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Thursday, 15 October 2015

College Football Week 7 Picks 2015 (October 15-17)

There is no doubting how big a week it was in College Football when Monday came around to see two Head Coaches removed from their positions. The first was Steve Sarkisian at the USC Trojans as the Head Coach continues to battles his demons and this is by far the most appealing job that is out there for any Coach worth his salt.

Hours later it was announced Steve Spurrier was stepping down as Head Coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks, although few of the hundreds of reports I read were critical of a man leaving his players half way through the season. Spurrier should really have 'retired' in the summer rather than waiting until his team were 2-4 and even then I would have expected him to finish the season at the very least.

Both of those jobs will be sought after, although the bigger one is the one in Southern California and some names like Chip Kelly and Kevin Sumlin have been linked with the post already. It will be fascinating to hear the direction they take, although it might not be until a decision is made on the future of Athletic Director Pat Haden who made the decision to appoint Sarkisian and knew his job security was tied to how well Sarkisian would do.

The games keep coming thick and fast at this point of the season and the importance of those games increase as more teams were perhaps knocked out of the National Championship Play Off hunt in Week 6. Expect the number of teams likely to be considered to continue to be whittled down this week as Conference games keep coming.

It was a recovery week for the picks too after a poor Week 5 produced the first losing week of the season. That was mainly down to missing out on the one Notre Dame pick by a point on the line move, but this week there were no such issues with eight of the thirteen picks producing a winner.

That moves the season total back in the right direction as we get set for Week 7.

My final four Play Off Ranking:

1) Ohio State Buckeyes- still unbeaten and still the team to beat as the defending Champions regardless of some poor performances.

2) TCU Horned Frogs- only because they have been picked by me since the start of the season and remain unbeaten. Baylor Bears are closing in fast on this position though.

3) LSU Tigers- unbeaten in the SEC West and can put out a statement win by beating the unbeaten Florida Gators this week.

4) Florida State Seminoles- I think there is more likely to be an unbeaten ACC Champion than a Pac-12 one, although the Utah Utes will take this place if they can run the table.

Looking In- Utah Utes, Alabama Crimson Tide, Stanford Cardinal, Florida Gators, Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, Clemson Tigers and Baylor Bears.

Week 7 Picks
I mentioned last week that I am not a fan of the midweek games as I seem to get a really poor read on them, but I can't let that deter me from picking from that schedule if the right pick is there.

It just seems like more funny shenanigans occur during the midweek games, perhaps because of the small number of games being played and Vegas perhaps having the edge on things.

This week there have been eight games scheduled between Tuesday and Friday and I will have two picks from those before putting out the rest of the picks for the Saturday games.

UCLA Bruins @ Stanford Cardinal Pick: The spread has moved up for this game over the last few days, but I still believe the Stanford Cardinal can cover the number against the UCLA Bruins and continue their search for a place in the Pac-12 Championship Game. It would also likely end the UCLA Bruin's chances of making that Championship Game as they come off a bye week following a surprising loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils last time out.

Losing Myles Jack was always going to be a bitter blow for the Bruins and I am not sure this Defense has what it takes to slow down the rushing Offense Stanford will bring to the field. Keeping Kevin Hogan in third and manageable has seen the Quarter Back at his best and he has limited the mistakes he has made to keep Stanford moving forward.

The loss to the Northwestern Wildcats doesn't look a good one after they were demolished by the Michigan Wolverines, but Stanford can still get involved in the National Championship Play Offs if they can win out this season and hope the ACC Conference also produces a one loss Champion.

Paul Perkins struggled to find the running lanes he usually enjoys against the Sun Devils and he looks like he could have another difficult task this week. That only puts more pressure on Josh Rosen to produce the goods at Quarter Back and that has led to some turnovers. Protecting the ball and making the big throws will be difficult in this game against a solid Cardinal Secondary, especially if Rosen is left in third and long spots.

Stanford have dominated the head to head with seven straight wins and six of those wins produced a cover of the line. The Cardinal are also 6-2 against the spread as the home favourite while UCLA have gone 2-4 against the spread in their next game following a loss.

Houston Cougars @ Tulane Green Wave Pick: The Houston Cougars are an unbeaten team in the American Atlantic Conference, but revenge will be on their minds after being embarrassed by the Tulane Green Wave in a home loss last season when they were favoured by a similar number to this season.

This has usually been a game the Cougars have been able to dominate and prior to the last season they had won nine in a row in the series by at least 19 points per game. In fact their last four wins here have come by at least 21 points per game and the Cougars have that revenge factor on their mind, especially as they look to show they are the better team.

