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.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A bit off-topic. Top 10 Cheerleading squads

If you've read many of my posts, (or really any for that matter) you know that one of my favorite parts of the event is the eye candy that patrols the sidelines.   Thinking about this last night during another attack of insomnia, I decided to list my top 10 talent of the sidelines.  This is strictly cheerleaders.  I didn't include the dance squads.  Basically, it's just an excuse to include photos of what I consider to be 10 of the most beautiful collections of young women our educational system has to offer.

#10, The University of Oregon.  How can you go wrong with a school that for over 50 years has used Donald Duck as their unofficial mascot?  A long time member of the Pac 10, they've recently been best known for their wild and wacky selection of uniforms.    However, I don't believe that the talent they've placed on the sidelines has gotten anywhere near the credit they deserve.  This is probably due to the fact that they reside in the same conference as both USC and UCLA, which you'll see later in this post.

#9, The University of South Carolina.  One thing you'll probably notice is that this blog will be pretty much dominated by the Pac 10 and the SEC.  I think the reason for that is really fairly easily explained.  It's area's where the weather is warmer, so naturally women wear less clothes.  There may be some fairly attractive women in the northern climates, but it's really hard to tell when they spend 9 months of the year wrapped in a parka.   South Carolina has drawn a lot more television time the last few years, particularly since they hired Steve Spurrier after his brief, failed NFL experience.  I always thought that they were horribly under rated even before that though.  There's just something about a collection of beautiful southern bells screaming, "Go Cocks!" in unison.

#8, The University of Texas.  I bet you thought they'd be higher didn't you?  Normally I'd have to agree that Texas, year in and out brings in top 5 talent.  However, much like Oklahoma football, they seem to be a bit down this year.  I remember year ago in an interview with Morgan Fairchild, (who definitely knows a thing or 2 about hotness) speculating that the reason so many beautiful women lived in Texas was due to all the money being made in the oil industry.  Her reasoning was the ability of the new millionaires to go out and hunt themselves beautiful women and then raise beautiful girls.  So I blame the downturn in their fortune this year to the energy crisis we were in back in the 70's and 80's.

#7, Ol' Miss.  Back to the SEC for this one.  Ol' Miss does things like nobody else.  We had the honor of playing the Rebels a few years back in a home and home and if ever given the chance again, I want to travel to "The Grove" to watch tailgating at it's finest.  Silk tablecloths and china and southern bells in sundresses.  They might not be on the hotness scale of the southern California girls, but they are definitely ones that you'd feel comfortable bringing home to meet your mom.

#6, Florida State.  Ok, so technically they really aren't cheerleaders.  They really aren't in their prime anymore and I'm not positive any of them ever attended Florida State.  But Jenn Sterger and the Florida State Cowgirls changed how we viewed college girls and football the same way the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders did for the NFL in the 70's.  We went from wholesome to slutty on just a few afternoons of watching the Cowgirls trying to outdo each other on who could fit the biggest implants into the skimpiest T shirts.  Too bad Jenn just couldn't deal with her 15 minutes of fame eventually ending.  Now she's been reduced to 2nd string status hanging out at USF games.  Like Brett Favre she just didn't realize when it was time to hang it up.

#5, University of Kentucky.  I believe that these girls have never been given the credit they deserve.  For one reason, their football team has never been consistantly good.  For another, despite the fact that the basketball team has been on television more than Cheers reruns, whenever they appear, the cameras are far too busy making sure we all know that yes, once again Ashley Judd is in attendance.  Now I'm certainly not going to be critical of any opportunity to show Ashley in a tight tee shift bouncing up and down in excitement, but come on.  Don't these girls deserve some credit for all the hard work they've put in?  I propose that come next March, we offer the viewer the opportunity to watch Ashley and this girl, one on one in some full contact mud wrestling.  It's definitely an idea whose time has come, in my opinion.

#4, Oklahoma State.  Surprised?  I doubt that you were if you've ever actually watched the a Cowboys game and had the opportunity to see their cheerleaders.  The problem with OSU is that the announcers have rarely taken the time to get their lips unattached to Boone Pickens butt or Dez Bryants schlong to show you where the real talent resides in the state of Oklahoma.  I actually went to school with a girl that after high school attended college in Stillwater.  When we met up again, 5 years after our respective college careers, well all I can say is that she learned more down there than simply doing a backflip.  Easily the most under rated talent in the Big XII and I urge you to catch a Cowboys game simply to view the sidelines.

#3,  University of Georgia.  My final stop in the SEC would have to be in Athens, home of Uga and the rest of the Georgia Bulldogs.  Once again, it's hard to top the perceived purity of these southern girls.  While it might seem that they'd be unable to say shit if they had a mouthful of it, you just know that they'd be a world of fun in tight jeans in the back of your pick up truck.  Daisey Dukes anyone?

#2, UCLA.  Now we're getting into the heavy hitters when it comes to cheerleaders.  The California girls have been legends clear back to the day that the Beach Boys first immortalized them in song.  I sometimes imagine that heaven would be an endless cycle of UCLA/USC football games with blond California girls bouncing up and down on the sidelines in tight sweaters.  Although the Bruins are much better known for their appearances at basketball games, we're close enough to basketball season for them to still appear in this top 10 list aren't we?  If you don't think so, then tough shit.  It's my damn list and I can include anyone I want.  Which brings us to their cross town rivals and my personal #1.

USC.  Where do we begin?  The girls that originally put the sweat into sweaters.  They were hot before hot wasn't cool.  While they might not be considered the brightest of the bunch, they remain the single biggest reason to watch college football today.  If there was only some way to get that damn USC fight song out of my head whenever they are on television.  Oh well, at least it's not "Boomer Sooner".

