I’m laying the points with the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday. Iowa has been the right side for the last decade in this series, but they’re used to being the team that’s under the radar when they face Penn State. This season, the shoe is on the other foot, and I believe the Hawkeyes will do just fine in the role of a one-TD favorite. I’m a big fan of Kirk Ferentz’ “send four, drop seven” approach on defense. And that powerful unit will face a young frosh QB when PSU’s Robert Bolden steps on the field. He’s going to be in for a rude awakening at Nile Kinnick Stadium, especially if the ground game can’t get untracked. That very well may be the case with a RB in Evan Royster, who’s less than 100% healthy. And it must be noted that Iowa has held Royster to 3.7 yards per carry the last two seasons. Royster wasn’t exactly tearing it up this season until last week’s game with Temple. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes did what it seems they always do when they venture out to Pac-10 country a couple of weeks ago – they lost to Arizona. But this team should have little trouble here. The offense can run or pass, and Rick Stanzi can no longer be referred to as “pick-6 Rick.” After all, the Iowa signal caller has nine TD passes with only one INT so far this season. Iowa is on a 10-3 ATS run as a home favorite of 3 1/2 to 10 points, while the Nittany Lions have covered just two of their last nine as an underdog. Look for those trends to continue in the same direction. I’m laying the points with Iowa on Saturday. Thanks! GL! Scott Spreitzer.
The jury is still out on this Florida State team. They beat BYU with a solid effort, but the Cougars are way down this season. FSU’s wins over Wake Forest and Samford don’t tell us anything, and their loss to Oklahoma was by 30. So, it’s unclear how good this team is. The Cavaliers played USC to a field goal in a game here early, outgaining the Trojans in the process. So I expect another tough fight from there here, again at home. These teams stack-up even on both offense and defense. The Cavs’ defense is ranked No. 19, and the Noles sit at No. 21. On offense, Florida State is ranked 30th while Virginia is ranked 33rd. Granted, the Seminoles have had a more difficult schedule, but the Cavs have shown they are no pushover. Christin Ponder in his fifth year in the program and is not off to a great start. His yards per pass are down 1.5 yards and his INT’s, which were limited to seven a year ago, is at three already. Then Seminoles have not been a good road team, especially posted in the favorite’s role from 3.5-10 points, covering just one of their last 11. Then Cavs have been good following a game where they allowed less than 50 yards rushing at 6-1 ATS. The Noles are just 1-8 ATS in their last nine after a a conference win. They are also just 2-6 straight-up the past three seasons when facing a defense that allows 17 or fewer points per game (Virginia has allowed just 12.3 per contest). This one has live dog written all over it, so I’ll back Virginia.
The MAC opener takes place for both Miami Ohio and Kent St. and it is a welcomed game for both. The RedHawks already have more wins than all of last season, two, but they were not very impressive as they outgained the two foes by a total of only 16 yards. Kent St. meanwhile is coming off two tough games on the road at Penn St. and Boston College but those games help heading into this one despite losing both. The line has completely reversed itself as early sharp money rolled in on the Golden Flashes.
The Kent St. defense is a very under the radar unit. Last season the Golden Flashes finished 51st in total defense and 40th in scoring defense and with seven starters back, improvement was expected and we have already seen it. Kent St. is currently 22nd in total defense including first in the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 61.3 ypg. The Golden Flashes possess three playmakers on defense, one at each level and defensive end Monte Simmons will be returning this week after breaking his left fibula in the season opener.
Miami Ohio was horrible on offense a season ago and things are not much better this season. The RedHawks finished 84th overall and 116th in scoring in 2009 and in 2010, they are 107th overall and 92nd in scoring. The problem here is that they are going to have a tough time against the Kent St. stop unit. Miami has gone from a wide-open, pass oriented offense in 2009 to a careful, run-first attack this year and that is not going to get better against the Golden Flashes.
Offensively, Kent St. has struggled the last two weeks, but let’s face it; taking on Penn St. and Boston College will bog down most offenses. The passing game has been decent behind quarterback Spencer Keith who played well as a true freshman a year ago when he filled in for then starter Giorgio Morgan. He has picked up the West Coast offense very well and will get another weapon back this week. Running back Eugene Jarvis should be back as the sixth-year senior sat out the last two games with a groin injury suffered in a season-opening win over Murray St.
Defensively, Miami Ohio has been pretty solid this season as it is 43rd in the country in total defense but the weakness falls into the strength of the Golden Flashes and that is passing. The RedHawks are 76th in passing defense but more importantly are 94th in passing efficiency defense. They are allowing opponents to complete 65.6 percent of their passes. Miami Ohio has been very good against the run but despite the solid overall numbers, it is allowing 29 ppg on the season.
Kent St. falls into a solid situation as well. Play against home teams that scored 14 points or fewer in their last game going up against an opponent that scored nine points or fewer in its last game. This situation is 39-11 ATS (78 percent) over the last five seasons. Also, Miami Ohio is 0-6 ATS in its last six games after allowing 42 or more points, losing those games by an average of 22.2 ppg. 3* Kent St. Golden Flashes