New Year's Eve Bowl Games: Free College Football Picks

The amount of college games on the docket right now is a little overbearing, so I’m going to go ahead and write a little less about each game, include them into one article, and cut down on the amount of computer hours I’m putting in these last few weeks. Don’t worry, I’ll still have some of the bigger games of the College Bowl season with bigger write ups, so keep checking in. And don’t feel like I’m ripping you off, the same amount of research goes into these picks as any write up I do for any other pick I do all year. Here goes Thursday’s Bowl Games…

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Air Force Falcons @ Houston Cougars (-4.5): The quick little bit of information I gave on this game in my weekly newsletter still has me liking the Cougars to pull it out over the Falcons. I said the Falcons have been blistered by elite passing attacks, and in their last 3 losses they were out-gained through the air by 550+ yards. I think the Cougars have a chance to do that again.

Stanford Cardinal (+10) @ Oklahoma Sooners: I know the Pac 10 has been brutal, and I know the Cardinal are without their freshman sensation at running back, but something in me just trusts Jim Harbaugh to get his team prepared for this big game. Since he got on campus as the head man at Stanford, he’s had his kids ready to play better than expected, especially against elite opponents. They have a stellar rushing attack, and not just at running back, their offensive line is one of the best in the country. That should be worth a 10 point cover.

Navy Midshipmen (+7) @ Missouri Tigers: Navy has out-rushed their opponent in 8 of their last 10 games, winning 7 of those match-ups. Missouri was out-gained on the ground in 4 of their last 8 games, and in all four they recorded the loss. It’s not as good as gold, but with a touchdown to play with, I  sure like the consistent and disciplined Navy Midshipmen.

Iowa State Cyclones (+3) @ Minnesota Golden Gophers: Neither of these teams really impress me, but I know what I think about the Big 10, and while the Big 12 is a little overrated, they are much better than the Big 10. Both teams were terribly inconsistent, playing with Top 25 talent one week while getting beaten up other weeks – the one thing keeping me with Iowa is that Minnesota gives up lots of rushing yards, and Iowa State has shown the ability to win when they can run.

Tennessee Volunteers @ Virginia Tech Hokies (-4.5): The SEC really embarrassed the ACC toward the end of the year in some inter-conference match-ups, but I don’t see that happening here. Tennessee has gone through to stuff with some trouble within the program towards the end of the season, and while they played well in some games down the stretch, I think all that attention hurts them a bit against the Hokies. Va Tech won 4 straight to end the season, never giving up more than 13 points and out-scoring their opponents 132-35 in those games. Your can run on Tennessee, and the Vols don’t throw the ball real well – both those statistical advantages look to really favor the Hokies in this one.

North Carolina State Wolf Pack vs Virginia Tech Hokies Pick

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North Carolina State Wolf Pack @ Virginia Tech Hokies (-19.5) Pick: The Wolf Pack don’t post much of a problem for the Hokies, at least not based on the type of teams that Va-Tech usually has trouble with. Obviously talent is far superior at Virginia Tech, but that’s not always a recipe for success. The fact that pass-happy, poor-running teams don’t seem to get much done against the Hokies is what means much more to me. Tech has shown, if you can’t run it with success, they’ll put you to rest.

The Wolf Pack don’t run the ball poorly, it’s just not a huge part of their offense, and they just don’t do it against good defenses. They have been out-rushed in  3 of their last 4 games, the Pack that is, and they’ve lost those 3. They’ve only lost 2 games by 20 points or more, against Clemson and Boston College, two defenses that don’t allow you to run with ease.

The Hokies have been out-rushed 4 times this season, they are 3-1 in those games with a 16-15 win over Nebraska in the other. North Carolina, Georgia Tech, and Alabama (their 3 losses) all had the ability to run the ball with power and efficiency. That’s the link of the Hokies’ three losses. The Hokies have beaten 4 teams by 24 or more. The Hokies are playing their best defense of the season, and offensively they are leaning more and more on the run-game. That’s good for them.They win by 3+ TD’s in this one.

Virginia Tech Hokies vs East Carolina Pirates Free Pick

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Virginia Tech Hokies @ East Carolina Pirates (+13) Free Pick: First of all, the Pirates are underrated. They run the ball well and have competed in every game they’ve played in this year. How do they go about doing that? Well, they can run the ball effectively against pretty much anyone. They’ve out-rushed four of their last five opponents, going 4-1 during that stretch.

I’m not saying they’re going to come out and out-rush the Hokies, but Virginia Tech has had a lot of trouble with teams that can run the ball. In fact, in each of their 3 losses the Hokies have been out-rushed. In four of their five losses against the spread, they’ve been out-rushed. Like I said, they struggle against opponents that can run the ball, not just in the win/loss column but against the spread as well.

