Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fab Five: Week XII

And my slide continues. Another losing week, this one checking in at 4-6, drops my yearly mark to even at 54-54-2. Only 3 weeks remain in the college football regular season. Hopefully I can salvage a little dignity.

5 Dogs I Like
Last Week: 1-4
Overall: 27-27-1

Colorado +20 Oklahoma State
Despite their 3-7 mark, the Buffs have been playing better as of late. They upset Texas A&M 2 weeks ago, and outgained Iowa State by a healthy margin last week (390-310), but lost thanks to a slew of turnovers in Iowa State territory. Since their embarrassing second game at Toledo when they allowed the Rockets to pile up 624 yards of offense, the defense has been very respectable, allowing only 342 yards per game since (figure would rank 40th in the nation). On the other sideline, Oklahoma State is on the cusp of enjoying their finest season in a long while, particularly in the conference. They have but one league loss thus far, and while the trip to Norman will likely result in loss number 2, a victory over the Buffs would guarantee them their best record in conference since joining the Big 12. Despite the Cowboys pedigree as an offensive force, they have won games this season with their defense. The Cowboys rank 48th nationally in total offense, but 32nd in total defense. Outside of the Houston debacle, the Cowboys have not allowed any team to top 400 yards against them this season. Expect this game to be relatively low-scoring with the Cowboys pulling away in the end to win by about 2 touchdowns.

Maryland +19 Florida State
If there ever was a defense for the woeful Maryland offense to get untracked against, its Florida State's. Maryland currently ranks 107th nationally in total offense, averaging a paltry 310 yards per game. North Carolina currently ranks 113th in that category, but they put up their second best offensive showing of the season (against IA competition) against the Noles. Look for Maryland to hang around and keep this one relatively close.

Tulane +21 Central Florida
The Green Wave gave the Rice Owls their first win of the season last week and have only won 2 games themselves against IA competition. But do you really trust UCF, a team that averages just a shade over 23 points per game to beat them by 3 touchdowns? I don't.

Louisiana Tech +9.5 Fresno State
Vince Dooley's son, whom I'm told is name Derek, has seen his charges struggle somewhat this season after a surprising run to the Independence Bowl last season. The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are only 3-7, but they have actually outscored their opponents on the season (by 8 points over 10 games), and have lost 3 games by 8 points or less, including last weeks close tussle with LSU. Fresno State is 6-4, and 3 of their losses have come to teams ranked inside the top-20 (Boise, Cincinnati, and Wisconsin). However, they seem to have hit a wall recently, struggling to put away Utah State and Idaho (traditional conference dregs), and were beaten down last week by Nevada (52-14). Fresno should win this game, but expect it to be within a touchdown.

Vanderbilt +17 Tennessee
Fresh off their first bowl game in more than a quarter century, this season has been a disappointment for the Vanderbilt faithful. The 'Dores have not won a single conference game, and have only one win against a IA foe (Rice). However. their losses for the most part have been pretty competitive. The Tennessee Vols need one more win to attain bowl eligibility in Lane Kiffin's first season. Tennessee has won 25 of the last 26 in this series, so expect that to continue. However, 4 of the last 5 games have been decided by 10 points or fewer. Again, expect more of the same.

Five Faves I Like
Last Week: 3-2
Overall: 27-27-1

Purdue -3 Indiana
Though their records may not show it (combined 8-14 coming in), these 2 teams are pretty good. Both have been cursed by bad luck this season. Indiana has lost 3 games by 3 points or less, while Purdue is 2-5 in games decided by 8 points or less. Purdue has the better scoring margin, better yardage differential, and has dominated as of late (won 10 of 12). Make it 11 of 13.

Rutgers -9.5 Syracuse
After a dismal opening against Syracuse that made them forgotten men, the Scarlet Knights have won 7 of 8, with their lone loss coming to Pitt. Meanwhile, Syracuse, is still Syracuse. Outside of their upset over a bowl bound Northwestern team, this incarnation of the Orange are only marginally improved from the doormat Greg Robinson turned them into. Rutgers has won the last 4 with the smallest margin of victory checking in at 18 points. This one shouldn't be close, and the Knights should have their 8th win.

Utah -20 San Diego State
Yes the Utes were taken behind the woodshed last week, but TCU may very well be the best team in the nation. Utah's opponent on Saturday will be a team with 3 IA victories. Those wins have come against New Mexico State (2 IA wins), Colorado State (2 IA wins), and New Mexico (zero wins). The Aztecs lone shining road performance came in an upset win at Colorado State (a team that has not won since late-September. The Utes should roll in this one.

Middle Tennessee State -11.5 Arkansas State
The Blue Raiders have quietly asserted themselves as the second best team in the Sun Belt, having won 4 games in a row since a pair of setbacks to Troy and Mississippi State interrupted a 3-game win streak. Tony Franklin's spread offense has been catching on as the Blue Raiders have averaged 517 yards and 43.5 points per game in their 4-game streak. Arkansas State has seen a promising looking year in the preseason fizzle with 7 losses in their past 8 games. Middle Tennessee still has a shot at the league crown should Troy stumble twice and will be fired up to continue their winning ways against the Red Wolves.

Southern Miss -8 Tulsa
Its taken a bit for this to sink in, but to paraphrase Dennis Green, Tulsa is not who we thought they were. The Golden Hurricane have lost 5 in a row and are in danger of missing out on a bowl for the first time since 2004. They have beaten only 3 IA teams. Neither of which is very good. Tulane is 3-7, New Mexico is 0-10, and Rice is 1-9. The descent will continue as the Eagles from Southern Miss still harbor division and conference title hopes.

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