/Iowa and Tennessee/Arkansas), three of the 4 starting QB’s probably won’t be playing.
But that’s enough whining for today. Purdue doesn’t have a bye week on their schedule this year, so I’m not going to take one either!
Minnesota (4-6, 1-5) @ Michigan State (4-6, 1-5)
Vegas Says: Minnesota -1.5
As I’ve said, I won’t put up an “official” pick for this game. How can I, when MSU changes their team’s demeanor more quickly and with more variety than Chicago weather. That’s not even taking into account the inconsistency of Minnesota, who looked like a bad run-dominated team most of the year, only to air it out against Indiana to win 63-26.
So after watching what happened to MSU last week against Purdue, I learned my lesson. MSU will always do what is most demoralizing. They need to win both of their next two games to go to a bowl. The most demoralizing thing possible would be to play great football against Minnesota, beat them badly enough that all of a sudden MSU fans might believe MSU can upset Penn State next weekend, only to get crushed in Happy Valley. So that’s my “unofficial” pick. MSU wins in order to make their loss next weekend that much more devastating.
Prediction: No official prediction
Final Score: Minnesota 31, MSU 18
Purdue (6-4, 3-3) @ Illinois (2-8, 1-5)
Vegas Says: Illinois -3
Illinois, a 2-8 football team, favored by 3 points? I guess the folks who say that Illinois is the best 8-loss team in the country might have a point! Of course, they gave both Penn State and Wisconsin a run, and then managed to only get beat by 7 against Ohio State, the number one team in the country. Of course, Ohio State mailed it in on this one, and I firmly believe that they could have turned it on and driven the score up any time they wanted to.
That being said, Illinois does have a defense. Given Purdue’s troubles facing the defenses of Wisconsin and Penn State, that could bode ill for the Boilers. Both of those games for Purdue were home games, yet Wisconsin and Penn State did have a defensive “12th man” working for them: 20+ mph gusty winds. Illinois doesn’t have a defense that rivals those two, but they’ll have some wind, and possibly even a nice rain/snow mix added in. God, I hate the midwest in November…
Still I think Illinois has been playing more on emotion than talent. Their offensive line is a sieve, so Purdue DE Anthony Spencer should tee off on Illini QB Juice Williams early and often. Purdue’s defense held MSU to about 305 total yards, and I don’t see any reason for Illinois to do better. Purdue’s offense won’t have a field day, but they should be able to do more than they did against Wisconsin and Penn State, despite the weather. Purdue wins this game to become bowl eligible, although it’s not going to be a blowout.
Prediction: No official prediction
Final Score: Purdue 42, Illinois 31
#16 Wisconsin (9-1, 6-1) @ Iowa (6-4, 2-4)
Vegas Says: Wisconsin -2
Wow, what a year Iowa has had. Their one strong performance was beating up an a poorly-playing Purdue team, and the rest of the season has been a nightmare. They’ve lost to Michigan, OSU, Indiana, and most recently lowly Northwestern. Not good at all. They’re beaten up on defense, their offense is struggling with the graduation of their top receivers last year, and it seems like anything that can go wrong will.
Under normal circumstances, I’d pick Wisconsin by 15. With Wisconsin QB John Stocco questionable to play (supposedly a game-time decision), and RB PJ Hill coming off an injury a few weeks ago, the Wisconsin offense may have some trouble. The backup QB isn’t likely to be trusted to throw the ball, so that means Hill and the other RB’s are going to have to step up big.
In the end, though, I think a team that lost 21-7 against Northwestern, at home, has problems. Wisconsin may struggle a bit on offense, but they have a defense that will keep Iowa from doing anything meaningful on offense. This isn’t going to be a high-scoring game on either side, but I think Wisconsin will be in control of this one.
Prediction: Wisconsin covers
Predicted Final Score: Wisconsin 17, Iowa 10
Final Score: Wisconsin 24, Iowa 21
Miami (5-4, 2-3) @ #23 Maryland (7-2, 4-1)
Vegas Says: Maryland -3.5
Miami seemed to be having about the worst year possible. And then it got worse. Defensive lineman Bryan Pata was shot and killed on Tuesday night, which puts the rest of Miami’s troubles into perspective, and gave them a real tragedy to deal with in the midst of all their now-inconsequential other troubles. This is one of those situations that can go either way for a football team. They can rise up, or fold. It’s tough to tell.