The Pirates have stepped up their defensive pressure over their last 5 games, not once allowing more than 21 points. The Hokies have been out-played in 3 of their last 4, luckily straight talent got them the win over Duke, and they played well against Boston College. 59% of the public likes Virginia Tech.

The Pirates played and won last Thursday Night against Memphis, while Virginia Tech is playing on short rest, having only 4 practice days between games after losing to North Carolina last Saturday. East Carolina has covered in each of their last two meetings with the Hokies, including their first win since 1992, a 27-22 win over Va Tech last season. I’ll take the home team and the points.

North Carolina Tar Heels vs Virginia Tech Hokies Pick

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North Carolina Tar Heels (+17) @ Virginia Tech Hokies Pick: The 14th ranked Hokies come into this one looking to get back on track after taking it on the chin in a loss to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets came to play defensively, making most things tough on Tyrod Taylor and company, and a normally stout defensive front was beaten early and often by the Yellow Jackets rushing attack. It’s a short week for the Hokies, not always the easiest way to cover a 17 point spread against a tough conference opponent.

The Tar Heels come off a tough loss to Florida State last Thursday Night. They were on top for most of the game, getting up 24-6 in the 3rd quarter before FSU fought back with huge passing totals, torching a defense that played very well in the first half, and had previously been ranked #1 in the ACC. The Tar Heels would score only a field goal going forward, and the Seminoles scored a go-ahead touchdown with 6 minutes left in the 4th, it would turn out to be a game winner. A win here would certainly be sweet redemption for the Heels.

Looking at this game, I like the match-up problems Carolina’s stout run-defense has against a normally talented rushing game from the Hokies. I know UNC isn’t going to throw the ball a lot, they aren’t a passing team, but they have been known to grind out yards on the ground, and any team that can run and stop the run, is a nice value bet at +17. If you look at Virginia Tech’s losses, and game where they struggled – they got out-rushed. If the Heels can commit to stopping that Hokies run game, and put up some yardage on the ground themselves, an upset could happen. Either way, a cover seems likely.

Virginia Tech Hokies vs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Pick

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Virginia Tech Hokies (-3) @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: I just think the Hokies are flat out a lot better than the Yellow Jackets. G-Tech has played well lately, but they give up too many points. You can’t do that against VaTech, it just doesn’t work. Why? you ask, because Virginia Tech doesn’t give up lots of points. The only chance you have is to beat them in a tough contest. A high scoring game will only end one way, with the Hokies on top. Three points? I don’t care that 70% of the public agrees with me, I’m not even worried.

Free College Football Picks: Week 3

My free college football picks of the week are looking like a high-win group. There are some lines that get me real excited for my first big winner of the season, and since I’m 4 games down (because of my 3-7 Week 1 effort), I’m more than ready to get in the green. Follow my NCAA picks from Thursday Night Football’s action to Saturday afternoon. I snapped out 11 picks this week, because, well, I thought I had 10 picks, ended up counting wrong, and didn’t feel like deleting one of my previews: a win for you no doubt… Big winner, big winner!

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Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets @ Miami Hurricanes (-4.5): When a lower rated team is favored, I like the odds. I think Miami has a ton of ability. The players coming into that school are fast, physical, NFL bodied type guys. I am impressed with the Techies this year, no doubt, they have a solid rushing attack and one of the best runners in the NCAA’s. However, I don’t think GT played very well last week, and they still got the win, yet another situation I like to bet against.

Boston College Eagles @ Clemson Tigers (-6.5): The Tigers showed me a lot last week covering against Georgia Tech despite getting done in by 2 freakish fake field goal scores in the first quarter. They fought back to a tie after being down 21-0. They are a good team with strong lines on both sides. The Eagles don’t do much for me, and despite these two teams fighting good battles in the past, I think this one will be pretty one-sided.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane (+15) @ Oklahoma Sooners: Tulsa is pretty solid. They will play tough defense and keep the Sooners on their toes. Oklahoma should win this game, but it will be tough. The injuries and question marks still surround the Sooners.

Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (+6) @ Maryland Terrapins: The Blue Raiders have looked solid in their start to the season while the Terps have looked dismal. This spread should be smaller, yet 71% of the public is still riding the slow moving Terps. I think Maryland falls to the small school Blue Raiders. They just haven’t played well enough to win games, and nothing seems to be getting answered in Maryland.

