Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Bowl Season!

I love this time of year, other than it means college football season is almost over.  I've been getting ready for our annual Christmas trip to Colorado and doing some extra praying that I don't wind up face planting a tree.  I've been reading stories and message boards about how my favorite team was screwed in the bowl selection process.  (again)  And some interesting reading on how the Big 10 is planning on expansion and guess who is one of the prime candidates for said expansion?
All these will make some nice candidates for topics during the cold, dreary days of January.  For now, I wanted to take a quick look at the conference bowl match ups and give myself an opportunity to humiliate myself one last time with a few predictions.  I actually had a pretty good year straight up as I went 88-30.  The rub was against the spread where I wound up 57-57.  So really, if I had bet 50 toothpicks on every game I'd predicted, I'd have the same number I started with.  A lot of work to wind up exactly where you were when you started don't you think?
Anyway, let's start out with my favorite team.  Missouri travels to Houston to face the Naval Academy in the Texas Bowl.  I'm not going into the fact that the Tigers wound up in the 8th bowl to pick.  As I said before, that's a topic to talk about in January or even February.  The Tigers have had problems stopping the pass this season but have been one of the best in the Big XII at stopping the run.  Navy has a very good running attack but very little success throwing the ball.  I think this is a good matchup for the Tigers and the team is young enough that I don't think they'll go into the game flat because they think it's beneath them.  The Tigers open as a 6 point favorite and I happen to think this is a sucker bet.  I'm going to go with Mizzou to win and cover easily, 38-17.  Then we can move on to more interesting things such as what appears to be a top 15 recruiting class or a possible move to another conference.

Moving on to the Rolls Royce of the Big XII bowl package would always be a glorious December trip to sunny Shreveport, Louisiana where Texas A&M takes on the Georgia Bulldogs in the Independence Bowl.  Few places offer what the city of Shreveport does as you get a chance to share a shitty room at the local Super 8 with some of the cities finest cockroaches at only 200 dollars a night.  Missouri made 2 trips to the bowl game and I think that Mike Alden might have been fired had they wound up in this bowl game again.    The 'Dawgs open as a 7 point favorite in this one. I believe this game is a huge letdown for them following multiple trips to the BCS locations over the past few years.   I think that they'll have enough to win, although an upset wouldn't surprise me.  I'll go with Georgia to win, but fail to cover.  Dawgs 24-21.
In San Diego the Holiday Bowl pits 2 of the countries better defenses, as well as 2 head coaches most likely to be charged for attacking a referee as Bo Pelini and corn nation take on Mike Stoops and the Arizona Wildcats.  This game could set college football back 50 years.  The Wildcats open as a 1 point favorite.  I have no intention of watching this but I'll go with Arizona to win and cover, say about 5-3.  A late safety should put them over the top.  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

In El Paso, Jim Harbaugh brings the Stanford Cardinal (they are still the cardinal aren't they) to play the Oklahoma Sooners and Big Game Bob Stoops.  Bob has had some problems in bowl games the past few years as they've disappointed in BCS appearances following successful regular seasons.    The Sooners finished the year a disappointing 7-5 after opening the season as a top 5 pick.  The Sooners open as an 8 point favorite in this one, but I'm going to go with Stanford in the upset, 31-30, as OU spends much of the game trying to figure out why a giant tree is dancing around the Stanford sideline.
We move on to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Arizona.  This is the bowl game that logically Missouri should have been selected for.  However, they decided that picking a 6-6 Iowa State team that MU defeated by double digits would be a better selection to play a 6-6 Minnesota team.  The NFL network is a perfect place for this game since very little of the country will be watching it anyway.  Minnesota opens as a 2 1/2 point favorite.  I'm going with the Cyclones in an upset 23-17.
In Dallas, the first Cotton Bowl to be played in Jerry World will pit Oklahoma State against Ol' Miss.  Okie Lite finished the season in disappointing fashion when they were bombed by Oklahoma 27-0 in a game that not only offered bragging rights but a possible trip to Phoenix as the conference representative in the Fiesta Bowl.  Ol' Miss opens as a 3 point favorite but I think this won't be that close.  I'm taking the Rebels 31-24.
In San Antonio the Alamo Bowl matchup will be Texas Tech against another mediocre Big 10 team in Michigan State.  Tech hasn't had great luck in bowl games but I think the Spartains are just what they need for what ails them.  The odds makers have made Tech an 8 point favorite in this one but I'm predicting a blow out.  I'll take the Red Raiders 38-14 as Mike Leach makes his first statement about next years team down in Lubbock.

Finally in the game for all the marbles, Big XII champion Texas takes on the SEC champ Alabama.  In the title game against Nebraska, the Longhorns showed that they could play defense when their O wouldn't carry the day.  The Crimson Tide may well be better defensively than the huskers and I'm fairly confident their offense is much better.  The Tide opens up as a 5 point favorite.  I think this is a pretty good line.  I'm going to pull this one out my ass and predict the winner and your 2009 national champion will be 'Bama, 27-21.
I'm heading out this weekend for a well deserved rest in Colorado.  I'll see you guys after the first of the year and we'll have some things to talk about including bowl results, possible implications if Missouri would jump to the Big 10 and a possible interview that I'm trying to put together with former kansas coach Mark Mangino.  Have a great holiday folks and drive safely!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A few surprises and some more "almost" surprises

Although I didn't get a chance to watch the team I choose to support, it was still a great Saturday of football.  The conference championship games gave us a taste of everything.  We got to see a lot of offense in the ACC final where Georgia Tech outlasted Clemson 39-34 in a game that featured almost 900 yards of total offense.  Combine that with Cincinnati's 45-44 last second win over Pitt in what wasn't a championship game, (the Big East doesn't have one) but simply fortunate scheduling where the top 2 teams happened to meet at the proper time.

In what should have been the best game of the day, we watched 2 SEC heavyweights taking each other on in the Georgia Dome.  What we witnessed instead was a complete dismantling of Tim Tebow and the Gators, 32-13.  I think Tebow has been a credit to college athletics in general, but I admit I enjoyed watching him wipe tears away as the clock wound down.  I've just seen the lovefest continue for the last 4 years and it's time to move on.  Next year we'll watch Tim T. catching passes in the NFL while playing tight end for someone with his favorite Bible verse written into his eye black.  I'm certainly not blaming the kid because he received a 4 year head job, but enough was enough.  I think the kid will be fine.  Roll Tide.
Of course, in my neck of the woods the main event was Nebraska and Texas in the Big XII title game held at the all new Jerry World in Dallas.  The Longhorns opened as a 14 point favorite and I thought that while the spread didn't seem unrealistic, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this game was tight for at least the first 3 quarters.  Instead, we were treated to either one of the best displays of defense or inept offenses since the teams wore leather helmets.  Ndamukong Suh put on the most dominant performance I've ever seen from a defensive tackle as he controlled the line of scrimmage and was responsible for 4 1/2 sacks of Colt McCoy.  Let me be the first to say that I'm glad he'll be getting paid to make plays for some team I don't give a shit about in the NFL next year.
For all the Husker defense did last night though, the offense was, well offensive as Nebraska churned out 106 yards of total offense, (39 through the air) in their "1.9 yards and a cloud of dust" formation.  Despite the trip to the title game the internet is flush with rumors of corn offensive recruits preparing to jump ship for programs more familiar with the term "forward pass".

After the game, Husker coach Bo Pelini was his usual composed self as he screamed random obscenities to whoever would listen calling for the heads of any and all Big XII conference officials.  The Pelini Brothers go off!    While I understand the passion, I confess that I'm looking forward to the day when this idiot implodes and wraps those hands around some referee's neck.  You just know that it's going to happen.  Bo just can't help himself.  It would be like asking him to suddenly quit being ugly.
I only picked 4 games this week and pretty much kept with my normal statistics as I went 3-1 outright, (missing only the SEC winner) and 2-2 vs the spread.  For the year I'm sitting at 88-30 straight up but only 57-57 against the point spread.  The bowl game selections will come out this afternoon and I'll get an opportunity to bitch, whine and complain about where my Tigers are going.  See you in a couple of days.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Adios big guy. I'm going to miss you.

