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Thread: Upset Alert

  1. #1 Upset Alert 
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    This is another one of the ESPN insider articles - thought Id share it




    Every week during the season, Will Harris will check with the computers (using TeamRankings' win odds) and wiseguys to evaluate the upset possibilities in college football's most compelling games and give his picks for who'll come out on top.

    We've cautioned against overvaluing USC this year, but we didn't see a loss coming this early. Stanford's win was the lead story of Week 3, but Virginia Tech was the biggest upset victim -- and the only ranked team, save BYU, to lose to an unranked opponent.

    Upset Watch moves to 17-13 on the year after a poor 3-7 showing that saw us fall flat right along with the Hokies. We've got our eye on several live dogs in Week 4, including a Cal team that could send the Trojans into the tank for good.

    Kansas State Wildcats at Oklahoma Sooners
    Oklahoma is favored by 14 points
    TeamRankings win odds for Kansas State: 20 percent

    Bill Snyder hasn't had much success against former assistant Bob Stoops, but this year's Cats match up better than in years past. Kansas State's offense will seek to grind out yardage and control the clock, protecting its defense by limiting Oklahoma's offensive possessions. That plan has a good chance, because while the Sooners regain the services of a key defensive tackle this week, Mike Stoops' new charges are generally thin along the line and have shown weaknesses in run defense. Landry Jones may have fewer opportunities than he's had in any game of his career, and 40 minutes of time of possession for the visitors is not out of the question.

    Defensively the Wildcats' philosophy is to force the opponent to navigate its way down the field, then make a stand in the red zone. That hasn't worked against the crisply executing Sooners of years past, but this group has suffered a lot of attrition at receiver and along the line. Jones had the offense clicking last year when Ryan Broyles caught 14 balls in a 58-17 whipping of the Cats in Manhattan. This year Jones has a lot of new faces around him and this offense is more prone to stopping itself, as evidenced by six three-and-outs in the opener at UTEP.

    The red zone battle will be a critical strength-on-strength matchup, as Kansas State has no peer, save maybe Michigan, when it comes to red zone defense differential, while Oklahoma is perfect in the red zone this year and has been fantastic in short yardage since installing physical backup quarterback Blake Bell in the "Belldozer" formation last year.

    Oklahoma quarterbacks were sacked 11 times last season. This year's Sooners have already allowed three sacks to UTEP and five more to Florida A&M. Oklahoma is about to face a team with 30 seniors, a Hall of Fame coach, a Heisman-candidate quarterback and the best defense the school has fielded since 2003. Oklahoma is tough to beat in Norman, but this year's team has some issues and K-State has a good shot here.

    The pick: Kansas State 31, Oklahoma 28

    East Carolina Pirates at North Carolina Tar Heels
    North Carolina is favored by 16.5 points
    TeamRankings win odds for East Carolina: 14 percent

    Larry Fedora inherited a lot of offensive talent, and the team took to his new system well in the offseason. After opening with a rout of Elon, the Tar Heels overlooked Wake Forest and lost a sloppy game by a point. Ticked about that, they started sluggishly at Louisville last week en route to a 36-7 halftime deficit. The Heels then woke up and outscored the Cardinals 27-3 in the second half. That run rekindled the optimism in the locker room and restored some much-needed confidence. This team is feeling good again, preparing well and is ready to play its best game this week.

    The renewed focus comes just in time to face an East Carolina team that the Tar Heels coaches know well from their days in Hattiesburg. The Pirates just notched a road win against Fedora's old team, and knowledge of their former Southern Miss players provides the UNC coaches great context in assessing this week's film.

    East Carolina has been outgained in every game this year and has demonstrated neither sharp execution on offense nor signs that the defense can handle ACC-caliber playmakers. North Carolina has too many horses and is ready to roll this week.

