Week 11 Picks

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Straight up was good last week going 7-3.  Against the spread was bad again going 4-6.  Seriously, if you want to win money, go against our spread picks.  Maybe do some teases since our straight up picks seem to do rather ok.  We were right on Northwestern winning, but they didn’t cover the 2.5 point spread.  They won by 2!  You see a line of 2.5 and you figure if a team wins, it’s more than likely going to be by a field goal or more.  But once again, that’s why Vegas is not going out of business.  And we had another miss on the upset of the week picking LSU over Alabama.  LSU really was dominated.  That was quite the performance by Alabama.  All that talk last week between Alabama and Iowa – you can just throw that out.  I think this is a perfect example why the committee says they completely redo the rankings every week and at the end of the year.  ‘Bama’s resume looks completely different than last week now that they have a convincing win against LSU.

So the new Playoff rankings came out and the blue bloods dominate the top 4 again.  I wouldn’t have a problem with the committee ranking teams where they are if they were consistent with their reasoning.  They rank Ohio State high because, “We think they have incredible talent.  We think [OSU] is a team that hasn’t played its best yet.”  And then you have Iowa with a better resume than Ohio State and the committee says, “They’re not flashy but they’re consistent.”  Basically they “think” Ohio State is better than Iowa.  It doesn’t matter what the results say.  That’s great Ohio State has incredible talent, but if you don’t perform why does that matter?  And now the committee has Clemson #1 and Notre Dame #4.  I can’t wait to see them play because we haven’t seen that match up since October 3rd.  Do we really need to see that again?  How can you claim the regular season means more than any other sport when you have Notre Dame ahead of undefeated teams and put them in against a team that already beat them?  It’s just so inconsistent the message the committee sends.  Again, there’s no real reason to get up in arms until the final ranking, but this is a peek into how the committee thinks each week.

And speaking of the final ranking, it could be delayed a week because of Navy.  Navy has entered the Playoff top 25 and that is not insignificant.   They are the top ranked Group of 5 team right now, and if they win their conference, they would be slated to play a New Year’s 6 bowl.  But how awkward is it that they still have a regular season game to play against Army one week after they would potentially be playing their league championship game.  A loss to Army could change the rankings.  Maybe Boise St. wins out, gets ranked, and jumps ahead as the Group of 5 conference champ?  Boise St. is in the others receiving votes category in the AP poll and the committee rankings aren’t too far off from the AP poll.  It seemed like the Army-Navy game would be irrelevant in the Playoff rankings during the preseason, but now it could create a hilarious scenario the committee and ESPN have to deal with.  Teams wouldn’t know what bowl they are prepping for until a week later.  But as we learned this week, these scenarios never happen and are more fun to talk about than anything.

And all those scenarios everyone was obsessing over last week (Memphis winning out, while Ole Miss runs the table -or- Michigan St., Ohio St., and Michigan all finishing with 1 conference loss against each other -or- TCU and Baylor playing to decide the Big 12’s playoff spot) can be thrown out the window.  Haven’t we learned in all these years following college football that the hypotheticals people throw out for end-of-year scenarios never happen?

The past couple years have seen the Heisman race become a weekly ranking.  I guess in the unrelenting 24/7 sports news cycle they have space and airwaves they have to fill.  Most pundits are saying that Leonard Fournette lost the Heisman with his poor performance against Alabama.  That is absurd.  He has arguably been the best/most exciting in college football this year.  One game against what many call the best front 7 in football erases all of that?  Why does every reaction have to be an overreaction?  When a team loses a game, the dynasty is over.  When a team wins a game they are going to win the national championship.  When a player has a great debut he is the best freshman ever.  Is it not possible to let anything breathe anymore?  We have to have instant extreme analyses?  Fournette is still average 173 ypg rushing even with that performance.  He should lose the Heisman with those numbers?  Here’s an idea, let’s have the season play out before we declare someone lost the Heisman.  If he ends the season with 3 more performances like that, then yeah, he might not be the top player for the award anymore.  Does anyone bring up Derrick Henry only had 52 yards rushing against LA-Monore?  No, because it happened 2 months ago.  If Fournette goes back to his pre-Alabama average of almost 200 ypg, he will finish with nearly 2,000 yards rushing and over 20 TDs.  The last running back to win the award, Mark Ingram in 2009, had 1,678 yards rushing (118 ypg) and 17 TDs.  He also tacked on 334 receiving yards and 3 receiving TDs.  Those stats include an SEC championship game and a bowl game.  Fournette will probably eclipse those in just the regular season.  And Fournette lost a regular season game because their opener against McNeese State was cancelled.  Let’s slow down the Leonard Fournette lost the Heisman train.

