The Pi-Rate Ratings

September 19, 2007

PiRate Previews and Selections for September 20-22, 2007

Filed under: College Football — piratings @ 8:29 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:(*)             34-15  69.4%

For The Season Picking Winners:                    116-30 79.5%

Last Week Picks vs. Spread:                             8-6-1 57.1%

For the Season Picking Winners vs. Spread:     21-15-1 58.3% (over 52.4% returns a profit) 

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

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

Thursday, September 20

Texas A&M at Miami-FL

Vegas: Miami by 2

PiRate: Texas A&M by 2

Miami’s passing attack came to life last week albeit against one of the weakest teams in Division 1 FBS.  Texas A&M has a better defense, but it isn’t all that great.  Expect the Hurricanes to move the ball and score points in this game.

Miami will slow down the Aggie running game, but A&M will still move the ball and match Miami point-for-point.  This should be a close and interesting game to watch, and I think in the end Texas A&M will emerge with a close victory-but too close to recommend playing either side.

Strategies

Over 36 and 33 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 56 and 59 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Friday, September 14

Oklahoma at Tulsa

Vegas: Oklahoma by 23

PiRate: Oklahoma by 21

This should be an interesting game for a short amount of time.  Tulsa will be fired up and begin this game playing way over their heads.  The defense will come up with a couple of big plays early, and you will see the players jumping and slapping each other.  Then, the team with far superior talent will begin to take control and silence the home team players and fans.

Tulsa couldn’t stop Louisiana Monroe’s or Brigham Young’s offense.  Through two games, they are yielding 486 yards per game.  ULM ran the ball for 219 yards against TU and averaged almost five yards per try.  BYU passed the ball all day.  Oklahoma has a better running game than ULM and a better passing game than BYU.

The Sooner defense ranks up among the elite with LSU and a few others.  Tulsa may pick up 75 yards rushing and 175 yards passing, and that will lead to 7-17 points.  Oklahoma will pick up 175-225 yards rushing and 200-300 yards passing.  Figure on the Sooners scoring 30-45 points.  Thus, I see a maximum of 62 points being scored in this game, and therein is where I see value in this game

Strategies

Oklahoma -23 (yes, I know the Pi-Rate computer disagrees)

Under 78 and 81 in 10 and 13-point teasers (strong)

Oklahoma -11 and -8 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Saturday, September 15

Syracuse at Louisville

Vegas: Louisville by 36½

PiRate: Louisville by 36

Poor Syracuse!  They are really struggling, even on their home field.  Now, they must travel to Louisville to take on the mad Cardinals.  UL lost to their in-state rival when their defense once again broke down. 

Syracuse began to show some signs of life offensively against Illinois last week.  The Orangemen picked up more than 200 yards through the air, and they might have a small shot at doing so again this week.  Unfortunately, all that passing could easily lead to enough sacks to send their rushing yardage back to the wrong side of zero.  SU will score as much as 17 points this week.

Of course, 17 points isn’t going to hold up.  Louisville might top that before the end of the first quarter.  The Cardinals are putting up 55 points per game and almost 625 total yards per game.  Syracuse cannot stop an average running attack or passing attack.  This could be one of the few times a team rushes for 300 yards and passes for 300 yards in the same game.  I have no doubt the Cardinals will put up the 300 through the air.  If a couple of runs break for long gains, they have a chance to do it on the ground.  This will be a slaughter for sure, but you have to worry about when the scrubs enter the game.  Louisville should easily obtain a 36-point lead in this game, but the third team defense could give up a meaningless touchdown late.  A 52-17 final score would be all it takes to ruin the day.  I think the Cards will be going for at least 56 points, so it may be worth the risk.

Strategies

Louisville -36½

Louisville -26½ and -23½ in 10 and 13-point teasers  (strong)

—–

Georgia Tech at Virginia

Vegas: Georgia Tech by 3½

PiRate: Georgia Tech by 10

Virginia is 2-0 in the ACC and leading the Coastal Division.  With Miami and Virginia Tech not playing as well as expected, an upset win at home over the Yellow Jackets could give them an advantage that cannot be overcome.

