McD’s Week 8 Picks

October 17, 2008 – 10:27 am by McD

Afternoon, all. Okay, okay, so it’s not the crack of noon, it’s more like one, but at least I’m up. Can’t believe I have to wait seven hours before IU plays tonight.

All the early games are still close, and Georgia Tech just fumbled, so things aren’t looking good so far. AANNNNND then Clemson just fumbled the ball back. Love that ACC football.

Good, I got to practice my play-by-play skills, so now I’m off to put some pants on (or not) and order some terribly fatty food for lunch. God, I love the fall. See you when the noon ET games end.

I just figured out why Purdue sucks now when they were one of the best offensive and defensive teams in the country just a few short years ago. Joe Tiller hates recruiting. Whoever the hell Pam Ward’s color guy is just told a story in which Tiller complains about how there’s no time after games to just hang with the coaches and enjoy the win anymore. Now he’s got to “put on the suit” and go spend time with the recruits and their families.

I hadn’t figured that part out. I just figured Purdue was losing recruits because no one in their right mind wants to live in West Lafayette, IN and play for that cow college up there. I guess it really does have something to do with Tiller just being an old man and not wanting to work that hard anymore. Plus the team is getting beaten regularly, so there’s that.

What’s my point? Purdue sucks. That’s what.

It’s week eight of the college football season, and once again I’m brimming with inappropriate positivity. I barely pulled out a decent record last week, so I’m feeling like this is my chance to have a big week. Or get all my picks wrong. Really, either one works, right? It’s mediocrity that’s the killer.

Below, read my picks for the week, my thoughts on weak scheduling, the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes, a pertinent question about Georgia Tech’s performance last week, and the pain that is the saga of Tony Romo’s pinkie finger, and I give away the Halfway Heisman Trophy to a very deserving player.

I’ll be updating all day Saturday as each game ends, or when I f*cking feel like it, with snarky commentary and scores. In the mean time, enjoy your Friday and I’ll be back here at the crack of noon on Saturday. Cheers.

You ain’t fought nobody. Step to me!

Oklahoma, Missouri, and LSU, ranked 1, 3, and 4 respectively, lost last week. The week before, Georgia and Florida, numbers 3 and 4, respectively, lost too. This is now the common theme for the last two seasons. The football gods seem to think college football should have NFL-like parity because everyone is losing at least once during the regular season these days. Happened during last season too. But there is a common trait shared by the aforementioned ranked teams and it is this: prior to their first loss, by choice or because they had to, each school faced a very weak schedule and were therefore not challenged until their first big game.

LSU played Appalachian State (1-AA), North Texas, Auburn, and Mississippi State before losing to Florida. Their combined record is now: 10-15. Appalachian State and North Texas, LSU’s two non-conference games are a combined 4-8. Remember, they were forced to play Auburn and Mississippi State as SEC games. They’re also supposed to play 3-2 Troy later this season because the game was postponed. I think Auburn’s and The Legion of Croom’s struggles have been well documented to this point, so LSU was not seriously challenged until they played Florida. The conference games aren’t LSU’s fault, but the non-conference ones sure are. REAL scary schedule there, guys.

Georgia played Georgia Southern (1-AA), Central Michigan, South Carolina, and Arizona State before they lost. Their combined record is now: 14-11. Taking away South Carolina because Georgia was forced to play them, Georgia’s opponents before their loss are 9-9. To put it in perspective, Georgia played a 1-AA team, then a MAC team, and then a Pac-10 team that is now well below .500. How the hell could they have been prepared for Alabama’s size and speed when they played those teams? Rhetorical question, in case you were wondering. They were challenged in the South Carolina game, making Georgia the only team here to have dealt with that type of game, yet that game may have been more due to the fact Georgia is severely overrated than with South Carolna’s overall skill.

Florida played Hawaii, Miami (FL), and Tennessee before losing. Their combined record is now: 8-10. Taking away Tennessee’s disastrous record this season, Florida’s opponents before their loss are a mediocre 6-6. Florida couldn’t have known Tha U would be this far down when they scheduled this game years ago, but the Gators were nonetheless never challenged before playing Ole Miss.

Missouri played Illinois, Southeast Missouri State, Nevada, Buffalo, and Nebraska before losing to Oklahoma State. Their combined record is now: 13-17, creating the most egregious schedule of all five teams here. Illinois put up a fight and Nebraska is obviously in a weakened state, but Southeast Missouri State, Nevada, and Buffalo? Come on, Mizzou. That’s pathetic. Naturally, the Tigers rolled into the Oklahoma State game having destroyed their previous opponents only to wilt the first time they were seriously challenged.

Oklahoma played Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Washington, and TCU before losing to Texas. Their combined record is now: 16-16 after TCU beat BYU on Thursday. Washington and Chattanooga have one win between them, and Chattanooga is a 1-AA team. They can’t even beat other 1-AA schools! TCU actually beat OU the previous time they played, but not this time. Cincinnati is at least a BCS conference team with a good record, so that’s a pretty good win for the Sooners. However, once Oklahoma played Texas, a team with comparable size and speed, the OU defense ran and hid, and the Sooners got beat.

