Thursday, October 8, 2015
Cram Session - Week 6
Indianapolis (2-2) at Houston (1-3), Pick Em'
The Colts survived a week without Andrew Luck and moved back to .500 after an 0-2 start to the season. It looks like Luck will be back under center tonight in another divisional matchup, this time against the Texans and their hapless defense. I don't think giving up an average of 27 points per game was what Houston had in mind when they selected Jadaveon Clowney to join J.J. Watt. Thankfully for the Texans the AFC South is a dumpster fire and with a win tonight, Houston would remain in the thick of things for the division crown. That would mean they have to beat Indianapolis which has a 15 game divisional winning streak. This game will also be Andre Johnson's homecoming to Houston, but after being held without a catch and not even being targeted in his past two games, I am not sure anyone will notice. After this game the Colts play seven straight non divisional games, and that is when we will truly find out of if the Colts are contenders or fluke fraud pretenders.
Prediction: Houston 26, Indianapolis 22
Games That Matter To Me
Navy (4-0) at #15 Notre Dame (4-1)
Notre Dame was behind the eight ball almost immediately at Clemson and despite their best efforts to fight back and win the game, they fell short. The Irish were undone by their four turnovers and also the inability of the offense to get a running game going. It brought back nightmarish memories to the Irish's late season collapse last season after a 5-0 start to the year. Notre Dame better have gotten over that tough loss quickly though, because Navy is coming to town and if recent history is any indication it means the Irish are in for a fight. People still dismiss Navy as just a service academy team, but they haven't been paying attention for the better part of a decade. Vegas is definitely not paying attention as I can't understand why they think the Irish are two touchdown favorites. Every year the Irish know exactly what to expect from Navy and every year they usually struggle to stop the Midshipmen offense. A lot of that credit goes to Navy QB Keenan Reynolds. Reynolds has been on fire this year, rushing for 9 touchdowns this season, including 5 in a win against East Carolina a couple weeks ago. Even a quiet game like last week against Air Force where he was held without a rushing touchdown still amounted to his highest rushing yardage of the season. Where the Irish should win the game is their ability to overwhelm Navy's offense. Notre Dame will be bigger at every position and that should mean plenty of opportunities for C.J. Prosise and Will Fuller. Everyone wants to talk about are the Irish still playoff contenders, but to me, they have seven games left this season and cliche as it is, they need to take it one week at a time. If they handle their business, everything else will take care of itself. That starts with not overlooking Navy and being ready for a fight on Saturday.
Prediction: Notre Dame 30, Navy 24
Wisconsin (3-2, 0-1) at Nebraska (2-3, 0-1)
This game has sure lost the luster it looked like it might have prior to the season starting. The Huskers have been terrible this season and Wisconsin hasn't been much better. Each team has had a different set of issues. The Badgers have struggled mightily offensively, while the Huskers have been terrible defensively. The Huskers haven't just been losing games, they have been finding new ways to make their losses even more gut wrenching each week. This last game against Illinois saw Nebraska blow a 13-0 4th quarter lead, including a final drive where once again the secondary allowed a receiver to get behind them on a deep ball, when it was obvious that the play would be a deep pass. The conditions were not ideal but Tommy Armstrong had one of the worst games of his career, including a brain dead decision late in the game to throw the ball when the Huskers were trying to bleed the clock. The Huskers clearly miss Ameer Abdullah, as his replacement Terrell Newby has not yet found his groove. Nebraska will have its work cut out for them against a Badgers defense that is allowing just 9.6 points and 278 yards per game. Nebraska should try to commit to the run in this game, and stick with it, even if it isn't working right away. Then that can open up opportunities for Jordan Westerkamp and Brandon Reilly. This is the first true road game of the season for Wisconsin and like Nebraska they miss their big time back Melvin Gordon. Besides one game against Hawaii, Taiwan Deal hasn't gotten much traction. Without a run game, it is exposing QB Joel Stave. Stave was especially bad last week at home against Iowa, throwing two interceptions. However, the Huskers secondary may be the cure he needs for his ails. I went back and forth on my prediction for this one. Both teams are equally mediocre so I lean towards the Huskers homefield advantage. It isn't nearly what it was once was, but it should count for something on Saturday, Lord help Mike Riley if it doesn't.
