Record after week nine: 96-44 (69-68-3 ATS)
12 pm ET
Illinois (5-3) at Michigan (5-3) (-3)
If only Michigan could play defense, we might have something more substantial to talk about. Worse, their future prospects don’t look any better on that side of the ball, nor is there any kind of help for Denard Robinson on their offense. I’m sure he wouldn’t complain if he had a running back to hand the ball to once in a while, despite how it would affect his Heisman credentials.
At 5-3, both these teams have shown that they’re good enough to make bowlgames, yet deeply flawed enough that they can’t seriously challenge the Big Ten elite. They can embarrass Indiana pretty good though.
It’s basically impossible to say wheither either Ron Zook or Rich Rodriguez is a success this year. Deeply flawed, schizophrenic teams at their best can only buy their coaches one more season at a time. You’ll probably see both coaches around again next year for these schools, barring a complete meltdown in the last four games. But does that mean they’re a success?
I know the Illinois fanbase is probably happy just making a bowl this year, and Zook has the potential as a recruiter to keep the Illini in that 6-6/7-5 range pretty consistently as long as his assistants are competent and he never has Juice Williams again. But there’s no way Michigan is going to put up with this next year. Rodriguez has this year and next year to prove he can actually win in Ann Arbor, not just get a few athletes and run his offense.
Luckily for Michigan, that should be enough against Illinois, who is no threat to do anything but run the ball.
(16) Iowa (6-2) at Indiana (4-4) (+17.5)
I suppose this game is winnable for Indiana, but certainly not in their current incarnation. The Hoosiers will have to show up as a team that can run the ball and stop the run consistently AS WELL AS a team that is more than just dink-and-dunk passing like they are now. That’s the only way they can beat a team as efficient as Iowa.
Every Indiana fan is having to deal with the fact that the Hoosier football team might have blown its shot at a bowl game already so there’s yet another winter with fewer practices and more disappointment. It’s also nearly basketball season and, though that squad is vastly improved over last year, they’re underdogs yet again. This could be a long, dark few months for Indiana fans.
That is, unless the Hoosiers can pull an upset at home against Iowa. It’s happened before.
This game is entirely on the offensive line. If they grow a pair and block for the backs and don’t give Chappell happy feet with their crappy protection, IU might have something. If not, I might as well copy and paste my recap from last week. Simple as that.
Pick: Iowa wins but doesn’t cover
Louisville (4-4) at Syracuse (6-2) (-6)
Does anyone know anything about this Syracuse team? Hell, or this Louisville team? The Orange (I swear they were the Orangemen at some point in my lifetime) are 6-2 and bowl fucking eligible, but the Big East is so anonymous that it doesn’t matter at all.
I find myself rooting for Syracuse, and I’m not sure why. I think it’s because they became the Indiana of the Big East. And at least now they’re bowl eligible again and there’s hope for the rest of us.
Fuck I wish Indiana played in the Big East.
Pick: Syracuse wins but doesn’t cover
Air Force (5-4) at Army (5-3) (+7)
Combine two option offenses and the Commander in Chief’s Trophy, and you, my friend, have got my attention without fail.
Pick: Air Force
12:30 pm ET
(21) Baylor (7-2) at (17) Oklahoma State (7-1) (-8)
Baylor fan is sitting at home right now knowing that they’re playing with house money at this point, and yet their still acutely aware that the Bears can win this game against Oklahoma State and even win the Big XII South. I have no idea how Baylor fan can just be happy with the wins they’ve got and ignore the potential for a massive, historic season. Nearly an impossible job for Art Briles too.
Those possibilities probably lingered in the Baylor players’ heads all week as they practiced, went to classes, and interacted with fans. It’s just too amazing a story to ignore. Suddenly, OSU doesn’t seem so scary even though the game is on the road. They’re all thinking: hell, we just beat Texas on the road, and we only need three more wins and we’re in the Big XII title game! It’s a great recipe to screw with a team’s focus.
Briles is a great coach, but I think the Bears’ tendency to get into shootouts with teams they should otherwise handle (Texas Tech, Kansas State) is going to backfire. Oklahoma State’s offense is too prolific for Baylor to succeed in a shootout like they did in the past. This is an unbelievable season for Baylor, and a fulfillment of Robert Griffin III’s potential from when he was a freshman, but there’s no way it goes this perfectly.