Between them, there are four 1-AA teams (Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Southeast Missouri State, and Chattanooga), two MAC teams (Buffalo and Central Michigan), two WAC teams (Hawaii and Nevada), one Sun Belt team (North Texas), one ACC team (Miami), one Big Ten team (Illinois), one Moutain West team (TCU), and one Pac-10 (Arizona State) team. Notice how none of those 1-A teams are exactly challenging for their conference titles (except TCU since they took down BYU).

USC is the exception that proves the rule. They played major conference teams early in the season and still managed to lose their first conference game. They even played a top ten team in Ohio State. Yet they, like Oklahoma and the rest, were never challenged either, despite scheduling teams that may have been tough on paper. They didn’t try to schedule weak teams, it just worked out like that, and USC wasn’t ready for a serious challenge. After all, a lot of this is luck of the draw.

To some degree, these weak games aren’t totally the programs’ fault. Oklahoma couldn’t have known Washington wouldn’t win a game so far this season. Nor could they have known Chattanooga would be quite so terrible. LSU had NO IDEA North Texas would be this bad, right? Okay, I’m kidding, those last two were pathetic games to schedule for teams as good as Oklahoma and LSU.

When teams don’t play good teams early in the season, it makes them incredibly vulnerable once they make it to conference play. Scheduling 1-AA teams has become a bigger and bigger trend for the most powerful college football teams at the same time upsets are becoming more rampant. A weak out of conference schedule means your team will be weak!

This is my plea, once again, for the major conference teams to play tougher games early in the season so upsets like this don’t happen. Indiana could use a win over Murray State, but Missouri has no business playing Southeast Missouri State. Oklahoma has no business playing Chattanooga. Georgia has no business playing Georgia Southern. It goes on and on like this.

Soft schedules kill!

Record through week 7: 71-27, 46-47-5 ATS

A quick Torrey Pines Football update before these games end. The Falcons lost a close one, 55-28 to Escondido Friday night. The Cougars (5-1) scored a lot of lucky points early and snuck their way into running for 508 yards as a team. Local hero Brock Ringo did score a touchdown for the Falcons (2-4). This was the Avocado League opener for both teams and now Torrey Pines will be looking to rebound in their next game at home against those sissy suburban kids from Mission Hills High School.

12pm ET

Purdue (2-4) at Northwestern (5-1) (-4)

The thing about these spread teams is anything can happen on a given day. CJ Bacher and the Northwestern offense could come out and be completely off, despite their advantage over Purdue’s defense. Curtis Painter and the Boiler offense could come out hot and drop 21 on Northwestern in the first quarter alone. Okay, so that’s less likely because Purdue’s O is terrible this season, but you see my point. Northwestern is 5-1, but it’s a weak 5-1. Purdue is 2-4 but, frankly, they might be worse than their record. Yet the Wildcats have been a plucky doormat in the Big Ten since time immemorial. This game’s a mess from the word “go,” is what I’m saying.

Pick: Northwestern

Update: Northwestern 48 Purdue 26. Well, at least Purdue scored 26 points, right? That has to make Boiler fan feel a little better. There are no moral victories in football, but Purdue can have them this year because they’re terrible and their coach is retiring. Once again, Northwestern gets to win a game it doesn’t normally win. If this keeps up, they may be fighting for second place in the conference before it’s all said and done. And that, my friends, would end the world. It’s Northwestern! They aren’t allowed to be successful! This is insane!

Record: 72-27, 47-47-5 ATS

What the hell happened to Georgia Tech last week?

10-7 guys? Ten to fucking seven? To a 1-AA squad? If I’m going to pump this team up, I can’t have this kind of crap from you, Tech. I let you slide for one damn week, and this is how you reward me? You can’t take your eyes off these transitioning programs for one minute, man, I’m telling you.

The Yellow Jackets tipped a field-goal attempt with three seconds left, or that disaster may have ended in catastrophe. Worse, Tech only ran for 74 yards. They run the goddamn, motherf*cking triple option and only managed 74 yards against a 1-AA team.

Excuse time: they were starting their third-string quarterback because both Josh Nesbitt and Jaybo Shaw were injured in the past two games, and the dude is NOT a good fit for their offense.

Excuse #2: It’s also possible the 1-AA school was better prepared to stop the triple-option because they see it more often. Sometimes, 1-A teams freak out because they don’t see the option, as Georgia Tech runs it, all that often. 1-AA squads are much more likely to have to deal with the triple-option a few times a year and thus may have been better prepared.

Excuse #3: It’s also very likely the Yellow Jackets were simply looking ahead to their “showdown” with Clemson this weekend. I’d say that’s a game with far more implications than last week’s. I’d say that, but it really isn’t anymore, thanks to Clemson’s meltdown. I may have mentioned this once or twice this season.

