November 10, 2011

WeIs Roundtable Week 11 Picks: West Coast Heavyweight Title Bout Edition

In the wake of the most exhilarating 15 points combined (can we confirm this is an overtime game record), we march on to Week 11.  But first, a few leftover thoughts on LSU-Alabama:

- No rematch necessary.  What more does LSU have to prove?  They won in enemy territory with one astounding interception and no controversy.  Whichever undefeated is left standing (save Houston) deserves the right to knock the king of the mountain off, provided LSU gets through their remaining tests. 

- Add another chapter to The Legend of The Hat, a sure-fire bestselling children’s book in Louisiana for decades on end. 

- Trent Richardson absolutely still belongs in the Heisman Race.  Don’t feel like he lost any ground, though he could have inched ahead with a go-ahead TD on the stat sheet.  The guy simply runs through tackles better than anyone and is bound to make an NFL team very happy. 

- Both defenses suffocated all scoring threats into mere field goal opportunities.  If Nick Lachey were hosting this “Kick Off,” Bama would have been voted off at halftime.  Wha’ happened?  Doesn’t Alabama always have trusty kickers?  Aren’t there 4 rotating families of Bama kickers who breed generations of reliable place kicking?  Did they all birth black sheep at the same time?

Ok, on to the picks…

Virginia Tech (-1) at Georgia Tech (Thursday)

Dan: Virginia Tech (-1)
Georgia Tech has been an enigma for me all season. I can’t seem to get them right in the gambling arena. But, VT has had a week off to prepare for the spread, and despite a lackluster performance against Duke, I think they get things done in Atlanta.

Virginia Tech 21 Georgia Tech 17

Jeremy: Virginia Tech (-1)
Its about that time again.  When Va. Tech quietly makes their run through the ACC and finds their way into the ACC title game and the BCS.  I know many of my colleagues here have a thing for the Fightin' Paul Johnsons, and I can certainly sympathize.  The home dog with a great running game seems like a sure thing.  Guess I'm going against the conventional wisdom with this one.

Virginia Tech 31  Georgia Tech 28

Jimmy: Georgia Tech (+1)
The battle for Technologic supremacy amongst players who are, for the most part, not stepping within 100 yards of any buildings housing said technologic schools of study.  Think you would have to track down grainy team manager footage of Carnegie Tech vs. Cal Tech for a true Tech tussle.  But ESPN broadcasts this ACC matchup, so it matters to us (and Vegas and bowl execs, etc.)  Both teams enjoyed bye weeks to prepare for this.  Last time they played, Paul Johnson’s squad ended a two game losing streak by sullying Clemson’s perfect season.   Meanwhile, the Hokies eeked out a win on the road at Duke.  Not exactly the momentum you want to ride into Atlanta with.  I was leaning Lunch Pail crew at first, but I’m changing course and siding with the home team to hang on in an entertaining Thursday night game.

Ga Tech. 31 Va. Tech 27

Mike: Georgia Tech (+1)
Virginia Tech has owned the ACC Coastal Division for years, but they face a stern test against Georgia Tech.  The Hokies are banged up on defense, which does not bode well against a Rambling Wreck attack that can be ruthlessly efficient when operating at full throttle.  In addition, Georgia Tech’s defense has improved in its second year under the tutelage of Al Groh.  All signs point to an entertaining Thursday night affair in Atlanta with the Jackets pulling out a hard fought victory in this battle of the Techs.

Georgia Tech 31 Virginia Tech 28

Phil: Virginia Tech (-1)  Lock of the Week 
As the line indicates, this game is a toss up. VT has quietly put together another solid season, with their only loss coming at the hands of surpising Clemson. GT and their Wing T Option gives teams fits, but they can be beaten by disciplined, athletic teams such as, err...Miami!?!  Nevermind. The difference in this game is the fact that Va Tech has had extra days to prepare for the option. Beamer will have his boys ready to play.

Va Tech 24 GT 20

Miami (+9.5) at Florida State

Dan: Miami (+9.5)
Florida State has obliterated their last 4 opponents. Those teams have been Duke, Maryland, NC State, and Boston College. Those are terrible teams. Miami is inconsistent, but I think they can hang with the Seminoles and keep it to a touchdown.

Florida State 28 Miami 21

Jeremy: Miami (+9.5)  Lock of the Week
I can certainly see the Noles running away with this one, but my snap judgment is that 9.5 is way too many points for a rivalry game with this many athletes on the field.

