Weekend Picks  

Posted by Walter

Wake Forest +1.5 over Georgia Tech

Almost all the buzz on this game is going in favor of Tech and I am not exactly certain why. Wake has gotten by all year by not turning the ball over and taking advantage when the other team does. I see no reason why this wouldn't change against Tech. Yellow Jackets QB Reggie Ball is one of the more inconsistent passers you will find in America. While it's true that Ball has thrown for 20 TD this season, he is by no account an accurate passer. His completion percentage is under 50% and he has been intercepted 12 times in under 300 pass attempts. Going up against a Wake Forest defense that makes its living by getting turnovers, I just don't see how Ball doesn't give it away at least once. On the flip side, Wake will do just what they have all year. They will play conservative, win the field position battle, and grind out the clock. The Deacons have tremendous balance on offense led by QB Riley Skinner's 67% completion rate. In addition, Wake boasts a ridiculous seven players who have at least 100 yards rushing and a TD on the season. This versatility and their spread formations will slow down a very fast and effective Tech linebacking corpse. Wake never blows anyone out but they had one of their most effective offensive games of the season last weekend against Maryland. Expect lots of rushing attempts and a big play from Skinner as the Deacs roll 24-17.

@ UCLA +12 over USC

There is no question that I always prefer to take the points in these rivalry type games, especially when a home dog is involved. As great as USC looked last week I think we learned that Notre Dame just isn't a very good football team. While the Trojan defense was impressive in bullying the ballyhooed Irish offense, their own offensive performance can be attributed as much to Notre Dame's two hand touch style defense as it can to Trojan execution. That will definitely not be the case this Saturday when the Trojans face a very sturdy, experienced, and confient Bruins defense. All year UCLA has been able to completely shut down their opposition's running game and I expect nothing to change this weekend. USC has gotten by without a great running game this season, but by making the Trojans completely one dimensional the Bruins will force the entire game into the hands of John David Booty. That alone is enough to warrant taking the points. Booty can be brilliant at times but he also has a propensity to turn the ball over, something he absolutly cannot do especially since UCLA is starting their backup QB. Look for the Trojans to pull away from the Bruins in the fourth quarter, but my guess is that the game is a lot lower scoring than people expect. Call it USC 20-13.

Arkansas +3 over Florida

Please, if you think for a moment that Florida is tough enough to win this game then you are absolutely crazy. The chic statement about this game is that Arkansas will win just as long as it gets competent QB play from Casey Dick. I say screw that. Razorback offensive coordinator Gus Mahlzan has done a great job all season of getting the ball to his three best players: Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Marcus Monk. And he has done it without the benefit of competent QB play. In fact, crazy at it may sound the best Arkansas option at QB might be McFadden in that Wildcat set they run so well. The bottom line is this, Arkansas is bigger, badder, and meaner than Florida. They have the best unit in this game (their offensive line), the two best runners in this game (McFadden and Jones), and the best receiver in this game (Monk). The only place where Florida has a decided advantage is at QB and Urban Meyer has been loathe to put the game in Chris Leak's hands all season long. This line is an absolute joke because this one has the makings of a laugher. Call it Arkansas 40-17.......seriously.

@ West Virginia -7 over Rutgers

I wanted to pick Rutgers, I really did. That said, the oldest gambling adage says "Winners bet with streaks, losers bet against them." As great as Rutgers has been this season, Greg Schiano has NEVER, I repeat, NEVER beaten Rich Rodriguez. Albeit this is by far his best team, I still cannot see them going down to Morgantown and shutting down Slaton, White, and Co. That said, South Florida put on a clinic last week of how to shut down the vaunted spread attack, and Rutgers has similar personnel. The key word, however, is similar. Rutgers has quick disciplined players in their front seven. What they don't have are two players the caliber of Stephen Nicholas and Ben Moffit. Rutgers has had a magical season but it ends here. West Virginia is pissed and they are looking to take it out on someone. Sorry Rutgers, you lose 34-24.

Nebraska +6 over Oklahoma

Wow this spread seems high to me doesn't it? I mean we all know Nebraska is terrible but to be honest, they may have more offensive talent than the Sooners. Let's examine what we know about the Oklahoma offense. (i) Their best player, Adrian Peterson, is out. (ii) Their quarterback, though he has played well at times this season, is a career backup who was a starting wide reciever not 4 months ago. (iii) Their recieving corpse, while explosive, is inconsistent and really consists of one guy (Malcolm Kelly). Given that the Nebraska offense is averaging nearly 34 points per game, you've got to figure that to cover the 6 point spread the Sooners will need to put up at least 30 points. I'm not certain they can do that against a Nebraska defense that really has played better lately. Oklahoma will win the game because of Bob Stoops, but he is paid to win, not cover spreads. Call it Oklahoma 24-20.

Oregon State +7.5 over @ Hawaii

I love this Hawaii team and I am excited for the chance to watch them play live (finally!). You have to admire what June Jones has done on the island. Four years ago he basically said, screw the NFL I'm moving to Honolulu, I'm gonna bring my best friend with me (Jerry Glanville), and we're gonna throw the ball 50 times a game because that's what I like doing. And low and behold it has worked. Hawaii has been exceedingly tough at home this year, but the Beavers present their first real challenge off the main land (Purdue stinks remember). Oregon State does not have the horses to contain Colt Brennan and Davone Bess, but the Beavers have a few offensive thoroughbreads of their own in QB Matt Moore and WR Sammi Stroughter (one of the most exciting players you've never seen). The game is on the island so any thoughts of defense can go right out the window. Hawaii wins a shootout but Oregon State covers 45-40.

@ UMass over UNH

Huge game for New England football fans. UNH has all the hype, but they also have three losses (to UMass' one). Traditional wisdom says take the team that has the two best players. Most people probably think that this team would be UNH by virtue of their having both QB Ricky Santos and WR David Ball. Well I agree that the UNH duo is practically peerless, but UMass has quite a tandem in QB Liam Coen and RB Stephen Baylark. Consider the following comparison:

  • Santos - 68.2%, 2996 yards, 28 TD against 6 INT
  • Coen - 65.4 %, 2330 yards, 23 TD against 5 INT
Santos has the better numbers, but Coen is in the ballpark. What about Ball and Baylark? Well Ball is a WR and Baylark a RB so the comparison isn't as seemless, but we are still talking about scoring points:
  • Ball - 87 carches for 1060 yards and 13 TD
  • Baylark - 262 carries for 1460 yards and 12 TD
Once again, comparable numbers. So it is clear that the offenses are somewhat comparable, though UNH still comes out as the more eplosive bunch. What about defense? This is where the Minuteman prove they are the better team. On the season, UMass has given up 150 fewer points than UNH placing their point differential at nearly 60 points better. The Minuteman defense was the difference the first time the teams played as UMass jumped out to a 28-3 lead before coasting to a 28-20 victory at UNH. This time the game is played at UMass, but the outcome won't be any different. In fact let's go with the same score, UMass 28-20.


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