By: CJ Rooks (@cjrooks0415)
Rooks Best Picks Week 5 (09/26/14)
Happy football weekend to everyone and thank you for reading another edition of the Rooks Report. There were not any picks listed on 1010XL last week because of computer issues on my end. I apologize, but I still posted my weekly picks on twitter. Please click the link for proof.
I finished the weekend 3-2. My two losses were the Gators and Akron. The three wins were Mississippi State, New York Giants, and Washington Redskins. My updated record is posted below.
Record on the Year: 13-6
Wyoming +27.5 @ Michigan State: That’s right everyone you read this right. I am taking the Wyoming Cowboys to cover at Michigan State. The same Michigan State that just beat Eastern Michigan 73-14. Do not take this pick until Saturday morning. The line opened most places at – 33 and has plummeted to 27 or 27.5 depending on where you go. That is not public money driving it down. That is all sharp money. The public will force the line back up and that’s when you take Wyoming. I will trust the sharp money on this one. Take the Wyoming Cowboys to keep you entertained early Saturday afternoon.
Arkansas Razorbacks +9.5 vs. Texas A&M (Neutral Site): I am going with the Razorbacks in this one. Yes, Kenny Hill and that Aggie offense are terrifying to play against, but I like Bielema and his team to keep it close. The Razorback offense is not too shabby and I think they play the keep away strategy and run the ball every possession. The line has dropped from the opening number of 13.5. Take the Razorbacks and the points.
Stanford Cardinals @ Washington Huskies +7.5: This line opened most places around 4.5 and 5 and I think that’s all public money driving it up. The public is remembering last week when the Huskies were down 14-0 at home to Georgia State. Washington eventually came back and won 45-14, and will not survive if they are down 14 points against Stanford. I don’t think this game will get out of hand. If you don’t know the coach of the Huskies, it is the one and only Chris Petersen. The same Chris Petersen that was at Boise State and seemed to always have his team stay competitive in big games. Washington has a really good defense and a veteran offensive line. You don’t know the name yet, but Shaq Thompson who plays linebacker for the Huskies is a great player. The Cardinals have a great defense also and that’s why I think this game stays close. Grab the 7.5 while you still can and roll with the Huskies.
Missouri Tigers +5.5 @ South Carolina Gamecocks: I know I am doing it to you readers again. Taking a team that just lost to Indiana and now will play on the road in South Carolina. Here me out though. Missouri was asleep last week for that game and will not play like that in South Carolina. If we know anything about the Tigers its that they always seem to surprise us. The Gamecocks just had trouble with Vanderbilt. I think this game will be a back and forth shootout. I am rolling with the Tigers. The line opened up South Carolina -7 and has dropped to -5 or -5.5. The public is on South Carolina and I say go opposite and take the Tigers.
Cincinnati Bearcats @ Ohio State Buckeyes -17: Yes, I know the Bearcats are the hot team that everyone is talking about. They have a great quarterback in Gunner Kiel and they will attempt to throw the ball all over the field. However, I like Ohio State coming off a bye to take care of the Bearcats with ease. Urban Meyer has had two weeks to prepare for this game and we all know Urbans record when has had multiple weeks to prepare for a matchup. The Buckeyes were embarrassed three weekends ago with a home loss to Virginia Tech and I don’t think they will let that happen again. The line opened at 13 and has climbed all the way to 17. Take the Buckeyes and the points before it gets to high.
Atlanta Falcons @ Minnesota Vikings +3: Once again I am going to surprise everyone and take the less popular team. This line has climbed back up to 3 from 1.5. It opened most places at 3.5. The sharps hit this game when it first came out and now the public is driving it back up. I know the Falcons just blew out Tampa Bay, but they will not do that in Minnesota and against this Vikings defense. The public is hammering this spread between 80-90%. We will go opposite and take the Vikings at home in Teddy Bridgewater’s first start. I think Minnesota will be victorious in Teddy’s first start, but to play it safe take the Vikings and the 3 points.
Green Bay Packers +2 @ Chicago Bears: The Packers have started the year playing terrible and can easily be 0-3 if it wasn’t for a comeback against the New York Jets when they were down 21-3. Why are they favored in this game? This is the same Bears team that just went on the road and won at San Francisco and at New York. This Chicago team is good, but they cannot stop the run. For some reason the only team to run the ball on them was Buffalo. The 49ers and Jets got away from the run game and they ended up losing. The Packers have faced the three toughest run defenses and that is why Eddie Lacy has played so terrible. Lacy will have a field day against Chicago and will allow Aaron Rogers to pick apart this Bears secondary. I also think this game will be a shootout so be prepared for back and forth. Like Aaron Rogers said earlier in the week, “Relax”, take the Packers -2 before it climbs any higher.
By: Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
Florida State found a way to steal a victory against the Clemson Tigers last weekend despite their star, Jameis Winston, being suspended for the entire game. Without getting into too much detail on Winston’s past incidents, lets just hope that this one was his last. One thing that no one can debate about him is that he is truly the ultimate competitor, and maybe sitting on the sideline for a game (even though he tried to dress out http://bit.ly/1CcVUXz) Jameis finally realizes that this game that he loves so passionately, can, and will be taken away from him if he can’t get his act together.
