Lion’s Den: Football Month is Here

Football Month is Upon us but the lion is buried in paperworkThe Lion recently has been swamped at work. It has taken its toll on his handicaping. Failing to do analysis, I went 1-7 last week, I am now all the way down at 43-42 for the year. However I have good news. Saturday is November 1st.
If you remember last year, Thejerkfest.com declared November National Football Month. Its were the contenders are seperated from the pretenders. The Lion needs to go on a run to get back to the contender category. What better way to start the month then with a deluxe college football pick column. Lets get to it.
FAVORITE FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: Georgia -12.5 v. Florida: The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail party in Jacksonville used to be a marquee game. It is no longer. Florida is a wreck. They are 6 of their last 25 against the spread. They are so bad on offense they are turning to a true freshman QB Treon Harris. The Bulldogs have been on a tear after their early season loss to South Carolina. The D looked awful in that game but since then have been much better. The offense hasn’t lost a step after losing Gurley.  They have scored at least 34 points in every game this year. This could be the game where Muschamp, who has never beaten UGA mind you, loses his job. The Bulldogs win by 2 TDs. UGA
FAVORITE DOGS OF THE WEEK: The Lion went away from taking the underdogs last week inexplicably. It was disatrous. Lets get back to basics this week. There are many dogs I like. As we discussed before there are two types of Dogs in college football, type 1 is the ones who are just getting too many points. Type 2 is the type who can win outright. The Lion has both.
TYPE 1
Purdue +23.5 at Nebraska: This is just way too many points here. Nebraska is not an elite team. Normally, fumbles are luck, but not as often as Nebraska puts it on the deck. Every year they are among the worst at coughing the ball up. On the other hand the Boilermakers have put up 36 PPG in their past three. They nearly won at Minnesota and hung around with Michigan State until the 4th quarter (my only win last week was Sparty). With Wisconsin on deck following an idle week for the Huskers this could be a spot where Nebraska is caught looking ahead and the Boilers stay within this absurd huge number. PICK PURDUE
UNC +16.5 at Miami: I have tons of respect for Duke Johnson and all he has done for Miami. No way they should be giving this many points. The underdog in this series has covered eight of the past 10 meetings, and has pulled five upsets. UNC opened last year 1-5 and went 6-1 down the stretch. I see that happenign again this year. They have covered 3 straight against the spread.Their offense is too explosive not to stay in this game. PICK UNC
 
TYPE 2
MD +3.5 at PSU: The Lion is a little biased here, but it watched PSU give its best effort of the season last week to lose in overtime to OSU at home in whiteout conditions. Coach Edsal’s team got demolished by Wisconsin in Madison. The Lion being this close says everything you need to know. The Terps can win outright. Why? They’re offense is explosive, Esdal is from York, PA and has dreamed of beating PSU his whole life. He will have his troops ready for a PSU team who just had a heartbreaking loss. PICK MD
Arkansas +11.5 at #1Miss St.: This is actually a hybrid between type 1 and 2. Miss St. is the #1 team in the nation and is legit. I am not certain Ark can pull off the straight up outright win, BUT, they should keep it close. Miss St. defense is allowing an SEC-worst 440 yards per game, HOWEVER, 73 percent of that has come via the pass, and Arkansas’ run-heavy offense could play right into the Bulldogs’ strength on defense. BUT, Arkansas has the ability to shorten the game and the Bulldog D doesn’t score in bunches. Stat of the week for you: over the course of Bret Bielema’s seven-year career at Wisconsin, only Ohio State laid more than a touchdown to his team and covered. I love that Arkansas fears no one, as evidenced by going toe to toe with Bama. Ark is physical enough on both sides of the ball to match up with the Bulldogs. I think the pressue is starting to mount on them, and they have to be looking ahead to Bama and Ole Miss a bit. The line is creeping back down to single digits I am jumping on now. PICK ARK
PAC 12 GOWs
#12AZ at #22UCLA -6.5: People are still overrating UCLA. I don’t get it, actually I do. People love Brett Hundley. He is legit. He ran for more than 100 yards last week and continually puts up huge passing numbers. He is extremly inconsistent though and often inaccurate. The rest of the team kind of stinks. The OL is bad and the D is worse. The Bruins took double OT to beat a trrible Colorado team. They blew a 17 point fourth quarter lead. Here is the kicker; they are 1-7 against the spread this year.On the other hand I like what I have seen from Rich Rod’s team. They beat Oregon, and are a late missed field goal against USC away from being unbeaten and in the top 5. They are getting healthy at RB for the first time in about a month. They have one of the most underrated spread QBs in college football inAnu Solomon. The Wildcats have covered three straight and I clearly have telegraphed my pick. They could win outright, making them a type 2 BONUS DOG.AZ+6.5

#17 UTAH at #14 AZ ST. -6: What? These teams are ranked this high? Yeah its true they both are good. I honestly wouldn’t touch this game. However The Lion gives you picks of all the big games. Utah is coming off a big upset of USC last week, 24-21 while the Sun Devils comfortably won at UWash. The Sun Devils outstanding senior college QB Taylor Kelly is finally getting healthy. They have one of the best WRs in the nation in Jalen Strong and I have waked poetic about their RB. While I am a little concerned the Sun Devils could be looking ahead to the Irish next week, I think Utah might be drained from going to USC and pulling off the upset. PICK AZ -6

In case you thought I was refering to Stan at Oregon -7.5 its not a big game. Stan isn’t even ranked. They usually have the Ducks number but if I have to pick this I think the Ducke get the monkey off their back. Oregon.

