October 28, 2010

WeIs Roundtable Week 9 Picks: Cocktail Party Edition

A wild weekend of games last Saturday.  The bulk of the WeIs crew watched the morning and mid-afternoon slate from the cozy environs of the 810 Zone in Kansas City.  A super spot with tvs plastered all over the place.  We were there so long that our terrific server Roosevelt (we tried to think of nicknames his buddies call him - Rosie, Delano, FDR, Teddy...was Roosevelt Potts always addressed formally?) opened the doors to the "champagne room" of sports bars - our own private glass viewing area with 2 tvs looking out over the whole operation.  Good times.  And if anyone in the KC area is wondering what happened to their high score on the pop-a-shot b-ball, the record books were rewritten on two machines.  If there's one thing I'm damn good at and not afraid to say it, it's pop-a-shot.  On to the picks...   

Florida State (-3.5) at NC State

Dan: NC State (+3.5)

Both teams have had 2 weeks to prepare for this game. Both teams are coming off disappointing performances (FSU tight game against BC, NC State overtime loss to ECU). But it’s Thursday night, NC State was doing well against the spread prior to ECU, and Russell Wilson should cause troubles for the Seminole defense. I’ll take the points, and the upset.

NC State 38 FSU 35

Jeremy: NC State (+3.5)

Interesting matchup here.  The Russell Wilson show in Raleigh leads the ACC in passing and total offense, while the ‘Noles lead the conference in scoring defense.  Florida St.’s offense has been humming pretty well also and the ‘Noles are in the catbird seat in the ACC Atlantic Division.  I could definitely see this one being a bit of a shootout, with FSU grabbing a close win on the road.  I’ll take the points, and wouldn’t be surprised to see the Wolfpack grab the upset, either.

Florida St. 38  NC St. 35

Jimmy: NC State (+3.5)
I like what Russell Wilson is doing with the Wolfpack.  I like the home team getting points.  I like the ACC to continue to be unpredictably mediocre.

NC State 30  FSU 27

Matt: NC State (+3.5)

This is more of a gut feel than anything else.  NC State had a little momentum, but then two weeks ago went on the road and lost to East Carolina.  That same day, FSU struggled to put away a bad BC team at home.  It’s a battle of two contrasting styles on offense, as NC State prefers to air it out with Russell Wilson, while the FSU attack is ground-based behind Chris Thompson and Jermaine Thomas.  All signs are pointing towards an FSU-Virginia Tech ACC Championship game, but I think that NC State throws a monkey wrench into those plans with a big home win.

NC State 24 FSU 20

Mike: NC State (+3.5)

These two programs appear to be very similar in terms of talent level and style of play.  Based upon the early season performances of both teams, this game should feature plenty of passing and lots of points.  Since NC State has the better quarterback, home field advantage and the points, the pick is the Pack. 

NC State 37 Florida State 34

Michigan State (+6) at Iowa

Dan: MSU (+6)  Lock of the Week

Last week’s last minute cover against Northwestern was one of my most devastating gambling moments. I had the NW cover in hand the whole game and it fell apart. All they had to do was tackle him at the 5 and MSU would have taken a knee. Incredible. Everyone seems to think the Hawkeyes are going to end MSU’s dream run. I’m not quite convinced. Iowa had some shaky moments last week against the Badgers, and MSU is a better team. However, I think Kinnick will be rocking and Iowa squeaks out the close victory. 6 points definitely seems like too much though.

Iowa 20 MSU 17

Jeremy: Michigan St. (+6)

Not a whole lot of respect for Sparty from the oddsmakers this week.  But I do think its somewhat justified.  Their luck has to run out sometime, and I think it happens this week.  The Iowa defensive line wreaks havoc in the Spartan backfield and a few big Ricky Stanzi TDs give Iowa the upset. 

