Well, it appears even 10 games were not enough for I_S and KidB to close the gap on the Picking Machine! [Note: If you think I'm serious, I've been predicting my own demise for weeks now. It'll probably happen this week with me gone on vacation ...]
Still, I continue to be solid, for some reason -- yet I'm doing nothing out-of-this-world in my real [hypothetical, of course] picks every week.
At least my winning percentage is better than the Vols'. Let's take a look at how we did last week and get right to it -- IT'S LOCKS & KEYS TIME!!
A LOOK BACK
- Oklahoma State -7.5 over Texas. I love the Cowboys. I do. They've been a gold mine for me in this picks column, and while I think Oklahoma is a better team than them, I certainly wouldn't say the Sooners have a better offense. And we all see what that offense did to the Longhorns last weekend. I expect much the same this week. Oky State. By a lot. [Not too a lot, but they covered just fine. 1-0]
- East Carolina -14 over Memphis. We've been over this time and time again. Tiger High is baaaaaad. Like epically, historically bad. Like, worse than Minnesota and Kentucky bad. The Pirates aren't pitiful. They'll win this game by more than two touchdowns. [Won by 18, but it wasn't that close. When is it, with Memphis involved? 2-0]
Alabama -26.5 over Ole Miss. All Bama does is cover. [Well, unless it's a 47-point spread against North Texas, but who would?] It's a cyborg factory in Tuscaloosa, and I don't think the Rebs will score any points. This will be one of those 38-3 games or something like that. [Roll Tahd Pawwwwwwwl 3-0].
- Clemson -9 over Maryland. I don't get this one. I know that Vegas is probably thinking given Dabo Swinney's past, there has to be a let-down game somewhere in here, but I don't see it being against Maryland. The Terps played GT close, but I don't think they've got the horses to hang with the athletic Tigers. [Down 18? Not a problem for Clemson. They even cover! 4-0]
- South Carolina -3 over Mississippi State. We're going to stay in the state of South Carolina and go with the Tigers' rivals here, too. I believe in addition by subtraction, and the Gamecocks will be better without that cancer Stephen Garcia. I'm not saying Connor Shaw is the second coming or anything, but I also don't think the Bulldogs are very good. I'm taking the Cocks here, and I feel pretty comfortable with it. [Intentional safety to win by 2. Ouch. But hey, Brad won 4 in a row. 4-1]
- Georgia Tech -7 over Virginia. This is another one where I must just be missing something. The Cavs have lost to North Carolina and Southern Miss, and they barely squeaked by IDAHO in overtime last week. Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets are 6-0, and teams are again having trouble with their option attack. I feel very confident about my picks this week. [Bad one to feel confident about. UPSET SPECIAL! 4-2]
- Michigan+2.5 @ Michigan State: Upset special! Michigan wins outright. I thought Michigan would be favored, even on the road. Michigan has been covering spreads like it was their job, and most of that can be attributed to the fact that Denard Robinson is faster than you. And Denard Robinson is still faster than you. [Even Denard Robinson can't catch Sparty's DBs after he throws it to them. 0-1]
- Baylor+9.5 @ TAMU: You don't just hand Robert Griffiin III 9.5 points to play around with. That's just poor policy. [Baylor's defense is poor policy. 0-2]
- Georgia Tech-7 @ Virginia: There is a pretty decent chance that this line is actually a misprint that nobody caught. We haven't yet ruled this out as a possibility. [Definitely a misprint. Too bad, because Georgia Tech +7 would've covered. 0-3]
- Oregon-14.5 vs. Arizona State: For a couple of weeks I have been accusing Arizona State and their backers with fraud and complicity in general fraudulence*, respectively. This weekend I will be revealed as either (a) an overzealous prosecutor or (b) the bringer of justice to the people**. We'll check back.[ *Pretty sure this is an actual word. **Is there a word that means, roughly, "bringer of justice to the people"?] [To feel unlucky at a .5 point loss or lucky at a bizarre end zone INT to keep it from single digits, Mr. Overzealous? 0-4]
- USF-8 @ UConn: UConn is atrocious at football. Next! [If UConn can kill themselves, USF can kill themselves worse. 0-5]
- Toledo-7 @ Bowling Green: Toledo is quite the juggernaut this year in the miggadda miggadda MAC. I'm quite a fan of the rocketmen. I doubt Dave Clawson is quite as smitten. [Push! 0-5-1]
- Oklahoma State-7.5 @ Texas: Make an argument for Texas that doesn't involve historical performance of like-colored uniforms. Go ahead. Give it a shot. [We have a winner! 1-5-1]
- ECU-14 @ Memphis: ECU should be insulted by this line. [ECU is insulted by this line. 2-5-1]
- Boise-32 @ Colorado State: The final score will be 49-7 Boise. Boise is a machine. They don't play to win games; they play to cover spreads. [They keep playing after they cover the spread, to the tune of 63-13. 3-5-1]