So when I wake up this morning I read that Mark Mangino "resigned" last night and all details would be kept confidential.  I was really hoping that they'd be able to keep this clusterfuck going on for another couple of weeks.  This didn't last nearly long enough.   I wanted to watch Lew Perkins twist some more. 
By now we've all heard the stories of mental and physical abuse that Mangino heaped on his players.  I have no doubt that he was an asshole to both players and coaches that were under him.  But, in my opinion if the beaks had finished up 7-1 in conference rather than 1-7 none of this would ever have come up. 

So now that the ties between Mangino and the university of kansas have been cut, where do the two parties go from here?  The best thing that the big guy could do would be to take a year off, and try to get his health under control. (if anyone ever needed to visit weight watchers, it's MM)  While I think he was one of the most physically disgusting human beings to ever walk the planet, it's hard not to feel bad for him after the attacks, orchestrated by Perkins were played out in the media over the last 3 weeks.  However, I expect Mangino will be wanting to get back into coaching as quickly as possible, and he has a fairly decent reputation as an offensive coordinator.  He's just a piss poor face of the program. 
Given the problems Oklahoma had putting points on the board this season, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he wound up with his old buddy Bob Stoops as offensive coordinator or at least the offensive line coach.  Another possibility is Arizona where little brother Mike Stoops is the head coach. 
Either way, I'm going to miss Mangino in a way.  He was an endless source of material for anyone that enjoyed poking fun at kansas and it will be hard to imagine they'll hire another coach that offers us the possibilities he did.  Unless.....isn't Phil Fulmer available?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Championship week. Catching my breath.

It's not nearly as much fun to make picks when your team isn't involved.  Of course, since I'm not terribly good at it to begin with, I doubt it's going to affect my record.  The biggest thing the weekend has going for it for Tiger Fan is whether or not the university is going to get bent over for the 3rd year in a row in the bowl selection process.  In 2007, we watched as kansas, a team we'd beaten just a week before was selected to play in the Orange Bowl while we fell to the Cotton.  A reward for having to play Oklahoma a 2nd time in the Big XII title game and losing I suppose.  Then last year we watched as Nebraska was invited to the Gator Bowl while we fell to the Alamo.  This after Mizzou had throttled corn nation by 35 points in Lincoln.

A week ago we were hearing that if things fell right, that the Tigers might be heading back to Dallas and a date in the Cotton Bowl.  The thought process was if Oklahoma State defeated the Sooners, they'd have a good chance to pick up a 2nd BCS bid for the conference.  Cotton Bowl officials were concerned that Nebraska fans wouldn't be excited about making a 2nd trip to Big D in a month and Texas Tech had played in the game in 2008.  Of course it all fell apart as the Cowboys were shut out 27-0 in Norman.    So now Okie Light moves to the Cotton, the hicks get a trip to San Diego and the Holiday Bowl, a 7-5 Oklahoma team becomes very attractive to the Sun Bowl and Iowa State suddenly looks like a good choice to the Insight.  Missouri wants nothing to do with the Independence Bowl and Shreveport again so likely the Tigers wind up in Houston at the Texas Bowl.  I can sort of understand some of the other selections but Iowa fucking State to the Insight?  They are my favorite fan base outside of Missouri's but how can this shit happen year after year?  The answer of course lies in the Big XII offices where Dan Beebe, the snakeman really doesn't give a shit what happens as long as Texas, A&M, Oklahoma and Nebraska are happy, along with kansas and his old buddy Lew Perkins.   We should be at the conference offices with torches and pitchforks.

If, and this if a big if, we were able to get an invitation to join the Big 10, we should think it over for about 3 seconds and say yes.  In fact, we should be lobbying for just that to happen.  The problem is that I think they'd like Notre Dame first.  Now that will never happen, but their second choice would likely be either Rutgers or Syracuse so they could get a presence in New York.  But frankly, as long as we're stuck in this piece of shit conference we might as well keep keep loading up on KY jelly because we're going to get fucked every year.       
That's all I have to say on the bowl selection process for now.  We'll know the answers on Sunday and I can rant about it again next week while I'm trying to draw attention away from the results of my picks.  For the year I've gone 85-29 straight up, but a mediocre 55-55 against the spread.  If you used me as a guide to your betting, you'd be exactly where you were back on September 1st, which actually wouldn't be all bad.  I don't gamble so it doesn't matter much to me.
This is championship week and we have 3 good ones to look at.  In Dallas, Texas opens as a 14 point favorite over Bo Pelini and corn nation.  Texas got a scare last weekend in College Station but I believe they were looking ahead.  Nebraska has the defense to keep this one close, but the Longhorns play pretty good defense themselves when they're interested.  I'd be hugely surprised if the hicks managed to pull off the upset here but not at all if the final was closer than the spread.  However, I'm going to go with Texas to pull away late in the 3rd quarter and they'll have their place set in the national championship game against the winner of the SEC title game.  I'm taking Texas to win this one 31-13.

In said SEC title game, the Gators open as a 6 point favorite over Alabama.  There will be some serious athleticism displayed on defense in this game.  However, I don't think anyone, including the conference and the officiating crew is ready to see Tim Tebow miss an opportunity to win another national championship and frankly, I think the Gators have a bit too much firepower here.  I'm going with the Gators to win and cover, 24-24.
In the ACC, or the who gives a shit conference, Georgia Tech opens as a 1 point favorite over the Clemson Tigers.  Clemson has been a team that always gets a ton of love when the season starts, and usually pisses all over themselves after the games begin.  This year really wasn't any different as they began the year ranked and limp into the title game with an 8-4 record.  I really don't understand why Tech is only a 1 point favorite here.  I'm going to go with the Rambling Wreck to pound out a 38-24 win.
The last game isn't a conference championship game.  But here the schedulers in the Big East got it right as 11-0 Cincinnatti travels to Pitt to face the 9-2 Panthers for the right for a BCS bid.  Cincy opens as only a 1 point favorite here and this may be the best game of the weekend.  However, I think they have too much firepower and pull away with a late touchdown.  I'm taking the Bearcats 41-31.
I'm sure we'll all have a lot to talk about next week as some things should shake out over this weekend including the increasingly weird happenings in lawrence, kansas and soon to be ex-coach Mark Mangino.  Looks like another win for slimy Lew Perkins.  Have a great weekend and let me close with this.  "Hook 'em Horns"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Armageddon 3. Hard to believe they keep getting better

I don't like college games being played in NFL stadiums.  I've been to 2 games at Arrowhead for the Border War, (yes, I said war) and skipped this years.  The fact is that putting 40,000 Missouri fans and 40,000 kansas fans in the same stadium and serving them alcohol until the end of the 3rd quarter is a bad idea.  That being said, you can't argue that it's been incredible for the series.  We've seen 3 of the best games between these 2 schools that absolutely hate each other these last 3 seasons.  While the stakes have gotten less each year, the results have come down to the wire and been as exciting as hell.   

Missouri won the match up 41-39 as Grant "the robot" Ressel kicked a 27 yard field goal as time expired.   The kid has been nothing short of excellent this year.  Now the staff has to find a way to get him on scholarship next season.  He certainly earned it.  The future looks bright for the Tigers as they return 37 off 44 players on their 2 deep roster.  Meanwhile, kansas loses Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier, Jake Sharp and most likely Desmond Briscoe.  And now they won't have that extra month of practice to help get the younger players ready for expanded roles next season.  I really, really feel badly for them.  heheheh
The 2 teams combined for almost 1100 yards of total offense and Missouri was once again unable to get pressure on the quarterback.  This is something that simply must get corrected before next year.  The difference between Missouri and Nebraska this year was the dominant man in the middle.  We saw signs during the last half of the season that sophomore DT Dominique Hamilton may indeed become that man.  You simply can't give guys like Reesing, McCoy and Bradford 5 seconds to sit in the pocket and wait for a receiver to break open.  Eventually someone will.
So now the regular season ends with Missouri sitting at 8-4, which was about where I predicted they'd be at the start of the season.  However, you have to wonder what might have been had Blaine Gabbert had his ankle rolled up during that game played in a driving rainstorm against Nebraska.  But I feel very good about next season.  The Tigers have the makings of a great recruiting class that should get even better with the last 5 or 6 spots to be filled.  They now have an extra month of practice where more attention can be given to the younger players that will be asked to take bigger roles next year.  And for the first time in several years, the top 2 teams next year may play in the north division as both the Tigers and Nebraska return the majority of their starters.   The future is bright indeed.
My predictions pretty much played to form this week, as I went 4-1 outright but only 1-3 vs the spread.  (There was no line on the OU, Okie light game at the time I wrote last weeks entry)  I'd predicted that Texas Tech would cover a 21 1/2 point spread in Waco against the Bears.  However, Baylor hung tough until the end and the Red Raiders earned a hard fought 20-13 win.  Tech wound up the year 8-4 and 5-3 in conference.  As it affects my Tigers, they probably earned a trip to the Sun Bowl and relegated Mizzou to the Insight Bowl which will be available to only about 10% of the country as it is played on the NFL network.  What the hell kind of a place is that for a bowl game?
My biggest hope for the Tigers getting a better spot was that Oklahoma State would defeat the Sooners and earn the conference a 2nd BCS bowl.  However, OU pounded the Cowboys 27-0, probably bumping the fighting Gundy's to either Dallas or San Diego.  The bowl picture is muddied at best.
Nebraska opened as a 10 point favorite over Colorado and I'd seen little from them to believe they'd score enough to cover.  I predicted a 24-17 hick win and the final was 28-20.  The Tigers last hope to move up in the bowl heirarchy would be for corn nation to rise up and beat Texas next week in the Big XII title game, but frankly I see little chance of that happening.

