Record after week five: 56-20 (38-36-2 ATS)
12 pm ET
Indiana (3-1) at (2) Ohio State (5-0) (-22.5)
So IU is coming off a very painful loss at home against Michigan in a shootout for the ages, has one week to recover, and gets to go to Columbus to play the second-ranked team in the country and face Terrelle Pryor, who suddenly gets it. Oh no. Sure. Fine. I’m good with that.
The oddsmakers? Not so much.
They apparently remember IU’s nasty history of failing to rebound at all from catastrophic losses (of which they’ve had more than a few).
Looks like The Baker is going to be in attendance for whatever this game means in Columbus. I hope it means victory, personally. IU needs an upset. BAD. Occasionally beating Minnesota just doesn’t do it for me like it used to.
My heart says we’re going to play tough against OSU, but my experience says blowout. If nothing else, I really hope we make Terrelle Pryor look bad. He did single-handedly sink OSU last year against Purdue, and IU is way better than that Purdue team, right? Um, right?
Pick: Ohio State wins but doesn’t cover
12:21 pm ET
Tennessee (2-3) at Georgia (1-4) (-11)
If LSU and Florida weren’t playing, this would be the ugliest game of the weekend.
Nice to see A.J. Green back, not that there’s anyone to throw him the ball. And not that Mark Richt really wants to run anything but max-protect pass plays anyway. But hey, things are looking up!
Georgia might win, but it’s not getting better this year. Start planning for 2011, Bulldog fans. Maybe 2012 since Green is going to leave, and the world is supposed to end anyway.
As for Tennessee, I don’t know. What’s to say about them? They hired a completely nondescript head coach to run a program that needs to be big time, be visible. At least Lane Kiffin had that part right. Losing a combined 79-30 to Oregon and Florida is probably not the kind of visible UT fan had in mind. Shit, Phil Fulmer could have done that.
This has to be the worst, most boring “big time” program in college football. And they’re playing freaking Georgia. It’s like a Southern-fried festival of mediocrity. And chewing tobacco. Honestly, Indiana is as big time as UT at this point.
Pick: Georgia wins but doesn’t cover
3:30 pm ET
(1) Alabama (5-0) at (19) South Carolina (3-1) (+7)
Alabama’s defense isn’t great, and some one is going to exploit it. Also, I have no idea how a bunch of new starters for a team that’s the defending national champion could have motivational and concentration issues like ‘Bama is having, but that’s football, I guess.
There was a time when Steve Spurrier was the guy who could exploit a secretly vulnerable defense, but I think that time is long gone. The talent just isn’t following the name anymore, so the Stephen Garcia’s of the world have to try to deliver instead of, you know, good quarterbacks. There’s a reason Spurrier is getting better at golf every year while Saban is barely sleeping.
Basically, Alabama is almost a professional team, especially with the offense they run and the way they use their talent, so it’s going to take a hell of a lot to beat them. I think the closest NFL comparison is probably the 1999 Titans or maybe this year’s Baltimore Ravens. Teams that have reputations for playing defense, but actually make their money with offense. Eat your heart out, Jim Tressel.
A road game at USC is tough, but if Alabama didn’t go down at Arkansas, they probably aren’t losing this year.
UC,LA (3-2) at California (2-2) (-7.5)
Really? That terrible Cal team giving seven and a half at home against UC,LA, who just beat Texas? God, this means the oddsmakers know something we don’t. Or they’re really, really afraid of a massive let-down game from the Bruins. Never really seen oddsmakers worry about that before.
Is anyone else freaked out by UC,LA finding their game like this? I can’t remember a team that looked that bad losing one week and then was a totally different team even a week later. The pieces were always there, but it’s amazing how much better the Bruins got once they gave up being a finesse team and started running the ball with authority. Guess Neuheisel looked in the mirror and saw Bo Schembechler instead of the old Slick Rick.
Virginia (2-2) at Georgia Tech (3-2) (-10)
Virginia’s defense is pretty good, which should present a few challenges for Tech. It’s weird seeing the ACC champs at 3-2, but their defense is just that bad so far.
Georgia Tech just needs to win this game. UVA is exactly the kind of plucky chump that good teams beat. Shit, even USC beat them.
Pick: Georgia Tech wins but doesn’t cover
Pittsburgh (2-2) at Notre Dame (2-3) (-6)
What I said about Virginia goes double for Pitt. They have some pieces, but there just isn’t a great team there. The Panthers will make the Domers play ugly and win a close game just like Virginia will do to Georgia Tech, but if the Irish are going to do anything this year, they have to win this game.
