I went 1-1 last Saturday. Peak of fall foliage here in the Midwest. Nice day to watch some football.
My predictions and pre-game comments can be found on my previous post, dated 11-1 (PREDICTIONS).
My Current Overall Record: 5-8
Illinois 55 Minnesota 31
Closing Line: Minnesota -9
FTC Prediction: Minnesota 52 Illinois 35
My ATS Pick: Minnesota -9
I predicted Minnesota to win, 52-35. Well, I was close with my predicted score… if you reverse it. I suggested in my prediction write-up that there might be some “quit” in Illinois. Minnesota never gave the Illini a chance to quit as the Gophers defense came onto the field for the start of the game and essentially said, “Here Illinois, have a touchdown”. Illinois scored on a 72 yard TD run on the second play from scrimmage, and did the exact same thing on their next possession. And continued to score from long distances throughout the game. I’m not even sure if Minnesota had eleven players on the field, because once the Illinois offense broke past the line of scrimmage, there were no Minnesota defenders on the television screen. So for all I know, the Minnesota secondary may have stayed on the bench and decided to just watch this game. Illinois ball carriers were jogging to end zone. I knew the Minnesota defense was bad, but I’ve never seen them play this bad. I called for Minnesota to be the more inspired team, but this obviously wasn’t the case at all. The Gophers managed to play their worst game of the season the one time I play ‘em. Illinois played well, I guess. It’s hard to tell given Minnesota’s performance. Illini QB A.J. Bush distributed the ball for a change, and it paid off. The Illinois defense still isn’t very good, though, thus the high score from the Minnesota offense. I don’t know what the over/under was on this one, but my prediction would have been great for that type of wager. Otherwise, I was way off on this one.
Wisconsin 31 Rutgers 17
Closing Line: Wisconsin -28.5
FTC Prediction: Wisconsin 30 Rutgers 10
My ATS Pick: Rutgers +28.5
I predicted Wisconsin to win, 30-10. I almost hit this one exactly if not for a late garbage TD from Rutgers. I got the ATS win here, but, as was well documented in my prediction write-up, I had my doubts in betting on bottom dwelling Rutgers. Common sense was telling me this would be a bad play, but below the surface I had a feeling Wisconsin would be a bit sluggish and that Rutgers would play better than they have in the past. Turns out my instincts, or subconscious or whatever you want to call it was right, because this game went pretty much as I forecast. Wisconsin was a bit sluggish and did turn the ball over a couple of times as QB Alex Hornibrook threw two interceptions. The Badgers scored easily on the game’s opening drive, which was Ok. Sometimes that can make a heavily favored team feel like this is going to be easy and can lead to a lack of intensity — taking their foot off the gas, so to speak. It was obvious Wisconsin could drive the ball all the way down the field on running plays, but for whatever reason, most OCs don’t want to do that. I don’t know if it’s too boring or there’s no glory in it, but I see it all the time where teams aren’t satisfied with four to eight yards a carry. So I can thank Wisconsin for continually throwing on first down and eventually falling behind the chains. Hornibrook hasn’t been playing well lately, and although he did make some nice throws, he also missed a lot and tossed the aforementioned interceptions. On the other side, Rutgers QB Artur Sitkowski didn’t even throw one of the three interceptions I predicted, although he tried his best. I counted at least three balls that Wisconsin defenders dropped. And when Sitkowski doesn’t turn the ball over, Rutgers isn’t near as bad offensively as one might think. So I was sitting pretty good at halftime with Wisconsin only leading 10-0. But I knew I was in trouble when it was announced that Hornibrook had banged his head on the turf during the first half and would not play in the second half. Normally, it’s a good thing when the team I’m betting against loses its starting QB. But I knew that this meant Wisconsin wouldn’t want to risk throwing the ball with a backup QB. Sure enough, Wisconsin easily scored two TDs on 13 straight running plays and suddenly the 28.5 points I was getting wasn’t holding up so well. But eventually Wisconsin let the backup throw the ball some and Rutgers was able to get into the end zone against a very average Wisconsin defense, and I finally came out with an ATS win.
Ohio St. 36 Nebraska 31
Closing Line: Ohio St. -19
FTC Prediction: Ohio St. 56 Nebraska 35
My ATS Pick: Pass
I predicted Ohio St. to win, 56-35. I was right in predicting Nebraska to put up over 30 points, but I overestimated how many points Ohio St. would score. Nebraska’s defense still isn’t very good, but they are better than I gave them credit for. Consequently, Ohio St. was unable to open up the comfortable lead I called for, and found themselves battling for the win right up to the very end of the game. Nebraska has come a long way since the first few games of the season. The offense started to click a few weeks ago, and it now appears as though the Huskers can move the ball against most of the teams in this conference, and Ohio St. proved to be one of those teams. And as I indicated, the Huskers defense is starting to show some improvement. But still not good enough get a stop when they needed to on Ohio St.’s final possession. The Buckeyes still have some holes in their defense, but they did get enough stops to win this game, again, against an offense that’s really tough to defend right now. From the couch it appeared as though Nebraska missed a few opportunities when a couple of receivers short- armed some of QB Adrian Martinez’s passes. Ohio St’s. offense was a little sloppy, but they had good success on the ground. QB Dwayne Haskins played well enough, but fumbled a couple of times and threw an interception. Certainly the Huskers can take some pride in their offensive output against a ranked opponent, but I do think Nebraska will see a couple of better defenses than this one on the remainder of their schedule. I think my comments concerning Ohio St.’s ability to patch up weaknesses during the bye week are accurate. There was some improvement, I suppose. But I think it’s time to get past the perception that Ohio St. is supposed to be something better, and realize that the Buckeyes are what we see- a very good team, but not invincible. The Buckeyes have some games left on their schedule that they could very possibly lose.
