Thursday

2008 College Football Picks: Week 3


Hello again everybody...

First off, a note I've been meaning to share since Monday. Unfortunately it's been getting lost in my virus-induced fog. But I'm feeling much closer to normal today, so I want to start with said note:

Congratulations to you!

That's right, over the weekend, The Sports Take officially passed the 1000 hit-mark. That means you, my fine readers, have eyeballed this blog more than 1000 times. I never imagined that so many of you would have an interest in reading my random thoughts and ramblings. So I want to take this chance to say, "thank you". I'm blessed and honored to have so many fine friends and family take interest in a hobby of mine. I can't possibly thank you enough.

With that, I segue to what you all really came here for: more of the finest in football prognostication in the blogosphere! Or at least fine enough to get you to .500!

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So, were recreational gaming legal, and were I to have the wherewithal to make a worthwhile wager, the following are the games I'd be betting on:

USC -10.5 vs. Ohio State: I'm not "in love" with any of the picks this week, but of the 3, I have the most confidence in this one.

USC had last week off after drubbing Virginia in Week 1, 52-7. So you give a coach as good as Pete Carroll 2 weeks to game plan against a quality opponent? I think I like USC's odds against pretty much anybody. Junior QB Mark Sanchez seems to have recovered from his pre-season knee injury and displays the ability to accurately throw the deep ball that the Trojan offense has been lacking the past couple of seasons. I've heard that defensive star MLB Rey Maualuga has some kind of cast on due to a hand injury, but even if he has to wear it during the game, I don't see it keeping him off the field.

Ohio State has been a much bigger question mark so far. Week 1, they destroyed Division I-AA Youngstown State 42-0. But in that game Heisman Trophy favorite RB Beanie Wells suffered a foot injury which to date has yet to be clearly defined. In my experience, when a program is this hush-hush about an injury, it usually indicates that the injury is worse than initially reported. Wells was out for the Buckeyes Week 2 game, a "skin-of-the-teeth" 26-14 win over Ohio University. I won't be convinced that Wells will be available against USC til I see him on the field for an actual play. And even if he does that, I can't imagine he's at 100%. And without the threat of him running the football OSU's offense becomes very ordinary.

And to seal the deal, check out ESPN columnist Pat Forde's column this week where he details Ohio State QB Todd Boeckman's struggles in his last 4 big games.

(Aside: If you enjoy college football as much as I do, Forde's weekly Tuesday column is a must-read. This guy's an entertaining writer who is plugged in to a lot of college programs. Plus he likes horse racing. How can you go wrong?!)

So we're giving the 10.5 while we can (I think the line's only going to go further towards USC). I'll be watching this game in 65 inches of HD goodness Saturday night, so even if I lose, I'm going to enjoy it thoroughly!

Next...

East Carolina -13 @ Tulane: The Pirates are this year's Sports Take darlings, so we're sticking with them.

Tulane had their first game delayed til later in the year thanks to Hurricane Gustav, so they technically opened their season last week with a 20-6 loss in Alabama. Green Wave QB Kevin Moore was able to throw for 225 yards against the Tide defense, but got very little help from his running game. And given the way ECU shut down the West Virginia running attack, I don't see that changing this week. That means a lot of throwing and playing catch-up, which is a recipe for turnovers which ECU thrives on.

East Carolina is 2-0 and ranked 14th in the country, their highest ranking since 1999. There is a danger of a let down being that this is ECU's first game against an unranked opponent. But head coach Skip Holtz kept his team from letting down after their emotional Week 1 upset, so I don't see him allowing them to relax this week, especially on the road.

So we're giving an anemic offense 13 points and collectively chanting, "Arrrrgggghhh" as the Pirates go to 3-0!

Thirdly...

Notre Dame +2 vs. Michigan: Time to put our "home field matters corollary" to the test.

Michigan is 1-1 after stumbling to a 25-23 loss to Utah at home in Week 1, then rebounding with a 16-6 victory over Miami of Ohio at home in Week 2. So now Rich Rodriguez takes his show on the road for the first time in his Maize and Blue tenure. There's no question that this will be as Michigan fan, the Hammer, has termed it, "a transition year" for Michigan. They simply don't have the personnel that Rodriguez's offense requires for success. That will change very soon, but not this year.

It's going to be a struggle all year for Michigan, meanwhile Notre Dame needs a signature win.

So how can beating Michigan in a down year be a signature win for Notre Dame? Well when you struggle to beat a team like San Diego State, any win over a nationally recognized program is a big win. And fortunately for the Irish, they get the Wolverines at home. Notre Dame's offense is clearly struggling as well, hence the low number in the spread. But I expect Michigan to struggle just a touch more on the road for the first time.

So we're taking the points and praying that Touchdown Jesus brings one home for us!

Finally, it's time for the Sports Take Flyer Pick of the Week:

Sorry Nebraska fans, I'm giving you a week off. I still think I'm your good luck charm, but I doubt you'll need it this week against New Mexico State.

Instead this week my Flyer Pick is:

Georgia Tech +6.5 @ Virginia Tech: But didn't you just get done saying home field matters?!

Yes I did, but I think this one has sneaky upset written all over it. Georgia Tech is coming off an upset victory at Boston College last week and is 2-0 when you add in their Week 1 victory over Jacksonville State. New head coach Paul Johnson is still working to fully install his "triple option" offense, but so far it's hard to argue with the results. This is a guy who got Navy to beat Notre Dame in South Bend for chrissakes! That's a guy I'll stick with.

Virginia Tech on the other hand is on the brink of a lost season. The opening week loss to East Carolina looks better now that the Pirates have beaten West Virginia as well, but it was still an upset. And while their 24-7 win over Furman was nice, it doesn't tell you a whole lot. That makes this ACC opener against the Yellowjackets of paramount importance. And I'm thinking that's going to make Va-Tech play a little tight. If the home crowd gets grumpy and starts booing the home squad, this could roll our way in a big way.

So let's take the 6.5 and hope Georgia Tech can control the time of possession battle and cover that spread!

So that's it for today. Tune in Monday for the Post-Mortem. And remember, I'm back tomorrow with my standard Friday column. Until then, thanks for reading!

3 comments:

  1. I'm with you on all of them except ECU, that is a ... large spread. I'm not sure they will cover that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A comment with my own predictions, you suggest I should leave? OK, you asked for it. These are deep; prepare yourself.


    1) Several sporting teams will participate in events this weekend, commonly known by the moniker "football games."
    2) Approximately 50% of these aforementioned teams will earn more points than approximately 50% of the other teams.
    3) Beverages will be consumed by people watching these games. Also, food will be eaten.
    4) I will watch approximately 0 (zero) percent of these games.
    5) Except maybe the Badgers.
    6) I will still, however, consume beverages.
    7) And food.
    8) Not necessarily in that order.
    9) That will, potentially, increase my spread.
    10) Especially the food.

    ReplyDelete
  3. But if Nebraska struggles I will hold you responsible.

    ReplyDelete