There’s a bunch of decent games Saturday, but the one everyone is talking about is the big, fat monster game in the afternoon. Of course, I’m talking about Indiana at Virginia. The Hoosiers have a shot at beating a BCS conference squad and maybe even salvaging some respect after losing to Ohio State and Michigan the last two weeks.
Wait, Florida is playing LSU? Oh. That might be a good game too.
Record after week five: 57-36, 46-46-1 AS
12 pm ET
(17) Auburn (5-0) at Arkansas (2-2) (+2.5)
This is not a good matchup for Arkansas at all. An offensive, dare I say it, juggernaut like Auburn can easily win a shootout with the Razorbacks, and no home-field advantage is going to save Arkansas. I don’t think Auburn’s defense that good, so Ryan Mallett will probably throw for a pretty good amount of yards, but his biggest issue is efficiency. He’s thrown for a ton of yards already this year and only two interceptions, but he’s only completing 58% of his passes and the Arkansas cannot always put together drives on a consistent basis. If anything, they need more balance in their offense, which is kind of a funny thing to say about a Bobby Petrino team since you know it’s not going to happen. I see Auburn winning 35-24.
Boston College (4-1) at (5) Virginia Tech (4-1) (-13.5)
I don’t trust Tyrod Taylor under any circumstances. Yeah, so he beat f*cking Duke with his arm last week. Wow. Put him in the hall of fame already with that one. If I were BC, I would still put this game in his hands and make him make as many decisions as possible because he will screw up several times guaranteed.
That’s always been the way to beat Virginia Tech, though: make them pass to win it. But the Hokies keep moving along and winning the ACC the last two years, so either the defenses they’ve played haven’t been able to get it done or we need a new strategy to beat Beamerball.
Even though I don’t trust Tech’s offense at all, BC is still just a plucky overachiever. They’ve beaten the Hokies the last two years in the regular season, but this year, they’re just not ready for prime time. Should the Eagles manage to win the game, it will be because of a crap day from Taylor and another sub-par defensive effort from the Hokies. I can see the former happening, but the latter…I mean come on, this is Virginia Tech we’re talking about.
Pick: Virginia Tech wins but doesn’t cover
12:21 pm ET
Georgia (3-2) at Tennessee (2-3) (+1.5)
Tennessee is a true crap-team. They’ve got Eric Berry and some skill in other places, but overall, they’re…they’re not good. It’s too easy to just point out Jonathan Crompton as the reason the Vols can’t win very much, but he’s hardly the only culprit. The rest of their offense kinda sucks too. There are some good freshman, but certainly not enough experience or talent to offset youth and crap.
Luckily for the slumping Volunteers, Georgia is coming to town with its opponent-friendly defense and offense. Mark Richt and his guys are masters of making close games out of even the most ridiculous mismatches in the SEC. They just love to give up way too many points and paradoxically still play conservatively on offense. And while this isn’t the most ridiculous matchup, the Bulldogs ought to win handily on paper. But that’s why Mark Richt is the worst good coach in the SEC. There’s no reason not to respect what he’s done at Georgia, but he’ll never get his guys over the hump either. And this is definitely not a squad that’s a real contender for anything. Maybe the Outback Bowl. Do they still have a deal with the SEC? Did they ever?
I would be picking the upset here, but, alas, Jonathan Crompton is still prominently involved with Tennessee’s offense. His presence even screws up Lane Kiffin’s playcalling because he can’t throw nearly as much as he’d like. Watch, there will be at least two toss-sweeps on third and five or longer because of Crompton. Thanks for coaching him up so well, Coach Fulmer!
12:30 pm ET
(15) Oklahoma State (3-1) at Texas A&M (3-1) (Even)
The Dez Bryant ruling by the NCAA would be pretty freaking massive if Oklahoma State hadn’t shat the bed against Houston. It’s still pretty big, but now everyone knows the Cowboys just weren’t ready for the big time, though they did have an NFL-level receiver…and a quarterback who can’t be trusted to hit him when he’s open.
I can’t believe this game has even odds. OSU is so vastly superior a team both on paper and on the field that it’s amazing anyone took A&M. The Cowboys’ defense sucks and they’re still not threatened by the Aggie offense. Shit, this is a team that only scored 19 points on f*cking Arkansas last week and the Aggies are supposedly the second-ranked offense in the country.