The PiRate rating above does not factor in the absence of Georgia Tech’s starting tailback Rashard Choice.  He is questionable for the game, and even if he plays, he won’t be near 100% healthy.

Virginia is not good enough to win a divisional title in a BCS conference.  They had trouble putting away Duke, and they were very lucky to escape with a win over North Carolina.

Even without Choice, Georgia Tech should win this game.  Virginia will be held to 250 yards maximum in this game, and the Cavs won’t score more than 20 points.  Tech won’t move the ball at will, but they should pick up 150+ yards running and passing, good enough for 21-28 points.  It adds up to a small Yellow Jacket victory.

Strategies

Georgia Tech -3½

Georgia Tech +6½ and +9½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 30½ and 27½ in 10 and 13-point teasers (strong)

 

—–

Illinois at Indiana

Vegas: Illinois by 2½

PiRate: Indiana by 1

This is one of the most interesting games of the week, and it should be a nail-biter as Big 10 play begins.  It’s one of those games where they could play 100 times and split them 50-50.  The winner of this game puts themselves in good shape for bowl eligibility.

Both teams are running the ball for more than 200 yards per game, but both teams’ are strong in stopping the run and dumping quarterbacks for sacks.  Both teams have slightly above average passing attacks and slightly below average secondary coverage.  It adds up to a probable shootout in Bloomington.  The only reason I am going with Indiana to win the game is they are the home team, but the home field advantage for this game is almost nil.  The smart plays here involve the teasers once again.

Strategies

Indiana + 12½ and +15½ in 10 and 13-point teasers (strong)

Over 53 and 50 in 10 and 13-point teasers (strong)

—–

Florida at Ole Miss

Vegas: Florida by 23

PiRate: Florida by 19

At first glance, one might tend to think Florida will win this game 63-13 or something close to that.  However, there are a few things to consider.  This is Florida’s first road trip this season, and their defense could be vulnerable to stop the Rebels all day.  Ole Miss could easily score in the 20’s in this game, and Florida may play it a little more close to the vest.

Additionally, the Gators will bounce a little following the emotional blowout win over Tennessee, while Ole Miss will be looking for something to revitalize themselves after being dominated by Vanderbilt.

In the end, the Gators will be too strong and have too much offense for the Rebels.  Ole Miss has faced the spread passing game in every game this year, and they don’t seem to be getting any better with the added experience. 

I see Florida gaining 450 total yards and scoring 35 to 49 points.  I see Ole Miss gaining 125 yards on the ground and another 225 yards through the air.  That should give them a chance to score 21-24 points.  Thus, I cannot recommend playing the sides in this game.

Strategies

Florida -13 and -10 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 49½ and 46½ in 10 and 13-point teasers 

—–

Air Force at Brigham Young

Vegas: BYU by 11

PiRate: BYU by 9

Are the Air Force Falcons back among the elite of the Mountain West Conference?  It certainly looks like they are bowl-bound this year for the first time since 2002.  If Air Force can win this game, they will have defeated the three teams predicted to vie for the MWC title.  They have already dismissed Utah and TCU, and they beat the Utes on the road. 

Brigham Young’s 2007 team is weaker than last year’s team, and it’s not even close.  Mistakes proved costly in the loss to UCLA, and last week they offered no resistance against Tulsa’s passing attack.  Luckily for the Cougars, Air Force doesn’t have the right artillery to exploit the BYU Achilles’ Heel.  The Falcons have a much better passing attack than the previous five years, but still it is not strong enough to burn BYU’s secondary for 300+ yards.

This should be a close game for at least three quarters, but in the end BYU is going to win.  Air Force doesn’t have enough talent to stop the BYU passing game.  That will lead to a 7-12 point win for the home team.  I’m not particularly in love with any plays in this game.

