Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fab Five: Week IV

After the lows of Week I and the highs of Week II, Week III somewhere in the middle. I managed a winning week thanks to Tennessee's push against Florida (5-4-1) to run my overall record to 16-13-1. However, aside from the Tennessee push, I only got one dog right. Thus far, I am performing much better picking favorites than I am picking dogs. Keep that in mind if you are foolish enough to gamble your hard-earned money on these picks. As always, home teams are in Bold.

5 Dogs I Like

Last Week: 1-3-1
Overall: 6-8-1

Arkansas State +11 Troy
If they have done nothing else this season, at the very least, the Troy Trojans have provided their fans with entertaining football games. Each of their 3 contests thus far have been in doubt in the final minutes. In their opener, they manged to hold off Bowling Green 30-27. In their second game, they traveled to Oklahoma State and nearly upset the Cowboys before falling 41-38. Then last week, they fell to UAB on a Hail Mary touchdown pass on the game's final play (lost 34-33). The Over/Under on this game currently sits at 63.5, so the oddsmakers rightly expect this to be a high scoring affair. Arkansas State is averaging 28 points per game and allowing 34.3 (partly inflated by their trip to Auburn), while Troy is averaging 33.7 points per game and allowing 34. Arkansas State should be able to move the ball well enough to keep this one relatively tight with the resident beasts of the Sun Belt.

Notre Dame +5 Stanford
Call it the Wake Forest Effect. Stanford looked almost unstoppable on offense last week in dropping 68 on the hapless Deacon defense. However, let's not forget that just a week earlier, the Demon Deacons also made Duke look like an offensive juggernaut when the gave up 48 points in a narrow win over the Blue Devils. Traveling a few time zones east and facing a defense that does not belong to Wake Forest will make the Stanford offense face its first bit of adversity this season.

West Virginia +9 LSU
As head coach as LSU, Les Miles is 27-36-4 ATS (including 2-1 this season). The Tigers have covered consecutive games after failing to cover the inflated line for their opener (+7). Only one other time during his tenure has LSU covered more than 2 games in a row. They covered the final 2 games of 2006 (at Arkansas and versus Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl) and the first 3 games of 2007 (at Mississippi State and home versus Virginia Tech and Middle Tennessee State). If there has ever been a time to double down against LSU, this it.

New Mexico +11 UNLV
If TCU or Utah finishes undefeated and fails to qualify for the BCS National Championship Game, they may well have these 2 teams (and Colorado State) to blame for dragging down their strength of schedule. New Mexico has yet to play a competitive game, losing to Oregon by 72, Texas Tech by 35, and Utah by 42 (with the latter 2 coming at home!). Meanwhile, UNLV has lost to Wisconsin by 20, Utah 28, and Idaho by 23. The winner of this game will have a leg up on getting out of the Mountain West basement and with Colorado State remaining on the schedule, could be staring at multiple league wins. Either way, this will probably be the closest game either team has played thus far.

Arizona State +12 Oregon
Arizona State nearly upset the Badgers in Madison last week, and as a reward for their troubles, they draw perhaps the hottest offense in the nation. Meanwhile, Oregon continued their buzzsawing ways, trouncing Portland State (IAA) 69-0. Arizona State proved last week they are more than capable of staying in games with their offense and special teams. Look for this one to be very close and potentially end the Ducks run at perfection.

Five Faves I Like

Last Week: 4-1
Overall: 10-5

Oklahoma -15 Cincinnati
Technically, this game is at Paul Brown Stadium, and while that means its not at Cincinnati's true homefield, its pretty darn close. Oklahoma endured the typical letdown game last weekend, narrowly edging the Air Force Falcons 27-24. Oklahoma proved a week before they are more than capable crushing quality opponents when they dropped Florida State by 30. Going into their first road test of the year, motivation should not be a factor (as it may have been in close wins over Utah State and Air Force). In addition, Cincinnati should not be much of a factor either. The Bearcats have fallen precipitously from the heights they reached last season, looking for all the world like they have no concept of pass protection in road loss to Fresno State and NC State (giving up 13 sacks in those games). This one could get ugly quickly.

Florida -14 Kentucky
This line perplexes me. Last week Florida was 14-point favorite on the road at Tennessee. This week they are a 14-point favorite at home against Kentucky. While Kentucky will almost assuredly return to the postseason, their resume thus far is iffy at best. Their wins have come against Louisville (on the road) and at home versus Western Kentucky and Akron (2 teams without wins). The Wildcats have looked like worldbeaters on offense, averaging nearly 500 yards per game. However, Florida will provide a much stiffer test. The Gators may not have the offensive firepower (yet) they featured with Tim Tebow under center, they still possess one of the game's best defenses. This is another game that could get ugly quickly.

Duke -6.5 Army
No team will be happier to return to the field on Saturday than the Duke Blue Devils. One week after facing off against Alabama, the Devils will likely feel like they are on vacation facing Army. While Duke struggled mightily moving the ball against Alabama, they should have enough offensive firepower to beat Army by a touchdown at home.

Baylor -7.5 Rice
Last week, Northwestern rolled into Houston as a touchdown favorite to face the Owls and left with a 17-point win. I would expect Baylor to have similar success against the Owls. Baylor was humbled by TCU last week, but Rice ain't TCU. The Bears will get back to their winning ways with a comfortable road win.

Arizona -7 California
Fresh off their biggest win since 1998, the Wildcats now begin their Pac-10 season, and quest for their first Rose Bowl bid at home against the Cal Bears. Cal was humbled at Nevada last week, despite moving the ball particularly well, thanks to turnovers that directly led to Nevada scores. Arizona is a much better team than the Wolfpack (perhaps the best in the Pac-10), so they should win by at least a touchdown here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nevada is actually the Wolf Pack, as opposed to the NC State Wolfpack.