Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fab Five: Week XII

And last week was back to reality. If you are doing anything with my picks other than betting against them, I pity you. Last week's 2-8 mark brings me to 44-65-1 on the year. Ouch. As always, home teams are in Bold.

5 Dogs I Like

Last Week: 2-3
Overall: 23-32

Texas Tech +18 Missouri
Since upsetting Oklahoma a month ago, Texas Tech has lost three straight games by a combined score of 159-33. And two of those games came at home. Unless the Red Raiders can notch a win in Columbia or against Baylor next weekend, they will be home for the holidays for the first time since 1999. Meanwhile, Missouri is 5-5, but seeking their first winning streak of the season. This is the second to last Big 12 game the Tigers will ever play. They have won exactly one game against a IA foe by at least 18 points (beat Iowa State by 35). Take the Red Raiders to keep this margin respectable.

San Jose State +5 Navy
After winning just three games in 2009 and 2010 combined, the Spartans from San Jose State already have three wins in hand this season and have been close in several others (three losses by a combined seven points). The Spartans host a desperate Navy team needing to win out to attain bowl eligibility. San Jose is a long way from Annapolis. Look for the Spartans to hang around and perhaps win the game outright.

Tennessee +1.5 Vanderbilt
Things have not gone as planned for the Vols this season, as they are currently winless in the SEC. Meanwhile, their in-state conference brethren have already won twice in the league, pounding punchless Ole Miss and Kentucky. Believe it or not, Vandy has actually been favored over Tennessee recently (were three point favorites in 2008). Tennessee won that game in Nashville by 10 if you were curious.

Illinois +15 Wisconsin
I know, laugh away. The Illini are in free-fall after their 6-0 start, but consider this. Since 2006, the Illini are actually 11-3 Against the Spread (ATS) as a double-digit underdog. And Wisconsin has not exactly dominated quality opponents on the road, losing to both Michigan State and Ohio State as substantial favorites.

Kansas State +9 Texas
The Wildcats have exceeded any rational fan's preseason expectations by winning eight regular season games for the first time since 2003. The Wildcats have been opportunistic (+9 turnover margin), excelled at special teams (two kickoff return touchdowns), and been a little lucky (6-1 in one-score games). The Wildcats are extremely solid and shouldn't beat themselves against a Texas team that has just a single win versus a team that currently has a winning record (BYU).

Five Faves I Like

Last Week: 0-5
Overall 21-33-1

Louisville -1 Connecticut
After some early season struggles (losses to FIU and Marshall), Louisville has quietly turned into a solid team under Charlie Strong and still have an outside shot at the Big East title. They should handle a Connecticut team that is pretty bad on both sides of the ball.

Miami -1 South Florida
Miami has struggled to a 5-5 mark in Al Golden's first year at the helm. However, each of Miami's losses has come by eight points or fewer. A little luck here or there, and the Hurricanes could be challenging for the ACC Championship Game. As it is, they will have to settle for another nondescript bowl. South Florida ended their four-game losing skid last week against Syracuse, and like Miami, are out of the running for their conference title. Miami has better players and barring a turnover disaster, should win here.

Utah State -10 Idaho
Utah State continued their late charge to bowl eligibility last week by holding off San Jose State 34-33. Now they head to Moscow, Idaho to face the WAC's worst team. Idaho has already lost five games by double digits this season and that number should be six after Saturday.

Michigan -3.5 Nebraska
I'll say this for Michigan, they know how to win at home. The Wolverines are unbeaten at the Big House this season, and are a pretty solid play to cover the number there as well (5-1 ATS). Meanwhile, Nebraska is just 4-4-1 ATS on the season and should not be trusted on the road against a very good team.

Utah -3.5 Washington State
Washington State upset Arizona State at home last week to give them more than one Pac-12 (formerly 10) win for the first time since 2007. So much for the afterglow. Utah has been much improved in recent weeks, winning three league games in a row since a lopsided loss to Cal. The Utes still have an outside shot at the division title (Pac-12 South if you were curious), so their should be no motivation issue here.

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