It is the Houston Defensive unit that makes me believe they can cover a big spread on Friday night- they will score their points, but the Defensive Line has held teams on the ground and that has allowed an effective pass rush to get to the Quarter Back and at least slow down some drives.

Houston are allowing 24 points per game this season, but this Tulane Green Wave team have not been at their best on either side of the ball. Even if they reach that total, I am looking for Houston to hang over forty points on their Defense and I believe they win this one by more than twenty points.

The Cougars are 6-0-1 against the spread as the road favourite and they face a Tulane team that is just 1-5 against the spread as the home underdog since the beginning of the 2014 season. I think Houston make the big plays in this one and pull away from Tulane while earning the revenge they want for their home loss from last season.

Eastern Michigan Eagles @ Toledo Rockets Pick: The Toledo Rockets are unbeaten and looking to reach the MAC Conference Championship Game for the first time in over ten years. They won't look at the Eastern Michigan Eagles as being an obstacle to their ambitions considering they have beaten them eight times in a row and four of the last five wins have come by at least thirty-five points.

They won't have too many troubles moving the ball by simply running it down the throat of the Eagles who are allowing 6.7 yards per carry on the season. That is perhaps a little inflated thanks to seeing Leonard Fournette of the LSU Tigers, but Toledo will move the chains and they will get their points.

The big question is whether the Toledo Defense, which is allowing just eleven points per game, can slow down the Eastern Michigan Offense. For all the criticism of the Eagles, they have been able to move the chains and score points so that is a concern with such a huge spread to cover.

However, the Rockets have been able to slow down the rushing Offenses they have faced and keeping Eastern Michigan in third and long will give them a big edge in this game. They have shown they can pull away from the Eagles in their games and I think the Defense sets them up to do that in Week 7 and cover a spread which stands at over four converted Touchdowns.

West Virginia Mountaineers @ Baylor Bears Pick: This is the ultimate revenge game for the Baylor Bears who will know the defeat at the West Virginia Mountaineers last season cost them a place in the National Championship Play Off. The Bears have come out this season with a chip on their shoulder and have blown teams away and it looks a difficult spot for West Virginia off the back of consecutive losses.

It is silly to think West Virginia can't score points in this one, but Baylor have a couple of edges on the Defensive side of the ball that can see them have success. First they have stopped the run effectively and made teams one-dimensional, although that is helped by their Offense building big leads. Second, Baylor have a pass rush that can expose the Mountaineers' Offensive Line in protection and that will force punts or Field Goals.

Creating short fields for the Baylor Offense is only going to see this game end with one winner and the Bears have been able to score plenty of points. They can run the ball effectively and Seth Russell has been very capable at Quarter Back replacing Bryce Petty who moved on to the NFL.

Baylor put up over seventy points and whipped West Virginia by almost thirty points when they last met here and they are 12-2 against the spread as the home favourite in their last fourteen games. The Mountaineers might get thirty plus points in this one, but I am still expecting Baylor to win by more than three converted Touchdowns.

Pittsburgh Panthers @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Pick: I am surprised that a team on a four game losing run would be favoured by more than a Field Goal. However, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have beaten the Pittsburgh Panthers easily in the last two years and they look to have hit rock bottom in a heavy defeat at the Clemson Tigers last week.

They have had a tough four game run too, while still being pretty highly-rated team in Vegas despite the losses they have suffered. The triple option Offense has been difficult for Pittsburgh to defend, although it was the six fumbles they gave away last year that saw them blown out.

Georgia Tech have actually out-gained two of the four teams they have lost to and this is the first time Pittsburgh would have seen the triple Offense this season which can be a difficulty. However the Georgia Tech Defense hasn't played that well all season and Pittsburgh could establish the ground game which will give them every chance of winning this game let alone covering.

The Panthers have covered twice as the road underdog this season and I do think they are getting too many points in this contest. The two blow outs to the Yellow Jackets is a concern with such a small spread, but Paul Johnson has tried to spark his team with a rant against them this week and I think the pressure is on them to perform which is tough for a team on a four game skid.

Nebraska Cornhuskers @ Minnesota Golden Gophers Pick: It has been an incredibly difficult first season for Mike Riley as his Nebraska Cornhuskers have suffered some really tough losses this season. A defeat to the Wisconsin Badgers in Week 6 dropped the Cornhuskers to 2-4 on the season, but all four defeats have come by a combined eleven points.

Hail Mary passes being completed, blowing a thirteen point lead to lose the game in the final ten seconds or a Field Goal as time expired has been the source of three of those losses and it has to have had a big blow mentally to the team.

In saying that, I am surprised they are being given as many points as they are in this road game at the Minnesota Golden Gophers especially as Jerry Kill's team have not exactly been playing that well themselves. They might be the kind of Offense that Nebraska can deal with as they are better defending the run than the pass and Minnesota do rely on controlling the clock.

On the other hand Nebraska won't have an easy time moving the chains themselves against a very decent Minnesota Defense. Both teams do play well in this spot of a home favourite/road underdog, and I do wonder about the Cornhuskers mindset after back to back devastating close losses, but I also think points might be at a premium in this one and so backing the underdog looks the right decision.

Michigan State Spartans @ Michigan Wolverines Pick: I thought everyone would have been drinking the Jim Harbaugh kool-aid after the Michigan Wolverines pitched a third straight shut out in Week 6. However, the public are unfortunately on the same side as me on this one as I like the Michigan State Spartans and I would lock this in before the number comes down to 7.

The Spartans have dominated the recent series and Mark Dantonio is going to play the 'no one believes in us' card- don't doubt for a second that Michigan State don't you know that they are set as the underdog in this one. They haven't played well so far this season, but I expect the Spartans to get up for this one, although playing in The Big House is going to be incredibly difficult with the way Michigan have been playing.

Jim Harbaugh has already gotten the team playing in a manner reminiscent of his teams of the past, but this is the biggest test Michigan have had since the opening week loss at Utah. As well as Michigan have played, this is the first time they face a Quarter Back like Connor Cook and I think the Spartans will come here with a chip on their shoulder and look to make a statement.

Michigan State are 8-4 against the spread as the underdog over the last few years and getting more than a Touchdown in terms of a start can't be ignored even if the Spartans haven't been in top form.

Oklahoma Sooners @ Kansas State Wildcats Pick: Whenever the Kansas State Wildcats are the underdog with Bill Snyder in charge, automatically I am drawn towards them. They have already covered as the underdog twice this season in back to back weeks including last week against the TCU Horned Frogs, but they have to be feeling a little down after blowing an eighteen point lead in that defeat.

Emotionally it is going to be difficult, but then again the Oklahoma Sooners are coming off a devastating loss to the Texas Longhorns which might just have ended their National Championship hopes. It was a stunning result to be honest, and last season the Sooners were beaten by the Wildcats a week after losing the Red River Rivalry.

However, that means the Sooners are playing with revenge after letting everything go wrong in a game they should never have lost. They missed a tying extra point and then a game winning Field Goal in that loss to Kansas State and it has to be remembered that the Sooners won their last meeting here.

Oklahoma have played well as the road favourite, going 8-5 against the spread in that spot, and I am looking for them to bounce back against a team that gave their all against the best of the Big 12 last week.

Alabama Crimson Tide @ Texas A&M Aggies Pick: There will be plenty more than revenge on the mind of the Texas A&M Aggies in Week 7- a win over the Alabama Crimson Tide might make them the favourites to win the SEC West and putting an embarrassing 59-0 loss to the Crimson Tide in 2014 behind them would be a big bonus.

There is no doubting the Aggies have the Defensive Line to put pressure on Alabama when they drop back to throw the ball but they haven't been impervious to the run and that is where the Crimson Tide should look to dominate this game.

I imagine Kevin Sumlin has been watching plenty of tape of the Ole Miss win at Alabama earlier this season to give his Offense a chance compared with last season. Spreading the Offense out and throwing the ball could be a successful game plan for the Aggies, but I can't help think they are not a better team than Alabama and have made use of a decent schedule to open the season.

Texas A&M are just 10-13 against the spread at home under Kevin Sumlin while they are 1-2 against the spread as the home underdog. I believe Alabama have had their slip in the SEC West when losing to Ole Miss and I will back the Crimson Tide to come through and cover this number on the road.

Appalachian State Mountaineers @ ULM Warhawks Pick: The one aspect that is bothering me about this game is the fact that Appalachian State Mountaineers are facing the Georgia Southern Eagles next week in what might be a Sun Belt Conference decider.

Those two teams have looked the best in this Conference, but the Mountaineers will do well not to overlook the ULM Warhawks in a tough Week 7 encounter on the road. However Appalachian State have won five of their last six road games with the sole loss coming at the Clemson Tigers and they have also covered in five of those games including the last two as the favourite.

I like the chances of the Mountaineers moving the ball much more consistently than the ULM Warhawks in this one and that is why I like them to cover what is a big spread. They should be able to both run the ball and defend the run effectively which gives them the edge and I like the Mountaineers to go on and win this by at least two Touchdowns.

