November 05, 2009

WEISND Roundtable Week 10 Picks: Notre Dame-Navy, Oregon-Stanford, Ohio State-Penn State, Oklahoma-Nebraska, and LSU-Alabama

Hot button issues are popping up left and right off the field for Notre Dame, but don't forget about that 2009 season!! There's still a lot to play for here, and it starts with Navy. Hopefully this team can start out the month of November with a dominant performance over Navy. Oh, and no more major injuries please. I think I've had about enough of those for one year.

On to the picks:

Oregon -4.5 at Stanford (FSN 3:30pm)

Jeremy: Oregon (-4.5) – LOCK OF THE WEEK

I know Oregon is primed for a letdown game, but the bottom line here is that Stanford just isn’t that good. At least not +4.5 good. Sure, they have a nice running game, and Andrew Luck will probably be a good QB at some point during his career, but apart from last week’s W over Arizona St., Stanford hasn’t beaten a team with a pulse this year. They’ve played some tough road games against teams like Wake, Oregon St. and Arizona, but color me unimpressed. Brutal stretch for the Cardinal the next few weeks too – Oregon, @ USC, Cal, and closing with the Irish at home. Fortunately, 3 of the 4 games are in Palo Alto, but Stanford would be lucky to win just one of those games. The Ducks, on the other hand, are coming off arguably win the biggest win in the school’s history. I think they keep the momentum going and beat Stanford quite handily this weekend.

Oregon 38 Stanford 20

Dan: Oregon -4.5 – LOCK OF THE WEEK

Brief analysis from me this week as I am traveling. This line seems too small for me even in a predictable let down game away from home. But Stanford is too good to sneak up on other Pac 10 teams at this point.

Oregon 31 Stanford 24

Matt: Stanford +4.5

It goes without saying that this game has all the makings of a letdown game for Oregon. And before I go any further, let me be the first to apologize for bestowing Lock of the Year status on the Trojans last week in Eugene. I was obviously blinded by the name on the jersey. But as a Notre Dame fan, can I just comment on how pathetic that game made me feel. Here we are celebrating as if it some big accomplishment that ND kept it close against USC, and Oregon goes and blows the doors off of what has turned out to be the worst USC team since Pete Carroll turned them into USC.

Oregon 31 Stanford 28

Mike: Oregon (-4.5):

Obviously, there is a possible letdown angle at play with Oregon coming off a monumental win over USC while Stanford rested its wounds during an off week. After watching Oregon’s offense dismantle the once-proud USC defense in such thorough fashion, however, there is no way I am going to pick against the Ducks in this spot. Stanford will keep this game close at home for 3 quarters, but Oregon will eventually pull away in the fourth quarter to draw one step closer to ending USC’s remarkable run of 7 straight Pac 10 titles.

Oregon 41 Stanford 31

Doug: Oregon -4.5

Maybe this is a trap game, but how can I go against the Ducks after that performance last week?? They are looking unstoppable right now. Maybe the best team in the nation. How is Stanford going to stop that offense??

Oregon's trick on offense seems to be their tempo. I don't think it's just the spread option or their "speed." I don't think they are really that fast. They just play fast. I think it's the way they come at you within that offense. They just attack, attack, attack at full throttle. It's like they are in the hurry up offense at all times. I like that it creates a sense of urgency for your players. Maybe that hurts them in time of possession or whatever, but who cares when you are putting up 45 points??

I actually think more teams should just go to the 2 minute/hurry up offense as their base offense. Why not?? Instead of muddling around, just go down the field and score. Look at ND. We'll dilly around for 25 minutes, go to the 2 minute offense, and score a touchdown. We seem to do our best work in the hurry up offense. Why not just play like that for the whole game?? If we put 45 on the board, time of possession is irrelevant.

I just love the mentality. Oregon wants to blow you out of the building. More teams should play with that mindset. I'm also looking at you Ohio State. Ohio State plays like they want to win every game 10-7. What kind of message does that send to your players?? Why not go into every game looking to win 45-10??

