"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 19, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 12 PICKS

Thursday Night:

(5) Louisville (9 - 1) 38 @ Houston (8 - 2) 40: While Louisville prematurely whines about being left out of the top four, even though number two Michigan and number three Ohio State still have to play, they have to prepare for a short week against a still dangerous Houston team. Early in the season this game had the potential to be a very big game on the national scene. It still is, at least from Louisville's perspective. Going on the road with a short week is always tough, as evidenced by North Carolina's sluggish loss to Duke last week, and the Tar Heels only had to travel seven miles to a stadium filled primarily with their own fans. But I digress, or perhaps just putting off having to make a pick in this match-up. My record in the ACC has been horrendous this season, so I might as well continue the train wreck by going with what I think will be a very inspired Houston team that could get out early against the Cardinals, who have been slow to get up to speed in recent weeks. If I'm wrong, the committee has made it clear that Louisville will be in the mix come the end of the season, even though they have a very slim chance to win the ACC.

Friday Night:

UNLV (4 - 6) 17 @ (20) Boise State (9 - 1) 30: Boise is still in the running to be the representative from the Group of Five in a New Years Day bowl, ranked just ahead of Western Michigan in the College Football Playoff rankings. UNLV shouldn't pose a big problem for them, especially at home, but crazy things have been happening in college football the last week. I don't expect the Broncos to stumble here, though. The blue turf is their friend!

Saturday:

Texas San Antonio (5 - 5) 27 @ (25) Texas A&M (7 - 3) 41: This is the annual breather weekend for a number of SEC teams. The Aggies need a break, losers of two close games since debuting at number four in the playoff rankings. This game should give them a break before having to face a resurgent LSU team next week. But the Roadrunners can be dangerous, losing by just four points to Arizona State earlier in the season.

(11) Oklahoma State (8 - 2) 38 @ TCU (5 - 4) 34: Despite winning six games in a row and needing just a win over TCU to set up a potential quasi-championship game against Oklahoma in a couple of weeks, the Cowboys haven't been that impressive outside of their win over West Virginia. A forgiving defense has forced quarterback Mason Rudolph to make plays to outscore their opponents. TCU has struggled at times, but they could give Oklahoma State some problems. Could this be a trap game that they can't afford to lose?

(2) Ohio State (9 - 1) 34 @ Michigan State (3 - 7) 20: Ohio State is, in the opinion of the playoff committee the second best team in the country, but unless Penn State somehow loses to Rutgers (no chance) or Michigan State (some chance), they won't even win their division in the Big Ten. There are just too many possibilities to try to project a result, but the committee has made it pretty clear that the Buckeyes will probably be in the playoff mix if they win out. After a pretty poor season, I don't see Michigan State giving up, but despite a 49 - 0 win over Rutgers, I'm not sure they have enough to stay with the team they shocked last year on their way to the playoffs.

Maryland (5 - 5) 27 @ (18) Nebraska (8 - 2) 31: Nebraska still has an outside shot at the Big Ten West crown, but they'll need Minnesota to take down Wisconsin next week while the 'Huskers continue to win. They're coming off a tough stretch of games, and while Maryland isn't the caliber of Wisconsin, Ohio State and Minnesota, the Terps can still be dangerous.

(7) Wisconsin (8 - 2) 27 @ Purdue (3 - 7) 10: Still in the hunt for a playoff spot, Wisconsin's defense should be able to throttle Purdue, who is in the process of looking for a new coach. But the Badgers don't put a lot of points on the board so if Purdue can keep it close, they might be able to make this a game into the fourth quarter.

(23) Florida (7 - 2) 13 @ (16) LSU (6 - 3) 24: Florida is a bit depleted on defense and LSU is coming off a big win over Arkansas. The Gators will have early enthusiasm as they're still miffed at having to cancel a home game and travel to Baton Rouge due to Hurricane Matthew and what they perceive as unwillingness by LSU to work out a different solution to the postponement of the game. Despite that energy, what Florida lacks is offensive firepower.

Oregon (3 - 7) 34 @ (12) Utah (8 - 2) 37: Oregon coach Mark Helfrich is on the hot seat after his team has lost seven of eight games, many of them in blowouts. Utah needs to keep from looking ahead to next week's game at Colorado that could be for the Pac-12 South title. Despite a poor season, Oregon is still dangerous on offense and Utah hadn't really blown anyone out until last week's 23 point win over Arizona State.

Missouri (3 - 7) 20 @ (19) Tennessee (7 - 3) 30: With a Florida loss at LSU, Tennessee can get to the SEC championship game with wins over Missouri and Vanderbilt, which are both pretty likely. Missouri pulled off a pretty good win against Vanderbilt last week, but the Volunteers are probably a cut above.