USC Trojans @ Washington Huskies (+20.5): If you don’t count last season, because, well, the Huskies were a joke, then you have to admit the Huskies have played the powerful Trojans well over the last couple years. In ’06 the Huskies lost by 6 as a 19 point dog. In ’07 the Dogs lost by just 3 as an 18.5 point dog. This year I got the Huskies as a 20.5 point dog, and I’m pretty excited about it. They have a tough offense with a stellar athlete/leader at the quarterback position. They have a coaching staff that is very knowledgeable when it comes to the Trojans. I like the Dogs’ chances to cover here.

Arizona Wildcats (+5.5) @ Iowa Hawkeyes: The Hawkeyes don’t look ready for the Cats. Arizona is one of the better unknown teams in the Pac 10, and the Hawkeyes have played nobody thus far. Arizona hasn’t really had a powerful schedule either, and they are not the best traveling team in the world, but Central Michigan was a pretty good win, a better team than the Hawkeyes. I think AZ’s defense holds the Hawkeyes under two scores, making this an easy cover for the Cats.

SMU Broncos (-7) @ Washington State Cougars: Fade the Cougars. ‘Nough said.

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Cincinnati Bearcats @ Oregon State Beavers (EVEN): The Bearcats destroyed Rutgers, then took care of a low-level high school team… Ergh, I mean small division team. Tony Pike is looking good, finally living up to some hype for the Cats, but does that mean they can handle Jacquizz Rodgers? I don’t think so. Rodgers has a question mark by his name, ankle ding, but I think he plays, and I think he rumbles. The Beavers have looked pretty damn god since half way through last season, and they came back to oust a tough UNLV team in Vegas last week. I think they are more battle tested, I think that gives them the slight advantage.

Florida State Seminoles @ BYU Cougars (-7): I think Florida State is athletic, but I still think people aren’t giving the Cougars their due. They have a tough match-up this week, one of their toughest opponents for the rest of the season, but I think the Cougars do too many of the little things right to be caught up in trouble against FSU. They’ll run the ball more this week, that should open up some looks downfield for one of the better college quarterbacks in all the land. I’ll take BYU at home, because how out of place will the FSU kids feel in freaking Utah anyway?

Georgia Bulldogs @ Arkansas Razorbacks (-1): I like taking the lesser ranked favorite, and the Razorbacks opened up at exactly that. This is a well coached squad with some very good players, and they are getting stronger every game. They haven’t made much noise since McFadden and Felix Jones left town, but I think they oust the higher ranked Bulldogs at home this week.

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors @ UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (-7): Don’t get fooled by Hawaii’s dominance over the Pac 10’s own WSU Cougars last week, there’s a reason why I tell you to fade the Cougars. But the Rebels are good, they do lots of things well and have an experienced team looking to win games. They should have got the W last week, and this week it will happen, in relatively easy fashion.

NCAA Football Top 10 Free Picks: Week 1

I’m back! And hopefully, for you and for me, better than ever. If you followed me last season you saw a winning season in both the NFL and NCAA, giving you free NCAA and NFL winners for absolutely FREE. When I say Free Picks, I mean Free Picks, I made nothing, you gave nothing, we’re talking real Free, not some small print excluded kind of free that gets your hopes up right before crushing you with reality. The good free. The big story here? I’m back for some more free picks, write-ups, and best of all, heaps and heaps of flipping winners. College Football’s Week 1 is always a big deal, it means football is here, the NFL is damn close, and that nice warm weather that kept you warm (and less pale) for the last four months is just about finished. But the cooler nights allows me to smell some football. And with a bigger whiff I smell some winners. And that smell, more than anything, makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Here’s 10 bets for Opening Week… Enjoy!

Oregon Ducks @ Boise State Broncos (OVER 64): Here’s the deal. The Ducks went out big last year, winning a few games to end their season, then busting Oklahoma State in the mouth on their way to a big bowl win over the heavily favored Cowboys. Hooray last year. The Ducks also return their stud starting quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli, a beast of a running back in LeGarrette Blount, and a few big boys on the line among others. What they lose, however, is some punch in their secondary and that could really hurt against a Broncos team that knows how to pick apart defenses. Boise State has some athletes of their own, helping Kellen Moore put points on the board will be Jeremy Avery, Jeremy Childs, and a huge play guy in Titus Young – a receiver that just happens to be one of the quickest players in the land. You throw in the blue turf, an Oregon team “trying to prove themselves and make up for last years loss to Boise State in Oregon” and I think the Broncos have the comfort level in this one. While I like the Broncos to win, and likely cover the 4 point spread in this one, I like the OVER even more. Oregon scored over 30 points in 11 of their 13 games, and I don’t think the Broncos will hold them much lower than that. The Ducks give up points too, allowing 30 or more to each ranked team they played in 2008. This game should light up the scoreboard, take advantage of that, it’s the best bet in this game.

