Note: In an effort to bring a little more structure to our weekly college football preview, we will be switching the format slightly. We will now be previewing multiple games throughout the week (Quick Hits Section)along with our normal preview of the headline games (Four Downs Sections). We hope you enjoy.
The home stretch of the college football season is now upon us. As with every week, huge marquee games fill the schedule for teams trying to impress the nation. Undefeated teams like Clemson, Stanford, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State will try and keep their title hopes alive.
Here is our season breakdown:
- Picks: 18-11 (.620)
- Odds: 14-15 (.482)
- O/U: 14-15 (.482)
Here are our Week 9 preview and picks:
#25 West Virginia (5-2, 1-1 Big East) vs. Rutgers (5-2, 1-1 Big East) (+7) 54 O/U
The Scarlet Knights would be wise to try and emulate the game plan Syracuse employed against the Mountaineers last week. The Orange absolutely shredded the Mountaineers on the ground, accumulating 194 yards on the ground (compared to just 70 for WVU). This enabled Syracuse to control the time of possession for the majority of the game (35:55-Syracuse vs. 24:05-WVU). Unfortunately for Rutgers, they rank 112th in the nation in rushing (91.71 Yards/Game).
Mountaineers win, take the Mountaineers minus 7, and the over
#22 Georgia (5-2, 4-1 SEC) vs. Florida (4-3, 2-3 SEC) (+3) 49 O/U
After two straight losses to start the season, the Bulldogs have reeled off 5 straight. They are defeating their SEC opponents by more than 10 points per game (10.2). Can sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray continue his stellar play on the road against the Gators? Murray has tossed 10 touchdown passes during the Bulldogs current winning streak. Murray was picked off 3 times in last season’s 34-31 overtime loss to the Gators. Florida currently sits 109th in the nation in turnover margin (-7). We have our doubts that they can turn over Murray again. Plus, the Gators offense has been brutal the
last month (27 combined points in their last 3 games). We like the Dawgs.
Bulldogs win, take the Bulldogs minus 3, and stay away from the line
Rice (2-5, 1-3 C-USA) vs. #17 Houston (7-0, 3-0 C-USA) (-28) 71 O/U
How awesome is Case Keenum? Keenum has now thrown for 16,271 yards and 130 touchdowns during his collegiate career. Keenum and the Cougars currently lead the NCAA in pass offense with a staggering 441.7 yards per game. Rice currently ranks 96th in the nation in pass defense, surrendering 253.9 yards per game. I am sure the Owls would be happy to hold the Cougars to those totals. Look for a huge game by Keenum as the Cougars continue their march to an undefeated season.
Cougars win, take the Cougars minus 28, and the over
Illinois (6-2, 2-2 Big 10) vs. #19 Penn St (7-1, 4-0 Big 10) (-5) 41 O/U
The Fighting Illini are coming off back to back disappointing losses (Ohio St. & Purdue). The Illini offense has sputtered the last two weeks, producing nearly 100 total yards less than their season average (325 vs. 417). Things don’t get any easier for Ron Zook and company this week, as the Nittany Lions possess one of the premier defenses in the nation. The Nittany Lions currently rank 8th in total defense, surrendering just 281.9 yards per game. Make it 3 losses in a row for Illinois.
Nittany Lions win, take the Nittany Lions minus 5, and stay away from the line
Purdue (4-3, 2-1 Big 10) vs. #18 Michigan (6-1, 2-1 Big 10) (-14) 53 O/U
The Wolverines have improved in nearly every facet of the game this season. Brady Hoke’s bunch is surrendering 20 points less this season compared to last season’s debacle (14.7-2011 vs. 35.2-2010). Purdue has lost their only 2 road games this season. The Big House isn’t exactly the easiest place to try and reverse your misfortunes on the road.
Wolverines win, take the Boilermakers plus 14, and the over
#15 Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1 Big 10) vs. Ohio St (4-3, 1-2 Big 10) (+8) 51 O/U
The Badgers will likely still be in shell shock when they hit the field against the Buckeyes on Saturday. Can you blame them? For the second year in a row, Sparty ruined the Badgers national championship hopes. Following their loss to the Spartans in 2010, the Badgers won their rest of their conference games (7-0) by a margin of 27.2 points per game. Good luck with that Ohio State.
Badgers win, take the Badgers minus 8, and the under
Baylor (4-2, 1-2 Big 12) vs. #3 Oklahoma State (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) (-14) 79 O/U
Hopefully the Bears spent their bye week studying defensive game tape of the Cowboys high octane offense. Let’s face it, the Bears were absolutely embarrassed by A&M just two weeks ago. Surrendering 681 total yards of offense is downright embarrassing. The Cowboys currently rank 3rd in the nation in total offense (548.6 Yards/Game). Robert Griffin III will have to match the Cowboys point for point if the Bears are to have any shot in this one.
Cowboys win, take the Bears minus 14, and the under
# 5 Clemson (8-0, 5-0 ACC) vs. Georgia Tech (6-2, 3-2 ACC)
Line: CLEM -5, 64 O/U
Common sense would tell you that the Yellow Jackets will have a tough time matching up with the Tigers on Saturday. I mean come on, the Yellow Jackets are coming off two tough conference losses against mediocre teams (no offense Virginia & Miami). Yet, the Yellow Jackets are simply more comfortable in the friendly confines of Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Yellow Jackets are averaging nearly 16 points more per game at home, as opposed to on the road (46.3-home vs. 30.5-road).