Oregon might have a letdown here, but Stanford is really not all that good. It's Stanford. Their defense stinks, and they don't have all that much athleticism. I think Oregon will keep it rolling and win this game comfortably.

Oregon 34 Stanford 24

Ohio State +4.5 at Penn State (ABC Sports 3:30pm)

Jeremy: Ohio State (+4.5)

This makes no sense at all, but for some reason, I think Terrelle Pryor is about to take a big step forward. I completely admit there’s almost no evidence to support this, but I think he’s had this game circled since he arrived in Columbus two years ago. The crowd in Beaver Stadium is going to be out for blood (preferably his), but I think the combination of OSU’s suffocating front seven and Pryor’s athleticism keeps this game close very deep into the 4th quarter. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Aaron Pettrey’s injury last week throws a wrench in the gameplan and OSU misses a late FG, allowing PSU to escape with a 1-point win.

PSU 14 OSU 13

Dan: Ohio State +4.5

Ughh… I’m not touching this one. Penn State hasn’t played anyone and Ohio State has no offense. I really don’t have a read on this one.

Penn State 13 Ohio State 10

Matt: Penn State -4.5

I can’t remember a Penn State – Ohio State game with less fanfare. And it’s not like there are a ton of big games this weekend. People around the country are just really sick of the Big 10. Iowa is a fraud much like Penn State last year, and people I think would rather watch a Tennessee-Auburn type game then the Big 10.

Penn State 24 Ohio State 17

Mike: Penn State (-4.5)- LOCK OF THE WEEK:

Following the Iowa loss, the Nittany Lions have been playing excellent football. Although Penn State hasn’t played great competition, they are trouncing their opponents on a weekly basis behind a high powered offense and a dominant defense. Ohio State has notched two blowout wins themselves against bad teams, but questions remain for the Buckeyes, particularly on offense. At this point in the season, there is a clear difference in the level of play between these two teams and the superior outfit happens to be playing at home. Accordingly, I don’t expect a particularly compelling contest in Happy Valley.

Penn State 33 Ohio State 14

Doug: Ohio State +4.5 - LOCK OF THE WEEK

Everything about this game points to a blowout win for Penn State, but isn't Ohio State overdue for a big win as a program?? How many of these big games can they lose in a row?? Top to bottom, Ohio State has better talent than Penn State. Why couldn't they win this game?? Iowa went to Happy Valley and won. Tressel has done it before in the past. In fact, they went out there in 2007 and ran Penn State off the field.

For Buckeye fans, I think the biggest concern is that they play too conservatively on offense, settle for field goals, and PSU makes a few plays down the stretch to win it. I could EASILY see that happening. Tressel doesn't trust Terrelle Pryor at this point, and there's no chance he's going to let Pryor cost them with a bad turnover. They are going to play the field position game, play for field goals, and hope it's enough to pull the game out in the fourth quarter. From what we've seen in recent big games for Ohio State, that is not a winning formula. If Tressel leans too hard on Tresselball, they'll lose this game.

Here's the thing that I don't get about Jim Tressel. Doesn't he know by now that Tresselball does not work in the big games?? How could he not know this?? It's a terrible way to prepare your team. All it does is give your team a lack of confidence. It's almost as if Tressel is telling his guys that he doesn't trust them to make plays and win the game, and that the only way to win is for him to manage the field position game. What kind of message does that send to your team?? Why not go in with a mentality that you want to win the game by 20??

Doesn't Tressel also realize that his team has had its most success recently when he has abandoned Tressel Ball?? Early on in the Fiesta Bowl last year against Texas, Tressel was trying to win that game 13-10 and playing the field position game. It worked for a little while, but it's not a sustainable way to win a football game against another big time team. You can only play field position so long. Well, of course, Tressel Ball blew up in his face, and suddenly they were down 10 and had to go into desperation mode. Wouldn't you know it, they actually came alive and took the lead with 2 minutes to go before Colt McCoy came down and won the game. Does Tressel not see this?? Doesn't he realize that his team does its best work when he takes the reins off and just lets them play ball??