Maryland has been doing the exact opposite. They haven’t really had any impressive wins to date, but they’ve won 7 games. This appears to be one of those teams that has the will to win, which is often just as important as the talent.
But I think it comes to an end this week. Maryland, for a 7-2 team, doesn’t have a very impressive offense, and an even less-impressive defense. Miami, for a team that isn’t topping the scoring charts, is playing good defense, and I think the loss of Pata is going to fire up this defense and get them playing with emotion and aggressiveness. Miami will have a little more focus this week, and come up with the big upset on the road. Either that, or they’ll mentally fall apart by the 2nd quarter and get blown out.
Prediction: Miami beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Miami 21, Maryland 17
Final Score: Maryland 14, Miami 13
#2 Michigan (10-0, 6-0) @ Indiana (5-5, 3-3)
Vegas Says: Michigan -19
I normally stay away from lines like this. I don’t like 19-point lines, because it’s all too often that teams get complacent when they have big leads, and it’s easy for a team, up by 21, to give up that late TD and make it 14. Particularly, I think Michigan is known for sitting on a small lead, because they know very well that their defense can stand up to anyone in the country. In fact, it almost got them in a lot of trouble last week.
But this week is different. This is a tune-up week, to make sure everything’s in rhythm for the Ohio State game. Michigan is going to be opening it up a little more and making sure Henne, Hart, and Manningham are all on the same page. Indiana is developing a potent offense, but Michigan has the defense to cover James Hardy, shut down Marcus Thigpen, and if Hoosier QB Kellen Lewis makes it through the game with his head still on his shoulders, he should thank his lucky stars.
Michigan blows this one open, because they need the practice for next weekend.
Prediction: Michigan covers
Predicted Final Score: Michigan 38, Indiana 10
Final Score: Michigan 34, Indiana 3
Nebraska (7-3, 4-2) @ #24 Texas A&M (8-2, 4-2)
Vegas Says: PICK
Statistically, this is a tough one. These are two good football teams, with losses to quality programs. Statistically, they’re looking like roughly similar offensive and defensive production. Both teams have had a big win or two, a loss to a teams they were “supposed” to lose to, and a loss to a slightly worse team. Nebraska also has an OOC loss to USC, but you can imagine that if A&M had scheduled any teams of that caliber OOC, they would have that loss as well.
When it really comes down to it, only one thing sticks out at me. Nebraska has done a good job of making sure that opponents’ yards don’t turn into points. Nebraska has given up some yards through the air, but hasn’t given up a huge number of points. This is a good matchup for them, as well, because the Aggies are primarily a running team, and may not be able to exploit that Cornhusker defensive weakness. Nebraska looks just slightly tougher than A&M, so I’m going to give them the nod.
Prediction: Nebraska wins
Predicted Final Score: Nebraska 24, Texas A&M 20
Final Score: Nebraska 28, Texas A&M 27
Oregon State (6-3, 4-2) @ UCLA (4-5, 2-4)
Vegas Says: Oregon State -2
Oregon State, you have to think, isn’t getting a lot of respect. They got blown out early against Boise State and Cal, and I think they’ve been forgotten ever since. Until, of course, they took down USC. That’s a big win, no matter who you are. UCLA got off to a good start, but had a QB injury starting a 4-game slide (albeit 3 of the 4 losses were to ranked teams). There’s definite talent on this team, and there’s a strong defense who can make life a nightmare for opposing QB’s.
UCLA has a pass rush, and that appears to be the key to beating Oregon State. I think if they can keep the OSU QB on the run, UCLA can win this game.
Prediction: UCLA beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: UCLA 31, Oregon State 24
Final Score: UCLA 25, Oregon State 7
Texas Tech (6-4, 3-3) @ #17 Oklahoma (7-2, 4-1)
Vegas Says: Oklahoma -9
Oklahoma is a good team, and they’re one horrible officiating call from being an 8-1 team instead of 7-2. They’ve incredibly managed to lose Adrian Peterson for the year and yet not miss a beat on offense. With the exception of the Texas game, where they were simply outclassed, and the horrible officiating against Oregon, they’ve just sat back and taken care of business.
Texas Tech is always a bit of a misfit, and this year they’ve had their good and their bad games. A team that’s typically known for scoring has done so in their wins, but they’ve had two inexplicable single-digit scoring outings this year. One of those games, they turned the ball over 5 times. But the other, they just didn’t seem to put together any sort of offensive rhythm.