The Clemson trio of Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, and DeAndre Hopkins has combined for 3,708 total yards offense through 8 games (37 total touchdowns). The Tigers definitely have an inside track on the BCS national championship game if they can continue their winning ways. However, they have had some close calls the last couple of weeks (most noticeably two weeks ago vs. Maryland). The Yellow Jackets currently rank 5th in the nation in rush offense (325.1 Yards/Game), the Tigers rank 76th in rush defense (169.3 Yards/Game). Upset anybody?
Yellow Jackets win, take the Yellow Jackets plus 5, and the under
#9 Oklahoma (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) vs. #8 Kansas St (7-0, 4-0 Big 12)
Line: OKL -12, 59 O/U
Similar to Clemson, the Wildcats also have an inside track on the BCS title game if they can run the table. You really have to appreciate what they have been able to accomplish on the defensive side of the ball this season. Just a year ago, the Wildcats were the 76th scoring defense (29.1 PA) and 106th total defense (445.7 Yards/Game) in the nation. Through seven games, the Wildcats currently rank 23rd in scoring defense (19.7 PA) and 20th in total defense (337.1 Yards/Game). Also, the Wildcats just defeated the same Texas Tech team (on the road two weeks ago) that beat the Sooners in Norman last Saturday. Also keep in mind that these two teams didn’t face each other in 2010.
The Sooners defensive woes finally caught up them last week against Texas Tech. Listen, I never thought for one second that the Sooners had a chance to compete for a national championship this year. People put way too much stock into their wins over Florida State and Texas earlier in the year. Although they possess a superior offensive attack(545.6 total yards per game), their weakness continues to be on the defensive side of the ball. The Sooners currently rank 42nd in the nation in total defense. They might get past the Wildcats on Saturday, but their national championship aspirations have all but vanished.
Sooners win, take the Wildcats plus 12, and the over
#6 Stanford (7-0, 5-0 Pac 12) vs. USC (6-1, 3-1 Pac 12)
Line: STAN -8, 60 O/U
Not since Bo Jackson on the original Nintendo Tecmo Bowl has there been a more dominating rushing performance than what the Stanford Cardinal displayed last Saturday.
Stanford produced an amazing 446 rushing yards during their 65-21 destruction of Washington last week. Seven different Cardinal runners combined to average better than 10
yards per carry (44 total attempts). The Cardinal currently rank 4th in the nation in yards per attempt (5.93) Their 20 rushing scores currently rank in the Top 15 (12th).
Lane Kiffin’s Trojans are coming off an impressive road victory versus Notre Dame. In that game, the Trojans held Notre Dame to just 267 yards of total offense, nearly 175 yards less than their season average (438.9). USC was able to force 3 turnovers in the game, a feat that might not come as easily against the Cardinal. Stanford is an extremely disciplined team that doesn’t make mistakes on either side of the ball. They are currently tied for 6th in the nation in turnover margin (+6), and have committed the 24th least amount of penalties in the nation (35 through seven games). Cardinal roll in this one.
Cardinal win, take the Cardinal minus 8, and the over
4th Down (Game of the Week)
#11 Michigan St (6-1, 3-0 Big 10) vs. #14 Nebraska (6-1, 2-1 Big 10)
Line: NEB -5, 49 O/U
How much longer until a statue of head coach Mark Dantonio is displayed outside of Spartan Stadium? Seriously though, when you defeat Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin (in consecutive weeks no less) all in the same season, you are doing something right. If it wasn’t for an early season hiccup in South Bend, the Spartans would conceivably be in position for the BCS Title game themselves. The defense continues to shine each and every week for the Spartans. The Spartans currently rank 2nd in the nation in total defense (222.9 Yards/Game). Only Alabama is allowing fewer yards per game to their opponents. The real question for the Spartans surrounds their lack of offense during road games this season. The Spartans are generating nearly 25 points less during road play (11.6 PPG) than they are at home (36.4 PPG). Their rushing attack has really struggled during road games this season. As a team, the Spartans are averaging 120 less rushing yards on the road (173-home vs. 50-road). That is a substantial difference.
The Cornhuskers have made a rather seamless transition into the Big 10. They currently possess they 2nd ranked scoring offense in the conference (37.6 PPG). Look for the Cornhuskers to take to the
ground against the Spartans front seven. Wisconsin was able to generate over 200 rushing yards against the Spartans last week. The Cornhuskers are currently averaging 5.5 yards per rushing attempt. Running back Rex Burkhead (Junior) and quarterback Taylor Martinez (Sophomore) have combined for 1,388 rushing yards through 7 games (19 rushing touchdowns).
The Spartans have had a great run in the month of October. They have already knocked off two Top 10 teams in the Wolverines and the Badgers. However, their lack of offense on the road scares me in this one. The Cornhuskers usually always convert on their scoring chances at home this season. The Cornhuskers 91% red zone conversions (31/34) currently rank 16th in the nation. On the other hand, the Spartans are only converting on 60% of their red zone conversions (93rd in the nation). The Spartans can ill afford to settle for field goals on the road in this one. Unfortunately, their track record on the road this season leads me to believe just that.
Cornhuskers win, take the Cornhuskers minus 5, and forget about the line
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