Strategies

Air Force +21 and +24 in 10 and 13-point teasers

BYU -1 and +2 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 44 and 41 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

South Carolina at L S U

Vegas: LSU by 16½

PiRate: LSU by 18

Steve Spurrier doesn’t lose games by lopsided margins very often.  In his 20 seasons as a college head coach (which includes a tour of duty at Duke), his teams lost by more than 21 points eight times. Perhaps the most famous time was the 1996 Fiesta Bowl against Nebraska.  His 12-0 Florida Gators went up against perhaps the greatest college team ever and lost 62-24.

Well, this week may just very well see Coach Spurrier taking his team to play on the road against an opponent almost as good as that Nebraska team.  His current squad of Gamecocks cannot come close to matching the talent he had in 1995 at Florida.  So, is a 38-point loss on the horizon once again?  I don’t think so.  In fact, the Vegas spread looks very honest, and that scares me a little.  Most people believe the line is made so as to get exactly 50% of the action on both sides.  It doesn’t always happen that way.  Occasionally, Vegas knows it can outsmart the populace.  They usually know more about these games than 98% of their customers.  So, if they can trick 65% of them into making a foolish mistake, they will gamble themselves and go for it.

This brings me to the belief that the line of 16½ is too inviting, and it may be a trick.  The public has jumped on this line and bet heavily in LSU’s favor; Vegas isn’t in the habit of giving away money.  So, I advise you not to become the greater fool and follow the sheep off the cliff.  South Carolina won’t win the game, but they could keep it close enough to spoil the weekend of 65% of the wagering populace Saturday.

Now throw in the uncertain status of LSU quarterback Matt Flynn and top receiver Early Doucet, and the game begins to look closer yet.  The Gamecocks have an excellent defense, and they can hold LSU to 28 points or less.  Likewise, LSU can hold South Carolina to 10 points.  You get where I’m going with this.  I see no possible way these teams will combine for more than 50 points.  I also look for LSU to have its first off day of the season.  By off day, I don’t mean they are going to lose; I just think they will struggle to win by more than 17.

Strategies

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

Under 55½ and 52½ in 10 and 13-point teasers  (Strong)

—–

Northwestern at Ohio State

Vegas: Ohio St. by 22½

PiRate: Ohio St. by 35

This is another game where I find myself trying to guess what they are thinking in Vegas.  Northwestern lost at home to Duke, while Ohio State went to Seattle and put away a decent Washington team. 

On paper, this looks like a blowout win for the Buckeyes.  Their offense has improved a little each week, and their defense is still quite strong.  OSU should exceed 200 yards rushing and passing in this game and score 35-45 points.

Northwestern’s offense hasn’t been stopped by their opponents’ defenses; the Wildcats have been stopping themselves with miscues.  If they finish with a negative turnover margin in this game, Ohio State will capitalize by scoring demoralizing points off these miscues. 

It will take a turnover-free game for NU to have a chance to keep it close, and the Wildcats threw two interceptions against Duke.  The scarlet and gray secondary is several steps higher on the talent scale than the Blue Devils’ pass defenders.  I see an ugly game, but I also see Coach Jim Tressel calling off the dogs in the second half.  All it might take for Northwestern to cover could be a late cheap touchdown.  35-14 ruins your day if you take the Buckeyes.

Strategies

Look Elsewhere and leave this one alone

—–

Penn State at Michigan

Vegas: Penn St. by 3

PiRate: Michigan by 3

Will the real Michigan Wolverines please show yourselves?  Are you the team that lost at home to Appalachian St. and got dusted at home by Oregon, or are you the loose bunch that manhandled Notre Dame 38-0?

Hey Penn State!  Are you the guys who manhandled Notre Dame and methodically ran over FIU, or are you the team that struggled for 1½ quarters against Buffalo?

This might be the game I’d choose to attend if I could have a free ticket to my choice of any game this week. 