FSU 27 Miami 20

Jimmy: Miami (+9.5)
First, a haiku ode to the Sunshine State’s current rut:

Where are you in polls –
Gators, ‘Noles, Canes, Bulls and Knights?
State of Florida sad

I’m sure someone in ESPN’s Stats, Inc. department who actually gets paid to look up important trends like this has already done so.  Until I unearth that pearl of wisdom, I’m just going to assume it’s been many many moons since FSU, Miami and Florida (and USF, UCF, Florida International, yada yada yada) all finished outside the top 25 at the end of the year.  Not even Hanging Chad-gate could shut the state of Florida out of polls.  Not saying it’s gonna happen this year, but the possibility is in play.

Back to the game, Miami has been a bit Jekyll and Hyde this year with dominating wins vs. Ohio State and Georgia Tech and tight losses to Kansas State, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Maryland (half the Hurricanes were suspended and the cloud of the Death Penalty hung low over this game, so excusable given the circumstances).  On the other side, since losing 3 straight to Oklahoma, Clemson and Wake, FSU has destroyed the conference bottom feeders with no game being close than 25 points. 

The smart play here is take the generous spread, especially in a rivalry game where both sides know each other well and it comes down to emotions and execution more than anything.  With everything Miami has been through this year, this date has been circled all season as the beginning of Operation Reclaim Florida.  Al Golden will have his players running through walls to continue their rebuilding plan.  This is always appointment television regardless of records and this year is no different - will an errant field goal make its way back into the lore of this rivalry?

Miami 33  FSU 31

Mike: Miami (+9.5)
Given my affinity for rivalries (especially those involving trophies or wagers between politicians), I always enjoy watching this game, regardless of record.  Despite Miami’s mediocre performance this year, Jacory Harris has quietly developed into the premier quarterback in the ACC and perhaps one of the best signal callers in the nation for the Hurricanes.  As such, I expect Miami to move the ball somewhat effectively against a tough Seminole defense if the Canes’ offensive line can keep Harris upright.  Florida State appears to be hitting its stride as well, so it will not surprise me if the Seminoles are able to handle their Sunshine State rivals with relative ease.  Having said that, I have a hunch that Al Golden’s bunch will deliver an inspired performance on the road for an enormous program win (culminating with a missed field goal…wide right).

Miami 27 Florida State 24

Phil: Miami (+9.5)
This point spread seems too big for such a rivalry game. Jimbo Fisher has proven he can recruit with the best of them, but I am not sure of his in game caoching just yet, although the Noles seem to have righted the ship after a 3 game skid last month. I think Golden will keep the Canes competitive, although FSU at home should take care of business.

FSU 28 Miami 21

Auburn (+12.5) at Georgia

Dan: Auburn (+12.5)  Lock of the Week
I’m sorry – isn’t this exactly the type of game that Mark Richt loses? Now, with Moseley making only his 2nd start, and the game in Athens, I don’t think they blow this one. But no way they beat Auburn by two touchdowns.

Georgia 24 Auburn 20

Jeremy: Auburn (+12.5)
See above.  Even Between the Hedges, I'm not confident that the Dawgs can cover this line.  The Auburn offense doesn't seem to be getting any better, but I have a tough time believing Georgia is good enough to win this game by (essentially) 2 TDs.

Georgia 20  Auburn 13

Jimmy: Auburn (+12.5)  Lock of the Week
Too many points for the resilient Tigers.  They’ll find a way to keep this close.  I don’t know about winning (I’m sure Philip will talk himself into a W below), but fully expect a low scoring affair.

Georgia 20  Auburn 17

Mike: Auburn (+12.5)
Auburn has predictably fallen quickly to Earth this year after its early season flurry of close victories while Georgia has surged after losing its first two games.  Nonetheless, while these teams appear to moving in opposite directions, a tightly contested affair could be in order.  The young Tigers should benefit from their extra week of preparation (even though Georgia probably didn’t waste all of its practice time last week on New Mexico State) and they will be duly motivated for this year’s version of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.  As a side note, will the current version of Uga attempt to assault another Tiger this year, ala Robert Baker?  Stay tuned.

Georgia 24 Auburn 14

Phil: Auburn (+12.5)
The deep south's oldest rivalry took an ugly turn last year, after man child Nick Fairley apaprently tackled UGA QB ERIN Murray a little too hard. The dawgs remember the chippiness of the game, and I anticipate this game will be physical and tough. WHat I like is that Clint Moseley seems to be settling into his QB role and has reintroduced Lutz to the Auburn offense. This is also the first game since week 4 where all our WRs will be healthy. On the defensive side of the ball, El Toro Freeman is finally living up to expectations, and playing inspired football. What I don't like is that I am sure Murray will have a chance to beat our DBs deep on a few occasions. It will take a lot of points for the Tigers to win, but I know they have it in them. WDE.

