October 19, 2011

WeIs Roundtable Week 8 Picks: Putting the Unbeatens to the Test Edition

An outstanding week for college football fans.  Intriguing matchups all around.  No reason to dally - let's get right to the picks.

Wisconsin (-7.5) @ Michigan State
Dan: Wisconsin (-7.5)
I am actually surprised this score isn’t a little higher. I know MSU’s defense has been dominant, excepting their trip to South Bend. However, in this match-up, I think Wisconsin will be able to run on MSU and I just don’t think the Spartans can keep up on offense. 
Wisconsin 38 Michigan State 24
Jeremy: Wisconsin (-7.5) Lock of the Week
Interesting test for the Badgers.  Their first real road game, and MSU is coming off the nice win over Michigan.  Probably a bit of a letdown here for Sparty, though their solid front seven should keep them in the game until late.  Will be interesting to see if Dantonio punishes Gholston at all this weekend.  I'm not going to hold my breath on that one.  Wilson and Wisco eventually wear down MSU and pull away in the final frame.
Wisconsin 34  MSU 20
Jimmy: Wisconsin (-7.5)  Lock of the Week
An electric night game atmosphere looking to sacrifice the blood of Bucky Badger is a tempting upset pick.  I watched most of the Spartans game against Michigan and their defense looked impressive in selling out to stop Denard.  They blitzed with reckless abandon and committed penalties with even more recklessness.  But that outcome didn’t surprise me at all.  Michigan was ripe to be beaten.  Wisconsin, I’m afraid, is not.  
The offensive balance and talent at all positions is a distinct difference from UM’s one-trick pony.  Provided Nick Toon is back on the field, the receiving corps is very underrated and know how to get open for Russell Wilson.  Wilson is the real deal prospect, capable of hurting you with his arm, legs and now hands.  The Thunder & Lightning backfield of Ball and White can wear down the Spartans by themselves.  People are getting a little overzealous anointing MSU’s defense as dominant.  Lest we forget, ND scored 31 on this vaunted unit.  I’ll be quite surprised if they hold Wisconsin under 30.
Wisconsin 38  MSU 24
Mike: Michigan State (+7.5)
Perhaps I have been underrating Wisconsin all year, but I still refuse to believe that the Badgers are an elite team.  While Wisconsin has steamrolled all of its opponents this year and its offense looks legitimate, I wonder whether its defense will hold up to a quality offensive attack.  Even though Michigan State’s offense has not been overly impressive, they showed signs of recapturing their ability to run the football last week against Michigan and I expect a similar performance this week, coupled with an improved effort by Kirk Cousins.  The Spartans will move the ball effectively, slow Wisconsin’s offense more than any of the Badgers’ prior opponents and ride the wave of home emotion for another big win.
Michigan State 33 Wisconsin 31
Phil: Michigan St (+7.5)  Lock of the Week
Could this be considered the first TRUE test for the Badgers? Nebraska is not as good as advertisement, and while I do not think MSU is that great, they did beat Michigan, although the game was closer than the final score lets on. While I think Russell Wilson gets it done and Whisky marches on to an undefeated season and a 3rd place finish, I think this game will be a close one, and MSU will play tough. 
Wisconsin 28 Michigan St 24
Oklahoma State (-7) @ Missouri
Dan: Missouri (+7)
My general gambling strategy this year has been stick with the big favorites and ride them to a big pay day. Stanford, LSU, and Alabama are a combined 18-2 against the spread this year. Other undefeated teams like Boise State, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Clemson also have performed well against the spread. Oklahoma State, however, does not give me the same confidence as those other teams. Missouri is a mundane 3-3, but those three losses are an OT loss @ ASU,  @OU, and @KState by a touchdown. This is a tough call for me, but I think the Cowboys may be due for a stumble, and an 11:00 am start on the road may be just the formula. Cowboys are too good to lose to Missouri, but a sneaky cover may lie in the Tigers’ future. 
Oklahoma State 23 Missouri 17
Jeremy: Oklahoma St (-7)
Oklahoma St. has taken care of business the last few weeks, setting the table for one of the bigger Bedlam games in the history of the series in a few weeks.  But they've got to go on the road to Mizzou this week, and the Tigers will be looking to play spoiler.  I do think the Cowboys are looking ahead a bit, but they find a way to win on the road in the 4th quarter and cover the TD.
Oklahoma St. 37  Missouri 27
Jimmy: Oklahoma State (-7)
This shouldn’t be just another blowout romp for the Cowboys.  Missouri might be the best 3 loss team in the country, with 3 tough road losses to a top 25 Arizona State team (37-30), the nation’s  surprise undefeated Kansas State (24-17) and Oklahoma (38-28).  James Franklin is getting comfortable in his role, spreading the love around to multiple weapons, and Kendial Lawrence is back from injury to make the backfield doubly potent.  Add in the pressure/opportunity of a job interview type game with the SEC reviewing Mizzou’s conference application.  A win would go a long ways toward convincing Mike Slive to name them the 14th SEC school (and 3rd Tigers mascot in the conference - maybe they’d force them to pick another animal to add some variety to the mascot zoo.  The Missouri Moose has a nice ring to it.  Or Mastadons.  Don’t think any school has picked the Chameleons.  Herbie Hancock could even compose a new fight song [if you're a fan of the 80's, you'll love this clip - dig the honky saxaphonist in the Hammer pants, and the pony-tailed fade haircut on the guy playing the drum sticks.  I think that's all he's playing.  Doesn't look the band trusted him with a full drum kit].  Digressing, I know...me and my mascots). 
