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Thursday, 20 November 2014

College Football Week 13 Picks 2014 (November 20-22)

After a week in which Alabama underlined their position as the Number 1 team in the country, according to Vegas, by beating the team that had been Ranked Number 1 according to the Committee, the newest Rankings haven't really produced any surprises at the very top.

The Crimson Tide might only have beaten Mississippi State by 5 points on the scoreboard, but the Bulldogs made that score respectable with a Touchdown pass from Dak Prescott that came with 15 seconds left on the clock. For the majority of the game, Alabama dominated and they were rightly placed as the Number 1 team and they will be in the Play Off if they can win out.

Oregon were on a bye week, but Florida State needed to produce a big comeback to escape with a road win at the Miami Hurricanes, although the Seminoles failed to impress again and remain behind the Ducks in the Rankings. It seems impossible to me that Florida State will fall out of the top four unless they are surprised with a loss in the final three weeks of the season, but Miami looked their biggest test and I think they have escaped all of their close calls that they are going to have.

Losing to Florida in the final week would make things interesting because Florida State would still be a likely ACC Champion, but I think a defeat to the struggling Gators would also be enough to knock them out.

The biggest question mark remains on the fourth place team as Oregon would be in by winning the Pac-12 Championship without another loss and that final place is going to come down to four teams as far as I am concerned. Mississippi State probably need the most help of those four teams because I am almost convinced the Committee would rather have Champions from difference Conferences rather than two SEC teams and the Bulldogs are on the outside now hoping for either an Alabama loss and winning out, or hoping the other three teams chasing fourth place all falter.

Ohio State are a very interesting team to me as they look bang in form at the moment, although they would have been helped by not making the mistakes to keep the win over Minnesota as close as it was. Turnovers cost them 21 points in a 7 point win on the road and the Buckeyes missed out their chance to impress the Committee, although they could benefit from Wisconsin's improved form by beating the Badgers for the Big Ten Championship.

The final two teams chasing that fourth place are both from the Big 12- despite the bad performance in beating Kansas on the road, TCU remain ahead of an idle Baylor, but I still think that will change down the stretch. Not having a Championship Game might be the reason both of those teams miss out if Ohio State win out, but Baylor have the better chance to impress the Committee with a home game against Kansas State and the tie-breaker over TCU.

It isn't the most eye-catching slate of games considering how little of the regular season is left, but Week 13 is important for teams that are positioning themselves to get into their Championship Games. Next week will see a lot of rivalry games and should be much more enjoyable for the neutrals that want to get their fix of College Football during and following Thanksgiving.

Kansas State Wildcats @ West Virginia Mountaineers Pick: The Big 12 might already be out of the reach for the West Virginia Mountaineers, but this is the final home game for their Seniors which should bring the best out of them. On the other hand, Kansas State have every chance to still take a share of the title if they can win out and the TCU Horned Frogs can drop another game.

That makes this a fascinating Thursday night game and while I have mainly steered clear of these midweek games, I do love the Kansas State Wildcats in the role of an underdog and I think they can keep this close if not win outright and will take the small points on offer.

The Wildcats will be able to run the ball more effectively than West Virginia and I love the coaching job Bill Snyder does as his team won't make the mistakes that others do. Clint Trickett has thrown a few Interceptions this season which could be fatal to West Virginia's chances of winning this game and he might be the Quarter Back under more pressure throwing out of third and long than Jake Waters whose help in the running game should set him up in third and manageable spots.

Both teams are also coming off a bye and this has been more favourable to Kansas State who are 7-1 against the spread following a bye over the last three seasons. In that same time period, the Mountaineers are 0-6 against the spread.

Also, Kansas State have enjoyed being a small road underdog with their record standing at 8-1 against the spread since 1992, while they are 7-3 against the spread over the last three seasons as an underdog. West Virginia haven't flourished as the favourite, going 5-14 against the spread in the last three seasons, and I do think the Wildcats have the trends and the better rushing Offense which should help them keep this very close at least.

Marshall Thundering Herd @ UAB Blazers Pick: The Marshall Thundering Herd have been very strong all season and have been surpassing the number set for them in Vegas for most of it too- I expect they will be able to do the same in their final regular season game although the UAB Blazers are not to be under-estimated.

