Poinsettia Bowl Pick: Utah Utes vs California Golden Bears

Poinsettia Bowl Pick Utah Utes vs California Golden Bears: I know this game is in California, which basically will turn this into a Cal home game, but I think the Utes have a real chance to make the Pac-10 look even worse than they already do after BYU came out and destroyed one of the better Pac-10 players, the Oregon State Beavers. The Utes have a very good team, and are obviously well coached. But it will be their toughness up front that ultimately gives them a chance to upset the Bears of Cal.

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Utah was 9-3 this season, but just 5-7 ATS. They were 3-8-1 O/U, riding their strong defense to low scoring games and 9 wins. They were 6-0 at home, just 3-3 on the road (as you probably figured). They allow 19 points per game and score just over 29. The Utes lost 2 of their last 3 games, but won 6 straight prior to a tough stretch against top competition. Some of their most impressive outings came in losses as the Utes lost by a field goal to BYU in overtime to finish the season, and earlier lost by a touchdown at Oregon.

California has definitely been up and down, and spent most of the season ranked despite their relatively disappointing play against top competition. After starting the season 3-0 and ranked in the Top 10, the Bears got crushed in back to back games against Oregon and USC, losing by a combined score of 72-6. Gross. But they won 5 of their next 6, including back to back wins over Arizona and Stanford, no easy feat by any means. However, they finished their season rocking a 10-42 loss to Washington, and I just can’t trust that kind of garbage.

I like to take small colleges against big-name schools, especially when they are the better football team. I believe that is the case here.

Utah Utes (+3.5) @ California Golden Bears

California Golden Bears vs Stanford Cardinal NCAA Pick

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California Golden Bears @ Stanford Cardinal (-7) NCAA Pick: This come right down to me thinking Stanford is 2 touchdowns better than Cal on any given day. They pass the ball much better, run it better, are more physical, control the clock like it’s their job, and play a better brand of football with less room for error. Basically, Yahtzee! I feel like the Cardinal as a touchdown favorite is a glorious thing that everyone should get in on – so does 67% of the public, but so what, this one shouldn’t be too close.

Stanford hasn’t been favored in this in-state rivalry since 2001. That’s a long time ago folks, as scary as that sounds. Cal is 5-2-1 ATS over the last 8 meetings with Stanford, they’ve won 6 of the last 7 outright. Just for the sake of letting you know, the under has won in 6 of the last 7 match-ups.

Before last week’s win over Arizona, the Bears had been kicked around by each “good” team they’ve played. That means USC (30-3), Oregon (42-3), and Oregon State (31-14) in a game that wasn’t even that close. Their win over Arizona says something, definitely, they have a little fight in their pads, and that’s good for Bear fans. But this Stanford team is too good for any of that business to matter.

Unlike Arizona, the Cardinal should just bruise and batter the Bear defense just like USC, Oregon State, and Oregon did. 38-20 is my prediction.

NCAA Free Picks REVIEW: Week 1

Well, well – a winner is a winner is a winner I guess. When you win more than you lose it all works out. It wasn’t as hard as it sounds. I picked 10 games of Week 1’s action and finished 6-4. There were a couple tough ones, (cough, cough – Vanderbilty/Miami-Ohio – cough) and some really nice upsets that I pulled off as well (go Bowling Green) – this is the review…

Vanderbilt Commodores @ Miami-Ohio Redhawks (-4): (loss)

“Vanderbilt loses their best player in wide receiver Earl Bennett. He was by far their most effective and productive offensive player. Their leading returning receiver is out with a stress fracture (George Smith). If that weren’t enough, the Commodores also said goodbye to their leading rusher from last year, as well as their entire starting offensive line – that’s the kicker. The Commodores don’t have much cohesion right now, as new starters are still being decided. The starting quarterback for this Thursday’s game wasn’t decided by the weekend, leaving much to be answered in the four days before kickoff. While Vanderbilt has all the questions, Miami of Ohio looks to be full of answers.” (Me) Well, I guess I was wrong about this one. Still, I read everything going into this game and it looks like a tough go for the Commodores. Luckily they named the right QB as Chris Nickson rushed 20 times for 166 yards, tormenting Miami-Ohio’s defense. It all sounded good to me, I guess I can’t always know.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-12) @ Baylor Bears: (WINNER)

“Wake Forest is the real deal. I expect them to start off the season hot, and ride their quarterback to the top of the ACC. Take them over the Bears by a couple touchdowns.” I couldn’t have predicted this game any better, except a couple touchdowns turned into 4 touchdowns. Riley Skinner lit up the Bears to the tune of 27 for 36 with 220 yards and 3 touchdown passes. The Deacons defense was stout, holding the Bears to just 6 points through 3 quarters.