I imagine you're surprised that a homer like me didn't include the Missouri cheerleaders.  I certainly considered it, and still managed to find a way to include some of Mid Missouri's finest talent.  Had this blog included dance teams, then I'd probably have rated the Tigers in the top 3.  I don't care how sweet a southern drawl a girl has, nor how good she looks in a tight sweater.  It's hard to discuss beautiful women without the Golden Girls.  


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Week 8: Backs against the wall

It just isn't getting any easier.  At the beginning of the year, I knew the 3 games of Nebraska, Okie State and Texas were going to be 3 of the biggest tests of the year for this young Tiger team.  2 weeks in, there is no other way to say it, but they've fallen terribly short.  The 4th quarter collapse against the hicks in Columbia followed by the inexplicable play selection last week in Stillwater were nothing compared to this weeks potential for disaster.  Texas is good.  Really good, and they can make you look very bad as was witnessed last year in Austin against a much more seasoned team than this years version of the Tigers.
Does that mean I'm throwing in my towel and calling this season a bust?  Not only no, but hell no.  I knew before the beginning of the season that 37 freshmen and sophomores on your 2 deep wasn't exactly a recipe for success, but hoped that the talent would carry them through.  Unfortunately, few teams recruit more talent than Texas, so this week it's going to be gutcheck time just to keep this baby close.
The early departures of Dominique Grooms, JP Tillman and Blaine Dalton has left the team short of quarterbacks, so Blaine Gabbert, sprained ankle and all is going to have to do his best once again to lead the team.  I've been impressed with the way this kid handles adversity due to injuries.  I still believe he's going to be a very good one for us, and I anticipate watching him for years after his college career ends on Sundays.  I believe that Mizzou will be the odds on favorite next year in the north, but we're just going to have to hope for the best the remainder of this season.
Moving on to predictions, there's just no way to break this down that looks favorable for the Tigers.  Texas has the advantage in experience, speed, size and most intangibles.  It has however, been the year of upsets so anything is possible.   Texas opens as a 13 1/2 point favorite.  Their offense has been a bit down but the defense remains solid.  I'll go with Texas 38-13.
Oklahoma State (5-1, 2-0) travels to Baylor (3-3, 0-2) as a 10 point favorite.  The Cowboys will still be playing without Dez Bryant, but have their running game going now, regardless of who the running back is.  I'm going to go with Vegas and predict an OSU win, covering the spread 31-20.  
Can Colorado make it 2 in a row?  Last week appeared to be another good first half effort that would be followed by a 2nd half collapse against the beakers in Boulder.  However, the Buffs rallied late and upset kansas 34-30.  The Buffs are 2-4 and 1-1 in conference.  Kansas State annihilated Texas A&M last weekend 62-14, which may say more about A&M than them.  They are 4-3 overall but currently sitting in first place in the north at 2-1.  The Wildcats open as a 4 1/2 point favorite at home.  If the game were in Boulder I'd pick Colorado by a touchdown.  However, I'm not sure they can pull off the road win.  They aren't as bad as they'd appeared before last week and KSU is no where near as good as they looked against the hapless Aggies.  I think the spread is about right here and I'll go with the Snyders to win, but fail to cover 31-27.
Iowa State (4-3, 1-2) travels to Lincoln to face the Cornhuskers (4-2, 1-1).  Nebraska's lack of team speed was exposed last weekend against Tech.  You'll never convince me they'd have stayed within 10 points of Missouri on a dry field.  They have a full blown quarterback controversy going now and Bo Pelini blasted the red hoard for booing his team last weekend.  This actually has the potential to roll downhill quickly for the bugeaters should the unthinkable happen and they fall to the Cyclones this weekend.  I think that they will pull it out however, winning 27-13.  That won't be enough to cover the spread, which I consider to be too high anyway with the hicks listed as a 17 1/2 point favorite.  As I say though, nothing would surprise me in this game.  
3-3 and 1-1 Oklahoma travels north to lawrence to face the 5-1, 1-1 kansas jayhawks.  The Sooners open as a 7 1/2 point favorite.  The loss at home to Colorado last weekend did some major damage to beaker stock.  They have a remarkably slow defensive backfield which a small and slow set of linebackers is unable to overcome.  Oklahoma lost Sam Bradford for the season on Wednesday as it was announced he'd have season ending surgery on his twice injured shoulder.  Back up quarterback or not, the Sooners are going to be able to move the ball on the pathetic jayhawk defense.
On the other side of the ball, ku quarterback Todd "Sparky" Reesing was harrassed all day by a Colorado pass rush that had more resembled glaciers forming that the Steel Curtain.  As badly as the year has gone for Oklahoma, the defense has been nasty and solid.  The beaks have 3 of the best playmakers in the division in Reesing, Meier and Briscoe.  Sadly, (well for them anyway) they just don't have the horses anywhere else.  Stoops boys will be pissed and looking to take it out on someone.  (yep, I mean you Todd)  Look for Okie to cover and double up the beaks, 34-17.  
In the final conference tilt of the week, Texas A&M (3-3, 0-2) travels to Lubbock to take on Mike Leach and the Red Raiders. (5-2, 2-1)  Tech opens as a 21 point favorite and actually, that sounds a little low to me.  Mike Sherman may not be allowed on the bus home after this one.  Tech wins big, 63-10.
I've found the out of conference schedule to be very boring this week.  However, I managed to pick 3 games that I found mildly interesting.  In the Big East, West Virginia (5-1, 1-0) opens as a 7 point favorite at home against UConn. (4-2, 1-1)  West Virginia has been moderately impressive this year, averaging around 35 points per game.  Had they not fallen in week 3 to an over rated Auburn team they'd be sitting comfortably in the Top 10 right now and we'd be drooling at the upcoming game against Cincinnati.  As it stands now, I think the Mountaineers win and cover, 35-17.
In the ACC, Clemson (3-3, 2-2) opens as a 6 point underdog to Miami.  (5-1, 2-1)  I don't think the Hurricanes are as good as their record would indicate but I think they have enough to take care of business this week.  Pick the Canes 31-24.
In the final game of the week, we go to Knoxville where Tennessee (3-3, 1-2) opens as a 16 point dog to #2 Alabama.  (7-0, 4-0)  The Volunteers earned their first win of any significance last week when they upset Georgia 45-19.  However, Georgia is suffering from the same malady as Mizzou this year.  Too much youth.
Meanwhile the Tide has rolled along on the strength of their defense.  I look for them to cover this, winning 34-10.  If you're wondering what this game did to be deemed worthy to talk about, may I present Lane Kiffin's wife; ahem, Layla.
Good luck this week, unless you are a kansas fan.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Well, that was certainly ugly.....

