Tag Archives: College Football

NCAAF Conference Championships 2018

It is defacto quarterfinals weekend for many teams – its time for the Conference Championships in College Football!  With CFP spots still on the line, there is a lot up for grabs going into this weekend.  With that, let’s go into all of the Conference Championship games this weekend:

MAC Championship – Northern Illinois v Buffalo (Friday, 7:00pm, ESPN2)

A loss two weeks ago against Ohio stopped the Bulls chances of being ranked in the final CFP poll dead in their tracks, but they do get a matchup with perennial top MAC foe Northern Illinois, who is coming out of a very weak Western division.  Buffalo has been outscoring opponents big time this year, scoring over 30 points nine times this season and gets an NIU team that has been allowing more points than they’ve scored on average (19.9 to 20.9).  Quarterback Tyree Jackson has been leading the offense for the Bulls this season and doesn’t look to be stopping anytime soon.
MY PICK: Buffalo over Northern Illinois, 34 – 14

Pac-12 Championship – Utah v Washington (Friday, 8:00pm, FOX)

Two great offenses face off in Santa Clara as a Rose Bowl bid is on the line.  The Huskies won in this spot two years ago while Utah looks for its first Pac-12 title.  These two teams played in Salt Lake City back in September, with Washington getting the best of the Utes.  But that was before Kyle Whittingham’s team got it going on all cylinders.  Jake Browning and Miles Gaskin came alive last week against Washington State, but the Huskies have looked like a different team when they leave their home state.  This should be thrilling and a close one.
MY PICK: Washington over Utah, 27 – 24

Big 12 Championship – Texas v Oklahoma (Saturday, 12:00pm, ABC)

The first Red River Shootout this year was one of the best games of the year, so why not do it again.  Revenge is on the line in Jerry-World, as the Sooners look to win round two against hated rival Texas.  The savior of the Longhorns program, Sam Ehlinger, and Heisman hopeful Kyler Murray look to duel it out.  A month ago, Texas looked as if all hope was lost in getting here, with back to back losses at Oklahoma State and against West Virginia, but the pieces fell in place.  Meanwhile, the Oklahoma offense has gotten the best of the rest of its foes – outscoring each since that fated day at the Cotton Bowl – although allowing monster points and yards in doing so.  Offensives will be on display in a true shootout.
MY PICK: Oklahoma over Texas, 52 – 46

Sun Belt Championship – Louisiana v Appalachian State (Saturday, 12:00pm, ESPN)

One of the most well put together and veteran teams of the Group of Five, Appalachian State, tries to go 6-0 against Louisiana in the first ever Sun Belt Championship game.  In their now five years in the Sun Belt, App State has had a share of the Sun Belt title in the last two, but looks for their first outright this year.  Louisiana gets here with first year head coach Billy Napier and off of great offensive play, with a 2000 yard passer in Andre Nunez and a 1000 yard rusher in Trey Ragas.  The Ragin’ Cajun’s have had one of the best scoring offenses in the Sun Belt this year and looks to avenge the loss they had right on this field just over a month ago; that win for the Mountaineers gave them their first AP Top 25 ranking.  A strong rushing game by Darrynton Evans will be the key for App State here.
MY PICK: Appalachian State over Louisiana, 38-21

C-USA Championship – UAB v Mid Tennessee (Saturday, 1:30pm, CBSSN)

This isn’t de-ja-vu, UAB and MTSU will be at it again in Murfreesboro for the second straight weekend.  The Blue Raiders stifled the Blazers offense last week, holding them to 3 points and 89 total yards.  I highly doubt we will see that type of game again this week, but UAB is going to need to improve greatly to be even in this game.  The Blazers offense has to run through receiver Xavier Ubosi, who has been having a great senior season.  In just its second year back from the football program being shutdown, UAB has really bounced back and no matter what the outcome is on Saturday, should be proud of making it to this point.
MY PICK: Mid Tennessee over UAB, 33-27

American Championship – Memphis v UCF (Saturday, 3:30pm, ABC)

