Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fab Five: Week III

Last week was a mediocre one for me. I went 5-5 bringing my record in the season to a solid 11-9. We'll try to get back to the winning ways this week.

5 Dogs I Like
Last Week: 3-2
Overall: 6-4

Boston College +7 Clemson
Give Clemson a lot of credit for staying the course last Thursday against Georgia Tech. I don't think its too far-fetched to believe that if Tommy Bowden was still the coach, the Tigers would have quit faster than Eddie Kennison in Broncos training camp (yay references). The Tigers stiffened and actually took the lead before falling to the Yellow Jackets on a field goal in the final minute. Meanwhile, Boston College has quietly gone about their business whipping up on a pair of overmatched teams (Northeastern and Kent State) by a combined score of 88-7. With the Seminoles struggle against Jacksonville State, the Wolfpacks struggle against South Carolina, the Deacons struggle with Baylor and Stanford, and the Terrapins struggle with everyone, this game will probably go a long way toward determining the eventual Atlantic Division champ. In the 4 previous meetings as conference foes, the underdog has won each matchup (BC 3-1). The Eagles could very well keep that streak alive, but at the very least they should keep this one within a touchdown.

Louisville +14 Kentucky
After dropping 4 in a row and 7 of 8 in this series, the Wildcats have won the last 2, and have contributed to cranking up the heat on Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe. As of this point in the season, we don't know a great deal about either team. Louisville beat a IAA school (Indiana State) 30-10 and permitted only 101 yards of total offense. Meanwhile, their bluegrass brethren, Kentucky, shutout a Miami of Ohio team that has yet to score through 2 games. Kentucky is at home and should certainly be the favorite, but giving nearly 2 touchdowns is entirely too much.

Virginia + 15.5 Southern Mississippi
I know it sounds crazy, but not too long ago (5 years to be exact), Virginia was believed to be a burgeoning power. 5 games into the 2004 season, the Cavs were undefeated and ranked 6th in the country while preparing to visit the 7th ranked Florida State Seminoles. The 'Noles destroyed them 36-3 and since that day, Virginia has gone just 29-28 and suffered through 2 losing seasons. Oh, and I'm also picking them to cover this spread. Why? Southern Miss is an extremely talented offensive team, but the yardage and point totals they put up in their opener against Alcorn State (631 yards and 52 points) are not likely to be repeated against a team like Virginia. Just last week another low-wattage offense (UCF) held Southern Miss to 384 yards and 26 points. If the Cavs can avoid the turnover debacle that led to their loss against William and Mary (4 lost fumbles and 3 interceptions), they should keep this one within 2 touchdowns.

Mississippi State +9 Vanderbilt
When was the last time Vanderbilt was favored by more than a touchdown against an SEC school? November 12th 2005. The 'Dores were 11-point favorites at home against Kentucky. What happened? Vandy lost 48-43 and blew their shot at bowl eligibility. Is history likely to repeat itself on Saturday? It's a definite possibility. After opening up with impressive showings against IAA schools (1030 combined yards and 90 combined points against Jackson State and Western Carolina), these historically low-fi offenses were brought back to Earth by a pair of Tigers (Auburn and LSU). Vandy managed only 210 yards of offense and 9 points against an LSU defense that was torched by Washington the previous week and Mississippi State managed only 297 yards and 24 points (7 of which came on a blocked punt) against Auburn. Look for a pretty low-scoring game that Vandy wins by about a touchdown.

Florida State +8.5 BYU
Florida State is the epitome of an undervalued stock after their narrow nail-biting win against Jacksonville State. FYI, Jacksonville State is in Alabama, not Florida. The 'Noles played reasonably well in that game, but allowed the Gamecocks to hang around thanks to 3 lost fumbles. Meanwhile, BYU throttled an overmatched Tulane team 54-3. The Cougars appear to be legit on defense, having held Oklahoma to 265 yards and 13 points (impressive even without Sam Bradford for a half) and Tulane to 162 yards and 3 points. While the Cougars have already proven they can hang with and beat one of the nation's elite, methinks this game will be very close. Remember, on their run to an undefeated season last year, Utah (who eneded the season ranked #2) needed a late onside kick recovery to beat a good, but hardly great Oregon State team at home.

Five Faves I Like
Last Week: 2-3
Overall: 5-5

Boise State -7.5 Fresno State
You can count on Boise State for a few things. Having a decided athletic and schematic advantage over every WAC team on their schedule, a trick here or there, and absolutely owning Fresno. Boise has covered 6 of the last 7 years against their conference rival with the lone loss both straight up and ATS in that span coming in 2005. In their OT loss to Wisconsin last week, Fresno was soft as usual on defense permitting Wisconsin to roll up 413 yards and avrage 6.2 yards per play. The Bulldogs countered by netting 468 yards of their own on offense. Despite what their reputation may be, Boise wins games with their defense. Look for them to shut down Fresno and win by at least 10.

Rutgers -15.5 Florida International
Against IA non-BCS non-conference opponents the past 3 seasons, Rutgers is 6-2 ATS winning their games by an average of 27.5 points. Rutgers looked awful in their opener against Cincinnati while FIU was somewhat competitive in their loss to Alabama. However, Rutgers proved it can still demolish overmatched opponents, winning 45-7 against Howard last week. FIU kept the game close for a while against the Tide, but were still outgained by nearly 300 yards and scored one of their 2 touchdowns via kickoff return. Its hard to envision them scoring more than 14 against Rutgers. That means 30 points by the Knights, will get the job done.

Texas A&M -19.5 Utah State
The Aggies (from Texas A&M) looked sharp in dismantling an overmatched foe over Labor Day Weekend, throttling New Mexico 41-6. In their opener, Utah State gave up 519 yards and 35 points to Utah. Look for Texas A&M to post a similar stat line and beat the other Aggies by at least 3 touchdowns.

Stanford -17 San Jose State
In his 2+ seasons at Stanford, Jim Harbaugh has seen his team be the favorite in 6 games (counting this one). 3 of those have come against San Jose State. In the previous 2, the Cardinal have covered easily, winning 37-0 as a 7-point favorite in 2007, and 23-10 as an 8-point favorite in 2008. San Jose State is not a terrible team, but they are certainly overmatched here. Last week, they kept their game with Utah close despite gaining only 264 yards and allowing 499. As long as Stanford doesn't turn the ball over, they should roll here. Look for running back Toby Gerhart to have a field day against the Spartans.

Texas -17.5 Texas Tech
Think the Longhorns might be out for a little revenge in this one? For the uninitiated, or for those with terrible memories, the Red Raiders upended the 'Horns on a last second touchdown last season. That play kept Texas from winning the Big 12 South and ultimately, likely cost them a shot at the national title. That game of course, was in Lubbock. This one is in Austin. Texas has covered the last 2 times in Austin, winning by 35 as a 17-point favorite in 2005 and by 16 as a 7-point favorite in 2007. The Texas defense should have a good day facing a Texas Tech quarterback, Taylor Potts, making his first road start. There's big upswing in talent when you go from facing North Dakota and Rice to a defense coached by Will Muschamp and recruited by Mack Brown.

No comments: