College Football Weekly Predictions: Week 6
by Alan Matthews - 10/8/2009
After sitting at 6-6 through five weeks, I took a different tack last weekend and went with three favorites. And it worked pretty well, as I had a 2-1 week, making it 8-7 on the year and up $100 again. We whiffed badly on Florida State -3.5 at Boston College. I honestly can't figure out the Seminoles, who have a ton of talent but obviously aren't being coached very well. We hit on Michigan State giving three points at home to Michigan - that game wasn't close until the final minutes, with Tate Forcier rallying the Wolverines and sending the game in OT. But State managed to intercept Forcier and score a TD - you know how much of a gift that is? A team scoring a TD when all it needs is a field goal in overtime to win? I will take it. And lastly, Southern Cal exposed California as a fraud, easily covering the 4.5 points the Trojans were giving.
Let's try to make it back-to-back winning weeks:
Alabama at Mississippi, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Current line: Alabama -4.5. This got as high as seven points during the week.
Who the public likes: Despite the huge move toward Ole Miss, the public is all over the Tide, currently at approximately 81 percent. When the line first opened, more than 40 percent were on the Rebels, but that has nosedived.
History shows this will be close, as the past four in the series (all Tide wins) have been decided by four points or less. But I don't see it. The Tide are incredibly balanced. They have the nation's No. 2 defense (leading the SEC in sacks) and No. 14 offense. Greg McElroy will be the best quarterback on the field Saturday, at least if you go by this year's stats - he's No. 6 in the nation in efficiency. One-time Heisman candidate Jevan Snead has regressed, barely completing more than 50 percent of his passes and having two games with multiple inceptions. Certainly Ole Miss is no slouch on defense, ranking in the Top 20 in the nation in points and total yards. But how do you stop Bama? It averages 228.2 yards rushing and 234.6 passing. Pick your poison! The Tide's 25 touchdowns share the lead in the SEC with high-powered Auburn. Oh, and Alabama leads the SEC in time of possession. Mississippi, which has dropped four SEC openers in a row, has seen no one near this talented, while Alabama has (Virginia Tech).
Take Alabama and give the points.
Houston at Mississippi State, Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
Current line: Mississippi State -2.5. Whoa Nellie! This line opened with Houston as a three-point favorite.
Who the public likes: Now it's 66 percent on Houston, but when the line opened with the Cougars -3, nearly 75 percent of the public jumped on the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State might be the best 2-3 team in the country. Its three losses have been to currently ranked teams Auburn, LSU and Georgia Tech. In fact, MSU's schedule is the toughest in the country this season. Houston fell out of the rankings after giving up 581 yards in a 58-41 loss to UTEP last week - that killed any BCS bowl dreams. But I don't see any way that the Bulldogs can slow the Cougars, who lead the nation in total offense behind QB Case Keenum. Auburn scored 49 on MSU, and that sounds about right for Houston in this one. Can the Bulldogs approach even 35 points on an admittedly bad Houston defense? Not enough weapons to do that. What MSU will do is try for ball control, as it is ranked No. 22 in the country in rushing and Houston is near the bottom in stopping the run after allowing 305 to UTEP last week.
Take Houston and the points.
Wisconsin at Ohio State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Current line: Ohio State -16.5. This actually opened at 14.5 and dropped to 13.5 almost immediately before dropping all the way to 16.5 on Tuesday.
Who the public likes: Approximately 71 percent are on the Badgers. OSU got about 40 percent of the action briefly.
Let me say right away that I believe Wisconsin is probably the most overrated of the 13 teams entering this week who were still unbeaten. But I don't think the Badgers are 16.5 points worse than Ohio State. Wisconsin has scored at least 31 points in the last four games and has won 27 straight outings when posting at least 30 points. Well, they won't score 30 this week. Wisconsin can throw the ball with first-year starter Scott Tolzien ranking second in the Big Ten in passing efficiency, but the Badgers are still a running team, averaging 217.2 rushing yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry. That will certainly be tested against an Ohio State rush defense that is No. 10 in the country and has allowed just 37.6 yards per game in the past three. But OSU doesn't really have the offensive weapons to put up the 31 points or so it would take to win by the spread.
Take Wisconsin and the points.
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