Week 3 NCAAF GotW: Stanford @ UCF (-7)

PAC-12 Logo     The Elldee Sports Game of the Week for College Football is the Stanford Cardinal at the Central Florida Golden Knights.  Stanford must travel from the friendly confines of Stanford Stadium, 2,800 Miles, to sunny Orlando, Florida.  A prominent Power Five school going on the road to a Group of Five school is not usual but this is not a usual Group of Five school.

The Cardinal (1-1) are coming off of a humiliating 45-20 loss to conference rival USC.  To make matters worse, they were leading early 17-3 before being outscored 42-3 for the rest of the game.  The reason for the drubbing may have been due to the fact that K.J. Costello, the starting quarterback, was out with a head injury.  The good news is that he has been cleared and will be back this week, the bad news is that even when he played in Week 1 against Northwestern, the offense struggled.  UCF is not known for defense so this may be just what the doctor ordered for the floundering unit.

The UCF Golden Knights (2-0) have not had the problems that Stanford has on the offensive side of the ball.  They are averaging 55.0 points per game but have not faced anywhere close to the competition as the Cardinal, playing against FCS foe Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic.  Although the competition was weak, they handled the opponents exactly as they should have, winning by 62 and 34 respectively.  The biggest question for the Golden Knights is who their starting quarterback will be, as they have rotated between the experienced transfer in Brandon Wimbush and the explosive freshman, Dillon Gabriel.

So who wins out?  Tradition or Johnny-Come-Lately?  Power Rushing and defense or Flashiness and Speed?  Stanford or Central Florida?  Playing in Spectrum Stadium, aka “The Bounce House”, gives UCF a decided advantage.  The Golden Knights have won 17 consecutive matches at home and look to extend that this weekend to 18.  The offense is proven and this team is confident.  That should be enough to propel them to victory.  The Elldee Sports Formula is calling for a 37-8 Golden Knights victory.  That final score lends itself to taking UCF -7 and under the total of 58.  Until next time, good luck!

UCF 38 – Stanford 7

UCF -7 & Under 58

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Georgia State @ Tennessee: On Top of Rocky Top

SEC Logo     “Rocky Top, you’ll always be home sweet home to me.  Good ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee”.  If you are a member of the Georgia State Panthers, I would suggest you go ahead and get familiar with those words because you are going to hear it… A LOT!  The Georgia State Panthers are traveling to Knoxville, Tennessee to play at the revered Neyland Stadium.  The familiar confines and checkerboard endzones of Neyland don’t strike the same fear into opposing teams as it once did but coach Jeremy Pruitt has Volunteer fans seeing orange.

Georgia State was one of the worst teams in the Sun Belt Conference last year.  This year the Panthers are returning their Senior quarterback who led the team in passing and rushing from a year ago.  The offense expects to improve with experience in key positions and continuity at head coach as Shawn Elliot enters his 3rd year in Atlanta.  The defense brings back seven starters which is the good news.  The bad news is that they were one of the worst defenses in all of FBS football.  Even though the experience level has increased and on field play may improve, this unit will likely still struggle.

Everything that was said about Georgia State bodes well for the Tennessee Volunteers.  They have got to be licking their chops and chomping at the bit to get after this Georgia State team.  Coach Pruitt is a defensive mind and will have this Vol defense really amped up for this tune-up game.  The secondary is led by a talented trio of sophomores but anchored with a Senior in Nigel Warrior.  The Volunteers need to bump up the turnover margin numbers, finishing last year with -1, and going against the Panthers 92nd ranked passing offense, expect the DBs to snag a few free ones.  On offense, it is time for Junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano to shine.  He was the #1 dual threat quarterback out of high school 3 years ago and just hasn’t shown the consistency to allow Tennessee to compete with the big boys.  With a strong group of pass catchers and a deep stable of quality running backs, the offense should finally get rolling.

Coach Jeremy Pruitt has worked hard and finally instilled a work-pail, blue-collar mentality into this Volunteer team.  That, coupled with solid recruiting, should make this team much more formidable.  They will show off their new found swagger at the expense of Georgia State this week.  The book makers have the spread a hair too high and the total a bit too much for this early season matchup, though.  Expect Tennessee to easily win but fail to cover the 25.5-point spread.  The game will also drift below 57.5.  The Elldee Sports Formula is calling for a 27-6 Volunteer victory.  Until next time, good luck.

