Thursday, November 04, 2010

Fab Five: Week X

Last week was another rough one as I again went 4-6. I once again struggled mightily on dogs, going just 1-4. As a result my year-to-date record is a less than stellar 45-44-1. I will try to get back on track in the final month of the season. As always, home teams are in Bold.

5 Dogs I Like

Last Week: 1-4
Overall: 18-26-1

Western Michigan +3.5 Central Michigan
In a game that a lot of folks probably didn't pay a great deal of attention to last week, the Broncos from Western Michigan nearly upset the MAC's best team, Northern Illinois, before falling 28-21 at home. A win there would have put the Broncos in contention to grab the MAC West title. The loss leaves the Broncos at 3-5, but with games remaining against Eastern Michigan, Kent State, and Bowling Green after this in-state clash, a bowl bid is still a possibility. Meanwhile, this season has been a big disappointment for Central Michigan. After winning 3 MAC titles in the last 4 years, the Chippewas have already clinched a losing season at 2-7 in the first year of the Dan Enos era. The Chippewas have been a bit unlucky, losing 4 games by 7 points or less. The Chippewas have not been particularly strong at home, losing to Ball State (2-7), Miami of Ohio (5-4), and Bowling Green (2-7). Look for the Broncos to pull off the outright win and inch closer to bowl eligibility.

Louisville +6 Syracuse
At this moment, Syracuse football appears to be a stock you should want to SELL! SELL! SELL! The Orange have won two consecutive Big East games, one as a double digit dog at West Virginia, and the other as around a 5 or 6 point dog at Syracuse. However, according to this week's SDPI ratings, Louisville is actually a little better. I can see how Syracuse should be a small favorite playing at home, but giving nearly a touchdown appears to be a little too much.

NC State +3.5 Clemson
A wounded Clemson team returns home after being humbled at Boston College, while NC State goes on the road after the biggest win of the Tom O'Brien era over Florida State. The Wolfpack now control their own destiny in the ACC Atlantic Division. The Wolfpack feature of the best offenses in the ACC, while Clemson has struggled mightily moving the football. Clemson has made up for it somewhat by playing pretty well on defense. However, this is not the usual NC State defense. After finishing dead last or second to last in the ACC in defense in each of Tom O'Brien's first 3 seasons, the Wolfpack are middle of the road this year. NC State has a real chance to win this game outright.

Duke +1.5 Virginia
This game began the week as a pick-em, and has steadily moved in the favor of the Wahoos. Why? Probably because Virginia managed to upset an inconsistent Miami team last week. Don't forget the Blue Devils also pulled off an upset of their own last week when they knocked off the Midshipmen on the road. Virginia has the only defense that can make Wake Forest's version look competent. Look for Duke to win their 3rd straight against Virginia as a slight underdog.

Illinois +3 Michigan
Illinois has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the 2010 season. The Illini are 5-3, and their 3 losses have all come to teams ranked in the top-16 (Missouri, Ohio State, and Michigan State). Their defense, under first year coordinator Vic Koenning, has been the impetus for their success, ranking second only to Ohio State in the Big 10. Michigan has a great offense, but a terrible defense, and the Illini should be able to somewhat contain Denard Robinson and eke out a close win.

Five Faves I Like

Last Week: 3-2
Overall: 27-18

Texas -4 Kansas State
Texas has already clinched their worst record since 1999 and have been maddeningly inconsistent in 2010. The Longhorns own the only victory thus far over Nebraska, but have also lost to UCLA and Iowa State. Their loss to Baylor is a little more forgivable, at least this season. However, Kansas State may well be one of the worst teams in the Big 12, much to my chagrin as I am a huge Bill Snyder fan. The Longhorns should be able to bottle up running back Daniel Thomas and win a relatively low-scoring game by about a touchdown.

TCU -5 Utah
TCU has been uber-dominant against their Mountain West foes, as we detailed in this week's SDPI ratings. Utah has been very good, but TCU is elite. The Against the best teams they have faced thus far, Utah has beaten Pitt and Air Force by a combined 8 points. TCU is in a whole different league than those teams.

Florida State -10.5 North Carolina
Don't sleep on the 'Noles despite their upset loss at the hands of NC State last Thursday. Florida State is one of the best teams in the ACC and could end up winning the league. Meanwhile, North Carolina deserves a great deal of credit for weathering agent and tutor-gate and positioning themselves for another bowl game. Still, the Tar Heels don't do any one thing particularly well, and the 'Noles should win this one rather handily.

Missouri -4.5 Texas Tech
Did Adam James do what Oklahoma and Texas failed to do for a decade, resign the Texas Tech program to insignificance? Or is Tommy Tuberville just experiencing some Year 1 growing pains? Whatever the cause, Texas Tech is in real danger of finishing below .500 in Big 12 play for the first time since 2000. The Red Raiders must win both of their final league games, against Missouri and Oklahoma, just to ensure a 4-4 finish. In addition, they must win 2 of their final 4 overall (they close with Weber State and Houston) to attain bowl eligibility. Currently, Texas Tech has by far the worst offense than any in the Mike Leach era, and a defense that rivals the worst of that era. The Red Raiders have already lost at home to Oklahoma State for the first time since World War II. Missouri is in the same class as the Cowboys and should win this one by about a touchdown.

Southern Cal -6 Arizona State
The Trojans were embarrassed at home by Oregon last week, and this is their penultimate home game of the year, so you can bet they will be chomping at the bit to get at the Sun Devils. Despite being humbled by Oregon, the Trojans still boast one of the best offenses in the Pac-10 and should be able to handle Arizona State by at least a touchdown at home.

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