Thursday, September 30, 2010

Week 5: Reflecting on the non con schedule.

I think a week between the non con schedule and the conference opener is just about perfect.  It gives some guys that are dinged up a little time to heal and the coaches time to look at film of upcoming opponents.  It also gives we fans a chance to kick back and relax, or in my case spend a weekend on the honey do list.  (Didn't we just wash those windows last year?)  It's been an interesting pre season starting with the annual win over Illannoy at the dome.  It's a series that needed to end though and I'm looking forward to contests with Arizona State the next 2 years.  I do kind of fear that with the conference schedule expanding that we'll see less of those kind of games however.  And I get it.  If you're going to be playing teams like OU, Texas, Okie Lite and Tech every year, just how difficult does the non conference schedule need to be?
So what did we learn from our first 4 games?  Well, we may not have a Danario Alexander, but Michael Egnew and TJ Moe are pretty darned good.  Toss in what could be a healthy Jerrell Jackson as a possible deep threat and the passing game could be above average in what appears to be a Big XII conference that is a bit down from previous years.  We appear to have 4 running backs capable of breaking off big plays if given the smallest of seams.  Blaine Gabbert seems to stay in the pocket a bit longer and seems to be spreading the ball out a bit more, but I'd still like to see a few more throws heading Wes Kemps way.  And the defense has been light years ahead of last season.  Carl Gettis and Andrew Gachkar in particular have just torn things up so far, and Dom Hamilton has been solid in the middle of the line.  And what needs to be said about the Smith Brothers, Madison, Sam and company on the outside?  You have to give DC Dave Steckel a lot of credit for the improvements he's made.  The Big XII seems more wide open this year.  Texas seems to be unable to rush the football, OU has been in tight games outside of taking Florida State to the woodshed in week 2, and Nebraska is only going to be as good as their running game will take them.  I don't see anyone as a clear cut favorite this year, and the Tigers have as much of a chance to break out as any of the teams I've mentioned.       
It's been a rough year for me picking against the spread.  I'm just 16-19 there and I'm beginning to think that it's at least partially due to increased parity in college football.  Oh, I can get the winners as a pretty darned good record of 37-5 should show, but nothing appears to be a slam dunk this year.  That being said, I'm going to keep making my picks and taking my medicine on Sunday mornings.  The week starts early when Texas A&M travels north to Stillwater Thursday night to take on the Cowboys.  Both teams are 3-0 but A&M seems to have some problems while OSU has throttled 2 of their 3 opponents so far.  The Cowboys open as 3 point favorites in this one but I don't think it's going to be that close.  I think that Jerrod Johnson indeed has some shoulder problems and it's going to be tough for the Aggies to keep up with teams that can score during conference play.  I'm taking the Cowboys to win and cover easily, 31-17.
Down in Waco, the Baylor Bears host kansas this weekend.  It could be a matchup of biblical proportions as Turner Gill takes his no swearing policy into the home of the poster children of the Bible Belt.  The Bears open as 9 1/2 point favorites in this one.  The beaks have been poison for me this year on their way to their 2-2 record.  I think Baylor pulls away in the 2nd half of this one and covers, 34-21.  And like most Missouri fans, all I can say is "Go Baptists".
Out west in Boulder the Buffs wind up their non conference schedule by hosting the Georgia Bulldogs.  Now normally I'd say this would be a blow out, but this ain't the Dawgs of 10, 5 or even 3 years ago.  Georgia currently sits at 1-3 with consecutive losses to South Carolina, Arkansas and Mississippi State.  This is just unacceptable for their fans.  They come in as a 4 1/2 point favorite on the road.  I think they'll be able to turn things around a bit and pull this one out, but fail to cover.  I'm picking Georgia with a late score to win 21-17.
Up in Ames, the Cyclones host Texas Tech, who comes in as a 7 1/2 point favorite.  Both teams are 0-1 in conference play and will be hungry for a win.  I think Paul Rhodes is a very good coach but he's going to get schooled Saturday night by one of the best.  I'm taking Tech to win and cover, 31-14.
The biggest game in the conference is in Dallas this week as Texas and Oklahoma get together for the Red River Shootout.  Despite offers from Jerry Jones, the game is going to remain in the Cotton Bowl until 2015, assuming of course that the stadium doesn't collapse.  Both teams have looked extremely beatable so far this year, although the Sooners have remained unbeaten.  OU comes in as a 4 point favorite.  I'm not thinking this is enough.  Oklahoma looked great a couple of weeks ago when they dismantled a pretty good Florida State team.  I think they bring their A game Saturday and coast, 35-17.
There are a couple of pretty good games out of conference this weekend as Alabama is at home against the Gators from Florida.  This features the 2 best coaches in the game in Nick Saban and Urban Meier.  The Tide opens as a 9 1/2 point favorite in this one.  Despite being in a dogfight against Arkansas last weekend, I think Bama comes in focused and puts this away by halftime.  I'm taking Saban and company, 34-21.
Out west, Stanford travels north to play the Oregon Ducks.  Both teams are 4-0, and 1-0 in the Pac 10, soon to be Pac 12.  Oregon is a 7 point favorite at home.  Both squads have a pretty impressive resume so far this year.  Stanford's wins include Notre Dame, Wake Forest and a UCLA team that blasted Texas last week.  Oregon opened the season with a 72-0 win over New Mexico and has followed up with impressive road wins over Tennessee and Arizona State.  I'm going with the home team to win and cover here, as I think Oregon wins 41-27 in a shootout.  And of course the main reason to even look at this game will always be the Duck Cheerleaders.
That's all I have for now.  I may watch some of the A&M/Okie light game tonight but I'm sort of saving up my week night football for next weekend when K State hosts hick nation at Bill Snyder Family Stadium & dry cleaners.  Good luck to your team this week and we'll see how I did next Sunday or so. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Week 4 recap: What a difference a week can make.

