Finding an Edge in the Power 5: Week 9

The train keeps rolling along here at FEPF with another 3-2 week.  The season is officially nearing the end.  Teams are getting their last gasp before the wacky bowl season begins.  Many teams have already “settled” their season, either with a losing record or becoming bowl eligible but not participating in their respective conference title game.  Figuring out which teams fall into these types of categories can go a long way in handicapping the games properly.  We have five good ones this week.  Let’s begin!

ACC: Pittsburgh at Wake Forest (Wake Forest +7 at MGM)

We start out the week with another classic Tony Johnson fade the public game.  Pittsburgh comes into this contest riding high with a chance to clinch the ACC Coastal division with a win or Virginia loss this week.  Their two headed backfield containing Ollison and Hall are crushing opposing defenses.  Pitt’s defense is doing enough to win games and have been great at forcing turnovers in recent weeks.  That all sounds great facing a 5-5 Wake Forest team that’s mediocre at best.  That mediocre team has turned into a player the last few weeks and culminated in an upset victory against a good NC State team last week.  Wake is much improved on defense and are only allowing 3.6 yards per carry in November.  New QB Newman on offense has passed the ball extremely well since filling in for the injured Hartman.  The WR unit is fully healthy again and don’t look past newcomer Sage Surratt who is a beast in the endzone.  Pitt is still a team that plays up/down with the wild coaching style of Pat Narduzzi.  I believe Wake has a shot to win this game,  I will pick them to do just that in a 30-24 victory.

Big 10: Michigan State at Nebraska (Nebraska +1.5 at Stratosphere)

After starting out 0-4 in Big 10 picks, we have reeled off four wins in a row and look toward having a positive record after this week.  We again will be against Michigan State which is a team that has no identity on offense at all.  Coach Dantonio has flipped between QBs Lewerke and Lombardi the last few weeks with neither of them taking a step forward.  Season ending injuries to RB Scott and WR Davis have left this offense bare of playmakers.  The saving grace for MSU remains their #1 rushing defense and great linebacking group.  They will need that defense against a red hot Nebraska team which has finally gotten it together after a disastrous start to the season.  True freshman QB Adrian Martinez is the real deal and has shown surprisingly strong ability to stretch defenses with his arm.  He has 9 TD passes and only 2 INTs in the last four games played.  It appears the players, coaches, and fans all have bought into the new regime and this train looks tough to stop.  Look for Nebraska to pull away late after a close game early on.  Nebraska wins 27-17.

Big 12: Texas Tech at Kansas State (Texas Tech -6 at W Hill)

What a rarity!  I haven’t bet against K St in a long time but this spot just seems too good to pass up.  K St is coming off a win against KU that ended up being a pretty emotional victory.  Coach Bill Snyder extended a long win streak at home vs KU and it appears that his days may be coming to an end.  What a tenure it has been!  All that said, Snyder hinted in a press conference a few weeks ago that this might be the worst team he’s had in years.  They usually excel in special teams but have fallen towards the bottom of the Big 12 in most special teams categories.  The talent level appears distinctly worse than other Big 12 programs.  More so than ever before.  Texas Tech on the other hand has a much improved defense and an offense that is difficult to contain.  Jett Duffey will likely be under center again this week for the injured Alan Bowman and he’s gotten better each week this season.  He adds a rushing component that we haven’t seen before in this Air Raid system.  The WR corps are all healthy and this is simply a much better team.  This game could be a rout.  I’ll take Tech winning 38-14.

Pac 12: Stanford at California (California +2 at W Hill)

We move out West for a classic Pac 12 rivalry that has been extremely one sided over the last decade.  No more!  Cal coach Justin Wilcox has completely transformed this program into a defensive juggernaut.  This defense has thrived against run first NFL style offenses like USC and Washington in recent weeks.  They get a similar look here versus Stanford and have the added bonus of facing a downtrodden offensive line.  They’ve been ravaged with injuries all season long.  Preseason Heisman hopeful RB Bryce Love has had his own set of injury issues this season as well.  These teams are moving in opposite directions right now and I believe Cal will be extremely motivated having lost to rival Stanford eight years in a row!  This game will be close but Cal’s defense will be too good.  Final score 20-17 Cal.

SEC: Mississippi at Vanderbilt (Vanderbilt -2.5 at Stratosphere)

Our love affair for Vandy continues this week as they host Ole Miss and make a push for a bowl game.  We had them last week against Mizzou and they had a shot to win the game with the ball late but could not score.  Defensively they were top notch and face an extremely similar offense again this week.  Ole Miss and Mizzou both have elite pocket passers and move with quick pace on offense.  QB Ta’amu is best when he has time in the pocket but tends to struggle if his timing is thrown off and he’s forced to move.  Vandy should be able to focus on getting that pass rush going since it’s unlikely RB Phillips will play this week.  Don’t count out Shurmur and the offense either as they have put up 73 points the last two weeks on the road.  This game looks like a shootout but the better team is Vandy and that’s who we have.  Final score 40-31.

Our last week of FEPF will be next week and I can’t begin to tell you how much fun this has been.  Profiling a single selection in each Power Five conference has been equally difficult and gratifying at the same time.  As an added bonus we have made some money along the way!  Good luck this week.

Results

ACC: 5-3

Big 10: 4-4

Big 12: 4-4

Pac 12: 3-5

SEC: 6-2

Overall: 22-18

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