November 26, 2016
Three picks have been released for Saturday.
1: Take Penn State -11 spread against Michigan State for 3% of the bankroll.
There is no bigger weekend in College Football than rivalry week and for Penn State, there has been no more important matchup than their one against Michigan State this afternoon. The Nittany Lions have an outside shot at potentially making the College Football playoffs with a win in this matchup as well as a win by Ohio State earlier in the afternoon against Michigan. Motivation will certainly not be an issue for James Franklin’s crew in this contest.
Penn State has won seven in a row since a 49-10 loss at Michigan on Sept. 24. It has proved the victory over Ohio State was no fluke and have outscored their last four opponents by a combined 118 points. Saquon Barkley has leveled off a bit since a pair of 200-yard games, but he did finish with 92 and scored a touchdown for the fourth straight week. As if all of the motivation with background noise of what could potentially happen with a victory, Penn State was absolutely crushed last year, 55-16, by Michigan State. Now that the circumstances have been reversed, we don't expect James Franklin to show any mercy in this contest.
While motivation isn't an issue for Penn St, it could be an issue for Michigan State however. The Spartans have taken a huge step back this season and where one of the most surprisingly awful teams in the Power 5. The Spartans managed to put forth an inspired effort last week against Ohio State, coming within a 2-point conversion from knocking the Buckeyes out of the playoff picture. The Spartan's season ultimately ended with that failed two-point attempt and we believe the last game of the season will be a sore reminder of just how awful it has been and how much they struggled. On the road, against a white-hot Penn State team, with no bowl game to look forward to, we expect Michigan State to pack it in and start prepping for next season.
This is senior day in Happy Valley and this senior day carries just a bit more weight than others in the past. This year's Senior Class were freshman when the Jerry Sandusky / Joe Paterno scandal went down. This game is the culmination of what had to be an emotional journey which saw a lot of heartache, followed by a re-emergence of the 'glory days' of Penn State football. This is a very personal game for the Nittany Lions and we expect them to take 4 years of emotions out on the Spartans in this contest. This game may be close in the early going, but Penn State will find a way to create separation in the second half enroute to a huge win and cover.
2: Take Colorado -9 spread (buy half a point) against Utah for 3% of the bankroll.
A year after finishing with one conference win, with a victory in this contest the Colorado Buffaloes would finish with just one conference loss and make the Pac-12 title game. Taking it a step further, the Buffaloes are a dark-horse for a potential playoff bid if they can capture the Pac-12 Title. It can't be forgotten that their only two losses were on the road at both Michigan and a revived Southern Cal team, neither of which had to compete against starting Buffaloes quarterback Sefo Liufau.
The Colorado offense is much different when Liufau plays as the stat still stands that the Buffs haven't lost as long as he plays the entire way. His ability was seen last week against Washington State. Down for a good portion of the contest, Liufau had one of his best games of the season, throwing for 345 yards while running for 108 more and three touchdowns. That combined with running back Phillip Lindsay has caused a lot of defenses problems this season.
It's been an interesting year for Utah this season. After staying close with the Washington Huskies, the Utes lose to what has been an extremely poor Oregon Ducks team last week. Utah has shown their ability to stumble this season and outside of a victory over USC, they don't have a quality win on their schedule given the weakness of the Pac-12 this season, which is why the line is where it is at. This will (arguably) be the toughest test for the Utes this season and having already lost on the road to Cal, this could be one long night for Utah.
Last season the Buffaloes weren't very good, yet they still managed to stay competitive against Utah in that contest, losing 20-14. This year's Colorado team is the best they have seen in over a decade. Utah suffered a tough defeat last week surrendering 20 points in the final two minutes of play. To now have to turn around and play a white-hot Colorado team on their home field will be too tall of a task for them to overcome.
Liufau has proven to be a game-changer for this Colorado team this season, both with his arms and with his legs. The Buffaloes balanced offensive attack should be able to keep the Utah defense off-balance and guessing all game long and we don't believe the Utes will have the offense to keep up on the scoreboard. Barring a backdoor cover, Colorado wins this one easily by double digits.
3: Take California +3 spread against UCLA for 3% of the bankroll.
Since their franchise quarterback Josh Rosen went down with a season ending injury, the UCLA Bruins have seemingly come unraveled. Highly touted to win the Pac-12 and possibly make the College Football Playoffs, 4 wins is certainly something that no one saw coming, yet it is a reality. UCLA will not be going bowling this season and is arguably the biggest disappointment in college football.
While UCLA can't seem to win without their star-quarterback, Cal is a team that can't win despite how good their quarterback play is. Davis Webb is nothing short of spectacular under center and has picked up nicely where # 1 pick Jared Goff left off a season ago. That being said, defense has certainly been a sore subject for the Golden Bears this season. They have struggled to contain opposing offenses, however given how one-dimensional the Bruins have been this season, it may be a nice change of pace for Cal.
UCLA has had trouble running the football all season long. Their lack of a ground game shows just how dependent they are on the arm of Josh Rosen. Unfortunately for them, Rosen is out and Mike Fafaul. Fafaul is an, at best, 50% passer when under center. He is not as experience as Rosen and it certainly shows. Even with Cal's lack of defensive prowess, we expect Fafaul will struggle to make completions in this contest.
Webb is by far the more polished product and that will give the Golden Bears the edge on offense. UCLA was supposed to have the best defense in the Pac-12 and seeing how teams from that conference have played this season, that isn't really saying much. A shootout style game certainly favors Cal and that exactly what we believe it will turn into. Neither of these teams can make a bowl game, however with it being senior day at Cal, we believe they have the advantage at home and will go on to win this game outright.
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