Friday, November 23, 2012

Rivalry Week ATS Picks: Notre Dame Survives USC To Advance To BCS Championship Game

The Song Girls may not have much to cheer about vs Notre Dame
Two straight 2-3 ATS weeks have not deterred me with a season mark of 22-12-1 still going strong. I should have gone with my "other games to watch" where I was 3-1.

Rivalry week presents some new dynamics into games, but we have also at least 10 games of data to go off so motivation can take a team only so far. Don't be fooled into an "Auburn can win this one because they want to ruin Alabama's season" mentality. The Tigers simply do not have the talent nor the coaching to beat the Tide Saturday (though maybe they can cover 33 points? - I will leave that up to you).

On to this week's picks hoping to improve on my 65% winning percentage.

Northwestern -19 vs Illinois 12ET

The Wildcats have largely been good to me posting an ATS and SU win last week at Michigan State. All of my metrics have Northwestern covering by at least 19 and most have the spread even higher.

While Pat Fitzgerald's club has not done quite as well recently, they still have an overwhelming advantage over Illinois. The Illini have a putrid 12.5 yards per point on defense, one of the worst of BCS conference teams. Their offense is not much better average just 302 yards and 17 ppg.

You might as well take the Illini opponent plus anything these days.

Utah State -37.5 vs Idaho 3ET

I have not watched either of these teams play more than a quarter, but the statistics tell me this is a 45+ point win for the Aggies who are a rising program in the soon to be defunct WAC.

Nobody wanted Idaho in conference realignment and apparently their players don't want to play much competitive football this year standing at 1-10 coming into Saturday.

Vanderbilt -10 at Wake Forest 3:30ET

This is one of those lines I wished I had grabbed at opening when it was 8.5.  I was wrong about Vanderbilt as it looks like they will finish 8-4 on the season.

Yes, the Demon Deacons are playing for a bowl bid, but they simply do not have the same talent as Vandy. The Commodores have struggled a little bit away from home this season, but those opponents were much stiffer the Wake.

FSU -7 vs Florida 3:30ET

A second ACC vs SEC matchup, but this one I have marked up for the Atlantic Coast Conference. The fact that FSU is a touchdown favorite against a team ranked #4 in the BCS tells you something is wrong with that system.

Both teams have awesome defenses, but the Seminoles offense is decidedly better and that is before a hobbled Jeff Driskel takes the field for the Gators.

Notre Dame -5 at USC 8ET

Everything is laid out in front of the Irish to play for the BCS Championship Game if they can take care of the Trojans.  

Name the best team USC has beaten all season?  Is it Arizona State?  Washington?  The Irish have beaten Michigan, Oklahoma, Stanford who are all markedly better.

Southern Cal is starting their backup after former Heisman candidate Matt Barkley was injured in a bruising loss to cross-town rival UCLA.  The Trojans were being blown out early one but came back against a sub par Bruin defense.  There will not be any opportunity to come back against this Notre Dame defense who has recruited the South, specifically ACC states, to build a top notch unit.

No Sports Illustrated jinx here as a rookie QB up against a tough defense is a good combination for a cover by the Irish. 

Other Games To Watch:

Fresno State -16 vs Air Force 3:30ET
The Bulldogs are quietly putting together an 8-3 season in their first year without Pat Hill as head coach.  Their three losses are to Oregon on the road, Tulsa on the road and Boise State on the road; all very respectable games.

Tennessee -13.5 vs Kentucky 12:20ET
The Volunteers only have themselves to play for after their head coach Derek Dooley was fired this week.  That my be enough as this group of Seniors wants to get the taste of losing to Kentucky last year out of their mouths.  Plus, Joker Philips is still coaching for the Wildcats and that may be a good thing for UT.

Duke +6.5 vs Miami 12:30ET
The Hurricanes announced on Monday a self-imposed post season ban.  Last year they did this hours before their final regular season game against Boston College and got smoked by the Eagles.  Announcing five days prior allowed the Miami players to let reality sink in that this is their last game this season. Still you have to wonder how fragile their psyche is especially since a win against Duke would have put them in the ACC Championship Game.  

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