I do have to state my admiration for the Brian Kelly era. The big issues for him going forward are making the defense into something like a quality unit and continuing to recruit talent into South Bend. Charlie Weis even managed to get guys to come there, but Notre Dame isn’t a brand among recruits anymore.
Pick: Notre Dame
(17) Michigan State (5-0) at (18) Michigan (5-0) (-4.5)
Who knew this would turn into such a huge game?
There’s just no way Michigan’s defense is up to the task. MSU dropped a bit of a bomb on Wisconsin, a team much better defensively than the Wolverines. Worse, the Spartan O is a terrible matchup for Michigan’s 3-3-5. Then again, so was Indiana’s entirely different system. State is more Ohio State-like in their approach, and the 3-3-5 is totally vulnerable to power running teams.
Remember Pitt 13 West Virginia 9? LeSean McCoy had 138 yards and the Panthers held WVU and their amazing offense (with Pat White and Steve Slaton) to 183 total yards. I’m thinking the MSU staff watched film of that game this week.
Don’t get me wrong, Michigan has made an incredible turnaround, mostly thanks to Denard Robinson being perfect for Rich Rodriguez’s system. Yet Michigan’s defense has been their Achilles heel this entire season, as it was at Rich Rod’s previous stop in Morgantown. That unit has already been exposed (heh – ed.) for what it is, but so far Michigan’s opponents haven’t been able to stop Robinson.
I don’t know if MSU can succeed in completely shutting down Michigan’s offense, but I do think they’ll do a better job than Indiana or Notre Dame. All they need is one key mistake from Robinson and the game is theirs.
Pick: Michigan State
(11) Arkansas (3-1) at Texas A&M (3-1) (+5)
Hello, fantasy quarterback matchup.
The Aggies should be 4-0 but Jerrod Johnson did everything he could to sink that ship. The ever-growing importance of the quarterback position means that one guy can commit several killer turnovers in one game, as Johnson did against Oklahoma State in Stillwater last week. A&M gave that game away, and I came away with little or no trust for both their defense and offense.
Arkansas is still good, and this game is all about rebounding from the Alabama catastrophe. That was a brutal meltdown in a game they should have won, so I’m thinking flawed wins from here on out.
The great news is that this game has shootout written all over it. Expect big numbers from Ryan Mallett and Johnson. How’s that for a bold prediction, huh? And in the end, I have absolutely no reason to trust Texas A&M to make that one extra stop against Arkansas’ offense.
6 pm ET
Oregon State (2-2) at (9) Arizona (4-0) (-7.5)
Ah, finally a Mike Riley special.
This is exactly the kind of game his teams win or lose close. It’s like fucking clockwork with this guy. Road game. Slightly overrated but strong opponent. An ugly game with a few big plays mixed in. And it all comes down to a long drive for a shot at the win for Riley’s team. Happens every time. Can Ryan Katz do what his predecessors have done at least once a season?
As for Arizona, hell I don’t know. This ranking seems high, but Iowa keeps winning too, so what the fuck do I know. The Wildcats can lose every game they play because you have no idea what kind of offense you’re going to get from them week to week. They were slowed down last week and nearly lost to Cal. Combine that with Oregon State showing up, and I think we’re going to have ourselves an upset.
Pick: Oregon State
San Diego State (3-1) at Brigham Young (1-4) (+4.5)
As a quasi-Aztecs fan, I’m salivating at this chance to beat BYU in Provo. That does NOT happen very often for SDSU even in San Diego, so this is pretty goddamn huge.
Brady Hoke is much closer to building the program in his image since the 38-28 loss to the Cougars last year. Plus, BYU is way down since they lost Max Hall. They’re better than their record, but this is not your parents’ (or my generation’s, for that matter) BYU team. Bronco Mendenhall isn’t getting fired for one down year, so the time to strike is now for the Aztecs. Huge game for the SDSU program.
Pick: SDSU! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!
7 pm ET
(10) Utah (4-0) at Iowa State (3-2) (+6)
Wait, why did I pick this game again?
Oh right, it’s because Utah is completely under the radar even though they’re a top ten team. TCU and Boise State are scoring all the headlines, so the Utes can be quietly great and threaten to go undefeated again.
The Mountain West-pocalypse against TCU is November 2, by the way. After that, Utah has games in South Bend, at San Diego State, and the Holy War against BYU. And they can play all those games whilst undefeated only if they beat Air Force the week before the TCU game. Yikes.
How’s that for strength of fucking schedule, meat-head poll voters? If the Utes pull this off, Utah could find its way into the title game discussion, seeing as how it beat the current national champs two years ago. A win they very rarely get credit for these days.
Colorado (3-1) at (24) Missouri (4-0) (-11.5)
I wouldn’t want to watch this game myself, but at least the game is somewhat intriguing.
