West Virginia (5-2) at (25) UConn (6-2) (+3.5)
I feel terrible for UConn. They really did have a shot at something special, but they’re just not the same without their quarterback. Hence their being home dogs against an unranked team. Worse for them, West Virginia is finally showing signs of life again. Just in time for Pat White to leave. Noel Devine is awesome and that 3-3-5 defense is working…kinda. Basically, West Virginia is on their way up and Connecticut is staying the same. It sucks, but that’s football.
Pick: West Virginia
Update: WVU 35 UConn 10. I’m much more upset about some other games today, so I’ll keep this one brief. The wrap on this game is all about Pat White and how wonderful he is and all the records he’s set, blah blah blah blah blah. Thing is, they never won anything under him on Rich-Rod’s watch and the barely have under Bill Stewart. Don’t get me wrong, Pat, I’m impressed, but not overwhelmed. You beat a weakened UConn team, so let’s take a deep breath here in the press.
Record: 97-40, 66-66-5 ATS
Fred Glass! Come on down!
You, sir, are the winner of the Indiana Athletic Director Sweepstakes! Now you get to take control of one of the best athletic departments in all of college sports. Heck, the football team is…3-5 and majorly disappointing. They’re also still having trouble drawing fans and have that major building project to finish. But hey, there’s always Indiana basketball…who’s currently under NCAA investigation and has already lost three scholarships, the program has been cleaned out, and the team will generally be terrible this season. Plus there’s a new basketball coach you didn’t hire! And an outdated, dumpy, ridiculous arena to fix! Sweet! At least the soccer team is decent. And let’s keep it that way. Enoy your new job!
Central Michigan (6-2) at Indiana (3-5) (-2)
IU is favored? Did NOT expect that. I guess it’s because CMU is crap against major conference teams. They’re even crap against Purdue. I think that says enough. Kellen Lewis is still iffy and that means this is yet another game in the hands of Ben Chappell. I’m reasonably sure Dan LeFevour is going to play, though he was hurt earlier in the season. Playing or not, my pick is the same. I’m cautiously optimistic about this game. It scares me to death, but IU showed real signs of life last season, so let’s leave it at that.
Update: CMU 37 IU 34. I watched this game and I really wish I hadn’t. What I ended up seeing was one of the worst defensive efforts by a major-conference team anyone will ever see. IU should have won this game five times over, but they let Central Michigan and their backup quarterback absolutely torch them for four quarters and turn what should have been a blowout into a shootout.
All of IU’s worst traits came out in this game. The defense played a soft zone for much of the game and forgot how to tackle people (use your fucking arms, not just your shoulders, you twats!). The coaching staff had game-plan schizophrenia again. They played a pathetically soft zone for a lot of the game and blitzed the hell out of CMU the other half of the game, but neither was overly-effective. Kellen Lewis got hurt again and that meant the offense couldn’t run like it was supposed to. Though the coaches decided they should rotate quarterbacks anyway because, you know, that works so fucking WELL for other teams. The coaches also decided not to run the ball for most of the game even though Marcus Thigpen and everyone else was gashing the CMU defense and the team had a decided speed advantage. But no, they played weak and got beat by a weaker team. This isn’t bad luck. It’s systemic throughout the program. Dumb players, dumb coaches, and lazy-ass fans who won’t support anything but a 10-win team because Indiana is Big Ten code for “fairweather fan.” This season is officially a disaster, not just a bad season. Bill Lynch better fix this shit by continuing to get good recruits and firing most of his assistants to save his own neck. We could have won this game and taken on a beatable Wisconsin team next week, but no. We decided it would be better to play DiNardo football. I’m done.
