Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – Arkansas recorded its biggest victory
under Bret Bielema last weekend, defeating Texas Tech, 49-28. On Saturday, they
take on Northern Illinois just one week before squaring off against SEC rival
The Huskies come to Fayetteville at just the right time since the Razorbacks
might need a week to come back down off their emotional high of crushing the
Red Raiders. It was Arkansas’ first road victory since the middle of the 2012
season. This game with Northern Illinois certainly is not as important to them
with the Aggies coming up next week. The last thing the Hogs want to do is
open the season 0-2 in conference play.
While Arkansas will not take Northern Illinois lightly, this contest is
sandwiched right between an important triumph and a rivalry game against a
Top 10 opponent.
Playing and winning away from home is nothing new to Northern Illinois. The
Huskies have won 17 consecutive road games, and outside of the Alabama Crimson
Tide, they have the best FBS road winning percentage since the beginning of
the 2011 season.
The Huskies came into 2014 without as much fanfare as last year due to the
loss of quarterback Jordan Lynch. Nonetheless, they are undefeated (3-0) with
road wins at Northwestern and UNLV. Their running game remains strong and young
quarterback Drew Hare has surprised many in DeKalb with his throwing accuracy
The Razorbacks provide a tough test for the Northern Illinois defense,
especially with a rushing attack ranked third in the FBS at 362 yards per
game. On the other hand, the Huskies are eighth nationally in rushing with 325
yards per game.
One reason the point spread is so high is due to the competition each team has
faced. The two FBS teams Northern Illinois has played are a combined 1-4,
while Arkansas’ FBS competitors are 4-1. Still, the Hogs were blown out by
Auburn, and Texas Tech’s defense is nothing to write home about having allowed
35 points to Central Arkansas and 26 to UTEP. If those two clubs lit up the
Razorbacks defense, imagine how many points Northern Illinois will score. Also,
Northern Illinois has given up 45 points or more just once in its last 31
Take the Huskies plus 14 points in this week’s lone five-star play.
I usually do not make selections in games involving two top teams, but the
Clemson-Florida State matchup is the exception. The line, which was Florida
State minus-20 has dropped a few points based on Seminoles quarterback Jameis
Winston’s first-half suspension.
The Seminoles blew out Clemson, 51-14, in last year’s meeting, but that was the
first time they covered the spread against their ACC rival since 2008.
Florida State may be the No. 1 team in the country, but the Seminoles have not
played anywhere close to the level they were at a season ago. Last year’s
squad would not have defeated a depleted Oklahoma State team by just six
points and then allow The Citadel to convert on 11-of-17 third-down attempts.
The Seminoles returned four of their top six tacklers last year while this
season’s squad lost five of its top six. Florida State also is without two of
last year’s top three rushing and receiving leaders.
Clemson gave Georgia a scare in the first half of its first game this season
before losing, 45-21. The Tigers rebounded in Week 2 with a 73-7 rout of South
Carolina State. They beat the Bulldogs by only 39 points in 2013.
Clemson comes to Tallahassee with a remade offense from a season ago with the
losses of its starting quarterback, leading rusher and receiver. However,
Florida State now is in an almost-similar position in the first half of the
Take Clemson plus 17 points.
The second three-star play is a Pac-12 contest featuring two unbeaten teams –
Arizona and California.
The Wildcats are 3-0, but their last two wins (UTSA and Nevada) came by a
combined 10 points. Their offense has been as good, if not better, than
advertised with Anu Solomon completing 63 percent of his tosses for over 300
yards per game. Nevertheless, the defense has allowed 51 total points the last
two weeks against the Roadrunners and Wolf Pack.
California comes into Tucson with an extra week to prepare for Arizona. The
Golden Bears ripped Sacramento State, 55-14, one week after knocking off
Northwestern, 31-24. Quarterback Jared Goff has picked up where he left off
last season, throwing for 255 yards per game with a 68 percent completion
The Golden Bears were riddled with injuries in 2013. They are extremely
healthy this season, so look for them to match Arizona point for point. They
have been a tough opponent for the Wildcats the last two years losing by just
five points during a 1-11 season (2013) and by only one point at Arizona in
2010 when the Wildcats were ranked 14th in the country.
Take California plus 9.5 points.
Take Iowa +7 (Pittsburgh), Bowling Green +27 (Wisconsin), Syracuse -1
(Maryland), Marshall -9 (Akron), Wake Forest +2.5 (Army), Vanderbilt +22
(South Carolina), Houston -21 (UNLV) and Washington State +24 (Oregon).
Take North Carolina +2 (East Carolina), Middle Tennessee +12 (Memphis),
Appalachian State +2.5 (Southern Miss), Idaho +14 (Ohio) and Utah State +2.5
THIS YEAR’S RECORD
My overall record stands at 31-23 after a 12-3 mark in Week 3. The headline
game won, bringing the five-star plays back to .500 at 2-2. Both three-star
selections were victorious, so they currently stand at 4-1. The two-star
choices went 3-1 for a three-week total of 9-13. The one-star plays went 6-2
for a 16-7 mark.
THIS WEEK’S JEFF FRANK DIRTY DOZEN
1) Florida State, 101.5; 2-T) Oregon and Ole Miss, 101; 4) Oklahoma, 100; 5-T)
Alabama and Auburn, 99.5; 7) Baylor, 99; 8) Georgia, 97.5; 9) BYU, 95.5; 10-T)
Michigan State and Ohio State, 95; 12-T) LSU and USC, 94.5
(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