Upset Watch: Week 3

Last week was certainly an improvement on the first week, but still not where I want to be with regards to my winning percentage. After starting off 1-6, I went 3-4 last week, with all three of my wins coming with teams who won straight up, despite being underdogs. We turn the page on week two of the college football season, and start week three with Rutgers travelling to Tampa, to take on South Florida.

If you followed the Upset Watch last season, you know I pick five underdogs to cover the points, a favorite to cover, and I preview the Michigan game.

Be sure to check out my website, Before Visiting the Sportsbook, throughout the week, for more content.

Recap:

Wins

Maryland (2-0) +13.5 @ Temple (1-1). Result: Maryland 36 Temple 27.

North Carolina State (1-1) +2.5 @ Connecticut (1-1). Result: North Carolina State 10 Connecticut 7.

@ Northwestern (2-0) +3.5 Vanderbilt (0-2). Result: Northwestern 23 Vanderbilt 13.

Losses

Washington (1-1) +23.5 @ LSU (2-0). Result: LSU 41 Washington 3.

New Mexico (1-1) +41.0 @ Texas (2-0). Result: Texas 45 New Mexico 0.

Wisconsin (1-1) -7.5 @ Oregon State (1-0). Result: Oregon State 10 Wisconsin 7.

@ Michigan (1-1) -20.0 Air Force (1-1). Result: Michigan 31 Air Force 25.

This Week

Three games pair top 25 teams against one another, all taking place in the late afternoon/early evening. (#18) Florida travels to (#23) Tennessee in their annual rivalry game, at 6:00 PM ET on ESPN. The Vols have looked better than anticipated, especially with the loss of WR Da’Rick Rogers, while Florida has struggled offensively. At 7:30 PM ET, (#2) USC hits the road to take on (#21) Stanford, on FOX. The Trojans have failed to cover in both of their games to date, while the Cardinal demolished Duke last week. The game of the week pairs (#10) Michigan State playing host to (#20) Notre Dame, at 8:00 PM ET on ABC. Both teams have had a blowout and a scare this season, with the Irish taking care of Navy and scraping by Purdue and Michigan State scraping by Boise State, but handling Central Michigan.

Upset Watch

@ Maryland (2-0) +3.0 Connecticut (1-1). Teams last met in 1942, with Maryland winning 34-0. Since 1998, Maryland is 29-6 hosting non-conference opponents. Last year, Maryland got drilled, 38-7, at College Park. Connecticut Coach Paul Pasqualoni is 22-28 (24-25 ATS, 12-11 ATS as a favorite) since 2002; Maryland Coach Randy Edsall is 69-56 (65-50-2 ATS; 32-27 as an underdog) since 2002. Connecticut is 1-1 ATS, with the win coming against Massachusetts week one. Honestly, I’m surprised the Huskies are a favorite here. I don’t give Pasqualoni much as a coach, and I think Maryland isn’t as bad as originally thought. That said, I don’t see the Terps being bowl eligible, but I see them starting 3-0.

Navy (0-1) +8.5 @ Penn State (0-2). These teams last met in 1974, but this will be the 38th meeting. Penn State leads the all time series 18-17-2. Penn State Coach Bill O’Brien is 0-2 (1-1 ATS, 0-1 ATS as a favorite); Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo is 32-22 (25-25-1 ATS; 12-7 as an underdog). The Nittany Lions, heading into the 2012 season, had won 25 straight games against non-BCS teams by an average score of 41-9. In the last five years, Navy is 3-2 SU in road openers (3-2 ATS). Since 2007, the Midshipmen are 15-11 SU on the road (15-9-2 ATS, 12-4-1 ATS as an underdog). Take Navy to cover the points and keep it close, especially with a poor Penn State kicking game.

North Carolina (1-1) +3.5 @ Louisville (2-0). Visitor is 1-3 in this series. Tar Heels are 4-0 in the last four years in non-conference true road games (3-1 ATS). Cardinals are 6-2 since 2004 in hosting non-conference BCS teams. Louisville Coach Charlie Strong is 16-13 (16-13 ATS, 7-7 ATS as a favorite); North Carolina Coach Larry Fedora is 35-20 (30-24 ATS; 8-5 as an underdog). In the past three meetings, the team with more passing yards is 3-0. I originally had the BYU/Utah game here, but Jordan Wynn’s retirement made me change my mind. Strong and Fedora were on staff of the 2004 Florida Gators, Ron Zook’s last team and Strong’s first game as head coach (bowl game). I thought the loss of Michaelee Harris for Louisville was huge, and the reason why I changed my pick of the Cardinals winning the Big East. I still think North Carolina is among the best teams in the ACC, despite their inexplicable loss to Wake Forest last week. I like UNC straight up here.

