Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Oh, and please say a prayer that Bob Stoops announces he is coming to South Bend next week. Fingers crossed.
Friday November 27, 2009
Pittsburgh (pick em) at West Virginia (ESPN2 7pm)
Jeremy: WVU (Pick)
I was surprised to see this game as a Pick. Not much confidence in the
Wannstache I guess. Can't say I was too impressed with Pitt a few weeks
ago. There's definitely some serious firepower there with Lewis and
Baldwin, and Stull does a nice job managing the game. But I think the
combination of Pitt's inconsistency (and spotty defense outside of the
DE's), a game in Morgantown and the looming matchup with Cincy is just
too much for the Panthers. Norm Stewart gets perhaps the biggest win of
his short career this week.
WVU 31 Pitt 27
Pittsburgh has much more to play for than West Virginia. A win sets them up for a 1 game play-off for a BCS bid with Cincinnati. West Virginia does not have a chance to win the Big East and really are just positioning for a middling bowl game. While I can completely see a Wannstedt mind boggler, I think Pitt will pull it off with WVU unable to stop Lewis.
Pitt 23 West Virginia 17
Matt: West Virginia
Mike: West Virginia (Pick)
There are plenty of reasons to like West Virginia in this game. Although Pittsburgh has been the better team this year, West Virginia still has comparable talent and the Mountaineers should benefit from having an off week for their banged up stars, Jarrett Brown and Noel Devine, to receive much needed rest. In addition, this game should be more important to the Mountaineers, who should be amply motivated to atone for their recent lack of success in the Backyard Brawl, than the Panthers, whose BCS bowl hopes rest entirely on next week’s date with Cincinnati. Before a wild home crowd in Morgantown, look for the underachieving Mountaineers to play their best game of the season and defeat Pitt in the process.
West Virginia 34 Pittsburgh 29
Doug: West Virginia -- LOCK OF THE WEEK
I am not really sure where I fall on this game, but I was not that impressed with Pitt in their game with ND. Bill Stull is not a good quarterback at all, and the reactions from the fans early in the game confirmed for me that people don't have a ton of confidence in him. What kind of quarterback wears a visor during the game?? Maybe the most bizarre uniform choice I've seen all year. He misses throws, makes shaky decisions, and gets bailed out by some of his receivers.
Then again, West Virginia is really not all that good. It's a home game though, and West Virginia really needs a win in the Backyard Brawl to salvage their season.
WVU 31 Pitt 28
Alabama -13 at Auburn (CBS Sports 2:30pm)
Jeremy: Auburn (+13)
Talk about another team looking ahead a bit. Bama's got the biggest
game of the year coming with Florida. But the Iron Bowl is a
time-honored rivalry, and I fully expect Saban to have his troops
focused on the War Eagle. Gotta say I'm a big fan of the Gus Malzahn
offense, but Auburn has been sputtering a bit of late. I think they
keep this one close, however, until Julio Jones makes a big 4th quarter
TD grab to ice the game for the Tide.
Bama 17 Auburn 10
Dan: Auburn +13
Auburn isn’t very good, but it is the Iron Bowl! The Tigers should at least keep it close. Alabama isn’t the type of team that will blow out many teams (D-1AA not included). I think Auburn can just barely obtain the cover.
Alabama 21 Auburn 9
Matt: Alabama -13
Mike: Auburn (+13):
Alabama has every reason to be focused for this game, given that (1) the Iron Bowl is an intense rivalry game, (2) they played an inferior foe last week and (3) Nick Saban is a master motivator. Nonetheless, recent college football history is filled with examples of teams whose apparent path to a national championship was derailed with an upset loss and there is a definite “trap game” angle at play. With the SEC Championship looming on the horizon, it will be a sizable challenge for Saban to coax a winning performance from his team against a capable, inspired opponent on the road.