Prediction: Nebraska 27, Wisconsin 23
Maryland (2-3, 0-1) at #1 Ohio State (5-0, 1-0)
My gut was telling me to pick a close game between Indiana and Ohio State and I didn't listen! Ohio State had to get a goal line stop at the end of the game to avoid going to overtime with the Hoosiers. Cardale Jones was uneven once again but Ezekiel Elliott was a wrecking ball and you could say literally carried the Buckeyes to victory. The Maryland Terrapins are a dumpster fire and if Ohio State can't beat this sorry squad at home by at least three touchdowns it is time for another team to be placed number one in the country.
Prediction: Ohio State 45, Maryland 14
#2 TCU (5-0, 2-0) at Kansas State (3-1, 0-1)
The Horned Frogs have been tested on the road and so far have scraped by, but that all could end in Manhattan, KS on Saturday night. The Wildcats gave Oklahoma State all they could handle in Stillwater, despite dealing with more injuries at the quarterback position. Joe Hubener will make the start in this game. Hubener was hurt early in the game against Oklahoma State, replaced by Kody Cook and then inserted back in the game when Cook was injured. Hubener was the backup to start the season but the Wildcats have remained very competitive despite all the injuries and uncertainty at the most key position on the field. A lot of that is due to their recently turned 76-year old coach Bill Snyder. The Wildcats offensive weapons don't wow you but TCU has been dealing with a ton of injuries to their defense and have been a revolving door for offenses playing against them. TCU's offensive weapons like Trevone Boykin, RB Aaron Green and WR Josh Doctson will make their share of plays but I can't believe that they can just go through this entire season unscathed winning shootouts. TCU got a lucky bounce against Texas Tech on the road in order to win and I feel Kansas State is a much better team. Sometimes you have to be bold and pick the upset.
Prediction: Kansas State 48, TCU 44
#3 Baylor (4-0, 1-0) at Kansas (0-4, 0-1)
Baylor's lowest output offensively thus far this season is 56 points. I feel confident in saying they won't score less than than against winless Kansas. The Jayhawks are facing the real possibility of going 0-12 after dropping all three of their non-conference games. Baylor's offensive stats are insane, WR Corey Coleman already has 11 touchdowns this season and quarterback Seth Russell has thrown 19 touchdowns.
Prediction: Baylor 66, Kansas 21
#4 Michigan State (5-0, 1-0) at Rutgers (2-2, 0-1)
Somehow the Spartans could only beat terrible, awful Purdue by three at home. Their one signature win this year, at home against Oregon, looks meaningless now after the way the Ducks were killed by Utah. They have a week to get things right as they go to Michigan next week and right now I would have no hesitancy picking the Wolverines to win that game. A night game at Rutgers looms as a trap game, but Rutgers is pretty terrible and I am giving Sparty the benefit of the doubt that they won't lay another egg on Saturday.
Prediction: Michigan State 31, Rutgers 14
#23 California (5-0, 2-0) at #5 Utah (4-0, 1-0)
The Golden Bears are 5-0 but after years of being a downtrodden program some questions still remain about just how legitimate of a team they really are. Where there aren't questions are about their QB Jared Goff. The junior has started the year on fire with 15 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and a 70% completion percentage. Goff's favorite target is WR Kenny Lawler, who leads the Golden Bears with 8 receiving touchdowns. The Utes had a bye after thrashing Oregon on the road, a win that catapulted them all the way to number five in the polls. The Utes now go from being the hunters to the hunted and it will be interesting to see how they respond, starting with this game. Utah has one of the better defenses in the country, so it will be intriguing to see how they do in containing Goff and Lawler. Utah is more of a power running team than a passing team and average more yards per game through the ground than through the air. QB Travis Wilson personifies this as teams usually have to be more concerned with his legs than his arm. Wilson burned the Ducks to the tune of 100 yards rushing and a touchdown, averaging almost 17 yards per carry. I think the bye week will serve Utah well and gave them a chance to refocus after a huge win. It will prevent this game from being a letdown spot and the Utes should relatively cruise to their fifth win of the season.