Memphis has yet to beat UCF since they’ve been playing regularly in 2005, but they haven’t been playing like they are outmatched.  The last two matchups, here last year in this game and earlier this season, have been thrilling editions of what could be the next American Athletic Conference rivalry.  With Milton going down last week, possibly ending his career, Darriel Mack, Jr. will be leading the Golden Knights when they hit the field in Orlando.  Close friends with Mackenzie Milton, Mack will need his best to outscore a Memphis Tigers offense that has been on fire this season.  If you thought that the Big 12 Championship will be high scoring, this could very well top it.
MY PICK: UCF over Memphis, 58 – 52

SEC Championship – Alabama v Georgia (Saturday, 4:00pm, CBS)

A rematch of last year’s National Championship Game, which was the birth of the Tua era at Alabama, and of the 2012 SEC Championship Game looks to be the best game of the day.  Nick Saban looks to continue what is arguably the best season by a college football team since the 1888 Yale Football Team (who outscored opponents 694-0).  However, this will be the first challenge that Alabama will face this season, and they have not looked in the mindset these past two weeks, being tied 10-10 at halftime to FCS team The Citadel two weeks ago and struggling in the first half against Auburn; they pulled out both games in the second half, but looked far from the team was the first ten games of the season.  The Tide have won four straight in this rivalry, but all guns will be blazing in what could end up being a prelude to a possible rematch in the National Title Game this year if certain things fall in line.  By the way, Saban looks to go 16-0 against former assistants.
MY PICK: Alabama over Georgia, 34 – 24

Mountain West Championship – Fresno State v Boise State (Saturday, 7:45pm, ESPN)

The Broncos have made it (and hosted) three MW Title Games, each time having to duel it out with the Bulldogs.  They’ve won the last two, but this year they go up against the best Fresno State team they’ve faced.  These two teams played on the Smurf Turf in early November, a 24-17 Broncos win, but was one that could have gone either way.  The Bulldogs defense has been solid in their last two while the Broncos offense is firing.  Get ready for a good ole fashion matchup in Idaho.
MY PICK: Fresno State over Boise State, 28 – 27

ACC Championship – Clemson v Pittsburgh (Saturday, 8:00pm, ABC)

Clemson looks to be the first team in over two decades to win, outright, four straight conference titles.  But standing in their way is a Pittsburgh team that has never lost to Clemson, beating the Tigers in 2016 in Death Valley.  This is a much improved Pitt team, although they have been a bit Jekyll and Hyde this season.  One of the major pitfalls of Dabo lead Clemson teams – they struggle against strong running teams.  Pittsburgh loves to power through and run the rock; don’t write off the Panthers – even after they only put up 3 on Miami.
MY PICK: Clemson over Pittsburgh 32 – 21

Big Ten Championship – Northwestern v Ohio State (Saturday, 8:00pm, FOX)

The Buckeyes snuck into this game after upsetting Michigan.  They haven’t looked all that great this season, especially throughout the second half of the year, but they have gotten past these slow, defense first teams, very well, like Minnesota and Michigan (and what Northwestern runs).  Pat Fitzgerald was asked  before the season, after his third 10 win season and being ranked 17, what was next for his program and he said “win the Big Ten.”  Now, he is one step away from that.  This is a huge hurdle, but the Wildcats defense has been stopping potent offenses in their tracks.  Dwayne Haskins has struggled majorly when defenses can get pressure – and this is a defense that can get a hand in your face.
MY PICK: Northwestern over Ohio State, 21 – 18

College Football 2018 Week 7 Bets

We had a tough week last week, but time to get back at it! Due to time constraints, I will just be posting my upsets without as much explanation as per usual. With that, here are my 5 upsets to watch:

Season: 6-4 (4 Outright)

  • INDIANA (+5.0) v Iowa
    • Indiana has been putting up yards and points this season. Iowa hasn’t been blowing people out. I think when these two teams face off in Bloomington it will be a close 3pt game.
  • BALL STATE (+3.0) at Central Michigan
    • Central Michigan has one win this season, and that came against FCS Maine. Ball State is rolling with two straight as they head to Kelly/Shorts – should win outright too.
  • SAN JOSE STATE (+15.0) v Army
    • The Black Knights go cross country to face winless San Jose State at Levi’s Stadium. SJ State might be 0-5, but they aren’t getting blown out and Army isn’t blowing anyone out.
  • NEW MEXICO (+1.0) at Colorado State
    • While I’m not a fan of only getting a point, I don’t think I will need it. New Mexico puts points up week in and week out. Colorado State can’t stop teams from scoring.
  • COLORADO (+7.0) at USC
    • The Buffaloes haven’t gotten much respect this year, but the only undefeated left in the Pac-12 looks to take their offense to SoCal. Should be a good test for them but I think that their rolling offense is good enough to keep it close and maybe even beat USC.

(All Odds from ESPN at Time of Writing)

Mountaineer Magic in the Fun Belt

The Mountaineers have been hot this year! No… not those Mountaineers from the Big 12, the Mountaineers of the Sun Belt.  Calling Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina their home, the Mountaineers of Appalachian State have been on a roll this season, allowing just 32 points in their last four games, and not allowing a single point in the second half to teams since their OT loss at Penn State week one – no other team can say that.  And we haven’t even talked a bit about any of their players.

Everyone remembers eleven years ago, when the defending back-to-back FCS National Champion walked into the Big House in the first live football action on the Big Ten Network, and stunned the college football world with a win over No. 5 Michigan.  Most couldn’t tell you what an Appalachian State was, or where they came from, or if they even knew how to play football (well… they do, in case you were wondering).  But this upstart program was far from a shocker, rather it is a program laced with history.

In 1928, a school from Boone, North Carolina, then known as the Appalachian State Normal School, put an English professor, Graydon Poe Eggers, in charge of their first football team (he would later coach their basketball team).  Although going 3-6 in their first season (a season where the Georgia Tech Golden Tornado and USC Trojans would win the National Title), it would be 1 of only 5 losing seasons for the school before 1955.  The next season, they named C. B. Johnston as head coach, a student of the six time National Champion winning Michigan coach Fielding Yost, where he led them to their first Conference Title in 1931.  But true success wouldn’t come until Duke All-American Pierce “Kidd” Brewer stepped up to the plate; in 1937, he led an unbeaten and unscored upon in the regular season Appalachian State team, outscoring opponents 206-0.  He would become the namesake of the App State stadium.

Throughout the 40s and 50s, Appalachian State would continue to perform well in the NAIA, but true success didn’t come until the move to the Southern Conference in the 70s.  Working their way into the NCAA, App State would remain steady for their first decade at the level, playing about .500 ball; in 1975, they would get key wins over East Carolina, Wake Forest, and South Carolina, three wins that went along way to securing App State a spot among the Division 1 teams.  By the 80s, they gave future Texas and Hall of Famer Mack Brown his first head coaching job, before finding their stride with two coaches, Sparky Woods, who would right the ship, and Jerry Moore, who would pilot it.  While Woods may have given App State their first two playoff births in the Division I-AA (now known as FCS), Moore took them to the playoffs in 18 of his 24 seasons at the helm.  Under Moore, they won three back-to-back-to-back FCS National Championships, had two NFL draftees, a Walter Payton Award winner, and became the first ever FCS team to receive votes in a final AP poll.

Of course, as much as history matters to many, it doesn’t matter what a team did in the past – it only matters what they do now… and App State is still doing it.  Since becoming a full time FBS member, they’ve won three straight bowl games, capping them off with a 34-0 win against Toledo in last year’s Dollar General Bowl, took a 9th ranked Tennessee team to OT in Knoxville, had an NFL draftee in Colby Gossett, and took 10th ranked Penn State to OT in Beaver Stadium (fun fact, the Michigan, Tennessee, and Penn State games all occurred on September 1st).  This season, they are averaging nearly 7 yards per play, just about 10 players on average per touchdown, and an 82% red zone scoring percentage.

