The Pi-Rate Ratings

October 24, 2007

College Football Preview and Predictions October 25-27, 2007

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 2:26 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:(*)             33-17    66.0%

For The Season Picking Winners:                    299-106  73.8%

Last Week Picks vs. Spread:                             1-8-0   11.1% (ouch!!!-my worst week in 26 years!!!)

For the Season Picking Winners vs. Spread:      54-55-1  49.5% (over 52.4% returns a profit-this is the first time I have been under 52.4% after one week into a season since 1981)

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

Point spreads are those listed as of 11:30 AM ET Wednesday.

South Florida couldn’t handle prosperity last week, and I’m picking Boston College to fall by the wayside this week.  According to my ratings, Ohio State is no sure lock to win this week either.  My ratings now show Oregon to be the top team in the land this week, and they are a couple of inches from being undefeated right now. 

The upsets continued aplenty last week.  Besides Rutgers big win over USF; Connecticut showed the country they deserve some publicity for sports other than basketball.  In Dixie, Vanderbilt defeated #6 South Carolina in Columbia, and it marks the first time they ever defeated a Steve Spurrier-coached team.  As I predicted, North Dakota State beat Minnesota (Are the Gophers-in-charge wishing they hadn’t sent Glen Mason packing for losing a bowl game?).  Stanford won at Arizona, and that probably signaled the end, as of December, of the Mike Stoops era in Tucson. 

This could be a bumper year for major coaching positions becoming available.  It’s a mere matter of time before the Nebraska job becomes available.  Texas A&M will more than likely make a change.  Out West, in addition to Arizona, Washington State may be looking for a new coach.  In the Southeastern Conference, Houston Nutt might be done at Arkansas, and Ed Orgeron is probably finished at Ole Miss. Phil Fulmer will be forced to fire assistants if he wants to keep his job at Tennessee.

SMU coach Phil Bennett will not be back after not getting the Mustangs into a bowl.  Greg Robinson is more than likely done at Syracuse, and I expect him to quickly find work as an assistant somewhere.  Some coaches who could still save their jobs with fantastic finishes include Dave Wannstedt at Pittsburgh, Ted Roof at Duke, Sonny Lubick at Colorado State, and Mark Snyder at Marshall. 

There are a few more jobs where a bad finish could be cause for a surprise change.  Tommy Bowden has always been on the verge of being in trouble at Clemson.  Kirk Ferentz has seen his Iowa program slowly go downhill.  Karl Dorrell has been afflicted with a high casualty count, especially at quarterback, but there is a growing contingent of UCLA fans who would like to find a replacement.  Even Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno could be on the cusp of being forced into retirement.

The worst job to date though has got to be my picks of the last three weeks.  While not claiming to be a guru at this, and knowing that I am just an amateur with decades of experience, I have hit a huge slump with all these upsets and closer-than-expected games in October. 

I’m keeping the faith, and I will go with more games this week in hopes of pulling out of the free-fall before terra firma tears me apart.

As a result of needing to find more information, I am bringing an old rating of mine out of mothballs.  I used it as far back as the 1970’s and quit using it about 10 years ago.  If it improves the picks, I will use it here the rest of this season.  You will see this old rating as “Antique” following The Vegas Spread and PiRate Spread. 

Also, a result of recent weeks, when both of my ratings call for an outcome similar to the one Vegas has announced, I will not make a recommendation for that game.

Thursday, October 25

Boston College at Virginia Tech

Vegas: Virginia Tech by 3

PiRate: Virginia Tech by 3

Antique: Virginia Tech 31 Boston College 19

What a great way to start the college football weekend?  For the second consecutive week, the number two team in the BCS rankings must play a Thursday night road game against a really good team.  The undefeated Eagles are likely to leave Blacksburg in the same condition that South Florida departed New Jersey last week.

Virginia Tech looks to me to be the best team in the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Since the LSU debacle in Baton Rouge, the Hokies have averaged 35 points per game and yielded 11 points per game, including a blowout win at Clemson. 

Boston College’s last four wins have come against Army, Massachusetts, Bowling Green, and Notre Dame.  I’m not sure anybody could take the best talent off those four teams and come up with a team as good as Virginia Tech.  The Eagles didn’t exactly look like gangbusters in those wins.

Strategies

Virginia Tech -3

Virginia Tech -150

Virginia Tech +7 and +10 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 33 and 30 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Air Force at New Mexico

Vegas: New Mexico by 6

PiRate: New Mexico by 5

Antique: New Mexico 21 Air Force 17

Give New Mexico coach Rocky Long credit.  He may win more games with less talent than any other coach in the nation.  If there’s a school out there that needs a coach who always seems to win more games than he should, try prying good ole Rocky away from the place he loves.  I’ve admired him ever since he allowed Katie Hnida to join the team in 2002.

Credit is also due to new Air Force coach Troy Calhoun.  In his first year in The Springs, he has ended the Falcons’ three year run of losing seasons, and barring a total collapse, the Academy is bowl bound for the first time in five years.

I think the Lobos will win this in a close one, and it should be interesting to watch from the opening kickoff to the final gun.  My spreads and Vegas are too close, and I’m not going to make any recommendations here in a straight play.

Strategies

Under 47

Air Force +16 and +19 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 57 and 60 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Friday, October 26

Boise State at Fresno State

Vegas: Boise State by 3

PiRate: Boise State by 3

Antique: Boise State 38 Fresno State 31

After getting your whistle wet Thursday night, you get another excellent game on Friday (and there is no World Series game scheduled either).  Fresno State proved that they are back among the elite in the West last week when they thoroughly demolished San Jose State 30-0.  Meanwhile, Boise State had a rough week and struggled with Louisiana Tech before pulling ahead late.

