Week 10 Picks

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Starting to hit a little bit of a pattern with our picks.  We did good again going straight up at 8-2.  We were mediocre against the spread at 4-5-1.  And we missed on the upset of the week again.  The upset was looking good early.  Texas Tech was up by 17 at one point,  put up 53 points, gained over 600 yards of offense, and still loss by more than 2 touchdowns.

It was another week, another game ending on a crazy special teams play.  Miami beat Duke on a last second kick off after approximately 37 laterals.  Although, that last sequence had numerous officiating errors.  At one point a Miami player was down before he lateraled the ball, but they missed it on the field and on replay.  It was so bad all the officials from that game have been suspended.

It also was another week for another head coaching position to open.  Frank Beamer announced he is retiring at the end of the year.  I can’t even keep track of how many job openings there will be this offseason.  There are so many already and we haven’t even gotten to the offseason firings yet.  I can’t remember a year with so much coaching turnover.  This will be a fun coaching carousel this year.

The first College Football Playoff rankings came out as well.  No real surprises except for Alabama in the top 4 as a 1-loss team over many undefeated teams.  Roll Eyes.  The committee says they don’t take past years into account, but it sure feels that the SEC and Alabama get more credit for what they’ve done in the past than anyone else.  Didn’t all those bowl losses last year prove that maybe the SEC isn’t the greatest conference in the history of the universe.  How can you say Alabama’s resume is greater than Iowa with certainty?  They beat Wisconsin.  So did Iowa.  They loss to Ole Miss at home, an Ole Miss team that got blown out by Florida and lost to Memphis.  They beat Georgia.  Who doesn’t anymore?  They beat a decent Texas A&M team, who the committee ranked only a couple spots higher than a Northwestern team that Iowa blasted.  And then they squeaked by Tennessee.  All of that won’t matter really, because if Alabama loses to LSU, they won’t win their division and there is no way they could make the playoff.  Could they?  I’m not saying Iowa should be in the top 4, but I am saying I don’t think Alabama deserves to be in the top 4 just because they are Alabama.  Again, it’s more fun to argue about who should be number 4 because a couple years ago it would only be the top 2 we cared about.  If the playoff expands to 8 teams, we will be arguing about who should be number 8.

Very few teams on bye this week.  If you need to make up ground in your league, you have to do it this week with a full complement of teams.  It’s Week 10 and time is running out.

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Teams on bye:  Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Southern Miss, Central Michigan, Boise St., San Diego St., Georgia Southern

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North Carolina (-8)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Big rivalry game in the ACC.  This would have been bigger if Duke didn’t get screwed out of a win against Miami last week.  North Carolina is on top of the Coastal division undefeated in conference play.  It’s pretty simple for them.  Win out and they will be playing in the ACC Championship.  After Duke, they have Miami, Virginia Tech, and NC State.  That is very manageable.  But this is a rivalry game and sometimes the stats and records don’t matter.  North Carolina is looking really good this year.  Their defense is finally able to hold up their end as they are holding opponents to only 17 ppg.  That is way down from last year’s 39 ppg.  Their offense is its usual potent self averaging 37 ppg.  Duke is having a good year too.  Many thought they would fall hard after losing the majority of the players from arguably the best stretch in the history of Duke football.  But they have one of the best players in the nation with safety Jeremy Cash.  Duke’s defense has been even stingier than UNC’s allowing 16 ppg.  You would think it would be a defensive struggle, but I don’t think Duke has an offense that can match the Tar Heels’.  Look for the team with the better offense to pull one out.  PICK: North Carolina 27, Duke 17

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Pittsburgh (+8)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]

Notre Dame won a hard fought game against Temple last week.  There is some big body blow theory implications in this game.  It was such a physical game, the Irish might not be recovered as much as they would like to play another physical team in Pitt.  Head coach Pat Narduzzi has the Panthers playing with an edge this year.  They keep winning some close games even after losing top RB James Conner.  Pitt is coming off a loss to North Carolina last week which essentially puts them 2 back of the Tar Heels with 3 conference games to go.  Notre Dame isn’t going to affect their conference standing one way or another.  This game has bigger implications for Notre Dame.  I think it is safe to assume Notre Dame needs to win out to make the playoff.  They are sitting in a good spot at #5.  That doesn’t necessarily mean they will be in the top 4 just because of LSU/Alabama losing, because we have seen the committee completely re-rank the teams from week to week.  But it does show that the committee thinks they have a good resume up to this point.  I think this game will be close due to the Irish being a little worn down, but their talent prevails in the end.  PICK: Notre Dame 27, Pittsburgh 23

