Putting the Wraps on College Football With Three Questions for 2015

Patterson
Patterson
Gary Patterson and TCU have every right to be upset especially after the team that replaced won the title.

By now you know the Ohio State Buckeyes are the champions of college football. While many will tell you this is the first-ever undisputed championship, you won’t catch me saying that.

Let’s remember that this team got into the playoffs simply because the committee wanted to avoid choosing TCU ahead of Baylor. By taking the Buckeyes, that meant neither the Horned Frogs nor the Bears were going into the playoffs so a lot of controversy was avoided. TCU had been listed in the top four for several weeks and in the last poll before the final rankings were released.

Both TCU and Ohio State had one loss. The Frogs lost a high-scoring shootout to Baylor 61-58 in Waco while the Buckeyes lost to 6-6 Virginia Tech in the Horseshoe.

Then bowl season came around and we all wondered how TCU would respond in their match-up against Ole Miss. Would they still be hanging their heads wondering about what might have been or would they prove to the committee that they should have been in rather than Ohio State?

Ask the Rebels which TCU team showed up…

The point is this; The Buckeyes are a worthy champion having defeated Alabama and Oregon and I certainly can’t say TCU would have accomplished this. But the fact that the one team that wasn’t in the top four rankings until the very end won the title tells me the playoff must expand to an eight-team field.

Barrett
If J.T. Barrett recovers well, I expect him to get the nod at QB for the Buckeyes in 2015.

I believe it will eventually but probably not for several years at the earliest.

Five Questions Heading Into 2015

1. Can the Buckeyes make it two in a row? You bet they can. With Urban Meyer as head coach, a plethora of top new recruits and a lot of guys back from this past season’s team, there is no reason OSU can’t win back-to-back titles. The schedule is very favorable with the only troublesome road trips at Virginia Tech in the opener and at Michigan in the finale.

Obviously the biggest issue is at quarterback. It’s a good problem to have but Meyer is going to need to commit to Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett or Braxton Miller fairly soon. My gut feeling is that they go with Barrett as long as the leg heals properly.

2. Who bounces back for the SEC? Southeastern Conference expert Paul Feinbaum had a funny tweet yesterday and I’m paraphrasing a bit. “The Big Ten wins the National Championship in football, while the SEC has the top team in basketball. Something isn’t right.”

There’s no question the folks down South are hurting right now. While overall, their run of consecutive national titles still reigns supreme, but the fact they couldn’t even muster a team into the title game has left many feeling blue.

There isn’t a team in the SEC that doesn’t have question marks however. Both Alabama and Auburn will feature new quarterbacks and LSU is undergoing numerous changes on the defensive side. The SEC East should be better overall but whether they have a title contender is uncertain.

There’s no question the SEC will bounce back but there’s no clear cut evidence of who rises to the top just yet.

3. What is a “good outcome” in Harbaugh’s first year at Michigan? If you ask Wolverines’ fans they’ll tell you nothing short of a Big Ten title will suffice but that isn’t fair. Michigan will be better, there’s no way they won’t be with the staff Harbaugh has assembled and the attitude he’s already installing.

The defense last year in Ann Arbor was actually pretty darn good but the offense was the real problem. Harbaugh has to find a capable QB and a running game as well. I believe eight or nine wins is a very acceptable first year. Anything more is a bonus.

 

Some Great College Football Action Coming Up Today

GOlden
GOlden
Al Golden brings his Hurricanes to Georgia Tech for a key ACC showdown.

Miami (+1.5) at Georgia Tech (O/U 56) – The Canes scored a big win over defending division champ Duke last weekend at home. Now Miami hits the road to play a Georgia Tech team that has already beaten Virginia Tech and comes off a bye week. The Canes have played a slightly tougher schedule having lost at Louisville and Nebraska but Bobby Dodd Stadium isn’t a friendly place either.

Trends: Miami is 3-10 against the spread in their last 13 games… Georgia Tech is 2-4 ATS in their last six games at home against Miami…The total has gone UNDER in four of Miami’s last six games… The total has gone OVER in four of the Yellow Jackets’ last five home games.

The Pick: I like GT to cover and I like the OVER.

