The Pi-Rate Ratings

September 12, 2007

Previews and Selections for September 13-15, 2007

Filed under: College Football — piratings @ 11:00 pm

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!

Last Week Picking Outright Winners:(*)           42- 7 85.6%

For The Season Picking Winners:                    82-15 84.5%

Last Week Picks vs. Spread:                           9-4-0 69.2%

For the Season Picking Winners vs. Spread:     13-9-0 59.1% 

(*): Games predicted as tossups (0 points) are not included.

Point spreads are those listed as of 11:00 AM ET Wednesday.

Thursday, September 13

West Virginia at Maryland

Vegas: West Virginia by 16½

Pi-Rate: West Virginia by 15

Both teams enter this backyard brawl with 2-0 records, but they have won their games in a completely different fashion.  West Virginia has overpowered Western Michigan and Marshall, while Maryland has looked anything but impressive in wins over Villanova and Florida International.

This game has added meaning for star Mountaineer running back Steve Slaton.  His original intent was to matriculate to Maryland, but Terrapin coach Ralph Friedgen reneged on a scholarship offer.  Slaton doesn’t need motivation to destroy an average defensive front seven.  He will team with quarterback Pat White to run over the Terrapins like a Mack truck.  Look for the Mountaineers to cruise to a two to three touchdown victory.

Strategies

West Virginia -6½  and -3½  in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 75½  & 78½  in 10 and 13-point teasers

West Virginia -500 for those who have the guts

Friday, September 14

Oklahoma State at Troy

Vegas: Oklahoma State by 10

Pi-Rate: Oklahoma State by 14

Three years ago, Missouri ventured to Troy, Alabama, and saw their season washed down the drain after the Trojans beat them 24-14.  That game was a weeknight primetime televised game, and Troy put on quite a show for the ESPN audience.  Could lightning strike twice?

The Trojans have gone to battle against two behemoths in their first two games, losing big to last season’s two SEC divisional winners.  Oklahoma State tested the road waters of the SEC and became mired down in the red clay of Georgia, but the Cowboys recovered last week with a decisive win over Sunbelt Conference foe Florida Atlantic.

Troy deserves a nice chunk of value for playing another home opener on national television, but not enough to overcome a deficit of talent when in comparison to the Big 12 bullies.  Look for Oklahoma State to pull away in the second half and emerge with a two touchdown victory.

Strategies

Oklahoma State Pk & +3 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Troy +20 and +23 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Saturday, September 15

Buffalo at Penn State

Vegas: Penn State by 34½

Pi-Rate: Penn State by 29

Coach Turner Gill’s Bulls looked more like his alma mater Nebraska last week when Buffalo blew Temple off the Owls’ home field.  This week, they return to the Keystone State to take on mighty Penn State.  Don’t expect any surprises.  The Nittany Lions are not in trouble here.

Coach Joe Paterno’s defense has yet to face an offensive juggernaut.  They shut out a very weak Florida International team that could easily finish 0-12, and then they defeated Notre Dame 31-10, when the Irish scored their only touchdown of the season on an interception return.  Buffalo will actually have the best offense they have faced so far.

The Bulls don’t have the strength to prevent Penn State from sustaining several long, time-consuming drives.  If the Lions don’t turn the ball over or commit 10-yard penalties, they could conceivably score every time they have the ball, at least until the third stringers enter the game.

Look for Penn State to jump to a quick 20 to 28-point lead in the first half and cruise to a four touchdown or more victory.  The Lions could very well go three weeks without allowing a defensive touchdown.

Strategies

Buffalo +44½ and +47½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Buffalo +34½ (if it’s raining Saturday morning)

Penn State -34½ (if weather is clear)

—–

Akron at Indiana

Vegas: Indiana by 13

Pi-Rate: Indiana by 16

For the fourth consecutive season, Indiana has bolted out of the gate with a 2-0 record.  After that point, the Hoosiers have fared poorly finishing a combined 6-22.  Could this finally be the year IU breaks through and becomes bowl eligible?  Their schedule is favorable for six wins, but they must win this game Saturday.

Akron is no pushover.  Ask fans in Columbus, OH, who saw the scoreboard at the half last week-Ohio State 3 Akron 2.  The Zips haven’t beaten a Big 10 team this decade, but they have been playing the ones in the Top 25 for the most part (Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Iowa).