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#21 Northwestern (-2.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Northwestern has been out of the AP top 25 for a couple weeks now, but they are ranked #21 in the CFP rankings.  Looking back, Northwestern’s 2 losses this year weren’t to bad teams in losing to Michigan and Iowa.  The problem was the perception because they got blown out in those games.  But in another trend we are starting to notice with the playoff committee is they reward you more for your wins than penalize you for your losses.  It’s been a couple weeks since the Wildcats’ road win at Nebraska, so they should be prepared for a tough Penn St. defense.  Penn St. has had a solid year.  Everyone thought they were terrible after their opening week loss against Temple, but it turns out Temple is pretty good.  Penn St.’s only other loss has been to Ohio St.  While they haven’t really beat anyone impressive, they at least are winning the games they should and are coming off a 39-0 shutout of Illinois.  Penn St. now closes the season at #21 Northwestern, #17 Michigan, and at #7 Michigan St.  That is a ridiculously tough stretch.  If they can win 2 of 3, I think Penn St.’s season turns from solid to very successful.  But they have to win this one against Northwestern.  This is going to be a defensive game, and Penn St. QB Christian Hackenberg has struggled with good defenses this year.  Northwestern makes just enough plays on offense to outlast the Nittany Lions.    PICK: Northwestern 20 Penn St. 17

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#25 Houston (-8.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Houston is one of 3 AAC teams ranked in the first Playoff rankings.  It’s great that there is some love out there for the smaller guys.  It would be great if one of these teams made the Playoffs.  Talk about a bunch of people crying for an expanded playoff right away if that happens.  A lot of people act like the Group of 5 teams are something that have to be tolerated.  These teams are just as good, if not better, than the middle of the pack Power 5 teams.  Obviously the depth isn’t there in the Group of 5 conferences, but the top tier teams can compete with anyone.  Houston is having a wildly successful year with first year coach Tom Herman.  Houston needs to avoid looking ahead to next week’s game against Memphis because Cincinnati is totally capable of beating them.  Cincinnati has an offense that is just as good as Houston’s.  They are averaging 577 ypg and  39 ppg.  The problem with the Bearcats’ offense is turnovers.  they are 116th in the nation with a margin of -9.  If it wasn’t for 8 combined turnovers against Temple and Memphis, we might be talking about Cincinnati as the top team in the AAC.  But turnovers aren’t always just luck.  Sometimes you are bad at protecting the football.  Guess who is #1 in the country in turnover margin?  That’s right.  The Houston Cougars!  Is there ever a matchup that more perfectly fits a narrative?  Houston wins forcing the sloppy Bearcats into 5 turnovers.  A double prediction for you – the score and amount of turnovers.   PICK: Houston 42, Cincinnati 31

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#1 Clemson (-12)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Oh, boy.  Now this feels like a match up to get excited about.  Newly minted #1 Clemson goes against rival Florida St.  Feels weird that this game is in the middle of the afternoon.  For big picture purposes, the ACC better hope Clemson wins this.  If they get knocked off here, the ACC probably won’t be sending a team to the Playoff.  Clemson is winning their games with a dynamic QB in Deshaun Watson (which most people expected) and a dominant D (which most people didn’t expect).  There was so much attrition to the defensive side of the ball from last year’s #1 defense that it was hard to picture them being so good so quickly.  They are ranked #5 in total defense this year.  They are doing it by creating havoc in the backfield.  They are average 9 TFL/game, which is also good for #5 in the nation.  They will need some good line play against the Seminoles because they have one of the best backs in the nation in Dalvin Cook.  While he has been nursing an injured hamstring, it hasn’t slowed him down.  He has been carrying that team on his back averaging 148 ypg (2nd in the nation behind LSU’s Leonard Fournette’s ridiculous 193 ypg).  These 2 teams have played some memorable games the past 2 years.  Even 2 years ago when FSU destroyed Clemson it was memorable.  Last year was the Florida St. win in OT with Sean Maguire filling in for a suspended Jameis Winston.  Sean Maguire looked good last week filling in for injured Everett Golson.  I don’t think it will matter who plays QB for FSU this week as Clemson’s D is going to make it a difficult day for whoever plays back there.    PICK: Clemson 28, Florida St. 24

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 #14 Oklahoma St. (+5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