Record: 97-41, 66-67-5 ATS
Wisconsin (4-4) at (21) Michigan State (7-2) (-5.5)
Travis Beckum is done, and likely so is the Wisconsin passing game. Not that MSU does such a great job throwing the ball. Brian Hoyer is only completing 50 percent of his passes, and that’s with defenses selling out to stop the run because of Javon Ringer. Not the best sign for Michigan State’s chances of blowing the Badgers out. This feels like one of those classic unwatchable 17-10 Big Ten matchups. So I hope you love running offense when you wake up on Saturday with a huge hangover from the Halloween party you went to Friday night. Ideally, I won’t still have my costume on, but I’m not promising anything.
Pick: Michigan State
Update: Michigan State 25 Wisconsin 24. Disaster has struck again for the Badgers, in what is already a hilarious season. I would feel bad for them, but they’re a Big Ten rival and they do it to themselves. Guys, I think it’s time to make it out of the 70’s and recruit a quarterback who does more than just hand off. When the best quarterback in program history is either John Stocco or Brooks Bollinger, there’s a problem. As for MSU, I’m disgusted. Kinda with myself, but with them too. I shouldn’t have expected them to cover at home against a weak opponent. What was I thinking?
Record: 98-41, 66-68-5 ATS
Northwestern (6-2) at (17) Minnesota (7-1) (-7)
I would enjoy this particular game more if Tyrell Sutton and C.J. Bacher weren’t hurt. Bacher might play, but Sutton is out for the season, and that is a problem for the Northwestern offense. That ranking next to Minnesota still doesn’t look right, but they might be a legitimately good team, though I find that hard to believe. They played close with Indiana. I mean, come on. Who plays close with Indiana? Then again, Northwestern just lost to IU, so yeah I’m going with Minny.
Update: Northwestern 24 Minnesota 17. Now that is a season-crippling loss for Minnesota. They didn’t play well this entire game, but they’ve got the ball and are trying to get a late field goal to get the win, but instead they threw a pick and that was it. Absolutely crushing for a young team like the Gophers. On the flip side, it’s a gift from the gods to Northwestern, who was playing without their starting quarterback and best running back. I had no idea that Franz Kafka guy could run so well. That’s his name right?
Record: 98-42, 66-69-5 ATS
Tha U (5-3) at Virginia (5-3) (-2)
Something has to change for Virginia. They’re way overdue for another bad loss, which is a weird thing to say about Miami in any year, but it’s true this year. The Cavs are playing well, but this thing still seems like a house of cards to me. Al Groh has saved his job for next year anyway. He may not have been in trouble in the first place because of all the injuries and players lost to suspension or academics. Conversely, Miami is due for a good win, and a road win at Virginia would be that. They’re young, though, and I hate taking young teams on the road. They have enough issues winning at home, you know?
Update: Miami 24 UVA 17. It wouldn’t be 2008 Miami if they didn’t make it interesting, but I told you this one was coming. I like how I can gloat directly after I get three games in a row wrong. That’s the beauty of blogging. Everyone was due, and I’m glad I didn’t know Jacory Harris was going to factor into this game since I thought Robert Marve was going to be the quarterback. I stop paying attention to Miami for a couple of weeks and this is what I get. Whatever, it’s a “W”.
Record: 99-42, 67-69-5 ATS
(18) Tulsa (8-0) at Arkansas (3-5) (+7)
Don’t expect Tulsa to come out and lay an egg against Arkansas. This game determines the rest of their season. A win over an SEC team leads them to possible BCS territory, but a loss leaves them in Conference USA hell. Just another good team in a crap conference.
The worry in this game is what the worry always is in games like this: will Arkansas’ major-conference players physically dominate the smaller-conference team, despite their skills and speed? And, is Tulsa just fast for C-USA or are they fast for any team? I personally love their balance and their efficiency on ofense. A lot of teams are running the hurry-up spread, but not many of them are as efficient on offense as Tulsa. There are very few wasted plays, which is one of the reasons Tulsa is converting 61 percent of their third downs. Point is, Arkansas is way down, but it’s still going to take a heroic effort for Tulsa to win on the road against an SEC team, no matter what that team’s current caliber is.