(22) Washington State (8 - 2) 38 @ (10) Colorado (8 - 2) 34: I've been on the Washington State bandwagon for several weeks now and I'm not abandoning the six point underdogs now. I think the Cougars can overwhelm a team that is the darling of the sports media due to the resurgence of a good football program. This is probably one of the best games to view this weekend.

Indiana (5 - 5) 16 @ (3) Michigan (9 - 1) 20:  Michigan got surprised by Iowa last week, but still stayed in the top four of the playoff rankings. Indiana's a decent team and could give the Wolverines some problems if Michigan can't the offense going behind their backup quarterback.

Buffalo (2 - 8) 13 @ (21) Western Michigan (10 - 0) 38: Western Michigan trails Boise State in the battle for a spot in one of the New Year's six bowl games. This game won't necessarily help them, since Buffalo is pretty bad.

(17) Florida State (7 - 3) 31 @ Syracuse (4 - 6) 20:  Florida State has had a mediocre season by their standards and can eliminate Syracuse from bowl consideration today. After wins over Virginia Tech and Boston College, Syracuse had some momentum that was quickly blunted by two losses by a combined 89 - 20.

(24) Stanford (7 - 3) 34 @ California (4 - 6) 27: Stanford was left for dead after blowout losses to Washington and Washington State, but they're 4 - 1 since, with the only loss by five points to Colorado. California just doesn't have the defense to win consistently, even in a rivalry game.

Chattanooga (8 - 2) 13 @ (1) Alabama (10 - 0) 41: I don't have much to say about this one.

(4) Clemson (9 - 1)  27 @ Wake Forest (6 - 4) 16: In order to stay in the playoff hunt, Clemson has to rebound from an upset loss to Pittsburgh last week. Wake has a pretty good defense, but I don't see the Tigers dropping two in a row.

 Alabama A&M (4 - 6) 10 @ (15) Auburn (7 - 3) 38: See the Alabama pick above.

Arizona State (5 - 5) 20 @ (6) Washington (9 - 1) 31: Arizona State's defense just can't make enough stops to beat quality teams. I'm not sure that Todd Graham isn't on the coaching hot seat. Washington needs to win out to get a playoff spot, but they can't afford to look ahead to next week's Apple Bowl game against Washington State.

(9) Oklahoma (8 - 2) 27 @ (14) West Virginia (8 - 1) 20: Neither of these teams has a win against a ranked team. West Virginia was exposed by Oklahoma State and I think this one will look a lot like that game. The Sooners just have too many weapons.

(8) Penn State (8 - 2) 41 @ Rutgers (2 - 8) 13: Rutgers just isn't very good.

(13) USC (7 - 3) 17 @ UCLA (4 - 6) 31: USC doesn't control their own destiny in the Pac-12 and needs a lot of help, even if they defeat UCLA, which they should in the cross-town rivalry. The Trojans might be playing the best football in the country, but a playoff spot is highly unlikely. UCLA has just had a lot go wrong, ruining a promising season.

Virginia Tech (7 - 3) 34 @ Notre Dame (4 - 6) 27: The Hokies travel to South Bend for the first time and as far as I can tell, so have a lot of Virginia Tech fans. Notre Dame is favored by a couple of points, and this shapes up to be a close game. The weather might be a factor as the Irish try to keep their bowl hopes alive. Tech is one win against Virginia away from the ACC Coastal crown. I like my Hokies to bounce back from the Ga. Tech loss.

Arkansas (6 - 4)  37 @ Mississippi State (4 - 6) 28: The Razorbacks are one the most inconsistent teams in the SEC, with some big wins and a four blowout losses. Mississippi State took down Texas A&M, but Arkansas should be able to shake off the LSU loss.

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.





Thursday, November 17, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 12 THURSDAY AND FRIDAY NIGHT PICKS

Thursday Night:

(5) Louisville (9 - 1) 38 @ Houston (8 - 2) 40: While Louisville prematurely whines about being left out of the top four, even though number two Michigan and number three Ohio State still have to play, they have to prepare for a short week against a still dangerous Houston team. Early in the season this game had the potential to be a very big game on the national scene. It still is, at least from Louisville's perspective. Going on the road with a short week is always tough, as evidenced by North Carolina's sluggish loss to Duke last week, and the Tar Heels only had to travel seven miles to a stadium filled primarily with their own fans. But I digress, or perhaps just putting off having to make a pick in this match-up. My record in the ACC has been horrendous this season, so I might as well continue the train wreck by going with what I think will be a very inspired Houston team that could get out early against the Cardinals, who have been slow to get up to speed in recent weeks. If I'm wrong, the committee has made it clear that Louisville will be in the mix come the end of the season, even though they have a very slim chance to win the ACC.