South Carolina Gamecocks (+5) @ North Carolina State Wolfpack: Did South Carolina get that much worse in the last year? I don’t see Steve Spurrier’s team doing that. In fact, I think they’ve gotten a little better. Has North Carolina State become a powerhouse this summer, losing their best defensive player for the season? I think they’ll be decent in 2009, but they’re not a great team. The Gamecocks beat NC State 34-0 last season. They played tough against just about every single team they played until injuries broke them down and they lost 3 straight to end their season. Spurrier is a bit of a donkey, don’t get me wrong, but he’s one hell of a coach, offensive genius, and recruiter. His Gamecocks will get big contributions from freshman, a better season out of the quarterback position, and an upset win at NC State this Thursday Night.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (-6.5) @ Syracuse Orange: This game seems too easy. Does that put a little scare in a guy? Sure, from time to time, but the books are busy, certainly, and doing all those pre-season games, getting lines up for Week 1 in the NFL, getting proper lines for every single college game to start the season, shoot, it has to be tough. So they miss a line now and again. I’d take the Gophers at -14 in this one, so less than a touchdown favorite seems like free money. You know what I think about free money? Take it before it’s not free anymore. Sportsbook still has the Gophers favored by less than a TD, it doesn’t get much easier than that. The Orange are starting a quarterback that hasn’t played football in 4 years, and just transferred from Duke to Syracuse this spring. Greg Paulus, Duke’s old PG, is now the starting QB for Syracuse. Come on. This is Tim Brewsters’ 3rd season as the head coach of the Gophers, this will be his best season yet. The Gophers can really run the football, and the Orange are terrible at stopping the run. Look for the Gophers to start their season off right.

Baylor Bears @ Wake Forrest Demon Deacons (-2.5): This line seems to be moving towards the visiting team. I think the Deacons will win, but the hype is with the Bears. They have a young QB that lit up the conference last season, but I still give the nod at that position to 4 year starter Riley Skinner – the guy has a scope on his arm. Wake loses a lot offensively with Demir Boldin’s graduation, but there’s talent there, and like I said, Skinner is a sniper. Wake struggled a lot last season, playing way below their expectations, and I think that flips this season. The opposite can be said for Baylor. The Bears don’t play well on the road, they look like everybody’s favorite sleeper team this season, and I’m not buying in. I’ll take the Deacons.

BYU Cougars @ Oklahoma Sooners (-22): BYU didn’t get better, and last year they got pretty well kicked around by every “Good” team they played, at least final score wise. Arizona was decent, they won by 10. Utah was good, they won by 24. TCU was good, they won by 25. You get the picture? Oklahoma returns a load of great players, 1st round pick in the NFL type players, best QB in the land type players – so despite the high number, despite BYU’s returning players and big game hopes, I like the Sooners to beat up the Cougars by 30 or so.

Virginia Tech Hokies (+6.5) @ Alabama Crimson Tide: The ACC gets not love, and that’s fine, I’ll just ride them toward some bags of money. The Hokies have a good enough defense to go with them as a 6.5 point dog against anybody in the nation, especially a run first team that lost 3 starting offensive linemen, their starting quarterback, and starting running back. I’m not sure that the Hokies are a Top 5 team, but I really don’t think Alabama will finish the season in the Top 15, not that rankings matter at all, but I’m basically saying the Hokies are the better team.

Maryland Terrapins (+21.5) @ California Golden Bears: I’m taking the Terps because 25 is too high. The Terps play close as dogs, and I think the Bears are a little overrated, even though Jahvid Best is an absolute beast. I think the Bears win by 10, maybe 14, but not more than three touchdowns.

LSU Tigers (-17.5) @ Washington Huskies: If the Tigers promise that they won’t throw the ball, and the Huskies get to stack 11 people in the box, and their new head coach just for shiggles, the Tigers will still run all over the Huskies in Seattle. The talent difference on the field should look like a college team playing a pro team. Do I think the Huskies will be better this year? You bet. Will they be good enough to make this game respectable? No chance. I would be stunned, absolutely pissed on, if the Huskies finish within four touchdowns of the Tigers.

Mississippi Rebels (-16.5) @ Memphis Tigers: Anybody worth anything hammered Memphis last season. The Rebels were one of those teams. This year, the Rebels are a year older, and that has made them a more complete team, stronger in a lot of places that help you destroy teams like Memphis. Ole Miss isn’t used to being in the Top 10, that’s for sure, and a couple games this season, those expectations are going to hurt them. Not in this game, that won’t hold them back.