Fresno State should benefit from staying home for a second consecutive week, while Boise must travel on the road for the second consecutive week and for the second week in a row, having one less day than normal to prepare.  That should tilt the spread in Fresno’s favor by 3-5 points and make this game a virtual tossup.  I think the Bulldogs have a strong chance to pull off the mild upset and set up a game for the WAC title against Hawaii on November 10.  Boise, of course, is also in the hunt for the league crown and must go to the islands on November 23. 

Strategies

Over 62½   

Fresno State +140 in the Money Line

Fresno State +13 and +16 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 52½ and 49½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 72½ and 75½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Saturday, October 27

West Virginia at Rutgers

Vegas: West Virginia by 6

PiRate: West Virginia by 7

Antique: West Virginia 38 Rutgers 27

Can Rutgers’ players be as fired up as last week and upset another top 10 team coming off the win over South Florida?  How close to 100% will Mountaineer quarterback Patrick White be for this game?  Those two questions make this one hard to figure out.

What won’t be hard to figure out is that this will be an excellent clash between two teams that can really run the ball.  West Virginia’s Steve Slaton and Noel Devine and Rutgers’ Ray Rice are three of the best in the land.  They have fantastic offensive lines opening holes for them, and those great interior players also protect their quarterbacks better than most teams.

West Virginia is still in the hunt for a BCS Bowl bid.  Even if South Florida wins out, making the Mountaineers the runner-up in the Big East, an 11-1 WVU team would be an odds-on favorite to secure an at-large bid to one of the big four (Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Rose).

This game will be decided by which team’s defense can slow down the other team’s star running back more.  A big play by one of the special teams units could also play a huge role, and I think West Virginia has the better chance of slowing Rice than Rutgers has of slowing White, Slaton, and Devine.

Strategies

West Virginia -6

Over 57

West Virginia +4 and +7 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 47 and 44 in 10 and 13-point teasers   

—–

Indiana at Wisconsin

Vegas: Wisconsin by 7½

PiRate: Wisconsin by 10

Antique: Wisconsin 36 Indiana 35

The Hoosiers are probably starting to feel the tiniest bit of panic after dropping consecutive games to fall to 5-3.  Some of the players remember the 4-1 start they had two years ago that soured into a 4-7 finish.

Wisconsin’s defense has yet to impress me in Big 10 games.  Even in the win over Iowa, they gave up too many big plays to a feeble offense.  Indiana’s offense is strong, and the Hoosiers are going to score points often in this one.  Wisconsin is also going to score points in bunches in this game because IU’s defense is actually a tad bit weaker than the Badgers’ stop troops.  The weather forecast calls for low 50’s and little chance of precipitation, so it shouldn’t hamper either team’s offense.  I’m looking for some late October fireworks at Camp Randall Stadium, and I think it will be closer than expected.  What’s great about this line is that if the game goes to overtime, Wisconsin cannot beat the spread, and that’s why I’m going with Indiana to cover.

Strategies

Indiana +7½

Over 56½

Indiana +17½

Over 46½ and 43½ in 10 and 13-point teasers   

     

—–

Ball State at Illinois

Vegas: Illinois by 13½

PiRate: Illinois by 15

Antique: Illinois 41 Ball State 17

Like Indiana, the Illini must stop any possible panic from setting in after dropping back-to-back games against Iowa and Michigan.  Illinois must win one more game to become bowl eligible and probably two more games to guarantee a bowl spot.

Like Illinois, Ball State is 5-3, and the Cardinals are the favorite to grab the third MAC Bowl slot.  An upset win in this game could propel BSU into the second slot.  I just don’t see it happening, and I don’t think they will keep it close.  Rashard Mendenhall should easily top 100 yards rushing in this game, and Ball State will have to sell out to stop the Illini from rushing for 300 yards.  That will allow Juice Williams and/or Eddie McGee to enjoy one of the Illini’s best passing days of the year.  BSU has been winning games with great turnover margin, and Illinois will not make enough mistakes for the Cardinals to exploit.  It adds up to a big Illinois win in Champaign-Urbana.

Strategies

Illinois -13½

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

Under 69½ and 72½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Michigan State at Iowa

Vegas: Michigan State by 3

PiRate: Michigan State by 6

Antique: Michigan State 24 Iowa 17

The natives are getting restless in Iowa City.  After the 2002 season, Coach Kirk Ferentz was considered a real genius, as the Hawkeyes won a share of the Big 10 crown and advanced to the Orange Bowl.  After decent 2003 and 2004 seasons, the Hawkeyes started going downhill.  2005 produced a 7-5 slate.  Last year, Iowa finished 6-7.  This year, they could be facing Minnesota in two weeks with last place going to the loser!  The 3-5 Hawkeyes need to win out to lock up a bowl bid, and they have a favorable schedule to do so, but only if they can get by the Spartans, who are struggling right now as well.

After winning their first four games, MSU has dropped four straight.  A loss in this game all but dooms them to a losing record with a final trio of games against Michigan, Purdue, and Penn State.

The Iowa passing game is not getting the job done, and that has a lot to do with some key personnel missing.  Tight end Tony Moeaki suffered a hand injury and has missed four games.  Wide Receivers Dominique Douglas and James Cleveland never suited up this year after being suspended.  Missing these vital cogs, quarterback Jake Christensen has few weapons at his disposal.  He’s done a brilliant job to this point throwing 11 touchdown passes against just three interceptions, but he isn’t going to force secondary coverage to worry.

Michigan State won’t approach their season’s averages of running and passing yards in this game, but the Spartans should score more than 20 points.  That should be enough to beat Iowa.

Strategies

Michigan State -3

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

Under 52½ and 55½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Northwestern at Purdue

Vegas: Purdue by 13  

PiRate: Purdue by 18

Antique: Purdue 44 Northwestern 24

It looks like Purdue is proving to be a team that beats up on the little guys but gets drilled by the big boys.  Northwestern is more little guy than big boy, so the Boilermakers should celebrate a happy homecoming weekend.

Northwestern can actually gain bowl eligibility with an upset here, but even if they lose the game, they finish with home games against Iowa and Indiana, followed by a finale at Illinois.  They have a halfway decent chance to pick up one win in the final four games.