Auburn 17 Alabama 16
Doug: Auburn +13
Bama hasn't really taken to blowing anyone out lately other than Tennessee-Chattanooga, so I'll put this one down as another close SEC game in November. Not a lot of blowouts in the SEC at this point in the season.
Auburn has had two weeks to gear up for this game. They should be able to cover the spread and maybe make this game interesting into the fourth quarter.
The other thing is that Verne Lundquist does not call SEC games in the month of November unless he gets in four "MY GOODNESS!"es and five "OH WOW!"s. I expect a close game with lots of excitement from Verne and Gary D.
Alabama 17 Auburn 10
Saturday November 28, 2009
Clemson (pick em) at South Carolina (ESPN 12pm)
Jeremy: Clemson (Pick) - LOCK OF THE WEEK
Another surprise Pick IMO. South Carolina has not been very good
lately, while Clemson has been showing some life, especially with the
surging Heisman campaign of CJ Spiller. Is it time for Spurrier to hand
over the visor?
Clemson 28 South Carolina 17
Dan: South Carolina
Two evenly matched teams. CJ Spiller is having a great year, but so is the Gamecock defense. While Clemson has dominated Carolina over the past 10 years, I like the home team, with the better defense to pull off a close one.
South Carolina 17 Clemson 14
Mike: South Carolina (Pick):
Two factors are at play here: (1) South Carolina was resting last week while Clemson was out clinching a spot in the ACC Championship and (2) the Gamecocks need this game to ensure inclusion in a bowl, whereas the Tigers’ bowl fate will be determined solely by its performance against Georgia Tech next week. Even though this is a bitter rivalry contest, as evidenced by the pregame brouhaha that took place several years ago, the game should be much more important to South Carolina than Clemson. Accordingly, look for the host Gamecocks to emerge victorious.
South Carolina 24 Clemson 21
Doug: Clemson (pick em)
I pick South Carolina to win this game every year and it seems like Clemson always wins this one, so I'll go with the Tigers.
Clemson 24 South Carolina 21
Miami (FL) -7 at South Florida (ABC Sports 3:30pm)
Jeremy: Miami (-7)
Nice season for Randy Shannon and Jacory Harris. The ACC has to be
getting a bit nervous seeing the Canes slowly make their way back to the
Miami 34 USF 17
Dan: Miami -7
Miami has been somewhat inconsistent this year, as has USF. You know Miami will put up points, but the Bulls are no slouches on offense either. A touchdown spread is tricky in a shoot-out because this game may come down to the team that has the ball last. A push may be in order, but I will go with Miami to score late to pull off the cover.
Miami 38 USF 30
Mike: Miami (-7):
Miami has struggled offensively since Jacory Harris hurt his thumb, but the Canes seemed to find their stride in the second half of the Duke game last week. In addition, USF has predictably sputtered against the better opponents on its schedule and they are clearly less talented than the Canes. On the other hand, the Bulls delivered their most inspired performance this year against Florida State and they may have a motivational edge this week against another in-state powerhouse, especially since this game should not have any special significance to Miami. Ultimately, however, I believe that Miami’s talent edge will allow them to pull away from USF and cover the spread.
Miami 26 USF 17
Doug: South Florida +7
Let's go Bulls!! You know they've been gearing up for this game for years down in Tampa, and this game means a hundred times more to USF than it does to Miami. Miami is having a nice year, but they're still not the old Miami. Is that Miami ever coming back again?? It could happen, but they just don't seem to have the same tenacity that they had back in the day.
USF has talent. It just depends on if they go out and play disciplined football. If BJ Daniels is clicking, they can play with just about anyone.
I'll go out on a limb here and say that the Bulls pull the shocker and claim the mantle as the second best team in the state of Florida in 2009.
USF 24 Miami 20
Arkansas +6 at LSU (ESPN 7pm)
Jeremy: Arkansas (+6)
The home crowd in Death Valley is the only reason I even paused before
making this pick. LSU is in shambles right now. Ryan Mallett is
looking like the next great Petrino college QB and the Hogs pull out a
big win in Baton Rouge.
