Can you believe we’re halfway through the season already? This is crazy. Plus, I’m taking a beating against the spread so far, so enjoy the train wreck all day Saturday!
Record after week six: 64-42, 50-55-1 AS
12 pm ET
Northwestern (4-2) at Michigan State (3-3) (-13.5)
A good appetizer, were there no other games on at noon, but that’s not a problem today. I figured I’d pick this one anyway, in case some people get stuck watching this game instead of the really big one taking place at the same time.
There’s not too much good to say about Northwestern’s defense so far this year, and that unit was supposed to be a strength for them. I know, right? Northwestern good at defense. But it’s true, they were supposed to be good. Mike Kafka and the offense haven’t been great yet this year either, so it’s not a good matchup at all for the Wildcats. Michigan State has shown they’re very good at stopping offenses very similar to Northwestern’s like, say, Michigan.
Thus, I have trouble seeing Michigan State being challenged against Northwestern unless they have a total defensive meltdown.
Pick: Michigan State wins but doesn’t cover
The Red River Rivalry
(20) Oklahoma (3-2) at (3) Texas (5-0) (-3.5)
Sam Bradford is back, and OU should be rolling again. Plus, I can actually name one of their running backs, as opposed to Texas’ ground game other than Colt McCoy. All of that means you’ve gotta like Oklahoma heading into the Texas State Fair on Saturday.
But wait…Texas got screwed out of their number two ranking for no good reason this week, so there is added motivation to get it right against the Sooners again this year. But hey, Texas, it’s not cool to win this game if you’re going to blow it later in the season. If you really want a piece of Florida in January, then win this game and don’t lose again, but if you’re going to crap the bed like you did last year, just go ahead and save us all the trouble and lose. Because we want some one who might actually give the Gators a game in January, not f*cking Ohio State or the Big East champ or some sh*t like that. So do this right, okay? Good news is, you already beat Texas Tech and Crabtree is in the NFL (finally), so there’s no chance of that little doozy happening again.
It’s easy to get sucked into the discussion of the various playmakers who’re running around for both offenses and defenses, but this is the Big XII, land of finesse offenses. Both teams are going to get their points regardless of what NFL prospects are playing defense for Texas and Oklahoma. Both teams have also essentially proven who they are by now. OU’s much more difficult schedule and Bradford’s shoulder injury showed that Oklahoma doesn’t have as good an offensive line as last year and that their offense lacks an identity beyond finesse passing. DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown are very talented backs, but the offense simply isn’t geared toward them as runners.Texas, on the other hand, hasn’t played one difficult game yet, despite their near-choke job last week against Colorado. In fact, that game last week proved the Longhorns can’t run the ball against a real defense worth a damn either. They’ve started slow in nearly every game they’ve played this year because there was absolutely no reason to fear their opponent.
So both teams are going to come in probably trying to establish the run, but it won’t be long before both go pass-crazy and both Bradford and McCoy set records or the game turns into a turnover festival. Even though Texas is largely unproven, there is no reason to trust Oklahoma’s inconsistency in all phases against legit D-1 teams.
(11) Iowa (6-0) at Wisconsin (5-1) (+3)
Trap game alert! Trap game alert!
Iowa just won a crazy game against Michigan and now has to travel up to Madison to beat Wisconsin, who is otherwise a very mediocre team, but plays a style that could be a problem for Iowa.
I figured out why Iowa keeps winning despite turning the ball over all the time and not being worth a damn on offense: they keep getting turnovers from the other teams too so the game evens out. Penn State lost a fumble and threw three interceptions against Iowa and lost 24-10. Arizona matched Iowa’s one turnover in their 27-17 loss to the Hawkeyes. Iowa turned the ball over once against Michigan, but got five back from the Wolverines, including Denard Robinson’s key INT late in the game that sealed Iowa’s win.
The good news for Iowa is this Wisconsin team tries to control the ball like usual, but they turn the ball over quite a bit as well. They had three in a close win against Northern Illinois and three more in a close win against Minnesota. Against Ohio State, Wisconsin threw two INT’s, both of which were returned for touchdowns and ended up being most of the margin of defeat for the Badgers.
Expect a very ugly game on Saturday afternoon, with the winner being the school who managed to either turn the ball over less or take full advantage of the other team’s turnovers. One of the two. Either way, I know I’m not going to be watching very closely while Texas/OU is on.
(7) Ohio State (5-1) at Purdue (1-5) (+13.5)
I’m only picking this game so I can rag on Terrelle Pryor and Jim Tressel some more. They are going to give Purdue every opportunity to take the lead and win this game. OSU’s defense has been outstanding this year, so Purdue’s not going to take advantage, and this will turn into the usual “blowout” by Ohio State. And by “blowout” I mean 24-10 Bucks. Even Purdue’s defense can limit the OSU offense to some degree. The Boilers just won’t be able to stay out of their own way on offense.
