Predictions 101 — Week 5

10 Comments

We went 4-3 last week (both straight up and vs. “the number”), but feel left out.

How come only the fortunate folks who do this sort of thing for NFL games, get to have fun with the wild card of ridiculous replacement refs? Hey, we’d like to go on rants and blame our losses on officiating too.

Oh well.

Is it just us or does the college football season seem like it’s fast-forwarding away? Here we are at Week 5 already.

TOP 5 GAMES OF THE WEEK (Thurs., Sept. 27, thru Sat., Sept. 29)

1) No. 25 Baylor at No. 9 West Virginia
Sat., Sept. 29 — noon ET, FX

It’s all been building up to this for the Mountaineers, who are making their Big 12 debut. And the Bears have been holding up their end rather well, perhaps unexpectedly.

Some doubted Baylor’s ability to soldier on without Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin III, running back Terrance Ganaway and wideout Kendall Wright, but Nick Florence has stepped up admirably, throwing for at least 312 yards and three scores in all three games this season.

On the flip side, the West Virginia offense led by quarterback Geno Smith has lived up to its lofty preseason hype. With 1,072 passing yards, 12 touchdown passes and zero interceptions on Smith’s resume so far, he is the Heisman frontrunner.

Along with wideouts Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, Smith has to be licking his chops. The prospect of a team that’s allowing 492.7 yards per game coming into Morgantown for the first time is quite inviting and could signal a landslide of points.

Baylor, which is averaging 51.3 points per game (fifth in the nation), should generate some success of its own against a West Virginia defense that allowed Maryland to pass for 305 yards and convert on half of its 14 third-down attempts in a closer-than-expected 31-21 victory last Saturday. We just don’t expect it to be nearly enough.

The Bears are 0-25 versus ranked Big 12 foes on the road and don’t figure to break through on Mountaineer Field.

Opening point spread: West Virginia by 10

The pick: West Virginia 45-27

2) No. 14 Ohio State at No. 20 Michigan State
Sat., Sept. 29 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

This is as good as it gets for the Big Ten at this point, but it sadly feels so incomplete.

Spartan signalcaller Andrew Maxwell has been underwhelming so far, but a sloppy fleet of receivers should share the blame. Thankfully for Michigan State, running back Le’Veon Bell has held up his end of the bargain, grinding out 152.5 yards per game (although only 77 versus Notre Dame).

Perhaps that group will find its groove against a Buckeye defense that’s far below its usual caliber, ranking last in the B1G in yards allowed (394.8).

Michigan State’s defense, on the other hand, leads the league in every major statistical category. That includes surrendering just 69.3 yards per game on the ground.

Buckeye quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde, who has recovered from a sprained knee, have their sights set on rushing for many more yards than that, but it remains to be seen … just like the overall revival expected under the direction of Urban Meyer.

Perhaps they’ve been waiting for this stage to make a statement.

Opening point spread: Even

The pick: Ohio State 24-23

3) No. 12 Texas at Oklahoma State
Sat., Sept. 29 — 7:50 p.m. ET, FOX

Both teams had last week off to look forward to this one.

They also had an opportunity to look around the country and see who was doing what, especially teams they’ve played recently. What each camp saw was quite different.

Last time out, the Longhorns wrecked Ole Miss, 66-31. The Rebels, however, bounced back last week with a 39-0 victory at Tulane. RPI geeks love that stuff!

The Cowboys, on the other hand, are still smarting from a 59-38 loss at Arizona on Sept. 8. Watching those same Wildcats get melted down by Oregon, 49-0, last Saturday must have been pure agony for Mike Gundy.

Oddly enough, Texas visiting Stillwater isn’t the worst thing in the world for Oklahoma State. Although the Cowboys have won only four of the 26 games in the series, half of those victories have come in the last two years.

Most of the early talk about this matchup has focused on who’ll be behind center for OSU, but we won’t quibble either way without that knowledge. Whether it’s Wes Lunt at less than 100 percent or J.W. Walsh, we’re still talking about a young player who hasn’t yet got a taste for the big-time in primetime. No matter who takes the snaps, capable Cowboy running back Joseph Randle will have to carry a large portion of the mail against the Longhorn defense.

Texas’ quarterbacking isn’t in question. Sophomore David Ash has been sensational so far this season, completing 76 percent of his passes, with seven touchdown tosses and zero interceptions. However, astronomical passer ratings built at the expense of Wyoming, New Mexico and Ole Miss don’t really get us going enough to envision a win on the road for the Longhorns, who have won just six league games in the previous two seasons.

Opening point spread: Oklahoma State by 5 1/2

The pick: Oklahoma State 37-31

4) No. 18 Oregon State at Arizona
Sat., Sept. 29 — 10 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network

This prediction comes courtesy of Shane Hedani from the P101 satellite office in Maunawili, Hawai’i.

Utilizing good blue-collar football to produce two wins over ranked teams, while holding a pair of Heisman Trophy contending running backs to just 61 and 45 yards on the ground, Oregon State has been impressive and we are Beaver believers.

