McD’s Week Five Picks

September 26, 2008 – 10:01 pm by McD

"I leave more personality in tightly-coiled piles on the lawn." - Brian Griffin, who could have been talking about USC's running game on Thursday.

Happy Saturday, everyone. It’s 9am ET and for some insane reason I’m up and ready to go. Damnit. The games don’t kick off for three freaking hours yet, so I am (for what may be the first time ever) watching all two hours of College Gameday this morning. But not for another 45 minutes because I’m up so f*cking early. Anyway, we’ll be updating all afternoon once the games get going, so hopefully you’re reading this at a decent hour and are ready for another glorious Saturday of college football. I think I might go back to sleep.

RIP Paul Newman.

When they destroyed Ohio State 12 days ago, it was pretty clear the Trojans were going undefeated. I thought maybe, maybe they’d play a close game or two, but nothing much else until they played Oklahoma or Georgia in the BCS title game. Even heading into Thursday’s game against Oregon State, it seemed like they were going to win by five touchdowns at least. This wasn’t a classic Mike Riley team in Oregon State. He usually wins up there with an experienced quarterback and a powerful, but small running back. This Beavers team had nothing but question marks and got their asses kicked by Penn State.

In case you have been dead for the past couple of days, you know USC lost to Oregon State on Thursday, 27-21, for the second consecutive time in Corvallis. And some tiny but powerful running back named Jacquizz is now a star. I wish I could say what went wrong for the Trojans, but I went to bed early in the second quarter, figuring the Beavers were dead even though they were winning 7-0.

Instead, I woke up this morning and found we’re going to be stuck with a couple of one-loss teams from the SEC and Big XII because USC gagged under pressure again. They only ran for 86 freaking yards on the same Beaver defense that gave up 239 yards on the ground to Penn State and 210 to f*cking Stanford. With that amazing stable of running backs, the Trojans couldn’t break the century mark. Meanwhile, Jacquizz Rodgers ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns by himself on that vaunted Trojan defense. I’m not calling USC soft, but they sure as hell left their balls on the team bus Thursday.

Expectations of the Trojans are hardly a new thing anymore. Every year, they’re in contention and are a favorite pick of the talking heads because they are loaded year in and year out. Since the 2005 season when they lost to Texas in the BCS title game, USC has had at least one bad loss. In 2006, they lost to Oregon State and then dropped another one to UCLA later that season. Last year, they lost to Stanford for no reason at all.

The bye-weeks sandwiching the Ohio State game seem to be what screwed USC up. And hey, guess what, their last loss at Oregon State in 2006 was after a bye week too. It was a great benefit to them to have the week off before the Ohio State game. They had extra time to game plan and could even add in a few wrinkles that weren’t on film for the Buckeyes to see. But a week off before you play a great team is different than a week off after you play a great team. The Ohio State win made the Oregon State game into a classic letdown game, especially since the Trojans had 12 days to think about it.  In that game, as in the one Thursday, Oregon State won the time of possession even though USC dominated the second half. And, just to throw a bone to Phillips, who may have stopped crying by now, in 2006, as in 2008, the NCAA just instituted strange clock rules that gave the team who won the T.O.P. battle a major advantage.

For whatever reason, Pete Carroll’s USC teams don’t always roll over inferior teams on the road, either. They’ve played close with a number of Pac-10 teams on the road who were way worse than USC. They allowed 31 points to a punchless Nebraska team (many of which were scored against USC’s backups, but still), only won by 7 at Cal, who finished 7-5, and only beat a terrible Washington team by 3. All on the road, all last season. In 2006, both of their losses were road games and they had a couple of close road wins as well. I have no idea why USC doesn’t show up on the road consistently, but they don’t.

Penalities are a common theme for recent USC teams as well. In their two 2007 losses, the Trojans were penalized 13 times for 145 yards (6-80 at Oregon and 7-65 home against Stanford). In their five road wins, the Trojans were penalized 52 times for 365 yards, including a 16-penalty 161-yard flag-fest at Washington (USC won 27-24). Even though the officials later apologized for the calls in that Washington game, the Trojans still averaged 10 penalites per road game and never had fewer than eight in any road game in 2007. They were penalized seven times for 84 yards against Oregon State on Thursday. This is clearly becoming a trend instead of an aberration.

