"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 29, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK NINE PICKS

Last Week:  13 - 7        65.0 %
Overall:       184 - 56    76.7 %

After this week's games, the college football playoff committee with release its top 25. There are several games that will have a big impact on that list, particularly Washington at Utah, Nebraska at Wisconsin and Clemson at Florida State. Ohio State's fourth quarter collapse against Penn State changed the landscape a bit, but a win over Michigan later in the season could still put them in playoff position.

 Thursday: (from an earlier post)

(25) Virginia Tech (5 - 2) 27 @ Pittsburgh (5 - 2) 21: The Hokies looked better last week in downing Miami, but they travel to another place that has not been particularly good to them throughout the years. Even going back to Big East days, Pittsburgh has given Tech fits at Heinz Field and before that old Pitt Stadium. The difference in this game should be Virginia Tech's defense, but that should have been the case a couple of weeks ago at Syracuse. Hopefully for Hokie fans, perhaps the team will play with a little more focus against a Panthers team that has the talent to win.

California (4 - 3) 31@ USC (4 - 3) 41: These two teams have very contrasting styles, with USC more controlled on offense while Cal is wide open. The Trojans, after to falling to 1 - 3, have won three in a row, but they'll need to make some big stops to slow down the Golden Bears. Cal has to rebound from a short week after getting upset at Oregon State last week and they probably haven't had enough time to find a defense to replace the one that's giving up over 40 points a game.

Friday: (from an earlier post)

(22) Navy (5 - 1) 28 @ South Florida (6 - 2) 24: These two teams like to run the ball and both are in the top twelve in rushing offense. Navy's big win over Houston has been diminished a little with the Cougars' loss last week to SMU, but South Florida's inability to stop the run has me leaning toward the Midshipmen to continue their very good season with a win in Tamps. The key will be Navy's ability to control the ball and limit the Bulls' chances on offense. This one should be pretty entertaining.

Saturday:

(10) West Virginia (6 - 0) 34 @ Oklahoma State (5 - 2) 27: Two good passing teams against a couple of shaky pass defenses. West Virginia has looked good the last couple of weeks in impressive wins over Texas Tech and TCU. The Cowboys, besides getting robbed by the officials against Central Michigan, have only one true loss to undefeated Baylor. This is a tough call,, but I'm going to go with West Virginia's balance.

(2) Michigan (7 - 0) 34 @ Michigan State (2 - 5) 14: Can a team that's clearly down come alive to pull a huge upset at home in a rivalry game? Michigan is playing at such a high level right now I seriously doubt if the Spartans can dig deep enough to do what Penn State did to Ohio State last week.

(5) Louisville (6 - 1) 38 @ Virginia (2 - 5) 16: A Clemson loss to Florida State and Louisville's playoff hopes could still be alive. Virginia has shown flashes of pass offense in the last few weeks, but I don't think they have the firepower on offense or the strength on defense to stay with the Cardinals. 

(24) Penn State (5 - 2) 27 @ Purdue (3 - 4) 20: Can the Nittany Lions stay focused after their biggest victory in a couple of decades? Purdue is in it's second game under an interim coach and could cause some problems for Penn State's passing game. I'm tempted to take the home team here, but I'll stay with a pretty hot Nittany Lion squad.

(14) Florida (5 - 1) 23 vs. Georgia (4 - 3) 16 (Jacksonville, FL): Florida is quietly putting together a solid season and controls its own destiny in the SEC East. In one of the biggest rivalry games in college football, the world's biggest outdoor cocktail party can sometimes bring about an unexpected result. But Georgia lost to Vanderbilt, a poor man's version of Gators at home, so I have to give the edge to Florida's defense. The most compelling part of the day might  be CBS' Verne Lunqvist's last call of the great rivalry.

(8) Baylor (6 - 0) 30 @ Texas (3 - 4) 24: Baylor's schedule hasn't exactly been a demanding run, but they beat a good Oklahoma State team. Unless Texas can somehow turn things around in a big way, coach Charlie Strong is clearly on his way out. The Longhorns have some talent on offense, but the defense is a mess. A lot of credit needs to go to Baylor interim coach Jim Grobe for getting the team ready to play after the offseason turmoil.

Northwestern (4 - 3) 13 @  (6) Ohio State (6 - 1) 47: Not a great situation for Northwestern to have to enter the Horseshoe after Ohio State gave up a 14 point fourth quarter lead to drop last week's game to Penn State, leaving no margin for error in their attempt to win the Big Ten. I can't imagine that this week's practices for the Buckeyes were much fun under head coach Urban Meyer. This one could get ugly.

(4) Washington (7 - 0) 28 @ (17) Utah (7 - 1) 20: Washington has become the Cinderella darling of the college football world, especially since Houston has stubbed their toe a couple of times. This game poses a bit of a match-up problem for Washington in a difficult place to play. My problem with Utah is where they're going to get the offensive production to derail the Huskies. I'm looking forward to a Washington at Washington State season finale to decide the Pac-12 North.

Kansas (1 - 6) 24@ (16) Oklahoma (5 - 2) 43: Oklahoma still has major issues on defense, but the next couple of games won't post much of an issue as they face Iowa State next week before finishing against Baylor, West Virginia and rival Oklahoma State.