However, the problem for the Blazers is that their biggest weapon Jordan Howard may be negated somewhat by a strong Marshall Defensive front and that may lead to mistakes from the Quarter Back who could be forced to throw to keep UAB in the game.

On the other hand, Marshall should be able to establish a running game that can rip off big gains through the game and Rakeem Cato could then be able to do what he likes throwing the ball.

Marshall have been strong as the road favourite this season with a 4-1 record against the spread and they are also 4-0 against the spread when asked to cover between 10.5 and 21 points. UAB are home and are desperate to become Bowl eligible so I expect a good fight out of them, but Marshall should pull away late and win this by at least three Touchdowns.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights @ Michigan State Spartans Pick: This is a big number that the Michigan State Spartans need to cover and they haven't been that successful doing that in the past, but I think they can control much of this game and the Defense can come up big with some turnovers and three and outs.

Michigan State should be able to rip off big gains thanks to Jeremy Langford at the Running Back position which will make it easier for Connor Cook to also make plays from Quarter Back and I think Rutgers will do well to stop the Spartans scoring points consistently.

The Scarlet Knights have lost big to Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin and they only covered in one of those games, that coming thanks to a late fumble from the Cornhuskers in an otherwise dominating display. As long as the Spartans Defense plays up to the level they can, Michigan State should be able to dominate Rutgers and win this one going away.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs @ Old Dominion Monarchs Pick: The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs have been very good in Conference-USA play this season and they are set to play in the Championship Game so they won't want to lose momentum at this late stage.

Both teams actually will have success moving the chains in this one, but a key to the game and cover could be the fact that the Bulldogs have a stronger run Defense and are also more likely to turn the ball over and give their Offense extra possessions.

Louisiana Tech have been much better against the number than Old Dominion through the season and they are a decent 6-2 against the spread as the road favourite over the last three seasons. As long as the Bulldogs can avoid the turnovers that have been a problem for them in the last three games, they should win this by a couple of Touchdowns.

Texas Tech Red Raiders @ Iowa State Cyclones Pick: This could be a high-scoring Big 12 game as two teams that have perhaps underachieved meet one another. The Texas Tech Red Raiders could have Davis Webb back at Quarter Back, although scoring points hasn't been much of a problem for them.

Instead it has been a porous Defense which has led to suggestions that former Defensive Co-Ordinator, Matt Wallerstedt, has been giving away signals to teams that have then exploited them. While that argument rumbles on, you have to think changes have been made and they will only be helped by an Iowa State Offense that hasn't exactly pulled up trees this season.

Texas Tech should have their way Offensively and they have been more competitive in Conference play than Iowa State. Even a bye week might not be enough for the Cyclones who are just 1-4 against the spread coming off a bye in the last three seasons and I do think the wrong team is being favoured in this one.

Maryland Terrapins @ Michigan Wolverines Pick: I don't know if Brady Hoke is going to be the Head Coach of the Michigan Wolverines after this season is completed as the team have underachieved yet again and a move in a new direction in terms of an Athletic Director has already been made. Offensively Michigan have been a real disappointment, but they have won 3 of their last 4 games thanks to their Defensive performances and will want to roll into their game with Ohio State with momentum behind them.

The Defense will definitely feel they can shut down the Maryland Offense to most extents and purposes and Michigan should also be able to run the ball effectively to help get over the number they are being asked to do this week.

Turnovers have been a big problem for Maryland and CJ Brown may be pulled as the starting Quarter Back and I think Michigan may 'want' this game more to become Bowl eligible and not be faced with all the pressure of the game with Ohio State. In an ideal world, all the pressure will be on the Buckeyes as Michigan can concentrate on playing spoiler by winning this game.

Michigan haven't been a great favourite but the Wolverines can use a heavy dose on running the ball and a strong Defense to come through.

Mississippi Rebels @ Arkansas Razorbacks Pick: Alabama's win over Mississippi State has given the Mississippi Rebels an outside chance of winning the SEC West, but I think those hopes could officially come to an end at the hands of the Arkansas Razorbacks this week.

Arkansas have played most of their opponents very tough this season and I do like them with more than a Field Goal head start against a Rebels team that may already be looking ahead to the Egg Bowl and spoiling rivals Mississippi State's season.

Bo Wallace has shown his good side more than his bad side this season, but the loss of Laquon Treadwell is a devastating blow to the Rebels. Arkansas are fresh off snapping their long losing run in the SEC and they will be confident they can wear down Mississippi with their strong run game.

