Week 7 Football Picks
No rant this week, let’s just get to the picks.
Ole Miss (-10) @ Memphis
Memphis is starting to get some buzz as they’ve turned around one of the worst programs in the country. They boast one of the most prolific offenses, ranking 4th in the nation in points per game. However, I have my doubts about how good their offense really is, as they dropped 63 points on an FCS team (Missouri State), 55 at Kansas (ranked 124th out of 128 in scoring defense), 44 on Bowling Green (112th in scoring defense), 53 on Cincinnatti (93rd in scoring defense), and 24 on USF (56th in scoring defense). The South Florida game is the canary in the coal mine for me. Memphis hasn’t seen anything close to Ole Miss’s D, and I think that Robert Nkemdiche and company will show the Tigers that they still have a lot further to go to compete with the big boys.
Northwestern (+1.5) vs Iowa
I got burned by Northwestern last weekend as I dramatically underestimated Michigan’s offense, but that won’t happen this week as Iowa has virtually every good skill player out for this game as well as their best defensive player. And when asked about his injury problems, Hawkeye starting QB C.J. Bethard said this week that he can “throw the ball fine.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Add in the fact that Iowa lucked out in two of their wins (they nailed a 57 yard field goal at the buzzer to beat Pitt and needed 4 turnovers, including a fumble at the 1 to beat Wisconsin 10–6), and this week just screams regression.
Baylor (-21) vs West Virginia
The reason Baylor didn’t make the playoff last year was because of a loss in Morgantown, so I fully expect them to exact some retribution on the Mountaineers.
Michigan State (+7) @ Michigan
I really wish that this line were closer to 0 so I could bet on Michigan to win outright in order to hedge my 126–1 parlay on the Spartans to win the B1G and National Championships. Alas, it is not because the Wolverine defense is arguably the best in the country. Since their week 1 loss at Utah, they’ve allowed 7 competitive points in 5 games (they let UNLV score a TD in garbage time). However, as good as their defense has been, their offense has been equally “meh.” Jake Rudock is shaky at best (6 picks and 5 TD’s in 6 games), and the offense has trouble making big plays. Plus, in MSU’s last 14 games as an underdog, they’re 12–2 against the spread. And yes, I had to talk myself into this because if I’m ever going to accomplish my dream of owning my own private island, it starts with Sparty winning it all this year.
Alabama (-4) @ Texas A&M
The Crimson Tide stomped the Aggies 59–0 last season, and frankly, it wasn’t that close; the Tide were up 45–0 at halftime. A&M will most certainly have a better showing this year, if for no other reason than they’re just a better team than last season. However, this is Alabama that we’re talking about, and even though the only offenses that give them trouble are high-powered teams that spread everyone out and throw the ball downfield (like A&M), last year’s evisceration is still too close in my memory to pick up what A&M is putting down (and yes, I said 2 weeks ago that Bama isn’t Bama this year, but Darth Saban proved me wrong yet again, all hail the Dark Lord).
Toledo (-28) vs Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan is just awful, and the Rockets can score in bunches. Last season, Toledo won this matchup on the road 52–16, leading 42–9 at half, and Saturday shouldn’t be any different at home for the Rockets.
Oklahoma (-4) @ Kansas State
The Wildcats have blown fourth quarter leads to Oklahoma State and TCU the last two weeks, and this weekend, they’re effectively playing for their season. The Sooners still have an outside shot to win the Big 12 as they still play TCU and Baylor, but if they lose this game, they can kiss that dream goodbye. What leads me towards the Sooners is the fact that their offense works best when they establish the run, which allows Baker Mayfield to wreak havoc off of play-action. At first blush, the Wildcats look like a team that can stop the run, ranking 36th in the nation, giving up 3.53 yards per carry. However, when you only look at K-State’s efforts against their two power 5 conference opponents, they drop to 102nd in the country, as they gave up 5.82 yards per carry against the Cowboys and Horned Frogs.
South Carolina (-3) vs Vanderbilt
“ My answer has always been the same: If it starts going south, starts going bad, then I need to get out.”
That’s what Steve Spurrier said about his resignation this week, and if I were playing for the Gamecocks, I’d sure be fired up to prove the program isn’t going south (even though it clearly is). Vandy’s defense has actually been fairly respectable this year, but this is a gut check game for everyone on USC East, and I expect them to come out swinging.
LSU (-7) vs Florida
The combination of Will Grier’s suspension and LSU getting All-American safety Jalen Mills back is a terrible combination for the Gators. Florida’s offense hasn’t been great in their two road games, scoring 14 and 21 points against Kentucky and Missouri, respectively, and that was with a competent quarterback (Treon Harris and his 51% career completion percentage is not). LSU’s defense is an entirely different animal than the Wildcats and Tigers, as is Death Valley from Kentucky and Mizzou. I just see LSU slowly grinding Florida down before the best player in the country puts the game out of reach in the 4th quarter.
Notre Dame (-7) vs USC
I have no idea how the Trojans can say they’re focused this week after going through this whole Steve Sarkisian thing. The way USC handled it was awkward, basically building a case to fire him in the press before letting him go. They could have accomplished the same thing by saying he’s stepping down to attend to personal issues, we’d find out in a couple days that he went to rehab, and then everyone would forget about it until a few years later when Sarkisian goes 10–2 at a program like Fresno State.
Washington (+7) @ New York Jets
Sure, the D.C. Racial Slurs are not great, but it’s not like the Jets are a juggernaut. With how good Washington’s defense is, it seems like the only possible way for the Jets to cover this is to win 9–0. With Kirk Cousins, that’s certainly a possibility.
Buffalo (+3.5) vs Cincinnatti
This is part 1 of 2 of my #fadethepublic bets. Over 80% of all bets are on the Bengals in Buffalo this weekend. We haven’t seen Andy Dalton revert back into a pumpkin yet, and he’s due. No Tyrod Taylor this week, but EJ Manuel has the ability to play quarterback every bit as excitingly mediocre as Bills fans have come to expect.
Tennessee (+1.5) vs Miami
The Titans are second only to Denver’s defense in getting pressure on the quarterback this year, and given how bad Miami’s embattled offensive line is, this is how the Titans defense must feel right now.
Pittsburgh (+4) vs Arizona
Between Todd Haley and Bruce Arians, we may see over 100 go routes in this game. Here’s betting that the Steelers nail just enough of their bombs to keep this real close.
Seattle (-7) vs Carolina
Carolina has beaten Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, and Houston. Congrats. This is their first real football game of 2015; we know Cam Newton is good, but man, the Panthers could sign Jerry Rice and Randy Moss right now and they’d be their top 2 receivers.
NY Giants (+3.5) @ Philadelphia
This line is insane. The Eagles aren’t good.
Indianapolis (+10) vs New England*
Welcome to part 2. The only reason why I’m picking the Colts is because EVERYONE and their mother expects the Pats* to walk into Indy and take things over like they’re ISIS invading Mosul (and yes, I did go out of my way to compare the Pats* to ISIS, sue me). This opened at 7 and it’s run as high as 10.5. No matter what site you look at, roughly 90% of bets are coming in on the Pats* to cover. Rule #1 of gambling: #fadethepublic
Enjoy the weekend folks.
Last Week NCAA: 6–5
Season NCAA: 28–31–3
Last Week NFL: 3–2
Season NFL: 18–12