THE LOAF: WEEK 10 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICKS

STAFF WRITER: MICHAEL BROWN

I’ve watched a lot of college football in my life, probably more than I’d like to admit. You could call it an obsession, really. But it’s time to put that obsession to the test, in the form of The Loaf, my weekly college football picks (the name is derived from all the bread we will be getting). We’re starting this in Week 10, but it’s better late than never.

I figured I would keep it around 6 or 7 picks each week, nothing too crazy. I actually struggled getting there this week, but I eventually ended up with 7 solid plays.

The first one I felt fairly strong on was #5 Michigan (-10) vs #14 Penn State. There isn’t a ton of reasoning to this one, really. Michigan is just a lot better than Penn State. Penn State is a fringe top-20 team and it’s ranked 14th. Michigan also has just about everything to play for: A Big Ten Championship, a College Football Playoff appearance, etc. It has to win if it wants to keep those hopes alive. Penn State’s season somewhat ran off the track after losses to Ohio State and Michigan State. Plus, the idea of an injured Trace McSorley in the Big House against this Michigan defense doesn’t necessarily encourage me, regarding Penn State’s chances. I could see this one going very similar to Michigan’s blowout of Wisconsin a few weeks ago. My only concern would be Michigan’s ability to score, but I think they might even score a defensive touchdown in this game, so it shouldn’t be a huge problem. Prediction: Michigan 34, Penn State 17

shea patterson

Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson looking to run in season-opening loss to Notre Dame. The Wolverines have won 7 in a row since then – PHOTO CREDIT – wolverinearmy

            I’m also liking Kansas State (+9.5) at TCU. This number really seems too high to me. Kansas State isn’t a good team whatsoever, but TCU is a complete disaster. I’m just not sure how you can lose to Kansas and then turn right around and be favored by greater than a touchdown against a conference opponent. There’s always the possibility that ol’ Gary tore into the Frogs this week, but I don’t know how much that would even help. Kansas State definitely hasn’t been impressive this season, but Bill Snyder sure sounds formidable on a sleepy Saturday morning in Fort Worth with the stadium maybe 60 percent full. “You have to admire the man and what’s been his life,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said of Bill Snyder. The under wouldn’t be bad in this game either, neither team’s offense has looked even mediocre recently. I’m not sure if Kansas State wins this game outright, but it certainly could. Prediction: TCU 24, Kansas State 20

            Next up in the loaf we have #1 Alabama at #3 LSU (UNDER 53.5). I saw this number at first and thought it was a typo. How do we have a number this high in a top-5 Alabama-LSU matchup? Yes, Alabama’s offense this season with Tua Tagovailoa under center has been lethal. They’re putting up video game-type numbers. But you can’t expect them to be that good on a Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Tagovailoa hasn’t played in a 4th quarter yet this season, and you have to imagine he will against LSU.

tua

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been brilliant this season, and will surely provide a challenge for the LSU defense – PHOTO CREDIT – Fansided

He’s still a young kid, and you can’t rule out to possibility of some nerves getting to him, even if his past doesn’t indicate there is a very good chance of that happening. He will have to throw the ball, though. It’s hard to run the ball against this LSU front 7. You can also look for the Tide to be somewhat conservative early. This will easily be the most hostile environment Tagovailoa has played in since he came to Alabama. In terms of the LSU offense, it’s not hard to see why they won’t score much. Joe Burrow is a very average quarterback when he’s at his best, and he’ll be going against arguably the best overall defense in college football. LSU will struggle to move the ball against Alabama, as it has over the recent years. Prediction: Alabama 34, LSU 14

            We stay in the SEC as we go back to another favorite: I really like #6 Georgia (-8.5) at #9 Kentucky. If I had to pick one of these I liked the most this week, this would be it. I feel like Georgia is more-than-significantly better than Kentucky, certainly more than 9.5 points better. Don’t get me wrong, Kentucky has had a great season, easily one of its best in recent memory. The win over Florida was huge for their program, and is still impressive considering how good Florida has looked. With that said, the Wildcats’ offense has been hard to watch as of recently. Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson just cannot throw the ball. Kentucky has looked pretty average the last couple of weeks too. It trailed Missouri 14-3 with 5:03 left in the game, and managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, needing a bogus pass interference penalty to keep them in the game, and ultimately won 15-14 on the final play. Georgia, on the other hand, played one of its best games of the year last week against Florida. UGA coach Kirby Smart said of the Kentucky game, “We’re excited about this game. Obviously there’s a lot at stake. I think our kids and players understand that. I got a lot of respect for Mark [Stoops] and the job he’s done.” The Bulldogs definitely have superior talent, and I would say they have superior coaching. Georgia’s defense is built to stop Kentucky’s run-heavy offense. With the way Kentucky has been “throwing” the ball, Georgia can just stack the box, eliminate Benny Snell, and force Wilson to air it out. Also of note, Kentucky has scored just 43 points in its last 14 quarters. Meanwhile, Georgia has won 18 in a row when it has held opponents to less than 21 points. I know Kentucky’s defense is great, and I know it’ll be a raucous atmosphere as Commonwealth Stadium (I refuse to call it Kroger Field), but the matchup, trends, and overall eye test seem to favor Georgia by a lot. Prediction: Georgia 37, Kentucky 17