Pete Carroll has done a fantastic job with the Trojans. I actually can’t say enough about how great a college coach he is. He’s perfect for this type of football. But I think we, the fans, and the talking heads get a little carried away with how talented his teams really are. We recognize he’s got National Championship talent, but things aren’t perfect in LA. They aren’t invincible and never have been.

We should also appreciate just how good that 2004-2005 USC team with Leinart, Bush, et al really was. They played essentially this same schedule and absolutely dominated pretty much every game they played. The same team came back in 2005-2006 and nearly lost several games before finally falling to Texas. It takes an extraordinary amount of luck to go undefeated, even if you have the most talented team. Hell, even Georgia should have a loss right now. They did everything they could do to drop the South Carolina game and still came away with the win because of a lucky fumble as the Gamecocks were about to score.

So yes, this game sucks for USC and it sucks for college football in general because we’re going to get a lackluster championship game. But remember, this is why rankings are utterly meaningless before the first BCS rankings come out. Pre-season expectations, hype, and pre-season rankings mean f*ck-all in the end. Maybe, just maybe, this season will convince everyone the BCS really does suck and needs to go now, especially since the BCS rankings rely heavily on those same ridiculous polls it was originally supposed to replace. The best we can hope for now is for Georgia and Oklahoma to go down, which will probably happen anyway. The chaos that ensues may finally kill the BCS beast.

As always, we’re updating all day Saturday as the games end or the mood strikes. Please to enjoy the second edition of Booter’s EPL Game of the Week, as well. I’m enjoying the hell out of it so far. Cheers.

Record through week 4: 40-12, 24-26-2 AS

12pm ET

Michigan State (3-1) at Indiana (2-1) (+8)

Indiana simply must redeem itself from the Ball State Disaster. The entire team looked awful against the Cardinals, and Ball State was actually a good matchup for the Hoosiers. The Spartans are not. Javon Ringer is a man-ster who torched (just like I predicted) Notre Dame’s defense for over 200 yards rushing. IU’s defense is supposedly better this season, but they didn’t show it last week. Their tackling and pass coverage issues of the past all resurfaced. If it happens again Saturday, the Hoosiers are dog food. Tack that on with the fact that IU simply cannot stop power-running teams like Wisconsin and Michigan State, and this might not be a fun Saturday. Man, I hate how I sound like a typical negative IU fan. We need to be more positive. Next week.

Pick: Michigan State

Update: Michigan State 42 Indiana 29. The Hoosiers threw the kitchen sink at the Spartans today. They tried everything and nearly got the win. Suddenly we’re stuck with a package in which Kellen Lewis is a wideout or running back who might throw while Ben Chappell is the quarterback. Chappy didn’t look too bad for a guy who hasn’t been getting first-team reps, by the by. Defense lost this game for Indiana. Their initial game plan was the “anyone but Ringer” defense, but once this thing turned into a shootout, they were basically just praying on every play. They’re really going to need to shore that shit up before next week. The star of this game, besides Ringer, of course, is Marcus Thigpen. He finally displayed some of the speed and talent he’s got and ended up with a ton of total yards. He might even have had more, but he may have gotten hurt. In, any case, it’s something small to build on since the offense looked good for Indiana, but there are no moral victories and now we’re 2-2.

Record: 41-12, 25-26-2 ATS

Maryland (3-1) at (20) Clemson (3-1) (-11)

Wow, Clemson. Way to go beating South Carolina State last week. That’s gotta feel good. You still suck, though. In their last real game, two weeks ago against NC State, the Tigers only managed to get James Davis and CJ Spiller 29 combined touches. Against Alabama, they only got 11 combined touches in the entire game. They may have gotten the ball against The Citadel and South Carolina State, but we all know that shit doesn’t count.