Oddsmakers aren’t as sold. We aren’t sure if they realize that the Beavs have taken six in a row from the Cats in Tucson.

Coach Mike Riley has the defense to do it again. Oregon State defenders are disciplined in their assignments, limit big plays and tackle well. However, the Arizona offense will see more production within the comfortable confines of the Zona Zoo.

We have to understand that the Oregon defense played well in last week’s 49-0 cruise past Arizona, but the football Gods also were smiling down on the Ducks. The Cats really set themselves up for the shutout by botching a field goal that would have put the first points on the board. In the end, they had six fruitless trips into the red zone and four turnovers.

That won’t happen two weeks in a row. The Arizona offense will get back into rhythm and Oregon State is in for a fight.

One might wonder how the Beavers will counter the Cats’ speedy 3-3-5 defense, which limited Oregon to just 13 first-half points. They’ll use freshman running back Storm Woods to control the pace, wear the UofA D down and win on a last-second score.

Opening point spread: Arizona by 3

The pick: Oregon State 33-31

5) Tennessee at No. 5 Georgia
Sat., Sept. 29 — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

It’s a bit of unfamiliar territory for the SEC’s marquee matchup to be this far down the P101 list. But most of that has to do with us being unable to trust a Volunteer defense that has been prone to give up big plays.

That bad habit won’t serve them well against a Bulldog offense triggered by Aaron Murray and powered by freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, which hasn’t scored less than 41 points in any game this season.

Not only is Georgia fresh off an impressive 48-3 victory over Vanderbilt, it might (only Mark Richt knows for sure) regain the services of safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree, who have been sidelined by suspension since the start of the campaign.

The Bulldog defense has been stout, but some reinforcements would help in the effort to slow down the effectiveness of Vol quarterback Tyler Bray, who has the luxury of two show-stopping wideouts in Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Opening point spread: Georgia by 15 1/2

The pick: Georgia 38-27

UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK

No. 17 Clemson at Boston College
Sat., Sept. 29 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

This prediction comes courtesy of Marc Doche (@MDoche) from the P101 satellite office in Burbank, Calif.

For the second time in three weeks, the P101-USOTW suffered a one-point defeat courtesy of a kicker failing in spectacular fashion. We’ll safeguard against that happening again by leaning on the leg of Eagle placekicker Nate Freese, who has connected on all 15 of his attempts this season (seven field goals and eight PATs).

Despite a 1-2 record, Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig has settled in nicely in his third year on Chestnut Hill, tossing just one interception while leading the ACC with 317 passing yards per game. He should continue his prolific connection with junior wide receiver Alex Amidon to give the Eagles scoring opportunities against a Clemson defense that was picked apart for 380 passing yards by Florida State’s E.J. Manuel last week.

After getting the better of the Seminoles for nearly three quarters, the Tigers will have to regroup from a devastating loss, which is much easier said than done. Last year, Clemson pulled a Clemson, going into a swoon that saw it go 2-3 the rest of the way after suffering its first defeat.

The Eagle defense features the nation’s leading tackler in senior linebacker Nick Clancy. He can help muck things up to produce a result similar to their 16-10 victory at Alumni Field two years ago.

Perhaps this is more “under” than upset.

Opening point spread: Clemson by 11

The pick: Boston College 19-13

RIVALRY GAME OF THE WEEK

Houston vs. Rice (at Reliant Stadium)
Sat., Sept. 29 — 3:30 p.m. ET,

Separated by less than five miles, the warring factions in the Bayou Bucket Classic are as close as you’ll find at the FBS level.

Last year’s matchup, however, wasn’t close at all, as Houston accounted for 73 of the game’s 107 points.

Rice’s defense seems intent on repeating that limp performance. The Owls currently rank dead last in the country in scoring defense, allowing nearly 46 points per game.

But they won’t have to deal with Case Keenum this time. In fact, Rice might have the more effective offense.

Houston has turned the football over 10 times already this season, which is one of the reasons the Cougars have yet to hold a lead over anyone.

The Bayou Bucket hasn’t stayed in the same place since the Cougars won three in a row from 2005 to 2007. It’s the Owls’ turn to take it over to their side of town.

Opening point spread: Houston by 7

The pick: Rice 35-34

Ex-Michigan WR Freddy Canteen announces transfer from Notre Dame

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

So much for getting a chance to play against his former team. Notre Dame wide receiver Freddy Canteen says he is going to look for a new program to play football. Canteen previously transferred to Notre Dame from Michigan (Notre Dame hosts Michigan in Week 1 of the 2018 season).

“I will be transferring to another university to obtain a graduate degree that unfortunately Notre Dame does not offer,” Canteen said in a statement on Twitter. “I will also utilize my remaining two years of eligibility to play football.”