Both of these teams should experience terrific passing days this week.  Neither team’s secondary can consistently stop an average passing attack, and both of these two have much better than average passing games.  I think the game will be decided in the trenches.  Purdue will be able to slow down Northwestern’s running game and pick up a couple of crucial QB sacks.  The Wildcats will not be able to stop Purdue when they run the ball in situations like third and three.  That should allow the Boilermakers to score on most of their possessions.  Go with Purdue by more than two touchdowns.

Strategies

Purdue -13

Purdue -3 and Pk in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Colorado at Texas Tech

Vegas: Texas Tech by 13½

PiRate: Texas Tech by 7

Antique: Texas Tech 38 Colorado 33

Texas Tech is a much different team at home than they are on the road, and this game will be played in Lubbock.  Colorado is a much improved team, but they have a much higher defensive scoring average on the road than at home.

After the whipping they took at Missouri, this is a gut check game for Texas Tech.  The Red Raiders can still win the South Division by winning out, but that means beating both Texas and Oklahoma.  I don’t see it happening, so this game is basically one for bowl positioning.  If the Big 12 sends two teams to the BCS bowls (which I think will happen), then a 6-6 Colorado team would grab one of the nine bowl invitations.  That 6-6 estimate factors in a loss in this one, so an upset could move the Buffs up a notch or two.

I look for CU to hold TTU under 400 yards passing.  Considering the Red Raiders typically pass for close to 500 yards, 380 yards passing would be a huge defensive effort.  It all adds up to a closer than expected Tech win.

Strategies

Colorado +13½

Colorado +23½ and +26½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 51½ and +48½ in 10 and 13-point teasers  

—–

Mississippi State at Kentucky

Vegas: Kentucky by 14

PiRate: Kentucky by 18

Antique: Kentucky 45 Mississippi State 23

Both of these teams had disappointing weekends in their prior game.  Kentucky had a chance against Florida, but Tim Tebow proved to be too much to handle.  Mississippi State couldn’t stop the triple-headed monster of Patrick White, Steve Slaton, and Noel Devine.

Andre Woodson still has a shot at the Heisman Trophy, but to do so, he will need a fantastic finish with several big games.  Since Rafael Little is still out until at least the Vanderbilt game on November 10, Tony Dixon is going to be needed to keep the Bulldog defense honest.  If Dixon can pull off two or three big gains (over 10 yards), Woodson will be able to locate his receivers and possibly pass for 300 to 350 yards.

I have a suspicion that Mississippi State will not approach this game with the same emotion that Kentucky does.  I’m not saying the team has quit; I just think they will be off this week.  I expect the Cats to win by more than two touchdowns.

Strategies

Kentucky – 14

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

Over 51½ and 48½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 71½ and 74½ in 10 and 13-point teasers   

—–

Iowa State at Missouri

Vegas: Missouri by 28½

PiRate: Missouri by 40

Antique: Missouri 48 Iowa State 10

This is a tricky one.  Missouri can probably name the score against the Cyclones, but will Coach Gary Pinkel pull Chase Daniel and company early to let the backups play most of the second half?  The Tigers must play at Colorado a week later, and it would be reasonable to expect the starters to rest early in a quick blowout.

Iowa State played their best game of the year last week at home against Oklahoma-even better than the win over Iowa.  The Cyclones are due for a bounce on the road, and Missouri doesn’t need anything extra to win this game with ease.

I’m guessing even the second team can score points this week against ISU, and the game will look more like the Cyclones’ game against Texas than the game against Oklahoma.

Strategies

Missouri -28½ (be careful with this one)

Iowa State + 38½ and +41½ in 10 and 13-point teasers (use as last resort)

Missouri -18½ and -15½ in 10 and 13-point teasers     

—–

Florida International at Arkansas

Vegas: Arkansas by 39½

PiRate: Arkansas by 51

Antique: Arkansas 48 FIU 10

This game is somewhat different than the Missouri game I just discussed.  First of all, even though FIU ranks dead last among the 120 FBS teams, their schedule has actually been more difficult than Arkansas’s to this point.  The Panthers have played Penn State, Maryland, Miami, Kansas, and Troy, which compares favorably with the schedule Notre Dame has played thus far.

Arkansas has also played Troy.  The Hogs have faced Alabama, Kentucky, and Auburn, but they have also gotten fat against North Texas, Chattanooga, and Ole Miss.

FIU has begun to play a tiny bit better the last couple weeks, and I think that will continue this week.  Forget about a Stanford-USC upset in this game, but I just don’t think Arkansas will cover a 39½ -point spread.  The PiRates say Arky can win by 51 points, but I don’t think Coach Houston Nutt really cares about winning by 40.  After Darren McFadden and Felix Jones have both rushed for more than 100 yards, Nutt will call off the Hogs.  I expect a 35-point halftime lead will expand by no more than a field goal in the second half.  This would be one to use in a 13-point teaser, giving you FIU +52½ !  If Nutt is definitely finished in Fayetteville, he might find it amusing to quit trying to score once the Razorbacks lead by 39.  It would be funny as you know what if that happened.

Strategies

FIU + 39½   

FIU + 49½ and +52½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Arkansas -29½ and -26½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Miami-OH at Vanderbilt

Vegas: Vanderbilt by 13½  

PiRate: Vanderbilt by 21

Antique: Vanderbilt 28 Miami-OH 10

This is a game I don’t get.  Sure, Vanderbilt is not often a double-digit favorite, even at home; and, when they have been a double-digit favorite in the past, they have usually failed to cover.  Well, this year, they already have covered at home as a double-digit favorite against a team from the MAC.  That just happened to be a poorly played game, and still the Commodores covered. 

After last week’s huge upset win over South Carolina, the Commodores should be ready to add to the momentum by playing their best home game since they almost knocked off National Champion Florida last year.

