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College Capper: Handicapping Week 12

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

The split between the BCS bashers and BCS supporters, all three of them, is about to explode, and I canít wait to see it. Contrary to what you might think, I am not in fact a full supporter of the current system. I think college football nation would be best served with a plus-one system. Itís the only way to keep the integrity of the regular season while giving the most deserving teams a chance to win the title on the field. This year is shaping up as a perfect test case as well as there is bound to be at least one deserving team left on the sidelines, if not two.

Back to the present, TCU is probably pushing for a plus one option to be added this season as the Horned Frogs took a huge hit last week after they barely held on for a five-point win over San Diego State at home. Adding to the Horned Frogs misery was the debacle in South Bend where Utah was embarrassed by a powerless Notre Dame squad. Utah appeared to be TCUís signature win prior to last week, but after two consecutive no-shows, the Utes can hardly be considered as any teamís signature win this season. Boise State meanwhile did what it always does against inferior opponents, it took care of business.

With only a few games left to prove their worth, the Boise State Broncos appear to have the inside track to the second spot in the national title game Ė if Oregon or Auburn lose, which is starting to look more unlikely as the weeks go on.

The avoid list:

Texas: I think I can pull the ĎHorns, theyíve packed it in, no need to worry about this team finding any sort of fight for the remainder of the season.

On the radar:

USC: USC appears to be legit, I still use the word ďappearsĒ because I canít get that Oregon beat down out of my head, especially after California proved last week that Oregon can indeed be slowed by a decent defense.

Weekly recap:

Record: 9-8

Record YTD: 73-66-1

Units: -1.1

Units YTD: +0.6

Best Win: South Carolina: I wasnít supremely confident in this pick heading into last Saturday, but the Gamecocks put my fears to rest early on as they dominated Florida from the onset.

Worst Loss: West Virginia Over: I could have easily chosen Missouri as they were up 24 points with less than 10 minutes remaining, and failed to cover the 12-point line, but this game was more painful. The score was 37-10 after three quarters, yes, I needed only one point in the final 15 minutes to hit the over, and no, neither team could muster a point.

Weekly Rant:

For the life of me, I canít understand any discussion involving whether to sit Cam Newton. Yes, I understand the allegations and their seriousness and if proven out, Auburn and Mr. Newton are in a load of trouble, but what good would sitting Newton do at this point?

Auburn is all in with Newton and the 2010 squad. The chips are already in the center of the table, itís just a matter of whether they are bluffing or they have a monster hand, but you donít fold at this point, you play to the end, with the cards you have. Sitting Newton would not accomplish anything. If the allegations are true, the NCAA would not be the least bit satisfied with a preemptive benching of Newton, the season as a whole would be vacated. Auburn needs to focus on winning games and whatever happens with the Newton situation, happens, thereís nothing they can do now.

As for the Heisman question, Iíll go back to the precedent set by the vacated Bush Heisman. At the time, I thought the proper action was to give the trophy to the runner-up, after all, if Bush was ineligible to play that entire season, then in essence, he didnít exist, which would leave Vince Young as the top collegiate player in the land. If the Heisman committee had chosen that road, there wouldnít be as much consternation about the upcoming vote. Heisman voters will have to consider the allegations against Newton a month from now knowing full well that if they vote for Newton, it could be a wasted vote, but if the precedent were set to give the trophy to the runner-up, then any hesitation to vote for Newton would be thrown out the window. Of course, Heisman voters would have to pay more attention to their second-place choice, but heck, itís a privilege to be one of the voting members, the least they can do is put a little time into it.

Capper Angle:

The phrase, ďbowl eligibleĒ gets tossed around a lot this time of year, and while itís certainly something to consider, whether or not a team is attempting to become bowl eligible, itís not the only factor that determines the outcome of a game.

As the Saturday slate gets smaller and smaller, more focus is put on the teams with games remaining and as such, youíll hear that this team needs a win to become bowl eligible, or that team needs a win to play on New Yearís Day. I donít want to diminish the importance of such goals and the motivation that comes along with them, but I would advise against picking any team based on that factor alone.

