"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Friday, October 13, 2017

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK SEVEN PREDICTIONS

Last Week:      23 - 4    85.2%
Overall:         138 - 29  82.6%

It was another good week, and it would have been better if I hadn't been foolish enough to think Texas A&M and Arkansas could pull upsets. There are no games involving pairs of ranked teams, but there are plenty of close intra-conference match-ups. I'll need some good fortune to keep my average over 80% for the season. I've grouped the games by kickoff times so readers have more information on when to tune into their favorite teams.

Friday:

6:30 pm CDT:

(2) Clemson (6 - 0) 34 @ Syracuse (3 - 3) 17 : The Carrier Dome in Syracuse can be one of the most difficult places for visiting teams to play. Last season, an eventual 4 - 8 Orange team upset Virginia Tech. Clemson is playing far better than the Hokies did last year, but it can still be a tough place to win. I'll stick with the favorites, even though Syracuse has hung in there in losses to LSU and NC State.

9:30 pm CDT

(8) Washington State (6 - 0) 31 @ California (3 - 3) 20: Washington State appears to have a complete football team, an anomaly under Mike Leach, generally considered an offensive minded head coach. The Cougars' defense is pretty good and quarterback Luke Falk is playing as well as any signal caller in the country. Cal has exceeded expectations, but they'll need to bring their best effort of the season to challenge Washington State.

Saturday:

11:00 am CDT:

(6) TCU (5 - 0) 27 @ Kansas State (3 -2) 13: With Oklahoma and and Oklahoma State already suffering conferences losses, it's important for the Big 12 that TCU keeps winning. Ir's going to be difficult for the conference to get a team into the playoffs given the way Alabama, Clemson, Penn State, Washington and Washington State are playing in the other Power Five leagues. As far as this game goes, Kansas State is not as good as their mediocre record, and TCU is every bit as good as their undefeated status.

(17) Michigan (4 - 1) 23 @ Indiana (3 - 2) 16: Indiana was over-matched in their lopsided losses to Ohio State and Penn State. Until Michigan's loss to Michigan State last week, the Wolverines were considered in the same class as those other Big Ten East teams. The big difference between Michigan and the other two teams mentioned above is that they aren't as explosive, giving Indiana a fighting chance in this game. If Michigan has a hang over from last week, this one could be close.

(20) NC State (5 - 1) 34 @ Pittsburgh (2 - 4) 20: NC State is looking to go victoriously into their bye week before a big games on the road at Notre Dame and at home against Clemson that most likely will be for the ACC Atlantic crown. After a big Thursday night win against Louisville, the Wolfpack needs to guard against a letdown. Fortunately for them, Pittsburgh is in a down year and NC State should be able to take care of business on the road.

(24) Texas Tech (4 - 1) 27 @ West Virginia (3 - 2) 30: This is one of the more interesting games in a week where there are no match-ups between ranked teams. West Virginia's two losses are to top fifteen teams by the identical score of 31 - 24. I don't believe Texas Tech is in the same class as TCU and Virginia Tech, so I'm giving the Mountaineers the edge at home.

Florida State (1 - 3) 27 @ Duke (4 - 2) 10: Florida State is coming off a difficult, last second loss to Miami, giving them three losses to the number one, eleven and twentieth ranked teams in the country. Duke is nowhere near that class, so I believe the talent of the Seminoles, especially on defense, will enable them to win the game as long as they can get over the loss to the Hurricanes.

BYU (1 - 5) 17 @ Mississippi State (3 - 2) 37: This a good opportunity for Mississippi State to bounce back after consecutive road losses to top ten Georgia and Auburn. BYU is not very good, especially offensively and will be challenged to stay in this game into the second half.

South Carolina (4 - 2) 27 @ Tennessee (3 - 2) 23: Until Arkansas served up pick sixes to South Carolina like a father lobbing pitches to his kid, the Gamecocks were struggling in losing two of three games and the win was by a point against Louisiana Tech. Tennessee is on a similar path after getting drilled by Georgia in their last game and barely beating a bad UMass team the week before. This is one of the more difficult picks of the week, especially because Tennessee will start a new quarterback. I have to go with momentum: Good for South Carolina, bad for the Vols.

2:30 pm CDT:

Purdue (3 - 2) 17 @ (7) Wisconsin (5 - 0) 24: Purdue is improved, but it will take quite an effort for the Boilermakers to upend the Badgers. Wisconsin, given a schedule that includes neither Penn State nor Ohio State and a home games against Iowa and Michigan, might have the best chance of any Big Ten team to make the playoffs. They appear to be headed to a 9 - 0 record when they face Iowa on Nov. 11, but this is college football and you only have to look at last week to see teams that lost their focus and get upset.

(10) Auburn (5 - 1) 30 @ LSU (4 - 2) 21: In a battle of the Tigers, one will leave Death Valley Saturday afternoon with a loss. LSU beat Florida by virtue of a missed Gator extra point and they'll need the same type of good fortune to get past Auburn. The visitors will put a lot more pressure on the LSU defense than Florida is capable of generating. I just don't think LSU can keep up.

Georgia Tech (3 - 1) 23 @ (11) Miami (4 - 0) 30: After a big win that broke a seven game losing streak to Florida State, Miami hosts the most difficult team in the ACC to defend. But the Hurricanes are on the rise and playing at home after getting a big monkey off their back. It's difficult to tell how good a team that Georgia Tech has, as their victories are against an FCS team and a couple that are winless  in the ACC. Generally, I'd give the Yellow Jackets a chance, but the 41 points they gave up to a mediocre Tennessee team in week one bothers me.

