The Pi-Rate Ratings

September 6, 2007

Previews of Games September 6-8, 2007

Filed under: College Football — piratings @ 3:46 am


This Week’s Key Games and Interesting Match-ups

Disclaimer: I am giving advice on pointspreads totally as an act of fun.  I do not personally wager money on these games, and I do not advocate you doing so either.  It’s just a game like Monopoly to me.

About Teasers:  A Teaser allows you to adjust the pointspread in your favor by a certain number of points.  With this adjustment, the odds change in favor of the sports book.  Most college football teasers are 6-7½ points, but you can find 10 and 13-point teasers as well.  If you play a 10-point teaser, you must pick three teams correctly to win the wager at 10-12 odds.  If you play a 13-point teaser, you must pick four teams correctly to win the wager at 10-12 odds.  Some places will allow you to play 21-point teasers on a 3-team parlay at ridiculous odds.  While they look like easy wins, just one loss can cost you 15 to 20 times the amount you were trying to win.  You could win this wager every week until the final one, lose that one, and lose for the season even though you were 14-1!

Week one saw the Pi-Rates correctly predicting the winner in 40 of the 48 games played between Division 1 Bowl Subdivision Teams (1-A for those who think subdivisions imply a cluster of single-family homes that look similar).  That’s a nice 83.3%.  On the down side, my personal teaser picks tallied a 4-5-0 mark for just 44.4%.  Maybe, I should trust the computer and make my selections based on its data rather than my own.  Better yet, maybe I should just stick with a couple teasers combined with other selections. 

Thursday, September 6

Oregon State at Cincinnati

Vegas: Oregon State by 3 ½

Pi-Rate: Oregon State by 3

The Beavers’ defense appeared to be in midseason form in their opening game against Utah.  Cincinnati destroyed Southeast Missouri last Thursday and gets to play at home once again. 

Oregon State would be a prohibitive favorite in this game except for these factors:  They are traveling nearly 2,400 miles across three time zones; the humidity is likely to be much higher at Nippert Stadium than the Beavers face in Corvallis; and the Bearcats are well-rested after not being tested last week.

I think the Beavers will overcome the obstacles I just mentioned, but I doubt they will win big in this game.  Look for OSU to squeeze out a close one that isn’t decided until the latter part of the fourth quarter.

As a teaser, I like Oregon State +6½ and +9½ in 10 and 13-point teasers.  Cincinnati +13½ and 16½ concern me, and I wouldn’t mess with it. 

Friday, September 7

Navy at Rutgers

Vegas: Rutgers by 16

Pi-Rate: Rutgers by 26

This might be one of those games where Navy actually fails to rush for more yards than it allows.  Rutgers could rush for 250 yards against the Midshipmen and hold the Navy spread option to about 200-225 yards. I think Rutgers is going to dominate this game from the outset.  Navy has succeeded against the weaker 1-A teams, but when they go up against top-tier programs, their running game looks like the anchor has been dropped.  I look for a big Scarlet Knight victory, possibly by as many as four touchdowns.  Go with Rutgers and lay the 16 points.  In the teasers, Rutgers -6 and -3 look safe this week.

Saturday, September 8

West Virginia at Marshall

Vegas: West Virginia by 24

Pi-Rate: West Virginia by 29

Keep an eye on this game Saturday.  The big boys are coming to play in junior’s yard.  You can bet Marshall is going to be sky-high and ready to play their best game of the season.  That may be enough to keep this score close for 15 to 20 minutes.  Marshall, at their best, cannot outrun Pat White and Steve Slaton in the open field.

West Virginia may not blow Marshall off the field by as many points as they might normally do for another reason; the Mountaineers must turn around on a short week and go to Maryland next Thursday night.  While, they may not overlook Marshall, I think they will leave let up a little once the game is in hand.  Go with WVU but expect the difference to be less than 30 points.  As for teasers, WVU -14 and -11 can certainly be considered, but I’d look for better options.

Nevada at Northwestern

Vegas: Northwestern by 8

Pi-Rate: Northwestern by 1

Northwestern played like the 1985 Bears against Northeastern last week, while Nevada’s offense against Nebraska resembled the 1990 Patriots.  The Wildcats host a much better team this week, and Nevada isn’t going up against the Cornhuskers.  Thus, I expect a closer game than these teams experienced a week ago.

Nevada falls into the category of having to travel a long distance across multiple time zones, while Northwestern gets the benefit of staying at home for the second straight week after having little competition.  That’s the only reason I’m calling for Northwestern to win the game.  These two teams look to be similar, and I see it as going down to the wire, possibly to overtime. 