The sun is shining much more brightly this morning that it was this time last week.  Instead of a last second escape, Mizzou grabbed the lead 8 seconds into the game when Carl Gettis returned a fumble 19 yards on the games first play.  Where the Tiger abandoned the run last week, Saturday they rushed the ball 38 times for 236 yards.  Blaine Gabbert was solid if not spectacular.  It was a good win for the Tigers who now get to take a week off as they prepare for the conference opener on October 9th when the Colorado Buffalos come to Columbia. 
Another tough week for me as far as picking the point spreads.  I was 7-1 straight up but once again below .500 as I went 2-4 against the spread.  For the year I'm 37-5 straight up but 16-19 if I were a betting man.  One of my wins came down in Houston where Baylor rebounded from the previous weeks pounding at the hands of TCU.  I'd picked them to cover the 7 1/2 point spread by beating the Owls 38-13.  The final score was Baylor 30-Rice 13.  Combine that with my pick for Mizzou to cover as 19 point point favorites over Miami, which they did and we have my 2 lone wins for this week.
There were 2 games this week that had no lines for them.  Winless South Dakota State traveled to Lincoln to face the undefeated Huskers, who I, along with others, had possibly prematurely annointed as the favorites in the north division and possibly the Big XII conference.  I'd picked the hicks to win this game 52-6.  However, this was a game until the end as corn nation escaped with a 17-3 win that left head coach Bo Pelini "embarrassed" after the game.  Nebraska is now off until October 7th, when they open conference play with a Thursday night game in Manhattan against the Kansas State Wildcats.  That's got the possibility of being a very good game which could go a long way toward determining who wins the division.  You can't say it's must win for either team but the loser is absolutely going to be in a hole.  The other game with no line this week was in Ames, where the Cyclones hosted Northern Iowa.  I had the 'Clones winning 31-13 and the final was 27-0.  Seriously though, who gives a shit?
Speaking of Kansas State, they opened as 6 1/2 point favorites at home over the Central Florida Golden Knights.  The game was played in a driving rainstorm and also stopped for close to an hour due to lightning.  I had the Cats winning this one comfortably 35-21 but they were forced to rally in the 4th quarter for 2 touchdowns to come from behind for a 17-13 win.  They now will be able to concentrate on that Thursday night matchup against the Huskers.  The question is, if you have 11 days to prepare for a game, who would you prefer to have game planning.  Bill Snyder or Bo Pelini?  hmmmmm
In lawrence, the jayhawks opened as 22 1/2 point favorites over hapless New Mexico State.  I'd seen nothing yet to convince me that the beaks would be able to score 23 points, let alone win by that many.  However, ku mounted another big game to keep the Aggies winless, pulling away to a 42-16 win.  Next Saturday the hawks take their show on the road to Waco with a match up against Baylor.
I had a feeling that Texas would drop this year, but I confess I don't know what to think about them.  They opened as a 16 1/2 point favorite at home against the Bruins of UCLA.  I think that Rick Neuheisel is just a terrible coach and that the whorns would be wanting to show that it wasn't time to be gifting the south title to Oklahoma just yet.  However, UT fell flat on their collective faces as the Bruins pounded them 34-12.  Next week it's the annual Red River Shootout as they meet the Sooners in Dallas for the annual contest to decide the south division.
Speaking of the Sooners, they traveled to Cincinnati as 16 point favorites over the Bearcats who have watched the progress they made the last few years leave with the departure of coach Brian Kelly, who has to be wondering why the hell he wanted to go coach at Notre Dame today.  This was by far the best effort Cincy has given this year, at least against Division 1 competition as they took the Sooners to the wire before OU escaped with a 31-29 win.  I assume that the team was looking ahead to the match up next week in Dallas, but really, who can be sure.  OU has had 3 lackluster victories in 4 games, but they just keep winning.
That's all I have for this week.  Since we have a Thursday night game this week as A&M travels north to Stillwater, I'll try to get my picks out by Thursday morning.  It's a crisp day in KC, and autumn is definitely in the air.  Hope your week gets off to a good start and I'll see you later.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Week 4. It was almost really ugly last week....

It certainly wasn't a thing of beauty, but the Tigers pulled one out by the skin of their teeth last Saturday night in Columbia.  Left for dead by 60% of the crowd that could have been mistaken for a gathering at a wake, the Tigers pulled out a last second win against a pesky San Diego State team thanks to the efforts of Blaine Gabbert, TJ Moe, and what is appearing to be a much improved Tigers defensive unit.
But that was then and this is now.  The Redhawks of Miami, Ohio are coming to town with a 2-1 record which included a tight game for 3 quarters against the Florida Gators in week 1.  Missouri opened up as a 19 point favorite, which seemed a bit much to me.  But Mizzou has tended to follow poor performances with big games during the non conference schedule during Coach Pinkel's tenure in Columbia.  After mulling this over for at least 5 minutes, I'm picking the Tigers to win and cover, 38-10. 
In other games around the conference, Baylor travels to Rice to face the 1-2 Rice Owls.  The Bears open as a 7 1/2 point favorite this week.  After suffering a big loss to TCU last weekend I think that Baylor will have something to prove, if to no one more than themselves.  I'm taking Baylor to cover and win 38-13.