Hogan
Kevin Hogan has to play well if the Cardinal have a chance today in South Bend.

Stanford (-2) at Notre Dame (O/U 45) – The Cardinal enters with a rare early loss while the Irish have stayed unbeaten and have worked their way into the college football playoff debate. Notre Dames defense has been pretty darn good through 2014 and Stanford has struggled offensively at times especially in the red zone. Will the home-field advantage pay off for Brian Kelly’s team?

Trends: The Cardinal are 1-6 straight up in their last seven trips to Notre Dame… The Irish are 12-4 SU in their last 16 games against Stanford… The total has gone UNDER in six of Stanford’s last seven games at Notre Dame… The total has gone UNDER in seven of Notre Dame’s last eight games.

The Pick: I like the Irish getting the points and I love the UNDER.

LSU (+7.5) at Auburn (O/U 58) – The Bayou Bengals were the only team to beat Auburn prior to Auburn’s loss on the national title game. That made three straight wins over the Tigers. After the loss at home to Mississippi State, I’m just not sure if that says more about LSU or the Bulldogs. Auburn hits the field for the first time since surviving Kansas State who should have beaten them.

The LSU QB situation worries me and I think the defense isn’t what has been in the past.

Trends: LSU is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games on the road at Auburn… Auburn is 5-0 straight up in their last five games at home… The total has gone UNDER in six of Auburn’s last seven games at home against LSU… LSU is 6-1 straight up in their last seven games against Auburn.

The Pick: Auburn covers and take the OVER.

Oklahoma (-4.5) at TCU (O/U 57) – With Oregon going down Thursday night, Oklahoma moves tat uch closer to securing a final four spot in the college football playoffs. The Horned Frogs will not exactly roll over today though. They are unbeaten as well and play well at home. The difference is the level of competition to this point and that favors the Sooners.

Trends: Oklahoma is 5-0 straight up in their last five road games… TCU is 4-9 against the spread in their last 13 games at home… The total has gone OVER in four of Oklahoma’s last five games on the road… The total has gone OVER in six of the Frog’s last nine games at home.

The Pick: Take OU to cover and I like the OVER.

Michigan (+2) at Rutgers (O/U 47) – The Michigan defense was thought to be the strength but that went out the window last week. Brady Hoke is in trouble despite what AD Dave Brandon says. Rutgers will not feel bad for the Wolverines one bit and will take advantage of Devin Gardner’s propensity for turnovers.

Trends: Michigan is 1-5 against the spread in their last six games… Rutgers is 17-6 straight up in their last 23 home games… The total has gone UNDER in all of Michigan’s last five road games… The total has gone UNDER in four of Rutgers last six games at home.

The Pick: Take Rutgers to cover and I like the UNDER.

Six Games I Like on Today’s College Football Schedule

Cato
Cato
Marshall's Rakeem Cato leads the Herd into Akron where the upset alert is flashing.

Marshall (-9) at Akron (O/U 59.5) – These two have not played since 2004 when they were both members of the Mid-American Conference. The Zips are still in the MAC but Marshall is off to C-USA. A lot of experts love the upset here but I’m not buying it. Rakeem Cato will not let that happen.

Trends: Marshall is 9-1 straight up in its’ last ten games… The total has gone UNDER in 17 of Akron’s last 21 games… The total has gone OVER in five of Marshall’s last six games on the road… In seven career games, Marshall is 5-2 SU against the Zips.

The Pick: I like the Herd to cover and the OVER.

Central Michigan (+3.5) at Kansas (O/U 45) – Central Michigan is 2-1 with a convincing win at Purdue and a 40-3 loss to Syracuse so they are hard to read at the moment. KU is 1-1 with a win over an FBS school and a 41-3 loss at Duke.

Trends: The Chippewas are 5-1 straight up in their last six games… Kansas is 5-14 SU in their 19 games at home… The total has gone OVER in 14 of CMU’s last 20 road games… The Jayhawks are 1-5 against the spread in their last six games.

The Pick: I like what’s going on in Mt. Pleasant. Take the Chips and the point. I like the OVER too.

Hoke
The natives are getting restless in Ann Arbor and Brady Hoke knows it.

Utah (+3.5) at Michigan (O/U 56) – Brady Hoke cannot handle another loss let alone one in front of the home crowds which are getting smaller in Ann Arbor. The Utes are great on both lines and that isn’t good for the Wolverines.

Trends: Michigan is 21-2 straight up in their last 23 games at home… Utah is 2-9 SU in their last 11 games on the road… Utah and Michigan are 1-1 all-time against each other. The Utes have averaged 16 points in those two games while Michigan has averaged 16.5

The Pick: Take Utah and the points and I like the UNDER.

Mississippi State (+10) at LSU (O/U 50) – Les Miles has lost just three night games in Death Valley. He’s won over 60. I like what’s going on at MSU but they won’t beat the Tigers at home.

Trends: Mississippi has gone 5-0 straight up in their last five games… LSU is 5-0 SU in their last five home games against the Bulldogs… The total has gone OVER in four of MSU’s last five games at LSU… The total has gone UNDER in four of LSU’s last five games at home.

The Pick: Take the Bulldogs and the points and give me the OVER.

Miami (+8) at Nebraska (O/U 56) – Two once amazing powerhouse programs are anything but today but they are trying. The Hurricanes have had off-field issues this week and while Nebraska barely squeaked past McNeese State, the ‘sea of red ‘ will be too much.

Trends: Miami is 1-5 against the spread in their last six games on the road… Nebraska is 15-3 straight up in their last 18 games at home… Miami is 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games… The Huskers are 1-4 ATS in their last five games at home.

The Pick: Give the points and take the Huskers. I like the OVER as well.

Oklahoma (-8) at West Virginia (O/U 56) – This is another game where analysts like the upset because of how well WVU throws the ball. Not gonna happen and the Sooners need to look no further than their rivals as to why. Last year Oklahoma State got burned in Morgantown but this year? Not going to happen to the Sooners.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in five of Oklahoma’s last seven games… West Virginia is 8-15-1 against the spread in their last 24 games at home… OU is 5-0 straight up in their last five games… The total has gone OVER in four of WVU’s last five games at home.

The Pick: I like the Mountaineers getting the points but OU wins and I love the OVER.

What an Opening Saturday in College Football!

Miles
Miles
More Les Miles' magic propelled the Tigers to a comeback win over Wisconsin.

If this is what we are going to get every Saturday through January of 2015 then I think we’ll all be quite pleased. While there will be weekends with more upsets and perhaps more exciting action, this opening Saturday proved one important thing; I don’t think there is one dominant team out there at the moment. Let’s start with the two big games in Texas.

LSU rallied to beat Wisconsin last night in Houston by scoring 21 unanswered points to win 28-24. The Badgers have to be violently ill this morning after having a powerhouse SEC team on the ropes only to get knocked out in the end. Badgers’ QB Melvin Gordon carried his team with 140 yards rushing and a touchdown but new QB Tanner McEvoy could do nothing in the passing game. He went just 8 for 24 for 50 yards and two picks.

The Tigers meanwhile looked uninterested, fundamentally unsound and lazy while falling behind Wisconsin early and into the second half. Les Miles as expected started Anthony Jennings who was miserable at QB. Brandon Davis came in for a series and didn’t look much better. Jennings was able to find a groove in the second half though throwing two touchdown passes to rally the Tigers to victory.

Wisconsin will have to figure out the QB situation because those numbers by McEvoy won’t get it done. LSU meanwhile has tons of work to do but can build on the comeback win.

Fisher
FSU's Jimbo Fisher has some things to work on despite winning last night in Arlington.

Up the road in Arlington, defending national champion Florida State survived 37-31 against a very tough and game Oklahoma State team. The Seminoles were thought to be as good on defense as they are on offense but giving up 364 yards and 8 of 16 on third downs is not going to get this team a return trip to Cowboys Stadium for the title game.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was great when he needed to be despite two turnovers. He threw for 370 yards, a touchdown and a fantastic 28-yard TD run. The big concern going forward for FSU is the running game which put up just 106 yards. The Seminoles’ offensive line is considered the best in the country but they looked anything but against a younger, more inexperienced defensive front from Oklahoma State.

Sometimes it’s games like these that give you a shot in the arm or are a real wake up call. If I’m Florida State this morning I’m hoping that this is exactly the case.

Other games of note…

UCLA needed three defensive touchdowns to win on the road against Virginia 28-20. If Brett Hundley expects to be a Heisman candidate then he has to play better than he did… Ohio State defeated Navy 34-17 to begin the ‘season without Braxton Miller’ campaign. The Midshipmen actually led 14-13 in the third quarter… There was no gigantic upset in the Big House this time as Michigan rolled to a 52-14 win over Appalachian State. This was a much less talented Mountaineer team than was the 2007 team however… Second ranked Alabama survived a tough contest with West Virginia winning 33-22 in Atlanta. The Tide rolled to over 500 yards of offense with running backs Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon both going over 100 yards on the day. The alarming part for Bama is that WVU QB Clint Trickett threw for 365 yards which is the most ever against a Saban-coached Bama team. He broke the record set in the Tide’s last game which was a Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma… The clear front-runner in the Heisman race has to be Georgia’s Todd Gurley who rushed for 198 yards and three TDs in the Bulldogs’ 45-21 rout of Clemson. He also had a 100-yard kickoff return for touchdown too.

Rejoice! College Football Saturday is Back

Mason
Mason
Hutson Mason takes over for Aaron Murray in Georgia as the Bulldogs welcome Clemson.

It’s finally here! Football Saturday is back!

Clemson (+8) at Georgia (O/U 54) – The Tigers enter 2014 having to replace a lot of offensive talent which means Head Coach Dabo Swinney will rely on a seasoned defense to carry his team early in the season. Georgia enters the post-Aaron Murray era with QB Hutson Mason who will benefit from having Heisman Trophy hopeful Todd Gurley in the backfield.

Cole Stoudt replaces Tajh Boyd at QB for Clemson and although it was in mop-up duty last season, he threw five TD passes. The Georgia defense struggled mightily last season and I’m not sure how quickly they turn things around. I sense a close game in Athens so take the Tigers and I like the over.

Driskel
Jeff Driskel returns from injury to lead the Gators into 2014.

Idaho (+37) at Florida (O/U 50) – It’s been an incredibly long offseason in Gainesville following last year’s horrendous season. The Gators and Head Coach Will Muschamp will feature a very good defense and an offense that returns quarterback Jeff Driskel who missed most of last year with an injury. His absence led to many of the problems for the Gators.

Last season, the Vandals surrendered 80 points to Florida State and now they play a Gators’ team that has won 24 straight season openers. I like Florida to cover and I love the over.

Fresno State (+21) at USC (O/U 58) – Is anyone happier to actually play a game than Steve Sarkisian and the Trojans? The last week has seen the coach be called a ‘racist’ by a former player and he’s had to deal with Josh Shaw’s heroic story-turned police investigation. USC and Fresno saw each other in the Las Vegas Bowl where the Trojans routed the Bulldogs 45-20.

USC has excellent talent in the top 22 players but the depth is hurting a bit. Fresno State has to replace record-setting QB Derek Carr who could be starting for the Oakland Raiders in the NFL. I like USC to cover today simply because I think  they’ll be excited to play football and remember, this was a ten-win team last season. I love the over as well.

Florida State (-19) vs Oklahoma State (O/U 64) – The defending national champions open their season in Cowboys Stadium against the Cowboys from Oklahoma State. Like USC, the Seminoles have to be happy to get back on the field after a ‘crabby’ offseason for Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.

Mike Gundy has done a great job for his alma mater in Stillwater but he could use a signature win but it won’t happen here. The Seminoles have too much speed and talent in all of the right places and I expect them to cover tonight. I also love the over.

LSU (-5.5) vs Wisconsin (O/U 50) – The good news for Wisconsin is that they are one of the Big Ten’s top teams for 2014. The bad news is that they have lost six of their last seven bowl games which means the jump in competition has been an issue. The fact that the Badgers return just three starters on defense doesn’t bode well for them either. The Tigers always reload well and that’s the case again in Baton Rouge. QB Zach Mettenberger is off to the NFL and Head Coach Les Miles seems likely to play both Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris in the opener.

The game is being played in Houston but that favors the Tigers significantly who don’t have a long way to drive. The amount of newcomers on the Wisconsin defense worries me and it looks like the Badgers will go with untested QB Tanner McEvoy. I like the Tigers to cover and I’ll take the under as the Tigers will limit Melvin Gordon forcing the Badgers to throw.

Odds on the SEC West Winner for 2014

Yeldon
Yeldon
T.J.Yeldon and Alabama will look to take back the SEC West from rival Auburn.

Saturday it was the SEC East. Today it’s the West. Let’s go!

Alabama 2/3 – Nick Saban begins his eighth year in Tuscaloosa and has to pick up the pieces of two straight ‘hard-to-take’ losses to end the season. It was clear in the Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma that the team hadn’t recovered from their stunning loss at Auburn. Now, Saban leads a team wit a new man at quarterback and six new starters on defense. Bama should be 3-0 before entertaining Florida then has road trips to Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU before finishing the season with the Iron Bowl at home.

Bielema
All SEC coaches face pressure but Bret Bielema needs to turn things around at Arkansas now.

Arkansas 33/1 – Bret Bielema has the challenge he was looking for when he left Wisconsin in his hands now as he led the Hogs to a poor 3-9 record. It goes without saying that anything short of a bowl game this year could spell his end in Fayetteville. The team returns seven starters on both sides of the ball and the schedule isn’t horrendous. They get Texas A&M, LSU and Alabama at home and get Georgia in Little Rock. The only significant road trips are at Auburn in the opener, at Texas Tech and at Missouri. Six wins is doable but not a guarantee.

Auburn 4/1 – Head Coach Gus Malzahn returns for his second season and the fans will be hungry for more of the same but is that a fair expectation? Gone are studs like Tre Mason, Greg Robinson and Dee Ford but they do have eight starters returning to the offense including the quarterback. The schedule features home dates with LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina while the road features tough games at Kansas State, Georgia and Alabama in the finale. I do not see a repeat of last season but I do envision eight or nine wins.

LSU 5/1 – If the Tigers do not reach a big-time bowl then the natives in Baton Rouge will become even more restless then they are. Seeing rivals Alabama and Auburn fighting it out at the top doesn’t sit well on the bayou. Les Miles has five offensive starters returning and seven on the defensive side of the ball. The schedule is not easy as they open in Houston against Wisconsin. They also go to Arkansas, Auburn, Florida and Texas A&M. Alabama will likely be the only ranked team that comes into Death Valley in 2014. I think nine or ten wins is possible.

Mississippi State 12/1 – Head Coach Dan Mullen will have no excuses not to challenge in the SEC West. With eight starters returning on both sides of the ball, the Bulldogs’ faithful will have very high expectations. The non-conference schedule is weak and should provide four wins in four games. The conference road slate features tough games at LSU, Alabama and Ole Miss, but they do get Texas A&M and Auburn at home. Mullen knows the importance of this season and I’m not sure even eight wins will be enough.

Ole Miss 9/1 – The Rebels have nine starters back on defense and six on offense and that includes QB Bo Wallace. The question is whether the depth is enough to challenge the rest of the division. I predict a 3-1, possibly 4-0 non-conference schedule if they can beat Boise State in the opener. The conference road schedule games at Vanderbilt, LSU and Texas A&M while they get Auburn, Alabama and Mississippi State at home in the Egg Bowl. That opening game with the Broncos could tell a lot about the direction of this season.

Texas A&M 14/1 – The obvious is replacing Johnny Manziel at quarterback but the Aggies also lost big play receiver Mike Evans and stud offensive tackle Jake Matthews to the NFL. With Kyle Field under-going a massive addition and renovation, the pressure is on Kevin Sumlin to make 10-win seasons the norm in College Station. The road will not be kind to the Aggies as they open at South Carolina and have other contests at Auburn and at Alabama. They end the season with LSU and Missouri at home and have a very weak non-conference slate. With the defense returning nine starters, they’ll need to lead the way with a new QB at the helm.

The Pick: It’s one top recruiting class after another for Nick Saban and despite losing some important guys to the NFL, I look for the Crimson Tide to roll to another SEC West Division Title.

Friday Night College Football Action Leads Into Saturday

Manziel
Manziel
Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel need two wins to keep any BCS hopes alive.

There have been college football games on every other night this week so why not Friday? Navy and San Jose State is the offereing for this evening but I’m also looking at three key Saturday games as well.

Navy (+3) at San Jose State – The Midshipmen have already reached the six-win total and will be ‘bowling’ once again. The Spartans are on the verge at 5-5 and has unbeaten Fresno State in their season finale. Translation? SJSU needs to defeat Navy and eliminate any doubt of going to a bowl game.

It won’t be easy though because Navy comes in with their usually impressive ground game. The Middies average 308 yards per game rushing which is good for sixth in the nation.

The Spartans will counter with an aerial attack that ranks 11th in the nation. They average over 325 yards per game through the air. The over/under tonight is 59.5 and I definitely like the ‘over.’ Navy gives up about 25 points per game while the Spartans are allowing over 31 points per game.

SJSU is 6-2 in their last eight home games straight up. I like them to get a win and become bowl eligible in a shootout.

Texas A&M (+4) at LSU – Johnny Manziel and the Aggies hit the road for what could be the final two games of his collegiate career. Stop one is in Baton Rouge where the Tigers await. A&M still has hopes of a BCS bowl but I think winning out more than likely means a trip back to the Cotton Bowl where they destroyed Oklahoma last year.

LSU had a week to recover from their beat down in Tuscaloosa. The over/under in this one is 77.5 and I think you can safely take the over. The Aggies defense has been questionable all season, especially against the run and that means big doses of LSU running back Jeremy Hill.

With the LSU defense struggling as well, look for Manziel to make big plays down the field in the passing game. The Aggies getting four is very tempting but I think Zach Mettenberger and the LSU passing game become the difference. Take the Tigers.

Fitzgerald
Can Fitgerald's Wildcats end their six game losing streak against Michigan State?

Michigan State (-7) at Northwestern – What can you say about the Wildcats? Since opening 4-0, they have lost six straight. The last two games have been decided on the final play losing on a hail mary at Nebraska and then in triple overtime to Michigan.

Meanwhile, the Spartans can officially wrap-up the Legends’ Division title with a win in Evanston. They will ride their top-ranked defense and an incredibly improved offense led by Connor Cook at quarterback.

Personally I think Northwestern hurts itself by moving back and forth between quarterbacks but that’s just my opinion. They desperately need a win in order to keep bowl hopes alive.

MSU is 6-0-1 against the spread in their last seven games on the road. I love them in this one where half the crowd will be green and white.

Duke (-5.5) at Wake Forest – The Demon Deacons are 4-6 but still have dreams of getting bowl eligible by winning their final two games to reach 6-6. Wake has lost three straight games with the offense scoring just 24 points over that stretch.

The Blue Devils find themselves in some uncharted waters at 8-2. They lead the ACC Coastal Division and a win here coupled with a win at North Carolina next week would give them their first ever trip to the ACC Title game.

Under David Cutcliffe, Duke has become very balanced offensively and has improved significantly on defense as well. Duke is 5-0 straight up in their last five games while the Deacons are 1-5 against the spread in their last six home games against Duke.

This is a special year for the Devils. I like them to cover.

BCS Landscape Shifts Once Again Out West

Stanford
Stanford
The Cardinal defense once again found a way to handle the Ducks' offense.

You win and some and you lose some I guess and I experienced that first-hand with Oregon once again going down to defeat to Stanford this past Thursday night. I wrote prior to the game that I just couldn’t see the Ducks falling into another defensive battle like last year despite the fact that they had a pretty good defense going in.

Today, Oregon finds itself licking the wounds once again inflicted by a physical Cardinal team and worse yet, finds itself on the outside looking in in terms of the BCS National Title game. Quarterback Marcus Mariota reportedly entered the game with an MCL sprain and wore a brace throughout the game.

What Stanford has done the last two years to thwart the Ducks’ drive to the national championship is play defense by playing offense. The Cardinal held the ball for over 42 minutes and running back Tyler Gaffney carried the ball 45 times for 157 yards. Look at his average per carry though and you’ll see it was just 3.5 yards per carry.

What that does is give credence to the old “three yards and a cloud of dust” mentality which is exactly what the Cardinal deployed on Thursday.

What Now for Both Teams?

Oregon will clearly need Stanford to lose while winning their last three games. Even if that happens, Oregon will need help in the name Ohio State, Baylor and Florida State losing. Alabama would probably need to lose twice because even with one loss I think Bama could still get in.

Stanford would also need a similar scenario to unfold but the one thing hanging over their head is the loss to Utah. That loss could ultimately be the one thing holding them back when compared to other one-loss teams if it comes to that at the end of the season.

Looking Ahead to Today

Miles
Can Miles' Tigers pull of the upset on the road against the Crimson Tide?

Obviously the big game in college football today is in Tuscaloosa where the top-ranked Crimson Tide will host SEC West rival LSU. Can the Tigers pull off the upset? Yes they can because they have a big time QB in Zach Mettenberger and he has a group of NFL-talent level receivers as well.

The problem for LSU is on defense where they are not nearly as impressive as they have been in previous years. Alabama’s offense is incredibly balanced and will ultimately be the difference. Alabama will ‘Roll’ on to next week.

Florida State is a heavy favorite today at Wake Forest and should come away with a fairly easy victory. The Demon Deacons have had FSU’s number in recent years though and with the Seminoles coming off some big games is a letdown coming? The best cure for a letdown came on Thursday night when the ‘Noles saw Oregon lose. I expect a focused FSU team today.

And Looking Back to Thursday Again

Somewhat over-shadowed by the Stanford win was the fact that unbeaten Baylor put a whipping on Oklahoma by a score of 41-12. This was the first game of a gauntlet for the Bears that will prove just how good they really are. Next week they get Texas Tech before two straight road games at Oklahoma State and TCU. The finale is at home against Texas.

Should the Bears run that table; will it be enough to get ahead of Ohio State or Florida State? That’s the ultimate question. Getting ahead of the Buckeyes is possible but I don’t see them jumping the Seminoles. I’m just hoping it gets there because it will create even more to talk about.

LSU, Bama Highlight Four Games From Saturday’s Action

Franklin
Franklin
I have to believe James Franklin will see some time at QB against Kentucky.

College football starts to get pretty serious now with big games across the country this weekend. These are the four I’m looking at for wafering purposes only of course….

Missouri (-14) at Kentucky – I’m really surprised this number isn’t higher. The East Division leading Tigers punished Tennessee last week with a 31-3 victory while Kentucky (2-6) routed Alabama State. Their only other win is against Miami of Ohio.

At this time, Head Coach Gary Pinkel has not yet said whether Maty Mauk or James Franklin will start at quarterback. Franklin reportedly could have played last week but did not. With Ole Miss and Texas A&M remaining on the schedule I’m guessing Franklin will see some action.

The Tigers are 4-1 straight up in their last five road games while the Wildcats are 3-8 straight up in their last 11 games at home. Take Missouri to cover with confidence.

Nebraska (+6.5) at Michigan – The Cornhuskers come into Ann Arbor fresh off a hail mary victory over Northwestern. Michigan returns home licking some serious wounds after the butt-kicking they received by arch-rival Michigan State.

Both teams come in at 6-2 but Nebraska still has a legitimate shot at the Legends’ Division title. They need to win Saturday and then need to defeat Michigan State next week in Lincoln. Michigan would need significantly more help to win the division and I don’t see that happening.

The Huskers are 2-9-1 against the spread in their last 12 road games while UM is 5-0 straight up in their last five in the Big House. Brady Hoke is 19-0 at home in Michigan Stadium since becoming the head coach. Make it 20 but take Nebraska and the points.

Mettenberger
Can Mettenberger lead the Tigers to an upset of #1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa?

LSU (+9) at Alabama – These two SEC West foes hook up again in what promises to be another good game in Tuscaloosa. I’m just not sure LSU has the defensive horses to hang in there however.

The one area the Tigers may have an advantage is throwing the ball. QB Zach Mettenberger is a top pro prospect who can make all the throws and he has very good wide receivers. If Alabama has a weakness, it could be the secondary. Safety Vinnie Sunseri is out for the year and there is a lot of youth playing as well.

