Can Tennessee block out distractions and beat Vandy? Who are the locks of the week? Read in this week's Locks & Keys.
At this point of the season, do you really want me to wax poetic about Tennessee or the state of college football affairs? I didn't think so. It's Cuonzo Martin time, baby!! Let's get straight to the L&K.
FIRST, A QUICK LOOK BACK
SHEP (Week 11: 4-2, Total 38-28)
- Louisiana Tech -20.5 over Texas State. Louisiana Tech is really bad at playing defense. Really really bad.
- Northwestern +10 over Michigan. Chicken dinner. Northwestern covers for Shep again.
- Penn State +8 over Nebraska. Penn State blows. When are people going to realize this?
- Kansas State -7.5 over Texas Christian. Collin Klein is arguably pretty good at football.
- Tulsa -3 over Houston. Kudos on this pick. Houston is atrocious at football.
- Boise State -29 over Hawaii. Good pick. Hawaii is so very very bad at football.
KID B (Week 11: 3-3: Total: 34-32)
- Kent State-6.5 over Hipster Miami: I give you free MACtion every week.
- La. Tech-20.5 over Texas State: La. Tech can score. We still know this.
- Notre Dame-19 over Boston College: Seriously Notre Dame? Seriously?
- Minnesota-3 over Illinois: Why would KidB do anything other than go against Illinois?
- Tulane-1 over Memphis: What happened here?
- San Jose State-22 over New Mexico State: San Jose State is simply a covering machine.
I_S (Week 11: 2-4, Total: 36-30)
- UConn/Pitt under 44. Twenty four plus seventeen equals forty one. He got it.
- New Mexico +2 over Wyoming. where I_S goes cripple fighting...and loses
- North Carolina -8 over Georgia Tech. wherein I_S goes dabbling in the ACC...and fails.
- SMU -14.5 over Southern Mississippi. Good pick. USM is ho-horrendous at football.
- Marshall -3 over UAB. Daaaaaaayyuuuum. Marshall got whupped.
- Tulane -1 over Memphis. This trendy pick killed everybody.
ONTO THE LOCKS
SHEP'S "Retaking the Lead In Style" PICKS
- Northwestern +7.5 over Michigan State. The Spartans are reeling after losing three of their last four, and though the Wildcats aren't world beaters, they've been solid this year under alum Pat Fitzgerald's tutelage. I'm not sure I like the smart kids to win this game, but much like the Michigan tilt last week, I think they'll cover.
- Kansas State -13 over Baylor. There are a lot of folks out there who think Bill Snyder's Wildcats are going to slip sooner rather than later. I don't buy it, and I certainly don't buy it in a game against a team that cannot play a lick of defense. The Bears are Tennessee, plain and simple. And K-State has Collin Klein. I'll continue to ride them and him, thank you very much.
- Ohio State +2.5 over Wisconsin. I absolutely love Montee Ball, but I have a hard time believing -- even as well as the Badgers are playing -- that Urban Meyer's Buckeyes are underdogs in this game. I think Braxton Miller is going to prove too much for Wiscy, and I like the Bucks in a close one.
- Washington -20.5 over Colorado. Maybe this isn't such a smart bet. After all, the Huskies aren't one of those teams that normally put up a ton of points. I'm a huge fan of Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Bishop Sankey, though, and the Buffs are just absolutely abysmal. I can totally see this game being 28-7, which would be scary but cover.
- Arkansas State -3 over Troy. That guy named Troy nearly beat Tennessee, but I'm almost certain that Gus Malzahn's team could beat the Vols right now -- and I know they'd play better defense. [That's still not complimenting ASU's defense]. Still, the Fighting Guses are really good on offense, especially now that David Oku is clicking. I like them to win this game and easily.
- Miami -7 over South Florida. The once-proud Hurricanes are really, really struggling this year, but South Florida is having an even more depressing season, and now, quarterback B.J. Daniels is out for the season after breaking an ankle in a 13-6 win over UConn. I think Al Golden's boys will win this one by double digits.
KID B'S "Finishing Strong" PICKS
- UTEP-3.5 over Southern Miss: This is a case of bad vs really bad. If that doesn't inspire confidence in you, rest assured that Southern Miss is really bad. I can't recall the last time they were even competitive in a game of football that wasn't played in standing water. And they appear to be getting worse as they got blown out this past week by a bad SMU team.