In this game, I don’t think they’ll have the same problem. Against Texas’ defense, the Red Raiders managed to put up 31 points, and I think they can keep their offense humming against Oklahoma. It won’t be a high scoring game, because I expect Oklahoma to try to control the tempo by running the ball, but it won’t be a defensive battle. Oklahoma wins, but I’m not giving them 9 points… Even at home.
Prediction: Texas Tech beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Oklahoma 31, Texas Tech 27
Final Score: Oklahoma 34, Texas Tech 24
#13 Tennessee (7-2, 3-2) @ #11 Arkansas (8-1, 5-0)
Vegas Says: Arkansas -6
Arkansas has a big win on their slate, beating Auburn. But outside of that, nothing. They’ve squeaked by Vanderbilt, Alabama, and South Carolina. They got blown out in their opener against USC. They haven’t yet proven who they are. Tennessee has a big win against Cal to start the season, and two respectable losses to Florida and LSU, two very powerful teams. They also have a big comeback win on the road at Georgia.
But there’s a problem for both teams. Both starting QB’s are out. Tennessee might play Erik Ainge at somepoint, but if he plays, he’s probably not 100%. That means this game might be a toss-up. So when you look at the backups, how do they stack up? Arkansas backup Casey Dick played very well last week, and Tennessee backup Jonathan Crompton didn’t.
So why am I picking Tennessee? I’m not quite sure. Part of it is on my buddy JimmyJ’s advice. Part of me just says that Arkansas is a bit of a fraud, and is not as good as their lofty ranking based on the beating they took from USC, and their so-so wins over everyone the mid-level SEC teams. They’ve got the big win at Auburn, but I don’t know if I trust them yet. Crompton had a bad first outing against LSU, but the Arkansas defense isn’t as tough, and I think Tennessee just might take this game…
Prediction: Tennessee beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Tennessee 28, Arkansas 23
Final Score: Arkansas 31, Tennessee 14
Well, the day started well, at 5-0. Then it dropped to 5-2. I blame JimmyJ. I’d probably have picked Tennessee to beat the spread without him, but I still blame him. Why do I listen to someone who took 7 years to graduate college?
Either way, though, 5-2 is a good week, putting me at 40-24 against the spread on the season. That’s a 62.5% record, which is more than enough to beat the juice. I’ll take it!
November 9, 2006
Again, we’ve got a big Thursday night matchup. Again, it involves two undefeated Big East teams. And again, there’s a lot at stake. If Louisville wins this game, they’ve got easier sailing the rest of the way to the MNC game (although it is three teams with winning records). Rutgers is not getting any love from the rankings, but if they get by Louisville, the rest of their schedule, and West Virginia to close out the year, they could prove themselves worthy of a shot at the MNC game as well. This game is not getting the hype last week got, which is a shame, since it’s more due to the polls dissing Rutgers than anything else.
GAME OF THE WEEK
#3 Louisville (8-0, 3-0) @ #15 Rutgers (8-0, 3-0)
Vegas says: Louisville -7
Rutgers hasn’t been getting a lot of credit this year, but only one game so far has been close. They even blew the doors off Navy, and if they can contain the Navy rushing attack, they may have a shot at slowing down West Virginia. But that’s only relevant if they can get by Louisville, and Rutgers are 7 point dogs at home.
Looking at the game, Rutgers has one of the top scoring defenses in the country. They’re allowing a mere 9.1 ppg, 227 ypg, including a miserly 135 ypg in the air. They’re top ten in those three categories, and top 25 in rushing ypg allowed. Of course, that’s up against a team, Louisville, whose offense is scoring 39.4 ppg, gaining nearly 500 ypg and 300 in the air. That’s top ten in all three categories, with a top 25 rushing attack thrown in. Louisville has a strong defense, but they gave up quite a bit of yards and points to West Virginia last week. Rutgers, of course, doesn’t have anywhere near the offense WVU has, so Louisville’s strong defense should be able to hold them to a lot less production than WVU could gain.
This isn’t quite the same matchup as Louisville/WVU. But in that matchup, Louisville needed both defensive and special teams touchdowns to put it away. WVU was not good at securing the football, and made enough mistakes to get themselves out of their gameplan. And that was Louisville at home, they’re on the road for this one. Rutgers hasn’t quite played anyone to give them the tests Louisville has faced so far, the only test they’ve had is a close 22-20 game at South Florida. That was a Friday night game, so hopefully it prepared them for the rigors of dealing with a Thursday night game.