Update: Arkansas 30 Tulsa 23. Sucks Tulsa lost. I would have liked to see them play with the big boys, but if they seem overmatched against a shitty SEC team, I guess I don’t mind avoiding another Hawai’i vs. Georgia situation. Now they get to try their very best to make the Liberty bowl. IF they win the conference, that is.
Record: 99-43, 67-70-5 ATS
Pittsburgh (5-2) at Notre Dame (5-2) (-5)
I’m so close to picking against Notre Dame in this game. Javon Ringer tore their defense up, and they can apply all the pressure they want, but if they can’t stop the run, they’re dead. I’m expecting a huge day out of LeSean McCoy against this slow defense. That said, Notre Dame will pass all over Pitt, and since that’s basically their entire offense anyway, the Irish have a decided advantage here. Plus this is a game featuring Charlie Weis vs. Dave Wannstedt. One of them is playing checkers and the other, chess. Figure out which one is which. You have ten seconds.
Pick: Notre Dame
Update: Pitt 36 Notre Dame 33 (4OT). I know I picked them, but, Domers, I told you so. This team is not “back” from last season’s debacle. Pitt doesn’t even do anything, they just run the ball and hope McCoy can break a couple, but Notre Dame’s defense couldn’t stop him. This is also the Irish’s third loss to a team with a winning record. They also happen to have three losses now, so that should tell everyone exactly what we needed to know about Notre Dame. At least they’re beating the teams they’re supposed to beat, but they still aren’t on the respectable teams’ level.
Record: 99-44, 67-71-5 ATS
Clemson (3-4) at Boston College (5-2) (-3.5)
I guess it would be wrong of me to pile on Clemson anymore than I already have. They already fired their coach, their season is all but lost, and yet they have to play out their remaining games. I’m befuddled by this spread, though. BC isn’t all that great and they aren’t favored by a whole lot even though they’re at home which means the oddsmakers think Clemson is pretty good…or BC kinda sucks but they don’t trust Clemson. Hell, I don’t trust Clemson. But I don’t trust BC either, hence being befuddled. Let’s surprise ‘em.
Update: Clemson 27 BC 21. Wait wait wait wait wait. You can’t just make up a trophy because a game seems like a rivalry lately. What the hell is the O’Rourke/McFadden Trophy? There should be a committee to approve all rivalry trophies or something. The Tigers still didn’t give the ball to James Davis and CJ Spiller like they should, but Spiller had such an impressive game it didnt’ matter. So I guess some things change and some things don’t with Clemson. I’m also fully aware of the irony that Clemson gave me my one hundredth win this season.
Record: 100-44, 68-71-5 ATS
(24) Oregon (6-2) at California (5-2) (-2.5)
I took Oregon in my pick ‘em league (which I was winning until last week, when I forgot to make any picks), but I’m already re-thinking that decision. This is not an impressive Cal team, but Oregon has lost two straight to them, and was ranked both times. Cal also has a defense that’s good at stopping the run, Oregon’s primary weapon. The Bears are also at home and have the benefit of a little stability at quarterback with Kevin Riley reclaiming the job from Nate Longshore. I mean, they had so much success the last couple of years with Longshore, why not keep going with him? That was sarcastic, by the way. Cal is a safe pick here, so if this were real money, I’d be taking them. But it’s not, so screw it, I’m taking Oregon.
Update: Cal 26 Oregon 16. Standing water on a field is bad, I guess, but Oregon wasn’t playing the Berkeley grounds crew, were they, coach Belotti? Aren’t the Ducks from Oregon? And I know from personal experience, there’s plenty of shitty weather in Eugene too. Looks like those nice facilities and that pretty finess offense have made the Ducks even more soft than they used to be. What’s even worse about this game is how everything is breaking USC’s way. AGAIN. The other teams tied for first with them are picking each other off and the Trojans will be the last ones standing. Again. Stupid Pac-10.
