Week 13 Picks

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Sorry, everybody.  If you did your season long strategy of going against our picks ATS, you lost out.  We picked 7 games correctly against the spread last week!  But we went 5-5 straight up.  Quite the drastic reversal.  Kind of like Ohio St.  Maybe not.  We all kind of knew they weren’t that great this year.

Another week, another head coach opening.  Iowa St. fired their head coach after a late game meltdown against K-State.  I’m not exactly sure what the expectations are in Ames, but this might not be the year to try to find a new coach with all the other openings you have to compete with.  Syracuse also let their coach go.  Same deal.  What are you really expecting out of Syracuse football.  There are now 13 FBS openings (before the season even ends): Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa State, Maryland, Miami, Missouri, North Texas, South Carolina, Syracuse, UCF, ULM, USC, Virginia Tech.  It looks like LSU will almost certainly be open too.  Then who knows how that changes things.  Rumors have Jimbo Fisher going to LSU.  This might be one of the craziest offseasons of coaching changes once the dominoes start falling.  More high profile jobs might be open depending on who goes where.

The latest rankings came out and this week’s hot topic is people beating the drum that Notre Dame has to join a conference because 3 teams jumped them this week.  They still have a high profile game against Stanford left, and who knows how the Big 10 and Big 12 will shake out.  That sure seems like an overreaction, like everything is in this instant-analysis world.  It all comes down to the most basic of sports principles – win your games.  If they would have beat Clemson, they would be undefeated and their positioning would not be in someone else’s hands.  So Notre Dame is going to hang their hat on a close loss to the #1 team in a monsoon?  Their resume just doesn’t stack up.  What is their best win?  Navy?  Temple?  Come on.

123 of the 128 teams are playing this week.  This is your last chance to make a push up the standings.

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Teams on bye:  Arizona, Army, Florida International, Miami (OH)

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

Navy has risen to the top of the pack as the highest ranked Group of 5 team.  We are inching closer to them winning their conference and still having a regular season game after the conference championship game.  Houston suffered their first loss against UConn last week.  They were playing with their backup QB who got hurt, and starting QB Greg Ward Jr. was not healthy enough to rally them when he came back in.  But not all is lost.  If Houston wins this game, they will be in the AAC Championship.  It sounds like Ward will play but still isn’t 100% healthy.  The Cougars’ offense is clearly not the same when he isn’t in there healthy.  Navy on the other hand, is coming in on a roll.  After losing to Notre Dame, they have won 5 in a row by an average of 24 ppg.  QB Keenan Reynolds is now the all time FBS rushing touchdown leader, and is leading the offense to 348 ypg on the ground.  If Ward was healthy, I probably would like Houston at home.  But we go with Navy to win and go to a conference championship game in the first year they have ever been in a conference.  PICK: Navy 31, Houston 26

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Washington (NL)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]

Would you look at that?  Washington St. has entered the top 25.  Who would have thought that at the beginning of the year?  It looks as if Mike Leach has the program starting to trend the same way his Texas Tech teams did.  They pass the ball all over the place and don’t even care about the run.  They lead the nation in passing at 407 ypg, and are 127th in the nation (2nd from last) in rushing at 84 ypg.  Has there ever been a disparity like that in rankings?  The crazy thing is, if the Cougars win this game, they are only a missed 43-yard field goal away against Stanford from being the PAC 12 north champs.  They are going against a Washington team that is having a down year, but not quite the disaster people thought might happen.  The Huskies lost a lot of talent from last year’s team, especially on defense, but head coach Chris Petersen has had them competitive in every game.  Now they are on the cusp of bowl eligibility.  Washington has a solid defense holding teams to 18.5 ppg.  This feels like a typical PAC 12 game where the team that gets any sort of momentum or praise loses.  Washington wins at home in their big rivalry game.  How do you like them apples?  PICK:  Washington 27, Washington St. 23

