Welcome back to another Friday preview. Ross and I still haven’t learned to quit trying to pick against the spread or predict the scores of games, so here we go again. Just to be clear, it’s probably a good idea to read “4 Down” before you make your gambling picks for the weekend just so you can do exactly the opposite of what we say. I did manage a solid 8-2 outright last week, bringing my yearly record to 44-22. I couldn’t extend my weekly ATS winning streak to two though and only managed a 4-6 record there. That brings my season total to 27-38-1. Ross put up an 8-3 outright record, but only managed a 2-8-1 mark against the spread. I promise we don’t try to lose. Ross’s season totals now stand at 36-23 and 15-42-2. Now let’s see what’s not going to happen this weekend…
Ross’ Disclaimer: The following predictions should in no way be viewed as an accurate against the spread prediction. So if you are a betting man bet the opposite. If you want to bet the money line however, read on.
TCU vs. West Virginia
The premiere matchup for the Big 12 this Saturday showcases two offensive juggernauts: TCU and West Virginia. Will couches blaze or will Horned Frogs do that weird hand motion? Morgantown has already seen one top 10 team go down at the hands of the Mountaineers this season. Two solid quarterbacks square off in this one in Trevone Boykin for TCU and Clint “Hair Raider” Trickett for West Virginia. As a matter of fact, they are first and second, respectively, in the Big 12 in total offense. The loser of this game is essentially out of the running for both the Big 12 championship and the College Football Playoff.
This one is too perfect. Kevin White vs. Kevin White. On the one hand, you have Kevin White the receiver for West Virginia leads the conference in receiving. Kevin White the cornerback for TCU will be tasked with guarding the name-stealing receiver on Saturday. TCU’s White has two interceptions and four pass deflections on the season. Other players to watch on Saturday include the aforementioned Trickett (who leads the conference in passing) and the two Mountaineer running backs Rushel Shell (say that five times fast) and Wendell Smallwood.
Prediction: TCU-42 West Virginia-31
West Virginia has already taken down Baylor this season in Morgantown. TCU lost to Baylor in a basketball game (not really but you wouldn’t know it from the score). Clint Trickett and Trevone Boykin are both elite passers, and put up huge numbers for their offenses. The common denominator here is they have both played Baylor. West Virginia won 41-27. TCU lost 61-58. I think it’ll be a shootout and I’ll go with the score each had against the Waco Bears. TCU 58, WVU 41.
Auburn vs. Ole Miss
I don’t care where College Gameday is, this is the game of the weekend. Like the previous game, the loser of this one is all-but-eliminated from SEC West and playoff contention. Some people may disagree with that statement, but it would take a massive series of dominoes falling for either team to recover from this loss. Auburn comes in desperately needing their defense to get back to the level of play it showed in the first few games of the season. Ole Miss, one the other hand, needs Bo Wallace to return to what he was doing prior to the trip to Death Valley. Ole Miss has yet to allow 20 points in a game this season. Auburn hasn’t scored less than 20 points in any game in the Gus Malzahn era.
Playing on the theme of the previous statistic, the key matchup for this one is the high-powered Auburn rushing offense against the fearsome front seven of the Ole Miss Rebels. The unfortunate news is that the Rebels will be without LB Denzel Nkemdiche for the rest of the season after he broke his ankle against LSU. However, they are still a formidable group with Denzel’s “little” brother Robert and company instilling fear in opposing offenses. The secondary is the best in the conference too, with the head-hunting Cody Prewitt and the opportunistic Senquez Golson patrolling the defensive secondary. They’ll need to come ready to play on Saturday to keep the Auburn receivers, namely Sammie Coates and Duke Williams, in check.
