Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Fab Five: Week VII

Last week was very another winning week for me (barely). I went 5-4-1, bringing my record to 32-25-3 on the season. On to the picks (home teams in Bold).

5 Dogs I Like

Last Week: 3-2
Overall: 21-8-1

Western Michigan +1.5 Buffalo
The Broncos from Western Michigan have reeled off 5 straight wins since falling to Nebraska in their opener. They currently stand 3-0 in the MAC, and are the biggest threats to Central Michigan's 3-peat and Ball State's run at perfection. Buffalo is 1-1 in MAC play, with a 2-point win over Temple and a 2-point loss to Central Michigan on their resume. Even though the game is in Buffalo, that point spread should probably be reversed. Against MAC foes, Western Michigan has averaged 5.99 yards per play and their opponents ave averaged 4.70 yards per play. By contrast, Buffalo has averaged 5.77 yards per play and their opponents have averaged 5.99 yards per play. Western Michigan has slight advantage in offensive firepower, and a decided advantage on the defensive side. Barring a barrage of turnovers, the Broncos should pull out the straight up win.

Arkansas +19 Auburn
Auburn recently threw their offensive coordinator, Tony Franklin, under the bus, canning him 6 games into his first full season. True, the Auburn offensive has been just short of deplorable this season (see the 3-2 slugfest against Mississippi State), it was his first year on the job. Did it never occur to the Auburn administration that it might take a while (even a few years) for the offense to catch on? I would be willing to bet between 70-80% of the current players were not recruited to run this spread offense. But alas, I suppose the axe has to fall on someone. With the midseason (midweek) firing, even if Auburn reverts back to their days of pounding the ball out of the I-formation, can they cover this large number? Think about it. If Arkansas manages to score 10 points, that means Auburn must score 30 to cover. This one has all the makings of a 20-3 snoozefest Tiger victory.

Louisiana Tech +7.5 Hawaii
Hawaii was able to upend Fresno State last week (on the road) and notch their first win against a IA opponent. However, the Warriors were significantly outplayed by the Bulldogs on a down-to-down basis. Fresno State outgained the Warrios by 180 yards, but shot themselves in the foot with 6 turnovers (3 lost fumbles and 3 interceptions) and 2 missed field goals. The Warriors also ran a kickoff back for a touchdown, a surprising feat considering they 87th nationally in kickoff return average. Hawaii may well knock off Louisiana Tech on the islands, but this one should be closer than a touchdown.

Tulane +4.5 UTEP
A quick glance at Tulane's peripheral yardage stats and one would think they were 5-0 instead of 2-3. The Green Wave have outgained their first 5 opponents by 729 yards. But the Green Wave have given up two special teams and one defensive touchdown to their opponents while scoring none of their own. Meanwhile, UTEP has rebounded from an 0-3 start to win their first two conference games. Quarterback Trevor Vittatoe has been especially sound in the two conference wins, throwing 7 touchdown passes and just a single interception after throwing 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in the first 3 games. UTEP may well begin their conference season 3-0, but they are a little overvalued after consecutive wins over Central Florida and Southern Miss. The Miners destroyed Central Florida 58-13, but that win was buyoed by 6 turnovers. They followed that up with an OT win over Southern Miss, but benefitted from 3 missed field goals from the Golden Eagles.

Texas +7 Oklahoma
The Sooners have been a buzzsaw thus far, destroying everything in their path. The Sooners certainly have a pair of better wins, as they own victories over Cincinnati and TCU. Of course, both those wins came in Norman. Texas, on the other hand, has the better road win, a 24-point shellacking of Colorado in Boulder. Methinks this one will be tight, and thus the pick is the team getting spotted a touchdown.

Five Faves I Like

Last Week: 2-2-1
Overall: 11-17-2

South Carolina -1 Kentucky
Kentucky's loss to Alabama looked extremely competitive last week, but don't forget the fact that the Wildcats scored late to make it a 3-point game. Alabama outgained the Wildcats by over 100 yards and bludgeoned them for 282 yards on the ground. South Carolina has their best offensive showing last week, totalling 405 yards in a win at Ole Miss. South Carolina is stronger on both sides of the ball and should keep Steve Spurrier perfect against Kentucky.

Missouri -14 Oklahoma State
At worst, this one should be quite entertaining. Missouri is averaging an astounding 8.2 yards per play and has punted twice in the past 3 games. Oklahoma State has also been quite proficient offensively, averaging over 52 points per game. However, the Cowboys have seen their offensive splits drop when facing BCS-conference foes. Against Washington State and Texas A&M, two teams that will likely fail to qualify for a bowl, the Cowboys have averaged 384 yards per game. Against Houston, Southwest Missouri State (IAA), and Troy the Cowboys have averaged 628 yards per game. Missouri does not have a dominant defense, but it should do enough to win comfortably at home.

Ball State -16 Western Kentucky
Ball State is attempting a run at perfection. Western Kentucky is playing their last year of provisional IA ball before joinng the Sun Belt next season. Against 4 IA foes this season, Western Kentucky has been doubled up in total yardage (1698-840) and outscored by an average of 26 points per game. The Hilltoppers have averaged 9 points per game against IA foes. If they get to 14 against Ball State, the Cardinals need only get to 30 to cover. Consider it done.

Georgia -13 Tennessee
Tennessee has beaten Georgia the past 2 seasons, including a 51-point outburst between the hedges in 2006. The Phil Fulmer death march continues into Athens this week. Against teams not named UAB, the Vols have averaged just under 14 points per game. The offense has averaged 260 yards per game against those schools. Of course, the defense has been rock solid, holding each opponent under 300 yards. That's a far cry from last season when the defense gave up 403 yards per game. Georgia may have a little trouble moving the ball, but playing at home, they should win by at least 2 touchdowns.

Arizona -6.5 Stanford
At long last (10 seasons to be exact), this appears to be the year the Wildcats finally get back to a bowl game. A turnover-fueled loss at New Mexico in the 3rd game of the season likely elicited 'here we go again' shouts from Tucson, but the Wildcats have responded with consecutive lopsided conference wins. The Wildcats have outgained each of their first 5 opponents and are currently averaging 429 yards per game, by far the most in the Mike Stoops era (386 last season). The defense is also doing their part, currently allowing only 226 yards per game (again the best in the Stoops era). Stanford is certainly improved under Jim Harbaugh, but Arizona should be able to cover the touchdown number on the road.

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