Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Week 5. Bye Bye

Well, we've come to that point of the season. Most everyone has finished up their non-con schedule and are preparing to get to the meat and potatoes portion. 5 teams have the week off in the Big XII so I'm going to to go outside the conference which is kind of fun anyway.
Last week was very good to me as I went 5-2 against the spread and 9-1 straight up. For the year, I'm 35-8 and 24-16 vs the spread. Oddly enough though, no casinos called asking for tips this week.
Let's open with the teams that are finishing up the non conference schedule.
Kent State (2-2) @ Baylor (2-1). The Bears suffered a crushing blow last week when their sophomore quarterback, Robert Griffin suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season. I think Art Briles is a pretty good coach but a young, thin team will be hard pressed to win without their on field leader. Baylor opens as a 21 point favorite, but the line didn't come out until Wednesday. Kent State has failed both times they faced teams from BCS conferences and struggled to score in all 4 of their games. Baylor is going to be down this week, but I think they pull out a win before an October 10th trip to Norman. The Bears win 24-13, but fail to cover what I consider to be a ridiculous spread.
Thursday night the Colorado Buffaloes (1-2) visit West Virginia (2-1) at Morgantown. The Mountaineers open as a 17 point favorite in this game. Colorado quieted some of Coach Hawkins critics last week with a 24-0 win over the Wyoming Cowboys in Boulder. However, it's still hard to forget the 54-38 reaming they took on national television the week before against hapless Toledo. West Virginia lost to what appears to be a pretty good Auburn team 41-30 in their last game after opening with 2 wins. It appears that the win has emboldened the Colorado players and they've been providing some bulletin board material. Probably not the best move, especially when a team has had 2 weeks to prepare. West Virginia covers 34-10.
A week ago, I along with many others would have thought the OU @ Miami game this weekend would have been the biggest game of the week. That would have been before Virginia Tech administered a 31-7 bitch slapping to the Hurricanes in Blacksburg. That's the problem with the ACC. No matter how crappy the teams are, when 2 of them meet, one's going to win. The Sooners open as a 7 point favorite on the road. They cover this easily winning 42-10.
Texas A&M (3-0) opens as a 1 1/2 point favorite over Arkansas (1-2) at Jerryworld in Dallas. Every new stadium opening or remodel seems to be viewed by the owners as a cash cow where it's required you fill as many dates as possible. Both teams feature rabid fan bases that will travel to watch their teams play, regardless of how shitty they are. I expect a full house to watch this snoozer as A&M covers 27-21.
In the last of the non con tilts for the week, New Mexico (0-4) is a 36 point dog visiting Texas Tech (2-2). The Red Raiders choked one away last week falling 29-28 to Houston, spoiling what would have otherwise been a perfect week for me straight up. This isn't the juggernaut that the pirate put out on the field last year, which will become evident when conference season opens, but they're going to have enough to cover this week winning 52-10.
Speaking of professional teams milking every dollar out of a new or renovated stadium, what about Farmageddon at Arrowhead, pitting a 2-2 Kansas State team against 3-1 Iowa State? The Cyclones open as a 3 1/2 point favorite. My prediction on the over/under on the number of overalls in the stadium is 10,500, as close to 50,000 farmers will witness a 28-24 Iowa State win. Yeehaw.
Stepping outside of the Big XII now. In the Big 10, er 11, no 10, 4-0 Wisconsin is visiting 3-1 Minnesota. The Golden Gophers opened as a 2 1/2 point favorite. Both teams are 1-0 in the weak Big 10, er ll, no 10. Sorry, I won't do that again. The teams appear to be similar, but Wisconsin has a slightly better YPC average. I'll pick against the spread and go with the Badgers to upset Minnesota in an offensive dual 23-21. Besides, Wisconsin has the spookiest mascot in football.
Moving to the SEC, the 4-0 LSU Tigers travel to Georgia to play the 3-1 Bulldogs. Georgia is young but has played a more impressive schedule to this point. I'll go with the Dawgs to cover a 2 1/2 point spread, winning 24-20.
In the Pac 10, 3-1 USC opens as a 5 1/2 point favorite over Cal, also 3-1. I think that for all the love he gets, Pete Carroll hasn't done all that great a job. His roster is littered with 4 and 5 star recruits and he has 1 national championship to show for it. I also believe the Trojans are one of teams that will pay whatever it takes to get who they want. However, they've had their predictable conference slip and the Golden Bears will get their full attention this week. Pick USC to cover 38-28. Oh, and keep your eyes on the USC cheerleaders.
Good luck to your teams this weekend. And since neither kansas nor Nebraska is playing, I really mean it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

4-0 and a well deserved rest.

