Peiser picks the SEC and top national games

This Saturday looks to me to be jam-packed with playable teasers. The 3-team, 10-point parlays and 4-team, 13-point parlays could make some people rich if an excess of what looks like easy pickings prove to be just that.

PiRate Picks for October 1

(non-SEC games)


This Saturday looks to me to be jam-packed with playable teasers.  The 3-team, 10-point parlays and 4-team, 13-point parlays could make some people rich if an excess of what looks like easy pickings prove to be just that.


Last week, I failed to post a winning spread record for the first time this season, going 4-4 with a push in my nine teasers.  That makes my year-to-date record 17-12-1 for 58.6%.  Hopefully, this is the weekend to get back over 60%.


First a few comments.  Have you seen the new Harris Interactive college football poll?  It only took one week to make it insignificant.  Looking at the list of others receiving votes, Idaho picked up five points.  Idaho is 0-4 including a loss to UNLV.  Washington blew them off the field.


Indiana @ Wisconsin


In August, who would have thought this game would feature two undefeated teams?  The Hoosiers are 3-0 against a trio of weak teams, whereas the Badgers have played an honest schedule.  Look for game five of the Barry Alvarez farewell tour to go like the previous four.  Wisconsin is an 18-point favorite and the totals line is 56.  This presents an excellent teaser play, as the boys from Mad Town should easily win this game by double digits.  Getting UW -8 or -5 gives you an excellent start to a parlay on either a 10 or 13-point teaser.  I also like playing the totals as well.  Go with Over 37 or Over 34.


PiRate Prediction: Wisconsin 30  Indiana 14


Michigan State @ Michigan


I goofed on my Michigan State prediction in the preseason.  While I thought the Spartans would be 3-1 or 4-0 by this point, I didn't expect them to get to 4-0 in the manner they have.  On the other hand, I didn't see Michigan losing twice in September.  Michigan State is a 5 ½-point pick with the totals line at 56.  I think the Wolverines will play their best game of the season and either win outright or make it very close.  Therefore, I suggest playing Michigan at +15 ½ or +18 ½ and go with Over 46 or Over 43.


PiRate Prediction: Michigan 28  Michigan State 26


Colorado @ Oklahoma State


The Cowboys have gotten to 3-0 by playing three patsies.  Their toughest opponent to date has been Arkansas State.  Colorado is clearly better than OSU, but they are coming off a tough, physical game at Miami and must play on the road this week.  The Buffs are 3 ½-point favorites, and that looks to be honest.  I think CU will prevail in an ugly game.  They won't win in a blowout, so I'm taking OSU and picking up an extra 10 or 13 points to boot.  Take Oklahoma State at + 13 ½ or +16 ½.


PiRate Prediction: Colorado 24  Oklahoma State 17


Virginia Tech @ West Virginia


On paper, this game looks like a blowout.  West Virginia has struggled with Syracuse and East Carolina.  This is a rivalry game that should be much more physical than the average contest.  The Mountaineers will make this game closer than expected, so I cannot recommend playing Va. Tech at -10.  I still think The Hokies will win, so the Teaser looks safe.  VT as a PK or at +3 is the recommended choice.  Also, with the totals line at 41 ½, I like playing at Under 51 ½ or 54 ½.


PiRate Prediction: Virginia Tech 24  West Virginia 14


Iowa State @ Nebraska


These teams enter Big 12 play undefeated, but neither is commanding much respect.  The Cornhuskers are winning like a team from the late 1950's.  They are rushing and passing for less than 140 yards each per game, but they are giving away just a little over 230 total yards per game.  The Cyclones are a little better defensively than offensively.  This game could be won with one touchdown and one field goal.  The line has Nebraska favored by 3 ½ with the totals line at 37.  Since it will be played in Lincoln, I like the ‘Huskers.  Take them at + 6 ½ or +9 ½, and consider playing the totals at Under 47 or Under 50.


PiRate Prediction: Nebraska 14  Iowa State 13


Baylor @ Texas A&M


Yes, the Bears are improved this year.  However, their 3-0 start is more indicative of their playing SMU, Samford, and Army.  Texas A&M has also played SMU.  Let's look at the comparative scores.  The Aggies beat the Mustangs 66-8, while Baylor beat them 28-23.  Does that mean A& M is 53 points better than Baylor? Of course not, but they will win with relative ease.  The line is 22 ½, and that makes the teaser a great play.  Take the Aggies at -12 ½ or -9 ½.