Northern Iowa travels to Ames to face the Cyclones in another of the Iowa state championship series.  There is no line on this game.  I'm taking the 'Clones to win 31-13 and I know the photograph has nothing to do with football.  I just like it for some reason.
Kansas State is 3-0 and 1-0 in the conference now.   They play the University of Central Florida in the little apple Saturday night.  The cats open as a 6 1/2 point favorite.  UCF has done a decent job against the run so far this season, but Kay State has one of the better rushing attacks in at least the conference if not the nation.  I think they wear UCF down and pull away late.  I'm taking the Wildcats to cover 35-21.
Kansas is at home this weekend, if you can call Lawrence home anyway.  They face an 0-2 New Mexico State team that has given up 83 points in losses to San Diego State and Texas El Paso.  I've really not had much luck picking one way or another where the beaks are concerned this year, at least before last week.  I think the spread is just a tad too much this week with Air Gill installed as 22 1/2 point favorites.  I think that in true kansas fashion, the beaks will come out on top in the end, but just fail to cover, infuriating their fan base.  Both of them.
No line in the South Dakota State vs Nebraska game this week.  I was reading that the Nebraska faithful have taken to winking to each other when they talk about their team and how far it may go.  The win last weekend has definitely energized hick nation and I don't think anything will happen this weekend to temper their enthusiasm.  Look for the huskers to roll, 52-6.
Oklahoma travels to Cincinnati this weekend to face the back to earth Bearcats.  It wasn't that long ago they played in a BCS bowl but that was then.  Now they're just a 1-2 team that will struggle to make any sort of appearance after Thanksgiving.  OU is a 16 point favorite this weekend, but I believe they'll roll.  I'm taking the Sooners in a rout, 41-10.
The week ends as The Texas Longwhorns travel to Southern California to face the Bruins of UCLA.  The fighting bevo's haven't really been able to put it all together yet this season, but I do think this will give them a big win on the road against a BCS opponent.  They open as a 16 1/2 point favorite, and I expect them to cover, winning 38-14 in a game that will be much more interesting for the eye candy on both sidelines compared to anything that might take place on the field.
That's all I have for now.  It's a 1:00 pm game in Columbia this week.  I love afternoon football, although you can be sure the game won't be televised when you're given that time slot.  So, we'll be driving over to catch it in person.  Good luck to you and your team and I'll see you after the games.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Week 3 recap: When a win feels like a loss.

My team isn't so far removed from 8 loss seasons that I should be critical of a win any way you can get it.  That being said, beside the fact that Missouri won last nights game in incredibly dramatic fashion, it just feels like something of a hollow victory.  Yes, San Diego State was 2-0 and had put up some great numbers offensively but they are still a middle of the pack Mountain West team that should have been blown out badly last night.  The Aztecs scored 2 touchdowns on runs of 75 and 94 yards that were simply the result of a running back that refused to go down.  I can't pin this on anything other than 2 lapses over the course of the game.  Other than that, I thought the defense played fairly well and DC Dave Steckel called a pretty darned good game.  On the other side of the ball, there were some drops by receivers and some passes by Blaine Gabbert that were off target.  These are college kids and I can deal with that.
However there is something at work here bigger than execution.  Our offensive coordinator, one Dave Yost is seemingly in over his head right now.  Things worked well last year when Danario Alexander was a threat to take any pass to the end zone.  We still have a fine group of receivers, but none that is the home run threat that he is; last minute heroics by TJ Moe aside.  And don't let me get started on the rushing game.  The option read isn't working Dave, and how about a few more plays where the running back isn't in motion for 10 yards before we hand him the ball.  Missouri has recruited some fine talent the last few years.  It's your job to take advantage of their strengths and put them in a position to use them.  It's not to show people that you're more creative than Dave Christensen.  If what I'm hearing from a lot of fans (and donors) is representative of the Mizzou fan base, Mike Alden may be asking Coach Pinkel to make some tough choices at the end of the year.
A tough week for me prediction wise.  I went 8-2 straight up but a miserable 4-6 vs the spread.  For the year I'm 30-4 but a "where did the mortgage payment go" 14-15 when picking against the point spreads.  I finally managed to get the kansas game right on both counts as they fell 31-16 against Southern Mississippi.  I don't see anything bad about that loss on Friday night for the beaks, and God knows I looked for some.  It was their first trip away from the friendly if somewhat weird confines of lawrence, and regardless of the conference they play in, southern football fans are loud and passionate.
The south teams are proving to be insanely unpredictable this year.  I thought OU was preparing themselves for a national championship date in January after last weekends dismantling of Florida State, but then they allow the Falcons of the Air Force academy to mount a comeback before winning 27-24.  Coach Stoops is going to earn his money this year just keeping his teams attention it appears.  I fully expected Texas Tech to upset the Longwhorns in Lubbock, but UT managed a 24-14 win.  Baylor plays the part of the Christians against TCU's best lions impersonation while Oklahoma State puts up 60 plus points for the 2nd time this year against a somewhat respectable Tulsa squad.
It sickens me to say this, but right now Nebraska appears to be the class of the conference after the absolutely drilled a decent Washington team on the road.  I can't force myself to go anywhere further with this thought.
Colorado really surprised me with their 31-13 win over a Hawaii squad that had given USC all they wanted in week 1 and K State won Farmageddon 2.0 in much the same fashion as last year.  I still believe the south will come down to Texas and OU in Dallas on October 2nd and the north will be decided in Lincoln on Halloween eve.  But guys like Mike Gundy and Bill Snyder may yet make it interesting.
But that's all I have for now, so I'll see you all around Friday with my picks for next week.       

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week 3. Things get a bit tougher this week.