Arkansas 27 LSU 21
Dan: Arkansas +6
The Razorbacks are heating up at the right time. However, going to Death Valley at night is still a daunting task. LSU has not shown me anything over the last month that is impressive. I don’t think Arkansas is quite ready to upset the Tigers at home at night, but they can certainly keep it within a touchdown.
LSU 20 Arkansas 17
Matt: Arkansas +6 - Lock of week
Mike: Arkansas (+6)- LOCK OF THE WEEK:
These are two teams going in opposite directions. After last week’s debacle in Oxford, it should be abundantly clear that Les Miles should be viewed as a bumbling fool, rather than some “crazy genius,” as he was characterized by various observers after winning a series of games in fluky fashion over the past few years. By contrast, Bobby Petrino is steadily building a successful program in Fayetteville, just as he did in Louisville, which, as an aside, leads me to wonder why Notre Dame wouldn’t consider giving him a call if the bigger names aren’t interested (more on this next week in an upcoming post). Anyway, considering the coaching mismatch and Arkansas’ recent track record of strong performances against LSU, an outright upset seems quite possible.
Arkansas 26 LSU 21
Doug: Arkansas +6
Not only do I think Arkansas is going to cover in this game, I'm going with the Baby Backs to straight up win this game in Baton Rouge. Arkansas is surging, and LSU is treading water. I think Mallett goes down there, plays a monster game, and suddenly is all the rage on NFL draft boards. Should be interesting to see if he makes the leap with a strong finish this year or if he decides to come back and get one more year under his belt.
I'm a huge believer in Bobby Petrino. His record at Louisville was unbelievable. You don't put up those kinds of numbers and dominate your competition like he did unless you are a great coach. Brian freaking Brohm was being talked about as the #1 overall pick if he had come out after they won the Orange Bowl at Louisville. Collosal mistake by him to stick around for his senior year, and it cost him two rounds in the next year's draft. Another lesson for Jimmy Clausen on why he should get out of dodge now while he is still being considered a top 10 pick. You never know when your value is going to drop through the floor.
On the flip side is Les Miles. If he loses this game at home to Arkansas, the vultures are going to be circling. I think he'd be crazy not to put out feelers to Michigan this offseason about coming on board if Rodriguez flames out again. Seems like the perfect golden parachute for him.
I'm also rooting for this move because it would officialy neuter Michigan into 8-4/9-3 oblivion for the next 10 years. Les would crank out Lloyd Carr type years left and right at Michigan, but never seriously threaten a title run. Couldn't work out any better for ND. Give me a "high floor/low ceiling" guy like Les Miles who we could beat every year over a "low floor/high ceiling" guy like Harbaugh who could potentially come in there and turn Michigan into USC East. Harbaugh at Michigan scares me. Miles at Michigan doesn't at all.
Arkansas 31 LSU 28
Notre Dame +10 at Stanford (ABC Sports 8pm)
I really don't have any more words. In fact, there's a good chance I
won't be watching much of this game. At the beginning of the year, I
thought I would never say this, but its not even fun to watch Clausen,
Floyd and Tate anymore. The offense has become vanilla and predictable.
And the defense just makes the game a living hell. Gerhart will run for
200+, Stanford will hang 35+ and Weis will go out on the sourest of
Stanford 45 ND 28
Dan: Stanford (to win)
I don’t see any way that Notre Dame can slow down Stanford’s rushing attack. While the spread is a bit ridiculous (ND should be able to score), but I can’t see Harbaugh not getting his first win against ND.
Mike: Stanford (-10):
What do you get when you pit a hungry, physical team against a soft opponent with a lame duck coach? My guess is a major blowout.
Stanford 50 Notre Dame 24
I think the blowout talk might be overstating things a bit, but I do not expect to ND to win this game. We've been awful on the road all year, we don't stop the run, and Luck is a good quarterback who will probably kill us with play action all day long. Harbaugh is going to be looking to make a statement in front of a nationwide audience tuning in to see Weis' last stand, and this ND team is coming apart at the seams.
