September 08, 2011

WeIs Roundtable Week 2 Picks: Attack of the Road Favorites

Crazy thing - I had to evacuate my house both times I tried to jot down thoughts on the USF nightmare.  So you're spared my rambling rant, lament and incoherent babble on the Precautionary Measures Bowl (we'll come up with a catchier name for the game, even if we don't want to remember it).  Starting things off with the lone favored home team among our selections:

Utah @ USC (-9)
Dan: Utah (+9)
Neither team looked very good last week. USC squeaked by the Gophers, and Utah let a 1-AA team hang around (after opening up 17-0). I wish it were 10 points, but I think USC is still in a bit of turmoil and isn’t ready to start blowing teams out yet. Their offense is not firing. 
USC 20 Utah 13
Jeremy: Utah (+9)  Lock of the Week
I fully expect the Trojans to bounce back from their miserable performance of last week and pick up the W here, but I think they'll struggle.  The Utes are looking to make a statement in their first Pac-12 game and give SC all they want at home
USC 24  Utah 17
Jimmy: Utah (+9)
Utah circled this game as soon as they agreed to join the Pac-10/12.  They may have ben looking past Montana State just a tad in their underwhelming victory (though they were up 24-0 3 minutes into the 2nd quarter.  The dogs may have been called off a little early in order to preserve the element of surprise for the Trojans).  You can bet your ass Kyle Whittingham* has the Utes mentally prepared to enter the Coliseum and send a message to the “leader” of the Pac(k).  Lane “Spaulding” Kiffin will be out-coached in this one, even if he has more talented players.  Think Utah sticks around late, but ultimately gets edged, but since I’m already picking the Utes to cover, why not full-on spite the Trojans and predict the upset.  Welcome to the Pac-12.  
Utah 33  USC 29
*A shame his name might be mispronounced or misconstrued with another coach that bears its resemblance in sound alone, certainly not proficiency in the coaching trade.
Random Pac-12 Thought While Walking to the Train: With all this re-alignment super-conference talk, would Boise State merit ANY consideration for inclusion into the Pac-12/16?  They’re a Mountain Time state school bordering a state adjacent to the Pacific Ocean.  As long as Chris Peterson stays on the sideline, they will be a football power.  I’m guessing they don’t have the pedigree of other sports and academics that other school resumes have.  But there’s been nary a mention that I’ve read.  Nothing at all.  Maybe BSU is fine with that, but if the perceived, if not stated, goal of the super-conferences is an arms race to collect all the talented football programs, how does Boise State not enter the equation?
Mike: Utah (+9)
The season is just a week old, but year 2 of the Lane Kiffin era already bears a keen resemblance to the inaugural year. Although USC has several very good players at the skill positions, namely Matt Barkley and Robert Woods, they are not even in the same stratosphere as their championship squads from last decade.  Moreover, depth remains an issue for the Trojans at multiple positions, including linebacker and offensive line.  Utah likely will not fare especially well in its jump in class to the Pac 12 over the course of a full season, but they should hang with USC in L.A. this week.
USC 23 Utah 16 
Phil: USC (-9) 
I am going to be brief in this one, cause I got things to say about the others. USC is talented. Utah is the new kid on the block. I like the Trojans in this one.
USC 31 Utah 16
Alabama (-9) @ Penn State
Dan: Bama (-9.5)  Lock of the Week
Alabama versus a big 10 team with a single point spread? Forget about it. Roll tide.
Alabama 31 Penn State 13
Jeremy: Alabama (-9.5)
Honestly, you could make this line 14, or even 17, and I'd probably still pick Bama.  Even in Happy Valley.
Alabama 34  PSU 17