(12) Oklahoma (4 - 1) 24 vs. Texas (3 - 2) 27 (Dallas, TX): This is a compelling game. We have an Oklahoma team that beat Ohio State, then struggled against winless Baylor and lost last week to Iowa State. The Sooners still control their own destiny in the Big 12, but they're currently looking up at Texas in the standings and will probably need run the table to have a shot at the playoffs. I believe Texas' opening game against Maryland was an anomaly and it looks like first year Longhorn coach Tom Herman has the team headed in the right direction.

Baylor (0 - 5) 20 @ (14) Oklahoma State (4 - 1) 37: Unlike their in-state rivals at Oklahoma, the Cowboys have little margin for error and need other teams to lose for them to make it to the conference title game and keep playoff hopes alive. Baylor is actually making some improvements, but I look for Oklahoma State to come out strong.

Virginia (4 - 1) 27 @ North Carolina (1 - 5) 24: It's been quite a turnaround for both of these teams. This is a regional rivalry between elite public colleges. Virginia has already doubled their win total from a season ago and North Carolina has struggled all year. I think the Cavaliers are just a better football team than the Heels and should make things pretty miserable in Chapel Hill. It doesn't get any easier for Carolina, as they travel to Va. Tech and host Miami in the next two weeks.

Northwestern (2 - 3) 27 @ Maryland (3 - 2) 31: Maryland seems to be on rise and need a win this weekend to have a shot another bowl. The bad news is that the Terps play Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State down the stretch. Northwestern has been a little disappointing and a loss would put a real dent into their postseason hopes.

2:45 pm CDT:

(25) Navy (5 - 0) 31 @ Memphis (4 - 1) 34:Not that Navy isn't a pretty good team, but I'm having a hard time understanding the Middies sneaking into the top 25. Their schedule is pretty pedestrian and they've given up a lot of points. Memphis has a quality win over UCLA and can really light up a scoreboard. I'll take the Tigers to come through.

6:00 pm CDT:

East Carolina (1 - 5) 10 @ (22) UCF (4 - 0) 44: There's no question, despite being ranked twenty-second, that UCF might be the most underrated or under-recognized team in the country. They haven't been challenged, but they've only played four games due to hurricane postponements and cancellations. East Carolina has one of the worst FBS defenses, so this could get ugly very early.

Texas A&M (4 - 2) 27 @ Florida (3 - 2) 24:Most teams struggle the week after playing Alabama, and Texas A&M was in a tough one with the Tide last week. But Florida also faced defeat at home and I like the Aggies to put a lot of pressure on Florida's defense. Offensively, the Gators have a hard time moving the ball, so I'm going against the grain and predicting an A&M victory.

6:15 pm CDT:

Arkansas (2 - 3) 17 @ (1) Alabama (6 - 0) 38: Last week's game against South Carolina was a dumpster fire for the Razorbacks. Quarterback Austin Allen looked uncomfortable and made some questionable decisions. I don't see how they can recover enough to challenge the nation's top team. The unit that is generally considered head coach Bret Bielema's forte, the offensive line, is just not performing well. That makes it difficult to run the ball and totally takes the play action pass off the table. Alabama is about as tough as they've been in recent memory.

6:30 pm CDT:

Missouri (1 - 4) 10 @ (4) Georgia (6 - 0) 38: This is one of the biggest mismatches of the week. Georgia is on a roll and Missouri is trying to rebuild. The Bulldogs are on a collision course with Alabama for a potential meeting in the SEC championship game. After pounding Tennessee, Georgia probably only has to take care of Florida in Jacksonville in a couple of weeks to solidify the SEC East title.

(9) Ohio State (5 - 1) 30 @ Nebraska (3 - 3) 13: I would dearly love for Nebraska to upset the Buckeyes, but I just don't believe if the 'Huskers have enough firepower to stay with Ohio State, which is averaging almost 52 points a game in their five wins. The main problem with Nebraska is an offense that hasn't been able to keep up with their opponents. I don't see it happening in this one unless Ohio State self destructs.

Cincinnati (2 - 4) 17 @ (18) South Florida (5 - 0) 41: I could argue that South Florida deserves a higher ranking than their current eighteenth spot, but the playoff committee will have plenty to say about that in another week. The Bulls have rolled through their schedule thus far, but the schedule hasn't been all that challenging. It stays the same this week, but their signature games coming up will pit them against Houston and UCF. That final game will most likely be for the AAC East crown.

7:00 pm CDT:

Utah (4 - 1) 23 @ (13) USC (5 - 1) 30: Utah took a tough, close loss at home to Stanford last week and I think this game will be similar, but with more scoring. Despite a 5 - 1 record, USC can struggle against good defenses. However, the Trojans are clicking on offense and by the end of the season, that loss to Washington State might look very good. My concern is Utah's ability to put points on the board against top, Pac-12 defenses.

(21) Michigan State (4 - 1) 27 @ Minnesota (3 - 2) 13: Can the Spartans consolidate their wins over Iowa and Michigan? No one was giving them much of a chance in the Big Ten East before the season began. They have a loss to Notre Dame, but the Irish are showing themselves to be a very good team. Minnesota will really need to step up offensively against a stout Michigan State defense. I don't see it happening.

