Thursday, September 15, 2011

College Football Picks: 9/15/2011

Last weekend was not kind to me, but I did learn valuable lessons.  I now know that I must go against Memphis, UNLV, Akron, and Florida Atlantic no matter how large the spread, and that Florida, Stanford, Alabama, and Wisconsin are teams to ride until they prove otherwise.  For the uninitiated, I pick games involving the Bottom 10 and the Top 25 of my Jumping To Conclusions Rankings that are between two FBS teams (so no #21 California vs. Presbyterian pick this week) using Danny Sheridan's lines.  The rank numbers come from my rankings, not the AP or the Coaches' Poll, and the home team is in CAPS.  Oh, and all of the picks are 100% correct.  

LAST WEEK: 8-10-1
OVERALL: 21-19-1

The Bulldogs haven't been held under 200 yards rushing or 30 points since Alabama held them to 149 yards rushing in a 30-10 loss in Tuscaloosa last November 13.  I like LSU to end both streaks.

#2 Boise State (-20) over TOLEDO
Toledo showed some spunk in Columbus, but Kellen Moore is much better than Joe Bauserman, and the Broncos are much better than the Buckeyes.

#11 Texas (-3.5) over UCLA
The Bruins punked the Longhorns 34-12 last year in Austin, somehow cobbling together 264 yards rushing. With the McCoy-Shipley Connection II premiering to modest success last week (this time starring Case and Jaxon instead of  Colt and Jordan), I like the Longhorns to exact revenge in the Rose Bowl.

#20 VIRGINIA TECH (-26.5) over Arkansas State
The Hokies struggled to pull out a 17-10 last week at East Carolina, while Arkansas State demolished Memphis 47-3, but before reading too much into those scores, remember that the Red Wolves are much closer to the Appalachian State team the Hokies rolled 66-13 on Opening Day than they are to East Carolina (and that Memphis is barely a football team).

FIU and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton are everybody's darling after beating Louisville for the first win over a BCS school in program history, but Central Florida has rolled their first two opponents--Charleston Southern and Boston College--by a combined score of 92-3 while allowing 260 yards of total offense over the course of both games.  UCF's defense may be one of the ten best in the nation, and I think they will find a way to limit the damage Hilton can do.

#19 ARKANSAS (-24) over Troy
The Razorbacks have outscored their first two opponents 103-10, putting up 52 and 51 points in each game.  Troy allowed 472 yards and 43 points to a Clemson team that struggled to move the ball against Wofford last week.  Even with the week off to prepare for their trip to Little Rock, I see the Trojans getting smoked.

#4 Stanford (-9.5) over ARIZONA
Under optimal circumstances, Arizona would find it hard to hang within ten points of the Cardinal, but considering they will be missing WR Juron Criner and several key defenders due to injury, I like Stanford to continue their early season blitzkrieg.

Hawaii (-20.5) over #118 UNLV
Hawaii might put up 60 on the Rebels, and I for one am going to cheer for it to happen.

#8 Oklahoma State (-13.5) over TULSA
Oklahoma State might put up 60 on the Golden Hurricanes, but they may also give up 45.  The defense held Arizona and Nick Foles reasonably in check last week, so perhaps the 34 points they allowed to Louisiana-Lafayette in their opener is an anomaly.  Either way, the Cowboys should cover.

#7 Oklahoma (-3) over #18 FLORIDA STATE
I know this is the year Florida State is supposed to be back as a national title contender, but I need to see them beat someone of consequence before I can buy in.  Hopefully the Seminoles can at least put up more of a fight than they did in last year's 47-17 massacre in Norman.

KANSAS STATE (-17.5) over #113 Kent State
Kent State may have the worst offense in the country.  They were understandably held in check by Alabama (107 total yards, 8 yards rushing!), but then last week Louisiana-Lafayette held the Flashes to 186 total yards and 12 points in Dix Stadium.  Kansas State may only need 18 points to cover.

BOSTON COLLEGE (-7) over #120 Duke
The Blue Devils have been beaten by Richmond and crushed by Stanford at home, so I shudder to think how bad things will get for them on the road.  Boston College's offense has been nearly as anemic as Kent State's, but their defense should smother Duke and could carry the Eagles to a cover by themselves.

#10 MICHIGAN (-29.5) over Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan is 2-0 for the first time since 1989, but both of those wins can be chalked up to the genius who scheduled two FCS opponents for the Eagles' to open their season against.  I have confidence that EMU will soon be joining the No Spread is Too Large Club along with the teams I mentioned in my introduction.  