Iowa 27 MSU 24

Jimmy: Iowa (-6)

Something's gotta give both ways here.  Sparty seems to have 9 lives.  Or at least as many trick fake punt plays.  Iowa brain farted away a chance at victory last week.  The Hawkeyes are a better team than Northwestern and the Wildcats looked to be coasting until the 4th quarter.  Kirk Ferentz won't allow his team to fold again.  Michigan State's rosy path gets thorny this week.

Iowa 27  MSU 20

Matt: Michigan State (+6)

Has an undefeated team ever been this big of an underdog to a lower ranked team this late in the season?  Sparty was lucky to survive (and cover) against Northwestern, but I don’t think the dream season continues on.  And as someone who believes that the Spartans have no business being in the national championship discussion, I will be rooting for the Hawkeyes to win at home.  Iowa’s vaunted defensive line did not do the job last week against Wisconsin, but they’ll be up to the task this week to end the Spartans undefeated run.

Iowa 27 Michigan State 26

Mike: Michigan State (+6)

Both of these teams helped alleviate my wallet of some excess paper last week, as the Spartans stormed back for a late cover and the Hawkeyes choked away a late lead at home to Wisconsin.  Iowa has the better defense, but Michigan State’s balanced offensive attack will be a tough test for the Hawkeyes.  More importantly, Sparty, much like Iowa last year, seems like a team of destiny.  I will call for Michigan State to exact revenge on Iowa for last year’s heart stopper in East Lansing.

Michigan State 27 Iowa 24

Florida (+3) vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)

Dan: Florida (+3)

When has the cocktail party been this irrelevant? The SEC east is a trainwreck. Both these teams are not very good, yet either could still win the East. Georgia has reeled off 3 straight, while Florida had dropped 3 straight. Will Urban Meyer lose 4 straight? They have only averaged about 14 points a game during those 3 losses. They should find scoring against Georgia somewhat easier, but the Bulldog’s offense has been coming on strong. They should have plenty of motivation here given that UGA has gone 3 – 17 since 1990 in the series. I think UGA puts win number 4 on the board, but that it’s close until the end.

UGA 24 Florida 23

Jeremy: Georgia (-3)

When was the last time the Gators were ‘dogs in the Cocktail Party?  Have to imagine its been a while.  I’m starting to believe that Mark Richt may have this thing turned around for the Bulldogs, and a big win over arch-nemesis Urban Meyer would have the faithful in Athens hopping right back on the bandwagon.  I love me some Cam Newton, and I’m sorry Dr. Phil, but I’m predicting an Alabama-Georgia SEC title game.

Georgia 31  Florida 23

Jimmy: Florida (+3)

Doesn’t seem right that neither Florida (4-3) or Georgia (4-4) is ranked for this annual jamboree in J-ville.  The records may be similarly unappealing, but momentum is going in opposite directions in Athens and Gainesville.  The Bulldogs are finally getting consistent production on offense and will capitalize on the relatively toothless Gator defense.  At this point, I don’t think even Urban Meyer knows what to expect from his offense.  That’s what you get for trying to fit a square peg into a round hole at QB. 

I was all set to go with Georgia here, but am reconsidering now.  Florida has had 2 weeks to prepare for this gut check game.  They’re getting points.  Incredibly, they still control their destiny in the abhorrent SEC East.  Florida will be toasting at the end of this one. 

Florida 26  Georgia 23

Matt: Georgia (-3)

The SEC East is a total mess.  I’m as big of an SEC supporter as anyone, but even I have to admit that it is a down year for that half of the conference, and the headline for that disappointment are the Gators.  John Brantley has not fit into the offense, there is a dearth of playmakers, and the defense is young.  Georgia has actually righted the ship now that AJ Green is back on the field, and a win here would keep them in contention with South Carolina to win the East.  I know that Mark Richt can’t beat Urban Meyer, but I like what I’ve seen out of Aaron Murray and Washaun Ealey in recent weeks.  If Richt can’t beat the Gators this year, he never will again.  The Mark Richt job-saving tour rolls on.