Bowling Green (1-1) +7.0 @ Toledo. Home team is 11-3 in the last 14 games. Falcons last win at Toledo was in 2008, when they won 38-10. Since then, BSU is 1-2, including a 33-14 loss in 2010 at the Glass Bowl. Toledo Coach Matt Campbell is 2-1 (2-1 ATS, 0-1 ATS as a favorite); Bowling Green Coach Dave Clawson is 15-24 (20-19 ATS; 15-11 as an underdog). Bowling Green is 4-1 ATS against Toledo in the last five meetings. The Falcons have lost back to back games to Toledo and could lose a third straight, but this year’s BGSU team is better than last year’s and this year’s Toledo team is not as good as last year’s. Take BGSU with the points.

Colorado (0-2) +15.0 @ Fresno State (1-1). Colorado leads the series 4-1, but Fresno State won the last meeting in 2001, 24-22. Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter is 1-1 (2-0 ATS, 1-0 ATS as a favorite); Colorado Coach Jon Embree is 3-12 (4-11 ATS; 3-8 as an underdog). Fresno State is 8-8 against BCS schools since 2007 (10-6 ATS); they are 4-2 at home against BCS teams (4-2 ATS), but Fresno State has only been a home favorite once against a BCS school (-2, Cincinnati 2010 – Fresno State won 28-14). Colorado is bad, really bad. But is Fresno State really more than two touchdowns better? I like the Buffs to keep this one between 7-13 points.

Sure-fire Favorite

@ Michigan State (2-0) -2.5 Notre Dame (2-0). The last time Notre Dame beat Michigan State in back-to-back years was 1993 and 1994. Visitor has lost four straight, but have seven straight wins prior. The team with more rushing yards is 13-2 in the last 15 meetings. Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio is 62-39 (50-43-5 ATS, 27-21-1 ATS as a favorite); Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly is 69-32 (51-42-4 ATS; 20-9-2 as an underdog). Both Dantonio and Kelly spent time at Cincinnati, helping to turn the team into the Beast of the Big East, in their time in the Queen City. Nine of the last 12 have been decided by single digits, with four of the last seven decided by a field goal. Last time here, the game was decided by the now famous "Little Giants" play. The intangibles make the difference – Notre Dame has a big night game looming against Michigan while Michigan State hosts Eastern Michigan. Further, MSU is 10-4-1 ATS against Notre Dame since 1997. I like the Spartans to cover here.

Gameday Prediction

Charley Molnar is 0-2 straight up. Coach Molnar is 0-1 in games on the road, 0-2 in non-conference play, and 0-0 against teams in the top 25, at the time of the game. Coach Molnar is 0-2 against the spread and 0-2 ATS as an underdog.

Brady Hoke is 59-53 straight up (13-12 at San Diego State, 34-38 at Ball State, and 12-3 at Michigan). Coach Hoke is 57-46-4 ATS (38-30-1 at Ball State, 12-10-2 at San Diego State, and 7-6-1 at Michigan) and 26-18-2 (16-8 at Ball State, 5-6-2 at San Diego State, and 5-4 at Michigan) against the spread as a favorite.

Michigan and Massachusetts have met once, back in 2010, in Ann Arbor. Michigan was a 29-point favorite, but narrowly escaped with the win, beating the Minutemen 42-37. Michigan’s offense put up 525 yards (284 rushing and 241 passing), but allowed 439 yards of offense from the then-Kevin Morris coached team.

Since 2002, the Wolverines are 14-1 against MAC teams (average score of 36.7-12.5; average score of 38.4-12.4 excluding 2008-2010).

Since 2007, Massachusetts is 2-2 ATS and 33-27 SU. The Minutemen have been outscored 82-6 in two games this year by Connecticut and Michigan. Michigan was a 39-point favorite against Delaware State in 2009, their largest favored margin in the past five years. The Wolverines rolled the Hornets 63-6. Last year, Michigan beat Minnesota in Ann Arbor 58-0; Michigan was favored by 20 in that game.

Michigan is 6-0 SU and 4-2 ATS as a double-digit favorite under Coach Hoke (he is 9-0 SU and 3-4-2 ATS at San Diego State and 6-2 SU and 3-5 ATS at Ball State since 2007).

Michigan faced a tough offense in Air Force last week, barely emerging with the win. Thankfully, the Wolverines won’t be seeing that type of offense the rest of the year. Michigan welcomes in the Minutemen this week, who might be the worst team in college football. Indiana destroyed Massachusetts last week, and Connecticut took care of them the week before. Michigan does face Notre Dame next week, so expect that Michigan’s attention may be a bit divided. RB Michael Cox, former Michigan Wolverine, and QB Kellen Pagel lead Massachusetts in Ann Arbor, but don’t expect much from the Minutemen. It would be a surprise if UMass scored a touchdown, let alone anything, against Michigan. The Wolverines are more than capable of dropping 60+ on Massachusetts, but the questions are where the focus lies and when the backups will enter the game.

@ Michigan -45.5 Massachusetts.

Michigan 52 Massachusetts 3.

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