Here’s the rub: OSU’s defense really does suck, they’re playing a true road game for the first time, and the offense is missing its biggest playmaker in Dez Bryant. Plus OSU has a terrible record against the Aggies in this series since the inception of the Big XII. Crap. Guess that explains why the odds are even. Seriously though, who could have expected Texas A&M to have that kind of offense so quickly? Crazy.
Pick: Oklahoma State
3:30 pm ET
(13) Oregon (4-1) at UC, LA (3-1) (+3.5)
Shamefully forgetful update: Before you read this preview, let me just remind you that the last time the Ducks came to the Rose Bowl, these two teams played an all-time crapfest. No fans were physically harmed during the game, but the emotional scars last a lifetime.
I confess myself slightly impressed with Rick Neuheisel, but if you tell anyone, I’ll deny everything. Don’t look now but Kevin Craft is completing 60% of his passes and the Bruins are actually something of an effective rushing team as well. They’re still at least a year away from being any kind of a truly scary offense, but improvement is improvement. Okay Craft sucks, but I’m trying to be positive. Sheesh.
There’s even rumors Kevin Prince might play again since he’s listed as questionable, but I’m not so sure about that.
Jeremiah Masoli won’t start for Oregon, but he is cleared to play, so depending on how Nate Costa plays, we might see Masoli back in there. I even like UCLA’s defense against Oregon’s offense. It’s not as terrible a matchup as it first seems, only because the Ducks aren’t as fast as they think they are. But like I said, UCLA is a year away, so Oregon should win at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. Sorry, Booter.
(3) Alabama (5-0) at (20) Mississippi (3-1) (+5)
The Alabama defense doesn’t need to concentrate on stopping Jevan Snead to keep him from being an efficient passer; Houston Nutt’s offense will do that all by itself. Thus, the Tide can just concentrate on stopping the Ole Miss running backs and let Snead take care of the rest himself. I bet Nick Saban did the Dr. Evil laugh at least twice while watching film and preparing for this game.
The Rebels could still make plays, but the real question is: can the Mississippi defense stop Alabama’s offense enough to keep it close? I say no, but it should still be a good game, especially since it’s on the road, and it’s not like Alabama is freaking Texas Tech. Besides, the real showdown in the SEC West is the LSU/Bama game on November 7.
I wonder if Julio Jones is ever going to, you know, contribute at all to Alabama’s attack. So far this has been one hell of a sophomore slump.
Wisconsin (5-0) at (9) Ohio State (4-1) (-16)
Terrelle Pryor is Ohio State’s leading passer and rusher, so he seems impressive on paper, but remember, he’s been death to watch on the field this season. Last week’s game against Indiana was his best of the season by far, but his leading the team in both of those categories actually shows their weaknesses. He hasn’t thrown for a ton of yards even though he’s the starter, and he’s also thrown five interceptions to go with his eight passing touchdowns and 854 passing yards. Those passing yards, by the way, are almost 200 less than Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien. That’s right, he has fewer passing yards than f*cking Wisconsin’s quarterback.
Pryor’s leading the team in rushing yards actually speaks more to the fact that the Buckeyes do not have a dependable, consistent, runner on whom they can depend. Dan Herron has been very disappointing and Brandon Saine has been spotty thus far, though he has been the back who replaced Herron next to Pryor.
Everything is on Pryor’s shoulders, and the mediocrity on offense is a result of too much being placed on the true sophomore. Combine that with Jim Tressel’s inability to, you know, understand offensive football beyond 1980, and you have the abomination that is Ohio State fooball in 2009.
All that said, Wisconsin won’t be able to run on the Buckeye defense, thus taking away their best, and only, weapon.
Pick: Ohio State wins but doesn’t cover.
Indiana (3-2) at Virginia (1-3) (-6.5)
So they won one game against a pathetic UNC team. So what? Virginia still sucks. And besides, I like that they did manage a win because now they’re going to take this game even less seriously. The monkey is off their backs and now they’ll let the crappiness shine through. On top of that, it means IU will have to actually step up and play well on the road, which has been an issue for the Hoosiers since time immemorial.
I know it’s against a crappy team, but this game Saturday is where the IU players prove they are better than their predecessors, that they’ve taken to heart what Terry Hoeppner’s goal was when he first came to Indiana.
