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WEEK 6 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICKS

10/18/08

 

Due to the number of plays, and, the lack of time this week, we won't have extensive write ups on these plays. But we'll summarize all of them as best we can. You'll notice a common pattern in all the plays this week. All of the teams we are on, are teams that are not beating themselves (for the most part). They are all playing sound fundamental football. They aren't turning the ball over, they are creating turnovers, and they are performing as good as, or better than their opponents when it comes to putting the ball in the end zone and keeping opponents out of the end zone. (we told you isn't rocket science)

 

5* Michigan State +3.5 over Ohio State - This week #12 Ohio State visits #20 Michigan State in what amounts to the biggest game for Michigan State in quite some time. Michigan State hasn't beaten Ohio State since 1999 but if it's going to happen, this looks to be the time and place. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio was Jim Tressels defensive coordinator and earned a championship ring at Ohio State. These guys are familiar with each other. Both teams have a loss but it was Ohio States performance against USC which stands out. Michigan State lost a close shootout with Cal to kick off the year. It's been all up hill since. Yards per point numbers for Michigan State an excellent 12 on offense and superb 21.6 defensively. Ohio State not too shabby either with a 13 on offense and a 19 on defense. Both teams good in turnover margin with Michigan State at +10 and Ohio State +7. But Ohio State having some troubles on the offensive side of the ball. They failed to score an offensive touchdown against the worst defense in the Big 10. They rank 94th in the nation in total offense and 10th in the Big 10. Their inability to move the ball could spell trouble against a Michigan State team that has no trouble finding the end zone. Michigan State Running Back Javon Ringer is one of the best in the nation. Likely the best Ohio State has faced this. Ohio State's conservative game plans, their unwillingness to throw the ball, the coaching familiarities, the higher ranking of Ohio State, the game being one of the biggest home games for Michigan State in years, it all adds up. We like to say that when a team like Michigan State sees the door open a crack, against a team that has historically dominated them like Ohio State, they have to kick the door in, because that opportunity may not present itself for years to come. So, in a sense, it's now or never. The talent is there, it's one of the best Michigan State teams in years. We likely won't need the field goal in this one but we'll take it. Michigan State +3.5 (the play is still good at +3)

 

 

2* Iowa State +8 over Nebraska - Both of these teams desperate for a win sitting at 0-2 in the conference. Nebraska has certainly had the upper hand in this series but a look at these two teams results thus far this year shows some similarities. Both started out with wins over lesser competition and then suffered defeats when they stepped it up. Nebraska was hammered by Missouri but then came back last week and took Texas Tech to overtime which shocked quite a few people. Meanwhile, Iowa State was looking good a couple of weeks ago, up big on Kansas at the half before falling apart in the 2nd half and losing by two, followed by their worst game of the year, last week at Baylor. But Iowa State has shown some promise. In their game at Iowa, they outgained a decent Iowa team, won the time of possession battle and the first down battle but came up short on the scoreboard. They lead the Big 12 in takeaways at +17 and sit at +7 in turnover margin, which ranks among the best in the country (Nebraska is -4). Their yards per point numbers are a tad better than Nebraska's but we'd have to give the edge to the Cornhuskers as far as strength of schedule. This will be the 2nd road game in a row for Nebraska and only the 2nd road game of the year for them as they started the season with 5 straight home games. We're also counting on a hangover affect from last weeks devastating overtime loss to Texas Tech, while Iowa State figures to improve drastically off of their worst performance of the year. We think this one has the potential to be a good competitive game so we'll grab the touchdown here with the home dog. Iowa State +8

 

2* Vanderbilt +15 over Georgia - We're not going to argue about the overall talent levels of these two teams. Georgia gets the nod. We'll also concede that the way things looked last week, the way Georgia dominated the Vols and held them to 16 yards rushing and the way Vanderbilt looked at Miss State, it would seem as though Vandy has no chance. All of which, by the way, creates a little extra line value for us here. But there are plenty of positives to draw on here. For one, this Georgia team is pretty much the same team from a year ago. We'll, a year ago, Vandy led Georgia 17-7 before losing 20-17 on a late field goal. They had 179 rushing yards and another 131 through the year. If you're worried about the QB situation at Vandy, don't. Mackenzie Adams replaced Chris Nickson last year early in the Georgia game and threw for 125 of those 131 yards going 7 for 10 in the process. He also came off the bench in the Auburn win this year. He gives Vandy the downfield threat they need to challenge the Georgia secondary and keep them honest. Don't be surprised to see Nickson in there as well. Vandy also beat Georgia the year before last, at Georgia, 24-22. So can Vandy, with their talent, compete with Georgia? The answer is in the last two years results. Of course they can. Keep in mind the last two years were losing ones for Vandy, just like the last 25 years. So if ever they are going to compete, why not now when they are having their best season ever??? Vanderbilt is playing the type of football that keeps games close. They shorten the game. They lead the SEC in sacks. They are the least penalized team in the SEC. They are one of the better teams in the country on the turnover margin chart. Their yards per point numbers are better than Georgia's mostly due to their making the most of their opportunities inside the red zone where they rank, you guessed it, number one in the SEC. Again, it's all the basic fundamentals here that have made Vandy 5-1 and able to compete. Do all the little things right, consistently, and you have all the makings of a sound, competitive football team.........oh, and how about some added motivation. Last year when Georgia won, they celebrated by dancing on the Vandy logo at midfield. Now, revenge is great in college football. But throw in something like that to add a little juice........hey, if I was coaching Vandy, I'd make the team watch that Georgia dance routine before and after every practice this week, and then one more time on the bus ride over to the stadium Saturday morning. This game has the potential to be better than many think. Vandy +15

