VandyMania college football expert Hal Peiser takes a look at this week's non-SEC college football matchups.
PiRate Ratings For September 17
What a great week to be a Vanderbilt football fan! The Commodores sit at 2-0, and the PiRate ratings project them to now go 6-5. Let's not get a big head yet, because this Saturday's game is the most important game in nearly six years. A loss would be crushing.
Be glad you are not a fan of Buffalo, Ball State, or Temple. This trio has fallen well behind the next weakest team. If any one of them played at Vandy this weekend our ‘Dores would be a 5 touchdown or better favorite. These teams are as weak as Brown or Columbia. All three will be in the same league next year.
If you followed my ratings from last week and went against my advice and used this info seeking financial gain, then you probably made a great deal of money. I recommended 16 strong plays, and they went 13-3. Depending on how you played your teasers, you should have won enough to possibly fill up your gas tank (if you don't drive a Hummer.)
As I always stipulate, I do not wager money on football. I am participating in a "for fun only" contest with some of the best pickers around. My picks in this contest went 5-2 last week, improving my overall mark to date to 9-5 for a percentage of .643. Since a winning percentage of .524 turns a profit (at 10-11 odds), .643 is quite good. Alas, in this contest against some of the best wise guys, I am in the bottom half right now. One picker is actually 17-1; how can he do it?
Let's take a look at the better non-SEC games and how the PiRates pick the games:
Florida Atlantic @ Minnesota
Minnesota has made a habit of scheduling mid-major Southern schools and giving them a hostile welcome to the great North. FAU has not been able to stop the rushing games of Kansas and Oklahoma State. What do you think will happen against the Gophers? Minnesota could easily rush for 400 yards this week. Unfortunately, that doesn't help us too much with the 30 ½-point spread. Minnesota will win, but we must look to the teaser to make this a playable game. At 20 ½ or 17 ½, the Gophers have a great chance of covering safely. It is not a strong play, but there are not many strong plays this week.
PiRate Prediction: Minnesota 45 Florida Atlantic 14
Michigan State @ Notre Dame
It's in vogue to be a Fighting Irish fan again. Notre Dame is back in the top 10. Well, not in my ratings, but they are in my top 25. Michigan State has played well against two patsies, while Notre Dame has won two games on the road. The Spartans are not in Michigan's class, so Notre Dame should win their home opener. There is a mini-system play here with the Irish returning home after pulling off a big road win. I don't like the spread for this game (ND by 6
½), as my PiRates say ND by 9. That's too close to recommend a play. Even using the teasers, I can find better choices for my parlays. Watch this one and enjoy it, but lay off this game.
PiRate Prediction: Notre Dame 35 Michigan State 26
Wyoming @ Air Force
Here is my sleeper pick for an upset this week. It isn't a strong play, but I think the Cowboys are going to venture two hours south and come away with a win. Air Force couldn't stop the passing games of Washington and San Diego State. Wyoming has a much better passing game. The Pokes have been quite proficient at stopping the running game. The line here is Air Force -3; I was hoping it would go up a little, but too many wise guys are going with Wyoming. Looking at the teasers, Wyoming at +13 or +16 looks inviting if you think Air Force's infantry will not get the job done this week.
PiRate Prediction: Wyoming 27 Air Force 23
Illinois @ California
Neither team has played a good team this year, so both their statistical records have been inflated. Ron Zook has impressed the boys in Vegas, as the line is "only" 21 points. This game should be a shootout. Neither team has shown an ability to stop the pass. Cal has the advantage with an excellent running game. The Illini defense will have troubles stopping the run and providing any kind of pass rush at the same time. The Bears will roll up 450 to 500 yards of offense, which should give them an excellent chance to control the ball long enough to keep their
defense fresh. The 10 and 13-point teaser looks inviting here if you put it in Cal's favor, making it -11 or -8.
PiRate Prediction: California 41 Illinois 24
Pittsburgh @ Nebraska
Poor Dave Wannstedt. He seems to have a dark cloud over his head wherever he goes. His Pitt Panthers have started 0-2, and it doesn't look promising this week. Don't confuse this Cornhusker edition with the 1971, 1995, or 1997 clubs, but it is much better than last season's team which won at Pitt. The line for this game is 10 ½, and I think the teaser makes this one very winnable. At – ½ or + 2 ½, Nebraska is almost a steal this week. I foresee the Panthers rushing for only 85 yards and passing for 150-175, while Nebraska enjoys its best passing week of the year rolling up 330-350 total yards.
