Twitter Picks for College Football Week Two

Game of the Week
#5 Oklahoma (1-0) at #2 Ohio State (1-0)
Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ABC
Betting Favorite:  Ohio State by 7
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Oklahoma- 6th, Ohio State- 2nd


Big Game Guarantee
#14 Stanford (1-0) at #6 USC (1-0)
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Betting Favorite:  USC by 6
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Stanford- 15th, USC- 4th


Upset of the Week
#13 Auburn (1-0) at #3 Clemson (1-0)
Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Betting Favorite:  Clemson by 5
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Auburn- 8th, Clemson- 9th


Closer Than the Experts Think
Pittsburgh (1-0) at #4 Penn State (1-0)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Betting Favorite:  Penn State by 22
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Pittsburgh- unranked, Penn State- 3rd


Not Closer Than the Experts Think
Indiana (0-1) at Virginia (1-0)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Betting Favorite:  Indiana by 3
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked


Bad Spread Game
#15 Georgia (1-0) at #24 Notre Dame (1-0)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Betting Favorite:  Notre Dame by 5
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Georgia- 13th, Notre Dame- unranked


Group of Five Game of the Week
Western Michigan (0-1) at Michigan State (1-0)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN
Betting Favorite:  Michigan State by 7
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked


Is This Futbol?
Wake Forest (1-0) at Boston College (1-0)
Saturday, 1:00 p.m. ET, ACCN
Betting Favorite:  Boston College by 1
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked


Is This Basketball?
South Carolina (1-0) at Missouri (1-0)
Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Betting Favorite:  Missouri by 2
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked


Toilet Bowl
Minnesota (1-0) at Oregon State (1-1)
Saturday, 10:00 p.m. ET, FS1
Betting Favorite:  Oregon State by 2
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked


Miscellaneous:  The Holy War
Utah (1-0) at BYU (0-1)
Saturday, 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Betting Favorite:  Utah by 3
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Utah- 20th, BYU- unranked


NFL Game of the Week
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Betting Favorite:  Dallas by 4



For what it’s worth…

Overall Record: 5-6
College Overall Record: 5-6
NFL Game of the Week: 0-0

Game of the Week: 1-0
Big Game Guarantee: 0-1
Upset of the Week: 0-1
Closer Than the Experts Think: 0-1
Not Closer Than the Experts Think: 0-1
Overhyped/Bad Spread Game: 1-0
Group of Five Game of the Week: 1-0
Is This Futbol?: 1-0
Is This Basketball?: 1-0
Toilet Bowl: 0-1
Miscellaneous: 0-1

For an explanation of the categories for Twitter Picks, click here.



College Football Picks for Bowl Week 1

Bowl season is here, which means there will be college football games almost constantly between now and January 6.  While the first week of bowls do not produce any huge matchups, as all the highly ranked teams don’t play until around New Year’s, and the national title game isn’t until January 6, there are still some good matchups in some of these smaller bowl games.

Game of the Week:  Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, #20 Fresno State (11-1) vs #25 USC (9-4) (-6)
 These two teams come into the biggest bowl before Christmas having had two very different seasons.  Fresno State, led by QB Derek Carr, started the year 10-0 and was battling with Northern Illinois for a BCS at-large bid (neither ended up getting one, because both lost).  The dream ended when they allowed 62 points to San Jose State the day after Thanksgiving.  An interesting note is that this team has won games in overtime against Rutgers and San Diego State, and beat Boise State by just 1 point.  USC has had a soap opera-like season, that started with the mid-season firing of coach Lane Kiffin.  That was followed by the team going 6-2 under interim coach Ed Orgeron, with their only losses to Notre Dame and UCLA.  Due to the success, Orgeron felt he deserved to be named head coach, but when Steve Sarkisian was hired instead and the school offered Orgeron a high-paying assistant position, he declined.  Clay Helton will assume the interim position for their game against Fresno State.  With all of that going on at USC, focusing on a bowl game may be difficult, particularly for a program so used to going to big bowl games and now playing before Christmas.  Also, USC struggled on defense at times this year, and this may be the best offense they’ve played.  Then again, Fresno State can probably say the same.  USC is favored by 6, although that may just be a basic case of name recognition when these teams are actually somewhat even.
Fresno State 45, USC 38.

