2016 – Week 13 Picks

 

An unexpected good week.  We went 7-4 straight up and 8-3 against the spread.  That might be the first time ever we went better against the spread than straight up.  But that upset of the week was a big miss.  Oklahoma went into Morgantown and absolutely destroyed West Virginia.

This week has a great slate of games.  There is a lot to sort out in the conference races and playoff positioning.  This week will sort out much of that mess.  Neither PAC 12 division has a winner yet.  The Big 10 doesn't have either division winner yet.  The Big 12 still needs to decide their champ but that will be next week at Bedlam.  Even the MAC has a very big game.  Toledo definitely has the ability to spoil Western Michigan's dream year.

And of course you have big rivalry games this week like Kansas-Kansas State.

On to the Week 13 guesses.  Hard to believe we are at the end of the regular season.

Teams on bye:  Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Army, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, LA Monroe

   #5 Washington

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  #23 WSU (+6)

We have been anticipating it for weeks, and it is finally here.  One of the biggest Apple Cups ever.  The winner takes the PAC 12 north division and plays for the conference championship.  For Washington, that means keeping their hopes for a Playoff berth alive.  For Washington State, it means sticking it to their hated rival and making a march to the Rose Bowl.  I don't think Wazzu will have enough to make the Playoff even if they win the PAC 12.  Washington comes into the game dominating both sides of the ball.  They are #4 in scoring offense and #10 in scoring defense.  We all know Wazzu can put up some points and loves to throw the ball all over.  But as we saw last week, that can be contained by a good defense.  Washington has a good defense.  They can get pressure without blitzing so that leaves more men in coverage to counter the Cougars' passing attack.  Washington wins the game and the PAC 12 north.  PICK: Washington 42, Washington State 28

 TCU

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  Texas (-3)

There is nothing at stake in this game.  It's really a depressing game, but it gives us a chance to talk about Charlie Strong as Texas head football coach one last time.  You know that whoever comes in next is going to do very well.  Texas was completely devoid of talent when Mack Brown left the program.  Strong has done a good job of restocking the talent in Austin.  He has brought in two straight top 10 classes.  All that talent is young.  There were glimpses of what they can be, but also lots of lapses.  He changed the culture at Texas and set them back on the right path.  Unfortunately in this day and age, no one is patient for anything, especially the filthy rich boosters at Texas.  Charlie Strong didn't forget how to coach.  But that's the world college football revolves in now.  Tom Herman will probably come in and do awesome with the players Strong recruited.  TCU is having a down year, but fortunately for Gary Patterson, he has built up enough credit to weather a season like this.  I'm hearing his name come up for other job positions.  Didn't TCU unveil a statue they are going to make of him this past year?  That feels awkward.  The players love Charlie Strong and will play inspired football for him.  PICK: Texas 42, TCU 35

  Toledo

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  #21 W. Michigan (-9)

Western Michigan has been having a great season.  They are undefeated.  Gameday came to their campus for the first time ever.  They have a team motto that everyone loves to yell.  But there's one little speed bump left.  They still haven't locked up their division to play in the conference championship.  If they look too far ahead dreaming about a New Year's 6 bowl berth, they can get knocked off this week.  Toledo comes to town and I am sure will be playing with a chip on their shoulder.  Football players love to play the disrespect card.  Toledo is a good team and has been much better over the past few years than Western Michigan.  Toledo is averaging 39 points per game and 536 yards per game.  So their offense is on par with the Broncos'.  Western Michigan's defense is markedly better than Toledo's.  I like to go with the better defense when teams are pretty even in other aspects.  I will pick Western Michigan to win, but don't be surprised if Toledo pulls it off.  PICK: Western Michigan 34, Toledo 28

  Kentucky

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  #11 Louisville (-26.5)

