Record after week eight: 91-48, 68-70-1 AS
12 pm ET
Purdue (3-5) at Wisconsin (5-2) (-7)
I would love it if Purdue would soften Wisconsin up for IU a little. Won’t happen, of course, because Purdue sucks just as bad as Indiana these days, but it’d still be nice. Don’t watch this game if you don’t have to.
Indiana (4-4) at (4) Iowa (8-0) (-17)
To make a bowl, IU has to beat Purdue to end the season AND beat one of the following teams: Iowa, Wisconsin, or Penn State. Actually, that wouldn’t even guarantee them a bowl berth, just six wins. Okay, so our goals are a little bit lowered over in Bloomington. Iowa and Wisconsin are the most likely teams to be upset by Indiana, though the Hawkeyes beat IU 45-9 in Bloomington last year. I have a very hard time believing Indiana will be able to do any damage to Penn State.
We can beat Iowa. They play ugly, low-scoring games that usually come down to a big play or two. Their defense is very good, but it can be beaten, especially by a team with as many playmakers as Indiana. It’s the coaching matchup we’re going to lose again. The chess match. The battle of wits. IU just doesn’t have anyone that can manage a team in-game, and I think the players are starting to notice that about the guy that recruited most of them. I bet no one thought Kirk Ferentz would ever be the smartest coach on the field.
We can do this. It’s on the road, we can’t turn the ball over, and coaching can’t f*ck us, so yeah the chips are stacked against Indiana, but damn it all, WE CAN WIN THIS GAME. Or at least beat the spread and keep our dignity.
Pick: Iowa wins but doesn’t cover
12:21 pm ET
(25) Mississippi (5-2) at Auburn (5-3) (+4.5)
Auburn is a rapidly sinking ship. How’s that for a middle school-level metaphor? I got so caught up in their early success, I forgot they weren’t playing anyone good and that they still lack talent at almost every position. There is no way that team was going to maintain success no matter how good Gus Malzahn and Gene Chizik are.
Malzahn was even talking this week about how Auburn plans to open up the offense and throw more this week. Is that, um, a good thing? No disrespect to Chris Todd, but he’s awfully close to Jevan Snead in passing yardage. THAT definitely isn’t a good thing.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, started crappy and may just have begun to get their shit together. Jevan Snead looked like he actually belonged in Division I again last Saturday, and with Auburn’s crap defense, he might look that way again. I think Houston Nutt has figured out that the game can’t be in Snead’s hands at any point. So basically, this is just like when Nutt was at Arkansas. No quarterback and a good running game. I bet Mississippi fan is shocked. I don’t think Arkansas fan is, though.
1 pm ET
Southern Mississippi (5-3) at (18) Houston (6-1) (-7)
This is a much better game than I think anyone expected at the beginning of the year. I’m still pissed at Houston for screwing up their shot at the BCS. Three teams (TCU, Boise, Houston) taking a shot at a BCS game by going undefeated would have been the exact chaos we needed because there’s no way the bowls would have taken all three of those teams. They would have given a random at-large bid to Ohio State or some weaker team from the Big XII or SEC instead, and it would have been perfect for those of us who hate the BCS. So yeah, thanks for that, Houston.
Brett Favre’s alma mater is still pretty good despite losing their starting quarterback earlier this year. Now they’re starting some young guy, and even though Houston’s defense isn’t that great, it seems hard to believe Martevious Young can get that offense to score with the Cougars.
Some one’s defense is going to have to step up, and that seems pretty unlikely from either team. It’s time for a Case Keenum showcase game.
3:30 pm ET
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party
Georgia (4-3) at (1) Florida (7-0) (-15)
I knew that whole “Urban Meyer is playing to his defense” thing was bullshit. Tim Tebow is just having an off-year. It happens. Hell, at least he didn’t go Sam Bradford, right Florida fans? Florida lost Dan Mullen, who is a much better OC and playcaller than most gave him credit for, they don’t have one single playmaker at wide receiver now that Percy Harvin is gone, and though Tebow can carry the load, no other running back has been able to single themselves out yet.
Of course this offense was going to come back to earth after last year. It was loaded with experienced NFL talent in 2008. But now, it’s a young offensive unit led by Tebow, who must be the leading ballcarrier AND throw more efficiently than a year ago. Plus he was plagued the entire offseason by people speculating about his impending failure in the NFL. Besides, that offense a year ago is one of the best in school history, right up there with the ’97 Danny Wuerffel squad. There was no way they were going to live up to those kind of expectations.
I will say this now: If Georgia beats Florida, and TCU goes undefeated the rest of the way, the Horned Frogs should play for the national championship. A one-loss Florida squad is still not better than an undefeated MWC team. That’s right, I said it.
But what about Texas and Alabama, you might ask. Screw them. ‘Bama is going to lose to Florida in the SEC title game anyway. Besides is there any way Alabama would score 12 points on TCU’s defense? TCU should play Texas or Alabama for the title if both are undefeated and Florida loses. It’s that simple.