8:00 pm CDT:

UCLA (3 - 2) 31 @ Arizona (3 - 2) 27: Arizona hosts the Bruins in what is probably a very big game for coach Rich Rodriguez's future in Tuscon. Both teams are coming off wins over Colorado and UCLA was off last week. This should be a good, competitive game that can go either way, but I'm going to give the edge to the visitors.

9:30 pm CDT:

Boise State (3 - 2) 21 @ (19) San Diego State (6 - 0) 27: San Diego State is trying to run the table and stay in the running for the Group of Five's New Year's Day bowl bid. Boise State is in a bit of a down year and they won't be able to stay with a battle-tested Aztec squad. They'll need some breaks and I'm tempted to go with the Broncos in an upset, but I'll stick with the favorites.

9:45 pm CDT:

(5) Washington (6 - 0) 37 @ Arizona State (2 - 3) 24: If Washington State continues to win, the Apple Bowl on Nov. 25 will most likely be for the Pac-12 North championship. It appears that Todd Graham, head coach at Arizona State will need a couple of miracles to stay on in Tempe. I don't see this as one of them. Washington is balanced and plays well on both sides of the ball. Is it time for Graham to head off into desert sunset? Likely.

10:00 pm CDT:

Oregon (4 - 2) 27 @ (23) Stanford (4 - 2) 31: Willie Taggart has Oregon playing much better than a season ago and the future looks bright, but they lost their starting quarterback and Stanford has rebounded from a couple of early losses. Stanford's defense will be able to control Oregon's explosiveness and Bryce Love should give the Cardinal plenty of yardage on the ground.

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Saturday, October 7, 2017

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK SIX PREDICTIONS

I had a good week, getting almost 90% correct in Week 5. I'm going out on a couple of limbs today, going against conventional wisdom to pick some upsets. 

Last Week:     24 - 3   88.9%
Overall:      115 - 25   82.4%

Thursday: (from my appearance Thursday on Lou in the Morning)

(17) Louisville (4 - 1) 31 @ (24) NC State (4 - 1) 34: This has turned out to be a very compelling game. With a victory over Florida State a couple of weeks ago, NC State has injected itself into the ACC Atlantic division title race. The Wolfpack has a good defense and enough offensive power to take advantage of Louisville's less than average defense. This will be a difficult environment for the Cardinals and I look for the Wolfpack to come away with the win.

Friday:

Boise State (2 - 2) 24 @ BYU (1 - 4) 20: BYU just can't seem to generate any consistent offense this season, but Boise hasn't exactly been a point producing machine. Virginia exposed some  big weaknesses of the Boise defense, but I don't believe BYU has the weapons to take advantage of it. Even though this game is in Utah, I expect Boise State to come out on top in what could be a low scoring affair.

Saturday:

Wake Forest (4 - 1) 14 @ (2) Clemson (5 - 0) 30:Wake Forest may have the most unfortunate scheduling in the ACC, with consecutive games against Florida State, at Clemson, at Georgia Tech, Louisville and at Notre Dame. The Deacs are a good team, but they'll be over matched against a Clemson team that might be the best in the country...again. The Tigers dominated a pretty good Virginia Tech team in Blacksburg a week ago and just have too many athletes for Wake Forest.

Iowa State (2 - 2) 13 @ (3) Oklahoma (4 - 0) 34: After a week off, Oklahoma begins to get to the meat of its conference schedule, but not until next week. The Sooners should have little trouble with the Cyclones, as long as they don't start looking ahead to next week's showdown with an improving Texas team.

(4) Penn State (5 - 0) 37 @ Northwestern (2 - 2) 20: Penn State has the most dynamic player in college football in Saquon Barkley, with 960 yards from scrimmage.Northwestern just doesn't have the horses to compete with the Nittany Lions.

(5) Georgia (5 - 0) 31 @ Vanderbilt (3 - 2) 16: Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has his Bulldogs on a roll and playing at a high level. Georgia is in a great position to enter their rivalry game against Florida in a couple of weeks with a 7 - 0 record. Vanderbilt is decent, but it'll take some breaks for them to have a chance in this one.

Ole Miss (2 - 2) 17 @ (12) Auburn (4 - 1) 37: Ole Miss was exposed against Alabama last week and Auburn just continues to rack up victories. The SEC West is very competitive as usual and with Auburn's only loss coming against Clemson, we can't underestimate the chances of the Tigers to contend for the division title.

(23) West Virginia (3 - 1) 23 @ (8) TCU (4 - 0) 27: West Virginia can really generate offense, but TCU shut down Oklahoma State and will  probably do the same to the Mountaineers. However, if this turns into a track meet, TCU could be vulnerable. I don't see that happening as the Horned Frogs appear to be on a collision course with Oklahoma on November 11.

(13) Miami (3 - 0) 26 @ Florida State (2 -1) 23: Miami has lost seven straight to their in-state rivals. This game has produced some of the greatest drama in the history of college football. Florida State won a tough one last week at Wake Forest, but I still haven't seen enough from backup quarterback James Blackman to indicate he can lead his team to victory against a top 15 team. It looks like Miami will break the drought.

(21) Notre Dame (4 - 1) 34 @ North Carolina (1 - 4) 20: Notre Dame has injected themselves in the national conversation, especially since their remaining schedule allows for some more quality wins. North Carolina is in rebuild mode and seems in a bit of disarray. Don't be surprised if the Irish are in the playoff mix if they keep finding ways to win. Their one-point loss to Georgia will continue to be more impressive as the Bulldogs chalk up impressive wins.


