PiRate Picks For November 24-26

Howell Peiser's PiRate system picks this week's SEC and top national college football games. Peiser also gives us a prediction on Saturday's Georgetown-Vanderbilt basketball game.

PiRate Picks For November 24/25/26, 2005
There is still some work to be done by the top two teams before they can hop a flowery float down Orange Grove Blvd. and commandeer it over to Rosemont Avenue and down the hill to that gigantic stadium in Brookside Park.
Should Southern California and/or Texas falter, then Penn State and LSU are waiting impatiently in the wings.  What a way to finish a career if Joe Paterno suddenly finds himself playing for all the marbles.  Alas, the PiRates tell me that he won't get that chance this year.
LSU must first defeat Arkansas before they can make travel arrangements to the Southeastern Conference Championship game.  A loss to the Razorbacks puts Auburn back in the title game for a rematch with Georgia.
Southeastern Conference Games
Florida State @ Florida
This is a battle of teams limping home to the finish line.  Florida State still must be the fodder for Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game after they play their arch-rival.
The Gators are a four-point pick with the totals line relatively low for these two at 49.  I think the best play here is the totals line.  Move it 10 points in both directions in a 10-point teaser and play the middle.  These teams should combine for more than 39 but not more than 59.
As for the outcome, the PiRate rating says Florida is clearly better, so it is a possible play.  Remember though, this game tends to be a hard one to call every year.
PiRate Prediction:  Florida 27  Florida State 17
Georgia @ Georgia Tech
The Bulldogs picked themselves up off the mat last week and did what they had to do; they wiped Kentucky off the field to clinch the East Division title.  Meanwhile, Georgia Tech merely ventured to the Orange Bowl and whipped Miami.  Can you imagine the high both teams are on this week?  This is going to be a barnburner. 
The Bulldogs are favored by 3 ½, with the totals line set at 40.  I think the difference in this game will be Leonard Pope.  He will make the critical third down conversions against the stingers of the Yellow Jackets' pass defense.  Georgia will win the game and beat the spread to boot.
PiRate Prediction: Georgia 24  Georgia Tech 16
Tennessee @ Kentucky
This is the battle to avoid the basement, and the PiRate ratings say the Vols are going to stumble all the way to the bottom.  Factoring in the loss of Rick Clausen, Tennessee will not score enough points to win this game.  Kentucky has a little extra revenge motivation for last year's near miss. 
Tennessee opened as a double-digit favorite, but the line quickly dropped to nine points.  It looks like a steal at nine (totals line is 48).  Not only do I think Kentucky will cover, I think this game is a tossup!  When it is too close to call, I give extra weight to the intangibles, which tilt heavily in the Wildcats' favor.
PiRate Prediction: Kentucky 24  Tennessee 22
Ole Miss @ Mississippi State
Did you hear that the United States Military was about to institute a new form of torture against the terrorist suspects in Gitmo?  Even Donald Rumsfeld thought it was too barbaric, so the prisoners won't be forced to watch the Egg Bowl.  The fans attending this game and staying until the end deserve to have a medal pinned on them when they leave.
The Rebels are a field goal pick with the totals line set at just 36 ½ points.  The safe play here might be to tease the totals line up 10 points and play the under.  I cannot see how either team will top 21 points in this game unless it goes to multiple overtimes. I don't look for either team to top 300 total yards in this game, so it should be a close, low scoring affair that goes down to the final horn.
PiRate Prediction: Ole Miss 16  Mississippi State 14
Arkansas @ L S U
The Razorbacks have recovered in recent weeks to play respectable ball.  Of course, who wouldn't when your last two games were against the Magnolia State members of the league.
LSU defeated the best teams on their schedule (Florida, Alabama, and Auburn) by the slightest of margins.  Those games could have gone the other way.  The Tigers are favored by 17 ½ points with the totals line at 51.  I think this game will be close for quite a long time, and if LSU makes as many mistakes as they made against Vanderbilt earlier this year, their fans might be crying by late Friday afternoon.  I don't think that will happen, but I do think this game will be closer than expected.
PiRate Prediction: L S U 27  Arkansas 17
Other Games
Kent State @ Akron
This Thanksgiving morning game now has real meaning.  An Akron win puts the Zips into the MAC Title game.  You can go ahead and make those reservations now if you are an Akron fan because they are going to zip right past the Golden Flashes.  Akron is favored by 12 ½ with the totals line at 40 ½.  The Zips will cover and then some.
PiRate Prediction: Akron 35  Kent State 14
Arizona @ Arizona State
This could be the decisive game in Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter's tenure in Tempe.  If he loses this game, he could be out of work.  ASU must win to become bowl eligible.  While Arizona is clearly the weaker team, the Wildcats have put the bite on the Sun Devils before when they weren't expected to compete.