If Texas needed any reason to take this week seriously, they got it on Thanksgiving day as they escaped College Station with a 49-39 win after opening as a 21 point favorite.  While a hick win next week would improve the Tigers holiday plans, the conference would benefit more by having a team in the national championship game.  Also, I see no advantage to Nebraska having any more success than they already have.  Much better they get hammered next weekend and follow in up with a gang rape at the hands of USC or some other Pac 10 team in the Holiday bowl.
I'll have some predictions up for the conference championship games and there are a few teams finishing up their seasons next week.  I imagine that we'll also have a bit to talk about after Mark Mangino is whacked this week.  I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hate week! You know you love it.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Well everyone except you red sock wearing cocksuckers that are kansas jayhawk fans.  This is the one week a year where I don't make any attempt to be civil to you bastards.  It's hate week and I am by God going to enjoy it.
If you think it's been a rough year for Missouri, just imagine for a seconds being a fan of the thieving bastards from lawrence, ks.  Expectations were high for the mythical birds.  They were picked to win their first division title since the Big XII was formed.  They had all of their playmakers back and the somewhat tarnished crown as kings of one of college footballs worst divisions was theirs for the taking. 
13 weeks later their season lies in ruins like the desert bar at Golden Corral after a Mark Mangino eating binge.  They will once again return to their rightful place as the division doormats, and there is no way Mangino returns as the head man next season.  However, when you think they are down, that is when they can come up to bite the Tigers.  Win this game and the johnson county mama's boy's fans will have something to feel good about themselves over the winter besides their basketball team.  Believe me, I don't want them to have that.
The game will be played at 2:30 on Saturday afternoon and is on regional televison for ABC.  A big step down from the game 2 years ago, but unless you are from the Kansas City area, I just can't explain it to you.  The Tigers open as a 4 1/2 point favorite and despite my feelings about this, (which are generally somewhat pessimistic) I'm going with the Tigers to cover, winning 34-27.
I'm having to do this quickly this week so I'm going to move around the conference with my picks and cut back on my commentary.
Texas Tech travels cross state to Waco to face the Baylor Bears.  The Red Raiders open as a 21 1/2 point favorite and I don't believe they'll have any problem covering this one.  Tech rolls 38-10.
Corn nation travels west for the holidays to Boulder to face Dan Hawkins, who may well be coaching his last game for the Colorado Buffalo's.  The hicks open as a 10 point favorite.  This is something of a rivalry game and anything can happen.  I'm thinking the buffs play well this weekend but still fall short.  Nebraska wins 24-17.

It's bedlam in Oklahoma as the Cowboys travel to Norman to face the Sooners.  It's being reported that Bob Stoops is talking with Notre Dame about the soon to be open coaching job at South Bend.  This is a game that is pretty important to Missouri fans.  If Okie Light wins they have a decent chance to be selected as an at large participant in the BCS.  This would allow the Tigers to move up a spot in the bowl pecking order.  The game has no line at this point, probably due to uncertainty about Zack Robinson.  Oklahoma is 60-2 at home since Stoops became their coach.  I think they go to 60-3 this weekend as the Cowboys pull out a 21-13 win.    
The final rivalry game is at College Station as the Texas Longhorns open as a 21 point favorite against the A&M Aggies.  Texas is preparing for a date in the national championship game and I don't believe they'll take A&M for granted this week.  Texas rolls 42-17.
I hoped to get some out of conference games picked but the week really got away from me.  All I can say is I apologize and hope that you all have a wonderful holiday.  And I still intend to do something special for coach Mangino following the season, which hopefully ends Saturday evening about 6:00 for the lardass and the thieving beakers.  

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A tale of 2 half's

Senior day in Columbia was actually one of the more pleasant ones in recent memory.  The weather was outstanding, if somewhat dreary.  The crowd got pretty loud on the alumni side, although the student side was embarrassingly empty.  The 2nd half was as dominant as the K State game, although at halftime the mood was somber as it appeared we were heading toward another Baylor like fiasco.  And the tailgate food was fabulous.  No idea why more people don't deep fry turkeys.
Once again the Tigers toyed around with what should have been an over matched opponent, trailing 17-10 at halftime thanks to the Cyclones opening up their play book and a wounded duck hail mary thrown by Austen Arnaud 26 seconds before the end of the half.

However, in the 2nd half, when Mizzou has generally collapsed, the Tigers came out energized and outscored Iowa State 24-7.  Only another trick play where Arnaud hit a touchdown pass on a tackle eligible play allowed the 'Clones to cross the goal line and Blaine Gabbert was workmanlike and efficient.  It was a coming out party for sophomore receiver Jerrill Jackson as he grabbed 8 passes for 142 yards, including a 70 yard bomb for a touchdown.  He appears to be the early favorite for Blaine's favorite target next season.  Danario Alexander was vintage Danario again as he hauled in 11 for 173 including a 63 yard TD.  The rushing game was efficient as the Tigers went for over 200 yards despite losing Derrick Washington to a concussion.  The game was closer than Vegas (and me for that matter) predicted, but the win was sweet.  The Tigers ensured themselves of their 5th consecutive bowl invitation, with an outside chance of getting a very good bowl with a win next week, assuming that Oklahoma State can beat OU next week in Norman and capture a 2nd BCS berth for the conference.  Next week I'm a Cowboy fan. 
It was a pretty good week for me as I went 6-2 straight up and 5-3 against the point spread.  For the year I'm 81-28 overall and 54-52 versus the spread.   I had Missouri covering the 13 point spread with the final being 34-24.  The team fell a little short but as I said, the 2nd half performance more than made up for it.
Moving around the conference, I thought that Baylor's balloon had finally completely burst and they'd not be able to cover as 7 1/2 point underdogs traveling to A&M.  I'd predicted a final of 31-10 Aggies and it was even a bit more one sided as they rolled the Bears 38-3.
I also had Oklahoma State rolling over Colorado and covering a 15 1/2 point spread by a final of 45-13.  What I'd forgotten, (as had Vegas apparently) was the vicious hit and concussion their quarterback, Zac Robinson had taken the week before against Texas Tech.  The Cowboys held on to win 31-28.

I had no idea how the kansas jayhawks would fare in Austin facing the Longhorns after the week they'd had with the battle between Coach Mark Mangino and AD Lew (Yoda) Perkins.  For that matter, I had no idea who'd be coaching them.  The beaks made a battle of it however, trailing 27-13 midway through the 3rd quarter before falling 51-20.  I'd predicted 52-13 so in either case the Horns covered the 28 point spread.  Now the question for the red leggers is what happens this week at Arrowhead against my Tigers.  Mangino has always seemed to be able to rally the beaks for this game and no doubt they'll pull Don Fambrough off oxygen long enough for him to come out and give his yearly rambling orientation on why they should never lose to Missouri.  Once again, I have no idea at this point who'll be coaching them as this turns into a full blown clusterfuck that I confess, I'm enjoying immensely. 
K State opened as a 16 point underdog as they traveled north to corn nation to face the Huskers with the division crown on the line.  My reasoning here was that Nebraska struggles to score and you never can be sure that they'll score 16 points, let alone win by that much.  The hicks didn't let me down as they won but failed to cover.  My prediction was 24-13 Nebraska.  The final was 17-3.  So now the fighting Pelini's are assured of a trip to Jerry World to face Texas in the Big XII title game and the Wildcats are assured of staying home for the holidays despite a 6-6 record.  Might want to reconsider playing 2 FCS teams in the same season Bill.

