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The Week That Will Be: Bowl Fever

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The real story will be if Texas doesn't come home from Lawrence bowl eligible...

Chris Covatta/Getty Images

Last Week: 3-3 ATS 2-4 SU

For the Year: 35-31 (.530) ($50) ATS 43-23 (.652) SU

We learned last week...

  • So Auburn quarterback Sean White injured his shoulder a couple weeks back, doesn't throw a pass in practice for two weeks, plays last week against Georgia despite that fact, and then the Tigers proceed to have seven possessions in the second half, of which six were three and out and the other was a pick six. White admitted after the game that he re-injured his shoulder in the first half. Thanks for the heads up, Sean.
  • Iowa somehow wins a game despite passing for only 66 yards...wait a minute, they beat MICHIGAN only throwing for 66 yards? And people think they can make a living on betting on this sport?
  • USC now have won six games in a row, all starts by Sam Darnold, who threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns (and two interceptions) to defeat Washington. All six opponents for the Trojans were held to their lowest point total of the season, and now USC is in position to win the Pac-12 South.
  • Texas Tech pulled a Texas, missing an extra point when they thought they had the game tied...but, as we all keep saying, bad teams find ways to lose games.
  • Baylor's descent into college football mediocrity continued, and to make matters worse, quarterback Seth Russell is done for the year (again).
  • And finally, in the One Stat Says It All Dept. once again, since Charlie Strong took over the defense the Longhorns have forced 16 turnovers...and have converted that into 24 points. The difference in the three losses in that span? 12 points.

Anyhow...

So last weekend was UPSET SATURDAY in college football, when five of the Top-10 and more importantly, the second through fourth ranked teams all lost, so we all expected some sort of chaos when the refreshed rankings were released Tuesday evening...instead we got Ohio State trading spots with Washington and Clemson and Michigan getting a mulligan like your buddy on the first tee at the muni golf course last weekend.

Ho-hum.

But you know what? They are probably the correct rankings.

Let's face it, Alabama could probably lose to Chattanooga this week and still make it at this rate -€” so it isn't even worth discussing. Ohio State and Michigan both have somewhat shaky losses on the road in conference play (Penn State shouldn't be ranked that high, let's be honest).

Those three teams, win out and they are in (there is the complicated matter of Ohio State possibly not even going to the Big 10 Championship game, but it is the Buckeyes, c'mon).

Then there is Clemson, who probably deserve to be there right now...but if they continue to play against Wake Forest, South Carolina and paper tiger to be named in the ACC Championship game the way they have sleep walked through much of this season, they could be passed by...

Washington: The Huskies were so dominant until they weren't. But with Washington State and possibly USC left to play on the schedule, there are impressive wins to be had out there.

Louisville: With only Houston and Kentucky left on the schedule, the Cardinals probably don't have the strength of schedule cache to hold off any of the other contenders.

Wisconsin/Penn State: These teams' biggest fault is that they are no Ohio State. Penn State's biggest argument is, of course, that they beat Ohio State. Easy enough, right? But the Buckeyes would have wins over Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan, while Penn State would have beaten...Ohio State?

Florida/Oklahoma/Oklahoma State/Colorado/Washington State/West Virginia/Utah: All of these teams probably need to have pigs starting to develop wings in order to make the playoffs, but there are plausible situations where one of them could sneak in...namely another UPSET SATURDAY...but we know what follows after that.

On to the games...

Louisville -14 @ Houston:

This was a game circled on everyone's calendar early in the season, but Houston has struggled since its 5-0 start, losing to Navy (69th in S&P rankings) and SMU (78) and narrowly defeating Tulsa (50) and Central Florida (56) by seven and Tulane (98) by 12.

Injuries haven't helped the Cougars, but you would think the Ghost of Vince Lombardi (ahem) might be able to overcome that and beat SMU.

Heisman front-runner Lamar Jackson likely goes over 3,000 yards passing in this game, and Houston's Greg Ward Jr. is likely to get there this season as well. The problem for the Cougars has been their running game, where former Longhorn Duke Catalon is their leading (non-QB) rusher with only 411 yards. As a team they average 3.7 yards per carry, good for only 107th in the country.

Houston brings a 14-game home winning streak into this one, but their inability to stop run the ball and keep Jackson off the field means that streak comes to an end here.

Louisville 41 Houston 28

ATS -€” Houston

SU -€” Louisville

Washington State @ Colorado -4.5:

If you had told me before the season I would be writing about Washington State and Colorado (owners of the two worst Power 5 win percentages in the country the last decade) the week before Thanksgiving, I would have thought a great tragedy had befallen most of the country.

