this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Big 10 Picks
It was a good week for the Wolverines, winning by 24 points 34-10. While some questions remain for the offense, the defense seems to have assumed an identity. Week 4 rankings include 4 Big Ten teams with Nebraska ranked the lowest (24th) and the only ranked Big Ten team to remain undefeated. MSU(11) keeps the highest spot coming off a bye week.
Last week recap:
Winners: Iowa State(+12.5) @ Iowa 20-17
Nebraska(-10) @ Fresno State 55 -19
Kent @ Ohio State(-32) 0-66
UL Lafayette @ Mississippi(-27) 15-56
Losers: Houston @ BYU(-18.5) 25-33
Penn State @ Rutgers(+3.5)(for the WIN) 13-10
Georgia(-5.5) @ South Carolina 35-38
BYU is a good team but is too undisciplined to go very far this year. One of their starting def. lineman was thrown out because he tried to punch a guy. I’m just saying. Rutgers looked like they should have gotten the win last week but they seem to be afraid of success. Welcome to the BIG TEN!
SoFlaWolverine adds Washington to his win column.
Maize_in_spartyland adds TCU and Wakeforest to his win column.
For those of you who can’t wait till Saturday, here is Thursday’s most interesting matchup:
Auburn(-8.5) @ K-State:
Power Rankings: AUB 4 K-State 17
Auburn(5) moved up 3 spots in the power rankings, is 2-0 and 0-2 ATS. This will be their first challenge away from home and their first match up against a ranked opponent. K-State is 2-0 and 2-0 ATS. Both teams are 2-0-0 O/U. Last year Auburn beat K-State(20) 23-13 even though K-State outgained them 316 TOT – 291 TOT. Coates is out for Auburn this week and this could have an impact on the game as he accumulated 902 yards in receiving with 42 catches last year. Auburn is ranked 31st in def. this year but only 48th in rushing def. This is coming off opponents ranked 110th and 3rd in rushing, so it might not be that concerning but K-State is ranked 32nd in rushing off. K-State def. is ranked 23rd and had a good showing against Iowa State. I see Auburn winning this game by a field goal and a mutual offensive struggle.
K-State to Cover and the Under
A look around the Big Ten
IND @ Missouri(-13):
Power Rankings: IND 80 MIZZ 18
Indiana just lost to BGSU and struggled to beat their instate rivals, need I say more? I will anyways. Mizz comes off a strong win against UCF 38-10 and shouldn’t have any problems against Indiana. I’m guessing Vegas is concerned about the air raid that is Indiana’s only offense. I’m not, since UCF possibly has the best receiving core in the FBS. Get in on this line early to keep a 2 touchdown win.
Missouri to Cover
Utah @ Michigan(-5)
Power Rankings: MI 35 Utah 61
Michigan’s defense seems to be passing the eye test, and the numbers agree as they are ranked 7th overall and 10th and 23rd in rushing and passing. Last week UM was able to finish some drives but Utah is ranked 39th in rushing def. so far. The O/U seems low to me but I’m still not willing to bet UM puts up their share of points. Utah is ranked 14th in Off. This could be a very frustrating game to watch, or boring if you’re the type of fan than needs Michigan to put up 50 points a game. As a fan, Utah scares the hell out of me. As a real Michigan fan… I see Michigan winning this game by at least a touchdown. Utes are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs. Big Ten.
Over is 4-0 in Utes last 4 games following a SU win of more than 20 points.
Over is 6-1 in Utes last 7 games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game.
Wolverines are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games in September.
Wolverines are 0-7 ATS in their last 7 vs. Pac-12.
Under is 4-0 in Wolverines last 4 games in September.
Disclaimer: I don’t bet on Michigan sports. I refuse to bet against them for one, and I am way too biased. Since I follow them so religiously, I can always find an insider reason to hype them up. So, take it for what it’s worth.
Michigan to Cover
Iowa @ Pitt(-6.5)
Power Rankings: Iowa 32 Pitt 51
SJSU @ Minnesota(-8.5)
Power Rankings: MINN 40 SJSU 116
I’m hoping the TCU game has mired anyone willing to bet on Minnesota. This line seems a little low as a result and SJSU got embarrassed by AUB. I’ll take a flyer on this one.