This game never should have happened like that regardless of the circumstances. Hopefully, it was  good wake-up call for the Yellow Jackets heading into this week’s game. They got the win, which is something. In the words of the immortal Lou Brown: “Nice play, Willie. Don’t ever fucking do it again.”

Georgia Tech (5-1) at Clemson (3-3) (+2)

Sweet, I get to watch this game in all of its glory on ESPN on Saturday. It’s the collision of two teams I’ve been rooting for and roundly criticizing, respectively. Clemson is now in the post-Bowden era, with some guy named like Daybo or some crap like that running the show for the remainder of the season. Combine that with the fact Clemson’s players haven’t really played all that well or all that hard this season and this one inches toward being a real disaster for Tech to take advantage of.

Yet the status of Tech’s quarterbacks is in question. If it’s the same guy as last week, the Yellow Jackets may not cross the 50 on offense. But if Josh Nesbitt or Jaybo Shaw is healthy, things might be different. But how healthy are they even if they do play? Plus, Clemson is at home and the players may just be relieved to be rid of Tommy Bowden and his biggest idiot ever “genius” offensive coordinator, so they could come out and play really well (for them, that is). This feels like a close game to me, though I reserve the right to change this prediction once I find out if Nesbitt or Shaw is playing or not.

Pick: Georgia Tech

Update: Georgia Tech 21 Clemson 17. Nesbitt played, and played like a fullback that can throw the ball. He’s basically guaranteed to not pitch the ball on the option but he’ll bull through whatever defender that tries to tackle him one on one. And poor Clemson. They really did go “all in,” as interim coach Dabo Swinney begged, but they are still Clemson. Turnovers and a general lack of anything special did them in. They made a few plays and fought hard, but simply couldn’t pull away from Tech’s defense, which is pretty freaking good, by the way. Their D-line is NFL-quality across the board.

I’m not gloating nearly enough. This game is basically proof of all the football principles I espouse. Use your best players, not the trendy system. Get your guys to buy into the system; don’t force it upon them. And, if possible, run an offensive philosophy that pleases the football gods, such as the triple option. Talent doesn’t win games on its own. Also, Paul Johnson deserves some credit for getting his team to run his system this quickly. All over the country, there are teams struggling with new systems, but Georgia Tech isn’t one of them. This is Paul Johnson’s first year too, people! He deserves a hell of a lot of credit for what he’s done so far with the Yellow Jackets. So yes, I’m gloating that Clemson is struggling so mightily and Tech, the team I have supported from the beginning is 6-1. I’m petty and small, but that’s college football for you.

Record: 73-27, 48-47-5 ATS

MAC Game of the Week

Western Michigan (6-1) at Central Michigan (4-2) (+1)

This week’s MAC game of the week has “shoot-out” written all over it. And since I predict a shoot out, then you can expect a defensive battle and take the “under” accordingly. It’s also a game that will earn these schools points toward the Directional Michigan School Cup. It doesn’t really exist, but it should, shouldn’t it? These are teams with very high-powered offenses run by very good quarterbacks. That’s why the MAC is the mini-Big XII; it’s full of good passers and powerful offenses, signifying nothing.

I’ve been inclined to go with CMU for most of this season, and they’ve disappointed me a couple of times. In all fairness to CMU, I picked them to beat the spread on the road at Georgia before the Bulldogs showed their true colors, so that may have been my fault. I’ve also underrated WMU once or twice and have paid for my ignorance there too. I will, however, dance with them what brung me and stick with Central Michigan.

Pick: Central Michigan

Update: Central Michigan 38 Western Michigan 28. I completely shit myself about this pick when I found out LeFevour wasn’t playing, but that’s what you get when you make your picks Wednesday night. Luckily for me, Brian Brunner was there to step in and throw for 346 yards. Brunner is also a senior and a team captain, despite not starting a game since 2006. I very much respect Western Michigan and Tony Hiller, their quarterback. They’re a really good MAC team, but CMU just might be a team of destiny this year. That Nov. 19 showdown with Ball State might be the game of the year, not just in the MAC either.

Record: 74-27, 49-47-5 ATS

12:30pm ET

(22) Vanderbilt (5-1) at (10) Georgia (5-1) (-14.5)

I can’t tell if I like Vandy’s quarterback switch or not. The offense wasn’t really running well with Chris Nickson at the helm, though he has run for quite a few yards and six touchdowns. Mackenzi Adams passes better and did lead them through the Auburn win a couple of weeks ago, but a quarterback switch at this point in the season doesn’t feel quite so comfortable for a team trying to remain ranked like Vandy is. This whole winning thing is still new to them, so a lot of upheaval might screw them up.

Georgia is coming off the Tennessee game in which they kinda, sorta dominated the Vols and yet still managed to convince many of their fans they’ve fully recovered from that beating they took from Alabama. Bad news: they haven’t. They are still the same flawed team that runs an uncreative offense, somehow manages to turn Knowshon Moreno into a grind-it-out running back, and continues to let Matt Stafford refuse to check down while throwing pass after pass downfield into coverage.

