Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fab Five: Week XIII

During the first ten weeks of the college football season, your humble prognosticator did not push a single game. In the past two weeks, we have pushed thrice. How about that? Week 12 was another successful week, as I managed a 5-4-1 mark, bringing the yearly tally to 63-54-3. That also means we have now gone seven consecutive weeks with at least a .500 mark. I guess what that means is, the bottom is due to fall out at any time. Proceed with caution. Home teams in Bold.

5 Dogs I Like

Last Week: 3-2
Overall: 32-27-1

Ohio +10 Kent State
This season has gotten away from Ohio. The Bobcats began the season 7-0, included among the seven wins was a victory over Penn State. In fact, the Bobcats rose as high as number 23 in the AP Poll in late-October. However, the Bobcats have now lost three of four and have already failed in their endeavor to return to the MAC Championship Game for the second-consecutive year and third time in the past four seasons. That first conference title since 1968 will have to wait for another year. Meanwhile, Kent State has surged under second-year head coach Darrell Hazell. The Golden Flashes have won nine consecutive games and have qualified for their first ever MAC Championship Game. Since beginning the 2011 season 1-6, the Flashes have won 14 of their past 16 games, including 11 of 12 within the conference. Still, there are reasons to like Ohio to cover the big number in this game. The Bobcats are 4-1 Against the Spread (ATS) as a double-digit road underdog since 2008, while Kent State is 0-2 ATS as a double-digit home favorite under Hazell. There is also the look-ahead factor as Kent State has already earned a spot in the MAC Championship Game and may not be fully motivated. Look for Ohio to keep this one within a touchdown.

Georgia Tech +13.5 Georgia
Its been a weird season for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech began the season 2-4, with a home loss to Middle Tennessee State among the quartet of losses. The Yellow Jackets then pounded a poor Boston College team to improve to 3-4, but were subsequently manhandled the following week at home by BYU, in a game where they scored just one offensive touchdown and had their lowest yardage output (157 yards) since the Orange Bowl loss to Iowa to conclude the 2009 season. Since their home embarrassment to the Cougars, the Jackets have quietly won three straight to get to bowl-eligibility and will actually represent the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship Game thanks to Miami's self-imposed postseason ban. Still, in their six wins, the Jackets have beaten just one bowl-eligible team (Duke). That number doubles if we include the postseason-ineligible Tar Heels, but still that is hardly an impressive number. So why are they the pick here? Under Johnson, the Jackets are 9-5 ATS as a road underdog and 2-1 as a double-digit road underdog. They have also covered in both games under Johnson at Georgia, winning outright as a touchdown underdog in 2008, and losing by eight as a two-touchdown underdog in 2010. Meanwhile, Georgia is just 2-3 ATS as a double-digit home favorite this season and just 7-6 in such a role since 2009. And speaking of quality wins, Georgia has beaten just two bowl-eligible teams themselves (Vanderbilt and Florida), though Ole Miss could join that esteemed list if they beat Mississippi State this week. Georgia Tech should keep this one relatively close.

Texas-San Antonio +1 Texas State
This marks the first meeting of these two Division IA neophytes. Both teams will be moving to new conferences next season as the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners will move to Conference USA and the Texas State Bobcats will move to the Sun Belt. Besides being newcomers to IA football and residing in the Lone Star State, both teams are also coached by men you may have heard of. The Roadrunners are led by former Miami head coach and national champion, Larry Coker. Meanwhile, the Bobcats are coached by noted Mrs. Doubtfire lookalike and former Alabama and Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione. Both teams have been moderately competitive in their first foray into IA football. Texas State owns two wins over fellow IA programs, including a monumental upset in their first game against Houston. Texas-San Antonio has won thrice against IA teams, beating South Alabama, New Mexico State, and Idaho. In fact, in WAC play, the Roadrunners have gained more yards and allowed fewer yards than Texas State. They are also playing at home, so this spread should probably be about a field goal in the other direction. The Roadrunners should conclude their inaugural IA season with their eighth overall win.

Rutgers +2 Pittsburgh
The Scarlet Knights continue their quixotic quest towards their first conference championship and BCS-bowl bid. Last week they upset Cincinnati on the road to improve to 5-0 in the conference. Win or lose here, their game next week at home against Louisville will likely determine the Big East champion. Rutgers boasts the best defense in the Big East and has allowed just four offensive touchdowns in their five conference games. The Knights also boast a solid track record on the road this season, winning in all three games as a road underdog (South Florida, Arkansas, and Cincinnati). The Pitt Panthers need wins in their final two games (versus Rutgers and next week at South Florida) to salvage a bowl game in Paul Chryst's first season as head coach. I don't think they will be able to come through against a stout Rutgers defense this weekend. Fortunately for Pitt, Chryst is likely to stick around and coach next season, marking the first time since 2010 they have had the same head coach for two consecutive seasons.