The last non conference game the Missouri Tigers lost was the 2006 Sun Bowl to Oregon State. That record will at least stand until December, 2009. (or hopefully January 2010) Once again the Tigers started slow, but took over in the 2nd half to earn a 31-21 victory over the Nevada Wolfpack in Reno. Blaine Gabbert, in his 4th career start completed 25 of 39 passes for 414 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has yet to throw and interception this season. Let me repeat that. He has yet to throw an interception this season. Before the season started I said he might well have the best arm we've seen in Columbia since Jeff Handy. I underestimated him terribly. We've never seen a quarterback with this kind of arm strength in black & gold. It's scary to think what this kid may accomplish once he actually polishes his mechanics. He throws 50 yard bombs off his back foot and lasers to the right sideline while scrambling to his left. Is he going to have off days this season when he faces better defenses? Absolutely! But he's got a howitzer attached to his right shoulder blade and this kid could well take us on a hell of a ride the next 2 1/2 years.
Danario Alexander continues to show why he had beaten out Jeremy Maclin at the start of the 2007 season before he was injured in the opener against Illinois. All he did Friday night was catch 9 passes for 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Fellow senior Jared Perry added 8 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown and sophomore Wes Kemp caught 3 balls for 99 yards, including a sliding 3rd down reception to keep the 4th quarter drive alive that basically was a knife to the heart of the Wolfpack. Knowing Missouri fans as I do, we'll spend all off season worrying that both Gabbert and Kemp will leave early for the NFL after next season. Hey, we're Mizzou fans. That's how we roll.
My one worry with the offense was the continued inability to get the running game going in the first half. Derrick Washington finished with 71 yards on 16 carries but was ineffective until the Nevada defense had worn down. The Tigers will need to be able to run the ball better against conference foes starting October 8th with the hicks invading Columbia.
On defense, Will Ebner stepped in for Luke Lambert at middle linebacker and did a stellar job. I wouldn't be surprised if he is the starter for the remainder of his career. He has a mean streak about a yard wide and delivers hits that would make Ray Lewis proud. 'Spoon was 'Spoon, and Aldon Smith is going to be the best defensive end we've had since another Smith named Justin. The run defense left something to be desired, but they came up big when needed, forcing a turnover on the first play of the 4th quarter inside their 5 yard line, that led to the 97 yard clinching drive.
Now the team has earned a week off before the conference season begins and Bo Pelini's corndogs invade Faurot Field. Excuse me; The Zou. I predicted a 34-24 Tigers win in this game, so it got my week off to a good start.
It managed to keep going pretty well as the weekend continued. For the week I went 9-1 outright and 5-2 vs the spread. Overall I'm standing 35-8 outright and 24-16 vs the point spread. We'll see whether that continues once conference season starts.
I had kansas picked to cover the 14 point spread against Southern Mississippi by a 45-28 score. I really had some 2nd thoughts about it after the mid week fights between the football and basketball teams. The beaks failed to cover but won 35-28. While Southern Miss. was 3-0 coming into the game, they'd failed to impress. They displayed a little defense today and kansas looked undisciplined which is remarkable knowing what a taskmaster Mark "the human sweat gland" Mangino is. The redlegs committed 9 penalties for 84 yards and allowed Frodo Reesing to get hit numerous times. If they can't tighten up the offensive line he'll have real problems surviving the OU and Texas defensive fronts. But the bottom line about that is, who gives a shit? I just wish the bastards had lost outright.
I had K State picked as a 31-10 winner over the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, but was somewhat surprised when they pounded out a 49-7 victory. The Wildcats finished the non conference season a respectable 2-2 and now move to their conference opener in the first annual pillow fight against Iowa State at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. At least it offers fans of both teams the opportunity to drink with impunity during what could be one of the worst football games of the weekend.
I thought it was about time that Texas got things ramped up and humiliate the hapless Miners of UTEP by a score of 52-17, covering the 35 point spread. UTEP was a bit more hapless than I thought falling 64-7. Mack Brown felt that he hadn't run it up enough last year and that allowed OU to pass them for the NC game. Mission accomplished this week. Now they have a week off to prepare for Dan Hawkins and the Colorado Buffaloes.
There was no line on the Baylor vs Northwestern State Demons. I picked the Bears to win 44-7 knowing nothing about the Demons. The final was 68-13 Baylor as they improve to 2-1 and Northwestern State falls to 0-4. Baylor has progressed to the point where they should be expected to dominate a game like this so welcome to expectations. They face another sister of the poor next week hosting Kent State.
Iowa State moved to 3-1 with a 31-10 win over the Black Knights of Army. I had Iowa State picked 31-17. I don't believe the Cyclones are a good team, but I do think they've profited by Gene Chizik leaving to go coach Auburn. Up next week is Farmageddon against the Wildcats.
Nebraska opened as a 26 point favorite against Louisiana Lafayette in Hooterville. The Ragin' Cajuns had a win against a Big XII north team, beating Kansas State earlier in the year. I'd predicted a 38-9 hick win but they pounded out a 55-0 victory to claim a share of the Sun Belt
Conference title. Combined with the Virginia Tech throttling of Miami and the husker faithful can finally proclaim that order has indeed been restored and they are now a top 10 team. They'll now have 12 days to concentrate on making new goofy tee shirts and posters before the Oct. 8th game in Columbia.
Oklahoma State played Grambling State and won 56-6. No line on the game but I'd picked it 42-13. I had A&M covering a 15 1/2 point spread over UAB by a 38-10 score. They actually covered by a 56-19 score. Big deal.
