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SabertStxVii Week 5 College Football Picks

SabertStxVii Week 5 College Football Picks

As the season progresses, the capping style starts to change as stats become more predictive. With this, there are also more situational spots as well where the stats can be completely thrown out. This is a tough week because it is right there in the middle. I definitely have some college football picks I like though. Think I will play more plays this week, but for a smaller amount.

Week 1: 5-3 +3.5* units , Week 2: 6-2 +10* units, Week 3: 3-3, -.5* units, Week 4: 5-2, +6.5u

Overall: 19-10 + 19.5* Units

66%, +4.875 units/wk

3.5* Units, ULM -19 vs. Tulane

1.5*Units, La Tech -3 vs UVA

1* Unit, Ohio State +3 vs Mich St.

1.5* Units, FSU -17 vs USF

1.5* Unit,  Minnesota +7.5 vs Iowa

 2.5* Units, Ole Miss Team Total OVER 12


3.5* Units, ULM -19 vs. Tulane

Honestly don’t even think I should write much about this one. Here is the situation. Tulane is in terrible shape right now, from the top to the bottom. They are starting a QB, DJ Ponder, who has not even been on the team this fall. Ponder is a lifetime Charlie Batch. He was first a baseball player, that just decided to be a backup QB on the football team to stay in shape. Things are so bad right now at Tulane, with personnel and injuries, that they asked for him to come back. He left the team before the spring to pursue a career in baseball.

In the meantime, he was attempting to play minor league baseball, but wasn’t even successful at that. Yes, he has been around the program a long time, but there is a new coach at Tulane, so he doesn’t know the system that well. The playbook will be condensed. On top of that, Tulane has one of the worst offenses, and OL in the nation. They will be getting back their starting RB who hasn’t played this year, but I’m not sure it’s going to matter who Tulane puts on the field.

Let’s review:

1st yr head coach +4th string/cut/baseball player/confused QB + terrible OL = Can Tulane’s O get worse?

This will be the first game that ULM is actually of equivalent size on the line. They should be a 2-1 team, with 2 wins against SEC teams. The only game they were outplayed for the whole game was against Baylor I thought. This team is led by a QB that can score. Sure they haven’t done much on defense, but they won’t have to here. This team is hungry and looking to prove that they are good.

Everyone is asking me “aren’t you worried about a letdown spot for them?” They are 1-2, Pretty sure teams under .500 stay hungry. They will come out blazing here.

Final Score:

ULM 42, Tulane 10

1.5*Units, La Tech -3 vs UVA

I know you guys are very happy with me that I am playing a bunch of games that everyone wants to watch. Sorry.

Let’s review La Tech’s games since they turned it around in 2011:

@Idaho: Win, 24-11

@Utah St: Win, 24-17

SJSU: Win, 38-28

@Fresno St: Win, 41-21

@Ole Miss: Win, 27-7

@Nevada: Win, 24-20

New Mexico St: Win, 44-0

TCU (Bowl): Loss, 24-31

@ Houston: Win, 56-49

Rice: Win, 56-37

@ Illinois: Win, 52-24

Okay, granted, half of these teams are jokes, I get that. But, they do play some good teams in there. Beyond that, they are winning. The team is mature and knows what it takes to pull out the W. This team obviously can score on offense. They are on the road, at another tough place here. I like them because they are very well coached, have a good OL, a good QB, a great WR and a decent RB. Yes, their starting RB went down, but the guy behind him, Kenneth Dixon, may be even better in my opinion.

What it comes down to for me is scoring. I think La Tech will be able to score. No team that remotely has a pulse on offense has had trouble putting points up on UVA. They are used to it, they are mature, and they have a coach that knows what to expect. UVA will definitely have them beat in talent, but I just don’t see them scoring. I don’t like teams that have no big offensive playmakers, and thats the case with UVA here (unless you count their backup QB Sims as their playmaker). UVA will score, but La Tech should more. Expect there to be some QB controversy if Rocco makes some mistakes. Should be an interesting scenario.

Final Score:

La Tech 41, UVA 34

1* Unit, Ohio State +3 vs Mich St.

These teams are very similar in my mind. They both have good defenses. They both are well coached. They both have a playmaker on offense. One team is home, one is not. What gives?

When I break it down, I think the defenses are rather comparable. Both have well coached, stout defenses. What it comes down to for me, is what offense can I see getting it done?

Michigan St. has Leveon Bell. He is an absolute man, and he is very, very good. OSU will stack the box, and make Maxwell try and throw the ball.  Michigan St. has struggled to put up points at home, against any team. They rank 105th in Yards per pass attempt, the most important factor that correlates with scoring over the past 5 years.

