The (Little) Brown Jug. For fans it’s the oldest rivalry trophy in all of college sports. To Michigan alums, it’s a fine establishment on South U. Regardless, its time to kickoff the conference schedule in the Big Ten, starting with a home game, before hitting the road to Evanston.
As typical with the Watch, we’ll review the picks from last week, noting the bad picks, and point out a few games to give the underdog some credit in, even if it is only in Vegas. We’ll also look at a sure-fire favorite and attempt to preview the Michigan game.
Bowling Green (3-1) +6.0 @ Miami Ohio (0-3). Result: Bowling Green 37 Miami Ohio 23. [Props to BrewCityBlue]
@ Pittsburgh (2-2) +7.0 Notre Dame (2-2). Result: Notre Dame 15 Pittsburgh 12.
Southern Miss (3-1) +3.0 @ Virginia (2-2). Result: Southern Miss 30 Virginia 24.
New Mexico State (1-3) +10.5 @ San Jose State (1-3). Result: San Jose State 34 New Mexico State 24.
Missouri (2-2) +21.5 @ Oklahoma (3-0). Result: Oklahoma 38 Missouri 28. [Props to Picktown GoBlue, Gulo Gulo Luscus, althegreat23]
Army (1-3) -4.0 @ Ball State (3-1). Result: Ball State 48 Army 21.
San Diego State (3-1) +10.0 @ Michigan (4-0). Result: Michigan 28 San Diego State 7. [Props to M-Glow-Blue, snoopblue and for correctly predicting Michigan would cover].
Note on the Toledo game, the extra point that put Syracuse up by 3 (went up 30-27) should have been ruled as a miss. Therefore, props are in order for those selecting Toledo, namely M-Glow-Blue and Gulo Gulo Luscus.
Penn State (-28.5) failed to cover against Eastern, allowing a late field goal (34-6), and preserving a spread win for M-Glow-Blue, Trebor, and mfan_in_ohio.
Oklahoma State (+4) snuck by Texas A&M late, despite the Aggies leading most of the game (30-29). Props to preed1 and Number7 for calling this one.
Props to BrewCityBlue for correctly predicting that Nebraska would cover the 23.5 against Wyoming (38-14).
Temple’s 38-7 blow out of the Terps in College Park made Gulo Gulo Luscus’s prediction a winner.
New poster YoungArnold correctly called Arizona State’s cover against USC, winning 43-22.
Clemson upset the higher ranked Florida State, 35-30, but Trebor was sure excited about the correct pick.
Week 5 kicks off with an early elimination game in the Big East, with South Florida visiting Pittsburgh on Thursday (8:00 PM EST/ESPN).
Saturday football kicks off with an old Southwest Conference rivalry, Texas A&M (#14) and Arkansas (#18), both off conference losses, meeting at Jerryworld (12:00 PM EST/ESPN). Perfect records are on the line when upstart Clemson (#13) visits Blacksburg to take on perennial power Virginia Tech (#11) (6:00 PM/ESPN2). Alabama (#3) meets Florida (#12) for the fourth time in as many seasons (2008 and 2009 were conference title games) (8:00 PM EST/CBS). Big Ten country, and much of the country in general, will have their eyes on Nebraska (#8) at Wisconsin (#7) (8:00 PM/ABC), with the two teams last meeting in the 1970s.
Hawaii (2-2) +3.5 @ Louisiana Tech (1-3). Hawaii has the 56th ranked offense (104th rushing, but 12th in passing). Louisiana Tech has the 107th ranked pass defense (89th overall, 47th rushing defense). Look for Bryant Moniz to improve on his 7 TD first half performance from last week. The home team is 7-2 in this series, since 2000, including three straight wins, but Hawaii is 6-3 against the spread against the Bulldogs. Under Coach Greg McMackin, the Warriors are 16-8 against the spread in WAC play (8-4 against the spread on the road in the WAC and 7-5 against the spread as an underdog in the WAC). Take Hawaii to cover, and win, in Ruston.