The star of this team, quarterback Zac Thomas.  This sophomore lead his team out for the first time at Beaver Stadium, one of the toughest places to play, especially for a new quarterback.  Being calm and cool in the pocket, he led drive after drive, for 270 yards through the air, another 43 on the ground, and 3 total touchdowns, putting the Mountaineers in position to upset a pre-season pick for National Champion.  While they only got into OT, Appalachian State garnered enough attention to gain some votes in the Coaches Poll (although the AP Poll remained silent).  He followed up with a perfect 14 for 14 day at Charlotte, with 4 total touchdowns in the route on the road.  After their loss to Penn State, the Mountaineers would outscore opponents 204-32; Kidd Brewer would be proud.  During that time, Zac Thomas would account for 16 of the team’s 28 offensive touchdowns, with WR Corey Sutton, Kansas State transfer and life long App State fan, catching 4 of those, including a 90 yard touchdown.  Jalin Moore, who was the standout star coming into the season, reached 400 yards and six touchdowns before his most-likely season ending injury on Tuesday against Arkansas State; Moore had back-back 1000 yard rushing seasons coming into this season, and was well on pace for another.\

Now, they are creeping their way up into the Top 25, trying to join the 2016 Troy team as the only Sun Belt teams to ever be ranked in the AP Top 25.  They currently sit with 11 points on the AP Poll (good enough for 31st) and 38 points in the Coaches’ Poll (good enough for 29th).  Do they have the wins at top ranked teams like many others on the polls – no.  Do they have the toughest schedule in the nation – definitely not.  Do they have all the national eyes on them – no.  But what they do have, wins – only Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin have had more wins in their last 50 games than App State has.  And they just keep on winning.

With strength on offense and defense, Appalachian State deserves respect.  While they never will be said in the same breath as the Bamas and Ohio States of the world, they will keep on winning, the Rock will keep on rocking, and the Mountaineers will be a Group of Five team to watch for years to come, especially with games at North Carolina, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Miami, Texas A&M, and Clemson scheduled over the next ten years.

So, AP Poll, Coaches Poll – you watching?

College Football 2018 Week 6 Bets

Moving on to Week 6 offers us a lot of value with games, even with some big games like the Red River Showdown and Notre Dame heading to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech.  Here are my 5 underdog points plays you should keep your eye on:

Season: 4-1 (3 Outright)

  • MARYLAND (+17.5) at Michigan
    • Going to the Big House isn’t the easiest task, but this year has seen Michigan going backwards at times while the Terps have been rising.  Michigan struggled against the two toughest teams that they’ve faced, Notre Dame and Northwestern, and Shea Patterson has yet to look like the QB to lead this Wolverines team.  They should win, but a more than two touchdowns and a field goal points spread is too much to pass up.
  • EAST CAROLINA (+10.5) at Temple
    • Hard to knock ECU with their two losses – one by a lightning delayed to the next day game to NC A&T and the other to USF during Hurricane Florence.  Otherwise, they could have easily been 4-0 entering this matchup at Temple.  Temple caught a Maryland team off guard and rolled a weak Tulsa team, but didn’t get the job done with Villanova and Buffalo – even if they win this week, they are facing a much better ECU and hard to see them winning by much.
  • AIR FORCE (+3.0) v Navy
    • It hasn’t been easy for Air Force this year, with tough road losses to FAU and Utah State, and then a stunning home loss to Nevada.  But when Navy comes to town, it is a new team in Colorado.  Navy has yet to win a game by more than a point, with two losses to teams west of the Mississippi this year.  Travelling isn’t something that the Midshipman do well and that may come to bite them against their rival.
  • BOWLING GREEN (+21.0) at Toledo
    • Heading to the Glass Bowl for this one.  Bowling Green has losses at Oregon, against a rolling Maryland, and at Georgia Tech – all teams with very good defenses.  Toledo… not so much.  Although Toledo has been hot, they have been allowing 450+ yards per game (mostly through the air) – not that Bowling Green is much better with 500+ (but mostly on the ground; Toledo is a passing team).  This will be a shootdown in the MAC – nowhere near a runaway win like the line says.
  • SOUTH ALABAMA (+11.0) at Georgia Southern
    • South Alabama has had it rough, with games at Oklahoma State, at Memphis, and at Appalachian State.  Now they go on the road to a Georgia Southern team that tries to out run you rather than outscore you like the other teams they’ve faced.  Georgia Southern isn’t going to be pulling away from the Jaguars, leaving this game much closer than the line says.

