NCAA Football Predictions: Week 6 Opening Line Report and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 9/29/2014
OK, lesson learned now. I am done thinking Michigan's players have any heart or pride. Yet again the Wolverines bit me in Week 5 as UM inexplicably lost at home to Minnesota. I said that Brady Hoke was going to be fired last week after a loss to Utah, but now I am 100 percent sure of it. About the only way he could save his job is winning out, and that's just not going to happen. I did hit on UCLA covering at Arizona State as Brett Hundley did play. Also on Arkansas covering against Texas A&M. Actually thought the Hogs had a good shot to win outright, and they should have -- blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead -- but fell 35-28 in overtime. Here are some games and opening lines in Week 6 that caught my eye.
Arizona at No. 2 Oregon (-22.5): Could the Ducks perhaps overlook the Wildcats a bit with a big one next week against UCLA? I don't think so. Not with Arizona at 4-0 -- still regret firing Rich Rodriguez, Michigan? Also, Arizona stomped No. 5 Oregon 42-16 in Tucson last year to end the Ducks' Pac-12 Championship Game and national title hopes. Oregon's Marcus Mariota had 308 yards, two TDs and two picks in that one, and I expect even bigger numbers this year as Arizona isn't very good defensively. The Cats can score with just about everyone, however. They have an exciting freshman QB in Anu Solomon. He beat Cal in Arizona's last game on a 47-yard Hail Mary, the play of the season thus far. The Cats scored 36 fourth-quarter points in that one. The pick: Like the points here.
San Diego State at Fresno State (pick'em): I love those pick'em games , and this Friday matchup is the only one on the board. Fresno State isn't half as good as last season when the Bulldogs had Derek Carr. FSU does enter off easy wins over Southern Utah and New Mexico, but those aren't exactly powerhouse programs. Meanwhile, SDSU's two wins are over Northern Arizona and UNLV. Not too exciting. This will be the 1,000th game in Fresno State program history. FSU has won both games vs. SDSU in Mountain West play. The Bulldogs rallied from a 20-7 hole two years ago to win 52-40 and did so last year 35-28 in overtime thanks in part to blocking a SDSU field goal attempt at the end of regulation. The pick: Fresno.
Kansas at West Virginia (-24.5): The Jayhawks play their first game since firing Coach Charlie Weis -- who now will be paid by KU and Notre Dame to do nothing -- on Sunday. He is the first coach fired from a Power 5 team. That came in the wake of a 23-0 loss to Texas. Weis was 6-22 at Kansas and won one of 19 conference games. That was last year against WVU. Weis is supposed to be an offensive guru, but Kansas is last in the Big 12 in scoring yet again at 15.3 ppg. It's not an easy place to win at because obviously basketball comes first, but Mark Mangino proved you can. Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen will take over as interim head coach. If I'm Kansas I am calling Mack Brown, although there have been reports linking Brown to the SMU job. The pick: West Virginia.
No. 3 Alabama at No. 11 Ole Miss (+6.5): Is this the biggest game in school history for Ole Miss? I don't really know a heck of lot of football history at Mississippi, but it certainly has to be the biggest there in my lifetime. It's where ESPN GameDay will be. The Rebels avoided a monster upset on Saturday when they clearly overlooked Memphis. Ole Miss led just 7-3 entering the fourth quarter before scoring 17 more. The Rebels rank No. 3 nationally in points allowed at 8.5 per game. Alabama is No. 9 at 14.0, but the Tide have played much better competition (West Virginia, Florida) than Ole Miss has. Bama has won 10 straight in this series. The pick: Get this before it jumps to 7 or 7.5. Lean Alabama.
No. 14 Stanford at No. 9 Notre Dame (+1): Have to say this line surprised me. I thought the Irish would be favored by a few points. Maybe they will be by kickoff. We should find out if Notre Dame is for real as the Irish haven't beaten anyone of note yet (sorry, Michigan is no longer of note). The Heisman chances of QB Everett Golson will get a major boost if he has a monster game against the excellent Cardinal defense. Stanford ranks No. 1 nationally in points allowed and should be unbeaten, but the Cardinal kept making mistakes in their close loss to USC on Sept. 6. The pick: Irish.
No. 4 Oklahoma at No. 25 TCU (+4.5): TCU looks back to form after a couple of down seasons following a move to the Big 12. The Frogs have allowed 21 total points in three games after routing SMU 56-0 on Saturday, the most lopsided win in that Dallas-Fort Worth rivalry. This might be the only game that Oklahoma has a great chance of losing because Texas clearly isn't any good, and Baylor and Oklahoma State have to visit Norman. OU's only other road games remaining are at Iowa State and Texas Tech, and the Sooners should win those easily. TCU nearly won at Oklahoma last year, falling 20-17. The pick: TCU.
No. 15 LSU at No. 5 Auburn (-8): It appears there will be a new starting quarterback for LSU as freshman Brandon Harris has overtaken sophomore Anthony Jennings. In Saturday's blowout of New Mexico State, Jennings struggled and was pulled early. On the day, Jennings completed two of five passes for 11 yards and no TDs while turning the ball over three times on two interceptions and a fumble. Harris led LSU to seven touchdowns in seven drives and 429 yards of total offense in about two quarters of work. LSU handed Auburn its only regular-season loss of 2013. I personally think Auburn is a bit overrated. The pick: LSU.
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