Fab Five: Week XV
Missouri +2 Auburn @ Atlanta
If you have been watching ESPN since the weekend, you might be hardpressed to know that Missouri is even in this game. While Auburn's ending against Alabama was equal parts sublime and ridiculous, it was also extremely lucky. Six of Auburn's eleven wins this season have come by a touchdown or fewer, and for folks with short memories who want to jump the Tigers over Ohio State should they win this game, remember two of those close calls came to Washington State and Mississippi State at home. Missouri has been creeping under the radar all season, and this is another opportunity to take advantage of a Tiger team that is still undervalued by the nation at-large. Missouri should be favored by about a field goal here and should win the SEC in just their second year in the conference.
South Florida +5.5 Rutgers
Last week, South Florida scored two offensive touchdowns for just the fourth time all season in their near upset of Central Florida. You know what the cure for an anemic offense is? The Rutgers secondary. Against a Connecticut team that entered the game having not averaged more than 5.22 yards per play against any team, the Knights proceeded to allow the Huskies to average six yards per play, including nearly nine and half yards per play through the air. For the season, against IA competition, Rutgers has allowed nearly eight and a half yards per pass. I don't think South Florida will score 40 here, but they could set their season high in points (currently 26) and could also keep Rutgers from qualifying for a bowl game.
Utah State +3.5 Fresno State
Fresno State's dream season took a turn last week as the Bulldogs fell on the road at San Jose State in a game that may ultimately cost them a BCS bowl berth (if they lose this week to the Aggies, last week's loss will be moot). Still, Fresno can win their first conference title since 1999 and their first outright conference title since they were Big West champs all by their lonesome in 1989. To win, the Bulldogs must find a way to move the ball against the stiffest defense in the Mountain West. Utah State has performed quite admirably without the services of their superstar quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who was lost for the season in their sixth game against BYU. Look for the Aggies to keep this one close and potentially win their second consecutive league crown.
Northern Illinois -3.5 Bowling Green @ Detroit
Northern Illinois will be playing in their fourth consecutive MAC Championship Game, attempting to win their third straight MAC title, and play in their second consecutive BCS bowl. Standing in their way is a Bowling Green team that is playing in just their second MAC Championship Game and attempting to win their first conference title since winning back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992. Bowling Green enters this game on quite a hot streak, having won four consecutive games by an average of nearly 40 points per game! However, two of those victories came against Miami and Eastern Michigan, a pair of teams with just a single IA win between them. Bowling Green has a strong defense, but I think Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois will be able to move the ball and win this game by about a touchdown.
Memphis Pick Em Connecticut
I know this isn't really a favorite, but they're aren't a lot of great lines this week. I like the Tigers to win here because up until last week's clash with Rutgers (see the South Florida pick), Connecticut was atrocious throwing the ball. Huskie quarterbacks have been sacked 41 times in 2013, with only three teams allowing more sacks per game. Memphis is middle of the road in generating sacks, but against the Huskie offensive line, their defense should be able to keep them in this game and allow them to pick up their fourth win of the year.