Plus, Vanderbilt won at Georgia two years ago, and while they’ve had some upheaval, I’d like to think the Commodores have some good football karma on their side this season. It’s not every year we can say Vanderbilt is ranked, right?

Pick: Georgia wins but Vanderbilt beats the spread.

Update: Georgia 24 Vanderbilt 14. Vandy is going to have to wait another week to become bowl-eligible. Knowshon had a big day, Stafford played like crap again, but didn’t completely screw them and the Bulldogs eked out a win. They were only up seven until they hit a field goal in the last minute, too.

So the story, once again, is Georgia’s overall crappiness despite all that talent, rather than how Vanderbilt loses again. Georgia was supposed to be the dominant team in the conference, but they can’t seem to score more than 24 points in any given game anymore. Stafford’s development has stalled, and he continues relying solely on his amazing arm to save their passing game. The offensive line is still a mess. And if it weren’t for Moreno, this would be a .500 team. Over-rated! Clap clap clap clap clap. Over-rated! Clap clap clap clap clap.

Record: 75-27, 50-47-5 ATS

3pm ET

Baylor (3-3) at (8) Oklahoma State (6-0) (-17)

This game positively SCREAMS letdown game. Oklahoma State just beat Missouri six days ago and now have to focus on the, at best, mediocre Baylor Bears? Ain’t happening. This is the very definition of a letdown game, or my name isn’t Jimmy the Greek. Doesn’t mean OSU is going to lose, but it does mean they may not cover. Baylor IS terrible, though. Hmmmmmm. See? I’m already talking myself out of it.

Pick: Oklahoma State. Fuck it.

Update: Oklahoma State 34 Baylor 6. Dez Bryant is sick and the Cowboys managed to easily avoid a letdown against a crap team. Now all they have to do is beat Texas next week, avoid the letdown against Iowa State, and THEN play Texas Tech. So yeah, this thing isn’t even remotely over for OSU. The Big XII is going to cannibalize itself and we’re going to see USC vs. the SEC champ in the BCS title game after all. Chaos, people. CHAOS. That’s what we want out of the BCS now.

Record: 76-27, 51-47-5 ATS

You’re playing with my emotions, Smokey

I just wanted to take a moment to lament the injury to Tony Romo. Actually, I could care less about the Cowboys. Romo just happens to be the quarterback and team captain of InterSpecies Erotica, my 6-0 fantasy football squadron.

This is fantasy football, so I knew some bad shit was going to happen, and I’m still convinced my team could miss the playoffs, but MAN am I pissed Romo has been taken out by such a crappy injury. I know he’ll be back in a month, so I’m keeping the complaining to a minimum, but this is the kind of injury that puts Kurt Warner out, not Tony Romo. Not to go John Madden on you, but Brett Favre plays with this injury.

We’re going to press on, here at ISE, and when Tony gets back, we’ll be excited to see him lead our offense once again. In the mean time, everyone is going to have to do their job and really focus on making the team better as a whole. In some ways, I think this could be a good thing for my squad. Maybe they have been relying on Tony to make a good play here and there instead of really going out there and achieving maximum points every week. We’re going to find out the character of this fantasy football team in a hurry, these next four weeks. I can tell you that.

__________________________________

I wrote the above Monday night when everyone found out Romo had hurt himself in OT against the Cardinals. Now it’s Thursday and Romo is saying to everyone that will listen that he’s ready to go on Sunday, despite missing much of the team’s practices this week and not taking any snaps from under center. This is actually worse for me than when he was hurt. I made peace with the fact I’d be rotating Jeff Garcia and Kerry Collins for the next four weeks. I even picked up Brad Johnson on the off chance that having all those receivers might rejuvenate the old man a little.

Now, Romo is dangling the chance of him playing Sunday over my head just to torture me and all the other fantasy owners who have him. You know this will end up as a game-time decision which means we will all end up agonizing over the whole thing all morning on Sunday while we watch every minute of the pre-game shows for info on whether he’ll play or not. And even if he does start, how good will he be with an injured throwing hand? Will it be like Kobe’s injury to his shooting hand that hurt, but doesn’t really screw him up because he’s Kobe-freaking-Bryant? Or will it cause huge problems and potential negative fantasy points for the already turnover-prone Romo?

The real question: why do I play fantasy sports when I just end up agonizing over crap like this?

3:30pm ET

(12) Ohio State (6-1) at (20) Michigan State (6-1) (+3)

Who knew this would be a fight for second place in the conference? I really, really like Javon Ringer and the Spartan offense. They basically run Ohio State’s gameplan from the Maurice Clarett season: give the workhorse the ball and see what happens in the passing game. It’s classic Big Ten football. However, I don’t really trust their defense. Indiana (!) scored quite a few points on them in their recent football match. I daresay that makes their defense questionable, wouldn’t you? Then again, Ohio State’s offense looks better under Terrelle Pryor, but doesn’t really put up the points to back it up. He’s still struggling with making the offense effective on every drive. You know, because he’s a true freshman and all. I just can’t see this one turning into a shoot out, though I like MSU’s chances in one.