Record: 100-45, 68-72-5 ATS
(15) Florida State (6-1) at Georgia Tech (6-2) (-2.5)
I like Tech’s chances of stopping State’s offense a lot more than I like Florida State’s chances of stopping Georgia Tech. If FSU had Tech’s defensive line, I might reconsider my position, but they don’t. You have to love any game that’s a matchup of two of the best running teams in the country against two big, fast, physical defenses. It’s going to be a brutal game. In the past, Bobby Bowden has eaten up teams like this, but I’m not sure even he has seen a team this athletic that runs the triple option. I think Tech is going to walk it down the field, score a couple of times, and make it very, very difficult for Florida State’s offense to do anything at all. So it comes down to the Yellow Jacket offense against the FSU defense and, when run correctly, the triple option works against anyone. Hooray option football!
Pick: Georgia Tech
Update: Georgia Tech 31 FSU 28. Georgia Tech hadn’t beaten FSU since 1975? Wow. They were also leading 24-10 in the first half, but had to rely on pure, stupid luck as Florida State nearly won the game. I feel awful for that kid that fumbled for FSU. I mean it’s football, so I’m sure we’ll all live, but bad shit happens to people for no reason sometimes. Next time, don’t fumble. I’m still not sure what Tech was doing throwing the ball that late in the game with a lead, but whatever, they won and struck another blow for option football!
Record: 101-45, 69-72-5 ATS
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party
(8) Florida (6-1) at (6) Georgia (7-1) (+6.5) Jacksonville, FL
Now that most experts seem to think this will be a shoot-out, I’m starting to get worried about my own pick. I was thinking the same thing until Wednesday, when everyone and their mother picked a score like 42-35 or 35-31. I do know Georgia’s defense isn’t great. They allowed a hell of a lot of points to an LSU offense that can’t actually throw the ball, so what’re they going to do against Florida? I do love Knowshon Moreno, but I’m wondering how effective Matt Stafford will be when the entire Gator D is flying at Moreno. Florida’s secondary was awful last season, so A.J. Green and Mohammed Massasdfiniwoina;i*asdfoias should get a couple of catches. But when Florida gets pressure, Stafford will have to check to shorter routes, which he rarely does and can’t really throw particularly accurately. I think Florida wins a – sigh- shoot out.
Update: Florida 49 Georgia 10. I know Urban Meyer is a dick with a funny name who sucks at life, but I’m willing to excuse all that when it comes to making Georgia suffer this season. Those two times out at the end of the game to “give Emmanuel Moody more carries” were the best example of rubbing it in I’ve seen in a long time. We may have our next great SEC coaching rivalry. The stoic, strategically overmatched Phil Fulmer Mark Richt, and the ornery, flashy Steve Spurrier Urban Meyer. Meyer isn’t nearly as fun as Spurrier, but this game could be fun for years to come.
I also think we have all the proof we need as to Georgia’s overrated-ness. It’s not like Florida didn’t make mistakes early they could have capitalized on, the Bulldogs just didn’t do it. Stafford looked like crap AGAIN against a team athletically equal to Georgia. Everything about the Bulldogs is overrated, with the possible exception of Knowshon Moreno. I don’t know how fast he actually is, but he may be one of those guys who’s better in the NFL than in college. Or he could be the new Leonard Russell.
So now that Georgia is out of the national title race and out of the SEC championship race, it is time to award them the first annual Nelson Muntz HA-HA Trophy for Excellence In Failing To Meet Expectations. Congratulations, Georgia Bulldogs!
Record: 102-45, 70-72-5 ATS
Will Huskies fan say the cupboard is bare too?
The expected demise of Ty Willingham happened this week. He’ll be resigning at the end of the season because his teams have been, well, terrible. Whatever was the problem at Notre Dame (besides his being black) it seems to have magnified at Washington. The team is winning less and the offense is actually worse than Willingham’s last year at Notre Dame. Even the players knew it was probably over at the end of the season, since they have “winning issues” and have let their coach down.
