Week 7 PiRate Picks

Last Week's Games: The PiRates went 39-14 for the week of October 7, giving them a year-to-date record of 224-69-3 (76.5%) in picking the winning team. A quick glance at a couple dozen computer ratings published on the Internet shows that the PiRates are picking the winner more frequently than greater than 2/3 of them.

PiRate Ratings For Thursday, October 12, 2006
Note: Ratings rounded to nearest whole number
#	Team	   	W	L	Rating
1	Ohio State   	6	0	128
2	California 	5	1	125
3	Michigan 		6	0	124
4	Southern Cal   	5	0	124
5	Texas		5	1	123
6	Clemson		5	1	121
7	Florida		6	0	120
8	Oregon		4	1	119
9	Louisville 	5	0	118
10	L S U		4	2	118
11	Tennessee		5	1	117
12	Wisconsin		5	1	117
13t	West Virginia  	5	0	116
13t	Boise St.		6	0	116
15t	Nebraska		5	1	116
15t	Notre Dame	5	1	116
17	Auburn	 	5	1	116
18	OKlahoma   	3	2	116
19	Penn State	4	2	115
20	Missouri		6	0	113
21t	Arkansas		4	1	113
21t	Iowa		5	1	113
23	Georgia Tech   	5	1	112
24	B Y U		4	2	111
25	Virginia Tech	4	1	110
	SEC PiRate Ratings			
	Florida		6	0	120
	Tennessee		5	1	117
	Georgia		5	1	106
	South Carolina	4	2	105
	Kentucky		3	3	 99
	Vanderbilt	2	4	 97
	L S U		4	2	118
	Auburn		5	1	116
	Arkansas		4	1	113
	Alabama		4	2	106
	Ole Miss		2	4	 92
	Miss. State	1	5	 89
	Future Vandy Opponents			
	Duke		0	5	 83
	PiRates Show Vandy Now Finishing: 0-8/3-9


This Week's Schedule


This is an off week in the SEC.  With the exception of the Auburn-Florida, there are no other marquee games.  Tennessee and South Carolina have the week off, while Mississippi State and Arkansas play Ohio Valley Conference teams.


Nationally, there are a limited number of big games this week, but there are some interesting games on the slate.  The odds are that at least one national contender will lose like Auburn did last week.


Here are the SEC games for the week.


Jacksonville State @ Mississippi State

PiRate Predicts: N/A

Peiser Predicts: The Bulldogs get to find out how the other half lives.


A team that lost to UT-Martin by 10 points should not give any SEC team much fits, right?  Well, Mississippi State isn't up to SEC standards, and the Bulldogs lost to Maine two years ago.  Still, Omarr Conner has too much talent and enough support to churn out 350 yards and 28 points, while the Bulldog defense should hold the Gamecocks to less than 275 yards and 12 points.


SEMO @ Arkansas

PiRate Predicts: N/A

Peiser Predicts: Arkansas blitzes the first of three consecutive patsies prior to heading to South Carolina on November 4.


Until Coach Houston Nutt calls off the hogs, this game will be a huge mismatch.  SEMO has a hard time moving the ball in OVC games, while they are rather weak against the pass and mediocre against the run.  This could be a week where Darren McFadden and Felix Jones both top 100 yards rushing and never see the field after the midway point of the 3rd quarter.  Mitch Mustain will probably attempt about 15 passes, completing 11 for 200+ yards.  Arkansas can win this one by 40 or more if they desire.  The best guess here is they will lead by 28 points some time in the first half.


Ole Miss @ Alabama

PiRate Predicts: Alabama 30  Ole Miss 10

Peiser Predicts: The PiRates are off on this one.  If Duke could hold the Tide down for three quarters, Ole Miss can do so for the game.


I'm going against the PiRates on this one.  I think Alabama is going to have a tough time moving the ball against the Rebels Saturday. Ole Miss may only cross the goal line one time in this game, but I believe the Rebels will continue playing opportunistic defense and keep the winning Alabama margin under 17 points, something like 24-7.