Well, what do we now know after week 7 of the season?  We know, or we SHOULD know that the euphoria after the opening weekend against Illinois was misplaced.  Ron Zook and the fighting Illini are terrible as they illustrated yesterday against Indiana.  However, is the season over as many have stated on various Missouri message boards since about 10:00 pm last night?  Unfortunately, the jury is out on that one.  I've seen nothing from the rest of the Big XII north that convinces me that someone is going to run away from the rest of the pack.  If you look at the standings you might be surprised to see that Bill Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats sit at the top with a 2-1 conference record.  Yep, the same K State that suffered a 52 point thumping at the hands of Texas Tech a week ago.  The entire conference, with the possible, and yes I said possible exception of Texas is badly down this year.   I believed they were head and shoulders above the rest of the league, but a 3 point win against a Sam Bradford-less Oklahoma team that currently stands 3-3 doesn't lead me to believe that they are actually the 2nd best team in the nation.  Any discussion about whether the SEC or Big XII is the best conference should officially be suspended until next year at least.  We can now debate whether we're better than the Big East or the Pac 10.  Right now, I'd have to say probably not. 
Last night we witnessed some head scratching play calling from David Yost as he chose to abandon a running game that had had some success in the first half and leave a gimpy Blaine Gabbert alone in the backfield to face the Okie Light pass rush.  We also saw the best argument for simply getting rid of the instant replay in college football as the replay official completely blew what I, much of America, and the television announcers thought would be easily overturned calls on fumbles.  Why pay the money for a replay official when he doesn't appear to know what he's looking at?  I'm not saying those calls would have changed the outcome, but they did drag an already too long game on by 15 minutes to still get the call wrong.
The biggest question for me this week involves our sophomore quarterback Gabbert.  The kid is an absolute warrior that just shouldn't be on the field right now.  Before the game, Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou stated that Blaine was limping badly as the team headed out the tunnel.  It wasn't obvious in the first half, but was painfully so in the second when the wheels came off the offense.  Both Derrick Washington and Devion Moore had had some success in the first half, but were MIA after the break.  My suggestion, and I have no doubt this won't happen would be to sit Gabbert this week against Texas.  Give that right ankle an extra week to heal against a team that we don't have a snow balls chance in hell of beating anyway, and save him for the 5 winnable games remaining on the schedule.  5-3 is going to be good enough to win the north so why not give ourselves the best chance to get there?
For the week, I finished a miserable 4-5 straight up and an even more miserable 3-6 vs the spread.  For the season I'm now 51-19 straight up but fell below the .500 mark against the spread at 33-34.  And yes, I'll state again that I don't gamble.  I predicted us to lose against the Cowboys but to cover the 7 point spread.
In other games I thought that Baylor would cover the 3 point spread actually beat Iowa State straight up.  They wound up falling to the Cyclones 24-10.  That being said, Baylor could mail the rest of their season in and still manage to finish 5th in the south.  Last place was officially reserved by Texas A&M.  I predicted that they would fail to cover as 5 1/2 point favorites but still best K State.  The Wildcats managed to sneak by and win 62-14.  Mike Sherman, the Aggies have plenty of money to buy out your contract and I doubt you'll see the end of the season while employed in College Station.  
I predicted kansas would cover a 10 point spread and win at Boulder against the hapless Golden Buffaloes.  However, Dan Hawkins came out of his coma long enough to bench his son and play the former backup Tyler Hansen.  The Buffs responded with a 34-30 win over the pre-season favorites.  Coming up next is a pissed off Oklahoma team with nothing to lose.  Party hearty this week Sparky.  I think the Sooners would like nothing better than leaving a quarterback lying motionless on the turf in Lawrence.
I thought the 10 point spread of Nebraska over Texas Tech was ridiculous and predicted the Red Raiders to not only cover but to win.  They didn't let me down.  The Huskers found that it isn't quite as easy to make up for a deficiency in speed when the game isn't played in a monsoon.  I think Bo Pelini has done a pretty good job in Lincoln of getting more out of Bill Callahan's recruits, but they simply aren't going to be fast enough to keep up in the Big XII against the better teams, even in a down year.  If they intend to restore the order, they're going to have to address this issue.
Iowa is starting to look for real to me now.  I'd predicted them to fall to Wisconsin and it looked promising as the Badgers jumped out to a 10-0 lead.  It was all Hawkeyes from then on though.  Dare we start thinking Rose Bowl?  Why not after watching Ohio State pull a face plant at Purdue?
I'd discussed the Cincinnati/South Florida game from last Thursday.  The Bearcats definitely appear to be the best team in the Big East and expect another rousing BCS game against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl this January.  Woo haw!

