So much for the party crashers. I’m as much a fan of anyone of equal rights for all in the FBS. If a team outside of one of the major conferences earns its way into the big bowl conversation by beating every team on its schedule, they deserve their opportunity to bask in the limelight. Besides, it’s fun to watch the occasional David vs. Goliath showdown.
But the truth is that neither of the two non-AQ entries looking to pilfer a BCS bowl bid were legitimate this season. Northern Illinois is a solid squad in spite of the disaster last night against Bowling Green. But they were never any better than the mid-30′s as far as their overall ranking was concerned. As for Fresno State, which bit the dust in pretty spectacular fashion last week at San Jose State, the Bulldogs were remarkably overrated all season and I didn’t have them in my top 50 nationally.
The losses by Northern Illinois and Fresno State also showed once more that must win doesn’t necessarily mean will win. Both teams were under intense pressure to get the job done, and neither was up to the task. But that’s not a malady restricted to smaller programs. The big names can be just as vulnerable. Keep that in mind when breaking down the top games on today’s Championship Saturday slate.
I settled for a split on Friday, with both right sides winning and both wrong sides losing. I flat out missed the boat on another play that got there easily. But no damage done, the early returns for December are encouraging and it looks like a great card today. There’s still an opportunity to jump in on my monthly special, which includes a very impressive guarantee. Get all the details easily by firing off an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No sweat on the Friday free play as Oklahoma City rolled past the Pelicans in NBA action. I’ll switch back to the colleges for today’s comp.
12/07 02:00 PM CB (571) FRESNO STATE (572) UTAH
Take: (572) UTAH -10.5
One of the most important rules in handicapping is to not overreact to an injury. But when evidence is presented that the impact is really significant, it makes sense to try and capitalize on the injury.
That’s the case today as Fresno State heads into Salt Lake City to take on Utah. The Bulldogs looked like a team to keep an eye on at the end of last season. They showed quite a bit of improvement as the season progressed and the key guys were all going to be coming back.
Unfortunately for Fresno State, much has transpired between then and now. Kevin Olekaibe is playing his senior season at UNLV, and a couple of useful big guys off the bench got injured. But the biggest blow came a few games back when Tyler Johnson went down with a foot injury.
Johnson is tremendously important to this team. Sophomore transfer Cezar Guerrero has been terrific so far, but Johnson is the key to the team as far as I’m concerned. The Bulldogs are 2-1 since he went down. But they were basically blown out after grabbing a big early lead against Drake, and needed OT to slip past a couple of mediocre opponents.
Those aren’t good signs heading into Utah, and the fact Fresno is now basically a seven man unit doesn’t inspire confidence playing in altitude. I don’t like the Bulldogs here for all these reasons.
As for Utah, I’m impressed. Larry Krystkowiak has this program back on the rise to respectability. The Utes are off their first loss of the season, but they gave Boise State a huge battle before succumbing by just two points. Soph Jordan Loveridge and junior college transfer Delon Wright looks like a keeper.
I think the number is catching up to Utah and that their under the radar status is pretty much gone already. But this looks to me to be a good matchup for the Utes and I’m expecting them to deliver with a comfortable win today. I’ll look to lay the points this time with Utah.