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NCAAF: Arizona at Hawai’i

PAC-12 Logo     The Arizona Wildcats travel to Honolulu to face the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors in a season opening matchup.  This game will be played on opening night and has a time slot all to itself, sure to draw a national crowd.  Will one of these teams prove to be championship caliber or both fall into the sands of time?

The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors expect improvement to last year’s 8-6 record.  This is likely to occur with the return of 17 starters, 8 on offense, 9 on defense.  The quarterback, Cole McDonald, returns with his top receiving threat on an offense that finished last season 9th in the country in passing yards per game.  The biggest weakness of this offense has been the running game (109.6 ypg) but returns four offensive lineman which should open up holes for the backs and relieve some of the pressure from the passing game.  The defense will need a big turnaround as they finished last season ranked lower than 100 in 3 of the 4 major statistical defensive categories.  Luckily, the Rainbow Warriors have some senior leadership and return almost every starter from last season.  The experience on that side of the ball will help and these Warriors will be too proud to just lay down.

The Arizona Wildcats come in hoping for a turnaround in year 2 under Coach Kevin Sumlin.   With star quarterback Khalil Tate, the offense looks to be primed for a breakout year.  Not only do most teams make the biggest jump from year 1 to year 2 in a new system but the Wildcats also return 8 starters on offense.  The offense wasn’t terrible last year (31.3 ppg) and has the potential to be much better this year.  Regardless of how strong the offense is, it can only carry you so far if the defense struggles as much as it did last season.  Arizona finished last place in pass defense for the PAC-12 last season and was one of the worst teams defending the pass in the nation!  This team is too talented to struggle this much defensively on an annual basis so, expect them to play better this year.

The game should provide plenty of fireworks and be a nice encore to the defensive slugfest that the Florida-Miami game looks to be shaping up as.  Expect the Arizona Wildcats from the PAC-12 to be far superior to the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors from the Mountain West.  The talent level that each of these schools recruit at are not close and it will show on the field.  With both teams fielding struggling defenses, expect plenty of points.  The Elldee Sports Formula is calling for a 45-26 Arizona Wildcat victory.  Until next time, good luck.

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Notre Dame: Is a Second Straight CFP Appearance in the Cards?

ND Logo     They say football is a game of inches.  That may be true but it is also a game of chance.  For a team to have a shot at glory many things must line-up, such as schedule strength, home v. away games, returning starters, and stability in coaching.  Does Notre Dame have what it takes to make a run at the College Football Playoffs for a second straight year?

Notre Dame went undefeated in the regular season last year and earned a shot at the Clemson Tigers last year.  The results were not pretty but they reached heights that few teams have managed to reach.  Of course, that is not a new feeling for the Fighting Irish as they are #6 in all-time wins and #2 in National Championships in the poll era.

The team returns seven starters on offense for Coach Brian Kelly.  This includes star quarterback Ian Book.  Once he was inserted in the offense last season, the Irish finally looked like they could be competitive on both sides of the ball.  The defense returns 6 starters and should be serviceable enough for a solid season.  The schedule is manageable but does include the regular cast of characters such as Stanford, Navy, USC, and the ACC matchups.  Where the problem lies for this squad is they have a monster matchup in Athens, Georgia against the highly-rated Bulldogs in the third game of the season.  They also must travel to Ann Arbor Michigan for the first time since renewing this rivalry against the hated Wolverines.

Despite their best efforts, the Elldee Sports Formula is predicting close road losses to both Georgia and Michigan.  This will send a top-tier Notre Dame team into the bowl season at 10-2.  Two losses this year will be too much to overcome and prevents the Irish from making the playoffs for a second year in a row.  Until next time, good luck!

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SEC: Who is Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf

SEC Logo     Elldee Sports finishes up the Power 5 Conference previews with a look at the Southeastern Conference.  They say humans have a “recent memory” bias and the most recent memory from this conference was a shellacking of the conference champion Alabama Crimson Tide, 44-16, at the hands of the ACC’s Clemson Tigers.  It is starting to look like the other conferences have caught up to the mighty SEC but don’t count them out just yet.

