"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.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 9 PICKS: CAN NOTRE DAME SURVIVE THE CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE?


This is the last weekend of games before the College Football Playoff committee meets on Monday. There’s a lot of football left but it will be interesting to see the mindset of the committee, especially when in it comes to strength of schedule. Unless Texas Tech knocks off Oklahoma State, I don’t think we’ll get much clarity in the Big 12. There aren’t any big games in the SEC West, but in the east Florida can solidify their position with a win over Georgia. Surprisingly, Notre Dame finds itself in a tough game at Temple, something no one would have predicted at the beginning of the season.
Thursday Night (from an earlier post):

Last Week: 16 - 6
Overall: 142 - 42

North Carolina (6 – 1) 27 @ (23) Pittsburgh (6 – 1) 24: This is a big game in the ACC Coastal, with the winner setting up a big date with Duke for a possible division-deciding game. Carolina has the Blue Devils next week and Pitt gets them the following Saturday. Pittsburgh’s defense has been great, but eventually the Panthers will be forced to score some points to pull out a big win. I like the Tar Heels to be able to run the ball tonight and come away with a huge victory.

West Virginia (3 – 3) 38 @ (5) TCU (7 – 0) 47: This one is likely to be a shootout, but it’s likely the Mountaineers won’t be able to contain TCU well enough to win. These teams are pretty even defensively, but the Horned Frogs have a lot more offensive weapons, especially against a pass defense ranked 77th in the nation.

Oregon (4 – 3) 34 @ Arizona State (4 – 3) 37: These teams are fairly evenly matched overall, but there are a couple of match-up issues, especially for Oregon. Arizona State can pass the ball, something that everyone has been able to do against the Ducks. Oregon would prefer to run, but the Sun Devils have been decent stopping teams on the ground. This is a virtual tossup, so I’ll go with the home team in a close, high scoring game that could even go into overtime.
Saturday:

(19) Ole Miss (6 – 2) 34 @ Auburn (4 – 3) 24: Auburn didn’t look great last week in its four overtime loss at Arkansas, but Ole Miss was impressive as it drubbed Texas A&M. Of course the Aggies were suffering from the post-Alabama syndrome after getting beaten up by the Crimson Tide. I just don’t see the Auburn offense being productive enough to stay with a tough Ole Miss passing attack.

Syracuse (3 – 4) 14 @ (17) Florida State (6 – 1) 23: We’ll see if Florida State can bounce back after a stunning loss to Georgia Tech. However, the ‘Noles still control their destiny in the ACC Atlantic and face Clemson next week. I don’t think the Orange can generate enough offense against a stingy FSU D, so I’ll give the home team the nod to get the victory.

Virginia Tech (3 – 5) 20 @ Boston College (3 – 5) 17: Virginia Tech seems to be making a habit of having to make late season runs to preserve its twenty-three consecutive bowl streak, the longest active one in the nation. But if it’s going to start Saturday, then the Hokies will need to find a way to gain yardage on one of the toughest defenses in the country.   If they can, Tech has a chance since the Eagles can’t move the ball very effectively. 

Colorado (4 – 4) 23 @ (24) UCLA (5 – 2) 30: Utah is still in control of the Pac-12 South, but if UCLA wins out, they will represent the division in the conference championship game. Colorado is showing improvement but the Bruins seem to have solved some problems after consecutive losses to Arizona State and Stanford.
USC (4 – 3) 34 @ California (5 – 2) 27: Cal will face the same problem they had last week against UCLA, namely stopping a potent passing attack. In this game however, Cal will be facing a pass defense almost as porous as theirs. I just don’t think the Golden Bears are as good a team as USC especially since the Trojans seem to have regained some focus under Clay Helton. 

Georgia (5 – 2) 13 vs. (11) Florida (6 – 1) 17 (Jacksonville, Florida): Florida really only has one impressive victory as far as I’m concerned, while Georgia’s loss to Tennessee came a week after their game with Alabama. Do we see a trend developing here? I liked Georgia early in the season, but QB Greyson Lambert has been struggling and will be replaced by Faton Bauta for Saturday’s World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Combine that with the loss of starting running back Nick Chubb and you have a lot of questions on offense for the Bulldogs. But Florida also has issues on offense, so this is a tossup for me. I’m tempted to take Georgia, but just can’t make myself do it.