So let me ask this, then: what the hell kind of offense doesn’t give the ball to its two most talented players? It’s embarrassing to watch, and I don’t even have an interest in Clemson football. Davis and Spiller are easily their best players, yet the Tigers are out there throwing 31 times against SC State and 28 times against NC State. Hell they threw 34 times against Alabama! My point is this: whatever Clemson’s record is this season, Bowden has to be fired for this type of idiocy. If Les Miles were this team’s coach, they wouldn’t have thrown a forward pass yet, and Les Miles is an idiot. I don’t know what that makes Tommy Bowden. Oh, right, this week’s game…

Pick: Clemson wins but Maryland beats 11 points.

Update: Maryland 20 Clemson 17. MAN Clemson sucks. If this doesn’t ensure Tommy Bowden’s firing, nothing will. This is nothing but a terrible loss by a team more talented by a mile than Maryland. Davis and Spiller got their carries, but the team got nothing done in the second half and got beat. At home. By fucking Maryland. The Tigers would be better off out there running the damn wishbone than the soft, finesse spread system they use now. All it does is limit the touches of their best players and keep them from winning. Good system. You’re fired.

Record: 41-13, 26-26-2 ATS

North Carolina (2-1) at Tha U (2-1) (-7.5)

In my defense, I made this pick before I found out TJ Yates is hurt and not playing. See what happens when I pick games I don’t research very much? But, I’m an honest person and I’m leaving the pick the way I wrote it, like a rubber-band on my wrist to remind me not to miss free-throws. I’m pretty sure I called last week’s Tennessee/Florida game the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party too when everyone knows that ‘s Florida/Georgia. Apologies to everyone involved.

Okay, so I barely missed with UNC last week, and now they’re on the road against a plucky, but still growing, Miami team. If you look at the matchup, you’ll see these two teams are nearly identical offensively and defensively. They’ve scored the same amount of points and given up essentially the same amount as well, so I guess we have to do this position by position.

I trust UNC’s quarterbacks more than Miami’s. TJ Yates has been reasonably solid, if unspectacular this season. I will say that Miami’s offense has way more big-play capability than UNC’s. Graig Cooper is always a threat to go the distance and quarterback Robert Marve looked pretty good against Florida. Even Jacory Harris hasn’t been too bad taking the snaps. UNC does have a playmakers in Brandon Tate, though.

I think I’m going to stick with the Tar Heels one more week. Tha U just isn’t Tha U yet.

Pick: Miami but North Carolina beats 7.5 points.

Update: UNC 28 Tha U 24. Now that was one hell of an ending. UNC had to go to Cameron Sexton and he delivered, impossibly, inside the last minute. Miami still almost won but UNC’s safety made one hell of a play to stop the winning touchdown. This kind of screws my overall record, but I really have to say this is a huge win for the Carolina program. Winning at Miami, even when they aren’t completely Miami, is a fantastic thing.

Record: 41-14, 27-26-2 ATS

Booter’s EPL Game of the Week

This week’s game of the week comes to us from Liverpool, the sleepy English hamlet better known for giving the world the Beatles.  This weekend, however, the eyes of the world (well at least those who like the EPL) turn to Goodison Park in Liverpool for the 179th league installment (and 208th overall) of the Merseyside Derby (pronounced “darby” –Ed.) between Liverpool (boo) and Everton (hooray).  Unlike last week’s Chelsea/ManU match (which was correctly prognosticated by yours truly), a clash of the titans this game is not. What it lacks in glitz and glam, it makes up for in good old working class hatred.  While the EPL has its fair-share of inter-city rivals, what makes this game so much more intriguing than your average EPL derby is the extreme proximity of the combatants.  The home grounds of these two rivals is separated by mere steps.

