In case you’re wondering, I’m using the BCS rankings from here on out, which may explain why Oklahoma isn’t ranked at all in the picks. The real question would be: why does the AP Poll think a 3-3 OU team that has lost to every ranked team it has played and does not have its quarterback any longer deserves to be ranked 25th.
Record after week seven: 77-45, 59-62-1 AS
12 pm ET
Indiana (4-3) at Northwestern (4-3) (-6)
Here we are again. On the road against a team IU should beat. I don’t think the Hoosiers should blow Northwestern out, but they should definitely win. That’s what makes this season so weird. Indiana needs two more wins to be bowl eligible for the second time in three years and we play two more games (Northwestern, Purdue) against teams we should beat.
The scary thing is this game is on the road, a similar scenario to the beating IU received from Virginia two weeks ago. That’s why Northwestern is giving six at home when this spread should be at most two or three one way or the other. It’s hard to predict just how the Hoosiers will come out. Actually, no it’s not. IU has been a pretty bad road team this year, but haven’t played too many road games, so they haven’t been totally screwed. Northwestern isn’t a powerhouse, and the environment probably won’t be as crazy as it was in Charlottesville.
This is a battle between two teams that really want to be the bowl-eligible team out of the middle and bottom third of the Big Ten. Both teams are totally capable of doing it, but to win, Indiana is going to have to overcome their demons on the road and dominate. If they do f*ck up Saturday, their only other option is to pull an upset of Iowa, Wisconsin, or Penn State. Seems tough at best to me.
Central Michigan (6-1) at Bowling Green (3-4) (+8)
Dan LeFevour is back to being his old, awesome self and he should be on full display against Bowling Green’s suspect defense. The only scary thing here is how much damage BGU’s offense will do to CMU’s own suspect defense. The Chippewas are 6-1, so their defense has obviously managed to be pretty good, but it’s always a worry with them and pretty much every other MAC team all the time.
But like I said, the real story here, and the heart and soul of the CMU team is Dan LeFevour who, had his junior season not gone pear-shaped with injuries, would be an absolute dark horse Heisman candidate. The guy is money, completing 70 percent of his passes for 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He’s also rushed for 394 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Those stats make him the leading passer and rusher on Central Michigan. Like I said, he’s money.
I might even have this game up on the computer (I’m hoping it’s on ESPN 360) or on local tv (they air random football games sometimes) so I can watch every CMU offensive series. LeFevour is great, and teams should take notice. He’s f*cking out-Tebowing Tim Tebow for the second time in three years! I love Dan LeFevour!
Pick: Central Michigan
Minnesota (4-3) at (19) Ohio State (4-2) (-16.5)
Minnesota’s awful offense still isn’t going to score on Ohio State no matter what happened last week at Purdue. At least not without some help from the Ohio State offense. It’s trite, but if OSU can’t clean up the offense and turn Terrelle Pryor away from becoming Tarvaris Jackson, they aren’t done losing football games.
Pick: Ohio State wins but doesn’t cover
South Florida (5-1) at (20) Pittsburgh (6-1) (-7)
I don’t care about this game even a little bit, but it’s meaningful for BCS bowl berths, so I might as well make a pick. I have nothing to say beyond that about either one of these teams. Such is their mediocrity despite only two combined losses.
Pick: Pitt wins but doesn’t cover
(12) Georgia Tech (6-1) at Virginia (3-3) (+6)
Now there’s real pressure on my boys in Atlanta. They’re on the road the week after beating a very tough Virginia Tech team. They can see the BCS bowl berth through the front window now, so it’s a question of whether they’ll be looking a little too hard and blow it against a crap Virginia team or they’ll keep grinding out fantastic offensive and (sometimes) defensive performances.
Phillips got sick of me saying in during the Virginia Tech game, but I really, really love Georgia Tech’s offense. It’s much more complex than it looks, but at its heart, it’s a combination of three or four plays that cannont be stopped if run properly. No complex passing game, no crazy formations. Just solid option football. I love Paul Johnson’s squad so much, they’re easily my second-favorite college football team after Indiana.
Pick: Georgia Tech
12:21 pm ET
Arkansas (3-3) at Mississippi (4-2) (-6.5)
I don’t know what to think about Arkansas now after their recent fantastic defensive performances. What’s even scarier is the exact game plan they ran against Florida will work perfectly against Jevan Snead and Ole Miss. The Razorbacks needs to make Snead throw 27 to 35 times so they can capitalize on the inevitable crappy decisions and throws he’s made this entire season.