If, when looking at a match-up you feel itís pretty even, then sure, use the bowl motivation to give an edge to one side, but donít assume that because one team has a bowl on the line, that the other will come out with no motivation.

You may have noticed I fell for this trap last week when I selected Virginia to win at home against Maryland. Iíll admit, I was watching the highlights after the Virginia-Miami game a few weeks back and sure enough, someone mentioned that Virginia was now looking ahead to a bowl game Ė if they could win another game or two. It goes without saying that more went into the Virginia pick last week than just the mention of a bowl, but I have to admit, the comment I heard started me down the Cavalier path and in hindsight, perhaps steered me to that side.

Week Thirteen:

Thursday Night:

UCLA at Washington: Each of these teams have been all over the map this year, but this game is being played in Washington and if Locker plays, which Iím assuming he will, then the advantage goes to the Huskies.

Side: Washington -2.5 (1)


Fresno State at Boise State: Iíve come to expect huge lines when Boise State is at home, but this line shocked me. Now, Iím not saying that Boise State canít cover this number, Iíve seen plenty of good teams get pounded on the blue turf and while I donít expect the Broncos to let up in the spotlight, I think this line is just too much.

Side: Fresno State +30.5 (1)


Penn State at Indiana: Which team is more likely to play with more fire, a depressed team or an embarrassed team? My guess is the embarrassed team. I am not sure what happened last week in Wisconsin, but Indiana is not as bad as it appeared last week. The Hoosiers are more than capable of keeping up with an average Penn State squad at home.

Side: Indiana +10 (1)

Purdue at Michigan State: If you saw the final score last week, you would assume that Purdue played a good game against Michigan last week, but thatís not the case. Purdue is getting worse as the season goes along and itís going to be a long day in East Lansing on Saturday. Michigan State has itís eyes on the Big-ten title and there no way they are going to slip up in this spot.

Side: Michigan State -20.5 (2)

Wisconsin at Michigan: Michiganís offense is bound to cause some issues for the Wisconsin defense, but I donít see how in the world the Wolverine defense can even slow down the Badger offense. I expect this game to look similar to the Michigan-Illinois game from two weeks ago, except the Badgers will actually stop the Wolverines a handful of times throughout the day.

Side: Wisconsin -4.5 (1)
Total: Over 67 (1)

NC State at North Carolina: All things considered, the Tar Heels have really outperformed expectations this season. After suffering huge personnel hits early on, no one would have blamed them for packing it in, but theyíve done just the opposite. An in-state rival comes to town this week and I expect the Tar Heels to be jacked-up for this game.

Side: North Carolina -2.5 (1)

Stanford at California: Itís hard to imagine the Cal Bears failing to get up for this rivalry match-up, but after last weekís effort I certainly wouldnít be shocked if they laid an egg this week. Cal put everything on the line last week and came up just short against the Oregon Ducks, itís going to be difficult to put up a similar effort this week. Stanford on the other hand escaped with a win even though it didnít play very well. Perfect storm brewing for a Stanford blowout this week.

Side: Stanford -6.5 (1)

Notre Dame at Army: Army needs this win to become bowl eligible and no, thatís not the only reason I like the Black Knight here. Notre Dame is coming off a very nice victory last week, but starting an untested QB at home is much different than starting one of the road and prior to last week, it appear that Notre Dame was capable of laying such a big number on the road and Iím not going to let one good performance against a down and out Utah team sway me on the that.

Side: Army +8.5 (1)

Oklahoma at Baylor: The Sooners are a power-house at home, but on the road, they are mere mortals. Baylor suffered a tough defeat at home last week to the Texas A&M Aggies, but I have a feeling the Bears will bounce back this week.

Side: Baylor +7.5 (1)
Total: Over 63.5 (1)

Nebraska at Texas A&M: If there is such a thing as defense in college football, we should see it this week in College Station. The Aggies turn around has been based largely on their defense and Nebraska, well, we all know the Huskers can play defense.

Total: Under 54.5 (1)