Friday, October 17, 2008

Rev Picks 'Em: Week Eight

For all you sports betting fiends out there, Rev switches up the pick ems this week, now offering picks based on weekly college football odds.

CONNECTICUT (-1 ½) at Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights have to be considered the poster children for the ineptitude of the Big East conference this year in college football. Since knocking off then #3 Louisville in 2006, Rutgers has stumbled badly to an 11-12 overall record. With no Ray Rice to lean on, senior QB Mike Teel has played poorly, completing only 55% of his passes and has a paltry 3-7 TD to INT ratio. Connecticut was exposed in their 38-12 loss at North Carolina, but after a bye last week they should bounce back strong against one of the weakest teams (outside of Syracuse) in the Big East.

Michigan at # 3 PENN STATE (-23 ½): This pains me to write, but I have very little faith in this Michigan squad – so little hope, that I’m not even tempted by the 23 ½ points they’ll be getting at Happy Valley. Penn State has speed everywhere on offense and are scoring way too often (317 points on the season thus far) for Michigan’s beleaguered defense to handle. In losses to Notre Dame and Illinois, Michigan gave up 35 and 45 points, respectively. After Penn State’s rout of Wisconsin last week (48-7), I don’t think Penn State will have too much trouble scoring.

Western Michigan Broncos at CENTRAL MICHIGAN (+1 ½): With both teams entering this contest undefeated in conference play, the outcome of this game will go a long way toward determining the MAC champion this year. QB Tim Hiller leads Western Michigan with over 2,000 yards passing and 23 TDs this far into the season. Central Michigan on the other hand, doesn’t score a ton of points or put up gaudy numbers, but they do just enough to hang around and win games late. In the four games since their 56-17 blowout loss at then #2 Georgia, the Chippewas have gone 3-1 with an average margin of victory of 5.0 points. Considering their games are usually close, I’m going to take the underdog at home and run with the points.

#18 NORTH CAROLINA (-4 ½) at Virginia: I love UNC here. In just year two under Butch Davis, the Tarheels will challenge for top-dog status in the ACC as the season goes on. They face a Virginia team that has won two straight after early season struggles, but I just don’t think the Cavaliers stand much of a chance. Virginia’s averaging just 17.0 points a game vs. UNC’s 31.8. Did I mention I love UNC?
#11 Ohio State at #17 MICHIGAN STATE (+3 ½) So far, no team has been able to hold down the Spartans’ super running back Javon Ringer – but then again, the Spartans haven’t played a team that is as good against the run as Ohio State. With the loss of DE Lawrence Wilson, the Buckeyes may be tempted to bring 8 men into the box to stop Ringer, and that may open things up just enough for MSU QB Brian Hoyer to hit some quick, intermediate routes downfield. Of course, Michigan State will likely be forced to do the same to stop OSU RB Beanie Wells, so much of the Buckeyes’ success will depend on how freshman QB handles his first true test against a top-flight opponent on the road. This one should be close, so I’m taking the Spartans and the points at home.

MIAMI (-4 ½) at Duke: Duke is one of the feel-good stories of the season in year one of coach David Cutcliffe’s stewardship. Cutcliffe is a fantastic offensive schemer and play caller – for proof, look at what his absence has meant to the Tennessee Volunteers this year. However, I expect Miami’s raw athletic ability will far outclass that of Duke; plus, the ‘Canes are 0-2 thus far in ACC conference play, so they should be out hungry for a win in this one.

ARKANSAS (+7 ½) at Kentucky: Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino returns to Lexington sporting a spotless record against the ‘Cats, having gone 4-0 vs. UK during his days at the helm of Louisville. Kentucky has an outstanding defense, but their offense is almost non-existent – they had 4 take-aways last week and still lost to South Carolina, 24-17. Compounding problems for UK is the loss of senior WR Dicky Lyons to a season-ending knee injury - without their top WR target available, the Cats seemingly will be very one dimensional from here on out. If Arkansas stops the run this weekend, they have a very real chance to win this game outright. That, and you know Petrino will have something devious cooked up for his former in-state rival.

#13 LSU at SOUTH CAROLINA (+2 ½): LSU was flat embarrassed last week against Florida, losing by 30 in the Swamp. Taking cues from that game, South Carolina’s superb defense will look to put a ton of pressure on LSU’s inexperienced QB tandem of Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch and force them into multiple turnovers. Plus, now that the ol’ Ball Coach has (for the time being) settled around the talented Stephen Garcia as his starting QB, the reins may be loosened a bit on the Gamecocks’ here-to-now bottled-up offense. I think they have a real shot at springing the upset outright in this one.

#25 CALIFORNIA (-2 ½) at Arizona: Outside of a no-show performance in their loss at Maryland, Cal is quietly enjoying a solid start to their season out West. The only remaining unbeaten in the PAC-10, Cal is ringing up 39.4 points per game. The numbers, meanwhile, say Arizona tops that with an average of 40.1 points a game – but if you throw out their 70-0 blowout of Idaho to open the season, Arizona’s scoring per game average drops to 34.2. Cal looks to be a little more balanced offensively than the pass happy Wildcats, and the Bears running game should grind them out a win this weekend in the desert.

#11 Mizzou at #1 TEXAS (-5 ½): Mizzou is coming off a crushing and unexpected loss at the hands of Oklahoma State last week. With this weekend’s matchup with #1 Texas next on the slate, it’s fair to say that it’s panic time in Columbia right now. Two losses in conference doesn’t necessarily kill their season, but it just may end any talk that the Tigers could play for the national championship. The number #1 ranking hasn’t been kind to those who’ve worn it this year, and Texas will have a big target on their backs this week against a desperate Mizzou squad. That aside … did you watch the Texas-Oklahoma game? Texas is pretty good – better than Mizzou, in my opinion. I’m taking the ‘Horns and giving 5 ½ here.