Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fab Five: Week XIII

Finally, after 3 consecutive non-wining weeks, I was able to climb out of the small hole and post a 6-4 record. This brings my yearly mark to 63-53-4. Before we dive into the picks this week, I want to take time to celebrate two running backs from schools that rarely get national attention. James Starks, of the Buffalo Bulls, eclipsed 1000 yards in the Bulls' loss to Bowling Green. Starks is Buffalo's first 1000 yard rusher since 1996. Elsewhere, Tulane running back Matt Forte passed the 2000 yard barrier in the Green Wave's win over Rice. Forte is the first back to rush for more than 2000 yards in Division IA since JJ Arrington did it in 2004 for the Cal Bears. Both Forte and Starks have one more game to add to their total. Another Conference USA back, Kevin Smith of Central Florida, will likely go over 2000 yards this weekend, as he needs only 55 yards against East Carolina to get to 2000. Even more importantly, with a win Central Florida will advance to the Conference USA Championship Game and give Smith an extra game to add to his total. With possibly 3 games to go, Smith would need over 227 yards per game to break Barry Sanders' single season record of 2628 yards set in 1988. Finally, Ray Rice has 1612 yards through 11 games. With the finale against Louisville and a bowl game, Rice also has a chance to topple the 2000 yard barrier.
Big Game James

His Forte is pounding the rock.

5 Dogs I Like

Last Week: 3-2
Overall: 27-31-2
Texas A&M +5.5 Texas
On the road against decent teams, Texas owns a pair of 3 point wins--versus Central Florida and Oklahoma State. The Aggies meanwhile, have only lost once at home--to undefeated Kansas by a 19-11 count. The Longhorns will escape with a win and their shot at the Big 12 South in tact, but they will fail to cover the number.

Arkansas +13 LSU
In their last 4 games against winning teams, LSU has not won by more than 7 points. Arkansas is currently 7-4. If Casey Dick avoids throwing a ton of interceptions, the Razorbacks should keep this one close. LSU has won the last two by 2 and 5 points.

UCLA +2 Oregon
UCLA is coming off a bye week, fresh off a a good showing against Arizona State. Oregon on the other hand is coming off a crushing loss to Arizona that ruined their national title hopes and severely dented their BCS hopes. The Brady Leaf Experience V3.0 did not get off to a good start in the game against the Wildcats. True, his skills are not accentuated by the system, but a competent Division I quarterback should be able to hit his receivers in stride occasionally. UCLA will get to bowl eligibility and further dim the Duck's conference title aspirations.

Connecticut +17 West Virginia
Fresh off a win over the second best turnover margin team in the country, the Mountaineers get to host the fifth best turnover margin team in the country. West Virginia was only -1 in turnover margin against Cincinnati, yet only managed a 5 point win. The Mountaineers are a better team and I fully expect them to win, but laying 17 points is simply too much against a quality opponent.

Washington State +6 Washington
The largest margin of victory in the last 5 Apple Cups is 8 points. This one should also be close. Washington State has crushed by Oregon State 52-17 last week, but that was mostly due to their 8 turnovers. Quarterback Alex Brink threw 6 interceptions after throwing only 9 in the first 10 games. Don't expect a similar performance against a Washington team with only 11 interceptions on the season.

Five Faves I Like

Last Week: 3-2
Overall: 36-22-2
Hawaii -3 Boise State
If Hawaii was going to lose in the regular season, it was last week to Nevada. It didn't happen. The Warriors BCS hopes will be left up to computers and pollsters because they will take care of business against a team that must travel to Hawaii on short rest.

NC State -2 Maryland
The Wolfpack had their 4 game winning streak snapped last week in Winston-Salem and now face Maryland in a game that is a bowl elimination game of sorts. The winner will be bowl eligible, but with the glut of 6 and 7-win teams, is certainly not guaranteed a bowl bid. Maryland has lost 4 of 5 with the lone win a stunning 42-35 defeat of Boston College. The Terps will lose their 7th game of the season and fail to qualify for a bowl game for the 3rd time in 4 years.

Cincinnati -20.5 Syracuse
Seems like you can't make a point spread too high when Syracuse is involved. The Orange have 5 Big East losses and those losses have come by an average of 24.4 points. They have lost 3 conference home games by an average of 32 points.

Kansas State pick em Fresno State
While not technically a favorite, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt since they are a pick em' on the road. The Wildcats have gone 2-5 since upsetting Texas in late September, but with the exception of the Iowa State game, the losses have been to teams ranging from decent to good. Fresno State is decent, but they are WAC decent, not Big 12 decent.

Kansas -2 Missouri @ Kansas City
Can the perfect season continue? Not only is Kansas 11-0, they are also 10-0 against the spread. Both the Jayhawks and Tigers have dynamic offenses, but Kansas has the better defense. The Tigers allow 23 points per game and 5.1 yards per play. The Jayhawks allow 14.2 points per game and 4.3 yards per play.

Five to Steer Clear Of

Wake Forest -1.5 Vanderbilt
Wake is playing for an 8-win regular season, while Vandy is playing for bowl eligibility. After coming tantalizingly close in losses to Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, will Vandy get their breakthrough here?

Tennessee +3 Kentucky
Tennessee may well be the 4th of 5th best team in the SEC East, but they are poised to play in Atlanta with a win here.

Clemson -3 South Carolina
What will the psyche of the Tigers' be after their heartbreaking loss to Boston College? Will the bye week help the Gamecocks fix their defense and prevent a 5-game losing streak?

Auburn -6 Alabama
This line is scary. Can Alabama lose 4 straight under Saban and their 6th in a row to Auburn?

North Carolina -14 Duke
As a Wake fan, it feels good to have the best Division IA football program in North Carolina (at least for the time being).

No comments: