I Have a Feeling We Are in for Another Wild Saturday

Strong
Strong
Can Charlie Strong and the 'Horns knock off Oklahoma?

Texas (14.5) vs Oklahoma (O/U 47) – I have to say, I’m glad the Red River Rivalry has continued to stay at the original Cotton Bowl. I realize how easy it is to shift to Jerry World but I’m glad some traditions have stayed alive.

I expect the Longhorns to play hard but I also expect a very ticked off Sooners’ team to show up as well.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in four of Texas’ last six games when playing the Sooners… OU is 3-5-1 against the spread in their last nine games when playing the Longhorns… Texas is 2-5 straight up in their last seven games.

The Pick: Take the Sooners to cover and the OVER

Northwestern (+4) at Minnesota (O/U 43) – I’m sure all of you had this match-up pegged for the lead in the Big Ten West in the second week of October right? Well that’s what we’ve got. Both Nebraska and Wisconsin have already suffered conference losses.

The Gophers are riding the wave of winning the Little Brown Jug two weeks ago while the Wildcats have scored impressive wins over Wisconsin and Penn State.

Trends: The Wildcats are 4-3 straight up in their last six games Minnesota… The Gophers are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games at home against Northwestern… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Wildcats’ last six games against Minnesota.

The Pick: The Badgers gashed the Wildcats’ run defense last week and I expect the same thing from the Gophers. Take them to cover and I like the UNDER.

Patterson
A win at Baylor puts Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs in front of the Big 12 race.

TCU (+8) at Baylor (O/U 66.5) – If the Horned Frogs can pull of another upset they’ll be well on their way to a Big 12 title since they’ve already beaten the other favorite in Oklahoma. If the Bears win, they still have a November date in Norman.

Trends: The Horned Frogs are 4-2 straight up in their last six games against Baylor… The Bears are 14-1 straight up in their last 15 home games… The total has gone UNDER in six of TCU’s last eight games on the road.

The Pick: Expect lots of scoring and take TCU while taking the OVER as well.

Auburn (-3) at Mississippi State (O/U 64) – The Tigers are accustomed to these marquee match-ups while the Bulldogs are still getting used to them. Both teams still have Bama and Ole Miss on their respective schedules.

That means a win is vital tomorrow.

Trends: The Bulldogs are 2-11 straight up in their last 13 games against Auburn… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Tigers last five trips to Mississippi State… Mississippi State is 4-8 against the spread in their last 12 games against Auburn.

The Pick: Take the Bulldogs getting the points at home and the UNDER as well.

Oregon (-3) at UCLA (O/U 72) – This is an elimination game. Both have one loss now and a second automatically knocks them out of contention for the college football playoff. If UCLA follows Arizona State’s lead and runs the ball then they have a good shot at the win.

Trends: Oregon is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games… The Bruins are 1-4 ATS in their last five games when playing Oregon at home… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Ducks’ last five games at UCLA.

The Pick: I like the Bruins getting the points at home and I like the UNDER.

Ole Miss (+2) at Texas A&M (O/U 64) – I said earlier this week that this is the type of game that programs who aren’t sued to big wins usually lose. The Rebels beat Alabama but will there be a letdown?

Trends: Texas A&M is 6-0 lifetime against Ole Miss and 2-0 since they joined the SEC… The total has gone UNDER in five of Ole Miss’ last five games on the road… The Aggies are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at home.

The Pick: I expect the Aggies to cover and take the OVER as Ole Miss suffers their first defeat.

Four Big Games for Saturday

Jug
Jug
Struggling Michigan hosts Minnesota in the battle for the Little Brown Jug.

Minnesota (+8) at Michigan (O/U 43) – The Little Brown Jug has taken up a pretty much permanent spot in the Michigan trophy case but if there were any year for the Gophers to get it back this might be it. The Wolverines are struggling offensively and Brady Hoke’s job is less than secure at the moment. One of two things is going to happen on Saturday; the Wolverines will rally around Hoke and play well or the status quo will exist.

The Gophers three wins are unimpressive and their lone loss was a beat-down at the hands of TCU.

Trends: Michigan has beaten Minnesota in nine of the last ten games they’ve played… The Gophers are 2-4 against the spread in their six games at Michigan… The Wolverines are 8-1 straight up in their last nine games at home against Minnesota… The total has gone UNDER in seven of the Gophers’ last eight games.