The Razorbacks are 5-1 against the spread at home this season and they have been getting things done against teams with winning records as they have gone 6-1 against the spread in that spot. With over a Field Goal in terms of points, I like the Razorbacks to get close to another SEC win.

Wisconsin Badgers @ Iowa Hawkeyes Pick: The big question for the Iowa Hawkeyes this week is how do you stop Melvin Gordon and the impressive Wisconsin Badgers running game and secure the upset? After seeing Minnesota run all over the Hawkeyes two weeks ago, Wisconsin have the personnel to do the same and rip off big gains as they have been doing in their five game winning run and wear down Iowa for another big win.

It all begins and ends with Wisconsin being able to run the ball and I don't think Iowa have shown enough on the season to think they can slow that down with both Indiana and Minnesota, two heavy run first teams, hurting them badly on the ground.

To make matters worse for the Hawkeyes will be the limited rest their Defensive unit is going to get with Offensive drives likely to be stalled by a strong Badgers Defense. Jake Rudock will be under pressure to throw from third and long too often for his liking and limited rest against a bruising team that wants to pound the ball down your throat is going to lead to lots of big gains.

Wisconsin have gone 6-3 against the spread as the road favourite over the last three seasons and Iowa are just 6-13 against the spread in home games during that same time frame. With Melvin Gordon likely having another big game, the Badgers should take another step towards booking their place in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Arizona Wildcats @ Utah Utes Pick: This might be taking place in a venue where things get colder than a desert team like Arizona may expect, but the Utah Utes have been outgained in their last 8 games and I like the Wildcats with the points on offer.

It is going to be tough for Arizona who won't be able to rip off big gains on the ground and are facing a pass rush that could rattle Anu Solomon, but the Secondary have still given up pretty big numbers and that is where the Quarter Back can have success.

I haven't been that convinced with Travis Wilson at the Utes Offense though and I think this has the makings of a tight, tough game that can be decided by a Field Goal either way and that makes the points given to the Wildcats look valuable. Any team that has been consistently outgained as Utah have in terms of yardage look a vulnerable favourite and they have had a bit of luck going their way to build the record they have.

As long as the Wildcats aren't looking ahead to the big game with rivals Arizona State, they should have a real shot at earning the upset in this game.

Colorado Buffaloes @ Oregon Ducks Pick: There isn't much to say about this game except that it might be even tougher for the Colorado Buffaloes if starting Quarter Back Sefo Liufau is limited or unable to suit up for this game.

Liufau has been doubtful heading into this game with concussion symptoms and Colorado are facing an Oregon team that will want to underline their place in the College Play Off places.

The Ducks have been getting healthier and that has helped Marcus Mariota stamp his Heisman credentials, while Oregon have a decent 4-2 record against the spread coming off a bye over the last three seasons. Colorado are 0-3 against the spread in the same time frame and they are also 0-3 against the spread when dogged by more than 31 points in that period.

There is a danger that Oregon allow a backdoor cover by bringing in the back ups, but they should be clear by then and Mark Helfrich will have taken note of how teams have seen positions changed if the style points aren't up to par.

Oklahoma State Cowboys @ Baylor Bears Pick: There is no doubt that this is a huge number to cover for the Baylor Bears and it is a shame that the line has moved above the four Touchdown mark, but I still think the Bears are going to be able to surpass the line.

Baylor will have seen how the Committee has looked down on the TCU Horned Frogs for a struggling win and this is a good chance to build their own position with the Horned Frogs on a bye week. The Oklahoma State Cowboys have also been beaten by an average of 28 points per game during their four game losing run.

The key games will have been the TCU and Kansas State ones which saw Baylor's main rivals for the Big 12 Championship both crush Oklahoma State by more than 31 points each and the Bears will definitely look to close on those numbers.

Bryce Petty should have a big game against a Secondary that has struggled all season and Daxx Garman is likely to be limited against a Baylor Defense that has been surprisingly effective.

Add in Baylor's record of going 14-3 against the spread at home over the last three seasons and they are 5-3 against the spread coming off a bye in that time frame only backs up my belief that the Bears cover. Oklahoma State have been an awful 1-4 against the spread as the road underdog this season and may be looking forward to getting into their bye and preparing for the huge rivalry game with the Oklahoma Sooners.