(3) Clemson (7 – 0) 24 @ NC State (5 – 2) 16: Clemson has Florida State looming next week and NC State is a tough place to play. Both defenses are among the nation’s best, but the Tigers are more potent on offense. I like Clemson to get out with a win, but it could be very close if they don’t take the Wolfpack seriously.

(14) Oklahoma (6 – 1) 51 @ Kansas (0 – 7) 6: If the Sooners need some window dressing for style points with the playoff committee, they couldn’t pick a better opponent to run it up on than the inept Jayhawks. 

(12) Oklahoma State (6 – 1) 45 @ Texas Tech (5 – 3) 37: Texas Tech, despite some good performances, is still on the outside looking in when it comes to the elite level of the Big 12. A poor pass defense combined with Oklahoma State’s good passing attack will make it difficult for the Red Raiders to keep pace with the Cowboys. However, Oklahoma State can’t sleep on this one if they intend to make a run for the Big 12 title. Their non-conference schedule was a joke, so if they lose a conference game on their way to the title, there’s a good chance the Big 12 will be left out of the playoffs.

Maryland (2 – 5) 17 @ (10) Iowa (7 – 0) 38: The only thing that Maryland is decent at is running the football, something Iowa is very good at defending. The Hawkeyes are rolling toward a Big Ten title game and it doesn’t look like the Terps will offer much resistance.

UT-Martin (4 – 2) 20 @ Arkansas (3 – 4) 37: FCS member Tennessee-Martin lost to Ole Miss 76 – 3 earlier in the season in their only other meeting with an FBS team. The Skyhawks can score, so the Hogs need to pay attention to business to get their record to .500 before a season-ending run at Ole Miss, at LSU, then home to Mississippi State and Missouri. 

(15) Michigan (5 – 2) 24 @ Minnesota (4 – 3) 13: Minnesota’s head coach, Jerry Kill retired for health reasons earlier this week. The Golden Golphers have been winning with defense this season and they’re a less accomplished version of Michigan. Minnesota just won’t be able to get enough yardage to sustain drives and beat the Wolverines.

Tulane (2 – 5) 24 @ (16) Memphis (7 – 0) 52: If you plan on watching this one, you might want to make sure you see it from the beginning, because the drama might be out of the game by the end of the first quarter. This is a nightmare of a match-up for Tulane.

Texas (3 – 4) 27 @ Iowa State (2 – 5) 20: The stats are bit misleading for Texas, as they’ve had a couple of poor defensive showings against California and TCU. Ames can be a tough place to play, but Charlie Strong seems to have his team headed in the right direction after a rough start to the season. Look for the Longhorns to establish the running game early.

Miami (4 – 3) 17 @ (22) Duke (6 – 1) 27: After a 58 – 0 drubbing by Clemson last week, Miami parted ways with head coach Al Golden. The Hurricanes’ program is in disarray, attendance is abysmal and the team needs to make massive improvements if they are ever going to regain national relevance. On the other hand, Duke escaped Lane Stadium last week with a four-overtime win at Virginia Tech. Miami can compete with the Blue Devils, but in the end the Duke defense will make the difference.

Vanderbilt (3 – 4) 20 @ (18) Houston (7 – 0) 28: Houston takes aim at an SEC team, albeit the weakest in the otherwise strong league. Vanderbilt will need it’s tough run defense to make some big negative plays to stay in the game. The concern for the Commodores is getting on the scoreboard. Their best chance will be through the air. The Cougars are looking, along with Memphis and Toledo, to break into the playoff conversation by continuing to go undefeated.

Tennessee (3 – 4) 16 @ Kentucky (4 – 3) 20: The Vol’s followed up a big win over Georgia by playing Alabama to the end in a 19 – 14 loss. The biggest problem teams have had following their games with the Tide is that their beaten up. I’m taking Kentucky in this one for that reason only. 

