2016 – Week 14 Picks

Last week was another good week.  We went 8-2 straight up and 4-5-1 against the spread.  We have done much better against the spread this year than last year.  We must be getting better at this.

It's championship week.  Some very hotly debated topics are coming out in advance of this weekend.  The number 1 topic being how to sort out all the Big 10 teams.  The 2 Big 10 teams that have been considered the best all year didn't even make it to their conference championship game.  The committee will need to sort out how they value conference championships versus thinking that a team is "unequivocally" one of the 4 best in the country.  Not only will they have to weigh the Big 10 teams against each other, they need to figure out what to do with Washington if they win.

There is also a looming disaster if Navy wins their conference championship game.

I love college football and how crazy it can be.

Teams on bye:  Just about everybody

   #17 W. Michigan

vs

  Ohio (+18.5)

Western Michigan took care of business last week and knocked off a good Toledo team to make it to the MAC championship.  Now they get to take on an Ohio team who has had some surprising success this year.  It doesn't appear that Ohio really has a chance in this game.  If Western Michigan just plays their game, they should win.  The big question will be if they will end up the highest ranked Group of 5 team.  That looked like a given after Houston and Boise State loss, but Navy is now nipping at their heels.  It will be hard to not rank them the highest as they are the only team besides Alabama in the FBS that is undefeated.  This one doesn't seem too dramatic.  Just the aftermath will be.  PICK: Western Michigan 42, Ohio 17

  #8 Colorado

vs

  #4 Washington (-7)

This should be a fun game.  Finally some new blood in the PAC 12 championship and two powers from the 90's rising back to prominence.  Colorado last won the national championship in 1990. (#1 song in the country at that time...Justify my Love by Madonna.)  Washington last shared the national championship in 1991.  (#1 song in the country at that time...Black or White by Michael Jackson.)  Colorado's rise was totally unexpected.  They had very minimally been improving each year under their current rebuild, and it was thought just getting to bowl eligibility would be a huge accomplishment.  They have smashed through that wall.  Now they are working on a very distant chance at a Playoff spot.  Win this game and they guaranteed at least the Rose Bowl.  Washington had all the preseason hype.  Many thought it was unwarranted and they were going to be the Tennessee of the west.  But Chris Petersen knows how to coach and build programs.  The Huskies have dominated this year.  They are currently in the top 4 of the Playoff rankings.  A win here doesn't guarantee they stay in the rankings because their non-conference schedule was terrible.  Obviously they can't lose this game if they want to make the playoff.  Washington has a top 25 offense, but Colorado has a top 15 defense.  I usually like to go with the better defense in match ups of top teams.  But if you have a good quarterback, you can overcome that match up.  Washington has a top quarterback in Heisman contender Jake Browning.  He has 40 TD passes versus only 7 interceptions.  If he can take care of the ball, then Washington can win.  Their defense is only a few spots behind the Buffs.  Let's go with Washington. PICK: Washington 27, Colorado 24

  Temple

vs

  #19 Navy (-3)

This is surprising that Temple is in the AAC championship.  It sure felt like South Florida had a great year, but Temple won the head-to-head.  The great story in this game is just how messed up Navy can make the entire bowl process with a win.  The college football playoff committee has said they will delay the rankings due to the Army-Navy game still needing to be played next week.  How weird is that?  You play your conference championship game and you still have a regular season game after that.  It has big implications because Navy and Western Michigan are neck-and-neck in the Playoff rankings.  This also affects a lot of other bowls.  Some lower tier bowls won't be able to slot their teams until they know the results of Army-Navy if Navy were to win this game.  That means some teams won't know what bowl they are going to until only 72 hours before they need to be there.  That will be a disaster.  These crazy scenarios almost never come to pass.  But Navy has been playing awesome lately.  Navy is averaging 42 ppg on the season and averaging 61 ppg in their last 3.  I think it would be really funny the outcries that will happen when Navy wins this game.  There will be talk about why is Army-Navy played so late in the year.  It didn't use to be that way.  Etc., etc., etc.  PICK: Navy 45, Temple 35

