Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Miami Hurricanes Hyundai Sun Bowl Pick: I like what Notre Dame did down the stretch a lot more than I like what Miami did to end their season. Neither team met expectations as Miami stumbled from a solid pre-season ranking to finish 7-5 and unranked in the Top 25. Notre Dame finished strong, but losses to Tulsa and Navy (they got killed by Navy) weren’t very impressive. They also finished out of the Top 25.
But both teams have plenty of talent, that’s for sure. And both teams are in the midst of a culture change. Sure, Notre Dame has been working with a new coach all season long, but they’re still learning their way with the new HC. Miami’s head coach got the axe and it all starts new in Miami.
The Hurricanes didn’t really end the season terribly, but two straight losses didn’t help their coach’s cause, as Virginia Tech and South Florida both came into Miami and beat the ‘Canes. Miami really had disappointments all season long, losing a game to Virginia and never really beating a “good” team. Jacory Harris had some pre-season Heisman hype, but he really had a disappointing season as he nearly matched his touchdowns (14) with interceptions (12). He was injured a bit, but his inconsistency was obvious. He’s expected to be healthy enough to play in this game, which should give the Canes a boost, but I don’t think it will be enough.
Notre Dame played the Michigan State Spartans really tough, losing by a field goal in overtime in mid-September. But it wasn’t until November 11th, against Utah, that the Irish got a good win. They easily out-played the Utes, winning 28-3, and they haven’t looked back since. They beat Army 27-3 then went to USC to oust the Trojans 20-16 to end their season on a high note. They have some key injuries (RB, Armando Allen – QB, Dayne Crist – TE, Kyle Rudolph among others) but it’s nothing like Miami’s long list of health problems.
I just see the Irish building on their solid end to the season while Miami continues to struggle with consistency.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+3) @ Miami Hurricanes
Week 12 NCAA Football Virginia Tech Hokies @ Miami Hurricanes Pick: The Hurricanes are an obscure team, to say the least. They can get killed by Florida State, meander past Duke at a medium pace, lost to Virginia, barely skip by Maryland, and slam Georgia Tech. They turned the ball over a ton against a good Ohio State team – and they only lost by 12. They could really play well in this game, or turn the ball over a lot and struggle with consistency.
Stephen Morris, not pre-season Heisman hopeful Jacory Harris, led the Hurricanes in their drubbing of Georgia Tech last week. I’m not sure if Harris is the better option for the Canes or not, he’s got big play ability, but his interceptions almost match his touchdown tosses this year. But it’s doubtful that he’ll be playing on Saturday. And the Hokies defense is a different beast than Morris faced last weekend. A big key to this game will be Morris’s performance against that D. If the Canes can’t run well, they’ll have to rely on Morris to move the ball – I guess that’s a big reason why I’m taking the Hokies.
I know the Hurricanes have a long list of injury woes and that could hurt them down the stretch run of the season. That’s yet another things factoring into my decision here. Virginia Tech has played very well since their early season struggles, and Tyrod Taylor has become a very good college quarterback. I like what I’ve seen, and I’m sticking with the Hokies.
#16 Virginia Tech Hokies (-2.5) @ #24 Miami Hurricanes
North Carolina Tar Heels @ Miami Hurricanes Point Spread Pick: The Tar Heels, underdogs in each of their last three meetings with Miami, have won each of their last three games against the Canes. That guarantees very little, but the Tar Heels get a little boost when playing the Canes, and despite all the allegations and suspensions, the Heels are putting together a pretty solid season. They have won 4 straight, and played well against both ranked opponents they’ve played thus far, losing by 6 to LSU and Georgia Tech to start the season They haven’t played anybody tough in the last four weeks, their best win maybe being Clemson or Rutgers, but they’re figuring out ways to win.
T.J. Yates has been super efficient, completing 67% of his passes for 1495 yards and 11 touchdowns to just 1 interception. He seems to understand the team is relying on him to both make big plays and make sure he doesn’t put his defense in bad spots. The Heels don’t rank out in the Top 20 in any single category, but they are pretty solid against the pass, allowing just 177.5 yards per game.
The Hurricanes can put up points quickly when they are going well, and when they’re off, they give the ball up like it’s their job. Honestly, that’s the only reason the Buckeyes beat the Canes earlier in the year. They aren’t discipline with the ball. Jacory Harris is a big time playmaker at the QB position for the Hurricanes, but his 11 touchdowns to 9 interceptions show that he doesn’t protect the ball well enough. North Carolina’s secondary is good enough to take advantage when Harris makes a mistake.
With these things combined, I am Captain Planet, wait, I mean I am picking the Tar Heels.
North Carolina Tar Heels (+7) @ #25 Miami Hurricanes
As I said in my newsletter that went out on Wednesday, crazy things can happen on Thursday Night, and there’s not doubt that history is on the side of the home team (especially the underdogs at home) on the weeknights. Yet, knowing that, here I am picking the Miami Hurricanes to bust back into the fray after losing to Ohio State last time out.