State is a 9 ½ point favorite in this game with the totals line set at 60.  What makes this game so hard to pick is the fact that Arizona is one of the more Jekyll and Hyde teams in the land.  If the good team shows up, this one is a tossup.  If the stinker team shows up, then the Sun Devils will blow them off the field.  Guessing that the Wildcats will be pumped for their arch-rival, I believe the good Arizona team will take the field Friday.  They will meet a team playing to save their coach's job.
PiRate Prediction: Arizona State 35  Arizona 28
Nebraska @ Colorado
It's hard to believe it's been four years since I stood on the sideline at Folsom Field watching the Buffaloes stampede the number one team in the land 62-36.  On the Cornhuskers' last visit to Boulder, they sent Coach Frank Solich off a winner.
Colorado hasn't wrapped up the North Division just yet.  They must beat Nebraska or hope Kansas can knock off Iowa State.  The Buffs have been perfect at home this year, and I cannot see how they can lose their home finale.
Nebraska is limping into this game, and I don't believe they will cover the 14-point spread (totals of 47 ½) the lines makers have set.  Year two of the Bill Callahan experiment is about to receive another D-.  One more year with the same result could be the end of the road for the coach and his A.D.
PiRate Prediction: Colorado 38  Nebraska 21
Iowa State @ Kansas
By the time this game kicks off Saturday, Iowa State will know whether they are playing for a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game.  If Colorado loses to Nebraska, the Cyclones can win the North Title by defeating the Jayhawks. 
Kansas has a little something to play for as well.  They currently sit at 5-5, so a win will put them in a bowl game. 
Iowa State is hot, having destroyed four consecutive conference opponents.  They can play themselves into a better bowl with a win even if they don't make it to the title game.  ISU is favored by just three points with the totals line at 43.  Go with the hot team even if the game doesn't have title implications.
PiRate Prediction: Iowa State 37  Kansas 28
Marshall @ Memphis
Memphis must win this game to become bowl eligible.  Marshall was eliminated from bowl consideration last week.  Memphis is favored by 11 ½ with the totals line at 48 ½.  If the Tigers do win this game, it will be by single digits.
Memphis is one dimensional without a legitimate passing game.  Even though Marshall doesn't have an exceptional run defense, they will be able to cheat their secondary up a little this week.  What it means is the Tigers will have to rely on long, time-consuming drives to plod their way to pay dirt.  I see this game being lower scoring than expected.
PiRate Prediction: Memphis 24  Marshall 17
Maryland @ North Carolina State
The winner of this game may be rewarded with a long trip west to the field of blue in Boise, while the loser of this game will put their pads away until spring.  For both teams, it has been a second consecutive disappointing season.  The Wolfpack are favored by three with the totals line on the low side at 44.
I don't think either team has the talent to win in a breeze, but I do think the home team will win this game thanks to a score set up by their defense.  Now, how long of a drive is it from Raleigh to Boise?
PiRate Prediction: N. C. State 23  Maryland 20
The Game of the Week
Texas @ Texas A&M
Is this the best Longhorn team since the 1969 edition ran the wishbone to near perfection and won the national title?  Without a doubt, it is.  The Longhorns haven't been this good since 1941.  It is rare for one team to have the clear-cut best offensive line and best defensive line in the nation.  Maybe Nebraska in 1971 or Army in 1944 and 1945 could make that statement.
What's with the Cotton Bowl teams of last year?  Next to Tennessee, Texas A&M is the most disappointing squad in the nation.  The Aggies were supposed to contend for the Big 12 title, and they now must pull off the upset of the year to finish 6-5. 
The 12th man at Kyle Field needs to be a steamroller this week because the Aggies fail to match up well with Texas in any respect.  A&M couldn't come within six touchdowns of the Longhorns if the name on their jerseys said Vermont.
Can Texas A&M find the spirit to play well above their normal capabilities and become fast friends with the fans in Happy Valley, Pennsylvania?  Is Texas capable of losing to anyone that doesn't wear a Trojan on their helmets?  Well, that great unbeatable Longhorn team of 1941 actually lost a game and tied another.  This isn't 1941, and Texas will win by at least 20 points.
The line for this Friday game is 27 ½ points and the totals line is high at 70.  I'd lay off both unless you are going to play a teaser.  Texas should cover at 17 ½, and there is no way 80 points will be scored.
PiRate Prediction: Texas 49  Texas A&M 20
Basketball Special
My official basketball coverage begins in earnest next week, but Vanderbilt has an important game this Saturday afternoon at Georgetown.
I do not have a PiRate rating system for college basketball.  I rely on several other ratings, some of which are available over the Internet and some of which are not available to the public without a subscription.  What I plan to do is to find the average of these ratings.  Once I establish which ones are more accurate than the others, I will begin to weight the mean in favor of the more accurate ratings; all the ratings will still be utilized.
For Saturday's games, the seven power ratings I have averaged (equally weighted) shows:
Georgetown to win by 4 points
Based on what I think a four-point spread would look like, my predicted score is:
Georgetown 66  Vanderbilt 62

VandyMania.com Top Stories