The last interesting score of the week was Texas Tech visiting Houston. The Cougars opened as a 1 point favorite and won 29-28 due in part to some questionable decisions by Red Raider coach Mike Leach. I'd picked Tech to win 27-24 so it was my only straight up loss for the week. Not sure how the point spread thing works but I did count it as a loss there also. It's not like I gamble anyway.
I'll have my predictions up for the week by Thursday again I think. 4 Big XII teams are taking the week off so I'll take a look at some other conferences also. Have a great week folks!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week 4. Nevada

This is a game I really wish my Tigers weren't playing. Very little upside, other than being the only show in town on a Friday night. If you win big, well, you were supposed to. If it's close or God forbid lose, then every pundit declares you a fraud. Plus it's an away game, which; in my opinion we shouldn't be playing in a stadium that holds 30,000 people. Dare I say it? Troy. This was ESPN's reward to Mizzou for agreeing to move the Nebraska game to a Thursday night. It's a nice payday for both schools, with good exposure though and that's what college athletics are about when you come down to it.
Nevada was the pre-season pick to finish 2nd in the WAC to those blue turfed bastards from Boise State. They returned a number of starters from a team that finished 7-6 last season, including a 69-17 beatdown in Columbia. They promptly went out and layed an egg in week 1, losing 35-0 to Notre Dame, sending Lou Holtz into orgasmic convulsions. They followed up with a 35-20 loss at surprising Colorado State. This will be their home opener and they get very few stand alone nationally televised games. The place will be as rocking as it can get, considering a minimum of 5,000 Mizzou fans will be stopping in for the game before heading out to various Reno brothels for the weekend.
So far Nevada has shown little interest in playing defense, giving up 70 points in their first 2 contests. They don't throw the ball especially well, and the running game is doing all right, but a lot of teams will let you move the ball on the ground when you're 3 scores behind. They also have shown an ability to hurt themselves with penalties at critical times. Everything points to a Tiger blowout Friday night which makes me nervous.
That being said, Missouri opens as a 7 1/2 point favorite. The rumor has it that the Wolfpack intends to stack the box and force sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert beat them with his arm. That didn't work out to well for Illinois, and Gabbert may well be a kid that loves being in the spotlight. Denario Alexander and Jerrod Perry are looking like senior receivers that don't want to quit playing football after this year and that's why I'm picking the Tigers to cover, winning 34-24.
In other games around the conference, Northwestern State visits Baylor. The Bears are still smarting from the 30-22 loss they suffered at home last week at the hands of UCONN, and will be looking to bounce back in a big way. I expect Robert Griffin to have a big week and Baylor to roll against the hapless Demons 44-7. Las Vegas doesn't think enough of this game to post a line.
2-1 Army visits 2-1 Iowa State in a classic cripple fight. The Cyclones are a 10 point favorite against the Black Knights. I'm going to pull this one out my behind and say ISU covers 31-17. The human turnover machine, Austen Arnaud will complete more passes to his receivers than opposing defensive backs and the 'Clones will move to 3-1. Reality will set in on October 10th when they meet the mighty chickenhawks in lawrence on October 10th.
Southern Mississippi (3-0) visits the above mentioned beakers in larryville. I'd like to think that this is the week the red leggers get tossed back to reality, but it probably isn't happening. The Golden Eagles opened the season with a 52-0 thrashing of mighty Alcorn State before engaging in a couple of nail biters, winning 26-19 over Central Florida and 37-34 over Virginia. The win over the Cavaliers gave me some hope, until I saw they'd lost to William & Mary in their season opener on their way to an 0-3 start. Pick the beaks to win and cover the 14 point spread, 45-28. I hate to say this, but I still have to go with kansas as the favorite to win the Big XII north. (* I was thinking about changing this after the off field problems in lawrence this week. I still believe the beaks win, but they may well have their attention diverted)
Kansas State, now 1-2 hosts Tennessee Tech this weekend. I was really kind of impressed with the effort they gave against UCLA last weekend. I still think they finish 5th in the division, but Snyder will not let them quit. At least not until the ink drys on the contract extension he just signed. No line on this game but I see the Wildcats winning 31-10.
Louisiana (2-1) makes the trip north to hick nation. Bo Pelini has a brand new headset this week after sending his last one into orbit as the corndogs snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Va Tech last Saturday. "Big Gold" already owns a win against Big XII competition, winning 17-15 in week 2 against Kansas State before getting leveled last week against LSU. The line here is 26. I think the huskers win and cover, 38-9.
Grambling State visits Oklahoma State. Another classic barker with no line given. Expect the Cowboys to win, say by a 42-13 score.
(1-2) UTEP visits the Longhorns in Austin. Texas is 3-0, as was expected, but they still haven't managed to impress me. They're winning, but it's mostly been 2nd half pull aways, when their depth finally takes over. The line is 35 points and I think Texas will cover. If you're the number 2 team in the nation, you need to show up in the first half. Longhorns 52-17.
UAB visits Texas A&M. The line here is 15 1/2 points and I think the Aggies cover, 38-10.
