RotoWire Partners

College Capper: Picking Games for Week 11

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.

As much as I wanted to focus on the play between the lines this week, it's pretty much impossible to ignore the elephant in the room that is Penn State.

I can honestly say that I've never witnessed anything like this in my lifetime. There have been scandals involving football programs since the beginning of time, but never with so many unbelievable aspects.

It's not just about what happened at Penn State, it's about what didn't happen and the people involved.

Have there been seedy incidents involving those within a college football program before - yes, but they rarely involved kids, and by kids I am talking about actual kids, not the kids that play football every Saturday.

If what is alleged to have happened with the former Penn State coordinator had happened anywhere else, even some nondescript MAC school, it would have been big news, but for this to occur at Penn State, under Joe Pa's watch, well that just makes your head explode.

I'm not here to make any judgments on this case, the public and the talking heads have taken care of that already. But I will say I hope those who rallied for Joe Paterno on Tuesday night honestly believe he handled the situation properly, rather than supporting him just because they want their team and their program to return to normalcy.

No matter how this shakes out, the normalcy that the Penn State fans have been used to for more than 40 years no longer exists. Normalcy now consists of a stained program and a stained legacy.

Now for some good news, another winning week! Sounds kind of hollow, I know, but after all, that is what I get paid for - just to clarify, I get paid to pick games, not win them, that could potentially be a disaster. Anyhow, special thanks to the folks who play football in Kansas. Two easy wins from Kansas State and Kansas last week. The lowlight was a straight-up loss from West Virginia, which was nearly a two-touchdown favorite.

Week 11

Cream of the Crop:
(Week: 3-3-0/Season: 27-31-0)


Houston at Tulane:
The Green Wave surrender 36 points per games. Only once this season have they surrendered less than 30 points, and let's be honest, they're not exactly up against stiff competition in the gold old C-USA. Houston will score at least 50 in this game, more likely closer to 60. So the question is whether Tulane put up 10-14 points. Considering Houston still has many questions on the defensive side of the ball, I don't see why not.

Total: Over 71.5

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech:
Last time out, Georgia Tech handled possibly the best team from the ACC in Clemson, so you'd think it could handle a test from the second-best team in the ACC. However, Georgia Tech often has struggled under Paul Johnson when expectations are high. And after the win over Clemson, people are starting to believe again, except for me that is. Also, a tough break for the Yellow Jackets here as the Hokies come in off a bye, which gives them an extra week to prepare for the Jackets' unique offense.

Side: Virginia Tech -1

TCU at Boise State:
This is it; the last chance for the Broncos to impress voters, and the only way that is going to happen is with a blowout win over TCU this week. Boise State has not been the same team this season for some reason. The Broncos have had trouble separating from some poor teams, but I think that had more to do with a lack of focus than anything else. With the eyes of the nation upon them this week, expect to see the Broncos best effort since their Week 1 win at Georgia.

Side: Boise State -15

Nebraska at Penn State:
Full disclosure, I liked Nebraska before everything fell apart at Penn State this week. And for those cynics out there, yes, the line was out Monday morning and at that time, the situation at Penn State was still developing. Anyhow, I can't imagine how the players at Penn State can focus on the task at hand this week knowing their program as they knew it no longer exists. Recruits are leaving in droves and the next thing to happen will be transfers of current players. My guess is the players have spent more time this week researching their next move rather than their next opponent.

Side: Nebraska -3.5

Oklahoma State at Texas Tech:
It's doubtful the Cowboys will take anyone lightly after last week, let alone the team that knocked off their rival a couple weeks ago, but I'm not sure it will matter as Texas Tech might just have what it takes to put a scare into the other team from Oklahoma. Sure, the loss to Iowa State was inexcusable, but that was the week following the program's biggest win ever.

Side: Texas Tech +17.5

Oregon at Stanford:
I am leaning toward the Cardinal here, only because they were able to give Oregon all it wanted last year in Eugene. But the Ducks look like a team on a mission, and I don't want to mess with them. As such, I'll take the over as I don't see either team having much defensive success this week.

Total: Over 66

Best of the Rest:
(Week: 3-3-0/Season: 35-34-1)


Rice at Northwestern:
The Wildcats might not be as sharp as they were last week at Nebraska, but that might play to our benefit here as the Owls are capable of putting some points on the board this week. Let's hope the Cats offense continues it's roll of late.

Total: Over 67

Texas A&M at Kansas State:
Love what I saw from Kansas State last week. After a demoralizing loss the week prior to Oklahoma, it would have been easy to crawl into the fetal position and let Oklahoma State have its way, but that's not what happened. KSU played hard until the final seconds and actually had a good chance to send the game to overtime. The only question this week is whether they can bounce back from two tough, albeit much different, losses.

Side: KSU +4.5

Baylor at Kansas:
The Jayhawks played tough last week at Iowa State but came up just short. I'm sure they'll play hard once again this week in the hopes that they can somehow get a conference win, but the fact of the matter is, they aren't equipped to stop RG III and the Baylor offense.

Side: Baylor -20

Texas at Missouri:
Texas appears to be getting better each week, but the Longhorns haven't exactly faced the stiffest competition the last month. This will be a true test to see where they are, and, unfortunately, I think we are going to find out that they haven't come all that far since their blowout loss at the hands of Oklahoma.

Side: Missouri +1

Michigan State at Iowa:
I whiffed on my over prediction last week in the Iowa game, but I'm stepping up to the plate to take another swing this week. The total is in the mid-40s, and I'm still not sold on the Hawkeyes defense, so the over looks like the play. Not to mention, the MSU defense surrendered 24 points to Minnesota last week - Minnesota!

Total: Over 46.5

Wisconsin at Minnesota: The Badgers look to have regrouped after consecutive and with a suddenly hot Minnesota team up next, I don't see them looking past the Gophers in this spot, which is bad news for the Gophers. Minnesota has played well the past two weeks, but I feel they've benefitted from the surprise angle in those match-ups. That will no longer be in play after almost winning in East Lansing last week.

Side: Wisconsin -27

PASSing thoughts:
(Week: 3-1-0/Season: 28-25-2)


South Florida at Syracuse:
I've hit a little rut when it comes to the Big East. Perhaps it's because teams in that conference stink. You simply cannot trust a single squad in the entire conference to do what it should. Take South Florida, for example. When last near the top of the conference, the Bulls made a trip to Pittsburgh and got destroyed. That same Pittsburgh team took that momentum and stunk up the joint the following month. Syracuse has lost two in a row since beating West Virginia on a Friday night a few weeks back. So, you'd think the Orange are on their way back down to the cellar, but that's not how it works in this conference. Syracuse, back at home, will win this game.

Side: Syracuse +3.5


Pittsburgh at Louisville:
I'm going all-in on my theory here, which dictates that the flavor of the week, Louisville, will lose once everyone gets behind it.

Side: Pittsburgh +3

Michigan at Illinois:
The Wolverines played about as poorly as they could last week and nearly forced overtime at Iowa. Expect them to get the kinks worked out in practice and to put forth a much better effort in Champaign this week.

Side: Michigan -1

West Virginia at Cincinnati: Cincinnati has a shot at winning the Big East this year. In fact, the 'Cats might be the frontrunner, until they flame out this weekend, that is. Yet another example of a team from the Big East unable to handle prosperity. West Virginia gets the win here.

Side: WVU +3.5

Washington at USC: Plain and simple, I don't like what I've see from this Washington team lately, and USC looks like it's starting to find a rhythm, especially on offense.

Side: USC -11.5