Football season is in full-swing in pretty much the entire Western Hemisphere, and I’m in such a fantastic mood I don’t even want to write a pre-amble to this week’s picks. Let’s just get right to it. I’m all business, baby. Plus, Kansas/USF is on as I’m typing this. so, you know, I’m distracted.
As always, bringing you only the best games of the weekend.
Record through Week 2: 19-5, 12-12 AS
Evening, all. After some technical SNAFU’s with our new-fangled internet site, I’m back and ready to update all today’s games and tonight’s USC massacre of Ohio State. I, for one, don’t believe for a second Chris Wells won’t play for the Buckeyes. If he doesn’t go this week, but he’s ready to go next week, fans should never forgive him or Jim Tressel. This IS Ohio State’s season. He doesn’t play, it doesn’t matter the rest of the way.
(23) Cal (2-0) at Maryland (1-1) (+14.5)
Cal destroyed Wazzu 66-3 last week and Maryland sucks almost as bad as they do. Maybe worse, since Wazzu vs. Middle Tennessee State would be a close one, not a 24-14 shit-fest like it was for Maryland. Sure, this game is in Maryland, but that doesn’t make the Terrapins any better this season. Old Jeff Tedford seems to want to keep his foot on the gas this season as long as he can, so this one could get crazy early. I’m going with the Pac-10 here since the ACC is so awful this season.
Update: Maryland 35 Cal 27. Wow, Cal. Wow. You gotta come out and do better than that against a crap ACC team. The D made Maryland’s O look like the Terrapin offenses of old when they had uh, uh, um. Nevermind. Point is, Cal came out and laid a big fat Cleveland Steamer on the field. Now everyone’s ragging the Pac-10 as the conference that’s down. Everyone but USC that is. Cal’s D may have been exposed today; that’s the legacy from this game.
Record: 19-6, 12-13 AS
NC State (1-1) at Clemson (1-1) (-18.5)
Practically a guaranteed non-cover. Never, ever trust Clemson. I’m sure they’ll win this game, but the new rule is never bet on a favored Bowden. Also, Clemson is 1-1, but have only outscored their opposition by four points this season. I’m fully aware NC State still sucks even though Tom O’Brien has started getting a few recruits there, they only beat William & Mary 34-24 for God’s sake, but I don’t care. Clemson is a cursed program under Tommy Bowden and there is absolutely no reason to trust them.
Pick: Clemson wins, but NC State beats the spread.
Update: Clemson 27 NC State 9. Now THAT’s the way to beat the spread, State! The only thing this game really proved is Clemson is still Clemson. Once again they played a clearly inferior foe and didn’t win by nearly enough. Maybe Willy Korn can make this offense function properly next season, though it might be for a different coach.
Record: 20-6, 13-13
(14) East Carolina (2-0) at Tulane (0-1) (+13)
So ECU beat Virginia Tech and West Virginia in consecutive games, but now they’re only a two touchdown favorite at freaking Tulane? Tulane?!?!? Clearly the oddsmakers don’t trust the Pirates yet because Tulane, to borrow from our neighbors across the pond, are shite.
This does bring my to an interesting point, however. Now they’ve gotten the big upsets out of the way, we have to sit through ECU’s Conference USA schedule to see if they drop a game against a laughably bad opponent. There’s three months left in the season and every single one will be spent waiting for the hammer to drop on the other foot, or some other mixed metaphor like that. There’s absolutely no way they’ll handle the stress of being potential BCS busters for that long. It ain’t happening.
Update: ECU 28 Tulane 24. It’s already happening with ECU. They played close with a crappy Tulane team and nearly blew their BCS-buster status already. Teams can’t exist like this. A bad loss is coming, though they’re doing BYU and Fresno State a favor by drawing attention away from them.