Miami Hurricanes (+6.5) @ Florida State Seminoles: I think Miami’s the better team. There it is. This game is always a huge rivalry game, but I must say that it has to mean more to Miami. This is their very best chance for a win in the first four games of the season. After FSU it’s Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma. It doesn’t get easier after this game, that’s what I’m saying. So, I think they’ll have a little urgency, something that FSU won’t be ready for. I also think Jacory Harris is special, and that this Miami team is going to be very talented this season. Almost a touchdown dog in this big in-state rivalry game? I like them to cover here.

NCAA Free Picks: Week 6

I hit a bit of a tough stretch last week, finishing under .500 and bringing my overall record down a bit. But after a tough week that saw me lose four more than I won, I’m back at the bit and ready to give it another try. I see a few (by few I mean a lot of) games I love this weekend, and yes, this week I will attempt to crack the fabled thursday egg. A bold player I will become… Here’s the seventeen big ones to follow.

Oregon State Beavers @ Utah Utes (-11): Free money! That’s right, even against an Oregon State team that maimed the Trojan beast of college football, these Utes will do work. I’m surprised it hasn’t gone to 10 yet, but it seems like it’s staying above a touchdown and a field goal. I think that’s to try and trick Beaver backers into betting on their team. It shouldn’t matter, though I would be happier with 10. The Utes are healthy where OSU is without a couple more defenders from a defensive secondary that would have struggled with Utah anyway. Take the Utes here!

Cincinnati Bearcats (-3) @ Marshall Thundering Herd: It’s tough to go with a college team starting a 3rd string quarterback that has completed 25% of his passes for a total of 2 yards, but that’s what I’m doing. I think the Bearcats are that much better than Marshall. This is no gimme game, and I’m sure it will be a special teams score that makes the difference, but Cinci has a the talent to compensate for their lost quarterbacks.

BYU Cougars (-29) @ Utah State Aggies: Cougars by 38 – that’s my best guess. Did I say guess? I didn’t mean it, I meant that’s my strong opinion based on facts and assumptions that border on the line of reality. Yes, I believe the UW game was flukey for the Cougs, and the rest of their contests have been the real BYU team. They are good and the Aggies are horrible. A 40+ point win would be easily gathered on Friday Night.

Boston College Eagles (-8) @ North Carolina State Wolfpack: The Eagles are three touchdowns better than the Wolfpack. This game seems too easy, so much so that I’m worried a little bit. Sure, the Wolfpack beat a very good East Carolina team, but that’s their fluke – the real NC State team showed up last week in a home loss to South Florida 10-41. Yeah, that’s right. The Eagles are nothing to write home about, but you don’t need to write home about a team that covers at NC State. Take BC to win another ACC match-up.

Akron Zips (-3.5) @ Kent State Golden Flashes: I like what the Zips bring to the table. They have a talented passing attack, just in case things get worrisome. They have a pretty solid group of kids that know how to play tough. There’s a lot I like about the Zips, enough to take them as a road favorite in a conference game.

Florida Gators (-24) @ Arkansas Razorbacks: These teams aren’t on the same level. After losing a huge game at home last week I doubt the Gators come out stiff in this one. They’ll be out to prove a point, and a good way to do that is by slapping the Razorbacks around; just ask the last two teams to play Arkansas – Texas did a 52-10 job while ‘Bama pushed in a mix tape that went something like 49-14. Florida doesn’t win by 40+, but they cover the spread, no doubt in my mind.

Oklahoma Sooners @ Baylor Bears (+27): If only because being #1 is a tough gig these days. Oklahoma hasn’t had a close one yet, but they aren’t super heroic here, they can have bad days, why not in their 5th contest of the year against an underrated Baylor Bear team with a little bit of speed and a freshman quarterback that can’t be scared? I’m not saying an upset is on the horizon, but I am saying a cover is not a stunner here.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (+28) @ Virginia Tech Hokies: This is a real test, but after much deliberation I still can’t even fathom the Hokies as a -28 favorite against anybody in the nation, not even a Hilltopper team that has a 38 point loss to Kentucky and a 34 point loss to Alabama to be credited for. This should be closer than that, maybe 24-0 at the most. Smells like teen cover.

Arizona State Sun Devils (+9.5) @ California Golden Bears: Because this game will be closer. I don’t know a winner, but some late minute trickery will have to happen for either team to win this by more than a touchdown. Here are two teams that make a living playing it close and Cal isn’t good enough to be a runaway favorite like this – not against a well coached Sun Devil team, that’s for sure.