            We’ve got one more total play this week, Air Force at Army (UNDER 45.5). This one is almost a layup. 45.5 points in a service academy game is insanity. You know the story. Option, option, option, and some more option. These teams move at a slow, methodical pace. It’s a rivalry game. The Commander-In-Chief’s trophy is very much in-play here with Navy having a poor season thus far. Early reports call for showers to begin a chilly afternoon in West Point. This game will be messy, not many points at all will be scored. These defenses are used to going against each other’s offense in practice each week. All signs point towards the under, so that’s where I think this game is headed; it’s just logical. Coming into this game, the under is 24-6-1 in the last 31 games between Army, Air Force, and Navy. It’s real hard to go against that trend. Prediction: Army 24, Air Force 13

oklahoma-army

Army’s triple option is always what gets most of the attention, but its defense is solid, too. They held a vaunted Oklahoma offense to just 28 points – PHOTO CREDIT – CBS Sports

            I’m really nervous about this one, and not really confident in it, but I’m thinking Texas Tech (+13.5) vs #7 Oklahoma. This one was really a gut feeling, and I’m not sure how to feel about Texas Tech. Under the leadership of Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma has become the most fun offense to watch in college football. He’s no Baker Mayfield, but Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray is still incredible. Murray was recruited heavily out of high school by Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, and said earlier this week, “I was always a fan of [Kingsbury] and what he can do.” Oklahoma’s defense, meanwhile, has shown signs of life after the firing of defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, but it’s still quite vulnerable. Overall, the Sooners are just so great. After all is said is done, there’s a good chance we’ll see Oklahoma hoisting another Big 12 Championship trophy at 12-1, hoping for its second consecutive berth in the College Football Playoff. However, Texas Tech isn’t that bad. They’re a great offensive team, and the defensive unit is not nearly as embarrassing as it has been in recent years. It’s a blackout, a night game in Lubbock. I’m probably letting that factor into my decision more than it should, but, behind a rambunctious crowd and an improved defense, I think Texas Tech will be able to score enough to keep it close. Prediction: Oklahoma 45, Texas Tech 35

            We’re gonna cap off The Loaf this week with an under-the-radar game: I like FIU (-2.5) vs FAU. There are a few factors that go into this one. FIU is a pretty good team, it’s 6-2 with the only losses coming against Power 5 foes Indiana and Miami (FL). Its wins aren’t exactly what you would call “quality,” but the Panthers have won 4 in a row, and 6 of their last 7 games. You have to like their chances in the Shula Bowl at home.

Lane-Kiffin

FAU head coach Lane Kiffin probably was hoping to score another Power 5 job after one season at FAU, but he’s still riding it out in Boca Raton – PHOTO CREDIT – Football Scoop

On the other side of the field, you see a very underwhelming FAU team led by Lane Kiffin, who still remains a prominent meme in the college football world. Kiffin said of the FAU-FIU rivalry, “Rivalries, especially when they’re close like this, you know, almost the same city, like UCLA-USC — different than maybe rivalries like Alabama-Tennessee — when these kids have played each other so much and there’s so many local kids, I think that adds to it.” FAU entered the season with all kinds of hype, potentially looking to dethrone UCF as the Group of 5’s representative in the New Year’s Six. The Owls, though, are 3-5, have lost 4 of their last 5, and Kiffin doesn’t appear to want to be there at all. College football is, more often than not, about who wants it more, and right now FAU just doesn’t want it. It’s safe to say FIU will want this game, as it still has a lot to play for. FIU will be looking to remain undefeated in CUSA play, and hopes to get one step closer to a CUSA East Division title, and I think it will. Prediction: FIU 35, FAU 24

So, that’s what I’ve got for the inaugural edition of The Loaf. Here’s to starting off north of .500.

As always, LET’S GET THIS TOA$$$$T

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