The Crimson Tide finally got their running game going last week against Duke, but the Blue Devils do not have a one-two punch at linebacker like Patrick Willis and Rory Johnson.


Ole Miss is plagued by injuries to its offense.  Dexter McCluster may be coming out of the fog after being put to sleep on the opening kickoff last week.  But, tight end Robert Lane,  tackle David Traxler, and guard Darryl Harris are likely to miss the game.


Kentucky @ L S U

PiRate Predicts: L S U 38  Kentucky 13

Peiser Predicts: Tigers will exploit Wildcat defense and control this game from the outset.


Kentucky fell short at home against South Carolina last week, when the Wildcat offense was held well below its average in both points and yards.  LSU's defense is a step above Carolina's, so considering that and factoring in a change of home field advantage, it looks like Kentucky is going to be fodder for the Bayou Bengals.


On offense, LSU should top 400 yards and do so by going over 200 in both rushing and passing.  That should propel the Tigers to the 40-point range.


Kentucky could possibly be held to 25 yards or less rushing and struggle to gain 150 yards passing.  Since they only scored seven points on Florida with 249 yards gained, the Cats could be held to six, three, or no points on 180 or less total yards.




Florida @ Auburn

PiRate Predicts: Auburn 17  Florida 15

Peiser Predicts:  Florida pulls out a squeaker on the road.


I'm going against the computer on this one (when I go against my own computer rankings, I am wrong more than I am right).  Even though Auburn has not lost back-to-back home games since 1999, I think the Gators are capable of pulling out a close win.  If they happen to win this one, then the odds of a Florida-Arkansas SEC Championship game would be lower than even money. 


Florida has an offense that is difficult for any defense to totally shut down.  LSU and Tennessee did a decent job reducing the Gators' yardage output, but still Urban Meyer's troops topped 20 points in those games.  Auburn is likely to hold the Gators to about 280 to 300 yards, but Florida will find a way to get to 21 points.


Auburn will be facing a defense better than they saw last week from Arkansas and about on par with the LSU defense that held them to a single score.  That does not bode well for the Tigers.  I see them getting a maximum of 300 total yards in this game, and that adds up to less than 21 points.  Thus, Florida should win this one by a small margin.


Vanderbilt @ Georgia

PiRate Predicts: Georgia 28  Vanderbilt 13

Peiser Predicts: Mad Dogs put the bite on the Commodores for big bounce back win.


Vanderbilt has the unenviable task of facing a wounded, cornered group of dogs.  Last week, Georgia gave up 50 points in a game at Sanford Stadium for just the second time ever.  You can bet the stop troops will be more than ready and hungry to go mining for gold.


Vanderbilt dominated Ole Miss everywhere but on the scoreboard last week, and the loss was one of those that historically has driven a stake into the Commodore hearts.  Any realistic long shot chance of getting to six wins went out the window when Vandy turned the ball over all day in Oxford.


The big question marks concerning Vanderbilt are whether Chris Nickson and Brian Stamper can contribute in this game.  Nickson was on his way to a 200 yard passing day and 20+ completions before two injuries forced him to the sidelines.  Stamper makes the entire offensive line better, not just his tackle position.  If he cannot go full speed, it will be tough stopping Georgia's excellent defensive charge.


If you want to know my exact pick in this game, read my game preview tomorrow on VandyMania.  You will need a premium membership to read it and find out something that I think is being overlooked by the public.  Purchase your membership now in time for basketball season.


10 Other Games of Note


Syracuse @ West Virginia

PiRate Predicts: West Virginia 28  Syracuse 3

Peiser Predicts: This game should be closer than expected, but WVU will win.


