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RTT's Locks and Keys Week 2: The Calm

Hope you enjoyed last week, because this week is ugly. Two enjoyable games - including Georgia taking another turn in a marquee game - and a whole fat lot of nothing. Well, except for the giant red Bizarro World Grimace coming to town.

Not pictured: neck brace, motorcycle, FOIA request.
Not pictured: neck brace, motorcycle, FOIA request.
Kevin C. Cox

Western Kentucky is home to a lot of things; we wrote about a lot of them here. One of the things we didn't talk about: their mascot.

Their mascot terrifies me. You will see the undead eyes of Big Fuzzy Red before you go to sleep at night. Bobby Petrino should dress up as the mascot before coaching every single game. Are you telling me that some safety or corner wouldn't wander into WKU's sideline and be briefly terrified by a 9' tall giant dead-eyed monster with a mouth as wide as his stomach standing over him offering a helping hand?

Yeah, I thought so. (Let's not spend any time on what Petrino does with said mascot outfit outside of the stadium; for one, he'd deny it, for another, the sight of Big Fuzzy Red in a neck brace tearing down I-40 on Saturday night on a motorcycle with a girl on the back is a bit too much for me to mentally comprehend and oh hey look I gave you that mental image sorry.)

Okay, we should probably skip straight to the Keys here. Not the motorcycle keys; put those down.

  • Prevent second level defensive penetration. WKU did a good job offensively against Kentucky - their rushing totals were insane - but that begins with controlling the line. Leon Allen did a runaway train thing, but Antonio Andrews just followed his blocks for the most part. Seal the blocks and Andrews gets stuck, which means the front four needs to do their thing. (FWIW, Kentucky could not do this, which I'm thinking is a statement against Kentucky and not a statement about the quality of WKU's line.)
  • Avoid death by a thousand cuts. This isn't the massive deep threat offense we saw Petrino field at Arkansas, but they use a short passing attack and high-percentage plays to keep WKU in standard downs (i.e., 1st and 10, 2nd and 8 or less, 3rd and 5 or less). I'm guessing this means they're not great at legitimate passing downs, which means do what they're not good at. Force Brandon Doughty to make plays, which is something I'm not sure he can do.
  • Create death by a thousand cuts. What I just said above, except with allowing Justin Worley to make those high-percentage throws and staying in standard downs. I mean, do you want to put this game on Worley's arm?
  • Less bust, more tiny explosion. WKU on defense opts for a high-variance strategy of big plays - on both ends. If the OL can keep WKU mostly out of the backfield, offense should be easy enough to come by. Keep in mind that UK averaged 9 yards per play when they got past the line of scrimmage, and oh hey look what up Tiny Richardson and James Stone I didn't see y'all standing there blocking out the sun.
  • More return blocking and hidden yardage. Devrin Young had a pretty successful return last week - equally importantly, Demarco Robinson (of Kentucky) had a strong return game against WKU, which means there may be holes in the return game. Hendrix Brakefield (A+ name) will be strong on kickoffs and punts, so a strong return game should make things a bit easier in case this game gets into the 30s.
  • Do what you do best. WKU allowed 216 yards to Kentucky on the ground last week. Tennessee's offensive line is one of the best in the nation. You can figure out what to do here. (Bonus: that also means the passing game should be a bit easier as well thanks to game theory.)
  • It'll be closer than we'd like - quite frankly, the line here baffles me. I do think that Tennessee can do enough to win; WKU might be a bit better than we figured, but there was enough of a gap that I think we'll be okay. That being said, don't expect a walkover.

    A Quick Look Back to Last Week's Picks

    Chris: Week 1: 4-2, Season: 4-2.

    • Alabama (-21) vs. Virginia Tech: Sometimes the obvious picks are the correct ones. 1-0
    • BYU (-1) at UVA: BYU couldn't score last year, and it doesn't appear they can score this year. 1-1
    • Toledo (+23.5) vs. UF: Florida only covers when they play Tennessee. 2-1
    • Baylor (-30) vs. Wofford: This line was clearly a misprint. Are we giving him credit? 3-1
    • Boise State (+3.5) at Washington: these are not your older brother's Broncos. Or, alternatively, don't bet against the home team when they're breaking in a new stadium. 3-2.
    • WMU (+28) vs. Michigan State: we think we could round up 11 RTT members and Sparty couldn't score 28 on us. 4-2.
    KidB: week 1: 4-2, season: 4-2.
    • Texas Tech-4 over SMU: Kliff Kingsbury is awesome. In Kliff we shall trust. 1-0.
    • Iowa-3 over Northern Illinois: KidB hates Iowa with all his heart and soul. He's boycotting corn for the entire season. 1-1
    • Ohio+20.5 over Louisville: don't ever ever listen to Kidb when he takes a big underdog. 1-2.
    • Florida State-11.5 over Pitt: Famous Jameis. 2-2.
    • Clemson+2 over Georgia: bummer for whoever has to wash Mark Richt's sheets. Could be messy. 3-2.
    • Alabama-21 over Virginia Tech: Logan Thomas is just like Reggie Ball, except taller.