  LA Tech

vs

  W. Kentucky (-9.5)

LA Tech had a nice year.  They are back to their high scoring ways.  Western Kentucky pretty much had the year everyone was expecting out of them.  Coincidentally, both these teams are averaging exactly 44 ppg on the year.  So it seems like the question should be who has the better defense.  When you have high scoring teams, it's better to look at yards per play than total defense.  Western Kentucky has a decided advantage in that category over LA Tech.  Western Kentucky ranks 25th giving up 5.00 yards per play.  LA Tech ranks 46th giving up 5.40 yards per play.  Western Kentucky also has a better turnover margin.  I'm going to go with those indicators and pick the Hilltoppers to win C-USA.  PICK: W. Kentucky 49, LA Tech 38

  #10 Oklahoma St.

vs

 #9 Oklahoma (-12)

This is the de facto championship game for the Big XII.  (Actual championship game estimated arrival - December 2017.)  Whoever wins this game will get to put Big XII champion on their resume, but it sure seems like a long shot to make the Playoff.  If Oklahoma wins, there is no way they can vault over Ohio State with the head-to-head loss.  If Oklahoma State wins, they will be a two-loss champion (yes, officially 2 losses despite the Central Michigan game debacle) with too many teams to leap frog over to make it into the top 4.  This game sort of feels like the Big XII is getting what they deserve for their complete dysfunction and lack of leadership in the conference.  This game will merely be for slotting in the Sugar Bowl and building momentum for next year.  It's usually a pretty entertaining rivalry game, so there's that.  Two of the last 4 meetings have gone into OT.  These teams are almost mirror images of each other with good offenses and terrible defenses.  Expect a close, high scoring affair.  PICK: Oklahoma 44, Oklahoma State 38

  Baylor

vs

  #16 West Virginia (-18)

There once was relevance here....now it's all washed away.  Baylor's coaches have quit on the team and so have the players....cleaning house is the only way to fix that place, I mean everywhere....not just the football team.  West Virginia is definitely going to win this game, Baylor is done and done.  There are rumors that Baylor is going to turn down any bowl invitations so they can get move on with the cleansing.  The Mountaineers are going to get a pretty good bowl game with a win, maybe jump a couple of spots in the rankings if they're lucky....in other words, plenty to care about for WVU.  If they lose to Baylor then get ready for a solid drop out of the top 20.  If you just look at the raw numbers these teams are very much evenly matched on offense and defense....WVU just has more turnovers and a better red zone defense.  That right there is enough to pick the Mountaineers over Baylor, but after watching the steep decline of Baylor it's obvious who will win, but will WVU cover the spread?  It opened up at -14 WVU, now it's -18...I'm going to say there's a 3 TD difference.  WVU covers. PICK: West Virginia 44 Baylor 23

  #1 Alabama

vs

  #15 Florida (+24)

Folks, this one is gonna get gross.  Florida has listed 22 players on the injured list, including 7 of their 12 defensive starters.  The offense can't afford even one injury with how god awful they've been, I wouldn't be surprised if Alabama shuts out the Gators.  Maybe they'll score a trash time TD or FG when the 4th string is playing....MAYBE.  The only chance the Gators have is a Pick 6 and playing the best game ever on defense.  It'll be a low scoring game, especially in the 1st half...eventually the Gators wear down from being on defense 75% of the time.  Bama pulls away while making a mockery of Florida....thus helping everyone carry on about how crappy the SEC East has become, which it is pretty crappy, maybe worst ever.  Spread is at -24 Bama.....that's a pretty solid spread, I bet it'll be within a point or 2 of that number. PICK: Alabama  30 Florida 7

  San Diego St.

vs

  Wyoming (+6.5)