What scares me about this game is neither team plays consistently.  While they could play 100 times and the average score might be extremely close, the deviation would be quite large.  I tend to avoid these games, because you do not know what to expect when the statistical sample is just one.  If you have to play this game, I like Nevada +8 as a straight wager and Nevada +18 and +21 in the teasers.

Nebraska at Wake Forest

Vegas: Nebraska by 8

Pi-Rate: Nebraska by 1

Was that Bob Devaney coaching and Jerry Tagge passing for Nebraska last week?  The Cornhuskers rammed the ball down Nevada’s throats and they topped 200 yards passing as well.

Wake Forest managed a grand total of two yards rushing against Boston College last week, and the Eagle defense can’t hold a candle to Nebraska’s black shirts.  Throw in an injured Demon Deacon quarterback Riley Skinner (he’ll miss the game), and this game could turn ugly.  The Pi-Rate computer only has the Cornhuskers favored by a singleton, but my personal belief is Nebraska will win handily.  I’d take the Huskers +2 and +5 in the teasers and consider them at -8 straight up.  Teasing the Over/Under line of 52 may be useful.  At UNDER 62 or 65 (Strong Play), it could produce beneficial results.  Even if Nebraska wins 45-14, you would win.  I don’t see Wake scoring as many as 20 points, and even at 20, Nebraska would have to put up more than 42 or 45 to hurt you.

Miami at Oklahoma

Vegas: Oklahoma by 10½

Pi-Rate: Oklahoma by 16

I don’t think Miami is improved enough to scare Oklahoma at Memorial Stadium in Norman.  The Sooners have won 42 of their last 44 home games, and one of those losses came during their 7-5 season of 2005. Oklahoma will force Miami to beat them with the vertical passing game, and the Hurricanes cannot do so.  The Sooners will be able to acquire lots of air miles (yards) this weekend, and it will lead to a comfortable victory.

This is close to a can’t miss opportunity.  I would consider playing the money line as well as putting this contest in your teasers.  Oklahoma at -400 is safe in my opinion (Strong Play).  Also, OU -½ and +2½ look like gifts in the teasers. (Strong Play)  The Sooners straight up at -10½ is inviting as well.

Miami (O) at Minnesota

Vegas: Minnesota by 9

Pi-Rate: Minnesota by 11

It’s happened before, and it could be happening again.  A school develops a bit of a winning tradition and then has a mild setback and fires the coach that developed the winning tradition.  Then, the new coach comes in and endures a string of losing seasons.  It’s too early to determine if the Gophers are reverting back to a losing tradition, but they laid an egg against Bowling Green last week.  This wasn’t the Omar Jacobs Falcons of a few years ago either.

Now Minnesota must face what looks like a better MAC team than the one that beat them at the Metrodome last week.  Well, a couple things bode well for the Gophers this week, and it may be their saving grace.  First, Miami cannot exploit the Minnesota secondary for 412 yards like Bowling Green did.  Second, Miami’s rushing game, though better than average, isn’t going to rush for more than 200 yards and may produce less than 150.  The only way the Redhawks can win this game is by keeping it a low scoring affair.

Minnesota may be down, but their offense is still potent enough to put up 24 to 31 points against Miami.  So, I expect the Gophers to make amends this week and win the game by one to two touchdowns.  So, consider Minnesota at +1 and +4 in teasers.  This is one of those games where you can get the better team and points at home. (Strong Play)

Akron at Ohio State

Vegas: Ohio State by 29

Pi-Rate: Ohio State by 36

Neither team faced much competition last week.  Ohio State handled Youngstown easily, while Akron benefited from being the first opponent Army’s Stan Brock faced as a head coach in college football.

I see this game as playing out similar to last week’s Nebraska-Nevada game.  The Buckeyes will line up and play smash mouth football against the weaker Zips.  Ohio State should top 200 yards on the ground and 200 through the air.  Akron may have great difficulty topping 100 in either category.  I look for the Buckeyes to score 21 to 28 points and have the game in hand by the time they go to the locker at the half.  The problem is trying to figure out if they will keep playing the same way against an in-state foe in the second half.  They could easily win by 35-40 points, but they could become complacent enough to win by just 25-50.  So, I advise only considering OSU at -19 and -16 in the teasers, and I wouldn’t recommend this being your top play.  Akron could very well come back and ruin your day with a 15-point loss.