Miami has played on the road against two other teams from BCS conferences this season.  They provided Minnesota with their only win by losing to the Gophers in overtime.  They went to Colorado and left the Rockies a 42-0 loser.  That CU team is basically on par with this Vandy team.  Therefore, the Commodores should win this game with relative ease, unless they lay a dinosaur egg.  I just don’t think the black and gold will misfire this week.  Their defense should hold Miami to around 90-120 rushing yards. Their secondary might give up 200 passing yards, but the Commodores’ defense leads the SEC with 14 interceptions.  Miami’s quarterbacks have been generous so far in throwing the ball to the opposition, and I think Vandy might pick off another three or four this week.  Considering the Commodores should win if turnover margin is even, consider what will happen if Vandy is +3 in that stat?  It would be a big win, and I’m expecting at least a 17-point victory.

One note: The PiRates now show Vandy going 6-6, but the players know that it will probably take a 7-5 record to break the longest bowl drought among BCS schools.  Vandy could be jilted with a 6-6 record and the probability that 10 SEC teams will become bowl eligible.  At 7-5, the Commodores could become an at-large candidate if they didn’t receive the Music City, Liberty, or Independence Bowl bid.

Strategies

Vanderbilt -13½   

Under 42½

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

Under 52½ and 55½ in 10 and 13-point teasers 

—–

Southern California at Oregon

Vegas: Oregon by 3

PiRate: Oregon by 7

Antique: Oregon 45 Southern Cal 23

The Antique rating was discontinued several years ago because it kept coming up with blowout predictions in games that looked to be tossups.  At one point in time, this rating picked these surprise blowouts with absolute regularity, rarely missing.  I don’t know if the cycle has turned around and begun to work again, but it worked well in 1981 (the last year as wacky as this one).

That said, I just find it hard to believe the Ducks will run USC out of Autzen Stadium.  Don’t get me wrong; I think Oregon stands a 70-75% chance of winning this game, and the PiRates now say the Ducks are the top team in the nation.  But, can they score 45 points and beat USC by more than three touchdowns?  Let’s remember that they only need to win by four to cover, and that means this becomes a very playable game. 

For what it’s worth, the Trojans haven’t been underdogs in a game since the 2003 season opener at Auburn.  They were favorites for 58 consecutive games.  Unofficially, the last team to be a favorite for that many consecutive weeks was Oklahoma from the week after losing to Nebraska in 1971 until the Ohio State game in early 1977.

This is the “Game of the Week,” and I wouldn’t miss this one if you are a big college football fan.

Strategies

Oregon -3

Oregon + 7 and +10 in 10 and 13-point teasers

U S C +13 and +16 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 50 and 47 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Arizona at Washington

Vegas: Washington by 4

PiRate: Washington by 6

Antique: Washington 38 Arizona 17

The hardest six-game stretch in years is finally over for Washington, and the Huskies stumbled through it by winning one and losing five.  Now, U-Dub gets their first weaker team since the opener at Syracuse.  Jake Locker should drive the Wildcats crazy in this game, because the true freshmen gave the six behemoths all they could handle.

Arizona is certainly a candidate for a major bounce this week.  They lost at home to Stanford in a game that basically sealed Mike Stoops’ fate in Tucson.  I think there is a good probability that this team will fold until the Arizona State game.  Many people don’t factor in the length of this road trip, since it is a conference affair.  AU must travel more than 1600 miles, and that contributes some to the final expected outcome.

Strategies

Washington -4

Washington +6 and +9 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 65½ and 68½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

South Florida at Connecticut

Vegas: South Florida by 4

PiRate: South Florida by 12

Antique: South Florida 23 Connecticut 16

Kudos must go to UConn for being the leader in the Big East with one month left to go in the regular season.  The Huskies have yet to play Rutgers, Cincinnati, and West Virginia, so their 2-0 conference mark is to be taken with some grain of salt.  Nevertheless, Coach Randy Edsall should receive some accolades for his team being bowl eligible.

South Florida saw its national championship aspirations vanish last week when the Bulls lost to Rutgers.  Could USF lose twice in a row?  It’s possible, but it’s not probable.  To beat the Bulls, it takes an aggressive, wide-open offense that can beat the defense to the point of attack with enough blockers on running plays and exploit an overaggressive secondary on passing plays.  I don’t think Connecticut’s offense is up to the task.  This should be a close game because UConn’s defense can hold USF’s offense 10 points below its average of 34 points per game. 

Strategies

Under 46½

South Florida +6 and +9 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 56½ and 59½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

 

—–

Florida vs. Georgia at Jacksonville, FL

Vegas: Florida by 8½

PiRate: Florida by 9

Antique: Florida 35 Georgia 23

I can remember this rivalry as far back as Steve Spurrier’s sophomore season as the Gators’ quarterback in 1964.  There have been several outstanding games, most notably the Buck Belue to Lindsay Scott touchdown pass game in 1980-it enabled the Bulldogs to stay undefeated and eventually claim the national title.

This season’s version of the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” should be interesting, even if the game doesn’t turn out to be close for four quarters.

Georgia barely escaped with a win over Vanderbilt when they last played two weeks ago.  The Bulldogs’ defense didn’t really stop the Commodores, and that could be a major problem when they face the Tim Tebow Express.  Florida’s offense can roll over defenses with line plunges, and they can beat them at the perimeter with quick sweeps.  When those defenses begin to bring extra defenders up to the line to stop the two-pronged rushing attack, Tebow can trick them by faking a line plunge, then pulling up and throwing to a receiver who occupies the vacated zone.  He can wind up and throw the deep ball as well as any quarterback in college football.

Georgia has the potential to be a very good team, but they can also stink up the joint like they did in their loss to Tennessee.  If the Bulldogs bring their A-game to Jacksonville, they can keep this one close.  However, anything other than an “A” effort will make this game look more like the Tennessee game.

