Week five brings us the triumphant return of McD picking the actual spreads on games once again. He decided that his knee-jerk, un-researched picks should be shared with the world regardless of his eventual record. Again, his picks are for novelty purposes only. That is to say, the novelty of watching someone be this bad at picking spreads.
Rumors and Rants, as always, bringing you the best eight games this Saturday, even though one of the most meaningful games (West Virginia at USF) is being played Friday night. Remember we’re not picking who will win, our picks refer to the spreads.
Notre Dame (0-4) at Purdue (4-0) (-22)
Since I live in Indiana, I have been able to hear Purdue fan’s thoughts heading into this game and I can tell you this: they’re handling it all wrong. They’re so sure that the Boilermakers are going to destroy Notre Dame that most of the discussion has been whether they’ll cover the 22 point spread or not. Yes, the Irish are way down and four teams have now gleefully trounced them, but this type of cockiness from Purdue, of all places, just screams Notre Dame cover. It’s a classic trap game.
Pick: Notre Dame
Update: Purdue 33 Notre Dame 19. Everyone knew Notre Dame was losing this game. That wasn’t a question. But they definitely played closer with Purdue than the Boilers would have liked. Let’s face it, Purdue isn’t that great; they’ve just played some weak teams. Also, Evan Sharpley should be the starter for the Irish next week. Every time he plays, the offense gets a jolt. Anyway, a win against the spread is a win against the spread.
Indiana (3-1) at Iowa (2-2) (-10.5)
This game comes down to whether Indiana can stop Iowa’s balanced offense or not. If the Hoosiers can get Iowa to abandon the run, the advantage immediately goes to Indiana and their high-powered offense. Quarterback Jake Christensen is having a nice little season, but if they can’t run the ball, he won’t be nearly as effective. It also means this game will take forever because Indiana never runs the ball anyway. This spread is only 10.5 because Indiana looked terrible at home against Illinois last week. However, the Hoosiers did beat Iowa last season and, while IU got better, Iowa has either stayed the same or even taken a step back. This looks like a bounce-back game for Indiana, making this my Homer Pick Of The Week.
Update: Indiana 38 Iowa 20. Offensively, this game turned out exactly as the Hoosiers wanted. Defensively, they rushed Christensen extremely well and forced him into some bad throws. But Indiana didn’t really force Iowa to pass, Iowa just kind of gave up on the run even though they were gaining pretty good yardage. Kellen Lewis threw for a career-high 323 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also ran a fumble recovery 71 yards for a touchdown. Basically, everything went the Hoosiers’ way against Iowa…again. Kirk Ferentz is now 3-4 against Indiana (!) during his tenure as head coach. 2-0 heading into the late afternoon games. Not a good sign.
(13) Clemson (4-0) at Georgia Tech (2-2) (+3)
So far, Clemson has lived up to expectations. CJ Spiller and James Davis are great and quarterback Cullen Harper has been pretty darn good and still has yet to throw an interception. But this game really feels like the inevitable Clemson disappointment game. There’s always at least one. They’re on the road against a team that’s athletic enough on defense to handle Clemson’s players. Plus, Tashard Choice could have a big game of his own against Clemson’s defense. Tech quarterback Taylor Bennett looked awful last week against Virginia, a team the Jackets should have beaten. This also means that there will probably be eight Tigers in the box at most times to limit Choice’s yardage and make Bennett beat them. This game will determine whether last week was just a bad loss for Georgia Tech or if they’re just plain underachieving this season.
Pick: Clemson covers. Just couldn’t pull the trigger on Georgia Tech.
Update: Georgia Tech 13 Clemson 3. I spent nearly the entire preview of the game talking about how Clemson was totally due for a bad loss and then I wuss out at the last second? That was just plain stupid. I hate Clemson, but I’m hating myself more.