I’m favoring Michigan in this contest for a couple of reasons.  This is their fourth consecutive home game to start the season, and they have lost twice at home.  This is Penn State’s first road game.  The Nittany Lions have a recent history of performing poorly on the road early in the season, especially in conference action.  I’m not convinced this is a Penn State team capable of competing for the Big 10 championship. 

I’m looking for Michigan to pull off a mild upset and continue its recovery from the 0-2 start.  However, I’m not that sure of my pick here and would leave this game alone.

Strategies

There are better games to consider, but if you must:

Michigan +13 and +16 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Michigan State at Notre Dame

Vegas: Michigan St. by 12½

PiRate: Michigan St. by 1

If there is any pulse left in the Fighting Irish, it will show up this week.  Going into game four, they are the only BCS team still looking to score its first offensive touchdown.  I cannot remember the last time a major college team averaged less than 125 yards total offense after three games.  It certainly must have been back in the days of one platoon football.

Michigan State has actually won the last five times they played in South Bend.  The Spartans have had this one circled, as they remember how their season fell apart during this game last year in East Lansing.  It won’t take much to have the green and white ready to play.

Before I state that MSU will make it embarrassing loss number four for the Irish, there are a couple of things to consider.  Since they began playing in 1899, Notre Dame has never started a season at 0-4!  You can say that it doesn’t apply to this team, but there is some emotional aspect to that statement.  The players don’t want to be the first in 109 seasons to hold this mark.

This is also Michigan State’s first road trip under a new coach.  Mark Dantonio is a stickler for discipline, so I don’t think the Spartans will be caught napping.  However, the loose approach of former coach John L. Smith may have played a huge role in the past two wins at Notre Dame.

When you break down the units on both teams, it looks like Michigan State’s defense should prevent Notre Dame from getting untracked this week.  The law of averages is on Notre Dame’s side that this will be the week they drive for a touchdown.  One touchdown might be a moral victory.

The Irish defense isn’t good enough to hold MSU to less than 10 points, so I think the Spartans are going to be 4-0.  Like Tressel at Ohio State, Dantonio’s teams don’t produce huge numbers and win most of their games by slim margins.  Therefore, I am leery of the spread in this game.  What perplexes me is that the totals line for this one is 43 points.  Notre Dame averages 4.3 points per game and Michigan State averages 33.3, with 55% of the total coming in the opener against a weak UAB team.  I cannot see 53 points being scored under any circumstance, so this is a strong teaser choice.

Strategies

Under 53 and 56 in 10 and 13-point teasers (strong)

Notre Dame +22½ and +25½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Texas Tech at Oklahoma State

Vegas: Texas Tech by 6

PiRate: Texas Tech by 1

An educational film could be made of this game; I’m thinking kids could learn to count to 500 by adding up the passing yardage compiled by Texas Tech.  Graham Harrell has consistently completed 75% of his passes thus far in 2007.  The Red Raiders currently average more than 475 passing yards per game.  They haven’t exactly faced a killer defense yet, but Oklahoma State isn’t going to present them with one either.  In fact, the Cowboys are rather weak against the pass.  They gave up close to 400 yards last week to Troy.

I look for the Red Raiders to easily surpass 350 passing yards in this game and more likely finish closer to 500 than 350.  Oklahoma State will force the issue when it has the ball; the cowpokes won’t roll over and be roped.  Look for OSU to threaten the 400 total yard mark.

This game could seesaw all day.  The last team in possession of the ball could be the one who wins.  With summer weather returning to Stillwater, this game could come down to which team has the better depth.  In a week where I find a minimum number of good plays, this is another one I’d leave alone. 

Strategies

Too risky to recommend any play

—–

Arizona at California

Vegas: California by 15½

PiRate: California by 16

The talk has begun in Tucson about who will be the next head coach at Arizona.  Mike Stoops is in danger of becoming the former coach, as the Wildcats look to be regressing.  An unimpressive win over Northern Arizona and losses to Brigham Young and New Mexico have UA fans worried that their team will slip below Stanford into last place in the Pac-10.

