This year at “Beating Vegas” we’ve been telling you how good it feels to be on a roll. . . last week we fore-warned our faithful followers though. We knew something had to give, we knew we’d be pushing our luck – but at least we warned you. This week, we’re set to get back on track. Focus has been re-calibrated, vision is clear and the picks are in. Let’s start another six week winning streak. . .
Baylor -3 at Texas
Unfortunately for us, and for Texas coach Charlie Strong, this isn’t as sexy as a match-up as we’d expect from these two schools. Texas’ flame has certainly died down since their dramatic win over Notre Dame. Even that win seems like an easy “w” at this point, with what we’ve seen out of Notre Dame this year. . . But Strong is now coaching for his job. Texas is putting up 36 points a game, but also giving up 32 per contest. Strong has gotten varying levels of consistency when it comes to the effort on his defense and that effort will be tested by Baylor’s offensive attack for all four quarters. Baylor is currently where Oregon was in 2013. The coach that built them up, Chip Kelly was gone and Mark Helfrich took over the team. Helfrich used the blueprint he was given and it worked. . .until this year. Baylor under coach Art Briles was one of the most exciting and high octane college football programs in the country. Now with Briles getting shown the door (for reasons we won’t get into) Jim Grobe has become Baylor’s version of Mark Helfrich circa 2013. Grobe is keeping this program moving in the same direction and hoping that the blueprint he was given will keep him around for awhile. Baylor is averaging 43 points per game and defensively allowing a Big 12 best, 17.2 points a game. An issue Texas’ defense will see is that they already allow teams to complete passes at a clip of 65.4% and giving up a respectable 3.9 yards a carry on the ground. This Baylor team runs at 5.7 yards a rush and forces the issue with the rush, going at it 50 times a game. Quarterback Seth Russell has been throwing the ball at 57% this year and it should be smooth sailing for him to connect with the likes of wideout KD Cannon. Baylor is still an offensive juggernaut in the NCAA and should be respected as one.
The Pick: Baylor -3
Nebraska +8.5 at Wisconsin
Nobody respects Nebraska it seems. Everyone respects Wisconsin though. This line makes absolutely no sense though. Looking at the numbers, Wisconsin’s formula is pretty simple: rely on your defense. Opponents are averaging two touchdowns a game against them, they’ve allowed only four rushing touchdowns and four passing touchdowns against them all year. Nebraska’s defense is no slouch either, only giving up 17.7 points a game and leading the Big 10 in interceptions with 13. The difference between these two teams is that Nebraska has an offense and a battle tested quarterback in Tommy Armstrong Jr. Armstrong is a dual threat QB who has already accounted for 17 touchdowns on the year. The Cornhuskers have an offense averaging 34 points per game and they do it in the air and on the ground. I understand the love for the Badgers who kept it close with Ohio State and Michigan, but where’s the love for a team that has looked legit all season long, in Nebraska?
The Pick: Nebraska +8.5
Washington -10 at Utah
Washington has looked great this year. Quarterback Jake Browning has come out of nowhere and thrown for 1709 yards, 26 touchdowns and only 2 picks so far this year – making a name for himself in the Heisman running. . . coach Chris Peterson, is seemingly “doing it again” – and coaching up a school to national prominence. Washington is a team some are already putting in their prediction as a top-4/playoff team. That’s great, but can they play a team that plays some defense first? Washington’s explosive offensive machine will be tested by the defense of the Utes. Utah was a team that last year, was the Pac-12 sweetheart until things went sour. This year, they are playing host and looking to be the bad kind of host. Utah is a tough place to play, as they have won their last five home games. Utah is also a team that plays up to it’s competition. When they played USC, UCLA and Cal this season – three teams with good offenses – the game stood within the ten point margin (losing to only Cal by five points) – so they’ve seen what good offenses can bring to the table. Utah is usually coached very well and loves playing the role of underdog – this will be Washington’s toughest test yet.
The Pick: Utah +10
Four Game Teaser of the Week: Miami/N.D. over 46.5; Auburn/Ole Miss under 75.5; Tennessee -1.5; Boise State -1.5
Good Luck and Wager Wisely!