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Against All Odds: NCAA/NFL Picks Week 8

Every week, Mr. Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich, takes on his father, Michael J. Drakulich (MJD), in picking 10 games against the Vegas spread. Pitt, Penn State, and West Virginia, when they are playing, will always be on the slate among the five NCAA games chosen, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, covered by Mike Drakulich for NGSCsports.com, will be included alongside 4 other exciting NFL match-ups.

Two weeks ago, the Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-10, and their fans went bonkers in rabid delight, as they had finally witnessed a Browns victory over their hated rivals who had owned them since returning to the league in 1999. Then the Browns and their fans were brought back to earth after being pounded by winless Jacksonville Jaguars 24-6. I can emphasize with them a little, as I had my arm raised in victory after seeing that for the first time all year, I had had finally bested my dad in weekly picks. Then I realized that I was still just a pedestrian 5 -5 for the week, so the joy turned to “meh” real quickly.

So here we are again, delving into ten games against the spread. I’m reading through trends, weather reports, and injury lists. I’m doing all I can to start doing what I’ve consistently done in the past, which is winning an average of 6-7 games a week, and hardly ever under .500.  Pitt finally won a game for me last week, and West Virginia, as has become the norm, buried me again. I feel like the tide is going to turn in my favor this week. Time…and games shall tell.

Lines as of 10/24/2014

NCAA

Saturday

(4-3) Pitt (-3) OVER Georgia Tech (5-2), 3:30 PM / MJD picks Pitt

Pitt, like they’ve done the previous three times against Virginia Tech at home, took care of business behind a strong defensive effort, and an impressive running game. This week, Georgia Tech visits Heinz Field, and Pitt’s defense will have to contend with the Yellow Jacket’s triple option offense. This shouldn’t be anything the Panthers haven’t seen before, as they’ve faced the same offense in Navy many times. LB Todd Thomas should have a busy day making plays. Pitt QB Chad Voytik needs to avoid poor turnovers, and it would behoove him to send a pass towards one of his tights ends once in awhile. Georgia Tech is giving up 28.3 points a game and is bad against the run. Voytik, RB’s James Connor and Chris James could be in for a big day on the ground.

 

(6-0) 1 Mississippi State (-13.5) OVER Kentucky (5-2), 3:30 PM / MJD picks Mississippi State

Kentucky was rolling along well during the 2014 season, and then they ran into LSU and were buried 41-3. Now they get the joy of facing the #1 team in the nation in Mississippi State, who does give up a lot of yards per game defensively. In the end, Kentucky is still Kentucky, and as they learned last week when they faced a real team, the Wildcats will be in for another long day at the hands of the Bulldogs. This could get real ugly.

 

(5-2) 22 West Virginia (+1.5) OVER Oklahoma State (5-2), 3:30 PM / MJD picks Oklahoma State

West Virginia is one of those teams that drive you insane, because you never know what team you are going to get from week to week. They struggled to beat Texas Tech, yet totally dominated previously ranked #4 Baylor last week. This game has me nervous as they are on the road this week, but it’s against a team that is more bark than bite in Oklahoma State. Vegas see’s something, too, as the Cowboys are 1.5 favorites. I think it’s a set-up, and I’m not biting. Hide your couches and get the riot police ready in Morgantown.

 

(5-1) 15 Arizona (-2.5) OVER Washington State (2-5), 6:00 PM / MJD picks Arizona

Here we have another game that is perplexing based on the spread. Washington State can score with the best of them, but they are still 2-5 for a good reason. Arizona was a last second missed FG away last week against USC from being 6-0. All of Arizona’s games have been close contests, which is why the spread is so low in this one. The questions is, will Arizona have a letdown after suffering such a heartbreaking loss, or will they bounce back and work their way towards a possible BCS Bowl? I’m counting on our old friend Rich Rodriguez to keep his team focused to record the victory on the road.