When breaking down the SEC West, you have to start in Tuscaloosa, home of the Crimson Tide.  The last time on the field, Alabama was thoroughly handled and it was not a good look for a team and fans who have had a hard time accepting defeat over the last decade.  They are ready to jump right back into the thick of the national conversation, though.  They return last year’s Heisman runner-up along with almost all of the skill positions.  Pair that with a defense that is always stout and you have a recipe for success.  The main chink in the Tide armor is the offensive line, as they have to replace 4/5 of it.  It also doesn’t help that they have serious competition this year in LSU and Texas A&M.  LSU has quite a few returning starters and Coach “O” begins his third year for the Tigers but the Elldee Sports formula doesn’t look as high on the Tigers as the pundits.  The experts say LSU finishes 2nd but we believe they are only going to win 7 and finish outside of the top 25.  Texas A&M is expected to be better in year 2 with Jimbo Fisher and QB Kellen Mond but Elldee Sports thinks they will finish just above LSU with only 8 wins.  This is in part due to a non-conference game against Clemson in Week 2.  The big surprise of the West will actually be the Mississippi State Bulldogs!  They have a favorable schedule and a super weak non-conference lineup.  Add that in with a solid coaching staff led by Joe Moorhead and we will see why he was brought in.  The Bulldogs of Starkville will win 11 and finish with one loss to undefeated Alabama for the West.

The East is a little different as it appears the Georgia Bulldogs are still head and shoulders over the rest of the division.  They really only have one game that is a toss-up and that is vs. arch-rival Florida at a neutral site.  There seems to be a large gap between the number 2 team and the number 3 team in the East.  The Elldee Sports Formula shows Georgia finishing with 11 wins, 12 if they can handle business in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.  Florida has a much more difficult path as they will have toss-ups vs. Georgia and LSU, plus a projected loss to the Missouri Tigers for the 3rd straight Season.  While still having a chance to win the East if they beat the Bulldogs and Tigers of Baton Rouge, the odds are not in their favor if they lose either when combined with a loss to Mizzou.

With Alabama winning the West and Georgia winning the East, we are primed for a third straight season where we see an exciting matchup between these two squads.  The hard part for Georgia fans is that things will play out the same, with Alabama winning 14-9 in Atlanta, propelling them into the CFB Playoff.  As the #1 seed, they will face the #4 seed Washington State Cougars.  Until next time, good luck.

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PAC-12: Wide-Open West Makes Things Intriguing

PAC-12 Logo     This time, Elldee Sports is looking out west to preview the PAC-12 Conference.  2019 appears to be a year that multiple teams can make the claim of being the top dog.  so who will emerge victorious and represent this power conference at the highest levels?  Let’s find out.

Starting in the uber-competitive North, the Oregon Ducks, Washington Huskies, and Washington State Cougars will duke it out for supremacy and a ticket to the conference championship game.  The Ducks are coming off of a 9-win season, bring in the top recruiting class in the conference, and return virtually every starter from a top 25 nationally-ranked scoring offense!  The cupboard is not bare on the other side of the ball, either, as the defense returns 7.  Honestly, most years, I think they would be a shoe in to win the conference but according to the Elldee Sports Formula, Oregon will drop back-to-back games to the teams from the state of Washington and finish third in the North with 10 wins.

Washington and Washington State are the cream of the crop in the PAC-12 North and these two cannot stand each other.  Chris Petersen is a proven great all-around coach but Mike Leach is possibly the best offensive mind in college football today.  Leach has the Cougars primed with 13 returning starters from a group that surprised last season and won 11 games.  Petersen, on the other hand, has to re-mold a defense that only returns two players in their 22-man rotation.  Washington has had the recruiting cache over the previous years that the talent level is there, they just need to see how fast the youngsters pick up the game plan.  Washington state has more returning starters but lost arguably their top player after QB Gardner Minshew graduated.  Luckily, Leach’s name carries a lot of weight and they picked up the top FCS QB in the country, ensuring the offense will be in good hands.  The North will come down to the Apple Cup in Seattle but the Cougars will exact revenge from their 13-point loss in Pullman last season and become the North Champion.

The PAC-12 South is a different story altogether, as Utah looks to have a stranglehold on the division.  In fact, Utah and USC are the only two schools that have a head coach who has been at the school more than a year.  That continuity and blue collar work ethic is what will set the Utes apart from their South Division brethren.  Expect Utah to only lose two games this season, a home game to Washington State and a trip to Seattle to play Washington.  The gap between Utah and the next best team in the division means that even those two losses will not keep them out of the PAC-12 Championship game.

The PAC-12 Championship game will create a rematch between Washington State and Utah.  This is an opportunity for Utah to save face and show the first match-up was a fluke.  The problem, though, is that the first game was not a fluke and if the Utes couldn’t win in Salt Lake City, why would they win in Santa Clara?  Give the nod to Washington State 9-7 which will propel the Cougars into the College Football Playoffs for the first time ever as a #4 seed!  Until next time, good luck!

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