We’ve made it to November and it feels like in a blur we already find ourselves in week 10 of the season. I’ve gone with a lower volume approach this year and the results have been very good. I’ve made 49 plays to this point and at 27-22, I’m hitting 55.10%. Will hope to keep the good times going this week, here’s what I’ve got…
Auburn (-4): This line has now dropped a few points from its open of 6 and that’s just fine with me. My number on this game is 7.5 and I’ll happily make a play at 4. The more I see of Texas A&M the less impressed I become. I’ll admit I was high on them early in the season but lately that opinion has changed. Aside from cupcake opponents all their wins have been close games and last week they were handled fairly easily by Mississippi State. In that game they only managed 293 total yards and were completely dominated in the 2nd half where the Bulldogs outscored them 21-3. The offense started hot and some of their overall numbers were bloated by games against Northwestern State and UL Monroe. In their last 5 games they’ve only averaged 21.2 points and the offensive is really starting to struggle. Things don’t figure to get any easier this week as they hit the road to face an Auburn team that’s rested after a bye last week. I’ll admit I’m a bit concerned about the status of Whitlow who is off a monster game where he ran for 170 yards against Ole Miss. He’s been practicing a bit so far this week but has been limited in what he’s been able to do. Obviously the hope is he improves in the next few days and is at least close to his normal self on Saturday. Stidham is by no means a star at QB but he’s reliable enough. He completes about 60% of his passes and has a 2:1 TD/INT ratio. Again, not amazing numbers by any stretch but he’s solid enough to run this offense and can make plays when they present themselves. The total in this game is only 49 which speaks to the kind of game we should get. I mentioned the problems A&M has had offensively of late and Auburn isn’t the kind of team built to hang 40 points on you. I won’t speculate as to why this line has dropped but the simple fact is I disagree with the movement. I think Auburn wins a 27-17 type of game.
Purdue (-2.5): Record wise Purdue might be the most misleading team in the country. To the casual fan you’ll see a 4-4 mark and probably not be very impressed. A deeper look however and you’ll see there’s plenty to like. We’ll start by looking at the losses. They started the season 0-3 with those 3 losses coming by a combined 8 points. Since then they really kicked it into high gear and have gone 4-1 including a massive 49-20 blowout win of then undefeated Ohio State. Also mixed in was a dominant 30-13 win against ranked Boston College and wins over Nebraska and Illinois by a combined score of 88-35. They slipped up last week at Michigan State but coming off the emotional high of that big win over Ohio State the week before it shouldn’t have been terribly surprising they couldn’t follow it up. Offensively this is an excellent team that’s very well balanced. Blough is completing 65% of his passes for nearly 300 yards per game and 13 TD’s with just 5 INT’s. On the ground Knox is the main guy but with Jones they also have a very solid backup. Combined those two are already over 1000 yards rushing with 10 TD’s and averaging over 6 yards per carry. On top of all that is Moore who is becoming one of the best WR’s in the conference. He’s averaging over 100 yards per game and has worked up a great chemistry with Blough. As far as Iowa goes they are a tough team to evaluate. They are 6-2 but the truth is they haven’t really beaten a good team yet this season. Their two toughest games (Wisconsin and Penn State) were both losses and to be frank about it there’s nothing terribly impressive on their resume. This will also be their fourth road game in the last month and you’ve got to wonder if fatigue is going to start playing more of a role against them. They aren’t an offense that really scares you and Purdue has quite a bit more fire power. Despite what the rankings and records say I rate Purdue as the better team here. Getting a chance to take them at home laying less than a FG is something I can’t pass on.
Florida Atlantic (+2.5): Here is another one where the records are a bit misleading. Florida International checks in with a 6-2 record while Florida Atlantic is only 3-5. Despite that I actually have Florida Atlantic rated as the better team. I don’t want to hold last weeks loss to Louisiana Tech against them too much because they played that game without Robison and to be polite about it his backup Peavey just isn’t very good. The running game was strong as the Owls ran for 227 yards but the pass game was nearly non existent and as a result the offense just couldn’t really get anything going. With Robison expected back at the helm this week that’s a big boost for the offense and the team as a whole. Robison isn’t great or anything but in my opinion he’s a very clear step (or two steps) up from what they get with Peavey. On the ground you know what you’re going to get though. Singletary is once again one of the best non power 5 RB’s in the nation and his backup Kerrith Whyte Jr even chips in 55 yards per game on over 6 yards per carry. That duo is averaging about 160 yards per game to go with 19 total TD’s. Simply put the Owls can run the hell out of the football and this week should be no exception. On the other side we have the 6-2 Golden Panthers who have padded that record against one of the softest schedules in the nation. All their offensive numbers are bloated and it’s been done against teams like U Mass, Arkansas Pine Bluff, Rice, Western Kentucky, etc. You have to take those numbers with multiple grains of salt as the level of opponent has just been so dreadful. In their two games against power 5 teams this year they’ve only averaged 257 yards of total offense. Now of course FAU isn’t a power 5 school but their talent level is much higher than most of the garbage FIU has faced this year. I think they can control this game on the ground and punch this FIU team right in the mouth. By my numbers this is a case of wrong team favored and I expect the Owls to win the game but I’ll take the 2.5 points mainly for the Kiffin factor. Lane is a lunatic and who the hell knows what kind of stuff he pulls on a week to week basis. Hopefully he won’t get in the way and mess this one up but I see the Owls winning something like 34-28.
LSU (+14.5): This is one of the more interesting games of not only this season, but in recent memory as far as I’m concerned. Alabama is sitting at #1 in the nation right now as not only the best team in the country this season, but in position to put themselves with some of the best teams in the history of college football. That said laying over 2 TD’s on the road against LSU is a bit much, in my opinion it’s about 5 points too much. My line in this game is Bama -9.5 so at 14.5 there’s no way I’m going to sit it out. I’m not going to sit here and try to come up with flaws that Alabama has or try to act like they aren’t an elite team. That’s a waste of time and would be insulting to you guys for me to try and run a “Bama really isn’t that good” spin job. They are excellent and we’ll just get that out of the way right now. LSU however is pretty damn good in their own right. They are 7-1 this season and ranked #3 in the first college football playoff rankings. Their only loss came on the road against Florida in a game where they actually had a 19-14 lead with about 8 minutes to go. Offensively they won’t do anything that wows you but Burrow despite underwhelming stats is actually a very smart QB who runs this offense very well. One thing he’s great at that doesn’t show up in the box scores is getting his team in to good plays and out of bad ones. He knows the game very well and his ability to check in and out of plays is huge for this team. His stats won’t show you that, but trust me when I tell you this guy is more valuable than you think. He also adds the element of being able to use his legs and run for yards when the need arises. As a team they run for nearly 200 yards per game and you’ve gotta assume that’s going to be a massive part of the game plan this week. Run the ball, keep the clock moving, and keep that high powered Alabama offense off the field as much as possible. I said I won’t knock Bama in this write up, and I won’t… what I will say is this is going to be by far their toughest test of the regular season. This is going to be the toughest team they play and the harshest environment to do it in. If they come out here and steamroll the Tigers I’ll tip my cap and really start to consider them among the greatest teams in the history of the sport. I’ve got too much respect for this Tigers team, their home field, and the overall atmosphere in the building to pass on taking 14.5 points though.
Hawaii (+20): For those who have been following picks this year you know I’ve been fading the hell out of Hawaii lately. I’ve had plays against them the last 3 weeks and won them all very easily. Now however at Utah State comes to town I think we have a big time buy low, sell high situation. Utah State comes into this one on a 7 game win streak and they’ve now worked their way into the top 20 in the polls. This is a damn good team and I don’t want to take anything away from them at all. They’ve not only been winning but they’ve been beating the hell out of teams and they deserve credit for that. That said to now hit the road, fly across the pacific, and then lay 20 to Hawaii seems like a bit much. On the Hawaii side it’s about as good of a buy low that you could ask for. I mentioned those last 3 games where they’ve lost by a combined score of 139-65 and now is where we are seeing some over-reaction. Hawaii wasn’t as good as people thought they were when they started the season 3-0, and now they aren’t as bad as people seem to think they are as they’ve hit the skids. This line opened at 17 and now is up to 20 and given the current form of each team that isn’t all that surprising. My number in this game is only 14 so I had some value on Hawaii even at the opening number of 17, now that it’s up to 20 that value obviously has only grown. This Hawaii team has their warts but at the end of the day we can’t ignore a team where the QB is throwing for 315 yards per game with 30 TD’s and 4 INT’s. McDonald also rushes for about 40 yards a game and he’s going to be a handful for Utah State to deal with. The Rainbow Warriors are going to get theirs, they’ll move the ball, they’ll score points, and I think we see a max effort kind of showing with a now ranked team coming to town. I don’t think they’ll win the game or anything but I do expect to hang around throughout. We most likely see a shootout and I’ll predict something along the lines of a 45-31 Utah State win.
Florida Atlantic (+2.5)