I had a solid little 4-2 week to rebound from the 0-5 bye week disaster so we're back on our feet and headed in the right direction again. It really should've been a 5-1 week for me and I'm a little miffed at the Auburn-Arkansas game, because when you take a 6.5-point dog and the game goes 4OTs or whatever it was, I mean you got that game right, right? There should be a gambling provision about that. But I'm not bitter. Really, I'm not. I'm going to make a buck or two before the season ends, you'll see.
The Vegas View staff (my daughter and me) is a little short on time (and patience) this week, so let's get right to it.
How FlaTerp fared (season record in parenthesis):
Maryland vs. spread: Won (5-2)
Maryland straight up: Lost (5-2)
Overall vs. Spread: 4-2 (23-23-1)
How you all fared: Unless I didn't look hard enough, I don't see any results from StatJax this week. Pretty sure you all went 0-6 and I'm winning now.
Maryland (2-5, 0-3)
at #10 Iowa (7-0, 3-0)
Line: Iowa opened as a 17-point favorite and has fluctuated between 17 and 17.5 since. We'll use 17.5 because I don't like pushes.
Trends: This is a big line for any conference game and so the public, who always loves a dog, has been siding with Maryland throughout the week. The split, however, is not that dramatic and nowhere near the 80-20 territory that gives me conviction to take the team on the short side. At this time of this writing Friday morning, Iowa's drawing 66% of the action, which is just kind of meh when it comes to influencing my decision to pick one side or the other. I kind of feel like I'm on my own here, although Vegas hasn't done anything with this line to try and balance it so you could say the wiseguys are looking for a Maryland cover.
My pick: A Maryland team with a terrible coach and quarterback really kicked some Hawkeye behind last year in one of the more pleasing wins of our B1G era. I think I remember Andre Monroe running circles around Iowa's elite tackle whose name I'm forgetting (my research department has the morning off, sorry) and getting a couple sacks. Well, this Iowa team seems to be much better than that one, although we'll see if they hold up to their top-10 ranking. I kind of doubt it, to be honest, but you can't discredit them too much because they've got two road wins over ranked teams.
Iowa's m.o. is pretty vanilla but their thing is toughness and discipline, two characteristics that Randy Edsall's Maryland sorely lacked. Last week's Terps, in a game loss to Penn State, were a lot of things, but disciplined was most certainly not one of them. What's good, though, is that Maryland's real sore spot was its secondary and Iowa just isn't the vertical team that Penn State can be with their golden-armed QB Christian Hackenberg. Rushing offense (22nd nationally) and team defense (10th nationally surrendering just 15 PPG) are where Iowa lives, and Maryland is actually pretty good at containing the run, so the hope here, as an in-the-tank Maryland homer, is that the Terps will force Iowa to get creative if the Hawkeys are actually going to have any shot of covering this spread.
Kirk Ferentz is many things, but creative isn't one of them. If Maryland tries to get in a rush-off with Iowa, the Terps are not going to be as good as the Hawkeyes at it and the game could get away. If Maryland continues the "just have fun" strategy from last week and slings it around a little bit while limiting the mistakes, I like this to be a close game -- much closer than 17.5 points.
Pick vs. the spread: Maryland +17.5
Game pick: Iowa 28, Maryland 24
5 I like
@PURDUE (+7.5) vs. Nebraska: Who doesn't love a home dog? I never met one I didn't at least take a closer look at, and this one sticks out on the big board like a sore thumb. I get why the line is so big and why the public is all in on Nebraska at an 83% clip. It's because Purdue stinks. But let's examine Nebraska a little closer. If you look at this team while forgetting the name "Nebraska" and the good reputation it carries, it's just not a good team and it's shown absolutely zero capacity to win by more than a TD on the road this season. Money line, anyone? I see some upset potential here.
GEORGIA (+2.5) vs. Florida (neutral site): It's an 80-20 game in Florida's favor and I just don't see why. UF's having a nice little rebound season now that Will Muschamp is gone, but the Gators are still a work in progress, have questions at quarterback and haven't been rushing well in recent weeks either. Georgia is pretty much the same Georgia team as any other year -- good but not quite good enough. The Bulldogs got throttled by Alabama -- hard to fault them for that really -- and lost a see-saw battle on the road at Tennessee. UGA is coming off a bye and has won 3 of 4 in the series. I don't see why they're underdogs and I don't get the public's 80-10 affinity for Florida at all.
@CAL (+6.5) Southern Cal: I doubt many of you are going to follow me to the window on this one because USC is coming off a damn nice win and Cal's dropped two straight, albeit to strong opponents. It's 83-17 in favor of the Trojans. If I have to give a reason, I'll just say that Cal is a good, solid, tough bowl team playing at home and that USC is due for a hiccup.
ILLINOIS (+4.5) @Penn State: This one appears to be a FlaTerp special, since the action has been 80-20 PSU's way ever since the line opened at 6.5, but Vegas has acted all backwards and taken two full points away since then -- the exact opposite of what the wiseguys would do if they were worried about getting thumped by an 80-20 split. Vegas is begging you to bet Penn State. They're wrong sometimes, sure, but my advice is never, never take that bait.
@BOSTON COLLEGE (+2.5) vs. Virginia Tech: OK, so i'm rolling with all dogs this week. I'm not proud of it, but that's where all the contrarian plays are so that's where I'll set up camp too. 88% of the public is on the visiting Hokies on the road here. Forget about BC for a moment and think about that. VT is 3-5 overall and 1-2 on the road including a loss at ECU, and we're actually hearing talk about the end of the Beamer era, which to me is absurd. Who else was going to lead VT's rise to prominence from what they were 20 years ago? Anyway, I'm off track. When things are so bad that some fans are clamoring for the retirement of one of the great college football coaches of our time, I think maybe that's a team you shouldn't play as a road favorite right now.