College Football Picks Week 5

USC Trojans at Colorado Buffaloes +7.5, Total 51

Colorado enters this game losing their last three while scoring just 20 total points.  Colorado’s offense has been unable to provide any production this season.  Starting QB Brendon Lewis has only thrown for 338 yards in their four games and their leading receiver has a grand total of 45 yards.  It’s safe to say that Colorado would prefer to keep this a slow paced game that will allow them to run the ball. 

USC has looked unfocused after the loss of Head Coach Clay Helton, recently giving up 45 points in their most recent loss to Oregon State.  The Trojans have a solid QB in Kedon Slovis, but the Colorado defense has been solid against the pass and will make it tough for the USC offense.  

These two teams have both had their struggles this season.  The Buffaloes lack of offense is troubling, but being at home should help the offense run and allow them to play their slow down pace.  USC is too stacked on the offensive end to lose this game but the way both of these teams are playing I would look for this to be a sloppy affair on both ends. USC will pull away late because they actually have options that will help them score.  I think USC pulls away late but this game will finish with Colorado scoring under 14.  I like the Trojans but I love the under.

Pick: USC -7.5 Under 51

Troy Trojans at South Carolina Gamecocks

South Carolina is actually 3-1 ATS this season. Most of those games have been them as underdogs.  They enter a matchup with the Sun Belt Conference’s Troy Trojans as seven point favorites off the heels of a tough loss to Kentucky last weekend.  Troy is also coming off a conference loss to UL Monore.  Both teams will look to bounce back in a rather interesting stylistic matchup. 

The Trojans bring a suffocating defense to the table.  Through four games they have allowed fewer than 100 yards rushing and have sacked the QB 18 times in their four games.  Their dominant run defense will be in great shape facing a South Carolina run game that has been one of the worst in college football, averaging just 2.6 yards per carry and 84 yards per game. South Carolina is going to have to throw the ball.  

Troy has not played the level of competition that South Carolina has but the Trojans have a solid passing game, averaging 273 ypg.  The key for Troy will be continuing to put pressure on the QB and stop the run game.  Gamecocks QB Luke Doty has only thrown for 311 yards on the season and should see tons of pressure on him all day.  This game will stay close, I think it is more likely a 3 point game rather than a 7 point game.  The Gamecocks will win but it will not be easy.

Pick: Troy Trojans +7

Michigan Wolverines at Wisconsin Badgers

If you look at the records and stat lines this one seems like an easy choice.  The Badgers are coming off of a horrid performance down the stretch against Notre Dame over the weekend where QB Graham Mertz threw 4 interceptions.  Wisconsin actually led that game 13-10 going into the fourth quarter before a kickoff return by Notre Dame led to a lopsided beatdown. 

Wisconsin now has two losses in which they realistically played better than both teams. Penn State and Notre Dame both were outplayed until  QB mistakes cost them the outcome.  The pressure applied to Mertz was causing all sorts of trouble for the Sophomore. Michigan has not generated much pressure on the QB this season which should limit mistakes. 

The Badgers will be at home sporting the best run defense in all of college football while the Michigan Wolverines have become overly reliant on the run this season.  They have run the ball on over 70% of their plays this season. Michigan will have to generate offense through the air, something they have not been able to do this season.    The lack of offense will play into the hands of the Badgers and allow them to control the ball.  When Michigan can’t run they will make mistakes and the Wisconsin defense at home will thrive.

Pick: Wisconsin ML

Why the Mets stunk in 2021

It’s always hard to admit when you are wrong. It happens and this season it happened to me when I predicted that the New York Mets were going to win the NL East.  After watching a three game sweep at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals at home I realized that the New York Mets straight up stink.

On April 1st the New York Mets signed superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor to a ten-year deal.  The addition of Lindor to go along with Pete Alonso will be cornerstones of the offensive side of the ball.  The Mets organization has shown that they will do anything to get to the top of the NL East.  They continue to make moves to try and fill in their vacant spots by adding big names in the offseason.  They opened the season as one of the hottest teams in baseball, taking control of the division up until the midway point of the season.  New York went on a tailspin that they still have not gotten out of.  

Travel Issues

Teams have troubles on the road in every sport.  The best teams usually can be a few games over .500 or at the very least at .500.  If you want to compete for a playoff spot you have to be able to play on the road and the Mets are not able to do that.  Currently they are 29-44 on the road this season. In retrospect of how that has affected them in the playoff hunt, they are 5.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves who are 7 games above .500 on the road.  The difference has been the reason that they have fallen behind in the division and out of contention.