Oregon State (2 – 5) 17 @ (13) Utah (6 – 1) 40: This is a good game for the Utes to rebound from the beat down by USC. Oregon State’s run oriented attack doesn’t match up well against a Utah team that is tough on the ground. 

(9) Notre Dame (6 – 1) 23 @ (21) Temple (7 – 0) 14: In what is surprisingly the game of the week, at least nationally, Temple hopes its defense can make some big plays and turnovers to keep the game close. It’s going to be difficult for the Owls to put a lot of points on the board without some help from the Irish. Notre Dame can’t afford another loss if they hope to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot.

(8) Stanford (6 – 1) 37 @ Washington State (5 – 2) 31: I'd love to pick Washington State, but I just don’t see how the Cougars can stop Christian McCaffery on the ground. They’ll stretch Stanford’s slightly above average pass defense, but the Cardinal will be able to control the ball and limit Washington State’s possessions.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.




Thursday, October 29, 2015

COLLEGE FOOTBALL THURSDAY NIGHT PICKS

There are three Thursday night games, all of them potentially entertaining. Pittsburgh hosts UNC in a crucial ACC Coastal clash. While it probably won't have national implications, it will certainly be instrumental in deciding the division champion. In the Big 12, TCU hopes their defense can make enough stops to continue their run of outscoring teams, despite giving up a lot of points in the process. And in the Pac-12, Oregon travels to Arizona State in a game that is more important to bowl hopes than it is to any conference or national positioning.



North Carolina (6 – 1) 27 @ (23) Pittsburgh (6 – 1) 24: This is a big game in the ACC Coastal, with the winner setting up a big date with Duke for a possible division-deciding game. Carolina has the Blue Devils next week and Pitt gets them the following Saturday. Pittsburgh’s defense has been great, but eventually the Panthers will be forced to score some points to pull out a big win. I like the Tar Heels to be able to run the ball tonight and come away with a huge victory.

West Virginia (3 – 3) 38 @ (5) TCU (7 – 0) 47: This one is likely to be a shootout, but it’s improbable that  the Mountaineers will be able to contain TCU well enough to win. These teams are pretty even defensively, but the Horned Frogs have a lot more offensive weapons, especially against a pass defense ranked 77th in the nation.

Oregon (4 – 3) 34 @ Arizona State (4 – 3) 37: These teams are fairly evenly matched overall, but there are a couple of match-up issues, especially for Oregon. Arizona State can pass the ball, something that everyone has been able to do against the Ducks. Oregon would prefer to run, but the Sun Devils have been decent stopping teams on the ground. This is a virtual tossup, so I’ll go with the home team in a close, high scoring game that could even go into overtime.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.




Saturday, October 24, 2015

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 8 PICKS

Last Week: 15 - 6
Overall: 126 - 36

Thursday Night:

(22) Temple (6 - 0) 20 @ East Carolina (4 - 3) 23: Don't look now, but three American Athletic Conference teams are ranked in the top 25. One of them heads to Greenville, North Carolina to take on an improving East Carolina squad. This game poses an interesting challenge for the undefeated Owls, as their strength on defense is against the run, but the Pirates can throw the ball effectively, primarily due to a talented receiver corps. I'll be watching this one with an ECU alum, so it should be fun.

(20) California (5 - 1) 30 @ UCLA (4 - 2) 34: This isn't a particularly good match-up for the Bears, as UCLA has a pretty good pass defense and a balanced attack on offense. Cal relies primarily on the passing game, so there's a good chance UCLA can hang in there and perhaps pull out an upset at home after getting bludgeoned by a powerful Stanford rushing attack.

Friday Night:

(18) Memphis (6 - 0) 41 @ Tulsa (3 - 3) 37: Memphis needs to refocus quickly after stunning Ole Miss Saturday afternoon. Both of these teams can gain a lot of yardage and give up a lot too. The one certainty is that there will be a lot of points scored. It might be one of those "last team with the ball" wins kind of scenarios. If the Tigers can overcome the hangover from the big win last week, they should be able to outscore Tulsa, but this one could end up close.