Big Game Guarantee:  Texas Bowl, Syracuse (6-6) vs Minnesota (8-4)
These are two of the bigger names to play in the first week of bowl games, even if neither football program has really been at the top recently.  That may change soon, as both of these programs are on the rise.  Syracuse is in their first year of ACC play, which has been highlighted by 4 wins in conference play, including two against bowl-eligible teams (Maryland, Boston College).  However, the Orange also have bad losses to Northwestern, who was just 1-7 in Big Ten play, and Georgia Tech, who is in a bowl game but beat Syracuse by 56.  Minnesota, who is favored by 4, was 4-2 to start the season, with losses coming to Iowa and Michigan, before coach Jerry Kill took a leave of absence to seek treatment for epilepsy.  While their record since is an identical 4-2, they have played better since against a tougher portion of their schedule, with wins against Nebraska and Penn State, among others, and losses to Wisconsin and Michigan State, both of whom are ranked in the top 20 and playing bowl games on New Year’s Day.  Minnesota lost the Texas Bowl a year ago, and may be looking for redemption.
Minnesota 24, Syracuse 20.

Another Big Game Guarantee:  Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Boise State (8-4) vs Oregon State (6-6)
Oregon State is favored by 3 when these teams play Christmas Eve in Maui.  However, the Beavers have lost 5 straight since their 6-1 start, and that first loss was in their season-opening game against Eastern Washington.  While their 5 consecutive losses are all to good football teams, they only had a good chance to win in 2 of those games.  To the contrary, they did look pretty good in a 1-point loss to Oregon in their last regular season game.  Boise State has had their own struggles at times this season, with blowout losses at Washington and at BYU, as well as close losses on the road against Fresno State and San Diego State.  The Broncos will find motivation for this game after losing their head coach, Chris Petersen, who has taken the job at Washington after 13 years in Boise (8 years as head coach).  The conference the Broncos lost their coach to, the Pac-12, coincidentally happens to be the same conference Oregon State is in.  I simply believe the Broncos have more motivation in this case than the Beavers, and the winner of a bowl game is often the team that wants to be there the most.
Boise State 27, Oregon State 26.

Another Big Game Guarantee:  Fight Hunger Bowl, BYU (8-4) vs Washington (8-4)
 Washington is favored by 3 in a matchup of two pretty good 8-4 football teams taking place at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, home of the Giants from April to October.  I say that after looking at the seasons each of these teams have had.  Washington’s season has been highlighted by blowout wins against Boise State, Arizona, and Oregon State, as well as 10-point wins over both Illinois and in-state rival Washington State.  Their 4 losses are all to teams currently ranked in the top 17, including losing by just 3 at Stanford.  Perhaps this success is a big reason coach Steve Sarkisian has left for the USC job, perhaps offering this team extra motivation for this game.  BYU has had a similar season, with wins over Texas, Boise State, and Georgia Tech.  Additionally, all of their losses except a season-opening loss to Virginia are understandable, although they could have beaten Utah in a close game.  There should be a lot of offense in this contest, as Washington is 8th in total offense and BYU is 14th.
Washington 49, BYU 38.

Upset of the Week:  Little Caesar’s Bowl, Pittsburgh (6-6) vs Bowling Green (10-3)
Bowling Green is favored by 5 in this game, which will be played at Ford Field in Detroit, only about a 75 minute drive from their campus in northern Ohio.  The Falcons come into the game at 10-3, and as champions of the MAC after beating Northern Illinois in the championship game, which was also at Ford Field.  Their three losses are to Mississippi State by a point, Toledo by 3, and Indiana by 32.  That last one is unusual considering how much the Hoosiers struggled throughout the season.  In addition to their 7-1 MAC record, they beat Tulsa 34-7 in non-conference play.  While they have a good résumé, Pittsburgh is better than most of the teams they have beaten.  Pitt may have 6 losses, but they are all to teams who are playing bowl games, and #1 Florida State is the only team to blow them out.  Actually, that Florida State game (41-13) was closer than most of the Seminoles games this year.  The Panthers also have a couple of quality wins over Duke and Notre Dame.  I’ll be curious in this game to see how Bowling Green responds to playing an ACC opponent, particularly after losing their head coach, Dave Clawson, who left for Wake Forest, which is ironically in the ACC.
Pittsburgh 31, Bowling Green 23.

