October 06, 2011

WeIs Roundtable Week 6 Picks: Red River Shootout Edition

Lots of big spreads from Vegas this week.  Two that jumped out at me were Bama (-29) over Vandy and Oklahoma State (-32) over Kansas.  These are 30 point spreads within their own conference!  This week's top matchups all feature fat lines despite big-name schools squaring off.  Without further ado...

Ohio State (+10) at Nebraska
Dan: Nebraska (-10)
Can Nebraska bounce back from its humiliation in Madison last week? They are getting the right team, a Buckeye team in complete disarray, in the right place, at home, to do so in a big way. The defense remembers to put their proverbial black shirts on (a miserable OSU offense will help) and Taylor Martinez takes care of the ball in a romp.
Nebraska 34 OSU 13 
Jeremy: Ohio St. (+10) 
I know, I know.  The Buckeye offense looked eerily like ND 2007 last week.  But the defense is still pretty stout, and the Badgers exposed the Huskers as extremely one-dimensional in Madison.  OSU won't win this low-scoring slopfest in Lincoln, but they'll find a way to cover that spread.
Nebraska 13  OSU 6 
Jimmy: Nebraska (-10)
Two proud programs lick their wounds this week.  One school comes away with a desperate win of any kind. The snake-bitten from the start Luke Fickell Era is a tale of two sides of the ball.  Hard to argue with a defensive unit allowing under 15 pts/game despite losing the field position game and bearing the weight of the season with a remedial (at best) offense fooling no one with its ineptitude.  It’s borderline heresy to express this in Columbus, but that Toledo win probably looks pretty good at the end of this looong season.  
While the Husker defense hasn’t exactly earned their black shirts yet this year, they should be up to the “challenge” of confounding “Braxton Bauserman” into another afternoon of Buckeye fans cursing the day T. Pryor left them with nothing.  The Lincoln faithful support their only team through thick and thin and will relish taking the Buckeyes behind the woodshed for their first official conference win. 
Nebraska 29  OSU 10
Mike: Nebraska (-10)
I bought a sizeable chunk of Huskers stock and I was dealt a cold dose of reality when Wisconsin pushed Nebraska all over the field in Camp Randall.  Although I am significantly less bullish on Nebraska after last week, the Huskers look like the 1972 Dolphins compared to the train wreck of a football team in Columbus.  I watched a fair portion of last week’s OSU-Michigan State pillow fight and it was painful on the eyes.  Sparty, being Sparty, tried in vain to give the game away to Ohio State with some needlessly aggressive play calling, but MSU was overwhelmed by the Buckeyes’ offensive ineptitude.  I might consider laying 10 points if OSU was playing Minnesota or Purdue this week.
Nebraska 24 Ohio State 6 
Phil: Nebraska (-9)
Is anyone in the Big 10 any good anymore? Wisconsin is gonna be irate if they get the Auburn 2004 treatment, and they can find fault in thier crappy conference. Nebraska was supposed to be a tough game for them, but Russell Wilson and the Badgers were just too much. Nebraska is at home, and I think T-Magic will have a good game.
Nebraska 31   OSU  20
Florida (+13) at LSU
Dan: LSU (-13)
Alabama came into Gainesville last week and showed that a strong defense can stifle the gators. I think LSU may not score as many points as Alabama, but I’m not sure Florida can eek out 10 points against the Tiger defense. Another huge favorite gets the cover.
LSU 24 Florida 6 
Jeremy: LSU (-13)  Lock of the Week
Florida is in for some serious growing pains.  ND fans know too well Charlie Weis' difficulties in coaching up young QBs.  Look for a bunch of screens and draws to try to neutralize that lethal LSU defense.  It won't be enough to knock off the Bayou Bengal juggernaut.
LSU 27  Florida 10
Jimmy: LSU (-13)  Lock of the Week
So a true freshman makes his first career start in Death Valley and the line is only 13?!  This could be over by the 2nd quarter with Tyrann Mathieu outgaining the Gators by himself with fumble return yards.  
LSU 27  Florida 3
Mike: LSU (-13)
True freshman Jeff Driskel will be making his first career start in Baton Rouge against the vaunted LSU defense.  At least it’s not a night game, but yikes. 
LSU 30 Florida 0
Phil: LSU (-13)
Thirteen points seems like a lot to me, even though the Gators are without Brantley. I really thought FL could give Bama more of a game, and I am now terrified of Bama and their "Monstar"  defense. The Bayou Bengals slept walk through Kentucky, and still won comfortably, I look for a much more intense atmosphere this weekend.

As far as the Gator's on offense, if Driskel can grow up quick, his mobility could pose more of a problem than Brantley for the LSU defense, as Brantley would have been a sitting duck back there that would have gotten just blasted. I again am putting alot of faith in Weis, even though he let me down last week.