PiRate Prediction: Texas A&M 45  Baylor 21


Ball State @ Boston College


Ball State may actually be looking ahead to next week.  That's when the Cardinals play their only winnable game of 2005 against Western Michigan.  Boston College won a big road game and returns home to play a team their scout squad could beat.  The Eagles should top 200 yards rushing and passing, while holding Ball State to about 60 yards rushing and 200 yards passing.  The line is 38 ½ with the totals line at 53 ½.  I think the best play here is Under 63 ½ or Under 66 ½.


PiRate Prediction: Boston College 42  Ball State 6


UNLV @ Wyoming


Joe Glenn's Cowboys may be ready to seriously contend for the Mountain West title.  Glenn won big at Northern Colorado and Montana, and he will eventually get a job at a big BCS-conference school.  This week Wyoming plays the weak sister of the MWC.  UNLV has one of the weakest pass defenses in I-A football, and Wyoming should score their high for 2005.  The Pokes are 16 ½-point favorites, and the teaser brings the spread down into highway robbery territory.  Take Wyoming at -6 ½ or -3 ½.


PiRate Prediction: Wyoming 49  UNLV 17


Minnesota @ Penn State


The last time Penn State was undefeated this far into the season was 1999.  The Nittany Lions eventually improved to 9-0 before facing Minnesota.  The Gophers won in Happy Valley to spoil Joe Paterno's shot at an eighth undefeated regular season.  This year's game should be one of the more competitive and exciting games of the week.  Both teams have about a 50% chance of winning, so picking against the spread isn't recommended.  Minnesota is a 2 ½-point pick with the totals line at 50.  Penn State's defense hasn't played up to last season's standards, so I think the scoreboard operator will see some work.  My recommendation is to play this game at Over 40 or over 37.


PiRate Prediction: Minnesota 24  Penn State 21


Texas @ Missouri


Something seems a little fishy here.  Texas is just a 14 ½-point favorite.  Missouri lost at home to New Mexico by 10, so does this mean Texas is only 4 ½ points better than the Lobos?  On top of that, the Tigers are getting heavy play in Vegas.  I cannot find a justifiable reason for this.  I'm going to be the Jimmy Rodgers of college football on this one and become the contrarian in this game.  I see no reason why the Longhorns won't run the ball down the field with success all day.  Play Texas at -4 ½ or -1 ½.


PiRate Prediction: Texas 41  Missouri 17


Southern California @ Arizona State


For the second consecutive week, the Trojans face one of the teams capable of scoring enough points against them to make a game interesting.  Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller could match USC QB Matt Leinart touchdown for touchdown if the two were facing the same, average defense.  Arizona State gave up close to 400 passing yards last week against Oregon State, so it doesn't look promising this week.  USC could rush for 250 yards and pass for 400 yards, while topping 50 points.  The Sun Devils cannot match that figure, but they could flirt with 30 points.  The line is USC -16, and the Trojans should cover that amount.  Since I like to play teasers, my pick here is USC -6 or -3.


PiRate Prediction: Southern Cal 49  Arizona State 28


Washington @ UCLA


Quietly, UCLA is moving up in the standings.  They may be a little better than Cal at this point in the season and second best in the Pac-10.  Washington rests with Stanford at the bottom of the league.  The line is 21 ½-points in the Bruins' favor.  That looks about right, so taking UCLA in a teaser looks smart.  The suggestion is UCLA – 11 ½ or -8 ½.


PiRate Prediction: UCLA  44  Washington 20


Arizona @ California


Every week, some football pundit names Arizona is their upset pick.  The Wildcats have yet to come through.  Cal is not the power of 2004, but the Golden Bears have enough quality personnel to win nine or 10 games.  The Wildcats cannot stop the running attack of quality opposition, and Cal has an excellent running game.  When a team can control the line of scrimmage and run consistently all day, and still possess a passing attack capable of striking quickly, it spells trouble for the opponent.  Cal is a 16 ½-point pick.  The teaser lines look like steals.  Take the Bears at -6 ½ or -3 ½.


PiRate Prediction: California 34  Arizona 14


Washington State @ Oregon State


This game promises to be an exciting shootout.  I'll leave the spread alone on this one and talk about the totals line of 60 points.  I could foresee a scenario where the final score could be 31-28 in either teams' favor, so the teaser play should go in the Over direction.  Play it at Over 50 or Over 47.  Beaver games tend to keep the scoreboard operator hopping.


