I got back on track last week going 7-4 on the Accidental Picks. That brings my season record to 33-22. Included in the wins from last weekend were two home dogs, Tulane and Miami (OH), to win outright. Miami came through, handing the Ohio Bobcats their first loss of the year. I am proud of the wins and glad to be back on the right side of .500 after some atrocious picking in week 8. However, the losses I had this week were on the ugly side as the teams from Louisiana in particular really disappointed over the weekend. ULM and LaTech both scored victories, but failed to cover and ULL lost an ugly one on Tuesday night bucking one of my main trends for these Under the Radar games.
We’ll trudge on this week and pick the new crop of loveable losers for this week. Without Further ado, your week 10 picks:
As always home teams are in bold
** Note: The first two picks are for Thursday Night games.
Ohio U. -17 over Eastern Michigan – Ohio Wins 24-3
Why the spread is too low: Eastern Michigan is one of the more ill-equipped teams out there. They were able to beat Army in week 8 to avoid going winless for the season, but that game still remains a mystery to me. EMU is bad and Ohio is returning home after losing their first game last week. Solich will have them back on track this week as they look to bounce back and remain relevant in the MAC race.
Why Eastern Michigan may cover: This is a tough one. Ohio has beaten one team by more than 17 points this year and it was in week two against New Mexico St. It isn’t Ohio’s style and it isn’t Solich’s style. They are a grind it out team and they win close games. That game plan caught up to them last week in their first loss.
Middle Tennessee +9 over Western Kentucky – WKU Wins 38-31
Why the spread is too high: What was more impressive, Middle Tennessee blasting Georgia Tech 49-28 or Western Kentucky beating SEC Conference member Kentucky 32-31 in overtime. Both results are irrelevant to this matchup but stand to show that these teams are capable of beating teams with superior talent. I don’t believe this game will get away from either team and will remain within a touchdown.
Why Western Kentucky may cover: Middle Tennessee has succeeded this season by having a balanced offense (240 ypg through the air and 180 ypg on the ground), but are running into one of the most stout defenses in the country in Western Kentucky. The Hill Toppers are ranked 19th in total defense and really excel against the run, only allowing 107.5 per game. Blue Raider junior QB Logan Kilgore is talented but is much more successful when the run can be used to set up the passing game. If WKU can shut down the run early, Kilgore could struggle.
East Carolina +3.5 over Houston – East Carolina wins 27-24
Why the spread is too high: Continuing my trend of picking home dogs from last week. This is the second time that Houston has left the state of Texas this year and the first time they lost 37-6 to UCLA. They haven’t been that impressive on the road in the state of Texas, losing by 30 points to SMU in week 8. East Carolina is not a good team either but I am looking for a straight up win for the Pirates. If not, I like the extra ½ point cushion with the field goal spread.
Why Houston may cover: ECU is coming off a very disappointing 28-point home loss to Navy. Houston, meanwhile is a much better team than the one that traveled to UCLA in Week 2. Aside from the ugly loss to SMU, in the last 5 weeks they have recorded victories of 21, 23, 22, and 10 points and are just a step behind Tulsa in the division with a big match up against the Hurricane in Houston next week. They can’t afford a stumble now.
Arkansas -8 over Tulsa – Arkansas wins 38-28
Why the spread is too low: Arkansas is not the dumpster fire they were over the first few weeks of the year. John L. Smith won’t be there next year, but give either him or the senior leadership in that locker room credit for righting the ship in the last few weeks. After losing to Texas A&M 58-10 in Week 5, the Razorbacks have gone 2-1, although they are coming off a disappointing loss to Mississippi.
Why Tulsa may cover: Arkansas has been very inconsistent this year and it is unclear whether they have really turned the corner or not. Wins against Kentucky and Auburn are great, but if there are two teams that are struggling this year more than Arkansas in the SEC, those are the teams. Tulsa, meanwhile, is one of the best teams in the Nation no one is talking about. They have the 28th best offense powered by a top-10 rushing offense averaging nearly 250 ypg.
New Mexico St. +23 over Auburn – Auburn wins 23-3
Why the spread is too high: Auburn is a team that is not playing for anything at this point in the season. They have a chance to make a statement in two of the last three weeks of the season against division leading Georgia and Auburn. Coach Chizek has to be the definition of a dead man walking at this point and they are coming off a home loss to Texas A&M 63-21 last week. They may get right this week, but I am betting that it won’t be by the number.
Why Auburn may cover: If there is a salve for what woes the Auburn Tigers this year, it may be the New Mexico St. Aggies. You’d be hard pressed to find two teams that have been more futile this year. On paper, Auburn ought to blow the doors off New Mexico St.; but on paper, the Tigers should not have a strangle hold on the basement of the SEC West, either.
Texas St. +26 over Utah St. – Utah St. wins 34-14
Why the spread is too high: Utah St. is on a collision course with LaTech in two weeks in a Conference deciding game. They cannot afford a let down here to an inferior Bobcat team, but they also cannot afford injuries. They should be fully focused for this game, with two weeks to prepare, but there is no reason for style points here. The Aggies have been better on the road than at home all year.
