September 09, 2010

WeIs Roundtable Week 2 Picks: Clash of the Titans Edition

Some truly epic showdowns this week sure to make for good theater. Beyond this being Michigan Week in South Bend, Hurricanes touch down in Ohio, Seminoles invade Apache territory, and a Yankee power goes into Dixie to stir up a dormant rivalry. Talk about a who’s who of college football. All we’re missing is a Florida-Texas shootout and LSU traveling to the LA Coliseum. Suppose you could create such a schedule in your NCAA ’10 dynasty , but I digress. (Speaking of video games, would Denard Robinson be the fastest video player since ’99 Mike Vick? Or Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson?).

Onto the picks…

Georgia (+2.5) @ South Carolina 12:00 pm ET, ESPN2

Dan: South Carolina (-2.5)

Georgia and South Carolina open their SEC campaigns once gain following opening day blow-outs for both teams. Stephen Garcia may finally be the guy to successfully implement Spurrier’s high scoring offense. Meanwhile, Georgia takes a freshman QB on the road for his first SEC start. Additionally, you have the off the field distractions associated with AJ Green’s garage sale. I had hoped the line would be a little closer to even, because I like South Carolina to win a close one. Georgia’s defense had some serious question marks last year, and I’m not sure they’ve resolved those issues. Throw in the Freshman QB and the AJ Green sideshow, and the Gamecocks get off to a good start in the SEC.

South Carolina 31 Georgia 27

Jeremy: South Carolina (-2.5)

I hate this pick. Every year, Spurrier and the Gamecocks rope me into believing that this might be the year that they put everything together and make a run for an SEC division title. In a year in which the Gators look like they’re going to be having some growing pains, Georgia has lost its stud WR for the first 4 games and the rest of the SEC East is thoroughly mediocre, now is the time for the Ball Coach to make his move. The Cocks looked impressive on both sides of the ball last week, though it was against an entirely overmatched Southern Miss squad and an apparently disinterested DeAndre Brown. The faithful in Columbia help Spurrier and South Carolina grab a big win at home.

South Carolina 23 Georgia 20

Jimmy: South Carolina (-2.5)

The news was grim in Athens this week with AJ Green ruled out Saturday and beyond. (Seriously, why would any athlete, in this day and age, think it appropriate to sell his jersey to someone…especially for a grand?! That reeks of shenanigans. The scenario could’ve made one of Jim Herrick’s multiple choice questions, it was that easy to know it was wrong). I like the home team in tight SEC matchups, even if Mark Richt has an outstanding conference road record. An un-tested QB in his first SEC road test is a lot to ask of anyone. So give me the Ole Ball Coach finding a way to win by a field goal. Southern Miss was a better preparation than Louisiana Lafayette, so expect the Gamecocks to play with a slightly sharper edge.

South Carolina 24 Georgia 21

Matt: South Carolina (-2.5)

For those loyal readers who read our college football preview, you may remember that I picked South Carolina as one of my sleeper teams. And so while my head tells me to pick the Dawgs here, I am going to stick with my gut and go with the Ol’ Ball Coach at home. Not having to deal with AJ Green due to suspension certainly helps, but the South Carolina offense and defense were in midseason form last week against respectable foe Southern Miss. Look for a defensive struggle, with emerging fantasy stud Alshon Jeffery coming up with a few huge catches down the stretch.

South Carolina 24 Georgia 20

Mike: South Carolina (-2.5)

I could not have been more impressed by South Carolina last week. In addition to having an athletic, aggressive defense as usual, the Gamecocks, led by true freshman tailback Marcus Lattimore and a shockingly effective two quarterback system, finally appear to be competent on offense under Steve Spurrier. Although Georgia trots out superior talent on an annual basis, South Carolina is always competitive in this series. It seems logical, therefore, that the Gamecocks will win this week in Columbia now that they have seemingly eliminated the talent gap with the Bulldogs.