Finally, even Southern Cal couldn't save me as they failed to cover the 10 point spread, but did prevail over Notre Dame 34-27.  I predict both teams will move up 3 spots in the rankings as a result of this game.  God I hate the Irish.  But, it does give me one last chance to the USC cheerleaders which is right now my highlight of the week.
Somehow I'll find the strength to get my predictions together for next week by Thursday or so.  Right now I think I'm going to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Week 7: Bounce back or snap back?

Where's Larry Smith when you need him?  During the latter stages of his career at Missouri, when they were piling up convincing loss after convincing loss, he tried to gimmick his way into the players psyche.  I remember him having them carrying tennis balls all around campus reminding them to "bounce back".  Another marvelous thought was wearing rubber bands around their wrists reminding them to "snap back".  These Jedi mind tricks proved ineffective at best, although they did provide fodder for a fan base that at that time was screaming for his head.  Larry's wife, Cheryl did a bit of screaming herself, losing her composure and going after the players during the debacle in 1999, forever etched in Missouri lore as "Route 66".
As an aside, has any program ever suffered as many horrific losses as the team I choose to cheer for?  We've even named a number of them.  "The Fifth Down", "The Norman Conquest", "The Kick", just to mention a few. But I digress.
At this point, I have no idea which Missouri team is going to show up in Stillwater this weekend to face the Cowboys of Oklahoma State.  Will the Tigers be able to forget about the 4th quarter meltdown vs the Huskers last Thursday night in a monsoon?  Will Blaine Gabbert have any mobility after suffering a sprained ankle in the first quarter of said meltdown?  Are we ever going to be able to establish a running game?  I frankly have no idea at this point.  I do know that the series has defied logic and the visiting team has won the last 4 times they've played.  Does that mean squat for this week?  Again, I have no idea.  I do know that I'm hoping for a dry field and Blaine to have enough strength in that right ankle to step into his throws.
When you come down to it, we don't even know which Oklahoma State team we'll be facing.  Their star receiver, Dez Bryant was suspended last week vs A&M for lying to the NCAA about having contact with Deion Sanders and possibly his agent.  As of this early week draft, he has a meeting scheduled with the NCAA for Tuesday to determine if he'll be eligible for the remainder of the season.  Normally, I'd say there would be no chance that a decision would be reached in time for this weeks game, but I'm a Missouri fan.  I've been bitten before and I'll probably be bitten again.    Due to this, I'll refrain from posting this until Thursday when presumably a conclusion has been reached.
As it stands now, Okie State opens as a 7 point favorite.  My pick on Monday would be for Missouri to cover the spread but fall, 28-24.  As I say, I reserve the right to update this on Thursday, pending the
Bryant decision and updates on Gabbert's health.  (As of Thursday morning, no word on Bryant.  I'll stick with this pick and hope I'm wrong.)
In other games around the conference, Iowa State opens as a 3 point favorite hosting the Bears of Baylor.  The Cyclones gave a great effort in lawrence last weekend before falling to the jayhawks 41-36.  Predicatably, their quarterback missed a wide open receiver in the end zone in the final minute of the game on a 4th and long throw to end their hopes for an upset.  Baylor meanwhile was suffering a 33-7 thrashing at the hands of returning quarterback Sam Bradford and the Sooners.  I think (or I hope) that too much is being made of the close loss to the beaks.  Iowa State generally plays them well, but fails to close.  Hell, they were up 20 points at half time in 2008 in Ames only to choke the game away in the 2nd half.  Baylor needs 3 more wins to qualify for their first bowl game since the 1994 Alamo Bowl.  I think they'd like to do this for their coach and for their injured quarterback, Robert Griffin.  I'm picking the Bears to cover and win, 21-17.
kansas travels to Boulder to face the Buffaloes.  I mentioned the beaks near death experience last weekend vs the Cyclones.  Meanwhile, in Austin, Dan Hawkins made more of a game of it vs the Longhorns, leading at halftime before falling 38-14.  Well, they did cover the 32 point spread and helped fuck up my week.  At some point I think the Buffs are going to go ahead and mail it in and this may well be the week it happens.  ku opens as a 10 point favorite.  I think they cover 38-20 and Dan Hawkins future will be determined by whether Colorado will be willing to pony up the money to buy out his contract plus hire a new coach.  There is some talent on the team, although I think it's been over rated.
Texas A&M opens as a 5 1/2 point favorite as they travel to Manhattan to face Bill Snyder and the Wildcats.  This is actually probably one of the biggest snoozers of the weekend, which means it will be a great, close contest that will be decided by which team has the last opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot.  The Aggies played OSU close last weekend before falling 36-31 in College Station.  Don't let that fool you.  Dez Bryant was in week 1 of his suspension and the Cowboys also elected to hold anyone out that had broken a nail during practice that week.  It just wasn't a big priority to the Cowboys, who were saving up for the upcoming weeks.  Meanwhile, the Wildcats were suffering a 66-14 hammering in Lubboch which was reminiscent of Andy Dufrane vs the sisters in "The Shawshank Redemption".  Bill Snyder is 10 times the coach Mike Sherman will ever be, but he has almost 0 talent.  That being said, I'm going to pick A&M to win but fail to cover, 24-20.
Nebraska is a 10 point favorite at home vs the Pirate and his Red Raiders from Texas Tech.  If weather plays no part here, I don't like this match up at all for the hicks.  Tech can throw the ball and throw it quick.  The Nebraska defensive backfield isn't better simply because they held MU in check last week in a downpour with a one legged quarterback.  I'm going with the Techsters to cover and win outright, 41-27.  Afterward Bo Pelini will attack Mike Leach at midfield for running up the score which will earn him another trip to kindly old Dr. Toms office next week.
The big game of the week happens in Dallas as the Sooners and Longhorns lock up in the final Red River Shootout that will happen at the Cotton Bowl.  It moves to Jerry World next year along with, well, the Cotton Bowl.  The Longhorns have had a fair amount of success against the Sooners lately, only to fall later in the season in a game they should have won.  I want to go on record as saying that I kind of like Mack Brown and I absolutely detest Bob Stoops.  I want the Horns to win this badly and then fall on homecoming at Columbia next week.  If any fan base has ever deserved that, it's Missouri's.  That pretty much means we'll be eating eskimo bars in hell before that happens.  I think the Horns win this weekend, but they're going to need to mount some kind of running game.  I believe they'll have enough to cover the 3 point spread and win 31-24.
Moving out of conference, Undefeated Iowa travels to Madison to face the Badgers.  The Hawkeyes open as a 1 1/2 point favorite.  They've done very well in close games so far this year beating Michigan, Arkansas State and Northern Iowa by a total of 6 points.  I'm pretty skeptical of those 3 wins however.   By far their most impressive win of the year was a 21-10 victory over Penn State on the road.  Wisconsin lost their last game 31-13 at the Horseshoe vs Ohio State.  I'm going to go with the mild upset here and pick Wisky to hold serve at home, winning 31-28.
USC travels to South Bend to face the fighting Irish and Jimmy Clausen.  Last week the Irish held off Washington 37-30.  The Huskies handed USC their only loss earlier this year, winning 16-13 at home.  However, the Trojans seem to have one inexplicable loss every season and that is probably the one for 2009.  I'm going with USC to win and cover on the road, winning 31-17.
I'll wind things up, (or start up, depending on your point of view) with a Thursday night matchup between 2 Big East undefeateds as the Cincinnati Bearcats visit the USF Bulls.  Cincinnati opens as a 3 point favorite.  Both teams have something of a signature win on the road this season.  The Bearcats winning 28-18 at Oregon State and the Bulls 27-17 at Florida State.  I think this is going to be a pretty damn good game and I'll be in front of the television Thursday night.  I'll go with the home team here and pick USF to win outright 34-28.  Oh, and when did they pick up Jen Sterger as a fan?
That's all I have for now as I continue to battle whatever it was I picked up after spending last Thursday night in a monsoon in Columbia.  Good luck to your teams unless you follow fictitious birds.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I never want to be that wet again.

