Thursday, September 09, 2010

Fab Five: Week II

Well, Week I was not a rousing success for your humble prognosticator. It was more like Weak I. My record was an unspectacular 4-6, lowlighted by a putrid 1-4 mark picking dogs. I promise to do better this week. As always, home teams are in Bold.

5 Dogs I Like

Last Week: 1-4
Overall: 1-4

Central Michigan +7.5 Temple
The MAC's preeminent program of the past 4 years matches up with a team many think will be the preeminent program this season. The Chippewas have won 3 of the past 4 MAC titles, and opened the 2010 season by shutting out IAA Hampton. Temple tied for the MAC East title last year and opened with a nail-biting win over Villanova, the defending IAA champion. While Temple certainly had the greater challenge in the first game, the Owls weren't exactly scintillating in their victory. This spread should probably be about 3 or 4 points lower. Central Michigan is a steal getting more than a touchdown.

Hawaii +3 Army
Hawaii would certainly not appear to be the safest road pick based on recent history, going just 4-8 in road games the past 2 seasons. However, despite winning just a third of their road games since 2008, they have managed a successful 7-5 record ATS on the road. Hawaii has also had a few extra days of travel for this road trip, having played Southern Cal on Thursday instead of Saturday. Thus, the typical effects playing a road contest has on Hawaii should be somewhat muted for this game. In addition, based on their performance against Southern Cal, Hawaii should not have much trouble moving the ball against Army. Of course, they may not be able to stop the Black Knights either. However, based on how both teams performed in their openers, Hawaii should probably be a slight favorite here. Thus, with them getting a field goal, I have no reservations taking them to cover.

Bowling Green +17 Tulsa
This is a rematch of the most lopsided bowl game in NCAA history. After the 2007 season, Tulsa and Bowling Green faced off in the GMAC Bowl. Bowling Green officials have likely burned that game film after the Golden Hurricane embarrassed them 63-7. Of course, that bowl game from 3 seasons ago likely has little bearing on the outcome of this game. Both teams come into this game off close road losses. Bowling Green dropped a 30-27 decision to Sun Belt power Troy while Tulsa gave up a Hail Mary on the final play to fall to East Carolina 51-49. There shouldn't be a great deal of defense played in this game, so the Over may be a solid play as well. I don't think Bowling Green will threaten to win this game, but Tulsa's defense is bad enough that the Falcons should be able to cover.

Tennessee +12 Oregon
The Ducks are flying high fresh off their 72-0 beatdown of hapless New Mexico, but traveling across the country to take on Tennessee should provide a much stiffer test than the Lobos could offer. Both teams come into this game off blowout wins over overmatched opponents. Oregon of course waxed New Mexico 72-0, but the Vols were also impressive in their 50-0 win over Tennessee-Martin. New Mexico is likely on of the worst IA teams in all of college football, so the Ducks are a little overvalued as team this week. This line should be closer to a single touchdown (6 or 7 points), especially with this marking the Ducks first road game of the season.

NC State +3 Central Florida
I don't subscribe to the notion that NC State is a great team after they managed to dominate Western Carolina. However, I'm not sure of the rationale to favor UCF in this game. The Knights have not beaten a team from a BCS conference since upsetting (guess who) NC State to open the 2007 season. By the same token, NC State has not lost to a team from outside a BCS conference since that 2007 opener. NC State may not have improved much on defense since that August day in 2007, but with Russell Wilson under center, they should be able to outscore the Knights on their homefield.

Five Faves I Like

Last Week: 3-2
Overall: 3-2

Georgia Tech -14 Kansas
While Ole Miss drew most of the headlines for falling at home to a IAA (or FCS) program, Kansas began the Turner Gill era by doing the same thing. However, instead of an entertaining shootout, the Jayhawks lost a snoozer to North Dakota State 6-3. While the Jayhawks probably should have won, as they outgained the Bison by 125 yards, but were done in by 3 turnovers some shoddy field goal kicking. Still, the Jayhawks struggled moving the ball against the Bison, total ling only 293 yards. The Jayhawks will have to do much better on offense if they hope to stay with one of the best and unique offenses in college football.

Oklahoma -6.5 Florida State
The Sooners struggled somewhat in their opener, narrowly edging Utah State 31-24 in a game where they were nearly a 5-touchdown favorite. I wouldn't read too much into this one game though. In 2006, the Sooners struggled in their opener against UAB, beating the Blazers 24-17 as a 22-point favorite. They went on to win the Big 12 that season and play Boise State in a very memorable Fiesta Bowl. Remember, the Sooners jumped on Utah State early, leading 21-0 before the Aggies made the game competitive. The Sooners likely won't suffer the same lapses against a team with the brand and notoriety of Florida State.

Ohio State -8.5 Miami
How good is Miami? Probably good enough to win the ACC. But good enough to compete with the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe? Doubtful. The Buckeyes have the best defense Miami will face all season, unless of course they match up with a super power in their bowl game. Last time Miami faced a road game this big, they crapped the bed as a small favorite at Virginia Tech last season losing 31-7. If Miami scores more than 10 points in this game, I will be very surprised.

Ole Miss -20.5 Tulane
I know, just a few paragraphs up I ripped Kansas for losing at home to a IAA team. And yet, here I am, taking the Rebels, another team that fell at home to a IAA school. While the Rebels did lose at home to Jacksonville State, their offense did not have any problems moving the ball. The Rebels gained 479 yards and scored 48 points against the Gamecocks. They were undone by 3 turnovers and some defensive lapses (especially in overtime). Meanwhile, Tulane did manage to win their opener against a IAA school (SE Louisiana), but they were actually outgained by the Lions. Tulane is not a good team, and Ole Miss will cure their ills from last week with a blowout here.

Iowa -13.5 Iowa State
Last year in Ames, the Hawkeyes blew out the Cyclones 35-3. This year, the game is in Iowa City, and the Hawkeyes are only a two-touchdown favorite. Iowa State has scored 8 total points in their past 2 games against the Hawkeyes. I would expect their total to be around that number in this game, meaning 21 points should be enough for Iowa to cover.

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