Alabama at Vanderbilt

Vegas: Alabama by 3½

Pi-Rate: Alabama by 1

I came very close to calling for an upset here, but I think Alabama will pull out a tightly-fought victory Saturday in Nashville.  The Tide fans will make this more like a home game for ‘Bama, and I expect Vanderbilt Stadium to have at least 60-65% crimson-colored shirts sitting in the seats when the game kicks off.  Additionally, with an 11:40 AM start and the high probability of hot and humid conditions in Nashville, expect the Commodores, with less total depth, to wilt in the latter stages of the game.

I fully expect Vanderbilt to lead this game in the first half, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Alabama had to score on their final drive to pull it out.  History shows that these teams have played numerous close games that went to the wire, but Alabama has come out on top 42 of the 44 games played in this series dating back to 1960.  In your teasers, consider Alabama +6½ and +9½; even if Vandy pulls off the historic upset, I expect it to be something like 21-17.  Vanderbilt at +13½ and +16½ worries me too much to consider it a play.  One or two bad plays could snowball into a 17-point loss, so I’d lay off that side of the teaser.  

Bowling Green at Michigan St.

Vegas: Michigan St. by 18

Pi-Rate: Michigan St. by 17

Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio enjoyed a joyous first game as head coach in East Lansing.  The Spartans played near mistake-free ball (no turnovers) in destroying UAB, and that’s what the school was hoping for when they sent former coach John L. Smith packing and brought in the no-nonsense Dantonio.

Bowling Green began last week’s game against Minnesota like they were going to win 42-0.  Then, the defense began to tire, and the Gophers came back to force overtime before BGU prevailed when Coach Gregg Brandon’s two-point conversion gamble paid off.

I expect the Spartans to exploit the Falcons with an all-out infantry attack.  Look for MSU to run the ball 45-50 times for 225-250 yards and cross the goal at least three times.  Throw in another 200 or more yards passing and two more scores, and you can see a big win in Spartanland Saturday.  BGU cannot pull off back-to-back road wins against Big 10 teams.

The spread appears to be honest, but I like MSU -8 and -5 in teaser plays. (Strong Play) 

California at Colorado St.

Vegas: California by 14

Pi-Rate: California by 18

This could be one of the most exciting games of the week!  Cal is coming off an emotional revenge game victory over Tennessee, while CSU is steaming mad after letting Colorado come from behind to win in Denver last week.  With the Rams at home and at high altitude, I expect this game to be quite close, even though the Pi-Rate computer says I’m crazy.

Caleb Hanie should be able to pass for at least 200 yards in this game, and the Ram rushing game should contribute at least 130 yards, leading to 17 to 21 points.  Cal will not torch the Ram defense for 471 yards like they did against Tennessee, but they should gain at least 375, and that will be enough to squeak by with a closer than expected victory.  I am looking for a final in the neighborhood of 30-20 Golden Bears.  In teaser terms, Cal -4 and -1 are moderate selections.

Missouri at Ole Miss

Vegas: Missouri by 6

Pi-Rate: Missouri by 1

30 years ago, Joe Montana and Notre Dame ventured to Oxford, Mississippi, for a steamy September game against an undermanned Ole Miss team.  Three hours later, the Fighting Irish returned to South Bend with the only blemish in their 1977 National Title season.

Missouri comes to Oxford this Saturday, and the Tigers have Big 12 North Title aspirations.  They come into this game after struggling with rival Illinois for the full 60 minutes. 

Ole Miss seemingly had Memphis put away early last week, and then they had to hold on for dear life, escaping with a two-point win.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis looked rather ordinary against Memphis, and for the Rebels to have any chance to win against Mizzou, Green-Ellis needs to touch the ball 20 times and pick up 100+ yards.

When Missouri has the ball, I expect quarterback Chase Daniel to torch the Ole Miss secondary and possibly top 300 yards for the second straight week.  The Tigers plainly have the better team and could easily win by double digits.  The heat and humidity shouldn’t affect them as much as it would a team from north of the 40th parallel.  I’d consider Missouri at +4 and +7 in the teasers and also take a long look at the Tigers straight up at -6 and at -220 in the money line.

North Carolina State at Boston College

Vegas: Boston College by 14

Pi-Rate: Boston College by 20

This game marks the return of Tom O’Brien to Chestnut Hill where he directed B-C for the past decade.  His North Carolina State Wolfpack fell to Central Florida in their opening game.

Boston College beat Wake Forest in a shootout last week with Matt Ryan looking more like Nolan Ryan.  He fired bullets all day until the Eagles had more than 400 air yards.