Navy (+17.5) over #6 SOUTH CAROLINA
Another thing I think I'm learning--and that will be confirmed if this game plays out as I've picked it--is that the Gamecocks will win a lot of games this year, but I don't think they're going to cover many of them.  When a player as erratic as Stephen Garcia is your quarterback, no lead is ever safe.

CINCINNATI (-34.5) over #115 Akron
Per Phil Steele's College Football Preview, Akron is actually 1-2 against Cincinnati, with all three games decided by a total of 9 points.  Still, No Spread is Too Large for the Zips this year.

Nevada (-7) over #114 SAN JOSE STATE
This is kind of a strange spread considering Nevada has won the last three matchups 35-13, 62-7 in their last time in San Jose in 2009, and 41-17.  Of course, the meeting prior to those three was a 27-24 San Jose State win in Colin Kaepernick's freshman season.  Kaepernick is gone, so perhaps that, coupled with San Jose State only losing by 10 to UCLA last week, is the reasoning behind this line.  Whatever the reason, I disagree.

#17 Auburn (+3.5) over CLEMSON
Clemson's offensive struggles against Wofford should be cured when the Tigers' defense comes to Death Valley, but Auburn's offense should continue to roll, and it's hard to not expect Gene Chizik's boys to pull out a close one at the end until it actually happens.

#16 Northwestern (-9) over ARMY
The Black Knights nearly pulled off an upset at San Diego State last week, but Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald should have his Wildcats ready to play, even if quarteback Dan Persa misses his third straight game (as is seeming more and more likely).

#25 MARYLAND (-1) over West Virginia
The Mountaineers cannot run the ball effectively at all, and Geno Smith is struggling with Dana Holgorsen's newly-installed offense.  Maryland, meanwhile, looked liked they're ready to score 40 points a game against an admittedly short-handed Miami defense.  Nothing I saw from the WVU defense against Marshall leads me to believe they will have any more success stopping Danny O'Brien and company that the suspension-impaired Hurricanes did.

#22 NEBRASKA (-16.5) over Washington
Nebraska smoked the Huskies in Seattle last year 56-21, then mailed in their disappointing Holiday Bowl rematch, losing 19-7.  I expect Washington's visit to Lincoln to resemble the first game far more than the second one.

Texas Tech (-20.5) over #112 NEW MEXICO
If it seems like the Red Raiders haven't even played this season, it could be because their only game was a 50-10 win over Texas State two weeks ago that didn't exactly lead Sportscenter.  It's doubtful a similar drubbing of the Lobos will garner much more attention (although if New Mexico were to pull of the upset, it may get a mention in the headlines sidebar...on the College Football frontpage.  Maybe.).

#15 FLORIDA (-9.5) over #24 Tennessee
This will be Florida's first test this season, while John Bray gets a chance to prove his monster day against Cincinnati last week isn't a fluke and that he's ready to be the SEC's top quarterback right now.  Even in a down-year last season the Gators won 31-17 in Knoxville, so I like them to win comfortably in the friendly confines of the Swamp.

#5 Wisconsin (-16.5) over NORTHERN ILLINOIS
Wisconsin has decimated terrible teams in Madison, and even though Northern Illinois isn't terrible and the game is in the Huskies' home, I still think the Badgers will win by three touchdowns.

#14 TEXAS A&M (-36) over Idaho
Idaho was kind of beat up by Bowling Green 32-15 in the Vandals' home opener, and Texas A&M is at least 20 points better than the Falcons.  It will be nice when the Aggies finally play a real opponent.

#3 ALABAMA (-45.5) over #110 North Texas
While the Tide's minor offensive struggles leave a little doubt in my mind that they can cover this monster of a line, their defense can probably put up 21 on its own.  Also, as I've already discussed, I'm in Ride the Tide mode, so it would be pretty lame of me to turn my back on that premise within the same column I introduce it in.

BONUS PICK!  Ohio State (-3) over MIAMI (FL)
Even though neither of these teams are ranked, I have to give my Buckeyes pick!  I like the Bucks to win on the strength of four Jacory Harris interceptions, which lead to Harris getting benched and a pall of disarray and chaos consuming the Canes, ultimately resulting in yet another inter-squad tunnel brawl.  How glorious it shall be!

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