Has Dan Hawkins finally got himself a team in Boulder? Is Missouri actually good after playing close with SDSU and blowing out a bad Miami of Ohio team? Will anyone care who wins this game since Nebraska is going to run away and hide with the Big XII North title one last time?
I can only answer one of those questions, and my answer is yes.
Pick: Missouri wins but doesn’t cover
7:30 pm ET
(12) Louisiana State (5-0) at (14) Florida (4-1) (-6.5)
This is the game I least want to watch. The Jarrett Lee/Jordan Jefferson quarterback combo makes me wonder why anyone thought to legalize the forward pass in the first place if it meant we had to watch this every Saturday. Florida’s offense is horribly one-dimensional, and it’s a shitty dimension to boot.
Who knew that Tim Tebow and Alex Smith were THIS important to Urban Meyer’s system? The minute anyone but the quarterback has to be a playmaker, the whole offense goes into an awful, predictable shell. Worse, the other “playmakers” are incapable of stepping up because the system won’t allow it, and their skill set is way, way too specific (Rainey and Demps). Plus their offensive line is fucking terrible.
Oh, but hey, I’m sure the announcers will find a way to justify the abortion of offensive football as we know it in Gainesville on Saturday. I’m sure it’ll be praised as a monster defensive battle between two of the best units in the country, which they are wont to do when two teams just really, really suck and they need an excuse because their network has a television deal with the SEC – ahem.
As my grandpappy used to say, you don’t need to eat it to know a cat shit in your loafers. Good guy, my grandpappy.
8 pm ET
Southern California (4-1) at (16) Stanford (4-1) (-10)
After last week’s de-pantsing by Washington, I’m not sure what to think of Lane Kiffin’s USC team. Last week really made it seem like they’re doomed to repeat the mistakes of last season and the last few of the Pete Carroll Era in general.
And Stanford kicked the holy fucking shit out of USC last year.
Sure, USC’s defense was hapless and had given up by that time anyway (they’d already been face-raped by Oregon at that point), and Pete Carroll had decided a Woody Hayes approach to offense was probably not conservative enough for his program, so I suppose that loss might have been a bit of a fluke. This IS Stanford we’re talking about.
And yet, even with the loss last week to God’s Own Offense in Eugene, there’s little doubt Stanford is fucking good.
This is the game in which Lane Kiffin has to diverge from Pete Carroll. He can’t follow the same patterns or be susceptible to the same things as his predecessor. Some things have to change, and the program has needed that since John David Booty took over for Matt Leinart at quarterback. Oh wait, Kiffin was there for that debacle too.
Nevermind, the Trojans are fucked.
Pick: Stanford wins but doesn’t cover
(23) Florida State (4-1) at (13) Miami (3-1) (-6)
So can we all agree Jacory Harris is wildly overrated? Um, maybe it’s not a good idea to throw at the receiver who is surrounded by three defensive backs, huh, Jacory? I’m not telling you your business. Just throwing it out there.
How is this FSU team any different than what Bobby Bowden would have fielded in his final year? Total reliance on Christian Ponder, underwhelming results, and a defense showing signs of life mixed with total meltdowns (Oklahoma game). Sound about right? Guess that coaching switch didn’t change everything as quickly as the administration would have liked. So yeah, running the face of the program and the most beloved football coach at their particular locale (and the second-winningest coach of all time) out a year early was an awesome idea. Well handled, fellas.
Pick: Miami wins but doesn’t cover
10 pm ET
Arizona State (2-3) at Washington (2-2) (-2)
ASU is way overdue for a good win, though some would argue Washington hardly counts as that. And I’m wondering if Steve Sarkisian is going to take the week off after beating his former employer for the second straight year (UW lost to Stanford and Notre Dame, yes THAT Notre Dame team after beating USC last year).
Also, how bad does losing to BYU 23-17 look now for Washington now that the Cougars are 1-4? The Huskies might even be fucking ranked if not for that ass-tastic week one performance.
Must be nice for UW to be playing a should-win game at home for the first time in several years, but I’m thinking this one will be closer than it should.
Hawai’i (3-2) at Fresno State (3-1) (-10.5)
Shoot. Out. Should be a hell of a lot more fun than the other 10 pm game.
Fresno State has to win this game going away if they’re going to get any respect when they play Nevada and Boise State later this year, and I like how Ryan Colburn is playing. It’s just that Hawai’i is a crazy-awkward matchup for a team that isn’t great defensively anyway and that showed its ass last week against Mississippi. The Warriors might smell blood in the water here.
Pick: Fresno State wins but doesn’t cover