Saturday:

(21) Houston (6 - 0) 45 @ UCF (0 - 7) 17: This is going to be one ugly affair. The Golden Knights have virtually no offense, and Houston's is fueled by high octane gas straight from the nearby Gulf Coast refineries.

(25) Pittsburgh (5 - 1) 20 @ Syracuse (3 - 3) 13: Pittsburgh is getting some national attention, but their three conference wins, all against sub-.500 teams, are by a combined 14 points. With a lackluster offense that's propped up by an opportunistic defense, they probably can't continue to rack up wins as their schedule gets tougher. But that won't be until next week, because Syracuse is as inept on offense as the Panthers, except the Orange don't have a tough defense to bail them out. Pitt will survive one more week before getting exposed.

(6) Clemson (6 - 0) 27  @ Miami (4 - 2) 17: Miami beat a depleted Virginia Tech team to stay in the discussion for an ACC Coastal title. After following up a big win over Notre Dame with a workmanlike defeat of Boston College, Clemson has emerged as the favorite in the conference. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, the 78 people they have in the stands at Sun Life stadium will easily be outnumbered on Saturday by the Tiger faithful that always travel well, pretty much negating any chance that Miami will get some type of home-field advantage to help them pull an upset. Neither team is an offensive juggernaut, but Clemson sports the tenth ranked defense nationally. That's enough for me.

Iowa State (2 - 4) 17 @ (2) Baylor (6 - 0) 58: Baylor, the most complete team I've watched this season, leads the nation in total and scoring offense. Iowa State is 112th in total defense. Really? I'm thinking 38 - 0 in the second quarter.

(19) Toledo (6 - 0) 37 @ Massachusetts (1 - 5) 20 :Massachusetts only has three minor issues with it's football team: 1) they can't run the ball, 2) they can't stop the run and 3) they can't stop the pass. Toledo isn't great statistically, but you really don't have to be in order to rout UMass. I expect the Minutemen will have some success throwing the ball. but it probably won't be enough to outscore the Rockets.

Texas Tech (5 - 2) 37 @ (17) Oklahoma (5 - 1) 41: I'm sure Texas Tech coach Klif Kingsbury will be taking a hard look at the tape of Texas' upset of Oklahoma. The Red Raiders bring a potent offensive attack into Norman, but the Sooners have been stingy against the pass this season, the staple of Texas Tech's offense. If this game was in Lubbock, I might favor Tech. But I think Bob Stoops' team had a wakeup call against the Longhorns and will find a way to win a shootout.

Kansas (0 - 6) 16 @ (14) Oklahoma State (6 - 0) 45: This will be the final tuneup before the Cowboys hit the teeth of their schedule. Kansas is most likely headed for a winless season unless there is some miraculous conversion in Lawrence. Oklahoma State is hoping to compete for a Big 12 title. Not a good situation for the Jayhawks.

Indiana (4 - 3) 21 @ (7) Michigan State (7 - 0) 34 : Michigan State hasn't been particularly impressive, but Connor Cook should have a field day against the passing defense of Indiana. It was a big win for the Spartans over Michigan, but I think they still need to improve if they're going to defeat

Auburn (4 - 2) 21 @ Arkansas (2 - 4) 31: This is a bad matchup for the Tigers. Auburn would prefer to move the ball on the ground, but the Hogs are stingy against the run, ranking 15th nationally. Arkansas is weak against the pass, but Auburn has trouble advancing through the air. No brainer in this one.

Boston College (3 - 4) 14 @ Louisville (2 - 4) 17: BC is about as one dimensional as possible, with the top ranked defense and the 122nd best offense. Can Louisville stymie the Eagles and score enough to win? I'll go with the Cardinals to prevail in a tight one.

Northwestern (5 - 2)  17  @ Nebraska (3 - 4) 27: The Wildcats started the season with a victory over Stanford, then reeled off another four wins. But ultimately, you need an offense to win games, and Northwestern doesn't have one. A frustrated 'Husker team needs a win, and I think they'll get one today.