The Pick: I think Michigan finds a way to win but take the Gophers and the points. Take the UNDER as well.

Missouri (+6) at South Carolina (O/U 61.5) –

Bielema
Bret Bielema brings his Razorbacks to College Station where the Aggies await.

Arkansas (+10) at Texas A&M (O/U 72) – The Razorbacks are averaging 324 yards rushing per game and that’s been an Achilles’ heel for the Aggies in recent years. Since losing their opener at Auburn, the Hogs have ripped off three straight wins. The big question is whether or not Arkansas can slow down Kenny Hill and the Aggies offensive attack.

Bret Bielema will look to get his team running the ball to keep Hill off the field because he knows this offense will be much more talented than Texas Tech whom the Hogs defeated.

Trends: The Aggies are averaging almost 52 points per game in their last two contests against the Hogs… The total has gone OVER in all five of Arkansas’ most recent games… A&M is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against the Razorbacks… Arkansas is 3-10 straight up in their last 13 games.

The Pick: Take the Aggies to cover and take the OVER.

Stanford (-8) at Washington (O/U 47.5) – Last week, Washington hosted Georgia Southern and trailed 14-0 at halftime. They ended up winning 45-14. Perhaps the 4-0 Huskies needed a wake-up call?

The Cardinal come to Seattle at 2-1 and have a road trip to South Bend next week that they cannot afford to look ahead. This game will likely be decided by the Cardinal defense which has given up just ten points in three games.

The Pick: I like UW getting the points and I like the OVER.

Trends: The last time Stanford played at Washington they lost 17-13… The Huskies are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at home against the Cardinal… The total has gone UNDER in four of Stanford’s last five games at Washington… The Huskies are 2-5 ATS in their last seven home games.

Florida State (-19) at North Carolina State (O/U 58.5) – Upset alert in Raleigh? The Seminoles have lost two straight at Carter-Finley Stadium. They get Jameis Winston back from suspension and are coming off an overtime win over Clemson.

The Wolfpack are unbeaten but haven’t exactly beaten anyone worth mentioning. Still, I believe this has the makings of a challenge for the ‘Noles.

Trends: Florida State is just 6-4 straight up in their last ten games against the Wolfpack… NC State is just 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games at home… The Seminoles are 1-5 ATS in their last six games at NC State… The total has gone UNDER in five of NCSU’s last six games at home against Florida State.

The Pick: Love NC State getting the points and take the UNDER.

It’s Friday and I’ve Got Several Things on My Mind and Football is All of Them

Hill
Hill
Kenny Hill torched 9th-ranked South Carolina last night with over 500 yards passing.

So apparently my English skills are about as good as my ability to predict things if read this title. Two days ago, I gave you five fearless predictions for college football and already one of them is looking incredibly wrong. I said that Steve Spurrier and his South Carolina Gamecocks would win the SEC and while that could still happen, that theory took a massive hit last night.

Texas A&M came to Columbia with a redshirt freshman quarterback not named Johnny Manziel and torched the Gamecocks for over 500 yards passing in a 52-28 upset. Kenny Hill, son of former MLB pitcher Ken Hill, threw for 511 yards and three touchdowns in the rout over ninth-ranked South Carolina. The win does two things; first it makes us question just how good South Carolina is and two, how much longer before Kevin Sumlin is coaching in the NFL.

The fact that Sumlin has been able to show in just one game that he has moved this team beyond the Manziel era is enough for NFL teams and other major college programs to take notice. As for the Gamecocks, might want to work on that pass defense.

Rice
Ray Rice got one heck of a hometown discount from Roger Goodell as it turns out.

Goodell Does Something Positive for Once

Roger Goodell and the NFL announced yesterday that they have implemented a disciplinary system for domestic violence abusers. The first time will result in a six-game suspension while the second offense will result in a lifetime ban from the sport. Why it took this long for some form action in this regard is beyond me but it’s finally here and we should be happy about it as we can’t tolerate this behavior.

In the announcement, Goodell did something I never dreamed I’d hear from him. He apologized for the weak response in Ray Rice’s situation. While I appreciate the apology, I find it interesting that he didn’t extend Rice’s penalty. Perhaps it has to do with the NFLPA or maybe that Baltimore is his hometown team.