But Colorado has two losses on the season, and they are to Michigan (by 17) and USC (by 4), and their defense hasn't given up more than 24 points in a game since September, despite playing in that conference.

On the other sideline is Mike Leach's Washington State squad, which lost to Eastern Washington by three in their season opener and to Boise State (also by three) in the second game of the season. Their lowest scoring output all season long is 27 points, so something has to give.

The Cougars are led by quarterback Luke Falk, who has thrown for 3,610 yards with 33 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions. But he'll have his hands full with a Buffaloes defense that leads the conference in total defense (308 yards) and pass defense (176).

Colorado should be able to sneak one out at home.

Colorado 31 Washington State 28

ATS -€” Washington State

SU -€” Colorado

Florida @ LSU -13.5:

What is that, an actual SEC game on the Saturday of November? This is the make-up game of the postponed hurricane game, but still...

LSU has won three in a row in this series, and five out of the last six, and they enter this match-up with one of the nation's top defenses. Check out these point totals their defense has given up this season: 16, 13, 20, 18, 7, 10, 21, 10, 10.

Wow.

Who in the Big12 wouldn't kill for that?

Then there is Florida, which boasts quite the defense themselves, giving up these point totals this season: 7, 7, 0, 38 (Tennessee), 6, 14, 10, 31 (Arkansas), 7.

LSU's defense rules the day over a Florida defense that is prone to lapses and is injured as of late. Toss in Florida's inability to move the football (new song, different verse), and the Gators have a rough road to travel here.

LSU 31 Florida 17

ATS -€” LSU

SU -€” LSU

Oklahoma State @ TCU -4.5:

You have to wonder where Oklahoma State would be if they hadn't given up the touchdown on the play that shouldn't have counted, but with road games with TCU and Oklahoma to come, they do still control their own destiny as far as winning the conference goes.

The Cowboys have won three of four in this series in the Big 12 era, a series that has been dominated by blowouts (22 points per game average scoring margin), including last season's 49-29 Oklahoma State win in Stillwater.

TCU has been playing better defense of late. After giving up more than 30 points per game in their 9 games this season, the Horned Frogs have given up a combined 49 points the last two weeks against Texas Tech and Baylor.

That could be fleeting, however, as the Frogs just don't appear to have it this season.

Oklahoma State 38 TCU 31

ATS -€” Oklahoma State

SU -€” Oklahoma State

Oklahoma -3 @ West Virginia:

Since the Big 12 began round-robin conference scheduling in 2011, no team has managed to go undefeated in conference play. Oklahoma has not only gone undefeated in the Big 12 thus far, they've won 14 straight conference games, the longest such streak since Texas in 2004-2006.

If they are going to do it here, they need to beat perhaps the best defense in the conference (37th in the country in S&P defense) and in Morgantown, where the Sooners defeated the Mountaineers by one point in 2012 (in the infamous Tavon Austin game), and 12 in 2014 (giving up 33 points).

The Sooners are on an unbelievable run offensively, but that comes to an end on Saturday.

West Virginia 31 Oklahoma 27

ATS -€” West Virginia

SU -€” West Virginia

Texas -23.5 @ Kansas:

You have heard the Kansas football futility superlatives for several years now, but it is still astounding to consider they haven't won a conference game in two calendar years and last played in a bowl game in 2008 (!).

Then there is the fact that they are 118th in S&P+ offense, 109th in defense and are giving up 43 points per game in their 9-game losing streak, and it is easy to see why Bill Self gets all the attention in Lawrence these days.

They do have a couple bright spots here and there, however, as wide receiver Steven Sims Jr., who has 739 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns, looks to become Kansas's first 1,000 yard receiver since Dezmon Briscoe in 2009.  Defensively, defensive end Dorance Armstrong, Jr. is no slouch, leading the Big 12 in tackles for loss with 14.

Sims is going to have a hard time getting to that mark, however, with Kansas's revolving door at quarterback, which this week lands on Carter Stanley, who in his first start of the season last week averaged 4.5 yards per attempt. In all, Jayhawks quarterbacks on the year have thrown a combined 14 touchdown passes this season and 19 interceptions.

Yuck.

This feels like a good retrenching game for the Horns, to become bowl eligible, but given their struggles on the road this season, and the fact that it is the second to last game of the year and they aren't bowl eligible yet, means that they can't afford to look past any opponent...even the Jayhawks.

Last week Shane Buechele passed Colt McCoy to become the program's most prolific freshman passer, and this game feels like a game he needs to take the reins and make sure there is no slacking on offense.

The Longhorns get the win and become bowl eligible...but that is a lot of points on the road.

Texas 44 Kansas 23

ATS -€” Kansas

SU -€” Texas

For entertainment purposes only.  Save your money for Liberty Bowl tickets.