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College Capper: Picking Games Week 3

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 was nearly midnight last Saturday and the thought crossed my mind, "I haven't heard anything about Johnny Manziel today, A&M must have been on a bye." As it turns out, Aggies highlights were just around the corner, but I have to admit, a Saturday without Johnny felt just fine.

That won't be the case this week as the first of many "game(s) of the year" will take place in College Station on Saturday. I, for one, welcome the Johnny "Football" talk this week, though, because this week it's all about the football, more on that game to follow.

As for the action on the field in Week 2, a couple things to point out.

First, why did I pick against Oregon last week? How long have the Ducks been doing this? Ten years? The Ducks beat up on everyone early in the year, then slip up near the end of the season and seem beatable the rest of the way. Why I thought Virginia could stay within the number last week is beyond me. Mental note, don't fade the Ducks before Week 4/5 each year.

Second, it may be too late, but just in case the public is slow, you and I should capitalize on the downfall of some big-name schools, notably USC and Texas. Texas looked sluggish in its win over New (freakin') Mexico State, but ended up blowing it out late. That late push just covered up the fact that the Longhorns are in for a long year. One bad loss you say? I'll say that when you get run over like they did last week, you have more problems than can be addressed in one week. As for USC, the Trojans showed signs in their opener at Hawaii that the offensive struggles from last year just might carry over to this season. Last week's game only confirmed that notion. Vegas may have already caught up to reality, but if not, it's time to strike while the iron is hot.

As for my picks last week, not so good up top, but overall a strong week.

Let's take a look at the card for Week 3.


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


Air Force at Boise State:
A case of two teams that aren't quite what they were a few years ago. That said, Air Force appears to have fallen a lot more in the last couple years as evidence by its blowout loss to Utah State at home last week. Boise State is off to a slow start this season, but at home, in front of a national television audience, the Broncos should roll.

Side: Boise State -24


Bowling Green at Indiana:
The Hoosiers appear to be an over-player's dream this season -- absolutely no defense and a fairly formidable offense. Bowling Green looks to be a more complete team this season, but the Falcons have shown some offense of their own.

Total: Over 64

Tennessee at Oregon:
I already explained my flawed logic on the Ducks, but I'm ready to correct it now. This is a perfect situation for a blowout by the Ducks. It's a big-name school without a top-notch team. The number is high, but not outrageous, and considering it's Tennessee, you can expect Oregon to be focused. Now, if it were some no-name school, you might see them come out rusty, or make mistakes late, but that won't happen this week.

Side: Oregon -28.5

Best of the Rest
(Week: 4-1/Season: 7-3)


TCU at Texas Tech:
TCU doesn't have the shutdown defense that it was known for a few years back, and only shutdown defenses can slow Texas Tech. Last year these teams put up 109 points, albeit in three OTs, but you get the point. The Red Raiders aren't going to put up much of a fight on defense and won't be slowed too much on offense.

Total: Over 63


Georgia State at West Virginia:
Georgia State is 0-2 on the season and will lose this game, but I think this line is a bit inflated due to the public perception of West Virginia. In case you haven't heard, West Virginia is not the powerhouse offensive team it was last year, and when you are laying 41 points, you need to be explosive.

Side: Georgia State +41

Fresno State at Colorado:
If these teams faced off last season, the line would be Fresno by about 9.5. It's not last year, though, and the both teams are off to 2-0 starts. Colorado beat Colorado State on a neutral field and some FCS team while Fresno State beat Rutgers at home and some FCS team. With that in mind, the line here is ... Fresno State by 9.5. I can't help but think this line is based 100 percent on how these teams looked last year. Why else would a fairly decent team be favored by almost 10 points on the road?

Side: Colorado +9.5

Boston College at USC:
I think we have a situation like I mentioned in the open. USC can't score, B.C. has a strong defense, yet the Trojans are favored by 13.5 because ... because they are the Trojans. Boston College should have earned some respect last week with a fairly easy win against Wake Forest, but it still comes into this game as two-TD underdogs. I don't get it. Actually, I do; the line is based on how the public will bet, and the public isn't buying the fact that USC is really down.

Side: BC +13.5

Mississippi State at Auburn:
These teams look awfully close, and I'm not sure the line should be much more than a FG. Mississippi State looked awful in its first game against Oklahoma State, but the Bulldogs got the kinks worked out in a 51-7 drubbing of Alcorn State last week. Auburn is on its way back from a couple bad seasons, but I'm not sure the Tigers should be laying almost a TD against a team that's at least its equal.

Side: Mississippi State +6.5

PASSing Thoughts
(Week: 3-1/Season: 5-4)


Iowa at Iowa State:
This is always a big game in the state of Iowa, but it's even larger this season as both teams are down and neither will have many chances like this to pick up a win the rest of the way. ISU is 0-1 and Iowa is 1-1, but the Hawkeyes weren't exactly impressive against SE Missouri State. Who? Exactly. This should be a tight battle the entire way, and the only thing separating the two is the location of the game.

Side: ISU +2.5

Alabama at Texas A&M:
I liked Alabama in this game before the season started, but one item really swayed me toward the Tide in this one. I forgot that last year these teams met up the week following the LSU-Alabama game. You know, that knock-down drag-out fight each year where both teams can barely walk off the field? So last year Bama gets beat up in the LSU game and returns home to face an A&M team that was OK, but nothing to write home about. Throw in a slow start and it's fairly obvious that Bama was looking past A&M, or at least expecting to win. That won't be the case this time around, and, yes, Alabama is that good. The Tide can show up and impose their will. One last factor, the Aggies defense hasn't been sharp this season and hasn't faced anyone of note. I think Bama survives and early surge from the Aggies and pulls away late.

Side: Alabama -8

Washington at Illinois: I think this line is based on Washington's performance against Boise State in its opener, but there's no guarantee that those Huskies will show up this week. Illinois played a heck of a game last week against Cincinnati, and while Washington appears to be a better team than Cincy, I think the Illini can stick with the Huskies in this game.

Side: Illinois +10