Well, week 2 has come and gone and if you're like me, you're more than a little conflicted about what is real and what is a mirage.  Is kansas the team that lost at home in their opener to a mediocre FCS team or the one that beat a top 15 team last Saturday?  How about Oklahoma?  Has Missouri found a true breakaway back and could K State be for real?  I have no idea, but I think we'll start to get a few answers this week as things toughen up for some teams, including 2 conference match ups that could help clear some things up as far as pecking order.
I'll be making my first trip to Columbia to watch my Tigers take on San Diego State at 6:00 pm on Saturday night.  The weather sounds beautiful and it should be around 70 degrees at kickoff with temps dropping to the low 60's by the end of the game.  The Aztecs will step on Faurot Field with a 2-0 record, with wins over Nichols State and New Mexico State who sport a combined record of 0-3.  The Aztecs are running the ball well, averaging over 6 yards a carry and throwing it also.  However, the fact remains that both games were played against teams that were probably not much better than McNeese State was last week.  However, it's a decent test for week 3, although once again we will only be able to take much away from it if Mizzou loses or even if it's close in the 4th quarter.  Think Bowling Green from last year.  I'm also looking forward to watching the Tigers newest running back, Henry Josey running against a defensive team that isn't outweighed by 60 lbs a man.
So on with my takes on this weeks matchups.  Currently I'm sitting with a gaudy (for me) 22-2 record straight up but only 10-9 against the spread, so if you read this, don't use it as any sort of a guide on making your bets.  God knows I wouldn't.
Starting out in Columbia, the Tigers open as a 16 point favorite against the Aztecs.  SD State has been picked to finish as high as 4th in the improving Mountain West Conference, but make no mistake, this is no Utah, BYU or TCU.  It's a nice little team that's improving but still has a way to go before they return to the glory days when Don Coryell was coaching there.  They should provide a decent test for the first half before Mizzou pulls away in the 2nd.  I'm taking Missouri in a game that will be closer for a while than the 41-10 final would suggest.
Speaking of the Mountain West, Baylor travels north to Fort Worth to take on the #4 ranked Horned Frogs of TCU.   They likewise open 2-0 with wins over Oregon State and Tennessee Tech.  This is the Frogs only test against a BCS opponent during the regular season and I expect them to try to make the most of it, in an effort to crack a BCS bowl in January.  TCU opens as a 21 point favorite in this one.  I think they cover and win 38-13.
Colorado fell back to earth without a parachute last week as they were demolished 52-7 last week in Berkeley in the Hemp bowl.  This week they'll play host to the University of Hawaii Warriors in the munchies bowl.  Roasted pig for everyone.  The Buffs open as a 10 point favorite here and I really don't understand why.  They opened the season with a 13 point loss to USC.  Now those aren't the Trojans from the early 90's, but still an impressive squad.  Last week the Flying Kalua's traveled to West point and outlasted the Cadets 31-28.  This is a must game for Dan Hawkins if he's to maintain any hope of retaining his job.  I don't believe Colorado can cover a 10 point spread, but I'm going to go all out here and say they lose straight up.  I'm taking Hawaii to pull the upset, 31-28.
The conference season opens with all the excitement of a 4th of July picnic in West Platte, Nebraska at Arrowhead as the K State Wildcats lock horns with the Iowa State Cyclones.  All this electric match up needs is a tractor pull at halftime.  The Wildcats open this one as a 5 point favorite.  I really like the Clones coach but it's hard to bet against Mr. Burns.  I believe the K Staters pull away with this in the 2nd half as their rushing attack takes it's toll on an inexperienced ISU defense.  I'd take the 'Cats to cover and win, 24-10.
Friday night, the enigma that is kansas football travels to Hattiesburg to take on the Eagles of Southern Mississippi, a Conference USA opponent.  Beak nation has the worst loss of the conference when they dropped their opener to North Dakota State, but arguably the best win after edging Georgia Tech last weekend.  Southern Miss opens as a 5 1/2 point favorite in this one, I suppose mostly due to the fact that it's a home game for them.  I'd take ku if this were being played in larry, but it's their first game on the road, in an atmosphere that will be fairly hostile, so I'm going to take the Eagles to win and cover, 27-21. 
Hick nation may already have their combines headed west as the Huskers travel to Seattle to face the Washington Huskies Saturday.  There was quite a bit of early love for UDub and they've played a tough schedule.  It's also a 12:30 local start which is in their favor, and I don't believe that Nebraska is a top 10 team.  That being said, I think they win on their first trip away from home.  The nubs open as a 4 1/2 point favorite and I believe the line is very close.  I'm going with them to just come up short of covering in a 21-17 nail biter.
OU plays host to the Air Force Academy this weekend in what should be an interesting game.  The Falcons come into Norman at 2-0, including an impressive 35-14 win at home last week over formerly ranked BYU.  The Sooners opened as an 18 1/2 point favorite which at first seemed high to me.  However, this is the kind of game Stoops is able to get his team ready for as evidenced by their dismantling of Florida State last week.  I'm going to take OU to win and cover 31-10.  Meanwhile, up the road in Stillwater the Cowboys host cross state rival Tulsa.    Okie Light opens as only a 7 point favorite here but I'm looking for them to easily cover that and win 38-17.
Down in College Station, the Aggies continue their version of the cupcake diet as they host lightly regarded Florida International, who lost their season opener 19-14 to Rutgers, who appear to be returning to their customary position of Big East whipping boys.  The fun and games portion of A&M's schedule ends after this game so I expect Sherman to let the dogs keep running into the 4th quarter.  The Aggies open as a 27 1/2 point favorite.  I'm looking for them to cover and win 48-17.
But the game of the week is being played in Lubbock as the 2-0 Red Raiders host the 2-0 Texas Longhorns is the other conference opener.  The Whorns haven't exactly struggled this year, but the offense has definitely taken a step back.  Today's Tech team may not have the offensive firepower they showed while Mike Leach was coaching them, but they aren't exactly slouches either.  And you had to know that the defense was going to improve when Tommy Tuberville was given the head coaching job.  I firmly believe that this is just a bridge job for TT until another SEC job opens up.  He's already been chastised by Dan Beebe and the Big XII offices for stating his opinion that the conference wouldn't survive with the current inequities.  I, and frankly most people agree with him.  Texas opens this game as a 3 point favorite.  The Red Raiders have beaten Texas before at home, and I believe they're going to do it again on Saturday.  I'm going with Tech to win straight up, 28-24.
I hope your team has good luck this weekend.  It sounds like it's going to be a gorgeous afternoon for tailgating in Columbia, and this morning (Friday) I'm taking a nice brisket out to smoke for my opening week. Don't forget that Sunday is national talk like a pirate day.  Try to do your best Mike Leach imitation and I'll see you next week.          