On paper, this looks like a major blowout game.  West Virginia averaged more than 300 yards rushing with a powerful offensive line and a top-flight back in Steve Slaton.  Syracuse gave up well over 200 yards rushing against Pittsburgh last week.  The Orange have had trouble moving the ball against so-so teams, and now they face a Mountaineer defense that is better than average.


So, what gives?  Syracuse is a team that is improving week-to-week without much fanfare.  Coach Greg Robinson has the SU defense performing better than it has in the last five years.  Add to this the fact that this was just a 15-7 game last year, and it appears to me that West Virginia is going to win this one by less than expected.  I foresee a final score of 27-10.  It's still a healthy margin, but it's nowhere near where the general public believes it will end up.


Minnesota @ Wisconsin

PiRate Predicts: Wisconsin 28  Minnesota 14

Peiser Predicts: Badgers keep Paul Bunyan's Axe for third straight year.


This rivalry for Paul Bunyan's Axe usually is a high-scoring, exciting match.  The weather may play a factor this go around.  It could be cold and wet Saturday. 


Another factor to consider in this game is the strength of schedule of the two teams.  The Badgers and Gophers have both played and lost to Michigan.  Wisconsin's wins have come against Bowling Green, Western Illinois, San Diego State, Indiana, and Northwestern.  Minnesota has played California and Penn State.


For these reasons, I am picking Wisconsin to win by a narrow margin in a game that should be lower scoring than the most recent ones in this series.  Call it a 21-17 win for UW.  The Badger fans will still have a great time getting their organic, whole grain muffins at the Farmer's Market before the game and celebrating on State Street after the game.  As for Minnesota fans, it will be a long drive back for Ole and Lena to their lutefisk and Swedish meatball supper Saturday night.



Nebraska @ Kansas State

PiRate Predicts: Nebraska 24  Kansas State 12

Peiser Predicts: Cornhuskers are on a roll and will pick up a crucial road win.


Kansas State first-year coach Ron Prince has the Wildcats primed to make it back to a bowl for the first time in three years.  Kansas State is 4-2 with three winnable games remaining.  One of those games is not this week.


Nebraska is rolling along at 5-1, with that one loss coming at Southern Cal.  Cornhusker coach Bill Callahan can count his blessings that he is no longer coaching the Oakland Raiders.  He has transformed the former power running team into a capable West Coast offense team.  The defense isn't as tough as the black shirts of the 1990's, but the ‘Huskers have held four of six opponents to 14 points or less.


The Wildcats could keep this one close for a half, but Nebraska has too much offensive firepower.  The Cornhuskers will pull away in the second half and win by two touchdowns or more.





Utah @ Wyoming

PiRate Predicts: Utah 24  Wyoming 21

Peiser Predicts: I totally agree with the computer; this will go down to the wire, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Joe Glenn's Cowboys pull off the upset.


Back on September 13, I predicted that Boise State would have an extremely tough go of it in Laramie playing Wyoming and called for this game to be much closer than expected.  BSU won by just a touchdown, there closest game of the season.


Boise State thoroughly dismantled Utah two weeks ago.  Now, the Utes must venture to Laramie, and it's the Cowboys' homecoming to boot.  You can figure out where I'm going with this.


Wyoming is a team just shy of being quite good.  They are just a couple of quality players shy of being bowl-caliber.  At 2-4, the Cowboys must upset Utah to have any chance of finishing 6-6.


The Utes embarrassed TCU last week to bounce back after getting blown off the field by Boise State.  Utah's weakness is their pass defense.  Any team with an above average passing game has been able to solve their defensive riddle.


Wyoming's passing game borders on exceptional.  Combine a nice home field advantage, and Wyoming should keep this one close.  It could go either way and should be one of the most exciting games of the week.


California @ Washington State

PiRate Predicts: Cal 37  Washington State 24

Peiser Predicts: Cougars are still flying under the radar screen.  This one is set up for WSU to shock the nation, but I think they will come up short at the end.