Arizona (1-3) +13.5 @ USC (3-1).Despite being 1-3, Arizona has the 39th ranked offense (4th passing, but 119th rushing); USC has the 40th ranked defense (71st passing, but 35th rushing). Coach Lane Kiffin is 5-7-1 against the spread as a favorite (6-5 against the spread in the PAC 12). Arizona is 3-8 against USC since 1999; however, Arizona is 7-4 against the spread over the same time period, (6-3 as an underdog). The last four meetings between the Wildcats and the Trojans have been decided by no more than seven points. Arizona’s losses have been to Oklahoma State (#5/#6), Stanford (#6/#4) and Oregon (#9/#11). While Arizona has failed to cover the points in each of their losses, USC’s offense is nowhere as explosive as the previously mentioned teams. The Wildcats should cover the points, but likely won’t win the game.
SMU (2-1) +11.5 @ TCU (2-0). TCU has the 85th ranked defense (69th rushing, 87th passing); SMU the 9th ranked defense (9th rushing, 31th passing). TCU the 38th ranked offense (25th rushing, 68th passing); SMU the 31st ranked offense (88th rushing, 15th passing). I realize that SMU has feasted on UTEP, Northwestern State and Memphis, laying an egg against Texas A&M. With that said, TCU was exposed against Baylor and has played Portland State. Old Southwest Conference members, these teams have met 13 times since 1997, with TCU holding an 11-2 advantage (3-0 against Coach June Jones). SMU holds a 7-6 advantage against the spread (2-1 under Coach June Jones with the only spread loss being in 2008, when SMU went 1-11 straight up). Coach June Jones is 14-20-8 against the spread at SMU, and 8-10-5 as an underdog (11-14-6 against the spread since 2009 and 5-5-3 against the spread as an underdog since 2009). JJ McDermott (1133 passing 59.7% completion and 4 TD, but 3 INT) has taken over at QB for the Mustangs, leading the impressive offense, in addition to RB Zach Line (463 rushing 5.9/carry and 11 TD). TCU got involved in a shootout against Baylor earlier in the year. Expect this game to be closer; TCU should win, but take SMU on the spread.
@ Indiana (1-3) +17.0 Penn State (3-1).Indiana has never beaten Penn State since the Nittany Lions joined the conference (0-14), with the average margin of defeat by 17. Indiana is 3-1 against the spread against Penn State since 2007 (average spread is 19 since 2007). Since 2007, Indiana is 15-17 against the spread in Big Ten play; Penn State is 16-16 against the spread in the Big Ten over the same stretch (14-12 against the spread as a favorite). The Penn State offense is 89th in the country (75th passing, 75th rushing). The QB situation has yet to be settled in State College, and the Nittany Lions are 0-4 against the spread this season (0-3 as a favorite). Indiana has been bad, but look for them to cover the points, due to the ineptness of the Penn State offense, minus Silas Redd (303 rushing 4.9/carry and 4 TD).
Western Michigan (2-2) +3.0 @ Connecticut (2-2).Coach Paul Pasqualoni is no stranger to the Big East, having coached Syracuse during the Donovan McNabb heyday, prior to being fired. Coach Pasqualoni is no Randy Edsall. Coach Edsall built the Connecticut program, from 2007 to 2010 going 33-19, 16-12 in conference and a BCS berth in 2010. More impressive were his stats against the spread: 32-18-1, 13-8-1 as a favorite against the spread, and 14-7 against the spread in non-conference. The Huskies are 1-3 against the spread this year; sure, they are 5-3 against the spread, against MAC opponents since 2007, but 3 of those wins against the spread have come against Buffalo (2008, 2010, and 2011). Western Michigan comes into Storrs having throttled Central Michigan and almost knocking off Illinois. Iowa State threw for 240 yards against Connecticut in week 3 in Storrs. Expect Alex Carder’s (987 passing 68.7% completion and 8 total TD) numbers to be similar to Steele Jantz’s. Take the Broncos to cover, if not win, against the Huskies.
