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Each week, Mike Mitchell examines the computer's picks and selects those which he believes have the best chance of being correct. Lines in parenthesis are the opening lines as reported at docsports.com. Later lines are used in the event of a "pick 'em" opening. The Congrove Computer Rankings' pick is shown outside the parenthesis. The HOME TEAM is in CAPS. An explanation of how the computer's SU and ATS wins and losses are scored can be found at Weekly Picks Help.


DocSports.com http://www.playbyplayinc.com/win.php      

EASY PICKINS:
The computer likes the favorite with room to spare.
2013 Regular Season: 111-18 SU (.860), 78-51 ATS (.605)
2014 Regular Season: 71-31 SU (..696), 43-59 ATS (.422)
Last 3 Weeks: 19-7 SU (.731), 12-14 ATS (.462)
Last Week: 7-3 SU (.700), 3-7 ATS (.300)
This Week: 0-0 SU (.000), 0-0 ATS (.000)
PAST RECORDS

Friday, November 28
Houston (21.5) by 21.84 over SMU - The computer trend line pushes the Houston advantage to 35. SMU has scored 97 points total in 10 games, while being held to 10 points or less in 7 games. Houston averages 28.6 per game on offense.

Navy (-9.5) by 12.09 over SOUTH ALABAMA - Navy won the only other meeting between these schools, 42-14, last year in Annapolis. This game pits the nation's 4th-ranked rushing offense of Navy against the 78th-ranked rushing defense of the Jaguars.

UCLA (-4.5) by 4.80 over Stanford - This is the only game on UCLA's schedule where the computer has the Bruins improving its projected spread over the preseason assessment. UCLA ranks 5th in the PAC-12 on offense and 3rd on defense. Stanford ranks 1st on defense, but 11th on offense. These last two weeks give UCLA a chance to avenge both of their PAC-12 Championship game losses as the Bruins fell to Stanford in 2012 and Oregon in 2011. Oregon has alerady clinched the North division title.

Saturday, November 29
Baylor (-23.5) by 24.96 over Texas Tech (at Arlington) - The computer's trend line favors the Bears by more than 40 points. Baylor tops the Big 12 in total offense AND total defense. The Red Raiders rank 5th in total offense and LAST (10th) in total defense.

MEMPHIS (-20.5) by 25.84 over Connecticut - The computer's trend line is a whopping 37. The Huskies are coming off a 41-0 loss at home to CIncinnati, while the Tigers enter this contest on the heels of an unimpressive 31-20 home win over USF. UConn won last year's matchup of these teams 45-10 at home, but Memphis (8-3) is +5 victories over last year and UConn (2-8) is -1. Memphis ranks 3rd in the Amercian on offense and defesne. COnnecticut ranks 10th (next-to-last) on offense and 6th on defense.

FLORIDA STATE (-10) by 14.06 over Florida - The computer's trend line says the 'Noles should only get a 2-point edge, but the nature of this rivalry should be just what they need to get out of the gates strong and roll to a 14-point or larger win. The Gators rank 107th in passing, having thrown for 93 yards or less in 4 games. That puts the onus on Florida to amass yardage and points on the ground, but FSU has only allowed 2 rushing TD's in its last 3 games, and has kept 5 different opponents from registering a single score on the ground. The Gators have only scored 1 TD on FSU in 3 of the last 4 meetings.

Texas State (-13) by 18.87 over GEORGIA STATE - The computer's trend line likes the Bobcats by 23. Texas State ranks 24th in rushing and the Panthers are dead last in the FBS (128th) in stopping the run. The flip side is that Georgia State ranks 32nd in passing offense and Texas State's defense is 78th against the pass.

NORTHWESTERN (-7.5) by 11.73 over Illinois - Northwestern was a 10-point favorite in the preseason so that numnber has risen minimally over the course of these teams' campaigns. The Wildcats have won 4-of-6 and 8-of-11 to tighten the overall record of this rivalry to 48-54-5. Both teams are 5-6 so the winner becomes bowl eligible and the loser stays home for the holidays.

INDIANA (-7.5) by 11.73 over Purdue - This rivalry has a propensity for blowouts as 8 of the last 12 meetings have been decided by 17 points or more. The Hoosiers won 56-36 at Purdue last year but trail the series 38-72-6. Even without a passing attack, Indiana ranks 2nd in the Big Ten in rushing. Last week against Ohio State, the Hoosiers averaged nearly 8 yards per carry as Tevin Coleman went for 228 and 3 TD's. The junior enters the game with 1,906 yards and could join fellow Big Ten RB Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin over the 2,000-yard mark for the season. The FBS hasn't had two 2,000-yard rushers in the same season since 2007 when a pair of CUSA backs - Kevin Smith (UCF) and Matt Forte (Tulane) - accomplished the feat.