Indiana +6 Purdue
On the surface, this game may not appear to have any far-reaching significance. However, it could be quite significant for the employment opportunities of Danny Hope, head coach at Purdue. Hope has guided the Boilermakers for four seasons and has posted just a 21-27 mark, including a 5-6 record this season. His lone bowl appearance came last year on the heels of a 6-6 regular season campaign. This game is also pretty significant for Indiana football. This game is not only for the Old Oaken Bucket, a trophy Indiana has won just twice in the past ten years, but it would also give the Hoosiers three conference wins for the first time since 2007, and just the third time in the past decade. The Hoosiers have been rather feisty in head coach Kevin Wilson's second season, posting a 4-3 ATS record as an underdog and a 3-2 ATS record on the road. Meanwhile, Purdue has hardly been a lock as a home favorite under Danny Hope, posting just a 4-8 ATS mark in such a role. In addition, the Boilermakers are just 1-3 ATS as a favorite this season. Look for Indiana to keep this one close and potentially keep their in-state rivals out of the postseason.

Five Faves I Like

Last Week: 2-2-1
Overall: 31-27-2

Syracuse -8 Temple
Last week the Orange went on the road and won against an SEC opponent (Missouri) as a four-point underdog. The win got the Orange to the magical six-win threshold for the second time in three seasons and also represented their first win against an SEC opponent since September of 2001 when they beat Auburn at the Carrier Dome. Now the Orange will try to get to seven regular season wins against a Temple team also off an outright upset. The Owls were a slight two-point underdog last week against Army, but managed to roll up a season high 565 yards and 63 points against a very porous Army defense. The Black Knights rank 123rd out of 124 teams in yards per play allowed, permitting a nearly inconceivable 6.91 per snap. In their five previous games, during which they went 1-4, the Owls averaged 285 yards and 14.2 points per game, much more indicative of their actual skill level. In Big East play, Temple ranks dead last in both yards gained and yards allowed. Syracuse has a very potent offense, ranking second only to Louisville in the Big East, and a respectable defense. The Orange should win this one by about two touchdowns.

Arizona -3 Arizona State
This year's battle for the Territorial Cup involves a pair of teams enjoying moderate success under first-year head coaches. The Arizona Wildcats already have seven wins, and with a victory against their in-state rivals followed by another in their bowl game, would own nine wins for the first time since winning 12 in 1998. Mike Stoops never won more than eight in his eight seasons in Tucson. Arizona State is also bowl-eligible under Todd Graham, meaning both Arizona schools will head to the postseason for the first time since 1997! Arizona State has struggled on the road, winning only against the dregs of the conference (Cal and Colorado), while losing by double-digits to both Oregon State and Southern Cal. Meanwhile, Arizona is 6-1 at home, with their lone loss coming at the hands of Oregon State. The Wildcats have issues on defense, but should be able to move the ball well enough to win by about a touchdown.

Miami -6 Duke
With the recent announcement that they will be forgoing a bowl for the second-consecutive season, this trip to Durham marks Miami's final game of the 2012 season. The Hurricanes have fared better than most thought in the preseason. With a win against the Blue Devils, the Hurricanes would technically be your 2012 Coastal Division champions. Unfortunately, the self-imposed postseason ban means the Hurricanes have already ceded their slot in the ACC Championship Game to Georgia Tech. Miami will try to finish the season on a solid note against a Duke team, that while bowl-eligible for the first time since Ini Kamoze was nationally relevant, is actually pretty horrible on defense. Miami is 4-0 ATS since 2010 as a single-digit road favorite and under Golden, the Hurricanes are a solid 6-2-1 ATS in all road games. Look for that trend to continue here as Miami easily tops 30 points, becoming the sixth straight team to score at least 30 against the Devils, and wins comfortably here.

Louisville -12.5 Connecticut
Is it time to jump off the Louisville bandwagon? After beginning the year 9-0, the Cardinals fell in relatively grisly fashion to Syracuse, and have now had a week to dwell on their first loss. The Cardinals remain in the top-20 of the latest poll, in fact they are the highest ranked team in the Big East. However, they are a virtual afterthought nationally. Still, with the Big East's automatic BCS bowl bid still well within their sights, motivation, or lack thereof should not be a problem in this game. Their opponent in this game, the Connecticut Huskies enter needing a win and a win next week against Cincinnati to return to the postseason for the first time under second-year head coach Paul Pasqualoni. The Huskies are also off a bye, having won two weeks ago against a Pitt team still obviously hung over after their close loss to Notre Dame. The Huskies have proven to have a solid defense, but they have real issues moving the ball, which could be a problem against a strong Louisville offense. It should also be noted that the Cardinals are 3-1 ATS as a double-digit favorite under head coach Charlie Strong. Conversely, the Huskies are 0-7-1 as a road underdog under Pasqualoni. Look for both those trends to continue here in a blowout Louisville win.

Ball State -7 Miami
Ball State head coach Pete Lembo has won wherever he has coached. Be it Lehigh, Elon, or Ball State, the man gets the job done. In 12 seasons as a head coach, his teams have posted just one losing season (his first at Elon in 2006). Lembo took over a Ball State team that had gone 6-18 in the two seasons prior to his arrival, matched that win total in his first year (6-6) and has the Cardinals standing at 8-3, riding a five-game winning streak. Lembo has done very well ATS in nearly all roles as head coach at Ball State. His teams are 2-1 ATS as road favorites, 9-3 ATS overall on the road, 6-1 ATS on the road in MAC play, and 10-5 ATS overall in the MAC. Ball State has an explosive offense and should be able to win this game by double-digits and get to nine regular season wins. 

1 comment:

bookmakers online said...

congratulations and I hope that you can keep it up. It is an impressive number and there aren't many people that they can accomplish that.