Indiana hasn’t lost to a MAC team since Miami of Ohio beat them 21-20 on September 24, 1977.  The Hoosiers have overcome the tragic death of former coach Terry Hoeppner, and they may be playing a little over the heads in his memory.  That could be the difference in a close game and an easy victory, which I see happening at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington.  Call it Hoosiers by two to three touchdowns.

Strategies

Akron +23 and +26 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Indiana -13

—–

Pittsburgh at Michigan State

Vegas: Michigan State by 11

Pi-Rate: Pittsburgh by 2

Who could have predicted back in August that on the third week of the season, this would be the game in the Wolverine State between a 2-0 Big 10 team and a 2-0 visitor from outside the conference?  The Spartans have a chance to move above Michigan in the Big 10 pecking order (not just standings but the program on the whole) for the first time since Duffy Daugherty coached Jimmy Raye, Gene Washington, and Bubba Smith. 

Dave Wannstedt has his Panthers at 2-0 for the second consecutive season.  Pitt hasn’t begun a year 3-0 since 2000. 

Michigan State won this game at Pitt last year to start 3-0, and then the collapse began a week later at home against Notre Dame.  The Spartans won’t collapse under Coach Mark Dantonio, but they still don’t have the talent to go out and win 10 games.  This is going to be a bell weather game for both programs.  The winner can almost guarantee its fans a bowl game, while the loser is going to have to come up with an upset somewhere to get back on track for a postseason invitation.  The Panther offense should get untracked in the second half and outscore Michigan State at the end.  If Pitt wins, they could certainly be 7-0 when they play at Louisville in late October.

Strategies

Pittsburgh +21 and +24 in 10 and 13-point teasers (strong play)

Pittsburgh +11

Pittsburgh +355

Over 41½ and 38½ in 10 and 13-point teasers 

—– 

Illinois at Syracuse

Vegas: Illinois by 12½

Pi-Rate: Illinois by 9

The Orangemen were once the class of the Big East, with Donovan McNabb leading a dominating offense.  Now, they are farther behind the seventh best conference team than the seventh best is behind the best.  Coach Greg Robinson has a weaker offense than Temple at the present time, and his defense is noticeably weaker than last year’s team.  With Buffalo improving, the ‘Cuse could be in danger of going 0-12 if they lose this week in the Carrier Dome.

Illinois is still a team on the cusp.  They can play well enough to compete with Penn State and Ohio State one week and then stink up the joint against Ohio U the next.  The Illini lost this game last year at home, and it is a must win this year if they are to turn the corner.  Ron Zook’s honeymoon will end abruptly if Illinois loses this game.

I look for Syracuse to put up a good fight and hold the score down enough to stay in it for most of the game.  Illinois will have to bring their (A) game to win, and I think they will sneak through with an (A-) effort.

Strategies

Syracuse +22½ and +25½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Syracuse +12½

Over 32½ and 35½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Central Michigan at Purdue

Vegas: Purdue by 21½

Pi-Rate: Purdue by 19

Coach Joe Tiller’s Boilermakers have disposed of Toledo and Eastern Illinois and steps up a little in class when they face the Chippewas this week.  When these teams last played, Drew Brees led Purdue to 48-0 and 58-16 victories in consecutive seasons.  This Purdue team isn’t far from being as good as those teams from the past, but Central Michigan is several points better than those teams that went 2-9 and 4-7.

CMU is giving up more than 500 total yards per game, 345 of that being surrendered through the air.  Purdue represents the third consecutive spread passing game they will have faced.  I look for CMU’s defense to give up a bunch of passing yards, but they will do better than most people predict.  The Chippewas are going to lose this one, but it will be much better than their loss at Kansas.

Strategies

Purdue -11½ and -8½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 76½ and 79½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Mississippi State at Auburn

Vegas: Auburn by 13

Pi-Rate: Auburn by 16

Could Mississippi State keep Auburn fans on the edge of their seats for a third consecutive week?  The Bulldogs have played the top team and a team near the bottom, while Auburn has played two good teams.  Looking at the statistics so far, Mississippi State looks better except for all those interceptions against LSU.