What’s scary is, as bad as Purdue has been, they have a chance in this game…of playing close with the Buckeyes. Not of winning. Come on. Ohio State’s offense has trouble pulling away from teams that don’t beat themselves. Luckily for Jim Tressel’s squad, Purdue isn’t one of those teams.
Purdue has turned the ball over and been crappy on offense in all five of their losses except the Oregon game. Their talent is really shining through. At least at IU we have no illusions about playing up to the higher echelons of the Big Ten at the moment. Purdue still thinks they should have a competitive, relevant program. Tee hee.
Pick: Ohio State
3:30 pm ET
Arkansas (3-2) at (1) Florida (5-0) (-24)
If only Florida’s defense was a little worse, we’d be able to pick Arkansas and the upset. But there’s no way, barring the greatest career performance from the entire Arkansas offensive line, that the Razorbacks can protect Ryan Mallett enough to win. Florida is going to pressure him all day and the inefficiency in the Arkansas offense will show. I would imagine Bobby Petrino is going to try to run the ball and get Mallett to throw the ball quickly instead of holding it and looking for the big play downfield, but as I’ve said all year: Arkansas is a year away. Next year when this game’s not at the Swamp, I’m thinking about taking Arkansas. Until then, Florida doesn’t roll, but looks good winning.
Pick: Florida wins but doesn’t cover
The University of California, Berkeley (3-2) at The University of California, Los Angeles (3-2) (+3.5)
How far Cal has fallen, and after such high expectations too. That’s what happens when a team only has one weapon, even if it’s a good weapon, and nothing else yet everyone seems to think that one weapon can run, pass, play defense, and gameplan too. Cal was overrated from the beginning.
UCLA, on the other hand, hasn’t even been rated in 2009, mostly because they aren’t all that good. Where’s the marked improvement in Neuheisel’s second year? Well, the problem is they still don’t have a good quarterback or offensive line. Both positions have improved, but certainly aren’t up to par yet. I do like their defense, and I’d bet they’ll limit Jahvid Best a little bit, but I have a hard time seeing the Bruins scoring many points on Saturday.
Oh, why the f*ck not…
The Jeweled Shillelagh
(6) Southern California (4-1) at (25) Notre Dame (4-1) (+10)
Why is this a rivalry? Because USC would never accept an Irishman into their school. Duh.
Anyway, for those who think that Notre Dame will be able to move the ball at will on Saturday, I have two pieces of evidence for you: USC 30 Cal 3 is the first, and the second is that Notre Dame’s offense and resurgent passing game has faced four defenses ranked 75th or lower in the nation. There’s no way that’s related to Jimmy Clausen suddenly leading the nation in passer rating or anything though. Nope. No way.
Regardless of what USC’s offense can do in South Bend, there is no way Notre Dame’s offense can move the ball on them unless the officials help them out a lot.
Oh. Well, maybe Notre Dame does have a chance.
Texas Tech (4-2) at (15) Nebraska (4-1) (-10.5)
I have a really hard time seeing Nebraska win this game by eleven points. Everything says this will be a close game, assuming all the various units on both teams play up to potential.
I realize Texas Tech’s disparity between their defense and offense is bigger than ever this year, but this doesn’t strike me as a defense that Nebraska can just light up. The Cornhuskers aren’t very good on offense anyway against major-conference teams, so there’s every reason to believe this game depends entirely on the Nebraska defense. Remember them? They used to be one of the most respected units in the nation? You know, the Blackshirts? Yeah, well, they’re not who they used to be. They’re still not bad, but facing Tech’s offense is always a struggle.
Pick: Nebraska wins but doesn’t cover
The Governor’s Victory Bell
Minnesota (4-2) at (14) Penn State (5-1) (-17.5)
It’s funny when you look up a team’s statistics and realize they’re way, way worse than you realized. Minnesota is that team for me. Even though they are 4-2, their offense is really bad and it’s hard to believe they found four teams they could outscore. Either way, there’s a good chance they’re in for a hurting at the hands of Penn State on Saturday. It’s a rivalry game, so I’m inclined to think it’ll be closer than the near-eighteen points the experts think it will be though.
Pick: Penn State wins but doesn’t cover
Battle for the CMU-WMU Rivalry Trophy/The Michigan MAC Trophy
Central Michigan (5-1) at Western Michigan (3-3) (+6.5)
A super showdown of the two best quarterbacks in the MAC. Tim Hiller and Dan LeFevour are super good. I have no idea if they’ll be good in the NFL, but that’s not what we’re talking about here anyway.
I hate it when people rag college players because they “won’t be good in the NFL.” So the f*ck what? It’s college football, you ass, not an NFL tryout. Good players are good players. Just because you live in an area that doesn’t have good college football or your alma mater sucks at it doesn’t mean a guy who’s good in college but isn’t NFL-quality sucks. You suck.
Pick: Central Michigan
4 pm ET
Colorado State (3-3) at (12) Texas Christian (5-0) (-22)
This is my down-low game of the week. I’d bet $1 that CSU is more of a challenge for TCU than they seem to be to the oddsmakers. Speaking of the odds, there is no way TCU covers this spread.