Things don’t look to improve for Arizona this week when they travel to Berkeley to take on Cal.  Even though I think Cal may be a bit overrated in 2007, the Golden Bears are clearly better than the struggling ‘Cats.  They should definitely stay undefeated this week, but 16 points may be too many.  Arizona can still move the ball and occasionally come up with some good defensive stands.  Not having much of a running game has been their bugaboo.  Chris Henry’s loss via graduation was greater than most people expected.  Because they have had to pass the ball much more and because the average number of plays in college ball are back to where they were in 2005 (the 2006 clock rules changes have been rescinded), their pass defense has suffered.  Look for Cal to torch ‘Zona with 300 passing yards.  That will be enough to guarantee a fourth win to start the season.  As for Coach Stoops, his days in Tucson certainly look numbered.

Strategies

California -5½ and -2½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 45½ and 42½ in 10 and 13-point teasers 

—–

Kentucky at Arkansas

Vegas: Arkansas by 6½

PiRate: Arkansas by 4

This is the first of multiple games this week where the road team is set for a bounce.  Kentucky just upset Louisville; not only are the Cardinals a big rivalry win, but it is the first win over a Top10 opponent since 1977.  Kentucky players have been hearing their fans tell them how great they are this week.  With the Wildcats headed on the road for the first time this season, they are riding into an ambush.

Arkansas, as a team, is as mad as a disturbed hornets’ nest.  After the great comeback they made at Alabama, they couldn’t sustain it and lost in the final seconds.  They would have liked to play this game Sunday, they were so ready to make up for the Alabama loss.

Kentucky couldn’t stop Kent State’s running attack.  The Golden Flashes have been the best rushing team the Wildcats have faced.  Now, they must try to stop the best running team in the nation.  Arkansas is going to attack both flanks and up the gut, and Kentucky doesn’t have enough talent to shut it down, even if they come out in a Gap-8 defense!  At best, the Wildcats can hope to “hold” Arkansas to 250 rushing yards. 

Now, I’m not pointing to a blowout win by the Hogs.  Their defense against the pass showed just how vulnerable it can be against John Parker Wilson last week.  Kentucky will blister it for 300-400 yards this week even if Andre Woodson has his worst game of the year.  Kentucky is going to score its share of points when they have the ball.  I’m guessing that Arkansas will try to control the ball on the ground and keep possession for 34 minutes.

It adds up to an exciting game-definitely one of the five best this week.  It should be a horserace with lots of offensive fireworks.  I like Arkansas to prevail, and I might even risk going against what the Pi-Rate computer shows.  The bounce factor actually works better in college football than it does in horse racing.

Strategies

Arkansas -6½

Arkansas +3½ and +½ in 10 and 13-point teasers  

—–

Arkansas State at Tennessee

Vegas: Tennessee by 19

PiRate: Tennessee by 21

Could Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer’s job be in jeopardy?  Some insiders feel like it could be.  The Vols have dropped a notch or two in the last five years, and another humiliating conference loss could raise the temperature where Coach Fulmer sits high enough to remove him from that perch.

This week finds Tennessee in a can’t win situation.  Arkansas State is a team Tennessee is supposed to beat 42-0.  Tell that to Texas and SMU.  ASU isn’t a team to be toyed with.  They will not roll over, but they won’t win in Knoxville (and if they pull off the upset, Fulmer can call Lloyd Carr and see if he needs a business partner).  Even though the Vols will win this game, they won’t win by enough points to please the fickle faithful of Knoxville.

Arkansas St. out-gained Texas in total yards 397 to 350.  They will not be intimidated in this game.  Tennessee’s pass defense is just porous enough to give the Indians a chance to stay in this game until they wear down in the latter stages.  I could see the Vols leading by just seven points midway into the third quarter, but I think depth will begin to play a factor at about that point.  Tennessee will then score a couple of touchdowns to put the game out of reach.