Louisville is coming off a humbling defeat to Houston last week.  Houston absolutely dominated Louisville in that game.  Louisville's offensive line gave up 11 sacks.  Even with the uber-elusive Lamar Jackson they gave up that many.  But sometimes you run into a bad matchup.  That doesn't mean Louisville is all of a sudden a bad team or Lamar Jackson isn't the Heisman trophy frontrunner.  What it means is that Kentucky better watch out because I think the Cardinals are going to be taking out some frustration against them.  Kentucky has had a very good year, by Kentucky standards.  They blew a game against Georgia which would have put them in first place in their division in November.  But the hot seat talk for Mark Stoops has died down.  Sure, they are staring at only a 6 win regular season, but that means they are bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.  But Louisville should smack them around pretty good in this one.  PICK: Louisville 49, Kentucky 20

  #3 Michigan

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 #2 Ohio State (-6.5)

The game that will decide the Playoff, at least part of it.  If Ohio St. wins then they are in, but this puts Penn St. in the Big Ten Championship against (most likely - Wisconsin).  I think that if this scenario happens, then the winner of the Big Ten and OSU will make it in the Playoff.  If Michigan wins then they go on to the Big Ten Championship to play Wisconsin.  If Wisconsin wins then they're in the Playoff and Michigan will have to cross their fingers to hope they're still in the committee's good graces.  If Wilton Speith was still playing for Michigan then I think the Wolverines would possibly run away with this game.  But he's not, O'Korn is now their QB.....he didn't look so hot last game.  If you remember O'Korn from his freshman year at Houston he usually had a ton of time to throw and mostly played from the shotgun.  If he was pressured he would almost always roll to his right - highlights here.  I imagine OSU knows all about this, the big question here is will Harbaugh change his offense to more shotgun heavily formations to suit O'Korn?  If you see a lot of shotgun formations early on from Michigan then you know what's happening.  O'Korn might just be effective in this game.  The defense for the Wolverines is top notch, they just need a little help from the offense to bring in the W.  OSU is coming off a tough game with Michigan State, so I think you're going to see a team that's a little beat up (body blow effect).  Barrett didn't look good at all but the D was what kept them from losing.  Keys to the game will be Barrett and O'Korn's performances and whether or not they get time to throw.  This is going to be a great game in the 2nd half.  I fully expect it to come down to a FG or last minute score.  I'm going to tag OSU here because they're at home with the crowd behind them.....and I do expect Harbaugh to switch the offense up to help his QB but it won't be enough.  PICK: Ohio St 27, Michigan 23

  #13 Auburn

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  #1 Alabama (-17.5)

The Iron Bowl!!  Almost always the most exciting game during Rivalry Week.  Everyone knows that you can't run the ball on Alabama (2.17 yds per carry), but Auburn is still going to try.  QB Sean White better loosen up the arm since I have a sneaky suspicion that he'll be throwing the ball more than usual in this one.  Malzahn will come up with some trickery in the run game to throw the front seven of Bama off at least a little bit to help his guys get to the corner to try and break one loose.  The key will be the passing game for Auburn.  If they connect on a few deep passes then Bama won't be able to stack the box to stop the run repeatedly.  Bama QB Jalen Hurts surely isn't the most true QB out there, he saves plays with his legs more often than not....he's not the most accurate anywhere on the field, short or deep, even though the numbers say he's 68%....that's mostly due to quick outs they run all the time.  The problem that Bama will have on offense is dealing with a big and fast D-Line from Auburn that might just be the best in the country with Lawson leading the way.  Auburn will be able to get around the corner to stop Hurts from rolling out into space for long run.  I expect them to give Hurts a very tough time all day long.  I still like Bama here since they are clearly the best in the country.  Auburn won't go away without a fight, and the Tigers might even lead at half.  In the end Bama's depth will show to win this game and go on to slaughter Florida in the SEC Championship.  PICK: Alabama 31, Auburn 21

  Minnesota

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  #6 Wisconsin (-14)