At least no one is saying he was fired because of his race or any other silly reason. This time, he just didn’t win enough, and that’s death for every coach. We’ll never be able to get into that locker room and figure out exactly what went wrong.
I do know coaches should be stampeding for this job. The top-flight guys might be happy where they are, but other guys should really want this job. Look what Charlie Weis did with Willingham’s players the year after Ty was fired. Everyone gave Weis all the credit and pretended Notre Dame was already on the way back up when they hadn’t even bottomed out yet. Chances are the new coach at Washington will be able to produce similar first-year success since most of the Huskies’ talent is young and Jake Locker will be healthy next season. Willingham recruited Brady Quinn and Locker, but it took Weis to make Quinn a success. Maybe the same thing will happen to the former Football John the Baptist, Jake Locker.
Washington (0-7) at (5) USC (6-1) (-46)
I really have no business picking this game, since USC is a huge favorite and Washington’s coach is resigning at the end of the season. Ever notice how resigning and re-signing (as in with another team) are spelled exactly the same. I’m not even sure of the need for a dash in re-signing, but it’s the only way to make it clear. Weird. I must admit, I’m intrigued by the prospect of a winless Washington season, which is why this game is appearing alongside the other best games of the week.
This is basically a repeat of the Wazzu game for USC. They’re a serious favorite and this team can’t possibly do any damage to them. They’re going to run their basic offense, get their starters out as early as possible, and pad those statistics. I’d be surprised if the Huskies scored. MAN does this sound a lot like last season’s Stanford game or what?
Update: USC 56 Washington 0. If something is going to keep USC out of the BCS Championship game, it’s going to be playing Wazzu and Washington, two of Division One’s worst teams. They also still have a revenge game against crappy Stanford and a matchup against plucky but incompetent UCLA too. USC has still never lost a November game under Pete Carroll. And no, Willingham resigning before this game had no effect on the outcome. USC was shutting them out and scoring at least seven touchdowns no matter what. It would have been way, way worse if this game were in Seattle instead of Los Angeles because USC wouldn’t have had nearly as many subs to use at the end.
Record: 103-45, 71-72-5 ATS
The last Spurrier vs. Fulmer game ever?
I don’t know if Phil Fulmer is on his way out or not, but if he is (and all signs point to this), I want to lament the last game between two old SEC rivals from the 1990’s: The Ole’ Ball Coach and Fulmer.
My friends, this was a classic coaching matchup back in the day. With Spurrier running Florida, without doubt the coolest football program in the country at the time, and Fulmer at Tennessee, every game between these two teams was a classic battle of brain vs. brawn, flashy vs. tough, and smart vs. well, Phil Fulmer. This rivalry spawned so much great smack between the two schools, it may as well have invented trash talking. Spurrier even coined the classic “you can’t spell ‘Citrus Bowl’ without U-T” line that I still use to this day, even though Tennessee isn’t successful enough for the Citrus Bowl these days.
So if this really is it, much respect to these two old SEC warhorses and I hope Spurrier’s program gets it together enough so he can make fun of some other coach for years to come.
Tennessee (3-5) at South Carolina (5-3) (-5.5)
I have to look realistically at this game. Both teams are crap on offense. They’re starting young quarterbacks and don’t have a prayer in hell of looking like a good offensive football team. They might be able to run the ball and get a play or two in the passing game, but this game will not, repeat: will NOT, be pretty. These are also two teams with good defenses. I trust South Carolina a little more. Besides, if the teams are equal, look at the head coaches, and that one is not a tie.