Minnesota to Cover
Southern Illinois @ Purdue
Power Rankings: PUR 76
No one seems interested in this game so….. No action.
Massachusetts @ Penn State(-26.5)
Power Rankings: PSU 33 UMASS 113
Miami @ Nebraska(-7)
Power Rankings: NEB 20 Miami 41
Miami has the 8th best def. but is only ranked 89th in off. so far. If Nebraska can get their offense rolling this could be a very good game. Nebraska is ranked 8th in def. and shouldn’t have any problem holding Miami to 3 touchdowns. Nebraska is ranked 43rd in redzone def. this year. That should be enough to keep Miami kicking field goals, which they seem more than willing to do this year with Goudis having 50+ yard range. I’m staying away from this line but I’ll pick up some O/U action.
I’ll take the under
Maryland(-1) @ Syracuse
Power Rankings: MD 73 SYR64
Eastern Michigan @ MSU(-45.5)
Power Rankings: EMU 122 MSU 12
Texas State @ Illinois(-14)
Power Rankings: ILL 60 TXST 86
Rutgers @ Navy(-6)
Power Rankings: RUTG 65 Navy 57
BGSU @ Wisconsin(-27)
Power Rankings: WIS 23 BGSU 116
Bowling Green is 2-1 and 2-1 ATS. Wisconsin is 1-1 and 0-2 ATS. WIS is ranked 9th in def. but an atrocious 88th in off. They are however 39th in rushing. BGSU is ranked 23rd in off. and 125th in def. There is a huge mismatch on both sides of the ball. In a game of rock, paper, scissors, Wisconsin def. beats BGSU off. Wisconsin has never lost to BGSU and is 3-0 in the series. Last week’s BGSU Indiana game really has this line screwed up. It opened at -21.5 and I don’t see it stopping till after -29. Wisconsin’s star running back only rushed for 38 yards on 17 carries against Western Illinois 2 weeks ago (they had a bye last week). He had a good showing against LSU the week before though. WIS also returns their 2 best interior def. lineman. They were injured against LSU and I really think WIS would have won that game if they hadn’t been. I wouldn’t wince at this line if Wisconsin was 2-0 and BGSU didn’t complete a game winning drive late against a pathetic Indiana team. BGSU has a very fast paced off. completing 133 plays against Indiana. Wisconsin has held opponents to an average of 59.5 plays so far. Wisconsin is poised for a lopsided victory this week but I’m not sure how lopsided. I would wait till the line moves above -28.5 and take BGSU if I wanted this action. Instead, I’ll just take the under as it’s 4-0 for the Falcons.
I’ll take the Under
Western Illinois @ Northwestern
Power Rankings: No action on this one… Yawn
This week’s top ranked matchup: happens to be on Thursday, so… I bring you… wait for it…
Clemson(24)@ Florida State(1)(-17)
Power Rankings: FSU 3 (Damn) Clemson 24
For perspective, Clemson falls directly between Nebraska and Ohio State in the power rankings. Clem is 1-1 and 1-1 ATS while FSU is 2-0 and 0-2 ATS. Clemson’s only loss is to Georgia 21-45. Clem is ranked 27th in off. and 6th in def. FSU is ranked 42nd and 43rd in off. and def. respectively. They are also coming off a close win against Oklahoma State 2 weeks ago. Clem loss in embarrassing fashion to UGA their first game of the season. The last 2 times these teams met FSU won, tying a ten game series. In the 27 times they’ve played FSU has won 19. This game looks to be FSU’s last challenge to an undefeated season. In fact, FSU has a 73% chance to win every game this year, giving them a 40% chance to go undefeated and make the playoffs. This is more than double any other team in the FBS. It’s almost enough to make you sick. This line opened at -20 and I think it is about where it should be. However, last year’s Heisman winner J. Winston has been suspended the first half of the game for using vulgar language… %*$# This was released yesterday so expect the line to drop a little. Looking at the offensive struggles against UGA, Clemson looks like they could blow the best opportunity they’ll have to get back into playoff contention. But against South Carolina State, Clem put up 737 yard in a 73-7 win. If the Seminoles can stop Clemson’s pass game they will cruise to an easy victory as no one for the Tigers has more than 82 yards rushing. This should be a great game to watch, and a chance to route for Clemson to spoil a potential repeat.