While there’s plenty of reasons to predict a students-dangling-from-the-uprights moment (is it me or have there been significantly fewer rushing of the fields so far this season?), I still like Oklahoma State to win comfortably.  Their win in Austin last week spoke volumes for their team composure in a tight game.  And they’ve covered the spread their last 5 games.  While I don’t think Mike Gundy runs the table, Stillwater’s streak lives on another week.
Oklahoma State 44  Missouri 34
Mike: Missouri (+7)
In my worst season of prognosticating in about a decade, I continue to cling stubbornly to the idea that Oklahoma State will eventually stub its toe and fall back to the middle of the top 25.  Obviously, I have been wrong in the last few weeks, but, rather than take my medicine and quit while I’m behind, I will call for Missouri to upset the Cowboys.  The Tigers have the talent to beat Oklahoma State, especially if they are able to rely upon their strong running game to keep Weeden and Blackmon off the field.  Missouri will control the clock and slow the Pokes just enough to score the outright upset in Columbia.
Missouri 35 Oklahoma State 31
Phil: Oklahoma State (-7)
Not sure about Missouri this year. They seem to be always competitive, and pull a big upset each year a la OU last year. However, I do know about Weeden and Blackmon and I am quite a fan of the Cowboys. Even a tough away game cannot keep the pokes from marching on to Bedlam unscathed. 
OK St 41 Missouri 31
Washington (+20) @ Stanford
Dan: Washington (+20)
Washington’s defense has not performed well this year. Stanford can certainly score enough points to cover by 20 points. Whether or not they will comes down to the Cardinal defense vs. Cougar offense. This is the first threatening offense Stanford is encountering this year. While the defense has performed very well against some lesser teams (allowing 8.2 ppg) this year, it will have its hands full this weekend with young Keith Price, who is 2nd in the nation in TD passes. Luck will get his points, but Price and the Huskies score enough for the cover and deliver Stanford its first loss ATS.
Stanford 44 Washington 27
Jeremy: Washington (+20)
I think Sark is quietly building something solid up there in on the banks of Lake Washington, and I'll have an eye on the score of this one during the ND game on Saturday.  Luck is obviously outstanding, but the Cardinal haven't really been tested much yet, and I'd expect Sark and the Huskies to pull out all the stops to give Stanford their best shot.  It isn't enough, but the Cardinal get a bit of a wake-up call.
Stanford 30  Washington 17
Jimmy: Washington (+20)
Though they’re a combined 11-1, neither team has really beaten anyone of merit.  While Stanford’s defense has yet to surrender 20 points, this Huskies offense will be the best they’ve faced.  Stanford seems due for a little scare.  A close thriller might even help Luck’s Heisman candidacy, both in numbers and attention.  The Cardinal hold on, but this seems like too many points.
Stanford 46  Washington 38
Mike: Washington (+20)
Further proving that Jake Locker might have been the most overrated player in the history of college football, his replacement, Keith Price, is putting up better numbers in his first year as a starter than Locker put up in his senior season.  Washington also boasts a strong running game with Chris Polk, Jesse Callier and true freshman Bishop Sankey, who decommitted from Wazzu last year.  Of course, Washington’s defense, led by the embattled defensive coordinator Nick Holt, is still shaky, which could mean another huge performance for Andrew Luck.  The Huskies will score enough to cover the spread, but they will not keep pace with Luck and the Cardinal offense in Palo Alto.
Stanford 45 Washington 28  
Phil: Stanford (-20)
Lots of points on the line here, but Stanford is at home, and Washington is not that good. On to the next one.
Stanford 40 Washington 14
LSU (-22.5) @ Auburn
Dan: Auburn (+22.5)
That spread is pretty tough to stomach. In prior years, I could not have imagined this spread, let alone imagined taking the favorite. LSU has been absolutely dominant with a margin of victory of 29 points in their last 4 (WVU, UK, UF, UT). But I can’t bring myself to take a 22.5 favorite against the defending national champions. LSU will still dominate the game, but Auburn does enough to get the cover.
LSU 31 Auburn 16
Jeremy: LSU (-22.5)
Sorry Dr. Phil, but after watching most of last week's Auburn-Florida game, I don't have any confidence that the War Eagle will be able to score any points on that ferocious LSU defense.  LSU runs away in the 2nd half.
LSU 31  Auburn 3
Jimmy: Auburn (+22.5)
The Tiger Bowl has become appointment television the last few years with 6 of the last 7 contests decided by a touchdown or less.  Not surprisingly, at least one team has been ranked in the top 10 in all of those games, as is the case this year.  LSU keeps looking scary good while Auburn keeps us guessing which team will show up.  What we do know is Auburn has a punishing running attack led my Michael Dyer, which can bleed the clock and keep this a tight contest.  LSU might stack 10 in the box to see if Clint Moseley can beat them in his first start.  This pick respects the history of the rivalry more than anything.