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Teams on bye:  Boston College, Penn St., Wisconsin, Ole Miss, Central Florida, UConn, East Carolina, LA Tech, Western Kentucky, Ball St., Central Michigan, New Mexico St.

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

This could be called the underachiever bowl.  It looked like Georgia was the class of the SEC East and then Nick Chubb went down for the year.  And then their quarterback play was terrible.  It was so bad they made one of their quarterbacks a punter!  When does that ever happen?  Anyway, Georgia has been a mess lately.  Luckily, they are playing a team that is just as much a mess.  Auburn was supposed to be a playoff contender and QB Jeremy Johnson was supposed to be a star this year, but that was never close to happening.  He was benched after the 3rd game of the year, and things haven’t been much better.  They did beat Texas A&M during their annual mid-season swoon.  Not sure if that means much.  Let’s go with the home team to win.  PICK: Auburn 24, Georgia 21

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Illinos (+16.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]

The biggest questions in this game are if Ohio State will actually justify the committee’s belief that they are the number 3 team because they are talented, and if they will cover the spread.  For some reason everyone seems to think that Illinois is a problem for Ohio State.  I think that is because the last time Illinois beat them in 2007, Ohio State was headed for the BCS championship.  OSU still made it.  That was the year they lost to LSU and there was a 2 loss champion.  I guess that game was so memorable it sticks in people’s heads that Illinois is a thorn.  Ohio State should roll in this game.  You can expect Ezekiel Elliott to get his.  You never know what the QB situation will be for the Buckeyes in a game.  But it shouldn’t matter.  Just run the ball with your #12 rushing attack against Illinois’ defense that is giving up over 4 yards per rush in conference play.  PICK: Ohio State 42, Illinois 14

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

After Utah St. beat Boise St., it looked like the Aggies were going to win their division and head to the Mountain West championship game.  But since that game they have stumbled on the road to Sand Diego St. and New Mexico.  Now they head on the road to face Air Force.  They have a decided home field advantage playing in the altitude at 6,615 feet above sea level.  Of course Utah St. plays in a stadium at a high elevation too.  But Air Force is still about 2,000 feet higher than Utah St.’s home field.  (It would make sense.  It is the Mountain West.  You would think most teams in this conference play in the mountains.)  Air Force will run the ball and then run some more.  They average 336 ypg rushing (#2 nationally.)  That is a good way to control the clock and get the opponent’s defense winded.  Air Force controls its destiny in the Mountain West Mountain division.  If they win out, they go to the conference championship game.  They should handle their business at home against a middling Utah St. team.  PICK: Air Force 30, Utah St. 23

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#23 North Carolina (-12.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

North Carolina is looking really good.  They are starting to get some recognition for their season as they entered the playoff rankings for the first time this week at #23.  Miami has gone 2-0* since Al Golden was fired.  North Carolina has it going on both sides of the ball this year.  They score 40 ppg and only give up 19 ppg.  North Carolina is the superior team and is playing at home.  PICK: North Carolina 42, Miami 26

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

Alabama made the statement of the week last week when they demolished LSU.  Their defense was dominating.  It also seems like Lane Kiffin has figured out not to try to get too fancy on offense.  Just keep feeding the beast, Derrick Henry.  They should be able to run all day on the Bulldog defense.  This could be a big letdown spot for Alabama.  Yes, this is Alabama, but I don’t thing their teenagers are any less susceptible to a let down than other teams despite what people want to think about Nick Saban and his Process.  Alabama does have a loss already this year and it was to a team that could make some passes.  Mississippi St. might have the best QB in the SEC.  He has thrown 18 TD passes this year versus only 1 INT.  He can make the throws that will need to be made to prevent the Tide from stacking the box.  Mississippi St. takes care of the ball pretty well as a team.  Alabama can’t rely on getting that momentum changing turnover.  They are going to have to play strong, straight up defense, which I think they are capable of doing.  Alabama might come out a little flat in this game, but look for them to control the game after the initial going.  PICK: Alabama 31, Mississippi St. 24

