Published January 08, 2015
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Texas State was bowl eligible last year at 6-6 but was not selected to play in the postseason. This year will be a different story if the Bobcats can beat Georgia State in impressive fashion.
After defeating Arkansas State by 18 points last week, Texas State should be bowl bound with one more victory, especially since the Sun Belt now has three tie-in bowl games with the addition of the Camellia Bowl. It also helps having both Georgia Southern and Appalachian State ineligible for the postseason since it's their first year coming over from the FCS Division.
Texas State has won three of its last five games with the two losses coming by a grand total of seven points. Last week's 45-27 win over Arkansas State was the team's most impressive victory since upsetting Houston to start the 2012 campaign. Look for the Bobcats to build on that effort against one of the worst teams in the country - Georgia State.
The Panthers have dropped their last 10 games, including the last four by a combined score of 186-52. They also lost their last two home games by 38 points to Georgia Southern and by 42 points to Arkansas State.
Georgia State's run defense is pitiful having allowed 300 rushing yards per game on 6.1 yards per carry. Those numbers should play right into the hands of Texas State as the Bobcats are third in the Sun Belt Conference in rushing behind Georgia Southern and Appalachian State - two teams Georgia State lost to by a combined 82 points.
Another key aspect which should help the Bobcats maintain a large lead is turnovers. Only 10 teams in the country have fewer lost turnovers than Texas State while Georgia State is next-to-last nationally in turnovers gained.
Expect the Bobcats to win big in their final regular season game.
Take Texas State minus 13.5 points in this week's lone five-star play.
With no conference championship to help its cause, and a home game with lowly Iowa State next week, TCU's only challenge comes this Thursday on the road at Texas. The Horned Frogs currently are fifth in the College Football Playoff Rankings so they must put forth their very best effort against the Longhorns in order to impress the selection committee.
Unfortunately, TCU's most impressive performances have come inside the friendly confines of Amon G. Carter Stadium where the Frogs are 6-0. The road has been a completely different story. Their lone defeat came in Waco, a three-point loss to Baylor.
The two other conference road games were tight contests. First, the Frogs escaped West Virginia with a one-point win via a 37-yard field goal at the buzzer. Then, they struggled mightily with Kansas before pulling out a four- point triumph.
Texas is just 6-5 on the season but the Longhorns are playing their best ball with three consecutive victories - two of which came on the road. In addition, the home win was a 33-16 romp over the aforementioned West Virginia Mountaineers.
The key to the game is how well the Longhorns can defend TCU's passing attack. Texas is 14th nationally against the pass so look for Charlie Strong's defense to win that battle and knock TCU out of any final four consideration.
Take Texas plus 6.5 points in the first of three three-star plays.
Western Michigan has been the surprise of the Mid-American Conference with an 8-3 overall record and 6-1 in conference play. The Broncos are tied with Toledo and Northern Illinois for the top spot in the West Division but they cannot reach the conference championship game unless Toledo loses to Eastern Michigan, a highly unlikely proposition.
On the other hand, Northern Illinois is in control of its own destiny due to the three-point win over Toledo on Nov. 11. With a victory over Western Michigan, the Huskies move on to the conference title game against Bowling Green.
Western Michigan is favored by seven in this game. That number seems very high but it matches my line, as the Broncos have moved up 13.5 power rating points since Week 6 while the Huskies have dropped three points since defeating Kent State on Oct. 4.
Despite the line, it is hard to imagine Western Michigan defeating Northern Illinois even at home. The Huskies own an FBS-best 17-1 road record since the start of the 2012 season.
Moreover, even when the Broncos were the better team in 2008 (a 9-4 record to the Huskies' 6-7 mark), Northern Illinois kept the game close before losing, 29-26, as a six-point road underdog. In addition, the Huskies are 9-2-1 against the spread versus Western Michigan since 2002.
Take Northern Illinois plus seven points.
Boise State hosts Utah State in a key Mountain West Conference matchup. The Broncos have won six games in a row while the Aggies have clicked for five. .
Boise State dominated last year's meeting, leading 24-7 before walking out of Logan, UT with a 31-14 victory. However, the Aggies were forced to go with Craig Harrison at quarterback after Chuckie Keeton was injured the week before. Harrison made his first start and was pulled in favor of Darell Garretson. This time around, fourth-string Kent Myers has had plenty of starts having led Utah State to four of the five victories during the current winning streak.
The Broncos are 5-1 in their last six conference games but have not looked as good as their record indicates. Opponents have led (or were tied) in all but one of those contests. The only easy win came last week against Wyoming.
Utah State is Boise State's toughest opponent since the first month of the season. Meanwhile, the Aggies have won four of their last five games by double digits. Look for their defense to hold down the Broncos and keep this one close throughout.
Take Utah State plus nine points.
Take Kent State +3.5 (Akron).
Take North Carolina State +7 (North Carolina) and Georgia Tech +13 (Georgia).
THIS YEAR'S RECORD
My overall record stands at 94-83-5 after a 6-2 mark in Week 13. There were zero five-star selections so the record remains at 8-8. The three-star plays went 4-0 and are 19-12-1 overall. The two-star choices went 1-1 for a 13-week total of 32-29. The one-star plays went 1-1 for a 35-34-4 mark.
THIS WEEK'S JEFF FRANK DIRTY DOZEN
1) Oregon, 105; 2) Georgia, 103.5; 3-T) Alabama and Michigan State, 102.5; 5) Mississippi State, 101.5; 6) Baylor, 101; 7-T) Ohio State and TCU, 100; 9) Ole Miss, 98.5; 10) Wisconsin, 98; 11) Florida State, 96; 12-T) UCLA and Arkansas, 95.5
(The Dirty Dozen is not a reflection of a given team's won-loss record. It is based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all FBS teams are assigned a power number, which changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous week.)