Clemson to Cover
Now, your surefire win of the week, guaranteed to make you look stupid and lose you 50 dollars in the office pool:
Texas A&M(-33.5) @SMU
Power Rankings: TAM 10 SMU 127
Coming in at a 75% consensus, this week’s sure fire win will feature the most dynamic offense in the country. TAM is 3-0 and 2-1 ATS. SMU is 0-2 and 0-2 ATS. TAM is ranked 4th in off. and 68th in def. so far. They’re coming off a season opener win against South Carolina, 52-28, where they decided on this year’s game plan, keep the opponents offensive off the field by keeping your offense in their end-zone. They also put up 73 points against Lamar, so there’s that… SMU is ranked 128th in off. and 105th in def. They are however ranked 43rd in pass defense. I expect that ranking to drop about 20 spots after this week. SMU’s starting QB is also out for the season with an injury. This game couldn’t look worse for SMU.
Aggies are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 road games vs. a team with a losing home record.
Aggies are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games on fieldturf.
Aggies are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game.
Mustangs are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games in September.
Mustangs are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games.
Over is 7-1 in Mustangs last 8 games following a S.U. loss.
Texas to Cover and the Over
Who you Pick’n?
Any comments and suggestions are welcome. Good luck at the races!
When I see tomorrow's college football schedule as it pertains to the Big 10 conference, I cant help but flashback to the second week of the 2005 season. That might have been the last time the conference was given any street cred by the college football fashionistas. Recall, the league had three teams--Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa--all ranked in the top 10, and, if you can believe it, there were many whispers that the Big 10 was biggest and baddest group in the land. That day all three heavyweights faced critical tests against brand names and bigtime rivals.
It was supposed to be a day of statements for the Big 10. Instead, the league spent the day telling everyone that the preseason hype was as fake as a Lou Holtz pep talk. Third-ranked Michigan listed their way through their match with Notre Dame, stumbling around like a Dave Wannstedt coached team in the red zone in a 17-10 loss. Iowa netted just a field goal in a 20-point beatdown in Ames against Iowa State. And, Ohio State, at home, did not have the fourth quarter chops to beat Texas, in a ballyhooed showdown that seemed to have had about ten times more the offseason hype than tomorrow's game with the Trojans does. The day began with the Big 10 owning the college football world. By the end, the Emperor had no clothes and the league proved itself a fraud, nothing more than a summer preview magazine creation.
The league has not been the same since. And, rather than securing its footing in the college football world, the conference has seen its stock continue to plummet since that late summer day of football four years ago. Sure, Michigan and Ohio State teased us with thrilling 2006 seasons leading to a #1 vs #2 matchup in The Game, but both teams were steamrolled in their BCS Bowl games, again bringing out the cries of fraud and mockery. We know whats happened since. Just about every outcome of the last two football seasons has further buried midwestern college football.
Michigan losses to an FCS school and then has their worst season in decades the following year. Ohio State keeps getting pantsed on the biggest stage. Iowa loses it mojo. Wisconsin hires Brett Bielema. Purdue's basketball on grass is figured out over night. Minnesota is no longer a darkhorse team with a stable of NFL ready tailbacks. Penn State has has been resurgent during this time, but they dont have a single OOC win that resonates among the masses and were completely outclassed in last season's Rose Bowl by USC. Michigan State has had two nice seasons in a row, but have lost to ACC and SEC teams in bowl games, looking like a stodgy, archaic Big 10 in the process. I think you get the picture.