Pick: Michigan State.

Update: Ohio State 45 Michigan State 7. Wow. Just…wow. I got this game completely wrong. Michigan State looked like shit throughout, Ringer only had 66 yards, and the Ohio State offense looked pretty darn good against a usually solid Spartan D. Naturally, the Buckeyes were handed two fumbles and returned them for touchdowns to make this an absurd blowout. Because why would OSU want the offense to score that many points? What a mess. I blame myself. I put all the powers of my bad sports karma on MSU before this game. I gave Ringer the Halfway Heisman, I’ve been pumping them up, and I took them as home dogs against a top 15 team. I’m not very smart.

Record: 76-28, 51-48-5 ATS

(18) North Carolina (5-1) at Virginia (3-3) (+4.5)

My boys UNC haven’t beaten Virginia on the road since I was one year old. On top of that, UNC lost Brandon Tate who is only their star wide receiver. Nothing major or anything. I’m now wincing as I type my pick for this game….

Pick: North Carolina.

Update: Virginia 16 UNC 13. I probably should have jumped off the bandwagon after the Brandon Tate injury, but I’m not that kind of turncoat. UNC simply had nothing on offense and allowed a late TD to Virginia, allowing them to tie it and then another one in OT to let them win it. This is the double whammy for UNC. They lost one of their best players to injury and then subsequently lost the game, but also it’s the exact kind of loss you can expect from a growing team. UNC is improving, but it isn’t happening overnight, I guess. Man, does this suck. Seemed like such an easy win. It’s freaking Virginia, possibly the most toothless team in the entire ACC. Bad loss, guys, even though it must feel nice to even be good enough to HAVE a bad loss. This is still a bad loss.

Record: 76-29, 51-49-5 ATS

Mississippi (3-3) at (2) Alabama (6-0) (-13)

Alabama showed a disconcerting amount of offensive crappiness against Kentucky, and now they’re playing the team that beat Florida. Then again, Nick Saban won’t fall for that shit. He knows exactly what he’s up against here. You do have to hate Houston Nutt teams for being utterly unpredictable, though. Any game against a big team and they may show up and play tough the entire game, or they’ll give up 70 points like his Arkansas team did to USC a few years ago. It’s ridiculous. But I trust Nick Saban. They may have lost to UL Monroe last year, but this season is different. Oh, they’re going down at some point, but not to Ole Miss.

Pick: Alabama. I clearly haven’t learned my lesson from the UK game.

Update: Alabama 24 Ole Miss 20. Alabama had a 24-3 lead in the fourth quarter and allowed Ole Miss back into the game. They had to have the defense save them twice late. I knew I should have gone away from this one. I knew it when I was typing the pick and publishing the post. Shit.

Once again, Georgia looks absolutely terrible for losing to this team and giving up as many points as it did. What an awful loss that was in hindsight. Alabama has major, major issues finishing games, and they can’t actually move the ball on offense, but they blew Georgia out anyway. Bad times all around. Saban is still a genius though.

Record: 77-29, 51-50-5 ATS

My Half-Way Heisman Trophy Winner

All the experts base their Heisman race on who is hot at the moment, which is why the winner is nearly always a surprise. The CBS Sports experts are all alternating Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy in the top spot. The problem is they play for great teams and get a lot of support from very talented players around them. Unless they put forth a Herculean effort, like Tim Tebow last year, there’s no reason to think any other talented quarterback couldn’t do the same thing. I’m just not impressed.

The point of the Halfway Heisman is to reward the best player from the first half of the season. The major-conference players haven’t had a chance to fully produce against their conference opponents, which means they haven’t widened their lead against the small-conference guys. It’s all about who has produced the most this season so far. That’s all I care about.

I’ve polled literally no experts and I’m just basically picking a player here, so without further ado, your Halfway Heisman Trophy winner:

Emmanuel Moody Pos: RB, Florida.

Kidding.

Javon Ringer, Pos: RB, Michigan State

2. Graham Harrell, Pos: QB, Texas Tech

3. Knowshon Moreno, Pos: The Entire Offense, Georgia

Discuss.

(23) Pittsburgh (4-1) at Navy (4-2) (+3)

My love of triple-option teams is strong and well-documented in these picks columns. I’ll always pull for them, even if they’re severe underdogs. Can’t help it. I actually feel good about Navy’s chances in this game, despite Pitt having beaten them most of the times they’ve played and Navy having no rush defense. My ace in the hole: this is a Dave Wannstedt team. They’ve won four straight games, including an upset win over South Florida two weeks ago. This team is so due for a crap loss it’s ridiculous.

Deep down, I think Pitt fans want this season to tank so they can get rid of Wanny. He’s a beloved alum and is trying his ass off to make his alma mater into a winner, but it’s Dave freaking Wannstedt. It ain’t happening under his watch, and I think they know it. So, go with Pitt fans and quietly root for Navy to pull of this upset at home this weekend.

