Record after week nine: 99-53, 73-77-2 AS
12 pm ET
(21) Wisconsin (6-2) at Indiana (4-5) (+10.5)
Wisconsin learned to f*cking hold leads. Why can’t we?
The Hoosiers still needs two wins for bowl eligibility and they’ve melted down two weeks in a row instead. See a pattern yet? The hardest thing for a program that’s trying to raise itself out of the depths of crappiness is learning how to win when they’re ahead, and clearly IU hasn’t figured that part out yet.
So, IU needs to beat two of these three teams: Wisconsin, Penn State, and Purdue. None of those is a guaranteed win, and Penn State is all but a guaranteed loss if we come with the same effort and production of most of this season. The last time IU went to a bowl, it went through a similar stretch to this one and ended up pulling out their decisive win against Purdue in the finale. To make that happen, Wisconsin or Penn State must go down. Preferably both. Then we can just concentrate on giving Purdue the beating they deserve at the end of the season.
It’s appropriate that we’re playing Wisconsin this week, since IU has been empasizing the rush so much this season. It’s REALLY paid dividends for the Hoosiers all season. Oh, right. IU is 92nd in rushing offense. FAN-tastic.
But no, we honor contracts at Indiana now. It is no longer the policy of the university to fire underperforming employees. And you thought the poli-sci professors were biased BEFORE.
To be fair to Bill Lynch, the team is definitely improving, but not in the areas that indicate future success. The offense is still anemic, the defense is undisciplined (and this year’s unit is full of seniors too!), and the team still lacks an identity on either side of the ball. I realize these things take time to be built, but Lynch has been the coach since 2006. The only thing that’s improved is recruiting. But what happens to the players once they’re in the program?
Please, football Gods, help us get two more wins. I won’t even complain about the refs being totally incompetent and the system broken the rest of the season. Promise.
Northwestern (5-4) at (4) Iowa (9-0) (-16)
Upset Watch 2009 continues in Iowa City again. Will the Hawkeyes play close with yet another opponent, or will they finally manage to dominate a game from start to finish. I’m assuming the thank you note to IU for melting down last week is still in the mail.
I don’t know who the hell is going to step up this week for Iowa. I’m giving up. They’re a team of destiny and there is absolutely no rhyme or reason as to what makes them a good team. They’re just taking advantage of a weak schedule and some really clutch plays. Kirk Ferentz has clearly never heard of Faust because there’s no way he hasn’t been making some heavy sacrifices to the football gods.
Some one should check all Iowa’s injured players’ dorm rooms and apartments because there could be some definite human sacrifice happening in Iowa City. That’s why Ferentz got paid so well. He’s used his money to finance a huge temple for rituals to appease the football gods.
Pick: Iowa wins but doesn’t cover
12:21 pm ET
South Carolina (6-3) at Arkansas (4-4) (-7)
I’m only picking this game to imagine what Steve Spurrier could do with Ryan Mallett. Bobby Petrino is a great coach, so Mallett is still in good hands, but there’s no way Spurrier wouldn’t trade Stephen Garcia for Ryan Mallett in a heartbeat. I wonder if Mallett feels the same way….Can’t believe Arkansas is favored here.
Pick: Arkansas wins but doesn’t cover
12:30 pm ET
Kansas (5-3) at Kansas State (5-4) (+2.5)
Rivalry game! And that’s about all there is to say about it.
3:30 pm ET
(8) Oregon (7-1) at Stanford (5-3) (+7)
One of the biggest potential let-down games of 2009. Oregon just had their season-making blowout of USC, and now they’re on the road against a more-than-game Stanford squad. A loss here for the Ducks could happen so easily.
A freak injury, an off-day from Jeremiah Masoli, LaGarrette Blount assaults the Stanford mascot. Pretty much anything can happen to a team when they have a season-changing win and don’t properly appease the football gods first. I suggest live sacrifice, preferably a cow or sheep, slaughtered according to the old ways. You know, the ones Purdue used during the Brees/Orton years and then Iowa stole the secret mystical manuscripts to help their 2002 and 2009 runs. You didn’t think there wasn’t some sort of pagan ritual involved in their success, did you?.