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week 2 recap. Going far too well for me.

I'm one of these guys that isn't just willing to take success at face value.  I always think that if something looks too good to be true, then it probably is.  That's why after week 2, I'm really nervous about sitting here with a sparkling 22-2 record straight up.  Oh, I know that I'm barely above water when it comes to the point spread, but if I can just wind up even there, I consider it to be a success.  But before I get too full of myself, it's just week 2 and frankly, there haven't been too many opportunities for me to screw up yet.  Where I could really get in trouble is if I were making predictions for the ACC.  If college football isn't done with expansion yet, and I don't believe that it is, if I'm the AD at any Big XII north school, I'm campaigning for membership to their conference right now.  Anyway, for the week I was once again 11-1 straight up and a much more respectable 6-4 vs the spread.  For the year, I'm 22-2 and 10-9.
In Columbia, we may have seen some sign of a new legend being born as freshman Henry Josey rushed for 112 yards and 3 touchdowns on only 7 carries.  After the problems in week 1, it was a breath of fresh air.  You have to remember it was against FCS competition and he's not likely to see the gaping holes he did this week, but speed is speed and this kid has it.  Hoping to see him get the ball in space against better competition.  There was no line in this game so I didn't have an opportunity to pad my statistics.  However, the 50-6 final was only 5 points off from my prediction of 55-6.   Next up will be a 6:00 pm matchup against San Diego State which also will come in a 2-0.  It will also mark my first trip to Columbia since the spring game.
In Waco, Robert Griffin threw for 297 yards as Baylor rolled over Buffalo 34-6.  My prediction was 37-17.  The Bears move to 2-0, but things get much tougher next week as they travel to Forth Worth to face top 5 TCU.
Speaking of getting tougher, it got a lot tougher for Dan Hawkins and the Colorado Buffalos Saturday as they traveled to Berkeley to meet up with future Pac 12 rival Cal.  The spread was 8 1/2 points and I didn't expect it to be that close as I had the Bears winning 37-17.  The final was Cal 52, Colorado 7.  Let's wratchet up the death watch for Coach Hawkins again.
Likewise for Iowa State, it was much different in week 2.  The Cyclones traveled cross state to meet Top 10 Iowa as a 13 1/2 point underdog.  This one was over by half time as the Hawkeyes jumped out to a 28-0 lead.  I'd predicted a 38-21 win for Iowa and the final was 35-7.  Next week ISU opens conference play a bit early as they meet K State at Arrowhead Stadium in Farmageddon 2.0.
I've had 2 losses straight up so far this year and both have involved my best buddies to the west, the kansas jayhawks.  After losing to FCS opponent North Dakota State ( who lost yesterday to another kansas favorite, Northern Iowa) there was just no chance they could compete with # 15 Georgia Tech, right?  Well, I along with most of America were wrong as the beaks held on for a 28-25 win over the Rambling Wreck.  I'd predicted a 41-14 Tech win in this one.  Next week the beaks travel to Hattiesburg to face 1-1 Southern Mississippi.  I have no idea what the line will be for this one or who will win.  We'll play it by ear and see what my gut tells me on Thursday.
In the other game this week that had no line, Terry Allen brought Missouri State to Manhattan to face Bill Snyder and the K State Wildcats.  It wasn't much of a contest, but a bit more interesting than I expected as I predicted a 48-13 Wildcat win.  The final was 48-24 K State.  As I mentioned earlier, the Cats play Iowa State next week at Arrowhead in one of the two conference games that will be played. 
In Lincoln, the Huskers opened as a 28 1/2 point favorite against the Idaho Vandals.  I stated that I wasn't convinced of the effectiveness of the hicks offense and nothing happened yesterday to change my mind.  I had corn nation winning but failing to cover 38-14.  The final score was 38-17 but this included 2 interceptions returned for touchdowns and scores off 2 long TD runs.  For the day Idaho threw 5 interceptions, while Nebraska had one picked off and only 111 yards passing.  Nebraska also had 8 fumbles, losing 3 of them.  No doubt they have some home run threats on the ground, but they're going to have to have some semblance of a passing attack once they enter Big XII play.  Next up is a trip to Washington, which doesn't seem nearly as imposing as it did before the season started.
Probably the most impressive win of the day came in Norman where the Sooners entered as 9 point favorites against Florida State, yet another ACC pretender.  I was fooled by OU's mediocre performance in week one and while I predicted the Sooners to win, I didn't expect them to cover.  I had OU in a close one, 28-21, but they rolled to an impressive 47-17 win as quarterback Landry Jones threw for 380 yards and 4 touchdown against what was considered to be a stout FSU defense.  Next week OU plays host to the Air Force Academy in one of the better schedules in Division 1 this year.
Another game I missed on the spread was played in Stillwater where the Cowboys rallied in the 2nd half to overtake Troy, 41-38.  I'd predicted an Okie Lite romp 35-14 to cover the 11 1/2 spread and in hindsight I should have known better.  Troy had beaten OSU as recently as 2007 and aren't intimidated by trips to BCS home fields.  Next week the Cowboys host Tulsa so frankly, we're still not going to know much about them for a few more weeks.
My 3rd failure in the south happened in Austin where Texas failed to cover a 29 point spread again former Missouri OC Dave Christensen and his Wyoming Cowboys by winning 34-7.  I had the Horns winning 41-10.  They continue to struggle somewhat in the post Colt McCoy era but will continue to win.  As I've said earlier, the Longhorn defense if big, fast and mean.  Conference season opens for Texas next week as they travel to Lubbock to face Texas Tech, who were 52-17 winners against New Mexico Saturday night.  This game was a winner for me as I had picked the Red Raiders to win 48-10 and cover a 23 1/2 point spread.
Texas A&M was an 18 point favorite against Louisiana Tech and I'd predicted a 38-14 Aggie win to cover.  The final was 48-16 as they continue to put up impressive numbers against unimpressive opponents.  Things don't change next week as 0-1 Florida International travels to College Station.  I hope Mike Sherman isn't gaining too much weight from this cupcake diet he seems to be on this year.  We really aren't going to know much about them until Sept. 30th when they travel to Stillwater to face the Cowboys.
I hope your week goes well and I'll see you around Thursday or so with my picks for next week. 



