PiRate Ratings for September 10

VandyMania college football expert Hal Peiser takes a look at this week's non-SEC college football matchups.

PiRate Ratings for September 10

The Game of the Year in Week Two?


Howell Peiser


Week two in college football presents numerous opportunities to consider playing the good ole 3-team, 10-point teaser.  This parlay allows you to move the point spread 10 points either way.  You pick three games and must win them all at your moved point spread (a push in any game makes it a total push if you win the other two and a loss if you lose one).  You place this wager at 10-11 odds, meaning that you put up 11 dollars and the book puts up 10.  If you want to play a four team, 13-point teaser, the odds drop to 5-6.


Texas @ Ohio State


Can it be that the game of the year, or at least the regular season, will be played in just the second week of the season?  Two teams figured to be among the top five to seven in the nation square off in Columbus, Ohio.  The loser won't be eliminated from the Rose Bowl chase, but it will be somewhere between a Lookout Mountain and Mt. Everest climb to get back into the national championship picture.  The winner gains the confidence in knowing they have conquered a fellow goliath.


Ohio State hosts Texas at the Horseshoe.  Tickets are reportedly going for up to $700 four days before the kickoff.  We rarely get a chance to see Top 10 teams play in the regular season when it is not a rivalry, a conference game, nor a fluke of the schedule (like when one team was not supposed to be that good).


Ohio State played well enough to beat Miami (O) comfortably without totally dominating.  Texas destroyed Louisiana Lafayette, which doesn't tell us that much.  Texas has better overall talent, but Ohio State has a huge home field advantage.  This game could go either way; the PiRate ratings show Texas being one point better.  Since I am using these ratings strictly as an experiment, I advise not playing this game, even as a teaser.


When you watch this game, try to concentrate early on the line charges.  Which lines are controlling the movement in the first two seconds after the snap of the ball?  Can Ohio State give their two QBs enough time to locate their two excellent receivers?  Can the Buckeye defense contain Vince Young?  Can Young hurt OSU with the pass, or will Coach Tressel be able to bring his safeties up toward the line to take away the run?


PiRate Prediction: Texas 24  Ohio State 23 (it should be even better than advertised)


Notre Dame @ Michigan


I'm not about to recommend any action in this one either, as there are too many variables.  This game should be just as exciting as the Texas-OSU game.  Can Charlie Weis devise a game plan that will light up the scoreboard against Michigan?  Is Dave Wannstedt about to lay another egg at Pitt, making ND's win less important?  Is Northern Illinois still a top 25 team, making Michigan's 33-17 look respectable.  It's too early to tell, so this game could be close or it could be an upset.  Before last week's games, I would have thought the Wolverines would win this game by three touchdowns.  Now, the predicted score has too much possible variance, so I advise not to lose money on it.  Michigan could cover at -7, still cover and beat you at -17 on a teaser, and then again not cover at +3.


PiRate Prediction:  Michigan 28  Notre Dame 24


Iowa @ Iowa State


Iowa didn't have to break a sweat Saturday.  When Ball State "surprised" the Hawkeyes with a quick kick that bounced to the Iowa 10, and Iowa took the punt 90 yards for a touchdown, it reminded me of the punt Kentucky's Andy Moll returned for 85-90 yards against Vandy in 1981.  Last Saturday's play wasn't the decisive play of the game like the 1981 punt was, but it invoked memories. 


Iowa State looked like they were not ready to play in game one against I-AA Illinois State.  They failed to rush for 100 yards against the Redbirds, so how can they expect to move the ball against Iowa? 


Iowa (-8 ½) will win this game, but the ratings say it could be closer than expected.  Iowa State will stay in it until the end but come up short.  There isn't a strong play here, but a 10-point teaser in the Hawkeyes favor, moves them to +1 ½.  That looks good.


PiRate Prediction: Iowa 28  Iowa State 23


Hawaii @ Michigan State


Why do I bring up this game?  I think this one is a steal for those who invest wisely and know how to handle teasers.  Let's look at some facts.  Hawaii has shown a propensity for laying an egg on the mainland.  Last year, they made the journey east four times, going 0-4 with an average score of 57.4 to 16.5 .  They took a drubbing from the nation's best team last Saturday, possibly losing four starters to injury.  Two are definitely out for this game, while the other two are questionable.


Michigan State breezed to an easy win at home and gets to stay home this week.  When teams win by 35 points or more over a clearly weaker program and then play at home the next week, they usually continue to play with confidence and brilliance. 


The line is 32 ½ points, so the odds makers know about this information as well.  The PiRate says the Spartans won't win by that much but will definitely win with ease.  Consider this game in a 10-point teaser playing MSU.


PiRate Prediction: Michigan State 49  Hawaii 21


North Texas @MTSU


The Blue Raiders get to cash in their unfair advantage this weekend.  North Texas didn't get to play their scheduled game at LSU last week, so the Mean Green haven't had a chance to improve by correcting their mistakes.  To some extent, they also don't come into this game banged up, but the playing time is more important.


MTSU never had a chance to beat Alabama, as the defense directed by Joe Kines was as good as advertised.  They come out of this game with no injuries.  Teams usually improve the most in-season between games one and two, so MTSU will be a bit better this week than last.  This grudge match could easily decide the Sunbelt Title.  North Texas cannot win every conference game forever, and this looks like the best shot this year for them to taste defeat.


PiRate Prediction: MTSU 34  North Texas 24


Kansas State @ Marshall


Marshall is not a good team this year; they should post a losing record and struggle to avoid a last place finish in their C-USA division.  However, the Thundering Herd might be a wise guy play as part of a teaser. 


Kansas State struggled to beat a very weak Florida International team at home.  They won't have two offensive line starters and they might not have their leading receiver available.  Even if he plays, Yamon Figurs won't be his usual self, so the deep threat won't be there.


The boys in Vegas say The Wildcats will win by 10.  The Money line is -475/+375.  On a 10-point teaser, moving this spread to 20, the Wildcats are not strong enough to cover.  Marshall looks good as part of a 10-point teaser, 3-team parlay.


PiRate Prediction: Kansas State 28  Marshall 20


Stanford @ Navy


Walt Harris is good, but not a miracle worker.  The Cardinal must travel nearly 3,000 miles and three times zones east to take on a navy team that took Maryland to the wire.  Stanford has yet to play this year, so Navy gets another advantage.  Stanford has better talent, but Navy's offense should cause problems for their defense.  Even if Stanford wins this game, it almost assuredly should be by single digits.  In another excellent teaser play, Navy should cover if given an extra 10 points.  In a 10-point teaser Navy gets 12 ½. 


PiRate Rating: Stanford 31  Navy 26


Colorado State @ Minnesota


Colorado State must travel northeast to face a muscle team on the road, after they come off a tough loss to their arch-rival.  Minnesota returns home after dominating Tulsa on the road. 


Bryan Cupito showed the TV audience that opponents cannot load the box and try to stop Laurence Maroney and Amir Pinnix.  The Gophers should score 30 points or more again Saturday.


Colorado State isn't chopped liver.  They just should find themselves being outscored in another shootout.  The line is 12 ½, and with a 10-point teaser in Minnesota's favor, the 2 ½ looks quite inviting.


PiRate Prediction: Minnesota 38  Colorado State 27


Wake Forest @ Nebraska


What gives here?  The Huskers are only a 6-point favorite at home to a team that lost at home to Vanderbilt.  Three Wake Forest secondary starters are banged up, while the fourth didn't play due to suspension.  Chris Barclay returns, but like I said last week, Micah Andrews can do the same amount of damage.


Nebraska is still a year away from being good enough to challenge in the weaker Big 12 North.  However, at home, they are good enough to dispose of the Deacons.  Their run defense will be up to the challenge, holding Wake under 200 yards.  This won't be the 56-7 type game it would have been in the mid 1990's, but Nebraska should win this one by a touchdown or more.  With a 10-point teaser moved in the Cornhuskers' favor, Nebraska gets four points at home.  Those are mighty good odds.


PiRate Prediction: Nebraska 31  Wake Forest 17


North Carolina @ Georgia Tech


This is another one of those tendency plays.  The Tar Heels open the season in Atlanta against a Georgia Tech squad that is sky high after whipping Auburn on the road.  When a team pulls off a big road upset and returns home the next week, they continue to play at the previous week's level almost 100% of the time.  Having a game already under their belt (and the one to which most teams improve the most all season), they have an unfair advantage.  What's more, the Techsters have revenge on their minds from last season's three-touchdown drubbing in Chapel Hill.


The Yellow Jackets have been installed as a 12 ½-point favorite, and that number is honest.  Playing a 10-point teaser in Tech's favor makes them just a 2 ½ point pick, a number that looks very beatable.


PiRate Prediction: Georgia Tech 28  North Carolina 13


Rice @ U C L A


Again we have a team making a 1000-mile journey to play its first game on the road against a team coming home for game number two after winning impressively on the road.  San Diego State is better than Rice.  UCLA gives away 25 points, which is too dangerous to play straight up, but in a 10-point teaser, it looks quite inviting.  UCLA -15 is safe enough to entice me.


PiRate Prediction: UCLA 45  Rice 21


Cincinnati @ Penn State


Penn State didn't look all that good beating a weak South Florida team last week.  Cincinnati barely edged an even weaker Eastern Michigan team.  The Nittany Lions have been installed as a 19-point pick.  Since they rarely score much more than 19, that line is too scary.  Getting 10 points, makes this one playable.  I foresee Joe Pa's forces running power plays up the middle of Cinti's weak defensive line all afternoon.  EMU rushed for almost five yards a carry against the Bearcats.  Penn State should hold Cincinnati to single digits and win ugly once again.


PiRate Prediction:  Penn State  24  Cincinnati  3


Army @ Boston College


Yet another system play for week two.  Army has yet to play, while the Eagles have won a road game against a team that throws the ball better than Army.  This looks like a potential blowout in Chestnut Hill.  BC is a 27 ½-point favorite, which they could easily cover.  I like the insurance of the 10-point teaser here.  BC should cover at -17 ½ with no worries.  Army's defense should give up 400-450 total yards and find it hard to top 250 yards on offense.  On the road in their first game, that's a prescription for disaster.


PiRate Prediction: Boston College 42  Army 14


Temple @ Wisconsin


The boys in Vegas probably wished they could take this one off the board.  Temple's defense could give up 100 points to Texas or Southern Cal.  Wisconsin scored 56 last week on a better Bowling Green team.  The Badgers could effortlessly rush for 450 yards in this game and control the clock for about 36 minutes.  That won't leave Temple much time to score.


I believe Coach Alvarez will get his defense to perform much better and hold the total score down enough to make the 34-point spread and 52 ½-point over/under too dangerous.  Again, the 10-point teaser looks like the smartest play here.  Wisconsin -24 is a safe play, as the Badgers should win by four touchdowns.


PiRate Prediction: Wisconsin 42  Temple 10


How do I see this week's Southeastern Conference games playing out?  Does Vanderbilt have a real chance to go 2-0 on the road?  Can Coach Superior go to Athens and pull off an upset?  Find this out and more plus get a great tailgating menu tomorrow.


For what it's worth, last week I played four teasers and three straight bet games as part of a year-long (no money bet) contest to which I have entered.  I started out 4-3, which places me in the middle of the pack.   57% every week would be okay with me, since 52.4% guarantees you a winning week.


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