The Playoff Committee gave a little snub to the Big 12 this week, but can you blame them?  The out of conference competition has been a joke for the most part.  The winner of this game should jump into the same realm as Baylor, leaving a key match up in November to decide the candidate for the Playoff.  I have a feeling the Big 12 will be left out again, but we’ll see.  OK State last week looked to be down and out against Texas Tech, then an Arena Football game broke out.  OK State threw up 70 on Tech for the W.  Once again we’re going to see a lack of defense in this game, cuz that’s what the Big 12 does best after all, not play defense.  Boykin is the real difference maker as everyone can see, and he’s pretty much unsackable at this point.  Boykin is going to make it a spectacle against a porous Pokes defense.  I think TCU wins late in this one and moves on to face Baylor and/or Oklahoma for the Big 12 “Title”. PICK: TCU 48 OK State 41

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#18 Ole Miss (-10.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Ole Miss is lurking in the SEC West and could come out on top if they win this game and the LSU match up.  If they do that then Memphis should get some Playoff love.  Ole Miss can throw the ball all over the field with a terrible run game.  That’s not unusual for the Rebels though.  Arkansas is sitting on the sidelines licking its wounds and trying to salvage the season.  Ole Miss is clearly the better team here and should go right through the Razorbacks as long as Chad Kelly is on his game.  Arkansas might not see another win this year with LSU and Miss St. left on the slate.  If that happens, then you’ll start hearing small rumblings about Bert’s job.  I have seen plenty of the Razorbacks thus far and they are not very good.  QB Brandon Allen is the sole reason they are .500.  Arkansas loses this game and the rest of ’em to end up 4-8 for 2015. PICK: Ole Miss 34 Arkansas 24

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Washington St. (-3)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

What the hell happened to ASU?  All the hype and nothing to show for it.  .500 was not in the cards and struggling for a bowl was definitely not a thought that crossed anyone’s mind.  I think they’ll get to a bowl game with 6 wins, but that’s about it.  The offense and defense have more than under performed.  ASU is one of those teams that beats the teams they’re supposed to beat and lose to the teams they’re supposed to lose.  I think that Wash St. is better at this point and should pull off the victory.  Mike Leach has this team looking like those vintage Texas Tech teams, scoring a ton of points and win or lose by 1 score.  Wash St. should have beat Stanford last week, and I don’t think they’re going to have a problem against a lowly ASU team that has lost all its identity.  Washington St. is an 8 win team this year, bank on it. PICK: Wash St 44 ASU 35

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Washington (-1.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Washington is a hard team to figure out.  They are very capable of winning against anyone in the PAC 12.  They’ve really only looked over-matched once against Stanford.  Every other game they have been in it to win in the 4th quarter.  Utah was the PAC 12 darling until USC drummed ’em a couple of weeks back.  Two very good teams here with solid defense and average at best offenses.  Expect this one to be low scoring with little excitement until the 4th quarter.  I have learned my lesson picking against Utah this year, so I’ll finally take Utah to win this one with the running game.  It’ll be close and come down to the last few minutes before Utah pulls ahead to take home another win.  Utah still has a chance at the Playoff if they win out, so there is something still there for the Utes to drive towards….another loss and they’re done.  PICK: Utah 27 Washington 24

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UPSET OF THE WEEK!

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#4 Alabama (-6.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

The upset pick of the week will have big, big Playoff implications.  LSU is going to have to play some fantastic football on the back of Fournette to pull this win off on the road.  If LSU does win then I think you’re looking at the #1 team in the nation.  But they’ll have to earn it, since ‘Bama is looking better and better each week.  The match up between ‘Bama’s D Line and LSU’s O Line and Fournette is going to be very fun to watch.  It will most definitely decide who will win.  Shut down Fournette (which hasn’t happened yet) and ‘Bama’s D-Line will be the talk of the town.  ‘Bama doesn’t let anyone run on them.  The only guy that can do it will be Mr. Heisman.  LSU QB Brandon Harris will have to throw a little bit more than most games, but the kid has a gun to show off.  As long as he doesn’t throw a bunch of interceptions I think LSU takes this game and leaves ‘Bama out of the Playoff picture, setting up a very important game against Ole Miss in 2 weeks to decide the SEC West and who gets the right to play Florida in the Championship Game. PICK: LSU 24 Bama 20

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Season Record – Straight Up: 56-34

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Season Record – Versus Spread: 31-55-4

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Upset of the Week: 3-6

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