    I_S: Week 1: 4-2. Season: 4-2.

    • BYU -1 over Virginia. BYU was about as explosive on offense as Roger Federer. Oh wait. 0-1.
    • Texas Tech -4 over SMU. Kliff, Kliff, Kliff, Kliff! 1-1
    • Miami -31.5 over FAU. Is 34-6 high enough? No, no I don't believe it is. No soup for you! 1-2.
    • LSU -4 over TCU. Les Miles works his wacky magic once again. 2-2.
    • Texas A&M/Rice over 66.5. Rice can sort of like, score and stuff. Note to self. 3-2.
    • Toledo +23.5 over Florida. Wherein I_S takes MAC and feels mad hipsterish. 4-2.

    And The Moment You've All Been Waiting For:

    Chris Has No Idea What He's Doing, Week 2:

    • Oregon (-22.5) at Virginia: BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD and honestly I'm just going to back Oregon unless I have reason to consider otherwise. Also, I hate these lines this week.
    • Southern Cal (-15.5) vs. Washington State: Auburn did the functional equivalent of letting Wazzou hang around last week. I'm not convinced that Southern Cal is good, but I am convinced they're better than Auburn this year. Equally importantly, it's early in the season and roster attrition hasn't taken hold yet. Also also: this pick falls into the "well, if I'm wrong about this than Lane Kiffin looks stupid" category, so I win either way.
    • Florida/Miami UNDER 48. Live dangerously by applying the wrong side of a claw hammer directly to the forehead over and over again. (Also, this final will be either 42-34 or 10-6.)
    • Stanford (-25) vs. San Jose State: SJSU looked decent enough against a FCS opponent last week. On the other hand, Stanford can obliterate anything and everything, I hope. I hate the lines this week.
    • Texas/BYU UNDER 57.5. I hate offense. BYU hates offense. Is this a spite pick after they gacked up the Virginia game? Maybe. Is that a terrible idea? Maybe. Is Texas competent? Ehhhhhh.
    • Cincinnati (-7.5) at Illinois. Ehhhh. Let me make some vague noises and just write this week off as 1-5 and let's move on.
    KidB's Free Money Picks:
    • Bowling Green-7 over Kent State: I'm certain that Mr. Will Shelton will heckle me for picking the ClawFalcons, but I say heckle at your own risk. The ClawFalcons are no joke this year. Methinks they're the second best team in the miggada miggada MAC.
    • Tulsa-10.5 over Colorado State: The only reason Tulsa struggled last week was because they were up against the ClawFalcon Juggernaut. Against any team not possessing indestructible Falcon Claws, Tulsa should be able to put points on the board and cover against a team like Colorado State that could potentially be labeled as the worst team in the FBS...if Logan Thomas was their QB.
    • Arizona-10.5 over UNLV: I_S is going to say something about not betting against UNLV in Las Vegas. Or is it that you're not supposed to bet ON UNLV in Vegas? Well I actually don't remember, so I'll just go with this: Minnesota beat UNLV by 30. Minnesota blows. Q.E.D.
    • Indiana-12.5 over Navy: I know absolutely nothing about Navy. But I just have this hunch that Indiana ain't half bad this year, and will be putting points on the scoreboard faster than Roger Federer puts unforced errors on the stat sheet.
    • Tulane-6 over South Alabama: You can say what you want about ole KidB, but one thing you can't accuse him of is being unable to distinguish between trash and festering trash. And, ladies and gentlemen, rest assured that South Alabama is rubbish of the festering variety. Oh yeah, they definitely fester.
    • Duke-4 over Memphis State: I'm banking on the fact that Memphis State is usually really really bad at the game of football.

    I_S will go 2-4 and blame bad bounces, probably:

    • Oregon State -27 over Hawai'i. You know how scoring was Oregon State's problem when they lost to an FCS team last week? Yeah, me neither. And it's not like Hawai'i can score.
    • Indiana/Navy over 67.5. I have a theory that Indiana can put up points like nobody's business. And also that they can't defend the option.
    • Toledo +17 over Missouri. Were the Rockets' struggles last week a warning about their offense or a testament to Florida's defense? I'm guessing the latter. They score more this week.
    • Duke/Memphis over 54. Memphis' offense actually kinda started to come around late last year. Duke was an over machine. Hoping that well doesn't run dry in 2013.
    • Tulane -6 over South Alabama. The Kid ain't wrong. South Alabama is horrid.
    • Syracuse +16.5 over Northwestern. Was about to type "Sam Houston State" and then realized that line moved ten(!) points in the last two days. So we'll move north to Illinois. Is this the same Northwestern program that's notorious for blowing it as a heavy favorite that we're trusting with 16.5 points?