LSU (3 - 2) 23 @ (21) Florida (3 - 1) 21: Florida has been extremely fortunate this season, and LSU has not looked good at all. But something tells me the Troy loss may give the Tigers a wake-up call to try to salvage their season. I'm not sold on the Gators and think LSU just has too much talent to remain dormant.

Maryland (3 - 1) 20 @ (10) Ohio State (4 - 1) 37: Ohio State needs to be on guard, but Maryland's porous defense gives the Buckeyes a chance to score some points. For Ohio State to get back to the playoffs, they can't afford another loss, and I think they'll take care of business.

Oregon State (1 - 4) 17 @ (10) USC (4 - 1) 44: Oregon State is one of the weakest Power Five teams and it will give USC a chance to rebound from their loss to Washington State. Look for the Trojans to try to get some style points with big win over the Beavers.

(1) Alabama (5 - 0) 30 @ Texas A&M (4 - 1) 31: I've maintained from the start of the season that I didn't think Alabama would run the table this year. Despite drilling Ole Miss last week, the Tide have some defensive injuries and A&M has shown the ability to score points. I'm going out on a big limb and predicting that the Aggies pull a huge upset at home to throw a monkey wrench into the national picture.

(16) Virginia Tech (4 - 1) 34 @ Boston College (2 - 3) 17: The Hokies lost an emotional game to Clemson last week but still control their own destiny in the ACC Coastal. But to have a chance at returning to the ACC championship game, they have to collect themselves, head to Boston and take care of business against an improved but still over matched Eagles team. They should be able to get back on track, but the Hokies drop one of these apparently slam dunks every season.

Michigan State (3 - 1) 17 @ (7) Michigan (4 - 0) 27: Michigan State scored a surprising win over Iowa last week, but they face a daunting task to upend Michigan in the Big House. Even though Michigan's offense hasn't been particularly impressive so far, their defense has been stellar. I think State is a year away from contending in this one.

(9) Wisconsin (4 - 0) 30 @ Nebraska (3 - 2) 24: I'm not sure we can take much from Nebraska's victory over Illinois, but they seem to have gotten some things corrected that resulted in consecutive losses to Oregon and Northern Illinois. Wisconsin hasn't played any tough competition and struggled a bit against Northwestern last week. The Badgers need a better effort against the 'Huskers if they want to make a run at the playoffs.

(11) Washington State (5 - 0) 42 @ Oregon (4 - 1) 31: This will be the test that Washington State needs to pass to be taken seriously. After a tough season a year ago, Oregon has turned it around under new coach Willie Taggert. But the Ducks still have some defensive issues that Washington State will exploit.

(25) UCF (3 - 0) 37 @ Cincinnati (2 - 3) 17: UCF, due to Hurricane Irma, had two games cancelled and another one rescheduled. They've gone largely unnoticed and overshadowed by their fellow AAC foe South Florida. But the Knights are a good team and will put up some points on Cincinnati tonight.

Stanford (3 - 2) 30 @ (20) Utah (4 - 0) 20: After a rough start to the season, Stanford appears to be hitting stride, especially offensively. While Utah is undefeated, their schedule thus far has been pretty weak. I like Stanford to pound the ball with running back Bryce Love, who has turned out to be a very suitable replacement for Mr. Everything Christian McCaffery.

California (3 - 2) 21 @ (6) Washington (5 - 0) 34: Cal started 3 - 0 but now reality has set in. Washington needs to stay focused though, because the Bears are just good enough to cause them problems if they get some breaks.

(19) San Diego State (5 - 0) 40 @ UNLV (2 - 2) 16: San Diego State is in a race with South Florida to remain in the hunt for a New Year's Day bowl game. UNLV probably won't pose much of a problem for a team that has already beaten two Pac-12 teams.

Duke (4 - 1) 21 @ Virginia (3 - 1) 27: After a few years of fielding largely noncompetitive teams, Virginia stunned Boise State on the Broncos' home blue turf. Duke started 4 - 0, but looked pretty average against Miami last week. The Wahoo fans will be up for this one in Charlottesville, so I'll go with the Cavs to win.

Kansas State (3 - 1) 24 @ Texas (2 - 2) 27: I'm just not sold on Kansas State and their high school caliber non-cnference schedule. Texas is definitely on the rise and should be able to take care of the Wildcats today in Austin. If they don't, the Tom Heman era will be off to a pretty rocky start.

Illinois (2 - 2) 10 @ Iowa (3 - 2) 27: This game should look a lot like last week's Nebraska win over Illinois. Iowa was surprised by Michigan State a week ago, but they'll be able to contain Illinois and score enough points to win.

Minnesota (3 - 1) 24 @ Purdue (2 - 2) 30: This is a surprisingly tough pick, especially since Minnesota hasn't beaten a quality opponent. Purdue has played a couple of top 20 teams tough, so I'll take the Boilermakers to come out on top at home.

Arkansas (2 - 2) 27 @ South Carolina (3 - 2) 20: After an impressive start to the season, South Carolina has struggled the last three weeks. Arkansas looked pretty good in defeat against Texas A&M and then followed it up with a strong defensive performance in a win over New Mexico State last week. If the Hogs can get their running game going, they should be able to control the clock and make it difficult for South Carolina to put points on the board.

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.








Saturday, September 30, 2017

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK FIVE PREDICTIONS


Clemson visits Virginia Tech tonight in the highlight game of the day. There's only one other match-up of ranked teams today, but there are still plenty of compelling games on the schedule.