First and foremost, the Pittsburgh Panthers are in no way a bad team – I just happen to think Miami is one of the better groups in the Nation. Sure, Ohio State ousted them in prime time, and everyone has that locked freshly in their memories – but Miami did everything they could to lose that game and they still came out just 12 points back when all was said, done, and the clocks set to zero.
Miami had 4 turnovers (all Harris interceptions) to Ohio State’s zero. Miami moved the ball almost as well as Ohio State, even converting 7 of 15 3rd downs compared to the Buckeyes’ 33%. Those 4 interceptions aren’t happening again any time soon – Jacory Harris is much too good to do that on a normal basis. Miami’s running back, Damien Berry, is better than he gets credit for, and he should torment the Pitt Panther front 7. Harris will do the rest of the tormenting, and one of the Nation’s quickest defenses will be up to the task of slowing Pitt.
#19 Miami Hurricanes (-3) @ Pittsburgh Panthers
Terrelle Pryor and the rest of the Buckeyes imposed their will on poor Marshall in Week 1, blowing that game up early, leading 35-7 at the half. Pryor looked awesome, not as much running as one would expect but through the air. He doesn’t always look like the prettiest quarterback out there, his speed is more long than quick and his arm never seems as strong as it is – but he can throw it, and I don’t know if last week was an anomaly or what, but he can do it accurately. Pryor couldn’t get much going on the ground, which is weird, but he wasn’t really needed there. He had 8 rushes for just 17 yards. Like I said, other guys carried the lumber with ease. Brandon Saine had 9 carries for over 100 yards and two touchdowns, he led a strong team effort on the ground. The Buckeyes will be tough to beat.
Miami has enough talent to get to Ohio State. They can really move on defense, and it will be interesting to see how Pryor throws the ball with more pressure and smaller windows. Sometimes it’s easy to hit that receiver with 8 yards of freedom on either side of him, the question is, can Pryor do the same thing with just a couple yards to play with?
As awesome as Pryor was through the air on Saturday, this weekend he might be outdone by Miami’s signal caller, Jacory Harris. Harris completed 80% of his passes last week, and threw for over 3300 yards and 24 touchdowns last season for the Canes. This years’ team is more mature and better all around. If Harris can get his offensive line to fend off the pressure from Ohio State, Harris will have enough time to take advantage of Miami’s elite team speed. Team speed, on both sides of the ball, should keep Miami within striking distance all day long.
#13 Miami Hurricanes (+9) @ #2 Ohio State Buckeyes
I’m back! And hopefully, for you and for me, better than ever. If you followed me last season you saw a winning season in both the NFL and NCAA, giving you free NCAA and NFL winners for absolutely FREE. When I say Free Picks, I mean Free Picks, I made nothing, you gave nothing, we’re talking real Free, not some small print excluded kind of free that gets your hopes up right before crushing you with reality. The good free. The big story here? I’m back for some more free picks, write-ups, and best of all, heaps and heaps of flipping winners. College Football’s Week 1 is always a big deal, it means football is here, the NFL is damn close, and that nice warm weather that kept you warm (and less pale) for the last four months is just about finished. But the cooler nights allows me to smell some football. And with a bigger whiff I smell some winners. And that smell, more than anything, makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Here’s 10 bets for Opening Week… Enjoy!
Oregon Ducks @ Boise State Broncos (OVER 64): Here’s the deal. The Ducks went out big last year, winning a few games to end their season, then busting Oklahoma State in the mouth on their way to a big bowl win over the heavily favored Cowboys. Hooray last year. The Ducks also return their stud starting quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli, a beast of a running back in LeGarrette Blount, and a few big boys on the line among others. What they lose, however, is some punch in their secondary and that could really hurt against a Broncos team that knows how to pick apart defenses. Boise State has some athletes of their own, helping Kellen Moore put points on the board will be Jeremy Avery, Jeremy Childs, and a huge play guy in Titus Young – a receiver that just happens to be one of the quickest players in the land. You throw in the blue turf, an Oregon team “trying to prove themselves and make up for last years loss to Boise State in Oregon” and I think the Broncos have the comfort level in this one. While I like the Broncos to win, and likely cover the 4 point spread in this one, I like the OVER even more. Oregon scored over 30 points in 11 of their 13 games, and I don’t think the Broncos will hold them much lower than that. The Ducks give up points too, allowing 30 or more to each ranked team they played in 2008. This game should light up the scoreboard, take advantage of that, it’s the best bet in this game.