Finally, my 2nd favorite coach, Mike Leach and his Red Raiders visit the Houston Cougars. Houston already has a Big XII win over Oklahoma State and they've opened as a 1 point favorite here. Logic tells me they should win but I'm going with Tech and the upset, 27-24.
I'll try to look outside the conference next week to give 10 picks. Hate begins in earnest on October 8th when Big Dead invades Columbia. Have a great week!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

So what did the Furman game prove?

Of course, the obvious answer is nothing. It was a game that needed to be over by halftime. 42-0, check. See the backups continue to dominate. Check. And no one got hurt. Also checked. Other than that, there's nothing you can take from the performance. Well, that's not true. The new scoreboard and sound system are simply fabulous. A very nice crowd on a beautiful day that got into the game and is beginning to understand when to make noise and when to be quiet.
Blaine Gabbert started the day 1 for his first 5 attempts and the offense looked like they might be trying to turn this into another nail biter. From that point on he was nearly perfect, finishing 17 of 25 for 256 yards and 3 touchdowns. Toss in a designed keeper that went for a 40 yard touchdown and he had a very nice day.
On defense, Sean Weatherspoon was again all over the field, as was Aldon Smith. We're going to miss 'Spoon next year but Ebner, Gachkar, Lambert will help ease the pain. Furman passed for over 300 yards, but only 116 in the first half. It was simply what it should have been, and what I along with most everyone expected. A dominant performance against an overmatched opponent. The biggest thing I saw, was that despite us not having a lot of scholarships to give, you're going to HAVE to find a way to give one to Grant Ressel. The kid has simply been money so far.
Looking at my picks for the week, I was great straight up going 10-1 for the week, but only 6-5 against the spread. For the year I'm 26-7 outright but only 19-14 against the spread. This reinforces my belief that I'd have no business as a gambler, which fortunately I'm not. Taking a look at what I had for the week is as follows.
Baylor was a 10 point favorite at home against UConn. I thought that sounded about right and had them to win 27-14. Not only did they fail to cover, they lost 30-22. Robert Griffin looked totally unable to live up to all the off season hype, going 17-26, but averaging less than 5 yards per attempt. The only sustained drive he led was late in the 4th quarter as the game had already been decided. Possibly the off week hurt the Bears, but right now, they don't appear ready to make any noise in the Big XII south, and very well could re-assume their customary 6th place finish.
Colorado was a 7 point favorite over Wyoming. I knew this was a make or break week for them. Lose and they could very well have mailed in the rest of the season. I predicted a 28-24 win for the Buffs, but they surprised me shutting out the Cowboys 24-0. Like the Missouri win, it really proves nothing except that Colorado had enough talent to take out an overmatched foe. I don't think they'll finish last in the north, but it still wouldn't surprise me if they do.
Iowa State was a 3 point favorite playing at Kent State, alma mater of one Gary Pinkel. I expected the Cyclones to cover 24-20, but they responded with a surprisingly easy 34-14 win. They continue to jockey with Colorado and Kansas State for a 4th place finish in the Big XII north.
Duke was a 21 point dog to the mighty beakers in lawrence, ks. I'd called for a 52-13 red leggers win and they did pretty much what I expected, rolling 44-16. We were watching the first quarter of this game from one of the televisions set up in our tailgate area. kansas has played 3 games and has 3 blowouts to show for it, but I can't say that I saw anything from the early action that really impressed me. Todd Reesing looks like a kid that spent more time partying in the off season than preparing to lead his team. Duke isn't terribly good but they are from a BCS conference and it was an opportunity for the beaks to shine on a regionally televised game. They looked all right but lets see what they do when they're playing against teams with comparable or superior athletes.
Kansas State opened as an 11 1/2 point underdog visiting UCLA. I thought that the Bruin cheerleaders would be the only reason to watch this game but I was wrong. I predicted a 38-10 rollover of the Wildcats, but they made a game of it falling 23-9. Snyder doesn't have the athletes to compete in the Big XII and I'm not convinced he'll be able to recruit them. But the old man can get what he can given what he has. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him finish ahead of both Colorado and Iowa State.
Another game that really surprised me was Nebraska, opening as a 3 1/2 point underdog to Virginia Tech. I picked the Hokies to cover 38-24. It wound up a classic 1940's dogfight where Va Tech came back in the last 2 minutes to escape with a 16-15 win. Tyrod Taylor appears to be a horrible quarterback but when the chips were down he completed an 80 yard bomb to Danny Coale. 3 plays later the Hokies scored. Roy Helu rushed for 169 yards for the corndogs, who were held to 0 yards in the first quarter. Zac Lee was an eye-popping 11 for 30 for 136 yards and he husker offense continually shot themselves in the foot. Bo Pelini did use the loss as an opportunity to once again display his immaturity when he launched his headset over the husker bench after the 80 yard completion. His lack of personal discipline continues to reflect itself in his team as they were flagged 9 times for penalties totally 60 yards. Many of those occurred at critical times. Hick nation will be spinning this as his "competitive fire" for the next week. But don't get too comfortable Bo. They extended Bill Callahan's contract with a nice raise, only to fire him 7 months later. I see another trip to kindly old Dr. Tom's office, (ie woodshed) this week with a lecture about "cornhusker class" for Pelini.
