Friday, November 21, 2014

NCAA Football Week 13 Primer (With Picks)

Jerry Kill eating ice cream in a snow storm is now the most Big Ten thing ever. But, can his Gophers break through this week against Nebraska?

 By Andy Dougherty (@AndyDougherty10) with a cameo by Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

As the regular season nears its end, the pressure builds for the nation’s top teams to keep their playoff hopes alive. Overall, the contenders face easier opposition in Week 13 than they have in months, but this year’s many surprises have shown that no team can afford to take any opponent for granted.

Game of the Week

No. 8 Ole Miss at Arkansas

Arkansas will provide the first legitimate test for Ole Miss since a crushing loss to Auburn on November 1st. Ole Miss had what Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly would call a “glorified bye” on November 8th, beating the Presbyterian Blue Hose 48-0 at home (yes, there is a real football team called the Blue Hose). The Rebels then had an actual bye last week. Their October win over Alabama has kept them in playoff contention despite their two losses, and they have another shot at a big win when Mississippi State comes to town next week.

But first they need to take care of business when they head to Arkansas. They will be without star receiver Laquon Treadwell, who suffered a gruesome injury on a game-changing play against Auburn. Shorthanded and on the road, they cannot afford to take 5-5 Arkansas lightly.

Arkansas has faced arguably the toughest schedule in college football, so its 5-5 record does not do it much justice. Including this upcoming game, seven of Arkansas’s eleven opponents have been in the top 10 this year. The Razorbacks lost to No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Mississippi State by a combined eight points, and they beat LSU 17-0 last week.

Picks Against the Spread With Editor Joe Parello

Here Are The Picks We Agree On (Home Teams in CAPS)

Boston College (+19) over No. 3 FLORIDA STATE

AD: Florida State has stayed undefeated by the skin of its teeth this year. Last year, when the Seminoles destroyed every opponent they faced heading into the national championship game, Boston College was the only team that they failed to beat by at least 19. The Eagles have improved since last year while the Noles have declined. Expect Jameis Winston to pull out another tough win at the end of the game, but this shouldn’t be a blowout.

JP: It's easy to forget, but this BC team did beat USC, and gave Clemson everything it could handle (when Clemson had a functioning quarterback). Florida transfer Tyler Murphy has been a revelation as a dual-threat QB, and should be able to put up enough points on the overrated FSU defense to keep this within three scores.

(Home Team)NO. 9 UCLA (-3.5) over No. 19 USC

AD: UCLA has clearly been better than USC this year. Both teams have lost twice against ranked opponents, but USC also lost to unranked Boston College. UCLA beat Arizona State by 35 on the road while USC lost to that same team at home. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley will be the best player on the field, and he should lead the Bruins to a win.

The Trojans have been surprisingly explosive on offense and generous on defense, so I like the fact that UCLA has a workhorse back in Paul Perkins (over 1,160 yards on 6.2 YPC) and a savvy quarterback in Hundley. If the Bruins can run the ball and limit turnovers, I see no reason why they can't pick up a convincing win over their old rivals in the Rose Bowl.

No. 20 Missouri (+3.5) over TENNESSEE

AD: Missouri sits in first place in the SEC East with a 5-1 conference record and an 8-2 overall record. Meanwhile, Tennessee finds itself dead last in the SEC East with a 2-4 conference record and a 5-5 overall record. Oddsmakers seem to be weighing home field advantage a little too heavily here, throwing all those factors out the window and favoring Tennessee. Missouri is the better team and should win this game.

JP: This line doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Then again, we haven't been doing very well on these picks, but I'll stick with the better team getting points.

No. 25 Minnesota (+10.5) over NO. 23 NEBRASKA

AD: Nebraska appeared to be the significantly better team until last week. The Cornhuskers got blown out by Wisconsin, thanks to a record-breaking performance by Melvin Gordon. Meanwhile, Minnesota only lost by a touchdown against No. 6 Ohio State. However, Nebraska is undefeated at home while the Gophers are 1-2 on the road. Nebraska should be able to regroup from last week’s debacle and win this one, but covering a 10.5-point spread is a different story. Minnesota should be able to make this a game.

JP: I actually think the Gophers could win this one outright. After watching Melvin Gordon make Swiss Cheese of the Husker defense, I can't help but wonder how much of that can be credited to his individual brilliance, and how much is a testament to how beaten up and undisciplined Nebraska is up front right now.

Nobody is taking Minnesota seriously, but the Gophers are the pleasant surprise of the Big Ten.

Here Are The Picks We Don't (Home Teams Still In CAPS)

AD: No. 8 Ole Miss (-3.5) over ARKANSAS

This game is the toughest test for a national championship contender this week. The Rebels need this win to stay alive, so they should come fired up and ready to play. Arkansas should make the game competitive, but Ole Miss has more talent and more to play for, so emotion and adrenaline should carry the Rebels to the win.

JP: ARKANSAS (+3.5) over Ole Miss

You pretty much made the case for me Andy. The Rebels haven't played a real football game in two weeks, while Arkansas is coming off a dominating performance against LSU. Not saying the Razorbacks are a juggernaut quite yet, but playing as well as they are right now, I'm happy to take them and the points at home.

AD: NOTRE DAME (-3.5) over No. 25 Louisville

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has committed nineteen turnovers in the past seven games. He still puts up tons of yards and touchdowns, but the Irish can’t win games when he keeps handing the other team the ball. Brian Kelly called Golson out for his careless play in a press conference, and hopefully Golson gets the message. If he can limit himself to two turnovers or less, the Irish should win the game. Louisville has a solid team, but Notre Dame has more talent on its roster. Golson and the Irish just need to play a smart game for a change.

JP: No. 25 Louisville (+3.5) over NOTRE DAME

The Irish have lost their season, and it's hard to see them stopping the bleeding against a pretty solid Louisville team. Gimme the Cards and the points.

Andy's Record:
Last Week: 2-4
Season: 3-9
Last Week's Disagreements: 0-2
Season's Disagreements: 0-3

Joe's Record:
Last Week: 4-2
Season: 6-6
Last Week's Disagreements: 2-0
Season's Disagreements: 3-0

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