This close proximity breeds chippy football, with seven red cards issued in the last seven matches and sixteen in the last thirty-two meetings.  The roughness is not limited to the pitch, as the supporters of the two clubs are keen to sling insults at the players and at each other.  Both clubs are looking to build new stadia, Liverpool near its current home and Everton further from city centre.  The Everton plan is to be financed in part by supermarket chain Tesco, including a proposal to include an outlet of the store at the stadium.  Liverpool fans are quick to pounce on the misfortune of their scouse bretheren who will have the indignity of picking up a packet of crisps and a box of tampons for the missus at the stadium.  Everton fans direct their wrath at a certain Liverpool player (Steven Gerrard) and his wife’s not-so-secret affair with a local gangster who goes by the handle “Pancakes.”  Safe to say the word “batter” appears in a number of the songs raining down upon  little Stevie from the Everton crowd.

The Toffees head into the weekend’s clash against their hated rivals across the park in relatively poor form having lost to Blackburn midweek in the Carling Cup and drawing newly promoted side Hull City last weekend.  The only bright spot in the Toffees loss to Blackburn was it ended their three match streak of scoring on themselves.  Having the ball go past him off his own man was likely enough to start Timmy Howard’s tic.  Everton have struggled mightily to keep the ball out of the net this season, which does not bode well for them especially given Liverpool’s sharpshooters at midfield and up front.  Joseph Yobo and Layton Baines are solid defensemen, but miss the coverage of defensive midfielders lost in the recently closed transfer period.

Liverpool enter this weekend’s matchup with a chance to go top of the league with a win and a poor result from Arsenal.  Liverpool boss and general fat pice of shit, Rafa Benitez had the stones to predict that Steven Gerrard would be key to his side’s chances against Everton.  Way to go out on a limb Rafa. Oh wait, it’s probably for the best that you picked a nice sturdy one, wouldn’t want the branch snapping and you tumbling to your death…..

Liverpool ought to win this game going away, but if Everton can get the home crowd behind them early, it may be closer than advertised.  A co-worker of mine, and life long Everton fan predicts that Liverpool wins 3-1. He knows more than me, so I’ll go with it.

3:30pm ET

Tennessee (1-2) at (15) Auburn (3-1) (-6.5)

Whatever else is in the mix for this game, Auburn is a tough beat at home and they’re probably still stinging from the LSU loss. Their offense is improving, though it’s still a high school offense and their D has been pretty stout all season. Tennessee, on the other hand, sucks. Crompton has been a failure at quarterback and their defense has been pretty mediocre. I always blame Phil Fulmer in this situation, but the players need some blame too. Basically, Tennesse is on its way to irrelevance should they lose this game and the formerly un-fireable Phil Fulmer’s ass might be getting a little toasty on the hot seat.

Pick: Auburn

Update: Auburn 14 Tennessee 12. Under Tony Franklin, Auburn has now been involved in two of the worst offensive games ever…in the same season. First there was that awful 3-2 win over Mississippi State and now this disaster. The only reason they won is because Tennessee is so bad. Speaking of that, it’s time for Phil Fulmer to step aside. Not until the end of the season, but he’s looking more and more like an incompetent boob rather than a hall of fame coach. It’s not that Tennessee needs to go to the spread offense or anything, their players are simply sloppy and slow, and that means death in the SEC.

Speaking of that, though everyone will rightly be calling for Fulmer’s head tomorrow, a lot of the blame has to go to the players. These were highly-recruited players and now they can’t even complete a handoff ? That’s pretty fucking pathetic. And that stuff is contagious too. No matter what a coach does, if the players’ are constantly sloppy and stupid, there’s nothing to be done. Basically, the entire program needs to be fired. Sorry, Vols fan.

Record: 42-14, 27-27-2 ATS

(25) Fresno State (2-1) at UCLA (1-2) (+7)

So Fresno State lost to Wisconsin at home and then got themselves an overtime win in a shootout with Toledo. What the hell is up with this team? They play up and play down to who whoever their opposition is. One week, they’re slugging it out in a defensive battle with Wisconsin, and the next week, they’re scoring 109 combined points with a MAC team.

UCLA isn’t in great shape, like we all knew they would be, so this game depends entirely on how Fresno comes out. If they’re flat or have issues on the road, they’re going down no matter how crappy the Bruins are.