Strange that Goodell never apologized to Ben Roethlisberger after suspending him even though he was never arrested or charged with a crime. I digress however… I’m glad that the NFL is acting on domestic violence. It’s just a shame it’s taken this long and after a massive cry from the general public. Goodell has once again proven himself as the ‘reactive’ commissioner.

Because they have made themselves the epicenter of the sports’ world, ESPN is hard to avoid no matter how much they irritate and bother the hell out of us. Outside of ’30 for 30′ and the featuring of the several major sports, the rest of ESPN is essentially tabloid fodder. This notion was proved once again this week as ESPN reporter Josina Anderson decided to report on St. Louis Rams’ defensive end Michael Sam’s showering habits.

As you know, Sam is an openly gay man trying to make the roster and so far, he has an excellent shot at it. Whoever thought a story about whether Michael Sam showers with his teammates was worthy of our viewing time at ESPN needs to be fired. My question in this manner is quite simple; “who cares?”

Sam has had a really good preseason for the Rams and his two sacks of Cleveland Browns’ QB Johnny Manziel nearly forced Twitter into a shutdown. Whether he makes the roster or not is uncertain but someone will grab him because he has proven he can play in the NFL. Let’s hope that is what ESPN chooses to report on from here on out.

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.

Is the Expansion of Pro and Collegiate Stadiums Still a Good Idea?

Notre Dame
Notre Dame
Notre Dame announced a $400 million expansion plan for their football stadium this week.

It was announced this week that the University of Notre Dame would be expanding Notre Dame Stadium in a project that will cost around $400 million according to the University president. This could potentially move the stadium to around 84,000 seats. Over the last decade, we’ve seen schools like Michigan and currently Texas A&M take on massive upgrades to their stadiums at monumental costs.

Even in the pro ranks we’ve seen shrines like Cowboys Stadium go up with over 100,000 seats all while stadiums like ones in Oakland and Jacksonville cover large sections of seats with massive, team colored tarps. Fielding competitive, tradition-rich teams certainly helps fill seats but even when those teams struggle or are average, they can lack butts in seats too.

Packers
Green Bay needed a last-minute save to avoid a blackout due to unsold tickets for their playoff game.

Take Green Bay for example who needed local companies to purchase tickets for the NFC Wild-Card game against San Francisco in order to avoid being blacked out locally. This is something that no one would have ever dreamed of in Green Bay but it happened.

It happened prior to Cincinnati’s Wild-Card game against San Diego as well yet colleges and professional teams still seek to expand their stadiums. The problem is that the places that expand and gain success are usually putting in things like massive video boards, free wi-fi and even food service brought directly to your seat.

The idea is to make coming to a game an experience that far exceeds just watching the game itself. People want to be entertained and feel they deserve as much as they possibly can get for the prices they are sometimes forced to pay to attend.

The problem is that even places like the University of Michigan who pack upwards of 114,000 people in Michigan Stadium, are seeing problems. Michigan had several games this season where hundreds of seats around the upper rim went unused. In the pro ranks, proud teams like the Steelers saw their final two or three home games unattended by as many as 15,000 people.

Stadiums can only do so much to keep people attending games and I fear they are no longer doing enough. People are starting to realize that with 60″ HDTV’s, bathrooms and refreshments just feet away and with no traffic to deal with that going to games just isn’t what it once was.

This isn’t to say people don’t still enjoy the atmosphere at stadiums but is it really worth it? I was in a very well-attended NFL game this year and for the most part had a great time. What I didn’t like was the over-intoxicated “fans” who clearly come to the games to socialize and be a spectacle themselves rather than watch the game.

I’ve been around long enough to know this type of thing isn’t going to go away anytime soon but I still can’t help but wonder why schools and franchises continue to get bigger with their stadiums when it gets tougher to fill the seats.

Fans don’t want the inconveniences of heavy traffic and large crowds for bathrooms anymore. Maybe it’s better to say they they’ve grown tired of them, especially for games where there isn’t a lot of meaning. Throw in the fact that going to a game as a couple or family of four let’s say, is financially impossible for millions of people.