 

(5-1) Ohio State (-13.5) OVER Penn State (4-2), 8:00 PM / MJD picks Ohio State

Penn State started off the season strong, then received even more enlightening news as the program was granted Bowl Eligibility once again by the NCAA. Since then, Penn State has been smacked twice by both Northwestern and struggling Michigan. Now the team gets a visit from the storied team in Columbus, where The Ohio State University has been rolling. “Lumbus”, as some of my cousins may call it, is a nice place to visit, and in the fans from Happy Valley’s case, they may want to go there instead of the game on Saturday night, because as I see the Buckeyes having a field day. Penn State fans may want to stay at the Columbus Zoo instead of witnessing what’s coming for them in this one.

 

NFL

Sunday

(3-3) Seattle (-5) OVER Carolina (3-3-1), 1:00 PM / MJD picks Seattle

This one should be an easy one for Seattle. They’ve dropped two straight, and if they are going to turn the ship around, this is a good place to start. Carolina is awful on defense, and both Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch could be in for big days on the ground. If the Seahawks lose this one, they may want to start adding bourbon as an option to those Starbuck’s up there in the Northwest.

 

(3-3) Miami (-6) OVER Jacksonville (1-6), 1:00 PM / MJD picks Miami

Early in the week, the line was at -3, and has grown to -6. I can still handle that. Jacksonville, like Cleveland did, may suffer a bit of a letdown after recording their first victory last week. They could also capitalize on the momentum. But against Miami’s stout defense, I can’t see it happening. Blake Bortles has a nice future as the Jags QB, and perhaps they have found gold in Denard Robinson at RB, but I like what I see out of Ryan Tannehill so far as Miami’s gunslinger, and that should be enough for Miami to cover this game and win.

 

(5-2) New England (-5.5) OVER Chicago (3-4), 1:00 PM / MJD picks New England

Chicago can’t win at home, but they are 3-2 on the road, so they won’t be afraid to travel to Foxboro at all to face the Patriots. A resurgent Tom Brady has the New England offense rolling again, but they still barely survived the New York Jets last week. There was chaos in the Bear’s locker-room after their defeat to Miami last week. That could lead to righting the ship for Chicago, or it could signal the beginning of the end for the Bears.  Chicago has plenty of talent in Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, and Alshon Jeffrey, but something is just holding this team back. The answers won’t be found this week.

 

(4-3) Buffalo (+3) OVER NY Jets (1-6), 1:00 PM /MJD picks NY Jets

Buffalo travels to East Rutherford as underdogs in this game. Perhaps Vegas is worried about the RB situation with the Bills. I think Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown will be just fine toting the ball for Buffalo, and their defense should create enough disruption to drop the Jets and Rex Ryan to 1-7.

 

(5-2) Indianapolis (-3) OVER Pittsburgh (4-3), 4:25 PM/ MJD picks Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh used to be a place where opposing teams came to die. Last week, there were nearly 8,000 no-shows at the Monday Night game featuring the Steelers and Texans. The crowd was less than enthusiastic as well. That could change this week, as the opponent is better, and the Steelers found a way to win. Somehow, Pittsburgh is 4-3 on the season, and only a game out of first place. Those losses to Tampa Bay and Cleveland still burn badly however in the minds of Steelers fans. Those used to be teams Pittsburgh buried in the past. The Steelers, like the Bears, have superb offensive talent to play with. The problem is, that Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley is holding the vast potential of this offense in check with this style of offense and play-calling. Ben Roethlisberger deserves better. You don’t see the Colts holding back Andrew Luck, do you? Pittsburgh could steal this game, but until I see proof of Haley getting the hell out of Big Ben’s way, the team won’t take any positive steps forward.

 

*Home Teams in BOLD

 

Pick Results:

MJD: Last Week: 4-6 / Overall: 37-30-3  –

PSN: Last Week: 5-5 / Overall: 32-35-3  -5

Author Profile

Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!

From Midland, “The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania”, located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.


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As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides the best opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania.


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