Auburn clearly is in a rebuilding mode this year.  Their offense and their defense are not particularly strong compared to past seasons.  They could easily be 0-2 if Kansas State had not fallen apart at the end of their game.

I think the Tigers will claw out a win in the same manner that they beat Kansas State.  Mississippi State will suffer a breakdown somewhere in the game, and Auburn will capitalize to deflate them.  Then, look for a late touchdown to make the score look worse than it should have been.  Don’t be surprised if true freshman Kodi Burns ends up playing some at quarterback for the War Eagles.

Strategies

Over 31½ and 28½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Auburn -3 and PK in 10 and 13-point teasers

Mississippi State +23 and +26 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—– 

Minnesota at Florida Atlantic (at Miami Dolphins Stadium)

Vegas: Minnesota by 8

Pi-Rate: Even

The Golden Gophers must think football is a 180-play game, and if they haven’t given the public that many plays after 60 minutes, they continue playing all day or night until they reach that number.  Could this be the third consecutive week that they go to overtime against a team from a non-BCS conference?  The PiRate computer calls it a tossup, so it could happen.

Several factors play in favor of Florida Atlantic here.  To start off, Minnesota is traveling 1,750 miles for this game.  The Gophers are accustomed to playing games in air-cooled temperatures indoors, and this is their first road game of the season.  They will be in for a rude awakening having to play in muggy, 90-degree temperatures.  This will also be the first road game under a new coach, and that can sometimes be a factor.

Whereas the Gophers have enough talent to run the ball all day and control the clock, the offensive line is going to become fatigued and will have to see lots of substitutions.  FAU is acclimated to this climate, and they play much better at home.  I think this affords you a couple of smart strategic moves here.

Strategies

Florida Atlantic +8

Florida Atlantic +18 and +21 in 10 and 13-point teasers (strong)

—– 

Iowa at Iowa State

Vegas: Iowa by 17

Pi-Rate: Iowa by 27

This looks like a major mismatch on paper, but when top rivals face off, you can occasionally throw out the statistics.  Occasionally means every now and again, and this shouldn’t be one of those occasions.  Iowa State is a powerless cyclone, while the Hawkeyes are back among the nation’s elite this season.  Iowa State had difficulty moving the ball against Northern Iowa and Kent State.  How do they expect to gain 200 total yards against a much better defense this week?  They may not gain many more yards than Syracuse gained against Iowa (103).

Iowa’s defense has looked first-rate against Northern Illinois and Syracuse, but those teams are not very talented.  Of course, this week’s opponent fits the same bill, so expect similar results.  The Hawkeyes will be reminded of what happened on their last visit to Ames in 2005 (they were upset 23-3), and I think they will be ready to play from the opening kick.

Strategies

Iowa -17

Iowa -7 and -4 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 48 and 51 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—– 

Utah State at Oklahoma

Vegas: Oklahoma by 46

Pi-Rate: Oklahoma by 46

This is one of those games where you must be careful.  Oklahoma could win by 70 points, but they could let up once they are up big early.  They could take a 35-0 lead in the first 20 minutes and then coast to a 56-13 win.  So, I advise not playing this game straight up in either direction.  I don’t even like the teasers in this one, as 36 points looks like a cinch but it’s still a ton of points to give.  56 points might still be too little if the Sooners really pour it on.

There is one sensible play here.  You have to figure Utah State will not score 10 points in this game and could very well never break the goose egg on the scoreboard.  Look to the totals for value.

Strategies

Under 74½ and 77½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Oklahoma -36 and -33 in 10 and 13-point teasers if you really like to play it on the edge

—– 

Tennessee at Florida

Vegas: Florida by 7½

Pi-Rate: Florida by 7

Florida has feasted on two cupcakes to start the season, while the Vols have already traveled 2,000+ miles to face a Top 25 team.  This should give Tennessee enough road experience to overcome some of the home field advantage at The Swamp.  It should, but it won’t.  In the past, Florida has done quite well in this game by clobbering two weak teams prior to it, while Tennessee was forced to extend themselves against a quality opponent.  Let’s look at some past examples.