South Carolina Gamecocks (+5) @ North Carolina State Wolfpack: Did South Carolina get that much worse in the last year? I don’t see Steve Spurrier’s team doing that. In fact, I think they’ve gotten a little better. Has North Carolina State become a powerhouse this summer, losing their best defensive player for the season? I think they’ll be decent in 2009, but they’re not a great team. The Gamecocks beat NC State 34-0 last season. They played tough against just about every single team they played until injuries broke them down and they lost 3 straight to end their season. Spurrier is a bit of a donkey, don’t get me wrong, but he’s one hell of a coach, offensive genius, and recruiter. His Gamecocks will get big contributions from freshman, a better season out of the quarterback position, and an upset win at NC State this Thursday Night.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (-6.5) @ Syracuse Orange: This game seems too easy. Does that put a little scare in a guy? Sure, from time to time, but the books are busy, certainly, and doing all those pre-season games, getting lines up for Week 1 in the NFL, getting proper lines for every single college game to start the season, shoot, it has to be tough. So they miss a line now and again. I’d take the Gophers at -14 in this one, so less than a touchdown favorite seems like free money. You know what I think about free money? Take it before it’s not free anymore. Sportsbook still has the Gophers favored by less than a TD, it doesn’t get much easier than that. The Orange are starting a quarterback that hasn’t played football in 4 years, and just transferred from Duke to Syracuse this spring. Greg Paulus, Duke’s old PG, is now the starting QB for Syracuse. Come on. This is Tim Brewsters’ 3rd season as the head coach of the Gophers, this will be his best season yet. The Gophers can really run the football, and the Orange are terrible at stopping the run. Look for the Gophers to start their season off right.
Baylor Bears @ Wake Forrest Demon Deacons (-2.5): This line seems to be moving towards the visiting team. I think the Deacons will win, but the hype is with the Bears. They have a young QB that lit up the conference last season, but I still give the nod at that position to 4 year starter Riley Skinner – the guy has a scope on his arm. Wake loses a lot offensively with Demir Boldin’s graduation, but there’s talent there, and like I said, Skinner is a sniper. Wake struggled a lot last season, playing way below their expectations, and I think that flips this season. The opposite can be said for Baylor. The Bears don’t play well on the road, they look like everybody’s favorite sleeper team this season, and I’m not buying in. I’ll take the Deacons.
BYU Cougars @ Oklahoma Sooners (-22): BYU didn’t get better, and last year they got pretty well kicked around by every “Good” team they played, at least final score wise. Arizona was decent, they won by 10. Utah was good, they won by 24. TCU was good, they won by 25. You get the picture? Oklahoma returns a load of great players, 1st round pick in the NFL type players, best QB in the land type players – so despite the high number, despite BYU’s returning players and big game hopes, I like the Sooners to beat up the Cougars by 30 or so.
Virginia Tech Hokies (+6.5) @ Alabama Crimson Tide: The ACC gets not love, and that’s fine, I’ll just ride them toward some bags of money. The Hokies have a good enough defense to go with them as a 6.5 point dog against anybody in the nation, especially a run first team that lost 3 starting offensive linemen, their starting quarterback, and starting running back. I’m not sure that the Hokies are a Top 5 team, but I really don’t think Alabama will finish the season in the Top 15, not that rankings matter at all, but I’m basically saying the Hokies are the better team.
Maryland Terrapins (+21.5) @ California Golden Bears: I’m taking the Terps because 25 is too high. The Terps play close as dogs, and I think the Bears are a little overrated, even though Jahvid Best is an absolute beast. I think the Bears win by 10, maybe 14, but not more than three touchdowns.
LSU Tigers (-17.5) @ Washington Huskies: If the Tigers promise that they won’t throw the ball, and the Huskies get to stack 11 people in the box, and their new head coach just for shiggles, the Tigers will still run all over the Huskies in Seattle. The talent difference on the field should look like a college team playing a pro team. Do I think the Huskies will be better this year? You bet. Will they be good enough to make this game respectable? No chance. I would be stunned, absolutely pissed on, if the Huskies finish within four touchdowns of the Tigers.
Mississippi Rebels (-16.5) @ Memphis Tigers: Anybody worth anything hammered Memphis last season. The Rebels were one of those teams. This year, the Rebels are a year older, and that has made them a more complete team, stronger in a lot of places that help you destroy teams like Memphis. Ole Miss isn’t used to being in the Top 10, that’s for sure, and a couple games this season, those expectations are going to hurt them. Not in this game, that won’t hold them back.
Miami Hurricanes (+6.5) @ Florida State Seminoles: I think Miami’s the better team. There it is. This game is always a huge rivalry game, but I must say that it has to mean more to Miami. This is their very best chance for a win in the first four games of the season. After FSU it’s Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma. It doesn’t get easier after this game, that’s what I’m saying. So, I think they’ll have a little urgency, something that FSU won’t be ready for. I also think Jacory Harris is special, and that this Miami team is going to be very talented this season. Almost a touchdown dog in this big in-state rivalry game? I like them to cover here.