If Indiana football is ever going to not be a joke, they must, MUST win this game on Saturday afternoon. Virginia is just in the process of getting its coach fired and starting a rebuilding process within the program. IU has something to play for: pride. That’s definitely not something they’re used to playing for. It’s also something they’re not used to feeling about being IU players. Both of those things can change at Virginia on Saturday afternoon.
I’m all in, and this team should be too. I don’t give a f*ck about a bowl berth; I just want to beat Virginia. Win or go home, you pansies.
7 pm ET
Stanford (4-1) at Oregon State (3-2) (+1)
I’ve made the mistake one too many times this season of underestimating Stanford and overestimating Oregon State. That won’t happen again because even though this game is in Corvallis, and even though it’s the perfect situation for a Mike Riley Upset Game, I’m ignoring my gut and picking Stanford because they don’t suck this year. I even heard Toby Gerhart’s name mentioned as a potential Heisman candidate being bandied about. Crazy things happening up in Palo Alto, man. Cray-zee.
7:30 pm ET
(10) Texas Christian (4-0) at Air Force (3-2) (+10)
As everyone’s preview is already saying, TCU is going to face massive and mounting pressure with every game it plays the rest of the way as long as it stays unbeaten. Now they’re going on the road against a conference team they can absolutely beat. Air Force is a terrible matchup for the Horned Frogs, who are dominant against the run. And that’s pretty much what Air Force does offensively, you know, since they’re a service academy and all.
The only way TCU loses is if they lose mental focus because they’re so heavily favored and could be looking ahead to playing BYU or Utah or one of the other good teams in the Mountain West. Otherwise, this should be blowout city, baby.
8 pm ET
(22) Georgia Tech (4-1) at Florida State (2-3) (-3)
It’s funny how differently these two teams are offensively, and yet they are almost identical in their per-game yardage. Florida State moves the ball almost solely through Christian Ponder’s arm, and he’s got the impressive stats to prove it (I may have been a little hard on him earlier this week), though he’s only got four passing touchdowns. That’s a sign everyone knows what FSU can’t do, which is run the ball. They are the 90th overall rushing offense in the country, and while they’re on the sidelines, they’re going to get a look at the 6th-ranked rushing offense in the country when Georgia Tech has the ball.
Tech also beat FSU in Atlanta last year, but something tells me Bobby Bowden and FSU’s pride isn’t going to let that happen at home this time. I hate saying that because I really, really love Tech’s style. If it doesn’t work out at Georgia Tech, I think Paul Johnson should come to Indiana. We could get an apartment together. But I just don’t see FSU dropping this game after all the mid-week turmoil surrounding Bobby Bowden.
Also, Jim Smith, the chairman of the board of trustees at FSU, sounds like just the kind of asshole who would say his tirade against Bowden motivated the team to win on Saturday. Just saying it may have been better for him to STFU and let the old man retire gracefully after the season.
It kills me to make this pick because it goes against everything I believe about football, and I hope I’m wrong, but…
Pick: Florida State
Michigan (4-1) at (12) Iowa (5-0) (-8)
That Iowa is more than a touchdown favorite against a much more talented Michigan team shows you how badly Michigan played at Michigan State last week. That was a truly terrible loss, though you can expect that from young teams like this. Now they’re on the road again against yet another vulnerable team. Can they come back and win one?
I’m going to say yes, if nothing else because Iowa isn’t actually a good team. They’ve been extraordinarily lucky against some very bad teams and managed to play excellent defense agaisnt Iowa State and Penn State. It’s a miracle this team is undefeated, and they’re just dying to go down. Iowa plays up or down to every team it faces. It has barely beaten teams it should have handled easily, and it was great against Penn State, who should have beaten THEM easily. Ricky Stanzi just loves to be inefficient and give away the ball; he’s got seven interceptions already. Iowa is going to give the ball to Michigan in Iowa territory a few different times, and it’s just a matter of the Wolverines taking advantage.
But most importantly, this Michigan team is unranked and an underdog against Iowa. I have a feeling we’re going to get the Iowa team that almost lost to Northern Iowa and Arkansas State on Saturday night instead of the one that beat Penn State.
(1) Florida (5-0) at (4) Louisiana State (5-0) (+7.5)
Go here to read my pick for this game at SECFootballBlogger.com
Pick: Florida wins but doesn’t cover.