What is he so afraid of?? Tressel Ball is a bad model to win games, so why not let it all hang out one of these games and see what happens?? Why not come out with TP running wild and throwing the ball down field and giving your team a bunch of confidence?? If he turns it over 5 times and you lose 27-10, so be it. There's no difference between losing 27-10 and 13-10. Losses are losses. I'd be willing to bet that Ohio State would respond favorably and play their best game of the season if Tressel actually opened it up and played aggressive football.

Look at Oregon. Those guys go pedal to the medal full throttle for 60 minutes. How can you not love that as a player that your coaches trust your ability?? Wouldn't you be brimming with confidence if you were always attacking? Oregon has a big game mentality. I love that. Imagine how good Terrelle Pryor would be if he was the quarterback at Oregon. He'd be unstopppable.

Here's what I would do if I was Ohio State. I would go up to Terrelle Pryor on Monday morning, and say "we are putting this game on your shoulders." I would tell him that they are running him 25 times on Saturday with zone reads, scrambles, draws, etc. And then I'd be rolling him out and letting him make throws down the field. Go for the win. You've got a 6'6", 240 pound quarterback who runs a 4.4 40. Figure something out to let that guy win the game for you. The rest of the team is good. Good Wrs, decent Rbs, good defense, great defensive line. If Ohio State goes out and plays aggressively, I think they can and will win this game.

With that said, it probably won't happen. Tressel will go with Tressel Ball because that's all he knows. I don't know why I should expect any differently. Even though I think that's a losing formula, I'll take the Buckeyes to pull the "upset" in a close, low scoring game. If they get blown out, oh well. My picks have been terrible all year anyway.

Ohio State 17 Penn State 13

LSU +9 at Alabama (CBS Sports 3:30pm)

Jeremy: Alabama (-9)

That does seem like quite a few points for an SEC showdown, but LSU has not shown the ability to score points against a quality defense yet this year. Bama’s got the best D in the nation, and I don’t see the Tigers putting up more than 6 against them. Julio Jones is due for a breakout day. Bama covers, but not by much.

Alabama 17 LSU 6

Dan: LSU +9 at Alabama

Two guys who just win big games. If Ingram has a good day, he could really strengthen his Heisman chances. But 9 points is too much in this defensive showdown.

Alabama 20 LSU 13

Matt: LSU +9

In case you haven’t noticed, Alabama’s offense has been regressing as the season has gone on, very much atypical of a Nick Saban coached team. Up until a few weeks ago I thought that Alabama was the best team in the country, but now I’m not so sure. Nevertheless, coming off a bye and playing at home I expect them to feed Ingram and pull out a tough win.

Alabama 21 LSU 14

Mike: Alabama (-9):

With an off week for the players to rest and the coaches to perform self-scouting, I will be surprised if Nick Saban doesn’t have his team performing at a peak level this week. If Bama indeed comes to play in this game as I suspect, there is no way that LSU will be able to keep pace with the Tide in Tuscaloosa. LSU’s defense should be able to hang tough for most of the game, but they will eventually wear down from being put into bad situations by the middling Tiger offense.

Alabama 31 LSU 12

Doug: Alabama -9

My instinct is to take LSU and the points, so I'm going with the opposite and taking Bama. They've been off for a week, they got a needed rest, and Saban has probably been hammering in their heads all week how they don't get any respect. It's amazing how quickly everyone has started discounting Bama because they had one close game with Tennessee. Bama is really good. They just didn't play well against a red hot Vols team that is peaking down the stretch. Tennessee might be one of the 15-20 best teams in the nation right now, and I think they are going to win out and end up 8-4. Lane Kiffin is suddenly revving things up in Knoxville.

Anyway, LSU is winning ballgames, but I feel like Alabama is going to be on a mission Saturday.

I'll take the Tide by double digits.

