NCAAF: Let Downs -- Week 7

NCAAF: Let Downs -- Week 7

Let Downs -- Week 7
By Judd Hall

All it took was one week to restore order to the college football world. South Florida was the lone Top 10 program to get knocked out last week as favorites posted a impressive 40-12 record straight up. Yet if you were to bet the “chalk” to cover in Week 6, you would have gone 27-23-2 against the spread. I’ll grant you that kind of record would put the sportsbooks out of business, but you’d think that number would have been higher given the lesser quality of opponents faced.

Despite the return to normalcy, there were four teams that came away with either a big win or a close loss. Let’s take a look at all of their matches for this week.

Blue Moon…

Middle Tennessee State was able take advantage of the Owls’ soft defense last Tuesday by scoring two touchdowns in the final six minutes of the game to win, 14-13. Joe Craddock paced the Blue Raiders on offense by completing 24 of 35 passes for 268 yards and both scores.

As good as things look for the Blue Raiders right now, they’re going to be facing a tough challenge at Florida International in a game that has been listed as a pick ‘em by most betting shops. While the Golden Panthers normally would be a pushover for MTSU, they’re playing with a little swagger. FIU took the Rockets to task on the road two weeks ago, winning 35-16. Then the Panthers slaughtered North Texas last Saturday as five-point road favorites, 42-10. It’s hard to see Rick Stockstill’s crew getting up for a road tilt after such an emotionally exhausting match.

Spent Cyclones…

I’m sure I wasn’t the only person that saw the 20-0 Cyclones lead last week at home versus Kansas and thought they were in some bizzaro world where garbage teams can contend. Everything righted itself when the Jayhawks outscored Iowa State 35-13 to leave Ames with a scare…and a win.
   
Some folks would say that should serve as motivator for Gene Chizik’s program this Saturday against Baylor as four-point road ‘dogs. They’d be wrong since ISU let the Jayhawks get back into the game with 117 yards on the ground. Not a lot of yardage there, but they gave up two scores rushing. Now they’re taking on Art Briles’ Bears, who are averaging 218.0 YPG rushing. Baylor signal caller, Robert Griffin, has gained 436 yards this season. Sounds like trouble for a club that is giving up 173.4 YPG.

Tired Illini…

Illinois got to enact a little revenge last Saturday against the floundering Wolverines by winning as a two-point road pup, 45-20. Juice Williams had one of his best outings ever as the Illini’s signal caller by completing 13 of 26 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 19 times for 121 yards and a pair of scores on the ground. Not a bad way to exorcise their 27-17 defeat at home against Michigan the year before.

This week sets up for let down as well with the Fighting Illini coming in as 11½-point home favorites against Minnesota. The Golden Gophers are coming off of a solid 16-9 win against Indiana last Saturday. And they’ve won six of their last eight matches versus Illinois. Plus, Tim Brewster has Minnesota playing much better football this year. I’m not saying the Gophers will win, but they’ll cover.

The ship might be sinking…

I don’t know how the Commodores are doing it exactly, but they’re just finding ways to win. Vanderbilt’s latest victory in the reclamation project came against the Tigers as a four-point home underdog, 14-13. This win was impressive in the fact that Vandy lost starting quarterback Chris Nickson with a right shoulder injury. Mackenzi Adams came in cold to play under center. You wouldn’t know it as he completed 13 of 23 passes for 153 yards for two touchdowns.

Vanderbilt is installed as a 2½-point road “chalk” against Mississippi State. This might seem like a slight for a team that is 5-0 for the first time since even my parents were born. Yet you have to consider a couple things. First, the Bulldogs are playing better football than their 1-4 record would indicate. Hell, they kept close at LSU two weeks ago, losing 34-24. While that doesn’t sound like much until you realize they lost 45-0 to the Tigers the previous season. Now the ‘Dores are coming off of the biggest win in their history for a match in little ol’ Starkville. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sly Croom’s club come up with an upset on Saturday.

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