Pick: Fresno State, but UCLA makes it interesting. I’m so going to regret this pick.

Update: Fresno State 36 UCLA 31. I think on the one hand, Booter might be happy that his Bruins were at least competitive with a ranked team. After all, UCLA is pretty goddamn bad right now. And for the record, this is the exact season they’d be having with Karl Dorrell too. So there’s that.

On the other hand, Booter should be pretty upset since his alma mater lost to Fresno State. After all, it’s Fresno fucking State. Sure, they’re ranked and feisty, but even a down UCLA team has twice the talent Fresno has. Alas, there will be no resurgence this season. But maybe UCLA can beat Oregon State and end the football monopoly in Los Angeles once and for all.

Record: 43-14, 28-27-2 ATS

Colorado (3-0) at Florida State (2-1) (-5.5)

In Jacksonville, FL.

Until FSU proves it’s not grabbing guys off the street and starting them at quarterback, I can’t go with them again. Their quarterbacKS ARE TERRIBLE and have been for quite a few years now. When did that change? They had a whole string of guys, even Chris Weinke and his bald-spot, who did the job well. But since Weinke left, the quarterback position at Florida State is a black hole.

That’s not to say I trust Colorado implicitly. They’re just really good at playing that mediocre football that does enough to get the fans’ hopes up but not to actually be a threat to anyone who’s legit. This also isn’t a true home game for the Seminoles, so I just don’t like their chances.

Pick: Colorado

Update: Florida State 39 Colorado 21. FSU didn’t rotate quarterbacks, moved the ball, and minimized turnovers. In other words, they looked nothing like Florida State. I don’t know if this means they’ll do anything in the ACC, but they beat a young Colorado team pretty handily. So no, FSU fan, this doesn’t mean you’re back. It means your crappy team had a good game against a second-tier Big XII team in a city where Bobby Bowden has only lost once. What, exactly, does Bobby Bowden do for Florida State? They have coordinators that run the offense and defense by themselves plus Chuck Amato, who is like a coordinator-emeritus. What does Bowden do? Answer me that.

Record: 43-15, 28-28-2 ATS

Purdue (2-1) at Notre Dame (2-1) (-1)

Purdue kind of sucks this season, though that move Kory Sheets put on the guy from Central Michigan last week was pretty amazing. Side note: that’s two hall of fame highlights made on CMU defenders this season. That has to be some kind of record. The Curtis Painter Era is turning into and out-and-out disaster for the Boilers. They haven’t beaten a ranked team and haven’t won a truly meaningful game since he’s been the quarterback. And now he’s struggling to even complete passes.

So yeah, Purdue kind of sucks, but Notre Dame really, really sucks. The Domers are proof of how a bad offensive line can cripple an entire team. All the skill position guys are good, but JFK had better protection in his convertible than Jimmy Clausen does. They can’t even run-block, for God’s sake. So, even though this is a home game for Notre Dame, which means it might be close, Purdue sucks less and therefore gets the nod.

Pick: Purdue. I think the Boilers might try to screw me and drop this one to the Irish. They’re that petty toward IU fans.

Update: Our Lady 38 Purdue 21. I knew it. I damn knew it. God, Purdue sucks so badly. Curtis Painter is the worst of all the quarterbacks produced by Joe Tiller, yet he is the one Tiller is stuck with in his final season. Some send-off. The Boilers actually managed to make the Notre Dame offense look good, which is a hard thing to do.

I didn’t watch a minute of this game because I didn’t want my face to melt off from the suckitude, which it surely would have. Let’s face it, these were two terrible football teams, so there isn’t really a whole lot to take away from this. They’ll both still suck Sunday morning. Deal with it.