Strategies

Tennessee -9 and -6 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

New Mexico State at Auburn

Vegas: Auburn by 17

PiRate: Auburn by 19

If Auburn loses this one, and the Atlanta Falcons lay another egg on Sunday, maybe Bobby Petrino will initiate the phone call this time.  All kidding aside, Auburn finds itself at its 21st Century nadir.  Losing at home to Mississippi State after losing to South Florida and almost losing to Kansas State does not bode well for when the Tigers begin to play the LSU’s, Florida’s, and Alabama’s ahead.  They may even have trouble with Ole Miss and Vanderbilt if the offense doesn’t begin to show some consistency.

The Tigers’ fans may be thinking Auburn will have the needed elixir to right their ship this week when New Mexico State visits the Loveliest Village on the Plains.  They better think again.  The Aggies are not a team to overlook.  Coach Hal Mumme has the NMSU offense operating on all cylinders in year three in Las Cruces.  The Aggies are averaging better than eight yards per pass attempt, and they have a decent running game to complement the passing game.  Granted, they haven’t played a BCS team this season, but then again Auburn isn’t being confused with Oklahoma this year.

A couple of factors bode well for Tommy Tuberville’s Tigers.  I expect Auburn will get the benefit of many disputable officiating decisions, and I expect New Mexico State to make a fatal mistake at some point.  Last week, they overcame a 100-yard interception return by UTEP.  They won’t win a road game against an SEC opponent if they make that kind of mistake.

Auburn will win, but like Tennessee, the fans won’t be happy in Toomer’s Corner Saturday night.      

Strategies

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

Over 41 and 38 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Florida International at Kansas

Vegas: Kansas by 32½

PiRate: Kansas by 37

You ask why I have included this game this week?  There are two reasons.  Number one, I think Kansas is flying under the radar and isn’t getting enough attention, which means the point spreads may be skewed.  More importantly, it has come to my attention in the past two weeks that a good number of Jayhawk fans are reading this.  So, I am here to give them some very good news this week.  KU is going to make it four slaughters in four weeks!

FIU is one of the bottom 10 teams in major college football.  They are going to be lucky to win a single game this season.  They just finished playing their in-town rival last week, and they won’t have much in the tank this week when they travel 1,500 miles.

Kansas has become multi-dimensional this season.  Their defense has performed as competently as their offense.  They have stopped the run and the pass equally well.  The always potent Jayhawk passing game is now supplemented with a strong rushing game as well.

FIU went to Penn State and lost 59-0.  At this moment, Kansas may be every bit as good as the Nittany Lions.  Throw in the bounce factor, and the final score should look really ugly.  Even at 32½ points, it may take a tornado for FIU to cover this spread.

Strategies

Kansas -32½

Over 54½

Kansas -22½ and -19½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 44½ and 41½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Iowa State at Toledo

Vegas: Iowa St. by 3½

PiRate: Toledo by 2

Here’s another situation like the Kentucky game.  Iowa State pulled off the upset against Iowa last week, and now they travel to Toledo to play a winless Rockets team that is giving up 50 points and 500 total yards per game.

On paper, Iowa State looks to be at least two touchdowns better than Toledo, so why is the line just 3½?  The boys in Vegas and many players know something about the bounce factor.  Iowa State will be lucky to escape with a narrow win. 

The Cyclones haven’t shown any offensive firepower this year and actually won last week without scoring a touchdown.  Thanks to the leg of Bret Culberson, the ISU won with five field goals. On the plus side, the defense began to look like a Gene Chizik-coached team.

Something has to give this week.  Either Iowa State is going to break out and score more than in the teens, or Toledo is going to win its first game.  The Cyclones won’t win this game 14-10.  It will take more than 21 points to win.

