Friday, September 9, 2011

Cinq (et un) Pour Samedi

In an odd turn of events, the Marshall/West Virginia game last week turned into a no-action bet for me after being called in the 4th quarter due to lightning. Had the score at the time (WVU 34, Marshall 13) held up, it would have been a cover for Marshall (+23) and a win for me, but we'll never know. I am going to take an extra game this week to compensate, which could very well be a recipe for disaster considering Week 2's lackluster schedule, featuring only one matchup between ranked opponents. Home teams in CAPS.

NORTH CAROLINA (-10) over Rutgers
This is the kind of game you look at when you have to take a sixth game. Rutgers, a bad team, getting less than two touchdowns on the road against North Carolina, an average team? These are exactly the types of games in which Rutgers tends to fold like a lawn chair - you know, the games against actual college football programs and not the likes of Florida International, Texas Southern, Norfolk State, and last week's opponent North Carolina Central. Not that the Tar Heels went up against world-beaters either in their Week 1 drubbing of James Madison (although JMU did beat Virginia Tech last year), but their combo of QB Bryn Renner and 6'-4", 225-lb. WR Dwight Jones should create enough mismatches against the Rutgers secondary to win by two scores.

Nevada (+26.5) over OREGON
It may be fashionable to pick against Oregon after their disappointing Week 1 effort against LSU, but this is more a bet for Nevada than anything else. The Wolf Pack, aka the team that knocked off Boise State last year, returns much of the same defense that could keep this from being too easy of a day for the Ducks. Also, this is Nevada's first game of the year, meaning that they have had their sights set on Eugene, Oregon for the entire offseason. I still don't think they can win outright, but if they keep Oregon under 40 points then the chances for a cover are decent.

South Carolina (-3) over GEORGIA
Georgia may have been given a bit too much credit a bit too soon, judging by the egg they laid against Boise State. This team is still relatively young and is sure to get better as the season goes on, but even if the Bulldogs had beaten Boise I still think I'd have like South Carolina here. The reason? Marcus Lattimore facing a Georgia defense that gave up 129 yards on the ground to Boise, who is not exactly considered a punishing running team. My only concern is South Carolina having to play a fully contested game for the first time all year, but they still look like they can win by a touchdown.

Alabama (-10) over PENN STATE
Does Penn State belong on the same field as Alabama? I still don't think so and it's going to take a good deal of convincing to get me to sway on that. Is Penn State, unsettled QB position and all, going to put up more than 14 points against Alabama? Are they going to put up more than 10? Too many scenarios are easily envisioned in which the Nittany Lions are held to single digits. On the other side of the ball, this could be Trent Richardson's first "Heisman résumé builder" game. I don't think it will be a shellacking, but the Tide rolls by double digits anyhow.

Brigham Young (+7) over TEXAS
Are the Longhorns ready to inch back to national prominence after last year's accidental rebuilding year? We'll find out over the next month as conference games ensue, but for now BYU presents an interesting challenge in Austin. In what is likely going to be a low-scoring game, 7 points is just fine with me. Also tipping the scales in favor of BYU for me was this quote from Mack Brown: "We're not significantly better than anybody we'll play that's left on the schedule," he said. "So, we need to stay healthy, we need to improve, and we need to do our best job coaching in my estimation, since our first year here." So yeah, give me BYU and the 7.

MICHIGAN (+3.5) over Notre Dame
As with any Michigan game, Kevin's analysis will dwarf mine in size and quality. But is Notre Dame, who was caught napping in their freaking home opener against South Florida, really a team you're willing to lay points with on the road? Would it help if I told you that Brian Kelly has hit the panic button and switched QB's again? All eyes should be on Ann Arbor in the Big House's first ever night game, and if the Wolverines can manage to play a bend-but-don't-break defensive game, there's no reason that this once won't at least come down to a field goal in either direction.

Last Week: 1-3-0

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