Friday Night:

UNLV (4 - 6) 17 @ (20) Boise State (9 - 1) 30: Boise is still in the running to be the representative from the Group of Five in a New Years Day bowl, ranked just ahead of Western Michigan in the College Football Playoff rankings. UNLV shouldn't pose a big problem for them, especially at home, but crazy things have been happening in college football the last week. I don't expect the Broncos to stumble here, though. The blue turf is their friend!

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.




Saturday, November 12, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK ELEVEN PICKS

Last Week: 19 - 5      79.2%
Overall:     224 - 71   75.9%

Not much change at the top of the College Football Playoff Committee (CFP) rankings this week. Texas A&M fell out after a loss to Mississippi State, but very few analysts really felt they belonged in the first place. At the top now are the undefeated front runners in four of the five power conferences. Can they win out to create an elite playoff field? History would dictate otherwise, but all four are certainly playing at a level above the rest of the field, barely ahead of the one-loss teams just behind them, Ohio State and Louisville. Top ranked Alabama takes on that Mississippi State team that sent Texas A&M tumbling slightly to number eight, so I'm sure the Bulldogs got the Tide's full attention before a virtual tie week precedes their Iron Bowl game against dangerous Auburn. I would have to agree with the committee's selections with the other top four teams playing dangerous opponents: Washington hosts twentieth ranked USC, Clemson entertains Pittsburgh and Michigan travels to Iowa.

Thursday: (from an earlier post)

(17) North Carolina (7 - 2) 27 @ Duke (3 - 6) 20: Usually a Thursday road game can be a problem for the visitors, but these schools are only a few miles apart. In addition, Duke's home field advantage is non-existent. But the Blue Devils gave now-14th ranked Virginia Tech all they could handle last week and might be able to challenge the Tar Heels.

(15) Utah (7 - 2) 30 @ Arizona State (5 - 4) 24: Utah had a bye week to get over a close loss to Washington and they head to the desert to take on the Sun Devils. Trailing Colorado by a game in the Pac-12 South, they still control their own destiny because of a win over USC and a season-ending clash with Colorado. Arizona State's defense is just too much of a liability against good teams.

Friday: (from an earlier post)

Boston College (4 - 5) 17 @ (18) Florida State (6 - 3) 34: Florida State is hanging on in the rankings because their losses are to number two Clemson, number six Louisville and number seventeen North Carolina, three of the top four teams in the ACC. Boston College finally won a conference game, a close win over NC State before getting mauled by Louisville. I expect more of the same from the Seminoles.

Saturday:

(16) West Virginia (7 - 1) 37 @ Texas (5 - 4) 31: Are the Longhorns playing for coach Charlie Strong's job or is his era at Texas over? West Virginia is an interesting team, as are the Longhorns. The Big 12 is short on defense, and the Longhorns fit right in. I'd like to think Texas could win this one, but I haven't seen any indication that they can stop anyone, especially a team as balanced as the Mountaineers.

Baylor (6 - 2) 27 @ (11) Oklahoma (7 - 2) 38: After a rough start to the season, Oklahoma is on a bit of a roll, whereas Baylor's schedule is starting to catch up with them. It's starting to look like the winner of the Bedlam game will determine the Big 12 champion.

Mississippi State (4 - 5) 24 @ (1) Alabama (9 - 0) 30: Mississippi State jumped all over Texas A&M last week, but Alabama actually plays defense, so this week should be a little different for the Bulldogs.

(10) Penn State (7 - 2) 27 @ Indiana (5 - 4) 24:Both of these teams are improved from last season and they're actually fairly evenly matched. I like Penn State's offense to be able to score a few more points than the Hoosiers, but this could be a close one.

NC State (4 - 5) 27 @ Syracuse (4 - 5) 31: Syracuse has been up and down, while NC State has had problems with quality opponents. Both are attempting to stay in the hunt for a bowl game. I like the Orange in this one if they're able to pass on the Wolfpack.

Rutgers (2 - 7) 20 @ Michigan State (2 - 7) 23 : Someone asked me what I thought of this game and I replied "who cares?"

Northwestern (4 - 5) 27 @ Purdue (3 - 6) 30: After a bad start, Northwestern has made some improvements while Purdue has struggled defensively, giving up almost 38 points a game. This is an interesting match-up because of the Boilermakers' ability to throw the football. I'm picking an upset here.

Iowa State (1 - 8) 24 @ Kansas (1 - 8) 17: In another "who cares" game, I'll take the visitors because someone has to win.

South Carolina (5 - 4) 14 @ Florida (6 - 2) 20: Florida was exposed last week against Arkansas, but South Carolina lacks the offensive playmakers that the Razorbacks have. The Gators can all but wrap up the SEC East with a win and I think they'll be able to stifle the Gamecocks.

Kentucky (5 - 4) 23 @ Tennessee (6 - 3) 30: The Vols had dropped three straight before a win over FCS Tennessee Tech. They need another one today to keep coach Butch Jones off the hot seat after a season where expectations were very high. Kentucky should be able to keep it close, but the Vols have a little more offense than the Wildcats.