The Bulldogs had an extra week to prepare, while Florida had a tough tussle with Kentucky.  That should move the spread a few points in Georgia’s favor, but I just don’t see the red and black having enough up front to slow down the Gators’ rushing attack.  Florida will come out and attempt to run the ball down Georgia’s throats, and Coach Mark Richt will have no choice but to gamble with stunts and blitzes, or he’ll have to bring up his safeties too often.  Even with Tebow not playing 100%, he’ll rush for enough yards and pass for enough yards to give his team their third consecutive win in this series.  The spread for this game is perfect, and I wouldn’t play either side.

Strategies

Georgia +18½ and +21½ in 10 and 13-point teasers 

Under 65½ and 68½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Nebraska at Texas

Vegas: Texas by 20½

PiRate: Texas by 27

Antique: Texas 35 Nebraska 27

This is one game where the Antique finds itself undervaluing the favorite, as this rating gives equal importance to Nebraska’s early season success (win at Wake Forest) as it does to their current slide toward the gutter.  It also gives equal weight to Texas’s games against Arkansas State and Central Florida with their current, more impressive wins and close loss to Oklahoma.

Nebraska is for all practical purposes a team that has quit on its coach and knows there is not much left to play for this year.  Texas is still clinging onto hopes of landing a possible Cotton Bowl berth and a probable spot in the Holiday Bowl.  They have much more to play for in this game, and the Longhorns won’t need much extra oomph for their offense to slice through the frail Cornhusker defense.  Nebraska has given up 40 or more points four times and 35 or more five times this season.  Texas’s offense is good enough to make it six times over 35, and that will be enough for an easy win.  Nebraska has lost its last three games, all against Big 12 opponents, by an average of 41-11.  Considering they lost in Lincoln by 31 to Oklahoma State and 22 to Texas A&M, it figures Texas should win by more than 21 in Austin.

Strategies

Texas -20½

Texas -10½ and -7½ in 10 and 13-point teasers 

—–

Minnesota at Michigan

Vegas: Michigan by 23

PiRate: Michigan by 24

Antique: Michigan 45 Minnesota 18

Minnesota’s athletic office ought to phone or e-mail their counterpart at Michigan and tell them just to leave the little brown jug in their trophy case; after all, it’s going to be there for at least another year.

Minnesota couldn’t tolerate that Glen Mason took the Gophers to seven bowl games in his eight seasons in Minneapolis.  You see, none of those seven bowl invitations had the name Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange, Capital One, or Outback.  The Gophers blew a 31-point lead in the last 23 minutes of last year’s Insight Bowl game against Texas Tech, and Mason was served his pink slip.  Now, Minnesota won’t have to worry about blowing any leads in a minor bowl game.  The Gophers now sleep in the dregs of the Big 10 Conference, and many of their fans believe the current coaching staff is in over their heads.  I’ve actually heard rumors that Tim Brewster could be in trouble in his first season at the helm.

It still looks as though this is the last year for Lloyd Carr in Ann Arbor.  I wonder if anyone in the Wolverine state is looking at what happened when Minnesota fired a coach with a winning record. 

As for this game, Michigan should coast to an easy victory.  Even with a threat of rain in the forecast, the maize and blue should rush for 200-250 yards and pass for even more.  They should top 40 points for the second time in the last three weeks.  I’m a little worried that the Gophers could score a worthless touchdown or two late in the game after the Wolverines are up by 25 to 30 points.  So, for that reason, I do not recommend playing either side straight up.

Strategies

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

Over 49 and 46 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Baylor at Kansas State

Vegas: Kansas State -25½

PiRate: Kansas State by 29

Antique: Kansas State 49 Baylor 13

On the surface, this looks like your typical mismatch where the home team blows out a weaker opponent.  Kansas State won at Texas by 20 points; Baylor lost at home to the Longhorns by 21.  Kansas State defeated Colorado in Manhattan by 27 points, while Baylor lost to the Buffs in Waco by 20.  KSU lost at home to Kansas by six, while Baylor lost at Kansas by 48 points.  You get the picture; KSU is a good four touchdowns better than Baylor on a neutral field, and in the Little Apple, they are at least 31 points better.  So why is the spread just 25½ points?  Any team capable of throwing for 300 yards in a game could conceivably score 24-28 points.  So, if Baylor scores 24 points in this game, KSU will have to score 50 or more to win.  Therein lies the risk.  Is Baylor capable of gaining 300 yards through the air in this game?  Because Kansas State does not have the ability to hold onto the ball for 15 play, 80 yard drives, Baylor may get that chance to throw the ball 45 times and accumulate 300 yards.  That’s why this game isn’t as easy looking as it appears on the surface.

Strategies

Kansas State -15½ and -12½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 50 ½ and 47 ½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Virginia at North Carolina State

Vegas: Virginia by 3

PiRate: Virginia by 5

Antique: Virginia 24 N.C. State 16

Virginia has got to be the quietest 7-1 team in many years.  After the Cavs lost their season opener at Wyoming, they have narrowly defeated six of the other seven teams they have played and slaughtered Pittsburgh.  Included in those close escapes were wins over Duke, North Carolina, and Middle Tennessee.  In their most recent two games, UVA has escaped with one point wins over Connecticut and Maryland.  Those two games show that the Cavs deserve to be bowl eligible.

North Carolina State arose from their early season slumber last week with a big win over in-state rival East Carolina.  It was only the Wolf Pack’s second victory of the season-their other win came against Wofford.  That road victory coupled with a home game this week makes State dangerous and ripe for an upset victory.  The odds makers definitely knew what they were doing when they installed Virginia as such a short favorite in this game.  They could easily win another game by one or two points, and that’s what makes this one so difficult.  I’d lay off it unless the spread changes drastically between now and Saturday morning.  If it moves up to five or more points, consider the home team.  If it moves towards a pick, then go with Virginia.