Alabama 17 LSU 6

Oklahoma -6.5 at Nebraska (ABC Sports 8pm)

Jeremy: Oklahoma (-6.5)

I really don’t think much of either of these teams (or really anyone in the Big 12, outside of Texas). Oklahoma is somehow still hanging around the Top 25 even though their best player is out for the rest of the year, and their best win came against another disappointing Big 12 team (Kansas). Many people (myself included) had the Huskers pegged to be a bit of a sleeper this year. But things definitely haven’t gone as planned in Lincoln thus far. Sure, they beat Mizzou on the road, and had that one point loss at Va Tech. But where’s the progress? Where’s the big step forward? The Huskers are 2-2 in a very mediocre Big 12 and have really looked lost at times, especially during the 9-7, turnover-filled loss at home to Iowa St. In a battle between two teams that have definitely failed to live up to expectations, Oklahoma wins going away.

OU 33 Nebraska 15

Dan: Nebraska +6.5

I think Pelini gets his guys up enough to keep this one closer than Nebraska’s debacle against Texas Tech.

OU 24 Nebraska 20

Matt: Oklahoma -9.5 LOCK OF THE WEEK

I don’t know what is going on in Lincoln. They should not be having 8 turnover losses to Iowa State at home. I kind of like this Landry Jones guy. I think Oklahoma wins big.

Oklahoma 31 Nebraska 13

Mike: Oklahoma (-6.5):

This is a tough game to call. Bo Pelini should have his Huskers fired up for a big game before the home crowd in Lincoln (sigh…just had a flashback to my trip to Lincoln in 2001 and realized that I’ll never get to make another cool road trip under the abominable 7-4-1 model) and Oklahoma’s young offensive line will likely have some difficulty handling Ndamaukong Suh. Nebraska, however, has too many problems on offense, namely at quarterback, to contend with the Oklahoma defense. The Sooners will stifle the Husker offense and Landry Jones, who continues to improve on a weekly basis, will make enough plays in the passing game to notch a big road win.

Oklahoma 31 Nebraska 21

Doug: Oklahoma -6.5

I'll be the first to say that I have been awful at these picks for a good month now, but this line looks too low when you stack these two teams up. I think I've picked just about every dog to cover against the big boys for a good month and lost almost all of them. Time to start giving some more respect to the big boys. The great teams get better as the year goes along, so nothing wrong with taking a favorite to cover.

Anyway, Oklahoma is one of those big time teams that gets better and better as the season goes along. Look at what they've done the last couple weeks. They destroyed Kansas and Kansas State. They aren't what they were last year, but they're still a real good team.

Meanwhile, Nebraska is a notch below. There's really not much of a difference right now between somebody like Nebraska and a team like Texas Tech or Kansas or any other middling Big 12 team. It's sad to say, but Nebraska isn't in OU's class anymore. I personally don't think we'll ever see an elite Nebraska program ever again. The talent shift to the south has been too dramatic for them to keep pace with OU and Texas. I really think Nebraska would be better off trying to join the Big 10 and competing with the schools in the north again.

By the way, I never understood how OU got all these elite guys out of the state of Texas, but now I get it. I didn't realize how close OU's campus is to the northern part of the state of Texas. I was looking at a map of Texas before the trip to San Antonio, and Norman is really no farther from Dallas than Austin is. It's basically the same. For a Texas kid, going to OU might actually keep you closer to home than going to Texas would. That northern part of Texas is sort of like Toledo. It's in Ohio, but Toledo sometimes has stronger ties to the state of Michigan than it does Ohio. Same with northern Texas. In terms of geography, you are more connected to Oklahoma than you are to Austin and San Antonio.

Oklahoma 31 Nebraska 17

Notre Dame - Navy (NBC Sports 3:30pm)

Jeremy: Notre Dame

The Irish have reached the month of November just about where most ND fans thought they’d be. Certainly no one could have expected the road would include so many close 4th quarter battles and so much injury drama. Even the snoozer against Wazzu resulted in a bad ankle sprain for Trevor Robinson and a torn ACL for Dayne Crist, placing the 2010 season in serious jeopardy for those choosing to look ahead a bit.