Thursday, September 9, 2010

Week 2. The makings of an interesting year.

It wasn't just me.  A lot of guys apparently had some problems picking against the spread last week.  I've enjoyed a guy that goes by MizzouRah's selections over the years, and found him to be pretty good.  However, he went 5-8 vs the spread last week.  It's also been something of a transition year for folks like OU, Texas and Okie State.  Not trying to make excuses.  It will probably shake out by the time conference season rolls around, but right now I can't say I have many games I feel confident about this week as far as point spreads go.
One game I shouldn't have to worry about this week is going to be played Saturday night in Columbia, as my Tigers open the home season against might McNeese State.  I don't care for games against Division 2 teams such as this, but at least I can sort of, I said SORT OF, see some good that could come of it.  The Tigers seemed out of synch last week offensively, and this might be just what the doctor ordered.  It also offers a chance to get some backups some game experience that may be needed down the road.  But basically, you hope for no injuries and of course, God forbid someone goes out and pulls a North Dakota State on you.  I don't expect that and look for the Tigers to jump start the offense as they coast to a 55-6 win.  I won't be there to see it since I was fortunate enough to find someone to give my tickets to.  That's right, I said give.  The most interesting stat of the weekend may well be if the crowd tops 60,000.
The only other game without a line this week is in Manhattan, kansas, where the Wildcats, fresh off a 31-22 upset of UCLA host the Missouri State Bears, coached by former ku head coach, Terry Allen.  At least Allen is used to being abused by Bill Snyder from his years at the beak helm.  Look for this one to be over by halftime as the Cats get a chance to work in some PT for the backups.  Take K State 48-13.
Baylor is at home against Buffalo this week, who also opened the season with a win.  The schedule is actually pretty good for the Bears as it is a step up from last weeks opener, but still a contest they should win easily.  Baylor opens as a 16 1/2 point favorite in this one.  I think Buffalo plays close for a half but winds up falling 34-13.
Colorado, fresh off a convincing 24-3 win against cross state rival Colorado State, travels to Berkeley to face their future Pac 10 rival Cal.  The Golden Bears opened with a 52-3 win over UC Davis last week.  Cal opens as an 8 1/2 point favorite.  I think they do a little better than that and win 37-17 in front of 2 fan bases more known for their fondness of hemp than their passion for football.
In a game with slightly less sophisticated, and stoned fans; Iowa State travels to play the Hawkeyes in Iowa City.  Iowa opens as a 13 1/2 point favorite in a game the Cyclones have been able to steal occasionally the last few years.  I think this is close for a half but the 'Clones run out of gas and fall 38-21.
The only Big XII team to fall in week one was in Lawrence as the Turner Gill era opened with a thud in a 6-3 loss to North Dakota State.  It's only been one game, but it has to be a bit disconcerting to TG that Lew Perkins, the man who hired him suddenly retired one business day after the opening loss.   To compound the problem, coming to town is Georgia Tech who opened with a 41-10 win over lightly regarded South Carolina State.  The Yellow Jackets are going to run straight at the beaks, who appear to be woefully inadequate on both lines.  This one should be over shortly after the national anthem as the Jackets opened as only a 13 point favorite.  I expect it to be no where near that close.  Tech rolls to a 41-14 win.
In Lincoln, the Big Red fans weren't quite as pleased with their season opener against Western Kentucky as I'd expected.  I suppose the pre season hype has made them expect to be winning games 50-0 as they did for years under Tom Osbourne.  Yes, they won 49-10 but remember that the Hilltoppers went 0-12 last year and gave up an average of over 40 points per game.  This week the Vandals from Idaho come to town fresh off a 45-0 win over some team you've probably never heard of, the North Dakota Fighting Sioux.   The fighting Pelini's open as a 28 1/2 point favorite in this one.  While I think they win rather comfortably, I expect it to be more along the lines of 38-14.  This may ramp up the concern among America's weirdest fan base.
The game of the week, at least in my opinion happens in Norman, as the Sooners, who opened with a surprisingly difficult 31-24 win over Utah State face the Seminoles from Florida State, 59-6 winners over Samford.  I knew that the offense might take some time to gel, but I certainly didn't expect OU to give up 24 points last week.  Oklahoma opens as a 9 point favorite in this one, and I fully expect them to give FSU their undivided attention.  However, I think this one is going down to the wire.  I'm looking for OU to win, but fail to cover with the final in the 28-21 range.  This is going to be a great game and anytime Florida State plays it gives me the opportunity to include a photo of Jenn Sterger with the Florida State cowgirls.
In the other games of the week, Troy travels to Stillwater as an 11 1/2 point underdog to the Cowboys.  I expected Okie Light to take a step back this year, but you can't discount the 65-17 pasting they put on Washington State last week.  Troy slows them down a bit, but the Cowboys win and cover 35-14.
Wyoming travels to Austin this week to play the Longhorns, who were held to 34 points last week by Rice.  Wyoming had an emotional week as a player was killed in a car wreck.  This is another game I believe will be close for a while before Texas, who opens as a 29 point favorite wears down the Cowboys and wins 41-10.
Louisiana Tech travels to College Station as an 18 point dog to the Aggies.  I see this as the same formula as UT.  It could be close for a half but A&M wears them down in the 2nd half 38-14.
Texas Tech travels to New Mexico to play a Lobo team that fell 72-0 in week one to Oregon, in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated.  Tech opens as a 23 1/2 point favorite.  While I think New Mexico may well be the worst team in Division 1, this is a game where the Raiders can do a bit of experimenting.  I have Tech covering and winning easily, 48-10.
Good luck to your teams this week.  I'll enjoy watching OU/FSU Saturday and begin the countdown for my first trip to Columbia in a week as San Diego State comes to town.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Week 1 recap. Why I don't gamble....