What this team showed me Saturday is that it has an immeasurable amount of heart and determination to help their teammates out in times of need. When the defense stepped up in the second half, Sean Maguire rewarded them by finding Rashad Greene on a deep ball to tie the game up at 17. When the young quarterback Maguire threw a critical interception giving Clemson the ball inside the Seminole 40 late in the 4th quarter, the defense got a strip to send it to overtime. It’s these actions and plays that show a coach and a fan base that there is no game out of reach.
The players wanted this one bad. Yeah, they love Jameis, but this was their time to shine, their time to let the nation know that they are more than a one-man show. That attitude of pride that they instilled within themselves in this game has to make college coaches around the country shake in their boots. This group of elite athletes might have just realized how good they can be.
Realizing your potential is one thing, but going out there and playing up to it is another. This weekend against NC State I expect a landside victory. The Seminoles rallied around their young quarterback who did not play well, and in turn made a National champion winning coach break down in tears because he was so proud (http://bit.ly/1rmvQpm).
With a team oozing talent like this one, the last thing opponents want to see the Noles add to their arsenal is a boost of confidence like they received against Clemson. These players now know and believe that nothing can stop them, including the loss of their Heisman trophy winning quarterback. That confidence will surely translate to the field this Saturday and for Saturdays to come. Losing Jameis might have been the perfect wake up call for the Noles.
By: Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles will be without Jameis Winston for the first half of Saturday’s game against Clemson. This suspension follows an incident where he yelled “offensive and vulgar” comments over a microphone in the student union. The Noles will now be forced to start a redshirt sophomore with zero starting experience. In fact, Sean Maguire has only thrown the ball 26 times in his career!
Before Jameis’ 1st half suspension, I was feeling confident that the Noles, coming off of a bye week, would beat the revenge-seeking Tigers. After Florida State’s dismantling win in Death Valley last season, you’d be naïve to expect the Tigers to come to Doak without their blood boiling. This suspension changes the whole dynamic of the game because you would have to imagine that Clemson’s defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, will be licking his chops at a chance to rattle FSU’s young quarterback early and often.
Jimbo Fisher must be livid with the immaturity of his star player. Fisher now must adjust his game plan in order to hang with Clemson until Winston returns after halftime. The running game will be counted on immensely, and with the uncertainty surrounding Maguire and the passing game. The problem that Jimbo Fisher faces is that the Tigers defense will be expecting a heavy dose from the running game, forcing Maguire to put the ball in the air against a very talented secondary.
Clemson was going to come into this game giving the Seminoles their best shot, and with two entire quarters to build a lead, you have to wonder if the Noles will be in a hole when their star returns? You can only hope that the Seminoles defense will show something that they haven’t shown yet this season: dominance. If the Noles can dominate the Clemson offense led by the average play of quarterback Cole Stoudt, then you have to expect the game to be within reach when Winston returns.
Clemson’s entire season rides on the outcome of this game and the last thing that Jimbo Fisher wanted to do, was to give them any leverage at all. After a season opening loss to Georgia, the Tigers now can put their season back on the tracks by beating the No.1 team in the country in their own house. The Tigers will be pulling out all of the stops; trick plays included (as they like to do). Hopefully the Noles can play a turnover free first half to hold the game at bay while Winston serves his half of suspension. This could the perfect storm for the No.1 team to go down.
By: Carl J Rooks (@cjrooks0415)
The Florida Gators escaped embarrassment and beat the Kentucky Wildcats for the 28th straight time on Saturday.
Kentucky came into this game fired up. Head coach Mark Stoops had his team prepared for battle and they were not afraid. The Gators on the other hand looked like they were the ones taking a cat nap.
Let’s start with what went wrong on defense. For most of the first half they were playing lights out, barely allowing Kentucky to do anything with the ball. The problem though, once Kentucky figured out the Gators weakness, they exposed them. Kentucky’s quarterback Patrick Towles, was completing the back shoulder pass numerous times. Will Muschamp, who is supposed to be the guru of defense had no consistent answer for it. Sure the defense had 3 interceptions, but they gave up a touchdown on a blown coverage and allowed the same play to work too often. Gator fans have to be sick of the defense not playing a complete game. The defense shows up for the first half, and then disappears in the second. Dropped interceptions, broken tackles and bad secondary coverage nearly cost them the game. If the quarterback throws a back shoulder pass every time then switch the defense to a zone or keep it in man and blitz him so he doesn’t have all day to throw it. I am afraid Muschamp will live and die with his beliefs of man coverage and pressure on the quarterback with only four linemen. If he wants to keep his job he must learn to change his ways and create more in-game adjustments.
