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College Capper: Picking Games Week 5

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 one of the worst weekends of college football in recent memory, and it never had a chance.

One look at the slate entering last weekend and it was clear that there weren't many quality matchups on the docket. In case you couldn't figure that out for yourself, the media felt it necessary to remind us over and over again of just how miserable we'd be all Saturday long.

To be honest, I was a little confused. Aren't these the same people pumping up the game of college football on a weekly basis? What exactly could be gained by bashing the games before they were even played?

Perhaps it was a misguided effort at objectivity. "This slate is so bad, we'll bash it all week, just this one week, then no one can accuse us of continually towing the company line. We won't be questioned the rest of the season."

Maybe no one noticed, maybe it's one of those nit-picky things that people like myself come up with when there's nothing notable to write about and no, I'm not writing about "APU," not because I'm against it, or for it, I just don't have an opinion. Yes, it's possible to be opinion-free on the subject of paying college athletes. If it weren't possible before, it is now, I just wrote it.

While we are on the subject of confusing events from week 4 - when did college coaches start pulling their guys just after halftime?

In case you weren't aware. Johnny Manziel, yes the same guy I'm not writing about until his team is relevant, was pulled after the opening series of the third quarter last week with his team in the lead by 33 points. Did it make sense? Yes. Was there any possible scenario in which the Aggies could blow this lead? No. Do college coaches ever pull their guys with a 33-point lead and 11-plus minutes left in the third quarter? Not to my knowledge.

That's it. No opinion on what transpired, I just thought it was a little strange. Perhaps it's the start of a new trend. With the playoff system on the horizon, we might see more of this as team secure spots in the top-4 and looking ahead becomes more important than what's happening on the field.

With the all the confusion and utter disgust of last weekend's games behind us, let's look at this week's games.


Cream of the Crop:
(Week: 2-1/Season: 5-5)


Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech:
The Hokies have had their issues this season, highlighted by a less than impressive overtime win against Marshall last week, but there's one thing that they've done well this season and that's stuff the run. They held Alabama to less than 100 yards in the opener and rank 15th in the country in rush yards allowed per game. Why all the numbers about rush defense? Well, it's about the only way Georgia Tech can move the ball on offense. Slow the run, keep the game close, which is what Virginia Tech will do.

Side: Virginia Tech +7.5


Iowa at Minnesota:
This has been a strange rivalry the last few years, it seems like the team that is perceived to be better, ends up losing this game each year. I'm not sure which team is perceived to be better this year, but Minnesota is undefeated, so the Gophers might have the edge in that department. As for what really matters, how these teams will fare, well, I think Iowa has the edge. With QB Phillip Nelson likely on the sidelines again, Minnesota will resort to backup QB Mitch Leidner, who played well last week, but the offense lacked a passing threat. That didn't matter last week, but it will this week.

Side: Iowa -1.5

Wake Forest at Clemson:
If Clemson is focused this week, this game should get ugly early. The Tigers failed to cover last week, but they were in control the entire game. That was a good sign for a team that has historically struggled in similar situations. With Syracuse on the horizon, there's no reason for the Tigers to look ahead this week and being back at home should provide enough energy to get them over this number.

Side: Clemson -29

Best of the Rest
(Week: 1-3/Season: 10-8)


Northern Illinois at Purdue:
Possibly the best team in the MAC vs. possibly the worst team in the Big Ten. A few years back, the team from the Big Ten would be favored no matter the situation, but that's not the case any longer. My problem with the Huskies is their defense. They are surrendering more than 30 points per game and haven't exactly faced stiff competition. That said, I'm going to look at the total and take the over. Purdue is by no means a juggernaut on offense, but neither is Eastern Illinois and the Panthers put up 39 last week.

Total: Over 58

UTEP at Colorado State:
A very fishy line here as Colorado State at 1-3, is favored by almost two scores. Don't get me wrong, UTEP is brutal this year, but Colorado St. doesn't appear to be much better, and the Rams are laying almost 14 points. Factor in the bumps and bruises from a matchup against Alabama last week, and I have a hard time believing the Rams can make this a laugher.

Side: UTEP +13.5

California at Oregon:
California is off to a really poor start this year, and there's no reason to think it'll look any better after the Bears visit Eugene. One of the things you have to love about Oregon is, the Ducks don't slow down until late in the game. The only thing that worries me here is that Cal has a capable QB and the Bears could sneak in a backdoor cover. I'll take my chances though as Oregon could have this number covered at the half. Did you hear that Floyd Mayweather?

Side: Oregon -37.5

Oklahoma at Notre Dame:
Does Michigan's performance the last two weeks affect your impression of Notre Dame? I'm not sure it should, but with or without a chance in perception, one thing is certain this week - Everett Golson will not be playing. As you all know, the difference-maker in last year's game is not eligible for this game and that could make all the difference. Oklahoma actually has the difference-maker in this game in Blake Bell. Bell started against Tulsa and looked very impressive. Sure, that was against Tulsa, but I liked what I saw. Oklahoma gets revenge for the season-killing loss from last year this week.

Side: Oklahoma -4

PASSing Thoughts
(Week: 2-2/Season: 7-8-1)


Utah State at San Jose State:
Big number for Utah State to lay on the road, but San Jose State's strength on offense - the passing game - plays right into Utah State's strength on defense. San Jose State offers little resistance on defense and Utah State should have little trouble moving the ball all game. San Jose State will try to move the ball through the air, but like last week, the one-dimensional offense will break down at some point.

Side: Utah State -10


Florida State at Boston College:
We aren't quite sure how good FSU is just yet, but to the naked eye, the Seminoles look pretty darn good. BC on the other hand beat a very weak Wake Forest team at home and got blown-out by an average at best USC team. With only Maryland on the horizon, FSU should not get caught looking ahead this week.

Side: FSU -22.5

LSU at Georgia:
Going over a total of 60 in a game that involves LSU is generally a bad idea, but considering Georgia is seemingly incapable of stopping anyone on offense, it starts to make more sense. The only question in my mind is, can Georgia keep pace? Considering the Bulldogs are at home, I expect the them to keep pace for nearly the entire game.

Total: Over 61.5

Arizona at Washington:
Both teams enter this contest 3-0, but the paths taken have been much different. While Arizona has played a handful of club teams, Washington has taken down Boise State at home and Illinois on the road. Besides the mismatch in strength of schedule, Washington looks much better. Ten points better? Well, factor in the home-field advantage and 10 points seems reasonable.

Side: Washington -10.5

Mississippi at Alabama:
As evidence by its placement on this particular list, I'm really struggling with this one. My first thought was, this is the point in the season where Alabama takes charge and starts to run over its conference foes. Soon after, I started to read about how Ole Miss is much improved and Alabama hasn't proven much this season. I'm not sure I agree with that notion. Let's be honest, the Manziel-hype skewed the final result of the A&M game, but if not for an unforced error, an Alabama fumble while heading into the end zone, the end result would have been much different. Yes, those mistakes are part of the game and yes, if not corrected, they can continue to haunt, but something tells me that Bama is rounding into form and this week we'll see a complete effort.

Side: Alabama -15

Wisconsin at Ohio State:
Tough call here. The Badgers played well in a tough spot two weeks ago at ASU and the Buckeyes have looked solid since Week 1. Seven points seems like a lot in a spot like this, but OSU needs only to solve the rushing attack of Wisconsin to pull away. If the Buckeyes take too long to figure it out, it may end up a nail-biter, but I have a feeling that Wisconsin may struggle a bit on the ground in this game and as such, the Badgers will have a hard time staying inside this number.

Side: Ohio State -7