- USC-3 over UCLA: Ed Orgeron hates UCLA. He'll have the defense fired up for this one. And we already knew that USC could score points. And score points they will. Just remember how bad this game was last year. Do you really think UCLA has gotten THAT much better?
- Purdue-6 over Illinois: I've gone against Illinois A LOT this year. And every time I've gone against them, they've hooked me up with their putridity. The B1G is really bad this year. Iowa is bad. Minny is bad. Purdue is bad. Indiana is bad. But Illinois is a different kind of bad. And so once again I'm backing bad in a matchup of bad vs. really bad.
- Kent State+2.5 over Bowling Green: I watched part of the Bowling Green game last week, and they're not atrocious. But Kent State has been juggernauting all over the conference for weeks now. I had this game handicapped at Kent State-4.5. And when KidB sees a 7.5 point differential, he takes it.
- Buffalo-11 over UMass: Okay, so UMass wins one game over freakin' Akron and Vegas knee-jerk-reacts this week's line to Buffalo-11. Do what? If this game were played last week, what would the spread have been ? Buffalo-18? The fact of the matter is that Buffalo isn't actually half terrible this year. They're coming off wins against Hipster Miami and Western Michigan. I think they roll the Minutemen by a sizable margin.
- Iowa State-6 over Kansas: Kansas has started to show signs of life, but I'm still not buying them. Their MO the entire year has been to play a tight game then get blown out. They took Texas Tech to overtime last Saturday, so I'm expecting them to get blown out this week.
- New Mexico +10.5 over Nevada. I missed on the Lobos at home last week, but why should Nevada be laying double digits to anybody not named Hawai'i? Here are the teams they've beaten by double digits this year: Hawai'i (45), Texas State (13), Northwestern State (11). So basically, unless you're Hawai'i, FCS, or recently FCS, you should keep it close against Nevada.
- UNLV +1 over Wyoming. Missed on Wyoming last week too, but am going back to the well because I don't know what to do with this week. UNLV is really good at home. That's about all I got.
- Cincinnati -6 over Rutgers. Makes me nervous to lay points against a team with a good D, and Rutgers certainly has one. But they got overrated early by beating USF and Arkansas teams that people once actually thought were good (not even making this up), and then have won a lot of ugly games against ugly teams. Cincy isn't that ugly. Mostly, I just tend to notice when a ranked team is a 6-point underdog to an unranked team. Looks like bait. I won't take it.
- Purdue -6 over Illinois. I think the Kid covered the reasons for this pick.
- ECU/Tulane over 61. Both of these teams have been playing almost non-stop shootouts recently. Why stop now?
- USF +7 over Miami. I just don't know what to do with this week. A lot of lines about where I would put them. The few lines that look low have extenuating and/or scary circumstances. I know BJ Daniels is out, but Miami has the ACC title on the line next week, and they can be forgiven for playing an ugly game this week against a USF team that always plays them an unreasonably ugly game.
FIVE KEYS FOR TENNESSEE
- Make Us Believe You Want To Play In A Bowl. The last time UT was faced with a win-or-go-home game, they lost to a converted wide receiver at quarterback and a Kentucky team that will go down as one of the worst losses in program history. The rumors circulating after that game were about how Tyler Bray, Da'Rick Rogers and Co. didn't want to play in a garbage bowl anyway and they played like it. Do they want to this year?
- Score 50 points. Seriously, that's what it's going to take to win most likely. As much as I hate to say it, this defense -- as we all know -- is historically bad, and the Commodores want this game more than any game of the year. James Franklin can make his career in this game, and they're already bowl-eligible. The Vols are going to have to come out guns blazin', especially with Curt Maggitt out.
- Revenge Factor. During last year's recruiting process, four-star Brian Kimbrow spent time on twitter and in the media trashing the Vols. Now, he wants nothing more than to run around and by Tennessee in leading Vanderbilt to victory. With Zac Stacy out, Kimbrow will get his share of touches. It's time for the Vols to put him down.
- Force Turnovers. Jordan Rodgers has been really good lately, and of course, the Vols defense hasn't been. If UT is going to win this game the way few think they can, they need to get some big plays to turn the game the way they did in last season's overtime win.
- Continue To Block Out Distractions. They failed to do it last week, and many team members acknowledged this week that Derek Dooley and his staff's future was affecting the way they are playing. This team was competitive against some quality opponents early in the year and they all of a sudden get beat by Mizzou last week? They are clearly one that can't focus on the game. If they don't do it this week, the Vols will be a laughingstock in their own state.