In the end, I think to be 7 point dogs at home is a big spread. Further, Louisville is coming off their biggest test of the year, so they might be ripe for a letdown. Last, Rutgers has a defense even more suited to containing Louisville than any they’ve probably faced this season, including Miami. I’m really expecting Rutgers to come up big in this one. I don’t know they’ll be able to win this game, but I don’t give this one to Louisville by more than one score. To be sure, a Rutgers upset wouldn’t really surprise me, because their defense has picked off a few passes this year, and a few turnovers for either team could really blow this one apart.
Prediction: Rutgers beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Louisville 30, Rutgers 27
Final Score: Rutgers 28, Louisville 25
UPDATE: So that gets me to 35-22 against the spread, 41-16 straight up. Rutgers has blown the doors off Louisville’s MNC hopes, and now they need to win out to have any chance of living out their own MNC fantasy. Regardless of BCS hopes, Rutgers played a great game. Down 25-7 at the half, they battled back to win the game 28-25. Excellent stuff…
November 4, 2006
Well, after Louisville’s victory, I’m now 30-19 against the spread, and 38-11 straight up. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve got people e-mailing me for picks, which is a bit of an honor… So I’ve got a question this week. Has anyone actually been betting my picks and making money? I might have to become one of those guys from Two For The Money, and start taking a cut of your winnings
This week, we’ve got some really great-looking games. Some have some rather wacky lines (I’ll get to that later), and quite a few close ones. So this should be a fun week to watch football…
Wacky Line of the Week
Indiana (5-4, 3-2) @ Minnesota (3-6, 0-5)
Vegas Says: Minnesota -6
I’ve made the point before that when things don’t look right, it’s usually the oddsmakers, not the bettors, who are right. But I don’t get this line. Indiana is a team on the rise, with a lot of playmakers on offense, winning three of their last four, including a huge upset over Iowa. Minnesota is a team who hasn’t beaten any decent teams this year, has lost every one of their Big Ten games, and they look to be in a slide. Indiana needs one more win for a bowl and want it this week, knowing they’ll lose next week against Michigan, and then have to play @ Purdue. This is their best chance for a win (although the way Purdue is playing, Indiana is expecting to reclaim the “Old Oaken Bucket” this year). Minnesota needs three wins in three games to go bowling, and it looks like enough of an uphill battle that they may already have given up. So the emotions don’t give me a 6-point line.
As for the analysis of the game, Indiana has a good back in Marcus Thigpen, an amazing receiver in James Hardy, and freshman QB Kellen Lewis has really started to come on. Minnesota’s defense is nothing to write home about, so I don’t see them stopping IU’s offense. Minnesota isn’t the power they were last year, with their running game struggling a bit, and their passing game not good enough to make up for it. I do see this being a moderately close game, but if I were drawing the line, I’d call IU 3 point favorites on the road, and I think they’ll win it outright by a touchdown.
Prediction: Indiana beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Indiana 38, Minnesota 31
Final Score: Minnesota 63, Indiana 26
Penn State (6-3, 4-2) @ #17 Wisconsin (8-1, 5-1)
Vegas Says: Wisconsin -7
Wisconsin will win this game, that much I’m pretty sure about. Penn State has been struggling on offense, and they’re going into a game against one of the top defenses in the Big Ten. But both teams are defensive teams, Wisconsin’s RB is a bit dinged up, and it’s not sure if the score is going to be Wisconsin winning 3-0, or 13-3, because the Penn State defense won’t give them much.
But I think it might be a bit of a surprise, when all is said and done. Vegas has an over/under of 38, which most people would find odd. It’s not, and here’s why: the defenses will give the offenses good field position. I would expect to see Wisconsin get the ball at least once deep in Penn State territory, and I would expect to see both teams getting the ball in good field position on punts. Will there be a lot of 85-yard drives? Probably not, but I think we’ll see a few times where a team only has to go 40 yards to get to the end zone.