Record: 43-16, 28-29-2 ATS

4pm ET

MAC Game of the Week

Buffalo (2-2) at Central Michigan (2-2) (-7)

I’m going to keep beating this dead horse until they lose their bowl game against a major-conference team. I’m telling you, Central Michigan is a good team. Now they’re in the MAC and they get to play…a feisty Buffalo team. Great. This game just screams shoot out to me, with Dan LeFevour’s skills on full display. Unfortunately for CMU, their defense has to play too, so at least this game should be a fun watch.

Pick: Central Michigan

Update: CMU 27 Buffalo 25. Dan LeFevour didn’t have a great game passing, though he was efficient. He ran for 100 yards too, proving he is the superior dual-threat quarterback (this week) to Jesus H. Tebow. Well, sort of, since Tebow threw for like 5,000 yards in their loss to Ole Miss. CMU’s defense almost undid them again, allowing a very, very game Buffalo team (get it, “game”? Like hunting?) to attempt what would have been a game-winning field goal attempt that clanged off the upright. So basically, CMU has their asses saved  by pure luck because their offense didn’t come to play. A win’s a win, and good teams, uh, do that, so, uh, there you go. I think I might be done with this dead horse. We’ll see.

Record: 44-16, 28-30-2 ATS

7pm ET

(24) Texas Christian (4-0) at (2) Oklahoma (3-0) (-18.5)

I really, really respect TCU and what they’ve done so far this season, but when both teams are called “dominating” it really speaks more to OU’s wimpy schedule than to how good TCU is. Oklahoma is a great team and everything, but good lord, Chattanooga and Cincinnati? And don’t pretend Cincy is a good team; they’re still building and they’re in the Big East anyway. TCU is really good for a lower-tier team and if they weren’t playing Oklahoma, they might be a BCS-buster. They’ve got some good defense and a good quarterback, but at every matchup, OU is better. They will simply overpower the Horned Frogs.

Pick: Oklahoma

Update: OU 35 TCU 10. Say hello to your new number one team in the country. And they did it in very un-Oklahoma-like fashion. First, they didn’t run up the score against an inferior opponent, which is practically unheard of from this program. Old Bobby Stoops loves to keep his foot on the gas no matter what and pretend his team was “just playing football.” Sam Bradford also threw for over 400 yards in this one while the Sooners also only ran for 86 or so. Not typical for them either. Also, OU was playing an out of conference game against an unusually good opponent for them. They definitely don’t do that either. Maybe Stoops thinks this team has real potential and is getting them ready. Yeah, right. He thought TCU would be down again and hoped for an easy win, which they got anyway. Still, their schedule isn’t as weak as Georgia’s was and they aren’t soft (thus far) like USC is, so the Sooners are number one. Deal with it.

Record: 45-16, 29-30-2 ATS

7:30pm ET

Mississippi State (1-3) at (5) Louisiana State (3-0) (-25)

I know Mississippi State sucks, but I just can’t see LSU covering 25 points. They run the ball a lot, don’t have a totally dependable quarterback, and just don’t score that much. The no-doubt part of this game is that Mississippi State isn’t going to score an offensive touchdown. They are gawd-awful on offense. Should LSU cover this one, it will be through a couple of defensive touchdowns to go with the 24 points the offense is going to produce.

This is also week five of my Free Keiland Williams campaign. We’ve taken a bit of a hit with the success of Charles Scott, but I maintain Keiland Williams is a Heisman-caliber running back if given a full load of carries and touches. He is what jumps LSU’s offense from boring but consistent to stratospheric. I’m telling you. And what happened to running back by committee? Les Miles is absolutely in love with taking one running back that’s not flashy but is effective and running him into the ground for no reason. He did it with Jacob Hester, to the near-destruction of their season against Kentucky and Arkansas last season, and he’s doing it again with Scott. Free Keiland Williams!

Pick: LSU. Screw it.

Update: LSU 34 MSU 24. They didn’t lose, but this is a couple years in a row now that LSU allowed an extremely inferior opponent to score way more points than they should have. They had a couple of injuries along the defensive front, but they have absolutely no excuse for allowing Mississippi State to be within ten points of them. The Tiger offense just can’t blow anyone out.