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#19 TCU (+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 game is certainly not as high of stakes as everyone anticipated.  This was supposed to be the game that decided the Big 12 and who would be going to the Playoff.  TCU’s downfall is very obvious.  They have been hit hard by injuries all year long.  It started with the defense losing player after player.  Then the offense lost their 2 best players in WR Josh Doctson and QB Trevone Boykin.  Baylor got beat by a very good Oklahoma team.  Baylor has their own injury concerns.  In that Oklahoma game they were playing with backup QB Jarrett Stidham after starter Seth Russell went down for the year.  Now Stidham is out for the year with a broken ankle he suffered against Oklahoma St.  The Bears did go on to beat the Cowboys with 3rd string QB Chris Johnson.  He looked really good against the Cowboys, but usually backups always look good when they enter a game.  The opponent doesn’t generally gameplan for the backup.  Backup QBs usually come to earth in their next game after their opponent has some film to look at.  But this situation is different because of how banged up TCU is.  But Baylor also has starting RB Shock Linwood doubtful for this game with his own injuries.  This game is tough to predict with all these injuries and also because these two teams also DESPISE each other.  A lot of times passion can overcome talent.  I guess when you’re unsure grab the points and go with the home team.  PICK:  TCU 35, Baylor 32

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#10 Michigan (-2)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Boy, that escalated quickly.  Ohio St. started unraveling after their first regular season conference loss ever under Urban Meyer.  Players start calling out the play calling and basically start jumping ship announcing their intentions to turn pro.  You would have thought they were wrapping up an 8 loss season.  All the while, Michigan has been quietly going about their business exceeding all expectations moving up to #10 in the country.  Michigan’s defense has been outstanding this year, and that might be an issue for Ohio St.  Ohio St. kept being highly ranked despite the obvious all year – they could not figure out how to get their offense rolling.  The Playoff committee kept harping on all the talent Ohio St. has, but that doesn’t do you any good if you can’t get the results out of it.  Michigan would love nothing more than to extend Ohio St.’s misery this year.  There is also the chance this game decides who plays in the Big 10 championship if Michigan St. falls to Penn St.  Michigan is favored and everyone is down on Ohio St.  This feels like an extreme overreaction.  The Buckeyes are still very good.  They might not be National Championship good this year.  Ohio St. wins in the Big House.  PICK:  Ohio St. 23, Michigan 18

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 #5 Michigan St. (-11)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Michigan St. is coming off a huge win and one of the greatest celebrations of a kicker ever when they knocked off Ohio St. last week.  That win, couple with wins over Oregon and Michigan, has vaulted them to #5 in the Playoff rankings.  They will probably make the Playoff if they win out.  They really want Iowa to beat Nebraska though so they can solidify their resume with a top 5 win.  Penn St. has been a mess all year on offense.  I thought they had a chance last week, but they stunk up the joint again.  Michigan’s defense is much better than Michigan St.’s, but Michigan St. isn’t going to give them much time to operate.  Michigan St. is 19th in the nation with 30 sacks on the year.  Penn St. is 121st in the nation with 37 sacks allowed on the year.  Michigan St. is not going to let Penn St. get anything going and they will ride their momentum into the Big 10 championship.  PICK:  Michigan St. 24, Penn St. 10

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USC (-3.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Winner wins the PAC 12 South!!  And the right to play Stanford and completely dash all hopes for the PAC 12 to reach the Playoff.  Turns out LA Football doesn’t live up to the hype train we hear EVERY SINGLE YEAR!!  One day Phil Steele will not pick USC to be a top 5 pre-season team based mostly on recruiting…..we can only hope.  I know that UCLA is banged up in a major way this year, which explains some of the downfall, but not all of it.  Give QB Rosen some receivers and a year or 2 under his belt, and you might see a run at a Nat’l Champ run.  Operative word is “might”.  There are a lot of things that need to stay in place for that to happen, but you never know.  The PAC 12 was the conference of 2105 to eliminate themselves from the Playoff (unless something crazy happens).  Last year it was the Big 12.  I can’t wait to see the day the SEC is left out.  Everyone is good in the PAC 12, but no one is “great”.  Thus your reason behind all of these 6, 7, and 8 win teams.  Jumping back to the game at hand, UCLA looks to be the better team in the last few weeks.  They are controlling the clock by running the ball a ton and playing good defense.  UCLA hasn’t really been lights out by any means, but they still look to be trending up compared to USC.  USC has been pulling off 1 score victories against inferior opponents the last month, so it was only a matter of time until they got smacked by Oregon.  UCLA doesn’t quite have the ability to pull away in this game, and I do think this will be a fun game to watch come the 2nd half.  I think UCLA wins with a late 4th quarter TD. PICK: UCLA 27, USC 23

