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Thursday, 8 October 2015

College Football Week 6 Picks 2015 (October 8-10)

By putting up my picks when I did, I missed the Notre Dame Fighting Irish spread moving up one more point, a point that proved to be the difference between them covering as the underdog at Clemson and not covering.

That is only a point I am mentioning because it would otherwise have been a fifth straight winning week from the College Football picks, but unfortunately now means a first losing week. The season totals are still very much in the positive, but I do think that is a 'miss' and hopefully not the start of a losing trend.


Last week was also a big one in terms of separating those teams that were hoping to get involved in the Play Off picture and those who might just have been knocked back irreversibly. The games get bigger and bigger as the regular season moves on with many more Conference games that will end up playing a big part in determining the final four to enter the Play Offs and this week will likely be no different.


My updated Play Off Ranking after Week 5:

1) Ohio State Buckeyes- Until the defending Champions are beaten, they can't be ignored for a Play Off spot even if they haven't played well since the opening week win at Virginia Tech.

2) TCU Horned Frogs- Some will have picked the Baylor Bears above TCU because of their performances against Texas Tech, but I think Baylor picked the bones of a team that were suffering an emotional letdown after missing a big upset against the Horned Frogs.

3) Florida State Seminoles- The ACC Champion will likely earn a Play Off spot as long as they remain unbeaten, but the Seminoles have a big test this week when they host the Miami Hurricanes.

4) LSU Tigers- One of two unbeaten teams in the SEC West, but their big test will come when visiting the Alabama Crimson Tide next month.

Looking In- Alabama Crimson Tide, Georgia Bulldogs, Michigan State Spartans, Clemson Tigers, USC Trojans, Baylor Bears and Utah Utes.



Week 6 Picks
Can Week 6 give the picks a bounce back after the disappointing end to Week 5? I don't usually like playing too many of the Weekday games because I never seem to get a great read from them, as shown by the Miami Hurricanes loss at the Cincinnati Bearcats last Thursday, but I can't let that one week deter me if I feel the pick is right.

That is the case in Week 6 too when the picks will begin with a big Pac-12 Conference game in California.

Picks will be added through the next couple of days ahead of the full schedule on Saturday so check back before then to see a full rundown of those picks.


Washington Huskies @ USC Trojans Pick: The USC Trojans know they can overcome their one loss to the Stanford Cardinal and still play in the National Championship Play Off if they can win out the rest of the season. That would see them win the Pac-12 Conference and most would have forgot the loss to Stanford as the Trojans will likely have beaten them in the Conference Championship Game.

They can't overlook the Washington Huskies as they come off the bye as there will be some emotion on both sidelines- Chris Peterson was turned down for the USC Head Coaching role, but replaced Steve Sarkisian as Washington Head Coach after the latter landed the USC job.

That means Sarkisian will have recruited many of the players in the Washington team which can work in two ways- he should be familiar with what they offer, but also could fire up those players to show their former Head Coach what he left for the Huskies in terms of talent.

On the field it is the USC Trojans Offense that is the standout unit, although going up against the tough Washington Defense that slowed the California Golden Bears down two weeks ago. The Trojans do have a balanced Offense though and I expect they have the most success of the two Offensive units.

I just think USC will have more third and manageable distances to convert while Washington could be in third and long, although the Trojans will know this is a Defense that can turn the ball over which can enable them to keep this game competitive.

Three of the last four games between these teams have been decided by ten or fewer points, although the last game here saw USC blow out Washington. USC are a strong home favourite, going 6-3 against the spread in that spot under Sarkisian, but Washington have to be respected having gone 3-1 against the spread as the road underdog since Peterson arrived.

However, USC are the stronger team and I expect them to pull away and win by twenty-one points.


Oklahoma Sooners v Texas Longhorns Pick: Charlie Strong is under pressure as Head Coach of the Texas Longhorns and another big loss in this Red River Rivalry to follow the beat down handed out by the TCU Horned Frogs might make his role as Head Coach under the spotlight.

They are facing the under-rated Oklahoma Sooners this week and while I expect the Sooners to have their way Offensively, I am also looking for a big game from Jerrod Heard for Texas. He hasn't thrown the ball that well, but he can help control the clock on the ground and that makes this a big number of points to cover for the Sooners.

No doubt the Sooners are the better team and a dark horse to make the National Championship Play Off, but they haven't covered in their last two games against Texas with the Longhorns as double digit underdogs. Both of those games have seen the Longhorns dominate the yardage and I expect a much more competitive outing than their Week 5 performance unless the players have given up on Charlie Strong.