Strategies

Virginia +7 and +10 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 52 and 55 in 10 and 13-point teasers

        

—–

Ole Miss at Auburn

Vegas: Auburn by 17

PiRate: Auburn by 27

Antique: Auburn 37 Ole Miss 7

Auburn came so close to winning at LSU last week, that there could be a residual affect this week.  That affect could be negative, but the Tigers could also feel like they have something to prove with a damaged opponent coming to Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Ole Miss completely self-destructed last week at home against Arkansas.  I cannot see much chance that Coach Ed Orgeron will retain his position in Oxford after that debacle, and the players may be ready to shut it down for the season.  To me, this looks like a mismatch with Auburn capable of winning by four touchdowns.  On the road in the SEC, the Rebels have lost at Vanderbilt by 14 and at Georgia by 28.  Auburn is just as good if not better than Georgia, so the War Eagles should win by 28 or more.

Strategies

Auburn -17

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

Over 34 and 31 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Stanford at Oregon State

Vegas: Oregon State by 13½

PiRate: Oregon State by 14

Antique: Oregon State 30 Stanford 28

Who would have ever guessed that in his first year as a head coach at a BCS school, former standout quarterback Jim Harbaugh would have Stanford on the bubble for becoming bowl eligible?  The Cardinal are 3-4 with games still to play against Washington State and Notre Dame.  Winning those two would mean Stanford would need to pull one more upset off with this game as well as games against Washington and California still to be played.  I’d say Stanford has a 50-50 chance of pulling it off.  If so, Harbaugh deserves consideration for National Coach of the Year.

Oregon State is not going to be an easy team to upset, and I believe it is the most difficult game left on Stanford’s schedule.  While this hasn’t been the best of seasons in Beaverville, OSU should find itself playing in a bowl game for the seventh time in the last nine seasons.

This should be your typical Pac-10 shootout with the two teams combining for about 450-475 passing yards and 55 to 70 total points.  Stanford will not back down in this game, as they have gone toe-to-toe with better teams this year.  In the end, OSU should be just a tad too strong, and with home field advantage should emerge with a close victory.

Strategies

Stanford +13½   

Stanford +23½ and +26½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 43 and 40 in 10 and 13-point teasers  

—–

UCLA at Washington State

Vegas: UCLA by 6   

PiRate: UCLA by 11

Antique: UCLA 38 Washington State 26

Patrick Cowan is semi-healthy for the time being, but the UCLA quarterback is still not in great shape.  He had to cut out of practice earlier this week.

Washington State owns victories over San Diego State and Idaho, two teams who have combined for a 3-12 record.  Coach Bill Doba is in his fifth year at WSU, and this season could be his last in Pullman.  This is the put up or shut up game for the Cougars.  They must win this game to have any chance of rebounding for a 6-6 season.  While I don’t think there is a chance they will finish 4-1 to break even, they may play above their potential this weekend, as their backs are against the wall.  UCLA should win by more than a touchdown, but if Cowan should be injured in the game, Washington State could come up with the win.  McLeod Bethel-Thompson just hasn’t been able to move the team when he has been in control of the Bruin offense.  This is what makes this game so hard to figure.  How can you determine what the chances are of one player getting hurt?  I’d say they are considerably less than 50-50, so the Bruins should win by double digits, even with WSU playing up to their potential.

Strategies

UCLA -6

UCLA +4 and +7 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 44½ and 41½ in 10 and 13-point teasers 

—–

Kansas at Texas A&M

Vegas: Kansas by 2½  

PiRate: Kansas by 5

Antique: Kansas 35 Texas A&M 20

Kansas already owns two road wins in Big 12 play-at Kansas State and at Colorado.  Texas A&M is not as strong as Kansas State and about equal with Colorado, so Kansas is favored on the road once again. 

This is the first time the Jayhawks have been forced to play back-to-back weeks on the road, while A&M returns home to Kyle Field after trouncing Nebraska in Lincoln last week.  That should tilt the game a few points in the Aggies’ favor.

Kansas yields just 78 rushing yards per game.  A piece of that is due to an excellent pass rush, but the Jayhawk defense is tough against the run.  Texas A&M is strictly a one-dimensional team on offense, and they must run the ball effectively to score.  While I expect the Aggies to be able to more than double the rushing yardage Kansas normally surrenders, I don’t think they will approach their average of 260 yards per game.  I’m guessing they will pick up about 160 rushing yards in this game and a maximum of 150 to 175 passing yards.  That should give A&M about 17-20 points. 

Kansas should rush for around 180 yards and possibly pass for more than 275 yards in this game, as Texas A&M doesn’t have a strong defense.  The Aggies must win by outscoring opponents, and I don’t think they will score enough points to win.  I’m going with KU to improve to 8-0 for the first time since 1909!  In that magical season of 1968 when Pepper Rogers directed Bobby Douglass and John Riggins, and in the great 1995 season, KU started off 7-0.  Both teams lost their eighth games, but I don’t think that history will three-peat.

Strategies

Kansas – 2½

Kansas + 7½ and +10½ in 10 and 13-point teasers   

—–

South Carolina at Tennessee

Vegas: Tennessee by 3

PiRate: Tossup

Antique: Tennessee 34 South Carolina 23

This is not your typical Steve Spurrier-coached team.  The Gamecocks failed to score a touchdown last week against Vanderbilt of all teams!  Not only did USC lose to the Commodores at home, Vanderbilt bullied them for four quarters.  They could have played another four quarters, and Carolina would not have scored 17 points.

Tennessee has the exact opposite problem.  Currently, the Vols are yielding more than 32 points per game, and in their three losses, their opponents have scored 45, 59, and 41 points!  General Robert Neyland must be turning over in his grave.  His teams frequently gave up less than 40 points for an entire season.  Phil Fulmer may have his back against the wall now, and I’m not totally sure he can move too far away from it.  If Alabama can score 41 points against their defense, what’s going to happen when UT plays at Kentucky?