Pick: Oklahoma State wins but doesn’t cover
3:30 pm ET
(6) Alabama (7-1) at (10) Louisiana State (7-1) (+6.5)
Honestly, I think LSU will be much more competitive than they probably should be against Alabama. I also have no idea why the Tigers didn’t fight tooth and nail to keep this game at seven instead of in the afternoon. A well-oiled LSU crowd would help that offense quite a bit. Okay, nothing would help them, but LSU’s crowd has a reputation to uphold.
Hawai’i (7-2) at (4) Boise State (7-0) (-21)
A shootout could easily sneak up on Boise if their defense isn’t careful. Hawai’i is a weird matchup for everyone they play, and only the most disciplined teams manage to blow them out like the Broncos need to.
That said, notice how Boise dropped in the rankings despite winning handily against Louisiana Tech. Yeah, they screw job is on full force now. Why does college football insist on making itself seem corrupt and unfair?
Pick: Boise State
(3) Texas Christian (9-0) at (5) Utah (8-0) (+5)
The difference here is going to be TCU’s defense. They’re just better than Utah’s offense. It’s not that the Utes won’t score points, they just won’t score enough because the Horned Frog defense is going to make too many stops. They feed on spread offenses like Utah’s.
TCU doesn’t have the same kind of “team of destiny” thing around them that Boise State does, which tells me they might be up for a fall at some point this season. I can’t honestly decide whether I want all the attention on Boise State or as many undefeated non-AQ’s as possible. What would be better for the cause of a playoff?
There will be two undefeated non-AQ’s in the top five after Saturday. I hope at least one of them sticks it to the fucking talking heads who pooh-pooh them at every turn because they don’t at least play in the Big East.
Northwestern (6-2) at Pennsylvania State (5-3) (-6)
It’s hard to say much about this year’s Penn State team. Their defense is okay, but their offense has a lot of growing to do. That’s probably the nice way to put it.
There’s a lot more to like about Northwestern than usual too. Or so I’m told. It’s basically the same shit every year with them. Playing close with a bunch of teams, making a mediocre bowl, being just good enough to be a pain in the ass in games they should lose. Like this one, for example.
Pick: Penn State wins but doesn’t cover
North Carolina (5-3) at (24) Florida State (6-2) (-10.5)
Want to feel like a winner? Play either one of these teams.
Pick: Florida State wins but doesn’t cover
5 pm ET
(23) Nevada (7-1) at Idaho (4-4) (+11.5)
Oh, the Wolfpack. Could have been the fourth non-AQ to make a splash in the rankings. But instead they dropped an easy-ish one against Hawai’i. If they’re going to be a nemesis for Boise State, it’s going to take a lot more than they’re currently giving. Colin Kaepernick is still my guy, though.
7 pm ET
Oregon State (4-3) at UC,LA (3-5) (+5)
A battle between disappointing Pac-10 also-rans. Doesn’t matter for Oregon State. Their only job is to beat Oregon in the Civil War so Boise can jump into the title game.
Pick: Oregon State
(18) Arkansas (6-2) at (19) South Carolina (6-2) (-4.5)
I honestly have no idea what makes South Carolina a favorite in this game. Did Ryan Mallett die or something? Arkansas will do everything it can to keep this game in Stephen Garcia’s hands, and I think that’s going to pay off for them. Expect more videos of crying Carolina fans.
8 pm ET
(15) Arizona (7-1) at (13) Stanford (7-1) (-8.5)
Nick Foles is playing Saturday night, I think. But Stanford should roll anyway. If they don’t, Harbaugh will be Michigan’s coach by the end of January. How’s that for a prediction?
Texas (4-4) at Kansas State (5-3) (+3.5)
Speaking of predictions, if Texas loses this game, Will Muschamp will be your head coach by their bowl game. Freak losses to Baylor are one thing, but losing on the road to Kansas State is time to retire.
(12) Missouri (7-1) at Texas Tech (4-4) (+4.5)
Texas Tech’s defense is so bad, there’s no way they stop Mizzou enough. I can’t wait for Tommy Tuberville to totally scrap the Air Raid and go back to his Auburn ways.
10:30 pm ET
Arizona State (4-4) at Southern California (5-3) (-5.5)
USC’s defense is awful, but there’s not that much to be afraid of from ASU. Are we allowed to call Dennis Erickson wildly overrated yet? I mean, we already do it for Lane Kiffin to the point that he’s almost underrated all over again. If USC loses this game, it’s still a disaster. If ASU loses, and they should, it’s pretty much standard operating procedure.