 

 

2* Navy +3 over Pitt - Nothing ground breaking in our approach in this one. Simply two teams we feel are even with the home team, Navy, getting a field goal in a game that could go either way and probably has a great chance to be decided by 3. These two hooked up last year in a wild 48-45 shootout which Navy won. Pitt is 4-1 with their two most impressive wins being 21-20 over Iowa and 26-21 over South Florida on the road. But there's some question marks as well. Such as losing to Bowling Green and close games against Buffalo and Syracuse. Navy also has some question marks this year but, like Pitt, have a couple of equally impressive wins. Knocking off Wake Forest and Air Force, both on the road, in their last two games tells us Navy is playing some good ball. The Turnover margin favors Navy at +6 on the year to Pitts -3. We'll take the points here in a game that figures to come down to the wire. Pitt being ranked #23 in the Nation helps our cause. Anytime an unranked team plays a ranked team, particularly at home, there's added incentive. Hey, that could be Navy at #23 next week. Navy +3

 

 

2* North Carolina -4.5 over Virginia - Shop around. We see -4 out there. The question here is, which Virginia team shows up? The team that looked like the worst in the land the first 4 games of the year, or the team that beat Maryland 31-0 and East Carolina 35-20? Look at the difference in these two teams results against a common opponent, Uconn. NC beat Uconn 38-12 while Virginia lost 45-10!! Rather than guess which Virginia team will show up, we'll take into account the entire year for both squads. When doing so, we find a much more consistent and talented football team in North Carolina than we do with Virginia. At 5-1, The Tar Heels are the number one team in the nation in turnover margin at +11 while Virginia ranks 100 out of 119 teams in that category. Great ypp numbers for NC with a 10 on offense and an 18.5 on defense for a +8.5 overall compared with Virginia's dismal 18 on offense and 14 on defense for a -4 overall. The line on this game is reasonable enough at under a touchdown while the gap in talent appears wide enough to have us laying points, which is a rare occasion. North Carolina -4.5.

 

 

2* Kentucky -7.5 over Arkansas - Speaking of laying points.......not something we like to do, but sometimes it can't be avoided. This one for very similar reasons as the above game. This game opened Kentucky -11 and we think the oddsmakers had it right. We pointed out some glaring yards per point numbers in the NC/Virginia game and we have an even wider gap in this one. Arkansas with over 19 on offense and 10 on defense rates as just about the worst in all of college football while Kentucky with a 12 on offense and 26 on defense ranks as one of the best (using that stat). It's a significant stat because it tells you how hard a team has to work to put points on the board while also showing us how effective they are defensively at keeping opponents out of the end zone. Some will bring up schedule strength here but really, it's not an issue. They both played Alabama. Kentucky was on the road and lost by 3. Arkansas was home and lost by 35. We wouldn't get too caught up in the Auburn win last week either. It was two teams with new offenses both at the same point in their progress. Some are pointing to Kentucky's lack of offense in their arguments for this one being a close game. We'll go in another direction though. We'll point to Kentucky's defense, which currently ranks as the best scoring defense in the SEC and 3rd nationally, going up against an Arkansas team still learning the new schemes. Put another way, we may not be asking Kentucky to score all that much here. We may just be asking for a touchdown and a couple of field goals. We'll take the better team with the better defense and we'll lay a number that gets more and more favorable as each day goes by. Wait on this one, it may be less than touchdown by Saturday! Oh, and if you're wondering about turnover margins here, Kentucky is +7 and 11th in the nation.......Arkansas is -8 and ranked 114 out of 119 teams. Wow..................Kentucky -7.5


 

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