BIG 12 GOWs

#7 TCU -5.5 at #20 WVU: TCU is in control of its own destiny for the playoffs. If it keeps winning it will get in.TCU QB Boykin has basically gauranteed himself a spot on the Heisman watch list after re-setting his career high in pass yards for a second straight week, throwing a school-record seven touchdowns in only three quarters of the Horned Frogs’ 82-27 blowout win over Texas Tech. Going to Morgantown is hard. Game Day will be there.If this were a night game, I would go with the Mountaineers if this were a night game. It’s at 3:30. Its just too early for the WVU guys to set couches on fire. A Noon game they could stay up for, but 3:30 is that weird nap time for both day drinkers (who pass out) and night drinkers (who get up and get dressed after their nap). How is that for football logic? Seriously though, TCU is unstoppable on offense and they should have beat Baylor. WVU can score with anybody but TCU will win a shoot out by a TD. PICK TCU -5.5

Ok State at #9 KState -14: On paper, you say to yourself, why is the spread this big? Both are good but not elite Big 12 teams. I beg to differ. This matchup is a great example of perception versus reality. Oklahoma State lost to Florida State by only six points, back when we thought FSU was still going to kill everybody and not squeak by teams like it is this year. Following the FSU game, the Pokes then reeled off five straight wins. While the Cowboys have lost their last two games, they are still perceived as a quality team. However, a look at their five wins tells a different story. They beat an FCS team, a disappointing UTSA squad and three Big 12 teams that are a combined 1-11 in conference play. Now, they are on the road for the third time in four weeks, taking on a red-hot Kansas State that has rolled Texas and Texas Tech by a combined 55 points. Bill Snyder is the most underrated coach in the game, and they are at home at night. Their only loss is to Auburn. Dude. One final stat for you to clinch this one. Since Bill Snyder returned in 2009, they are 4-0 ATS as a conference home favorite of 12 or more, covering by 18 points per game. Sold. PICK KSU -14

GAME OF THE WEEK

#3 Auburn at #4 Ole Miss -2.5: This is really the game I want to watch the most this week along with my ND squad. Due to an impromptu Jerkfest, I cannot. This game is basically a playoff game right now. I am going to give you a classic Lion break down of the key matchups this week. This game is awesome because its offense versus defense. Both teams have played amazingly tough schedules. Ole Miss has outgained its foes by 113 yards per game by not allowing teams to move the ball. The Rebel D has given up only 11 points per game. Auburn is outgaining its foes by 134 YPG, by running down their throats. The Tigers are averaging 538 YPG in SEC play. Normally Defense beats offense, but Ole Miss strength is against the pass. When a team runs like Auburn its hard for me to think Ole Miss can stop them. LSU showed us that you can run on the Landshark D last week by going for 264 rush yards on nearly five yards a carry. Lets call it a draw and look to some other matchups in this came.

Both teams have been battle tested and both are coming off emotional games last week as Ole Miss fell to LSU 10-7. On the other side, Auburn faced a South Carolina team that had nothing to lose and played like it; the Tigers escaped, 42-35. I suspect Auburn was looking ahead to this week. Advantage Auburn.

As is often the case when you have a great D vs. a great O, the matchup between each teams non-marquee unit decides the game. Auburn has given up at least 35 points and 469 yards in each of its last two games. Its pretty awful. Advantage Ole Miss right? Not so fast. I have been saying all year Bo Wallace was playing over his head. He played perfect against Bama and I didn’t know how many more times he could do that. He showed the old Bo last week. Advantage Even.

In a game as close and awesome as this it may come down to coaching. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze had some questionable game management at the end. Freeze is a great recruiter but not a great in game coach. Auburn’s head guy is both. When I look to both teams losses, Auburn should have beat Miss St. they game out and fumbled the game away. It happens sometimes. Fumbles are mostly luck. (See Pitt’s 4 fumbles in the first half last week, I don’t think that happens again and they bounce back and beat Duke and cover -2.5) Ole Miss was lucky the LSU game was as close as it was. LSU was the unlucky fumbly team. In an awesome game that I can’t wait to watch, it looks like the slight advantage is to the Tigers, and I will take the points even though they are on the road. PICK AUBURN +2.5

Football Month is upon us. Rejoice

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