I'm a little late getting started on this.  Not sure if I just wasn't ready to talk about it while it was still fresh, or just too much to do the following day after the nightmare.  I'll start out and give credit to Bo Pelini and the Huskers.  It was as fine a 4th quarter of football as I've seen a team play.  And I have no idea what happened to my Tigers.  It was like we rolled out a Bob Stull defense at the start of the 4th quarter.  Blaine Gabbert didn't help with 2 interceptions, although in his defense he was playing on a sprained right ankle.  However, the Huskers dropped what should have been 4 other possible interceptions during the first 3 quarters.  Not Blaine's finest game, but he's just a sophomore.  He'll return to fight another day.
5 inches of rain fell on Columbia the day of the game.  The night got off to an auspicious start when the stadium lights went out about 2 1/2 hours before game time as there was a campus-wide power outage.  The new 3 million dollar plus scoreboard never came back up.  The 2 teams combined for 488 yards of offense and any time Missouri seemed to have anything going in the running game, we'd be moved back with yet another holding penalty.  While Nebraska didn't do significantly better, they played quite well during that 5 minute stretch early in the 4th quarter when the game was decided.
Next week the Tigers visit the Cowboys of Oklahoma State, who could also be reeling following the NCAA decision that their star receiver Dez Bryant would be declared ineligible for the remainder of the season due to lying about time he spent with Deion Sanders.  There are no "must win" games for the Tigers as this was going to be a rebuilding year, but this is a game that is now viewed as winnable.  The Huskers now control their own destiny in the north as does kansas.  The Tigers however, need some help and can't afford a slip up in any game where they'd be viewed as favorites.  A big problem, in my opinion, that must be fixed and fixed quickly is the play of the offensive line and the rushing game.  It was regarded as a potential strength before the season began, and has been mediocre at best to this point.
I also feel compelled to comment on the behavior of the "worlds classiest fans".  I watched about 35 or 40 college aged, red clad idiots crossing the street at Stadium and Providence before the game.  Screaming "go big red" and flipping off cars of Missouri fans as they attempted to cross against the light despite the warnings of numerous Missouri Highway Patrol officers attempting to keep them from winding up as hood ornaments.  I don't ever want to hear their bull shit about our fans again.  And to the kid that was led away in handcuffs, I hope you enjoyed your night in the Columbia city jail.  I'm sure you made several new friends.
I had picked the kansas jayhawks picked to cover a 19 1/2 point spread over Iowa State which had fallen the week before 24-23 to Kansas State on a missed extra point at Arrowhead Stadium.  As it turned out it took a 442 yard performance by Todd "partyboy" Reesing and a errant throw by Austen Arnaud to an open receiver in the end zone for the beaks to hold on for a 41-36 win.  Next week the fictitious birds will travel to Boulder to face the flailing Colorado Buffaloes.  Enjoy this week squawks, it all gets real the week after.  Their last 6 games are Oklahoma, @ Texas Tech, @ K State, Nebraska, @ Texas & Missouri at Arrowhead.  Better pick up that defense and hope Sparky doesn't get broken in half.
Oklahoma State had opened as an 8 point favorite over Texas A&M at College Station.  It seemed like a safe enough bet to me and I'd picked the Cowboys to win big.  That of course was before the NCAA had suspended OSU's star receiver, Dez Bryant for the year for lying to them about his contact with Deion Sanders.  The Cowboys held on to win 36-31 but failed to cover.  Next week the Cowboys host my Tigers.  I'm hoping that their hangover continues for one more week and we don't see a cloud in the sky.
I'd picked the Sooners to bounce back from their loss at Miami last week and dominate the Bears in Norman. Sam Bradford's return definitely provided a spark as the Sooners won 33-7 and covered the 24 1/2 point spread.  However, from what I saw of the game, they still have plenty of issues on their offensive line that they're going to need to correct before this weeks match up against the Texas Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl. I rarely pick favorites in any games that don't involve Mizzou, but for the good of the conference, I hope the Horns win big this week.  Texas appears to be the leagues only shot at a representative in the national championship game, and I actually have kind of always liked Mack Brown.    
I expected Texas to be focused this week in preparation for next weeks Red River Shootout and I was half right.  The Longhorns opened a whopping 32 point favorite against the Buffaloes in Austin and I picked them to cover.  However, they actually trailed 14-10 at halftime before their defense and special teams took over in the second half to propel them to a 38-14 win.  The disturbing thing for Texas has to be the fact that they only rushed for 45 yards on 25 attempts.  They'll have to do a better job of that next week against the Sooners.      
Continuing my weeks frustration was Kansas State.  They opened as a 17 point dog against Texas Tech in Lubbock.  I expected the Red Raiders to win but the Wildcats to cover, losing 31-21.  Naturally, the pirate picked this week to open up the offense that we've been accustomed to seeing the last several years, and hammered Bill Snyder and the Wildcats 66-14.  I hope they saved some points for next week when they visit the Huskers.
Leaving the Big XII, I wanted to see if the fighting Zooks would be looking any better than they did the opening weekend.  They don't really.  They opened as a 4 point dog to Michigan State and I predicted a 27-20 MSU win.  The final was Spartans 24, Illinois 14.  The Ron Zook death watch is now full speed ahead.
Oregon opened as a 6 1/2 point favorite over UCLA.  I predicted the Bruins would go down 38-31.  The teams decided to play a little defense which isn't normal Pac 10 football however, and Oregon won a hard fought 24-10 victory.
My last pick of the week was Auburn visiting Hogtown and the University of Arkansas.  Auburn opened as a 3 point favorite and I thought they'd win 27-20.  However, Bobby Petrino's boys appear to be waking up and his coaching stock is rising as the Razorbacks won 44-23.  I can see his resume burning up fax machines around the NFL now.
For the week I finished a very respectable 7-2, but a horrific 3-6 vs the spread.  For the year I'm 47-14 straight up but nearing the .500 mark at 30-28 vs the spread.   