In 1996, Florida roughed up Louisiana Lafayette and Georgia Southern, while Tennessee had to play UCLA.  The Gators went to Knoxville and beat the Vols 35-29 to start their trek toward the national title.  In 1995, Florida beat weak Houston and Kentucky teams, while Tennessee had to face Georgia prior to the game.  Florida pasted the Vols 62-37.  In 1994, Florida topped 70 points against both New Mexico State and Kentucky, while Tennessee had to play both UCLA and Georgia prior to the big game.  Florida won in Knoxville 31-0.

I don’t see the Gators beating the Vols by 30 points this week, but I don’t give Tennessee much chance of winning in Gainesville.  I don’t believe the Vols will open up their offense and force Florida to defend both vertically and horizontally.  Tennessee will try to run the ball up the gut to open the passing game, and it won’t work against Florida.  You have to pass the ball all over to open up the running game, and I don’t see that happening until it is too late.  Look for Tennessee to make a second half comeback but fall short by at least seven.

Strategies

Florida +2½ and +5½ in 10 and 13-point teasers (Strong)

Over 47½ and 44½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 67½ and under 70½ in 10 and 13-point teasers  

—– 

Texas at Central Florida

Vegas: Texas by 18

Pi-Rate: Texas by 19

The Longhorns may have awakened from their early season slumber at about halftime of last week’s game against TCU.  An offense accustomed to topping 40 points and 450 yards has been caught napping this year.  It could be ready to wake up and explode, but I think it may have to wait until they get to devour Rice in a week.

Central Florida is not in the same league as the ‘Horns, but they will be sky high to play host to a top team.  The last time a ranked team came to Orlando to face the Knights, West Virginia trounced UCF by 25 points (2004).

This is a game where I must go against the Pi-Rate computer.  I may be loony, but I think this is a mismatch.  The real Texas showed itself against TCU in the second half, and I think that will continue this week.  I’m personally looking for a 25 to 35-point win by the burnt orange, even though the computer says the same as the wise guys.

Strategies

Texas -18

Texas -8 and -5 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—– 

Ohio State at Washington

Vegas: Ohio State by 4

Pi-Rate: Ohio State by 3

This could be the game of the week.  If I could choose one game to accept a free ticket to attend, this might be the one I would go to this week.

Washington quarterback Jake Locker gets to face a defense as tough as any he will see in Pac-10 play, including the ones he will face the following two weeks (UCLA & USC).  He isn’t going to complete 60% of his passes, and he won’t run for close to 100 yards, but he could still keep his team in the game until the final gun sounds.

Ohio State must travel over 2,400 miles across three time zones, and that certainly adds to the Huskies’ home field advantage.  However, the Buckeyes have proven to be as tough on the road as they are at the Horseshoe. 

I look for a defense-dominated game with special teams playing a huge factor.  OSU punter A.J. Trapasso and kicker Ryan Pretorius are strong-legged and can be the difference in close games.  Washington punter Jared Ballman is almost on par with Trapasso, but place kicker Ryan Perkins is not battle-tested.  This could be the difference in the game, as Ohio State wins a close one.

Strategies

Ohio State +6 and +9 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Washington +14 and +17 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 51 and 54 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 31 and 28 on 10 and 13-point teasers

—– 

Notre Dame at Michigan

Vegas: Michigan by 7½

Pi-Rate: Michigan by 10

By Saturday night, one of these teams will be 0-3.  You ask when was the last time Michigan started a year 0-3? The answer is 1937.  Notre Dame suffered this malady in 2001.  These teams have serious problems on both sides of the ball, and it looks like both teams could be staying home for the holidays.

Even with Wolverine quarterback Chad Henne out for this game and tailback Mike Hart playing hurt, the maize and blue should control the line of scrimmage when they are on the attack.  Michigan should grind out 200 yards rushing and another 150 through the air, and that should produce 21 or more points.

Notre Dame is looking for a pulse, and their offense is on life support.  Georgia Tech and Penn State completely shut down the Irish attack, but Michigan won’t be able to do so.  Jimmy Clausen should begin to look like the QB he is supposed to be, and the Irish should easily produce more total yards in this game than the first two combined.  They should also score their first offensive touchdown some time in the opening half.  The game will be decided in the second half, when one team gets a big play, and it snowballs into better things.  It may not salvage the season, but it should give the winner some momentum.  I’m going with the Wolverines, but it isn’t a strong selection.