Oklahoma opened as a 7 point favorite as they traveled to Lubbock to face the Pirate and his Red Raiders.  Tech has been about as up and down as my Tigers this year, but I just didn't see the Sooners covering, so I had them winning 31-28.  However, the OU free fall continued as they were manhandled 41-13.  Now the Sooners need to win next week at home in the bedlam game versus Oklahoma State to avoid a 6-6 record and a glorious holiday trip to Shreveport.  This isn't the kind of season that OU fans are used to and they may not be at all sad to see big game Bob take his act to South Bend once the inevitable firing of Charlie Weiss takes place after next weeks game against Stanford. 
Moving out of conference I had Ohio State covering the 12 point spread against their arch rival Michigan by a score of 38-20.  The Wolverines made a contest of it and actually should probably have won.  The final was tOSU 21-10.  Probably not enough to save Rich Rod's job as the donors really seem to want him out.
My last game was an SEC battle between Ol' Miss and LSU.  The Rebels opened as a 3 1/2 point favorite but I predicted the Tigers to not only cover but pull the upset outright by a final of 21-20.  I was half right as Ol Miss failed to cover, but thanks to some unfathomable decisions by LSU head coach Les Miles the Rebels escaped with a 25-23 win.
That about covers things for this week.  I'm going to try to get my predictions out for next week early with some Thanksgiving and Friday games this week.  I'm also going to try to figure out who will be the head man on the sideline at Arrowhead for kansas.  See you all soon.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Week 12: Senior day

This is one of my favorite, yet one of the saddest events of the year.  When we get to say goodbye to young men that have spent 4 or 5 years pouring out everything they have for our enjoyment.  I never underestimate how difficult it must be to play sports at a division one school, balancing practices and classes while trying to maintain a social life and representing yourself, your family and a university and program you've hopefully come to love.  There are some special young men that will be playing their final game at Faurot Field this weekend and I just want to honor them a bit while making my attempt at predicting some winners.
Danario Alexander, you made yourself a lot of money last weekend at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.  You've suffered through some terrible injuries, but come out on the other side.  I'll look forward to watching you playing on Sundays.  Same with Sean Weatherspoon.  You could have left last season and no one would have blamed you.  But you chose to stay and help with the transition after we lost 23 players from last years team.  Brian Coulter, Jared Perry, Hardy Ricks, Del Howard, Jake Harry, Jon Gissinger, Ryan Schleusner, Kurtis Gregory, Tanner Mills, thanks for the memories.
And one special thanks to my hometown boy; Jaron Baston.  I was there the day you signed your letter of intent and it's been fabulous watching you become the man you are today.  Blue Springs is very proud.
So this week it's senior day and the annual blackout game.  Iowa State comes to town.  They are my favorite fan base in the Big XII and exemplify good sportsmanship.  They are what kansas and Nebraska fans like to portray themselves as; classy and knowledgable fans that understand what college athletics are about.  Some of my fondest memories were partying with Iowa State fans at Kelly's at Westport during the old Big 8 basketball tournament.  Now all that being said, I hope the 'Clones get pounded into the turf at The Zou this weekend. 
So moving on to my picks.  I had a really good week last week going 7-0 straight up and 5-2 vs the spread.  For the year I'm sitting at 75-26 but just 49-49 against the point spread.  So if I followed my own advice and wagered, I'd be even. 
Missouri opens as a 13 point favorite against ISU.  This should throw up a huge red flag as that was pretty similar to the spread vs Baylor.  It is senior day as I mentioned and I'd like to think the team would be wanting to close out the season with a win at home.  There have not been many of them this year.  I'm going to go with the Tigers to win and cover (against my better judgement) 31-17.
A&M plays host to Baylor this weekend and opens as a 7 1/2 point favorite.  This is the week that the Aggies can become bowl eligible after blowing some chances earlier in the season.  (4th quarter meltdown vs Colorado)  Baylor got absolutely no push after upsetting the Tigers when they played Texas.  I think they'll keep this one a bit closer, but still fall.  I'll go with A&M to win and cover 31-10.
Colorado visits Oklahoma State with rumors that Dan Hawkins will be axed following the season.  If that happens, I for one will be surprised.  Not that he shouldn't be fired; he should.  I just didn't think there would be enough of an outcry for them to eat his buyout.  Okie State opens as a 15 1/2 point favorite.  The Cowboys still have an outside chance at a BCS game and will be wanting to impress.  I'll go with Gundy and the boys to win big here, 45-13.

kansas travels to Austin to play the Longhorns and the biggest story of the week is Coach Mark Mangino.  Of course, he is usually the biggest story of the week, but now in the throes of a 5 game losing streak he's very possibly going to be fired.  "Sleazy" Lou Perkins is bringing all past transgressions of the fat man in an effort to avoid paying the $600,000 buyout and run him out to bring in his own guy.  Stories of physical abuse and just plain him being mean to players and the AD having meetings with their parents are everywhere.  It's really the kind of thing you couldn't make up if you were someone that detested that black hole of a college.  And don't discount Mangino dropping a few bombs of his own as they pry him out the door.  Texas opens as a 28 point favorite in this one.  Regardless of who is coaching the beaks on Saturday, this one gets ugly.  Only Mack Brown's distaste for putting up 70 points is going to keep this one close to respectable.  Texas rolls, 52-13, and I can prepare my tribute post to MM for after the season, complete with my favorite photos of him.
K State travels north to Hooterville to take on Bo Pelini and corn nation.  Never has a game that determined the winner of a division drawn less interest as these 2 throwback offenses meet somewhat solid defenses.  Last week the Wildcats committed many uncharacteristic mistakes in a blowout loss to my Tigers.  For them to win or really have a chance this week, they have to go back to fundamental, sound, opportunistic football.  Nebraska will likely give you some opportunities for short fields, and you need to be ready to take advantage of them.  The hicks open as a 16 point favorite and it's do or die week for Snyder's boys.  They win the game and they go to the Big XII title game in Dallas.  Lose and the season is over.  I think they fall short and the Huskers win, but fail to cover, 24-13.  

Oklahoma travels to Lubbock as a 7 point favorite against the Red Raiders and Captain Mike Leach.  It's been a disappointing season for both squads and this game may well determine who doesn't have to go to Shreveport for a bowl game in December.  Also, both coaches are the subject of speculation concerning possible job openings.  Stoops has to be considered on Notre Dame's short list and now I hear rumblings of mutual interest between Leach and Louisville.  I think the Sooners win a close, uninspiring game 31-28.
Moving out of conference to the Big 10.  In a game that really means absolutely nothing other than it's a long time rivalry, the Ohio State Buckeyes travel to meet the Wolverines of Michigan, in the season finale for both teams.  The Buckeyes likely will qualify for their 329th Rose Bowl with a win here and again, rumors are beginning to swirl about Rich Rod's future as the Wolverine head coach.  OSU opens as a 12 point favorite but I think they'll do a little better than that.  Buckeyes win 38-20 in a game that absolutely no one gives a shit about unless they are fans of the respective universities.  Damn the Big 10 sucks!
In a mildly entertaining game, the LSU Tigers take a 8-2 record to Oxford to play 7-3 Ol' Miss.  Cutting straight to the chase, these 2 programs, universities and fan bases absolutely detest each other.  I've been to a game at Oxford and been to the grove and don't understand how anyone could hate those people, but they seem to.  The Rebels open as a 3 1/2 point favorite but I think they go home unhappy this week as the Tigers pull an upset and win 21-20.  Man, I'd love to walk through the grove again though.   I need to email Mike Alden about that this week. 
Good luck to your teams and I'll keep an eye on the Mangino watch. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

So where do we go now?