Prediction: Gimme the Rebs at home 27-21
Auburn got their rushing attack back on track last week to the tune of 395 yards on the ground. Nick Marshall ran the read option like he always does but was also very efficient throwing the football. Ole Miss comes off a loss where dreams go to die, and Bad Bo returned for Powder Blue Nation. The Ole Miss defense led by Prewitt, Nkemdiche, Golson and Conner may be the best in the nation, but Gus Malzahn may be the best offensive mind in the country. Auburn’s defense looked to take a step back last week, but if you think about it, the Ol’ Ball Coach went for it on 4th down 6 times. That’s 6 3rddown stops where most teams would punt. Either way this should be a slobber knocker till the bitter end. Sam said 27-21 so I’ll go with the same…..except Auburn escapes the Grove as the winner.
Arizona vs. UCLA
There are two epic late-night (on the east coast at least) in the Pac-12 on Saturday night. The first of which takes place in the City of Angels when the Arizona Wildcats do battle with the UCLA Bruins. UCLA has probably already removed themselves from playoff contention with two losses already on the docket, but they are still technically alive in the Pac-12 South race. Arizona is looking to show the nation that the win over Oregon a few weeks ago wasn’t a fluke and that they rightfully belong in the playoff conversation.
Once again, there are two very good quarterbacks squaring off in this game. Funny how most of the good teams have good quarterbacks, isn’t it? Anu Solomon has had a great season in his first year as the Wildcat signal-caller, but there is one player that I’m really looking forward to seeing on Saturday night for Arizona. Scooby! Scooby Wright is a beast of a linebacker for the Arizona Wildcats and he spends his free time riding around in a creepy van with meddlesome teenagers and solving mysteries. Jk lolzzz on that last part. Scooby and company will need to be at their best Saturday night to handle UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, who may very well be the first quarterback taken in the 2015 NFL Draft, and the group of Bruin running backs led by Paul Perkins.
Prediction: The Bruins might have gotten away with a victory if it wasn’t for those meddling kids! Wildcats win 45-41
Arizona is one of those teams that has been sneaky good so far this season. They knocked off #5 Oregon a few weeks ago, and have set themselves up to be in the playoff picture if they keep winning. With two losses, UCLA is probably already out but what is the next best thing? Winning the conference and ruining other teams’ hopes and dreams. Brett Hundley is a stud, but Arizona has a guy named Scooby. That has to be worth a few points. I think the Bruins pull out the W at home in the Rose Bowl leaving the Wildcats saying “Scooby dooby do, where were you?” UCLA 38, Mystery Machine 34.
Utah vs. Arizona State
There may not be any classic cartoon references to made about this game, but there is some good football. Arizona State’s only loss was a Thursday night shellacking at the hands of UCLA but, in their defense, Thursday’s are weird football nights (like the football version of a full moon except they happen every week) and the Sun Devils were without their starting quarterback. Taylor Kelly returned from injury last week against Washington and was a little shaky in his return, but expect him to get closer to his pre-injury of self with a full week of practice. Utah’s only loss of the season was a one-point loss to the Washington State Cougars. The Utes have probably been playing a little over their heads this season, but they do have a very good defense and an elite special teams unit. By virtue of transitive property via UCLA, Utah should beat ASU by 37 points.
I’ve pretty much laid the groundwork for this one already. Taylor Kelly is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the conference when healthy, which is saying something in a conference that has both Brett Hundley and Marcus Mariota. Utah is top 3 in the conference in scoring defense, rushing defense, and total defense. They aren’t quite as good against the pass, but they are still in the top half of the conference. The key players for Utah in this one will be defensive ends Nate Orchard and Hunter Dimick, who are second and fourth in the conference in sacks, respectively.
Prediction: This will be the latest in a long line of games to disprove the application of the transitive property to sports…Sun Devils-31 Utes-14
Utes fans have been ruining (insert Chinese lady’s name) Nail Salon the past 3 weeks with all of the close games they have been in. Two-point win, double overtime and a three-point win. Can they keep their streak of nail bitters going? Arizona State is a tough team to beat at home in Tempe. Todd Graham, with his Brittany Spears headset, hopes Taylor Kelly can shake off the rust and lead the Sun Devils to a win. The Utes have a stout defense, but I think the Sun Devils get it done at home. 34-27 Arizona State.