PiRate Prediction: Oregon State 34  Washington State 31 (ratings actually call for this one to go to overtime.)


Oregon @ Stanford


Was Stanford's upset loss to UC-Davis a fluke, or are the Cardinal really bad?  Actually the Aggies are no I-AA weakling.  They have enjoyed 35 consecutive winning seasons.  Stanford could only generate 180 total yards in the game, so it was not a fluke when they lost.  Oregon is several touchdowns better than UC-Davis.  So why is the spread only seven points?  Expect a minor letdown from the Ducks, as they were punished by USC last week.  Oregon will throw early and often, probably accumulating 300-350 yards even with a letdown.  Take the Ducks in the teasers at +3 or +6.


PiRate Prediction: Oregon 31  Stanford 28


South Florida @ Miami (F)


USF won't pull off a major upset two weeks in a row.  The Bulls will not be able to rush the ball for 250 yards this week, and their passing game isn't good enough to get the job done.  Miami may not gain 400 yards in this game or win by 35 points, but the spread is only 21 points.  Miami at -11 or -8 looks safe.


PiRate Prediction: Miami 31  South Florida 7


Notre Dame @ Purdue


This rivalry grudge match could go either way.  This series hasn't been this exciting since the late 1960's, when Purdue upset the Irish three years in a row and earned their last number one ranking.  There are too many variables in this game to say that one team has a clear-cut edge.  Therefore, I won't play the spread, which has Purdue favored by a field goal.  The totals line is 56 ½, and the game should be a high-scoring affair.  The wise move is to play the Over at 46 ½ or 43 ½.


PiRate Prediction: Purdue 34  Notre Dame 31


Rice @ U.A.B.


Rice has played two tough teams on the road, so playing at Legion Field shouldn't scare them.  Not being able to move the pigskin is what should frighten the Owls.  When forced to pass, Rice has completed only 37.5% of those tosses.  The Blazers have secondary questions, but they won't have to worry about it this week.  UAB is favored by 17, and the teaser should be safe.  Take Watson Brown's troops at -7 or -4.


PiRate Prediction: U A B 31  Rice 12


Kansas State @ Oklahoma


The Wildcats have won their first three games, but their toughest opposition to date has been the weakest Marshall team since the Thundering Herd was a I-AA school.  Oklahoma is due to break out of the funk to some extent.  The week off just might have been a cure for what ails the Sooners.  I don't think OU is about to play up to 2004 standards, but they should be good enough to dispose of KSU.  The Sooners are a 6 ½-point favorite.  I'll take them on a teaser at + 3 ½ or + 6 ½.



PiRates For October 1 SEC Games


There are five games involving Southeastern Conference teams this week.  Arkansas, Georgia, and Kentucky have the week off.  LSU and Tennessee are playing this week with two fewer days to prepare.  For the upbeat Vols, that shouldn't be a problem.  LSU, on the other hand, could be in a major funk and have troubles with their road game.  Then again, their attitudes could lead them to play their best game of the year.  We won't know until it's too late to take advantage of it.


Ole Miss @ Tennessee


The Rebels are fading fast in the Western Division.  Tennessee's defense could possibly shut them out this weekend.  I think Ole Miss will score at least once and possibly twice, but the Rebels don't have the horses to win in Knoxville.  I expect Tennessee's defense to limit Ole Miss to about 70 yards rushing and 160 yards passing.  Look for the Vol offense to enjoy its best rushing production of the season.  Riggs should enjoy a 100-yard day, as UT runs for 200 yards and passes for another 170-200 yards.  The line is 21 points in Tennessee's favor.  The totals number is low at 39.  My PiRate ratings basically agree with these spreads, but I think money can be made here by playing the teasers.  On a 10 or 13-point teaser, I like the totals line.  Go with Over 29 or Over 26.  Tennessee should exceed this total even if Ole Miss scores just once.  Since the Vols rarely slaughter their opposition, Ole Miss should cover with the teaser in their favor.  I recommend playing Ole Miss at +31 or +34.