The real reason they didnt’ destroy the Bulldogs? No Keiland Williams. Charles Scott had a nice game again, but he is not a big-play back. He’s a grinder, and Les Miles gets a hard-on every time he sees a big back that can get him three yards and a cloud of dust. Keiland Williams is a big back, but he’s also a big-play back, and Miles doesn’t know what to do with that. Probably thinks it’s “uppity” of Williams to be big, athletic, and fast. Les Miles sucks. Keiland Williams doesn’t. I was right about Jonathan Stewart and I’m right now. Free Keiland Williams!

Record: 46-16, 29-31-2 ATS

7:45pm ET

(8) Alabama (4-0) at (3) Georgia (4-0) (-7)

If this game were in Tuscaloosa, I’d be convincing you right now that Alabama is going to win. They’re playing the kind of un-funny, physical football that overachieving teams that really aren’t very good play. They run the ball well and are playing excellent defense, but they’re just not that talented yet. Instead, this is a home game at night for Georgia, which will give them the boost they need to make their uncreative offensive system seem interesting and well-designed.

Make no mistake, Georgia is going down at least once this season. That doesn’t mean they aren’t going to make the National Championship game, since LSU proved you can lose twice and make it. But this just doesn’t feel like that game. It’s coming, Bulldog fan, but not Saturday.

Pick: Georgia, but Alabama beats 7 points.

Update: Alabama 41 Georgia 30. We learned a lot about USC this week when they lost on the road to Oregon State. We also learned a lot about Georgia when they got their asses kicked at home by Alabama. And the similarities between the two upsets are definitely, uh, similar. Now that’s some good writing. Both teams went down big in the first half. Their offenses couldn’t function and their vaunted running games were rendered moot. The defenses played the kind of disappointing, soft football you’d expect from over-rated teams. Both teams also came back in the second half, but couldn’t come all the way back.

The only difference is Georgia had it coming. No one laughed louder when USC lost Thursday, bringing the irony full-circle. This wasn’t as bad a loss as the Oregon State loss, but it did prove Georgia is just as overrated and flawed as USC. You can’t win anything without good line play, and neither team had that this week. Georgia’s issues might be more systemic, however, because of the youth on their offensive line. USC is just plain soft. Matt Stafford also can’t carry the ‘Dogs by himself. He spent yet another game not checking down and just throwing down the field as hard as he could. He’s got a great arm and can make a ton of plays, but he’s also what is holding this team back.

These were some disappointing losses, but this Georgia loss is exactly what we needed if there will be BCS chaos for a second-straight season. Obviously, you could tell it was coming, but Alabama isn’t as good as they looked on Saturday. Looks like we’re going to get what we want and ruin the BCS. Viva la BCS Revolucion!

Record: 46-17, 30-31-2 ATS

8pm ET

(22) Illinois (2-1) at (12) Pennsylvania State (4-0) (-15.5)

Spread HD! Guess what? (what) Turns out the Nittany Lions are having success with a mobile quarterback again! Just like when they had Michael Robinson, right before program-killer Anthony Morelli stepped in. Amazing things would just turn around like that, right? Crazy.

Illinois’ defense isn’t really stopping people, they’re just bending but not breaking. And somehow, Juice Williams looks like a polished passer…almost. He’s actually not a negative for the team in that area anymore. They’re THIS close to breaking even offensively. It’s amazing! Not really.

I’m in shock that Penn State is a two-touchdown favorite, even if they are at home. But basically, Penn State has all the momentum and seems to be playing really, really well against crappy teams. While Illinois isn’t crappy, they aren’t great either.

Pick: Penn State, but Illinois beats 15.5 points.

Update: Penn State 38 Illinois 24. I love that the lead for the ESPN recap of this game mentions the 2005 season. Love. It. Is it really a surprise that Penn State’s last two successful seasons were based around a creative, wide-open offense and a dual-threat quarterback? During the Zack Mills and Anthony Morelli years, they reverted to Paterno’s 1970’s offense and were exceedingly mediocre during that time.The last two times Penn State has had a dual-threat quarterback and a spread offense, they’ve started 5-0. Shocking! Bunch of geniuses over there in Happy Valley.