Well, after the first week of the season I got yet another reminder of why I don't wager on sports.  I don't think you could call it the week of the upsets in the Big XII, unless you happen to live in lawrence, kansas; but a lot of games that should have been laughers turned out to be pretty good contests.
In St Louis, the final (for now at least) installment of the Arch Rivalry ended pretty much as it has every other year, with my Tigers holding the trophy for the 6th consecutive time.  However, unlike previous years it wasn't slugfest, with the last team holding the ball having an excellent chance of winning.  This time Mizzou was led by a gambling, attacking defense that shut down the Illini in the 2nd half as the Tigers roared back from a 13-3 halftime deficit to win 23-13.  On the defensive side of the ball, Aldon Smith picked up where he left off last year as he dominated whoever was unfortunate enough to be across the line from him.  Carl Gettis was suffocating in coverage, and on offense, let the Wes Welker comparisons begin for sophomore wideout TJ Moe.  He caught 13 passes and took some hits that were nothing short of nasty.  The kid is going to be a good one.  Real good.
Also picking up where he left off last year was me.  I finished the week 11-1 straight up, but only 4-5 against the spread.  My only straight up loss for the week happened no where else but larry, where the fighting jayhawks lost to North Dakota State in thrilling fashion, 6-3.  The Turner Gill era opened with something of a thud and many of the beak faithful are already questioning the decision to run Mark Mangino out of town last year on an incredibly sturdy and large rail.
There could have been several more straight up upsets for the week however as Texas, beginning the post Colt McCoy era; Oklahoma, post Sam Bradford and Texas Tech sans the pirate all were involved in games that were much closer than expected.  Actually, about the only confortable win of the weekend that was expected was corn nations decisive 49-10 throttling of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, who admittedly went 0-12 last year.  Make no mistake, even here corn nation and Bo Pelini aren't making reservations for the NC game quite yet.   Actually, the biggest wins of the week were probably Okie State who blasted Washington State 65-17 and K State and Mr Burns beating UCLA 31-22.
We've got a couple of pretty good games coming up this week and I'll start taking a look at them tomorrow.  Until then I'll just close with; NORTH DAKOTA STATE???  BWAHAHAHAHA

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Week 1: I thought it would never arrive.