South Carolina 31 Georgia 24

Oregon (-13) @ Tennessee 7:00 pm ET, ESPN

Dan: Tennessee (+13)

The Volunteer faithful will be rocking for a night game at Neyland against a Top 10 opponent coming off a 72 point lambasting last week. Tennessee also looked impressive with a 50-0 shut-out of its inferior in-state opponent (for their first shut-out since 2003!!). Of all the games this week, this is the one I feel least comfortable about. I can easily see Oregon just blowing up the Volunteer defense. But I’m going to have faith that in a night game at home, UT can at least keep themselves within striking distance. Expect them to try and slow the game by keeping the ball on the ground and grinding away at the Ducks’ defense. On Defense, the Vols should try to put plenty of men in the box to try and slow down the Oregon rushing attack and make them pick up slow first downs and convert 3rd and 3s and 4s. I expect them to be successful in their game plan, but that it still will not be enough to overcome the Oregon attack.

Oregon 28 Tennessee 20

Jeremy: Oregon (-13)

I’ll fully admit that I’m taking Oregon because I’m not sure I can name 4 players on Tennessee this year. This line is huge for a road game, but I’m a big believer in that Chip Kelly offense, no matter who lines up under center. I’m sure the Vols fans have braced themselves for a rebuilding year, but how patient are they going to be when Tennessee puts up a 4-8, 3-9 type year this season?

Oregon 34 Tennessee 13

Jimmy: Tennessee (+13)

Oregon may have turned in the finest performance from Week 1 with their emasculation of New Mexico. With Chip Kelly manning the controls, the Quack Attack will keep winning with precision and purpose. Oregon will be the team to beat in the Pac-10, but this is a ton of points to be giving a hungry, dare I say desperate, Vols team under the lights of General Robert Neyland Stadium. The Vols seem to have found a go-to running back in Tauren Poole, who will keep Rocky Top playing deep into the 2nd half. But it won't be enough.

Oregon 38 Tennessee 28

Matt: Tennessee (+13)

So last week I found myself at a University of Tennessee bar in the middle of Manhattan, and I don’t know if it was the unbridled enthusiasm among the Vol faithful, the constant playing of Rocky Top after every score, the 50 spot on the scoreboard or the copious amounts of Bud Light, but I have to admit I got a little excited about this Tennessee team. Having made the trip to Knoxville for the ND game in 2004, I can attest to how great the tradition is there, how hospitable the fans were, and just what a great experience it was to be in Neyland Stadium. Just like my experience at Nebraska, I find myself rooting for teams where I have enjoyed a road trip and been treated well by fans (unlike, say, those fine people of West Lafayette).

As for the game, I couldn’t have been more impressed with Tauren Poole. I know it was UT-Martin, and if I had watched the Oregon bloodletting of New Mexico, I would probably be saying the same thing about them, but that Tennessee offense looked explosive. It was pretty much unlike anything seen in the end of the Fulmer years or under Kiffin. Oregon will win the game, but UT keeps it respectable in front of a great crowd on Rocky Top.

Side note, Derek Dooley is facing an incredible challenge in his first year on the job. Here’s how the schedule shapes up the next two months: #7 Oregon, #8 Florida, UAB, @#19 LSU, @#22 Georgia, #1 Alabama, @#24 South Carolina. Holy Crap. That is maybe the toughest stretch of games I have ever seen. To even go 3-4 in that stretch would be admirable.

Oregon 35 Tennessee 27

Mike: Oregon (-13)

This is a lot of points to lay against a Tennessee team at Neyland Stadium, but these aren't your father's Vols. Notwithstanding an easy win over UT-Martin, Tennessee is short on talent at numerous positions on both sides of the ball and its best skill position player, Gerald Jones, is now injured. Oregon rolled up an eye popping 720 yards of offense against a FBS opponent (albeit a terrible one in New Mexico), so there is no reason to think that they will have any problem scoring points. I expect the Vols to fall behind early, which will allow the Ducks to make life miserable for the underwhelming Matt Simms by dialing up the defensive pressure.