Thursday, October 8, 2009

11:00 AM. October 8th. The prelude

Just a couple of quick thoughts before heading out to Columbia for tonights game between the Tigers and the fighting Pelini's of Nebraska.
The line has risen to 3 1/2 points in favor of the Huskers.  That means a record number of hicks have taken out title loans on their combines.  It's not surprising to me that the Kansas City media are picking Nebraska to win this game.  Falling into the same trap over and over is what they do best.  Soren Petro from Sports Radio 810 just picked the Huskers in a rout.  He can place that next to his prediction of an Illinois rout in week one and shove both of them up his fat ass for all I care. 
I listened to Scott Pollard call into Between the Lines to jump Kevin Keitzman's behind yesterday for having the audacity to include his name in the latest suspicious story to come out of lawrence, kansas.  Seems one of the Morris twins was involved in an accident in a vehicle that was registered to Pollard, which would be an NCAA infraction.  (A booster loaning a car to an athlete)  Pollard called in and stated that the vehicle had been sold to Tayshawn (broken finger) Taylor in July.  Now why the Kansas highway patrol didn't have updated information on the cars owner remains a mystery.  It was funny however listening to Keitzman, the former Shawnee Mission cheerleader run Pollard over the coals once he lost his temper.  Typical beaker.  Run your mouth until it appears an altercation is imminent and then fold like a cheap lawnchair.
My predictions were made earlier this week.  Since that time, we've discovered that tonights game will likely be played in a driving rainstorm, and that Oklahoma State's star receiver, Dez Bryant has been suspended for the season for lying to the NCAA.  This may effect both games, but I'm going to hold with both predictions.  What the hell, I'm just guessing anyway.
Those of you heading to Columbia tonight for the game, drive safe and do your best to stay dry.  And to you husker and jayhawk fans.  Eat shit. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Week 6: Hate week?