I have a sneaky suspicion this game is going to end up closer than expected for a few reasons.  Start off with the knowledge O’Brien has on his old team; he knows each player’s weaknesses and where they can be exploited.  Next, State may have trouble stopping a good rushing attack, but they are quite adept at slowing down a good passing game.  Boston College had great difficulty running the ball at Wake Forest last week, and I don’t think they are going to remind anybody of West Virginia this week.  Also, I expect the Wolfpack to pass the ball for 200-250 yards in this game.  Now, the Pi-Rate computer calls for BC in a breeze, but I’m not sure I trust those bits and bytes.  I think this game will stay close, and State will have a chance to pull off the upset.  Therefore, my recommendation is to play North Carolina State at +24 or +27 in the teasers (Strong Play).

Oregon at Michigan

Vegas: Michigan by 8½

Pi-Rate: Michigan by 4

How many of you will be watching or at least monitoring this game closely this week?  It was supposed to be a great match between two top 15 teams.  How much of a home field advantage will the Wolverines enjoy, when every time they don’t gain five yards going off-tackle produces Bronx Cheers? 

In a normal situation, I’d give Michigan extra points because Oregon is traveling across three time zones to play this game.  This is definitely not a normal situation.  Michigan has a serious weakness against the exact offense Oregon uses.  They have been exploited in their last three games, giving up 316 passing yards to Ohio State, 391 passing yards to Southern Cal, and 227 to Appy State.

However, as Lee Corso might say, not-so fast my friend.  Oregon wasn’t exactly a world-beater last week.  Houston abused the Duck defense for 545 yards in Eugene.  To say the Duck passing game in that game was even pedestrian is a stretch. 

This could very well be redemption Saturday in Ann Arbor.  I expect Michigan will play their best game since they beat Notre Dame 38-0 in 2003.  The Wolverines have not lost home games in consecutive weeks since dropping one point games to Michigan State and Iowa in 1990, and they haven’t begun a season at 0-2 since 1988 when they fell to the number one and number two teams (Notre Dame & Miami-FL) by a total of three points.  I would consider playing both sides of the teaser in this affair.  Michigan +1½ and +4½ and Oregon +18½ and +21½ could start you on your way to a winning parlay. 

Boise State at Washington

Vegas: Boise State by 3

Pi-Rate: Washington by 5

Boise State carries a 14-game winning streak into this game.  Their last loss came in the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl to Boston College.  Is this the week, the nation’s longest winning streak is halted?  It could be.

Washington looked like world beaters at Syracuse last Friday night, and the Huskies return to Seattle for their home opener on an incredible high.  Tyrone Willingham has his charges thinking they could end a five year bowl drought.  Freshman quarterback Jake Locker ran for 83 yards and passed for 142 yards in his first start, but tailback Louis Rankin was the man who delivered the mail against Syracuse with 147 yards rushing and three touchdowns.  Defensively, Washington picked up seven quarterback sacks against the Orangemen.

Boise State faced a cupcake in their opening game, slaughtering Weber State by seven touchdowns.  It gave their young first-time starters a little experience, but they did not face anything like what they will face in Seattle this week.  I think they are riding into an ambush.

Washington has a ridiculously difficult schedule starting with this game.  They must face Boise St., Ohio St., UCLA, USC, Arizona St., and Oregon in their next six games!  Why not throw in a game against the Seahawks as well?  If UW has any chance of winning six games and becoming bowl eligible, they really have to win this game.  I think chances are better than 50-50 they will pull off the upset and move to 2-0.  I would consider playing UW at +13 and +16 in the teasers and possibly consider playing them straight up at +3 and in the money line at +115.

South Carolina at Georgia

Vegas: Georgia by 5

Pi-Rate: Georgia by 2

South Carolina came close to having to stand in the corner with Michigan last week.  The Gamecocks let Louisiana-Lafayette stay in the game for most of the night.  Not having starting quarterback Blake Mitchell wasn’t the reason either; they couldn’t stop the QB keeper part of the option play, and ULL rushed for 252 yards.  Offensively, USC looked like any other Steve Spurrier-coached team.

Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford looked like a seasoned veteran last week in the Bulldogs pasting of Oklahoma State.  He might be the next Eric Zeier.  The red and black stop troops looked every bit as strong as last year’s eleven even though seven of the starters from 2006 are no longer on campus.  The Bulldogs are certainly top contenders with Florida to win the SEC East, and they should separate themselves in the conference standings from Carolina after emerging victorious this week.  Expect a close and exciting game, but I think the Uga will be a happy pooch Saturday.  In what has to be one of the top five games of the day, I’d go with Georgia at +5 and +8 in teaser plays, albeit weak plays at that.