Pick: Navy.

Update: Pitt 42 Navy 21. And there went my above .500 record against the spread. Spent all morning building it, but I spent all afternoon pissing it away. I can’t believe this is how Navy went down, though. There was a record crowd at their home stadium, but I guess the predictable happened. LeSean McCoy had a huge day and Navy couldn’t stop Pitt’s offense. I trusted the Midshipmen to make some plays on the home turf, but it never happened. Still, the triple option is not dead since Georgia Tech won. I have to wonder if this loss would have happened had Paul Johnson stayed in Annapolis.

Record: Record: 77-30, 51-51-5 ATS

(16) Kansas (5-1) at (4) Oklahoma (5-1) (-20.5)

My spidey-sense is tingling and telling me this is one motherf*cker of a revenge game for Oklahoma. After blowing it at Texas, a bully-team like OU will be looking to come out and destroy a physically weaker opponent. Hey! It’s the Kansas Jayhawks! How convenient. Todd Reesing is going to need the full-body ice-bag after this one.

It’s also possible OU had their will broken by Texas and may come out soft in this game. It’s hard to recover from a tough loss like that. And now I’m clearly talking myself out of OU destroying a finesse team at home, even though they should. I trusted a Stoops team in a big game and got burned for it last week. I don’t know if I can make the same mistake twice.

Pick: Oklahoma wins but Kansas somehow beats the spread. “Somehow” is right.

Update: Oklahoma 45 Kansas 31.YES, NOW THAT’S THE WAY TO BEAT THE SPREAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kansas scored a late garbage touchdown to go from being down 21 to losing by 14. Goddamn does that feel good. Kansas is crap compared to these other teams, but they helped me out big time on this one. Oklahoma even got its revenge game, so all is right in the world, as far as this game goes. Thanks a lot, Kansas. Really. You didn’t have to do that.

Record: 78-30, 52-51-5 ATS

4pm ET

Stanford (4-3) at UCLA (2-4) (+1.5)

This is a spread that makes everyone involved feel like crap. UCLA is reminded once again how far their program has to go to be relevant again. Their fans get to agonize about how they suddenly became underdogs to fucking Stanford, the traditional Pac-10 academically-inclined doormat along the lines of Northwestern and Vanderbilt. Stanford gets to wonder how they’re still only a 1.5 point over-dog against a crap team like UCLA this year. Next year, they might not get to feel like that, and this spread reminds them they have been underachieving this season. Even I never thought I’d use the words “Stanford,” “football,” and “underachieving” in the same sentence in my lifetime. You have to give Jim Harbaugh some credit there. It’s a mess all around in Pasadena, CA on Saturday, but the mutual crappiness might actually generate an exciting game to watch.

UCLA is also ranked higher in passing offense than Stanford, while the Bruins can’t run the ball for shit and the Trees are 32nd in rushing yards per game. That’s almost the exact reverse of what I expected from these two teams. I also never thought I’d actually wonder about who is starting at quarterback for Stanford. Will it be Tavita Pritchard or Michigan refugee Jason Forcier? Obsessive gamblers want to know.

Pick: Stanford

Update: UCLA 23 Stanford 20. Yeah that felt like a cover for Stanford from the beginning. Never a doubt in this one. Nope, none at all. I’m kind of happy for Booter in this one. UCLA and Stanford have a bit of a contentious rivalry. Actually, UCLA fan just hates losing to Stanford and hearing all the “safety school!” chants from Trees fans. Rick Neuheisel football seems to be taking to Westwood, with the Bruins pulling a few more wins out of their ass than expected. Kevin Craft worked his magic and I, friends, I am taking a beating in the afternoon games. Good thing it’s only internet money I’m using.

Record: 78-31, 52-52-5

4:30pm ET

Michigan (2-4) at (3) Penn State (7-0) (-23.5)

Penn State is going to destroy Michigan. It’s going to happen. But 24 points? Michigan’s defense isn’t that bad, right? The offense is pretty freaking bad, though, and Penn State is pretty freaking good. If Penn State covers, the depression truly begins for Michigan fan. I’m not sure the fans knew exactly what they were taking on when they hired Rich Rodriguez. They have to remain patient with him, though, or they’ll end up like Auburn fan. And no one wants that. Except me. Prolong the suffering! Fire Rich Rodriguez!

Pick: Penn State.

Update: Penn State 46 Michigan 17. Yeah sure, Penn State came back and won the game. Great. Hooray. They came back, fought adversity, and covered too. I think you know which one I believe is more important. The Nittaly Lions are rolling into a big-time showdown against Ohio State on the road next week. PSU hasn’t won there since they joined the Big Ten and they did a hell of a job almost gagging this one away. Good thing Michigan is rivaling Wazzu as the worst team in Division One.