LSU 19  Auburn 14
Mike: Auburn (+22.5)
As with Oklahoma State, I continue to pick against LSU every week and I continue to get burned.  Still, I just cannot accept that LSU, with its pedestrian offense, will keep winning by huge margins every week.  Auburn’s offense has devolved into a train wreck over the last few games, so the LSU defense should be more than capable of dominating again.  On the other hand, the Auburn defense has improved enough to keep this game close enough to earn the cover.
LSU 27 Auburn 10
Phil: Auburn (+22.5)
On to the marquee matchup of the weekend. Auburn, coming off another horrendous offensive performance (is Malzahn really getting 1.3 million this year?!?), finds themselves an underdog by more than 3 TDs. If this isn't bulletin board material for the fightin' Chiziks, then I don't know what is. 
Let's discuss the positives. Going back about 15 years, Auburn wins most of the day games, LSU wins most of the night games. This game is the 2:30 CBS game. Auburn traditionally plays LSU close. Our defense, and especially our D Line has shown vast improvement over the past 3 games, and we have made tackles and gotten pressure on the QB. LSU is not a well oiled machine on offense and they run a more conservative game plan, different from the pass-happy Razorbacks, who shredded us. 
Here are the negatives. LSU has a crazy amazing defense and Auburn is breaking a first time starter in a QB. Baton Rouge will be jumpin' for this game, as no one has forgotten what Cam did to the corn dogs last year. 
Call me an idealist but I see alot of things that could make this game competitive. I can also see Auburn keeping it close early, but due to our inability to move the ball, a Tyrann Mathieu fumble return for a TD blows the game wide open and LSU wins going away. Either way, I refuse to believe that the mighty War Eagles will approach this game laying down and I hope that Mean Gene and Gus have a little something cooked up. #WDE
Auburn 20 LSU 16
Bonus Picks
Dan: New Mexico @ TCU (-41)
New Mexico just lost at Nevada 49-7. TCU is better than Nevada by a fair amount. This may be the largest spread I will ever have money on the favorite. 
TCU 54 New Mexico 10
Jeremy: Ohio (-14) at Akron
I've wanted to bet against the Zips ever since Week 1 and keep forgetting about it.  Any team that looks as poor as Akron did against the Buckeyes has to be absolutely miserable.  In looking over their scores, they have been a little friskier lately, but I'd consider making the Zips my go-to pick the rest of the year.
Ohio 28  Akron 10
Jimmy: Indiana @ Iowa (-21.5)
IU wishes they could start Gunner Kiel now.  They stink.  Confident the home team can blow off some steam and cover this reasonably placed spread.  Vegas shouldn't put any team with a pulse within 30 of the Hoosiers.  

Iowa 48  Indiana 13
Mike: Wake Forest (-3) over Duke
Wake Forest took a step back last week against Virginia Tech, but they are still far superior to Duke.  Despite playing in front of 15,000 rabid fans in Wallace Wade Stadium (query- do the students have a nickname for football like the “Cameron Crazies” for basketball?  The Wallace Wade Wildmen?  The Dub Dub Deranged?  The Duke Kooks?), the Deacs should be able to handle their Tobacco Road rivals with relative ease.
Wake Forest 35 Duke 24 
Phil: Georgia Tech @ Miami (-2)
I anticipated Tech would be the favorite here, and it would be easy money, but alas, Vegas proves again how smart they are. GT was exposed to some degree last week, with their first L of the season and Miami seems to be hitting thier stride. Like what Al Golden is doing, and I think the Canes can pull of the W.
Miami 24 GT 17
Last Week
Dan: 4-1 (+ Lock of the Week)
Jeremy: 4-1 (+)
Jimmy: 2-3 (-)
Mike: 2-3 (+)
Phil: 2-3 (+)
Season To Date
Dan: 27-13 (6-1) 
Jeremy: 25-15-1 (4-3)
Jimmy: 23-15-3 (6-1)
Mike: 19-21-1 (3-3-1)
Phil: 17-22-1 (4-2-1)


Dan said...

Whoops, forgot my lock of the week. I'll take Wisconsin.

Mike said...

So did I. I'll take Sparty.

Dan said...

That just makes me feel better.