42 Tennessee 17

Miami (+9.5) @ Ohio State 3:40 pm ET, ESPN

Dan: Miami (+9.5) LOCK OF THE WEEK

Here we have another big line for a ranked road team. That said, I don’t get this line. I know the OSU offense is not the typical offense. But, deep down, Jim Tressel still wants to play Tressel-ball in big games. Additionally, I think Jacory Harris’s ability to read the defense and identify his hot read will be a big factor since OSU will likely need to blitz to try and put pressure on Harris. Additionally, while Prior put up good numbers last week, he has still shown a tendency for an errant pass occasionally. While that was not a big issue against the Thundering Herd, expect the Canes to make him pay for those mistakes. I’ve been anti-Randy Shannon for some time, but I think the Canes have the potential for a big season. That said, OSU has really dominated the Horseshoe under Tressel, and despite the fact that I don’t see the match-ups that favor OSU, they still find a way to get it done.

OSU 27 Miami 24

Jeremy: Miami (+9.5) – LOCK OF THE WEEK

On a bit of an underdog kick here. Just think this is too many points in this game. Tressel always plays it pretty close to the vest in big time games, even at home, and Jacory Harris will find a way to keep the Canes in it. Should be fun to watch Pryor up against the speed of Miami’s defense – the Bucks don’t get too many helpings of SEC-type athletic ability in the Big Ten. Bucks win, but in a tight one.

OSU 23 Miami 19

Jimmy: Miami (+9.5)

A pure cover pick. Jim Tressel will have his hands full with the athletic Hurricanes. The Buckeyes defense will need to answer the bell as Jacory Harris looked pretty comfortable last week, albeit against inferior competition. I fully expect Tressel to impose his will on this game, slowing things down and playing his close-to-the-sweater-vest Tressel Ball, barely loosening the reins on Terrelle Pryor. It’s a shame this isn’t in a primetime slot as this matchup is far more fascinating than the Penn State-Bama shellacking that will take place. If this game were in Coral Gables, I think the Hurricanes could come away with the victory – that’s how close in talent I believe the programs are. But the Horseshoe is an imposing place to steal a victory. Will be listening for Mike Collins’ updates on this one inside the stadium.

Ohio State 23 Miami 17

Matt: Miami (+9.5)

For all of the talk that the U is back, they haven’t really won a BIG game yet under Randy Shannon. Jacory Harris has been talked about, but what has he actually accomplished yet? They have had a few nice seasons, but any proclamation that Miami is somehow suddenly a national power again seems a little premature to me.

Having said all that, I have been on the Randy Shannon bandwagon for years, so I expect them to make a leap again this year. An opening game shutout over the dregs of football was a nice start, but shutting down Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes will obviously be a totally different challenge. I think the game will be close, but ultimately no revenge will be paid for the pass interference flag from ’03. Bucks win.

Ohio State 24 Miami 20

Mike: Miami (+9.5)

I'm not nearly as high on the Hurricanes as many commentators because I'm not certain that Randy Shannon is capable of fielding a championship caliber team, but I do believe that they are almost as talented as Ohio State. Unfortunately, both teams played tomato cans last week, so there is not much recent evidence upon which to formulate an opinion. Based purely on my preseason perceptions of each team, however, I think this will be a tightly contested contest that will be decided late in the 4th quarter. I'll side with the team having superior coaching and a home field edge, but the visiting Hurricanes will play enough cover to cover this large spread.

Ohio State 27 Miami 20

Florida State (+9) @ Oklahoma 3:30 pm ET, ABC

Dan: Florida State +9

What a match-up! Really wish I could see this game. And I love all these large road dogs this week. It makes for some interesting betting, particularly on teasers. OU’s defense looked soft in their opening match-up against Utah State. However, I have to imagine the Sooners were a little guilty of looking past Utah State towards the looming match-up with the Seminoles. That said, Ponder should make the defense pay and has more weapons around him to utilize than Utah State. I expect the Seminoles to score on the Sooners. However, I also expect DeMarco Murray to have a big game. It takes more than 1 game for a defense to adopt an entirely new scheme, particularly one that was one of the weaker run defenses in college football last year. Look for the Seminoles to slip up in their zone coverage and allow large cut-back lanes for Murray. This should be a high scoring game that the Sooners will pull-off, but I think the spread is just too big.