Jimmy: (Alabama -9)  Lock of the Week
A great tradition between these two programs.  (LINKS)  Saban’s defense should suffocate whichever ineffective QB JoePa wants to risk getting injured.  The Tide control both lines and Trent Richardson builds on his 3 TD performance  vs. Kent State with a Heisman statement performance in Happy Valley.  
Alabama 27  Penn State 3
Mike: Alabama (-9.5)
Alabama manhandled Penn State’s pop gun offense in Tuscaloosa last year and Nick Saban will bring an equally formidable outfit to Happy Valley this year.  Unfortunately for Penn State, the change of venue will not cause Robert Bolden, Matt McGloin or any other members of the Nittany Lion offense to feel any less overwhelmed by the dominating Crimson Tide defense.  Despite having two young quarterbacks at the helm in their first true road test before a crowd of approximately 110,000 people, Alabama will rely on running and defense to control this game from start to finish.
Alabama 23 Penn State 7 
Phil: Penn State (+9)
Does anyone realize how dominant the Bama D was last week. Kent St had around 40 yards of offense until late in the 3rd quarter when Saban put in his 3rd string. It wouldn't have mattered if AJ McBrodie and the black Phil Simms had thrown 8 INTs each, Kent St was not gonna move the ball. That being said, Penn St is a step up (hopefully), and Bama must travel. I am certain Bama has a superior team, but the lackluster QB play will keep the Nittany Lions close. Sadly, even if Bama turns it over deep in their own territory, the D is just too good to move on. 
Bama 16 Penn St 9
Mississippi State (-7) @ Auburn
Dan: Auburn (+7)
Unfortunately , two fantasy drafts and a short week makes for even shorter discussion than usual. I know what happened last week, but a home SEC opener and getting a touchdown? Too many points. I’ll take the home dog. Auburn’s defense rallies. 
Mississippi State 21 Auburn 17
Jeremy: Auburn (+7)
After going about 7 different ways on this one, I've simply decided that 7 points is too many for a game at Jordan-Hare.  Sure, Auburn should have lost last week, but I'm willing to write that off as a wake-up call.  Interesting to see what Brother Phil has to say about this game.
Mississippi St. 31  Auburn 28
Jimmy: Mississippi State (-7)
Honestly, do Auburn fans really care how the team does this year?  Feel like they rubbed the gold straight off the lamp using up all their genie wishes making last year’s dream season come true.  First game jitters is one thing, but needing a miracle finish to beat Utah State is a cry for help.  The shoes of Cam Newton, DARvin Adams (one of Verne Lundquist’s favorite names from 2010), Nick Fairley and a whole mess of others aren’t going to be filled this year.  I’m sure they’ll win some wild shoot-outs, but this week doesn’t look to be one of them.  Like the momentum Coach Mullen has going in Starkville.  Few teams walk into Jordan-Hare as touchdown favorites, but it looks like it’s gonna be one of those years.  
My question remains - do Auburn fans truly care about this year?  How long is the grace period?  3 years?  5 years?  How do we tap into the nerve of another SEC school?
Mississippi St. 48  Auburn 36
Mike: Mississippi State (-7)
Phil Steele picked Auburn to finish in the SEC West Division cellar and, given their embarrassing performance against Utah State on opening day, it seems clear that the Tigers are facing a precipitous fall from the top this year.  Having watched Mississippi State’s explosive multifaceted running attack last week, albeit against a weak Memphis team, I cannot imagine that Auburn’s defense will provide much resistance. Mississippi State, in convincing fashion, will hand Auburn its first of many losses this year.
Mississippi State 41 Auburn 21
Phil: Auburn (+7)
Where to begin, I have never seen a team so weak at the OL and DL as Auburn was last week. The USU coach even said in the postgame that "we felt we were stronger." We were pushed around and dominated like a high school team for much of the game last week. Malzahn had 18 "3 and out" possessions LAST YEAR, and he had 5 last week. A complete embarrassment for the champs. I speculated early in the fall if Fairley would be missed more than Cam, and I may have been right. Word from practice this week is that the insertion of some stud freshman and some slight realignment will have the OL better, but the DL, well, I think we are stuck with what we got. To make matters worse, we have the slowest, poorest tackling LBs that I can remember on an Auburn team. Bad combination. That is unfortunate considering Mrs. St ran up 600+ yards and 60 points last week. Plus, they have become quite a hated rival since these FALSE allegations against my man Cam Newton. 
