To get in the holiday spirit, I tried to find the stellar SNLskit of Ferrell and Kattan as Air Supply: "It's Thanksgiving time, it's so good to see you. You're in that red dress. That looks pretty awesome." Or something like that. Kudos to NBC for burying the clip in its treasure trove of copyright material not to be shared or viewed again, save for a glimmer of hope it pops up on a holiday special. Anywho, we've got plenty of football to digest this weekend.
The BCS picture at this point is a Rorshach test - screwy interpretations with no distinguishable answers, except for a big menacing Bengal tiger in the middle. The outbreak of upset-itis last weekend gives some schools hope where hope had previously left the bar. Even ND isn't mathematically eliminated from an "adults table" bowl game. With a little more help from their friends, Mt. Upset can be scaled to #14 in the BCS rankings. Without further ado, let's tackle some picks...
Virginia Tech (-5.5) @ Virginia
Dan: Virginia Tech (-5.5)
Traveling abroad last week has left Dan an utter mess, so just picks from the man.
Virginia Tech 24 Virginia 17
Jeremy: Virginia Tech (-5.5)
Great to see the Hoos looking frisky again. Can't understand how UVA's football and basketball programs have languished for so long. BUT, the Hokies have the BCS in their sights and Frank Beamer isn't going to have his squad suffer any let-down here. Va Tech rolls on although there are some frightening moments.
Va Tech 28 Virginia 20
Jimmy: Virginia (+5.5)
Good for Virginia and Coach Mike London for returning to relevance in Charlottesville. Not sure which is the bigger incentive: winning the ACC Coastal Division or grabbing the belt as undisputed king of the Commonwealth of Virginia. While I like Va. Tech to hold on, think this will come down to the wire.
Trash-talking sidenote: Muchos gracias to the players making up my college fantasy roster that's squaring off against Phil in the championship this week. Represented on my optimistic turned ironic team name The 2nd Coming of Crist are players from each of this week's highlighted matchups: Logan Thomas, Sammy Watkins, Trent Richardson and Tyler Wilson. Speaking of the electric Sammy Watkins (sounds like a legendary session bassist for a 70s funk group), gotta give thanks to league Public Enemy #1 Bama Pete for trading Watkins straight up for a soon-to-shred his ACL Dominique Whaley. A one-sided deal made in fantasy heaven.
Virginia Tech 27 Virginia 24
Mike: Virginia (+5.5)
It is hard not to be impressed with the job that Mike London has done in Charlottesville. In less than two years, London has transformed the Hoos from also-ran status to knocking on the door of the ACC title game. As with most of its conference opponents, Virginia Tech has dominated this rivalry in recent years, but the Hokies are limping into this matchup with a bevy of injury concerns. Virginia will play inspired football with a chance to unseat its in-state rival atop the ACC Coastal Division and reclaim the Commonwealth Cup for the first time since 2003. As usual, however, Virginia Tech will find a way to win and punch its ticket to Charlotte.
Virginia Tech 26 Virginia 23
Phil: Virginia Tech (-5.5)
Great pick by me last week to pick UVA to at least cover against FSU. This is a very intriguing matchup, in that upstart UVA is at home and playing solid football. The Fighting Beamers always seem to lose a game early in the year only to find themselves in a BCS bowl after quiet reeling off 10 straight wins. Same thing this year. I think that Logan Thomas and David Wilson will provide enough fireworks to stave off the fiesty, homestanding Cavaliers. Hope I am right.
Va Tech 28 UVA 21
Clemson (+4) @ South Carolina
Dan: South Carolina (-4)
South Carolina 27 Clemson 13
Jeremy: Clemson (+4)
Really hate this pick, but I can't see the Gamecocks pulling away in this game. Provided Sammy Watkins is somewhere near 100%, the Tigers should keep this one close.
South Carolina 23 Clemson 20
Jimmy: South Carolina (-4)
Not gonna try to understand or guess which Clemson team shows up for teh annual intra-conference Palmetto State classic. Last week epitomized laying an egg. Spurrier has one heckuva D-Line that's sure to give Tahj Boyd fits. Going with the more consistent Gamecocks, who have trademarked "ugly win" this season.
