When all else fails — trends, technicals, power ratings, the due factor, alignment of the stars, etc. — look to the coaching.
That’s been a time-tested maxim in predicting the outcome of college football games, and it certainly showed last week.
For instance, Bob Stoops at Oklahoma prepared his team masterfully and simply dismantled Iowa State in a game that was supposed to showcase Heisman frontrunner Seneca Wallace and vault the Cyclones into national prominence. Instead, Stoops underscored why his teams are a phenomenal 10-1 against Top 10 schools.
At this point in the season, players tend to over- analyze games and rely too heavily on statistics. Let’s take a lesson from the Oklahoma-Iowa State debacle and find more coaching mismatches. There could be an interesting one down in Tallahassee.
Notre Dame (+11) at Florida State: It’s possible the Seminoles have the better athletes who are playing at home. But FSU coaching this season has been inconsistent and often ineffective. Conversely, Notre Dame’s Ty Willingham proved against Air Force last week and throughout his 7-0 season that he is brilliant in preparing the Fighting Irish for battle. He’ll have his undermanned troops prepared and they’ll find a way to stay under the number.
Miami (-21) at West Virginia: Okay, the Mountaineers had their fun in overwhelming Syracuse last week and Rutgers the week before. But don’t forget how pathetic they looked against Maryland. They’ll lapse into that same ineptitude against a Miami defense that may have had their feathers rustled against Florida State two weeks ago. The Hurricanes could have the number covered by the half.
Iowa (+4Â½) at Michigan: Iowa continues its march through the Big 10, but will have its hands filled with the Wolverines this week. Michigan keeps winning, but can’t cover the spread (2-5 ATS this season as a favorite). This game will go down to the wire with a field goal likely supplying the margin. Thus Iowa is the play.
Nebraska vs. Texas A&M (-5): With its loss at Oklahoma State last week, Nebraska is now a perfect 0-3 straight up and ATS on the road this season. That trend will continue at A&M this week as the Aggies clamp down on a one-dimensional Nebraska “attack” and win by three touchdowns.
USC at Oregon (-1Â½): Oregon may be reeling from its come-from-ahead loss to Arizona State last week, but coach Mike Bellotti will have his Ducks quacking by kickoff. One loss in the Pac 10 isn’t a catastrophe. This game will also showcase a mismatch in coaching, with Bellotti besting the Trojans’ Pete Carroll.
Penn State (+6) at Ohio State: This is one of the better matchups this week, and one that could shape the Big 10 race. The nod goes to Penn State, which has been dominant so far in league play. Joe Paterno seems to have found new life; maybe it’s his ongoing feuding with the officials!
Washington State (-9) at Arizona: We don’t usually favor going against the home conference underdog, but we’ll make an exception with a poorly-coached, undermanned Wildcats team. Plus, the Cougars have had two weeks off and they handled this same group by 27 points last season at Tucson. Another blowout could be in the offing.
Last week: 3-4.