Texas can put everything into this game ahead of their bye and the public might be pounding the Sooners in Vegas, but the spread has moved down from the opening line with the sharps on the side of the Longhorns. I am on that side too as I expect a vast improvement in terms of effort in this one and I'll take the points.


Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders @ WKU Hilltoppers Pick: This is a big Conference-USA game between two teams that will be expecting to challenge Marshall for the East Division title. Both have played well against Power 5 Conference teams in this season already and I think they are lot closer matched than the layers who have given the home team over a Touchdown start on the lines.

I can understand where the line has been made considering how well the WKU Hilltoppers have played in their last couple of wins, two blow out victories at that. However, Middle Tennessee are a much better team than the Rice Owls or the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks and I expect them to be able to throw the ball effectively against this Secondary.

Of course the Hilltoppers will be able to move the chains effectively too and this could be a shoot-out similar to their last four games which have all been very competitive to the final whistle. Those four games have been decided by a combined twelve points and I wouldn't be surprised if the team who holds the possession last is able to pull the victory in this one.

The road team has played well in this rivalry game and I like the points with Middle Tennessee.


Illinois Fighting Illini @ Iowa Hawkeyes Pick: Both of these teams are off huge Conference wins in impressive fashion and so the emotional letdown that might have been expected can be balanced out for both teams. I'd give the edge to Iowa Hawkeyes in terms of the impressiveness of their win in Week 5, although the Illinois Fighting Illini will feel confident they can improve on the six wins they achieved last season.

One edge that Illinois might have is that Iowa have a very big game against the Northwestern Wildcats next up on deck and might look at that one as a potential Big Ten West decider. This is Homecoming for Iowa so I expect the focus to still be there, but Illinois have a bye and don't have to look ahead to a potential Division deciding game which should give them the edge.

Both Defenses are definitely the stronger units for both teams and a potential low-scoring game has to favour the double digit points that Illinois are being given. The last time they played here was a four point win for the home team, although I am a little nervous playing Illinois considering they were whipped in their one road game.


The Hawkeyes are just 8-13 against the spread as the home favourite in recent years, and they were just 2-7 against the spread as a home favourite being asked to cover double digits in terms of points before this season. Iowa have covered twice in that spot this year, but I don't envision a lot of points in this one and backing the Fighting Illini with the points looks the call.


Duke Blue Devils @ Army Black Knights Pick: The Duke Blue Devils have had their issues Offensively, but David Cutcliffe is not just a classy person but he is a top Head Coach. A lot of people might not have heard of the personal letter Cutcliffe wrote James Connor of the Pittsburgh Panthers when the Running Back was lost for the season with an injury, but it just goes to show what kind of a man the Head Coach is.

I have a lot of respect of how competitive he has made Duke on a football field even though they are more known for the basketball side of things and they are well on their way to another winning season.

Having played the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and beaten them convincingly, the triple option run by the Army Black Knights won't surprise this Defense. It has only been two weeks since that game against Georgia Tech so preparation won't be a problem and I expect the Blue Devils to slow down Army's Offense to the extent of being able to cover this number.

Duke have also improved to 3-1-1 against the spread as the road favourite so are clearly prepared effectively while they won by 16 in their last road game at Army back in 2009.

The Black Knights played a strong game at Penn State last week, but might be short this week and I like Duke to win by at least two Touchdowns while finding an Offensive groove against this Black Knights Defense.


South Carolina Gamecocks @ LSU Tigers Pick: This was a game that was scheduled for South Carolina, but flooding in the area has meant the switch has been made to Death Valley as the LSU Tigers agreed to host the game. That's good news for the Tigers who have the inside track to the SEC Championship Game as we stand and the spread made a big jump when it was announced they were going to host the game.

Perhaps too big a jump in all honesty and I like the Gamecocks keeping this closer than the layers and the public may think even if they aren't going to have too many answers to Leonard Fournette in the backfield. The Running Back looks a prime contender for the Heisman Trophy and looks certain to become the fastest player to reach 1000 yards on the ground following this game.

I expect Fournette to perhaps get close to another 200 yard game on the ground and he has been able to take all the pressure off the passing game. South Carolina can't stop the run so Fournette will have a big game, but LSU might be looking ahead to a huge game against unbeaten Florida next week.

