By Tony Johnson
Just one more play. You’re up 53 points. How am I going to lose this? Kneel the ball! These were all of the thoughts, at least PG rated, going through my head in the last play of the Clemson game last week. If you remember we had the under 61.5 for our ACC pick. The score was 56-3 Clemson with 48 seconds left in the 4th quarter when third string running back Lyn-J Dixon bounced the ball to the outside and scampered into the endzone from 52 yards away to smash our under completely. I stood staring at the TV for a few minutes collecting my thoughts and relentlessly cursing Dabo Swinney. After the dust cleared, we had another 2-3 week in the FEPF picks. Overall, I felt good with all of the selections and this upcoming week is no exception. Let’s get back on the horse!
ACC: Duke at Georgia Tech (Duke +3 at Cantor)
We start as always in the ACC and found a good matchup in one of the first games of the day. Duke comes in fully rested off a bye and finally get most players back for the conference stretch run. Duke’s excellent defense are lead by a stout defensive line who should be able to give Tech’s triple option some problems from the beginning. Quarterback Daniel Jones is now 100% healed from his collarbone injury which will allow the offense to have more success through the air. Georgia Tech comes back home after two consecutive routs but will be facing one of the best defenses they see all season. Coach Cutcliffe has an excellent record against Tech and the extra week to prepare for the triple option attack will be enough to give Duke the outright win in this game.
Big 10: Michigan State at Penn State (Over 53 at W Hill)
This may be the most entertaining game on the entire slate this week with two hungry teams coming of a loss and looking for a quality conference win. Michigan State laid an egg last week at home against Northwestern and have a strong history of rebounding well under coach Dantonio. MSU has arguably the best rush defense in the country allowing less than 35 yards per game! While that is impressive, their pass defense is a polar opposite and was dissected by Clayton Thorson with ease last week. Penn State also boasts an above average defense but have struggled to control dual threat quarterbacks. They face a top tier dual threat QB this week in Lewerke who’s been inconsistent this year but will play well on Saturday. I’m expecting both teams to come out with some fire and empty the playbook on offense and it wouldn’t surprise me if both teams score in the 30’s.
Big 12: Baylor at Texas (Baylor +14.5 at MGM)
“Texas is back.” How many times have we heard this over the last week? Way too many is the correct answer. I admit coach Herman has turned a corner with a streak of wins over USC, TCU, Kansas State, and Oklahoma. To his credit only one of those was a home game. After a run like this, it’s totally normal to have a letdown with a looming bye week on the horizon. We have the deadly combo of Texas taking their foot off the gas and having to face a willing and motivated opponent in Baylor. Baylor has played good football this year with coach Rhule righting the ship in Waco after a turbulent few seasons. Baylor essentially has five players that are effective rushing the ball and QB Brewer has been suburb passing the ball too. Wide receivers Hurd and Mims are a threat to score anytime they touch the ball. Baylor will not go quietly in this game and I’m expecting a close one all the way to the end.
Pac 12: Washington at Oregon (Under 58 at MGM)
It’s now time for another rendition of a Tony Johnson “fade the public” game. Yes I’m just excited about it as you are. This total looks far too small for the types of offensive players that we are used to seeing from these two perennial Pac 12 powerhouses. Everyone seems to remember the good old days when Chip Kelly would run up 70 points on foes and totals in the 70s and 80s would get obliterated. Those days have past. New head coach Cristobal has taken a new approach to this team building a foundation of a strong offensive line. He willingly rotates these linemen throughout the game and this has slowed the pace on offense to slow considerably.. On the flip side, Washington is a classic defensive juggernaut that attempts to hold the ball on offense with a great rushing attack. QB Browning efficiently mixes in some passes but it’s still a rushing offense through and through. This game will go the opposite of how the public believes and I have Washington winning in a low scoring game 24-21.
SEC: Mississippi vs Arkansas in Little Rock, AR (Under 68.5 at MGM)
This is the third time in four weeks that we have taken an under for the SEC game but I just can’t help myself. I focused mostly on Arkansas in this game. Arkansas has improved significantly since the beginning of the season and are playing very well on defense. On the road or at a neutral site, they have allowed only 241 passing yards per game and have faced some good offenses like Texas A&M and Colorado State. Ole Miss has struggled against good defenses that pressure the QB this year. I expect Arkansas to look better offensively since they finally face a weak defense for the first time in five weeks. Finally, it appears that it will be raining throughout this game and lower scores are to be expected. Let’s go with Arkansas winning by a final of 27-21.
Good luck to everyone this week. I think we are due for our first 5-0 week. Here’s to us!!!
Overall – 7-8