Illinois (3 - 6) 10 @ (7) Wisconsin (7 - 2) 24 : I'm not sure how Illinois is going to find a way to score on the Badgers' defense. Wisconsin doesn't put up a lot of points either, but they should be able to move the ball on the ground.

Auburn (7 - 2) 24 @ Georgia (5 - 4) 17: In fifteen seasons at Georgia, former coach Mark Richt lost more than four regular season games twice. If the Bulldogs can't take care of Auburn today, new coach Kirby Smart will have done it in his first season. Both of these teams are good defensively, but Georgia has really struggled on offense.

(5) Ohio State (8 - 1) 35 @ Maryland (5 - 4) 20: Maryland can run the ball, but their defense is not good enough, especially against Ohio State's top ten rushing offense.

Texas Tech (4 - 5) 40 @ (13) Oklahoma State (7 - 2) 49: I have no idea exactly how many points will be scored in this game, but it will be a lot. If Texas Tech can ever get a defense, they could make some noise in the Big 12. The difference here is that even though Oklahoma State stops people occasionally, Texas Tech can't stop anyone.

Pittsburgh (5 - 4) 27 @ (2) Clemson (9 - 0) 41: Clemson is starting to look like the team that challenged Alabama in the national championship game. They're hosting a team that is just a notch below the top teams in the ACC, primarily because they are vulnerable against the pass. This one could get ugly.

Georgia Tech (5 - 4) 21 @ (14) Virginia Tech (7 - 2) 30: The Hokies, with UNC's loss to Duke Thursday night, can clinch the ACC Coastal title with a win. Bud Foster's defense has generally been able to find a way to stop, or at least slow down, Georgia Tech's read option offense. With a balanced attack, Virginia Tech will also challenge the Yellow Jacket defense.

Wake Forest (6 - 3) 14 @ (6) Louisville (8 - 1) 34: Wake Forest has a pretty good defense, but they haven't seen much like Louisville Heisman Trophy frontrunner Lamar Jackson. I find it hard to believe the Deacons can keep up with the Cardinals on the scoreboard.

(22) Boise State (8 - 1) 31 @ Hawaii (4 - 6) 16:The weather in Honolulu will be a lot different than what Boise usually encounters on their blue turf in November. The Broncos have enough offensive balance to run the ball on a porous ground defense.

(24) LSU (5 - 3) 20 @ (25) Arkansas (6 - 3) 27: LSU is coming off a brutal loss to top-ranked Alabama, while the Razorbacks are again looking strong in November. If LSU can't get Leonard Fournette going, it will be a long day for the Tigers.

Ole Miss (4 - 5) 27 @ (8) Texas A&M (7 - 2) 31: After a tough three game stretch, Ole Miss got a little bit of a breather last week, but still struggled a bit against Georgia Southern. A&M got thumped at Mississippi State last week and lost their starting quarterback in the process. After faltering down the stretch the last two seasons, the Aggies are trying to avoid making it three years in a row.

(20) USC (6 - 3) 30 @ (4) Washington (9 - 0) 31: I've thought all season that there would be at least one game for the young Washington team where they would struggle to get a win. With USC, Arizona State and Washington State left on the schedule, time is running out for my prediction to come true. After struggling to open the season, USC has won five in a row, one of those against Colorado, the Pac 12 South leader.

Minnesota (7 - 2) 30 @ (19) Nebraska (7 - 2) 28: Nebraska got run over at Ohio State and now they need to regroup against what is possibly the most underrated team in the country. This doesn't match up well for the 'Huskers as they go up against a very good rushing defense.

(3) Michigan (9 - 0) 27 @ Iowa (5 - 4) 14: At this point in the season, Michigan has been the most complete team in the country. If Iowa's offense was even average, I'd give them a shot against the Wolverines, but that's not the case.

California (4 - 5) 31 @ (23) Washington State (7 - 2) 44: The Cougars are on a collision course with Washington for a season ending clash with the Pac 12 North crown on the line. California's defense is just not good enough to stop Washington State's second ranked pass offense.

(16) Colorado (7 - 2) 35 @ Arizona (2 - 7) 24: There's little doubt in my mind that Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez is on his way out as coach. The Wildcats can't stop anyone and today they face a balanced offense of Colorado.


Stanford (6 - 3) 30 @ Oregon (3 - 6) 27: As badly as Stanford appears to have played this season, they are still a respectable 6 - 3 as they head to a very disappointing Oregon. Their only losses have been to the top three teams in the conference. These two teams are almost mirror images of each other, with Oregon strong offensively, weak on defense and Stanford able to stop people but having trouble scoring.