I think ND will be able to move the football on Stanford through the air, but the blueprint has been out on ND all year. Force Charlie to run the ball, rush your front four with guns blazing, and then create an umbrella in the back seven to keep everything in front of you. We stall out in the red zone every time because we don't have any other option but to try to pass the ball in the red zone. With two defenders playing pass coverage for every receiver, it's not easy to find gaps in the defense in the red zone. And when we do try to run in the red zone, we get no push and can't seem to pound it in.
Stanford is still Stanford though. I watched a good chunk of their game against Cal. They just don't have any speed or athleticism, especially on defense. Too many white guys and academic types. Golden Tate is going to have mismatches all day long on Saturday night.
Stanford has followed the same formula all year. Pound the ball on the ground, eat clock, hit play action when you need, keep the defense off the field, and hope you wear the other team out. It's the perfect formula to win at a place like Stanford. But if their ground game stalls or big plays start going against them defensively, they get themselves into trouble.
One intriguing scenario though. What if Charlie wins?? I don't think that changes his future or anything, but would the players try to carry him off the field or anything like that?? (trying to resist a joke about not being able to carry him to the locker room....really, I'm trying here) I could see it. Didn't Bob Davie win his last game?? What happened?? I don't even remember.
I expect a back and forth game with both teams moving it up and down the field. Ultimately, I think Stanford will grind us down in the fourth quarter like UConn did last week and close the book on the Charlie Weis era.
Stanford 34 ND 27
Texas A&M (+21) over Texas: With all of the pressure on the Horns, this is far too many points to lay in a road game against a fierce in-state rival.
Florida State (+21) over Florida: See Alabama-Auburn analysis above (although this game is at Florida and I do not expect an outright upset).
Mississippi State (+7) over Mississippi: Egg Bowl! With an extra week to prepare, Dan Mullen’s team will score a signature victory for this season over an Ole Miss team coming off an emotional win.
North Carolina (-4) over North Carolina State: The Tar Heels are playing great football, while NC State has completely melted down. Also, there is a revenge angle at play after last year’s bloodletting in Chapel Hill by the Wolfpack.
Arizona (-3.5) over Arizona State: This game is at ASU, but the Wildcats are the far superior team. The Territorial Cup will return to Tucson in decisive fashion.
Tennessee (-3) over Kentucky: Father and son Kiffin should have no problem dispatching a Kentucky team led by a true freshman QB, even in Lexington.
Browns +14 at the Bengals -- Bengals HAVE to win this game. If they lose to the Browns, the implosion is on. One game at a time from here on out. As far as I'm concerned, the Bengals can beat anyone and lose to anyone. If you turn the ball over and can't convert in the red zone and can't pressure the passer, you aren't going to win many games.
Texas A&M +21 vs. Texas -- I'm rooting for BCS chaos. Give me one big upset this week between Florida, Texas, and Bama. I want a BCS meltdown that leads to overwhelming consensus for a playoff.
Illinois +16.5 at Cincy - WOW. This line is too high. Do people not realize that Cincy is pretty much squeaking by everyone at this point?? Illinois can make their season with a win over Cincy, and it's not like the Illini don't have talent. They've had two weeks to gear up for this game, and my in-laws and the rest of the Illini nation are heading to Nippert Stadium on Saturday hoping to pull the shocker.
Kentucky +3 vs. Tennessee -- Go Cats! Might have to put the excitement about UK basketball on hold for a week to cheer on the Wildcats in football. Heck, if they get invited to the Music City bowl, I might have to get down there for that one.
Florida State +21 at Florida -- Could be Bobby Bowden's last game at the Swamp. Maybe his last regular season game as head coach at FSU. Wish he would make it official.
Lock of the Week:
Lock of the Week: