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Week 3 Picks

Time to reveal my plays of the week. These are the 10 games I would bet on if I were a degenerate gambler. For those who don’t know already, the first team listed is my pick, unless it’s an over/under selection. Odds provided by Betus. If I were you, I’d bet on these games. You can thank me (or hate me) later. I went 7-3 in my picks last week — almost 8-2 — and I’m hitting 70% on the season, so heed my advice!

Last week against the spread: 7-3

Season record against the spread: 14-6 (.700)

Stanford -29 at Army

I can’t see Army getting anything going offensively against the very tough Stanford defense. Meanwhile, I think the Cardinal will put up over 300 rushing yards and jump out to a huge lead.

Stanford 52, Army 9

Louisville -13.5 at Kentucky

The Wildcats will give the Cardinals a test early, but Teddy Bridgewater should get rolling and help UL pull away for the easy victory. Look for another four touchdown passes for the Heisman Trophy contender.

Louisville 45, Kentucky 24

UCLA +4.5 at Nebraska

The Bruins have too many weapons on offense for these Blackshirts to handle. I expect big games from both Brett Hundley and Taylor Martinez, but UCLA is mentally tougher and will come away with the quality road win.

UCLA 37, Nebraska 34

Oklahoma -24.5 vs. Tulsa

Blake Bell will start for the Sooners and I think he’ll be the spark the OU offenses needs. Meanwhile, the Sooners defense will continue to play at a high level.

Oklahoma 42, Tulsa 14

OVER 50 Southern Miss at Arkansas

I see Arkansas putting up a lot of points due to big games from Brandon Allen, Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins. The Razorbacks defense will be its usually porous self, too, which should mean we’ll have no problem getting over the point total.

Arkansas 49, Southern Miss 13

Boston College +14 at USC

USC has a hard time scoring 14 points, much less covering it. The Trojans will continue to play it close to the vest on offense, which means the Eagles will be in the game until the end with a chance to pull off the mild upset.

USC 17, Boston College 16

OVER 65 Ohio State at California

The Bears have some real issues on defense that I think the Buckeyes will exploit, even if Braxton Miller doesn’t play. At the same time, Cal’s offense is just too explosive to keep down for long. Ohio State and Cal easily top the point total.

Ohio State 49, California 31

Auburn -6 vs. Mississippi State

Auburn looks to me like a team that is getting better every week and I expect quarterback Nick Marshall will have his best game in this one. The Bulldogs will struggle on offense against a very opportunistic Auburn defense.

Auburn 28, Mississippi State 20

Arizona State -5.5 vs. Wisconsin

ASU will be pumped up for this one and Wisconsin will struggle to adjust to the dry desert heat. The Sun Devils will be too fast and athletic for the Badgers and Taylor Kelly will have another huge game.

ASU 31, Wisconsin 24

Maryland -6 at Connecticut

The Terps are rolling right now behind dual threat QB CJ Brown and all-purpose dynamo Stefon Diggs. I think those two will play well against the Huskies to lead Maryland to a comfortable win.

Maryland 41, Connecticut 27

 

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Week two picks

Time to reveal my plays of the week. These are the 10 games I would bet on if I were a degenerate gambler. For those who don’t know already, the first team listed is my pick, unless it’s an over/under selection. Odds provided by BetUs. If I were you, I’d bet on these games. You can thank me (or hate me) later. I went 7-3 in my picks last week — almost 9-1 — so heed my advice!

Last week against the spread: 7-3

Season record against the spread: 7-3

UNDER 48 Miami vs. Florida

I think Florida’s pass defense — particularly its corners — will do a good job holding Stephen Morris and the Miami receivers in check. But I don’t see Florida’s offense doing much either. I think Miami pulls off the upset in a sloppy affair, but I’m going with the UNDER in this one.

Miami 21, Florida 17

Oklahoma State -27 at UTSA

The Cowboys struggled early last week against Mississippi State, but they finally found a groove once J.W. Walsh took the reins at quarterback. I think Walsh gives OSU another dimension with his mobility and this is the game where the Cowboys offense hits its stride.

Oklahoma State 56, UTSA 17

Oklahoma -21.5 vs. West Virginia

Trevor Knight threw for just 86 yards last week against Louisiana-Monroe, but that did include three touchdown passes and 103 rushing yards. I look for his passing numbers to improve in week two and for the Sooners offense to take a step forward. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers will struggle against the Sooners defense.

Oklahoma 45, West Virginia 13

Georgia -3 vs. South Carolina

The Bulldogs have their backs against the wall and I don’t see them starting the season 0-2. Gurley and Murray outshine Clowney and Co. and both teams even their records at 1-1.

Georgia 27, South Carolina 21

Auburn -10.5 vs. Arkansas State

Sticking with that theme of offenses improving in week two, I like the Tigers to continue to do well on the ground while Nick Marshall’s passing numbers become a little more respectable. The Red Wolves will score, but the Tigers will overwhelm Gus Malzahn’s former team in the end.

Auburn 42, Arkansas State 28

Notre Dame +4.5 at Michigan

This Notre Dame team has take a step up athletically, especially at the skill positions. Tommy Rees appears to be on his way to a great season and I think he leads the Irish to a win here as the Michigan ground game gets stifled.

Notre Dame 26, Michigan 19

Hawaii +27 at Oregon State

The Beavers will bounce back in this one, but Hawaii’s defense showed it was solid against USC. Sean Mannion has another huge day, but the Rainbow Warriors keep it relatively close.

Oregon State 38, Hawaii 17

Washington State +16 at USC

I expect Mike Leach to have something special in store in his game plan for the Trojans. USC will continue to struggle on offense and will need its defense to step up to force some big plays. The Cougars get off to a great start and pull the upset.

Washington State 24, USC 21

UNDER 48.5 San Jose State vs. Stanford

The Stanford offense will be a bit sluggish in its first game while the Spartans will experience the full wrath of the Cardinal defense. This should be a low scoring affair and that’s why I’m taking the UNDER.

Stanford 27, San Jose State 6

Minnesota -15 at New Mexico State

Philip Nelson and the Gophers looked very good against UNLV last week and I expect Jerry Kill’s team to pick up where it left off.

Minnesota 45, New Mexico State 28

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25 breakout stars for 2013

byrd

The following players aren’t being talked about too much right now, but by season’s end they will be:

Deion Belue, CB, Alabama – As if Bama needed another breakout star, right?  Belue has first round talent and should come into his own this season for the Tide.

Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State – At 6-4, Strong, a JC transfer, is that rare tall receiver who can actually run like he’s 5-11. He should develop into one of the Pac-12’s best receivers in 2013.

Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas – Williams is a big time talent who should flourish in Brett Bielema’s scheme. If there’s a dark horse to lead the SEC in rushing, he’s it.

Robbie Rhodes, WR, Baylor – I was the first to tab Rhodes as a breakout star back in February and he hasn’t disappointed during fall camp. He’s might be the top freshman wide receiver in the country.

Kenny Lawler, WR, California – While Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper are the headline wide receivers for Cal, Lawler is the one with the most upside. If spring ball is any indication, he should have a stellar redshirt freshman season. Continue Reading →

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Week One Picks

Renner

Time to reveal my plays of the week. These are the 10 games I would bet on if I were a degenerate gambler. For those who don’t know already, the first team listed is my pick, unless it’s an over/under selection. Odds provided by DocSports. If I were you, I’d bet on these games. You can thank me (or hate me) later.

North Carolina +13 at South Carolina

Everyone is sleeping on the Tar Heels but they are one of my surprise teams for this year. An explosive offense and an improving defense should make this game quite close. The Gamecocks are ranked sixth but I’m not impressed by their defensive line, outside of Clowney. I do love SC’s wide receivers, though. I think this one will be a barnburner with UNC having a good shot at an upset.

Score prediction: North Carolina 31, South Carolina 30

Mississippi -3.5 at Vanderbilt

The Rebel front seven is excellent and should keep the rather sluggish Vandy offense in check. Meanwhile, the Ole Miss offense led by Bo Wallace should be able to move the ball enough to get the cover.

Score prediction: Ole Miss 20, Vanderbilt 10

Alabama -20 vs. Virginia Tech

I think it’s going to be very difficult for Virginia Tech to have a legitimate offensive score in this game, meaning any type of score that isn’t the result of a turnover resulting in really advantageous field position. Alabama should be able to get 20 points just through inertia, but I expect the Tide offense to be clicking anyway. We should see big games for Amari Cooper and TJ Yeldon. This one won’t be close.

Score prediction: Alabama 35, Virginia Tech 6

Oklahoma -21 vs. Louisiana-Monroe

The perception of OU is that of a program in a bit of a decline, but the talent is there for another superb season. So much will depend on how freshman quarterback Trevor Knight performs. I like his receiving corps and think he’ll be excellent from the getgo. And if he’s not, there’s always Blake Bell, another talented player. I expect big production from the quarterback position in this game and for the Sooners to romp.

Score prediction: Oklahoma 45, Louisiana-Monroe 17

(OVER) 59.5 Total - Washington State at Auburn

Two offensive gurus go at it in this one — WSU’s Mike Leach and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn. Leach is in his second year at Wazzou so I expect the Cougars will be more proficient on offense than last season, while Auburn should also take a big step forward. Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall should have a good debut, at least running the ball. He’s a remarkable talent in the open field. I expect there will be lots of scoring, so go with the OVER.

Score prediction: Auburn 42, Washington State 31

(OVER) 65.6 Total – UCLA vs. Nevada

These are two good offensive teams who should have no problem putting up points against each other. Brett Hundley should have a field day against the Nevada defense while Cody Fajardo should be able to exploit UCLA’s young secondary. This’ll be an exciting shootout with UCLA coming out on top.

Score prediction: UCLA 49, Nevada 35

Northwestern -6 at California

I like what Sonny Dykes has done with Cal in the preseason, but hosting a very good Northwestern team with a freshman quarterback and a new offensive system could make this a rough debut. I expect the Bears will get some offense going eventually, but the dynamic duo of Kain Colter and Venric Mark will give Cal fits.

Score prediction: Northwestern 34, California 23

(OVER) 59.5 Total – Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas

I think the Arkansas offense has a chance to be pretty good. Running back Jonathan Williams is a potential star in the SEC and quarterback Brandon Allen is an accurate and efficient passer. Lafayette can also put up some points. Neither team should be getting much done on defense, however, which is why I think the play here is to take the over.

Score prediction: Arkansas 42, ULL 34

Northern Illinois +3 at Iowa

While I liked it better when this line was +6.5 a couple days ago, I’m still taking the Huskies. New Hawkeye quarterback Jake Rudock will have to come through, which may be too much to ask against a very good NIU team led by Heisman candidate Jordan Lynch.

Score prediction: Northern Illinois 28, Iowa 24

Minnesota -14 vs. UNLV

The Gophers struggled in a triple OT win over the Running Rebs in Vegas last year, but I expect they’ll overmatch them at home. Jerry Kill is in his third season and this could be his best team yet.

Score prediction: Minnesota 42, UNLV 24

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HP’s 2013 preseason top 10 teams

1. Alabama

2. Stanford

3. Oregon

4. Texas A&M

5. Ohio State

6. Georgia

7. Oklahoma

8. Texas

9. Clemson

10. Northwestern

On the cusp: Michigan, South Carolina, LSU, Louisville, Nebraska

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Two Deep and Recruiting Class Evaluation: Oklahoma Sooners

Continuing my summer homework, here’s the next deep dive into a two deep and recruiting class, this time Oklahoma’s. You can see Alabama’s, LSU’s, Texas A&M’s, Oregon’s and Stanford’s evals herehereherehere and here.

Again, let’s get a few things in order before you read these evals. It’s very important to read this if you want to understand where I’m coming from.

1. Rather than rank someone with a nebulous star rating or a happy face, I am applying an NFL draft grade to them since this is a metric that many of us understand. To be clear, when I write that someone is a first-round talent, I am not predicting that they will be selected in the first round of the draft (though some certainly will). What I am saying is that this player has physical ability or skills commensurate with players who are typically drafted in the first round. The same standard applies with other denominations by round.

2. The two deeps, heights and weights are typically taken from either the school’s web site or from Rivals.com. If you quibble with who I have on the depth chart, I have no answer for you as the goal is to evaluate players and not to predict who will start. Just go with the eval provided. Some of the recruit lists might not include late signees or it might include guys who won’t qualify or will grayshirt. Just take the evals for what they are in that case.

3. The purpose of these evals are to give myself and the HP audience an insight into the raw talent levels of the schools in question. Coaching and scheme are not taken into account.

4. I did not look at anyone else’s evals when doing my own evals. I did not look at stats. I did not read what coaches had to say. I did not peek to see how many or which schools offered a given recruit. In other words, I avoided outside influences as much as possible and basically just looked at as much tape as was available and made my call.

5. I know evaluations of this nature are controversial. Some of you are going to vehemently disagree with some of them. Some of you will wonder what my qualifications are for making them. All I ask is that you put my evaluations to the test in the coming seasons and we’ll see how accurate I was. In the meantime, I welcome any insights or helpful comments on these players.

6. In some cases, for speed’s sake, my evals are very brief, especially with players who I don’t need to evaluate further. A guy like Johnny Manziel? We all know about him. I don’t waste much words adding to what we already know. In other cases, I have limited or bad tape on a player and have to make a snap eval based on what I am able to see.

7. When I have all my evaluations, I will rank the teams and players according to talent level and also overall.

And here we go: Continue Reading →

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Two Deep and Recruiting Class Evaluation: Stanford Cardinal

Continuing my summer homework, here’s the next deep dive into a two deep and recruiting class, this time Stanford’s. You can see Alabama’s, LSU’s, Texas A&M’s and Oregon’s evals hereherehere and here.

Again, let’s get a few things in order before you read these evals. It’s very important to read this if you want to understand where I’m coming from.

1. Rather than rank someone with a nebulous star rating or a happy face, I am applying an NFL draft grade to them since this is a metric that many of us understand. To be clear, when I write that someone is a first-round talent, I am not predicting that they will be selected in the first round of the draft (though some certainly will). What I am saying is that this player has physical ability or skills commensurate with players who are typically drafted in the first round. The same standard applies with other denominations by round.

2. The two deeps, heights and weights are typically taken from either the school’s web site or from Rivals.com. If you quibble with who I have on the depth chart, I have no answer for you as the goal is to evaluate players and not to predict who will start. Just go with the eval provided. Some of the recruit lists might not include late signees or it might include guys who won’t qualify or will grayshirt. Just take the evals for what they are in that case.

3. The purpose of these evals are to give myself and the HP audience an insight into the raw talent levels of the schools in question. Coaching and scheme are not taken into account.

4. I did not look at anyone else’s evals when doing my own evals. I did not look at stats. I did not read what coaches had to say. I did not peek to see how many or which schools offered a given recruit. In other words, I avoided outside influences as much as possible and basically just looked at as much tape as was available and made my call.

5. I know evaluations of this nature are controversial. Some of you are going to vehemently disagree with some of them. Some of you will wonder what my qualifications are for making them. All I ask is that you put my evaluations to the test in the coming seasons and we’ll see how accurate I was. In the meantime, I welcome any insights or helpful comments on these players.

6. In some cases, for speed’s sake, my evals are very brief, especially with players who I don’t need to evaluate further. A guy like Johnny Manziel? We all know about him. I don’t waste much words adding to what we already know. In other cases, I have limited or bad tape on a player and have to make a snap eval based on what I am able to see.

7. When I have all my evaluations, I will rank the teams and players according to talent level and also overall.

And here we go: Continue Reading →

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