No replacements for Degrom

There is no way to replace the best pitcher in baseball. The goal of any team should be to improve the full pitching staff.  You have to find a way to mask the loss rather than look for one person to step into the role.  The Mets did their best, adding Rich Hill, Brad Hand and Trevor Williams to the pitching staff.  Unfortunately the Mets rotation saw second half regression from pitchers that they thought they could depend on.  

Tajuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco, and Tylor Megill were all supposed to be relied upon to help the Mets deal with the injury to their ace.  They all were unable to fill the hole left by the best pitcher in the game and it ultimately caved in their chances at the playoffs.

Walker over his last 15 starts is 1-8 with an ERA over 6.  Post All-Star break Walker has not won a single game.  

Carlos Carrasco was the second piece picked up in the Lindor trade.  Carrasco was not just a throw-in, in 2017 he led the league in wins and sports an impressive career ERA of just 3.82.  When healthy Carrasco was a formidable piece to any rotation.  The Met’s unfortunately did not get a healthy Carrasco, limited to just 10 starts in 2021, he has not been the pitcher of 2017 and 2018, currently he sports an unimpressive 5.82 ERA in just 44 innings.  

Tylor Megill began his 2021 season looking like a diamond in the rough for the Mets.  In July Megill was lights out, pitching 26 innings and giving up just 3 runs in his 5 starts.  Since July Megill seemed to lose his control, sporting an ERA of 7.66 over his last 5 starts.  

You can’t protect Alonso

The Mets have one of the most exciting players in baseball.  Alonso has had a solid season hitting 33 dingers and knocking in 89 runs.  The addition of Francisco Lindor was supposed to help be a table setter for the powerful Alonso, but injuries and inconsistencies at the plate hurt the entire Mets lineup.  Lindor has not been the $300 million spark plug that the Mets were hoping they got.  

Lindor has not been the only problem, an injury to Michael Conforto got him off to a slow start and lineup mainstays Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith and JD Davis are all currently hitting well below their projected numbers.  The Mets as a team are slugging just .325, which ranks in the bottom five of the entire league. 

The Met’s did a great job in addressing this problem at the deadline by acquiring Javy Baez, despite my personal opinion of his abilities, Baez has put up more than solid numbers during his time with the organization.  His slash line of .301/.381/.565 is outstanding but his acquisition was too late for an offense that needed that spark from the start of the season. 

Best Bets NCAAF Week 3

Cincinnati Bearcats -3.5 at Indiana Hoosiers 

It’s strange to see a Big Ten team as a home underdog to a team outside of the power five.  That’s the case as the Bearcats head to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers.  

Hoosier QB Michael Penix Jr. has struggled since returning from his torn ACL of 2020.  A tough first contest against Iowa led to three picks and an embarrassing open to the Big Ten schedule, that was followed by a dominant effort against Idaho, in that game Penix threw for just 56 yards before getting pulled due to the lopsided score.    The Hoosiers will now have to face a veteran defense that has completely dominated the opposing offense and is coming into this matchup with a lot of confidence.  

The Bearcats have been running the ball consistently behind Jerome Ford who scored three times against Murray State.  Cincinnati’s QB Desmond Ridder has controlled the ball in their first two games throwing for six touchdowns.  The Cincinnati defense forced three picks last week and will put a lot of pressure on Penix Jr which will lead to turnovers and the Hoosier defense will have no answers for the combination of Ridder and Ford.  

This game will be the first test for the top ten ranked Bearcats, the road crowd will get Indians hyped but this is a talent mismatch.  Cincinnati is led by multiple veterans that will be able to handle the energy of the crowd.

Pick: Cincinnati Bearcats -3.5

Colorado State Rams at Toledo Rockets -14

The last time the Toledo Rockets were on the field they nearly shocked the football world by giving the Notre Dame Fighting Irish all they could handle. Rockets QB Carter Bradley lead the way going 17/27 for 213 yards, most notably he took care of the ball with zero picks while throwing downfield.  The Rockets have a strong running game led by Bryant Koback who finished last week with 122 yards on just 22 carries.  Koback has over 30 career college touchdowns and was on pace for double digits last season if it was played in full.  

Colorado State has had a horrible start to 2021 losing their first two games, one to South Dakota State and the other blowing a lead against SEC bottom dweller Vanderbilt last week. The Rams gave up an average of 175 yards on the ground and they will have a big problem coming their way with the Rockets run game.  

The Rams have not shown the ability to hold a lead on the defensive end while the Rockets have shown the ability to move the ball at will against any level of competition. Against South Dakota State the Rams were dominated by Jack Rabbit’s RB Pierre Strong Jr, going for 138 yards and two touchdowns. The Rockets will use the run game to control the ball and grind out points.  The Rams will not have an answer on the defensive end which will force them to make mistakes on the offensive end.  