USC 22 Clemson 17
Mike: Clemson (+4)
The wheels have come off the Clemson bandwagon rather quickly, as the Tigers were pounded into submission against a mediocre NC State team last week. Clemson adds Sammy Watkins back to the lineup, however, which should benefit Tajh Boyd and the rest of their offense immensely. South Carolina, on the other hand, has struggled enormously on offense, particularly since Marcus Lattimore’s injury, and they will likely struggle to move the ball again this week. Look for a major bounce back for Clemson this week in the always contentious Battle of the Palmetto State.
Clemson 37 South Carolina 24
Phil: Clemson (+4)
Not sure if I understand this line. Dabo got his bammer butt kicked last week, but South Carolina is not a great team and the home field advantage is marginal at best in this rivalry game. No Lattimore for the Cocks and hoping to see a whole lotta Andre Ellington to lead both Clemson and my fantasy team to victory!
Clemson 31 USC 21
Alabama (-21) @ Auburn
Dan: Alabama (-21)
Alabama 38 Auburn 10
Jeremy: Alabama (-21)
Sorry Phil. Saban's on a mission to get a little more respect after the computers revealed that the Tide will be going to the title game without having to win their own conference (not to mention their own division). Statement time for Bama.
Alabama 38 Auburn 10
Jimmy: Alabama (-21) Lock of the Week
Bama gave up 21 points to Georgia Southern! Nick Saban’s impenetrable defense now very penetrable (on second thought, a word I probably shouldn’t be using these days in college football circles). Rein it in media jumping at any kind of angle on a boring sub-par FCS opponent in November (why the SEC allows these matchups to be scheduled now is beyond me). The Tide are still the 2nd best team in America and were caught looking ahead to this redemptive Iron Bowl. Sorry Philip, but Auburn is about to pay the reaper for last year's epic victory. Hide your kids, hide your wife. This will get ugly.
Bama 48 Auburn 10
Mike: Alabama (-21) Lock of the Week
Forget the drama this year. Alabama has the BCS title game in its crosshairs and you can bet that Nick Saban will have his team primed for revenge after last year’s meltdown in Tuscaloosa. Much like having the pitcher strike out purposefully to avoid hitting into a double play in RBI Baseball for Nintendo, Auburn’s offense would be well served to punt on second or third down to avoid turning the bowl over. My prediction? Pain.
Alabama 28 Auburn 3
A greatly different feel to this years' Iron Bowl than the past 2 years. Auburn no longer has the upstart, "trick up your sleeve" surprise factor as they did in 2009 and they no longer have the greatest college football player ever like they did in 2010.
Auburn is truly a poor team this year. The OL is awful. The DL, although improved, is no match for the Bama D Line. Moseley has tried his best at QB, but I suspect the Bama front 7 might kill his fragile self. All we have to go on this year is passion, hatred for our rival and home field advantage (which I pray stays our home field as some alums shamefully will sell their tix).
Alabama is a great team. Richardson is the great (2nd best back in the state!), and the defense is 2nd to none. They are weak at QB and weak at WR. They struggle to score points at times against a good defense, which sadly, Auburn does NOT have. Plus, they realize what is at stake and the revenge factor will be high after last years gut wrenching stomach punch loss.
Although I started the year off slow in my picks, I have made a resurgence and am no longer lagging way behind. Had I not picked for Auburn and against Alabama every time, I would probably be winning the pick race. No prediction from me for this game as I am holding a glimmer of hope that the mighty War Eagles can muster one game's worth of moxie, energy and fight to beat the #2 outta the tide. WAR DAMN EAGLE!!!
Arkansas (+13) @ LSU
Dan: LSU (-13)
LSU 31 Arkansas 10
Jeremy: LSU (-13)
Speaking of statement games, this one's a big one for both teams. Arkansas is trying to prove that they belong in the national title discussion, while LSU realizes that their big win over Bama is almost meaningless. Mathieu is due for another defensive TD, and Tyler Wilson will be more than accommodating, as he'll be forced to chuck it about 50 times on Friday. Looking forward to this one, even if the Bayou Bengals pull away comfortably in the 2nd half.