Tulsa came into Norman, Oklahoma this weekend as a 15 1/2 point dog against the Sooners. I called for a 49-10 Sooner thumping and the final was 45-0. Nothing new here. Coach Stoops is becoming known for laying an egg, then clubbing enough teams at the right time along the way to allow the Sooners to make it to the national championship game, only to go dormant. Exactly why are he, Pete Carroll and Jim Tressel considered 3 of the greatest coaches in the game? Yes, they win league titles and continue to post double digit win seasons, but they also have more talent than 95% of the teams in D1. They should be doing exactly what they do. It takes someone like Urban Meyer at Florida to channel that talent at the proper time of the year. Right now in the coaching fraternity it's him and everyone else. And it's not particularly close in my opinion.
Oklahoma State opened as a 32 point favorite against lowly Rice. I called for a 52-6 Cowboys romp but they failed to cover, winning 41-24. I think they're dealing as badly or worse as last years Tiger team. They appear to be a top 20 type team, but as of yet they still seem to be 3rd best in the tough Big XII south. Look for them to very possibly get a nice post season return trip to Dallas however.
Hapless Utah State entered College Station as a 17 1/2 point underdog to Texas A&M. I called for the Aggies to win, but fail to cover 34-21. They didn't let me down, winning 38-30. We still know nothing about them except they may be able to top the Baylor Bears for 5th.
The conference opener was in Austin this weekend as the Longhorns took on the Red Raiders of Texas Tech and Pirate captain Mike Leach. Texas opened as a 17 point favorite. I predicted a 41-21 victory for Mack Brown's troops but they failed to cover, winning 34-24. Texas is 3-0 but look like the 2nd best team in their division again to me. I see no way they are a top 5 team at this point.
So now my Tigers face a Friday night ESPN nationally televised game against a Nevada team they beat by 50 points last year in Columbia. I don't really like doing home and home's against teams like this, but it is what the landscape is becoming in college football. You either throw more bones to D1 schools like this or little your non-con schedule against teams like Furman. I'll have my picks out by Thursday this week, the Lord willing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Week 3. Furman

I really don't like the non conference season as much as I used to. I understand it but I just don't like it. My team started out the year with a big win over a border rival and we had dreams of playing in Dallas in December for the Big XII title. Now after a nail biter against a MAC team, (who may very well be better than Illinois) we're again fearful that this season will come tumbling down and we'll be lucky to make a bowl game.
As I said after the game, you're never as good, or as bad as you think. This team will be playing in a bowl when the season's over. We are now determining whether we'll be booking rooms in San Diego, Dallas (or dare to dream; Phoenix) or the Super 8 in Shreveport. At the start of the year I thought 8 wins would be a very nice season with a team this young. Less than 7 and I'd be hugely disappointed. Figure out a way to get to 9 or 10 and I'll pony up the first donation for Pinkel's statue.
The fact is, we aren't going to know much more about the Tigers next week unless it's bad. That's the main reason I hate games like this. There's just no upside to it, other than padding your win total and getting the reserves a chance for some game experience. Anything less than a 40 point victory and it's as bad as losing the season opener would have been.
As near as I can tell, there's no line on this weeks barker and there shouldn't be. Furman is 2-0 with scintillating wins over Presbyterian and Chattanooga. As near as I can tell, the highlight of their football history was an 18-12 win over a 3-7 North Carolina State team in 1976. However, I did discover the college is in South Carolina and their mascot is the Paladin. And no, I have no idea what a Paladin is. Don't expect any more of a breakdown than this. It's just not worth it. Frankly, the week will be a success if; 1) No one gets hurt, 2) we're watching 3rd stringers play midway through the 4th quarter, 3) it's warm enough I can wear shorts to the game. Missouri rolls, 49-6, mostly due to the fact that Gary Pinkel hates to run up the score on teams such as this.
I had a decent week with my predictions going 8-2 outright and 7-3 vs. the spread. I did get a question of whether I'd be guessing (and that's really what I'm doing) any games outside of the Big XII. Yes, I'll try to give you at least 10 games a week that you can lose some money on if you're stupid enough to pay attention to me. So here we go.....
UCONN(1-1) @ Baylor (1-0) -10. Baylor had last week off after opening the season with a 24-21 win at Wake Forest. UCONN has struggled to score, beating Ohio 23-16 in week 1 and falling at home to North Carolina last week 12-10. Now they've lost their starting quarterback to a knee injury. I would have bet Baylor straight up to begin with but now think they'll cover, 27-14.
Wyoming (1-1) @ Colorado (0-2) -7. This is a make or break week for the Buffs. Win and they have a chance to finish to take some heat off Dan Hawkins. Lose, and they may lay down and quit. I think they'll pull one out this week, but I don't think they cover. Colorado, 28-24.
Iowa State (1-1) -3 @ Kent State (1-1) One of the least attractive games of the week. I've read all of 30 seconds about it. If Austen (the human turnover) Arnaud can avoid another 4 interception performance like last week, I think the Cyclones will cover. Besides, I refuse to pick a team called the "Golden Flashes" Iowa State wins 24-20.
