Thursday, October 07, 2010

Fab Five: Week VI

I hit rock bottom last week, managing only a 3-7 record. This brings me one game under .500 on the season (24-25-1). I humbly apologize to anyone and everyone who uses my insight to make wagers, foolish as that may be. The good news is things are unlikely to get worse. As always, home teams are in Bold.

5 Dogs I Like

Last Week: 1-4
Overall: 10-14-1

Clemson +3 North Carolina
Clemson burned me last week when I picked them to cover (and potentially win outright) at home versus Miami. For that matter, North Carolina burned me too when I picked East Carolina to cover what I believed was a rather large number against them. The optimist in me sees a Clemson team that played terribly against Miami, yet had they converted a late 4th and 1, could easily have won the game. Meanwhile, North Carolina put up 42 points, and rang up 444 yards against East Carolina. However, the Pirates entered the game allowing 42 points and 480 yards per game, so if anything, the Tar Heels played a little below average. Since this game is not at Noon, methinks Clemson has an excellent chance to win.

Minnesota +22 Wisconsin
If we learned anything from last weekends heartbreaking loss to Northwestern, its that Tim Brewster's charges will play hard for him, even if the writing for his ouster in on the wall. The Gophers nearly upset the Wildcats and have been pretty competitive in all their losses (never losing by more than 11 with an average loss margin of 6.5 points). Meanwhile, Wisconsin was somewhat exposed as a Big 10 pretender losing at Michigan State. Against the IA creampuffs they have faced (UNLV and San Jose State), the Badgers have only won those games by 16.5 points per game. Even if Wisconsin statistically dominates this game, the type of team they are (65% of their plays are runs), likely means the final margin will be relatively close.

Wake Forest +4 Navy
This is hardly a good Wake Forest team, but an opportunity for a home upset of the Naval Academy is very real. For starters, the Deacons just finished playing against a team with a similar offense (Georgia Tech). Wake held the Jackets to 339 total yards and 4.9 yards per play (their lowest outputs in both categories on the season). Secondly, this appears to be one of the weaker Navy teams of recent memory. The Midshipmen have already lost to Maryland and Air Force, and have struggled to put away Georgia Southern and Louisiana Tech. Navy is averaging only 17.5 points per game, which should help keep a struggling Wake Forest offense in the game.

Pitt +6.5 Notre Dame
I don't know that any team has fallen further from their preseason projections than the Pitt Panthers. Widely regarded as the Big East favorite, the Panthers are now nearly a touchdown underdog to a Notre Dame team that has a pair of wins over Purdue and Boston College on its resume. Not that Pitt has any spectacular wins, but the Panthers were competitive in a road loss at undefeated Utah. Plus, if you are of the opinion that Miami is one of the nation's best teams, their shellacking at the hands of the Canes is hardly reason to think they stand no chance against the Irish. Pitt may not win this game, but it should be competitive and the Panthers stand a real shot at covering.

UCLA +7.5 California
This line appears to be an over-reaction to UCLA's close win over Washington State last weekend (for the Cougars, any game they keep within 30 is close). To me it seems like a perfect case of riding high off the Texas win and looking ahead to a conference showdown with in-state rival Cal. Speaking of the Bears, in their last game, they led Arizona from wire-to-wire before losing on a late touchdown pass 10-9. But, if you will remember, just a week before, the Bears were gashed by a mid-major team than runs the Pistol (Nevada). Care to guess what offense UCLA is running now? The Bruins have a real shot to win this game straight up and totally alter the course of their season.

Five Faves I Like

Last Week: 2-3
Overall: 14-11

Missouri -11.5 Colorado
Missouri has won 4 straight against the Buffs, with their average win in that span coming by 34.3 points (smallest win being 13 points). The Buffs are 3-1 and looking to save Dan Hawkins' job before bolting to the Pac-10 (Pac-12). However, Colorado has only outgained their opponents by 44 yards in those 4 games, and are actually averaging nearly a full yard less per play (5.0 to 5.8). Plus, in their only true road game to date, the Buffs were embarrassed by Cal 52-7. Methinks this one will not be that bad, but Missouri should still win easily.

Florida -6.5 LSU
The Gators have won the last 2 in this series by 30 and 10 points respectively. They have won the last 2 in Gainesville by 13 and 30. LSU has been skating by their opponents by the thinnest of margins thanks to an inept offense that has made a few timely plays and an elite defense and special teams unit. The Tigers rank 6th nationally in total defense, allowing a mere 247 yards per game. However, Florida has also been pretty solid defensively, allowing only 291 yards per game. Florida has also played better offensively after their opening debacle against Miami of Ohio (212 total yards). The Gators have a comparable defense, a better offense, an immensely better coach, and the homefield. They should win by at least a touchdown.

Northern Illinois -3 Temple
Could this be a potential MAC Championship Game preview? The Huskies and Owls have certainly looked like the class of the MAC in the early going. Both teams have combined for 3 losses, but each loss has come on the road against a team from a BCS conference. Northern Illinois lost at Iowa State and Illinois, while Temple fell at Penn State. Both teams also own wins amongst BCS-conference foes. Northern Illinois won by 11 at Minnesota and Temple won by 14 at home against Connecticut. Both teams are strong defensively, especially for MAC schools. Temple currently allows 368 yards per game and Northern Illinois is right behind them allowing just 371 yards per game. However, Northern Illinois has been much stronger offensively, averaging nearly 100 more yards per game. The Huskies should be able to win by at least a touchdown at home.

UTEP -9.5 Rice
Don't read too much into UTEP's misleading win over New Mexico last week. The Miners 'only' beat the lowly Lobos by 18 (38-20), but 2 of the New Mexico's touchdowns came via a bloacked field goal and kickoff return. The Miners outgained the Lobos by nearly 200 yards, and the final score could have, and probably should have been much worse. Meanwhile, Rice has lost 3 straight games, and the Owls have given up at least 30 points in each game. Ironically, their best defensive performance (yardage-wise) came in the opener against Texas when they allowed just 369 yards. In their past 4 games, the Owls have allowed an average of 450 yards per game. UTEP should continue the trend of putting up at least 30 on the Owls and win by at least 10 points.

Miami -6 Florida State
This one has all the makings of another Florida State road struggle. The general public seems to have forgotten how bad the 'Noles crapped the bed the last time they played a good team on the road. Certainly, Florida State has dominated their last 3 games against BYU, Wake Forest, and Virginia, but realistically, only one of those teams will be playing postseason football. It wouldn't surprise me if all 3 are home for the holidays. The 'Noles will encounter a different beast in arch-rival Miami. Look for the 'Canes to roll here and cement their status as ACC front-runner.


Unknown said...

Well Rocky, seems there was further down to go. When predicting this time, remember "no fruit sucks like an orange"...or orange is a sucky color... dont get screw by clempson and florida again.

matt said...

Don't forget Miami. It seems excluding teams not wearing Orange, I was 6-1. Food for though.

You will be happy to know I picked against Syracuse this week.