Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cinq Pour Samedi

Restored a little bit of order with a 3-2-1 showing last Saturday. Week 3 gives us a fairly appetizing slate of games for the first time this season. Home teams in CAPS.

Louisiana State (-3.5) OVER MISSISSIPPI STATE
I usually don't take Thursday games, but I plan to have an eye on this game and generally won't skip over a matchup of ranked opponents this early in the season. LSU passed its lone test against Oregon with flying colors while Mississippi State got outdueled last week by an Auburn team still trying to find its identity. The Tigers' defense, which is only giving up 45.5 ypg rushing, figures to be the difference maker here. There's no reason for the #25 Bulldogs to not put up a good fight, but LSU wins this game by 6-10 points.

West Virginia (+1) over MARYLAND
Had the Terps not made a statement in beating Miami on Labor Day evening, this game might have been problematic for #20 WVU, who trailed Norfolk State at halftime last week before putting up 45 unanswered second-half points. All in all, this is a game that Bill Stewart would have lost and Dana Holgorsen will find a way to win. Despite the effort put forth against the depleted Hurricanes two weeks ago, I don't know that Maryland will have enough on defense to contain the Mountaineers' quick-strike capabilities in the end.

Michigan State (+5) over NOTRE DAME
When I first saw this line I asked Kevin, "wait, is Michigan State bad this year and nobody happens to know it?" The Spartans are ranked 15th but have yet to face a real test, while the Irish, now you know their deal. Can Notre Dame stop doing their Dallas Cowboys impression and quit making mistakes that cost them games (the similarities really are frightening in that way)? Will they stop leaving wheel routes unattended on the wide side of the field when protecting a 3-point lead in the final minute? Part of me doubts that they will go 0-3, but Notre Dame is really going to have to show the world something before anyone should be comfortable playing them as anything more than a field goal favorite.

MIAMI (-2.5) over Ohio State
Jacory Harris returns for the Hurricanes and will have the luxury of Ohio State being without one of its top pass-rushers, DE Nathan Williams. The Buckeyes may have been looking ahead to this week's matchup (if you believe in that sort of thing, which I really don't) in sleepwalking through a 27-22 victory over Toledo last week. Miami, on the other hand, has had an extra week to get their first team offense back in order and stew over their loss to Maryland. I think Harris can make enough plays to win this game late, which he may have to because the Ohio State defense is still pretty strong against the run. But if he does? Hookers for everyone! (Too soon?)

Oklahoma (-3) over FLORIDA STATE
One team thinks that it's ready for the big lights, but the other team knows that it is. Is Florida State all the way back? Only time will tell, but I think it's safe to say that going into Tallahassee on a Saturday night is still not as scary a proposition (football-wise, at least) as it was, say, 15 years ago. Neither team has gone up against a viable opponent yet this year, so for now the smarter money is on the experience of Landry Jones and Bob Stoops over E.J. Manuel and Jimbo Fisher. The Seminoles may be a year away from serious BCS contention, so Boomer Sooner by 7 or more this Saturday night.

Last Week: 3-2-1
Season: 4-5-1

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