I took a bit of a beating last week, as a number of close games didn't go my way. I'm still over 80% on the season and look to make a comeback this week.

Last Week:  19 - 8    70.4%
Overall:       91 - 22  80.1%

Friday: (From a previous post)

(14) Miami (2 - 0) 23 @ Duke (4 - 0) 20: Duke has bounced back nicely from last season's four win campaign. The Blue Devils turned in a good defensive effort in a win against rival North Carolina last week, setting up a crucial Coastal division game with Miami. The Hurricanes took care of business against Toledo last week and I think they have a little too much for Duke, but this won't be as much of a slam dunk for Miami as many would think.

(5) USC (4 - 0) 30 @ (16) Washington State (4 - 0) 37: As I mentioned earlier, USC hasn't looked as sharp as a lot of people were expecting in some close wins, the last one a ten point win over surprising California. On my radio appearance this morning, I picked Washington State because I think their offense is clicking and the Cougar defense is playing well enough to keep USC off balance. Pullman can be a tough place to play, even more so on a Friday night.

Nebraska (2 - 2) 30 @ Illinois (2 - 1) 21:Nebraska is looking for a new athletic director, primarily because the football team has failed to deliver much success the last three seasons. His head coach hire, Mike Riley, has to be on a very hot seat. A loss at Illinois would probably make him a lame duck, so I look for the 'Huskers to be motivated to make a statement in Champagne. Illinois is improved, but they don't have the athletes to compete at a high level.

Saturday:

Northwestern (2 - 1) 16 @ (10) Wisconsin (3 - 0) 27: Despite being ranked in the top ten, Wisconsin is flying a bit under the radar in the Big Ten. Iowa showed last week that Penn State is beatable and Ohio State has already lost to Oklahoma, so don't count the Badgers out of the conference race. Northwestern has a loss to Duke and two wins over lesser opponents, so I look for Wisconsin to be able to get out of this one with a win.

(18) South Florida (4 - 0) 40 @ East Carolina (1 - 3) 23: After looking a bit shaky early in the season, South Florida appears to have righted the ship. East Carolina is still struggling to rebuild and it won't get much better today as the Bulls have a high-powered offense that will take advantage of a porous Pirates' defense.

Vanderbilt (3 - 1) 20 @ (21) Florida (2 - 1) 23: I'm still not sold on Florida, but at home against the Commodores they should be able to eke out another close win. The Gators have gotten just enough offense to support their good defense and I don't believe Vandy will have enough firepower to overcome Florida.

Indiana (2 -1) 17 @ (4) Penn State (4 - 0) 30: Penn State has perhaps the most electrifying player in college football this season, running back Saquon Barkley. He's already run for over 500 yards and is also a threat to out of the backfield to catch the ball. After getting out of Iowa City with a close win, the Nittany Lions should be able to stay undefeated.

(7) Georgia (4 - 0) 27 @ Tennessee (3 - 1) 20: Georgia was dominant against a pretty good Mississippi State team last week and will bring their physical play to Knoxville looking to make a statement in the SEC East. Tennessee is still trying to overcome a bad ending to their lone loss to Florida and can't afford another one if they want to stay in the division hunt. I don't like the Vols' inconsistent play and Georgia has been pretty steady.

Murray State (1 - 3) 13 @ (17) Louisville (3 - 1) 42: After their lopsided loss to Clemson a couple of weeks ago, Louisville's stock took a hit. Quarterback Lamar Jackson should be able to get back on track today ahead of a big game at NC State next week.

Miami, OH (2 - 2) 20 @ (22) Notre Dame (3 - 1) 31: The rest of Notre Dame's schedule is pretty challenging, so the Irish will need to take care of business against Miami, the first of two Miami's on their slate this season. Only a late field goal by Georgia has kept Notre Dame from being undefeated, so their appearance in the rankings is probably justified.

(24) Mississippi State (3 - 1) 23 @ (13) Auburn (3 - 1) 27: Mississippi State burst onto the scene with a beatdown of LSU a couple of weeks ago and then stunk it up at Georgia in their next game. Auburn's only loss was to what is clearly a great Clemson team. There is a lot of conversation about how the Tigers are under performing against weaker competition, but things change when the SEC games begin. I like Auburn's defense to hold serve in this one.

Troy (3 - 1) 17 @ (25) LSU (3 - 1) 30: LSU can't underestimate the Trojans. The Sun Belt isn't a bad conference and Troy is at or near the top of it. They'll have nothing to lose in trying to upset the Tigers, but I believe they'll come up short.

(11) Ohio State (3 - 1) 34 @ Rutgers (1 - 3) 10: Ohio State appears to have put the Oklahoma loss in the rear view mirror and the Buckeyes know it's possible to recover from an early non-conference loss and still contend for a national championship. They did just that after losing to Va. Tech the season they won the title. This one shouldn't be much of a problem for Ohio State.

(2) Clemson (4 - 0) 21 @ (12) Virginia Tech (4 - 0) 23: This is clearly the game of the day, if not the week. In a rematch of last year's ACC championship game, Clemson brings a daunting defense into Blacksburg against a freshman quarterback who has played surprisingly well this season. On "Lou in the Morning" Friday I picked the Tigers, stating that these two teams are very similar, but Clemson is better. My Hokie friends probably wouldn't forgive me if I didn't change course and go with Va. Tech to pull an upset at home.