Record: 21-6, 13-14 AS
Michigan (1-1) at Notre Dame (1-0) (+1.5)
God this game is going to be awful. And not because Jimmy Clausen stole Chris Kaman’s hair. This game has all the elements of a classic ass-raping Florida State-Miami matchup. It has the hype: everyone traditionally loves these programs and the networks are willing to overlook their obvious sucktasticness. Watch for the announcers to call this game a “great defensive battle” instead of calling it what it is: two awful teams slugging it out and pretending they still matter. At least Michigan has an excuse. They’ve lost virtually every offensive scholarship player from last season. What’s Notre Dame’s excuse?
I can’t answer that, but I do know their offensive line couldn’t block a television channel, let alone Michigan’s defensive front. Might not have killed Charlie Weis to recruit a little talent at those postions to go with his shiny ostrich quarterback and all those soft skill-position players. Then again, this IS Charlie Weis. Spinning around in his office chair too quickly might kill him. I have an idea: to hell with this game.
Pick: Notre Dame
Update: Notre Dame 35 Michigan 17. Nice game by Notre Dame. And by “nice game,” I’m describing a game in which they were outgained by an awful Michigan offense and Jimmy Clausen went 10-21. AND they got their coach hurt. Nice work this week guys. Man these two teams suck.
Record: 22-6, 14-14 AS
UCLA (1-0) at (18) BYU (2-0) (-8)
They got me a win two weeks ago, and the gambling rule is “ride a team until they screw you over.” Yeah, they’re on the road in Provo, but BYU is coming off a close win at Washington, a team that’s way worse than UCLA. I may get screwed over this week, but I’m not giving up on UCLA’s karma until I have to. Plus, I’ve been enchanted by Rick Neuheisel’s eyes. He seems so loving. Maybe this football monopoly really is over.
Update: BYU 59 UCLA 0. Ouch. Guess the Rick Neuheisel Era really began tonight.
Record: 22-7, 14-15 AS
Georgia Tech (2-0) at Virginia Tech (1-1) (-6.5)
My pick for “game most likely to have the announcers fall asleep on-air.” Normally, I love the triple option. In fact, I still love it, but this game is against the Hokies, who are systematically taking the fun and style out of offensive football, so this game is going to be a brutal watch. I don’t care if Tyrod Taylor pulls LaDainian Tomlinson, Jerry Rice, and the starting offensive line for the 1967 Green Bay Packers out of his ass, the Hokies still won’t score points like they could if Frank Beamer gave a crap about offense.
Pick: Va. Tech wins, but Georgia Tech makes it interesting. Maybe that’s a poor word choice.
Update: Virginia Tech 20 Georgia Tech 17. I’m telling you, Georgia Tech will be a pain in the ass to play all season. Once they get some talent in there, they’ll be downright vicious. I, by the way, would have gone into Frank Beamer’s office and showed I know more than he and his OC about offensive football, but I don’t really live that close to Blacksburg, VA, so there you go. My point being: you don’t want to make that challenge because some unemployed OC could cruise into your office and actually prove you wrong. And you are wrong, Frank Beamer. So very, very wrong.
Also Todd Boeckman looks like he’s 35 years old.
Record: 23-7, 15-15 AS
(2) Georgia (2-0) at South Carolina (1-1) (+7)
Only in the SEC could the number two team in the country be only a seven-point favorite in a game against a team that lost to Vanderbilt. First it’s being ranked second instead of first, then it’s Knowshon’s highlight gets snubbed, now the oddsmakers are insulting the ‘Dogs too? Why don’t we just hand Georgia the “no one believed in us” mantra now so they can cruise through the rest of their schedule and save us all a bunch of time? Maybe they can even pre-record the post-game interviews. I was originally going to say USC was going to beat the spread, but then I remembered this isn’t Tennessee week for the Gamecocks.
Pick: Georgia. Sorry, OBC, the Cock ‘N’ Fire, though wonderfully named, may be past its prime.