Notre Dame at Penn State

Vegas: Penn State by 17½

Pi-Rate: Penn State by 14

How ugly could this game be Saturday night?  Jimmy Clausen will start at quarterback for the Irish, but can he block pass rushers and throw the ball at the same time?  Joe Montana and Joe Theismann couldn’t succeed given two seconds to pass the ball every time.  I don’t see the Notre Dame offensive line improving 100% in one week, and even if the Irish leave their tight end and tailback in to block on every play, they don’t have a Jeff Samardzjia or Rhema McKnight among their wide receivers.  Even when you remove quarterback sacks from the stats against Georgia Tech, ND rushed for just 61 yards on 32 attempts, so where will the offense come from?

Penn State’s defense is a little stronger than Georgia Tech’s.  At Beaver Stadium, the Nittany Lions have surrendered just 9.5 points per game in their last 15 contests.  As I predicted last week, they shut out Florida International, holding them to 120 total yards.  Meanwhile Coach Joe Paterno’s offense looked like his 1994 edition, as they ran for 236 yards and passed for 313 yards, putting 59 points on the scoreboard.

Now Notre Dame has not fallen to the depths of FIU, and they are better than they showed against the Yellow Jackets.  However, Penn State has too many weapons, and experienced ones at that, to lose this game in Happy Valley.  I don’t like the line for this game, as you never can tell when Notre Dame will have a George Gipp moment.  I expect Penn State to win by 14, but I would feel uneasy even playing a teaser on this one.

B Y U at U C L A

Vegas: U C L A by 7

Pi-Rate: U C L A by 17

This is my choice for game of the week.  Brigham Young looked more like a WAC team from the mid 1960’s than a MWC team from the 21st Century when they dominated Arizona defensively instead of offensively.  The Cougars held Team Tuitama to 255 total yards and just a last minute touchdown after the game was well-decided.

UCLA had a bit of trouble with a feisty Stanford team, but by the latter stages of the second quarter, the Bruins were comfortably ahead.  They ended the game with 624 yards of total offense, 338 rushing and 286 passing.  They did prove a little vulnerable to the Cardinal passing attack.

BYU should be able to exploit the Bruin pass defense for 250 yards, but they will find it tough getting a running game established.  I expect the Cougars to move the ball competently until they get to the Bruin red zone, and then they might have to settle for multiple field goal attempts.

I expect UCLA to rush for 175-200 yards and pass for another 200-250 in this game, and that should produce at least 28 points.  Look for the Bruins to move to 2-0 with a nice win at the Rose Bowl.  I like the teasers plenty in this one.  Go with UCLA +3 and +6 (Strong Play).  I lean towards UCLA -7 straight up as well.

Southern Mississippi at Tennessee

Vegas: Tennessee by 11

Pi-Rate: Tennessee by 15

The Volunteer faithful are not happy with Coach Phil Fulmer.  Winning 76.5% of his games and one national championship has not been enough for the Big Orange boosters.  They expect 11 wins every year, and starting 0-1 is not acceptable.  While 95 to 99% of the upset fans could never give a qualified opinion on what Fulmer is failing to do, they can force him out by not showing up at Neyland Stadium to the tune of 104,000 a week.

Southern Mississippi had some difficulty dismissing Tennessee-Martin last week in Hattiesburg.  Certainly, they aren’t going to venture to Knoxville and win in Rocky Top? 

After watching Justin Forsett and DeSean Jackson, the Southern Miss backs and receivers will appear to the Vol defenders to be running at three-quarter speed.  California didn’t exactly slow down the UT offense, as the Vols scored 31 points and produced 382 total yards.

I look for Tennessee to rebound with a victory, but the Vol fans will leave complaining that the victory wasn’t impressive enough for their liking.  Look for Tennessee to win by 10-15 points in the neighborhood of 27-17.  The Vols at -1 and +2 (Strong Play) in the teasers are good choices.

T C U at Texas

Vegas: Texas by 9½

Pi-Rate: Texas by 10

For many years, this game could be summed up as the big fish devouring the little fish.  Texas beat up on the Horned Frogs 27 of the 28 times these teams played between 1968 and 1995.  Look at some of the scores: 69-7, 58-0, 52-7, 81-16, and 41-0!  In one 10-year period, the Longhorns beat TCU by a cumulative score of 464-62! Ouch!  Well, times have changed.  Texas is still the juggernaut they have been for most of the past 70 years.  However, TCU’s program in the 21st Century looks more similar to how it fared in the 1930’s when Sammy Baugh and Davey O’Brien directed the Frog offense than the 1970’s when the offense had no direction.