So what we have here is the opposite of an unstoppable force colliding with an immovable object.  We have a force that barely moves colliding with an object that can be moved by a gentle breeze.  The result should be an interesting, typically-close football game with an average amount of yards and points tallied.  The loser of this game will have three SEC losses and will be out of the East Division race.  The winner stays alive, hoping Georgia can topple Florida.

I think there is some dissension in Knoxville, and that’s about the only reason I am picking the Gamecocks to beat the spread.  The PiRates rate this game a tossup, while the Antique rating shows Tennessee to be a double-digit favorite.  I just don’t see Spurrier’s team playing lousy two consecutive weeks.

Strategies

South Carolina + 3

South Carolina +13 and +16 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Over 43 and 40 in 10 and 13-point teasers

Under 63 and 66 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

Ohio State at Penn State  

Vegas: Ohio State by 3½

PiRate: Ohio State by 8

Antique: Penn State 21 Ohio State 17

Okay, folks!  Every week the unthinkable upset seems to dominate the headlines.  This is the big trap game of the week.  Penn State has the horses to beat the current BCS numero uno.  Ohio State is not as infallible as some of the other teams who have met defeat in the former of an upset, but the Buckeyes aren’t exactly an incarnation of the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers.

The Antique rating heavily weights schedule strength and home field advantage in games like this, so it shows the Nittany Lions as the team to win this game outright.  The PiRates say the Buckeyes are still the class in this match, so we have a difference of opinion.  I must say that I quit using the Antique Rating because by the early 1990’s the PiRate method was consistently outperforming the Antique Rating.  Of course, this year is not comparable with any of the years in the past when I compiled both ratings in the same season.  The PiRate Rating did not exist in 1981 when there were as many upsets as there have been this season.

As far as this game is concerned, it should definitely be one resembling a game from the “good ole days,” when gaining field position with a conservative offense and stellar defense and avoiding mistakes decided games.  The winner of this contest could easily score 17 or fewer points, and it isn’t totally impossible for the final to be something like 13-10.  Three and a half points is a tricky spread to cover.  I would go with the underdog at home in a big game in most circumstances like this.  However, I just find it hard to pick against a team that has dominated Big 10 opponents for the past two seasons.  I’m going to do it any way. 

The Buckeyes lost outright as a 3½-point favorite the last time they ventured into Beaver Stadium.  That was a Buckeye team with a previous loss, and Penn State was on its way to an 11-1 season.

Here’s why I am going with the home team:  Penn State has a larger than average home field advantage.  The Lions play much better at home than they do on the road, and I think some of it has to do with the coaching philosophy-they seem to open up the offense a bit more and gamble on defense a bit more.  Additionally, Ohio State plays it more close to the vest on the road, trying to win games somewhat like the way Woody Hayes did.  They won’t run the split-t trying for “three yards and a cloud of dust,” but they play the 21st century version of “drive for five.”  It won’t work against the Penn State defense, and I think we will be looking at another team on top of the BCS and AP rankings come Sunday afternoon.

Strategies

Penn State + 3½

Penn State +13½ and +16½ in 10 and 13-point teasers 

Under 50½ and 53½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

California at Arizona State

Vegas: Arizona State by 3

PiRate: Arizona State by 9

Antique: Arizona State 35 California 28  

While Oregon-USC is the overall best game of the week, this one may be the most interesting game of the week.  Arizona State has defeated Colorado, Oregon State, and Washington en route to a 7-0 start.  Cal represents the best team they will have played to date.  With USC, UCLA, and Oregon left to play, it’s highly unlikely the Sun Devils can run the table, but Coach Dennis Erickson could put his team in position to be in position for one of the top two BCS lots if ASU can win this game impressively.

After dropping back-to-back games, Cal is no longer in the hunt for a BCS Bowl.  The win over Oregon was almost a gift, as Duck quarterback Dennis Dixon was stretching out to score the winning touchdown when he lost his grip and fumbled the ball just into the end zone and out of bounds for a touchback.  Cal is a little overrated right now, but the Bears have played a more difficult schedule than ASU. 

It’s hard to predict UC to lose three games in a row, but that’s what I’m going to do.  Arizona State’s players have the confidence and the concentration to do what it takes to win Saturday and head to Eugene with an 8-0 record for the showdown with Oregon next week.

  

Strategies

Arizona State -3 

Arizona State +7 and +10 in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

New Mexico State at Hawaii

Vegas: Hawaii by 28

PiRate: Hawaii by 26

Antique: Hawaii 55 New Mexico State 38

Except for the embarrassment at Boise, Coach Hal Mumme’s Aggies have played quite well on the road this year.  Hawaii has averaged 60 points per game at home, but look who they have played.  Northern Colorado, Charleston Southern, and Utah State isn’t a mighty trio.  Utah State only lost by 15 at Hawaii.

I believe NMSU will score a goodly amount of points in this game, but I don’t think they have much chance of winning.  However, losing by 28 points is a big stretch.  The Aggies should pass the ball for 300-400 yards and score four touchdowns or more in this game.  Let’s say NMSU scores just 27 points.  Hawaii will have to score 56 or more to beat the spread.  The strength of schedule betrays UH as a fraud when put in the mix of the elite teams. 

Auburn beat NMSU by 35 points, and I think the Tigers would beat Hawaii by double digits.  Thus, I think UH will beat NMSU by less than four touchdowns.