    The pick: North Carolina 52, East Carolina 17

    Arizona Wildcats at Oregon Ducks
    Oregon is favored by 23 points
    TeamRankings win odds for Arizona: 7 percent

    [+] Enlarge
    Scott Olmos/US Presswire
    Marcus Mariota and Oregon's offense will be too much for Arizona.
    Oregon is the only undefeated team in the nation yet to cover a game. The Ducks built second-quarter leads of 50-3 and 35-3 in their two wins against FBS competition but were back-doored both times. A big underdog's backdoor firepower is always a significant handicapping factor, and 23 points is a lot to give a ranked Arizona team that seems to fit the mold. Matt Scott and Ka'Deem Carey are starting to remind folks of the backfield combo of Pat White and Steve Slaton that Rich Rodriguez coached at West Virginia, and the Wildcats are racking up more than 600 yards per game so far.

    That makes the favorite hard to swallow at this price, but we can't endorse the visitors in this spot. Arizona is just three games into its transformation into Rich Rod's powerful high-tempo spread rushing attack. That transition is certainly off to a great start, but it's still just three games, and now the Cats are about to face the reigning grandmasters of that style of offense. Oregon has been the best spread rushing team in the nation since Rodriguez and White left Morgantown. The Ducks see it in practice every day, and they'll be ready to give the Wildcats a lesson on how it's really done.

    Arizona must go on the road for the first time to a place that has been very difficult on visiting teams, to face a team that is hungry for a test against better competition. The Oregon defense is the best of the Chip Kelly era, and that unit has gotten an earful about its reserves giving up so many second-half points. This is a statement game for longtime coordinator Nick Aliotti's charges, and while the price makes Oregon unattractive, we can't endorse an outmanned road underdog in a spot where the favorite has something to prove.

    The pick: Oregon 48, Arizona 17

    Air Force Falcons at UNLV Rebels
    Air Force is favored by 10.5 points
    TeamRankings win odds for UNLV: 20 percent

    The Air Force offense is far more experienced than its three returning starters suggests and can probably deliver the 30 points and 300 rushing yards per game that have become program standards. The defense is greener, especially along a smallish front, and is vulnerable to downhill rushing attacks like Tim Cornett-led UNLV.

    The Rebels are bigger, stronger, faster and deeper than they've been in several seasons. Cornett has given this offense something to build around, and three years into the Bobby Hauck era the team finally has an established identity. The Rebs have had a shot to win on the final possession of each of their three losses. The defense couldn't handle Washington State's skill in the passing game last week, but progress was evident on both sides of the ball and the matchup with the Falcons' attack is much more favorable.

    UNLV is very familiar with conference foe Air Force and has led the last three home meetings in the second half. This year's squad is improved everywhere but the win column, and in the last of four home games to start the season, the Rebs are ready to make a stand.

    The pick: UNLV 28, Air Force 27

    Clemson Tigers at Florida State Seminoles
    Florida State is favored by 14.5 points
    TeamRankings win odds for Clemson: 16 percent

    [+] Enlarge
    AP Photo/Steve Helber
    Can Tajh Boyd lead Clemson to a win against FSU?
    Florida State is an excellent but somewhat overrated team that's rarely found at-value prices. The Noles have the most impressive roster outside the SEC, and while we almost never entrust our money to Jimbo Fisher's program, we're not exactly anxious to fade this powerful Florida State edition, either.

    The Seminoles enjoy a big advantage in the trenches here and deserve their status as double-digit favorites. If Florida State has a weakness at any position group, it's the offensive line, and Clemson doesn't have the defensive front to capitalize on that soft spot. The Tigers' offensive line is definitely taking the worst of it in this matchup, although at least that group is getting a lot healthier for this game.

    The Tigers have won five of seven (and covered six of seven) in the series, and at this price their elite skill players could conceivably sneak them in the back door even if the Seminoles dominate early. It also helps Clemson that new defensive coordinator Brent Venables faced Florida State the past two seasons while at Oklahoma. The price looks about right on this one.