Prediction: Wisconsin covers
Predicted Final Score: Wisconsin 27, Penn State 13
Final Score: Wisconsin 13, Penn State 3
Tough Call of the Week
Missouri (7-2, 3-2) @ Nebraska (6-3, 3-2)
Vegas Says: Nebraska -5
Here’s one of those games where a line looks about right. Both teams are coming off a loss, but they’ve both lost this year only to the decent teams on their schedule. This is a big game for these two, as the winner is basically assured a trip to the Big 12 conference championship game. So there’s a lot of emotion at play. Both teams look pretty well identical, in that in big games, they’ve taken some opponents to the wire (Nebraska against Texas, Mizzou against Texas A&M), and they’ve both gotten blown out in a big game (Nebraska against USC, Mizzou against Oklahoma). In the emotion factor, I can say that I’m rooting for Mizzou, as my older sister went there, and she took me out drinking for the first time (at the age of 15, of course!). Also, the one time I drove through Lincoln, Nebraska, it looked like the dark side of the moon.
But looking at the way these teams break down, Nebraska is a bit more of a scoring threat, but gives up a few more points. Mizzou appears to lean a bit more on the pass, yet they still gain 155 ypg on the ground. So both teams look balanced. I think this is going to be a very close game either way, and I don’t see it reaching the 52 point o/u. I’m going to give a slight edge to Missouri because they seem to have a better defense, but against Nebraska, I think the home field advantage just barely wins out…
Prediction: Missouri beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Nebraska 23, Missouri 20
Final Score: Nebraska 34, Missouri 20
Purdue (5-4, 2-3) @ Michigan State (4-5, 1-4)
Vegas Says: Michigan State -2
I no longer offer real predictions of either of these teams. Michigan State is so incredibly inconsistent that I can’t predict anything they’ll do. And I’ve got emotional ties to Purdue, which always color my analysis. So this game won’t end up in my record books, but I wanted to bring it up anyway…
Michigan State fired their coach Wednesday, but he’ll still be on the sidelines. You expect in a situation like this that a team will come out with emotion to win one for the outgoing coach. Which means that since you expect it, MSU will come out flat. But since MSU is expected to do the unexpected, wouldn’t it be just like MSU to do the expected? I don’t know, and my brain is starting to hurt… This game, as the Boilermaker Football Blog points out:
This has the potential to be a comedy off errors, the funniest of which is that the winner will be one very winnable game away from getting to a bowl themselves. I am almost glad this game will be on ESPNU, because it could be the first 0-0 seven OT game in NCAA history, or it could be about 75-72 in seven overtimes. A blowout either wouldn’t be shocking either.
When it comes down to it, both teams are talented. Both teams have high-powered offenses when their receivers are catching the ball and their coaches are calling good games. Both teams have weak defenses. In a real analysis of the game, MSU has an edge with a senior QB, experienced talent elsewhere, and home field advantage. But I think Purdue will get back on track offensively, and their very deep receiving corps will overpower MSU’s secondary, with the coaches opening up the deep ball. Assuming no mental meltdown by either team, this should be a high-scoring affair, where the team with the ball last wins. No “official” prediction this week, but I’m a Purdue homer, so I’ll say Purdue 45, MSU 41.
Prediction: No Official Prediction
Final Score: Purdue 17, MSU 15
Arizona State (5-3, 2-3) @ Oregon State (5-3, 3-2)
Vegas Says: Oregon State -2.5
Ahh, a Pac-10 battle. Oregon State is coming off their shocking upset against USC, and is riding a 3-game winning streak. Arizona State had a rough stretch, with a 3-week losing streak against ranked Cal, Oregon, and a close loss to USC, but have beaten all the unranked teams on their schedule. Neither team has really shown themselves to beat any good competition, with the only win over a team with a winning record that of ASU over Nevada.
Looking at the stats, neither team has a Pac-10 worthy offense, and surprisingly their defenses don’t look too bad. The matchup looks even stranger, because ASU, normally a pass-happy team, is gaining most of their yards on the ground, against OSU’s strong rush defense (96 ypg). OSU is a passing team, and ASU’s defensive strength is against the pass. So this could be a very interesting game.
But unless ASU can establish the run, it won’t be interesting at all. And I think Oregon State’s defense will stop the run. Oregon State wins by a decent margin at home.
Prediction: Oregon State covers
Predicted Final Score: Oregon State 31, Arizona State 20
Final Score: Oregon State 44, Arizona State 10
#16 Boston College (7-1, 3-1) @ #22 Wake Forest (7-1, 3-1)
Vegas Says: Boston College -3.5
This is the game, like Mizzou @ Nebraska, which determines which of these teams will go to the ACC Championship game. So there is a lot riding on it. Wake Forest was everyone’s darling before Clemson came through and rolled right over them. Boston College is always the media’s darling due to one Doug Flutie, with their one defeat in a very Flutie-esque play against NC State. Both teams are good. Neither is great, but in an ACC down year, this game gets them into the conference championship, where they may be the favored team.