USC Trojans @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pick: It has been a disastrous week for the USC Trojans who fell to their second loss of the season and later had to fire Head Coach Steve Sarkisian. The players have to show they have some heart and character off that loss to the Washington Huskies and in the face of all the things that have happened off the field, but they might not have been able to pick a better opponent than the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

The Trojans have a deep rivalry against Notre Dame and recent games between them have seen USC either win or keep things very competitive. Last season they blew out Notre Dame in the final week of the regular season although the Fighting Irish have played well this season and arguably better than USC.

Offensively I expect USC to have a marked improvement from the performance against Washington and I think the Defense is under-rated. A key of the whole game is at the line of scrimmage where the USC Trojans should be able to run the ball and at least control what kind of yardage the Notre Dame Running Backs are able to pick up.

We don't know how USC will react to all of the issues the school has dealt with on the football field, but I think the Trojans can give Notre Dame all they can handle in what should be a close game that may end up decided by a Field Goal. However, I think USC can also pull the outright upset and they are worth taking with almost a converted Touchdown worth of points.

Arizona Wildcats @ Colorado Buffaloes Pick: The Pac-12 South Division looks to be in the control of the Utah Utes who have played very well to open the season. However, the Arizona Wildcats have Anu Solomon healthy again and might make another surprise run to the Pac-12 Championship Game where they played last year.

That means winning games like this one against the Colorado Buffaloes who are 1-19 in Conference play this season. The problem for the Buffaloes is that they are going to struggle to contain the Arizona Offense and that was an issue for them in their home loss to the Oregon Ducks.

There is some Offensive quality in the Colorado team and the Arizona Defense has been far from watertight, but keeping up with them will be difficult. The Wildcats have gone 4-2 against the spread as the road favourite in recent seasons and I think they are the better team and can win this game on the road.

Turnovers will the key and losing any possessions will see the other team take control, but I trust Solomon more than Sefo Liufau and I will back the road team to continue their recent dominance of this series.

Arizona State Sun Devils @ Utah Utes Pick: The Pac-12 South could be decided by the winner of this game and I wish I had locked in the Arizona State Sun Devils earlier in the week. They have been backed to the point that the spread has come down off the key number seven, but I still believe the Utah Utes are perhaps a touch over-rated and the Sun Devils make this a very competitive game.

It is hard to ignore the fact that Arizona State have won eleven in a row in the head to head series and this series has also seen the underdog cover the last two years. As well as Utah have done to remain unbeaten, they are relying on their turnovers to keep their noses in front of teams, but that also means that it has been possible for teams to challenge them.

Last week they turned California over six times and only won by six points and the Sun Devils have some edges I like. Arizona State should be able to move the ball effectively, although they have to take care of the ball better than they have at times this season. I also like the fact that the Sun Devils have stopped the run efficiently for much of the season and those factors could keep this game very close.

It just feels like this might be a Field Goal separation kind of game and the points being given to Arizona State remain too generous for me to ignore.

Oregon Ducks @ Washington Huskies Pick: This might not be an Oregon Ducks team to the level of those of recent years which has contended for National titles, but they might be getting too many points in Week 7.

Another disappointing defeat is what the Ducks have to put to the back of the mind, but Vernon Adams is likely back at Quarter Back and he carved up the Washington Huskies when playing for Eastern Washington last season. Of course Washington are also off a huge win at the USC Trojans and it might be difficult for them to back up such a big win.

Last season they won as an underdog at California before being blasted by Oregon in their next game, although I imagine this will be a lot closer. As I have mentioned, the Ducks aren't as good as previous years, but to be given a full Field Goal in terms of points might be a little too many points for a team that faces one coming off an emotional win.

Oregon have only been given underdog status twice before over the last six years and they covered in both games and I think the return of Adams will give them a spark. The full three points on offer looks like it is worth backing here.

MY PICKS: Stanford Cardinal - 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Houston Cougars - 19.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
Toledo Rockets - 28.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Baylor Bears - 21 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Pittsburgh Panthers + 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
Nebraska Cornhuskers + 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Michigan State Spartans + 7.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Oklahoma Sooners - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Alabama Crimson Tide - 4 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Appalachian State Mountaineers - 13.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
USC Trojans + 6.5 Points @ 1.95 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
Arizona Wildcats - 7.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Arizona State Sun Devils + 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Oregon Ducks + 3 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

Week 6: 8-5, + 2.49 Units (13 Units Staked, + 19.15% Yield)
Week 56-7, - 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 201540-30-2, + 6.98 Units (72 Units Staked, + 9.69% 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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