Prices for tickets and beverages aren’t going to come down anytime soon because contracts keep getting more and more lucrative. At some point, I have to wonder if only the very wealthy will be able to attend top sporting events anymore?

If I’m a university or professional organization then I have to think long and hard about just how important adding seats is to my future plans considering the way things are going.

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.

After an Unbeaten Week I’m Ready for More CFB Action

Brown

 

Brown
Could a blowout loss to rival Oklahoma send Mack Brown packing?

Season Record 12-12-1, Last Week 4-0

I pulled even on the season with a big 4-0 week highlighted by several blowouts. Big conference match-ups highlight my selections this week. The favorites all look pretty good.

Oklahoma (-13) vs Texas – There have been blowouts in this series in the past but this is the first time in a long time where the spread is this large. Texas needed a lucky break to defeat Iowa State 31-30 in Ames last week while the Sooners won a hard-fought game over TCU by the score of 20-17.

Blake Bell is now entrenched as the QB in Norman and rightfully so. His ability to run and pass with equal success has been key to the Sooners being unbeaten. Texas will again be without David Ash who still has lingering concussion issues.

The Horns are 1-3-1 against the spread in their last five meetings with Oklahoma while the Sooners are 9-4 straight up in their last 13 against Texas. I think Texas will keep this closer than many think but Bob Stoops won’t pass on a chance to put Mack Brown out of his misery. Take the Sooners to cover.

 

Manziel
I expect Johnny Manziel to have another big day this time against Ole Miss.

Texas A&M (-4) at Ole Miss – The Rebels are happy to be home after three straight road games the last two of which they lost. Waiting for them will be Johnny Manziel and the Aggies of Texas A&M. This has the makings of yet another high scoring SEC game. Neither defense is very good as they both give up over 25 points per game.

The Aggies are 3-2 in their last five against the spread while the Rebs are 2-3. I really like A&M to cover in this game behind a huge game from Manziel.

Northwestern at Wisconsin (-10) – This is the type of game where we will find out just how good Northwestern really is. In the past, the Wildcats would lay an egg following such a tough loss and the oddsmakers know it. That’s how we get the ten-point favorite in Wisconsin.

The other factor is that Wisconsin rushes for over 300 yards per game. The Wildcats were run over by Ohio State on the ground last week so the Badgers will look to do the same. Northwestern will press the Badgers defensively with a nice belnd of run and pass but they must take care of the ball. Turnovers doomed them in their loss to the Buckeyes last weekend.

NU is 1-4 in their last five against the spread when playing at Camp-Randall Stadium while the Badgers are 4-1 straight up when the Wildcats come to Madison. When you factor in Wisconsin coming off a bye and the Wildcats losing the biggest game in decades at home, this game is ripe for a big Badgers’ win. I like them to cover.

Indiana at Michigan State (-7) – The Hoosiers make the first of two straight trips to the Great Lake State by heading to East Lansing first. Both Indiana and MSU are coming off big wins, especially IU who defeated Penn State in what was seen by many as the biggest win in Bloomington in decades. Sparty finally saw its’ offense get going in a major road victory over Iowa. Now these two teams meet in Spartan Stadium with a chance to move to 2-0 in their respective divisions.

The game is a clear match-up between the nation’s 10th ranked passing attack of Indiana versus the nation’s seventh-best scoring defense in Michigan State.  Sparty is 8-1 in their last nine games when playing the Hoosiers and they were taken to the brink last season.

Indiana is 3-11 against the spread in their last 14 games against MSU. I see this game boiling down to the offense of Michigan State leaning on the defense of IU which gives up over 31 points a game. Take the Spartans to cover.

Four Games in College Football That Caught My Eye

Manziel
Manziel
I like Manziel and the Aggies to bounce back in a big way against the Mustangs.

Season Record 4-9, Last Week 2-2

I say a little improvement last week and had all four winners correct but a flat performance by Notre Dame and an iffy one by Northern Illinois cost me a perfect record against the spread. Let’s hope this week works out better.

SMU (+28) at Texas A&M – Everyone is expecting the Aggies to have a let down following their tough loss to Alabama last week. I’m not buying it. The Aggies discovered they could play with the Tide once again and will be fueled by the fact that a BCS Title game re-match could happen if they win out.