Winner gets Paul Bunyan's Axe!!  Maybe one of the coolest trophies in all of sports.  If Wisconsin wins then they go to the Big Ten Championship.  If they lose and Nebraska beats Iowa then Nebraska is in.  Minnesota will not be a push over for the Badgers, even though the Badgers have won 12 straight.  Wisconsin should win this one, without a doubt....but they seem to have a tough time with teams that run the ball and are very deliberate on offense.  Minnesota is a good team - just not that good to beat the Badgers in Madison.  Minnesota has a solid record, and they can thank their cake walk schedule to that.  Every time they've lost it was to a solid team (Iowa, Nebraska, PSU).  You can add Wisconsin to that list, I don't expect Minnesota to score anything above 20 pts here.  Badgers make their way into the Big Ten Championship against Michigan or Penn St. with ease.  PICK: Wisconsin 30, Minnesota 13

  #22 Utah

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  #9 Colorado (-10)

How bout them Buffs?  What an unexpected season they've put together.  No one expected a top 10 team named Colorado.  This would've been a fantastic top 15 matchup to determine the PAC12 south champ, but Oregon of all teams ruined that for Utah last week on a last second TD catch.  Now Utah looks to play spoiler to help USC make it to the PAC12 Championship.  I don't think it's going to happen, Colorado is just too good on defense and their QB Liafau is on fire right now.  I'm going to run with the hot team coming into this game.  Colorado is a well balanced team that has come too far to lose this game.  Utah is what Utah is every year, great on defense and so-so on offense.  Enough to be a top 25 team year in and year out, but just can't seem to get over that hump to make it to the top.  This is a very evenly matched game between these squads, so it's going to come down to turnovers and field position in the end.  Colorado being at home certainly has the advantage with the home crowd.  The Buffs make it to the PAC12 Championship with a win and will now be an outside shot to make the Playoff.  What a time to be alive!! PICK: Colorado 27, Utah 24

  #15 Florida

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  #14 Florida St. (-7)

Florida did the unthinkable last week and won the SEC East!!  Everyone and their mom had Tennessee taking the East with ease....not so fast Vols.  The Florida defense is the real reason the Gators are in the SEC Championship.  If Del Rio could've stayed healthy for more than one week they might have beaten Tennessee or Arkansas.  It sounds like Del Rio will be back for this game, if (this a big if) Florida wins this game convincingly they should get a nice boost in the rankings and if (another gigantic if) they beat Bama in the SEC Championship game they could possibly sneak in to the Playoff or be one of the last teams left out.  That's a lot to do to get anywhere around the Playoff, but you never know what's going to happen in CFB.  Someone will surprise us in the end and make the Playoff, it just feels fitting for this year.  Florida State is going to need Dalvin Cook to carry the load here since the Gators don't allow anyone to throw on them.  It should be another low scoring Florida game thanks to that ridiculous defense.  FSU doesn't have the best O-Line and the pressure will come from all angles to disrupt Francois.  Florida is riding a high from beating LSU last week, I think they'll storm into Tallahassee to take the W, bounce into the top 10 and wait for the big game game against Bama to make their case for the Playoff.  PICK: Florida 24, Florida St 20

  #19 Boise State

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 Air Force (+9)

Boise State is currently the highest ranked Group of Five team, but they need some help to even make their conference championship game.  They need to win this game and hope Wyoming loses to New Mexico to make that happen.  The only way they would be guaranteed a spot in a New Year's 6 bowl is to be the highest ranked Group of Five champion.  They definitely won't get ranked high enough for an at large spot if they don't even make their championship game.  Boise has one the least inspiring 10-1 records ever.  Usually when Boise has that record, they are destroying teams.  But they have been in too many close games.  Air Force has had a disappointing year, relative to their schedule strength.  It was easy to see them winning double digit games this year, but a mid-season 3 game losing streak has cost them.  They still could end the year with 9 or 10 wins, but that has to be considered a disappointment considering what they could have done.  Air Force has won 2 in a row against Boise.  Boise tends to struggle on the road in conference play.  Air Force is playing better down the stretch and beats Boise again.  This feels exactly like the pick for the Upset of the Week!  PICK: Air Force 31, Boise State 29

Season Record - Straight Up: 72-48

Season Record - Versus Spread: 55-64-1

Upset of the Week: 4-8

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