I bring this up because this weekend's slate looks strikingling similar to that 2005 docket. Not only are the rivalries between Iowa and Iowa State and Michigan and Notre Dame renewed, but the Buckeyes are hosting a premier team, this time USC, under the lights at the Shoe. Unlike 2005, there are several other games on the docket important to the Big 10. Four years ago, the Big 10 was the top dog heading into a showdown weekend. Today, they're a weak link in a strong college football landscape. Saturday, the Big 10 has a chance to take a big step up the ladder in the climb back to respectively. If things break right, the Sunday morning storyline could be about a Big 10 Renaissance. Of course, league teams could again take the gas pipe, the conference will continue to take public perception hits and there will be viable discussion about the Mountain West Conference surpassing it.
Which way will it go? 50/50. I do hope, however, that the alley cat return of Big 10 picks is better than a 50/50 proposition.
First, two caveats: I am not playing all these games. If you'd like to see my card for the day, stroll over to the JCB as I'll have the card up by 9 tomorrow morning. And, as always, blindly following my picks can be hazardous to your wallet. Here goes:
Iowa State +7 vs Iowa (noon, FSN) Ames has become Waterloo for the Iowa Hawkeyes with the with four losses in five game at ISU, avering just 16 points per game in those contests and topping the 14-point mark just once. Iowa did not look good in last week's near miss against Northern Iowa. The culprit, as I saw it, was an offensive line, expected to be a major strength, that played poorly. Combined with the Hawks lack of a big time tailback the running game, this led to enough choppy offensive football to allow the Panthers to hang around. The line has been wrecked by injuries and suspension, but some of that was supposed to get ironed out this week. Think again. The news got worse for the Hawks up front with the announcement that Bryan Bugala has been felled with an illness and has been ruled out tomorrow. The prospects of more offensive line shuffling do not sound good. The Hawks are going to be what we saw last weekend all season until they get things ironed out up front. Also: the Cyclones are 10-1 ATS in this series. I have to ride those numbers.
Central Michigan +14.5 at Michigan State (noon BTN). This is not so much a pick against MSU as it is a pick on CMU. I have believed in this CHIPS! team for the last several years. And while they excell much better against the number in league games, than when they step out of conference, I like their chances of hanging with their, uh, big brother in East Lansing. I was impressed with CMU's defensive effort next week. When they have the ball, Central will face an easier defense in the Spartans than they did with Arizona last week. I dont think the Spartans lose, but I'll take CMU and LeFevour catching a two TD head start against most of the Big 10.
Fresno State +8 at Wisconsin (noon ESPN). The Great Fu Manchu arrives in Madison for another stop on his 'anyone, anytime, anywhere' tour. You cant say Fresno State is not afraid of challenges and September college football this decade has been marked in part by Pat Hill's Bulldogs taking on and scaring the hives out of bigger named foes. I am not sold on what Wisconsin is doing with their lineup right now. I cant shake the feeling that Bielema would have been better off going with Curt Phillips at QB. It took half a season for him to realize who his best QB was last year, and it looks like the same thing might happen this year. And, I know limiting Jon Clay's touches by making him second string means you're putting a less talented team on the field. I am fascinated to see how these decisions play out tomorrow against a real live team thats going to come at them with as much speed and talent as they have. Here is the killer number to keep in mind: In his Fresno State career, Pat Hill is 20-6-1 ATS as underdogs against BCS conference foes.
Michigan +3 at Notre Dame (3:30 ABC). The underdog in this series is 20-5 ATS. I'm interested and I'm already in. The dog is also 12-12-1 straight up, so the history in this series says the team catching points is as likely to win the game as the favorite. Speaking of the Wolverines, I dont think any other team in the country saw odds shift as much in their favor based on opening week. Consider the line movements trending towards the Wolverines in their games later this year against Illinois and Ohio State. Michigan was catching a full touchdown against both teams, but the impressive Michigan win and poor performances by the Illini and the Bucks caused a significant line drop. Michigan is just +3 at Illinois and +4 against Ohio State as of this morning. If they put another good performance in the books tomorrow, I wonder if those lines will move again?