The freaky thing for people picking this game is that Arkansas can be beaten the exact same way as Ole Miss. Ryan Mallett makes nearly as many bad decisions as Jevan Snead. Not quite as many, obviously, but Ole Miss can pass rush the hell out of him and cause just as many mistakes. Mallett looked like crap against Florida’s defense, but Ole Miss’s isn’t nearly as good as Florida’s. I’m going to put my faith in Ryan Mallett and hope he makes fewer mistakes than Snead.
3:30 pm ET
(13) Pennsylvania State (6-1) at Michigan (5-2) (+4.5)
If Michigan had a real running back that was as much of a threat as Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson, I would feel really good about picking Michigan, especially since Penn State hasn’t won in Ann Arbor since the Clinton administration.
I feel so old that I can use Bill Clinton as a historical marker just now. It used to be the Reagan administration or the Nixon administration, but now Clinton and the 1990′s are ten years gone and I am about to enter my thirties. Everything sucks. Let’s just end this pick now.
Pick: Penn State
The Oregon-Washington Rivalry
(11) Oregon (5-1) at Washington (3-4) (+10)
I don’t trust a rivalry game that doesn’t have a proper title, but this is definitely a rivalry game. There’s a lot of hatred in the Pacific Northwest. It takes the place of actual sunlight.
While Steve Sarkisian has made the offense way better (making Jake Locker a legit draft prospect in the process), he can’t fix the Washington defense nearly as quickly. They’re allowing a ton of yards to essentially everyone they play. I think the fans are just happy they’re not 0 for the season again. That said, Jeremiah Masoli is questionable for Oregon, which has a major impact on Oregon’s offense. It just doesn’t run as well with Nate Costa in the shotgun.
I trust Oregon’s offense if Masoli is playing, but I can’t say I’m as sure without him. Especially with Oregon on the road in Seattle instead of in Eugene.
Pick: Oregon wins but doesn’t cover
Tennessee (3-3) at (2) Alabama (7-0) (-14)
Well, Lane Kiffin, this is the bigger problem in the SEC you’re going to have to deal with in your time at Tennessee. There’s no fancy spread offense or crazy running Tim Tebow. Just a seriously good defense and an offense that will jam Mark Ingram down your throat even if you gameplan solely to stop him.
I don’t think Alabama’s going to be able to get Mark Ingram 246 yards on Saturday. Stopping Florida’s offense was a question for Monte Kiffin’s defense, but I know Tennessee can stop the pro-style running attack Alabama uses. I don’t think they can stop them forever, so Alabama’s going to win, but fourteen points is a hell of a lot for Greg McElroy to get the Tide. His name is Greg, right? I’d hate to be ragging on a guy whose name I haven’t bothered to learn.
Pick: Alabama wins but doesn’t cover
The Keg of Nails
Louisville (2-4) at (5) Cincinnati (6-0) (-18)
How bad does it suck for Cincy’s opponents that their offense completely transforms with backup Zach Collaros in there? With Tony Pike, they were throwing the ball all over the place, but with Collaros, suddenly they have a running quarterback. Collaros only threw seven times against USF, but ran a bunch more and gashed the Bulls, who couldn’t possibly have been prepared for that.
I learned all I need to know about Louisville when I was sitting next to a UL fan at the downstairs bar at Nick’s in Bloomington last week. Every play, bad or good for the Cardinals led to varied degrees of disgust and total dismay at the state of the team. I heard “Kragthorpe has to be fired” at least five different times, and we only watched about a quarter of the UL/UConn game before he told the bartender to change the channel. Louisville is just that bad now.
If Cincy were playing any other team than Louisville, I would think they would have trouble on offense. A week to prepare for Collaros would probably mean a defense selling out to stop the run and making Cincy throw to win. But this is Louisville we’re talking about, and they haven’t had a good defense in years. There’s also a chance Pike could play anyway, so a Cincinnati offense at 80% is still good enough to handle the Cardinals at home even if this is a regional rivalry game.
Pick: Cincinnati wins but doesn’t cover if Collaros starts. They win and cover if Pike starts and plays.
Oklahoma (3-3) at (25) Kansas (5-1) (+7.5)
Despite his questionable facial hair, Landry Jones is actually a decent quarterback. It’s just that he’s following Sam Bradford. To put that in perspective, try being the guy AFTER Lexington Steele in the gangbang. Know what I mean now?