Kansas State (3 - 3) 16 @ Texas (2 - 4) 31: I like Texas to continue some momentum from the win against Oklahoma. K-State is a defensive mess and the Longhorns have too much atheticism not to finally start to win some football games. Charlie Strong's team will take out some frustration on the Wildcats this week.

Western Kentucky (6 - 1) 24 @ (5) LSU (6 - 0) 37 : This is a dangerous game for LSU. Last week, Ole Miss took Memphis lightly and paid the price. At the end of the day, even though the Hilltoppers will be able to score some points, I don't think their defense will be able to stop LSU.

(15) Texas A&M (5 - 1) 27 @ (24) Ole Miss (5 - 2) 24: Both of these teams suffered tough losses last week. I'm not sure why Ole Miss is still ranked, but unfortunately I don't get a vote. The outcome of this game will depend on whether Ole Miss can throw the ball on the Aggies. The weakness for the Rebels is their secondary, and I think A&M can exploit that effectively today.

(9) Florida State (6 - 0) 31 @ Georgia Tech (2 - 5) 17: The Yellow Jackets are riding a five game losing streak. The 'Noles haven't lost an ACC game since 2012. Georgia Tech can run the ball, but they can do little else. Transfer QB Everett Golston is getting more comfortable in Jimbo Fisher's Florida State offense. It looks like the Florida State - Clemson clash on Novermber 7 will be a monster game.

(3) Utah (6 - 0) 20 @ USC (3 - 3) 28: Is this the week Utah's run comes to an end? Vegas thinks so. From a match-up perspective, USC should be able to throw the ball on Utah. Eventually, the Utes are going to stumble in the tough Pac-12 South because their offense is too inconsistent and although the defense plays well in the fourth quarter, I just don't see them running the table.

(1) Ohio State (7 - 0) 34 @ Rutgers (3 - 3) 14: The Buckeyes have started to hit their stride and have decided that JT Barrett is the starter at QB.This game might be closer than expected unless Ohio State decides to exploit a weak Rutgers pass defense.

Washington (3 - 3) 13 @ (10) Stanford (5 - 1) 27:Washington just doesn't math up well with the Cardinal. Stanford can run the ball, eat up clock and make the Huskies score with minimal possessions. For a team outside the top 100 in total offense, that's a tall task.

Washington State (4 - 2) 37 @ Arizona (5 - 2) 41: Washington State can throw the ball, Arizona can't defend the pass. Arizona can run the football, Washington State can't defend the run. Which defense can play well enough to secure a victory? I'll take the Wildcats to run all over the visitors.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.




Thursday, October 22, 2015

THURSDAY AND FRIDAY NIGHT NFL AND COLLEGE PICKS

College:

Thursday Night:

(22) Temple (6 - 0) 20 @ East Carolina (4 - 3) 23: Don't look now, but three American Athletic Conference teams are ranked in the top 25. One of them heads to Greenville, North Carolina to take on an improving East Carolina squad. This game poses an interesting challenge for the undefeated Owls, as their strength on defense is against the run, but the Pirates can throw the ball effectively, primarily due to a talented receiver corps. I'll be watching this one with an ECU alum, so it should be fun.

(20) California (5 - 1) 30 @ UCLA (4 - 2) 34: This isn't a particularly good match-up for the Bears, as UCLA has a pretty good pass defense and a balanced attack on offense. Cal relies primarily on the passing game, so there's a good chance UCLA can hang in there and perhaps pull out an upset at home after getting bludgeoned by a powerful Stanford rushing attack.

Friday Night:

(18) Memphis (6 - 0) 41 @ Tulsa (3 - 3) 37: Memphis needs to refocus quickly after stunning Ole Miss Saturday afternoon. Both of these teams can gain a lot of yardage and give up a lot too. The one certainty is that there will be a lot of points scored. It might be one of those "last team with the ball" wins kind of scenarios. If the Tigers can overcome the hangover from the big win last week, they should be able to outscore Tulsa, but this one could end up close.