Strategies

Toledo +13½ and +16½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Georgia at Alabama

Vegas: Alabama by 3½

PiRate: Alabama by 7

Alabama playing at home and only having to give up 3½ points to an opponent that has issues sounds like a good proposition to me.  After the Tide offense proved its merit with 41 points and a major comeback victory, I look for Coach Nick Saban to challenge his defense this week against the Bulldogs.  Georgia’s offense is not as good as Arkansas’s, and I expect the Tide to hold the Bulldogs under 21 points.

Georgia’s win over Oklahoma State doesn’t look all that impressive after seeing what Troy did to the Cowboys last week.  The Bulldogs just defeated by 29 the same Western Carolina team that Alabama trounced 52-6.  The Catamounts didn’t register the yardage against the red and black that they did against the crimson, but Georgia’s offense didn’t fare nearly as well as did the Alabama attack.

I look for Alabama to stay undefeated, while Georgia falls to last place in the SEC East.  I like the line in this one, but the teasers look even more inviting.

Strategies

Alabama -3½

Alabama + 6½ and +9½ in 10 and 13-point teasers 

Georgia +13½ and +16½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 58½ and 61½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Washington State at Southern California

Vegas: Southern Cal by 24½

PiRate: Southern Cal by 28

The Trojans looked like the number one team for about 28 minutes last Saturday.  The remaining 32 minutes they only looked like the number three or four team.  This week, they begin Pac-10 play with a home game against an outmanned opponent.  Washington State is going to have to fight tooth and nail against Stanford and Arizona for last place in the league.  Their miseries will begin at the Coliseum Saturday night.

I expect the Cougars to pass the ball around 40 times in this game, and that may force their defense to be on the field for 75 plays.  Give Southern Cal’s offense 40 rushes and 35 passes against the WSU defense, and they should easily top the half century mark in this game.

USC should totally shut down the WSU ground game, and when you throw in at least five sacks, it could add up to negative ground yards.  The Trojans’ running game is as good as it was with Reggie Bush and LenDale White.  Washington State will have to overplay the run to slow it down, and when they do so, watch out for John David Booty and the Trojan passing game.  The Trojans have yet to explode through the air, and I’m guessing it is going to happen in this game.

Strategies

Southern Cal -24½

Southern Cal -14½ and -11½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 54½ and 51½ in 10 and 13-point teasers   

—–

Iowa at Wisconsin

Vegas: Wisconsin by 7½

PiRate: Wisconsin by 12

As Big 10 play begins, here are two teams at crossroads.  Iowa lost at Iowa State, and their two wins are against winless Northern Illinois and Syracuse squads.  Wisconsin is undefeated, but the Badgers cannot be happy with any of their three victories.

The Big 10 looks to be falling in stature, maybe even beneath the ACC for 6th best this year.  Still, this game promises to be an exciting study of contrasting factors.

Iowa has an excellent defense and sub par offense, while Wisconsin has an excellent offense and deficient defense.  Expect some form of happy middle ground in this game.  Iowa’s offense will look better, while Wisconsin’s defense will surrender less than normal.

The Badgers have a modest home advantage, while all the other factors look to balance out.  The Pi-Rate computer believes this game won’t be as close as I expect, but I’m not ready to put my money where its mouth is.  This is another game that I’d leave alone.

Strategies

Keep your wallet clamped shut

—–

Purdue at Minnesota

Vegas: Purdue by 13½

PiRate: Purdue by 14

If Minnesota cannot stop Bowling Green, Miami (OH), and Florida Atlantic, how will they stop a much stronger team in Purdue?  The only way I see them holding the Boilermakers under 40 points is to sustain about five 80-yard, 15-play drives in this game.  That just isn’t going to happen.

Purdue is putting up 50 points per game on 215 yards rushing and 320 yards passing.  Minnesota is surrendering an eye-popping 431 passing yards per game, and the Gophers haven’t faced a really good quarterback the likes of Purdue’s Curtis Painter.  However, Purdue has yet to face an offense as explosive at Minnesota’s.  It adds up to a barnburner that should see many more kickoffs than punts.

