Thursday, September 04, 2008

Fab Five: Week II

Last week could not exactly be classified as successful. I went a disappointing 4-6, but managed to avoid total disaster after an 0-3 start on Thursday and Friday. Time to get back in the swing of things (home teams in Bold).

5 Dogs I Like

Last Week: 2-3
Overall: 2-3

Georgia Tech +7 Boston College
Paul Johnson's Ramblin' Wreck get their first test of the season at Chestnut Hill. The Jackets won't be as proficient running the ball against the Eagles as they were last week against Jacksonville State (averaged 7.59 yards per rush), but the team should do enough to keep a low-scoring affair close, if not pull out the outright victory.

Washington +9.5 BYU
Washington looked hopeless on Saturday, giving up 44 points and nearly 500 yards to Oregon. However, that game was at Eugene and this one is in Seattle. The Huskies beat another touted mid-major (Boise State) at home last season, and BYU, despite their 22-4 record the past 2 seasons, has actually lost all 3 road games at BCS-conference foes.

Ole Miss +7.5 Wake Forest
Ole Miss looked sharp last week in their win over Memphis, scoring 41 points. The Rebs never topped 38 points in the Ed Orgeron era. However, the defense has some issues, especially considering the opponent was a rebuilding Conference USA squad. The Rebs gave up 453 yards and the Tigers averagd 4.70 yards per rush. Wake Forest meanwhile, was never really challenged in a lopsided road win at Baylor. While Baylor and Ole Miss may have been comparable last season, the arrival of a proven coach (Houston Nutt) and a solid quarterback (Jevan Snead) make the Rebs a much better squad. This should be a great game, and I wll be fortunate enough to be in attendance.

Houston +15.5 Oklahoma State
Houston did not miss a beat in their first game under Kevin Sumlin, totalling 615 yards and 55 points in a throttling of Southern (IAA). Oklahoma State also enjoyed a strong performance, particularly from their defense, holding Washington State to 13 points and 196 yards in what amounted to a road win. The Cowboys will be up for this one, considering the Cougars beat them 34-25 in 2006, but Houston has a strong track record against BCS-conference foes. In their last 5 games against such opponents, they are only 1-4, but the defeats have come by 1, 8, 21, and 6 points.

Minnesota +5.5 Bowling Green
Last season the Falcons spoiled Minnesota's home opener with a 32-31 OT victory. Bowling Green again opened the season with an upset of a BCS-conference foe (Pitt), but are probably a little overvalued at this point. The Panthers outgained the Falcons by nearly 150 yards, but lost thanks to a -3 turnover margin. Of the 5 fumbles in the opener, Bowling Green fell on all 5 (2 of their own and 3 courtesy of the Panthers). A different bouce here or there and the outcome could have been drastically different. Bowling Green may well beat Minnesota, but 5 and a half points is too much to lay.

Five Faves I Like

Last Week: 2-3
Overall: 2-3

Nebraska -26.5 San Jose State
Nebraska opened the Bo Pelini era with a very quiet 47-24 win over Western Michigan. The Broncos put up 350 yards, but an encouraging sign for the maligned Nebraska defense was that only 8 of those yards came on the ground. Even when sacks are removed from the equation, the Broncos only amassed 37 yards on 17 carries. San Jose State meanwhile, needed a last second score to knock off UC Davis (IAA) 13-10 at home. Memorial Stadium will not be a fond sight for the Spartans who have lost their last 3 games to BCS-conference foes by a combined score of 116-17.

Wyoming -3 Air Force
Joe Glenn narrowly avoided another crushing loss that could have sealed his fate as Cowboy head coach when his team eked out a 21-20 home win over Ohio. Now conference play begins with a home game against Air Force. The Falcons dominated Southern Utah 41-7, but are facing a large step up in competition this weekend. In what should be a low-scoring affair, expect the Cowboys to pull out the home win by at least a field goal.

West Virginia -8 East Carolina
After stunning Virginia Tech with a little taste of Beamer Ball, the Pirates return home to what should be a raucous crowd to face number 8 West Virginia. While a lot has been made of the fact that Villanova actually outgained the Mountaineers last week, it should be noted that the Wildcats ran 31 more plays to get the extra 45 yards. The Mountaineers were as efficient as ever, averaging over 6 yards per play on the ground and through the air. The Pirates are a nice story, but the dream of a BCS bowl bid will end on Saturday night.

Kansas -20.5 Louisiana Tech
The Kansas offense struggled in the opener against Florida International, averaging only 4.4 yards per play. Quarterback Todd Reesing was still uber-efficient, completing over 70% of his passes, but he also averaged only 4.9 yards per attempt. Their longest play from scrimmage was a 24-yard pass to Jonathan Wilson. Still, the defense was stout, permitting only 139 yards to the Panthers. Louisiana Tech did pull off a solid home upset in their opener over Mississippi State, but their offense was far from dangerous. The Bulldogs gained only 269 yards and quarterback Taylor Bennett (Georgia Tech transfer) completed only 35% of his passes. Kansas may struggle to put a big number on the board, but 4 touchdowns should be enough to cover the number.

South Florida -14 Central Florida
These rivals have played for the past 3 seasons with the Bulls prevailing in each one. The 2 in Tampa were romps by South Florida and the single game in Orlando was a tight 7-point win for the Bulls. This one may be in Orlando, but the Knights will have all kinds of trouble moving the ball against South Florida's defense.

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