Duke (1-1) @ kansas (2-0) -21. kansas sucks but Duke sucks more. beaks win 52-13.
Kansas State (1-1) @ UCLA (2-0) -11 1/2. At least a legitimate reason to watch this game. The UCLA cheerleaders. Yummy. And I hear they're playing a game while you watch the dance team. Another long afternoon for wild Bill. Bruins coast, 38-10.
Nebraska (2-0) @ Va Tech (1-1) -3 1/2. Hick nation has been planning this as their 2009 coming out party since that glorious win against the greatest underachievers in college football, Clemson, at last years Gator Bowl. I've never cared much for Beamer but he has a great running attack and the bofense of the corndogs is getting gashed to the tune of 150 yards per game. And this week they'll actually play against a team whose parents didn't drive the players to the game. Va Tech wins 38-14 but it won't feel that close.
Tulsa (2-0) @ OU (1-1) -11 1/2 OU is still without their heisman quarterback. It won't matter much more than it did last week. The Sooners roll 49-10.
Rice (0-2) @ Oklahoma State (1-1) -32 Much the same will happen in Stillwater as the fighting Gundys prepare to show the college football world they are still men. They drill the hapless Owls 52-6.
Utah State (1-0) @ Texas A&M (1-0) -17 1/2. I don't really think Mike Sherman is much of a coach, but it won't be revealed this week. That will wait for the conference season. A&M wins but fails to cover, 34-21.
Texas Tech (2-0) @ Texas (2-0) -17 I think this is a nice touch kicking off the conference season. I wish more teams would do it just to save us from some of the non-con barkers we're generally subjected to. I think this point spread is a little high for a Texas team that hasn't shown much yet. Mack Brown will play the revenge card though and I expect Texas to cover, 41-21.
I'm a week late, but I'll be in Columbia for the game this weekend. I'm really looking forward to seeing the team live for the first time as well as the new scoreboard. Good luck to your teams this week unless you're a kansas fan.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

You're never as good (or bad) as you think.

Well, this time last week we had visions of a 3rd straight north division title heading to the trophy case. It was just waiting for the formality of 6 conference wins. Now after watching the team struggle to put Bowling Green away, it's hard to figure where we're going to find 4 more wins to become bowl eligible. Blaine Gabbert went from a can't miss Heisman winner to just another sophomore quarterback trying to keep his head above water. Well folks, welcome to college football. The non BCS schools are getting good players too, and when you catch a team with 17 seniors starting; well, they have an idea how to win games too. Ask Oklahoma State, Michigan State and so forth. It's becoming March madness in September.
The important thing to remember is that it's better to win ugly than to lose pretty. After Bowling Green went up 20-6 with 10 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter the Tigers took over. Derrick Washington and Kendial Lawrence began gashing the tired Bowling Green defense and their offense never crossed the 50 yard line again. This kind of game was predictable, (although I didn't predict it) with a young team and may well prove beneficial in the weeks to come. Another important thing to remember is that despite a couple of turnovers, the defense was able to hold the Falcons to field goals. Aldon Smith continued to look like the most dominant defensive player we've had since another Smith named Justin.
I predicted a Missouri win covering the 18 1/2 point spread by a 42-17 margin. The final of 27-20 fell short, but the bottom line is, Mizzou faces Furman this week and their record is 2-0. I doubt Coach Pinkel will have any trouble getting the players attention this week.
All in all I had a pretty good week with my predictions, going 8-2 outright and 7-3 against the spread. It certainly is an improvement on week one. For the year I'm 16-6 straight up and 13-9 against the point spread.
I covered, in a brief post Friday morning the Colorado game. Dan Hawkins still has a job in Boulder and will likely at least finish out the season. I'd predicted the Buffs to win the game but fail to cover the 4 points they were giving up. They of course were routed.
I predicted Iowa would cover the 6 1/2 points they were giving to Iowa State and win 27-17. The final was 35-3 Hawkeyes with ISU quarterback Austen Arnaud throwing 4 interceptions. It could be a long season in Ames.
I predicted the ku jayhawks would cover and beat UTEP 31-13. They did a little better winning 34-7. I doubt a home game against Duke this week will provide much insight about them either. We'll have to wait until conference season to get an idea of what they are.
I expected K State to not only fail to cover the 7 points against Louisiana Lafayette, but to lose outright. They didn't let me down. Bill Snyder may yet pull off another miracle in Manhattan, but it's not going to come this year. I don't expect that next weeks game at UCLA will be pretty.
I thought that Nebraska would cover the 23 1/2 point spread and top Arkansas State 45-21. They in fact won 38-9. We'll see if order is truly restored this week as they visit Va. Tech.
I predicted the Sooners would bounce back from last weeks loss of the game and their quarterback by smashing Idaho State 52-0. They in fact won 64-0. Suddenly the cake walk Nebraska and kansas thought they might have looks far less likely. Oklahoma always has athletes. Now Stoops is pissed and is going to hammer everyone as badly as possible.