OU is totally done being a contender for anything substantial this year. They’ll need Texas to lose if they’re going to have a shot at the Big XII title game and they sure as hell aren’t getting into the BCS with an at-large bid, so I’m sure they’re very excited for the random bowl game they’ll be in come December and January.
Kansas, on the other hand, is playing the biggest game of their season at home. They’re going to want to come out quick and beat the Sooners early, though I’d bet money on a close game at the end. The team’s got to be nervous with OU coming to town because they know they can win, but they’re going to need superhuman efforts from parts of the team that don’t usually have to step up. The Jayhawk defense comes to mind.
4:05 pm ET
Idaho (6-1) at Nevada (3-3) (-15)
At the beginning of the season, I think most people would have thought these teams would have opposite records coming into this game. Idaho is already bowl-eligible in just their seventh game while Nevada has struggled to be the juggernaut they were in 2008. Idaho was never a juggernaut, but the differences between these two teams is still surprising, as is the spread since you’d think the 6-1 team would get at least a little respect from the oddsmakers.
Nevada has shown some energy recently, and might be on its way to being the dangerous team they were a year ago. Colin Kaepernick didn’t seem like he could handle the expectations early on, but he’s looked more dangerous with every game.
I’m really happy for Idaho being bowl eligible. I figured the only way I’d see that is if I was them in a dynasty in College Football 2010, but here they are anyway. They’re still going down in Reno though.
7 pm ET
(6) Iowa (7-0) at Michigan State (4-3) (Even)
I don’t think the oddsmakers think very much of Iowa, do you? Even ESPN’s Accuscore thingy has Michigan State winning like 60% of the thousands of matchups it creates. So you wanna be the sixth ranked team, eh?
Iowa will probably do what it always does: start slow in the first half and then shut Michigan State down in the second half. And I want to know how the oddsmakers and Accuscore think Michigan State is going to score against Iowa’s defense. We know that Ricky Stanzi and the Iowa O can make unreasonably good plays at key times, but how will the Spartans score? I want to know because if they can figure that out, then they can explain how no one else, including Penn State mind you, has managed to do that.
7:30 pm ET
The Tiger Bowl
Auburn (5-2) at (9) Louisiana State (5-1) (- 8)
Go here to read my preview of this game for SECFootballBlogger.com
Pick: LSU wins but doesn’t cover
(8) Texas Christian (6-0) at (16) Brigham Young (6-1) (+2.5)
This is the game of the week, as far as I’m concerned. And not just because it has Mountain West title implications, either.
TCU is on the road against a very, very tough BYU team, whom they beat last year 32-7. That loss is still in the minds of most of BYU’s team. At that time, they were in the exact position TCU is in today. They were one of the favorites to go undefeated and get a shot at the BCS, but a four-quarter beating by the Horned Frogs changed all that. Naturally they’ll be looking to return the favor.
I’d be picking BYU in this game because of the revenge factor, but three things are on my mind: First, TCU’s defense is even better than last year. If Jerry Hughes isn’t a candidate for defensive player of the year, they should eliminate the award. Second, BYU got their asses kicked at home by Florida State, so the “defend this house!” mantra isn’t going to work very well. Third, TCU came alive and scored a ton of points last week, meaning their questionable offense may have figured it out. It’s only one game, so it’s hard to say they’ve fixed their problems, but if TCU can score 21-24 points per game, their defense can handle the rest.
8 pm ET
Oregon State (4-2) at (7) Southern California (5-1) (-21)
If USC loses, it will be their third loss in four games to the Beavers. That is absolutely insane on so many levels. How the hell did Mike Riley become Pete Carroll’s nemesis? How the hell did Jacquizz Rodgers run for so many yards on that defense last year? I know why they lost a couple of years ago though: because John David Booty sucks.
Anyway, this is a first-order revenge game, and Oregon State doesn’t have the horses to get it done this year. Southern Cal is going to light them the hell up. That is, if they avoid the horrible mistakes that plague them every time they play the Beavers…yeesh.
Pick: USC wins but doesn’t cover
(3) Texas (6-0) at Missouri (4-2) (+13)
Missouri is a house of cards waiting to get beaten by Texas. But the Longhorns haven’t looked like themselves on offense much this year agaisnt the good teams. The good news for them is Missouri doesn’t really fall under the heading of “good teams.” At least not unless they give Texas a game.