Pick: Toledo Rockets -14

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at Buffalo Bulls Total 58

Everyone’s favorite underdogs the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will hit the road against the MAC’s Buffalo Bulls for an exciting mid major match up.  Coastal Carolina is coming off of a thrilling 27 point cover over Kansas while the Bulls are coming off of a disappointing effort against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.  This game opened with Coastal Carolina as a 10 point favorite, which ballooned to 13.5 points.

The Chanticleers come out flat against Kansas in their season opener.  Kansas QB Justin Bean was able to move the ball at will in the first half.  Bean did it on his feet while Buffalo QB Kyle Vantrease will look to do it with his arm.  Vantrease will be backed up by RB Kevin Marks and Ron Cook Jr.  The Bulls play at an upbeat pace which should cause trouble for the Chanticleers defense.  

Grayson McCall and company will do what they always do and move the ball through the air and on the ground with an assortment of pieces on the offensive end. Tight End Isaiah Likely is an NFL talent while WR Javion Heiligh has scored two tuddys on the season, both will be matchup problems for the Buffalo Bulls. 

This is simple.  We know the Chanticleers will score, Buffalo has a history of scoring.  The Bulls were stopped by Nebraska last week but I think they will bounce back against a Coastal Carolina team that has not shown the ability to shut down any offense. 

Pick Over 58

NCAAF Week 2 Picks

Toledo Rockets at Notre Dame Fighting Irish -16.5

Think the Notre Dame defense may be out to make a statement on Saturday after being thrashed by the Florida State Seminoles?  I think so and they will get a shot to make a statement against a Toledo Rockets team that will look to go fast.  The Rockets have experienced skilled players to put up points but the Fighting Irish have more talent and will have a raucous crowd ready for them in their first true home game since 2019. 

Florida State was able to contain the Notre Dame run game, forcing Jack Coen to beat them (and he did).  Toledo does not have the same type of players to contain RB Kyren Williams.  I think this stays close early but the Fighting Irish pull away in the second half because of the crowd and the run game.  

Pick: Notre Dame -16.5

Eastern Michigan Eagles at Wisconsin Badgers Total 52

The Badgers were not very impressive in week one against Penn State.  This week the competition changes as they get the MAC’s Eastern Michigan fresh off a beat down of FCS St. Francis.  St. Francis was actually able to move the ball pretty well against Eastern Michigan which spells trouble for the Eagles. 

Wisconsin got a brutal performance from QB Graham Mertz who threw for just 185 yards to go along with two picks.  Wisconsin will look to get out some of their aggression against the Eagles.  The Badgers have a history of dominating MAC teams including Kent State and Central Michigan in 2019 where they won 106-0 over those two matchups. 

Eastern Michigan will look to take all the chances they can in this game and Wisconsin showed that they can give up the big pass play, giving up two long tuddy’s to Penn State last week  Eastern Michigan should be able to put up at least ten points but this game will be dominated by the Wisconsin offense that will need to squash their lesser foe to put wash away the stink of their home loss a week ago.  

Pick: Over 52

Texas Longhorns -7 at Arkansas Razorbacks 

The Razorbacks didn’t look great to start, trailing the Rice Owls 17-7 at one point in the third quarter.  That quickly turned around with 31 unanswered points, led by the running game of QB KJ Jefferson.  Arkansas leaned on the QB’s run game to carry the offense and the turnover game to carry the defense. Arkansas forced three turnovers in the second half which turned the game around in their favor.

Texas quietly had arguably the second best overall performance by any ranked team taking down #23 Ragin Cajuns without much of a sweat.  RB Bjorn Robinson had 170 all purpose yards to go along with 2 scores.  The Longhorns handled a team that was returning most of the starters that had gone 10-1 the season before with an upset over Iowa State.  Texas will now go on the road to face a hungry and improved Arkansas team. 

This will be the first road test for freshman starter Hudson Card and it will be a hostile one. His job will be to manage the game and utilize his star running back and the superior talent.  Card threw for 224 yards before being pulled late in the third quarter due to the lopsided score.  Look for Card to open it up more in this matchup as this will be a marquee showdown of the weekend between Texas and an SEC foe.  This game will come down to which quarterback plays smarter.  KJ Jeffereson cannot play wild, he will likely be given a chance to throw as the Texas defense will look to contain his running ability.  I can see him throwing a few picks down the stretch and allowing the Texas run game to take over and control the game.  

Pick Texas Longhorns -7