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#12 Florida (+2)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Oh god, this game is going to hurt the eyeballs.  You can bet that the defense will be flowing like the Salmon of Capistrano.  Florida hasn’t scored more than 30 points in a game for 2 months, and FSU hasn’t given up more than 24 pointts in a game all season.  There is my reason for going with FSU – that, and Treon Harris is still QB for Florida.  I’m sure it’s going to be crazy in The Swamp and all FSU/Florida fans will be really in to this game.  The rest of us, not so much.  This game has zero national title implications and zero conference implications.  It’s just a braggin’ rights game for the Florida Championship (now that UCF kindly bowed out of contention 13 weeks ago).  It’s all about RB Dalvin Cook going up against Florida’s D and what QB Maguire can do to keep the Gator D honest.  After seeing Florida barely beat Vandy and FAU, I don’t see them beating FSU this week.   PICK: FSU 17, Florida 13

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#9 Stanford (-3.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Huge game here no matter what the score.  ND wins, then you will watch them sneak in as the #4 team for the Playoff, and if Stanford wins then you will see them creep closer and closer to the Playoff.  Stanford will need a good showing in the PAC 12 Championship to catapult into the Playoff.  It’s far-fetched and very much possible (i.e. OSU 2014).  This is a really tough game to call simply for the fact that you never know what you’re going to get with either team.  There have been weeks when both of these teams looked elite and other times (last couple weeks) where they looked like anyone of merit can take them down.  Looking through the stats these teams look to be identical – both score about 35 points and give up 20 points per game.  Passing ratings are crazy close on offense and defense.  Even the FG % is close.  Get the pattern?  It’s gonna be close.  I’m giving the edge to Stanford for these reasons: they are at home, they control the clock (always), their Red Zone efficiency is pretty damn good and they have McCraffrey.  Stanford by 6 and to cover.  PICK: Stanford 28, Notre Dame 22

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#11 Oklahoma State (+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 Big 12 will probably not “give thanks” to Baylor on Thursday….after they ruined the Big 12 Play In Game of 2015!!  C’MON!!  Now the Pokes are coming in as spoilers to ruin the Big 12 two years in a row and I’ll be damned if that’s going to happen this year.   Just as long as Baker Mayfield has his head on straight for this game, we don’t need Trevor Knight screwing things up again.  Oklahoma is clearly the best team in OK and I imagine they will prove that come Saturday night.  OU has the run game, they have the QB, and they actually have a defense.  Everything sets up really well to make a Nat’l Title run.  Here comes the “but”.  They don’t call Bob Stoops – Big Game Bob – for a reason.  He tends to find a way to blow it for OU right when they look to be on to something.  The Pokes are a good team, don’t get me wrong.  They are very much capable of winning this game, but they just seemed to be getting all of the right bounces late in the games to pull off some of these wins.  The Sooners claim their spot in the Playoff this Saturday with a convincing win over the Pokes.  PICK: Oklahoma 44, OSU 31

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UPSET OF THE WEEK!

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Nebraska (+1.5)[/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 to end all upset picks, folks!!  Iowa “The little engine that could” Hawkeyes will meet the Nebraska “The Law of Average” Huskers.  I’ve been waiting for this game for about a month after Iowa beat Indiana in another close one.  This game has upset written all over it!!  You might be wondering why I call Nebraska – Law of Average.  I’m a firm believer in the Law of Average or everything over time will even itself out.  Nebraska has had a series of unreasonable losses (BYU, Miami, Illinois, N’Western, and Wisconsin) with some of them the coaches fault and some just plain stupid luck.  I understand that Nebraska was handed one against Michigan St., but the karma train is not done with Nebraska.  Here’s how I look at it from the Huskers perspective: you have 90,000 fans cheering for you at home for the Huskers, and if you win this game you get to go onto a bowl game…lose and you’re done.  This game has the ability to wipe out all of those terrible memories of losing at the last second to pretty much everyone.  This game has a chance to give Husker fans something to look forward to come 2016 – a little hope at the end of it all.  Nebraska isn’t a slouch of a team.  They have the eye test of a 9-4 team (the spirit of Bo Pelini lives on) that found themselves at 5-6 thus far – watch one of their games and I dare you to say anything different.  Iowa’s time is up  baby!!  They are a fraud and  don’t belong in the Playoff.  Down goes Iowa!!  Nebraska tries not to blow it.  PICK: Nebraska 24, Iowa 21

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Season Record – Straight Up: 74-46

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Season Record – Versus Spread: 47-68-4

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Upset of the Week: 4-8

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