PiRate Prediction: Nebraska 24 Pittsburgh 14
Central Michigan @ Penn State
It isn't much of a game, but this one is actually my top play of the week. The odds makers have installed The Nittany Lions as a 21 ½-point pick. They cannot make it any higher, because Penn State doesn't have a potent enough offense or killer instinct at this point in time. However, PSU's defense makes it almost impossible for the Chippewas to score enough points. CMU will find it hard to rush for more than 50-75 yards, while Penn State will be able to control the ball both on the ground and through
the air. Look for Joe Pa's troops to win their third game, and play a 10 or 13-point teaser in their favor. -11 ½ or -8 ½ looks to be the best play of the week. A partial system play exists here as well, with CMU coming off a big win and having to play on the road a week later.
PiRate Prediction: Penn State 26 Central Michigan 7
Rice @ Texas
I am tempted to recommend a straight wager on the Owls here, as Texas is ripe for a flat outing this week. However, even a flat herd of Longhorns should win this game with ease. Rice is the most one-dimensional college team in I-A ball. Texas will punish the Owl option attack, and there will be no serious passing attack to counter it. Rice should both rush and pass for less than 100 yards. Teams don't score points when they are held to 125-150 total yards. Meanwhile, Texas should be able to rush for 300+ and pass for 200+ yards. 500+ yards should give them 40 points or more. The line is 41 points, so I recommend our friendly teaser once again. Texas covers at -31 or -28.
PiRate Prediction: Texas 42 Rice 0
Rutgers @ Buffalo
When was the last time a D1-A team went into its third game having not scored a single point yet? Buffalo has been shut out in their first two games on the road against middle of the pack Big East squads. The Bulls have averaged about 60 yards rushing and 60 yards passing so far. Connecticut and Syracuse overpowered their weak defensive line by running the ball down their throats. Rutgers coach Greg Schiano sits on a seat that is suffering a low-grade fever. If he loses this game or just
wins by a few points, that seat will begin to flame. Rutgers has to play this game in Buffalo, but the Bulls have no real home field advantage. Yet another middle of the pack Big East team should move the ball and score 30 points against the hapless Bulls. Rutgers is a 21-point pick. Lop 10 or 13 points off that spread in a teaser, and you have a playable game. At least Buffalo should finally score this week.
PiRate Prediction: Rutgers 31 Buffalo 14
Oklahoma @ UCLA
No picks here. I just want to inform those who might bet to monitor the Sooners' website prior to wagering. Adrian Peterson may or may not play due to suspension. Without him, the Bruins will win.
Eastern Michigan @ Michigan
These type games make teasers so inviting to play. The Boys in Vegas have to reduce the real point spread in games like these, as they know the obvious favorite will empty their bench to rest starters for the beginning of the conference season. Thus, it's like getting a few extra free points in the teaser. This one looks like a close to sure thing. The Wolverines are ready to claw and bite their smaller rival. The line is 29 ½ points and should probably be about 33. Taking Michigan -19 ½ or -16 ½ should be safe. Michigan will play an excellent first half and put this one away early.
PiRate prediction: Michigan 42 EMU 14
San Diego State @ Ohio State
This one is a carbon copy of the Michigan game. Ohio State is seething mad this week after blowing the Texas game. The Aztecs are ripe for the picking, and Coach Tom Craft's job might be in jeopardy. They couldn't stop Air force or UCLA, and they won't stop the Buckeyes. Ohio State should have its best offensive game of the season and top 400 yards and 28 points.
With the line at 27 ½ points, take the teaser and the Buckeyes at -17 ½ or -14 ½.
PiRate Prediction: Ohio State 35 San Diego State 10
Remember, if you wager on the games based on these picks, it is your own fault if you cannot buy groceries on Monday. All kidding aside, this looks like a week to wager a minimal amount if any. Most of the top games (like Miami & Clemson, Florida State & Boston College, UCLA & Oklahoma, Notre dame & Michigan St.) have too many intangibles and variables to properly prognosticate.
For those who are new to this feature, a teaser bet allows you to move the point spread of each game by a set number of points. You must play a parlay of two, three, or four games depending on the number of points moved in your teaser. My personal preferences are 10 and 13-point teasers. With 10-point teasers, you must play a 3-team parlay. With 13-point teasers, you play a 4-team parlay. Ties push if you win the rest on the parlay. If you shop around, you will find regular 10-11 odds on a 10-point teaser and 5-6 odds on a 13-point teaser. Over the years, I have consistently won 60% on these
A ploy many wise guys use is to play both sides of a game on a teaser. Let's say Southern Cal is a 7-point pick against Texas. Playing a 13-point teaser both ways would give you USC +6 and Texas +20. As long as the game finishes within those limits (Texas wins by no more than 5 or loses by no more than 19), you would win two parts of the four-game parlay.
Will Vanderbilt be picked to beat Ole Miss, or do the PiRates say the bubble will burst? Find out when you read how the SEC games look tomorrow, plus get an excellent tailgating breakfast idea with an Ole Miss Rebel theme tomorrow.