Miami-Ohio is currently tied with Ohio at 2 atop the East Division in the Mid-American Conference. Temple is a half- 3. The Owls host Miami-Ohio on Wednesday night in a game that will have huge ramifications in the division.
The RedHawks have the slight edge over Temple considering they have yet to face Ohio while the Owls lost to the Bobcats last Wednesday night, 35-31. Even though Miami-Ohio played last Thursday, the Redhawks should be pretty confident against Temple since they met the Owls on a shorter week in 2010 and ripped them apart to the tune of 23-3.
Last week Ohio put up 35 points and racked up 521 yards of total offense against a Temple defense that came into the game ranked second nationally in scoring and fifth in total defense. Look for Miami-Ohio to exploit a shaken unit just as it did a year ago. Don't forget, the RedHawks played that game without starting quarterback Zac Dysert, who threw for 426 yards in the 2009 matchup, a game Miami-Ohio lost by just two points when Temple kicked the game-winning field goal with three seconds to play. The Owls were favored by 17.5-points that night as they came into the game on a six-game winning streak while the Redhawks were 1-8.
What's extremely surprising is how much support the Owls are getting in this one as they are favored by 13 points. Furthermore, it appears that star running back Bernard Pierce, who rushed for 178 yards against the RedHawks two years ago, might not play.
The Owls will rely on a quarterback making his first ever career start. Chris Coyer took over for Chester Stewart last week against Ohio and threw three touchdown passes while rushing for 184 yards. Can he duplicate those numbers with the pressure squarely on his shoulders against the top-ranked passing defense in the conference...while giving almost two touchdowns?
Take Miami-Ohio plus the points in this week's lone five-star play.
Navy travels to SMU in a non-conference matchup for the Mustangs, who are still mathematically alive for the top spot in the Conference USA's West Division. A lot has to happen for them to overtake both Houston and Tulsa, but they do play Houston the following Saturday. In addition, the Mustangs have already reached the six-win plateau so beating Navy isn't as important this week as knocking off Tulane a week ago.
The Midshipmen have won seven of the last eight meetings against SMU, including all four in Dallas. Two years ago they came into Gerald Ford Stadium as seven-point underdogs and walked out with the overtime win.
This year has been a bitter disappointment at 3-6, but a chance for postseason play still exists if they can win their final three games. Unfortunately, all three are on the road. However, take away the Notre Dame game (played without their starting quarterback) and the Midshipmen have lost just once by more than three points.
Take Navy plus the points.
Penn State hosts Nebraska in what will be an interesting atmosphere on Senior Day at Beaver Stadium with all that has transpired in Happy Valley. Don't expect the players to be focused with the task at hand - stopping a Cornhusker squad that is coming off a home loss to Northwestern. The Nittany Lions are the most overrated team in the country and it will show as they get blasted at home by Nebraska.
Take the Cornhuskers minus the points.
Not only has the Oregon State Beavers won 10 of the last 12 meetings against California, but they have taken five straight on the road. They are also 7-2 ATS over the last nine meetings, including five as underdogs.
The Golden Bears are favored once again, this time by a shade under 10 points even though both teams are 2-4 in league play. Moreover, Cal has its most important contest next Saturday at Stanford while Oregon State hosts Washington.
Take the Beavers plus the points.
Two of the worst teams in the SEC hook up in Nashville as Kentucky takes on Vanderbilt. The Commodores appear to be much improved over last year at 4-5, including some close losses against the likes of Arkansas, Florida, and Georgia. However, this is still Vanderbilt we're talking about - a team that is favored by double digits over Kentucky.
The Wildcats won their first Football Bowl Subdivision game since September last Saturday when they blitzed Ole Miss, 30-13. Maxwell Smith started for the injured Morgan Newton and threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns. Also, running back CoShik Williams rushed for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns replacing Raymond Sanders in the starting lineup.
Vanderbilt was favored by 11 points six years ago over Kentucky and lost 48-43. This time the Commodores are giving 13 points. Expect similar results.
Take Kentucky plus the points.
Air Force hosts Wyoming in a matchup of two teams with five wins. Still, the home team is 1-3 in league play while the road team is 2-1. It's not surprising to see Air Force favored, but what is shocking is the number of points the Falcons are giving - between 15 and 16. This is a team that has struggled all season long, including last week against Army.
The Black Knights played without starting quarterback Trent Steelman, committed five turnovers, and outgained the Falcons, and still led 14-0 at halftime. Air Force scored 24 unanswered points to take it 24-14, but this is obviously not the same squad that won nine games in 2010.
Wyoming led TCU last Saturday until late in the third quarter before the Horned Frogs won by 11. The Cowboys did benefit from +5 in turnovers, but they are playing much better than they did a year ago.
These two teams have played close games of late with five of the last six games decided by 10 points or less.
Take Wyoming plus the points.
Other three-star plays are the under in Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech and Alabama-Miss State, as well as the over in Wisconsin-Minnesota and Kansas State-Texas A&M.
Go with Kansas (hosting Baylor), Florida State (against Miami), Stanford (versus Oregon), UAB (at Memphis), and Southern Miss (hosting UCF). There are no One-Star picks this week.
AFTER 10 WEEKS
The overall 10-week total now stands at 46-68 (1-2 in week 10) with a .500 record (32-32) over the last five weeks. My Five-Star plays are 4-3, the Three-Star selections are 15-23, the Two-Star plays are 15-25, and the One- Star picks are 12-17.
As a reminder, the Five-Star plays are when my Power Plays and Key Plays coincide. The Three-Star choices are my personal picks, the Two-Star plays are the "power number" picks (games with at least a five-point differential between my line and the actual line), and the One-Star plays are my personal secondary selections.
THIS WEEK'S JEFF FRANK'S "DIRTY DOZEN"
1) LSU, 111.5; 2) Stanford, 110; 3) Alabama, 109.5; 4) Oklahoma, 106.5; 5) Wisconsin, 106; 6-T) Oklahoma State and Oregon, 104; 8-T) Boise State and Florida State, 102.5; 10) Notre Dame, 97.5; 11) Georgia, 97; 12) Houston, 96.5
(The Top 12 is not a reflection of a given team's won-loss record. It's based purely on power rankings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all 120 FBS teams are assigned a power number, which then changes on a week-to-week basis depending on how each team played.)