LSU 31 Arkansas 13
Jimmy: LSU (-13)
Have to imagine this is the first time in BCS history where a #1 vs. #3 BCS ranks matchup mirrors a conference's division standings. While I'm grateful for Tyler Wilson's steady contributions to my fantasy squad, he gets the bench this week. LSU's suffocating secondary will likely cause his performance to register somewhere between woefully inept and a Brad Johnson-esque game manager mediocre. As talented as Jarius Wright & Co. are, I just don't see Wilson picking the Tigers apart. With the Death Valley denizens hungry for a compelling finish to this unblemished season, the Mad Hatter will orchestrate at least a two score margin.
LSU 36 Arkansas 17
Mike: Arkansas (+13)
Once again, the SEC delivers with high drama on the day after Thanksgiving. The Battle for the Golden Boot has produced plenty of incredible games in the past 10 years irrespective of each team’s record and, with BCS title game implications on the line for both teams, there’s every reason to believe that this year’s edition will be hotly contested. As with the Alabama-Arkansas game earlier this year, I believe that LSU’s dominant defense will ultimately be too much for the Hogs to handle. Nonetheless, Bobby Petrino should be able to coax enough production out of his team to keep this game close to the very end.
As an aside, Jack Swarbrick would do extremely well to keep Petrino on his short list of replacement coaches in the likely event that Brian Kelly fails at Notre Dame. Petrino inherited a roster at Arkansas that was bereft of talent and he has turned them into a legitimate SEC contender despite lacking the same rich in-state talent base that his rivals at Florida, Georgia, Alabama and LSU have. In addition, while character is always a major issue at Notre Dame, Petrino has never run afoul of the NCAA authorities at any of his prior stops. Although there will be those who continue to express outrage over Petrino’s exit from Atlanta, it was clear that the NFL was not working out, so he made the best move for himself and his family. Admittedly, his departure was abrupt and clumsy, but, while that may offend the sensibilities of the NFL-obsessed talking heads in Bristol, CT, it doesn’t bother me at all.
LSU 24 Arkansas 17
Phil: Arkansas (+13)
Lotta points being given here for a game that means so much against 2 teams who have played each other tough the last few years. Arky is a much better team than they were in September after losing to Bama. The BCS implications of an LSU loss are potentially catastrophic. One good thing for the Tigers is that Arky's strength is their passing game and LSU can cover and rush the QB. I like LSU in a closely fought game.
LSU 27 Arky 24
Dan: Boston College @ Miami (-14)
Miami 31 Boston College 13
Jeremy: Akron @ Western Michigan (-28)
Wouldn't even think of hopping off my horse here. Take a look at that Akron schedule and tell me there's a worse team in the NCAA. Bet you can't do it.
Western Michigan 48 Akron 3
Jimmy: Georgia @ Georgia Tech (+5.5)
Sign me up for the home under dog getting decent points in a rivalry game with the favored Bulldogs having already wrapped up their conference priorities. As long as the Yellow Jackets don't get behind by more than 2 scores, this should be a doozy.
Georgia Tech 31 Georgia 30
Mike: See follow up post with Mike’s bounty of Thanksgiving picks.
Phil: Penn St @ Wisconsin (-12)
Not much to say here, except that I wish Russell Wilson had went to Auburn and I hope Wisconsin beats the hell outta Penn St.
Wisconsin 70 Penn St 3
Dan: 3-3 (-)
Jeremy: 5-1 (-)
Jimmy: 4-2 (+)
Mike: 5-1 (+)
Phil: 5-1 (+)
Season to Date
Dan: 42-27 (8-4)
Jeremy: 43-26-1 (7-5)
Jimmy: 40-27-3 (9-3)
Mike: 33-36-1 (7-4-1)
Phil: 40-28-1 (8-3-1)