Auburn 34 UGA 30

Oregon (+3) at Stanford

Dan: Oregon (+3)
Can’t believe I’m going this way, but I see Stanford finally having a hiccup this week. Oregon’s speed is too much for the Stanford defense to handle.

Oregon 41 Stanford 38

Jeremy: Stanford (-3)
Went back and forth on this one quite a bit.  Stanford's new digs don't provide them with a huge home-field advantage (at least not yet), but the combination of Palo Alto and your 2011 Heisman winner puts the Cardinal over the top in what should be a heck of a shootout on Saturday night.

Stanford 45  Oregon 38

Jimmy: Oregon (+3)
Oregon put the clamps down on Luck last season and will figure out a way to keep him in relative check again.  The Cardinal are pretty banged up.  Think this is the week it finally catches up with them.

Oregon 34  Stanford 30 

Mike: Stanford (-3)  Lock of the Week
Oregon broke open a tight game against Stanford last year in Eugene with an explosive second half, but things have certainly changed this year.  While the Ducks continue to run the ball effectively, they have shown signs of weakness in the passing game, as Darron Thomas continues to struggle with a lingering knee injury.  Unfortunately for Oregon, Thomas’s erratic play could spell doom against an explosive Stanford offense led by Andrew Luck and the powerful Cardinal running game.  Stanford will slip by Oregon in a wildly entertaining shootout in out West.

Stanford 49 Oregon 45

Phil: Oregon (+3)
HUGE game out west this weekend. Can the Stanford brawn keep up with the Oregon blaze? Andrew Luck, as Phil Simms will tell you, does not have  a hugely strong arm, and at times, looked as human as he has looked against athletic USC. Oregon will bring speed that Luck hasnt seen before, and I think that the Ducks will win this game. HOWEVER, b/c I in no way want Alabama to have a claim for a rematch for the BCSNCG, I am picking Stanford to continue its march toward undefeatedness.

Stanford 37 Oregon 35

Bonus Picks

Dan: Alabama (-17.5) @ Mississippi State
Sorry Mississippi State. You’re the rebound. Good night.

Alabama 42 Mississippi State 13

Jeremy: Kent (-5) at Akron
After the Zips burned me a few weeks ago, I made the mistake of going away from them last week.  Never again.  This should be a heck of a pillow fight.  

Kent 23  Akron 13

Jimmy: UNLV (-7) @ New Mexico
The Sirken Special.  Can’t believe he didn’t jump all over this single digit gift-wrapped pick.  I don’t need to know anything else.

UNLV 30  New Mexico 10

Bonus Pick (that doesn’t count, but too juicy not to mention):

Louisiana Tech @ Mississippi (+2)
Did Tim Rattay find another year of eligibility?  How is a 4-loss mid major a road favorite against an SEC team?  This isn’t an epically abysmal Ole Miss team.  Just bad enough that lame duck Houston “I Have a Problem” Nutt is riding out the schedule into the sunset.  I have more faith in Nutt actually motivating histeam now, especially to defend their home field against La Tech.  The Rebels have too much pride.

Mississippi 27  Louisiana Tech 24

Mike: Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech (+17.5)
Texas Tech has swiftly fallen from grace after defeating Oklahoma, having been crushed by Iowa State and Texas in consecutive games.  Meanwhile, Oklahoma State continues to amass incredible offensive statistics on a weekly basis.  Still, Tech has not lost its ability to move the ball through the air and 17.5 points is an enormous spread given the venue and OSU’s defensive deficiencies.

Oklahoma State 52 Texas Tech 38

Phil: Oklahoma State (-17) @ Texas Tech
Here's to hoping 3 things happen in regards to this game:
1. My man Weeden continues to put up video game numbers, driving my college fantasy team to the playoffs.
2. Tubs does NOT pull another major upset, thus keeping OSU unbeaten and Bama out of the national title game.
3. OSU covers, as I have picked them all year, and they haven't let me down yet.

OSU 44 Tex Tech 24

Last Week
Dan: 5-1 (+ Lock of Week)
Jeremy: 3-3 (+)
Jimmy: 4-2 (+)
Mike: 3-3 (+)
Phil: 5-1 (+)

Season To Date
Dan: 35-22 (8-2)
Jeremy: 34-23-1 (6-4)
Jimmy: 33-22-3 (8-2)
Mike: 26-31-1 (6-3-1)
Phil: 30-26-1 (6-3-1)

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