So, can TCU go to Austin and come away with the upset?  If Texas plays like they did against Arkansas State where they were out gained by 57 yards, then maybe the Frogs can become the king of the Lone Star State.  I don’t expect the Longhorns to be as flat this week.

TCU is no pushover defensively, and the purple stop troops could very well hold Colt McCoy and company to less than 350 total yards and 24 points.  They held Texas Tech to just 242 yards and a field goal last year, and their defense is better in 2007. 

I look for Texas to emerge with another close win by about the same score as they beat Arkansas St.  Texas +½ and +3½ would be the way to go in your teasers.

Mississippi State at Tulane

Vegas: Mississippi State by 6

Pi-Rate: Mississippi State by 5

Can Sylvester Croom pour a little water on the fire underneath his seat?  Only if a win over Tulane means enough to the maroon faithful.  Croom made a huge mistake in the LSU game, and after that one play, the air deflated from his squad.  On third and two at the LSU 36, State attempted to run for the first down by pitching the ball backwards six yards hoping  tailback Anthony Dixon could then run eight yards forward from there.  He never came close.  MSU needed to make the handoff at the line of scrimmage with the Dixon running full speed behind the best run blocker, or they needed to fake this run and throw a quick play-action pass. 

Tulane was one of two 1-A teams (San Diego State) that did not play last week.  That does not bode well for the Green Wave, as they must iron out the kinks and knock off the rust, while the Bulldogs will be playing their second game, the one where a majority of teams improve the most during the regular season.  Tulane cannot hold a stick to the boys from Baton Rouge, so Mississippi State not only has a chance to compete, I fully expect them to beat the Green Wave and spoil new coach Bob Toledo’s inaugural game.  Look for Mississippi State to win a low scoring game with the score looking like 17-12.  My favorite play in this game is to tease the total score.  Go with UNDER 55½ and 58½ (Strong Play).  I also like Mississippi State +4 and +7 as well as Tulane +16 and +19.  You could play an entire 10-point teaser with this game.

Kent State at Kentucky

Vegas: Kentucky by 13

Pi-Rate: Kentucky by 23

Kent State went to Ames, Iowa, and upset the upstart Cyclones of Iowa State last week.  At the same time, Kentucky hosted nearby neighbor Eastern Kentucky and easily won by 40 points. 

I look for games like this.  The home team won easily at home last week and comes into this game with little or no attrition.  The visiting opponents pulled off a big upset on the road against a team from a power conference and now must play on the road again against another team from a power conference.  It’s a recipe for disaster for the Golden Flashes, and I think after 15 to 20 minutes of decent defense, they are going to see Andre Woodson unleash his arm and burn them for 30 points.  Look for the Wildcats to win by two touchdowns or more.  I would consider Kentucky straight up at -13 and definitely like them at -3 and Pk (Strong Play) in the teasers. 

U T E P at Texas Tech

Vegas: Texas Tech by 24

Pi-Rate: Texas Tech by 26

Texas Tech must play this game on short rest after clobbering SMU Monday night.  UTEP took the Red Raiders to overtime last year at the Sun Bowl.  The Miners are a much better team this year, but then Texas Tech is also improved.  This time, the game is in Lubbock, and the Red Raiders are 9-1 in the last five years against non-conference opponents at Jones Stadium.  That one loss was an overtime dandy against a 17th-ranked North Carolina State team (which would win 11 games) in 2002.

The short turnaround is worth two or three points in UTEP’s favor, but those points should have little bearing on the game.  UTEP only managed 195 total yards against New Mexico, while their defense surrendered 379 yards.  They won’t stay close with the Red Raiders if they gain 195 yards in this game, as TTU will pile up more than 400 total yards in this one.  Look for Tech to win by close to four touchdowns.  Go with Texas Tech in teasers at -14 and -11.

Syracuse at Iowa

Vegas: Iowa by 21½

Pi-Rate: Iowa by Iowa by 21

If Syracuse couldn’t move the ball at home against Washington, do you think they have a chance to do so at Iowa?  The Hawkeyes gave up just three points to Northern Illinois in a game played in Chicago last week, and they are much better playing at Kinnick Stadium. 