Cincinnati (3-1) -13.5 @ Miami (OH) (0-3).For readers of the “Upset Watch: Week 3”, you’ll notice this is Cincinnati’s second appearance. I’m not a Bearcats fan, to be honest, I don’t like the team at all, but boy do they find a way to run up the scores on inferior non-conference opponents (since 2007, they have outscored non-conference opponents in the regular season by an average of 44-14, with the average spread being the Bearcats by 21.0). Since 1997, Cincinnati is 9-5 straight up against Miami (OH) in the Battle for the Victory Bell. More importantly Cincinnati is 9-4 against the spread against Miami (OH) (5-3 against the spread as a favorite). Miami (OH) is Minnesota’s only win. Take the Bearcats and rest easy.
First of all, thoughts and prayers go out to Coach Kill and his family. Here’s to hoping his health improves and he is able to make his way back onto the gridiron soon.
Jerry Kill is 1-3 straight up at Minnesota (23-16 at Northern Illinois, from 2008-2010). Coach Kill is 9-11 on the road, 2-7 against BCS teams, and 0-2 against the top 25. Since 2008, Coach Kill is 23-19-1 against the spread and 7-5 as an underdog against the spread.
Brady Hoke is 51-50 straight up (13-12 at San Diego State, 34-38 at Ball State). Coach Hoke is 26-15-2 against the spread as a favorite and 41-23-2 overall since 2006.
Coach Hoke and Coach Kill met once, in 2008, with #16 Ball State beating Northern Illinois 45-14, and easily covering the 9-point spread.
Minnesota’s defense is ranked 76th (108th passing [278.50 yards/game], 33rd rushing [104.75 yards/game]). Michigan’s offense is ranked 33rd (110th passing [156.0 yards/game], 9th rushing [270.0 yards/game])
Minnesota’s offense is ranked 87th (97th passing [179.3 yards/game], 44th rushing [173.75 yards/game]). Michigan’s defense is ranked 71st (41st passing [199.0 yards/game], 86th rushing [176.0 yards/game]).
Since 1997, Michigan is 9-1 straight up against Minnesota (6-4 against the spread; Michigan has been a favorite in all but the 2008 game). Michigan has averaged 435 offensive yards, with 246.3 of those yards being passing.
Historically, Michigan has been known for strong QB play, as evidenced by the number of Michigan QBs who made it to the NFL. As much as Michigan has been synonymous with good QB play, Minnesota has been synonymous with a sieve for a secondary. The Gophers averaged giving up 226 yards per game through the air last year.
Da’Jon McKnight (260 yards 13.7/catch and 1 TD) and Donnell Kirkwood (125 yards 5.4/carry and 3 TD) have been the lone bright spots on an otherwise awful offense. The Gophers right now are in the midst of a QB controversy between starter, and once WR, Marqueis Gray (521 passing, 351 rushing 50.6% completion and 3 TD, but 3 INT) and backup, 3-star recruit, Max Shortell (196 yards passing 46.4% completion and 2 TD, but 2 INT). Minnesota was torched by USC’s WR Robert Woods, in week 1, for 177 receiving yards and 3 TDs; 8 USC players caught at least 1 pass. In the home opener against New Mexico State, the Aggies had 288 yards through the air, including WR Taveon Rogers having 88 yards receiving and 2 TD, in a 28-21 loss, despite being a 22.5-point favorite. In a win over Miami (OH), the Gophers gave up 325 yards through the air, including 162 yards receiving to WR Nick Harwell. The North Dakota State Bison passing game accounted for 197 yards through the air, but did their real damage on the ground.
Michigan MUST get passing game going and expose an absolutely awful secondary. WRs Roy Roundtree and Junior Hemingway should each have a TD and at least 75 yards receiving apiece. Denard should still be able to run the ball, though it should be tougher than it was last week.
@ Michigan -19.5 @ Minnesota.
Michigan 38 Minnesota 10
Who ya got?