Northwestern (+3) over Boston College, Result: Win
Northwestern is one of the best underdogs in the country! In my opinion, Pat Fitzgerald – the Northwestern Football coach may be the best coach in the country, and I’m counting Nick Saben. What this guy has done at Northwestern is unbelievable! He’s gone up against SEC teams in bowl games as huge dogs and he’s taken them down to the wire. As a road underdog or a bull underdog at a neutral field, Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern teams are 10-2. He has 19 5th year seniors on this year’s team…19!! This is Northwestern – it’s a smart school to begin with, this is an incredibly cerebral football team getting 3 points to go to Boston College. The quarterback advantage is substantial, Dan Persa for Northwestern – and he’s going to play, though he’s injured, completed 73% of his passes last year. The Boston College secondary had a guy quit and a guy transfer, they allowed 63% completions. To me, Northwestern, getting points is a steal. I like them in a rout to win as an underdog, 31-13.
Western Michigan (+14) covers Michigan, Result: Push
Don’t kid yourself, Michigan has got a new coach – but I’m not giving up 14 points to anybody right now if I’m Michigan, and they’re giving up 14 points to Western Michigan. Toledo beat Michigan in 08’, MAC teams can play football and they put guys in the NFL, and Brady Hoke is a great new young coach for Michigan, but this will be the 5th defense in 5 years and he inherits Denard Robinson, a running quarterback, and he’s going to try to make him a passer. But here’s the rub, even though I think Michigan wins, is that Western Michigan has a quarterback in Alex Carter, who will get an NFL look. Completed 63% percent of his throws, he brings 9 of his top receivers from last year – 9 of his top 10 receiving threats in his offense return. So even if they fall behind, they’ll do a great job of playing catch up to a decimated Michigan secondary, which lost 2 guys in the off-season. Michigan wins, but I’m taking the 14 points from Western Michigan, 30-24 Wolverines.
Minnesota (+23) covers USC, Result: Win
This game goes against the way I always feel really – USC homer, but USC has given up 23 points. Now remember, yes Matt Barkley enters his 3rd year and yes he threw 11 more TD’s in his sophomore year than his freshman year. But this is a shockingly young USC offense; they’ll start a true sophomore and a true freshman at wide receiver, a true freshman at tailback, a freshman at tight end and the young offensive line – probably the liability of the football team. Listen, Minnesota was last in the nation in sacks and USC’s going to win this football game, but USC’s offense is a “work in progress” I’m going to take the points, Minnesota’s a “ground it out, eat the clock” team, USC wins 30-13 but I’m taking the points here – 23 points, USC is not a great cover team at home.
Boise State (-3) over Georgia, Result: Win
Now, I like a lot of dogs this weekend, but I like Boise State here – and I like them a lot. First of all, Georgia has had problems against ranked teams. They’ve lost 7 of their last 8. Boise State is the opposite, 6-2 against ranked teams and that’s often on the road, that’s often as the underdog. The Broncos have 4 straight and 6 of their last 7 against teams from these big power conferences…they’re not intimidated. Here’s the rub, Boise State has 16 starters who are seniors, often 5th year. Teams with heavy senior’s starters do very well in Vegas during the first 3 weeks – it’s one of the big “under the radar” wise guy bets. Find college teams like Northwestern and Boise with a ton of 5th year seniors – they may not be great players, but in the first 3 weeks, they know about a lot more of the offense. Georgia has a quarterback in Aaron Murray who’s very good but he’s a sophomore, btu they’re a mess at running back. They are depending on a true freshman to come in, now true freshman are fast but they don’t know blocking schemes and the defensive line at Boise State is the best – and I’m not joking here, in the country! 4 seniors,2 NFL players. Forget about running backs who are freshman, they don’t know the protection scheme, young sophomore, freshman running back, an offensive line that’s good not great against a senior laden team. Now, I think Georgia comes flying back after falling behind big in this game, but I think Boise State wins – jumps out to a big lead and protects it, 26-16.
South Florida (+11) covers Notre Dame, Result: Win
Now first of all, Notre Dame once Brian Kelly, the head coach, figured out his personnel, they were very good in the last month and they got a nice win in a bowl game over Miami. But Notre Dame doesn’t have significant better players than Big East teams…they don’t! Since 2004, they’re 3-6 against the Big East and have lost 4 of their last 5. It’s not like Notre Dame is way up here and Big East teams are way down there. South Florida is getting 11 points and don’t forget who South Florida’s coach is, Skip Holtz, he is a tremendous underdog coach. He had 4 outright underdog wins last year with South Florida and over the last 4 years, 13 times as an underdog he’s won the game! Notre Dame is good, they’re not great at quarterback, and it’s still a team building towards greatness. They do have an amazing wide receiver in Michael Loyd and Notre Dame wins this game – I’m not giving up 11 points to a scrappy Big East team, 27-21, Notre Dame wins but I’ll take the points.