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College Capper: Picking Games for Week 13

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.

What an absolutely crazy week of college football. There's simply no other way to put it.

There was something for everyone last weekend, the BCS haters, the BCS non-haters, (notice I didn't say BCS lovers), the fans of the underdog, the fans of a good rivalry, everyone.

Let's start with the BCS haters, because life was looking pretty good around midnight on Friday. Iowa State had just knocked off one of the two remaining undefeated teams with a chance to play for the national championship and chaos was about to reign.

The scenario heading into Saturday looked like this: One-loss Alabama, one-loss Oregon and one-loss Oklahoma were each preparing their media blitz as to why they should play undefeated LSU in the championship. The BCS haters were loving life, there was no logical or fair why to determine who should get the nod. Unfortunately for this group, there were still some games to be played ...

Which leads us to the portion of the program where the BCS non-haters find redemption. Not because we've got a perfect scenario for the national championship, but because the system as it is set up now created this magical weekend.

I've heard some comments on how last weekend looked like a playoff, but there's one problem with that theory. None of the teams involved in creating the chaos last weekend, would have been in a playoff. Not even a 16-team playoff. No, last weekend was a result of something that no other sport can offer - a truly meaningful regular season.

If a playoff system were in place, none of the three major upsets last weekend would have meant a damn thing except for seeding. Woo whoo! Iowa State knocked off Oklahoma State and now OSU is an eight seed! Doesn't quite have same impact anymore, does it?

Last weekend is exactly the reason I don't want a true playoff system. I love the regular season the way it is, and if some team gets a raw deal in the end, then so be it. I'd rather that every weekend means something throughout the year as opposed to one weekend meaning something at the end of the season, but I am in the minority here. Fortunately, the ones on my side are the ones who make the decisions.

Another week of the plus side last week as a couple breaks went my way, while weather wreaked havoc on one of my top plays. One of the breaks I caught last week was the double-OT thriller in Ames. Although the line crept up near 70 by game time, I tally my record by the line I put in the article, good or bad. Therefore, the 68 combined points were just enough to sneak over the line as it was on Wednesday. The weather I speak of occurred in the Central Michigan game, which saw 20-plus mph winds and certainly affected the pass-happy Chippewas.

Week 12

Cream of the Crop:
(Week: 3-4-0/Season: 33-38-0)


Ball State at Toledo:
Toledo is the main driving force behind the high point totals we've seen in the MAC the last month, and there's no reason to think that the Rockets will slow this week. Ball State has been no slouch on offense, either, the last three weeks, averaging more than 34 points per game. Fortunately, Toledo's game came in under the number last week, due to the aforementioned wind issue, so the total here is still in a reasonable spot.

Total: Over 70

Michigan State at Northwestern:
MSU wrapped up a berth in the inaugural Big Ten championship game last week, so you have to wonder where the motivation will be this week. Sure, the players and coaches will say all the right things; but come on, tell me their not peeking ahead to a rematch with the Badgers. This game has been played tightly the last few years and considering the roll the Cats are on, I see no reason that will change this year.

Side: Northwestern +7

Illinois at Minnesota:
If I'm on the Gophers, I feel entirely disrespected by this line. After all, what exactly has Illinois done the last month to deserve such respect? The Fighting Illini have lost five in a row and haven't scored more than 17 points since the beginning of October! The Gophers have had their issues, but their worst weeks have been reserved for playing the powerhouses, not middle-of-the-pack teams like Illinois. Minnesota has played hard the last few weeks. Expect nothing less this week.

Side: Minnesota +10.5

Alabama at Auburn:
Yikes! I don't care what the state of the Auburn program is, 21 points in a rivalry of this magnitude is outrageous. That said, I won't be shocked if the Tide does indeed roll this week. But I have to imagine that this game means everything to the Tigers and it's not like they are Kentucky or Vanderbilt - they've got some talent there, right?

Side: Auburn +21

Oregon State at Oregon:
A total in the low-60s for an Oregon game? Is there a monsoon in the forecast? Seriously, what's going on? Oregon is capable of hitting this number by itself - which it might have to do.

Total: Over 63.5

Texas Tech at Baylor:
It's the battle of the Sooner-beaters this week as Baylor tries to back up it's huge victory last week over Oklahoma. Texas Tech hasn't been the same since it toppled Oklahoma a month ago, but the Red Raiders appear to have righted the ship last week as they took Missouri down to the wire. After a year of facing some tough defenses, this could be a game where everyone let's loose and the 100-point mark is in play.

Total: Over 78.5

Notre Dame at Stanford:
Let's face it, Stanford is not the team we thought it was just a few weeks ago. Andrew Luck is still the man, but the team as a whole, just isn't the powerhouse we thought. Notre Dame hasn't exactly been the Rock of Gibraltar this season, but I expect the Irish to put forth a massive effort this week and possibly sneak out the upset.

Notre Dame +7

Best of the Rest:
(Week: 5-1-0/Season: 44-37-1)


Bowling Green at Buffalo:
The run of outrageous totals in the MAC has seemingly ended, but that doesn't mean that these two can't get above a number in the low 50s.

Total: Over 53

Houston at Tulsa:
If there were no weather concerns, which there are, this would be one of the best picks of the week, but as it is, I can only put this in the "Best of the Rest" category. If history tells us anything, it's that questionable teams that are undefeated at this point in the season, usually drop a game they shouldn't. This is the perfect spot to drop a game, against a decent Tulsa team that can score points. If Houston is to lose, it won't be the fault of the offense, it will be the defense. If the wind dies, this game should be ripe for the pickin'.

Total: Over 75

Iowa at Nebraska:
Neither team has shown any consistency this season, so why in the world would you want to give nearly 10 points here? I still don't like what I see from the Cornhuskers, and much like the game versus Northwestern a couple weeks ago, this is a game they could lose outright.

Side: Iowa: +9.5

Boston College at Miami:
I like the fight that I saw in the B.C. team last week at Notre Dame and expect the same fight this week. As for Miami, well, the school announced there will be no bowl game this year, and it's coming off a 6-3 win last week. Sounds like an inspiring situation for those kids.

Side: Boston College +14.5


Missouri at Kansas:
Kansas was spanked last week at Texas A&M, and it really doesn't have of a shot at winning this game, but 23.5 is an awful lot of points to give when you haven't been able to score lately. Look for the Jayhawks to hang in there long enough to stay within the number.

Side: Kansas +23.5

Rutgers at Connecticut:
This is a tough one. Do I go with the team that's been good to me the last couple weeks or do I stick to my theory that no team in the Big East can succeed for long stretches? In the immortal words of Lee Corso, "ah f*** it."

Side: Rutgers -3

Tennessee at Kentucky:
An overtime victory against Vanderbilt isn't exactly a statement win, but give the Vols credit, they manned-up and got the job done in a "rivalry" game last week. This week, however, they come crashing down to earth as they visit Kentucky - yawn. I don't see how you can be an underdog to Vandy at home and then lay more than a touchdown on the road to a conference foe - even if that foe is Kentucky.

Side: Kentucky +7.5

Penn State at Wisconsin:
Can't. Shake. Distain. For. Penn. State. Right. Now. It doesn't have anything to do with the scandal either, I just don't see a lot of quality on the field. That said, the 'Lions have played solid defense all year and could keep this one close - for a while.

Side: Wisconsin -14.5

Memphis at Southern Miss:
Southern Miss lost last week as a 23.5-point favorite and now the Eagles are back at home laying more than five touchdowns. Something tells me they might not be up for this game.

Side: Memphis +35.5

PASSing thoughts:
(Week: 4-2-0/Season: 36-28-2)


Texas at Texas A&M:
I am a little skittish about laying more than a touch down here, you know, considering that the Aggies haven't played a full game versus a quality opponent all year. But are the Longhorns a quality opponent? I think the Aggies will jump on a down Texas team and send this rivalry off in style.

Side: Texas A&M -8

Arkansas at LSU:
Do the Tiger's put their foot down and put to rest any further chaos in the BCS, or do they implode when they've got everything to lose? If I knew, this game wouldn't be down here. I am leaning toward the Hogs in this one, though. Can't say why for certain, maybe it's the fact that Arkansas has already played a similar game this season when they faced Alabama or maybe it's just a hunch.

Side: Arkansas +12


Ohio State at Michigan:
OSU lost last week at home to what I consider a very mediocre Penn State team, so what are its chances this week? I can't tell you how many times I've uttered that line only to be burned by the nature of this rivalry. I'm going to ignore lesson learned, however, and go with the hot hand, which is Michigan.

Side: Michigan -7

Georgia at Georgia Tech:
I have no idea which Tech team will show up this week, but the Jackets have moved the ball at will on the Bulldogs since Paul Johnson took over as the head man at Georgia Tech. And until I see otherwise, I'll assume they can do it again this year.

Total: Over 54.5

Clemson at South Carolina:
Has Clemson thrown in the towel on the regular season? Is South Carolina any good without its best offensive weapon? I have no idea, but I do know that Clemson has struggled mightily on offense the last couple weeks, so the under looks like the only play here.

Total: Under 49.5

UCLA played well last week, right? Need I say more? OK, I will. USC is likely the best team in the PAC-12 this season, and since there is no bowl game on the horizon, expect a solid effort in its season finale.

Side: USC -14