When I was a kid, it always felt like Christmas would never arrive.  You wondered what you were going to get.  You dropped hints, left catalogs open with your dream gift circled, and dreamed about it at night.  I don't feel that way about Christmas anymore but I still have that sense of excitement.  It's just reserved for that glorious weekend known as the beginning of the college football season.  I've sat through a long hot summer with the Royals once again falling out of the pennant race before Memorial Day, read and re-read articles about summer workouts and frankly spent entirely too much time worrying about whether Chris Freeman and Jimmy Hunt were going to show up on campus in time for fall camp.
So my Tigers open up the season this Saturday in the dome against Ron Zook and his fighting Illini.  This will complete the 4 game series between the 2 schools with the Zookster still looking for his first win.  As a matter of fact, Gary Pinkel is 5-0 vs Illinois during his career here.  The series ends after this game and unless Illinois pulls off the upset, I don't expect it to resume anytime soon.  After the 10 year winning streak they enjoyed in basketball prior to last season I wasn't in a big rush to see that series continued either.
Illinois is a young squad this year led by red shirt freshman quarterback Nathan Sheelshaase from Rockhurst in Kansas City.  The depth chart is just chock full of freshmen and sophomores who'll be starting their first game period, let alone a rowdy crowd of Missouri fans in the Edward Jones Dome.  Given the fact that Nathan really wasn't much of a passer in high school, I imagine that the Illini will attempt to establish the run game first and hope that Sheelhaase will be able to hit some passes off roll outs and options.  It should be a good test for a Missouri defense that was among the worst in the country last year.
So, I begin to try my luck at predictions for another year.  Last season I was a very respectable 93-33 straight up, but 62-59 when picking against the spread.  So with no further ado, here we go.
The Tigers open as a 12 point favorite against Illinois, which is down from 13 1/2 since the suspension of Derrick Washington.  Missouri has an established quarterback in Blaine Gabbert and Kendial Lawrence at running back but the backups are true freshmen.  The odds on favorite as his number one target this year, Jerrell Jackson is hurt and out for this game but Gabbert still has plenty of talented, if somewhat unproven receivers to throw to.  I think, that unless we see something along the lines of Brad Smith's first game, which coincidentally happened against Illinois, this one should be over by halftime.  Illinois has lost their entire defensive backfield for this game due to injuries.  A nice time for the Tigers to be breaking in new receivers.  Look for the Tigers to roll, 38-13.
2 days before the Arch Rivalry game, the Big XII season opens in Ames as last years surprise team, the Iowa State Cyclones open as a 3 1/2 point favorite over Northern Illinois.  Senior quarterback Austen Arnaud has spent like 12 years at ISU so I believe he'll graduate when I see it, and Paul Rhodes certainly had my vote as Big XII coach of the year last season.  The 'Clones return most of the offense although a large part of their defense graduated.  I don't see this being nearly as close as the oddsmakers and look for ISU to win 31-17.
Baylor opens at home against Sam Houston State, a not very good team even when playing other small college rummies.  Robert Griffin will be returning as quarterback for the Bears.  I expect some rust but not nearly enough to make a difference here.  Baylor rolls, 42-6.  No line here.
Things are changing in lawrence, kansas as the Turner Gill era begins.  The beaks open at home against North Dakota State in another game that was given no line.  I detest kansas but really haven't had any time to learn to hate Gill, who's always seems like a pretty good guy.  A lot of questions for the jayhawks this year and I don't think any of them will be answered this weekend, unless ND State manages to pull the upset.  kansas wins this one, 31-10. 
In what may or may not be the final season in the Big XII for the Colorado Buffalo's as they open on the road at Colorado State.  The Buffs come in as a 13 point favorite against their cross state rivals, and I really have no idea why.  Dan "Dead man walking" Hawkins may or may not have to win this year since I'm not at all sure there is enough money in their AD to cut anyone loose early.  I'm really tempted to take the Rams straight up, but will go ahead and pick Colorado to win 28-24 while failing to cover.
In Manhattan, Bill Snyder 2.0 opens the season against the Pac 10's UCLA.  It's incredibly weird seeing Coach Snyder open the non con against anyone with a pulse but give Snyder a few years to do his own scheduling and we'll be seeing plenty of directional schools, which considering we'll all be playing 9 conference games in a year will unfortunately the the rule rather than the exception.  The Bruins open as a 2 point favorite in this one but I think Mr Burns will have a surprise or 2 in store and the Cats pull a 24-21 upset.
Hick nation opens at home this year with Western Kentucky rolling into Lincoln as a 36 1/2 point underdog.  I've gone back and forth on this one, as I'm not positive that Nebraska is capable of putting up 37 points.  Nebraska is ranked as a pre-season top 10 team which I find ludicrous but I'm going to pick them to cover here, winning 42-6, with the defense providing them with some short fields if not touchdowns on turnovers.  We'll know something about the nubs on the 18th when they travel to Washington.
Oklahoma is the prohibitive favorite in the conference once again this year, following a disappointing season.  They open up as a 31 1/2 point favorite against outmanned Utah State.  The point spread isn't nearly big enough as "Big Game" Bob Stoops will have the Sooners smelling blood in a quest to return to the national championship game.  OU rolls 56-9.   
Like the 2008 Tigers, Oklahoma State was unable to live up to lofty expectations last year.  They open up at home against the Pac 10's Washington State.  The Cowboys will take a few steps back this year, but this is a good opening contest for them.  A very pedestrian team from a BCS conference.  Okie Light opens as a 14 1/2 point favorite.  I think this is pretty close and I'm taking the Cowboys in a close game they'll break open in the 4th quarter.  OSU 28-13.
It's rebuilding, or reloading time down in Austin.  The horns probably won't be making a return trip to the national championship game, but it's always smart money to bet on them playing after January 1st.  They open up on the road against perennially hapless Rice.  Texas has opened as a 29 point favorite.  They may not have the firepower they had last year with Colt McCoy running the show, but you just know the defense is going to be big, fast and mean.  Texas takes this one in a laugher, 49-13.
The sexy pick in the south this year is down south in College Station.  I still believe that Mike Sherman is a mediocre coach and at last report, they were planning to start 3 freshmen on their offensive line.  They also have some of the strangest rituals you could ever hope to see at a college football stadium.  I expect another 6 or 7 win season for them, but challenge Texas or OU for the south title?  I don't think so.  That being said, they'll probably look like world beats this week at home against Stephen F. Austin in a contest that has no line.  Look for the Aggies to put up some big numbers, winning 49-6 in my dog game of the week.
The week winds up on Sunday this week as SMU travels to Lubbock to take on the new look Red Raiders and coach Tommy Tubberville.  Tech opens as a 13 1/2 point favorite.  I expect them to have a few hiccups this year, but I don't expect it to be this week.  Give the points and look for the Tubberville era to open successfully as the Red Raiders win 38-13.
So now we have something to talk about for a few months.   I won't be making it out to see the game this week, and actually won't be at a home game until the 18th when San Diego State visits the Zou.  I'll be trying out some new seats this year.  Same section but about 40 rows lower.  God I hope I'm sitting next to someone that looks like Jenn. Have a great week and I hope your team finds success this year, unless you're going to be playing mine at some point this season.  We'll see how I did with my picks after the weekend.