Army (5 - 4) 24 vs. Notre Dame (3 - 6) 27 at San Antonio, TX: Is it possible for Notre Dame to lose consecutive games to service academies at neutral sites? I'd have to say absolutely, but I don't think Army is as good as Navy and the Irish will probably find a way to eke out a win.

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.






Thursday, November 10, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK ELEVEN THURSDAY AND FRIDAY PICKS

Last Week: 19 - 5      79.2%
Overall:     224 - 71   75.9%

Not much change at the top of the College Football Playoff Committee (CFP) rankings this week. Texas A&M fell out after a loss to Mississippi State, but very few analysts really felt they belonged in the first place. At the top now are the undefeated front runners in four of the five power conferences. Can they win out to create an elite playoff field? History would dictate otherwise, but all four are certainly playing at a level above the rest of the field, barely ahead of the one-loss teams just behind them, Ohio State and Louisville. Top ranked Alabama takes on that Mississippi State team that sent Texas A&M tumbling slightly to number eight, so I'm sure the Bulldogs got the Tide's full attention before a virtual tie week precedes their Iron Bowl game against dangerous Auburn. I would have to agree with the committee's selections with the other top four teams playing dangerous opponents: Washington hosts twentieth ranked USC, Clemson entertains Pittsburgh and Michigan travels to Iowa.

Thursday:

(17) North Carolina (7 - 2) 27 @ Duke (3 - 6) 20: Usually a Thursday road game can be a problem for the visitors, but these schools are only a few miles apart. In addition, Duke's home field advantage is non-existent. But the Blue Devils gave now-14th ranked Virginia Tech all they could handle last week and might be able to challenge the Tar Heels.

(15) Utah (7 - 2) 30 @ Arizona State (5 - 4) 24: Utah had a bye week to get over a close loss to Washington and they head to the desert to take on the Sun Devils. Trailing Colorado by a game in the Pac-12 South, they still control their own destiny because of a win over USC and a season-ending clash with Colorado. Arizona State's defense is just too much of a liability against good teams.

Friday:

Boston College (4 - 5) 17 @ (18) Florida State (6 - 3) 34: Florida State is hanging on in the rankings because their losses are to number two Clemson, number six Louisville and number seventeen North Carolina, three of the top four teams in the ACC. Boston College finally won a conference game, a close win over NC State before getting mauled by Louisville. I expect more of the same from the Seminoles.

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.




Monday, November 7, 2016

ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS IMPRESSIVE IN ROMP OVER FLORIDA: IS IT THE BEST WIN IN THE LAST TEN YEARS?

It was the night of October 22, just a little over two weeks ago. The Arkansas Razorbacks had just been embarrassed by a surprising Auburn team, 56 -3, and it could have been worse. After a win over Ole Miss the previous game, the loss was somewhat surprising, the final outcome even more so. How could a team that put up 30 points on the daunting Alabama defense just two weeks before have looked so inept against the Tigers?

As most of you that read my blog regularly are aware, I tend to stay away from posts about the University of Arkansas. However, after watching the incredible turnaround that the team made over the bye week, I was compelled to comment. My time in Northwest Arkansas began in the fall of 2005 on the day Houston Nutt's Hogs lost to Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks 14 - 10, their third loss in a row on their way to a disappointing 4 - 7 season. The following year, the Hogs ratcheted up the program expectations by winning the SEC West, but ended the season with consecutive losses to LSU, Florida and Wisconsin. Sporting three future NFL running backs in Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis, the future looked bright for Arkansas. But despite the success in 2006, the program was mired in drama and despite a 2007 regular season ending overtime win over top-ranked and eventual national champion LSU, head coach Houston Nutt departed for Ole Miss and was replaced by Bobby Petrino, who created his own controversy by leaving the Atlanta Falcons prior to the end of the season. After getting the Hogs to a ranking as high as third nationally, expectations had once again been higher than at any point since that 2007 season as the team prepared for 2012.

However, Petrino had personal and hiring issues and  eventually left the program before the 2012 season, making the way for Bret Bielema to be hired from Wisconsin to replace interim coach John L. Lewis, who had coached a disastrous 2012 campaign. Bielema had success at Wisconsin, primarily with a physical style of play, especially in the trenches on both sides of the ball. But he didn't inherit a team built to play that way and as he retooled, the Hogs fell to 3 - 9, raising some doubt among the fan base as to whether progress was being made in the program. Armed with a commitment from Athletic Director Jeff Long to give Bielema time to rebuild, the coach has gradually made progress in both personnel and results. So as they made the trip to Auburn on October 21, the team stood at 5 - 2 overall with their only losses to top ten teams Alabama and Texas A&M. The Razobacks, on the heels of the Ole Miss victory, were sporting number 17 rankings in the polls and were poised to continue to make some noise in the SEC. But after giving up 56 points and a school record 540 yards of rushing, everything that Bret Bielema had been building for the past four seasons appeared to be in jeopardy.