NFL:

Seattle (2 - 4) 23 @ San Francisco (2 - 4) 24: It's desperation time for the defending NFC champs. blown 4th quarter leads and late defensive breakdowns are not indicative of what we've come to expect from the Seahawks, particularly at home. Conversely, the Forty-Niners seem to be making a little progress under new coach Jim Tomsula. San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick is a paltry 1 - 5 against Seattle, but this may be the best shot he has at a victory over their division rival, playing at home on a short week after the Seahawks were beaten by the Panthers. I'm hesitant to do this, but I'm going to go with the home team, expecting the 'Niners' defense to continue to get better.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.






Sunday, October 18, 2015

NFL WEEK 6 PICKS

Week 4: 10 - 4
Overall: 36 - 26

After taking last week off, I look to continue the momentum from two 10+ win weeks. There aren't a lot of big match-ups, but there are still six undefeated teams in action.  I predict there won't be that many left come Monday morning.

Thursday Night:

Atlanta (5 - 0) 31 @ New Orleans (1 - 4) 34: This is an interesting game. The surprising Falcons head to the arch rival Saints on a short week after squeaking by the Redskins in overtime on Sunday. New Orleans can't seem to generate any kind of running game, while their defense is giving up the fourth most points in the league. Not exactly a recipe for success, as indicated by their lousy record. Conventional wisdom would be to go with the Falcons to continue their unexpected roll. But it's Thursday night, the Saints fans should be fired up and Drew Brees might still have a big game or two in that arm. He's going to have to put up a lot of points if Atlanta's Devonta Freeman runs wild on the Saints' defense, and I think he will.

1:00 EDT Games:

Washington (2 - 3) 23 @ New York Jets (3 - 1) 20: I have to make a homer pick here as I think the 'Skins are making some improvements.

Arizona (4 - 1) 24 @ Pittsburgh (3 - 2) 27: The Cardinals looked like the best team in the league until last week's loss. Michael Vick seems to be settling into the Steelers' offense.

Kansas City (1 - 4) 23 @ Minnesota (2 - 2) 27: The Chiefs just aren't finding ways to win. The Vikes are getting Adrian Peterson back in the flow of the offense.

Cincinnati (5 - 0) 20 @ Buffalo (3 - 2) 17: The Bengals will head into Buffalo, most likely against backup QB Manuel for the Bills. I like how Cincy is playing.

Chicago (2 - 3) 28 @ Detroit (0 - 5) 24: The Bears found a way to get past the Chiefs last week, as the old Jay Cutler emerged. The Lions are a mess.

Denver (5 - 0) 20 @ Cleveland (2 - 3) 17: Can the Broncos continue to win in ugly fashion? The Browns are improving, but the Denver defense is playing at a very high level.

Houston (1 - 4) 30 @ Jacksonville (1 - 4) 24: JJ Watt is questionable for this game, but I still like the Texans to finally get up to speed.

Miami (1 - 3) 27 @ Tennessee (1 - 3) 28: Can the Dolphins improve under an interim coach? They'll need to pressure rookie QB Marcus Mariotta.


Carolina (4 - 0) 20 @ Seattle (2 - 3) 27: The Seahawks are a very good team for their record. They get to play this game at home after a brutal road schedule to start the season. As good as Carolina has looked, Seattle's desperate.

San Diego (2 - 3) 21 @ Green Bay (5 - 0) 30: I don't see the Packers losing at home, at least not  the way way they're playing at this point.

Baltimore (1 - 4) 23 @ San Francisco (1 - 4) 20: The Ravens head west, four games behind the Bengals in the AFC North. The 'Niners have looked pretty bad. The loser will probably be playing out the string, even this early in the season.

New England (4 - 0) 34 @ Indianapolis (3 - 2) 27: Andrew Luck is back for the Colts and they'll need all the help they can get. After a bye week, we'll see if the Pats can continue with the offensive rhythm they had the first four games.

New York Giants (3 - 2) 24 @ Philadelphia (2 - 3) 31:Chip Kelly got the Eagles' offense rolling last week and they'll be looking to get in a first place tie in the NFC East. The Giants have been quietly impressive.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.