Speaking of looking ahead, ND could be eyeing the potential monster matchup next weekend in Pittsburgh as the game that will likely make-or-break the Irish’s BCS hopes. But they’d better not sleep on the Middies because those option-loving, cut-blocking, sons-of-you-know-whats are sure to give the Irish headaches for at least part of Saturday afternoon. ND defended the option masterfully last year, effectively taking away the FB dive and often forcing Navy into 3rd and long. The Irish will miss David Bruton’s steady play in the secondary, but the rapidly improving front seven should help to mitigate his loss.

On offense, the Irish had little trouble running against the Middies last year, so look for Weis to continue to pound it on the ground, as he did so successfully against the overmatched Cougars last week. Jimmy Clausen gets Michael Floyd back this week, but here’s guessing the coaches will be worrying more about keeping Floyd healthy than getting him a bunch of looks.

The battle on 1st down will be critical on Saturday, as it is so often against the triple option. The Irish have to force Navy into 2nd/3rd and long situations to take them out of their comfort zone. I certainly don’t expect the Irish to duplicate the same success they had last year on defense, but I also don’t expect the Middies to keep ND from scoring too often. The Irish win big again and set the table for a HUGE matchup against the Panthers.

ND 45 Navy 24

Dan: Notre Dame

Notre Dame in a big win. Manti has a huge day all over the field and Floyd gets 2 TDs in his first game back!

Matt: Notre Dame

I just want to touch on two things here, but before I do let me say that ND should win this game by 3 td’s and I will be disappointed if they don’t, so no analysis needed. Ok….

1) Jimmy Clausen should absolutely go pro after this year (if he wants to) and there shouldn’t be a Notre Dame fan out there who cries about it. Clausen has given everything he could to this program, from the beating he took as a true freshman to turning into the best QB in Notre Dame history. Why risk getting Bradforded behind a rebuilding offensive line next year. Plus, he’s already 22 years old. His NFL clock is already ticking and he’s here executing gameplans against freaking Washington State. Now…if Clausen comes back, great. It will be an explosive offense. But I don’t think he will nor do I think he should.

2) The scheduling issue. Doug and Mike have done a great job diving into the scheduling discussion, schedule strength rankings etc. But after that game against Washington State (I only saw a few plays, but I was embarrassed that Notre Dame was playing in a half to three quarters full stadium), here is a 10,000 foot look at the program’s recent scheduling decisions.

a) Told (albeit reportedly) Alabama and Georgia we would not play a home and home with them instead demanding a home-neutral series
b) Won’t return Miami’s phone calls about a game
c)Resigned a contract with Purdue with all games in September and rotating home and home
d) Unsigned contract for upcoming series with Oklahoma sitting on Jack Swarbrick’s desk
5) Agreed to play game in Yankee Stadium – against Army
6) Added Tulsa to home schedule
7) Added Western Michigan to home schedule

I don’t need to look at Sagarin rankings, quotes from the athletic director, polls or anything else to tell me where the direction of this program is headed. And it’s a shame…

Mike: Notre Dame (outright):

This year’s Navy team appears to be about equivalent to last year’s edition, which was manhandled for Notre Dame for about 54 minutes before the Irish almost sent me to the hospital with their attempt at a choke job for the ages. By contrast, the Irish are obviously improved over last year and Jimmy Clausen should play infinitely better than he did in last year’s debacle in Baltimore, even with his turf toe issues. While Navy’s option attack is formidable, the improved Irish run defense should be able to build on its success in recent weeks. Moreover, unlike prior years under play calling extraordinaire Paul Johnson, Navy has struggled badly in the passing game in 2009. Hence, a fast start will be especially conducive to success for the host Irish.