The gods of football demand blood! You must quench their thirst! Hail Satan!
Wake Forest (4-5) at (10) Georgia Tech (8-1) (-15)
Such a dilemma for me. I love Wake because nearly everything they run shouldn’t actually work, and yet they’ve played great defense for several years now and gotten just enough offense to win a lot of games.
And yet I love Georgia Tech and Paul Johnson’s option even more, especially because we can finally find out what running the option with real athletes actually looks like in this day and age. If they run their offense right, it cannot be stopped. That’s not always the case with “new” offenses.
Their defense isn’t as good as last year, so they’ve been involved in some shootouts this year. But that’s the thing: they’re a triple-option team that can hang with anyone in a shootout. It’s fantastic. I love this team and this system so much.
I strongly feel this is Georgia Tech’s year in the ACC. Phillips even mentioned to me they’re in line for a BCS bowl matchup with USC at the moment, provided neither team loses again this year. That’s the kind of matchup that should come with a warning about priapism and tell you to consult a physician.
Pick: Georgia Tech wins but doesn’t cover
Duke (5-3) at North Carolina (5-3) (-10)
It’s almost the time of the year when ESPN starts overblowing this basketball rivalry. In the mean time, it’s a pretty crappy football rivalry. Hey look! Duke’s over .500!
Pick: North Carolina wins but doesn’t cover
(16) Ohio State (7-2) at (11) Penn State (8-1) (-5)
Boy has this game lost a lot of its shine because of Iowa’s emergence as the worst undefeated team ever. But what’s scary is the Hawkeyes only have a tough game against Ohio State left and they’re basically sailing to the Big Ten title. That’s right, the Big Ten needs Ohio State to save the conference from getting de-pantsed by Texas or an SEC squad in the national championship game. Ironic, no?
So let’s find some drama here. And while we’re at it, let’s be clear: Ohio State is a .500 team that has had an embarrassingly easy schedule. Yes, I include Indiana as part of that easy schedule. And while the conference games aren’t their fault, out of conference games against New Mexico State and a close call against Navy don’t make them seem like much of a powerhouse.
Anyway, Penn State can ill afford another bad loss to an all-defense, no offense team. The Iowa loss is inexcusable for a team as good as Penn State. Another one to a crap Ohio State team would make this season a disappointment and probably ruin PSU’s shot at a BCS bowl. Not to mention embarrass them because Ohio State sucks.
This was supposed to be the game of the season in the Big Ten, damn it. Now it’s two toothless ranked teams fighting it out over Iowa’s scraps. I really hate the Big Ten sometimes.
Pick: Penn State
(9) LSU (7-1) at (3) Alabama (8-0) (-7.5)
Alabama is at home, an eight-point favorite, and playing a team that fits perfectly into the things they like to do on defense. Maybe that’s why no one on Alabama seems that nervous about playing LSU this week. Saban has to like that Les Miles is the only thing between him and another shot at Florida in the SEC Championship Game.
I, for one, like the matchups for LSU too. LSU’s defense specializes in stopping offenses exactly like Alabama’s. Alabama’s defense may stop LSU’s offense most of the time, but there’s a very good chance LSU’s defense can bring this game to a grinding halt and turn it into a late-game field goal situation. And while Alabama has the better kicker, relying on Greg McElroy to lead the team down the field isn’t something I would be comfortable with if I was Alabama. That’s right, LSU fan, Jordan Jefferson is actually the better quarterback on the field Saturday night. Deal with THAT.
So that means turnovers are going to make the difference. A fumble here, an interception there. Anything that creates a short field for the other offense is probably the only way anyone is going to break 20 on the scoreboard. And THAT is where the difference is between these two teams.
