Friday, October 2, 2015

Picks for the Week - Week 5

The week 4 slump

I'm not sure if the Week 4 slump is really a thing, but it was definitely for me.  I was doing great on my predictions until the 4th week when everything just went really sideways for me.

It started with another push with Memphis.  Memphis has a decent offense, but their pass defense was absolutely atrocious.  It was painful to watch as they rushed 3 and then left the receiver wide open despite the 8 players in the backfield.  I'm not sure what's wrong with their defense, but they need to figure it out.

I correctly called Mississippi State over Auburn.  State wasn't exactly blowing doors off, but their defense is improved under Manny Diaz as he kept Auburn from scoring an actual touchdown.

I however completely blew the BYU game.  Geez that was ugly.  I thought BYU would keep it close, but instead Michigan completely demolished them.  After watching Utah dismantle Oregon, it looks like Michigan might be a good team this year.

I also blew the Ole Miss game. I never felt like the game was in doubt, but it was definitely a poor showing by the Rebels.  Bad decisions, poor effort and a number of other factors let Vandy keep the game much closer than it should have been.  I hadn't anticipated that there would be such a let down after the Bama game, but I guess I should have.  Which brings me to the lesson of the week.

I tend to get lost in numbers and stats when trying to predict the outcomes of the games.  They are after all concrete and you would think the best indicator of future performance.  But despite all of the numbers at the end of the day it's a bunch of college kids playing the game and you have to keep the human factor in mind when looking at point spreads.

Could Ole Miss beat Vandy by 24 points?  Absolutely.  But will they? That's another story.  They were beat up pretty bad after Alabama and they had just given that game everything they had.  Coach Freeze is fond of Derrick Mason and doesn't necessarily want to put the smack down on him.  So maybe he calls a few more running plays or takes a few more risks instead of going for the throat.  All speculation, but I do know that he told the team he expected them to play flat in the locker room and he was correct.

So just because a team can beat another team by 42 points doesn't guarantee that's the outcome.  One of the biggest factors that will come into play this week is weather.  Weather always frustrates me because it's difficult to predict and it means researching yet another factor.  This Saturday it is expected to rain quite a bit thanks to Hurricane Joaquin. I saw somewhere that they expected 8 inches of rain in Athens Georgia.  Will this impact the game? Absolutely.  High flying offenses struggle in the rain with turnovers and dropped balls.  If you throw in the cold, it gets even worse.  For teams that like to run the ball, it can be a huge advantage.

So don't forget to check the weather in the area at the time of the game prior to making a decision.

Ok, so let's look at some games.

Normally I try and keep my predictions to teams I've seen play which usually means a lot of SEC games.  However, I have a bunch that I'm going to try this time that I've only seen summaries or clips.

1. Notre Dame +2.5 and Clemson.  I did watch half of the Clemson/Louisville game and quite honestly I'm not impressed.  Clemson hung on for dear life and won in the end, but it definitely wasn't a dominating performance.  Notre Dame is the underdog in this game which I find really interesting.  Most people assume that a home field advantage is worth 3 points so basically everyone is saying this is an even match.  Except I don't think so.  Clemson has no quality wins and the hardest opponent they have faced took them to the wire.  Notre Dame is a sizable step up from Louisville.  I think Notre Dame wins outright, but even if it's close you get the points.

2. Penn State -27 vs Army.  Army is not a very good team, but they typically manage to keep games close.  All the games they've lost were by a margin of 5 or less.  Penn State's largest win margin is 25 over Rutgers.  This is an appealing game no matter what, but here's what makes it my lock.  The weather.  It's expected that it'll be raining and about 48 degrees.  That's not fun football weather.  Could Penn State put up 27 on Army?  Maybe.  Will they when it's cold and miserable? Probably not.  I think this game is a 14 point difference.

3. Michigan State -21 vs Purdue.  Michigan State is really highly ranked and I'm no longer sure why.  MSU's quality win was over Oregon by 3.  But then Utah beat Oregon so badly that PETA was called on them and you have to start doubting Michigan State.  Oregon aside, Michigan State's largest win was against Central Michigan by 20.  Purdue made a game out of Bowling Green, but lost by 27 to Virginia Tech.  I think MSU is overrated and Purdue keeps this closer than 21.

4. Florida State -19.5 vs Wake Forest.  Similar to Penn State and Army, this game is going to be affected by weather. Even before the rain was projected, 19.5 points wasn't bad considering Wake Forest's largest loss is by 13 points to Syracuse. Throw in the rain and cold and I think we're looking at a low scoring close game.  I take Wake plus the points.

5. San Joes State +20 vs Auburn.  I'm not sure why people are still convinced Auburn is the same of yesteryear, but they're not.  They have a backup QB who is playing because the first one was so bad they had to switch him out.  Their defense has trouble with the run and the pass.  Yikes.  San Joes State is no power house, but you can bet they smell blood and a chance to upset a mighty SEC team.  I think this is another close game.  I'll take San Jose plus the points.

6.  East Carolina -5.5 vs SMU.  Now this is an interesting match up.  ECU has had some success beating Virginia Tech last week.  SMU has suffered some close losses and this seems like a total mismatch.  Except SMU can score.  They can score a lot.  I think SMU turns this into a shoot out and I don't think East Carolina can keep up.  I'll take SMU plus the points.

7. Texas +15 and TCU.  These Texas games are always interesting to me.  Texas vs Texas Tech vs Texas A&M vs Texas Christian and so on.  Each one is an intense rivalry in some weird way and you never really know.  I do know that Texas Tech almost won last week against a depleted TCU defense.  I think this is another close game if Texas doesn't win it outright.  I don't see TCU suddenly getting awesome at defense and beating Texas by more than 2 touchdowns.  Take Texas and the points.

That's a seven game parlay.  Other games that looked appealing, Bama +2 over Georgia.  Weather is going to be a factor in this game and I think it'll play to Bama's advantage.

Michigan -14.5 over Maryland.  I think Michigan is a much better team than I originally thought and I think they can definitely cover.  The question is do they have a let down game after destroying BYU.  If I had to pick, I'd pick Michigan.

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