Pick: South Carolina
Update: South Carolina 27 Tennessee 6. Losing so much at South Carolina must have made Steve Spurrier more humble because he never would have let this game pass without some kind of sarcastic comment in the past. See? Everyone can grow. Since it may be the last matchup between these two old-guard coaches, I’m glad they got to be the ones to get me over .500 against the spread. Sorry, coach Fulmer, losing to Spurrier isn’t new for you and Vols fans, but losing to South Carolina is absolutely unacceptable for Tennessee. Thus, this may be your swan song with the Volunteers. Make no mistake, that program, the fans, and the boosters owe you everything for keeping the program relevant over the last couple of decades. But now the game has finally passed you by, and it’s time to move on.
Record: 104-45, 72-72-5 ATS
(11) Boise State (7-0) at New Mexico State (3-4) (+21.5)
Saturdays are all about the big games and supporting one’s school, but the late nights belong to the underdogs. Both Boise and Utah are playing late games this week that probably won’t be on television anywhere near me. That doesn’t mean I can’t hype them up a little.
Boise State is playing New Mexico State on the road. It’s a pretty innocuous game and they should win easily. But they’re on the road, it’s the Aggies’ biggest game of the season, and those teams that throw all the time are a pain in the ass to beat. Plus 22 points is a hell of a lot to make on the road against a team that’s going to score a lot of points. Is Boise ready for this kind of game? I sure as shit hope so.
Pick: Boise State
Update: Boise State 49 NMSU 0. Well, there you have it. I’d say Boise State was ready for this game. I may have overestimated New Mexico State’s skills a tad too. Boise has beaten the Aggies 107-0 the last two seasons, so yeah, there’s that. Guess this spread wasn’t so outrageous after all.
Record: 105-45, 73-72-5 ATS
(1) Texas (8-0) at (7) Texas Tech (8-0) (+3.5)
This is the biggest game in the history of the Texas Tech football program. They are as good as they have ever been as a football team. They have the best quarterback they’ve ever had. They even have a coach who will be a full-blown celebrity by the end of this season. What I’m saying is: Texas has a hell of a lot to work against if they’re going to win this one.
The good news for Texas is they have this insane “team of destiny” thing about them this year. They’re getting great contributions from every member of their team without any stars or fanfare except for Colt McCoy, who is doing his best impersonation of Jesus so far this season.
But I can’t help getting caught up with the story behind Texas Tech this season. I’m fully aware they’re in trouble becaus Texas is one hell of a team, but this is too great a story. It’s also too great an opportunity to cause more BCS chaos, which is really all I want out of this season. The best case scenario is one weak, undefeated team and a bunch of good one-loss teams. Texas is too good to be undefeated, therefore they must go down.
Pick: Texas Tech
Update: Texas Tech 39 Texas 33. It’s really great to see Tech fans finally have a huge win at home for a program that’s been trying to make “the leap'” for like eight years, and it was in the biggest game in the school’s history, no less. That was also the best last-second play since Flutie’s Hail Mary. That’s right, I said it. Absolutely incredible ending. You just knew Texas was going to come back even though Tech was trouncing them at halftime. That was as unlikely a successful play as you’re going to see and it involved the two main guys for Tech all season: Harrell to Crabtree. I have no idea what Crabtree’s measurables are like, but this guy could be the best receiver to come into the draft since Calvin Johnson two years ago. Okay, so that’s not saying much, but still, dude is amazing. Hell of a game. Hell of a win for Texas Tech.
Record: 106-45, 74-72-5 ATS
Late night game of the week
(10) Utah (8-0) at New Mexico (4-5) (+7.5)
Another strangely tough game for a non-BCS contender. The Utes are going to the state of New Mexico too and will face a team playing their biggest game of the season. New Mexico isn’t all that great, but you can never underestimate a team that’s playing its biggest game of the season, hence the strangely close spread.
Update: Utah 13 New Mexico 10. It wasn’t a pretty win and it won’t look good to outsiders because New Mexico isn’t all that good, but Utah is still undefeated and in contention for a second BCS bid. Looks like they were the ones who had the tough trip to New Mexico instead of Boise State.
Record through Week 10: 107-45, 74-73-5 ATS