As promised, we released our Big Ten Game of the Year last week. And while I still honestly believe that it was the right time to move on this game, we did not get the anticipated result we were looking for. Ohio State showed all the signs of putting on an offensive show against Purdue, but instead decided to take the week off.
I have always believed that Coach Urban Meyer is an offensive genius. And if you would have told me that the Buckeyes were only going to allow 22 points in this game, I would have already been in line to cash my ticket. The problem was flawed game plan that relied too heavily on the ability of quarterback Braxton Miller to run and scramble up and down the field. By the time Ohio State finally adjusted to the Boilermakers defensive scheme it was too late to score enough points to cover the 17-point spread. Give all the credit to the Buckeyes’ defense, which actually only gave up 13 points considering the kickoff returned for a touchdown and a safety.
I must admit that once it was obvious that Ohio State was not going to cover, I was hoping that the Boilermakers would hang on to win the game. They actually deserved to win after outplaying the Buckeyes in all three phases. The good news was that we were able to salvage the day by hitting three of our remaining four plays while also coming through on both our strong opinion plays. It is now time to turn the page to next week’s games in an effort to come back with an even better performance with our top college football picks.
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The Big Ten has reached a level of parity we have not witnessed in recent years. Just about any team can win any game in any location. Two teams that got off to rocky starts that are now playing their best ball of the year are Wisconsin and Penn State. The Badgers threw away a sure victory over Nebraska but bounced back with three-straight wins. None of the games were close, and Wisconsin covered in all three. The Badgers are now in excellent position to run the table with a strong showing against Michigan State this week. The Spartans won the last two meetings at home, but the Badgers will be poised for revenge come Saturday afternoon against a very weak Spartans’ offense.
The featured game in the Big Ten this week is Michigan vs. Nebraska with the Cornhuskers favored by 2.5-points at home. The Wolverines pounded Nebraska last season by a score of 45-17 in one of the more surprising results in the conference that year. This game is Michigan’s chance to move back onto the map after a poor showing nonconference play. Both teams feature a quarterback that can play well at this level but has no prospect of playing in the NFL. Whichever of the two takes care of the ball and manages the offense the best should be able lead his team to the win. Bo Pelini continues to look over his shoulder with a new athletic director in place that has strong ties to Wisconsin, so every loss from here on in will continue to erode his job security with the Cornhuskers.
All the attention in the college football world will be focused on Norman this Saturday night for the Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma game. The undefeated Fighting Irish have their sights set on the No.2 spot in the BCS rankings, but they will have to run the table to get there. I have little doubt that Bob Stoops will have his team ready for this game, as it is a chance for the Sooners to reverse their recent bad fortunes in big games. I would have been all over Oklahoma as a home favorite, but the oddsmakers have not done us any favors with a double-digit spread. That being said, this will be the first high-powered offense that Notre Dame has faced this season, and it is highly doubtful that the Irish will be able to completely shut it down. While I am confident that Oklahoma will be able to score points, I am much less confident that Notre Dame will be able to keep pace, especially with the shaky play of their quarterbacks.
Turning to the NFL, we also decided to release our 7-Unit Game of the Year, which was Detroit +6 over Chicago this past Monday night. This game ended as a “push” unless you were able the get the extra half point that many books were offering. Doc’s company policy states that all picks are graded at the line on Thursday night, and, thus, it will go into the books as a push. All that simply means that you can expect another 7-unit play down the road in the NFL, which we fully anticipate to be a big winner this time around.
The Lions played true to form but made a number of mistakes in the red zone that ended up costing them the game. No team can afford to turn the ball over three times, including twice inside the five-yard line. Even just one field goal out of any of those opportunities would have been enough to cover the spread. Detroit did a good job of putting pressure on Chicago to keep this a tight, low-scoring game. And while we would have loved to bring home a winner, a push is certainly better than a loss. All told, despite losing our Big Ten Game of the Year, we were able to keep our customers just about even with all of our other picks.
This win puts Chicago in the drivers seat in the NFC North at 5-1 and gives the Bears a game and a half buffer over Green Bay. The Packers simply need to keep winning games after a rough 2-3 start to keep the race close. With two home games against Jacksonville and Arizona coming up, they remain in good shape to move to 6-3. We expect both spreads to be hefty, but that may not deter us from laying the wood based on the team’s current form. There is a lot to like about the NFL card this week, and I would love to have you aboard for the ride since we have put up outstanding numbers this season in the pay-for-play league.
This is setting up as a big week all around as we will likely venture outside the Big Ten for many of our plays after going 2-0 and +9 Units on Florida and Louisiana Tech last week. There is still plenty of season left in both college and the pros, and we are just getting warmed up for one of our most productive months of the year when it comes to handicapping the games.
That’s it for this week,
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