    The pick: Florida State 35, Clemson 21

    Quick hitters
    South Florida Bulls (minus-10.5) at Ball State Cardinals: Cardinals quarterback Keith Wenning continued to build his legend as the MAC's Comeback King in a last-second road win at Indiana. We'll again endorse the nation's most underrated team, as Pete Lembo & Co. host a reeling South Florida squad that likes to beat itself.
    Ball State 34, South Florida 31

    USC Trojans (minus-16.5) at California Golden Bears: We use the term "bubble-burst" to refer to teams that are unable to summon the motivation to put their seasons back on the rails after goal-wrecking losses, and the Trojans appear at least to be a candidate. Teams coming off such losses are seldom good plays, and as 2007 Cal, 2000 Alabama and 2008 BYU all demonstrated, can underperform for the rest of the season after the bubble is popped. It's difficult to read this early in the week, but if the Trojans are indeed still in the tank, they'll go down again to a confident Cal team that has ample playmakers and is coming off an encouraging moral victory at Ohio State.
    California 35, USC 31

    Michigan Wolverines (plus-4.5) at Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Notre Dame's defense turned in an inspired effort for bereaved leader Manti Te'o last week, and the chances of a full encore against a more capable Michigan offense are slim. The underdog has dominated this series, and the points look appealing in what should be a competitive game between two elite programs with excellent coaching staffs and bright immediate futures.
    Notre Dame 28, Michigan 27

    Nevada Wolf Pack (minus-8) at Hawaii Warriors: Hawaii coach Norm Chow is transitioning his new team from their familiar run-and-shoot to a pro-style power attack. That's a work in progress, and right now the Warriors lack the punch to trade scores with a Nevada outfit that's really rolling.
    Nevada 41, Hawaii 21

    Connecticut Huskies (minus-1.5) at Western Michigan Broncos: A fantastic defense and the Big East's best coaching staff give the Huskies a shot at the league title despite a pedestrian, one-dimensional offense. Western Michigan hung 38 on Connecticut in Storrs last season, but this year a drained, banged-up Broncos team coming off a physical battle with Minnesota will be outclassed by a tough defense looking for some redemption.
    Connecticut 27, Western Michigan 14

    Will Harris writes about college football for ESPN Insider, including his Man vs. Machine Upset Picks column, which appears every Thursday. He has covered the sport for more than two decades and has been an analyst for ESPN.com since 2007.
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  2. #2 RE: Upset Alert 
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    Tar Heels No love for ECU in Chapel Hill. Big time in-state recruitment game for Eastern NC talent. Not much of a rivalry, but ECU's staunch hatred of everything Carolina usually backfires on them. Many of these players played against each other in high school, so I see the Heels stepping up for this one in a game that only matters east of I-95 in North Carolina low country...

    It's my 10 year reunion and I cant make it to the game


    The comeback vs Ville that never was


    It bothers me FSU hasnt been tested, but I like them here if Clemson cant stuff them.

    Cal may me a good shout, but whew.

    Really think Arizona State lays a whoopin on Utah after Utah won its GOY vs the other rival cyclists. Bad spot for the Utes.

    Good stuff.


    [hr]
    ***Love Michy here too. Sell high on one of the most over hyped stocks of all time. Shit, ND wins two games and they are traded like Apple.
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  3. #3 RE: Upset Alert 
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    Quote Originally Posted by tron1979
    ***Love Michy here too. Sell high on one of the most over hyped stocks of all time. Shit, ND wins two games and they are traded like Apple.


    Apple hit 700 this week and I was waiting for the sell-off, hasn't happened yet. I thought it would jump back down to about 650 but apparently there are more hippie investors than I thought. Most financial advisors wont touch apple but its still almost as high as the S&P index

    But yea, I think mich is a good play here. ND is a huge public team when they're good, and denard can keep mich in a game with anyone

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