That's why the game against 11th ranked Florida, a team that boasted the second best defense, at least statistically, and an SEC East leading 6 - 1 record, suddenly became a critical game in the advancement of the Razorbacks. Regardless of the reasons for the Auburn loss, whether it was fatigue after eight straight games, the last two against  physical SEC West foes, poor execution or lack of preparation based on the unexpected resurgence of the Auburn defense, it was important for the Hogs not to fall to 5 - 4, and more importantly to 1 - 4 in the conference. The big question was how would Arkansas respond, not just the players, but the coaching staff? During the bye week, Bielema made some changes, both to the defense and the offensive line. Would they work? Would he be able to sustain his year to year improvement in the record and keep the fans from questioning his success and fitness to lead the program? Coming into the game, most prognosticators, including me, were predicting a close, low scoring game with Florida's vaunted defense a key factor. Could an injured Ausin Allen lead his team to victory against  that squad?

It didn't take long to get the answer, as a pick six by Arkansas set the tone for the game, and the Hogs never looked. back. By showing up, taking care of business and totally overwhelming the Gators, it was evident that there had been major adjustments made following the Auburn loss. Both the players and the coaching staff clearly had a renewed sense of urgency and energy, and it resulted in a lopsided 31 - 10 victory, making the Razorbacks bowl eligible and setting the stage for another big November in Fayetteville. Can they sustain the effort well enough to defeat LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri, finishing the season with a Bielema-best 9 - 3 record? Only the next three weeks will reveal that, but I give them a good chance, starting with an offensively challenged LSU Tiger team, fresh off a tough 10 - 0 loss to Alabama.  Bret Bielema is still making progress, and the Florida win once again made that clear.

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.









Saturday, November 5, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK TEN PICKS

Last Week: 21 - 10   67.7 %
Overall:     205 - 66  75.6%

From the way the College Football Playoff committee ranked the teams this week, it's apparent they're sending a message about quality of schedule. Washington's 8 - 0 start got them ranked behind a 6 - 1 Texas A&M because, as I emphasize each season, the Huskies chose to start their season with Rutgers, Portland State and Idaho. But they don't really have anything to worry about except a match-up with USC and a season closing game at Washington State. Among the one-loss teams trying to find a path to the playoffs, Louisville seems to be in a tough position. Their signature win is now against a three loss Florida State and the only real quality opponent left on the schedule is Houston team that seems to have forgotten how to win football games. But it's only the first week of the rankings, and in the first two seasons of the playoffs, only three of the combined top eight have made the field.

Tuesday: (from an earlier post)

(23) Western Michigan (8 - 0) 30 @ Ball State (4 - 4) 24: Western Michigan has been dominant this season with two wins over mid or lower level Big Ten teams. With a recent resurgence, Northwestern is making Western Michigan's resume is better by the week. The Broncos should be able to take care of business against Ball State, but the Cardinals have been competitive in all of their losses and solid in their wins. Tuesday games are an oddity, so the schedule difference as well as the increased pressure on Western Michigan to keep winning and get to a big bowl game could make this game a bit closer than the 17 1/2 point spread out of Vegas. The Broncos really have played well and haven't really been challenged during this eight game run. But we've seen some odd results in the Group of Five going back to last season's upset by UConn over a seemingly invincible Houston team, so strange things have happened on the road to New Year's Day. I'll still stick with Western Michigan, but it could be tougher than many people think.

Thursday: (from an earlier post)

(12) Oklahoma (6 - 2) 37 @ Iowa State (1 - 7) 28: No matter how big a favorite a team is, traveling on a short week can still be an issue. The Sooners have started playing at a higher level than earlier in the season, but they still have some holes on defense. Iowa State has lost four in a row, but only one of those has been by more than seven points. Oklahoma definitely needs to pay attention in a place that has historically yielded at least one big upset in most seasons. The Cyclones took Baylor to the wire earlier in the season and probably should have won the game. All I can say is beware of Ames.

UCLA (3 - 5) 20 @ (21) Colorado (6 - 2) 24: UCLA's sophomore quarterback, Josh Rosen, is out for the season and the Bruins just haven't been able to generate enough offense to win more games than they've lost. Colorado has been a pleasant surprise and like the Bruins, is coming off a bye week so they should be rested after a tough win over Stanford. I don't think UCLA is consistent enough on offense yet to pull off a road upset in a tough environment.

Friday: (from an earlier post)

San Jose State (3 - 6) 17 @ (24) Boise State (7 - 1) 38: Boise got caught looking ahead last week and was beaten by a Wyoming team they probably should have been able to beat easily. I'm thinking they'll have a little more focus at home this week and will take care of business to stay in the hunt for a New Year's Day bowl game as the Group of Five representative. San Jose State is winless on the road, where they give up a lot of points. It probably won't be much different in this one.