I think Purdue has too much firepower for the Gophers to handle, and I look for a Boilermaker win.

Strategies

Purdue -3½ and -½ in 10 and 13-point teasers 

Over 59½ and 56½ in 10 and 13-point teasers 

—–

Oregon at Stanford

Vegas: Oregon by 17

PiRate: Oregon by 11

This game could be more interesting than many people predict.  Stanford really dominated San Jose State in their 37-0 win, and the loss to UCLA wasn’t as bad as the score.  The Cardinal look to be at least 7 to 10 points better at the start of this season compared to a year ago.

Oregon has looked like the near equal of Southern Cal to this point of the season.  The Ducks started a little sluggish against Houston, and then they destroyed Michigan at the Big House like no other team has done.  Last week, they put the bite on Fresno State.

I think this game will be closer than expected.  When a team pitches a shutout at home and plays at home the following game, their defense usually remains above their normal curve.  I’m not predicting the Cardinal to hold Oregon to 14 points and 300 total yards, but I do think they will hold the quack attack a good bit below their normal average in points (46.3) and total yards (519.3).  35 points and 400 total yards is what I expect the Ducks to produce, while Stanford surprises Oregon with 24 points and 380 yards.

Strategies

Stanford +27 and +30 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Oregon State at Arizona State

Vegas: Arizona St. by 12

PiRate: Arizona St. by 5

The Vagabond coach, Dennis Erickson, has his Sun Devils off to a fast 3-0 start.  ASU has done this three other times this decade, but they have gone a combined 13-15 the rest of the way in the past.

Oregon State certainly looked like a deer in the headlights in their first road game this year, as the Beavers were mauled by the Bearcats of Cincinnati 34-3.

I think this game will be relatively close, and OSU actually has a chance to win it.  I’d go as far to say that if they played this game 10 times, the Beavers would win three or four of them in Tempe.  Vegas has this game at 12 points, which I think is too much.

Strategies

Oregon State +12

Oregon State +22 and +25 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 63½ and 66½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Washington at U C L A

Vegas: UCLA by 6½

PiRate: UCLA by 10

Both of these teams are reeling after suffering defeats last week.  Washington lost at home to a really good Ohio State team, while the Bruins were totally manhandled at Utah. 

UCLA was 8-0 two years ago when the same thing happened to them at hapless Arizona.  They lost to a 2-6 Wildcats team by the score of 52-14.  The next week, the sons of Westwood bounced back for a home win over a good Arizona State team.  It looks like déjà vu all over again at the Rose Bowl this week.  Washington comes to town looking about as good as that 2005 Arizona State team.  UCLA won that won by 10, and I expect the Bruins to do so again this week.

Strategies

UCLA Pk and +3 in 10 and 13-point teasers (strong)

Over 37 and over 34 in 10 and 13-point teasers (strong)

This Week’s “Picks”

 

As I mentioned in the previews above, I don’t really like that many games this week.  This looks like one of those weeks where some good teams may stub their toes and some bad teams may get off the mat.  Therefore, I am going to limit my risk.  I’m still licking my wounds after playing a troika on the East Carolina-Southern Mississippi game.  ECU blew it late, causing me to lose three different wagers.  What could have been an 11-3-1 week finished 8-6-1 because of it.

 

Straight Selections

#1: Oklahoma -23 vs. Tulsa

#2: UCLA -6½ vs. Washington

#3: Georgia Tech -3½ vs. Virginia

#4: Idaho -3 vs. Northern Illinois

#5: Arkansas -6½ vs. Kentucky

10-point Teasers

#6:   Tulsa and Oklahoma Under 78

        Indiana + 12½ vs. Illinois

        Georgia + 13½ vs. Alabama

#7:   Toledo + 13½ vs. Iowa State

        Connecticut + 19½ vs. Pittsburgh    

        Kansas -22 vs. Florida International

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