Canteen played in just three games for Notre Dame in 2017, with one reception for seven yards. A torn labrum brought his 2017 season to an abrupt end. The former Michigan player transferred to Notre Dame after the 2016 season, which was also wiped out by injury after his 2015 season was ruined by an injury.

As a graduate transfer, Canteen will be eligible to play right away this fall for whatever program he transfers to. And, as confirmed by Canteen, he will have two more years of eligibility to continue playing football for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

ACC revenue increases 12% but ACC members still receive lower distributions compared to other P5 programs (for now)

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

When it comes to per school revenue distribution, ACC schools are still lagging behind the rest of the power conferences, but the ACC did see its revenue for the past fiscal year jump by 12 % to a reported $418.1 million. According to tax documents reviewed by Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, the ACC paid each football member of the conference between $25.3 million and $30.7 million for the 2017 fiscal year.

The revenue distribution was up from the $23.8 million each school was paid the previous year when the total revenue distribution was reported at $373.4 million. The ACC’s revenue actually dropped last season from the year prior to that, but that was influenced by a $31.4 million exit fee paid by former ACC member Maryland as the school left the ACC for the Big Ten. Each team in the conference receives an equal base share, but the conference then supplements the distribution to adjust for bowl expenses. Because of that, Clemson was paid $30.7 million after playing in two straight College Football Playoff games, including the championship game in the 2016 season.

Notre Dame, who was paid $4 million by the ACC last year, was given a distribution of $5.8 million due to its affiliation with the ACC in other sports outside of football.

ACC commissioner John Swofford was paid $3.3 million for the fiscal year with a base salary of $3.15 million. It is the first time Swofford has been paid $3 million by the conference after coming up just shy of the $3 million mark last year.

Where does the ACC stack up against its power conference peers? On a per-school breakdown, the SEC is the absolute king with each SEC member receiving an average of $41 million in the most recent revenue distributions from the conference. The Big Ten is also comfortably ahead of the pack in total revenue, with each member receiving about $37 million for the past year. The Big 12 generated $371 million in revenue in the past year, leading to payouts of $34.3 million for its 10 members. The Pac-12 reported a revenue of $509 million for the past year with a distribution to conference members doling out $30.9 million per school.

On a per-school basis, the ACC is lagging behind the other conferences in terms of how much each school is receiving from the conference. However, the ACC is moving forward with plans to launch an ACC Network which is expected to spike the revenue figures a bit. The SEC and Big Ten have really thrived with their own networks, while the Pac-12 continues to try capitalizing on its network in a similar way. With ESPN lending a helping hand with the ACC’s network plans, the conference likely will benefit more than the Pac-12 has, which should allow ACC schools to begin pulling in more with revenue distributions following the launch of the eventual network.

Michigan offers massive eighth grade football prodigy

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
3 Comments

Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines are looking to get in some early work on the recruiting trail with a Massachusetts recruit. As has become a bit of a trend over the years, Michigan is offering a scholarship to an eighth grader with the size that scouts cannot miss.

Tyler Martin of Cambridge, Massachusetts announced via Twitter he has received an offer from Michigan. Of course, to receive an offer form a program like Michigan before entering high school for the first time doesn’t happen to just any middle schooler. Martin just so happens to stand out in the crowd at 6′-3″ and 227 pounds, according to USA Today. Having played both tight end and linebacker in middle school, Martin has already shown some skill that future coaches will hope develops to stay ahead of the curve.

As noted by USA Today, Martin is already thinking about his future. Just last month, Martin visited Boston College to scope out the scene. Given his size and ability to play two positions, if that continues to excel in high school, more and more programs from around the country will take an interest if they have not already.

This bit of a recruiting tactic is one that is aimed to be brought to an end by a proposal from the ACC regarding the recruiting process. As previously reported, a proposal from the ACC would restrict schools from extending any form of offer to a prospective student-athlete until September 1 of that player’s junior year of high school. Of course, that doesn’t mean that student can’t begin the recruiting process. It simply means making an offer to a middle schooler just about to go into high school would be prohibited.

Houston, Utah confirm 2026-27 home-and-home series

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A mini-Houston scheduling day at CFT continues, with the AAC school confirming another future matchup with a Power Five program.

On the heels of their tweaked series with UT-San Antonio, UH also announced a future home-and-home with Pac-12 member Utah.  The Cougars will host the Utes at TDECU Stadium on Sept. 5, 2026, then travel to Salt Lake City’s Rice-Eccles Stadium Sept. 11, 2027.

Th two football programs have met four times previously, with the Cougars winning all four of those matchups.  Three of those four games were played in Houston, with the most recent meeting coming way back in 1978.

In confirming their series, the two programs also took care of a couple of other scheduling notes.

Utah announced a three-game series with Weber State that will be played in 2023, 2026 and 2027.  That trio of games against the FCS program will, obviously, be played in Salt Lake City.  Houston, meanwhile, confirmed a home-and-home with Rice, with a Sept. 24, 2022, game at the Cougars’ home and a Sept. 9, 2023, game at the home of the Owls.