OU 31 FSU 28

Jeremy: Florida St. (+9)

I’m not as ready to hop onto the Jimbo Fisher bandwagon as some of our compatriots, but there’s something fishy going on with the defense in Norman. The Sooners haven’t put a consistently great D on the field in a few years and perhaps its time to begin asking the hard questions about just what’s plaguing Bob Stoops on that side of the ball. I’m wary to take too much away from that “close” win over Utah St., but 9 points is too many against an experienced Noles offense.

Oklahoma 31 Florida St. 24

Jimmy: Florida State (+9)

The Sooners scored an underwhelming 31-24 victory last week against Utah State, while the Seminoles looked quite the opposite in an impressive 59-6 vs. Samford and Sons. Bob Stoops will motivate the boomer out of his defense in this huge home game. Jimbo Fisher’s first road test as an actual head coach won’t be easy in Norman. Christian Ponder won’t be able to move the offense with the same ease and is sure to make some costly turnovers. A healthy DeMarco Murray is the best player in college football, looking the part with 218 yards and 2 TDs. Since it was a little too close for comfort, Murray was leaned on heavily for 35 carries, much more than Stoops wants to risk for his star player. But they may need to do it again if Landry Jones doesn’t shake off the cobwebs. I think Oklahoma narrowly avoids defeat and Florida State’s star keeps rising, even in defeat.

Oklahoma 31 FSU 27

Matt: Florida State (+9)

One of the more fascinating games of the season, as the new look Noles go up against the Sooners in a battle of the Stoops brothers. The real question is this: was last week’s shredding of the OU secondary by Utah State QB Diontre Borel a . Hardly a household name, but the guy threw for 341 yards! Unless there are some serious adjustments, expect Christian Ponder to pick on the young corners, and this game could evolve into a shootout.

The other question for OU is the performance of Landry Jones. He wasn’t very good last week statistically, and it’s unreasonable to expect Demarco Murray to crank out 200 yard games every week. I know it has only been one game, but it really feels like everything I have read about FSU under Jimbo Fisher has been positive from the minute he took over. (Side note: Enough already Bobby Bowden. We get it, you were forced out, you feel bad, you may never be able to have a relationship with the people who did this to you. Guess what – it should have happened 5 years ago.) If I had any guts I would take the Noles to straight up win this one, but I will go with a close Sooner win.

OU 31 FSU 28

Mike: Oklahoma (-9)

Prior to last week, I would have picked Oklahoma by about 21 points in this game. The Sooners should still be viewed as a possible contender for the BCS title, but it is clear that they have some serious issues in the secondary, as evidenced by Utah State’s success through the air. While Florida State should provide little resistance for DeMarco Murray and the Oklahoma offense, the Sooners could similarly struggle to slow down Christian Ponder and the FSU passing game, so a shootout seems to be in order. This is a tough game to call, but I think Bob Stoops will make just enough defensive adjustments to slow FSU’s offense and earn a close cover.

Oklahoma 37 Florida State 27

Penn State (+11.5) @ Alabama 7:00 pm ET, ESPN

Dan: Alabama (-11.5)

We have some very large spreads in ranked games this week. However, unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, this line makes much more sense than the Seminoles line. Even without standout DT Marcell Dareus, I have a difficult time seeing how the Lions are going to score on the Tide defense. Penn State doesn’t see these types of defenses in the Big 10. On the other side of the ball, Alabama will likely have to change the way it plays its game with Mark Ingram likely on the sideline. Expect Julio Jones to be even more involved and expect a step-up performance from the big #8. Alabama doesn’t tend to blow teams out, but they should be able to hold Penn State to few enough points to get the cover late.