Texas Tech Red Raiders (-7) @ Kansas State Wildcats: Don’t be fooled by K-State’s 3-1 record thus far, North Texas and Montana State don’t count, they lost to Louisville, and beat ULLaffayette by 10. Needless to say I like the Raiders, even though the public is riding this like a used up quarter pony at Walmart. Ride it!

Kentucky Wildcats (+17) @ Alabama Crimson Tide: That’s too high of a spread. I know Kentucky doesn’t have the big names yet, nor do they hold the big ranking, and surely they would be the upset of the week if they were to win at all might Alabama – but it could happen. I think this game is closer than many think – I know 63% of the public is going Yhatzee on the Tide here, that’s too big a spread for Alabama to have any value whatsoever.

Illinois Fighting Illini (+3) @ Michigan Wolverines: You know why? Because one of these weeks the Wolverines are going to get obliterated by all those stupid mistakes and Illinois is too physical and good to allow Michgan back in a game in which the Wolverines are getting handled. Juice will have a huge game, showing the Wolverines what kind of QB they need to be legit.

Nevada Wolfpack (-24) @ Idaho Vandals: Because that’s how bad Idaho is.

UL Lafayette (-2) @ UL Monroe: This line is a joke – Lafayette will kill Monroe.

Washington Huskies @ Arizona Wildcats (-21): The Huskies lost their one man offense when Jake Locker went down for the season. Did coach Tyrone’s job go with Jake? We’ll see. I don’t think Jake would have made much of a mark on this game, as Arizona is the much better team. However, I feel a lot more comfortable taking the Wildcats as a three touchdown favorite at home without Locker to worry me.

Ohio State Buckeyes (-1) @ Wisconsin Badgers: Weird, two overrated Big 10 schools – where did that idea ever come from? Still, the Buckeyes are the lesser of the overrated programs, or the greater – well their less overrated and greater talent wise. What do I mean? Buckeyes by 10 on the road, that’s what I mean.

Washington State Cougars @ UCLA Bruins (-17): Because UCLA is lucky Washington State is in the Pac 10. If you can’t feel good about UCLA against Washington State at any spread under 30, then you just can’t feel good about betting at all.

DIRECTV – ESPN GamePlan Free NCAA Picks: Week 5

I have a full bill of DirecTV games this week (15!!!), so don’t feel hurt if I just say a few words about a couple of these. Ha. Well, no more precursors, I’m off to the meats and cheeses…

Pittsburgh Panthers (-15) at Syracuse Orange (12:00pm): Like I said in my NCAA Picks for Week 5, there is no easier place to play than Syracuse, and Pittsburgh will easily run on the Orange. Seems like a three touchdown win from my point of view.

Kent State Golden Flashes at Ball State Cardinals (-17.5) (12:00pm): The Cardinals are legit. I’ll be making a small play on them at home this weekend, and if the value stays right, probably for the duration of the college football season. When normally mediocre programs have solid teams, their value stays high for most of the season.

Maryland Terrapins (+12) at Clemson Tigers (12:00pm): The Terps play close games and the Tigers have disappointed me. Clemson hasn’t been able to throw the ball, and while Maryland has struggled as well, this game just looks like a close one to me. Close games call for bets on dogs larger than a touchdown. This one is at 12 right now, so it seems like good value.

Northern Illinois Huskies at Eastern Michigan Eagles (+7) (12:00pm): My knowledge isn’t extensive about either of these teams, but let me tell you what I like. I like that the Eagles are getting 7 points at home against an NIU team that isn’t very good at all. I also like that Eastern can, unlike NIU, pass the ball if they need to. With a little passing game to go with their running attack, the Eagles look like a nice 7 point dog at home. NIU has won 6 of the last 7 contests against the Eagles, but Eastern won the last one.

Mississippi Rebels (+22.5) at Florida Gators (12:30pm): I definitely like the Gators to pull this one out, but something about this game has me walking the dog. Mississippi is just 2-2, but with tough losses to Wake Forrest (28-30) and a good Vanderbilt team (17-23), and the fact that Florida is 3-0 without any close games on their schedule thus far, I just like what a 22.5 point dog brings to the table this week against the Gators.

Fresno State Bulldogs (-7) at UCLA Bruins (3:30pm): If nothing else, because the Bulldogs have more talent, with more experience, and a sense of toughness that UCLA just doesn’t have yet. After a tough loss to Wisconsin, the Bulldogs barely snuck past Toledo. This game will be easier, 28-7 wouldn’t surprise me in this one.

