"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, November 7, 2015

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 10 PICKS: WHO WILL WIN THE KNOCK-OUT GAMES?

This post is dedicated to the late Jim Weaver, the former Virginia Tech Athletic Director who passed away Thursday at the age of 70 after a long battle  with  Parkinson's disease. He was a great leader and positioned my alma mater for athletic excellence for years to come. My prayers go to his family in their loss. His presence will be missed by the Hokie family and the many people he touched by the way he treated them.


Even with the debacle that the officials made of the Duke - Miami game, I was still able to go 19 - 4 last week. Things get a little tougher beginning with the games this week, though, especially since the Big 12 begins its rop four round robin as TCU takes on Oklahoma State. Add Clemson - Florida State and LSU - Alabama and well, we just get a taste of what the stretch run in college football will look like. You better get the DVR's programmed and your PC's streaming to keep up. I know I will.


Last Week:   19 - 4
Overall:     161 - 46  78%

Tuesday Night (from a previous post):

Northern Illinois (5 - 3) 30 @ (20) Toledo (7 - 0) 27: Defensively these teams are pretty evenly matched, but the Toledo offense is a bit more potent and has propelled them to a couple of wins over Big Five conference teams. Northern Illinois had close losses to Ohio State and Boston College, so they're used to quality opponents. The Huskies also have a lot of experience in big games the last few seasons, something Toledo is having to get familiar with. Although NIU has an impressive three game winning streak, the victories came against the bottom teams in the MAC. Toledo has only recorded one win against a team with a winning record, so neither team has much of a resume this year. I don't think Toledo is the twentieth best team in the nation by a long way, and I doubt the committee will have them in their rankings when they're released later tonight. For some reason, despite the numbers, I don't have a good feeling about Toledo in this one. I'm going to go with the Huskies to knock the Rockets from the ranks of the unbeaten and end any hope they have of getting into a major bowl game.

Thursday Night: (from a previous post):

(6) Baylor (7 - 0) 57 @ Kansas State (3 - 4) 20: I'm sure the Bears will react to what I'm sure coach Art Briles will describe as a snub from the playoff committee especially after many experts, me included, had Baylor positioned in the top two. It doesn't really matter that much, because their schedule gets significantly tougher the rest of the way and they'll be able to play their way in if they run the table. They won't get much opposition in this one.

(20) Mississippi State (6 - 2) 23 @ Missouri (4 - 4) 13: Missouri's defense has been solid this season, but they're only averaging 15 points a game. In this era of college football, a team isn't going to win many contests with that low total. Missouri's star QB Maty Mauck has been suspended for the rest of the season, so the third worst offense in the country could actually have gotten worse, as if that's possible. I expect this to be a low scoring game and even though I'm not a big Missouri fan, their defense can keep them in the game and they have a chance if Mississippi State turns the ball over or lets the Tigers stay in the game into the fourth quarter.

Saturday:

Vanderbilt (3 - 5) 10 @ (10) Florida (7 - 1) 24: Vanderbilt has enough trouble scoring, let alone against a defense as stifling as Florida's. The Gators can clinch a spot in the SEC Championship with a victory, quite an accomplishment for a team most picked to finish in the middle of the SEC East. It's realistic to think that they could aspire to a spot in the playoffs if they were to run the table., even with their loss to LSU.

Duke (6 - 2) 20 @ UNC (7 - 1) 23: Duke was totally robbed a week ago in the closing seconds of their debacle with Miami. However, it didn't really change their situation from a conference perspective. If they win out, they represent the ACC Coastal in the conference championship. A loss would put UNC in great position to win the division. This is a close one to call, but I like UNC's offense and I think they can get some traction on the ground against the Blue Devils.

(5) Notre Dame (7 - 1) 27 @ Pittsburgh (6 - 2) 20: The Irish continue their tour of Pennsylvania, this time heading to the Steel City to take on Pittsburgh. After a tough win over Temple, Notre Dame heads to the other side of the state to meet another good defensive team. Temple and Pitt are eerily similar, but I believe the Irish will be able to run on the Panthers well enough to chalk up another big road victory and stay alive in the playoff hunt.

