Thursday, September 08, 2011

College Football Picks 9/8/2011: NEVER FORGET Edition

Opening weekend was kind to me, as I even got a game I wasn't supposed to pick (Maryland over Miami) right even if I used the correct line (which I believe was Maryland (-4), not Maryland (+5), which I used).  This week gets trickier, as more teams face quality opponents, and some really bad teams are expected to cover some pretty big spreads (Arkansas State (-15); Minnesota (-20)).  These new challenges will just make it all the sweeter after I nail every...single...pick.


#18 OKLAHOMA STATE (-14) over Arizona
The over/under for this game is 65.5, and I would say that's conservative.  Oklahoma State just rang up 61 points on Louisiana-Lafayette, but they also gave up 34.  Arizona QB Nick Foles has to be licking his chops coming off a 412 yard, 5 TD day against Northern Arizona.  This is a rematch of last year's Alamo Bowl, which the Cowboys won 36-10.  Arizona's defense is worse this year, and combined with what looks like a porous OK State D, I like a 50-28 Cowboys win.

#15 FLORIDA (-23) over UAB
The Blazers actually performed quite well on the road vs. the SEC last year, losing at Mississippi State 29-24 in a game they led 24-23 in the 4th quarter, and dropping a heartbreaker to Tennessee in Knoxville in double overtime 32-29 after the UAB kicker missed 5 field goals (I watched this game and it was agonizing every time they sent that poor kid out to attempt a kick).  Unfortunately, Florida is much better than Mississippi State and Tennessee, and even if the Blazers can keep it close for a while, the gaping chasm between the talent on each roster will eventually overwhelm UAB.

#7 SOUTH FLORIDA (-19.5) over Ball State
Ball State is coming off a stunning 27-20 win over Indiana, their first victory over a BCS school since they beat the Hoosiers 42-20 in Nate Davis's senior year.  South Florida won ugly over Notre Dame in a game that I think just ended about an hour ago.  While the BJ Daniels-led Bulls offense doesn't inspire visions of a blowout, the South Florida defense seems good for a few turnovers and a Cardinals score of less than 10 points.

Temple (-15) over #115 AKRON
The Zips will have their hands full with Temple running back Bernard Pierce, who lit up cross-town rival Villanova for 147 yards and 3 TDs.  The Owls shut Akron out 30-0 last season, and they could repeat the feat if the Zips offensive production vs. Ohio State is any indication.

#19 TEXAS (-7) over #8 BYU
BYU's offense showed signs of its early-season struggles from last year in their 14-13 win over Ole Miss, and those problems will be further exacerbated by the Longhorns defense.  The best chance the Cougars have for the upset is if Garrett Gilbert reverts to his pick-happy ways of last season and gives Jake Heaps a short field.  Shockingly, Texas has never beaten BYU (0-2).

Notre Dame (-3.5) over #24 MICHIGAN
In the first night-game in Big House history, the Irish will prevail despite the stupid shamrocks on their helmets.  Notre Dame and the Cleveland Browns are two teams that forever and always should have blank helmets (unless Brownie the Elf were to make any appearance on the Browns headgear; then it's just Notre Dame).

UCLA (-21) over #117 San Jose State
UCLA's offense came to life a bit in their 38-34 loss to Houston, which should continue against a Spartan team that got steamrolled 57-3 by Stanford.

MICHIGAN STATE (-32.5) over #114 Florida Atlantic
Michigan State struggled slightly in their 28-6 win over Youngstown State, but Florida Atlantic may end the year as the worst team in the country.  The Spartans should have this spread covered by halftime; the only doubt is if they will keep the accelerator down long enough to keep the margin that large.

GEORGIA (+3) over #20 South Carolina
In a massive SEC East showdown, I like the Bulldogs to rebound from their sound defeat at the hands of Boise State and take early control of the division.  South Carolina was much more impressive than the Bulldogs in their own 56-37 win over East Carolina, but Aaron Murray and company should be able to put up points as easily as the Pirates did, and Stephen Garcia needs to put back-to-back mistake-free performances in a row before I'll put my faith in him.  Regardless of the final score, this should be a fist fight.