It's always a lot more fun to write this thing after a win.  Not just a win, but a dominating, butt kicking 38-12 screw you to Bill Snyder and his Wildcats.  My Tigers came out and played their best game since the season opener against Illinois.  K State wasn't a pick to do anything before the season had started, but the white rat, Bill Snyder had them sitting in first place in the mediocre north division of the Big XII.  They were favored and a win would have made them bowl eligible, which would have been remarkable in itself after the last 2 seasons under former coach Ron "Scary Smart" Prince.  Gary Pinkel had never beaten Coach Snyder, and the Tigers had yet to score a 2nd half touchdown in Big XII play this year. But all that changed on Saturday afternoon.  Blaine Gabbert had a nice game, going 20 for 27 for almost 300 yards.  Danario Alexander assured himself that he'll be a millionaire next year with a 10 catch, 200 yard game with 3 touchdowns.  As a bonus, Mizzou rushed for 137 yards and controlled the clock in the 2nd half.    It should take a lot of pressure of offensive coordinator David Yost who's been taking a lot of heat (much of it justified) for the decreased production from this years team.    

So now the Tigers are bowl eligible and likely will receive their 5th straight bowl bid following the season.  Now you play to improve your bid and hopefully avoid a trip to Shreveport.  Iowa State rolls into town being bowl eligible for the first time since 2005 and I know they'd love to improve their standing also.  So the question is, which Tiger team shows up?  If it's the same team that we saw in Manhattan today, then we can hope for a trip to El Paso and the Sun Bowl.  If not, then we might as well prepare ourselves for crawdad souffle at one of the Shreveport Riverboats.
The Tigers got my conference season off to a good start this week.  They opened up as a 3 point underdog.  I confess that I might have picked the Wildcats, but I just couldn't, so I picked Mizzou to cover and win; 24-21.  It was even better than I hoped.
Texas opened as a  24 1/2 point favorite against Baylor.  I didn't think that was nearly enough and I had the Longhorns winning big, 45-10.  The final was actually 47-14 Texas, but Mack Brown showed mercy in the 2nd half as the Horns were up 40-0 at halftime.  It certainly doesn't do anything to make that loss the Tigers had to Baylor any easier to take.  They reverted to sucking this week, which is really where Baylor belongs.

Iowa State opened up as a 5 point favorite at home against Colorado.  Despite giving up over 400 yards of offense, the Cyclones defense stiffened when it counted and now find themselves bowl eligible.   I picked Iowa State to cover, 24-13, with the final being 17-10.  Congratulations to the 'Clones and their fans.  They deserve it, as does their fine coach, Paul Rhodes.  That being said, I hope you guys go down like a twenty five dollar hooker in Columbia next Saturday.  I'll be there rooting for the guys in black.
In lawrence, kansas the beakers continued their "history in the making" season by falling to Corn nation 31-17.  Todd Reesing once again proved that he should have spent a little more time practicing and a little less drinking during the off season as he went 19 for 41 for 236 yards and a touchdown against the hick defense.  He does appear to be healing from the groin injury though as he wasn't sacked.  This makes 5 straight losses for the beaks after opening the year with 5 straight wins.  It doesn't get any better for them next week as they travel south to Austin to face the Longhorns.  It likely comes down to the Border War at Arrowhead to determine whether they make their 3rd consecutive bowl game in their storied history.  (chuckle)

Texas A&M rolled into Norman to face the Sooners as an 18 1/2 point underdog to Boob Stoops and the Sooners.  I thought the spread was too high and though I predicted OU to win, I thought they'd fail to cover the spread.  Of course, Oklahoma got things rolling and Stoops continued throwing the ball up by 6 touchdowns.  The final was Oklahoma 65-10.  I would love to watch the asshat and his team get rolled for about the next 10 years.  Stay classy Bob.  Those Mary Kay sales may go down if you lose another game this year.   Bubba may decide he doesn't need any more eye shadow.
Texas Tech visited Stillwater as a 3 1/2 point underdog to the Cowboys, who probably are the best team in the conference not named Texas.  I had the Cowboys winning 31-27 with the final being 24-17 Okie Light.   The most notable thing about the game, in my opinion was this brutal hit on Cowboy quarterback Zac Robinson.  Where am I?  Whether he plays against Colorado next weekend is anyone's guess.
My only out of conference game this week was the Thursday night Big East matchup between West Virginia and Cincinnati.  The Bearcats have been rolling and appear to be headed to their 2nd consecutive trip to Miami in January.  They opened as a 9 1/2 point favorite at home.  I confess I've only watched some highlights of them until then, but felt that they'd probably cover.  However, the Mountaineers played some inspired defense holding them to 24 points.  Unfortunately for them, they were only able to put up 21 points of their own.  

So for the week, I wound up a very respectable 5-2 against the spread which got me back to even at 49-49 for the year.  Straight up I was 7-0 which takes me to 75-26 this season.  Very good for me.  There are some interesting match ups this week and a Big 10 rivalry game that has lost some luster the past few years.  I'll try to have my picks out by Thursday and I'm thinking about taking a look at some potential bowl matchups pretty soon; at least as to how it will affect Big XII teams.  Have a great week!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Week 11: sink or swim

Another must win week for my favorite team, the Missouri Tigers.  Not like it's going to make any difference in the race for the north.  That ship pretty much sailed in the second half of the Baylor fiasco last weekend in Columbia.  But as I said in my recap, the team is on a roller coaster right now and they desperately need a win against a team that has been playing well, and oddly enough, they seem to be playing better on the road.

Taking a look at K State, they appear very similar to the early teams Bill Snyder brought out.  They run the ball well, play good special teams and defense and don't beat themselves with mistakes.  They're older players, due to former coach Ron Prince's inability to recruit high school players and benefiting from a division that is horribly down this year, but right now they'd be sitting with probably 2 wins had Snyder not returned.  Last week they won the sunflower showdown (could there possibly be a gayer name for a rivalry?) against kansas, 17-7.  The jayhawks held a players only meeting early in the week which obviously did no good as Todd "Frodo" Reesing continued his descent into a drunken haze of a senior season.  Frighteningly enough, the Tigers held a players only meeting this week following last Saturday's fiasco.  We'll see if it plays out any better for them in a few short days.  The game opened as Mizzou a 2 point underdog on the road.  I'm going to take a chance here and predict my Tigers to cover and win outright 24-21.   
Moving around the conference, Texas travels to Waco to play the Baylor Bears.  I'd thought the Bears were dead in the water before watching them last week.  However, probably all it did was make Texas aware that they were capable of biting someone if they weren't paying attention.  The Horns are now making their run to the national championship game, and I don't believe that anyone will stop them.  It certainly shouldn't be this week.  The Longhorns open as a 24 1/2 point favorite.  I think they get that and then some.  I'm taking the Horns in a laugher, 45-10.
Colorado travels to Iowa State to take on the Cyclones this week.  The Buffs stunned me, as well as Texas A&M last Saturday, with a 4th quarter comeback to win 35-34.  Meanwhile the 'Clones were getting prison raped in Stillwater, 34-8.  Iowa State opens as a 5 point favorite and a win this week could get them bowl eligible.  Colorado has been completely unable to sustain any kind of success, especially on the road.  I think that the Cyclones cover in this one, 24-13.

In lawrence, kansas, the fighting Mangino's appear to be in complete disarray.  They've lost 4 straight and managed to make my Tigers look like a well oiled machine in the process.  Coach Mark Mangino should be getting down on his well padded knees every night thanking the Big Guy (I mean God, not Lew Perkins) for that contract extension and raise he received after the smoke and mirrors 2007 season.  Nebraska is coming to town as a 4 point favorite.  The Huskers defense is playing very well, as evidenced by last weeks 10-3 upset win over the Sooners in Lincoln.  Their offense continues to be something of an abortion, but I do think they'll have some success running the ball, and the beaker secondary can make a lot of teams look good.  I look for the hicks to win and cover this week 23-10.  The thing that will be interesting to me will be the number of times the Husker pass rush is able to get to Reesing.  The next 2 weeks may not be kind to the gimpy midget as the beaks travel to Austin next week to face the Longhorns.  
Texas A&M travels to Norman this weekend to face the Sooners.  Both teams are officially in disarray at this time.  The Aggies choked up a huge hair ball last week in Boulder, falling to the Buffalo's and everyones's favorite whipping boy, Dan Hawkins.  A win there would have been their 6th, and given their fans reputation for traveling, would have assured them of a post season invitation, probably to someplace in Texas even dumpier than College Station.  Meanwhile, the wheels completely fell off the Sooner offensive wagon as they managed 3 points against the Husker defense in Lincoln.  For some reason, Oklahoma opens as an 18 1/2 point favorite here.  I like the Sooners but don't care much for the spread.  I'll take Oklahoma 27-14.

