A Deeper Look - Scouting The Mid-Majors (Free Picks Inside)
by Strike Point Sports - 09/12/2007
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Back by popular demand, this season it will be a bit different. Each week we'll delve into some of college football's smaller conferences and focus and breakdown more obscure match-up that are off the radar for most beyond the Top 25. Here's what we have going on this week:
Wake Forest -21 vs. Army - Saturday, 3:30 pm EST
What a difference a year makes. Last season nothing could go wrong for the Deacons, and now they are looking at a 0-2 start and more time without starting quarterback Riley Skinner. Wake Forest's sophomore signal caller remains out indefinitely with a separated shoulder.
While backup Brett Hodges is more than serviceable, he showed his turnover-prone decision making, and that was one of the main reasons for their loss at home to ranked Nebraska last weekend.
Fortunately Wake stays home to host minnow Army, and this is a good spot for not only their first win of 2007 but to also get back to a season ago with their good mark against the number.
The Deacons are laying three touchdowns, and while some hesitancy should arise with less than stellar offensive production, this Wake Forest defense is still extremely tough. Army will have problems finding points in this one, and it could be safe to say that a shutout could be the result.
Prediction: Wake Forest 34, Army 6
Arkansas State -3 vs. SMU - Saturday, 7 pm EST
One of the better non-conference mid-major clashes in Week 3, the Indians of the Sun Belt host a feisty SMU team. Arkansas State in Week 1 played Top 10 Texas extremely tough and did well to easily stay within their large underdog number. This time around they are installed as a field goal favorite at home, and with the better defensive unit you have to like what you see in ASU.
Southern Methodist, on the other hand, likes to play up-tempo and the higher the score, the more likely they will come out on top. Sophomore dual threat quarterback Justin Willis leads the charge offensively for the Mustangs. The one problem with this team is they lack playmakers around him, so we often see him trying to do too much and carry the load unnecessarily. That was the case in Week 1 in Lubbock, and here too we might be seeing the road representative from C-USA chasing throughout this game.
Arkansas State will establish the run game with top tailback Reggie Arnold, while signal caller Corey Leonard also possesses the ability to run and throw at his own leisure. The Indians' defense forced two interceptions off Colt McCoy in their opener in Austin, and against a more inconsistent passer in Willis, more turnovers will be the case.
Prediction: Arkansas State 27, SMU 23
Washington State -26 vs. Idaho - Saturday, 10 pm EST
One of the more underrated offenses can be found in Pullman, Wash., and these Cougars could be a sleeper in the Pac-10. Washington State is coming off a home thrashing of San Diego State, and they should be able to make it two straight covers in their non-conference slate.
Idaho surprisingly kept things fairly close with No.1 USC in Los Angeles during Week 1, but against a Cougars team that will show no relaxing or overlooking, expect a much larger margin of victory.
Senior quarterback Alex Brink is an unknown superstar and a definite NFL prospect. He has compiled over 600 yards and six scores in his first two games this season and more of the same is surely in line for this match-up.
Wazzou has hit at least 35 in five of the last six meetings with the Vandals. Last season they rang up 56 in a big-time blowout, and it wouldn't surprise me if we saw at least 40 on Saturday. The Cougars are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games versus the WAC. That number improves this weekend.
Prediction: Washington State 49, Idaho 13