Colorado Buffaloes (+6) at Florida State Seminoles (3:30pm): There’s no question who has more talent in this game, the Noles are loaded with speed and athleticism. But this Buffaloes team can put their head down and get a yard when they need it most. I won’t be surprised at all when Colorado comes all the way into Florida to upset the 25th ranked Seminoles. Everybody is claiming Colorado’s win over West Virginia was because the Mounties are falling, I disagree, that win was because Colorado is good.

Marshall Thundering Herd at West Virginia Mountaineers (-14) (3:30pm): Marshall walks into this game with just one tough loss, playing in Wisconsin against a solid Badger team. That being said, I’m betting that Pat White finally takes a game over this week. The Mountaineers have been thrown around pretty good of late, losing bad to East Carolina (3-24) and getting ousted by Colorado (14-17) – but this game is in West Virginia, and I like the Mounties chances to get an easy win.

Cincinnati Bearcats (-10.5) at Akron Zips (3:30pm): This is a very tough one for me. Both teams look like solid value, and while starting quarterback Dustin Grutza is out for Cincinnati, Tony Pike was very accurate and productive in his first start against Miami of Ohio. Both teams are solid, but I’m betting on the Bearcats defense being a little much for the Zips, even on Akron’s home turf.

Arkansas Razorbacks (+28) at Texas Longhorns (3:30pm): I don’t think Texas is this good. Arkansas was made to look like a fool last week against a very tough Alabama team, I just think they come out with a little fire this week in Texas. I still like the Longhorns to win, but Texas hasn’t played anybody to start the season, (Rice, UTEP, Florida International), so I’m betting on this conference game taking them a little longer to get going. 4 touchdowns is an awful lot for a team that hasn’t played anyone yet.

UAB Blazers at South Carolina Gamecocks (-24.5) (7:00pm): Honestly, I would stay away from this game if I didn’t have to bet every single DirecTV contest. Counting the NC State game to start the season, South Carolina hasn’t showed me that they should be favored against anyone by 3+ touchdowns. UAB is close, but boy, this is a tough one. I cap this game right around 21-24, but I must say, if the Gamecocks come to play they should barely irk out this spread. Still, if you don’t feel inclined to take every single game I picked, then leave this one alone.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (+21) at Kentucky Wildcats (7:00pm): Stand back! Because this is my train of thought. The Hilltoppers aren’t better than the Wildcats, but given a 21-0 head start I believe they have great value here. This is why – I generally trust the oddsmakers to put up a spread that is pretty close to what the final should be (not always, surely they miss from time to time, but usually). That being said, a couple weeks ago, a very good Alabama team got just 26 points, at home, against the Hilltoppers. This is why I’m taking WKU here – the Crimson Tide are at least two touchdowns better than the Wildcats. See that? That’s value hunting son! This line should be around 12-14, so 7 extra points to play with is nice.

Illinois Fighting Illini at Penn State Nittany Lions (-14.5) (8:00pm): Since opening weekend, Juice Williams has been very mediocre at best. He put up 5 touchdowns with just two interceptions against a very good Missouri team, but has followed up with just two touchdowns and 3 interceptions against the likes of Louisiana Lafayette and Eastern Illinois in games where the Illini didn’t dominate. I think Penn State is a couple touchdowns better than Illinois, as they have proven to be one of, if not the best team in the Big 10. They do a lot of things very well, and nothing is left out with them. I like Penn State as a two touchdown favorite at home.

Virginia Tech Hokies (+7) at Nebraska Cornhuskers (8:00pm): Nebraska’s opponents thus far; New Mexico State, San Jose State, Western Michigan… Va Tech’s opponents: East Carolina, Furman, Georgia Tech, North Carolina… Here it is, Va Tech is ready, Nebraska isn’t. This is where that marshmallow schedule to start the season hurts. Well, it doesn’t hurt me, Va Tech plus a touchdown against an overrated Cornhusker team, I like that, but it hurts the Cornhuskers.

New Mexico Lobos (-3) at New Mexico State Aggies (8:00pm): Make this six in a row for the Lobos. After beating Arizona they stumbled last week, but after such a high that kind of business is expected. Don’t sleep on them this week, though, against their instate rival they will be ready to play, even on the road. The Lobos are 5-0 against the Aggies since 2003, I like their shot at six straight.

NCAA Free Picks: Week 5

I’m 9 games over .500 on the season after tallying my third winning week in four chances. I’m staying away from the Trojans Thursday Night game against the Beavers because weird things happen in the middle of the week, but I am starting a day early with a road dog heading into Louisville. Check it out below as I’ve got 9 for Week 5…

Friday’s Game

Connecticut Huskies (+3) @ Louisville Cardinals (8:00pm EST): I know games during the week can be weird, and that’s why I like to stay away from them, but I see a lot of value in the Huskies here. Besides the fact that anything can happen in the Big East, the Cardinals just aren’t the team everyone thinks they are. They struggle against everyone and rarely does a drive look clean from start to finish. Connecticut doesn’t do things pretty either, but they are a lot tougher than Louisville, and their confidence is there. I like the Huskies to pull the minor upset, so 3 points is nice.