Friday, October 16, 2015

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 7 PICKS

There are several potential playoff elimination games this week, with two of them coming in the SEC and another three in the Big Ten. I held my own last week after missing a couple of upset picks. Let's see if I keep it going with some close games on the slate.

Last Week: 15 - 4
Overall: 111 - 30

Thursday Night:

Auburn (3 - 2) 23 @ Kentucky (4 - 1) 28: The Wildcats are much improved under Mike Stoops and they can make it tough for Auburn to find a path to bowl eligibility with a win tonight. The Tigers' defense has been terrible, while Kentucky has looked pretty good so far. Gus Malzahn needs a win, but I don't think he'll get it in Lexington.

(18) UCLA (4 - 1) 27 @ (15) Stanford (4 -1) 30 : UCLA has had issues defending the rush. That doesn't bode well for the Bruins as they face a back in Christian McCaffery who is averaging over 120 yards a game and almost six yards a carry. After an opening loss at Northwestern, the Cardinal has been on a roll and I don't see that coming to an end tonight, especially if they can get their ground game going and play good enough defense to confuse freshman QB Josh Rosen.

Friday Night:

(24) Houston (5 - 0) 45 @ Tulane (2 - 3) 28: Houston has a powerhouse offense and they'll be attacking the 94th ranked team in total defense. This one won't be pretty at all for the Green Wave.

(21) Boise State (5 - 1) 27 @ Utah State (3 - 2) 13: Boise is ranked in the top twenty in both offense (19) and defense (5). Utah State's defense is just as good, but they'll struggle to score points against the Broncos, who are only giving up 12 points a game. The Aggies would prefer to run the football, but that will be difficult against Boise. At least the field isn't blue in Logan!

Saturday:

 Eastern Michigan (1 - 5) 27 @ (22) Toledo (5 - 0) 38: Eastern Michigan can't stop anyone on the ground, so their only chance at pulling off a huge upset is to throw the ball successfully against the Rockets. The Eagles can score, but not enough to overcome Toledo.

(17) Iowa (6 - 0) 24 @ (20) Northwestern (5 - 1) 16: Iowa is playing very solid football, while Northwestern is coming off a drubbing by Michigan. The Wildcats' defense is stout, but they have difficulty scoring points. With Northwestern wanting the run the ball, it's not a good match-up, as Iowa is allowing the fifth fewest yards on the ground nationally. I've been picking the Hawkeyes, and I'll stay with them here, even on the road.

West Virginia (3 - 2) 24 @ (2) Baylor (5 - 0) 37: I've gone with the Mountaineers the last two weeks, but there's no way I can do it again. They took Oklahoma State to overtime last week, but I don't see this one being that close. Baylor is hitting on all cylinders, scoring at a ridiculous pace while still playing pretty good defense. Their defensive numbers are a bit deceiving, since they haven't been challenged and teams are getting some garbage yardage as the clock winds down.

(13) Ole Miss (5 - 1) 48 @ Memphis (5 - 0) 27:There will be plenty of Ole Miss fans in attendance at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. Offensively the teams are pretty close, but the Rebels enjoy a big advantage on the other side of the ball. I look for a lot of points, but more of them will be scored by Ole Miss.

Louisville (2 - 3) 20 @ (11) Florida State (5 - 0) 24: Defensively, the undefeated Seminoles have been playing at a high level, bailing out their offense that's still struggling behind Notre Dame transfer Everett Golston. I'd picked Louisville to win the ACC, so I wouldn't be surprised by a Cardinal upset, especially if the 'Noles have a letdown following a comeback win over rival Miami. Louisville just isn't clicking on offense, so I'll stay with the home team.

(10) Alabama (5 - 1) 27 @ (9) Texas A&M (5 - 0) 24: This is truly a must game for the Crimson Tide, who don't control their own destiny in the SEC West due to an earlier loss to Ole Miss. Based on the numbers, the Aggies will need to throw effectively to win the game. Kyle Field is a tough place for visitors, but the Tide isn't generally affected too much by hostile environments. I believe Alabama to be the better team and should prevail, unless they go on a turnover binge like they did against Ole Miss.

