College Football Week 15, NFL Week 14 Free Picks
SEC Championship Game, 4:00PM ET
Both Missouri and Auburn were predicted to finish near the bottom of their respective divisions in the SEC and yet both shocked the masses by meeting in the SEC title game. Even though this is an even matchup, all anyone can talk about is Auburn after the Tigers pulled off the upset over Alabama last Saturday. A very underrated Mizzou team isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Dorial Green-Beckham and L’Damian Washington create mismatch problems against Auburn’s smaller defensive backs, and Mizzou owns one of the most balanced offenses in the nation led by proficient QB James Franklin. On the other side, Auburn’s rushing attack has been a headache for opponents all season, which includes Alabama and its stout front seven last weekend. That said, Mizzou has an athletic front seven capable of stretching out Auburn’s ground attack and at least limiting its effect. Mizzou won’t be able to contain Auburn because nobody has. But if it can build a lead with its passing game and force Auburn to be somewhat one-dimensional, Mizzou will win this game. Mizzou is 4-0 against the spread in its last four conference games, 13-3-1 ATS in its last 17 games overall, and 7-1-1 ATS in its last nine games following an ATS win.
FREE PICK: MISSOURI +1
Big Ten Championship Game, 8:17PM ET
Based on Michigan State’s vastly underrated defense, many expect this game to be low-scoring. But Ohio State struggled with Michigan’s offense last week despite Devin Gardner’s regression all season. Yes, you can throw out the records when Ohio State and Michigan meet. Thus, it wasn’t shocking that the Wolverines hung with the Buckeyes on their home turf last week. But what was surprising is that Gardner put on a show and a Michigan offense that hadn’t been firing on all cylinders in over a month racked up 41 points on the Buckeyes. Despite Michigan State’s success this season defensively, Braxton Miller and that Ohio State offense will get theirs in the end. Granted, the Big Ten has only held two championship games in its existence. But both games sailed over the total as Wisconsin edged Michigan State 42-39 in 2011 and the Badgers thumped Nebraska 70-31 last year. Look for more fireworks on Saturday night at Lucas Oil.
FREE PICK: OVER 51.5
Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State, 12:00PM ET
The only reason this contest could wind up being close is because its a rivalry game and the Sooners’ defense should keep things interesting, at least at the start. But Oklahoma’s offense has been punchless in big games this season, unless you consider its 38-point outburst over an overrated Texas Tech team back in October. The Sooners could only muster 12 points versus Baylor in early November and scored 20 in a 36-20 loss to Texas in mid-October. If Oklahoma State’s offense is firing on all cylinders, this one should get ugly in the second half. The Cowboys are 6-0 against the spread in their last six conference games and 7-1 ATS in its last eight games following a straight up win of more than 20 points. Look for OK State to roll.
FREE PICK: OKLAHOMA STATE -10
Panthers vs. Saints, 8:30PM ET
The Saints were embarrassed in Seattle on Monday night so look for Sean Payton’s squad to come out fired up with first place in the NFC South up for grabs on Sunday night. Carolina’s defense is criminally underrated but New Orleans’ offense operates at another level at home compared to on the road. Payton is a more aggressive play-caller, Drew Brees is a more accurate passer, and the skill position players are usually unstoppable in their one-on-one matchups. The Saints are 21-6 against the spread in their last 27 home games and 13-3 ATS in their last 16 home games versus a team with a winning road record. The only reason the spread has been set as low as it has is because New Orleans played so poorly on a national stage last Monday. The Saints represent value.
FREE PICK: SAINTS -3
Posted in: College Football, NFL
Tags: Auburn Tigers, Carolina Panthers, college football free picks, Drew Brees, free picks, Missouri Tigers, New Orleans Saints, nfl free picks, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys
Oklahoma State should get a shot at the BCS title
Oklahoma State proved Saturday night that it, not Alabama, should be playing for the BCS national title against LSU.
The Cowboys thoroughly dominated their rival Oklahoma, which just so happened to be a top 10 team. Offense, defense, you name it, OSU dominated it. The win was the kind of performance we needed to see from a team in the one-loss pack, as someone needed to distance themselves from the others.
Well, it should be that way, anyway. I’m doubtful it will, however.
It was decided when Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State that Alabama and LSU would be playing each other again in the BCS title game, and nothing was going to change the voters minds to change that. Not even this blowout victory. It was well before the Iowa State/OSU game, however, that folks decided Alabama and LSU were the two best teams in the country, and many said it wasn’t even close.
That very well may be true. LSU’s schedule, which includes a neutral site win against Oregon and a road win against West Virginia, helps prove that it is undoubtedly the top team in the country this year. The Tigers are also the country’s only unbeaten team, which helps make things easy.
But Alabama’s best win is an overtime loss to LSU. Seriously. The Tide beat Arkansas, and did so handily, which was also a big win. Outside of that, the Tide have two wins against teams with winning records (Auburn and Penn State). Oklahoma State, meanwhile, has six wins against teams with winning records. Sure the Iowa State loss was bad, but it also came on the road and the day after Oklahoma State lost two women’s basketball coaches in a plane crash. It’s awful to use that as an excuse, but it’s certainly something to think about.
Beyond that, however, there’s also the fact that the BCS’ goal is to crown a national champion. They say the goal is to find the top two teams, but in reality, it’s to find the top one, and we already know that’s not Alabama. The Tide had their chance to knock off LSU, and had it at home, but couldn’t do it. In a college football world where big-time nonconference games are a rarity, we’ll never know who the best team is if we allow divisional rematches in the BCS title game. Especially when there are deserving teams, capable of beating other top 10 teams by more than 30, sitting out there, waiting for their opportunity.
Top 25 roundup: Oklahoma, LSU make statements
Yes, Texas is young. Yes, the Longhorns were overrated at No. 11 in the country. But the beating Oklahoma put on Texas today was one normally reserved for early-season patsies and not top-15 rivalry opponents.
I figured the Texas offense would struggle, and it did, managing just 10 points (one score came on a kick return) and turning the ball over five times. Freshman quarterback Case McCoy and David Ash combined to go 20-of-36 for 223 yards a touchdown and two interceptions. They had zero help from the run game, as it gained just 36 yards.
I did expect a bit more from the Texas defense, however, which was used and abused to the tune of 453 yards, most of it coming on the arm of Landry Jones (367 yards). All of these yards, and this game was well in hand at halftime.
As impressive as Oklahoma was, the one worry could be the run game, which gained just 86 yards. Texas’ run defense is certainly not as good as what the Sooners will see in a possible national title game against LSU or Alabama. They only had 19 carries, however, and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. Starting running back Dominique Whaley had 83 of those yards on 13 carries (6.4 ypc), so maybe I’m just looking for negatives in a game filled with positives.
This win, combined with the Florida State victory and a preseason No. 1 ranking, is normally good enough to be the consensus No. 1 team in the country. Not this year, however. Read the rest of this entry »
Big Ten title will be decided today (and probably by some computers tomorrow)
After Friday’s games, today might be a little anti-climactic, but there’s still plenty to be determined on college football’s more traditional day.
The Big Ten title is still up for grabs, with three teams — Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State — all tied at the top with one loss. If all three win, the BCS standings will decide who goes to the Rose Bowl. That will likely be Wisconsin, which has that edge going into today. If Wisconsin loses and the other two win, the BCS will again decide who goes to the Rose Bowl, as Ohio State and Michigan State did not play each other. It’s a problem the Big Ten will have solved next year when there’s a title game (two title contenders not playing each other, that is. As the Big 12 showed us two years ago, the BCS can still decide a divisional race if all hell breaks loose).
If Wisconsin wins, however, and either Ohio State or Michigan State lose, it will be a lot more clear cut. The Spartans get the bid with an Ohio State loss as they have the head-to-head edge over Wisconsin. The Badgers get it if Michigan State loses, because they hold that same edge over Ohio State.
So those are your scenarios (sure, there’s the “all three lose” scenario, as well, where Iowa is back in the mix, but I don’t want to force that upon you before noon). Here’s how it will play out. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in: College Football
Tags: Arkansas Razorbacks, BCS, Big Ten scenarios, Big Ten standings, LSU Tigers, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Northwestern Wildcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Penn State Nittany Lions, Wisconsin Badgers