Washington State took Southern Cal to the final horn and came up just a bit short.  The Cougars have played much better at home than on the road.


California stumbled out of the gate at Tennessee, but ever since, the Bears have looked like the best team on the left coast.  Cal has topped 40 points in every game and averaged 466 yards per game since the fiasco in Knoxville.


The Cougars may start strong in this one, but the Bears will have just a little too much firepower for them.  In a high-scoring affair, I see Cal winning by about 38-34. 


Ohio State @ Michigan State

PiRate Predicts: Ohio State 33  Michigan State 17

Peiser Predicts: John L. Smith's last chance to save his job could be this week.  This is the game that really took his seat to the hot level last year.


Let's take a look back to this game last year when it was played in Columbus.  Michigan State had just lost in overtime to Michigan and came into the game at 4-1.  The Spartans raced out to a 17-7 lead in the second quarter and began a long drive just before the half to put the game out of reach.  With less than 30 seconds to go in the half, Spartan quarterback Drew Stanton was sacked for a five or six yard loss.  The clock continued to run.  MSU had no timeouts remaining, but it was just third down.  Stanton could have spiked the ball to stop the clock and give Coach John L. Smith's squad ample time to set up for the 35 yard field goal attempt.  Instead, MSU hurried their field goal unit on the field while the clock ticked down.  One problem—only 10 Spartan players made it onto the field.  The kick was blocked and Ohio State's Ashton Youboty returned it for a touchdown.  MSU still led 17-14 at the half, but the writing was on the wall.  OSU won the game 35-24, and Coach Smith's seat began to simmer.  Four more losses forced this season to be different.


There has been no difference in 2006, as Michigan State has blown a huge fourth quarter lead against Notre Dame and lost to a weak Illinois team.  The only glimmer of hope for him is if his team can knock off the number one team in the nation.


It won't happen this year because Ohio State is just plain tough on both offense and defense, similar to the 1968 national championship squad.  It may be close for a half, but the Buckeyes will eventually emerge with a 10 to 20 point victory.


Oregon State @ Washington

PiRate Predicts: Washington 27  Oregon State 14

Peiser Predicts: Willingham's Huskies are on their way to a bowl in his second year in Seattle.  This gives them their fifth win.


Tyrone Willingham has resurrected both the Huskies and his career after getting shown the door at Notre Dame.  Washington is off to a 4-2 start and has at least three more games left on the schedule that they should win.  One of those games is this one. 


Oregon State has managed wins over just Eastern Washington and Idaho.  The Beavers have lost to Boise State, Cal, and Washington State.  They haven't been able to move the ball on the ground against the good teams, and that trend should continue this week.


Look for Washington to pick up win number five with a 7-12 point win.


UCLA @ Oregon

PiRate Predicts: Oregon 32  UCLA 13

Peiser Predicts: Bruins are better than that.  This should be a close game, but Ducks should pull it out.



Let me apologize to the Oregon fans for a small snafu with these ratings last week.  Oregon was left out of the ratings, when they should have been rated number five.  My spreadsheet somehow hid the cells of Oregon, Oregon State, and Stanford, and it wasn't noticed until a gentleman from the Beaver State brought it to my attention.  Let me give a shout out to the great Herbal Eddie at HerbPharm in Williams, OR.


The Ducks are in need of a rebound game after having a rough go of it last week.  Cal humiliated them on prime time television.


UCLA coach Karl Dorrell and I share something in common; we both fled Boulder, Colorado.  Dorrell ended up with the better gig in Westwood.  His Bruins were not supposed to be as competitive as they were last year, but they are off to a 4-1 start.  The road from here gets much steeper, as UCLA must still play at Notre Dame and Cal and host Southern Cal in addition to this game.


This will be a successful bounce back game for Oregon.  The Ducks will pass the ball for 300 yards and win in a shootout.  I disagree with the computer here, and think Coach Mike Bellotti's boys will win by something like 38-31.