Saturday:

(4) Texas A&M (6 - 1) 31 @ Mississippi State (3 - 5) 20: The Aggies snuck into the top four of the Playoff Committee's first rankings despite a loss to Alabama earlier in the season. Is it likely the semifinals will consist of the teams currently there? No, considering that only three of the eight teams in the first rankings the last couple of years made it to the playoffs. For this game, Mississippi State is in a rebuilding mode after losing Dak Prescott and other key performers.

Vanderbilt (4 - 4) 13 @ (9) Auburn (6 - 2) 28: Auburn is on a roll and the committee seems to have recognized it with their ranking. But if they start reading their press clippings and look ahead to the Alabama game, Vanderbilt and Georgia are probably dangerous enough to cause them problems.

(7) Louisville (7 - 1) 37 @ Boston College (4 - 4) 16: The committee seemed to be less impressed with Louisville than much of the rest of the college football community. But with three losses by Florida State, a lackluster performance against Virginia and non-conference wins so far over Charlotte and Marshall clearly affected the ranking. Boston College's lack of offense and the added motivation from the slight should result in a Louisville victory.

(8) Wisconsin (6 - 2) 21 @ Northwestern (4 - 4) 13:Wisconsin has just completed a brutal stretch of games that finds them in the top ten and in contention for the Beg Ten West title. They should be able to handle Northwestern, but the Wildcats have improved over the course of the season. But that Badger defense is pretty tough to move the ball on.

(21) North Carolina (6 - 2) 28 @ Georgia Tech (5 - 3) 30: Georgia Tech opened with three wins, then dropped three in a row, and is now on a two game winning streak. With that logic, it makes sense to go with them to win this week. That aside, though, Carolina is giving up over 200 yards a game on the ground and the Yellow Jackets are averaging almost 250, so this is not shaping up as a very good matchup for the Heels, who can't afford another conference loss if they want to contend for the ACC Coastal title.

Maryland (5 - 3) 21 @ (3) Michigan (8 - 0) 38: Michigan is playing at a very high level, but most teams have a flat outing at some point. If they do, Maryland has enough offense to give the Wolverines some issues. I don't see it happening.

Syracuse (4 - 4) 17 @ (2) Clemson (8 - 0) 31: Syracuse shocked Virginia Tech a couple of weeks ago, but that was at home in the Carrier Dome. Clemson is playing solid football and should be able to prevail.

(19) Virginia Tech (6 - 2) 34 @ Duke (3 - 5) 20: Duke is in a bit of a rebuilding season and will have trouble duplicating last year's four overtime win over the Hokies. New head coach Justin Fuente has Tech playing offense and scoring points at a level not seen in Blacksburg in quite a while. With a tough defense to go with it, the Hokies are looking to run the table to meet Clemson in the ACC Championship game.

(18) Oklahoma State (6 - 2) 27 @ Kansas State (5 - 3) 19: This is a very important game for Oklahoma State if they want to stay in hunt for the Big 12 conference title. Kansas State's defense is very good and could give the Cowboys some problems, but the Wildcats have some trouble putting points on the board.

(11) Florida (6 - 1) 20 @ Arkansas (5 - 3) 23: The Hogs got pasted two weeks ago at Auburn, probably because of some fatigue and lack of preparation for an improving Tigers team. Florida comes in with flashy defensive statistics, but they've been posted against a mediocre schedule. I've been asked all week what I thought about this one and it's a tight one. I expect a game very similar to Arkansas' win over Ole Miss, but with less offense.

Arizona (2 - 6) 24 @ (25) Washington State (6 - 2) 34: Washington State eased into the CFP rankings this week. They could be headed for a season-ending showdown against Washington for the Pac-12 North title. Arizona is having a rough year and coach Rich Rodriguez may be on the hot seat. One more loss and the Wildcats will be eliminated from bowl consideration, probably later today.

TCU (4 - 4) 30 @ (17) Baylor (6 - 1) 27: Baylor entered the meat of their schedule last week with an upset loss to inconsistent Texas. TCU has been a disappointment, but they've faced a much tougher slate. I'm not impressed with Baylor and look for the Horned Frogs to hand the Bears their second consecutive loss.

Kansas (1 - 7) 13 @ (20) West Virginia (6 - 1) 37: The Big 12 two unbeatens last week and appears to be headed to being left out of the playoffs. West Virginia should be able to bounce back nicely from their loss to Oklahoma State.

(22) Florida State (5 - 3) 27 @ NC State (4 - 4) 23: NC State has been competitive, but has struggled against top teams. A loss to Boston College last week was a low point for the season. Florida State will be trying to bounce back on the road after tough loss at home to Clemson, two by less than three points the Seminoles have had to ranked teams.