It seems counter-intuitive since Florida is struggling on offense and Georgia has a bad defense that could play up for the big game, but I just have a feeling about this one.
Central Michigan (7-1) at Boston College (5-3) (-5.5)
Look, Dan LeFevour, my man crush on you is three years old now, and during that time you have yet to provide a win against a major D-1 team. No, that win against Indiana doesn’t count because you didn’t play and we’re not a major D-1 team anyway. So go out there and do that run/pass voodoo that you do so well against the BC Eagles. A MAC title will be sweet, but this win could be the highlight of your career.
Pick: Central Michigan
Kansas (5-2) at Texas Tech (5-3) (-6.5)
Did some one order the shootout? I would watch this game but, you know, that whole Big XII sucking thing. I have no idea what the standings are, but I’m thinking Kansas will make a nice sacrificial lamb for Texas in the conference championship game.
Fans who do watch this will definitely be entertained, but let’s be real: this game means nothing.
Pick: Texas Tech
4 pm ET
UC,LA (3-4) at Oregon State (4-3) (-10)
It’s up to Neuheisel’s gang to make sure Oregon State goes 0 for Southern California this year. I would have said 0 for California, but I have no idea if Oregon State has played Cal yet or whether they lost or not. And frankly, I don’t care anyway.
There’s a real opportunity for the Bruins to win this game here. Their offense is really freaking bad though, so I’m not too optimistic.It all depends on the Beaver hangover from the USC shootout last week. Might be another rough afternoon for Booter at the bar.
Pick: Oregon State
4:30 pm ET
(12) Penn State (7-1) at Northwestern (5-3) (+15)
I can’t believe Mike Kafka is leading the Big Ten in passing yards. There’s no way that guy and that noodle arm should be as successful throwing as they are. Then again, IU didn’t do a whole lot to dissuade Northwestern from passing all over them last week, did they, Hoosiers?
That’s the only reason I’m picking this game. I want Penn State to destroy Northwestern. To make them suffer. To sweep the leg, if I may borrow from the Sports Guy. Daryll Clark and Co. I’m looking to you to make the pain of last week’s inexcusable meltdown go away.
Pick: Penn State
7:45 pm ET
(22) South Carolina (6-2) at Tennessee (3-4) (-6)
How the f*ck is Tennessee the favorite?
This is actually a really awful game, but I’m picking it because I want to see if Steve Spurrier will own Lane Kiffin like he did Phil Fulmer. That’s really the only fascinating plot or subplot of this game. I pity the fans in the stands for this crapfest. Yeah, it’s definitely a better brand of shitty football in the SEC.
Pick: South Carolina
8 pm ET
Battle for the Rag
Tulane (2-5) at (9) Louisiana State (6-1) (-36)
(3) Texas (7-0) at (14) Oklahoma State (6-1) (+8.5)
I predicted it before the season started and now that the game is here, I’m kind of wishing I hadn’t. Not only is Dez Bryant suspended for the year now, Kendall Hunter isn’t even 100%, thought he might play against the Longhorns.
That means my hopes for calling this upset correctly two months in advance are squarely on the shoulders of Zac Robinson. I’ve seen Robinson play in person as he de-pantsed the Hoosiers in the Insight Bowl two years ago, but I am seriously NOT comfortable with this situation. He may have to throw the ball quite a bit more than anyone is comfortable with him doing. He’s seriously mistake-prone when the pressure is on his arm.
Oklahoma did their in-state rivals a favor and showed OSU that press coverage can mess up Texas’ offense really badly. Colt McCoy hardly ever throws deep because Texas has absolutely no running game this year. They’re like the exact opposite of Oklahoma State. All State has to do is eliminate Jordan Shipley and the Longhorns are in serious trouble.
As an added bonus, a Texas loss would cause all kinds of hell in the BCS rankings. Including making Cincinnati and Iowa legitimate national title contenders. THAT would be high comedy. I gotta stick with my guns here….
Pick: Oklahoma State
(5) Southern California (6-1) at (10) Oregon (6-1) (+3)
The last time USC fan went to Eugene, Mark Sanchez (filling in for John David Booty) threw a killer INT late in the game and the Ducks beat the Trojans. At the time, Oregon was on its way to a disastrous finish after Dennis Dixon’s injury, but they had no idea that was coming yet. They were just excited to beat USC. The Trojans still won the conference that year, by the way. John David Booty still sucks too.
This year, USC is back, and they’ve already got a bad conference loss, so losing to Oregon isn’t an option.
We all know Oregon’s offense can move the ball and that USC has issues with mobile quarterbacks. But USC’s recent defensive struggles are the sign of a young defense, not a bad one. They will get it right for Saturday in Eugene.
No, this game comes down to Oregon’s defense. It’s up to them to stop Matt Barkley, Joe McKnight, and Allen Bradford and I can’t say I’m very comfortable with that idea. It’s just hard to see Oregon consistently stopping the run and limiting the big play through the air. I don’t even have anything super deep to say here. Oregon just isn’t good enough defensively to win this game.