Texas Tech travels north to Stillwater to face the Cowboys and Coach Mike Leach has had something of a rough season and his pirate flag has taken a few cannon balls.  The Red Raiders had last week off to prepare, but I don't know that they really have much to play for at this time.  Their fans don't travel particularly well and they are staring at a Christmas Bowl in Houston win or lose.  Meanwhile, the Cowboys season hasn't gone as well as they'd hoped, but they do have a chance for a decent New Years type trip to either Dallas or San Diego.  The Cowboys open as a 3 1/2 point favorite and I think it's a damn good spread.  I'm taking Okie State to win and cover, 31-27.    
I found the out of conference schedule to be incredibly uninteresting this week.  Now the next couple are going to be great with some classic matchups.  However, the only thing I could find that was remotely attractive was West Virginia traveling to Cincinnati to face the undefeated Bearcats.  I confess that I don't know much about the Big East in general but Cincinnati has been on a nice run the last couple of years, and for some reason I've always like the Mountaineers.  The Bearcats open as a 9 1/2 point favorite.  I'm going with them to cover 38-24.
Good luck to your team this weekend unless they reside anywhere in the state of kansas.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I always hated roller coasters

I never enjoyed roller coasters when I was a kid.  Way too much up and down shit and you never knew when someone was going to puke on your back.  I kind of feared this year was going to be something of a roller coaster ride before it started, but I never envisioned it playing out like this.  I, like many other Tiger fans got too excited after the game 1 demolition of Ron Zook and the not so fighting Illini.  Looking back, we should have seen this coming during the 2nd game when Mizzou had to stage a furious 2nd half comeback against an over matched Bowling Green team.

I've tried to never call out college athletes.  They've got enough problems trying to balance athletics while going to classes and preparing themselves for lives after football.  There were mistakes made, passes dropped, blocks missed and tackles whiffed.  But sometimes, that's what kids do.  I will however call out our coaching staff to a degree.  I believe that the Tigers have scored a total of 8 second half points during the Big XII season.  Folks, that is on the coaches.  We had several opportunities to put Baylor away Saturday, but the coaching staff just didn't give the players the opportunity to do it.  From the refusal to run, or even attempt to run the ball against the 10 rated run defense in the conference, to sitting our cornerbacks 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, practically begging the other team to dink and dunk you to death. 
It's time for David Yost and Dave Steckel to take a long hard look in the mirror and decide what they can do to put the players in a more likely position to succeed.
I realize that I sound like a fickle fan here.  That's probably due somewhat to the chatter I've read on various forums this week such as Tigerboard and PowerMizzou.  I've always said that Missouri really doesn't need a rival.  We do a better job of tearing ourselves down and eating our own than any beaker or hick could hope to do.
Where the season goes from here is anybody's guess.  Not only Missouri, but the entire conference has been nothing short of a full blown clusterfuck.  Anybody think Colorado had a snowballs chance in hell of beating A&M Saturday?  I certainly didn't based on what I saw when they played my Tigers the week before. 
The Nebraska win over Oklahoma was another one I never saw coming.  Now hick nation prepares for their inevitable Fiesta Bowl trip after they take care of Texas in the title game.  Pretty much the same with K State fans.   
I'm not going to spend much time breaking things down here as I have some interesting things going on in my life at the moment.  For the week I was a very mediocre 4-4 outright and a downright terrible 2-6 vs the spread.  For the year, I'm 68-26 straight up but fell below .500 at 44-47 against the point spread.  I actually think it's pretty much a shit week as far as games go, with very few intriguing matchups.  However, I'm going to try and spend a bit of time taking a look at these just to see if I can improve on the abortion that was week 10.  See you on Thursday.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Week 10: Sorting out the North

As we move on to the last quarter of the season, the train wreck that is the Big XII north is slowly beginning to sort itself out.  Some things we thought at the start of the season are playing out as expected.  Missouri is as wildly inconsistant as you'd have thought, given you have 29 freshman and sophomores on the 2 deep.  Colorado sucks, and shows that just because you hire a guy from a successful non BCS conference team doesn't mean you've found the next Urban Meyer.  But we've had way more than our share of surprises also.  The 2 pre season picks to win the division; Nebraska and kansas make really good half teams.  Nebraska can play defense, but couldn't score more than 3 touchdowns against a pickup team from your local rest home.  kansas can score, well at least a little, but the defense is terrible, and that coach of the year trophy sitting over Mark Mangino's fireplace looks more and more ridiculous.  Kansas State continues to surprise everyone, and for the life of me, I have no idea how.  Iowa State is also greatly improved.  Amazing what a coaching change can sometimes accomplish.
So this week, the Baylor Bears travel north to Columbia, looking for something that can salvage their lost season.  I really thought this would be the year they broke their 15 year bowl-less drought, but alas, it just wasn't meant to be.  If I'm Art Briles, I'm looking for any chance I can find to get out of there.  The program is jinxed, pure and simple.    
Missouri opens as a 16 1/2 point favorite over the Bears.  At first glance, that seems a bit high to me.  However, Nebraska put up 20 on them in the first half and as I say, they are nothing short of terrible offensively.   However, they do have a few things going for them.  I remember some wonderful Baptist girls in my younger days.  I'll be there on Saturday and go with my Tigers to cover.  Let's say Mizzou 34-10 and Aldon Smith with 3 more sacks.
Texas A&M travels to Boulder to meet the Buffalos.  The Buffs looked absolutely horrible last weekend against my Tigers and it appears that Dan Hawkins may have lost the team.   At the least, he's lost former 5 star running back recruit Darrell Scott, who announced he'd be leaving Boulder to go back to California and play for UCLA.  Interestingly enough, their coach is former Colorado HC Rick Neuheisel.  A&M opens as just a 5 point favorite.   I don't know if Colorado will win another game.  I'll take the Aggies to win and cover, 28-13.

Iowa State heads down to Stillwater to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who are probably still smarting from the thumping they took at home last week to Texas.  The Cyclones are one of the most improved teams in the north this year and should pick up a 6th win to become bowl eligible.  They open as only a 7 1/2 point underdog to Okie Light this weekend.  I don't think they'll be able to keep it that close.  I'm taking the Cowboys, 38-10.   
How can you not be excited about the upcoming sunflower showdown pitting arch rivals kansas and the surprising Wildcats of K State?  This years battle royal will be held in Manhattan at the Bill Snyder family stadium and baitshop.  The old man has surprised most everyone with the results he's had so far this year, myself certainly included.  The beakers open as 3 point favorites in this one and I have no idea why.  Actually, it would be much better for my Tigers if the beaks won, but there is just no way I could cheer for the red legged, yellow sneaker wearing bastards.  I'll just hope for the stench of the veterinary school to overwhelm both teams, but in case it doesn't, I'm going to pick the kitties to win this one straight up, 31-27. 
Oklahoma travels north to Lincoln to face Bo Pelini and the Huskers.  The hicks snapped a 2 game losing streak last week in a 20-10 win down in Waco against the Bears.  The Huskers are playing solid defense, but their offense continues to regress under Shawn Watson's leadership.   The Sooners open as a 6 point favorite.  With their anemic offense I'd normally think that was a good line, but I have a feeling their defense may come up with a score or 2 of their own.  I'm taking OU, 31-10.
Texas is playing an out of conference game this weekend, hosting The University of Central Florida.  The Longhorns open as a whopping 35 point favorite in what might be considered a classic trap game.  However, I don't think that will be the case this week.  They want to play in the national championship game and I think they'll make it this year.  Texas rolls, 52-10.

In the Big 10, Ohio State travels travels to State College to take on the Nittany Lions for the right to finish 2nd to Iowa.  (how weird does that sound?)  Penn opens as a 3 1/2 point favorite.  I can't say that either team, or the conference for that matter has impressed me this year.  I think the fighting Joe Pa's win this one and cover though, by a score of around 24-14.
The game of the week takes place in Tuscaloosa, Alabama as the Crimson Tide take on the Tigers from LSU.  They teams are ranked 3rd and 8th in the current top 25 and 'Bama is circling the date of the SEC title game against # 1 Florida.  They've had some scares along the way, including a 12-10 win over Tennessee a couple of weeks ago when they blocked a last second field goal attempt to hang on.   The Tide opens as a 9 point favorite which I think is just a bit too much.  I'm going to go with them to win, but fail to cover, 17-10.
That's all I have for this week.  It sounds like it's going to be a gorgeous day Saturday and I'll be headed to Columbia bright and early.  Hopefully, I'll be bringing home another win and bowl eligibility for Mizzou Saturday evening.  Good luck to your teams!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Is it just me or is the sun a little brighter today?