Update: Georgia 14 USC 7. Cocky did all they could to win, and they also fumbled into the end zone to blow the potential tying touchdown. So there you go. Georgia and all their “talent” played down to a mediocre team that lost to Vandy last week. Nice job, guys. Oh, right, it’s difficult playing on the road in the SEC, no matter how terrible the opposing offense is. Georgia is overrated and their fans might have to start getting comfortable with that now.
Record: 24-7, 15-15-1 AS. Woo hoo, a push!
(16) Oregon (2-0) at Purdue (1-0) (+8)
The Boilermakers getting eight points at home? They must be playing a ranked team. As such, the Oregon Ducks constitute one of the bigger houses of cards in the top 25. Any week now, they’re going to have one of those games where they only gain 150 total yards and only score 10 points. It’s coming. Playing Utah State and Washington made them look good, but the truth is out there (cue 1990’s synth music).
It was also nice to see Jonathan Stewart go off against my Chargers on Sunday. That was pretty much Phillips’ and I worst nightmare since we spent all last season pumping Stewart up to a largely uninformed Oregon coaching staff. This year our guy is Keiland Williams, but LSU hasn’t played a worthwhile game yet. Oh, right, I’m supposed to make a pick.
Pick: Oregon. Yeah, like I was gonna pick Purdue. Just because it’s IU’s bye-week doesn’t mean I’m taking the week off from hating Purdue.
Update: Oregon 32 Purdue 26 2OT. Purdue still hasn’t beaten a ranked team in five years. Hell, even Indiana has in that time span. You suck, Boilers.
Record: 25-7, 15-16-1 AS
(9) Auburn (2-0) at Mississippi State (1-1) (+10.5)
I will not watch one second of this game, but it’s still an intriguing matchup. Wait, you didn’t think it’s because Mississippi State has a chance, did you? Yeesh. No, it’s whether Auburn’s offense can get it together enough to cover 10.5 points or not. From that perspective, this is their first real test of the season. If the Tigers got Croom’d, it’d be great, but we’re talking gambling here, not stupid stuff like who won and lost. Pssssh.
Pick: Auburn. I’m picking them to win and cover for the first time all season. Don’t f*ck me, Tigers/Eagles.
Update: Auburn 3 MSU 2. I haven’t looked at the stats, so I don’t know if it’s the worst game ever, but I do know this game will always be my answer to “the SEC is superior to every other conference.” If challenged, I will simply say: “Auburn 3 Miss. St. 2.” and end the argument. This wasn’t a defensive struggle. It wasn’t a matchup of teams on equal footing. It was simply an unwatchable football game. Also: no matter what offense a team runs, talent makes the difference. Tony Franklin’s spread? Average when there’s no talent on the team. USC has run the same system for seven of Pete Carroll’s eight years. You’d think teams would have a pretty decent idea of what USC is going to do offensively, but they still can’t stop them. Why? Talent. Remember that, Auburn.
Record: 26-7, 15-17-1 AS
SMU (1-1) at (12) Texas Tech (2-0) (-36.5)
I haven’t seen a spread this big for a favored team since…since USC went down to Stanford. Uh oh. Kidding. SMU is gonna get Deeee-stroyed. In a couple of years, this will be easily on of the most entertaining games of the year, but for now it’s just a cupcake for the Red Raider Pirates. Still, I’m picking this game in the “football futures market” because it has a decent chance of being fun to watch, if not a close game. I’m also totally uncomfortable picking a team to cover a nearly forty-point spread.
Pick: Texas Tech
Update: Texas Tech 43 SMU 7. I had one team cover by a half point today, and now I’ve had a team not cover by a half point. Thanks a lot, Tech. You might as well have switched to the wishbone and won 3-2 for all the good you did me. Serves me right for predicting a team would cover a near forty point spread.
Record: 27-7, 15-18-1 AS
(5) Ohio State (2-0) at (1) Southern California (1-0) (-10.5)
This spread is the result of Ohio State getting clobbered by every other top major conference team they’ve faced recently. Really just by Florida and LSU, but it’s not like the Buckeyes play anyone during the season anyway.