Another Upset of the Week:  R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Tulane (7-5) vs Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
Tulane is a 1-point favorite in their home building at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.  While this game may be on their home turf (literally), Louisiana-Lafayette isn’t far from home either, and seems to have made a home playing in New Orleans on the third Saturday in December, as this is the 3rd consecutive year the Ragin’ Cajuns have played in this bowl game.  Lafayette comes into the game having lost back-to-back games, although Tulane has lost 3 out of 4.  This will be Tulane’s first bowl game in 11 years, and while they have 5 losses, 1 was to ACC opponent Syracuse.  Similarly, 2 of Lafayette’s 4 losses were to Arkansas and Kansas State.  These two neighboring schools have played 15 times, with Tulane winning 10 of the 15, although Lafayette won last year’s meeting, 41-13, in the only meeting since 2000.
Louisiana-Lafayette 28, Tulane 17.

College Football Picks for Week 9

We learned last week that this weekly post of mine, or others like it, are just simple predictions that can be wrong in a heartbeat.  But, in the spirit of the game, and in preparation for another big week of college football, those like me who think they can predict the future continue.  That being said, here are my picks for Week 9.

A college football game between Texas Tech and...

College football (File Photo) (Photo credit: Wikipedia/Public Domain)

Game of the Week:  #10 Texas Tech (7-0) at #15 Oklahoma (6-1). Texas Tech come into this game as a touchdown underdog, even though they are one of 10 remaining undefeated teams.  Oklahoma’s loss came to Texas in the Red River Rivalry, and they’ve had a couple of other upset scares as well.  The only games remotely close for Texas Tech were against TCU (which was an upset at the time), and the last 2 games against Iowa State and West Virginia, but they haven’t really been threatened.  That may change against the Sooners.  The last time Texas Tech was undefeated this late in the season, they lost to Oklahoma in 2008.  Then again, the last time the Red Raiders visited Norman, they left with an upset victory over the then 3rd-ranked Sooners.  Oklahoma won last year’s meeting, 41-20, but Texas Tech has changed dramatically since then.  Oklahoma’s biggest problem is offensive consistency, but I think when the bright lights are on, they will be able to put some points on the board.  The key matchup will be Texas Tech’s 2nd-ranked passing offense against Oklahoma’s top-ranked passing defense.  I expect a high-scoring game, and I give the edge to the home team, in a close game late.  Oklahoma 48, Texas Tech 45.


Big Game Guarantee:  #21 South Carolina (5-2) at #5 Missouri (7-0). Missouri is a 3-point home favorite, which is usually the odds-makers way of saying the teams are even (and giving the home team a very slight edge).  The main difference in the two teams is that Missouri has outscored the Gamecocks by almost 12 points per game, while the defenses are almost even and the Tigers have outgained the Gamecocks by only a slight margin in both the rushing and passing categories.  One stat the Missouri defense does have an advantage in is sacks, with 23, which leads the SEC.  That may very well come into play against South Carolina’s offensive line, which has struggled at times, and backup QB Dylan Thompson, who will play due to Connor Shaw’s knee injury.  That’s a big blow, as Shaw had perhaps the best game of his career last year against Missouri in a 31-10 win.  Then again, this is a much better Missouri team.  A backup QB will also be playing for Missouri, with Maty Mauk making his second career start due to James Franklin’s shoulder injury.  He led the Tigers last week on 8 scoring drives (even though 5 of those resulted in just a field goal) in his first career start.  The last two times Missouri was undefeated this late in the year, they lost two in a row coming off big wins the week before.  If that happens, I don’t believe it will be this week.  If Missouri can win, they will almost guarantee, barring an unforeseen upset, the SEC East division title.  Missouri 31, South Carolina 21.