Iowa (5 - 3) 20 @ (12) Penn State (6 - 2) 31: Penn State was able to consolidate their upset win over Ohio State with a pounding of Purdue. Iowa will present more of a challenge, but the Nittany Lions are on a roll after getting mauled by Michigan. The Hawkeyes are having trouble scoring and that will hurt them today.

(10) Nebraska (7 - 1) 27 @ (6) Ohio State (7 - 1) 24: Its victory over Oregon diminished by the Ducks' disappointing season, Nebraska is still looking for their first signature win in their second season under Mike Riley. They head to the Horseshoe after an overtime loss to Wisconsin, but they still control their own destiny in the Big Ten West. A young Ohio State team that looked invincible earlier in the season has struggled the last three games. I have a feeling it's time for the 'Huskers to breakk through.

(1) Alabama (8 - 0) 26 @ (13) LSU (5 - 2) 17: Last year it was Alabama winning 30 - 16. The Tide is better than last year's team, but this one is at night on the road in Death Valley. LSU is hoping for running back Leonard Fournette to make some big plays, quarterback Danny Etling to avoid mistakes and the defense to limit Alabama's offense. I don't see it happening.


(5) Washington (8 - 0) 37 @ California (4 - 4) 30: This is the first time in a while that Washington faces a big game ranked as high as they are this week. Can a young team go on the road and continue their possible road to a playoff berth? After a big win at Utah, they now take on a high scoring Cal team that plays much better at home than on the road. I'm going to stay with the Huskies. I think they''ll lose one along the way, but it probably won't be this week.

Pittsburgh (5 - 3) 34 @ Miami (4 - 4) 27: After a weak non-conference schedule and a win over Georgia Tech, the Hurricanes found themselves highly ranked and undefeated. They haven't won since and are taking on a Pittsburgh team whose three losses are by a combined 11 points to ranked opponents.

Texas (4 - 4) 37 @ Texas Tech (4 - 4) 35: These are two teams that are difficult to figure out. The Longhorns have looked great at times, and stumbled at others. Texas Tech can really score, but defensively they struggle.

Michigan State (2 - 6) 27 @ Illinois (2 - 6) 21: I'm going to have to stick with the Spartans this week, even though they've had a very disappointing season and dropped six games in a row.

Navy (5 - 2) 24 @ Notre Dame (3 - 5) 28: Notre Dame seems to have righted the ship a little bit and they see the style of offense Navy plays multiple times a season.


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.







Thursday, November 3, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK TEN THURSDAY AND FRIDAY PICKS

Thursday:

(12) Oklahoma (6 - 2) 37 @ Iowa State (1 - 7) 28: No matter how big a favorite a team is, traveling on a short week can still be an issue. The Sooners have started playing at a higher level than earlier in the season, but they still have some holes on defense. Iowa State has lost four in a row, but only one of those has been by more than seven points. Oklahoma definitely needs to pay attention in a place that has historically yielded at least one big upset in most seasons. The Cyclones took Baylor to the wire earlier in the season and probably should have won the game. All I can say is beware of Ames.

UCLA (3 - 5) 20 @ (21) Colorado (6 - 2) 24: UCLA's sophomore quarterback, Josh Rosen, is out for the season and the Bruins just haven't been able to generate enough offense to win more games than they've lost. Colorado has been a pleasant surprise and like the Bruins, is coming off a bye week so they should be rested after a tough win over Stanford. I don't think UCLA is consistent enough on offense yet to pull off a road upset in a tough environment.

Friday:

San Jose State (3 - 6) 17 @ (24) Boise State (7 - 1) 38: Boise got caught looking ahead last week and was beaten by a Wyoming team they probably should have been able to beat easily. I'm thinking they'll have a little more focus at home this week and will take care of business to stay in the hunt for a New Year's Day bowl game as the Group of Five representative. San Jose State is winless on the road, where they give up a lot of points. It probably won't be much different in this one.

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.




Tuesday, November 1, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: RARE RANKED TEAM ON TUESDAY NIGHT

(23) Western Michigan (8 - 0) 30 @ Ball State (4 - 4) 24: Western Michigan has been dominant this season with two wins over mid or lower level Big Ten teams. With a recent resurgence, Northwestern is making Western Michigan's resume is better by the week. The Broncos should be able to take care of business against Ball State, but the Cardinals have been competitive in all of their losses and solid in their wins. Tuesday games are an oddity, so the schedule difference as well as the increased pressure on Western Michigan to keep winning and get to a big bowl game could make this game a bit closer than the 17 1/2 point spread out of Vegas. The Broncos really have played well and haven't really been challenged during this eight game run. But we've seen some odd results in the Group of Five going back to last season's upset by UConn over a seemingly invincible Houston team, so strange things have happened on the road to New Year's Day. I'll still stick with Western Michigan, but it could be tougher than many people think.

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.