(6) Washington (4 - 0) 38 @ Oregon State (1 - 3) 13: This one shouldn't be much of problem for Washington, even on the road. Oregon State is one of the weaker teams in the FBS.

(15) Oklahoma State (3 - 1) 41 @ Texas Tech (3 - 0) 30: Before the season started most people would not have guessed that Texas Tech would be the only undefeated team in this match-up. After starting the year so strongly, Oklahoma State was shut down by TCU's stout defense last week. Texas Tech doesn't present the same problems, but they can put up points in bunches.

Florida State (0 - 2) 27 @ Wake Forest (4 - 0) 24: This is perhaps the most surprising pair of records of teams facing each other this weekend. Florida State has had to battle Alabama, injuries and a hurricane to open the season. Back-up quarterback James Blackman didn't get the opportunity to play a game for a couple of weeks to get acclimated to the starting role and it showed in last week's loss to NC State. Wake has a tough defense but I believe the 'Noles will find a way to get a victory.

North Carolina (1 - 3) 24 @ Georgia Tech (2 - 1) 30: With Virginia Tech facing Clemson, Georgia Tech can get into a good early position in the ACC Coastal with a win. North Carolina has struggled against a surprisingly challenging early schedule and doesn't look to have enough to stay with the Yellow Jackets.

Syracuse (2 - 2)  24 @ NC State (3 - 1) 35: NC State stunned Florida State last week and now has a chance to contend in the ACC Atlantic. They'll need to guard against a letdown against a Syracuse team that they should be good enough to defeat.

Iowa (3 - 1) 27 @ Michigan State (2 - 1) 17: Iowa gave Penn State all they could handle last week and I look for them to get a big conference win on the road against a still rebuilding Spartan team. Defensively the Hawkeyes should be able to bottle up Michigan State's offense.

Maryland (2 - 1) 31 @ Minnesota (3 - 0) 37: It's difficult what to make of Minnesota since their wins have all come against less than stellar competition. Maryland defeated Texas to start the season, but was embarrassed by UCF last week. I'll take the home team in a tough pick.

Arizona State (2 - 2) 27 @ Stanford (2 - 2) 37: Stanford came to life last week against UCLA after a couple of disappointing performances, but they were both against what are now ranked opponents. I just don't think Arizona State's defense will be good enough to win this one.

Ole Miss (2 - 1) 16 @ (1) Alabama (4 - 0) 34: Ole Miss has won a couple of games they should have, but this is an entirely different challenge. I still think Alabama will lose one this season, but it won't be tonight.

Northern Illinois (2 - 1) 23 @ (19) San Diego State (4 - 0) 31: Northern Illinois has a win over Nebraska that resulted in a change at the Athletic Director position for the Cornhuskers. San Diego State, along with South Florida, are currently to cream of the Group of Five crop. I like what the Aztecs have done this season, with two wins over Pac-12 teams. 

Colorado (3 - 1) 31 @ UCLA (2 - 2) 37: I know UCLA has stumbled against Memphis and Stanford, but I have a feeling the Bruins will find a way to put it together at home against the Buffs. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen has been inconsistent, but my gut tells me he'll have a good game tonight.

California (3 - 1) 28 @ Oregon (3 - 1) 37: Both of these teams were impressive in starting 3 - 0, but Oregon stumbled at Arizona State last week and California was beaten by USC. I think Oregon is for real, Cal not so much.

South Carolina (3 - 1) 27 @ Texas A&M (3 - 1) 31: Texas A&M is an historic comeback from UCLA away from being in the national discussion. I think their explosive offense will be too much for a South Carolina team that has trouble generating the kind of offense needed to challenge the Aggies.

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Friday, September 29, 2017

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK FIVE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS PREDICTIONS

A couple of very interesting match-ups highlight the Friday night schedule in college football. Duke is off to a surprising 4 - 0 start, one of five ACC teams still to face defeat. That number will drop by at least two this weekend as Duke plays 2 - 0 Miami tonight and then big game on Saturday night between 4 - 0 Virginia Tech and Clemson. The second game tonight pits underwhelming USC traveling to Washington State in another clash of 4 - 0 Pac-12 teams.

I took a bit of a beating last week, as a number of close games didn't go my way. I'm still over 80% on the season and look to make a comeback this week.

Last Week:  19 - 8    70.4%
Overall:       91 - 22  80.1%

Friday:

(14) Miami (2 - 0) 23 @ Duke (4 - 0) 20: Duke has bounced back nicely from last season's four win campaign. The Blue Devils turned in a good defensive effort in a win against rival North Carolina last week, setting up a crucial Coastal division game with Miami. The Hurricanes took care of business against Toledo last week and I think they have a little too much for Duke, but this won't be as much of a slam dunk for Miami as many would think.

(5) USC (4 - 0) 30 @ (16) Washington State (4 - 0) 37: As I mentioned earlier, USC hasn't looked as sharp as a lot of people were expecting in some close wins, the last one a ten point win over surprising California. On my radio appearance this morning, I picked Washington State because I think their offense is clicking and the Cougar defense is playing well enough to keep USC off balance. Pullman can be a tough place to play, even more so on a Friday night.

Nebraska (2 - 2) 30 @ Illinois (2 - 1) 21:Nebraska is looking for a new athletic director, primarily because the football team has failed to deliver much success the last three seasons. His head coach hire, Mike Riley, has to be on a very hot seat. A loss at Illinois would probably make him a lame duck, so I look for the 'Huskers to be motivated to make a statement in Champagne. Illinois is improved, but they don't have the athletes to compete at a high level.