Alabama knows how to manage a game and not turn the ball over a suicidal amount of time. That’s pretty much been the gameplan all season. That and riding Mark Ingram until the lower half of his body literally falls off. At least they have the sense to give the ball to their stud running back.
LSU has been in an entirely different position. Jordan Jefferson and the skill position players have been asked to make plays to win games, and while LSU only has lost to Florida, the big plays haven’t really shown up either.
The Tigers’ offensive multiple-personality disorder is only getting worse as the season progresses because they’ve been searching so hard for some one to make plays. Now it’s impossible to tell whether Jefferson and the recievers, or Keiland Williams and Charles Scott, or Russell Shepard is the go-to player when the Tigers have the ball. Williams, Scott and Shepard all need touches, but they need multiple touches to get it going, and the offense hasn’t worked like that yet. There’s too much emphasis on spreading the ball around. After all, LSU has about 5,000 playmakers on offense compared to Alabama’s one.
Alabama has an identity, and that will shine through Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. They’ll run the ball, play defense, and let LSU make the mistakes that make the difference. Eight points is really freaking high though. Alabama wins but doesn’t cover.
Pick: Alabama wins but doesn’t cover
Army (3-5) at Air Force (5-4) (-17)
Fire up for another edition of the battle for the Commander in Chief Trophy. Plus, Gameday will be there because it’s ESPN Thinks You’re Not Patriotic Enough Week.
Pick: Air Force wins but doesn’t cover
4 pm ET
(6) Texas Christian (8-0) at San Diego State (4-4) (+24.5)
Upset watch? What? No way. SDSU can’t handle TCU’s defense. You’re a crazy person. That’s crazy. You’re crazy.
While that’s true, a good showing by the Aztecs will go a long way toward solidifying Brady Hoke’s leadership of this team. Plus it will signal to the students and alumni that SDSU is serious about football. Which, of course, much of the faculty and administration is not.
Will TCU win? Probably, but the sentimental love Booter, Phillips, and I have for SDSU makes this an interesting game. Especially if the Aztecs play close.
Pick: TCU wins but doesn’t cover
7:30 pm ET
(15) Houston (7-1) at Tulsa (4-4) (+1.5)
If only these two teams could have met a year ago. Tulsa’s offense was lighting the world on fire in 2008, and Houston’s 2009 squad has just as good an offensive unit, but a very welcoming defense at the same time. This would have been one of the best shootouts ever.
Now, Houston’s defense has a shot at limiting Tulsa while Tulsa’s defense has no shot at stopping Houston. Unless there’s a freaky defensive effort or something, this game will be a shootout for a while, but Houston will pull away.
8 pm ET
(12) Southern California (6-2) at Arizona State (4-4) (+10)
Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford missed practices this week with sore knees, leading to speculation that C.J. Gable will see a lot more playing time against the Sun Devils. I’ll say this one: who cares? USC’s running backs aren’t the problem. It’s their defense. And it’s not often one gets to say that.
A year from now, I would say that Matt Barkley can lead the Trojans back from any deficit, no matter how shitty USC’s defense is. This year though, there’s no way this team can win another shootout like the Oregon State game or survive another perfect offensive outing like the Oregon game.
Happily, they’re playing ASU, who doesn’t know what it’s like to score 35 points all that often. USC’s pass rush will tee off, allowing the crap linebacking corps to get away with a few missed assignments.
Connecticut (4-4) at (5) Cincinnati (8-0) (-17)
I’m not going to say “win it for your dead teammate.” That would be crass and would tarnish his memory. He was your brother, and I wouldn’t do that for him. I will say that he’s watching over you guys and he really, really wants a win today. So go out and win it for, uh, his family!
Tony Pike looks like he might start this game, though the Collaros Era was very entertaining. This means Cincy is going to throw the ball all over the yard again, so UConn’s secondary is in trouble. It’s funny to think of Cincy as a Big East power, and we probably won’t have to very long since Brian Kelly is going to get the Notre Dame job or some other big-conference gig. No way does he stay in the Big East forever. I hear Indiana is a sweet gig to have….