PiRate Prediction: Tennessee 35  Ole Miss 10


Florida @ Alabama


Can Urban Meyer become the first coach to go undefeated in consecutive years at different I-A schools?  It could happen, but I think the Gators will stumble somewhere this year.  Alabama could be the team to do it.  I expect a low scoring, tight all the way match-up in Tuscaloosa.  Both teams have highly-ranked defenses and excellent quarterbacks.  This game will be decided elsewhere.  Gazing into my crystal ball, I see neither team garnering 300 total yards in this game.  The loser of this game will make the fourth quarter mistake, allowing the other team to ring up the final game-clinching tally of the day.  Which team is the more likely to make that mistake?  Your guess is better than mine.  Florida is a 3 ½-point favorite with the totals line at 48 ½.  Immediately, a totals teaser looks inviting.  Go with Under 58 or Under 61.  Since I think this game will stay close, I would seriously consider playing both sides here.  Therefore, consider playing Florida at +6 ½ or +9 ½ and Alabama at +13 ½ or +16 ½.


PiRate Prediction: Florida 21  Alabama 17


LSU @ Mississippi State


LSU could really lay an egg this week, but can Mississippi State win against a wounded Tiger?  The spread has dropped to 14 in this game, and The Bayou Bengals may not be able to cover that if they play with a dejected attitude.  The Maroon Bullies are still lacking enough firepower to beat LSU playing smash-mouth football.  Another factor is at play here.  LSU has not had a chance to get into their seasonal rhythm having played just two games in four weeks.  The Tigers are now playing on the road just five days after their last game, one which went to overtime.  All this adds up to a high probability that LSU will not bring their "A-game" Saturday.  They will win the game, but it should be closer than expected.  Take LSU in a teaser at -4 or -1.


PiRate Prediction: LSU 24  Mississippi State 10


South Carolina @ Auburn


This game is the hardest SEC game to forecast this week.  Auburn has played four home games and the one decent opponent on the schedule beat them by nine.  South Carolina showed an ability to compete against top-level opposition in a narrow loss to Georgia, yet they couldn't avoid the Crimson Tide stampede.  Which Carolina team will show up this week?  Coach Steve Spurrier ordered running plays 65% of the time last week, and he has told the media to expect more of the same.  Do we call this "fun and run?" Auburn actually yielded 4.7 yards per rush against Western Kentucky, so the Tigers could be vulnerable to the gamecocks' running game.  I cannot envision a defense stacking eight in the box against a Spurrier offense, so USC could have a decent day moving the pig.  I think the game will be won on the other side of the ball.  Auburn will be able to sustain long drives with their running game.  South Carolina won't have an answer, as the War Eagles top 200 yards on the ground.  Auburn is a 13 ½-point favorite, and I like them in a teaser.  Take the Plainsmen at -3 ½ or - ½.


PiRate Prediction: Auburn 28  South Carolina 13


Middle Tennessee @ Vanderbilt


This is not 2001 or 2002.  Don't expect Vanderbilt to come out flat and allow the Blue Raiders to gain confidence and pull off the upset.  This group of Commodores are focused and grounded.  They will not suffer a letdown.  In fact, they could be so up for this game, they could start a little slow.  Dynamite on Jess Neely Drive is ready to explode.  Vandy could very well punish MTSU and blow them off the field.  The Blue Raiders have scored just seven points in each game, while Vandy has quietly scored more points in each successive game.  Could a 42-7 score be in the offing?  I cannot guarantee it, but I can tell you the Commodores will be 5-0 after Saturday night.


Expect Vandy to play their best defensive ball game.  MTSU will find it hard to succeed by running inside and throwing short and wide.  They won't be able to exploit the Commodores' secondary that way.  MTSU hasn't shown an ability to stretch the field vertically, where The Commodores can be defeated. 


Jay Cutler could enjoy another 250+ yard passing night, as the Commodores throw to set up the run.  Look for him to throw deep to Earl Bennett, and the fabulous freshman should finally grab his first long bomb for a 50+ yard gain.  I could see the Goldmen enjoying some success with their special teams.  A long punt return could blow the game open.


The Commodores are 16-point favorites.  That makes the 10 or 13-point teaser possibly the lock of the day.  Play our guys at -6 or -3.  This game will make you happy and erase the pain of 2001 and 2002.  There will be no dropped passes in the end zone this time.  It's time to erase the quote made by our former coach when he told his squad after losing the game that would cost him his job.  We all remember his famous statement, "You boys just don't know how to win."   Well, this edition of Commodores has figured it out.  They might win ugly, but they now really do have fun and expect to win.


PiRate Prediction:  Vanderbilt 28  MTSU 17 Top Stories