Scuzz Model: Getting Back to Good
So that was painful; especially because I watched it in person, surrounded by thousands of gleeful cheese-heads. That being said, with one exception, I’m content to write off that game as an aberration. The exception? NU’s red-zone offense. This issue seemed finally put to bed last year, mostly by Colter’s excellent decision making, but even the read-option isn’t getting it done inside the 10 this year. That won’t fly in the B1G – and if this team is going to regain the respect they had coming out of the OSU game, they have to get better when they have a chance for seven.
Outside of that flaw, I thought the Cats’ defense was phenomenal for about a quarter and a half. They tackled well, kept the RBs in front of them, applied pressure to Stave, and were disruptive in creating turnovers. When your offense perpetually goes 3-and-out, and can’t get you any meaningful field position, things start to break down, and that’s exactly what happened to the defense on Saturday. Yes, they got pushed around by an awesome offensive line – but who didn’t think that would happen going into the game? Frankly, who didn’t think that would happen against OSU too? The value proposition of the team is bend-but-don’t-break D that forces turnovers, and a dynamic ball-control-multiple offense who’s versatility and execution make it near impossible to defend, and by creating and sustaining long drives, take some pressure off the D.
The defense was living that definition, but just got hung out to dry by an offense that was stalled by poor execution from the players, and little-to-no adjustment or creativity from the coaches. Luckily, the Cats come home this week (I’m really happy they don’t have to go on the road again this week) against a clearly weak team in Minnesota which even a vanilla attack should be able to score against. Don’t bet on a blowout though – it’s just not how this team rolls – unless we really steamroll them on the ground, I think the team will keep it simple this week and try to execute the basics more than anything else.
Not surprisingly, NU’s statistical profile took a huge hit this week. 7-8 wins expected, and a lower winning percentage in every matchup here on out. According to the model, last week was the worst matchup for NU, and this next game is the best; this is the time for the Cats to turn-around the drop off from the last couple games, and build up to a strong finish.
Last #B1G comment… I’m fascinated with how the home teams (other than Purdue) played on Saturday… Wisconsin looked much better than previous viewings (@ASU, @OSU), Penn State beats Michigan after getting blasted at Indiana last week, and then that same IU team was utterly dominated at MSU. The takeaway for me? Going on the road in this conference is damn hard (again, except for Purdue).
This Week’s Picks:
Straight up: 254-72 (77.9%)
ATS: 179-133 (57.4%)
Blog Picks: 22-11 (66.7%)
Week 1: 4-1
Week 2: 2-2
Week 3: 5-0
Week 4: 3-2
Week 5: 3-1 (+ 1 push)
Week 6: 2-3
Week 7: 3-2
Much better for me than the model last week, as I was over .500 – the model did get Texas (+14) and Penn State (+3) right though. Here are this week’s picks:
Louisville (-10.5) vs Central Florida: We know this UCF team can play, but I think Louisville knows this is their last chance to appeal to voters against a team with a big win. Definitely an upset alert going into the day, but I think the UL defense is awesome and underrated. That + Bridgewater = victory. Scuzz model likes the Cardinals by 12.
Duke (+2.5) @ Virginia: Here’s the word – Duke is decent this year, and after dominating an ok Navy team, I was pretty surprised to see them as underdogs on the road this week. Scuzz Model likes Duke-Dukity-Duke by 5.
Oregon State (-10.5) @ Cal: I wanted to pick UCLA over Cal last week but the line was just too large (the model got it right though). This week, the best passing QB in the P12 gets to throw on this weak defense. The model has the Beavers by a ton.
Michigan (-10) vs Indiana: In a running theme, the Indiana-gets-massacred-on-the-road thing seems like a pretty good bet. I think those Michigan coaches are hearing the “conservative play-calling” criticism in their sleep as well, and will drop the hammer on Saturday to appease the faithful. Model likes the Wolverines by 15.
Buffalo (-20.5) vs UMass: I was shocked to see UMass not only be favored last week, but also to get a win and cover against Miami (Oh). This week, they face the 2nd best team in the MAC, who have been blowing folks out. Model likes Buffalo to romp by 29.
Other Notables:NU (-7) vs Minnesota
Ohio State (-16) vs Iowa
Purdue (+26) @ MSU
Wisconsin (-10.5) @ IL
LSU (-7.5) @ Ole Miss
Texas A&M (-13.5) vs Auburn
Already Obsolete BCS Championship Hunt:
These are all the remaining undefeated teams in FBS. After losing two (Stan, Mich) this past weekend, at least one more will go down on Saturday as Clemson & FSU battle one another. Louisville & Missouri are officially on upset-watch too, particularly the latter coming off a huge win sans their quarterback.