Pick: TCU wins but doesn’t cover
6 pm ET
Faulk U/Ah, Memories for Booter, McD, and Phillips Game of the Week
(18) Brigham Young (5-1) at San Diego State (2-3) (+17)
Phillips, Booter, and I are old enough to remember a time when SDSU was a very competitive WAC program and Marshall Faulk was the greatest running back since Hershel Walker. Frankly, at the time he was probably the best back in San Diego, amateur or pro. But either way, even after Faulk graduated and went on to a hall of fame career, SDSU football was relevant in our lives and in the national picture. Besides, the WAC back then was entertaining as hell no matter who was playing.
I miss those days because they sure as hell don’t exist anymore. That’s why hiring Brady Hoke was such a big deal to me. He’s got a good chance to recruit the area well and make SDSU football relevant in San Diego again. I hope he works it out because that town could go crazy for a competitive team. There’s a shitload of alumni around there who would all be a part of a winner. Or at least a competitive team. So yes, they’re absolutely my second favorite college program. That’s right, I root for Indiana and San Diego State. Apparently, I don’t like winning.
BYU is going to kick their ass on Saturday. So I’m praying for a good showing.
(4) Virginia Tech (5-1) at (19) Georgia Tech (5-1) (+3)
Yeah sure, Georgia Tech gave up 539 yards of offense to Florida State, but they gave up less than 150 in the second half after giving up 400+ in the first half. There was also a long lightning delay in the game too, so that could have messed up everyone’s gameplans. They’re not as bad a defense as they played last Saturday night, which was a very entertaining shootout, I might add.
Besides, they don’t need to be a great defense to take care of Virginia Tech’s offense. The most important thing is that they not turn the ball over at any point in this game and give up absolutely no big plays. They have to make Virginia Tech walk the ball down the field as their only means of scoring because the Hokies can’t do it consistently.
So, can Georgia Tech’s offense work against Virginia Tech’s fast defense? The matchup of Paul Johnson against Bud Foster is pretty f*cking awesome, and you bet your ass I’m going to watch this game before the IU game starts at seven.
I think both teams will limit big plays, but if I’m not a Georgia Tech honk now, then when will I be? I love me the triple-option, and I have to root against extremely boring, uncreative offensive football teams like Virginia Tech.
Pick: Georgia Tech
7 pm ET
Redemption, Thy Destination is Bloomington Game of the Week
Illinois (1-4) at Indiana (3-3) (+3)
Throw out the records when these two play. No seriously, throw them out because I can’t stand to look at them. IU is possibly the worst 3-3 team anywhere at the moment. They should have beaten Virginia last week, no question about it.
But you know what’s great about football? Unless it’s the last game of the season and you’re a senior, there’s always a chance for redemption, and brother, this is it. Illinois is an awful, awful football team. Ron Zook is every bit on the hot seat as Bill Lynch is. It says a lot about how bad that Virginia loss was that Illinois is a road favorite against a 3-3 team. I’m pissed I even have to type this sentence.
Look, we should beat Illinois just like we should have beaten Virginia last week. Yes, Illinois has playmakers that are dangerous, but they have no one to get them the ball and their defense is truly awful. We should win this game. Bill Lynch should already be fired for the Virginia game, so a loss here is another nail in the coffin.
7:45 pm ET
(22) South Carolina (5-1) at (2) Alabama (6-0) (-17)
Alabama is really good, but their offense can be stopped. Greg McElroy isn’t very good yet, since he’s a new starter, and anyone can stop a pro-style running game with some tenacity and a good scheme. That’s why Alabama isn’t going to blow South Carolina out. That is, unless South Carolina gives up several defensive touchdowns. Actually, that’s kind of likely. Huh.
Pick: Alabama wins but doesn’t cover
9:15 pm ET
Something to Watch at the Bar Game of the Week
Missouri (4-1) at (16) Oklahoma State (4-1) (-7)
Let’s be clear for a minute. Dez Bryant was suspended because he LIED about his visit with Deion Sanders, not because something weird went on there. He was purposely deceitful because he knew he shouldn’t have met with the hall of famer in the first place. He might have missed a game or two at most had he been truthful, but he wasn’t, and now he might be done for the year, maybe even forever. It’s fine because he’s going to be a high draft pick anyway, but that’s still a pretty big issue.
Missouri has to be heartbroken after that loss to Nebraska screwed up their undefeated season. Being 4-0 isn’t, like, a crazy-good season or anything, but to lose like that in the rain sucks. Either way, Oklahoma State is very good.
It’s almost better that Bryant is gone because now the team can do what it does best anyway: run the ball. Zac Robinson and Kendall Hunter are great runners and can do much more damage to opposing teams than Robinson can throwing the ball. He’s just not a great passer, though that offense works for him, so Mizzou needs to make OSU pass to win it. Stopping the run is easier said than done, but if OSU can run for yards consistently, Missouri is going to get its ass kicked.
Pick: Oklahoma State