HN Staff’s Six-Pack of College Football Games – Week 4

September 22, 2017

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Hawkeye Nation staff returns for another season of picking the outcome of six college football games against the Las Vegas line. These are for entertainment purposes only:

Penn State (-12) at Iowa

Rob Howe: I feel good about the Hawkeyes’ chances in this game. They relish the role of underdog. For me, it comes down to the mistakes being made through three games. Perhaps they can clean up all the penalties and turnovers but I think Penn State is the more polished team. I’d like the home team here if it were later in the season. That said, I see the Nittany Lions winning, 31-24, so I will take Iowa and the points.

Last Week/Season: 2-4/7-11

Jon Miller: The Hawkeyes have played seven non-bowl games against Top 5 rated teams over the past ten years. Iowa is 4-3 straight up in those games, with the average score being Iowa 21.4 to 17.4. That would be the recipe for another Iowa win this week. That said, I don’t have a good feeling about this one. Penn State is a big play offense, and Iowa will really need some of its 2017 signature long drives to keep the Nits offense off the field. Again, I just don’t have a good feeling on this one and will take Penn State and really hope I am wrong.

Last Week/Season: 4-2/10-8

David Schwartz: The Nittany Lions look powerful, but they haven’t been tested. No, Pitt doesn’t count. But when one considers Penn State’s quick-strike ability compared with the big plays Iowa gave up against Iowa State a couple of weeks back, this doesn’t look like a good matchup for the Hawkeyes. I think Iowa keeps it close for a half before Penn State pulls away and covers the
spread.

Last Week/Season: 3-3/7-11

Sean Neugent: I didn’t care for what I saw last week against North Texas — it seemed like a lazy effort. I didn’t like some of what I saw against Iowa State. But, what I did like? Even when they played bad against the Mean Green, they went out in the second half and outscored them 21-0. Against ISU, they never believed they were going to lose despite a 96 percent chance of it with only a few minutes remaining in regulation. This team has miles and miles of heart. Penn State is a juggernaut that can hurt you in so many ways with RB Saquon Barkley and QB Trace McSorley. The Hawkeyes have not really given me a reason to trust the defense, but I believe they will be up for this game to get some payback from last years beat down. The offense is very solid with some good pieces in the passing game under QB Nate Stanley. Playing in Kinnick Stadium is special and it is going to be loud under the lights. It will take a lot of heart to win this game and I believe Iowa does in a nail biter 23-20.

Last Week/Season: 4-2/9-9

Mitch Smith: The Hawkeyes have played some very memorable games under the lights at Kinnick Stadium. I think we’re primed for another on Saturday. Not sure if Iowa ultimately comes away with the win, but they’ll stay within 12 points.

Last Week/Season: 5-1/13-5

Michigan (-10) at Purdue

Rob: Purdue has been one of the Big Ten’s pleasant surprises this season under first-year coach Jeff Brohm. The Boilers destroyed a sinking Missouri program last week. It’s tempting to take the 10 points with them at home but Michigan is better than I expected after losing a lot of talent to the NFL. The Wolverines were a bit flat last week. I don’t think they will be again for the conference opener. I’ll throw the points.

Jon: In Vegas, a ‘square’ is a novice better. This week, I think a lot of squares are going to jump on Purdue +10…since I don’t bet, I am worse than a square. Give me the Boilermakers!

David: This is the game I’m most looking forward to this weekend. Purdue’s offense has turned around under first-year coach Jeff Brohm at least one season ahead of schedule. Michigan’s defense is really good. Purdue plus the points is my official pick, although I think Michigan wins a tight matchup that leaves the Boilermakers kicking themselves throughout the rest of the
season as this becomes the game they let get away.

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Sean: Something good is finally brewing in West Lafayette under new coach Jeff Brohm. This team took it to Missouri last week and nearly beat Louisville in week one. They play No. 8 Michigan who seems beatable with a little above average offense, but will have to get past their stingy defense. The Wolverines are missing something this year on offense: a big playmaker. RB Ty Isaac is a nice runner at 112 yards per game, however he has 0 TDs on the ground. Not having a homerun threat makes me believe Purdue hangs around. The Boilermakers are leaps and bounds ahead of what they should be, however Michigan is much more talented. QB Wilton Speight leads a late drive down the field for a field goal as the Wolverines top the Boilermakers, 20-17.

Mitch: Jeff Brohm already has two wins under his belt at Purdue. It took previous head coach Darrell Hazell to reach that win total. The Boilers seems to be one of the most improved teams in college football. I’m going to roll the dice and take Purdue to stay within 10 points.

Washington (-10) at Colorado

Rob: These two teams boast stingy defenses. Combined, they allowed just 64 points through three games. That said, they’ve not faced a murderer’s row of opponents. The Huskies’ top win is a sloppy game at lowly Rutgers. Colorado stuffed in-state rival Colorado State. I think Washington pulls this game out but I don’t see it covering 10 points against the Buffaloes in Boulder.

Jon: It’s time for Washington to make a statement. This isn’t always the easiest place to do that. Before the
year, I thought this would be an easy cover, but I am not so sure any more. I’ll still lay the points and take the Huskies, but I don’t like it.

David: The Huskies and Buffaloes missing each other on the schedule was one of last year’s great college football disappointments. Now they meet when both are 3-0. Colorado shored up its defense as last season went on and looks to have continued that into this season, so I’ll take Colorado at home plus a lot of points.

Sean: The Colorado defense needs to focus on QB Jake Browning and make Washington beat them with their running game. On the other side of the ball, QB Steven Montez will need to limit his turnovers (three interceptions against subpar competition) if they want to have a chance. The Buffaloes offense can beat you in multiple ways: Montez is averaging nearly 300 yards per game and RB Phillip Lindsay over 120 yards per game. This will be another close game, but Browning and crew are too much for Colorado on their way to a 37-31 victory.

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Mitch: Hard to tell how good these two teams are based on the cupcake opponents they’ve played so far. That said, the Huskies offense will be too much for the Buffaloes to handle. I’ll take Washington.

Notre Dame (-4) at Michigan State

Rob: The Irish wants to run the ball and MSU is pretty good at stopping the rush but it hasn’t seen an attack this good. The Spartans are improved but still looked challenged on offense. Call it a gut feel more than anything but I’ll take MSU and the points. I think it will be a low-scoring, grind-it-out game.

Jon: An interesting game. Notre Dame went 3-8 last year, Michigan State went 3-9. Which team has gotten better? I
will take Sparty to cover, but if they don’t, I think I am done with giving them the benefit of the doubt.

David: I have no idea. What I do know is this game features two of college football’s most insufferable coaches. Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly is the king of blaming others; MSU’s Mike Dantonio condones his players faking injuries as a defensive strategy. The Spartans might win an Emmy after this coming Saturday’s performance. Notre Dame and lay the points.

Sean: This game is intriguing. The two teams are desperately fighting to put last year behind them with a combined seven wins. Two weeks ago the Fighting Irish lost to No. 15 Georgia—who was playing with their backup QB—by one at home. MSU beat Western Michigan two weeks ago and held them to 116 yards rushing, a 3.2 per rush average. The previous week WMU rolled up 263 yards, a 5.5 per rush average against No. 4 USC. That says something. They will be tested again versus Notre Dame who has a nice ground and pound game with 13 touchdowns. The Spartans will need to key in on backs Josh Adams (7.9 yard average, 2 TDs), Brandon Wimbush (6.4 yard average, 6 TDs) and Dexter Williams (14.5 yard average on 12 runs, 3 TDs) who is a big play threat. Michigan State has not done much offensively to impress thus far, but I believe their defense can propel them to a win. The Spartans won a close game inside Notre Dame Stadium last year and I believe will win a lower scoring game this time around, 28-20.

Mitch: Game is in East Lansing and Sparty looks to be improved. Combine that with my general distain for Notre Dame and I’ll take Michigan State to stay within the four points, and maybe even pull off the win.

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TCU (+12) at Oklahoma State

Rob: This will not be a low-scoring, grind-it-out game. It’s the Big 12, where defense is optional. The Cowboys are receiving some love as a national title contender. While Mike Gundy’s mullet is glorious and quarterback Mason Rudolph is a man even though he’s not yet 40, I want to see OSU’s defense prove it’s championship caliber. TCU is a good football team that’s played better opponents so far. The 12 points are a gift and I’ll take them.

Jon: That’s a big number to lay against a Top 25 team in TCU that has looked worthy of being a Top 25 team…so that’s why I will take Oklahoma State to cover the 12, by halftime.

David: Well well well. Could it be? Could the Horned Frogs be a real-live actual Big 12 team that plays good defense? Which is the real TCU: Is it the one that gave up just a touchdown to Arkansas, or the one that gave up 36 to SMU? (Although that was 18 less than the average of what SMU had scored the two previous games.) Let’s give it a shot: TCU plus the points.

Sean: This one should be fun to watch with plenty of offense to go around. This is a crucial game to start Big 12 play with the winner likely to compete with Oklahoma for the conference title. A spread of 12 points seems like a lot for two teams who like to score. Both teams can beat you through the air and on the ground. Cowboys QB Mason Rudolph is dangerous with over 1,100 yards (380 yards per game) and utilizes three backs with Justice Hill, J.D. King and La’Darren Brown, who are averaging just under 200 yards a game. TCU QB Kenny Hill has a high percentage for completions, while RB Darius Anderson has been the workhorse on the ground with a 6.2-yard average per run and three TDs. Turnovers will be key in a battle of highflying offenses. I like the Cowboys to wrangle the Horned Frogs 52-37.

Mitch: It is highly likely there will be very little defense played in this game (it is a Big 12 matchup, after all). I could see this game coming down to whoever has the ball last, so with that in mind, I’ll take TCU to stay within 12.

Mississippi State (+6) at Georgia

Rob: The battle of the Bulldogs is one of the more intriguing matchups of the weekend. Mississippi State certainly has the more impressive win with its drubbing of LSU last week but Georgia’s win at Notre Dame also stood out. I think these teams are pretty close so I’ll take the six points.

Jon: This line feels like it should be larger, in favor of Georgia. I’ll go with Mississippi State and will
probably regret it.

David: It’s hard to forget the beating MSU put on LSU last weekend. I want to pick Georgia, but if MSU wins straight up I’m going to be really ticked at myself for overthinking it. Still, let’s go with Georgia minus 6.

Sean: This Mississippi State team trucked No. 12 LSU last week 37-7, jetting from unranked to No. 17 in the country. They now set their sights on the No. 11 team in the country, Georgia. Starting QB Jacob Eason, who sprained a ligament in his left knee in the Georgia Bulldogs’ season opener, was in uniform and throwing during practice this week, but it his return is still TBD. Jake Fromm has filled in nicely and has been able to rely on a strong backfield of RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to carry the workload. Georgia likely will not push Eason before he is ready, especially with Fromm playing well and limiting mistakes. Mississippi State will run first with Aeris Williams and dual-threat QB Nick Fitzgerald (a combined 79 carries for 576 yards or about 200 yards per game and 6 TDs), while he also is more than capable at QB with 7 TDs. Had Mississippi State played a close game with the Tigers last week, I believe they would be worn out heading into this game, but a 30 point win gives them nothing but momentum going into Athens. The question is can they knock off two Top-12 teams in a row? I think they can behind Williams and Fitzgerald, as they win the battle of the Bulldogs, 31-27.

Mitch: The Bulldogs will win this game, that is certain. Mississippi State rolled over LSU last week, so I’ll take them to keep the momentum going.

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