Oklahoma State basked in the glory of their win over Georgia in week one and promptly fell by 10 points to the University of Houston. They'll get a chance to heal against Rice this week, but can now put their dreams of a national championship aside.
I predicted Texas to cover a 33 1/2 point spread against Wyoming, but they fell short winning by "only" 31, 41-10, and Texas Tech did what I expected. They covered a 27 1/2 point spread against Rice and once again showed that the pirate knows how to move the ball through the air. Texas Tech travels to Austin this week to play the Longhorns in our first glimpse of conference play.
I'll have my predictions out this week by Friday at the latest. In the meantime I'll try to find something out about Furman. Anyone know what their mascot is or what state they are located in?

Some photos courtesy of PowerMizzou

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Let the Dan Hawkins deathwatch officially begin

I've never particularly hated Colorado. It's one of my favorite vacation destinations. Oh, I admit I hated them a little on October 6th, 1990; one day after my 36th birthday, when they used a 5th down to escape Columbia with a 33-31 win (where they still NEVER scored) on their way to a shared national title. But I was really more upset when a supposedly competent Big 8 officiating crew and my own teams coaching staff apparently couldn't count to 5. Otherwise, their fans have always been fairly nice and hey, at least they weren't Nebraska or kansas.
But after last nights 54-38 loss to a middle of the pack MAC team in Toledo, I think we can officially label the Dan Hawkins experiment a failure. Giving up over 600 yards of offense to Toledo? No quarterback and receivers that might or might not be able to beat me in a footrace. Boise State fans never seemed that concerned when "The Hawk" packed up and headed to Boulder and now it appears they knew what they were talking about. Dan Hawkins seems like a good guy, but it's obvious that he's in over his head when it comes to judging talent and game day decision making. He just received a 3 year extension and I know the administration won't want to spend the money for the buyout plus what it would take to hire a new coach and staff, but if they don't, then expect Colorado to be the road trip of choice for Big XII opponents since it will be easy to get good seats.
Speaking of contract extensions, I hear Bill Snyder just got a 5 year extension from K State. Not bad after 1 game in his return resulting in a 4 point win over UMASS.
Oh, and I did start the week out 0-1 in my picks, although I'm 1-0 vs. the spread. See you guys Monday.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Week 2: Bowling Green

I'm still pumped up over the convincing win Mizzou put up on the Fighting Illini last Saturday. Blaine Gabbert put the division on notice that Missouri isn't willing to cede the title to anyone without a fight. The defense was suffocating and Ron Zook was, well, Ron Zook. However, that's now in the rear view mirror and Bowling Green rolls into Columbia for the home opener. I'm more than a little disappointed that I won't be able to make this game, but family duties sometimes come first. Ok, they should always come first. But make no mistake, I'll be at the "Zou" for the remainder of the schedule, and possibly find a way to make a road trip.
Bowling Green starts the year out with an impressive 31-14 win at home over the Troy Trojans. Despite falling behind 14-0 in the 2nd quarter, they scored the next 31, including 24 2nd half points to pull away. Quarterback Tyler Sheehan had a big game completing 32 of 44 passes for 339 yards and 2 touchdowns and just 1 interception. Receiver Freddie Barnes grabbed 15 of those passes for 157 yards and both scores. They'll have to have big games here since the running game only produced 50 yards on 19 carries. While Missouri sat back and only rushed 4 against the Illini, expect to see them come after the quarterback much harder this week.
Defensively, Troy had some success passing but was only able to gain 41 yards on the ground. With right tackle Dan Hoch healthy this week, I expect to see Missouri try to get Derrick Washington and the ground game established against an undersized Bowling Green front 7. With Devion Moore out for the week you can expect to see a lot of freshman Kendial Lawrence this week also.
If Bowling Green falls behind early this week, I don't expect they'll be making any 2nd half comebacks. Faurot Field is going to be rocking with 65,000+ fans coming in to see their reloaded Tigers, new state of the art scoreboard and sound system. Missouri opens as an 18 1/2 point favorite, and I think that's going to be fairly close. Let's say Missouri 42, Bowling Green 17.
Last week I was 8-4 on my predictions, but a miserable 6-6 vs the spread. Hopefully, I can improve on that this week, so here goes:
Colorado (0-1) -4 @ Toledo (0-1) The death watch has officially started on Dan Hawkins career as the Buff's head coach. His inability to recruit a quarterback capable of beating out his very average son combined with his refusal to give the highly rated running backs he hass recruited enough carries to develop any sort of rhythm is making him look like a guy many thought he was when he was hired. A mediocre coach that had a great staff and a cream puff schedule during his days at Boise State. Toledo has had some success in the past against BCS teams, especially when at home. I'm tempted to pick them here, but think Colorado will pull out a close one, 23-21. If Toledo wins however, the Hawk might consider getting an unlisted phone number.
Iowa (1-0) -6 1/2 at Iowa State(1-0) Despite being 2 blocked field goals away from losing last weekend, I think Iowa regains focus this week and wins, 27-17.
kansas (1-0) - 10 1/2 @ UTEP (0-1) kansas won big, 49-3 over perennial power Northern Colorado last weekend, while UTEP fell 23-17 to Buffalo. This one won't be the cake walk for the beaks last week was but I think they cover 31-13.