(11) Stanford (7 - 1) 26 @ Colorado (4 - 5) 20: This is a real trap game for Stanford. It's a 10:00 am PST kickoff and the last time the Cardinal had to travel and play early, they looked miserable in a season-opening loss at Northwestern. I don't think the Buffs have enough to win this game, but it could end up a lot closer in the altitude in Boulder.

Arkansas (4 - 4) 30 @ (18) Ole Miss (7 - 2) 28: Arkansas needs to keep the Rebels from getting over the top of them in the passing game. If they do, it will give Hogs' signal caller Brandon Allen a chance to lead his balanced offense to some time consuming drives and pull an upset. I picked the Hogs on my Beyond the Commentary radio spot on Friday and I'll stick with that. Just call it a homer pick.

(16) Florida State (7 - 1) 19 @ (1) Clemson (8 - 0) 27: Clemson's balance on both sides of the ball make them tough to beat this season. The 'Noles, despite the running of Dalvin Cook, lack firepower on offense.  Besides, my nieces would blackball me if I went against the Tigers.

Cincinnati (5 - 3) 34 @ (25) Houston (8 - 0) 31:  The combined record of the teams to beat Cincinnati is 21 - 3. The Bearcats can throw the ball and Houston is vulnerable through the air. Cincinnati's coach Tommy Tuberville is familiar with big games and he might find a way to derail the Cougars. Houston gets Memphis next week and might be peeking ahead. I'm going with a big upset in this one.

(8) TCU (8 - 0) 40 @ (12) Oklahoma State (8 - 0) 44:Oklahoma State put up 70 points on Texas Tech last week and will be looking to continue the momentum in what surely amounts to the first of several knock-out games in the Big 12 over the rest of the season. My gut is telling me to go with the Cowboys in a surprise, and I'll stick with that call. The numbers would seem to favor TCU, but it's probably time for Oklahoma State to win one of these big games at home. Defensively, they can probably keep Horned Frog QB Boykins from running wild, making him more one-dimensional.

(9) Iowa (8 - 0) 34 @ Indiana (4 - 4) 23: Indiana will give Iowa's defense a stern test, especially in the passing game, but at the end of the day the Hawkeyes shoud be able to wear down the Hoosiers. But if Iowa looks past Indiana and lets them stay in the game into the fourth quarter, don't underestimate a team that gave Ohio State all they could handle.

Rutgers (3 - 5) 14 @ (17) Michigan (6 - 2) 30: The Wolverines escaped Minnesota with a win last week and head to Rutgers still mathematically alive in the Big Ten East. Michigan needs to win out, including a season ending win over Ohio State to have a chance, but the possibility exists for them to be in the conference championship. Rutgers isn't very good and I don't expect a letdown from Jim Harbaugh's team after the poor defensive performance against the Golden Gophers.

(23) UCLA (6 - 2) 35 Oregon State (2 - 6) 20: Oregon State might be able to keep up with the Bruins for a while in this one, but eventually the Beaver's offensive weaknesses will doom them to defeat. UCLA still controls their own destiny in the Pac-12 South, with games against front runner Utah and USC, the team they currently share second place with to end the season.

(7) Michigan State (8 - 0) 30 @ Nebraska (3 - 6) 31: The undefeated Spartans really didn't get any love from the playoff committee, and justifiably so. They've been largely unimpressive for most of the season, with only a miracle finish against Michigan keeping them in the national picture. Maybe I'm just in an upset mood, but the 'Huskers might be the best 3 - 6 team in the nation. Their six losses are by a total of 23 points, a couple in ridiculous last second fashion. Ryker Fyfe replace Tommy Armstrong, Jr. and threw for 407 yards against Purdue, but it was the throws to the opposition, four of them, that doomed Nebraska. I haven't been a Michigan State fan this year. I like Nebraska to tune the tables on their season.

Navy (6 - 1) 19 @ (13) Memphis (8 -0)  27: Navy is tough to play for teams that haven't faced their offensive style much. They'll limit Memphis' possessions with their ball control scheme, but Navy lacks the athletes in the secondary to contain a very potent passing attack.