SMU comes in with a fantastic passing game but a poor running attack. Not the combination you want against an Aggies’ defense that gives up a lot of yards on the ground. The Mustangs are 3-7 ATS in their last ten road games and that number could be a signal to look for the Aggies to win back and I think they will behind Johnny Manziel who looks better than he did last year.

Michigan (-19.5) at UConn – Last week, Michigan avoided one of the worst upsets since…. well, since they were beaten at home by Appalachian State and then Toledo. Akron had three shots at the end zone from with the five yard line but couldn’t complete the deal and the Wolverines survived.

There is no way that Brady Hoke’s Wolverines didn’t get the message this week in practice about their poor performance against the Zips and I believe that will propel them in their first road game of the 2013 season. UConn has lost games to Maryland and Towson State. Yes, I said “Towson State.” The Huskies boast a 1-4 record at home ATS in their five and have one of the worst running attacks in college football. I don’t see how this spread isn’t higher. Take the Wolverines and run.

Jones
Can Butch Jones and the Vols bounce back against rival Florida?

Tennessee (+16) at Florida – The Gators enter the classic match-up with Tennessee off a bye week in which they had plenty of time to sulk over a tough loss to Miami in South Florida. Tennessee spent last week getting taken to the woodshed by Oregon early and often. The Vols bring a record of 1-3-2 into the Swamp against the spread in their last six games against the Gators.

Tennessee runs the ball very well at a clip of over 240 yards per game, but now they face their stiffest test with the Florida defense. The Gators will force Tennessee to throw the ball much more than they want to and with a passing attack ranked 114th in the country who could blame them? I think the Gators cover at home in Gainesville.

Arizona State (+6.5) at Stanford – Both teams enter this pivotal Pac-12 showdown at 2-0 but something will have to give. The Sun Devils are in the top ten in the nation in passing while Stanford is among the top 25 in defense. The biggest question for ASU is are they ready to win a big game? Yes, they defeated Wisconsin last week in Tempe, but are they ready to go on the road and win?

The Cardinal have been very matter of fact in wins over San Jose State and Army. They scored 34 points in both games and had very good balance offensively. Two numbers stick out in this contest however. ASU is 4-7-1 ATS in their last 12 games against the Cardinal and the Sun Devils are 1-5 ATS in their last six trips to Palo Alto. I’m going with Stanford to win by at least a touchdown.

College Football Week Three; What We Learned

McCarron
McCarron
McCarron showed he is much more than just a 'game manager' in the win over Texas A&M.

The third week of college football is in the books and with it goes one of the craziest Saturdays in college football history. There was of course the shootout in College Station, another near ‘Appalachian State’ moment for Michigan and a bizarre ending to a great game in the desert. These were just the top stories in another awesome week for teams coast to coast. Here’s what we learned from week three…

Alabama is Not Invincible despite Win. Look, Alabama is very, very good and quarterback A.J. McCarron is not appreciated nearly enough for being more than a ‘game manager.’ The problem is that Alabama’s defense has some issues, especially in the secondary. Other teams will be torched by Johnny Manziel but the Aggies exposed not only the secondary but also the lack of a big-time pass rusher for the Tide.

Because Bama proved they could score at will with Texas A&M, they will mask the deficiencies on defense, but make no mistake; this is not the Alabama defense we are used to seeing. Nick Saban will find ways to mask certain issues, but only to a certain extent. Either way, the Tide took a huge step towards another SEC title game appearance with the win.

Michigan
Akron gave the 11th ranked Wolverines everything they could handle.

Michigan Survives Major Scare at Home. I can tell you first-hand how crazy close Michigan was to losing to Akron because I was there in the Big House. The crowd was flat and so was the team and the Zips took advantage of several Wolverines’ miscues to stay in the game. Keep in mind this Akron team has not won on the road in 28 straight games now.

Despite the struggles of QB Devin Gardner who accounted for four turnovers, the Wolverines still managed to take the lead with two and half minutes to play but Akron wouldn’t die. The Zips faced a third and one from the Michigan two yard line with under 15 seconds left. A toss sweep failed miserably and was followed by a timeout. On the fourth down the Zips chance at glory escaped as the ball fell to the turf on a desperation pass.

