October 07, 2010

WeIs Roundtable Week 6 Picks: Wide Right Edition

Not the same gravitas to this week's slate of games with title aspirations at stake for both schools, but very juicy matchups nonetheless.  We bring you the four games with two ranked foes, plus a Thursday night showdown in Manhattan.  It's usually these "calm before the storm" weeks that carry less fanfare that turn into the wild upset weekends.  We'll see if that is the case.  On to the picks...
Nebraska (-11) at Kansas State (Thurs)
Dan: Nebraska (-11)

I feel like we’ve discussed ad nauseum on this blog about the home team on Thursday night. But the Huskers have been dominant this year (albeit against some fairly weak competition, UW notwithstanding). I think Bo will have them ready to go for their Big 12 opener. Nebraska rolls big on the road, headed towards the Big 12 Championship game.

Nebraska 31 Kansas State 14

Jeremy: Nebraska (-11)

I’m sold on the resurgence of the Huskers, if only because Doug and Matt  keep telling me to believe.  This seems like a perfect trap game though – on the road on a Thursday in Manhattan with big games looming on the horizon.  If this were anyone other than KSU, I might be tempted to pick the ‘dog here.  But I don’t think KSU is any good, and the Huskers should roll.

Nebraska 31  Kansas St.  14

Jimmy: Nebraska (-11)

Call it the Thursday Evening RoaD Syndrome (TERDS), but I give the home team on a short week with an animated, happy-not-to-be-in-the-library crowd a big advantage.  What has TERDS taught us this season?

Short Week Night Games of Merit:

Pitt 24 @ Utah 27 (Thurs)
Auburn 17 @ Mississippi State 14 (Thurs)
West Virginia 24 @ Marshall 21 (Fri)
Cincinnati 19 @ NC State 30 (Thurs)
Kansas 16 @ Southern Miss. 31 (Fri)
California 31 @ Nevada 52 (Fri)
Miami 31 @ Pitt 3 (Thurs)
Texas A&M 35 @ Oklahoma St. 38 (Thurs)
BYU 16 @ Utah St. 31 (Fri)

With only one exception, the home team in short week contests is victorious (6-3 in above sampling) or at least down to the wire. 

Were the Huskers guilty of playing down to their competition in slipping by South Dakota State two weeks ago?  Probably.  But they’ve had plenty of time to work things out, so the “short week” theory doesn’t apply to them.  I like Nebraska and what Bo Pelini is doing.  The Blackshirts show up in the Little Apple.

Nebraska 34  Kansas State 21

Matt: Kansas State (+11)

Another battle of two Big 12 undefeateds kicks off the college football weekend from the Little Apple.  I really have no idea how good Nebraska is since their schedule has been a joke.  They beat South Dakota State  17-3 two weeks ago and haven’t played since.  Speaking of their schedule, what is their toughest remaining game?  At Oklahoma State maybe?  They could go through the whole season without playing a ranked team.  Come on Nebraska, you’re better than Western Kentucky, Idaho, South Dakota State and Washington in the nonconference.

Kansas State has played better competition, having already beaten UCLA and Iowa State.  But there are signs that this team may be more pretender than contender.  For starters, the passing offense is ranked 103rd in the country, and against a defense like Nebraska, it’s tough to survive being a one dimensional offense.  They haven’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard either, squeaking out a 17-13 win over UCF last time out.  It will be interesting to see how emerging star running back Daniel Thomas does against the Blackshirts.

Nebraska 27 KSU 20

Mike: Kansas State (+11)

This is a classic recipe for a trap game for Nebraska, which must face a wily veteran coach in an electric road environment with its biggest game of the season looming ahead next week (Texas).  KSU is not equipped to throw the ball against most teams, let alone Nebraska, so the Wildcats will rely heavily upon their talented RB, Daniel Thomas, to keep this game close.  On defense, KSU should be able to force some mistakes by Taylor Martinez, who, despite his accolades from the media, is far from a finished product as a quarterback.  In keeping with the Thursday night tradition of wild finishes, I will call for the outright upset.

Kansas State 25 Nebraska 22

Michigan State (+5) at Michigan

Dan: Michigan State (+5)

I was absolutely shocked by the UW MSU game last week. Maybe the Spartans can avoid the typical mid-season swoon. I am not counting on that yet, but I do think they will compete this weekend for sure. Michigan’s defense is awful, and MSU should have no problem finding the end zone. Robinson will certainly get his, leading to a high scoring affair. But 5 points seems a little high for this barn burner.