Kansas State (1-0) -7 at Louisiana Lafayette (1-0) This is actually a good test for the Wildcats as Louisiana Lafayette won 42-19 over Southern University last weekend. Snyder just doesn't have many horses this year. I think the 'Cats go down 27-21.
Arkansas State (1-0) @ Nebraska (1-0) -23 1/2 points. Arkie State won big last weekend vs Mississippi Valley (61-0) When I looked up the Miss. Valley schedule I found this. Check out game 4. http://nebraska.rivals.com/schedule.asp?Year=2009&Team=MISSVALLEY That told me all I needed to know. Arkie State will make this a game for a half but fall 45-21.
Idaho State`(0-1) @ Oklahoma (0-1)(no line) Oklahoma has some issues beside the obvious loss of Sam Bradford. Such as no offensive line or capable running back so far. Idaho State lost 50-3 the opening week to Arizona State. A good week to find some answers for the Sooners. Name your score but Big Game Bob likes to run it up in situations like this. Sooners 52-0.
Houston (1-0) @ OSU (1-0) -14 1/2. Houston is rebuilding it's program and is going to jump up and bit a BCS team pretty quickly. I don't think it will be this week though. Okie State rolls 42-21.
Texas (1-0) -33 1/2@Wyoming (1-0) Mizzou's old offensive coordinator just couldn't get away from a Texas thumping despite heading to the great northwest. Texas covers 59-13.
Rice (0-1) @ Texas Tech (1-0) -27. Rice lost to a very mediocred UAB team last week. The Pirate, Mike Leach doesn't have his team firing on all cylinders yet, so if he gets the opportunity for a route, he's going to take it. Tech 63-21.
Texas A&M and Baylor have the week off. Good luck to your teams and better luck to mine!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mizzou vs Illinois. Not so instant analysis.

I love holidays. A chance to get out of the city, forget about work and hang out with old friends and catch up. Toss in the fact that it was the first weekend of the college football season, and it's tailor made for hanging out in the local pub, (3 blocks from where you're staying so you can walk home) and drinking far too many beers while immersing yourself in the experience.
I always felt that Mizzou would take out the cryin' Illini. Give Gary Pinkel a summer to prepare for Illinois and he wins. Give Ron Zook a summer to prepare and he's going to come out and piss all over his shoes. The guy's a great recruiter but simply can't coach a lick. All this being said, I admit I was really nervous the day of the game. How would all of our freshmen and sophomores respond to their first game in front of 60,000 screaming drunken fans and a national television audience? Would Blaine Gabbert fold under what was supposed to be a vicious Illinois pass rush? Would Juice Williams repeat his 470 + yards passing from last year? Well, the answers were great, no and no. Gabbert looked like a seasoned veteran after a couple of hiccups on the first drive. The line gave him time to throw generally and his receivers caught just about every ball that should have been caught. On defense, Dave Steckel simplified things. Gone was the Eberflus nickel defense last year that only succeeded in taking William Moore out of the equation. This year he rushed 4, let the linebackers drop back into short coverage and dared Williams to beat them with his arm. He failed miserably.
This was probably the best opportunity for an Illini win since the series began. They've dropped the series after next year. As long as they hold on to the Zookster as coach, I'd say it's a wise decision for them.
I predicted a 31-23 Missouri win in this game, going against the spread which showed Illinois as a 7 point favorite. I, along with most of the country completely overrated the value of experience on a Ron Zook coached team. Taking a look at the rest of my predictions, which weren't all that good:
Wake Forest was a 1 1/2 point favorite over Baylor. I thought that was about right and predicted a 7 point Wake win. Baylor however showed a good defense and won 24-21. They look to have things heading in the right direction, but unfortunately for them play in one of the toughest divisions in college football.
I predicted Colorado over Colorado State by 17 points. (They were 11 point favorites) They promptly lost to their cross state rivals. Let the Dan Hawkins death watch begin. "This is college football baby!"
I also blew both of the Oklahoma scores. I thought Georgia would upset Okie Lite and that OU would cover the 20 point spread vs BYU. OU can still come back and have a great year, but I imagine that Sam Bradford is rethinking that whole coming back for another season thing.
I was pretty much on target with the rest of my north predictions. ku waxed traditional power Northern Colorado, Iowa State made North Dakota State look much better than they are but won, and K State beat UMass, although that was much more of a nail biter than it should have been. I also have to give credit to Nebraska. I thought their defense was more hype and substance but they held Florida Atlantic to 3 points. They did give up over 350 yards though, so the jury, in my opinion, is still out.
In the south, pretty much everything else played out as Vegas and I expected. Texas rolled some nobody from Louisiana, Texas Tech won by 25 over another North Dakota school, although they did fail to score 40 and A&M beat New Mexico.
Right now we've been given reason to believe Missouri may be better than expected. Possibly so will A&M, Baylor and possibly Iowa State. Colorado and Oklahoma may not be as good as expected. Don't take too much from a first week though. I'll be back on Friday with my predictions for this week. Now say it with me. M I Z.....