With that said, the group has gotten a lot better since being torched by Johnny Manziel in week two.

The Tigers are 5-1 straight up against Alabama on the road in their last six which garners which attention but this Bama team is too balanced. I like the Crimson Tide to cover.

Virginia Tech (+6.5) at Miami – This was once one of the great rivalries in college football but both teams have seen better days despite pretty decent records. The Hurricanes have to move forward from their blowout loss to rival Florida State and must do so without running back Duke Johnson who is out for the year with a broken ankle.

The Hokies are 6-3 but have lost two straight to Duke and Boston College respectively. QB Logan Thomas has all the tools to be a top pro prospect but it just hasn’t all come together for him.

Both teams still have hopes of winning the Coastal Division and getting a crack at the Seminoles in the ACC Title game. The ‘Canes are 1-5 against the spread in their last six home games against the Hokies but that isn’t going to scare me away here.

Take the Canes to cover behind a better defense and the passing of Stephen Morris.

Huge College Games, ALCS Highlight Saturday Sports Action

Murphy
Murphy
How will Tyler Murphy handle the crazy crowd in the Death Valley?

It’s going to be really hard to avoid watching an SEC game today. The nation’s best football conference has been a heart specialist’s dream so far this season. Going back to Bama-A&M, LSU-Georgia and Georgia-Tennessee, the SEC has provided a number of high-scoring and heart attack inducing games.

Today looks like that very well may happen again. Florida goes into Death Valley to play LSU who is but a three-point loss from being unbeaten right now. With QB Jeff Driskel out for the season, how will QB Tyler Murphy handle the crowd in Baton Rouge?

Georgia could find itself in yet another shootout as 5-0 Missouri comes to Athens today. The Bulldogs have sustained some horrible injuries in the last couple of weeks but they continue to persevere. Both teams are scoring points at will so this could come down to who can get crucial stops and turnovers at the right time.

Out west, Oregon faces their stiffest test in a trip to Washington. The Huskies battled last week before finally losing by three points to Stanford. With D’Anthony Thomas questionable with an injury, the Ducks appear to be less than 100% which is why so many think the Huskies will pull the upset today in Seattle. I’m not sold on that.

What was once always the game of the day regardless of whom else was playing; Texas and Oklahoma meet in the Cotton Bowl to renew the Red River Rivalry. The game has certainly lost its’ luster with Texas struggling the way they are. In fact, there are many ‘Horns fans who are quietly hoping for a blowout in hopes that the loss would seal the fate of Mack Brown.

I expect Texas to fight hard today, but Oklahoma is once again playing great defense and has the threat of both the run and pass on offense. Texas’ fans may actually get their wish.

Lester
Lester takes the hill in game one of the ALCS against Detroit.

In Major League Baseball, the American League Championship Series gets underway tonight in Boston. The NLCS started last night with St. Louis getting a 3-2 win over Los Angeles.

The Tigers enter the ALCS off the spectacular pitching performance of Justin Verlander. While his regular season was very average by his standards, he has now pitched 15 straight innings without giving up a run in the playoffs. Dating back to September 15th, he hasn’t given up a run in that span either.

Boston will offer different challenges however because of their offense. Ranked number one in baseball, the Red Sox and Fenway Park will also create a tougher environment than the Tigers faced in Oakland. The two ballparks couldn’t be more different and Detroit will need to adjust.

With Verlander on rest and Max Scherzer scheduled for game two, Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland will go with Anibal Sanchez to oppose Tim Lester in game one. Sanchez was as dominant as any Tigers’ pitcher in the second half of the season but was roughed up by the Athletics in game three of the ALDS.

Lester went seven and two-thirds against Tampa Bay giving up just two earned runs in the Red Sox 12-2 win. Both of those runs came via the long ball which should concern Manager John Farrell a bit considering the Tigers penchant for going deep. Lester will need to keep the ball down and keep the hitters off balance.

Tigers’ third baseman Miguel Cabrera showed some signs of life hitting a huge two-run homer in the deciding game five in Oakland. It’s no secret he has been battling injuries.

Both teams can score runs, have good starting pitching and have very good closers. The difference I believe will be in the middle relief where the Sox have a clear advantage. This could go seven but I’ll take Boston.