(7) Nebraska (7 - 0) 20 @ (11) Wisconsin (5 - 2) 23: The 'Huskers take a step up in class against a real battle-tested team. Wisconsin has played Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa in succession. In the same span Nebraska has played Northwestern, Illinois, Indiana and Purdue. This should be a good game, but I'm not sure the 'Huskers are prepared for that Badger defense.

(13) Boise State (7 - 0) 34 @ Wyoming (5 - 2) 17: Boise should be able to shred a porous Wyoming pass defense. With their ranking, the Broncos could make some noise come College Football Playoff time.


(15) Auburn (5 - 2) 37 @ Ole Miss (3 - 4) 20: The way Auburn handled Arkansas last week was impressive. Ole Miss is a victim of a brutal stretch in their schedule, and they also face some distractions caused by their quarterback Chad Kelly. It looked a few weeks ago like Auburn coach Gus Malzahn was on the hot seat, but a strong finish and a win over Alabama would change all of that.

(18) Tennessee (5 - 2) 27 @ South Carolina (3 - 4) 16: I'm still mystified what the attraction of coach Will Muschamp was for South Carolina. His Gamecocks are just as one-dimensional as his teams at Florida, but with less talent. Tennessee has been doing it with mirrors, but they should be able to handle this one.

New Mexico State (2 - 5) 17 @ (9) Texas A&M (6 - 1) 58: Against one of the worst defenses in the country, the Aggies will be looking to make amends for getting outclassed at Alabama.

(3) Clemson (7 - 0) 31 @ (12) Florida State (5 - 2) 27: Before getting scorched at Louisville and surprised by North Carolina, Florida State had revenge on their mind to recapture the ACC Atlantic and get back to the playoffs. That's off the table now, but the revenge isn't. The problem isn't the motivation, it's the Seminole defense.

Kansas State (4 - 3) 23 @ Iowa State (1 - 6) 17: Defensively, especially against the run, Kansas State is very good.  Iowa State can throw the ball pretty well, but can't stop anyone. I'm staying with K-State, but Ames can be a tough place to escape with a win.

Boston College (3 - 4) 16 @ NC State (4 - 3) 27: The Wolfpack got steamrolled by Louisville last week, but should have more success against a team whose defense, although good, is getting exposed by better competition.

Miami (4 - 3) 24 @ Notre Dame (2 - 5) 21: Before the season, this was shaping up as one of those great intersectional battles with both teams having national reputations. Unfortunately, neither team has lived up to expectations and the only thing Notre Dame is playing for is a chance at a minor bowl game.

Maryland (5 - 2) 30 @ Indiana (3 - 4) 24: Maryland is more susceptible to the run, which Indiana doesn't do particularly well. The Terps ended a two-game losing streak by topping slumping Michigan State and should be able to handle Indiana, but they need to play pretty well. The Hoosiers are probably a little better team than their record indicates.

Army (4 - 3) 20 @ Wake Forest (5 - 2) 23: The Demon Deacons are strong defensively, especially against the run which isn't a good thing for Army's one-dimensional attack. The Black Knights are much improved, but Wake is just a better team.

Texas Tech (3 - 4)  47 @ TCU (4 - 3) 41: TCU's achilles heel this year is their pass defense and the Red Raiders boast the most potent air attack in the country. I just don't know if TCU can keep pace offensively.

Arizona State (5 - 3) 41 @ Oregon (2 - 5) 37: Oregon is the favorite in this one by a whopping 9 1/2 points. The Ducks are giving up over 43 points a game while Arizona State’s defense isn’t great, they do a good job of stopping the run, which is what Oregon relies on for offensive production. I’ll take the Sun Devils to win this outright, no points needed.

Stanford (4 - 3) 27 @ Arizona (2 - 5) 17: Despite averaging just 17 points a game, Stanford has still managed to maintain a winning record. Arizona’s defense should allow the Cardinal to get their offense going.

Washington State (5 - 2) 44 @ Oregon State (2 - 5) 27: I really like Washington State to run the table to set up a big meeting with Washington to end the season. But they’ll need to take care of business at Oregon State first.

Kentucky (4 - 3) 28 @ Missouri (2 - 5) 23: For some reason Missouri is a six and a half point favorite. It makes me think that Vegas knows something we don’t, but I just don’t think the Tigers are as good as Kentucky, even though neither team is all that great. Missouri’s stats are deceiving because they were padded with a couple of total cream puff wins in an embarrassingly weak non-conference schedule.

Minnesota (5 - 2) 30 @ Illinois (2 - 5) 17: Minnesota is quietly having a pretty good season, They should be able to stop the Illini’s tepid offense to become bowl eligible.

Tulsa (5 - 2) 37 @ Memphis (5 - 2) 34: In a rare non-power five pick for me, I find this game very interesting, If circumstances were different, I’d be tempted to make the five hour drive to Memphis to watch this one. Memphis is the favorite, but I’m taking the Golden Hurricane in this one.

Duke (3 - 4) 20 @ Ga. Tech (4 - 3) 31: Georgia Tech can’t really compete with the best teams in the ACC, but Duke isn’t one of those this season. I don’t believe the Blue Devils will be able to stop the Yellow Jacket running game effectively enough to have a chance for their anemic offense to score enough points to get a victory.

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. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.