Off a 2-2 showing in Week 11 I’ll be looking to get things back on track here in Week 12. Still up money for the season though and as long as that’s the case I’m a happy camper. Here’s what I have for this week…
Florida State (+1.5): I know this play won’t be very popular and it honestly might be the most contrarian play on the board, but I’m taking a shot with the Seminoles here at home against Boston College. Boston College is ranked in the top 20, sits at 7-3 and is working on a very nice season. FSU on the other hand is only 4-6 and has lost 3 straight games by a total margin of 148-51. Right now FSU is at as low of a point as the football program has seen in about 40 years. If you want to get into “buy low” spots I don’t think you can do better than this. The Noles have a bowl streak of 38 straight years and they’ll need to win their last two games this season to keep that streak in tact. It won’t be easy as they’ll have to beat Boston College and then Florida to do it, but I expect a max effort type of showing in this one with that streak on the line. As far as Boston College there are issues at QB this week as Anthony Brown is still banged up and recovering from being knocked out of the game last week against Clemson. If Brown can’t go it’ll be EJ Perry filling in. The Eagles are a team that does most of their damage on the ground so in fairness to them a drop from Brown to Perry wouldn’t be the end of the world. What could create issues for them however is the Florida State run defense. Right now there aren’t a ton of things the Seminoles do well, but defending the run is one of them. As a team they only allow 3.4 yards per carry which is tied for 20th best in the nation. Led by Dillon the Eagles are averaging 203.9 yards rushing per game and you’ve got to figure that’ll be their main plan of attack here considering the issues at QB. I think the FSU defense has a good chance of being able to hold BC in check and keep them around 17-21 points or so. On the offensive side of things there’s no denying it’s been a shaky year for Florida State but QB Deondre Francois is still a hell of a player. He’s going to play in the NFL and if he decides to leave school after this year then this is going to be his last home game. Despite playing behind arguably the worst O-Line of all power 5 conference schools he’s put up solid numbers and is the unquestioned leader of this team. Long story short, I think we a very inspired effort from Florida State and they win a 24-20 type of game.
Nebraska (+2.5): Don’t look now but Scott Frost has got the Cornhuskers playing some pretty good football over the last month. In their last 5 games the huskers are 3-2 and the two losses were by a combined 8 points at Northwestern and at Ohio State. You wouldn’t think it with a 3-7 record but they actually have quite an offense. Martinez has been playing lights out at QB lately and at about 60 yards rushing per game he adds that element as well. Also on the ground they have the solid duo of Ozigbo and Washington who have combined for about 1400 yards and 15 TD’s on nearly 7 yards per carry. Between those 3 they have a great ground attack and with the progress Martinez has made a passer you now have a very dangerous offense. In their last 4 games they are averaging 45.5 points per game and are far from just some team that’s playing out the string in a rough season. Frost has them buying in and really playing hard. On the other side we have Michigan State and frankly I just don’t see their offense having the firepower to hang with Nebraska here. The brutal truth is this team can’t really run the ball, they can’t pass, and they struggle to move the ball and put points on the board. I don’t mean to overly critical but at some point you just have to call a spade a spade. This is a very shaky offense and nothing comes easily for them at all. Since hitting conference play they are only averaging 16.6 points per game and they haven’t gone over 24 points once. I will concede that they have a defense edge over Nebraska and as is the case in most seasons Sparty is hanging their hat on the defensive side of the ball. Ultimately though I just see too much firepower on the Nebraska side. That offense is really humming right now and as I mentioned earlier and perhaps more importantly they care, are having fun, and playing hard. I have enough respect for the Spartans defense that I don’t think they’ll get run over or anything, but even if Nebraska manages their way to 28 or so that’s probably more than Michigan State can manage offensively. I think Nebraska wins and I’ll make a prediction of 27-21.
Minnesota (-1): A lot to like about Minnesota in this one or perhaps more accurate to say a lot to dislike about the Northwestern side of things. The Wildcats are coming off an upset win over Iowa that locked up their spot in the Big 10 championship game. Now they stay on the road and take on a Minnesota team that needs this win to become bowl eligible. They’ll have another shot next week at Wisconsin, but they’ll be a clear dog in that game and realistically if they want to play a bowl game they’ll need to win this one right here. Not to overly simplify this one but you have one team with nothing at all to play for, and the other still with plenty on the line. Not to pile on Northwestern any further but the truth is there isn’t much about this team that scares you. They’ve taken on the identity of Fitzgerald and are a hard nosed team that plays very physical football and wants to just punch you in the mouth for 60 minutes. The pass attack is below attack is below average, the running game is below average, and in general the offense is well below average. 4 of their 6 conference wins were by 4 points or less and it’s a minor miracle they’ve made to 6-1 in Big 10 play and wrapped up their spot in the title game. I give Fitzgerald all the credit in the world for doing what he’s done but the fact is this team is massively overachieving. Switching over to Minnesota we have a 5-5 team that as I mentioned is fighting for their bowl lives. They are off a 41-10 win last week over Purdue and now have that good taste in their mouth as they look to keep it going this week. Tanner Morgan has taken over at QB and while he’s nothing special, I think it’s clear that he’s been an upgrade over Annexstad. On the ground Ibrahim has really emerged and is now at over 100 yards per game rushing and nearly 6 yards per carry. They have a nicely balanced offense and it rates clearly above Northwestern’s. I know the line has already seen a lot of movement but I don’t think it matters here as I’m fully expecting the Gophers to win this game. If Northwestern proves me wrong then so be it, but their overachieving combined with the situational angle on both sides just has too much here for me to pass on.
Florida State (+1.5)