Michigan 38 MSU 35

Jeremy: Michigan St. (+5)

Actually a bit surprised the Spartans are getting so many points here.  If we’ve learned anything about Michigan this year, its that they probably aren’t going to blow out too many teams with competent offenses.  Denard Robinson is certainly explosive, and definitely deserving of the Heisman hype, but the defense is still atrocious, and Kirk Cousins will be able to move Sparty at will through the air.  I think Robinson has one more late rally left in him, but MSU covers on the road.

Michigan 35  MSU 34

Jimmy: Michigan State (+5)

When do the wheels fall off for Sparty?  Will they at all?  After this week, two road trips (Iowa and an overrated Penn State) stand between them and an improbable BCS trip thanks to a Buckeyes-less schedule.  But they have to get by their in-state rival first.  Michigan has plenty of losses due them as they’ve been playing with house money for a few weeks.  This will be the best defensive unit Shoelace has faced.  We’ll find out if Greg Jones is everything he’s cracked out to be if he can shadow and mitigate Robinson’s effect on the outcome.  This should be a great game and I’m siding with State, more out of spite than anything. 

Michigan State 37  Michigan 31

Matt: Michigan State (+5)

Someone has to be able to beat Michigan.  They are a one man team!  Their defense is awful – MAC level.  Indiana is probably the second worst team in the Big Ten this year and they really could have or should have beaten Michigan last week.  Prediction: Michigan ends up with 5 losses.  They are not a good football team folks.

Michigan State 38 Michigan 35

Mike: Michigan State (+5)

Between Michigan State’s excellent tandem of running backs and Michigan’s Denard Robinson, the box score from this game should be packed with eye popping rushing totals (query- is there a prop bet available for o/u on total rushing yards?).  The difference, however, is that the Spartan defense, with its fine set of linebackers, should be able to contain Robinson to some degree, whereas the Wolverine defense will likely provide no resistance to Michigan State’s offense.  Despite Sparty’s tendency to choke in big games, I’ll call for the outright upset here as well.

Michigan State 40 Michigan 37

Alabama (-8.5) at South Carolina

Dan: South Carolina (+8.5)

UF burned me last week in Tuscaloosa, but I’m not as convinced that the Tide is as dominant on the road yet. The key here will be the turnover margin. If South Carolina can maintain an even turnover margin, and Stephen Garcia can avoid the costly fumbles that plagued him against Auburn, I think the Gamecocks can keep this close late, with the Tide content to grind out the clock with a TD lead.

Alabama 24 South Carolina 17

Jeremy: Alabama (-8.5)

I’m taking the Tide here simply because I’m terrified to pick against them.  After pulling out that big road win against Arkansas and destroying Florida at home, Bama looks like a runaway train that might not be stopped until they meet Oregon in the title game.  Wouldn’t be surprised to see the Gamecocks cover, but also wouldn’t be surprised by an old fashioned thumping.

Alabama 34  South Carolina 23

Jimmy: South Carolina (+8.5)

Road SEC games are dogfights, plain and simple.  Bama was lucky to escape Fayetteville with a win.  Now they face a rested Gamecocks squad looking for a statement win.  I should learn my lesson after the Tide rolled all over Florida, but I think Spurrier’s team is better than the Gators this year. 

Alabama 31  South Carolina 24

Matt: Alabama (-8.5)

This could be the Ol’ Ball Coach’s last go-round.  South Carolina finally has a competent offense.  The game is in Columbia.  Alabama is coming off an emotional win at home and now has to hit the road.  All should add up to South Carolina shocking the world right?  Two words:  Nick Saban.  The Ingram / Richardson duo will remain too tough to tame and I think Alabama pulls away in the second half despite a monster game from Alshon Jeffery, who is the best receiver in the country IMHO.

Alabama 31 USC 17

Mike: South Carolina (+8.5)

Alabama is the class of college football, but it is a very tough order for any team to play three top-flight opponents in consecutive weeks.  Meanwhile, South Carolina has enjoyed an off week to rest its wounds and the atmosphere at Williams-Brice should be raucous.  Carolina should be able to hold its own on defense, so the Gamecocks can win this game outright if Stephen Garcia and/or Connor Shaw can avoid turning the ball over.  In another road nail biter, however, Alabama will muster just enough offense to remain unbeaten.

Alabama 19 South Carolina 17

LSU (+7.5) at Florida

Dan: Florida (-7.5) LOCK OF THE WEEK

The Gators are going to be smarting after the beat down last week. Meanwhile, after betting LSU against Tennessee (Thanks Millman), I vowed never to pick the Tigers again. They were terrible! Back in the comfortable confines of Ben Hill Griffin, look for the UF offense to finally find their comfort zone. I like Florida to win comfortably.