Strategies

New Mexico State +28

New Mexico State +38 and +41 in 10 and 13-point teasers     

Over 68½ and 65½ in 10 and 13-point teasers

—–

PiRate Predictions For All Games

Home Team in Caps (N) Denotes Neutral Site

 

 

Thursday, October 25

 

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Spread

Approx. Score

VIRGINIA TECH Boston College

3

20-17

NEW MEXICO Air Force

5

24-19

 

 

Friday, October 26

 

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Spread

Approx. Score

Boise State FRESNO STATE

3

27-24

 

 

Saturday, October 27

 

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Spread

Approx. Score

West Virginia RUTGERS

7

34-27

LOUISVILLE Pittsburgh

14

27-13

WAKE FOREST North Carolina

12

26-14

WISCONSIN Indiana

10

34-24

ILLINOIS Ball State

15

21-6

Michigan State IOWA

6

20-14

PURDUE Northwestern

18

38-20

TEXAS TECH Colorado

7

34-27

KENTUCKY Mississippi State

18

42-24

BUFFALO Akron

5

26-21

Central Michigan KENT STATE

7

30-23

MISSOURI Iowa State

40

46-6

ARKANSAS Florida Int’l

51

51-0

VANDERBILT Miami-Oh

21

28-7

WYOMING U n l v

14

28-14

OREGON Southern Cal

7

38-31

TULSA S m u

12

31-19

WASHINGTON Arizona

6

26-20

TULANE Memphis

5

28-23

UTAH STATE Louisiana Tech

4

21-17

South Florida CONNECTICUT

4

21-17

Florida    (Jacksonville) Georgia

9

21-12

TEXAS  Nebraska

27

34-7

MICHIGAN  Minnesota

24

41-17

Clemson MARYLAND

2

28-26

EAST CAROLINA Ala.-Birmingham

17

34-17

Western Michigan EASTERN MICHIGAN

4

27-23

KANSAS STATE Baylor

29

49-20

FLA. ATLANTIC La.-Monroe

10

31-21

NEVADA Idaho

19

38-19

Virginia N. C. STATE

5

24-19

MARSHALL Rice

8

35-27

Utah  COLORADO STATE

12

28-16

AUBURN Ole Miss

27

34-7

BOWLING GREEN Ohio U

9

30-21

OREGON STATE Stanford

14

35-21

U c l a WASHINGTON ST.

11

31-20

Kansas  TEXAS A&M

15

35-20

Middle Tennessee NORTH TEXAS

17

27-10

Troy ARKANSAS STATE

9

30-21

TOLEDO Northern Illinois

5

26-21

TENNESSEE South Carolina

0

28-27 ot

Ohio State PENN STATE

8

20-12

FLORIDA STATE Duke

19

28-9

Houston U T E P

12

35-23

Brigham Young SAN DIEGO STATE

Postponed

ARIZONA STATE California

9

35-26

HAWAII New Mexico St.

26

50-24

 

 

Sunday, October 28

 

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Spread

Approx. Score

SOUTHERN MISS. Central Florida

5

28-23

This Week’s “Picks”

 

1-8!  This is rock bottom.  I have only done worse one time, and that was an 0-3 week when I had a radio program on the Tennessee Radio Network back in 1981.  That was the wackiest year in college football before this one.  Three straight losing weekends for the first time since 1988 has me searching for answers.  The only answer is to work harder trying to find an extra angle.  I played 9 teasers last week and was right 65% of the time in those games, but you have to be right 100% with each parlay to win.  Most of the parlays picked two of the three games correctly, and that was so aggravating.  So, it’s time to look for the best possible plays regardless of the type this week.

Straight Plays Against the Spread

# 1: Virginia Tech -3 vs. Boston College

# 2: Oregon -3 vs. Southern Cal

# 3: Utah State +2½ vs. Louisiana Tech

# 4: Washington -4 vs. Arizona

# 5: Texas -20½ vs. Nebraska

# 6: South Carolina +3 vs. Tennessee

# 7: Penn State + 3½ vs. Ohio State

# 8: Arizona State -3 vs. California

# 9: Troy -4 vs. Arkansas State

#10: New Mexico State +28 vs. Hawaii  

#11: Indiana & Wisconsin Over 56½

Money Line Picks

#12: Virginia Tech -150 vs. Boston College

#13: Washington -160 vs. Arizona

10-point Teasers

#14: Duke +27 vs. Florida State

        Georgia +18½ vs. Florida

Utah +4½ vs. Colorado State

#15: Purdue -3 vs. Northwestern

        Tulsa -3½ vs. SMU

        Kansas State -15½ vs. Baylor

#16: Kentucky -1 vs. Mississippi State

        Nevada -3 vs. Idaho

        Auburn -4 vs. Ole Miss

#17: Virginia Tech & Boston College Over 33

        Connecticut & South Florida Under 56½

        Indiana & Wisconsin Over 46½   

                        

13-point Teasers

#18: Virginia Tech +10 vs. Boston College

        Virginia +10 vs. North Carolina St.

        South Carolina +16 vs. Tennessee

        North Carolina +18½ vs. Wake Forest

#19: Penn State +16½ vs. Ohio State

        New Mexico St. +41 vs. Hawaii

        Troy +9 vs. Arkansas St.

        Buffalo +11½ vs. Akron

#20: Washington +9 vs. Arizona

        Iowa +16 vs. Michigan State

        Utah State +15½ vs. Louisiana Tech

        Oregon +10 vs. USC

#21: Florida & Georgia Under 68½

        Michigan & Minnesota Over 46

        Ole Miss & Auburn Over 31

        Vanderbilt & Miami-OH Under 55½        

Unofficial 3-team parlay on money line

You can play this underdog parlay on the money line and get 14 times your investment if it wins.  This is not an official choice; I just offer it up for review:

Fresno State +140 vs. Boise State

South Carolina +140 vs. Tennessee

Penn State +160 vs. Ohio State

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2 Comments

  1. […] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here’s a quick excerpt the opening kickoff to the final gun.  My spreads and Vegas are too close, and I m not going to make any […]

    Pingback by Ghillie Suits » College Football Preview and Predictions October 25-27, 2007 — October 24, 2007 @ 3:56 pm

  2. […] piratings put an intriguing blog post on College Football Preview and Predictions October 25-27, 2007.Here’s a quick excerpt: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, … […]

    Pingback by www.soccersecrets.info » College Football Preview and Predictions October 25-27, 2007 — October 29, 2007 @ 4:18 pm


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