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.






Saturday, September 23, 2017

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK FOUR PREDICTIONS



Last Week:          21 – 5    80.7%
Overall:                72 – 14  83.7%

Thursday (From an earlier post):

Temple (2 – 1) 24 @ (21) South Florida (3 – 0) 34: South Florida finally looked like the team that they were expected to be prior to the season. I had thought Illinois might give the Bulls some problems, but Sough Florida’s offense is very good. Temple was the AAC champ last year, but it looks like the Bulls are the class of the league. There are still some pretty good teams in the league, like Memphis, Tulsa, Houston and Navy, so I still expect a battle for the title.

Friday (From an earlier post):

Virginia (2 – 1) 27 @ Boise State (2 – 1) 30: Virginia has already equaled their win total from last season, but a trip to Boise will put coach Mendenhall’s rebuilding process to the test. I believe the Cavaliers are better this year, but not improved enough to beat Boise State on the blue turf. The difference in this one will probably be Boise’s defense, which should be able to hold down Virginia’s offense enough for the Broncos to get the win.

Saturday

(23) Utah (3 – 0) 27 @ Arizona (2 – 1) 31: This is tough one to predict. In their two wins over inferior competition, Arizona has been able to put up over sixty points in each game, but against Houston they managed only sixteen. Can they generate enough offense against the Utes’ stingy defense to pull out a victory? I like Arizona’s offense better than Utah’s and I think their defenses aren’t all that far apart.

UNLV (1 – 1) 14 @ (10) Ohio State (1 – 1) 37: After getting dusted by Oklahoma a week ago, Ohio State needs to rebound against the Wolfpack. Quarterback J.T. Barrett didn’t look confident, but a lot of that might have been the way the Sooner defense played. I look for the Buckeyes to get their feet back under them.

NC State (2 – 1) 24 @ (12) Florida State (0 -1) 30: Florida State hasn’t played a game since losing to Alabama in the opener. With a new starting quarterback, this is a scary game for the ‘Noles. The Wolfpack’s opening week loss to South Carolina is looking better by the game as the Gamecocks keep reeling off wins. I still t think Florida State has too much talent to lose this one, but it could be a lot closer than people think.

Kent State 13 (1 – 2) @ (19) Louisville (2 – 1) 42: Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson was exposed a bit against a tenacious Clemson defense, but should regain his form against Kent State. Even with the loss, the Cardinals are still in the hunt for the ACC Atlantic crown. Kent State won’t offer much resistance, so it’s possible for Jackson to put up some big numbers and perhaps re-energize his campaign to  be the first player since Archie Griffin in the 70’s to win back to back Heismans.


Texas Tech (2 – 0) 37 @ Houston (2 – 0) 31: Texas Tech’s offense has been virtually unstoppable, while Houston has won primarily with their defense. This will be strength against strength, weakness against weakness. I like Tech in a shootout, but Houston can win if they find a way to exploit the porous Red Raider defense.

Texas A&M (2 – 1) 28 vs. Arkansas (1 – 1) 30 (Arlington, TX): Arkansas has yet to defeat Texas A&M in the six years the Aggies have been in the SEC. Unless Razorback quarterback Austin Allen and his receivers can get on the same page, that streak won’t end today. However, Arkansas’ 28 – 7 defeat was a lot closer than the score indicated, with two trips inside the five yielding no points and a defense that actually played pretty well. I’ll make a totally homer pick and predict the Hogs find a way to get it done this time while wearing replica uniforms of the Dallas Cowboys.



Old Dominion (2 – 1) 16 @ (13) Va. Tech (3 – 0) 34: This game has particular significance for me. As an alum of Va. Tech and having lived in the Tidewater, Virginia area, where Old Dominion is located, I’ve imagined this match-up for more several decades. Old Dominion didn’t add their football program until 2009, but with a decent stadium and a talent rich local area, it’s not surprising that the Monarchs have found bowl level success so quickly. The Hokies are coming off a second half beatdown of East Carolina, but need to be careful not to look ahead to next week’s much anticipated rematch with defending national champions Clemson. ESPN’s College Game Day has already announced plans to broadcast from Tech’s Lane Stadium for the game, which will be nationally televised by ABC. Va. Tech should have too much for the ODU, but past history suggests letdowns happen in college football, and these so-called trap games can be dangerous for the favorites.

 (1) Alabama (3 – 0) 23 @ Vanderbilt (3 – 0) 17: Vanderbilt throttled a decent Kansas State team last week, defeating the Wildcats 14 – 7 to move to an uncharacteristic 3 – 0  in advance of this week’s showdown with Alabama. If the Commodores can keep it close going into the fourth quarter, and defensively they’ve shown that it’s a possibility, Alabama might be forced to take some chance on offense. I still think the Tide has too much for Vanderbilt, but this one could be tight.

Boston College (1 – 2) 6 @ (2) Clemson (3 – 0) 38: Usually I would put Clemson on possible letdown alert following the big win at Louisville last week. But despite a bowl appearance last season that was fueled mainly by a pathetic non-conference schedule, BC just doesn’t have the players or the coaching to stay on the field with Clemson.