Why do I like OSU? Braxton, of course. Yeah, he’s only one person and Michigan St. can focus on him, but unlike Le’veon Bell, if you focus on him running, he can fake the run and throw it, and vice versa. He is an big game play maker. I think he is the X-factor here, and I see him willing OSU to win this game. Also, as good as I think St’s coach is, I think this is the first really big game that Urban wants to win. OSU was embarrassed last year by St. and I think they have a bit of a revenge spot.

Also, the top 6 stats I have that correlate with scoring and winning over the past 5 years: (Yds/pass atmpt, 3rd down conv., Avg Rush Yd., Pass Yards, Compl %). Here are where each rank :


  Ohio St. Michigan St.
  Rank Rank
Yds / Pass Atpt 56.00 105.00
3rd Down Conv 55.00 63.00
Avg. Rushing 28.00 63.00
Pass Yards 83.00 50.00
Compl. % 65.00 87.00
Red Zone TD % 10.00 68.00


Ohio State leads in every category besides one. Argument can be made that OSU has played weaker defenses, which they have, but I see these stats holding true in this game as well.

Final Score

OSU 24, Michigan 20


1.5* Units, FSU -17 vs USF

Yup,  biting on this huge away favorite too. I just do not see how USF does much here on offense.  We’ve now seen this FSU team play a good team. Not only is their defense holding teams, their offense is scoring and its legit. Yes Clemson scored, but they pulled out every trick play in the book to do it. A reason this is a lower play though, is because you have to realize now when you play a top 5 team, these games become the Super Bowl for the underdogs. They are going to throw everything at the Favorite.

With that being said, I think FSU can have a hangover game here and still easily cover this. There is nothing that leads me to believe that BJ Daniels is going to do anything against this defense. This dude couldn’t hit an 18 wheeler from the damn sidewalk as it drives down the road. He is not a good QB.

On top of that, even though it is technically a home game for USF, it is in Florida. I expect there to be quite a few St. fans there.

FSU is better on both lines, skill player match ups, and has a better coach. C’mon son.

Final Score:

FSU 38, UCF 13

1.5 Unit,  Minnesota +7.5 vs Iowa

Honestly, neither of these teams are overly exciting to me.

Both struggle on offense. Neither have played that good of schedules. Both of these teams have decent defense. Minnesota held Cuse to 10 points, and 7 of them were trash points at the end when Minny was playing a prevent D. The most potent offense they played, Western Michigan, put up 23 on them at home.

I don’t see that happening here as I don’t believe Iowa has much to count on offensively. Weisman has been running well, but keep in mind he put up his stats against UNI and Central Michigan. Iowa can’t throw the ball. Iowa has played Northern Iowa, Iowa St., UNI and Central Michigan, and they are ranked 91 in passing offense, 107 in passing efficiency. Are you joking me? Minny has the 11th ranked Pass D from the schedule they’ve played.

Minny is nothing special on offense either. Shortell gives them more options from QB, because he can actually throw the ball.  He threw for 231 yards last week, but no TDs, but even more importantly to me, no ints.

These two teams are dead even statistically, if not having Minny a little better. Finally, in the top 5 stats correlated with winning and scoring, Minny is better in 1 ,2 , 4 and 5.

All these things do not account for a 7 pt spread. Iowa does not have that good of HFA.  Oh yeah, did i mention this is going to be an UGLY game? If you want, I could see the under being in play here too.

Final Score:

Minny 20, Iowa 16

2.5* Units, Ole Miss Team Total OVER 12

As most of you know by now, I have a decent read on Ole Miss. I have fluctuated so many times on what I thought I wanted to play. I was on Ole Miss covering, the over, Bama covering, nothing, and I finally found what I wanted to play.

Let’s tee this one up. Ole Miss is on their way to Tuscaloosa this morning. They are going into Bama and will give what I believe, Bama’s hardest offensive matchup to date. Michigan as you know, is a bit overrated this year if you make them one dimensional. Saban had a month to prepare for the Wolverines, which he will not have here.

Comparing Bama’s team this year to last year, I think they were both stronger offensively and defensively last year. They had tons of NFL players on both sides of the ball, and overall, I think they were a better team. This year they are young on defense as well as offense, but both sides of the line are very, very strong. They will definitely dominate the LOS in this years game, just as they did last year.

What has changed more than Bama though, is Ole Miss. Last year they didn’t have a Offense, Defense, or coach. They now have 2 of the 3. Those of you that haven’t followed the Rebels closely, which I think is a lot of the public perception, think that this years team is this team is just as bad as they were last year.