Navy usually comes to play against Notre Dame and the Middies will certainly believe that they have a shot to win this game. Nonetheless, I expect the Irish to slow Navy’s running attack on defense and score with very little resistance on offense, thus leading to a comfortable victory. Assuming that the Irish win this game, I will be joining them in Pittsburgh for a critical night game against the soon-to-be 8-1 Panthers

Notre Dame 38 Navy 21

Doug: Notre Dame

There's nothing to say about this game other than the obvious. Navy lost to Temple last week. TEMPLE!! That's all you need to know. If ND shows up to play and stays disciplined on defense, we'll win this game by double digits. If we show up sleepwalking and don't execute, we'll probably get into a dogfight that we want no part of.

I will say that people need to get 2007 out of their system. That was a once-in-a-lifetime type scenario with an ND team that had essentially packed it in for the year. Just about every other year, we have handled Navy by running the football down their throats and blowing up their option attack in the backfield. ND's defensive line has been getting better and better every week, and Tenuta's attacking scheme is the perfect defense to shut down a team like Navy. If we blow things up in the middle and force them to the edge (where Te'o will do some serious damage), we're going to create turnovers and win this game comfortably.

My prediction is that this game will be tight for about a quarter and a half, we'll adjust to their option attack, and then we'll start pounding it up and down the field. That's how this game seems to play out every year. We'll start freaking out when the game looks close early, but then we have a monster drive that completely demoralizes them. By the 3rd-4th time we've seen their option offense, we've adjusted to shut it down. Our offensive line is so much bigger than their defensive line it's not even funny.

The other thing is that Navy has absolutely no answer for Golden Tate or Michael Floyd or Jimmy Clausen for that matter. People forget that Clausen was really in a funk at this time last year, and that's part of the reason why we had some early problems with Navy. This year, it's a completely different story. ND is playing good football, Floyd is back, and the defense gets better every week.

I see no reason why ND won't blow Navy out this week. All it takes is a few drives to grab the lead, and they are done. Their quarterback is hurt, so their anemic passing game will look even worse this week.

ND wins this game and sets up a big showdown at Heinz Field next Saturday. Can't wait to get to the 'Burgh for that one.

ND 31 Navy 10

Bonus Picks:


Wake Forest +16

Heartbreaking loss (but great cover) for the Deacs last week. Just couldn’t make the plays or stop the athletes on Miami when they needed to. I don’t know why I think they will hang with the Jackets on the road, but this line seems really high to me.

GT 30 Wake Forest 20


Bengals +3 over Baltimore -- This line is a slap in the face!! The first place Bengals are dogs at home to the team that they just beat on the road a few weeks ago. The Bengals are officially the Rodney Dangerfields of the NFL. No respect!

With that said, the Bengals are probably the biggest Jekyll and Hyde team in the NFL, so I have absolutely no idea what to expect out of them from week to week. They win at Baltimore, lose at home to the Texans, and then destroy the Bears in one of the best halfs I have ever seen out of the Bengals in all the years I've been a fan. Nothing would really surprise me.

Huge huge game in terms of the AFC North race. For the Bengals, a win over Baltimore puts them at 4-0 in the division with a game still left at home against Cleveland. The Bengals can pretty much control all the tiebreakers in the division if they finish 5-1. And if they somehow sweep the next two games over Baltimore and Pittsburgh, the Bengals essentially wrap up the division by week 9. I don't expect them to win both these games, but I'd love to get this Baltimore game and then go to Pittsburgh with house money in hand.

For Baltimore, it's weird to say this in week 9, but I think their season is basically on the line this week. They cannot afford to fall to 1-2 in the division with two games still left against Pittsburgh. If the Ravens get swept by the Bengals this year, I think that's a sign that they are just not that good this year.

I expect the Ravens to give the Bengals their absolute best shot on Sunday. Ray Lewis is probably injecting himself with multiple doses of HGH as we speak. They destroyed the Broncos last week, so they may be starting to hit their stride. Baltimore has the big game pedigree that the Bengals have lacked in the past, so there's a lot of reason to think that the Ravens will come into Cincy and win. If I was a neutral betting man, I think I'd probably take the Ravens here.