Record: 79-31, 53-52-5

Just found out Kellen Lewis is a no-go for the IU/Illinois game. Adjust your teaser bets accordingly. I believe in Ben Chappell. I believe that this offense really can make plays. And I believe we can beat Illinois tonight.

Or we might just get fucking housed on national television. Woof.

What about Tulsa?

On the Gameday Final article for last week, Ivan Maisel mentioned Tulsa is leading Conference USA at the moment. They also happen to be undefeated and the only team in the conference with a winning record. My first thought was actually phrased differently than the title of this piece. It was more like, “what about Tulsa?” They clearly seemed a team of no consequence.

Oh me of little faith…and great cynicism. They have the top-rated passer in the conference, who is also second in passing yards (QB David Johnson), and are the highest-scoring team in the country at 53.2 points per game. They also gain the most yards per game at 602.2 ypg. That’s nearly 50 more yards per game than Texas Tech! Not too freaking bad.

This is all the result of Bobby Petrino leaving Louisville. When he did, Steve Kragthorpe left Tulsa to become the Cardinals’ next head coach. Then Tulsa hired Todd Graham. Graham brought in his good friend Gus Malzahn to be the co-Offensive Coordinator and to run his hurry-up, no-huddle spread offense. You know, the same one that Mitch Mustain ran in high school and got Malzahn the job as Arkansas’ OC right before Houston Nutt decided not to run that offense? Nutt got fired at the end of that season, by the way. Hear that, Tommy Tuberville?

If they do manage to run the table, shouldn’t they be in the BCS-buster talks? East Carolina was on its way there, and everyone was ready to anoint them as the next non-BCS squad to knock off one of the big boys in one of the BCS bowls. If Tulsa does what they did, the Golden Hurricane deserve the same recognition. They have a long way to go, but it can be done.

Games to watch: Saturday vs. UTEP (shootout) 10/26 vs. UCF (tougher game than it seems), 11/1 at Arkansas (potential major conference win), 11/15 at Houston (potentially very entertaining shoot-out).

8pm ET

UTEP (3-3) at Tulsa (6-0) (-17.5)

Jeez, I just wanted to mention them in the BCS-busting sweepstakes, not pick one of their insane small-conference matchups. Shit. I guess this one is supposed to be a blowout since Tulsa is heavily favored and all. I do wonder, though. What happened to Mike Price? I thought he was a candidate to get another major job with the job he’s done at UTEP, but there’s been nothing. Was the Alabama fiasco that bad? Okay, yeah it was, but what are the odds the guy makes the same mistake twice? I’m also starting to think I may have majorly cursed Tulsa by throwing my support behind them.

Pick: Tulsa

Update: Tulsa 77 UTEP 35. The title of the game Yahoo! game wrap cracks me up. Tulsa “rallied” from a 28-28 first-quarter tie to end up winning by 42 points. They ran up 791 total yards, including over 300 rushing. They also had a receiver average 38 yards per catch in this game. That’s fucking ridiculous. Tulsa should at least be ranked, and they should be allowed to have two extra defenders on the field when they do end up playing in a BCS game against one of the big boys. This team’s offense is ridiculous. So is their D, but in a different way. Then again, they only allowed one more touchdown after the four they gave up in the first, so I guess it’s not all bad. Next up, at home vs. UCF. The quest for the BCS continues…

Record: 80-31, 54-52-5 ATS

(11) Missouri (5-1) at (1) Texas (6-0) (-5.5)

Texas is 5-1 against Missouri since the Big XII formed back in the days of Vanilla Ice. They’re also ranked first and coming off a major win against Oklahoma. So if the Oklahoma State game is a major letdown game, then what the hell is this?

Colt McCoy has been excellent this season, and even has more passing touchdowns than Chase Daniel, though he has far fewer yards. Missouri may have had their minds destroyed by that loss to Oklahoma State. Everyone was totally unable to explain what the hell happened against the Cowboys. I know what it was: the spread offense has to be executed with absolute perfection or the team running it can lose every game it plays. Missouri has been gambling with house money on that issue for a while now, so their good luck might be running out. I would love to pick them because I love an underdog program, but that’s a hell of a problem.

I haven’t trusted Texas all season and I let that blind me when they played a desperate-to-choke Oklahoma team last week. I can also tell the oddsmakers have no idea either because they gave it the old five-point spread. I know for sure Texas is going to lose. Their schedule is absolutely murderous. If they don’t, unless I’ve been reading the book of Revelations wrong, it’s one of the signs of the apocalypse. But I just don’t think this is the game they’ll drop, even though it has all the hallmarks of a letdown game too. I’m clearly ignoring the karma on this one.

Pick: Texas wins but Missouri beats the spread.

Update: Texas 56 Missouri 31. I think it’s safe to say Missouri has been exposed. There’s no chance people thought they were really good because they were playing bad teams, though. No way in hell that happened. The hype-machine in the sports media would never make that kind of mistake. Colt McCoy was out-fucking-standing in this game, though I think we’ll see this as a game against a weaker defense a few weeks down the road. Missouri has a great offense, but their defense is definitely not great, and when the O can’t put up 50 points, they’re not winning. Now all Texas has to do is beat an even tougher Oklahoma State team next week, then beat Texas Tech on the road the week after. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say the current number one team is going to drop at least one of those games, if not both.