Michigan St. 24 Maryland 3
Closing Line: Michigan St. -3
FTC Prediction: Michigan St. 16 Maryland 7
My ATS Pick: Pass
I predicted Michigan St. to win, 16-7. This game was close to being a play, but the line moved to a number that didn’t meet my system’s requirements, so I had to pass. I really wanted to play this one, too, because I had a good feeling about Michigan St. winning. But, as always, I maintained my discipline. I didn’t say much in my prediction write-up, but what I did say was mostly accurate. Maryland doesn’t hold up well against a good defense, and Michigan St. has a good defense. And Maryland won’t hold up against a good defense until they can throw the ball better. The Terps have some very good and speedy skill position players who are dangerous in space, but at this point in the season, the jet sweep action has become predictable and easy for defenses with similar speed to defend, particularly when the passing game is ineffective. In all fairness, interim HC Matt Canada came into the season as the OC figuring he would focus solely on running the offense. But now Canada unexpectedly has quite a bit more on his plate, so finding time to improve and put new wrinkles into the offense must be challenging. The Maryland defense has been good all season, and for the most part, played well in this game. But not good enough to pitch a shutout, which is what would have been needed to get the win. Michigan St. had some success running the ball, which earlier in the season, had been a weak spot. QB Brian Lewerke returned from injury and got the start, but struggled in the passing game, although he did make some nice plays with his feet. The Michigan St. defense was outstanding and has been for the past few weeks.
Purdue 38 Iowa 36
Closing Line: Purdue -2.5
FTC Prediction: Purdue 25 Iowa 24
My ATS Pick: Pass
I predicted Purdue to win, 25-24. I was surprised to see this much scoring, but my prediction write-up was otherwise accurate. The game was close, and could have gone either way. Purdue kicked the winning field goal in the final seconds on a drive aided by a pass interference call that could have gone either way. I gave Purdue an edge as the smarter team, and I think that proved to be an accurate assessment. Iowa has a great defense, but Purdue HC Jeff Brohm came up with a good game plan that allowed his offense to move the ball consistently down the field. Purdue QB David Blough threw a couple of interceptions, but otherwise played well in throwing four nice TD passes and also picked up a gritty first down with his legs. Iowa QB Nate Stanley bounced back well from his poor performance the previous Saturday. I called for Stanley to throw an interception in this game but he did not. Stanley and Iowa’s offense moved the ball well against what I would call an average Purdue defense. As I said in my prediction write-up, Iowa might actually have the better team, mostly due to a defense that has been outstanding coming into this game. From the couch it’s hard to tell if this is true, but most opposing coaches are quoted as saying you always know what you’re going to get from Iowa. The players are trained to do what they do well, and therefore the Iowa coaches don’t have to change things much schematically. And for the most part, that’s been successful under the (HC) Kirk Ferentz regime. But in this case, that may have backfired a bit because as I pointed out, Brohm’s playcalling picked the Iowa defense apart.
Michigan 42 Penn St. 7
Closing Line: Michigan -13
FTC Prediction: Michigan 31 Penn St. 14
My ATS Pick: Pass
I predicted Michigan to win, 31-14. This is another one that had a chance to be a play early in the week, but the line moved in the wrong direction so I backed off. Shoulda, coulda, woulda on this one. I had a strong feeling about Michigan winning even bigger than my prediction, but I incorrectly tempered that feeling, due in large part, I think, to Penn St. burning me ATS the week prior. You never know anything for sure, but truthfully, there wasn’t much about this game that surprised me. Penn St.’s O-Line isn’t all that good in pass protection, and consequently, Penn St. QB Trace McSorley never had a chance against a very good and very aggressive Michigan defense. And if McSorley isn’t effective, Penn St.’s offense isn’t effective. Penn St. has a decent defense, but Michigan’s offense has been improving weekly. Maybe Michigan QB Shae Patterson could be spectacular, but he doesn’t have to be and the Michigan coaching staff doesn’t require that of him. Michigan has such a great defense and the running game is solid, so Patterson doesn’t have to carry the team on his shoulders like McSorley does. But really, Patterson represents the majority of the improvement in this Michigan team when compared to the last few seasons. Patterson is mobile, cool under pressure, executes all the plays, makes good decisions, and throws a very accurate ball, even when he’s chased out of the pocket. They’re getting a little cocky – I don’t know if that’s good or bad- but this Michigan team is really hitting its stride. I’ve been saying all along that Penn St. isn’t quite as advertised- the defense is average to above average and McSorley is about all they have on offense. But they beat a good Iowa team recently so credit HC James Franklin for doing what he can with what he’s got. Even after this blowout loss, I’d still consider the Nittany Lions as somewhere in between mid and upper level in this conference.