- Indiana+40 @ Wisconsin: I batted around a couple different games for my last pick here. I decided to go with this one simply because this spread looks ridiculous. 40 points in a conference game? What's the spread going to be when they play Minnesota? Like 59.5? All that being said, I'm not terribly confident in this pick. Let's go Hoosiers! [Wisconsin is a machine. They don't play to win games; they play to cover spreads. 3-6-1]
- Navy +4. Possibly my favorite play on the board. Rutgers beat Pitt badly because of turnovers, Navy didn't even show up against USM after a tough loss to Air Force, and what should've been a pick'em is now +4. [Would've lost at pick'em, but wins at +4. Rutgers by a point. 1-0]
- GT/UVA under 55.5. The enemy of the option is time, and UVA had a bye week to prepare. On the other side, Georgia Tech's defense is improving, and UVA's offense is mediocre at best. Tech wins a close, low-scoring affair. [Got the close, got the low-scoring, missed the winner. 2-0]
- Arizona State +(8ish?) 1H @Oregon. Best team to come into Autzen this year, and while I'm not sure how many can hang with the Ducks for a game, the Sun Devils can hang for a half. [Hey, the Sun Devils hung for the whole game! 3-0]
- Michigan State -1.5 vs Michigan. Does this remind anybody else of last year? [Does it now? 4-0]
- North Texas +9 @Louisiana-Lafayette. Fading ULL as a home favorite off a SU win as an underdog sounds good. Also, the Sun Belt can be wacky. [UNT on the road? Really? 4-1]
- San Jose State +6 vs Hawai'i. Spartans are improving, and Hawaii is off the Islands. Friday night, big game from SJSU. [Fortunately, "Points Squandered" was not a live betting option, as they would've covered -14 at least. SJSU pulls the upset. 5-1]
- USF -7 @UConn. UConn is terrible, USF has an offense and a week to prepare. [USF prepares to be terrible, apparently. 5-2]
Pitt -6.5 vs Utah. Panthers bounce back, Utah doesn't playing a 10 AM game after a pair of bad losses. [
PanthersUtes bounce back, UtahPittsburgh doesn't. 5-3]
- Central Florida +3.5 @SMU. Think this one looks a lot like their 17-7 win over SMU last year. [Or maybe it looks nothing like that. SMU rolls. 5-4]
- Temple -20.5 vs Buffalo. Unlike at Florida, Addazio has shown the ability to roll inferior opponents at Temple. [We can always count on Addazio. . . wait, what? 6-4]
FIVE KEYS FOR TENNESSEE
- Play For Pride. Come on, guys. This is Tennessee-Alabama. I know the chances of winning are Slim and None and Slim went fishing, but still ... Remember two years ago when senior defensive tackle Wes Brown gave an impassioned speech to a team set to play eventual national champion Alabama? It didn't translate into a win, but it did give us an exciting game that gave us a lot of pride in our team. Of course we all know who was coaching that group, and we won't mention it. But the Vols have to play otherworldly to have a chance this weekend. That doesn't change the fact that they should give 100 percent for 60 minutes, and leave everything out there. This is a monster opportunity, and they need to look at it that way.
- Play Perfectly. For once, Tennessee cannot have any turnovers and they need to somehow force a couple and turn them into scores. That's a tall order for a team that hasn't been able to get any takeaways all season playing against one of the best, most-disciplined teams in the country. A.J. McCarron has played within himself and within the offense all season, but we've got to force him into mistakes, because the stable of running backs led by Trent Richardson don't look like it's going to do anything to give the game away.
- David Ricky Needs To Step It Up. I hope it's just the growing pains of being a sophomore, but it seems that Da'Rick Rogers has sulked and been prone to mental lapses since Justin Hunter and Tyler Bray have gotten injured. If so, it needs to be addressed. He has run wrong routes, dropped balls and just looked frustrated and disinterested at times while enduring double-teams. When he steps up like he did on the big play against Tyrann Mathieu, Rogers is one of the best in the country, and elite players have to make big plays in games like these. If Matt Simms can get him the ball, he has to shine.
- Good Returns. We've said it the past couple of weeks, but it rings especially true in this case -- the Vols need Devrin Young to have a great game in the return game. It's really Alabama's only minor weakness. Ole Miss had some good returns against the Tide, and Young had a 60-yarder against LSU. Still, that drive stalled because Simms isn't very good, and that means Young probably needs to take one all the way to the house. I think the only way UT wins this game is if we score first and then have a big play like a punt return for a touchdown or a pick-six and go up two scores early. Probably our only (slim) hope.