Record: 81-31, 54-53-5 ATS

Indiana (2-4) at Illinois (3-3) (-15)

What is there to say? I don’t have the heart to rip my alma mater this week for this season’s disastrous turn. If we’ve already won our last game of the season, Bill Lynch is on one hell of a hotseat heading into next season. With a new AD coming in for next football season, another start like this one, and the IU job will be available again with the quickness.

This week, our running quarterback is hobbled, the offense still doesn’t work, and it’s starting to trickle over to the defense. That’s how you take a good team and end up a two touchdown underdog on the road against a team that barely beat them last season. IU’s leading rusher (Kellen Lewis) only has 57 carries. Marcus Thigpen only has 40 carries. That’s right, our starting running back only has 40 carries in six games. My point: the offensive line has melted down and the rest of the offense followed with it. We’re in serious trouble.

Pick: Illinois wins but Indiana beats the spread. Somehow.

Update: Illinois 55 Indiana 13. If the Iowa game last week was the steak through the heart of IU’s bowl chances, then this was definitely the nail in the coffin. Last year’s IU squad would have relished the chance at a shoot-out with the Illini because they had the weapons. This year’s team is mind-fucked, and there’s no other way to put it except “see you at spring practice.” Season’s over. Gone. Done. Thanks for coming. I hope to God this team keeps fighting because if it gets any worse, Bill Lynch’s seat is only going to get hotter. Maybe my Ball State friends were right. His teams really do just start sucking one day even though they’d shown promise the day before. I have no idea what’s going on inside this team, but it needs resolved. You can’t lure in IU fans to watch football and then start this shit again. Otherwise, the stadium will look REALLY fucking empty once the re-model is done.

Record: 82-31, 54-54-5 ATS

(13) LSU (4-1) at South Carolina (5-2) (+2.5)

This game is going to be tight. South Carolina has a crap offense but has the third-ranked defense in the country. That defense gets to face an LSU offense that is stubbornly refusing to enter the 1980′s in terms of offensive philosophy. There really is nothing fun about watching both of these teams on offense. It’s like watching Cabin Fever all the way through. You sort of wish you could do severe bodily harm to the people who put you through it, but that would mean you’d have to keep thinking about it.

Pick: South Carolina. Because why not.

Update: LSU 24 South Carolina 17. Well, I tried to help South Carolina our karmically, but it just didn’t work. USC only managed 254 total yards in the whole game and couldn’t keep stopping LSU’s offense. The Tigers hung around and hung around some more before finally winning. Lame.

Keiland Williams finally split carries with Charles Scott and his yards-per-carry average was a full yard better than Scott’s. Hey, Les Miles, I wonder if you should keep playing Keiland Williams, you idiot. Scott had two short touchdowns, but Williams is obviously the better back. It’s such an obvious thing even a cave man could figure it out. But not Les Miles. Free Keiland Williams!

Record: 82-32, 54-55-5 ATS

10pm ET

The Game You’ll Be Watching Out of the Corner of Your Eye at the Bar Game of the Week

(25) California (4-1) at Arizona (4-2) (+2.5)

Cal is really good this season, but I’m not sure why. That was a really bad loss to Maryland. Really bad. Yet I have this terrible habit of overrating Arizona almost every year. I’m going to stick with my history of hating Cal and go with my gut here. Don’t sleep on Willie Tuitama!

Pick: Arizona

Update: Arizona 42 Cal 27. When I said “don’t sleep on Willie Tuitama” I meant don’t sleep on Willie Tuitama!. Actually, he was good in this game, but the real story is the 149 yards from freshman back Keola Antolin. Great win for the Wildcats, who have once againt beaten a ranked team under Mike Stoops. Arizona is now tied for first in the Pac-10 with the USC Trojans coming to the crib next week. Yet now, the Wildcats are facing a let-down game against the best team in their conference. Not a good sign.

Record after week 8: 83-32, 55-55-5 ATS

.500 after yet another week. Good times, baby. Nevermind what I said about mediocrity. Enjoy the NFL. I’m out.

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  1. 5 Responses to “McD’s Week 8 Picks”

  2. Don’t overlook the intense SEMO-Mizzou rivalry before writing that game off!

    I kid.

    By Hickey on Oct 17, 2008

  3. You’re right. SEMO always gets up for that game. Next year, they’re SO losing by less than 49 points.

    By McD on Oct 17, 2008

  4. You didnt even pick the USC game. The spread was 48 lol, they covered it by 21, wazzu sucks.

    By Shaun on Oct 18, 2008

  5. There’s a high school in Mission Hills?

    By Red on Oct 20, 2008

  6. It’s in San Marcos. Built it like three/four years ago like a mile from San Marcos HS.

    By McD on Oct 20, 2008

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