UF 24 LSU 13

Jeremy: LSU (+7.5) – LOCK OF THE WEEK

Ugh.  What an ugly game this should be.  Two teams living off reputations with flaws all over the place.  LSU can’t move the ball and has a certifiably insane head coach with seemingly no idea how to run a football team.  Florida is young and inexperienced at all the important positions and is coming off the beating of Urban Meyer’s life in Tuscaloosa.  I expect the Gators to win this game in the Swamp, but failing to cover. 

Florida 27  LSU 24

Jimmy: Florida (-7.5) LOCK OF THE WEEK

Two fanbases that are grasping at air on what to think of their teams.  LSU fans can’t savor any bit of their miraculous heart-stopping win over moribund Tennessee.  The Mad Hatter may have found a spark by re-inserting Jarrett Lee back into the mix.  Will a two-headed monster work?  Tough environment to find out.  Florida returns home to the Swamp a shell of their former self.  But the score could’ve been much different if Florida didn’t shoot themselves in the foot in a myriad of ways.  Not that LSU’s defense is a slouch, but those were uncharacteristic mistakes for an Urban Meyer team.  Can’t expect that to happen two weeks in a row.  Florida comes out of this week feeling much better about their situation.

Florida 26  LSU 13

Matt: Florida (-7.5) LOCK OF THE WEEK

I tuned into the closing seconds of the LSU-Tennessee game last week but instead caught the last few minutes of Dumb and Dumber.  Just an absolute clinic on how not to coach your team in the last minute by Miles and Dooley.  Bottom line – LSU needed a miracle to beat an awful Tennessee team at home.  They have NO offense.  My preseason prediction that Jordan Jefferson would be the best QB in the SEC West should find a way into Conan’s opening monologue because it’s that funny.   Needless to say, with games against Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas still left, I don’t see the Tigers enjoying this #12 ranking (which is ridiculous – did the pollsters even watch this game or see the highlights?  LSU is closer to being the 112th ranked team than the 12th ranked team in the country) for very long.

Florida was a mess last week, and there are already cries from Gator Nation for Trey Burton to take over for the square peg / round hole QB John Brantley (sound familiar?  It’s a Chris Leak / Tim Tebow situation all over again).  That is coupled with a shocking lack of talent at the offensive skill positions.  Seriously, how did Urban allow himself to have no legit wide receivers and a roster of Demps and a bunch of scat-backs?  I still think that South Carolina unseats the Gators this year in the East.

Florida 21 LSU 6

Mike: Florida (-7.5)

It should go without saying that this game should be low scoring with two powerful defenses and two rather inept offenses.  Still, Florida has the better offense, albeit slightly, along with the much better coach and the home field advantage.  Whether it’s scoring on defense or special teams, the Gators will find a way to beat LSU and cover this spread.

Florida 17 LSU 0

Florida State (+6) at Miami

Dan: Florida State (+6)

The Canes area  bit of an enigma this year (as they have been under Shannon). Jacory Harris is a big time playmaker, but still makes too many errors to be a big time quarterback. On the other side, Ponder has continued to improve and has now managed to avoid any interceptions in the past 3 games. In fact, if you drop the complete stinker at OU, Ponder has 8 interceptions and only one pick.  Now, you might argue that UM’s defense is closer to OU’s than the other teams on the Seminoles’ schedule, but I’m not necessarily convinced. I do think the Canes have just enough playmakers on offense to get the win, but expect a few Harris errors to keep the Seminoles in the game.

Miami 28 FSU 24

Jeremy: Miami (-6)

I am, however, not sold on the FSU resurgence – they looked so miserable against Oklahoma that I’m actually surprised this line isn’t higher, even though it’s a big rivalry game that’s historically been close.  Maybe I’ll get burned for starting to believe in the Canes, but I think Randy Shannon is moving this ship in the right direction, and Jacory Harris leads a late TD drive to put this one out of reach.

Miami 30  FSU 20

Jimmy: Florida State (+6)

Quite possibly the best in-state rivalry of the past 30 years.  Without looking it up, I’d say there’s more NFL players on rosters from these two programs over that span than any other pair of schools.  The spread is a little steep, especially considering the away team has outright won the last four years.  Only three times since 2000 has the margin of victory been greater than 6 points.  So from a purely historical perspective, I like the ‘Noles. 

It’s good for college football that both programs appear to be on the climb back to prominence.  I perused a few great sites just to get my blood boiling for this game.  The Bleacher Report has a couple good articles with pictures and videos, while Stewie Mandel (Howie’s long last brother) penned a solid piece this week for SI. 