A blog that I follow religiously is from a guy I've traded emails with, but never met.  He spent years writing about his favorite team to hate; The Nebraska Cornhuskers.    As a matter of fact, on message boards I frequent he goes by the handle of huskerh8er.  He pulled the blog down pretty much and now just rails on college football in general except for this one special week of the year.  It's Husker week and it's becoming more and more of a rivalry between 2 fan bases that are growing to detest each other.  Nebraska fans love calling themselves the "classiest fans in college athletics", but c'mon.  30 years of golf clapping after you've annihilated some hapless foe by 50 points was easy.  They absolutely had one of the great runs in athletic history, and they don't want to let it go.  Everything was A OK for them in the Big 8 when they were loading up with Prop 48's, very few other teams had ever heard of steroids, and St. Tom Osbourne was more than willing to look the other way when one of his star players decided dragging his girlfriend down a flight of stairs sounded like a good idea.  Kindly old Dr. Tom produced such model citizens as Lawrence Phillips, currently serving a 20 year prison sentence after running down 3 kids with his car following a loss in a pickup football game.  Another sterling example would be Christian Peter, arrested 8 times during his college career for such boyish pranks as threatening to kill a parking attendant, public urination and grabbing a coed by the throat.  He was also accused of rape twice against a freshman coed but was never charged.  Nebraska however wound up paying the woman a $50,000 settlement in 1995.
In short, Tom Osbourne is a fraud that decided to take his ball and go home after the Big XII was formed and Texas led the charge to level the playing field by limiting the number of Prop 48's a school was allowed to recruit.  (although it really led to an advantage for them as they knew it would)    He consequently served a couple of terms as a United States congressman and would have become governor had not enough citizens come to their senses.  So, to fill his thirst for the spotlight he returned to Nebraska as the Athletic Director after the failed Steve Pederson/Bill Callahan experiment.  He hired one of the candidates from Pederson's original search in LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini and stocked his coaching staff with long time Osbourne cronies.  If you spend any time around Nebraska fans you know that one of their favorite sayings is "order restored".  This means that they feel it's their birthright to have a dominant football program and they love trashing teams and fans that they don't feel are "worthy" of any success.  They used to hate Colorado and K State fans, but now most of their venom is directed at Missouri guys since we've occupied the title game appearances the last 2 years.  I work with a few Husker fans and actually consider them to be pretty good people, but even they have that sense of entitlement that's usually reserved for kansas basketball fans.    If the Tigers pull out a 3rd straight win on Thursday night, you can expect a number of rabid Nebraska folks to simply walk into the machine shed, close the doors and fire up the combine.
Last week was my worst of the season as I went 5-4 straight up and a miserable 3-6 on the season.  I'll hope for a better showing this week.  We start out Thursday night in Columbia as the nation turns it's attention to the Nebraska/Missouri matchup.  Both teams are ranked in the top 25 and the atmosphere will be electric.  I expect the Huskers will attempt to control the clock with Roy Helu carrying the ball and keeping Blaine Gabbert, Danario Alexander and the troops off the field.  Missouri has been susceptible to good running attacks as witnessed in the game against Nevada a couple of weeks ago.  However, if the hicks fall behind they could be in trouble as Zac Lee and their receiving corps looks very mediocre.  Right now the forecast is for rain which could play into Nebraska's hands.  However, there is no way I'm picking against my team in this one.  Missouri opens as a 3 point dog.  I think they cover and win 137-4 as Coach Pinkel takes pity in the 4th quarter and has backup quarterback Jimmy Costello take 2 knees in our endzone for safties. I thought it might be worse, but as of now, it sounds like I'll be watching during a downpour as they are calling for 5 inches of rain that day.
And if you needed another reason to dislike Nebraska, remember this?The biggest hit by the huskers all night.
In other games around the conference, 3-1 Baylor travels to 2-2 Oklahoma in the conference opener.  The Sooners open as a 24 1/2 point favorite.  The Sooners watched their national championship hopes go down the drain last week in Miami.  They've got offensive line problems and Sam Bradford doesn't seem all that interested in getting back to play behind the OU version of swiss cheese.  I believe that the Sooner conference championship game streak stops at 3 this year, but I do think they have enough left in the tank to cover against the Robert Griffen-less Bears.  OU wins 38-10.

Colorado (1-3) @ Texas (4-0, 1-0 in conference)  The Buffs found a way to cover against West Virginia in the last 3 seconds last week.  Don't look for a repeat though.  Texas is rolling and looking to cover for a possible slip in a couple of weeks at the Red River Shootout.  Horns win 52-10.
Iowa State (3-2, 0-1) travels to lawrence to battle the fighting Manginos (4-0) Saturday.  The Cyclones fell short of an overtime bid last week at Arrowhead when their extra point was blocked.  They absolutely have a better coach this year and could reach a bowl within a couple more seasons.  It's not going to happen this year though and the beaks win their conference opener 42-14 and Todd Reesing parties down after the game.
K State (3-2, 1-0) travels to Lubbock to face the pirate and the Red Raiders (3-2, 0-1)  Bill Snyder has the Wildcats playing better ball and they are up to their old special teams excellence.  I still don't believe the Snyder magic works again, but it's impossible that he's making some sort of chicken soup out of the chicken shit that Ron Prince left him.  Josh Freeman made a huge mistake not spending his senior year in Manhattan learning how to actually play quarterback.  K State covers the 17 point spread but falls 31-21.
Oklahoma State (3-1) opens as an 8 point favorite and travels to College Station to play the Aggies, also 3-1.  A&M was exposed last weekend by the Razorbacks of Arkansas and will continue a tailspin this week falling 41-13.
Going out of conference, Auburn (4-0, 1-0) travels to the above mentioned Razorbacks, (2-2, 0-2).  I'm no where near sold on Gene Chizik as a head coach, but I'm not sold on Bobby "the snake" Petrino either.   Auburn opens as a 3 point favorite.  I think they do a little better and win 27-21.
In another Big 10 barn burner, Ron Zook and the fighting Illini (1-3, 0-2) open as a 4 point dog to Michigan State (2-3, 1-1)  The Zookster has benched "Juice" Williams for this game and elected to start Eddie McGee, which he should have done the last 2 years.  Unfortunately for Illinois, I think Zook has already lost his team.  The Spartans win and cover, 27-20.