Prediction: Utah 38, California 24
Georgia Tech (2-3, 0-2) at #6 Clemson (4-0, 1-0)
Next time I start to annoint a team based on a couple of blowouts against poor competition, I need to remind myself of the fluke frauds that Georgia Tech have turned out to be. The Yellow Jackets have lost three games in a row since they started playing teams with a pulse. The Tigers nearly pulled a Clemson last week and blew a big lead against the Irish. They were saved by some questionable play calling by Notre Dame and remained in the thick of the playoff race. As coach Dabo Swinney continues to try to remake Clemson's image, this is another spot where the Tigers can do that. A lot of energy went into the Notre Dame game, so this could be a letdown spot. The fact is though that the Yellow Jackets are so bad, Clemson could let down and still win by double digits.
Prediction: Clemson 41, Georgia Tech 24
#7 LSU (4-0, 2-0) "at" South Carolina (2-3, 0-3)
This game has been moved from Columbia, SC to Baton Rouge, LA due to the flooding that hit Columbia last week. Things are getting ugly for Steve Spurrier. The only remaining SEC game that the Gamecocks are likely to be favored in is when they play Vanderbilt. Everyone thinks Spurrier is hilarious when he pops off on other coaches struggles, so I hope some of those coaches take the time to talk back now that Spurrier coaches a horrible team. RB Leonard Fournette continued his streak of 200 yard plus rushing games and has to be the Heisman favorite at this point. The Tigers have to thank their lucky stars for him beacuse without him, they might average about 7 points a game with the woeful Brandon Harris at quarterback. It is amazing what Fournette does week after week because the Tigers have no passing game to speak of. Because of that they don't really blow out teams so I expect the Gamecocks to hang around at home, but LSU to ultimately win rather comfortably.
Prediction: LSU 32, South Carolina 20
Arkansas (2-3, 1-1) at #8 Alabama (4-1, 1-1)
Bret Bielema and Arkansas got a much needed win against Tennessee last week, while Alabama told Vegas to never make them underdogs again, decimating Georgia on the road 38-10. Nick Saban took great delight in telling the media how wrong they were to try to count his team out. I saw one ridiculous headline last week asking if Nick Saban might be in trouble if Alabama lost that game to Georgia. I guess we will never find out (sarcasm). Arkansas has more talent than their 2-3 record would suggest and statistically they are pretty even with the Crimson Tide. The Razorbacks quarterback/running back combo of Brandon Allen and Alex Collins isn't far off from Bama's combo of Jake Coker and Derrick Henry. The difference in this game will be defense, as the Tide have a far better defense than the Razorbacks. No disrespect to the newly ranked Toledo Rockets but if you can't beat Toledo at home, you don't have a prayer of beating Alabama on the road.
Prediction: Alabama 34, Arkansas 20
#10 Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0) "at" Texas (1-4, 0-2) in Dallas, Texas
Boy is it getting ugly in Austin. In the midst of being thrashed by TCU, Texas CB Kris Boyd retweeted a tweet at halftime talking about transferring. He has since apologized of course and I give him credit at least for not claiming he was hacked. Oklahoma was pretty under the radar for most of the season but has cracked the top 10 after crushing West Virginia at home. Now there is talk of the Sooners being a playoff contender but if you know a Bob Stoops coached team, they will likely find one or two games to lose that they should win. However, this rivalry game will not be one of them. The Longhorns crappy defense will have no answer for the Sooners high powered offense led by QB Baker Mayfield.
Prediction: Oklahoma 46, Texas 16
Last Week: 7-3