For LSU, I am highly disappointed at how Les Miles "rewarded" team idiot Jordan Jefferson. His return complicates things for LSU, who seemed to have an identity of running the ball and play action pass. Lee was just getting comfortable at the helm, and now he has job security issues, not to mention the ever aggressively fickle Baton Rouge fan base. In Miles' defense, the return of Jordan Jefferson does add a wrinkle that opposing defenses must account for. This could be an interesting storyline to watch. Again, 13 points seems like alot, but I'll take it, with a late game Tyrann Mathieu TD. HEISMAN!
LSU 28  Florida 14
Auburn (+10) at Arkansas
Dan: Auburn (+10)
Two maddeningly inconsistent teams meet in Fayetteville. I can’t bring myself to take multiple double digit favorites in the SEC, and Arkansas is due for a letdown after the emotional roller coaster last week against A&M. Auburn’s defense, meanwhile, seemed to finally get things headed in the right direction with 4 takeaways against the Gamecocks last week. Auburn keeps it close and challenges for the win, but the home team takes it at the end.
Arkansas 24 Auburn 20
Jeremy: Auburn (+10)
The Razorbacks made an impressive comeback last week against the Aggies, but I can't shake the nagging feeling that Arkansas is missing something this year.  Not sure what it is, but I think Chizik and Auburn do enough to keep this game close into the 4th quarter.
Arkansas 31  Auburn 23 
Jimmy: Auburn (+10)
Give Arkansas credit for a great comeback win last week, but I chalk it up to more of a choke effort on A&M’s part.  Plus, there was enough to like out of Auburn’s defensive effort vs. South Carolina last week to think this could be a tight one.  Lest we compare Tyler Wilson to Stephen “Parties Like He’s Jerry” Garcia, Wilson should put up some silly numbers again.  But Michael Dyer is every bit the work horse that Marcus Lattimore is and the Arkansas defense is far from immune to being scored upon.  Gus Malzahn needs to rebound and coordinate a better gameplan from start to finish.  War Eagle seems to have the winning virus with Gene Chizik and it spreads to Fayetteville this week.  
Auburn 37  Arkansas 35 
Mike: Arkansas (-10)
Auburn notched a big road victory last week in Columbia, but I suspect that the Tigers’ improved defensive play was related largely to the ineptitude of Stephen Garcia and the Gamecock offense.  Accordingly, I expect Arkansas’ QB, Tyler Wilson, to follow up his 510 yard performance last week with another monster outing against the Auburn defense.  While the Tigers should be able to keep this game close for three quarters, they are not armed with the requisite firepower to keep pace with Arkansas. 
Arkansas 42 Auburn 28
Phil: Auburn (+10)
Wow! I have no idea where that defensive performance has been hiding! Reviewing the game tape, our LBs missed way fewer tackles, our DL actually got a push, and the CBs seemed to be in good position for the most part. I would love to think this is our defense turning a corner, but I fear that the game is more of an indictment against South Carolina and Stephen (I'll do ONE!) Garcia. Conventionally, the pro style running teams give us less problems than the spread 'em out air attacks which Petrino will unleash this weekend. I am worried about our SLOW LBs in coverage, and hope we have the DB depth to run dime all day.

(ASIDE: how is it possible that Alabama has 10 LBs on their squad who are all 6'4" 250 and run 4.5 sec forties, and Auburn is relegated to a slow white guy, a converted 2 star safety, and an emotionally unstable JUCO transfer??)

Moving on to the offense, Barrett Trotter is regressing and looks terrible. He combines the poor combination of being a stone statue in the pocket with a noodle arm. I never thought I would see a guy make a Malzahn offense look so bad. Now, I do think the OL has a lot to do with these problems, and I honestly see no solution coming, as Chizik told the press that we will redshirt our 2 freshmen studs. Oh well.

I can see this game going either way, an Arkansas blow out, or Auburn wins a close one. Here's to hoping for the latter. War Eagle.
Auburn 34 Arkansas 31
Texas (+9) vs. Oklahoma  (Dallas)
Dan: Oklahoma (-9)
Nine points is a big spread in this rivalry game. But I think OU benefits from its games against FSU and Missouri, which it has been able to use to iron out some kinks. Texas will come into the game with something to prove after last years defeat, but the team still has not quite caught back up to OU, and its offense will just not be able to hang with the Sooners.
Oklahoma 38 Texas 27 
Jeremy: Texas (+9)
Can't say that I know too much about the Horns this year, other than the oft-repeated story about the next wave of McCoy's and Shipley's in Austin.  OU has been impressive so far this year, particularly in winning at the Doak, but I'm not sure this team is good enough to cover this line in a big rivalry game.  
OU 24  Texas 16
Jimmy: Oklahoma (-9)
How much longer will the Red River Shootout (screw its new p.c. name) be an annual tradition?  Bob Stoops didn't bat an eye about possibly losing the matchup if conference realignment dictated as much.  Doesn't sound like something good rivals would admit.  All the more reason to preserve its shootout title.