This game will resemble a mismatch from the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  Iowa may hold Syracuse scoreless and should hold them to single digits, while they spend most of the day running the ball on extended drives.  I see them topping 250 ground yards and not having to throw the ball 20 times.

Syracuse will find it hard to run the ball, and when they pass, quarterback Andrew Robinson is going to see few open receivers.  Look for Iowa to win by a score in the range of 24-3.  My favorite play in this game is the Over/Under.  I would consider teasing both sides.  OVER 32 and 29 and UNDER 52 and 55 both look inviting.  Iowa -11½ and -8½ could be considered as well.

Indiana at Western Michigan

Vegas: Indiana by 1

Pi-Rate: Western Michigan by 2

If this game was in Bloomington instead of Kalamazoo, there would be no trouble picking the Hoosiers to win the game.  With IU playing on the road, I expect them to bounce following an emotional first game after the passing of former coach Terry Hoeppner.

Western Michigan had the misfortune of playing a paycheck game at West Virginia for their season opener.  They couldn’t handle the one-two punch of White and Slaton.  When they face the Indiana offense, the Hoosiers will look like they are running in slow motion.  I think that benefits the Broncos, and they should pull off the mild upset.  Either way, I expect this to be a close game with plenty of action.  WMU had a little bit of revenge after losing at Indiana last year.  With all the emotions on both sides, I’d leave this game alone.

South Florida at Auburn

Vegas: Auburn by 7

Pi-Rate: Auburn by 8

In their opener against Kansas State last week, Auburn reminded me of UCLA’s basketball team of 1964 and Kentucky’s “Fiddlin’ Five” basketball team of 1958.  They kept the game close until the end, and then they exploded for two quick scores before the boys from The Little Apple could blink.  The Tigers are not close in talent to the teams they have fielded the last three seasons, but they still know how to win.

South Florida was supposed to be a dark horse in the Big East race this year, especially after winning at West Virginia last year.  Somebody forgot to tell them, for they looked sluggish against Elon last week.  Sure, they were overlooking the game, but after Michigan lost, I doubt any team took their opponent all that lightly.

USF will play 100% better this week, but they will have to play 300% better to have a chance at The Loveliest Village on the Plains.  Auburn won’t win 10 regular season games this year, but they will be 2-0 after this game.  Look for the War Eagles to win by at least one touchdown and probably a little more.  I expect a low scoring game with a final of about 20-12.  This is another teaser where you can move the line to have a home underdog.  Go with Auburn +3 and +6 (2nd Strongest Play of the Week).  I also like Auburn straight up at -7 and at -240 in the money line.

Virginia Tech at L S U

Vegas: L S U by 12½

Pi-Rate: L S U by 14

This is the supposed game of the week in college football, but I believe both teams could be slightly overrated.  True, the Pi-Rate computers say LSU is number two and Virginia Tech is number 11, but I think both teams have issues offensively.  In this day and age, I do not believe championships can be won with just great defense.

LSU has the great advantage of playing at home under the lights.  When their fans get a little loose and begin to yell, the results show up on nearby seismographs.

Virginia Tech’s emotional game is now past, and they travel on the road for the first time.  Going to Miami, Florida State, Clemson, and even West Virginia cannot compare a team for what they will face in the Tiger’s Den.  Look for LSU to win a hard-fought game with maybe just a tad more offense than expected.  The play in this game is with Virginia Tech in a teaser.  Go with Tech at +22½ and +25½.  I also like LSU -2½ and +½.

New Mexico State at New Mexico

Vegas: New Mexico by 7

Pi-Rate: New Mexico by 8

What a contrast in styles in this in-state rivalry.  Hal Mumme’s throw-it-all-over-the-place Aggies of New Mexico State travel up the road to Albuquerque to play Rocky Long’s play-it-close-to-the-vest Lobos.

New Mexico has owned this series as of late winning four in a row and six of seven.  The last time the Aggies won at University Stadium was 1999.  They are capable of doing so this year, but I’d say New Mexico has at least a 60% chance of winning this game.

Adding 10 and 13-points to the spread in this game makes it too much for New Mexico, so I recommend playing New Mexico State at +17 and +20 as part of a teaser (Strong Play).

Wisconsin at U N L V

Vegas: Wisconsin by 25

Pi-Rate: Wisconsin by 24

The last two times these teams faced off, the game was much closer than expected.  Wisconsin beat the Rebels by 18 and 15 points, and those games were played at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

This game marks the start of a three-game home stretch in which UNLV will play Hawaii and Utah following this game.  Of the three, I expect the Rebels to give their best effort in this one.