Alabama 24 Penn State 10

Jeremy: Alabama (-11.5)

Wary of this game as well – Bama is playing without (arguably) its best players on both sides of the ball. If he weren’t a returning Heisman winner, I’d say that Mark Ingram is about to get Wally Pipp’ed by Richardson, who at times last year impressed me much more than Ingram. In the end, the big absences don’t matter as Bama pounds freshman QB Robert Bolden into dust, causing 4 turnovers and winning big.

Alabama 34 PSU 14

Jimmy: Alabama (-11.5) LOCK OF THE WEEK

This dandy of a matchup between historic programs looks terrific on paper. Little did I know there was such a rivalry forged in the 70’s and renewed nearly every year of the 80’s. A legendary coach against a legend in the making. Two of the most iconic jerseys in the game waging gridiron war. Only problem is this Penn State team is more equipped for the Civil War, while the Crimson Tide boast the finest weaponry on offense and defense. (Not only do I hate comparing football to war, but I extended the metaphor. Why? Call it the Michigan Week jitters. Let’s see where it goes anyways). JoePa may be as old as General William Tecumseh Sherman, but there will be no razing of this Southern power. Not to mention JoePa is lacking in the grizzled beard department.

I feel sorry for true freshman Rob Bolden being thrown to the wolves in his 2nd career start. It won’t be pretty. Evan Royster may be All-Big Ten, but he’ll be lucky to find any daylight on the ground. Meanwhile, the Tide will keep rolling without the defending Heisman winner. That’s how much talent Nick Saban has on his sideline. Here’s hoping these schools don’t go another 20 years before their next meeting.

Alabama 33 Penn State 14

Matt: Alabama (-11.5) LOCK OF THE WEEK

This line couldn’t be high enough for me. In case folks haven’t noticed, Mark Ingram may be the most replaceable player in football despite being the reigning Heisman winner, with a host of young backs led by Trent Richardson, who didn’t even need to strap on the helmet in the 2nd half against San Jose State. Meanwhile, up in State College, there should be some real worry over the fact that Youngstown State freshman QB completed 84% of his passes with 2 td’s (admittedly one was in garbage time.) If he can do that, what is the Alabama aerial attack going to do? And Joe Pa’s decision to play the freshman Robert Bolden may be wise, but making your second career start in Tuscaloosa against the Tide is just asking for trouble. I think this one gets ugly early.

Alabama 37 Penn State 16

Mike: Alabama (-11.5) LOCK OF THE WEEK

The jury is still out on Alabama's defense given its inexperience, but Nick Saban's track record suggests that the Tide will be stingy on that side of the ball. Furthermore, Alabama should have an improved offense this year, thereby allowing them to offset any declines on defense. More importantly, I don't bet on true freshman quarterbacks who are making their first career road start against a superior opponent, so you can be certain that I'm not taking Penn State this week. This game could turn really ugly for the Nittany Lions if they fall behind early because it is extremely doubtful that Robert Bolden will be able to thrive in front of 100,000 rabid 'Bama fans.

Alabama 35 Penn State 6


Dan: Auburn (-1.5) @ Mississippi State

The road teams on these Thursday night games are always a dangerous pick. However, when I look at the match-ups on paper, I just see victory for the Tigers at every turn. Cameron Newton and their multi-threat offense should move the ball on a relatively inexperienced Bulldog Defense. While the Auburn secondary struggled last week, their defense line and linebacking corps are solid, and should really hamper the ability of the Mississippi State offense to mobilize, particularly given the lack of fluidity with a two-quarterback system. I think the road and Thursday night angle cause the game to be closer than it should be (maybe Cameron Newton comes back to earth a little with a couple fumbles), but that Auburn gets the cover in the end.

Auburn 23 Mississippi State 17

Jeremy: South Florida (+16.5) @ Florida

I’m not ready to bury the Gators yet, but boy did they look terrible last week. I’m making this pick fully expecting them to bounce back in a big way this week, but the fact that they were unable to execute a simple shotgun snap has to be awful worrisome for Urban Meyer. The Bulls shocked the Noles last year, and although I don’t expect them to win in Gainesville, I do expect this to be a game until the 4th quarter.