(6) California (4-0) at (11) Oregon (4-0) (-6)
I hate picking games like this. Cal and Oregon are two teams with great offenses and only a passing interest in defense. It’s pretty clear that this one will be a shootout, but Jeff Tedford seems like he knows this, which means Cal may try to control the ball for long stretches and limit Oregon’s opportunities. Advantage Cal in that type of game. The Ducks needs as many opportunities as possible for their offense to be effective. They could just give the ball to Jonathan Stewart (7.7 ypc) but why would they do that? He only has 65 carries compared to Justin Forsett’s 85, but Stewart has rushed for more yards. This is no accident, people! Jonathan Stewart is a fantastic running back stuck in Oregon’s ridiculous spread offense. Give the man the ball! Anyway, don’t be surprised when Cal out-schemes Oregon in this one. It has all the makings of a high-scoring game, but Oregon is well overdue for a major screwup.
Pick: Cal wins outright.
Update: Cal 31 Oregon 24. Oregon ended up running Jonathan Stewart 21 times and he got 120 yards and a touchdown, but Dennis Dixon threw 44 times and Jeremiah Johnson only ran seven times. Guess what? Dixon ended up with two INT’s and the Ducks lost the time of possession battle by eight minutes. Guess what else? They lost. Shocker. When will Oregon learn? It sucks being this right.
Michigan State (4-0) at (9) Wisconsin (4-0) (-7.5)
It’s this kind of game that makes living in Big Ten country really suck on Saturdays. Instead of watching Cal-Oregon, we’re probably going to get this boring, low-scoring stinker. Put it this way, I hope the punters bring their A-games because they’re going to get a lot of work. It’s also the kind of game that kills running backs’ legs later in the season. The Spartans are coming off beating Notre Dame handily and may be surprised by a team actually fighting back at some point during the game. But in a game that just reeks of becoming a Big Ten shootout (20-17!), Wisconsin does the “run the ball and play defense” dance better than pretty much everyone. At the very least they do it better than Michigan State.
Pick: Michigan State
Update: Wisconsin 37 Michigan State 34. Didn’t expect a shooutout from these two teams, that’s for sure. Tons of yards and points. I probably shouldn’t have mocked this Big Ten matchup. Fun game to watch, though I was suffering through the Padres’ extra-innings loss to the Brewers. F–k. Still, 4-1 and the ‘Bama/FSU game is coming down to it.
(22) Alabama (3-1) at Florida State (2-1) (-2.5)
Why is this game being played in Jacksonville? It’s not really near Tallahassee and obviously not Tuscaloosa. Also, I had no idea that Jacksonville was Florida’s largest city. Weird. This game depends entirely upon whether Alabama has recovered from that heartbreaking overtime home loss last week to Georgia. Florida State’s defense is good enough, but their offense is terrible, so the chances of some defensive points or at least some good field position are fairly likely. This is exactly the kind of game Nick Saban came to Alabama to win. They’ll run it and play defense and let Florida State make the mistakes.
Update: Florida State 21 Alabama 14. Good win for FSU. It’s not like one can easily predict which terrible quarterback will be good in a given game. Xavier Lee came up big for the Seminoles and by “big” we mean he didn’t cripple the offense and even contributed some. We do know now that John Parker Wilson is a terrible quarterback. It’s impossible to even count how many times he screws up pass plays by simply hanging onto the ball too long. If you noticed, Hoover’s quarterback, Wilson’s younger brother, did the exact same thing on their television show, but they got away with it because it’s high school football.
Auburn (2-2) at (4) Florida (4-0) (-18)
Make no mistake, Auburn is gonna get killed. Or will they? Yes, they will. The question is, of course, whether Florida wins by more than 18, though, and I don’t see any reason why they will. However, it’s hard to pick that kind of a blowout in the SEC when Vanderbilt isn’t involved. Auburn may be an underachieving mess, but they still can play enough defense to only lose by two touchdowns.
(1) USC (3-0) at Washington (2-2) (+20.5)
Washington played USC close last year, and that was before Jesus H. Locker became the Huskies’ quarterback. But it’s time to pick a blowout, and this is the game.
Last week: 4-4