Northwestern -21 vs Eastern Michigan (noon BTN). Obviously Ron Jonathon English will have his team looking ahead to his return next week to Michigan Stadium. More than likely, its Northwestern's defense, which you can make a case is one of the top three in the Big 10, will shut the Eagles down cold. They could barely score against Army. They wont reach double digits against the Cats as Northwestern rolls to its largest margin of victory of the season. We've proved that English's defenses struggle against mobile QBs, right? Kafka for NW is going to have a big day running the QB keepers.
Minnesota -3 over Air Force (7:00, BTN). I expect the Gophers to come out on fire in the opener for their brand new stadium. I like the overall talent Minnesota has in spots of its roster. I just wish Tim Brewster was known more for his coaching than tweeting. Dont look to much into the Gophers struggles against the Cuse. At least they won. But past bowl teams from West Virginia and Virginia have struggled in recent season openers at the Carrier Dome against eventually awful Orange teams and still had enough to rally for good seasons. Its a tricky place to play, especially early in the year when the Orange haven ot been totally demoralized by a long losing streak. This game will be close and entertaining, but I like the Gophers to win by at least a touchdown. Expect this game to be turned by the opportunistic Gopher defense creating a pair of momentum changing turnovers.
Penn State -28 over Syracuse (noon, BTN). Big step up for Syracuse in their second game. Playing at home against Minnesota is the opposite of playing Joe Pa's boys in Happy Valley. Greg Paulus will learn that tomorrow. There is a chance he can exploit the green PSU secondary, but I dont think he'll have any time to set up back in the pocket. Sometime in the third quarter, he will be planted by Navarro Bowman and come up begging for a charging call. Last week against the Zips, the Lions closed it down at the half. I expect them to jump out to another big early lead, but in the Game Two, Paterno will let them stretch their legs more in the second half. This will be a rout. Penn State is 14-9 ATS as a home favorite, 8-3 against non conference foes. They didn't cover in either role last week. Its called playing the percentages, Strawberry.
Indiana -1 over Western Michigan (noon, BTN). Here it is, the one time of the year I blindly take my Alma Mater without putting any thought into it. Neither club looked great last week. While WMU QB Tim Hiller wont be facing the speed and athletes he saw last week in Ann Arbor, the Hoosiers do bring a good pash rush and enough secondary playmakers to give Hiller and the Broncos the same type of fits. I also think this Pistol offense will break out a bit more in their second go around of the season. Dont you have to take the Big 10 team at home against a MAC team in a pick 'em game? Thats what I keep telling myself, anyway.
Purdue +13 over Oregon (10:15 FSN). I'm not sure the Ducks have the defense, especially in the back four, to trust laying a baker's dozen of points in chalk to anyone. And this anyone is the Boilermakers, who looked very good on offense last week and played the Ducks into overtime one year ago. I think some of that momentum can carry over. I'd think about the Over in this one, that is if I hadnt sworn off totals in the offseason. Want proof that I find a stat anywhere to support my play? The Ducks are 1-5 ATS as home favorites against a team playing with revenge of a straight up, against the spread win. Want proof that I can torpedo any stat the goes against my play? Even though Oregon has covered their last four home openers, the last time they didn't is when a second rate Big 1o came to town and the Ducks slept walked through the whole affair. That was in 2004 when Indiana remarkably took the Ducks down 30-24. And if you guessed that I only brought that up to highlight one of the five great moments of IU football in the last 20 years in a paragraph about Purdue, then what can I say? You know me well.
USC -7 over Ohio State (8:00, ESPN). I honestly cant believe I am not taking Ohio State in their own house with a touchdown headstart. In fact, I'm not. I am hiding this pick within the prose in hopes those goons I hired to beat me down if I ever picked against USC dont see it. Barkley will struggle on this stage and I think a strong possiblity exists that this game plays out a bit like the 2006 Texas game when the Bucks, on the road, stymied redshirt freshmen Colt McCoy in his first big game start. Here's why I am taking this chance: The line was -3 all summer, but leapt to -7 when it re-opened Sunday, in large part because of public reaction to Ohio State's close call against Navy. When it comes to football games, I just dont trust the volatile sways of the public opinion. Not even when it looks obvious. Or when the hired muscle men are wearing brass knuckles. But make no mistake: I'm not putting a single dollar or cent on it.