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College Capper: Nitany Lions Ready to Roar

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.

It took six weeks, but the inevitable weather factor finally reared its ugly head last week. As the calendar moves from September to October, we get a better feel for how teams across the country will play on a weekly basis, but we also must deal with bad weather.

Last week it affected a couple games in Texas, games which looked like great overs earlier in the week.

At first glance, the two games I selected the over, East Carolina at Houston and Iowa State at Baylor, looked like great spots for a lot of points. But late Friday night I checked the weather and, sure enough, rain and wind were in the forecast. Funny thing is, I'm not even sure if weather played a factor in those games, but the forecast was enough to give me pause.

That's the frustrating part about the weather. There's no way to tell if the forecast will be correct, and even if it is, there's no way to tell how much of an impact it will have. Let's say the weather was a factor last week at those two sites. It certainly didn't have an effect on three of the four teams that played - only East Carolina failed to put up points.

So, what's the takeaway? Keep an eye on the line. If the weather is truly awful, the line will move lower. If not, the line will hold steady. If the line holds steady, stick with your initial assessment.

One more thing to keep in mind when reading this article. It's hard enough trying to factor in the weather a few hours before gametime, factoring it in a few days before game time is just about impossible. As always, check the weather and the line movement on any over/under calls suggested in this piece.

A frustrating week after it looked promising with wins Thursday and Friday and even into Saturday, but things fell apart late Saturday, and I failed to hit the .500 mark last week. Special thanks to the California offense, which failed on seven goal-to-go attempts late in the fourth quarter and added in a dropped touchdown catch with no time on the clock. Let's just say that anyone who backed Oregon last Thursday felt very fortunate after that game.


Cream of the Crop
(Week: 2-3-0/Season: 17-20-0)


Georgia Tech at Virginia:
Georgia Tech laid an egg last week against Maryland, but the Yellow Jackets still came away with the win. That win kept them in a small group of undefeated teams, yet they failed to crack the top-10. That's what happens when you beat teams like Maryland by five points at home. In fact, the ‘Jackets have struggled to put away their past three opponents, which is the main reason behind their ranking. If they want to be taken seriously, they'll need to lay a beating on Virginia this week, which they will.

Side: Georgia Tech -7.5

South Carolina at Mississippi State:
This is precisely the kind of game that MSU can handle, but I don't like what I've seen from the Bulldogs over the past month and I think they come up short here again. South Carolina on the other could be ready to make a nice run to the end of the season now that the Stephen Garcia era is finally over.

Side: South Carolina -2.5

Arizona State at Oregon:
I've seen plenty of ASU this season and while I think the Sun Devils have some potential, I don't think they are ready to step up in this spot. Can they keep it close? Possibly, they've got some weapons on offense, but I wouldn't bet on it. Oregon is just too scary to fade at home. I think the over looks like a good play here as the Oregon defense is not what it was last year, but the offense is still humming. The loss of James hurts, but just like any top program in the country, the Ducks have plenty of quality reserves just waiting for their chance.

Total: Over 65.5

LSU at Tennessee:
Remember when I said that Florida might not score last week against LSU? Well, I was almost correct. This week looks eerily similar as for the second consecutive week, LSU will face a back-up QB. This week however, the team the Tigers face looks to be in more trouble as Tennessee is not ready to go to battle without Tyler Bray. The only way this one stays within the number is if LSU has a let down, but I don't see it.

Side: LSU -16

Best of the Rest:
(Week: 3-3-0/Season: 24-19-0)


Purdue at Penn State:
Perhaps the Nittany Lions are due for a break-out game, or maybe they are due to get upset at home. Whatever the case, they are 12-point favorites and the total is set at 39. That doesn't leave much room for scoring on the Boilermakers side, but I think Purdue finds a way to score just enough to stay inside the number here.

Side: Purdue +12

Iowa State at Missouri:
Remember when ISU looked like a good team earlier this year? Well, we've since discovered that Connecticut is not good and Iowa isn't much better, so those early-season wins don't look as good now. Since those wins, ISU has dropped two consecutive games by 23 points each. Missouri is off to a slow start, but the Tigers' schedule has played a big role in that. They started the Big-12 season at Oklahoma, then traveled to Manhattan Kansas to play an up and coming KSU team. Missouri has been looking for a spot where it can unleash its offense and this looks to be it. Look for the Tigers to release their collective frustration on the Cyclones this week.

Side: Missouri -14.5

Utah at Pittsburgh:
Pittsburgh looked like the cream of the crop in the Big East just two weeks ago when the Panthers destroyed a decent USF team, but what did they do with that momentum? Like any good team from the Big East, they failed to capitalize. They return home this week with their tails between their legs looking to take out some frustration on their nest opponent. The good news for the Panthers is a horrible Utah team comes to town this week and a bad season is only going to get worse for the Utes this week.

Side: Pittsburgh -7

Oklahoma at Kansas:
Expect a slight let down this week from Oklahoma, but not so much that this one will be close. The let down will likely come on the defensive side of the ball as the Sooners now that full intensity will not be needed this week against a brutal Jayhawk team. The Sooner offense will take this opportunity to pad their already gaudy stats.

Total: Over 71.5

Oklahoma State at Texas:
This game should look similar to the OU-Texas game from last week with one exception, Texas should be able to find the end zone a few more times. The ‘Horns have no shot at slowing down a potent OSU attack, but at home, their offense should move the ball more effectively.

Total: Over 64

Northwestern at Iowa:
The Wildcats really blew a great opportunity last week against the Wolverines, but they are a scrappy bunch and I don't think they'll let that loss linger. Iowa is struggling this season and although this looks like a spot where the Hawkeyes can turn their season around, I expect them to continue to struggle.

Side: Northwestern +6.5

PASSing thoughts:
(Week: 2-3-0/Season: 19-14-2)


USC at California:
The Bears didn't look like world-beaters last week at Oregon, but not many teams do. This week, at home, they'll look like a brand new team and they should take care of business against an average-at-best USC team.

Side: Cal +3


Ohio State at Illinois:
Pride has to kick in at some point. After last week's debacle, expect the Buckeyes to come out on fire and show that Illinois is not ready for prime time.

Side: OSU +4

Florida at Auburn:
Interesting line here. Florida, without its top QB heads into Auburn this week as a 2-point favorite. I wonder how the Tigers will react to that?

Side: Auburn +2

East Carolina at Memphis:
Memphis could be the worst team in the country right now, but the Tigers are at home getting 16-points against an East Carolina team that couldn't find the end zone at Houston last week. A Houston team that surrendering an average of over 33 points per game to FBS teams.

Side: Memphis +16