- Forget Fatigue. We've already mentioned playing a complete game, and this one certainly isn't easy to do. You play well for a half [as the Vols did last year against Bama] and then you go in to the locker room for intermission, you relax, your body gives in a bit to the fatigue and before you know it, you're tired and getting run up and down the field. If UT somehow plays Bama close for a half the way it did last year and last week against LSU, the Vols somehow have to reach down deep and forget being tired, instead thinking, "We've got a chance to shock the world" and let that thought prevail. This may be asking way too much, but it has happened before. All of a sudden, if you can get off the field defensively on an early second-half drive, that belief can take over.
NOW, ONTO THIS WEEK'S LOCKS
- Rutgers +2 over Louisville. The Scarlet Knights are off to a 5-1 start and playing some pretty good football. On the other hand, the Cardinals are 2-4 and just fired its offensive coordinator this week. Still, UL is favored by a couple of points in a line that has already moved 3.5 points this week. I don't get it. Take Rutgers.
- Illinois -3.5 over Purdue. There will likely be somewhat of a letdown for the Illini after they saw their undefeated start snap with a loss to Ohio State last week. But Illinois is still a pretty good football team by Big Ten standards. Purdue, well, isn't. Wins over Minnesota don't get points from me, and a paltry Penn State team outscored them last week. Illinois covers and cruises.
- Oklahoma State -6.5 over Missouri. When will you guys learn? Oklahoma State is going to keep getting picked by me until they lose one. The Tigers have played a difficult schedule so far in their 3-3 start, losing to Arizona State (by seven), Oklahoma (by 10) and Kansas State (by seven). Those are close ones. But the Cowboys continue to roll along offensively, and I think this is a double-digit win.
- Kansas State -11 over Kansas. It's time to start believing Bill Snyder's Wildcats are a pretty good team. After beating Mizzou last week, it's clear that KSU just beats whoever is in front of them. Now, they've got a rivalry game, but it's against an awful Jayhawks team. Turner Gill's boys were competitive last week for a bit against Oklahoma before losing 47-17. OSU beat them 70-28. This won't be that bad, but it will be more than 12.
- Washington +20 covers against Stanford. This is a tough one. I really, really like Stanford and Andrew Luck, but the Huskies are 5-1 and playing well, too. They won't beat the Cardinal probably, but three touchdowns seem a bit high here. I think Steve Sarkisian is doing a really good job rebuilding that program, and it'll be evident on the field Saturday.
- Cincinnati +3 over South Florida. What happened to the Bulls? This is a team that upset Notre Dame earlier this season but since going into Big East play, they've gotten destroyed by Pitt and was embarrassed by a bad UConn team last week. The Bearcats' only loss was to Tennessee back when the Vols had a pulse, and I think UC is the best team in the conference this year. They'll win outright, but I'll take the three just in case.
- WVU-14 @ Syracuse: I have a mancrush on WVU and their mancrushable coach with his receding hairline and lengthy flowing locks that scream "I am oblivious to my receding hairline".
- Ohio-14.5 @ Akron: Ohio let me down last weekend. But Akron is almost as bad as Memphis. This should be an easy cover. They're always easy, right?
- Texas Tech+29 @ Oklahoma: Was the Texas Tech team that stayed within 5 points of Texas A&M involved in a tragic bus crash and I somehow didn't get the memo? If not, then methinks this line is giving the Sooners a touch too much credit.
- Boise St. -31 vs. Air Force: Boise State doesn’t play to win games. They play to cover spreads. #fact.
- Lafayette-3 @ WKU: I will acknowledge that WKU has steadily improved over the last two years. But they’re still not any good. And Lafayette has easily been the strongest team in the conference this year. This line is a head-scratcher.
- Wisconsin -7 @ Michigan State: Michigan state is an okay football team. So is Nebraska. Wisconsin is a really good football team this year, and – like they did against Nebraska – they should cover this one without too much difficulty.
- North Carolina State +5.5 @Virginia. Seriously, Virginia stormed the field after beating Georgia Tech? And now they're the dreaded -5.5 favorite?
- North Texas +6 vs Louisiana-Monroe. North Texas is a different team at home. And, while I really, really love ULM this year, it's tough to be a road favorite after winning 38-10 (!) as an underdog the previous week.
- Notre Dame -8.5 vs Southern Cal. See BlogPoll discussion. I'm on Notre Dame before it's cool to be on Notre Dame. Irish roll.
- Florida State -17 vs Maryland. Remember last time Maryland lost a heart-breaker against a ranked team? Remember what happened the next week? It involved Addazios. This involves Jimbos.
- Washington +20 @Stanford. Stanford has looked the machine this year. But, in five games against BCS conference teams, their toughest has been at Washington State. Seriously, let that sink in. And the Huskies are getting better when nobody's looking.
- Hipster Miami +17.5 @Toledo. I've tried (and failed) in the Toledo sandwich spot once before, but there's a difference this time: their opponent (don't ask, you haven't heard of them) plays a semblance of defense.