RotoWire Partners

College Capper: Picking Games Week 6

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.

Have we been here before?

For whatever reason, we seem to have the same discussions each season and we never learn.

There's the old and tired BCS discussion, which thankfully will end after this year. Thankful that the discussion will end, not the BCS necessarily, but we'll save that for later in the season.

There's the too-early in the season Heismann discussion. You know, when a player plays himself out of the award, only to work his way back in a few weeks later. Year after year the talking heads evaluate the Heismann prior to the season and every week after, yet often, the first few weeks of the year have no effect on the eventual outcome.

Then there is the old, “I think [insert team on the rise] can give [big bully on the block] a fight this week and maybe beat them”.

Said bully on the block last week was Alabama, which was a 15-point favorite last week, yet was picked by a handful of national pundits to lose outright. Mississippi was a team on the rise and Alabama, well Alabama gave up 3,000 yards and 150 points to Johnny Manziel, (a number that continues to grow each week along with the legend of Johnny Football).

What those prognosticators failed to factor in was, Alabama, though it gave up a lot of points to a very potent offense, had every right address its deficiencies and guess what, it did. That secondary, that looked like a bunch of high school kids against Mike Evans? Well, they are better now, still not able to stop Evans no doubt, but they shut out what looks to be a pretty good Ole Miss team. Think Ole Miss will get shut out again this season? No chance.

If this seems all too familiar, it's because we do this every year. Certain teams appear to be very good, but they slip up early and suddenly we start to focus on the flaws.

The lesson of course, is to simply relax. While not every coaching staff in the country deserves patience, I think Nick Saban and crew should be granted a little leeway if their team doesn't look like the one that finished the previous season. After all, this isn't the same team. It has many similar parts, but when bringing new kids into the fold, it's going to take a little time.

Speaking of relaxing, I need to relax after the week I had. I'm pumped after a 10-2-1 week, but I've been around this too long to know that as soon as you feel invincible, this game will knock you on your rear. I'm going to pull back a little this week just to ensure that I'm not going into this with an enlarged head this week.


Cream of the Crop:
(Week: 3-0/Season: 8-5)


Texas at Iowa St:
The Cyclones got off to a poor start this season losing their first two games to Northern Iowa and Iowa, but they rebounded last week with a decent road victory over Tulsa. I feel I need to lay the foundation here because Iowa State, while not a great team, has enough to fight off better teams in its own stadium. The question is, is Texas even that much better team at this point? The spread would indicate it is, but I question whether the number was set at eight because of reality or perception. The public is slow to give up on teams with historical success, but in this case, I think it's time to move on from the Longhorns, not only because of their current state, but also because the immediate future of Mack Brown is in question. Iowa State should keep this close in what will be a frenzied atmosphere in Ames on Thursday night.

Side: Iowa State +8


Texas Tech at Kansas:
It looks like they might finally have a complete team in Lubbock this season. Texas Tech has never had a problem moving the ball on offense, but rarely would its defense put up any fight. That looks to be changing this year as the Red Raiders shut down a pretty good TCU team just a few weeks ago. On the other side there's Kansas, which is just awful. This is a big number on the road, but considering Texas Tech looks like a complete team and Kansas looks like a complete mess, the Red Raiders should have little problem getting on top of this number.

Side: Texas Tech -20

Best of the Rest
(Week: 3-1/Season: 13-9)


Maryland at Florida State:
There are a lot of pretender/contender games on the slate this week and this is certainly one. Maryland is off to a good start, or it would appear, but the Terps step up in class this week. FSU wasn't all that impressive last week, but that should help them focus this week. Look for FSU to get back on track this week and put a whooping on Maryland this week.

Side: FSU -15

Oregon at Colorado:
Colorado, bad - Oregon, good. OK, we need to put a little more research into it than that, but sometimes it pays to not overthink things. Honestly, the outcome of this game vs. the spread is entirely within Oregon's control. Nothing Colorado does this Saturday will determine which team covers the number, it's all on the Ducks' state of mind. If they are still in road-kill mode, they will cover this number, if they ease up, then it might be tough to hit this gigantic number. I think the Ducks are on a mission to impress the nation and as such, they'll come out firing on all cylinders.

Side: Oregon -40

Georgia at Tennessee:
I know Tennessee looks awful, but taking Georgia this week, just seven days after a huge win is a risky proposition, which is why I'm focusing on the total. Much was made of Georgia's big win last week, but lost in all the drama was Georgia's inability to stop LSU's offense. In fact, the Bulldogs have yet to stop anyone this season. Look for that trend to continue this week as yet another over is hit.

Total: Over 63.5

West Virginia at Baylor:
After a horrible start, West Virginia found some pride last week and upset Oklahoma State. Good for the Mountaineers. Now reality sets back in as they face a really good team. The Baylor offense is hitting on all cylinders, and the Mountaineers might have a bit more confidence, but that won't help them slow down the Baylor machine.

Side: Baylor -28.5

PASSing Thoughts
(Week: 4-1-1/Season: 11-9-2)


BYU at Utah State:
For whatever reason, I've bought into Utah State this season, but not BYU. This number is a bit high for my liking, which is why I have this game down here, but I think Utah State can squeeze this out against the number.

Side: Utah State -6.5


Michigan State at Iowa:
I'm sorry, I have to go over this total on principle. I don't care how good the defense is or how poor the offense is, it doesn't take much at all to reach 40 points in a college game. The fact that neither team reached 40 points total in its previous game just makes me like this over even more.

Total: Over 38.5

Minnesota at Michigan:
This line gives you an idea of how much respect the oddsmakers have for the Gophers. Michigan has barely survived its last two games against Akron and Connecticut, yet the Wolverines are 20-point favorites this week. The Gophers were exposed as pretenders last week against Iowa and while the Hawkeyes might be better than we first thought, the Gophers were so easily dismissed last week that it's hard to imagine them putting up much of a fight this week.

Side: Michigan -20

Washington at Stanford:
Stanford appears to be the cream of the crop in the Pac-12 this season, but this number is awfully large as the Cardinal are about to face their toughest competition to date.

Side: Washington +8.5

Ohio State at Northwestern:
I like OSU in this matchup, but that pesky half-point is giving me pause. Instead I'll focus on the total. While both of these teams can move the ball with efficiency, the weather could play a huge factor in this game. As of now, rain and wind are in the forecast and as we all know, wind can wreak havoc on any offense that moves through the air. Right now the number is still above 60 and if it stays there and the weather forecast is correct, the under could be a decent play.

Total: under 61