Florida State 33  Miami 31

Matt: Florida State (+6)

I really have no idea who either of these teams are.  Since getting worked over at Ohio State, Miami has continued their road trip and smashed Pitt and beat Clemson at Death Valley.  But are those wins really even impressive?  We’re coming up on halfway through the season and no one knows how good Miami really is.  I watched the Clemson game and Jacory Harris continues to make absolutely awful decisions with the football, throwing into double and triple coverage repeatedly.  He threw for 4 TD’s, but also had 2 ridiculous INT’s and it should have been more.  You can’t win consistently with your QB playing so recklessly.

FSU is really a mirror of Miami in that they got spanked in their one big game of the year at OU, and then have come back to win big over BYU, Wake and Virginia.  But should we be impressed by that?  Those are a collection of bad 2010 football teams.  Is this a battle of rising superpowers or just a battle of also-rans that are overranked and overhyped?

In the end, I think the combination of Harris to Hankerson continues to make sweet music, and the leg of Matt Bosher wins it.  But I really don’t have a good feel for this one.

Miami 20 FSU 17

Mike: Florida State (+6)

This is a tough game to call.  Miami has the superior talent and the game is in Coral Gables, but I just do not trust Randy Shannon in a big game.  I have also been impressed with Florida State’s performance following its debacle in Norman, notwithstanding the weak competition (UVA and Wake), and the rivalry factor might benefit the underdog in this spot.  Since I’m picking outright upsets left and right this week, I’ll continue the trend.

Florida State 33 Miami 31


Dan: Boston College @ NC State (-9.5)

Boston College is not very good. In fact, BC is just bad this year. Other than one terrible half against a “backs against the wall” VT team, NC State has looked like a pretty good football team. They definitely have some question marks on defense. But their offense is going to put up points. Meanwhile, BC still has question marks at the QB position, and ND provided a bit of a game plan around slowing down Harris. I like NC State to win this by a couple touchdowns at home.

NC State 31 BC 17

Jeremy: USC @ Stanford (-7.5)

This line has to be making Stanford fans downright giddy.  The Cardinal is favored by more than a TD over SC?  Crazy talk.  But I think they cover anyway – USC is frighteningly thin and incredibly soft on defense.  Even a heroic effort by Matt Barkley can’t keep this game in reach. 

Stanford 38  USC 27

Jimmy: UCLA (+7.5) @ California

A little confused by this line.  UCLA clearly proved they can win on the road, and has played a solid schedule to this point.  Maybe it was their slow start last week vs. Washington State that is fooling Vegas.  Cal’s lost consecutive road games to Nevada and Arizona and needs to stop the bleeding.  This has the makings of a Pac-10 thriller between two middle of the road Pac-10 teams.  It will be close, if not an outright Bruins victory as Rick Neuheisel keeps building something in LA.

UCLA 38  Cal 35

Matt: San Diego State (-5) @BYU

San Diego State has quietly turned into a frisky team under ex-Ball State miracle worker Brady Hoke.  They have the 13th ranked passing offense and 24th ranked rushing offense in the country.  They almost pulled the shocker at Missouri, losing by three, and destroyed Utah State 41-7.  The same Utah State that just routed BYU, causing the Cougars to fire their defensive coordinator after the game.  BYU is in shambles this year, and the stats back up the ugliness on the field and off.  80th ranked passing offense.  94th in rushing.  114th in points allowed.  I think this one continues the lost season for BYU

SDSU 37 BYU 20

Mike: Georgia Tech (-8) over Virginia

I have been burned by Georgia Tech this year, but they have to figure things out sometime, don’t they?  At home against an undermanned Virginia team would be a good place to start, especially considering the possible “inside knowledge” angle with Al Groh.

Georgia Tech 31 Virginia 17

Last Week:

Dan: 3-4 (+)
Jeremy: 7-0 (+)
Jimmy: 5-2 (+)
Matt: 4-2-1 (+)
Mike: 5-2 (+)


Dan: 15-19-1 (2-2-1)
Jeremy: 25-9-1 (3-2)
Jimmy: 19-15-1 (3-2)
Matt: 18-15-2 (2-2)
Mike: 25-9-1 (4-0-1)


Jeremy said...

I seem poised for a "Two For the Money" type fall after the perfect week. Not quite sure what I was thinking with some of those picks.

Nice call on BC - they might be worth picking against in the rest of their games this year. What a terrible team.

Dan said...

Yeah, you and Mike are having monster season. I am glad i bet games other than the ones I pick in the blog. Otherwise, I'd be broke.

Matt said...

That Kansas State pick was my worst in however many years I've been doing this. I've been the ringleader in the 'Blackshirts are back' bandwagon, don't know why i picked against them against notriously overrated Kansas St

Mike said...

By the way, it looks like I forgot to take a lock of the week, so let the record show that I am picking Sparty.