I don’t like this spread at all. USC is still unproven and you know Ohio State will do its best to take the fun out of this game too. Doesn’t always work, but they’re gonna try. Mark Sanchez and company looked fantastic in their first game, but this is a whole different ballgame. Literally. If I took USC to cover, I’d be saying Ohio State will repeat their fate of recent years, but I’d be ignoring USC’s recent lack of firepower. I’d basically be giving in to the Phillips Hype Machine. I’d feel like a complete idiot if I said Ohio State will keep it close and then the obvious happened.
Then again, this is Ohio State with an injured running back, a caretaker quarterback, and no playmakers.
Update: USC 35 Ohio State 3. Whatever you say about this game, don’t say Chris Wells would have made a difference. Ohio State may have run the ball more, but Wells doesnt play defense. The Buckeyes had no shot at stopping the Trojans, and even if Wells had had a big night, it wouldn’t have matched the 35 points the Trojans scored effortlessly. This was a beat down on every level. I won’t say Ohio State doesn’t deserve elite status because they do deserve it. It’s just they’re the worst elite team out there. Their style doesn’t lend itself to beating elite teams. They are simply too conservative and predictable on both sides of the ball.
They should have stayed with Pryor for more of the game. The USC D knew exactly what was going to happen when Boeckman was in there. At least Pryor added some mystery. They proved if you take away the run, Ohio State cannot win big games no matter how good their quarterback is. They just don’t throw well. Maybe next year, it will be a different story in Columbus. Pryor will be experienced and, god willing, the Buckeyes will modernize their offensive philosophy to suit his style.
As it is, Georgia fan can’t have anything to say this week. USC wouldn’t play close with the other USC no matter what. I hope it works out for these two to meet in the BCS title game. We’ll probably see another beat down by the Trojans, which is as it should be.
Record: 28-7, 16-18-1 AS
(10) Wisconsin (2-0) at (21) Fresno State (1-0) (+1.5)
I checked over and over, and I still can’t believe Wisconsin is ranked number ten. That’s WAYwaywaywaywaywayway too high. And you have to love Fresno State being a home dog to a second-rate Big Ten team. Don’t get me wrong, PJ Hill is nice and will give the Fresno defense a lot of trouble, not to mention fustigating IU’s defense in a month or two. But the minute the Bulldogs take away the run, the Badgers are screwed. And it will happen.
I watched the Badgers beat Rutgers, and I’m still not sure what it is they do. Sure, they run the ball and play physically, but they also have this finesse passing game that doesn’t really work if the receivers are bumped at all. Tom Brandstater seems to have some hype as a pro-style quarterback, but he’s got a lot to prove in terms of hitting his receivers while under pressure from a major-conference team. That’s the thing about playing Wisconsin: everyone they play will run the ball, so there’s absolutely no way to surprise them. Still, I have to support my BCS-Buster for 2008.
Pick: Fresno State
Update: Wisconsin 13 Fresno State 10. What an underwhelming ending to a very important game. Thank you, new clock rules for killing the last 1:44 of the fourth quarter with no suspense whatsoever. That new 40-second playclock really shaved a few important microseconds of this game that I sure put to good use. Really, that longer playclock is so much better now that we were deprived of an interesting ending. The last meaningful play from scrimmage? An eight-yard run by Wisconsin’s fullback with nearly two minutes left in the game. But with the new clock rules, that was enough for Wisconsin to escape Fresno with a win.
So we’re down one of the four potential BCS-busters, and the team I thought had the bet chance of actually winning the BCS game they played in. We’re left with only Utah, BYU, and ECU, not exactly a murderer’s row of non-BCS teams. Sorry, Fresno, it just wasn’t in the cards.
Record after Week 3: 28-8, 16-19-1 AS