Two keys for this game for the Bengals:

1) Defense, defense, defense -- When the Bengals play hardnosed defense and attack and stuff the run, they are a really good football team. When they have trouble getting a pass rush and don't bottle up the run, they're very ordinary. In the AFC North, it all starts with your defense. You have to bring it defensively in these types of games.

2) Carson Palmer -- I will probably jinx things by saying this, but I think we're finally out of the woods with the Carson Palmer ACL injury. Carson is officially back to what he was before he got hurt in January 2006. That's how long it has taken. Three full seasons to really get back to what he was before the injury. Might have to expand on that topic as it pertains to the Dayne Crist injury because I've seen firsthand how long these ACL issues can last.

Palmer looked as good as he has ever looked against the Bears. Firing bullets, moving around, super accurate, great poise. When Carson is hot, he is as good as any quarterback in the league. Give him the ball with two minutes to go to win the game, and he usually finds a way to come through.

Anyway, Carson just has to keep playing well, Cedric Benson has to continue running hard, and the Bengals should be able to score points on this Ravens' defense.

If the Bengals spent the bye week congratulating themselves and telling themselves how great they are, they'll get run off the field. If they come out and play inspired football like they did against the Bears, I like their chances. I think it will be another back and forth game that goes down to the last minute, but I'll take the Bengals to pull off the "upset" and move to 6-2. 4-0 in the division with a MONSTER game looming in Pittsburgh the following week would be awfully sweet.

One other note on the Bengals. I've been reading a lot of stuff lately in the Enquirer and some blogs about Bengals fans who are holding a grudge about Mike Brown and don't want to support the Bengals' success this year. I'll be the first to say that I get it to some degree and can understand why fans are bitter about 20 years of borderline criminal negligence by Mike Brown in running this franchise (all while pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars over that time period), but at what point do you just put that aside for the time being and embrace what we have going right now?? 5-2 and in first place in the AFC North. I've been as bitter as anyone and have supported every boycott/protest that has been cooked up in the last 20 years, but I'll be the first to admit that the Bengals have stumbled into a pretty good situation this year. Cedric Benson was an absolute gift, and they've made some shrewd acquisitions in the front seven and in the secondary the last 3-4 years. Whether people want to give them credit or not, they have made a number of very good selections in the draft lately.

Bengals 24 Ravens 23

Syracuse +21.5 at Pittsburgh -- Possible trap game for Pitt if they are looking ahead to the big ND showdown and stretch run Big East games against WVU and Cincy. I could see this game being like 14-10 in the 3rd quarter.

UConn +16.5 at Cincy -- Primetime game for UC on ABC at Nippert!! Wow, pretty amazing stuff.

I'm not really sure what Cincy should do about the quarterback situation. Tony Pike has been a great player and might be a NFL type pick, but their offense might actually be more dangerous with Callaros in there. Callaros gives them the threat of a running attack that they don't get with Tony Pike. As he gets more and more confident with the passing game, he might turn out to be more effective for their offense than Pike. Callaros is kind of like UC's Jeremiah Masoli.

Tough call for UC. I think they are almost obligated to go back to Pike, but they are hitting the stretch run here and really need to be hitting on all cylinders. Now that they've found this extra gear with Callaros, is it going to hurt their momentum to work Tony Pike back in?? Honestly, if it were up to me, I think I might be tempted to just ride the hot hand with Callaros and see where he takes you.

Last Week:

Jeremy: 4-2
Dan: 1-5
Matt: 2-4
Mike: 3-3
Doug: 2-4


Jeremy: 34-22-1
Dan: 29-27-1
Matt: 25-31-1
Mike: 25-31-1
Doug: 27-30-1

Locks of the Week:

Jeremy: 6-2
Dan: 4-4-1
Matt: 3-5
Mike: 3-5
Doug: 3-6


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