South Caroline have no ambitions of a National Championship this season, and they will want to give the home fans something to smile about after the hardships of recent days. The Gamecocks haven't been the strong covering road underdog that I would have liked to have backed, but the Florida game looms large for the Tigers and Les Miles might call off the dogs allowing a backdoor cover for the Gamecocks in this one.


Georgia Bulldogs @ Tennessee Volunteers Pick: Both teams have had some crushing losses in the last couple of weeks that have damaged the expectations they had coming into the season. Tennessee Volunteers somehow blew a big lead to lose at Florida again and then followed that up with a home loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks to effectively end their chances of playing for the SEC Championship.

There was a real belief they could win the SEC East this season and another loss to the Georgia Bulldogs would end those hopes for good and perhaps put some pressure on Butch Jones as Head Coach. However, the Bulldogs also have to deal with the fallout of an embarrassing home defeat to the Alabama Crimson Tide in a game they were FAVOURED to win.

Georgia have won five straight in this series including their last two visits to Knoxville although the last two games have been won by three points each time.

The key for me here is I think the Georgia Defensive unit is the better of the two involved in the game and I think Nick Chubb will be able to have a big game running the ball. Turnovers have been an issue for both teams, but Chubb keeping Georgia moving the chains looks to be the key match up and one that can take the Bulldogs to the win and keep them in the hunt in the SEC East.

Mark Richt has led Georgia to a 5-1-1 record against the spread off a loss in the last couple of years. I also think three losses in four weeks have taken a toll on the Tennessee Volunteers and will look for Georgia to cover this week having backed Alabama against them in Week 5.


Navy Midshipmen @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pick: Brian Kelly messed up his maths last week which eventually cost the Notre Dame Fighting Irish their unbeaten record. It would take something special for them to be invited into a four team Play Off for the National Championship now and Kelly has a job on his hands to pick up his team following the two point loss in Clemson.

I haven't hidden my admiration for the Navy Midshipmen this season so it is no surprise I am going to take the points for them to keep this competitive.

Prior to Thursday, I would have thought Notre Dame could potentially look ahead to the USC game next week, but the Trojans haven't been as good as advertised and the Fighting Irish will recognise there is an unbeaten team in front of them. Notre Dame have won four straight in the series, but they have been made to work hard the last couple of years and this might be the most experienced Navy team of recent years.

The Midshipmen Defense has played very well and I think they can prevent Notre Dame running away with it on that side of the ball. The triple option is familiar to Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame Defense, but Navy have played very well and a flat Notre Dame team from last week may struggle to cover.


Appalachian State Mountaineers @ Georgia State Panthers Pick: It is between Appalachian State Mountaineers and the Georgia Southern Eagles as to which of those teams is the best in the Sun Belt Conference and that game between those schools in two weeks looks huge.

It will only matter if both can keep winning their Conference games and I think Appalachian State demolish the Georgia State Panthers, even if the latter have surprised by winning their first Conference game.

That's one victory Georgia State would have enjoyed, but now they face the best in the Conference and I think they find it difficult to slow down this Offensive power. While Appalachian State should be able to move the chains however they like, Georgia State might be stuck in third and long situations where the Mountaineers can get the pressure up front to slow down drives.

Last season it ended up being 44-0 to Appalachian State and while this will be closer, I still like the Mountaineers to cover the double digit mark.


Northwestern Wildcats @ Michigan Wolverines Pick: Both teams have looked very impressive in the early goings of the season and both have big games on deck so will want to maintain that momentum. The Michigan Woverines and Northwestern Wildcats have both made unbeaten starts to Big Ten Conference play and both have relied on a strong Defensive unit to propel them.

Even the one loss that Michigan suffered at the Utah Utes doesn't look so bad when you consider how well the Utes have been doing and they are the favourites to win the Pac-12 North.

What do I think will make the difference in this game? I think the Michigan Defense is the more talented of those units and I expect them to shut down the Northwestern Offense, while I also think the Wolverines get more out of their Offense. When you combine those factors, it is easier to pick the home team and Jim Harbaugh has guided his team to 2-1 against the spread as the home favourite.

I can imagine this first half to be really tight, but Michigan to wear down Northwestern as Jim Harbaugh teams seem to do which leads to a stronger second half. De'Veon Smith should be in for Michigan at Running Back and I expect to put up some decent second half numbers and help the Wolverines go into the big game with Michigan State next week in a fine place mentally.


Washington State Cougars @ Oregon Ducks Pick: When I looked at the numbers being released this week, I immediately looked at this one between the Oregon Ducks and Washington State Cougars and felt it was too big a line for Oregon to cover.