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

This match up is to decide who will likely get the Group of 5 top bowl bid.  Memphis had a shot with that Ole Miss win, but after Navy ruined their chances, they get to play the spoilers.  Houston has yet to really play anyone besides Louisville.  They will certainly be tested by their next stretch of games:  Memphis, UConn, and Navy.  I have to think they lose 1 or 2 of those games.  The most important aspect of this game will be stopping Memphis QB Paxton Lynch from dropping 400 yds and 4 TDs.  Memphis is exactly one dimensional, but they are very, very dangerous when they catch a rhythm with the passing game.   Houston only allows 19 pts a game and only 4.3 yds rushing per attempt.  Memphis doesn’t have a strong run game so expect the Tigers to abandon the rush early if it’s not working.  I imagine Paxton will throw the ball over 40 times this game.  Both of these teams are very good and could beat plenty of Power 5 schools.  I think Houston goes on to win this one and gets a nice bump in the standings.  If they go undefeated, then I think their ceiling is being ranked #10.  PICK: Houston 34 Memphis 28

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#9 LSU (-7.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Can LSU bounce back with a Bama hangover?  I think so.  Granted, Arkansas has been winning games in OT – just not all that impressive on the way to winning these games.  Don’t ask me how or why they won that last one against Ole Miss.  That 4th and 25 play was the biggest piece of crap I’ve seen in a very long time.  I imagine that Fournette is going to be ready to run for 300 yds to get his confidence back after Bama absolutely destroyed the LSU O-Line, and in turn, Fournette.  LSU is going to be pretty jacked up to win this game.  I don’t see any way that Arkansas is going to take this game, especially in the Bayou.  I think we might be looking at a potential blowout here, so I’ll take the over, all day long.  LSU has a point to prove.  PICK: LSU 30, Arkansas 20

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#7 Stanford (-10)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Stanford has made their path to attend the PAC12 Championship.  now Oregon and Cal are the only ones that can knock them off.  Doubt either one of those is going to happen.  After losing their 1st game to Northwestern in a sleeper, Stanford has gotten their act together to steamroll everyone they’ve faced since Week 1.  Oregon, on the other hand, has been a complete mess of a team this year compared to years past.  it almost looks like Oregon has lost their edge on the rest of the competition.  To stop the bleeding they’ll need a good young QB to come in next year to diffuse those rumblings.  That being said, Oregon isn’t exactly a push over, but they don’t have the D this year and the offense isn’t quite as explosive as we are used to seeing.  So I’ll take Stanford and the spread.  Stanford is on a mission for the Playoff, and I think they’ll get there in the end.  PICK: Stanford 41, Oregon 27

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#19 UCLA (-9.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Another PAC 12 match up that UCLA needs badly!!  If they lose, then Utah will win the South to face Stanford.  UCLA has other ideas.  They start with Washington St. this week, then get a chance at Utah, then of course, USC…tough slate of games.  Washington St. is on a bit of a roll.  If they beat UCLA, it could launch this program into what Mike Leach has been trying do for years now.  At this point, we all know that Washington St. is going to throw the ball 60 times to beat you.  UCLA will need to be balanced throughout the game and take the time of possession.  As long as they don’t panic, they will stay with Washington St. and should be able to pull away in the end to take another close game.  I don’t see why the spread is at 9.5 right now.  Seems kind of high for a Washington St. game, so we’ll take Washington St. to cover and UCLA to win outright.  PICK: UCLA 45, Washington St. 41

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UPSET OF THE WEEK!

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

For the upset pick of the week we are going for Baylor.  Baylor has yet to play the best in the Big 12.  Their last 3 weeks are OU, OSU, and TCU.  Good luck getting through that unscathed.  If Baylor had Seth Russell for this game, I would go with Baylor locking this game down.  But I have a feeling that the freshman QB for Baylor will see a ton of mixed looks and blitzes that will get him antsy in the pocket.  OU actually has a defense – relatively speaking to the rest of the Big 12 – with an offense that can stick around in shootouts.  If it wasn’t for the “hiccup” against Texas, then I think you would see OU creeping around for a Playoff spot.  If you look at the last few weeks you can see that Oklahoma has blown out their competition and should be well rested.  Meanwhile, Baylor has been dealing with injuries and a closer game than they are used to against K-State.  This looks and feels like a match up that is ripe for the picking. Baylor is a slight favorite simply because they are at home.  Most would agree that this is close to a PICK EM game.  So I’m picking Boomer Sooner here to make things really difficult for the Big 12 to find a playoff spot.  I bet they add some teams if they get left out of the Playoff 2 years in a row.  PICK: Oklahoma 34, Baylor 30

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Season Record – Straight Up: 63-37

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Season Record – Versus Spread: 35-61-4

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Upset of the Week: 3-6

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