Strategies

Lay off this game-too many intangibles

—– 

U C L A at Utah

Vegas: U C L A by 14

Pi-Rate: U C L A by 15

The Utes were supposed to be one of the top offensive teams in the country this year, but a rash of injuries have them playing almost as poorly as Notre Dame.  Don’t expect things to get all that much better this week against the Bruins.

UCLA hasn’t really played up to its potential in its first two games, and still the Bruins sport a 2-0 record which includes a win over BYU.  The Bruins have some injury issues as well, especially on the defensive line.

Look for Utah to improve its rushing statistics a tiny bit this week, but the Bruins should still pick up a couple of QB sacks and maybe force a key interception.  Utah will slow down the UCLA attack but won’t stop it completely.  The Bruins should win another game in which they fail to show up for the full 60 minutes.  The game will be closer than last year’s contest (UCLA won 31-10).

Strategies

UCLA -4 and -1 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Utah + 14 (I know the Pi-Rate says UCLA by 15)

Over 33 and 30 in 10 and 13-point teasers (strong play)  

—– 

Southern Mississippi at East Carolina

Vegas: Southern Mississippi by 1

Pi-Rate: East Carolina by 3

This game could decide the East Division’s representative in the C-USA Championship Game.  Southern Mississippi was supposed to be the class of the division, but they haven’t looked all that impressive so far.  ECU gave Virginia Tech a good game and then hung on to beat North Carolina.  After last week’s VT-LSU game, the opening loss doesn’t look all that great though.

What we have here are two teams looking for a key win.  The loser can all but forget playing in the conference title game, but they will still be very much alive in the bowl picture. 

ECU quarterback Pat Pinkney should be the difference in the ball game.  I expect him to guide the Pirates to a close victory over Southern Miss.  I wouldn’t be surprised if more points were scored than expected.

Strategies

East Carolina +1

East Carolina +100

East Carolina +11 and +14 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 37½ and 34½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—– 

Arkansas at Alabama

Vegas: Alabama by 3

Pi-Rate: Alabama by 6

Alabama has been waiting 12 months to get their revenge.  Last year, the Tide outplayed the Hogs for most of the day before losing in double overtime.  It propelled Arkansas toward the West Division title, while Alabama fell apart.

With no real pass threat until a healthy Marcus Monk takes the field for Arkansas, the Razorbacks must try to get by with their rushing attack.  Lucky for them, they have one of the top three running games in the nation and two of the top three backs in the SEC in Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.  When McFadden and Jones are both in the game in the no quarterback offense, you are looking at what teams used to run in the 1930’s.  Of course, today’s defenses can revert back to the alignments that were used in the 1940’s and 1950’s to make that type of offense extinct, and you can bet Nick Saban will have the Tide’s stop troops ready to contain Arkansas’s version of the double wing.

Alabama isn’t about to go out and produce 400 yards and 35 points on a quality SEC rival, but they don’t have to do that to win this game.  330 yards and 24 points will be plenty.  John Parker Wilson should pass for at least 150 yards, while the Tide picks up 180 more on the ground.  Meanwhile, I expect Alabama to “limit” Arkansas to about 200 yards rushing and no more than 120 yards passing.  It adds up to a small Tide victory.

Strategies

Alabama +7 and +10 in 10 and 13-point teasers (strong)

Alabama -3

Alabama -155

Over 37½ and 34½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—– 

Fresno State at Oregon

Vegas: Oregon by 16½

Pi-Rate: Oregon by 26

Oregon has become the most lethal running team on the West Coast now that Dennis Dixon thinks his name is Vince Young.  Throw in the talented Jonathan Stewart and Jeremiah Johnson, and defenses are being forced to stop the run before thinking about the pass.  Having Brian Paysinger and Jaison Williams out wide means, defensive backs will be finding themselves isolated on islands.  It’s the pick your poison defense when you have to stop both an outstanding ground game and a terrific passing game.  It’s just like Arizona State was in the early 1970’s and Florida State in the 1990’s. You can’t stop Oregon’s offense; you can only hope to slow it down and try to outscore the Ducks in a shootout.