Part of me thinks the Sooners are wildly overrated this year, but they look impressive with Landry Jones throwing for nearly 400+ yards every week.  Of course they’re talented, but they can be beat.  Florida State hung tough for 3 rounds, but got KO’ed in the 4th (mind you, they played half the game with a backup QB and no rushing game).  Missouri earned a standing 8 count in the 1st round, but couldn’t muster up much more until it was too late.  They seem destined to lose a game they shouldn’t and everyone will be shocked, but I’m not buying into the hype this year.

Naturally, such a cautionary lead-in would prompt me to jump on the Longhorns to at least keep this contest close.  But I’m not buying into Texas’ undefeatedness just yet either.  They still lack an identity on offense with a rotating QB position.  They squeaked by a weak BYU team by 1 point and gave up 20 to a mediocre UCLA team.  Pretty sure Landry Jones is going to connect with Broyles et al. a few times and hang a big number on this young Longhorn unit.  

Oklahoma 45  Texas 24

Mike: Oklahoma (-9)  Lock of the Week
Texas has proven me wrong in the last two weeks, but I still think that there are growing pains ahead for Case McCoy and David Ash, beginning this week on the big stage at the Texas State Fair.  Likewise, the inexperience of the Texas defense might be exposed this week against Landry Jones, Ryan Broyles and the rest of the explosive Oklahoma offense.  Look for the veteran Sooners to overwhelm the upstart Longhorns as Bob Stoops reasserts his dominance over Mack Brown in the Red River Rivalry.
Oklahoma 41 Texas 14
Phil: Oklahoma (-9)  Lock of the Week
The Red River Rivalry has lost some of its luster with Texas being down of late, but I see no better stage for McCoy to Shipley version 2.0 to announce its release. Sadly, I think OU is hitting on all cylinders, because they know that despite being the 3rd or 4th best team in the country, they have their path to the title game. I look for the Sooners to take care of business and put a hurting on the Horns.
OU 34 Texas 17
Bonus Picks
Dan: Arizona State (-3.5) @ Utah  Lock of the Week
The Devils get to travel to Salt Lake and take on a Utah team that is off to a poor start in its first year in the conference. Additionally, they will be breaking in a new QB with his first collegiate start. ASU’s only loss came in a tight game on the road against a decent Illinois team. ASU should not have much of a problem putting away the struggling Utes. 
ASU 24 Utah 10 
Jeremy: Michigan (-5) @ Northwestern
I'm not ready to hop on the "Michigan's defense is greatly improved!" bandwagon, but they are getting better.  Persa will apparently be back, but he'll be gimpy, and Northwestern doesn't have too many answers for Denard.  Plus, Ryan Stadium will be at least half full of Michigan fans on Saturday night.  The Wolverines roll in this one.
Michigan 34  Northwestern 20 
Jimmy: Boise State (-19.5) @ Fresno State
Boise breathed a sigh of relief getting by their nemesis Nevada last week.  They won comfortably by 20.  Not sure why this line didn’t start in the 20s seeing as Pat Hill’s squad narrowly beat North Dakota earlier this season and lost by 10 to Mississippi (arguably the worst SEC team).  Both of these games were at home.  Don’t think Kellen Moore will be too intimidated as he keeps himself in the Heisman conversation.
Boise State 52  Fresno State 23  
Mike: Iowa (+3) over Penn State
Regardless of who is playing quarterback, Penn State’s offense is beyond terrible.  This game could resemble one of my favorite games in the last 10 years:  Iowa’s legendary 6-4 victory in Happy Valley in 2004.
Iowa 14 Penn State 9 
Phil: Michigan (-5) @ Northwestern
This game has a buzz around it that NW could be a player here. Dan Persa, if healthy can put up points and they are at home versus a possibly overrated Wolverine team. The big question to me is - does NW have DBs that can make a play on a jump ball, or have the awareness to tackle a WR in the end zone on the last play of the game instead of give up the game winning TD. Yes, I'm bitter. Muck Fichigan, but I think they will win.
Michigan 33 NW 24

Last Week
Dan: 5-1 (- Lock of the Week)
Jeremy: 3-3 (+)
Jimmy: 5-0-1 (+)
Mike: 3-3 (-)
Phil: 3-3 (-)

Season to Date
Dan: 19-10-1 (4-1)
Jeremy: 17-12-1 (2-3)
Jimmy: 17-10-3 (4-1)
Matt: 2-4
Mike: 14-15-1 (1-3-1)
Phil: 11-17-1 (2-2-1)

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