Another Big Game Guarantee:  Penn State (4-2) at #4 Ohio State (7-0). The Buckeyes come into this conference matchup with the Nittany Lions undefeated, but feeling underappreciated by the media.  They probably have the most to prove out of the major national title contenders, if they want to play in Pasadena on January 6, as the result of a down year in the Big Ten and some close calls that threatened their unbeaten record.  Yet, Urban Meyer still hasn’t lost a game at Ohio State as head coach (19-0).  This week, they play a pretty big game against Penn State, who upset Michigan two weeks ago, and had a bye last week, giving them an extra week to prepare for a trip to The Horseshoe.  Penn State’s losses are to UCF and Indiana.  While the UCF loss doesn’t look as bad as the season continues, the Indiana loss, which was by 20 points, is certainly a head-scratcher.  Freshman QB Christian Hackenberg has played superbly for the Lions, particularly in the win over Michigan in 4OT.  Penn State has only won 2 of the last 5 meetings in this series, but both of those wins were in Columbus, including their first win after the firing of Joe Paterno in November 2011.  The winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat in Big Ten Leaders divisional race.  In the end, although Penn State has a good team, and I like what Bill O’Brien is doing there, I think with all that Ohio State needs to prove, and with the media saying they need to start demolishing opponents to have a shot at the title, they will shine on a national stage in a primetime game on network TV.  Ohio State 34, Penn State 24.

Upset of the Week:  #6 Stanford (6-1) at #25 Oregon State (6-1).  Stanford has won 3 straight in this series, and they are 4-point road favorites.  Neither team is undefeated, although both probably feel they should be.  Stanford lost 2 weeks ago to unranked Utah, 27-21, in a game in which they had a good chance to score in the final seconds, but failed to do so.  Oregon State’s loss was in a very odd, high-scoring game on the season’s opening weekend against FCS powerhouse Eastern Washington.  Since then, they’ve reeled off 6 straight wins, including an overtime victory against that Utah team that beat Stanford.  After their loss, Stanford won a top-15 showdown against UCLA last week, 24-10, moving themselves back into the top 10 in the polls, and ranking 6th in the BCS.  I believe this will be a good game regardless, and I believe the Beavers win for a couple of reasons.  Stanford struggled against Utah, which has an average offense and an average passing attack.  Oregon State, however, has the 9th most points per game in the nation, and the nation’s top-ranked passing offense, led by Sean Mannion, who leads the nation in TD passes, and is threatening to break into the Heisman conversation.  Secondly, Stanford won a big, in-state rivalry game against a top-10 team last week when they beat UCLA, and their next game after the Beavers will be a Thursday night showdown with Oregon on November 7.  This schedule allows the Oregon State game to look light, compared to the Bruins and the Ducks, even though the Beavers are in the top 25 in the BCS (although they’re just short of being ranked in the polls).  Oregon State also has the crowd working in their favor, which is often a factor in upset bids.  Oregon State 45, Stanford 38.

Closer Than The Experts Think: #12 UCLA (5-1) at #3 Oregon (7-0).  This was an easy pick for this category because Oregon is favored by 23 points against a pretty good and hungry UCLA team.  For perspective, that’s the same spread as the Miami-Wake Forest matchup.  While Oregon is 3rd in the BCS and 2nd in both polls, UCLA won’t roll over too easy, coming off a 24-10 loss to Stanford last week.  These two teams haven’t played since the 2011 Pac-12 Championship Game, which Oregon won 49-31.  UCLA has improved vastly since then, however, with the addition of coach Jim Mora Jr., and the emergence of QB Brett Hundley.  ESPN showed a graphic this afternoon showing how even these two teams are offensively, in terms of plays run per game, how many seconds they average in between plays, etc.  The only stat that jumped out as a real advantage for Oregon was turnover margin, as the Ducks are at +13 and the Bruins are at +3.  One stat I’ve discovered, however, points out a bigger difference in the two teams, and it’s a very simple stat:  points per game.  Oregon averages 57.6, while the Bruins average just 39.8.  Both sides have good defenses, so I don’t think there will be quite that much scoring, but these offenses will certainly have their highlights.  I don’t see UCLA threatening Oregon, but I do think they beat the spread.  Oregon 42, UCLA 24.