Fresno State proved last week in College Station, Texas, that they can play in shootouts.  This group of Bulldogs is not as good as the FSU teams led by David Carr or Billy Volek, but they are on the way back.  I don’t think they will have an answer for stopping the Duck ground game without giving up multiple long pass plays-the type that lead to touchdowns.  Therefore, I look for Oregon to run the ball for at least 275 and probably 300+ yards.  The Ducks have too many weapons, and they will enter Pac-10 play at 3-0.

Strategies

Oregon -6½ and -3½ in 10 and 13-point teasers (strong)

Oregon -16½

Under 74 and 77 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 54 and 51 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—– 

Ole Miss at Vanderbilt

Vegas: Vanderbilt by 4½

Pi-Rate: Vanderbilt by 9

Every February during the NCAA basketball season, you have bracket buster weekend.  Mid-major teams face off trying to impress the members of the NCAA Selection Committee in an effort to garner an at-large bid to the Big Dance.  Well, this game is going to be the equivalent of a bracket buster.  The winner stays in contention for a bowl, while the loser’s season is going to end November 24.

Last year, Vanderbilt dominated this game from beginning to end, out gaining Ole Miss 400 to 179.  Ole Miss only led in two stats-turnover differential and score.  The Rebels were +3 in turnover margin and +7 in score.

This game has become one of the most entertaining contests year in and year out.  Even when the Rebels were going to bowls every year, Vanderbilt gave them close battles, taking the Eli Manning-led Cotton Bowl team to the final minute before losing 24-21.

The home team advantage has been more important in this series than it should have been.  These schools are only 230 miles apart, and fans of both turn out in large numbers when their team is the visitor.

Vandy quarterback Chris Nickson is questionable for this game due to a hamstring injury, and even if he does play, he won’t be able to utilize his exceptional scrambling talents.  Ole Miss quarterback Seth Adams has been impressive in his first two games against decent competition, and Vanderbilt’s defense will not hold him below 200 passing yards.  Throw in 100+ rushing yards by Benjarvus Green-Ellis, and the Rebels will score more than 21 points.

Defensively, the Rebels haven’t proven themselves yet.  In the third year of the Ed Orgeron era in Oxford, they have been continually regressing in their coverage against the pass.  Nickson or Mackenzi Adams will have a chance to pass for 250+ yards, and when that happens, watch out for the Commodore running game.  It’s ready to get untracked with a big game.  I see Vandy rushing for 175-225 yards and moving to 2-1 with an exciting, high-scoring win.

Strategies

Vanderbilt +5½ and +8½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Ole Miss +14½ and +17½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 35½ and 32½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

(might be a game to bunch up all 3 in a 10-point teaser)

—– 

Toledo at Kansas

Vegas: Kansas by 22½

Pi-Rate: Kansas by 25

Toledo coach Tom Amstutz decided to take better care of his health and dropped 50 pounds on an exercise and diet program.  His team’s defense took those pounds and converted them to extra yards allowed.  The Rockets gave up more than 450 total yards and 52 points to powerful Purdue in their season opener, and then they did the same exact thing at Central Michigan last week!  Kansas may have a better offense than either of TU’s first two opponents.

Is Mark Mangino about to turn Kansas into the next Big 12 powerhouse?  They toyed with the same CMU team that took out Toledo, winning 52-7, and then they demolished Southeast Louisiana 62-0.  Yes, neither of these wins proves that KU has returned to its prominence they enjoyed in the 1960’s, but the Jayhawks used to have trouble winning those games.

Kansas is very much like Oregon with equally talented rushing and passing attacks.  Their running game reminds me of a 1960’s team with a quick halfback in Jake Sharp and a punishing fullback in Brandon McAnderson.  Quarterback Todd Reesing isn’t going to put up Graham Harrell numbers, but he may be every bit as good.

In past seasons, Kansas couldn’t stop opponents consistently enough to move into the upper echelon of the Big 12.  This year, the defense may be just enough improved to turn all those close losses from 2006 into wins in 2007.  One of those losses came at the hands of Toledo.  One of their wins this year will be sweet revenge over the Rockets.

Strategies

Kansas -12½ and -9½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 77 and 80 in 10 and 13-point teasers (56-20 still wins!)