Louisiana-Lafayette (-10.5) by 13.41 over TROY - Troy (3-8) has won 2 straight, but both came against fellow Sun Belt bottom-dwellars Georgia State (1-10) and Idaho (1-9). Prior to those 2 contests, Troy lost 3 straight Sun Belt games to Appalachian State (6-5), South Alabama (6-5) and Georgia Southern (8-3) by 14 or more. Louisiana-Lafayette (7-4) can claim a share of the Sun Belt title for a second straight year, IF it beats Troy AND gets some help from its staucnhest rival, Louisiana-Monroe, in winning at Georgia Southern.

OHIO STATE (-20) by 21.82 over Michigan - The Buckeyes beat the Wolverines 37-7 in 2010 and 42-7 in 2008. Both of those games were played in the 'Shoe. The 111th edition of this rivalry could get uglier than those. Michigan's offense has performed progressively worse for 5 straight years, steadily dropping from 488.7 yards per game and first in the league in 2010 to 329.5 this year and last in the league. The computer's trend line gives Ohio State a 31-point rout.

Michigan Satte (-13) by 13.44 over PENN STATE - Penn State just doesn't have the offense to keep Michigan State close for the long haul. The Nittany Lions rank next-to-last in the Big Ten on offense and the Spartans rank 3rd on defense. And though Penn State ranks 2nd on defense, the Michigan State offense ranks 1st. The computer trend line puts the projected margin at 17-1/2.

NORTH CAROLINA (-7.5) by 16.11 over N.C. State - The Tar Heels are playing some of their best ball of the season with 4 wins in their last 5 outings over Georgia Tech, Virginia, Pitt and Duke. They can became bowl eligible withn last week's 45-20 upset of the Blue Devils. Meanwhile, N.C. State has only beaten Syrcause and Wake Forest in its last 7 games. UNC leads the series 65-32-6 after winning each of the last 2 two meetings by 8 points.

Uab (-3.5) by 8.42 over SOUTHERN MISS - The Blazers can become bowl eligible with a win and have a modest statistical advantage on both sides of the ball. UAB ranks 4th in CUSA in rushing and USM is 10th in stopping the run. UAB had won 4 straight in the sries until the Eagles prevailed 62-27 last year for their only win of the season.

Washington (-4) by 5.49 over WASHINGTON STATE - Washington owns the series 68-32-6, including victories in 4 of the last 5 meetings. Neither enters this game on a roll as the Cougars have lost 5 of their last 6, while the Huskies have dropped 5 of their last 8 after a 4-0 start.


HOLD YOUR HORSES:
The computer likes the favorite, but by fewer points than the oddsmakers.
2013 Regular Season: 70-12 SU (.854), 41-41 ATS (.500)
2014 Regular Season: 62-8 SU (.886), 28-42 ATS (.400)
Last 3 Weeks: 14-3 SU (.824), 7-10 ATS (.412)
Last Week: 4-1 SU (.800), 1-4 ATS (.200)
This Week: 0-0 SU (.000), 0-0 ATS (.000)
PAST RECORDS

Friday, November 28
MARSHALL (-20.5) by 17.43 over Western Kentucky - Marshall will be shooting for an undefeated regular season when the Hilltoppers visit Huntington, WV on Friday. The Herd has CUSA's top total offense while WKU has the most potent passing attack. Marshall tops the conference in total defense and pass defense, while Western Kentucky allows more yards per game than any other team in the league. The computer trend line says Marshall exceeds the spread, but I believe the crew from Bowling Green, Kentucky will keep it competitive. Despite being geographically situated only 280 miles apart, these schools have only met once, and not at all since 1996.

Saturday, November 29
GEORGIA (-12.5) by 12.04 over Georgia Tech - The Vegas spread was in the range of 13-14 points Monday afternoon, and the computer's trend line says Georgia should only be giving a little over 9. The 'Dawgs have domintaed this rivalry with 12 wins in the last 13 meetings, but last year's battle went to double-OT as they rallied from deficits of 17-0 and 27-17. The possible telling stat is that Georgia ranks 54th in stopping the run while Georgia Tech has the nation's 4th-best rushing offense. But Georgia can run, too, as it ranks 12th in that departemnmt while GT is only 71st in shutting down the ground game.

WISCONSIN (-13) by 7.98 over Minnesota - The winner goes to the conference championship game so, despite Wisocnsin's 10game winning streak in the series, this should be a real battle. Minnesota hasn't won in Madison since 1994, but the Gophers hadn't won in Lincoln since 1960 and they took care of that business last Saturday. If Minnesota RB David Cobb gets healthy from the tweaked hamstring he suffered vs. Nebraska, this will be a showcase for 2 of the nation's best backs in the FBS as the BAdger ground game centers around Melvin Gordon. The computer's trend line favors Wisconsin by more than 19 points, but I'm not buying it.

Nevada (-9.5) by 5.72 over UNLV - Cody Fajardo has been held under 46% passing in 2 of his last 3 starts for Nevada, and the Wolf Pack has lost the turnover battle in each of the last 2. Conversely, UNLV is +4 in turnovers over its last 3 games. The Rebels have the MWC's 3rd-best passing offense and Nevada ranks 12th in pass defense. UNLV broke an 8-game losing streak in the rivalry with a 27-22 win in Reno last year, but Nevada has won the last 4 meetings in Las Vegas.