Iowa State (3 - 5) 17 @ (15) Oklahoma (7 - 1)  45: The Sooners are actually my pick to emerge from the Big 12 scramble. They have balance on both sides of the ball and actually play defense, an anomaly in their conference. How they lost to a woeful Texas team is baffling, but I don't think Bob Stoops will let these guys lose focus again.

(12) Utah (7 - 1) 27 @ Washington (4 - 4) 31: Washington can be a tough place to play and Utah isn't good enough to have much margin for error. The Huskies are coming off a game where they humiliated  a pretty good Arizona team. I look for them to carry a lot of momentum into this big match-up with the front runner in the Pac-12 South. I haven't really been sold on Utah and they might just get exposed again by an improving Huskie team.

Auburn (4 - 4) 24 @ (19) Texas A&M (6 -2) 34: Sometimes one team is just clearly better than the other one. Auburn isn't firing on all cylinders and A&M, with the exception of their post Alabama performance against Ole Miss, has been fairly consistent.

Minnesota (4 - 4) 20 @ (3) Ohio State (8 - 0) 31: The Buckeyes' recently announce starting QB JT Barrett is suspended due to a charge of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, so Cardale Jones will have to step in again to lead Ohio State. Last week's inspired effort after head coach Jerry Kill announced his resignation due to health concerns notwithstanding, the Golden Gophers will have trouble competing with Urban Meyer's team.

(2) LSU (7 - 0) 20 @ (4) Alabama (7 - 1) 24: In what is arguably the game of the week, it really just boils down to the ability of the Tide to stop Leonard Fournette. If they bottle up the star LSU running back, Alabama most likely emerges with their SEC West title hopes intact. If not, they'll be packing their bags for Orlando or Tampa for a relatively meaningless New Year's Day bowl game. There's a good reason Vegas has the Crimson Tide as 6 1/2 point favorites: they don't think Fournette will be able to penetrate a great running defense.

NC State (5 - 3) 27 @ Boston College (3 - 6) 16: NC State put up a lot of points on a good Clemson defense last week in an inspired defeat. BC's defense has been playing well all year but was exposed by an average Virginia Tech offense last week. The Eagles just can't put points on the board, and the last time I checked, that's kind of important in order to win games.

Texas Tech (5 - 4) 47 @ West Virginia (3 - 4) 41: This is a clash of the top teams in the second tier of the Big 12. West Virginia, partially because they've played Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU in succession, have has the 97th ranked passing defense in the country. They don't get a break having to go against the best pass offense in the conference. I think the Mountaineers are just worn out.

Penn State (7 - 2) 24 @ Northwestern (6 - 2) 16: Can you say scoreless tie? Neither of these offenses are in the top 100 in the nation while both defenses are in the top 20. Penn State was dismissed after an opening loss to Temple, but that loss is starting to look a lot better as the season progresses. For some reason, the playoff committee included Northwestern in their top 25. I don't know what team they've been watching unless they overvalued the Wildcats' week one ambushing of Stanford in a 9:00 am PDT season opening win.

California (5 - 3) 27 @ Oregon (5 - 3) 35: Cal has lost three straight after getting into the top twenty-five with wins over a largely unimpressive group of teams. Oregon, while clearly in a rebuilding mode after the departure of Marcus Mariota, seems to be on the upswing.

Arizona (5 - 4) 23 @ USC (5 - 3) 38: After the firing of Steve Sarkisian, USC seems to be playing more like the team many thought could contend for a national championship. Interim coach Clay Helton has the Trojans playing with renewed focus. Arizona's defense is a mess and I look for that to be big problem in this one.

Kentucky (4 - 4) 21@ Georgia (5 - 3) 30: Georgia coach Mark Richt has been on the hot seat so long that his pants are permanently singed. A loss to Kentucky might finally seal his fate, but there's just as good a chance that the Bulldogs run the table to finish 9 - 3, a tough mark to fire a coach over. Georgia's probably better than Kentucky, but they need to find a way to generate some offense against a below average defense or Richt's agent might be giving Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock a call about the Hokies soon to be vacant head coaching job.

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.