Georgia 37 Florida 28

Mike: Georgia (-3)

For the first time in perhaps a decade, there is very little buzz about the Cocktail Party this year.  Florida has enjoyed an extra week to prepare for this game, but these two teams are moving in different directions.  While the Gators defense will keep them in the game, their anemic offense will cause them to fall short.

Georgia 23 Florida 17

Missouri (+7) at Nebraska

Dan: Nebraska (-7)

Wow, gamblers across the country are giving no credence to Mizzou’s thrashing of Oklahoma last week. That said, it is a perfect recipe for letdown game. Huge Saturday night home victory against the #1 team in the country followed by a road trip to an incredibly tough venue against a very good Nebraska team. I think Mizzou will have difficulty slowing down Nebraska’s option attack, and Blaine Gabbert will not have as much success against Nebraska’s defense as he did against OU.

Nebraska 34 Missouri 24

Jeremy: Nebraska (-7)  Lock of the Week

Still not quite sure what to make of the Huskers.  That Texas game is still a worrisome blip on their resume.  But I think we figure out this week that they are for real.  Mizzou definitely impressed in their big win over Stoops & the Sooners last weekend, but they’re facing a different animal this week when they travel to Lincoln.  Go ‘Shirts.

Nebraska 38  Missouri 20

Jimmy: Nebraska (-7)

Huge win for the Missouri Tigers last week, proving all the doubters wrong.  They delivered an emphatic statement to the Gameday crew that the program perception may require a second look – comes with the territory of traditionally underperforming squads.  Guess what??  I’m still not sold, especially on the road in Lincoln. 

The Huskers flipped the script with their offense as they kept pace with Okie State.  T-Magic (a ridiculous nickname – c’mon Husker fans, come up with  something better than that) explored the field with his arm with great success.  The fact that the Blackshirts gave up 41 points is more a testament to the Cowboys offense than real concerns for Nebraska.  Both sides will get their mojo workin’ this weekend as another undefeated dream season is dashed.

Nebraska 34  Missouri 24

Matt: Nebraska (-7)  Lock of the Week

Missouri made me eat my words last week with their thorough beatdown of Oklahoma, but I don’t expect the euphoria in Columbia to last any longer.  Taylor Martinez unveiled a new aspect of his game last week by throwing for 300+ yards and 5 TD’s against Oklahoma State, and I expect him to have another well-rounded game against the Tigers.  Nebraska rolls.

Nebraska 48 Missouri 32

Mike: Missouri (+7)

Missouri, like Michigan State, enters this game as a clear underdog, despite being undefeated.  If this game had been played two weeks ago, I might have taken Nebraska to cover, but the Blackshirt defense was exposed badly last week in Stillwater.  Accordingly, I expect another strong performance from Blaine Gabbert and the Mizzou offense, which will cause this game to be a nailbiter.  Nonetheless, it is simply asking too much for the Tigers to win outright in Lincoln.

Nebraska 30 Missouri 27

Oregon (-7) at USC

Dan: Oregon (-7)

USC has been able to score points this year, but the defense has struggled against good offenses. Oregon should have no trouble putting points on the board, and lots of them. They should give up their fair share, but not enough to cause concerns for the cover.

Oregon 43 USC 31

Jeremy: Oregon (-7)

I’ve been tooting their horn all year long, so I better not stop now.  Can’t wait for this game.  How good is SC?  They looked lousy, even in their wins, early on.  But they’re two last-second FGs from being undefeated and they curb-stomped a pretty decent Cal team.  This should be a great one in South Central.

Oregon 45  USC 35

Jimmy: Oregon (-7)  Lock of the Week

Until someone contains the Ducks for 4 quarters, I’m still buying what Chip Kelly’s selling.  The Trojan defense hasn’t given the illusion of stopping much this season, as discussed here before.  The only wrinkle is the venue, where “the USC faithful” (Lane Kiffin will test the full meaning of this term) could make the Coliseum a stadium of horrors.  Much like the Stanford game, Matt Barkley will keep things close for a half.  But an empty possession or two is all Oregon needs to pull away and force USC to adjust their gameplan.  Should be a fun one.   

