Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Roundup: September 7 Part One

About Today:

Weber State @ Utah, 11:00 AM on Pac-12 Network. Line: Utah (-27.5)

After a hard fought come from behind win last week, Utah should get a chance to relax a little against FCS opponent Weber State. Head Coach Kyle Whittingham won't hear any of that though as he posted the final scores from the eight games that saw FCS teams beat FBS teams last week in the Utes locker room and has spent the week preaching to his team about staying focused. I love the way Whittingham is treating this game and that makes me think this game will turn out even worse for Weber State.

I want to see how Utah establishes its run game on offense. The tailbacks are usually the feature part of the Utah offense and it will need a run game this season to set up its best asset, Travis Wilson throwing deep off play action. the Utes struggled to produce on the ground last week (although they were efficient with the run on 3rd down and in the red zone), so with an out manned defensive front coming to Rice-Eccles Stadium, I expect to see Utah get its running backs going and show what this offense can really do. I'm taking Utah to stage a blowout and cover the big spread, 45-7.

Oregon @ Virginia, 12:30 PM on ABC. Line: Oregon (-24.5)

After what essentially amounted to a bye week against Nicholls State to open the season, the Ducks schedule picks up in a hurry as they travel across the country to meet the Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville. The Oregon coaches have heaped effusive praise on the Cavaliers defense, particularly their four man defensive front led by tackles David Dean and Brent Urban who dominated BYU into submission last week. Oregon coach Mark Helfrich also talked glowingly about Virginia pass rusher Eli Harold whom Helfrich likened (perhaps a little too favorably) to Dion Jordan. Personally, I think Virginia has a solid defensive line and a few other decent parts at other spots on the team but I don't think they are nearly as good as the Oregon coaches are making them out to be.

We might see Oregon struggle through the first quarter because of jet lag, dealing with the humidity, or any of the fun things that always come with the first road game of the year. the bottom line though, is that Virgina has a fairly lackluster offense that will struggle to take advantage and simply does not possess the athletes or the depth on offense or defense to hang with the Ducks. Oregon pulls away to win in a landslide, 45-14.

Portland State @ Cal, 2:00 PM on Pac-12 Network. Line: Cal (-27.5)

After a tough loss in the debut of the Sonny Dykes era, Cal remains at home in Berkeley to welcome in the FCS Vikings. There isn't much to say about this match up: PSU has no hope of covering Cal's receivers, Cal has the Vikings out manned on both lines and should be able to simply lean on them, and PSU has nothing close to the team speed necessary to keep up with Cal's athletes or its play calling tempo. There will be a lot of points at Memorial Stadium today but most will be from one team. I think this line is way too low and Cal will put up some big numbers, build some confidence, and have its key players resting on the sideline in the second half to get ready for the red letter date against Ohio State at home next week. The Bears crush the Vikings, 52-17.

Central Arkansas @ Colorado, 5:00 PM on Pac-12 Network. Line: Colorado (-13.5)

Sonny Dykes warned his team that they are not as good as everyone is telling them they are after last week's big win over Colorado State. That may be true, but the Buffs are not nearly bad enough to have real trouble with Central Arkansas. It will be important for CU to stick to its new identity in this game. Last week, the Buffs established themselves as an efficient passing team that utilized its receivers with a lot of short passes and run after the catch opportunities and held down CSU on defense with terrific sound fundamentals and a superior "thinking man's" game.

Colorado has CAU's secondary outgunned and I want to see them stick to their new identity and rip CAU with big plays in the passing game. I sense that Vegas isn't buying into the new day dawning in Boulder just yet judging by this line being so low. Luckily for my picks and your wallet, it is a new day in Boulder and CU should take apart this team with efficiency and mistake free football. I will take the Buffs to cover, 38-14.

Record against the spread this season: 6-5

Record straight up this season: 8-3

That's it for part one and four of the eight games kicking off today. I'll have part two and the other four games coming along a little later.

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