Out of nowhere come the Wyoming Cowboys, this came was already etched in stone to be SDSU against Boise St.  Not so fast.  These teams played each other 2 weeks ago with Wyoming coming out on top by 1 pt.  Then last week something else strange happened, SDSU was blown out of the water by Colorado St 63-31.  Colorado St had a field day passing and rushing....passing is one thing for SDSU, rushing for 291 yds against SDSU is way out of the norm.  Looking over Colorado St's numbers, it seems like they figured out how to rush the ball very effectively....over 700 yds in 2 games.  So it's not so much SDSU's issue, it was more of a Colorado St figuring things out on offense.  I feel like we should take those numbers with a grain of salt since Colorado St isn't playing in this one.  When teams get blown out like SDSU did, they do one of two things....either give up or get pissed and come back even harder.  I'll take the later.  There is certainly a revenge factor here on top of a pride factor for SDSU.  The Aztecs are going to bounce back and take the Mountain West over Wyoming here.  They'll win but won't cover. PICK: San Diego St 27 Wyoming 24

  #3 Clemson

vs

  #23 Virginia Tech (+10)

One of the two games that will determine the CFB Playoff.  Clemson, in my humble opinion, is once again the only team that will be able challenge Alabama for the National Championship.  I have this weird feeling that if Clemson covers the spread they'll leap frog Ohio St for the #2 spot, if it even matters.  Clemson and Ohio St are set up to showdown against one another as long as Clemson wins this game, even if it's by 1 pt.  Clemson will win that matchup, if it was against Michigan then they would have more than their hands full, they match up well against Ohio St.  Enough of that though, we have VA Tech to talk about....as usual VA Tech is running an opportunistic defense, bend but don't break and get that timely turnover to switch momentum their way.  Hand the reins over to the underrated QB Jerod Evans, if you haven't watched this kid play I would advise you to take a look.  He takes that offense and puts it on his back game after game, reminiscent of the guy on the other side of the field - DeShaun Watson.  I'm not saying he's on that level, but he means just as much to his team as Deshaun....the team goes as he goes.  Clemson surely knows that and will bring everything they have from the corners to pressure Evans over and over again.  It will be a showdown of QBs in this one, if Jerod Evans outplays Watson, his stock will skyrocket going into 2017.  You can be that Michigan are huge VA Tech fans this week.....Clemson might be able to lose and sneak in the playoff but they better lose on a last play.  Lose by a TD or more and they might see their way out of the Playoff door.  I'm still sticking with Clemson, they're too good to come this far and let it go.  Limit the turnovers and the Tigers are in. PICK: Clemson 34 VA Tech 27

  #6 Wisconsin

vs

 #7 Penn State (+2.5)

 By the time this game kicks off Wisconsin will know if they have a shot at the #4 spot.  From everything that the committee said about Penn St's chances at getting to the Playoff, they have little to no shot making it, unless they wipe the floor clean with Badgers.  On the other side of the field, Wisconsin needs to win convincingly and hope that Washington loses to jump both Washington and Michigan.  That being said Wisconsin should win this game as long as they don't let McSorley pull some crazy crap...he will give them the Badgers plenty of opportunity to take the ball away.  He's one of the those QBs that will try to do too much and hurt his team in the end.  Wisconsin is a very solid team and have proved to everyone that they can play against any team out there....whether or not they pull of the win is another thing.  Slow and deliberate offense and "in your face" defense will do it everytime, if you haven't noticed Penn St didn't have a best time against a similiar team named Michigan.  Only thing different here is that Wisconsin doesn't really have that "blowout" potential....so Penn St will hang around for a while.  The Badgers better hope they don't let them hang around too long.  Turns out McSorley is crazy efficient with his back up against the wall and not the best in the red zone...a late, long, game winning drive by Penn St might not be out of the question.  Key for Wisconsin is to get up 2 scores in the 4th and let McSorley make the mistake of forcing a pass into triple coverage to end the game....let him hang around and he might just pick you off.  I'm taking the Badgers since they have looked so good all year long.  Heck, I'll even take the Badgers to cover.  PICK: Wisconsin 23 Penn St 17

Season Record - Straight Up: 80-50

Season Record - Versus Spread: 59-69-2

Upset of the Week: 5-8

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