Oregon 52  USC 38

Matt: USC (+7)

USC isn’t going bowling this year, so common sense that this game will serve as a de facto bowl game and PAC 10 Championship game all rolled into one.  The Coliseum has been quiet at times this year, but I expect it to be rocking (or at least as close to rocking as the wine and cheese LA crowd can be) for this one.  This college football season is just shaping up to be wacky, and there is no doubt that USC has the talent at all positions to beat Oregon.  It’s not like Oregon is all of a sudden some national power.  It’s the same program that was shut down by Boise last year, and then laid an egg against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.  I’m not really buying into Oregon all of a sudden morphing into some undefeated juggernaut.  Fight On…

USC 44 Oregon 40

Mike: Oregon (-7)

Without being bowl eligible, this is unquestionably the biggest game of USC’s season.  As such, I expect the Trojans to be fired up for this one, especially after last season’s debacle in Eugene on Halloween night.  In addition, the Trojans are coming off a bye week and playing at home, which makes them dangerous.  Having said that, USC is bringing a knife to a gun fight with its porous defense having to face the overwhelming Oregon offensive attack.  Matt Barkley and the USC offense will make this game entertaining, but the Ducks are too much to handle.

Oregon 54 USC 44

Bonus Picks

Dan: Purdue (+17) at Illinois

I realize Illinois just killed the Hoosiers (another game I got burned on last week), but 17 points just seems like an awful lot here. Before getting killed by the Buckeyes, Purdue was 2-0 in the Big 10 and looking decent. Illinois should be able to handle the Boilers, but 2 TDs feels about right.

Illinois 34 Purdue 20

Jeremy: Clemson (-6.5) @ Boston College

I know the Eagles showed some good fight in the last few weeks, including FSU one heck of a scare, but that’s still a lousy team, especially on offense.  Clemson might not be that great either, but I think they can cover a TD spread, even on the road.

Clemson 28  BC 20

Jimmy: Northwestern (-3) @ Indiana

Northwestern’s upset bid last week fell apart in the 4th quarter.  NU Nation was hurt.  They could sense a boisterous crowd rushing onto the field to celebrate.  There was no shame in the loss.  For whatever reason, this line is close when Indiana has proven without a shadow of a doubt that they are terrible.  If the Wildcats had beat MSU, this line would’ve been in double digits.  Now, I readily admit to my mistake picking IU to cover last week.  This week’s pick proves my learning curve.  For the last time this year, IU enters a game with a winning record.  That’s what scheduling Towson, Western Kentucky, Akron and Arkansas State will do for you.  In Big Ten play, they’ve been outscored 123-58 in 3 games.  That gap will continue to widen.  I’m jumping all over this silly line with glee.

Northwestern 41  Indiana 27

Matt: Wake Forest @ Maryland (-5.5)

Wake Forest stinks.  Maryland may stink, but somehow they are in the thick of the ACC race (for now).  At home, I think they will beat the Deacs by more than a TD.

Maryland 35 Wake Forest 24

Mike: Oklahoma (-24) over Colorado

The Sooners have tended to play down to the level of their competition this year, but Colorado is simply terrible.  Cody Hawkins gets the start for the Buffaloes and he will be overmatched.  Ditto the CU defense.

Oklahoma 51 Colorado 21

Last Week:
Dan:  3-4 (-)
Jeremy: 3-4 (-)
Jimmy: 2-5 (-)
Matt: 1-6 (-)
Mike: 2-5 (-)

Dan:  30-25-1 (3-4-1)
Jeremy: 37-18-1 (5-3)
Jimmy: 31-24-1 (4-4)
Matt: 27-27-2 (3-4)
Mike: 35-20-1 (6-1-1)


Dan said...

Mike - Lock of the week?

Mike said...

Ugh...forgot again. Let's go with Mizzou.