The public is also seeing what else OM has done this season. They got blown out by the only good team they’ve played in Texas at home. In the Texas game, their starting safety was suspended, so a CB had to move to play that position and they started a CB with no experience. Their offense actually looked good vs. Texas, and should have had 2 more TDs if it weren’t for some very questionable calls. The defense looked much improved last week, but obviously that is against Tulane. Frankly, I don’t expect Ole Miss defense to stop Bama much. They will get worn down on the LOS. Why this helps my play? Well, I expect Bama to score a lot, meaning Bo will have the ball on O a lot with opportunities to score. Also, Ole Miss is the 3rd most aggressive defense in the NCAA by stats found by those at Football Outsiders as well as SB Nation/Football Study Hall. They will be trying to jump routes, blitz, and do whatever they can to get some turnovers. If not, oh well, Bama would probably score anyways. This helps the OM team total as well I think.

There are many outliers about all of the above statements. The difference between the 2011 and 2012 Rebels is night and day. Last year they didn’t have a QB. This year they have Bo Wallace who posses all the tools to be a threat. He can run and can throw (much better than Denard at that). They didn’t have a true offensive playcaller. This year they have Freeze, who has a GREAT offensive mind.

They know that they aren’t going to beat the Tide running the typical read option. They are going to attempt a ton of short, quick passes in attempts to pick up 3rd downs, and then try and beat the young (but unreal) Bama secondary. I think they will have a bit of success, atleast enough to get in scoring range/to score.

Last year OM team total at home was 9 points. Last year they were absolutely awful, especially on offense. I am surprised they scored 7. This year its only 12? The team is so much more improved. If they keep Bo healthy enough/upright and give him a second to throw here, I think OM team can cover this.

For analysis, commentary, plays and randomness, follow @mtsabert on twitter.

12 Responses to “SabertStxVii Week 5 College Football Picks”

  1. Kevin says:

    um . . . Florida State plays USF not UCF; c’mon son. You’re better than that.

  2. jimmyshviers says:

    Really like USF to go under the TT this weekend, the idea of the ever erratic BJD going against that swarming FSU defense just feels like money to me. Only hesitation right now is that it isn’t a very good spot for FSU..

  3. kevin says:

    Love the Ole Miss play, can’t find any sites in Europe that have it though! 🙁

  4. Snow says:

    Thanks for the picks. I don’t think I even glanced at the team total as a possible play for ole miss, but I like it. I got it at 12.5 though.

    Someone else put me on La Tech last week just prior to gametime. Because of that I actually ended up streaming their game. Liked what I saw. I hit their TT which they doubled. Kind of spoiled that number for this week, but do you think it’s still playable at ~30?

    • SabertStxVii SabertStxVii says:

      Snow, thanks for stopping by. Sorry i didn’t get back to this over the weekend — was travelling.

      Glad the total hit for us for Ole Miss. I know the team really well so I always seem to have some sort of play on them.

      I’ve been on La Tech since mid year last year. The team is well coached, and has great leadership.

      Hope you hit their team total as well as the spread! Will be interested to see what their team total is this week against a bad defense UNLV team.

      • Snow says:

        Yep. Hit the total as well. I’m not sure I’m going to mess with the spread on them this week unless it gets below 3 TDs, but will probably sprinkle a little something on their total if it’s under 40, which shouldn’t be a problem against UNLV.

        Thanks again for that ole miss pick! I took a lot of personal flak for that one (I live in AL). Haha. I already threw them in my early line parlay for this week too. Can’t wait to see what you have to say about that matchup.

        • SabertStxVii SabertStxVii says:

          Yeah I may not either but I still see some value in it. I am going to write about it in a piece we should have out this afternoon about all of our initial thoughts, why we like/may not like certain games.

          HA – tough living in Bama, but everyone should have known Ole Miss wasn’t a threat. If that kickoff wasn’t returned for a TD, game could have gotten really interesting. Bama only had 1 sustained scoring drive that wasn’t set up by a turnover or a great special teams play.

          I’ll include Ole Miss in the article this afternoon and thoughts. Any other games your interested in?

          Thanks for following.

  5. Trentmoney says:

    I’ll play devil’s advocate…

    3-score road fav that had to come from 10 down to beat conference rival last week in an intense game, with a conference road game on deck (@ nc st), goes on the road to non-conference team who will play like it’s their super bowl…you couldn’t ask for a better situation to play usf…if i knew anything about them i would

    La Tech was +3 last week vs Illinois…against a team with a similar power rating, goes back on the road for a back to back, but now lays -3…seems like the value is gone to me

    don’t have a dog in the race in either so i will root for you
    texas -2.5 for me
    good luck

    • Trentmoney says:

      actually took -125 ML as Fera is out and i don’t trust that terrible kicker to hit all his xp’s…

    • SabertStxVii SabertStxVii says:

      Trent — good call on FSU. They shoulda still covered this, but i’ll chalk it up as a bad play. I just couldn’t envision how USF was going to score on them.

      La Tech rolled, but their luck may be running out. They keep relying on huge turnovers. It may be skill, but I think they have gotten the lucky end in some regards playing some terrible QBs. Can’t wait to see the line when they get A&M at home.

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