It's always easier to write something like this after a win.  Saturday, the Tigers walked in to Boulder on a 3 game losing streak and an 0-3 mark in the Big XII.  Last place in a mediocre north division wasn't where I hoped to be at this point in the season.  But what a difference one weekend can make!  Losses by every other division rival, sans Nebraska make the race look much better if you're a fan of the black and gold.  Well, the Missouri brand of black and gold anyway.
Missouri was able to get their ground game going, to the tune of 184 yards on 45 carries and Blaine Gabbert was efficient in the first half as the Tigers built a 33-3 lead heading into the lockers at halftime.  While the Tigers went into a shell in the 2nd half, and Blaine made a couple of bad decisions allowing the Buffs an opportunity to get back into the game, the defense, Aldon Smith in particular simply never gave Colorado a chance to close within 2 scores.  Smith was a beast with 3 sacks, 5 tackles for losses, a blocked pass and generally disrupting anything the Buffs tried to do on a consistant basis. He may well be the best defensive lineman in the conference next season.  Next week the Tigers play host to Baylor, with the opportunity to qualify bowl eligibility, with every win after just getting you a better bowl.  Actually, not bad for the youngest team in the conference.
This was possibly my best week as far as picks go.  I went a perfect 7-0 straight up and 5-2 vs the spread.  For the year, I'm a very respectable 64-22 straight up and a very mediocre 42-41 against the spread.

Moving around the league, Nebraska opened as a 13 1/2 point favorite visiting Baylor in Waco.  I picked corn nation to win but fail to cover 24-20.  There is no doubt that Nebraska has one of the better defenses in the league, led by All America candidate and possible drunken driver Ndamukong Suh, but their offense is, at this point, abysmal.  A visit from Oklahoma this weekend doesn't appear to offer any relief.   
Iowa State visited College Station and the Aggies and opened as a 7 point underdog.  I thought the spread was a bit too high and predicted A&M to win, but fail to cover, 27-24.  It was another up week for TAMU however, and they rolled, winning 35-10.
kansas visited Lubbock over the weekend as a 7 point underdog to the pirate and his Red Raiders.  I really considered this to be the lock of the week as I predicted Tech to win by a score of 52-31.  I had the point spread dead on, but both teams played a bit more defense than I expected with Tech winning 42-21.  The notable part of the game, for me anyway was when coach Mark Mangino benched starting quarterback and well known party boy Todd Reesing with 7 minutes left in the game and the beaks only trailing by 2 scores.  I really don't know how to treat this one.  On one hand, it's kansas and as a Missouri fan, it's my duty to revel in any bad thing that ever happens to the thieving bastards from the west.  On the other, Reesing is a 21 year old kid that is suffering from self inflicted wounds caused by his apparent inability to handle alcohol and it's destructive results on his athletic abilities.
Speaking of destructive, did anyone see this little snippet from the game?  Q: How many fingers am I holding up? A: Tuesday.

Kansas State visited Oklahoma and opened as a 26 point underdog.  Given Bill Snyder's ability to get his team to play to the best of their ability and Oklahoma's scoring problem this year, I thought that was much too high and predicted a 31-10 OU win.  Snyder continues to amaze and the Wildcats made a game of it after falling into a 21-0 hole and the final was 42-30 Sooners.  Next week K State hosts the beakers with the opportunity to drive yet another nail into the beaks "greatest season in history".  Snicker....

The game of the week was supposed to be in Stillwater as the Cowboys hosted the Texas Longhorns with the south division championship at stake.  Texas opened as a 9 point favorite and though I thought they'd win, I expected the Cowboys to battle to the end.  I predicted a 31-24 Texas victory but they steam rolled Okie Light, winning 41-14.  Nothing really stands in their way to the matchup against either Florida or Alabama in the national championship game.  
Speaking of Florida, they were my only non-con pick of the week, and I must say that it went far better than usual.  The Gators opened as a 16 point favorite over Georgia in a game played in Jacksonville and I predicted a 42-17 win.  The final was 41-17 Florida.  About as good as it gets for me.
It continues to get more and more interesting this week and I have a lot of tough games to call, er guess at.  See you on Thurdsday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Week 9:The biggest game since Armageddon 1 at Arrowhead?

At least, in my opinion, that's just what this week is for Mizzou.  No, not nearly as much at stake as was that cold night in 2007, but very important to the success of this season and maybe the direction of the program.  The Tigers are on a 3 game losing streak, although 2 of those were expected before the season started, at least by me.  The pain still comes from that 4th quarter in a downpour in Columbia on October 8th.  Had that game ended at the close of the 3rd quarter, MU would still be about where most people expected, or at least hoped right now.
But it did happen and now Missouri sits at 0-3 and in last place in the Big XII north and suddenly, even a bowl invitation doesn't appear certain.  We have a gimpy quarterback, still an anemic running game and an underperforming offensive line.  We don't get much of a pass rush and our cornerbacks are barely in the same area code as the receivers they're lining up to cover.
So what happens this week?  Colorado beat kansas 2 weeks ago in Boulder by putting up 34 points on the velvet curtain that is the beaker defense.  They've played some teams well, particularly on defense but continued to fall short except on 2 weekends this year.  They now appear to be starting Hansen at quarterback instead of Cody Hawkins, though it failed to provide much of a spark in the 20-6 loss to K State last weekend in Manhattan.  They neither run nor throw the ball very well, other than the week against kansas. If I was Coach Pinkel, I'd try to take some of the load off Blaine Gabbert this week and give the Buffalo's a steady dose of Washington, Moore and Lawrence.  This is a team that Missouri should be able to run on, particularly since they showed more life in their ground game against a Texas team that averaged giving up less than 2 yards per carry.
Missouri opens as a 3 1/2 point favorite.  I think they do a bit better than that this week and regain some confidence, winning 31-21. 
In other games around the conference, Nebraska travels to Baylor and opens as a 13 1/2 point favorite against the Bears.  The biggest question here, in my mind is why would anyone make the Huskers a double digit favorite after watching that offensive performance from last week?   Baylor however appears to have given up on their season after losing Robert Griffin.  I expected them to make a bowl game this year, but now have serious doubts.  You can't expect Corn nation to give up 8 turnovers again this week.  I'm going to go with Nebraska to win and cover 24-10.
Speaking of those 8 turnovers, if you dislike Nebraska, you'll love this: Comedy of errors!

The beneficiary of those mistakes, Iowa State travels to College Station this weekend to face the Aggies of Texas A&M as a 7 point underdog.  A&M really surprised me last weekend when they humiliated Mike Leach and the Red Raiders 52-30.  I still think that Mike Sherman is a terrible coach and I have no idea how they pulled off the upset.  The Big XII is insanely unpredictable this year once you get past Texas, and I'm not ruling out a loss from them before the season ends....possibly as soon as this week.  But in this game I'm going to go with the home team to win, but fail to cover.  A&M 27-24.
kansas opens as a 7 point underdog as they travel down south to face Texas Tech.  As I said earlier, the Pirate suffered from a huge defensive letdown last week after shutting down Nebraska the game before.  Todd Reesing and the kansas offense can make you pay for defensive lapses, and I expect that will continue this week.  However, the beaker defense, or velvet curtain is nothing short of terrible.  I think Tech recovers this week and takes out some frustration in a shoot out.  I'm going with the Red Raiders 52-31.