Michigan was clearly flat following a huge a night game win over Notre Dame the Saturday before. Even the Irish were flat for most of their win over Purdue. The lesson learned for Michigan is simple. You cannot take anyone lightly anymore regardless of poor they may be. Akron was a 37-point ‘dog coming in.

Bizarre is the Only Word for Badgers’ Loss to Arizona State. Wisconsin traveled to the desert to face the Sun Devils Saturday night and despite a defense that was gassed by being on the field for 92 plays, the Badgers still had a shot for game-winning field goal. Well in field goal range and with no timeouts left, Badgers’ QB Joel Stave needed to only spike the ball to stop the clock and bring on the field goal unit. Trailing by two, the Badgers were going to have a chance.

Inexplicably, Stave moved to his left and then placed the ball on the ground rather than spike it. The clock kept running and before the Badgers’ could stop the clock it expired. What happened? If it was ruled a fumble? Why didn’t Arizona State take over? If it was an incomplete pass, why didn’t the clock stop?

Should Wisconsin run the table the rest of the way, not easy by any stretch, this bizarre finish could come back to haunt them.

 

 

 

Bama Will Expose the A&M Defense on Saturday

McCarron
McCarron
I expect McCarron to be just fine on the road in College Station. He's been here before many times.

Normally, this is the point in the week where I start to pick four or five games I really like for the upcoming college week. I am putting that on the shelf because I really couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t pay special attention to the biggest game of the college football season taking place Saturday afternoon in College Station.

Nick Saban and his Alabama Crimson Tide have had this game circled on their calendars since the Aggies and Johnny Manziel upset them in Tuscaloosa last fall. Bama is currently listed as an eight-point favorite even though the game is being played in Texas. The Tide enters 1-0 on the season with their win coming against Virginia Tech (35-10) in a game much closer than the final score.

Texas A&M enters at 2-0 with two home victories against Rice (52-31) and Sam Houston State (65-28). Heisman Trophy winner Manziel will not be speaking to the media this week per sources at the University and that’s probably a good idea. I would recommend they also de-activate his Twitter account as well. Much like Alabama, the scores are a bit misleading for the Aggies.

In both games, Aggie opponents were within 10 points of them in the second half. While Rice is a decent team, and that’s being nice, SHSU should not be running for 240 yards on a team in the top 10 and that’s exactly what they did.

Saban
Saban will point the Tide to victory in College Station.

Saban has made it very clear the importance of this game to his players. He’s had last year’s game running on a loop throughout the football facility and has the A&M logo plastered throughout the weight room. You would think that knowing the Crimson Tide got the last laugh by winning the national title that this game wouldn’t mean as much to them but that isn’t how Saban operates.

Tide QB A.J. McCarron will play well especially since he is coming off a very pedestrian performance in the opener. I have to believe T.J. Yeldon will see plenty of touches against an Aggies’ defense that is giving up an average of 273 yards per game. His running will set up McCarron in the play-action passing game where he will thrive.

I expect Manziel to make plays. You don’t win the Heisman and not do that on a regular basis. Saban will have other ideas however entering this game. He admitted they weren’t properly prepared to play the Aggies last year on the defensive side of the ball and he won’t make that mistake again. This defense has arguably more talent than last year’s squad and has been licking its chops at the chance to get Manziel again.

Trends Entering The Game

Saban is 8-4 against the spread when he has time to prepare for an opponent while at Bama.

Bama is 16-8 ATS in road games in which Saban and company are favored.

The Aggies are 9-9-1 as home underdogs over the last 10 seasons.

Both teams are 5-0 straight up in their last five games.

The Aggies are 6-1 at home straight up in their last seven home games.

In eight seasons at Alabama, LSU and Auburn are the only teams to defeat Saban more than once.

The Pick

The atmosphere will be electric. There are already fans outside of Kyle Stadium trying to get the last remaining tickets and I’m guessing the RV’s are already lining up to get in prime parking position. Texas A&M is very talented offensively and will pose problems for the Bama defense with both the run and the pass. The difference in this game however is the Bama offense against the A&M defense.

I can’t help but think the Crimson Tide will pound the ball at will and will wear down the Aggies and keep Manziel off the field at the same time. This environment will be nothing new for Alabama and they will thrive once both teams settle down in the first quarter. Look for Alabama to cover the spread en route to a big win on the road.