This is not the same Ducks team we have been used to seeing in recent seasons and injuries haven't helped their cause, while the last time they played at home saw them blown out by the Utah Utes. That's not to say Washington State are as good as the Utes, but a Mike Leach team will score plenty of points and they have won a tough game at Rutgers while pushing the California Golden Bears all the way.

I like the Golden Bears a lot so was impressed by what Luke Falk was able to do at Quarter Back to try and keep up with Jared Goff. I expect Falk to have another big game against a Ducks Secondary that has struggled, while the Cougars Defense can pressure the Quarter Back and play the run better than you might expect.

I can see Washington State stopping some of the Oregon drives and scoring points themselves so getting three scoring drives of a head-start on the point spread looks wide of the mark. Washington State are 9-2 against the spread as the road underdog over the last two seasons and they were 'only' beaten by seven in this game last season.

Add in the fact that Oregon could easily look ahead past the lowly Washington State team to a Washington Huskies team that just knocked off USC on the road and I like the points.


East Carolina Pirates @ BYU Cougars Pick: You have to give the BYU Cougars credit for battling through injuries in the early portion of the season and they will be ready for Homecoming and the visit of the East Carolina Pirates.

They have to stay focused on an under-rated East Carolina team and not look ahead to a big Week 7 game against the Cincinnati Bearcats, especially as the Pirates have shown an ability to score plenty of points. The loss to the Navy Midshipmen was a blow out, but the Pirates played the Florida Gators close so that should be enough for the Cougars to remain focused on the task at hand.

However, I have mentioned they can score plenty of points and so getting almost a double digit head-start on the point spread looks too many to me. The Cougars have also been very good Offensively, but they will be put under pressure by a strong pass rush that East Carolina can generate and I also like the ball-hawking Secondary that might be able to create some turnovers.

My one concern is that the East Carolina Pirates are simply not used to making long road trips and this is a long one for them. However, I like the Pirates to make enough scoring drives to keep within the number in this one.


California Golden Bears @ Utah Utes Pick: The Utah Utes might be the best team in the Pac-12 Conference, but they are going to get a severe test of that claim when they host the California Golden Bears. I am really looking forward to this game and I couldn't avoid picking the Golden Bears as over a Touchdown underdog considering how high I am on Jared Goff and this team.

Both teams are unbeaten, but California continue to fly under the radar especially as Utah are coming in off a bye they enjoyed following a blow out of the Oregon Ducks on the road. The win over the Michigan Wolverines looks more impressive by the week, but California's win at the Washington Huskies has been franked by the Huskies winning at the USC Trojans.

So both teams have had good wins this season, but I think Goff can have some success throwing the ball against this under-rated Utah Defense. He should be helped by a running game to keep the Golden Bears in third and manageable spots, while I also think the California Defense is actually better than people expect.

I don't doubt that Utah are one of the top teams in the Conference and will give California all they can handle behind a strong running game, but blowing them out looks beyond my reasoning. This is the start of a three game run that will tell us all we need to know about Utah and the Golden Bears are 5-0 against the spread as the road underdog since the beginning of the 2014 season.

The Utes have been a solid enough home favourite, but I don't know that they are not being over-rated thanks to that big win in Oregon and I like getting more than a Touchdown with California.

MY PICKS: USC Trojans - 16.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Texas Longhorns + 16.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Middle Tennessee + 8.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Illinois Fighting Illini + 11 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
Duke Blue Devils - 12.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
South Carolina Gamecocks + 19.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Georgia Bulldogs - 3 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Navy Midshipmen + 14 Points @ 1.95 Boyle Sports (1 Unit)
Appalachian State Mountaineers - 15.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Michigan Wolverines - 7.5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Washington State Cougars + 17 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
East Carolina Pirates + 9.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
California Golden Bears + 7.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)


Week 5: 6-7, - 1.50 Units (13 Units Staked, - 11.54% Yield)
Week 48-4-1, + 3.26 Units (13 Units Staked, + 25.08% Yield)
Week 36-4, + 1.57 Units (10 Units Staked, + 15.70% Yield)
Week 25-4-1, + 0.68 Units (10 Units Staked, + 6.80% Yield)
Week 17-6, + 0.48 Units (13 Units Staked, + 3.69% Yield

Season 201532-25-2, + 4.49 Units (59 Units Staked, + 7.61% Yield)
Season 201475-82-2, - 13.39 Units (172 Units Staked, - 7.78% 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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