Arizona State @ Southern Cal

PiRate Predicts: U S C 34  Arizona State 10
Peiser Predicts: Trojans start to pick up some steam after a couple of close calls.


Any talk about Southern Cal not deserving to be ranked in the top four should merely look at what Arkansas did at Auburn last week and then look at what the Trojans did in Fayetteville against the Razorbacks.


Sure, USC isn't as good as they were the last three and a half seasons.  However, they are good enough to make it to the BCS Championship Game in Glendale, Arizona.  The men of Troy will close with Oregon, Cal, Notre Dame, and UCLA, and if they finish the regular season 12-0, there's no way they will be excluded from the title game.


Arizona State had a week off to prepare for this game and lick their wounds from consecutive pastings by Cal and Oregon.  Sun Devil Coach Dirk Koetter needs a signature win to solidify his job status, but I don't see it happening in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.  Their defense is not strong enough to stop USC's offense consistently. 


I predict Southern Cal will top 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing and win this game in a breeze.  Meanwhile, Arizona State will struggle to get 300 total yards and more than 14 points.  I agree with the PiRate computer.  USC will cruise to a three touchdown or better win.



Michigan @ Penn State

PiRate Predicts: Michigan 20  Penn State 17

Peiser Predicts: This is the game of the week.  Michigan is headed into an ambush without one of its big guns.  If any top team falls this week, this will be the most likely one.


The Pirate ratings cannot be adjusted when teams lose key personnel.  Michigan will be playing without star wide out Mario Manningham this week and will still be without tight end Tyler Ecker.  Manningham has 24 receptions for a 22-yard average per catch and nine touchdowns.  The Wolverines cannot replace those numbers.  Adrian Arrington can get open deep, but he is not as talented as Manningham.  Michigan definitely will see a drop in their offensive production.


Penn State isn't as strong as they were last season, but the Nittany Lions are still more than adequate on both sides of the ball.  They could be the first team to hold the Wolverines under 20 points this year.


Michigan has given up 226 passing yards per game since the opener against Vanderbilt.  Offensively, the Wolverines have moved the ball on the ground and through the air.  Take away their key to their vertical passing game, and the offense becomes a little pedestrian.  I don't think the Wolverines can exploit a Joe Pa defense without their top wide receiver.  They can still win the game, but Penn State has a decent shot at the upset.  The PiRate computer says this is the most likely upset for a Top 10 team this week, and it's prediction cannot account for the Manningham injury.




And The Rest

Winner		Loser		Margin
Clemson		Temple		57
Boston College	Va. Tech	 	2
Air Force	Colorado St.	 	6
Pittsburgh	U C F		11
Purdue		Northwestern	 4
Iowa		Indiana		18
N. C. State	Wake Forest	 0
Virginia		Maryland	 	2
S. Florida	N. Carolina	 4
Miami (O)		Buffalo		11
Central Mich.	Ball State	 3
Connecticut	Army		 6
Navy		Rutgers		 5
Missouri		Texas A&M	 	1
Western Mich.	N. Illinois	 7
Tulsa		East Carolina	 6
S M U		Marshall	 	6
Florida State	Duke		24
Kent State	Toledo		 5
Bowling Green	E. Michigan	 8
Oklahoma		Iowa State	21
Hawaii		Fresno St.	 4
Arizona		Stanford	 7
San Jose St.	Utah State	16
U A B		Rice		 5
Illinois		Ohio U		 8
Louisville	Cincinnati	27
Southern Miss.	Houston		 7
Kansas 		Oklahoma St.	 6
Texas Tech	Colorado	 	2
Texas		Baylor		28
Louisiana Tech	Idaho		 4
U T E P		Tulane		15
New Mexico	U N L V		 6
Miami (F)		Fla. Int'l	35
Memphis		Ark. State	 7
Troy		La. Monroe	 7
Boise State	N. Mexico St.	32

VandyMania.com Top Stories