The real reason, besides the crap offense PSU runs when they don’t have a running quarterback, is that no one can win a shoot out against their defense. It’s always been good, but they haven’t always scored enough points and moved the ball effectively enough to let the D be good.

So it’s nice to see Penn State resurgent. I catch myself rooting for them from time to time, except when they play IU, obviously. We get to play that juggernaut later this season. Great. This does mean Ohio State has a challenger for the Big Ten crown, which is good for everyone. As a conference, we really don’t want the Buckeyes to be the best team this season. Even with Pryor in charge, they don’t look very good.

Record through week five: 47-17, 31-31-2 ATS

Some notes on the other upsets this weekend:

Stanford 35 Washington 28: I don’t care what you say or how much Washington sucks, this is an upset. And now Jake Locker is hurt. One program on the rise and one who is about to be searching for a new coach and finding that no one wants to rebuild that disaster.

Navy 24 Wake Forest 16: Damnit, Wake. But this is what happens to Wake if they make mistakes, even against triple-option teams. They just aren’t talented enough to get away with them. They usually don’t screw up much, but this week, it caught up to them.

Houston 41 ECU 24: This truly is a Holtz team. Getting away with bland football because they make the big play, but then losing to teams they had no business losing to. Like NC State and Houston. Houston? Ugh.

Michigan 27 Wisconsin 25: Pathetic effort by the Badgers. Michigan did everything they could to turn this game into a Wisconsin blowout, but Evridge can’t throw and PJ Hill was somewhat stopped, so Michigan came back. The Badgers are still dangerous, but it’s down to Penn State and Ohio State in the Big Ten.

Ole Miss 31 Florida 30: See what happens when you don’t give the ball to your running backs ever? Teams know they just have to focus on Tebow and Harvin and then the Gators can’t run the ball. Tebow had two touchdowns but only ran for seven yards. Harvin was a little better, but the two of them comprise the bulk of UF’s carries. They produced a Heisman winner last season, but the Gators are a deeply-flawed offensive football team this season. And they still only lost because of a blocked extra point.

Other EPL fixtures:

Saturday, 27 September 2008 (All times GMT)

Arsenal v Hull, 17:30
Arsenal’s first team, after seeeing the kids win 6-0 midweek, are inspired and win 500-0.  Ok fine, that’s just silly, 4-0 is more like it.
Aston Villa v Sunderland, 15:00
Villa hold serve at home, throwing Roy Keane into a whiskey fueled rage, on the bus ride home.

Everton v Liverpool, 12:45
This editon of the Merseyside derby goes to the bloods, er the team in red.

Fulham v West Ham, 15:00
West Ham got some bad news related to the drama surrounding the Tevez transfer saga from last season.  Will it distract on the road at the Cottage? This guy says yes, Fulham draw West Ham.
Man Utd v Bolton, 15:00
ManU smash Bolton much like Arsenal did last week.

Middlesbrough v West Brom, 15:00
Resident Uzbek, who selected ‘Boro last week, only to be disappointed as they went down 2-0 to Sunderland, is going with ‘Boro again.  Here’s hoping she’s right, otherwise she might get grouchy.
Newcastle v Blackburn, 15:00
Lowly Newcastle welcome Blackburn to St. James’. Being good hosts, and a crap side they allow Blackburn to leave with three points.

Stoke v Chelsea, 15:00
Stoke are shit, Chelsea is not. Convential wisdom says Chelsea wins, convential wisdom is correct.

Sunday, 28 September 2008 (All times GMT)

Portsmouth v Tottenham, 13:30
Pompey have a -7 goal differential, that should improve as the worst team in the league comes to town. Spurs lose again. God that feels good to say.

Wigan v Man City, 16:00
Man City lacked “encouragement” from their Arab overlords as they were defeated by lowly Brighton midweek. A trip to Wigan ought to cheer them up. Citizens win.

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