Where to begin with the offense? I wrote an article two weeks ago praising Kurt Roper. I am not ready to declare him a failure, but someone needs to tell him that Jeff Driskel is not Eli Manning. He is not a pocket passer and he needs to use his feet to gain confidence. Driskel and Muschamp can say all they want about taking what the defense gave them; however there were numerous times Driskel should have kept the ball when he had the option. Not to mention he would throw the ball late, miss wide open receivers and look very timid at times. If you listen to his responses when he spoke to the media he was very defensive when answering why he didn’t run the ball more. You have to wonder if he is worried about getting hurt again. If defenses know Driskel will just stand in the pocket they will continue to pack eight in the box and make him beat them with his arm. If college football has taught us anything, having a quarterback with the type of speed Driskel has is a dangerous skillset. Roper must get him into open space, and keep the defense honest with the option of a quarterback scramble.
As for the rest of the offense, welcome to the Swamp, Demarcus Robinson. Gator fans have waited a long time and it was great to see him dominate in a game. The running backs played well, and the combination of Kelvin Taylor and Matt Jones looks impressive so far. The offensive line did a good job blocking, but other times reverted back to the same problems that plagued them in 2013. The nightmare of two players blocking the same guy returned. Muschamp has gone on record saying that this team is his most complete and the offensive line will get another test this weekend when they face Alabama without DJ Humphries. Too many times a Kentucky player would be left free on a blitz and hit Driskel. The Gators must fix those communication issues before something worse happens against Alabama.
It’s not time yet to jump off the wagon Gator fans. Mushcamp must preach consistency and playing an entire game. It was great to see the Gators pull out a win after being challenged. Last year, the Gators might have folded and allowed defeat. They took Kentucky’s best punch and came out victorious. The Gators will need that same perseverance to win this weekend. Florida will travel to Alabama, and play a very talented team with aspirations of a National Championship. If fans wanted a game to measure this team’s future success, they will get it this weekend. Muschamp will also find out the type of team he has and more importantly Roper will face the toughest matchup he has seen since playing FSU last year in the ACC Championship.
CJ Rooks (@cjrooks0415)
For those of you who read my weekly picks last week hopefully it made you a little bit money. I finished last week 3-2 with the Gators and Titans dominating. Arkansas State was a nail biter and too close to watch for taking. I lost with Colorado State and the Cowboys as both teams were blown out, but still a winning week. As always my picks are below with my updated record and best of luck to all this week.
My updated record: 5-2
Arkansas Razorbacks +1.5 @Texas Tech: If you have watched Texas Tech play this year you will know that they have underachieved and not impressed with close games against Central Arkansas and UTEP. UTEP had a chance to beat them last week, but couldn’t pull it out. Arkansas is in need of a defining win. New coach Bret Bielema did not have a major victory last year and needs this one bad to give fans a little hope. Arkansas will slow the game down with their powerful rushing attack. Get this pick in now because the line is moving fast. Take Arkansas and the points.
Central Florida Knights +10 @ Missouri Tigers: The Knights got a much needed rest after their long trip to Ireland. Even though they lost against Penn State, the Knights figured out who their quarterback is. Sure the Tigers blew out Toledo on the road last week after being everyone’s trendy upset pick, but they have not been impressive. George O Leary is not going to take his team on the road and get blown out. The Knights will be ready and are still out to prove the Knights are for real. Take the 10 points and roll with the Knights.
Mississippi State Bulldogs @South Alabama Jaguars +14: I know I know I am doing this again. Going with a small conference team against a SEC school just like last week. Hear me out though. This is South Alabama’s national championship. They want to upset the giant. The line opened as high as 15.5 in some places and has already been bet down to 14 or 13.5 even though money is on Mississippi State. Grab it while you still can. Mississippi State has not been impressive and will win this game, but it will be much closer.
Tennessee Volunteers @ Oklahoma Sooners -20.5: The Vols are playing very well after an abysmal year last year, but are still very young and inexperienced. Those 21 true freshmen that played against Utah State will be playing their first road game in a very tough environment. Bob Stoops is one coach that is sick of hearing about the SEC dominance and he will not shy away from putting up points. Oklahoma is legit and will smash the Volunteers. Grab the Sooners before it gets to high.
Louisville Cardinals @ Virginia Cavaliers +6.5: Virginia is playing very good football and stood up against UCLA at home and also defeated a pesky Richmond squad that always gives teams trouble. I also don’t like Bobby Petrino and I am sick of all the credit he is getting for rebuilding the Louisville program like it was in such terrible shape. This is an early kickoff I like Virginia here to cover and possibly even upset the Cardinals.
Seattle Seahawks @ San Diego Chargers +6: Yes, I know it’s the Seahawks, yes I know they just blew out the Packers and yes I know this is the same Chargers team that can't even beat the Arizona Cardinals. Now they are going to beat the Seahawks? Don't know the answer to that, but I do think they keep it close. The public is pounding the Seahawks and I say go opposite and take the Chargers and the 6 points
Atlanta Falcons @ Cincinnati Bengals -5: This game is very interesting. The line has opened at 4 some places and is now at 5 while others opened at 5 and haven’t moved too much. This line is interesting because you have both teams coming off huge wins, but you can argue the Falcons had the bigger one. I don’t see the Falcons coming in and keeping focus against an AFC team. They opened up with a big division win, but will not beat the Bengals. The Bengals D is much better than the Saints and I think the Bengals will win this easily. Take the Bengals before it gets too high