Why Utah St. may cover: Having two weeks to prepare for LaTech may be exactly why HC Gary Andersen will push on the gas this week. The Aggies have been as impressive as LaTech this year in the WAC Conference, with their only losses coming in narrow defeats to BYU and Wisconsin, both on the road. A statement win here with two weeks to prepare for their most important matchup may be just what they are looking for.
UMass +35 over N. Illinois – N. Illinois wins 42-10
Why the spread is too high: N. Illinois has one loss on the year, to Arizona and are rolling toward their third straight MAC Championship Game and looking to defend their Conference Championship. Second-year coach Dave Doeren has nothing to prove here against UMass. Expect the Huskies to get ahead early and shut things down as they get ready to play Toledo next week for the Division Championship.
Why N. Illinois may cover: The Huskies are the superior team here and it isn’t even close. UMass is winless in their first season in the FBS and in MAC Conference play. N. Illinois can pick their number here. Just because they shut things down and play the backups doesn’t mean that the backups won’t score against the Minutemen.
Louisiana Tech -32 over UTSA – LaTech wins 56-14
Why the spread is too low: LaTech is the superior team here, as UT – San Antonio is yet another team in their first year of FBS competition. Since starting out the year 5-0, the Road Runners have slipped to 5-3 and appear to be a team out of gas. LaTech, on the other hand is the class of the conference with their one loss on the season coming to SEC member Texas A&M in a late night thriller. Ranked and coming off a lackluster performance against New Mexico St., Coach Dykes has two weeks to tune the offense in preparation for Utah St. and a chance to secure a WAC Championship.
Why UTSA may cover: This is another case of a Conference contender not having much to prove against an FBS newbie with more important games coming on the schedule. LaTech struggled against another inferior opponent in New Mexico St. last week, missing 3 field goals and only leading 7-0 at half time. Something was clearly amiss with this offense last week and we could see it bleed over into this week as they return home.
UL Lafayette +10.5 over UL Monroe – ULM wins 26-23
Why the spread is too high: The last two games in this rivalry have been decided by a single point (both in favor of ULL) and you have to go back to 2006 to find a game in this series that was decided by more than 9 points. Both of these teams have long histories of futility with only one bowl appearance between them – ULL won the New Orleans Bowl over San Diego St. last year. Lafayette will be fired up to knock Monroe out of their Conference-leading position.
Why UL Monroe may cover: To anyone who may have been noticing, and let’s be honest no one was noticing, Monroe’s turn around started late last year in Todd Berry’s second year as head coach in Monroe. Following a one-point disappointment to their cross-state rival, Lafayette, last year, the Warhawks won 2 of their last 3, outscoring opponents 85-42. All they’ve done this year is upset Arkansas in Little Rock when Arkansas was still in the top-10 and a National Title Contender; they followed up that effort with narrow losses to Auburn and Baylor. They haven’t found much challenge in the Sun Belt Conference and are well on their way to their first SBC title. Oh, and let’s assume they are stinging from those 1-point losses to Lafayette the last 2 years.
Arkansas St. -6 over N. Texas – Arkansas St. wins 48-28
Why the spread is too low: The Red Wolves and HC Gus Malzahn are seeking bowl eligibility and the road gets trickier after this week. They have a short week coming up next week before a challenge with ULM for the lead in the Conference. Malzahn’s offense is starting to click in Jonesboro with three straight wins following a tough home loss to W. Kentucky.
Why N. Texas may cover: The Red Wolves may be a little distracted as they prepare for ULM in a short next week. This could make them ripe for the picking for second-year coach Dan McCarney. McCarney was known for at least one big home upset each year he was at Iowa St., beating Nebraska in 2002 and 2004 and beating then #8 ranked Iowa in 2005.
Kent St. -19.5 over Akron – Kent St. wins 35-14
Why the spread is too low: These schools are 12 miles apart, yet the football teams are about as different as they can get. The Golden Flash of Kent St. are 7-1 and in the driver seat of the MAC East, having won their last 6. The Zips of Akron, meanwhile, have dropped 6 straight and come into the contest with a 1-8 record. The Flash do their damage on the ground with two of the most outstanding running backs in the nation in SO RB Trayion Durham and JR RB Dri Archer. Both are averaging better than 95 yards per game this season and give Kent St. the ability to grind out the game, as they did against Rutgers stout running defense last week in that upset win. Akron prefers to throw the ball and the Kent St. defense has as many INTs on the year (16) as TDs allowed.
Why Akron may cover: The Flash will be looking ahead to the next three weeks against their closest competition in the Conference (Bowling Green, Miami (OH), and Ohio). Add to that the excitement of knocking off previously unbeaten Rutgers last week and this is a classic trap game. If the Flash is off their game, Akron has the ability to beat them over the top. Despite Kent St.’s INT total on the year, they can only boast the 87th ranked passing defense on the year, allowing over 250 ypg.