Oregon, (4-1, 2-0) opens as a 6 1/2 point favorite traveling south to face the Bruins, (3-1, 0-1) in Los Angeles.   If you're one of the folks that decide to stay up, if for no other reason than the UCLA eye candy, I think this is going to be a good game.  In the end though, I think Rick Neuheisels coaching ability comes through and Oregon pulls out a 38-31 win.  Oh, and as always, this is an excellent idea to show a photo of some of Southern California's finest.
Good luck to your team this week unless you happen to root for Nebraska or kansas.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Appomattox revisited.

This was one of those weeks where I remembered why I don't gamble.  After going 9-1 last week, I was brought back to earth with a 5-4 record straight up this week and a miserable 3-6 against the spread.  For the year now I'm 40-12 and 27-22 vs the spread.  
I wasn't quite as involved this week since my favorite team wasn't playing. That's not an excuse, just a fact. I really like some emotional involvement and I guess there was some to a degree. But once football season ramps up, I like watching my Tigers play every week. When things are going good, I fear a week off will break their momentum, and when they're going badly I worry about them dwelling for too long over a loss. This week the excitement for me increases greatly. Not only does the Tigers conference season begin. It's one of what I consider to be one of our rival games against the red hoarde from Nebraska.
I was withing 3 seconds of starting out the week 1-0 vs the spread but Colorado wouldn't cooperate. As it was, West Virginia did their best to give the game away, losing 4 fumbles. However, Cody Hawkins played the good guest by throwing 3 picks. Jarrett Brown may well have a strong arm, but he missed numerous receivers or the last seconds score wouldn't have mattered. They do have a fabulous running game however as Noel Devine rushed for 220 yards only 22 carries. The spread was 17 and I predicted a 34-10 WVU win. The final was the Mountaineers winning 35-24.
I, along with much of America was chuckling about the "Farmageddon" battle in Kansas City between Kansas State & Iowa State.  It really speaks about the hunger of the Chiefs organization to schedule this game in still only partially renovated Arrowhead Stadium.  That being said, the Wildcats and the Cyclones put on a better show than the Chiefs will most weekends.  The game was decided in the final 2 minutes when Iowa State scored what appeared to be the tying touchdown, only to miss the extra point.  The Cyclones were a 3 point favorite and I picked them to cover 28-24, so a pair of losses for me here.
I thought Baylor entering their game as a 21 point favorite was ludicrous.  Kent State is terrible, but the Bears just lost their sensational sophomore quarterback, Robert Griffin for the season to a torn ACL.  I predicted Baylor to win 24-13 but fail to cover.  However, their offense did surprise me to an extent, although an inept Kent State offense helped out with turnovers.  In the end though it was about what I expected with the Bears winning 31-15.
No doubt the biggest surprise of the week for me was Oklahoma not only failing to cover a 7 point spread but losing to Miami 21-20.  Bob Stoops is going to have a hard time playing the disrespect card now as the Sooners enter the conference season a mediocre 2-2.  OU had it's opportunities early but kept shooting themselves in the foot.  I wonder how Sam Bradford feels now in his decision to come back.  The tough part for him is now whether he will have the option of coming out this year of if he'll need to return to Norman for his senior season.  Either way, they have offensive line problems that they're going to need to solve pretty damn quickly if they have any intention of playing in the CCG this year.
I also whiffed badly on the Texas A&M/Arkansas matchup.  I predicted the Aggies to cover a 1 1/2 point spread.  They were brought back to earth rudely as the Hogs hammered them 47-19.  Ronnie Wingo even got an opportunity to score a meaningless 62 yard touchdown late in the game for the fighting Petrinos.
Texas Tech let me down also this week.  I'd foolishly predicted them to cover a huge 36 point spread against New Mexico.  The Red Raiders won 48-28.  My week of futility continued.
I was expecting 3 yards and a cloud of dust when Wisconsin visited Minnesota, and it was for a good part of the day.  However, it was one of the most exciting 4th quarters I've seen in some time with lots of passing, fumbles returned for touchdown, a flubbed onside kick, piss poor clock management by the Badgers, key penalties and finally a horrible fumble by the Minnesota quarterback when they appeared to be poised for a possible miracle comeback.  It was also nice watching Montee Ball get a few carries.  Damn I wish we could have gotten that kid.  I predicted Wisconsin to pull the upset and win 23-21 as a 2 1/2 point dog.  The final was 31-28 Badgers.  They get to keep the ax for the 6th straight year.
LSU was visiting Georgia as a 2 1/2 point dog.  I thought Georgia would cover this winning 24-20.  LSU scored late to win 20-13.  I have to say that the quality of athletes the SEC throws on the field on the defensive side of the ball is really impressive.  It's just the opposite of Big XII football where the best players are on offense.  I would love to see a non conference series between the two leagues.  It's hard to argue that the SEC isn't the best league right now due to the last several national championship games.
I finished up the night on a high note, although it was a game that I didn't see one moment of.  I'd predicted USC to defeat Cal and cover a 5 1/2 point spread winning 38-30.  Instead, they destroyed the Golden Bears 30-3.  Of course that's always a good excuse to throw in a photo of the USC song girls.
I'll hope for a better week next time.  I'll have my picks out by Thursday since one of the big games of the week is Thursday night in Columbia when Nebraska comes to town.  I'll be there in my gold cheering my ass off.  Have a great start to your week folks!