In the last five or so seasons, Wisconsin has not played all that well when they went on the road for the first time.  Add in the fact that they must travel 1,700 miles and that this game will kick off with a game time temperature near 100 degrees, and it spells trouble for the Badgers.  I don’t think they will cover the 25-point spread in this game, and they may be lucky to escape with the win.

Go with UNLV +25 straight up, UNLV +35 and +38 in teasers, and tease the OVER at 38½ and 35½ (All Strong Plays). 

Colorado at Arizona State

Vegas: Arizona State by 14½

Pi-Rate: Arizona State by 27

If you look at the Pi-Rate computers, they believe that Arizona State is a lock to cover the 14½-point spread this week.  The Sun Devils made the biggest jump in the Pi-Rate polls, moving all the way up to number 10 after manhandling San Jose State 45-3. 

Colorado came from behind and showed a lot of heart in beating Colorado State, but the Buffaloes are still a year away from being better than average in the Big 12. 

The temperature in Tempe Saturday is expected to be about 105 degrees, and by 8:00 PM, it should still be around 97.  Colorado is more accustomed to playing September night games with temperatures around 65 degrees.  This will play a factor in the game. 

The Sun Devil offense should punish the Buffs for about 150 yards rushing and 280 yards passing.  That adds up to at least 35-40 points for ASU.  Meanwhile, Colorado should struggle to approach 300 total yards in this game, and I don’t think they can score 17 points.  I’ll take Arizona State to win by a score similar to 41-14.  Thus, go with Arizona State -14½ straight up, Arizona State -4½ and -1½ in teasers, and OVER 42½ and 39½ in teasers.  If you are game and like to take risks, Arizona State -400 in the money line may excite you.

Troy at Florida

Vegas: Florida by 27

Pi-Rate: Florida by 29

Not only did Florida have a breather against upstart Western Kentucky, they didn’t have to play the full 60 minutes.  What more could a team want? 

Troy gave a valiant effort against the reigning SEC West Champions last week, and now they face not only the defending SEC East Champions this week, they are facing the defending SEC and National Champions in The Swamp.  Poor Larry Blakeney for having to face this schedule; his team must turn around and play Oklahoma State next Friday.

Troy surrendered 507 total yards and 46 points to Arkansas, and they could easily yield more yardage and points this week.  Florida is well-rested, and they have the talent to score on every possession in which their first team plays.

Troy quarterback Omar Haugabook injured the thumb on his throwing hand, and he won’t be at 100% for this game.  Add to the equation that Troy’s receivers will not be talented enough to exploit the Gator secondary, and it does not bode well for the Trojans.

When Florida has the ball, they will be too strong for the Troy front seven to stop consistently.  Quarterback Tim Tebow and top running back Kestahn Moore are big and strong enough to bowl over Troy’s defensive ends.  Throw in the interference of tackles Carlton Medder and Jason Watkins with the lead block of mammoth fullback Eric Rutledge, and Troy will find it nearly impossible to stop the Gators’ quick-hitting slants.

I see the Gators winning by something like a 42-13 score.  I like Florida -17 and -14 in the teasers in this game-that is if the weather cooperates, and they can play the full 60 minutes this week.

This Week’s “Picks”


Straight Up Selections

#1: Rutgers -16 vs. Navy

#2: Oklahoma -10½ vs. Miami-FL

#3: UCLA -7 vs. Brigham Young

#4: Auburn -7 vs. South Florida

#5: UNLV +25 vs. Wisconsin

Money Line

#6: Oklahoma -400 vs. Miami

#7: Missouri -200 vs. Ole Miss

#8: Auburn -240 vs. South Florida

#9: Arizona State -400 vs. Colorado

10-point Teasers

#10: Alabama +6½ vs. Vanderbilt

        North Carolina State +24 vs. Boston College

        Oregon +18½ vs. Michigan

#11: UCLA +3 vs. Brigham Young

        Texas +½ vs. T C U

        Tulane +16 vs. Mississippi State

#12: Auburn +3 vs. South Florida

        Virginia Tech +22½ vs. L S U

        New Mexico State +17 vs. New Mexico

13-point teaser

#13: Oklahoma +7½ vs. Miami-FL

        Tennessee +2 vs. Southern Mississippi

        UNLV +38 vs. Wisconsin

        L S U +½ vs. Virginia Tech


1 Comment

  1. Great Blog! The information you provide here is better than what you get at Fox Sports, ESPN, or any of the betting sites.

    Comment by JCW84 — September 6, 2007 @ 3:26 pm

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