I went 1-1 last Saturday. And we’re off. I got the ball rolling with an easy win, but came up short on my second selection. Fun weekend, love conference play.
My predictions and pre-game comments can be found on my previous post, dated 9-20 Predictions Week 4.
My Current Overall Record: 1-1
Michigan 56 Nebraska 10
Closing Line: Michigan -18.5
FTC Prediction: Michigan 38 Nebraska 10
My ATS Pick: Michigan -18.5
I predicted Michigan to win, 38-10. Michigan had this one covered in the first quarter. My pre-game assessment of this game was spot on – there is a large discrepancy in talent between these two teams. As a result I got my first winner of the season, but my predicted score didn’t accurately reflect just how vast the discrepancy is. Nebraska’s run defense was terrible, and the offense didn’t stand a chance against a swarming Michigan defense. Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez did play after sitting out the previous Saturday with an injury, but it didn’t matter. And as I said, I’m still not sure about Nebraska HC Scott Frost. Most teams suffer growing pains during the first season of a coaching change, so it’s still way too early to throw Frost under the bus. And, given Nebraska’s struggles the previous Saturday, maybe Frost felt he had to “dumb it down” some, but the offensive scheme/play-calling didn’t look so good. I try not to question play-calling from the couch – it’s ridiculous to think that I’m in a position to do so – but I can’t help myself in this context. Frost keeps saying he knows where this is going, but he doesn’t specify where that is. Obviously Michigan played great, but Nebraska was so bad it’s hard to assess just how great. The Wolverines led 39-0 at halftime and started pulling their starters early in the second half.
Michigan St. 35 Indiana 21
Closing Line: Michigan St. -5.5
FTC Prediction: Indiana 19 Michigan 17
My ATS Pick: Indiana +5.5
I predicted Indiana to win, 19-17. Bottom line is, Michigan St. is the better team. Playing at home, this was a good spot for Indiana to break through, but the Hoosiers aren’t quite ready for prime time yet. Indiana QB Peyton Ramsey played Ok, but he didn’t display any of the “it” factor I called for in my prediction write-up. But he didn’t really have much of a chance as the Michigan St. pass rush was constantly closing in on him. It’s hard to tell from watching on TV, but I assume his receivers weren’t getting open because Ramsey was holding the ball way too long considering the pass rush he was facing. Michigan St. QB Brian Lewerke did turn the ball over a couple of times as I predicted, but he really wasn’t as erratic as I said he might be. Lewerke seemed cool headed and in command of his offense. I’m not sure why Michigan St. didn’t throw to WR Felton Davis more often. Davis is one of the few, “superstar caliber” players on this team and it showed when Lewerke found him five times in the first half. Neither team ran the ball all that well, but again, it was Indiana who struggled the most. Indiana hung in there Ok, and giving up an early pick-six off of a tipped pass didn’t help their cause, but they were never really in this game.
Penn St. 63 Illinois 24
Closing Line: Penn St. -27.5
FTC Prediction: Penn St. 34 Illinois 10
My ATS Pick: Pass
I predicted Penn St. to win, 34-10. I don’t mean to sound cliché, but this game was closer than the final score indicates. Well, for three quarters anyway. Penn St. exploded in the fourth quarter for 35 points, but up until that point, the Illini surprised just about everyone as they took the lead early in the third quarter and only trailed by four at the end of the period. Illinois backup QB, M.J. Rivers, who has been playing in place of their injured starter, played admirably and the O-line played outstanding considering the opponent. Illinois has a couple of good RBs in Mike Epstein and Reggie Corbin, and both had some success running the ball. The Illini defense returned some suspended players for this game and generally held its own for three quarters, although they had trouble containing Penn St. QB Trace McSorley. And I can’t help but fit in the comment that Illinois DE Bobby Roundtree is a beast. Penn St. probably was a bit flat- there’s nothing about Illinois’ recent history to pose a threat to a top ten team – but still, the run defense left a lot to be desired. And, other than RB Miles Sanders, I really don’t see many star-caliber playmakers on the offense to compliment McSorley, who has to be considered a strong candidate for conference MVP. Penn St. got the “W”, and turned it on when they needed to as a top ten team should, but I can’t help but think this team is in trouble without McSorley. It sounds strange to say this about a 39 point loss, but this was the best Illinois has looked in a long time.
Maryland 42 Minnesota 13
Closing Line: Maryland -2.5
FTC Prediction: Minnesota 24 Maryland 23
My ATS Pick: Pass
I predicted Minnesota to win, 24-23. Maryland’s performance the previous Saturday, and to some extent, the fact that up to this game the Terrapins had been tracking almost exactly the same as last season when they started to slide downhill, had me thinking “here we go again” with this team. But “good” Maryland showed up for this one in a big way. This team has some athletes…on both sides of the ball. If the Terps can maintain some discipline (they were penalized ten times in this one), and work through the off the field turmoil surrounding them, this team could be a force to be reckoned with, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Minnesota was clearly outmanned in this one. And I noted that they would be in my pre-game write-up. I just figured there might be some “quit” in Maryland if the going got tough, but the going never got tough. This was Minnesota’s first road trip of the season with a freshman QB who didn’t play particularly well. I still think the Gophers are better than last season but can now see they are still a work in progress. They can learn from this one.
Wisconsin 28 Iowa 17
Closing Line: Wisconsin -3
FTC Prediction: Wisconsin 28 Iowa 17
My ATS Pick: Pass
I predicted Wisconsin to win, 23-20. My predicted score looked pretty good until Wisconsin scored a garbage touchdown in the last seconds of the game. This was a good, hard fought game that lived up to any expectations a fan could have of both teams. In my prediction write-up, I said it would come down to who wins the battle of the trenches, suggesting that the QB for both teams is solid, but not the type that would win the game. I was wrong about that. Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook stepped up big time in the closing minutes as he led his team to the game winning touchdown. I will say though, I still say I’m right about Hornibrook’s struggles to make the throws that require arm strength. Hornibrook completed a long ball on the drive that floated a bit, but the receiver was wide open so it didn’t matter. But he followed it up with a couple more clutch passes that were spot on darts, including the game winning TD. A performance like this from Hornibrook in big moments is exactly what Wisconsin needs to take it to a higher level. Iowa has nothing to hang their heads about considering the opponent. The Hawkeyes played well on both sides of the ball. And QB Nate Stanley showed me more than I expected as well.