—– 

Louisville at Kentucky

Vegas: Louisville by 6½

Pi-Rate: Louisville by 7

When Rick Pitino sends his Cardinals onto the Rupp Arena Floor to face Billy Gillespie’s Wildcats, he thinks his team has a good chance to hold his old team under 65 points and win 66-63.  Oh, wait a minute!  This is a football game this weekend.  No mind, the score should still hold up.  If Louisville can hold Kentucky under 65….

Seriously, this might be the most exciting college football game in years if you like Arena League games.  Louisville didn’t totally stop Murray State’s offense in the opening game.  The Cards collapsed defensively against Middle Tennessee last week, giving up big plays all night long.

Kentucky hasn’t proven they can stop anybody yet either.  Their run defense was like Swiss cheese against Kent State.

The obvious conclusion here is that these teams should combine for more than 1,000 total yards and 100 points Saturday, yet the over/under line is “just” 77.  What gives?  These teams are bitter rivals, and you can expect both teams to play 200% better defensively.  The score must still be 42-35 to get to 77 points.  I would avoid going over on the regular totals in this game.  At 67 or 64, you have a much better chance with a teaser, but you better monitor the weather as Saturday approaches.  Any lingering showers could greatly affect the outcome.

Strategies

I wouldn’t touch this game with a 10-foot pole

—– 

Southern California at Nebraska

Vegas: Southern Cal by 10

Pi-Rate: Southern Cal by 9

Even including the couple of years the Cornhuskers were down, only one team has come into Memorial Stadium and manhandled Nebraska.  The ‘Huskers have lost to better teams, but they have kept the games close.  You have to go back to 1991 when Washington ventured to Lincoln to find an example similar to this week.  The 1991 co-National Champs won at Nebraska 36-21.

Southern Cal is supposed to be stronger this year than either of their two most recent national title teams and even stronger than the great 1972 team.  They sure didn’t look that good against Idaho in their season opener.  Maybe a week off has them poised to show LSU and Oklahoma a thing or two by winning big on the road against a top 25 team.

Nebraska’s close win over Wake Forest didn’t look like a performance from a national contender.  Maybe, they were caught looking ahead to this game, but I doubt it.  They still have some improving to do before they are ready to pull off a win against the top team in the nation-even at home.

USC will slow down the Nebraska running game and force Sam Keller to beat them with his arm.  Keller might pass for close to 200 yards, but he’s going to be forced to throw quickly to avoid sacks.  He’ll complete at least one to a Trojan, and that is going to be enough to end Nebraska’s chances.  Meanwhile, expect USC to play much better offensively in this game; when you consider they scored 38 points on 420 yards offense in their opener, improvement must mean 40-50 points and 450 to 500 yards!  Well not exactly, 35 points and 400 yards against the NU defense would be improvement.  It will also be another win for USC.

Strategies

Southern Cal -10

Southern Cal Pk and +3 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 40 and 37 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—– 

Middle Tennessee at L S U

Vegas: L S U by 40½

Pi-Rate: L S U by 49

Middle Tennessee was supposed to be fodder for Louisville last week, but they were just a couple of defensive mix-ups from having a chance at a major upset.  Now, they must head from the frying pan to the fire, or better yet to the sun.  This game will be over by the time the Blue Raiders check into their hotel Friday.  L S U will not take them lightly after watching what happened on national television last week.

The Tigers completely dominated against Virginia Tech.  MTSU will have no answer for the Bayou Bengals’ running game or passing game, and they will find it hard to get to the red zone, much less score.  Factor in that Middle Tennessee probably used up too much gas last week, and they won’t have much in the tank this week.  Expect a score similar to 49-0 or 52-3.

Strategies

LSU -40½ (They beat VT by 41 and should win by more)

LSU -30½ and -27½ in 10 and 13-point teasers  

Under 70 and 73 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 47 in a 13-point teaser

—– 

Boston College at Georgia Tech

Vegas: Georgia Tech by 7

Pi-Rate: Georgia Tech by 9

The winner of this game will take a major step forward and become the frontrunner to win their respective division of the Atlantic Coast Conference.  The loser could very well get a rematch in early December.  With Virginia Tech, Miami, and Florida State all down, these two teams along with Clemson appear to be the class of the league.

Coach Chan Gailey got to rest most of his starting Techsters last week after his team ran all over little Samford.  That usually bodes well the following week when a team is continuing to play at home.

