Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fab Five: Week VII

Depending upon whether you followed my picks on favorites or underdogs, you either had a great or terrible week. I was 5-5 overall with 4-1 mark on favorites and a reciprocal 1-4 mark picking dogs. My yearly record remains an unflattering 26-34. I will strive for just my second winning week on the season. As always, home teams are in Bold.

5 Dogs I Like

Last Week: 1-4
Overall: 11-19

San Jose State +6.5 Hawaii
Don't look now, but San Jose State has quietly become a solid (WAC) team, especially at home. In their two home games thus far, the Spartans have hung with Nevada and beaten New Mexico State. Catching almost a touchdown against a Hawaii team that has been all over the map is a good bet.

Michigan +1.5 Michigan State
Hard to figure this spread out. I know Michigan struggled in the first half of their first road trip at Northwestern last week. I know Michigan State has won 3 in a row in this series. But who has Michigan State beaten? Youngstown State, Florida Atlantic, Central Michigan, and the rotting husk of Ohio State. Michigan and Michigan State have faced one common opponent. Notre Dame beat Michigan State by 18 and lost to Michigan by 4. I'm not a huge fan of using the transitive property, but this spread should be reversed.

Miami +3 North Carolina
Despite the adversity surrounding the program, Miami has played well early on despite being 2-3. All their losses have come by a single score versus Maryland (8 points), Kansas State (4 points), and Virginia Tech (3 points). The Hurricanes battled back from an early deficit against Virginia Tech last week, showing they have some fight that was lacking under the previous administration. Meanwhile, North Carolina has quietly started 5-1, but has been less than impressive in close home wins versus Louisville and Syracuse. In fact, the Tar Heels have been outgained in their last 4 games and appear primed for a home upset at the hands of The U.

BYU +1.5 Oregon State
The BYU Cougars finally showed some offensive prowess the past two weeks with Riley Nelson at quarterback. Nelson led the Cougars to a comeback win against Utah State two weeks ago, and with Nelson seeing significant action, the team has averaged 447 yards per game versus 291 yards per game without him. Oregon State has shown signs of life the past two weeks, leading Arizona State for a time costing Mike Stoops his job in their home upset of Arizona. Still, like the Michigan game, this line should probably be reversed.

Kansas State +3 Texas Tech
Is it time to start drinking the Bill Snyder Koolaid? The Wildcats have won 3 consecutive games in which they were betting underdogs and are a perfect 4-0 versus the spread this year. Kansas State is not an elite team, and they will likely have their dreams of perfection dashed in a big way by both of the two Oklahoma schools. However, perfection should continue against a Texas Tech program that has lost its mojo since firing Mike Leach.

Five Faves I Like

Last Week: 4-1
Overall 15-15

South Carolina -2 Mississippi State
I figured this line would be about a touchdown or more after South Carolina destroyed perhaps the SEC's worst team, Kentucky, 54-3 last week. For some reason, the betting public remains high on Mississippi State. For the life of me, I can't imagine why. The Bulldogs are just 3-3 on the season, with their wins all coming at home against Memphis, Louisiana Tech, and UAB. Memphis and UAB have yet to win a game versus a IA opponent. Louisiana Tech won their first IA game last week. Mississippi State has been even worse Against the Spread (ATS), covering against the aforementioned dregs of Conference USA (Memphis and UAB). Newly anointed Gamecock quarterback Connor Shaw may struggle in his first ever road start, but the Gamecocks are good enough to win this one by at least a touchdown.

Georgia Tech -7.5 Virginia
Georgia Tech was stymied for the first time all season last week against Maryland. Their vaunted triple-option failed to produce 400 yards of total offense and at least 30 points for the first time all season. However, the defense stepped up and held the Terps just 16 points, the fewest they have allowed all season. This game is on the road, but in their last two home games, Virginia has lost to Southern Mississippi and edged Idaho 21-20 in OT. Georgia Tech, questionable defense and all, should take this one by double-digits.

Georgia -11 Vanderbilt
Hey, look who's back in the SEC East race. Left for dead after their close home loss to South Carolina, the Bulldogs have won 3 straight in the SEC, including two on the road (though one was at Ole Miss) to cool down Mark Richt's seat. The Bulldogs have done it with defense, holding Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Tennessee to 35 combined points and just two offensive touchdowns. After scoring 3 touchdowns in their SEC opener against Ole Miss, the Commodores have not found the endzone in games against South Carolina and Alabama. The offense has put together just 267 yards combined in those games. Its hard to imagine Vanderbilt scoring more than 10 points here, so if Georgia can get to 24 they will cover this number.

Penn State -12 Purdue
After being ground to a fine paste by Alabama and nearly being upset at home by Temple, Penn State has quietly put together a solid run. They blasted Eastern Michigan, and then won a pair of old-school games 16-10 and 13-3 versus Indiana and Iowa. The defense has really gotten on track, holding Indiana and Iowa to 509 yards of total offense in those two games. While the offense has failed to put the ball in the endzone often, they did pile up 859 yards of total offense against the Hoosiers and Hawkeyes, indicating they are likely to break out and put 30 on the board against a suspect defense. In games not involving IAA schools or Minnesota, Purdue qualifies as a suspect defense. The Boilermakers allowed over 450 yards per game to their other 3 foes (Middle Tennessee, Rice, and Notre Dame). Penn State should cure some of their offensive woes in this game.

Utah State -3.5 Fresno State
Utah State, a team that has played in just two bowl games since 1961, could be headed for a WAC championship. While they have yet to play a league game, the Aggies were about as impressive as a team could be in the non-conference and still be 2-3. They lost heartbreakers to Auburn, Colorado State, and BYU. In their other games, they waylayed a IAA school and Wyoming by a combined margin of 81 points. Utah State has been road tested, playing well in road losses to Auburn and BYU. Fresno has already lost consecutive home games to Boise (understandable) and Ole Miss (not so much). Look for the Aggies to make it 3 in a row.

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