UPSETS:
The computer likes the underdog as the outright winner. I don't select the games in this category. Instead, we list every upset projected by the computer.
2013 Regular Season: 47-48 SU (.495), 59-36 ATS (.694)
2014 Regular Season: 43-47 SU (.478), 50-40 ATS (.556)
Last 3 Weeks: 12-9 SU (.571), 15-6 ATS (.714)
Last Week: 3-1 SU (.750), 3-1 ATS (.750)
This Week: 0-1 SU (.000), 0-1 ATS (.000)
PAST RECORDS

Thursday, November 27
TEXAS A&M by 1.74 over Lsu (-2.5) - The computer trend line actually points to LSU by 1.63, but the telling story will be the Aggie offense which is too much for LSU's offense to match points with. The Tigers have only allowed a little over 14.67 points per game in their last 3 contests, but they've only managed to score 7.67 a game.
LSU won 23-17. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.

Friday, November 28
KENT STATE by 0.87 over Akron (-4.5) - Akron had dropped 4 straight before righting the ship with a 30-6 win at home over UMass this past Saturday as the Minutemen were without star QB Blake Frohnaphel. Kent State had its game at Buffalo cancelled due to the heavy snow that hit that area last week. This game was scheduled to be played on Tuesday, but it was pushed back in the event that the Kent State-Buffalo game could have been made up. The computer's trend line likes Akron by 5.

MISSOURI by 2.01 over Arkansas (-1.5) - The mission for Missouri is simple - win this contest to clinch a second straight berth in the SEC Championship game. Unfortunately, the Tigers are catching a red hot Arkansas team that registered back-to-back shutouts of LSU and Ole Miss, on the heels of losing 17 straight SEC games. The computer's trend line actually likes the Razorbacks by 13 points.

Nebraska by 1.70 over IOWA (-1) - Nebraska was literally run over by Wisconsin (Melvin Gordon's 408-yard rushing day) and then coughed up the lead at home versus Minnesota for a second straight loss. Iowa only fell by 2 to Wisconsin this past Saturday after the Badgers trucked the 'Huskers by 35 the week before. But as we have learned repeatedly this year, using transitive property as a method to predict future outcomes is useless. Just back up a couple weeks to see where Minnesota beat Iowa by 37, but then only edged Nebraska by 4. Together, both comparisons equal 33 point differences that cancel each other out by equating to 0. So here's the bottom line on this game - it's at Iowa and the 'Huskers are having issues, so I would personally take the Hawkeyes to win outright. But the computer trend line actually has Nebraska favored by 5.

Northern Illinois by 0.37 over WESTERN MICHIGAN (-5.5) - The Broncos are riding a 6-game winning streak and looking more impressive each week. The Huskies are on a 5-game winning streak and seem to be barely skating by. From what I've seen of late, I'd take WMU outright. The computer trend line agrees with me, as it favors Western Michigan by 10 points.

VIRGINIA TECH by 4.45 over Virginia (-2) - A rash of injuries have depleted the Hokies since defeating Ohio State early in the season, resulting in 5 losses by a single score. A healthy VT team would almost surely be no worse than 10-1 at this juncture, but instead finds itself at 5-6. The 'Hoos are also 5-6 so the winner goes bowling and the loser stays home. Virginia Tech is a rarely home underdog, but the Hokies are 0-5 versus Power 5 conference schools in Lane Stadium since defeating Pittsburgh on October 12 of last year.

Saturday, November 29
Byu by 9.64 over CALIFORNIA (-3.5) - BYU's season outlook changed when QB Taysom Hill was lost for the year during the Utah State game, but senior Christian Stewart has improved dramatically and has tossed 17 TD passes with just 2 INT's since his 0 TD, 3 INT debut. Cal's Jerod Goff is among the best passers in the country with 31 TD's and 6 INT's, but the Golden Bears have dropped 5-of-6 since a 4-1 start and now need this win to become bowl eligible. At 7-4, BYU has already accepted a bid in the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl. Both teams stink at pass defense with BYU ranked 100th and Cal dead last at 128th, so this game could blow out the lights on the scoreboard. But BYU has a decent rushing attack and it would not surprise me if they elect to control the clock rather than get mired in all-out aerial battle. The stats seem to support the computer's BYU pick, but the computer disagrees with itself on the trend line and takes Cal by 2.

Middle Tennessee by 1.13 over UTEP (-4) - These teams are both 6-5 with no glaring statistical separation. MTSU averages about 80 more yards per game on offense, but the Miners allow an average of 90 fewer yards than the Blue Raiders. Home field advantage says take UTEP, and the computer trend line agrees by giving the Miners an 8-point edge.

MISSISSIPPI by 1.79 over Mississippi State (-1) - Mississippi State's season hangs in in the balance as a win puts the Bulldogs at 11-1 and potentially alive for a Final 4 berth. A loss to Ole Miss would surely eliminate them from consideration. The Rebels have dropped their last 3 FBS games after a 7-0 start. The computer trend line says MSU by 0.79.



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