G.W. Gras

Senior Writer for The Bears Brawl and Lead Host of The Bears Brawl Podcast.

Alabama Crimson Tide -21 at Mississippi State Bulldogs
Over / Under 62.5

Alabama suffered their first loss of the season. It wasn’t only a loss to a rival, but a loss that may have taken them out of the National Championship picture. Only time will tell how the Tide’s fate will be determined by the committee, but as of now, they have to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Alabama’s rush defense isn’t as dominant as last season, but holding opponents to 3.7 yards a rush in the SEC is still nothing to scoff at. The Bulldogs are running at 5.3 yards a clip. Kylin Hill is averaging 5.8 yards a carry and already has 1027 rushing yards on the year. After calculating the SMASH average, the Bulldogs should still rush for about 4.5 yards a carry, but to beat Bama, you’re going to need a lot more than that.

Source: Michael Reaves/Getty Images North America

Quarterback Tommy Stevens left Penn State, to play for his former offensive coordinator, Jim Moorehead who is now the Bulldogs’ head coach. Things didn’t go over so smoothly as Stevens now finds himself on the bench and Garrett Shrader is the starter. Stevens actually completed passes at a better rate, as Shrader is completing passes at a 55% rate.

Stevens does run the ball better than Stevens though, and is averaging 5.5 yards a carry. This is key because quarterbacks that have beaten or given the Crimson Tide fits in the last decade have all been mobile – Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton, Tim Tebow, etc. . .

But what those guys have that the Shrader or Stevens don’t, is the ability to create explosive plays.

When Bama losses it’s because the opposition has the ability to create big explosive plays, Mississippi State lacks that.

Also Mississippi State lacks the ability to keep up with Alabama’s offense, on the ground or through the air. The Crimson Tide will be out to make a statement and the Bulldogs are just kind of in their way.

The Pick: Alabama -21


Wisconsin Badgers -14.5 at Nebraska Cornhuskers

Over / Under 51.5

The Wisconsin Badgers were flying high in the start of the year, basically running up scores and not letting anybody do anything on offense against them. Then they slipped up against a surprising Illinois squad and got exposed against Ohio State.

In their defense, everyone is going to look silly against Ohio State, but in all reality, they went up against a lot of garbage offenses for the first half of the season. They rebounded last week with a tough win against a good Iowa team and can look to get back on track before ending the season in Minnesota.

Source: Getty Images North America

Running back Jonathan Taylor is averaging 6.1 yards a carry for the Badgers, which makes it easier for quarterback Jack Coan, to be the game manager of a squad that has no problem running the ball for three straight downs.

Coan, throws at a high completion rate of 73% and averages 8 yards a pass, but most importantly – he protects the ball.

Nebraska has been a disappointment but head coach Scott Frost is going to need time to convince recruits that the program is indeed turning around for the better. Until then, Frost has to play with what he has.

Give them credit, they hung around with Indiana and beat Illinois before Lovie Smith’s guys started rolling, but this team has been a struggle to watch. The Cornhuskers were only able to put up seven points against Minnesota and Ohio State, and it would be surprising to see if the even put up 10 against Wisconsin.

Quarterback Adrian Martinez is a dual threat who is leading the team in rushing but is throwing under a 60% completion with 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

Wisconsin has been beating up on bad, or weak teams all season and Nebraska just isn’t there yet. Wisconsin should dominate the line of scrimmage and cause havoc all game long.

The Pick: Wisconsin -14.5

Tulane Green Wave -4.5 at Temple Owls
Over / Under 57

The Tulane Green Wave is off a bye-week and an impressive win over Tulsa to now travel into Temple and face the Owls.

The Green Wave have an impressive rushing attack, averaging 5.8 yards a carry. Quarterback Justin McMillan leads the team with 488 rushing yards at 5 yards a carry, while running backs Darius Bradwell is averaging 4.8 and Corey Dauphine is averaging nearly 10 yards a carry.

Source: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images North America)

They’ve been able to stack up points against the likes of Florida International and UConn, but have struggled mightily against Auburn and Memphis. This is a tough three game stretch for the Green Wave, starting with Temple and ending against UCF and at SMU.

Temple’s defense has been impressive this season holding opponents to a completion percentage of 52% but most importantly they are holding opponents to less than 4 yards a carry.

After calculating the SMASH average, the Green Wave should still manage almost five yards a carry. Temple will probably still only manage three yards a carry, and that won’t help them establish a steady passing game, considering Tulane’s pass defense is holding opponents to a completion percentage of 52.5%.

The last time Temple was at home they got embarrassed by UCF losing 63-21, that was their first home loss this season – impressive considering they’ve beaten the likes of Memphis on their home-field.

This is a grind-it-out game, where Temple will be looking to “re-store the feeling” at home.  This spread should be +7 or +7.5 – which leads me to believe someone at Vegas has a beat on this game.

The Pick: Temple +4.5