However, there was some good out of last week. Trotter showed me that he is not just some spindly white kid who played high school ball at a Christian school. He ran the offense well, and actually won us the game. We found a playmaker at WR in Travante Stallworth, and oh yeah, remember the Tre Mason mention last week, turns out the kid is a banshee returning kicks (which is good, seeing as Mrs. St may be kicking off alot).
Despite my ranting, I do still have faith in Chizik and Malzahn. I have faith in a wake up call rousing the boys to put forth a maximal effort. I have seen these teams give up tons of points, only to have Malzahn rescue us. My head says one thing, but as always in these situations, I will go with my heart.
AUBURN 41  Mrs. St 38
South Carolina (-3) @ Georgia
Dan: South Carolina (-3)
Stephen Garcia, 7th year senior, is back under center for Spurrier. I think the hot seat for Richt continues to get warmer, and the Game Cocks open the conference season with a W between the hedges. 
South Carolina 24 Georgia 17
Jeremy: Georgia (+3)
Guess I'm all about the underdogs this week.  This is a desperation game for Mark Richt.  If he falls to 0-2, the wolves will be out in force.  I think Aaron Murray gets his coach a big win here in an ugly game between the hedges.
Georgia 17  South Carolina 13
Jimmy: South Carolina (-3)
No time like Week 2 for a cruiserweight SEC bout.  Whether either team is ready is inconsequential.  Georgia is still licking their wounds from their Bronco smackdown.  No surprises with this guy that Boise State is legit and handled UGA the same way they’ve beaten every other BCS team they’ve played over the last 5 years.  Spurrier didn’t have to tip to much vs. East Carolina, even though they needed a big 3rd quarter to pull away.  Think Stephen Garcia airs it out to stud Alshon Jeffery a little more this week and that will prove the difference.  Go Cocks.
South Carolina 37  Georgia 30
Mike: South Carolina (-3) Lock of the Week 
After watching his Gamecocks stumble out of the gate to a 17 point deficit, Steve Spurrier wisely replaced QB Connor Shaw with Stephen Garcia, who is poised for a monster senior year in Columbia if he can stay out of his coach’s doghouse and the county jailhouse.  Speaking of stumbling, Georgia laid a giant egg in its de facto home game last week against Boise State and it appears that Mark Richt’s days are numbered in Athens.  The recent games in this series have been closely contested and low scoring, but that trend will not continue this season.
South Carolina 31 Georgia 17
Phil: South Carolina (-3) Lock of the Week
UGA looked like a dumpster fire last week. South Carolina rolled after Spurrier got off his power trip and played his best players. I can guarantee you he was saving something for this rivalry game. I said last week that UGA has talent, and Richt wastes it. After this ass thrashing ensues, I think the days of Richt wasting talent in Athens will soon be over. Lattimore and Alshon will run rampant in this game, and the only thing that can stop USCe is a Garcia bender/orgy the night before. 
South Car 38 UGA 21
Bonus Picks
Dan: New Mexico State @ Minnesota (-20)
You know me. New Mexico State just lost to Ohio at home by 20, and now go on the road to a Big 10 school and only get 20? I’ll take it.
Minnesota 45  New Mexico State 14
Jeremy: Navy (-10) @ Western Kentucky
Interested to see how the Middies perform this year without Ricky Freaking Dobbs taking the snaps at QB.  Have a hard time believing they aren't getting more respect against the Hilltoppers.
Navy 35  WKU 20
Jimmy: TCU (-2) @ Air Force
Burned by the Horned Frogs last week, my confidence in their program remains unwavering.  Robert Griffin III bought an early release Cam Newton Halloween costume and willed the Bears to a win.  Was I shocked that they hung 50 on the previously stout Purple Haze defense?  Big time.  Do I think their pride is at stake and will rout a service academy this week?  Ditto big time.

TCU 44  Air Force 21
Mike: Middle Tennessee State @ Georgia Tech (-11)
After foolishly declaring myself to be bullish on UCLA, I will risk further ridicule by casting my lot with Georgia Tech this year.  Al Groh’s defense should improve in year 2 and Paul Johnson’s track record suggests that he should be able to correct many of the offensive mistakes that plagued the Jackets last year.  We’ll soon see if my confidence is rewarded.
Georgia Tech 42  Middle Tennessee State 17 
Phil: Arizona (+14) @ Oklahoma State
Known nationwide as the battle between my college fantasy starting quarterbacks, nothing would make happier than seeing a nice 64-58 outcome. Blackmon should have lots of opportunities to shine, but I am hoping that Foles can sling it around and make it close for the Zona.
OSU 56 Zona 49

Last Week's Results
Dan  4-2  (+ Lock of the Week)
Jeremy  2-4  (-)
Jimmy  2-3-1  (-)
Matt  2-4  (-)
Mike  1-5  (-)
Phil  2-4  (+)

Rough start for everyone, save Dan.  Target's on his back.

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