(all lines from Draft Kings at the time of writing)

The CFP – One More Month

It is amazing that we are already a month into the College Football Season.  We have seen thrilling last second victories, comebacks, collapses, and upsets abound.  Already we have seen great games in the forms of LSU-Auburn, Stanford-Oregon, and Ohio State-Penn State, with many more not named and so many more to come.  But, with all of the polls that come out each week, the movement in each is nearly meaningless.  The only thing that matters is what the College Football Playoff Committee decides in just four weeks.  A lot can happen in these next few weeks, from the top teams going down to surprising upstart teams rolling in.  Let’s see how these next four weeks could play out.

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College Football 2018 Week 5 Bets

With all of the country’s focus on the two top ten matchups that we have under the lights this weekend with Penn State – Ohio State and Notre Dame – Stanford, we cannot forget about what is a very juicy undercard as we head into conference play.

Each week I will post my 5 underdog points plays that you should keep your eye on.

  • ARMY (+7.5) at Buffalo
    • The Bulls come home to UB Stadium 4-0, after a trouncing of Rutgers.  But this is their first test of the year, and get an Army squad that travels well.  Buffalo won by just 7 points against the two best teams it faced, Eastern Michigan and Temple – neither stack up to what this Army team has been doing lately.  Should be tight.
  • NEVADA (+5) v Air Force
    • The last three games in this Mountain West cross-divisional series have been decided by one possession.  The Wolf Pack are 2-2 thus far, losing two early kickoffs out east.  They get to travel close to an Air Force team that has just one win, and that was to FCS Stony Brook.  I find this to be a very odd line for this game, even with Nevada’s blunders on the road.
  • GEORGIA SOUTHERN (+3.5) v Arkansas State
    • The Eagles took care of business at home their first two weeks before going to Clemson.  Now they are back home at Paulson Stadium against an Arkansas State team that has been squeaking out wins in their last two.  It isn’t easy winning at Georgia Southern and this could easily be a one point game in the end.
  • SAN JOSE STATE (+11) v Hawaii
    • Facing a 4-1 Rainbow Warriors team is a challenge, but they play noticeably worse on the road.  SJ State is still looking for their first win, but I can give them a pass when their last two games came on the road at Washington State and Oregon.  This is a very generous line here.
  • BYU (+17.5) at Washington
    • One of the sneaky ranked v ranked games of this week, BYU has been play strong fundamental football thus far.  Going into Camp Randall a few weeks ago and knocking off Wisconsin was just a taste of what it looks like BYU has in store for the rest of the season.  Now they get to head up to Seattle to face off with a Washington squad that hasn’t quite looked themselves as of late, and might be looking past this game to the big Pac-12 slate that they have coming up.

(all lines from Draft Kings at the time of writing)

White Out Wonders

White.  Nothing like it.  Pure, clean, loud, busy, random, raucous, 31-10, 4OT, super reliable from inside 40.  Moments that can only be described by two words: White Out.

This Saturday, one team steps into a house where every thought is blocked out by white noise.  Where ever fan is clad in one color, a sea – no an ocean – of white.  A place where the team from Columbus was the first victim to go down under the lights of white at Beaver Stadium in 2005.  A place where they were rocked from No. 2 just two years ago.

The players may be different.  No Saquon Barkley; no J.T. Barrett; no Grant Haley; no Curtis Samuel; no Chris Godwin; no Tyler Durbin.  The stakes may have changed.  What was once seemingly a top team vs a wild underdog has turned into a top ten matchup.  But what hasn’t changed are the teams, the rivalry, the animosity, the hatred, Penn State – Ohio State.  Two teams rooted in history, a rivalry that dates back to trips to Columbus in the 60s, a Fiesta Bowl in the 80s, top ten matchups during the 90s, #324, a blocked punt, and a birth of a tradition.

The White Out Game is one like no other.  An environment ranked at the top of most people lists, called “a scene” by Kirk Herbstreit, the toughest atmosphere to play in by Nick Mangold, and a noise level that Urban Meyer wished “they would save […] for other games.”  In 2013, it played host to one of the most famous games ever to occur on the field of historic Beaver Stadium, a 4OT thriller against No. 18 Michigan, one defined by Allen Robinson’s miracle catch at the one yard line.  In 2016, it gave Penn State the statement win over then No. 2 Ohio State they needed to say “we are back.”  In 2017, it gave Penn State a defining high as they routed Michigan under the lights.  What will 2018 bring, one can wonder?

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