Boston College had a somewhat emotional game last week in Chestnut Hill when they took on their old coach.  I expect the Eagles to bounce a little this week, and that’s all it will take for the Yellow Jackets to become the top-dog (oh, bad choice of words there) in the ACC.

Strategies

Georgia Tech -7

Georgia Tech +3 and +6 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 58½ and 61½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Duke at Northwestern

Vegas: Northwestern by 16½

Pi-Rate: Northwestern by 10

Northwestern has owned this series in recent times, and you shouldn’t expect any different outcome this week at Ryan Field in Evanston.  Duke isn’t going to break their long losing streak on the road against a Big 10 team.

The Blue Devils are going to find it close to impossible to slow down the NU spread offense.  They cannot stop both the run and the pass, and if they try to play a balanced defense, they are going to slow down neither phase.  I look for a 200+ yard day on the ground and 250+ yard day through the air for the purple and white.

Duke played Connecticut close for 1½ quarters, and then the floodgates opened.  Last week, they fell to a weaker than expected Virginia Cavaliers.  They had great difficulty moving the ball in both games, but they face a defense about as porous as their own.  Expect the Dukies to get untracked and actually begin to move the ball this week.  They could top 300 total yards and 20 points, but that will be far less than what they will give up.  I don’t like NU as a 16½ point favorite though.

Strategies

Northwestern -6½ and -3½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Duke +26½ and +29½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 42½ and 39½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—– 

Florida State at Colorado

Vegas: Florida State by 4½

Pi-Rate: Florida State by 9

Florida State has never played in Boulder.  This will be their first experience playing at an elevation of 5,400 feet above sea level.  They also must travel 1,650 miles across two time zones.  At least the weather shouldn’t be a factor, as it isn’t going to be snowing.

Colorado is a better team in year two of the Coach Dan Hawkins era, but they aren’t ready to challenge for the Big 12 North Division title just yet.  I’m not sure their defense has an answer for Drew Weatherford’s passing ability.  The Buffaloes let Colorado State and Arizona State complete too many easy intermediate distance passes.  It’s one thing to allow 60-70% completions against a team that throws two to five yards downfield; allowing that rate against the 12-15 yard passes is a recipe for disaster.

Florida State hasn’t played 60 minutes of good football in their first two games combined.  If they fail to make forward progress this week, it might just mean they really aren’t that good.  I think we won’t know the answer to that question after this game, but the ‘Noles should win by a touchdown or more.

Strategies

Florida State +5½ and +8½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Colorado +14½ and +17½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 47½

Over 37½ and 34½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

This Week’s “Picks”

 

Straight Selections

# 1: Pittsburgh +11 vs. Michigan State

# 2: Texas -18 vs. Central Florida

# 3: Utah +14 vs. UCLA

# 4: East Carolina +1 vs. Southern Mississippi

# 5: Alabama -3 vs. Arkansas

# 6: Georgia Tech -7 vs. Boston College

# 7: Southern California -10 vs. Nebraska

# 8: Florida Atlantic +8 vs. Minnesota

Money Line Selections

# 9: Florida -320 vs. Tennessee

#10: East Carolina +100 vs. Southern Mississippi

#11: Alabama -155 vs. Arkansas

10-Point Teasers

#12: Ole Miss + 14½ vs. Vanderbilt

         Florida +2½ vs. Tennessee

        Alabama +7 vs. Arkansas

#13: Pittsburgh +21 vs. Michigan State

         East Carolina +11 vs. Southern Mississippi

        Texas-El Paso +16 vs. New Mexico State

#14: Kansas -12½ vs. Toledo

         Utah +24 vs. UCLA

        Florida Atlantic +17½ vs. Minnesota

#15: Ohio State +6 vs. Washington

        Texas -8 vs. Central Florida

        Southern California Pk vs. Nebraska

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Previews and Selections for September 13-15, 2007 This game has added meaning for star Mountaineer running back Steve Slaton. His original intent was to matriculate to Maryland, but Terrapin coach Ralph Friedgen reneged on a scholarship offer. Slaton doesn?t need motivation to destroy … […]

    Pingback by Steve Slaton September 12, 2007 10:25 pm | Steve Slaton — December 15, 2007 @ 5:39 pm


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