KENT STATE (-9.5) over #111 Louisiana-Lafayette
How will Kent handle being a near-double digit favorite for what has to be the first time in a long time?  The Flashes offense was completely stymied in Tuscaloosa last week, but it is hard to get a read if that's because they are terrible (which is likely) or because Alabama's defense is awesome (which is definitely the case).  Louisiana-Lafayette had 61 points hung on them by Oklahoma State, but the Ragin' Cajuns also found a way to put up 34 points.  34 might be too much for the Flashes to keep up with, but their defense showed last week that they might be the best in the MAC again. (Despite the 48 Crimson Tide points, the Flashes forced 5 turnovers and held Heisman candidate Trent Richardson to 37 yards on 13 carries.)

#3 Alabama (-10) over PENN STATE
As mentioned above, Kent gave the Alabama offense a little trouble despite the gaudy point and yardage totals.  Five turnovers will make things very interesting in Happy Valley, but Trent Richardson's struggles shouldn't be considered such a disaster since he scored 3 touchdowns, and Kent finished last season as the #4 rushing defense in the country (behind manimal DT Roosevelt Nix).  Penn State should make this more of a game than last season (24-3), but Alabama should be able to hold down a Nittany Lions offense still struggling to find consistency at QB.

#4 Stanford (-21) over #120 DUKE
This line could be 33 and I'd still take the Cardinal.  Duke just lost to Richmond for the THIRD STRAIGHT TIME, while Stanford lambasted San Jose State.  This week's Andrew Luck prediction claims that he will not have to attempt a pass in the 4th quarter.

#23 California (-6.5) over COLORADO
Cal spanked the Buffaloes 52-7 in Berkeley last year, and I think the Bears are even better this season.  Oddly, this game is not considered a PAC-12 conference game since it had already been scheduled as a non-conference game prior to Colorado's departure from the Big 12.

MINNESOTA (-20) over #112 New Mexico State
Minnesota showed some spunk last week, nearly coming back from a 19-0 halftime deficit against USC.  New Mexico State lost at home by 20 to a MAC team, so they should have no problem losing by that margin on the road against a Big Ten team (even one as bad as the Gophers).

#17 Mississippi State (-6.5) over AUBURN
Mississippi State has scored over 50 points in their last two games dating back to last year's Gator Bowl, with 309 rushing yards (and 645 yards of total offense) last week at Memphis.  Auburn, on the other hand, gave up 38 points and 227 yards rushing to Utah State last week.  This seems like a very movable object meeting an unstoppable force.  If Auburn finds a way to pull this one out, Gene Chizik must have an entire litter's worth of rabbits' feet up his ass.

#14 OHIO STATE (-19) over Toledo
Ohio State hasn't lost to another Ohio school since before 1922, and the last in-state opponent to actually give them a game was Cincinnati in 2002 (which is why Ohio State doesn't play Cincinnati anymore), I cannot pick Toledo until someone steps up and bucks this trend.  The last time these two met, the Buckeyes drilled the Rockets 38-0 in Cleveland Browns Stadium.

#119 Oregon State (+21) over #5 WISCONSIN
Yes, Wisconsin looked like a juggernaut against UNLV last week, and, yes, Oregon State lost to an FCS school that went 5-6 at home last week, but I can't see Mike Riley letting his troops lie down after that embarrassment.  If anything, I see the Beavers coming out pissed off.  This pick scares me, since the Badgers are well-known to rub things in once it becomes apparent that they have their opponents number, but I like Oregon State to show some pride and knock Wisconsin off the lofty cloud they've been riding seemingly ever since Russell Wilson transferred there.  The Badgers will win, but I'm thinking something more like 24-9 than 35-3.

Washington State looked great last week, decimating Idaho State 64-21, but they also lost their starting QB Jeff Tuel for the year.  I don't see a team that is 5-32 over the past three years dealing with adversity well, so I like the Rebels to keep it embarrassingly close.

ARKANSAS STATE (-15) over #118 Memphis
Arkansas State is a bad team (105 in the Diminishing Skills 120), and the fact that Memphis is a 15-point underdog to them should let you know just how bad Memphis is.  It should be an interesting race to the bottom this season between the Tigers, Akron, and Florida Atlantic.  I can't wait!

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