(19) Oklahoma (4 - 1) 30 @ Kansas State (3 -2) 20: Both of these teams are coming off tough losses. K-State had TCU on the ropes and didn't manage the clock effectively, letting the Horned Frogs escape with a win. A reeling Texas team shocked the Sooners in the Red River Rivalry, putting a big dent in Oklahoma's chances of making the playoffs. I see Bob Stoops getting his Sooners ready to play against a team they should be able to beat.

 (7) Michigan State (6 - 0) 17 @ (12) Michigan (5 - 1) 24: There are still a lot of people on the Michigan State bandwagon, but I'm predicting that number will decrease after this week. It's hard for me to believe that the Spartans, after a sluggish season and an escape against Rutgers, will be able to flip a switch and all of a sudden raise their game a couple of notches offensively. Jim Harbaugh's defense is playing at a level, and against good competition, that hasn't been seen in recent memory.

Boston College (3 -3) 13 @ (5) Clemson (5 - 0) 20:BC has a shut down defense, but has a lot of trouble scoring. If this game was in Boston, I'd be tempted to give the Eagles the nod, but I think Clemson will keep their season rolling with a win. However, it might be a lot closer than most of the nation thinks it will be. The Tigers better bring their A game on defense to keep from getting surprised.

(8) Florida (6 - 0) 17 @ (6) LSU (5 -0) 21:Everyone is talking about Florida's defense, but statistically, LSU's is almost identical and even a little better against the pass. The Gators, who rely almost entirely on their defense to win games, is going to be without starting QB Will Grier for a year and will turn to backup Treon Harris. Death Valley in the evening is tough under ideal circumstances, so Florida will be sorely tested. If they stop Leonard Fournette, they have a great shot at a win.

(3) TCU (6 - 0) 57 @ Iowa State (2 - 3) 27: Iowa State's defense isn't even in the top 100 nationally. That's about all you need to know about how this game is likely to go.

USC (3 -2) 27 @ (14) Notre Dame (5 - 1) 31: This isn't a great matchup for the USC offense. They really want to pass the ball and the Irish do a good job of stopping the run. Despite all of the hype about the Trojans perhaps rallying around their interim coach following the firing of Steve Sarkisian earlier in the week. I don't see it happening, at least not on the road against a very good Irish squad.

Penn State (5 - 1) 14 @ (1) Ohio State (6 - 0) 37: Penn State's anemic offense has been aided by a solid defense against a disgustingly weak schedule. The gig's up Saturday. It's time for the Buckeyes to stop sleepwalking, and unfortunately for Nittany Lions it's likely to happen Saturday in Columbus.

Arizona State (4 - 2) 34 @ (4) Utah (5 - 0) 30: The Utes are in the college playoff picture, but there's just this feeling I have that they might have trouble maintaining their winning ways through the season. The Sun Devils are a dangerous team that matches up very will with Utah. Look for Arizona State to be able to pass the ball on the Utes. I like the upset here.

Virginia Tech (3 - 3) 27 @ Miami (3 - 2) 24: Here's another matchup mismatch and it goes in the Hokies favor. The Hurricanes have more success passing the ball, but Tech has the 11th ranked passing defense in the nation, partially because opponents have been able to run the ball. This rivalry goes back to when both teams were independents, then in the Big East. The winner stays alive in the very competitive ACC Coastal. The loser probably falls out of contention.

Missouri (4 - 2) 13 @ Georgia (4 - 2) 30: Both of these SEC East teams have seen their title hopes diminished, if not dashed in the last couple of weeks. Missouri's offensive woes were totally exposed by Florida last week. I look for the Bulldogs to win, and win big between the hedges.

Pittsburgh (4 - 1) 24 @ Georgia Tech (2 - 4) 17: The Yellow Jackets are a mess, while Pittsburgh is thinking it has a legitimate shot at an ACC Coastal crown. The way the Panthers are playing defense, I believe as well. This should be a decent game, but in the end, Pittsburgh's just playing better football on offense and defense, and the last time I checked, that usually results in a win.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.