Tuesday, September 15, 2015

College Football: The Week 3 Bounce-back Five

Let's put Week 2 behind us and make a comeback this week shall we?

1. Clemson (-6) @ Louisville - The thought here, IMO is that Louisville HAS to get it right eventually. They opened the season by losing to an Auburn team that might not be all that great (or, was REALLY looking ahead to LSU, in which case they're poorly coached) and then lost to the University of Houston, at home.  While Clemson hasn't played anyone yet I'm running on the theory that Louisville just isn't that good.  Clemson to cover. (And yes, I'm nervous about backing a road favorite.)

2. Florida State(-7.5) @ Boston College - Yes I know that the Seminoles defense has struggled and Boston College has looked good.  Here's the rub. Despite looking bad against sub-par competition the Seminoles have played well enough in the 2nd half to not be challenged. Boston College has looked good against inferior competition.  This is the first game for both schools where the recruiting is, theoretically, at similar levels. I don't like Boston College against fast teams. Florida State has speed. Florida State to cover (another road favorite, I'm a glutton for punishment it seems)

3. Illinois @ North Carolina (-10.5) - One team (the Tarheels) made some noise about being a championship contender before the season started. The other team fired their head coach. Guess which team is 2-0? Yes, the Illini have played a much weaker schedule although the 'Heels loss to South Carolina is looking worse and worse.  I think North Carolina wins, but I think the Illini cover. (Trend: developing)

4. Temple(-10.5) @ UMass - I'm honestly surprised this line is this low. Temple beat Penn State and Cincinnati by more than 11 points each, and UMass is nowhere near as good as those two programs. They lost big to a mediocre Colorado team and I think they lose big here. Temple to cover. (I am really pushing it)

5. Western Kentucky @ Indiana (-2.5) - Keeping with tradition I'm always going to try and pick one Money Line upset.  This week I'm tagging Western Kentucky as my upset pick. They've beaten Vanderbilt on the road and a fairly tough LaTech team at home. Indiana is undefeated but it's a much, much weaker 2-0 than you see for the Hilltoppers.  Western Kentucky to win on the ML

Other games of note:

South Florida @ Maryland (-7) - This feels like a sucker line. Maryland is a disappointment so far and South Florida has not looked horrible.  That said, I think the smart play is USF to cover, but I'm not confident about it.

Nevada @ Texas aTm (-34) - The Aggies have looked good, very good to open the season. While Nevada struggled last week against an Arizona team that we think is going to be good before the end of the year but we're still not sure about.  If anything, I think aTm covers here. It would not surprise me to see Nevada play them close however so I'll pass.

Central Michigan @ Syracuse (-7) - Syracuse looks to be good early, the win over Wake Forest could turn out to be an OK one, and Central Michigan has looked less than stellar although they did play the Cowboys close on the road.  If anything, I slightly lean CMU to cover. But that line is worrisome for me for some reason.

Northwestern @ Duke (-3.5) - If I had a game to list as "number six" this would be it. There is little to convince me that either Duke win is as impressive as the Northwestern win over Stanford. In fact, I think Stanford, although not as well coached, is a more talented team than the Blue Devils. The Northwestern ML bet almost displaced WKUvs.IND as my #5 ML bet of the week.  But not quite.

Rice (-7.5) @ North Texas - While Rice didn't look good against a Longhorn team that I had overrated coming into the season, North Texas looked awful losing to SMU. I'm still not sure just how good this Owls team is.  the .5 is worrisome on the line and it gives me a slight lean toward N. Texas to cover, but with .000000001% confidence.

Colorado (-4) @ Colorado State. - This is a rivalry game that I rarely touch. Colorado State's loss to Minnesota was a better loss than Colorado's debacle in Hawaii but when rivals play....watch out.  If Iowa vs. Iowa St. can be termed "El Assico" by some pundits (A sarcastic take on 'El Clasico' in Spanish League Soccer) than this in-state rivalry deserves a suboptimal moniker of its own. Colorado State to cover, in an ugly football game.

Auburn @ LSU (-7.5) - This line is inflated due to Auburn's near-loss to Jacksonville State. Granted, most of that poor performance is due to a look-ahead to this week, but part of it is because, I think, Auburn is offensively challenged.  That said I don't see this LSU team blowing out any SEC West team this year. Although I think they win. Auburn to cover, but for the life of me I can't figure out how.

Stanford @ USC (-10) - USC has played minor schools, and they have blown them out. Stanford played a couple of supposedly real teams, and lost one (the aforementioned Northwestern) while beating a UCF team that's not looking as strong as the experts thought. I THINK USC is going to roll here, and cover, but the line of 10 is too worrisome for serious Five consideration.

Ole Miss @ Alabama (-7) How can you not like 'Bama to cover this line at home? Let me tell you. Ole Miss has scored 149 points in two games.  Granted, they've played Fresno State (who are not as formidable as they used to be) and University of Tennessee-Martin, who are a middling FCS school. While 'Bama have scored about half the points (72) at least one game was against Wisconsin, who are fairly talented.  All of that said this game has me extremely conflicted. I WANT to say Ole Miss on the ML but I look at Alabama's defense and I see them only giving up around 20 to the Runnin' Rebels.  Based on that I just lean Ole Miss to cover, with a nod to the possibility that Saban has a team that could run them over.

BYU @ UCLA (-16) - I would not touch this line with a 10 foot pole. I've gone against BYU two weeks running and for two weeks they've made me pay. BYU to cover, but watch UCLA run them over.

Georgia Tech (-2.5) @ Notre Dame - Two things are going to happen with the Irish from here on out. They're either going to fall apart and watch this become another lost year, or they're going to band together and continue to be the "it" team of the pundits. If I knew which one I'd have put this in the Five. Also confusing matters are the Yellowjackets, who run option football and are the one team no major title contender want to see on their schedule.  GaTech to cover, IF ND cannot rebound from all of their injuries.

And finally.....

UNLV @ Michigan (NL) - Unfortunately for UNLV, their QB and playmaker Blake Decker was injured in last week's game against UCLA and his status is questionable for Saturday. Because of this Vegas has not yet posted a line for the game. While I'm a Michigan fan I'm also rapidly becoming a UNLV fan due to my affinity for Las Vegas itself. New HC Tony Sanchez is from the ranks of Nevada High Schools and is doing an awful lot to have the school embrace their Vegas image. They now have what I consider to be one of the best fields in College Football and have embraced iconic Las Vegas in their helmet and uniform design. When they're not playing Michigan I'll be pulling for them to turn around what has been a moribund program of late.

That said, last week's 35-7 win over Oregon State showed what Michigan wants to be in the Harbaugh era. It's a throwback to the Wolverine days of old and it was outstanding to watch. Whatever the line eventually is, I think the Wolverines will cover it handily.  Now, if they would only find a quarterback........

On the bright side, I can't get any worse than last week so here's to a turnaround.

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