Florida 31 USF 17

Jimmy: Georgia Tech (-14) @ Kansas

First off, a personal shout out to WeIs Heisman hopeful James Rodgers – 4 catches for 75 yards and the games first TD paced the Beavers against a stout TCU defense. He also carried twice for 8 yards and handled all kick and punt returns, adding up to 210 all-purpose yards. He may not be cracking the polls just yet, but we’re keeping his candidacy on the back-burner. More to come from such a terrifically named human, especially with another marquee matchup looming in 2 weeks on the blue turf of Boise State.

My Bonus pick this week goes to Georgia Tech in a nod to my college fantasy QB, Josh Nesbitt. Nesbitt will shred the same Jayhawks defense that was exposed by North Dakota State last week. Okay, so they only gave up 168 total yards to the Bison in a pathetic 6-3 loss - not exactly the rousing start to the Turner Gill Era anyone had in mind. Paul Johnson’s smart, disciplined team will take advantage of the disarrayed state of affairs in Lawrence.

Ga. Tech 45 Kansas 17

Matt: South Florida +16.5 @ Florida

As long time readers know, I have been a South Florida supporter for quite some time. And I can’t really explain why – my mother is a proud graduate of The U, I almost went to grad school at UF, and Bobby Bowden is in my top 10 of people I would like to have a meal with (preferably breakfast, in a southern diner with Bobby bantering back and forth with a plump older waitress named Mabel or Gertrude. It would be awesome), but for some reason I like the underdog status of the Bulls and the way they have literally built the program from scratch in the past 15 years. And Irish fans, if you don’t think one year from now in the home opener that Skip Holtz and the Bulls will match ND athlete for athlete, you’re mistaken.

Up the interstate in Gainesville, the Gators couldn’t have looked worse against a Miami team coming off an 11 loss season. They had 25 yards through three quarters! I watched a fair amount of this game, and what it comes down to is that Florida just doesn’t have a running game it can rely on. Guys like Rainey and Demps and Moody are smaller guys with big play potential, but really not every down power backs. And there is no Tebow to bail out the offense. Don’t get me wrong, Urban is too good of a coach not to figure out how to get the offense rolling, but things could get a little dicey early on in the season and I fully expect at least 2 losses for the Gators this year. The Bulls keep it close, but Gators win in the 4th quarter.

Florida 32 USF 21

Mike: California (-9) over Colorado

Don’t be fooled by Colorado’s victory over Colorado State last week because the Buffaloes benefitted greatly from the mistakes of CSU’s true freshman quarterback, Pete Thomas, who was turnover prone in his first career start. Unfortunately for Colorado, California, which is flying comfortably under the radar this year, will not be nearly as generous. Expect a convincing victory, featuring several big plays for explosive freshman Keenan Allen, for the Bears in Strawberry Canyon.

33 Colorado 14

Last Week:

Dan: 2-3-1

Jeremy: 5-0-1

Jimmy: 3-2-1

Matt: 5-0-1

Mike: 3-2-1

Locks of the Week:

Dan: 0-0-1

Jeremy: 1-0-0

Jimmy: 1-0-0

Matt: 0-0-0

Mike: 0-0-1


Anonymous said...

Ugh, I thought out of anywhere one of you guys would stray from the beaten path at how good South Carolina looked last week, but all you agreed!!

Were we watching the same game? You mean to tell me that even if ND beat Southern Miss by the same score that you'd be signing the same tune if the Irish gave up 404 yards and 23 first downs?

I thought SC looked good on offense and Garcia looks improved, but come on. Southern Miss just couldn't put the ball in the end zone, otherwise that's a tight game into the 3rd quarter.

Matt said...

I didn't watch the whole game. But facts are facts. USC held them to 6 points until a garbage time TD. 2.5 yards per rush. The total yardage is a bit alarming, but USM was down early and forced to throw a lot.

If anything, the USC defense has a track record. Statistically last year they were top 25. So if I am a Carolina fan, this game encourages me because there was some signs of offensive life that have been fleeting recently under Spurrier.