(5) USC (3 – 0)  27 @ California (3 – 0) 24: This is one of the more fascinating games of the weekend. Although USC is ranked fifth and stands at 3 – 0, they haven’t looked all that impressive. Their signature win so far was what appeared to be a throttling of another top ten team in Stanford. But the Cardinal lost last week to San Diego State and the Trojans needed overtime to beat Texas, so the jury is still out on how good this USC team is. Cal was picked by some publications to finish at or near the bottom of the Pac-12, but a big road win over North Carolina to start the season and then a home defeat of Ole Miss last week should definitely change that thinking. Although I’m tempted to take California, I’ll stick with conventional wisdom that suggests USC will do enough to win the game.

(16) TCU (3 – 0) 20 @ (6) Oklahoma State (3 – 0) 37: Oklahoma State routed Pittsburgh last week with a first half offensive explosion that the Panthers had no answer to. TCU is playing better defense this season, but they take a big step up in class today, as Mason Rudolph and his receiving corps poses the biggest challenge the Horned Frogs have faced in a long time. I think TCU can slow them down, but won’t be able to completely stop the Cowboys, while Oklahoma State’s defense is playing well enough to keep TCU from pulling the upset on the road.

Toledo (3 – 0) 31 @ (14) Miami (1 – 0) 34: Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a big proponent of the MAC (Mid-American Conference). While Toledo isn’t at the top of the league, they are near it and will pose problems for Miami, a team that hasn’t played since week one due to complications from Hurricane Irma. Toledo can score, so it will be interesting to see if the Hurricanes can keep up with a team that outscored a good Tulsa team 54 – 51 last week. I’m sticking with Miami, but it wouldn’t shock me to see Toledo pull off an upset.

(8) Michigan (3 – 0) 27 @ Purdue (2 – 1) 14: Purdue gave Louisville all they could handle in week one, but the Michigan defense presents a very different challenge. Although the Boilermakers are improved and Michigan didn’t look sharp last week against Air Force, the Wolverines should have enough on both sides of the ball to come away with the win.

Nevada (0 – 3) 24 @ (18) Washington State (3 – 0) 41: This will be a breather for the Cougars, but they need one before they face a difficult Pac-12 schedule, including hosting USC next week.

(3) Oklahoma (3 – 0) 45 @ Baylor (0 – 3) 17: Things are a mess in Waco and I don’t see much chance for Baylor to give Oklahoma much of a game. It’s still early in the season, but the annual season-ending Bedlam game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State is looming as a huge one in college football. Unfortunately, the Big 12 might have out thought themselves, because the Big 12 has reinstated a championship game, which means that if the Sooners and Cowboys split hose games, the conference could be left out of the playoffs…again!

(17) Mississippi State (3 – 0) 24 @ (11) Georgia (3 – 0) 27: This is a very compelling game, especially after Mississippi State drilled LSU last week. If this game was at Starkville, Mississippi I’d definitely go with the home team. But Mississippi State is a little different team on the road, so I’ll stick with the home Bulldogs to win behind their defense.

(22) San Diego State (3 – 0) 30 @ Air Force (1 – 1) 21: We’ll see how good San Diego State is today as they head to Colorado Springs to play an Air Force team that hung tough with Michigan last week. I believe they are very good and might make a deep run at a New Year’s Day Bowl game.

Syracuse (2 – 1) 20 @ (25) LSU (2 – 1) 27: LSU looked bad in a lot of ways in their loss to Mississippi State and will need to do a lot to redeem themselves at home against an overmatched Syracuse team. Another loss wouldn’t be tolerated in Baton Rouge and put pressure on first year head coach Ed Orgeron. The Tigers were outplayed and outcoached last week and need to make significant improvement to challenge in the SEC West.

(4) Penn State (3 – 0) 27 @ Iowa (3 – 0) 17: If Penn State is going to contend in the Big Ten, they need to find a way to win in Ames against a pretty good team. Despite the identical records, Penn State has a lot more offensive firepower and a defense about as good as the Hawkeyes. I’ll be watching this one, but it looks like the Nittany Lions have the edge.

(15) Auburn (2 – 1) 30 @ Missouri (1 – 2) 13: Auburn hasn’t looked impressive, but they won’t need to be to beat Missouri. It might also be a good opportunity for head coach Gus Malzahn to get his offense moving as they head into the meat of the SEC schedule.

(20) Florida (1 – 1) 16 @ Kentucky (3 – 0) 24: I’m not impressed with Florida who got just plain lucky against Tennessee last week. Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops has Kentucky playing well. I think this one is as easy an upset pick I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m not alone.

(7) Washington (3 – 0) 31 @ Colorado (3 – 0) 20: This is a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 championship game. I don’t see much of a difference in the result, except it might be a closer game in Boulder. I think the difference will be the Washington offense, which has more explosiveness than the Buffs.

(24) Oregon (3 – 0) 45 @ Arizona State (1 – 2) 28: Oregon is looking like Oregon again and Arizona State is looking like, well, they’ll have a new coach in 2018. The Sun Devils are a mess on defense and the Ducks can light up the scoreboard.




Notre Dame (2 – 1) 27 @ Michigan State (2 – 0) 21: Notre Dame is a point from being undefeated. Depending on how Georgia finishes the season, that loss might not look so bad in December. Michigan State is rebuilding and I think the Irish are farther along that path.

UCLA (2 – 1) 37 @ Stanford (1 – 2): 27 Both of these teams suffered embarrassing defeats on the road to non-Power Five schools last week. Stanford seems to have dropped a notch defensively and I don’t see them having enough offense to stay in a track meet with UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.