But the stats don’t make this one look good for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. They’re not an offensive powerhouse, gaining their yards on the ground. Boston College is only giving up 83 ypg on the ground. Wake Forest is susceptible to a passing offense. Boston College is gaining 226 ypg in the air. This is one of those games where the teams are both good teams, but the matchup is horribly uneven. The catholics rout the Demon Deacons.
Prediction: Boston College covers
Predicted Final Score: Boston College 31, Wake Forest 17
Final Score: Wake Forest 21, Boston College 14
#18 Oklahoma (6-2, 3-1) @ #21 Texas A&M (8-1, 4-1)
Vegas Says: Oklahoma -3
This is another tough one. Everyone expected Oklahoma to fold after Adrian Peterson was injured, but they appear to be like Wisconsin, in that you plug in another running back, and he rushes for 267 yards over the last two games. They still don’t have a passing offense, but their running game isn’t suffering as expected. In fact, they’re still steamrolling opponents, including Missouri, without Peterson. Texas A&M has a high-powered offense, a decent defense, and is sitting at 8-1, but they haven’t dominated anyone in conference play. Yet, 8-1 is a good record, and it doesn’t always matter how you win, if you have players who believe they can beat any team, they can come up with “just enough” whenever they need to.
Statwise, Oklahoma has a pretty strong defense, but Texas A&M’s offense wasn’t stopped by Missouri or Texas Tech’s strong defenses. I’m going to go out on a limb on this one, and say that A&M comes up with “just enough” once again. Oklahoma will try to control the pace with the ground game, but with A&M’s high-powered offense, they’ll be in it at the end with a chance to win, and I say they come through.
Prediction: Texas A&M beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Texas A&M 27, Oklahoma 24
Final Score: Oklahoma 17, Texas A&M 16
GAME OF THE DAY
#13 LSU (6-2, 2-2) @ #8 Tennessee (7-1, 3-1)
Vegas Says: LSU -4.5
This is an odd one… LSU is ranked lower than Tennessee, has one more loss, and yet they’re 4.5 point favorites, on the road, against a Tennessee team that is looking really good? I guess I can see why, they’re averaging 35 points per game, and only giving up 8.3. But that’s a bit deceptive.
LSU has played 6 home games against cupcake opponents, averaging over 45 ppg. In their two road games against powerful opponents, they’ve averaged 6.5 points. This is a road game against a powerful opponent. Tennessee has played three games against top 10 teams, and is averaging over 30 ppg. Against Florida, the team who has a defense in LSU’s class, they put up 20 points in a close loss. Tennessee’s starting QB is coming off injury, which might be a problem, but reports on Thursday had him as probable to play, so he might be in this game.
Even without Erik Ainge, I think Tennessee’s defense is going to hold LSU to a low enough score that I can’t see them winning by 4.5. Auburn beat them in a 7-3 game, and Florida in a 23-10 game. Tennessee isn’t going to put up their typical 30+ points, but they’re not going to need to. LSU has a great defense, and a high-powered offense, but they don’t seem to travel well. Tennessee takes this, but I’ll give LSU the benefit of the doubt that equal the sum of their previous points on the road.
Prediction: Tennessee beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Tennessee 20, LSU 13
Final Score: LSU 28, Tennessee 24
So this is a bit different than some weeks. 7 games, I’m picking 4 underdogs and three outright upsets. If you counted the Purdue/MSU game (which I don’t), that’d be a 5th underdog and another upset. I’m even thinking Michigan won’t cover against Ball State, since I expect to see second-stringers in the game for the Wolverines as early as the second quarter. But I guess with picks like these, I might just find myself looking at a 7-0 record this week, or an 0-7 record. Only time will tell. 2 hours now until kickoff, so we’ll see!
UPDATE: Well, at the end of the day I squeaked into a 4-3 record against the spread, and a mere 3-4 straight up. I picked a bunch of upsets, but didn’t pick the one (Wake Forest) that actually occurred. But any time you can beat 55% against the spread (and I went 57% today), consider it a success. And Purdue won a tough game against Michigan State, so frankly my picks don’t matter that much… Purdue won!
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