When you look at the top of the Big XII north, you might think it's the late 90's.  That's because you'll see Bill Snyder and the K State Wildcats sitting at the top.  Now I thought when he came back, that he might actually be the best coach in the division, but wouldn't have nearly enough talent to compete.  I'm not sure if I under rated his talent or just over rated the North.  Probably both.  Anyway, I think a little reality comes crashing down on the Wildcats this weekend as they travel to Norman to face the Sooners.   Oklahoma opens as a whopping 26 point favorite at home.  I think the Sooners win, but I believe the spread is just a little too high.  Bill's teams play solid defense and they don't make many mistakes.  Couple that with the fact that Stoops boys just aren't anywhere close to the offensive juggernaut they were the past couple of years, and I like the Sooners to win, but fail to cover.  31-10 Oklahoma.
The game of the week for this week is in Stillwater as the 7-0 Texas Longhorns visit the 6-1 Oklahoma State Cowboys.  I watched Texas dismantle the Tigers last weekend up close and personal.  Don't let the final score fool you.  The Longhorns could have put up 70 points if they'd wanted.  Oklahoma State is also very good and they have the sort of attitudes that makes them a team you just love to hate.  They did receive the news this week that their star receiver, Dez Bryant would continue to be considered ineligible for the remainder of the season.  He would be considered eligible for 2010, which was the NCAA's way of saying, "go find yourself an agent son".  Texas opens as a 9 point favorite and that would probably seem about right to me normally.  But this year has been wacky and when you come down to it, the gamblers haven't been picking winners with much more success than I have.  It would be a really bad year to start gambling.  I believe that Texas wins this game, due to their superior defense.  I don't think they cover the 9 though and I'll take the Horns in a close one, 31-24.
Moving out of conference, Florida opens as a 16 point favorite against Georgia, in a game being played in Jacksonville.  The Gators are undefeated but really haven't been blowing teams out this year.  Tim Tebow has suffered from the early season concussion, and you kind of get the feeling that they're waiting, expecting to simply dial it up when they inevitably meet Alabama in the SEC title game.  Meanwhile, Georgia has had a decidedly un Bulldog like year, as they currently sit 4-3.  I think I'm going to go with the Gators coming out of their "funk" a bit this week and handing the Bulldogs an ass whipping.  Go with Florida, 42-17.
I looked and looked and just couldn't find any other out of conference games that interested me this week.  Apparently the traditional rivalrys that haven't been played yet are now being saved for November.  So with that, I'll only give myself the opportunity to be humiliated 7 times this week.   There are some really interesting non con's coming up including Ohio State/Penn State and Alabama/LSU.
Good luck to your team this week unless you root for you know who.

Monday, October 26, 2009

How do you stop the bleeding?

I usually start on these the day after the game.  Sometimes a couple of days.  It keeps me from being too giddy after a win, or too angry after a loss.
Tonight though, something happened that hasn't since Bob Stull was roaming the sidelines as Missouri's head coach.  I left the game at halftime.  Son # 2 and I held no expectations for a win on the drive, but we were just hoping for a good effort.  I just don't believe that we saw one from either the players or the coaches, or for that matter; we fans.  Don't get me wrong, it was a great crowd.  71,000 and some change, and I think very few of them expected a win.  The air pretty much went out of the place after Texas converted a first down on a fake punt on their second drive.  I've never claimed to be a football genius.  I'm just a guy that loves watching his team and enjoys picking games, albeit poorly.  But when Texas lined up for the punt, both the guy next to me and I called it.  And then they by damn did just that and converted.  It was as poor a half of football as I've seen in sometime.  Now don't get me wrong.  As I said before the game, Texas is damn good and they can make a good team look bad really quickly.  But right now, we aren't a good team.
I've always been a supporter of Gary Pinkel.  He's a good man that's built the Mizzou program from the ashes of 30 years of bad football.  He brings in good kids, and graduates them.  If he has any faults, it is his loyalty to his assistants and his stubborn nature.   I fear that stubborn streak made him promote David Yost to the position of offensive coordinator before he was ready.   To me it seems that we haven't tried to tailor the offense for the talent we have.  Derrick Washington rushed for over 1000 yards last year as mostly a north/south runner.  Now he seems to glide along the line of scrimmage looking for a hole that just is rarely there.  The play of the offensive line has been nothing short of terrible and it was considered a strength before the season began.  Blaine Gabbert has continued to be thrown into the fire when it appeared he would have benefited from a week off when we had little chance to beat Texas regardless.
Now we have 5 conference game remaining that will determine the season.  5 winnable conference games and still a gimpy quarterback.  Colorado is now the most critical game we've played since ku in 2006.  The Tigers season, in my opinion hangs in the balance next week in Boulder.  Win, and the north division is still within our grasp.  Lose, and it may well be a struggle to make a bowl game, and we'll see more of what we saw in the 4th quarter last night.
It was a so so week for me as I finished 6-3 straight up, but only 4-5 against the spread.  For the year, I'm 57-22 straight up, but a miserable 37-39 against the spread.  I'd predicted the Tigers to not only lose, but fail to cover so in the one game I'd love to have been wrong about, I was perfect, almost to predicting the score.  Crap.....
Moving around the conference, in no particular order, I had predicted Oklahoma State would cover the 10 point spread in Waco, beating the Bears 31-20.  I believe that Art Briles is a pretty good coach, and that he'd keep them playing hard despite the devestating injuries they've sustained this season.  They may actually still be playing hard.  What I saw in the first half would indicate that.  However, the talent level is starting to take it's toll and the Cowboys rolled, 34-7.

Kansas State was a 4 1/2 point favorite over Colorado at home.  I thought that a 2nd upset might be too much to expect of the Buffalo's after last weeks huge upset of the beaks, and I picked them to lose but cover the spread.  The Wildcats however are doing what Mizzou, Nebraska and kansas are failing to do right now, which is shooting themselves in the foot.  They won and covered 20-6.  Kansas State may well have less talent than anyone in the north, but they play defense and don't make mistakes.  They currently lead the division with a 3-1 conference record.  The schedule, however doesn't do them any favors however down the stretch.  We'll see how it plays out for them this week as they visit Norman to face the Sooners.
Speaking of shooting one's self in the foot, you need look no further than Lincoln, where corn nation served up 8 turnovers, including 4 inside the 5 yard line, losing a Big 10 like offensive showcase 9-7 vs Iowa State.   The Huskers, with their schedule were my pick to win the division after winning the monsoon bowl in Columbia a couple of weeks ago.  Now, they appear to have no answers and their fans are screaming for Shawn Watson's head on their message boards.  I thought the 17 point spread was ridiculous to begin with, but I saw no way they'd fail to beat the Cyclones.  Now you have to wonder how many wins they have in them.  They travel to Baylor this week in a match up of teams desperate for a win.
In lawrence, the Sooner's entered as 7 point favorites against the jayhawks, and I had questions about Todd Reesing finishing the game against the Sooner pass rush.  He and the beaks didn't let me down.  Reesing threw picks on the jayhawks first three possessions and revealed what many suspected.  The beak offense is a sham, built on wins against overmatched non conference opponents.  Oklahoma won 35-13 and only a late ku touchdown prevented this from being even uglier.  In retrospect, perhaps Reesing should have spent a little more time working out during the off season and a little less making sure he made an appearance at every kegger held within a 100 mile radius of lawrence.  Then again, it might not have mattered.  The kansas defense made the usually club footed Oklahoma offense look like a reincarnation of Air Coryell.
I thought that a 21 point spread was about right as Texas Tech traveled to College Station to face the Sherminators.  After all, Tech had dominated Nebraska in Lincoln the week before while Tech had given up 62 points to the offensive challenged Wildcats of K State.  Naturally, not only did the Aggies cover the spread, the won outright cruising to a 52-30 win over the Pirate.
Out of conference games haven't been kind to me this season and this week was no different as I went 0-3 vs the spread here.  I thought the 6 point spread was about right with Miami hosting Clemson and I picked the Canes to win 31-24.  However the Tigers prevailed 40-37 in overtime as Miami continues to be something of a difficult team to predict from week to week.
I also fell predicting West Virginia to cover what I considered to be a safe spread against Connecticut in a Big East shoot out.  The spread was 7, and while the Mountaineers held on for a 28-24 win, it was still a loss.

Finally, in what I considered to be a lock, I had Alabama rolling against Tennessee.  However, it took a last second block of a worm burner of field goal attempt for the Tide to hold on for a 12-10 win in Tuscaloosa. I would be remiss however if I didn't take one last opportunity to get some photo time for Lane Kiffin's prized possession, his wife Layla.  (on the left during her college days at the University of Florida)
Ok, I'll say right now that I have no idea what's going to happen next week.  This has been one of the most unpredictable seasons I've seen in sometime.  Not to defend my inability to pick winners against the spread.  This has affected everyone's, including guys that make a living at it.  I don't know if it screams parity, or just mediocrity.  Either way, I'll have a list of guesses up by Thursday.  Have a good start to your week folks.