Saturday’s Games

Pittsburgh Panthers (-16.5) @ Syracuse Orange (12:00pm EST): I don’t like to bet on the Panthers as favorites, it’s really not my style – but against a team like Syracuse, I’ll take my chances. The Orange are brutal, and I’ve said it before, there’s no easier road game than at Syracuse. Pittsburgh should be able to take their methodical attack and accidentally turn it into a yard gathering machine. I like the Panthers to win this game in the 34-10 range.

Navy Midshipmen (+16) @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3:35pm EST): This is a bit of a trap game for the Demon Deacons. They just walked into Florida State and beat the Seminoles as an underdog, and next week they are going up against a Clemson Tiger team that carried a lot of hype into the season. Navy doesn’t seem like much of a challenge, but the Midshipmen can really run the ball, and that physicality can run clock as well as even out the talent level a little bit. I like Navy as a 16 point underdog in a game that’s big for them and a little for Wake Forrest.

Northwestern Wildcats @ Iowa Hawkeyes (-8) (12:00pm EST): The Hawkeyes lost a heart breaker to the Panthers last weekend, but they are the much better team in this game. Northwestern is 4-0, but don’t buy into the record. Games against Syracuse, Duke, Southern Illinois, and Ohio are good ways to build your record to 4-0, but they are bad ways to get your team ready to play conference foes. Iowa won’t take it easy on Northwestern, and their choice to play tough non-conference games like that against Pitt will benefit them in this one.

North Carolina Tar Heels @ Miami Hurricanes (-7) (12:00pm EST): Correct me if I’m wrong, but Miami looked like they got a little of their swagger back last week and now at home against a Carolina team that could be without their leader and best offensive player, T.J. Yates, they can pressure the Heels into lots of mistakes. Even if T.J. plays, he’s not going to be 100%, and if Miami has one thing, they have defensive athletes that can make life tough on a gimpy signal caller. This could be pre-mature, but I’ll take the risk – too many question marks in Carolina’s backfield to ignore the 7 point spread here. Gotta take the Canes.

Buffalo Bulls (+6.5) @ Central Michigan (4:00pm EST): I think the Bulls are the better team, flat out. They smoked UTEP, played well against Pittsburgh, beat a solid Temple team, and played well against a great Missouri squad. I really think they have a chance to take the Mac. Central Michigan is no pushover, and they’ve played well in some games, I just think Buffalo is the better team and so I’ll take them as a near touchdown dog.

Mississippi State Bulldogs @ LSU Tigers (-24.5) (7:30pm EST): I know I’m not usually a numbers guy, and these numbers aren’t the lone reason I’m taking the Tigers here but I figure I might as well share them with you. Mississippi State is 2-4 ATS in their last 6 road games. Mississippi State is 1-5 SU in their last 6 road games. Mississippi State is 1-10 ATS in their last 11 games when playing LSU. Here are the scores from this match-up lately, LSU first: 45-0, 48-17, 37-7, 51-0, 41-6, 31-13, 42-0. Hmm…. I know LSU’s offense isn’t a dynamic scoring machine, but I think they found a thrower in the young kid that finished the Auburn game last week. I also think they seemingly know how to up their game against the Bulldogs. I’ll take em.

Purdue Boilermakers (+2) @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish: I really can’t believe this. This is a “free money” pick for me. It’s so “free money” that I’m considering not risking a ton on it because it just seems way too good to be true. That Irish team that couldn’t do anything until late when the game was over last week – that’s the real Irish team. Notre Dame didn’t beat Michigan, I’m telling you, they took the win that Michigan gave them. Purdue should handle the Irish even in Indiana.

Virginia Tech Hokies (+6.5) @ Nebraska Corhuskers: Hmmm… I might not be the brightest brick in the pool, but I certainly can see some dog value when it eats the food I buy it and craps in my yard. The Cornhuskers really challenged themselves to start the season 3-0. First it was Western Michigan, and then San Jose State, and then New Mexico State. Yikes. The Hokies are getting better every week. They lost to a very tough East Carolina team, then ground out a late win against a tough G-Tech team, and a good Tar Heel team as well. They are ready to dominate the Cornhuskers – you can bet on that. The 6.5 points are just icing on the cake in this one.