Oregon State Beavers (-3) @ Stanford Cardinal: (9:00pm EST, 8-28-2008)

The Beavers fell down early and when they were just about to get up, or score the game tying touchdown, their young wide receiver fumbled the ball through the end-zone, ending what would have been one heck of a come back for me. The Beavers lost by 8. The Cardinal did it on the ground while putting up just enough points to win despite Lyle Moevao’s 404 passing yards and 4 TD passes. I was 1-2 before the weekend even started.

Friday’s Game

Temple Owls (-7) @ Army Black Knights: (7:00pm EST, 8-29-2008)

“Temple, amazingly, won 4 of their last 7 games, have three Pre-Seasons All Conference players returning, and were voted “Program on the Rise” by the MAC conference. They return their leading passer and an offensive line that found cohesion late last year. Defensively, Temple is better than expected, as Army will find out. Army switched their entire offense around this summer, moving from a no-huddle spread to an option based rushing attack. When that happens originally, teams seem to struggle because of the recruiting differences for offenses like that. I never thought I’d consider taking a Temple team on the road and favored by a touchdown, but that’s exactly what I’m doing and I’m confident about it.” Sometimes I can really pick them. Temple held Army scoreless in the first half while putting up 21 points of their own. The game ended at 35-7 and Temple looked good carrying my win on their backs.

Saturday’s Games

Bowling Green Falcons (+13) @ Pittsburgh Panthers: (WINNER)

“The Bowling Green Falcons bring 17 of 22 starters back to a team that is expected to compete for a WAC crown this season. The Falcons won 5 of their last 6 regular season games in 2007 before getting absolutely crushed in their bowl game against Tulsa. I like that last part. The Falcons have waited all summer, 17 returning starters and many other frustrated kids, to get back on the football field and prove that bowl game was a fluke. In comes the Panthers with one of the best running backs in the Nation and a former pro-football head coach. I like the Falcons’ chances – take them and all those points.” YES! Bowling Green pulled one of the weekend’s biggest stunners and I was right there to pat them on the back. I have to admit, I was a little worried when LeSean McCoy and company marched down the field for a score, and then went up 14-0. But the Falcons were resilient and finished off the Panthers 27-17.

Akron Zips @ Wisconsin Badgers (-26): (tough loss)

Akron’s 4th quarter touchdown killed me, taking this game from a two point cover to a 5 point loss. It’s always tough with big spreads, which is why I like to stay away from them for the most part – but up 38-10, the Badgers kicked me right in the junk when they allowed Akron to throw a touchdown pass with 38 seconds left on the clock. Now that’s a bad freaking beat!

Utah Utes (+3.5) @ Michigan Wolverines: (3:30pm EST, 8-30-2008)

“The Utes are very good and should win their conference this season. Michigan lost too many good players and are in the midst of a complete turn-around with their new head coach, Rich Rodriguez. I don’t know what else to say besides this, Utah is the better team with a better mentality and they also have nothing to lose in this one. Sign me up for that every single week.” The Utes made this closer than it had to be, but I’m still not that impressed with the Wolverines. They rode a little momentum late but the better team was Utah all day long. The game ended with the better team winning.

Oklahoma State Cowboys (-6) @ Washington State Cougars: (WINNER)

“The Cougars weren’t very good a year ago, usually open the season soft, don’t have much of a home-field advantage during the first few weeks of the college football season, lost their star quarterback to graduation, and don’t have much confidence either. Hmm…” What else can you say? I wasn’t real surprised when I won this one in the first quarter. End of game score, 39-13- Cougs, thanks for playing – see you next week.

Michigan State Spartans (+5) @ California Golden Bears (loss)

This game was close, but the Bears looked better than the Spartans all night long. Sometimes I feel robbed after a loss, but that wasn’t the case here. The Bears looked solid defensively despite the big score at the end of the game. MSU fought hard at the end of the game but in the end Cal had the better athletes and it showed. Still, I was just a field goal away from winning this one.

Idaho Vandals @ Arizona Wildcats (-27): (WINNER)

“It seems like a lot of points, and it is, but I just have a feeling… …This game wouldn’t surprise me if it was a 45-7 WIldcat blowout.” It would however surprise me if the Wildcats put up 70 in this one. Try a 35 point 2nd quarter and a 70-0 final score. Yikes. Like I said, I just had a feeling.

6-4 overall with a few huge wins a couple tough losses – such is the way it goes. Tune in tomorrow for some Week 2 Free NCAA Picks!