Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fab Five: Week II

Well, Week I wasn't very kind to my picks (4-6 including a horrible 1-4 on dog picks). But there's always next week (home teams in Bold).

5 Dogs I Like

Last Week: 1-4
Cincinnati +4 Oregon State
I got burned last week by the Beavers, but that game could have very easily gone the other way. Utah lost their starting quarterback (Brian Johnson) just before halftime with the score even at 7. His replacement completed only 9 of 24 passes for 59 yards and the Utes were held scoreless the rest of the way. This is the Beavers first rod game of the season and it comes against a Cincinnati team that is one of this year's biggest sleepers.

NC State +14 Boston College
The Eagles offense looked nigh-unstoppable last week against Wake Forest, but the Pack should put up a little more resistance. They held Central Florida to only 93 yards passing last week. Of course, they gave up over 200 yards rushing and were down by 22 at one point. Still, BC didn't run the ball effectively last week (only 54 yards on the ground), and 14 points is a lot to lay based on only a one game evaluation.

Fresno State +17.5 Texas A&M
If this spread was between 7-10 I'd say take the Aggies in a heartbeat. But what part of their 38-7 win over Montana State convinces you they can beat the Bulldogs by more than 17? Texas A&M won 3 games by more than 17.5 points last year. Those wins were over The Citadel, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Louisiana Tech. Fresno State is a notch above those schools.

Western Michigan +1 Indiana
Western Michigan was trounced last week 62-24, while Indiana won 55-7. So why are the Hoosiers only a one point favorite? Opponent and venue. Western Michigan played one of the nation's top teams on the road (West Virginia), while Indiana played a IAA school at home (Indiana State). Western Michigan was able to move the ball somewhat effectively against West Virginia (26 of 43 for 245 yards). They won't have any trouble moving the ball against an Indiana defense that has allowed over 30 points per game each of the past 5 seasons. If you love offense, be sure to check this one out.

New Mexico State +7 New Mexico
If the Aggies can avoid the crippling mistakes that plagued them in 2005 (-23 in turnover margin), 2006 (-10 in turnover margin), and last week (4 interceptions against Southeastern Louisiana), they could be headed to a bowl for the first time since 1960. The Lobos are coming off a 10-6 loss at UTEP. In that game, the Lobos nearly doubled the Miners output in yards (379-195), plays (90-50), and time of possession (38:23-21:37). The kicking game and their inefficiency in the red zone were their undoing as they missed field goals of 32 and 37 yards and managed only 6 points in 4 red zone trips. Against a team like New Mexico State, the Lobos must make the most of their red zone opportunities.

Five Faves I Like

Last Week: 3-2
Missouri -6.5 Ole Miss
The Rebels won their opener against Memphis for the third time in Ed Orgeron's 3 seasons as coach. They should follow that up with a long losing streak for the third straight season. Missouri's offense is just too prolific for Ole Miss. Two of their three touchdowns against Memphis came via defense (99 yard interception return) and special teams (blocked punt).

Central Michigan -3 Toledo
Both these teams were pounded pretty hard by BCS teams last week (Central Michigan by Kansas and Toledo by Purdue). The Chippewas are playing at home, where they were 4-1 last year, and have the superior quarterback (Dan LeFevour). Conversely, the Rockets are playing on the road, and were only 1-5 away from home last season.

Kansas State -18 San Jose State
The Wildcats put up a good fight at Auburn last week and look to be improved over last year's team, at least defensively. The Spartans were not expected to stroll into Tempe and beat the Sun Devils, but they were expected to compete. They didn't. If a 45-3 game can be worse than the score, this was certainly it. They gained a meager 115 yards against Arizona State, a team not typically renowned for it's defensive prowess.

Memphis -4 Arkansas State
Somehow the Indians came within 8 points of upending Texas last weekend. Ah the vagaries of a one-game sample size. Memphis will get it's first win of the season with relative ease.

Ball State -5.5 Eastern Michigan
Ball State had a tough 14-13 loss on Thursday against Miami (Ohio), and now looks to get it's offense back on track against the MAC West's weakest team.

Five to Steer Clear Of

Texas -9.5 TCU
After last week's narrow escape against Arkansas State, Vegas is practically begging you to pick the boys in purple to give Texas all they can handle. That game against Arkansas State was a fluke. Texas is not as good as they were circa 2005, but they are plenty tough at home and betting against them would not be prudent.

Michigan -8.5 Oregon
The Ducks are another underdog that Vegas is begging you to pick. If Michigan had rolled against App State, this would be a smart bet. Rest assured though, the Ducks have Michigan's full attention.

Penn State -18 Notre Dame
Yes the Irish looked awful, and yes Penn State looked great, but that was the first game for both teams. And don't forget, Penn State played what may be the worst team in Division IA, Florida International. That number is way too high.

Clemson -27 Louisiana-Monroe
Two reasons to stay away from this one.
#1: Rest--Clemson has only 4 days off before they strap the pads back on against the Warhawks.
#2: Motivation--Clemson just won a conference game, at night, against a team coached by their coaches' father. Really think they will be totally focused?

Alabama -3.5 Vanderbilt
Everything about this game screams that it will be close. The Tide will probably win, but that little half a point has me worried.

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