Missouri Tigers @ Tennessee Volunteers Pick: Far from me to be disrespecting what the layers in Vegas think considering the size of the casinos they manage to build every year, but I am extremely surprised that the Missouri Tigers are being dogged by over a Field Goal in this one.

The Tigers Defense is definitely for real and I can see them having enough success to give their Offense the chance to win the game outright and this should be a competitive game throughout. Tennessee have been playing well, but their two recent wins have come against teams not up to the level of Missouri in my opinion and it won't be easy for Joshua Dobbs to replicate the numbers he has had against South Carolina and Kentucky.

Missouri should also be able to control the clock with their running game and Maty Mauk now has the reliable Darius White back at Receiver, a player he trusts to make the big catch.

It also has to be said that Missouri are 5-0 against the spread when dogged on the road by between 3.5 and 7 points and they are also 12-2 against the spread in their road games over the last three seasons. Tennessee have been a strong favourite so far in the 2014 season, but this is a position they have struggled in prior to this season in recent years and the Volunteers are also just 0-3 against the spread over the last three seasons when winning back to back games.

Like I say, Vegas rarely get things wrong, but I just can't understand why Missouri are being handed so many points and hope that I don't find out this weekend.

USC Trojans @ UCLA Bruins Pick: This game has all the makings of a shoot-out which makes the points that USC are being given that much more attractive, especially as the line has stayed above a Field Goal in terms of points.

Both USC and UCLA will feel their Quarter Back can make the big plays to win the game for their school and this should be a battle to the end- the Bruins should have more success slowing the run game, but the USC Trojans have been more successful turning the ball over and this should be a great game to watch.

Jim Mora has been very good at preparing his team off a bye and you have to appreciate the fact that UCLA are 5-1 against the spread off a bye week in the last three seasons. However, I do think this has all the makings of a game that could be decided by the team that has the ball last and a three point win margin either way wouldn't surprise me.

UCLA have been playing some really strong football during their four game winning run and they are the more likely winners in my opinion, but I like taking the points in this one and will look for USC to play them tough and earn the cover.

MY PICKS: Kansas State Wildcats + 2.5 Points @ 1.85 Coral (1 Unit)
Marshall Thundering Herd - 20 Points @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
Michigan State Spartans - 22 Points @ 1.92 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs - 11.5 Points @ 1.92 William Hill (1 Unit)
Texas Tech Red Raiders + 1.5 Points @ 1.92 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Michigan Wolverines - 5 Points @ 1.85 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Arkansas Razorbacks + 3.5 Points @ 1.92 William Hill (1 Unit)
Wisconsin Badgers - 10 Points @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
Arizona Wildcats + 4.5 Points @ 1.92 William Hill (1 Unit)
Oregon Ducks - 32.5 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Baylor Bears - 29.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Missouri Tigers + 4 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
USC Trojans + 4 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

Week 12: 7-5, + 1.40 Units (12 Units Staked, + 11.67% Yield)
Week 119-4, + 4.34 Units (13 Units Staked, + 33.38% Yield)
Week 106-7, - 1.51 Units (13 Units Staked, - 11.62% Yield)
Week 94-9-1, - 5.31 Units (14 Units Staked, - 37.93% Yield)
Week 85-7, - 2.26 Units (12 Units Staked, - 18.83% Yield)
Week 73-8, - 5.31 Units (11 Units Staked, - 48.27% Yield)
Week 62-7, - 5.13 Units (9 Units Staked, - 57% Yield)
Week 54-5, - 1.13 Units (9 Units Staked, - 12.56% Yield)
Week 46-5, + 0.58 Units (11 Units Staked, + 5.27% Yield)
Week 33-7-1, - 4.18 Units (11 Units Staked, - 38% Yield)
Week 25-6, - 1.18 Units (11 Units Staked, - 10.72% Yield)
Week 16-4, + 1.77 Units (10 Units Staked, + 11.7% Yield)

Season 201454-67-2, - 17.92 Units (136 Units Staked, - 13.18% Yield)
Season 201365-49-2, + 8.49 Units (124 Units Staked, + 6.85% Yield)
Season 201254-59-1 - 7.11 Units (114 Units Staked, - 6.24% Yield)
Season 201163-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

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