Thursday

2008 College Football Picks: Week 15

Hello again everybody...

Day 2 of the new boss at the Sports Take offices. I'm still thinking it's a good idea to lay low and appear focused, so again, today's column will be a touch brief. It's been a tense week around the offices. But the good news is, nobody's been fired today... yet.

Oof.

So today it's the Week 15 picks. That's right, the final regular season weekend of college football. Fortunately the Bowl Season begins December 20th, so there won't be too much time for me to go into withdrawal. But before we go bowling, we've got some conference championships to deal with, so let's get to it!

"Programming today is a race between software engineers trying to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning."
- Rick Cook (1944- ), American author


No relation. But I like the way he thinks!

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After a week off giving thanks for the wonder of college football (amongst other things), I'm back with the finest in college football prognostication. Okay, maybe not the finest, but I'll at least get you over .500! So let's break down this week.

As always, were recreational gaming legal, and were I to have the wherewithal to make a worthwhile wager, these are the games I'd be betting on...

Navy -11 vs. Army (@ Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia 11am): The Midshipmen are 7-4. The Black Knights are 3-8.

One of the great traditional rivalries in all of college football, dating back to 1890. No, you won't see the greatest athletes. No, you won't see high-powered offenses lighting up the scoreboard.

But you will see one of the great spectacles in amateur sports. And one of the few games where you're absolutely sure the players involved actually fit the definition of amateur!

My paternal grandfather served in the Army. My maternal grandfather served in the Navy. So I can't go strictly on family allegiances.

Instead, we'll look at the history. Navy has won 8 of the last 10 match-ups including the last 6 in a row. And they haven't been all that close. The smallest margin of victory in those last 6 Midshipmen wins was 12 points.

Former Navy head coach Paul Johnson was largely responsible for that streak, but he's moved on to Georgia Tech. So maybe Army actually has a shot this year?

Nah, I don't think so. We'll give the 11 and take the Midshipmen over the Black Knights! Sorry Dad.

Next...

Florida -10 vs. Alabama (SEC Championship @ Georgia Dome in Atlanta, 3pm):
The Gators are 11-1 (7-1). The Crimson Tide are 12-0 (8-0).

For all intents and purposes, this game is a National Championship semi-final, as the winner is virtually guaranteed a spot in the BCS Title game.

Does it strike anyone else as odd that the #1 team in the country in every poll imaginable is getting 10 points?

It seems odd to me anyway. But only in theory. In practice, I agree that Florida is probably that much better than Alabama. I broke down the relative schedules in
a previous column, so I won't rehash all that here.

Suffice to say that even if super-frosh Percy Harvin isn't able to go for Florida, they simply have more weapons than Alabama does.

Make no mistake, Alabama has had a tremendous season (copyright Tim Brewster). And Nick Saban deserves a ton of credit for turning that program around so quickly.

But Urban Meyer's had a head-start at Florida. So I give his club the decided edge.

We'll give the Tide the 10 points and enjoy what should be the beginning of a classic rivalry between two of the biggest of big-time programs in college football.

Thirdly...

Ball State -15 vs. Buffalo (MAC Championship @ Ford Field in Detroit, 7pm): The Cardinals are 12-0 (8-0). The Bulls are 7-5 (5-3).
*This is this week's Sports Take Flier Pick of the Week.

No question Ball State should win this game. They've clobbered their MAC competition all year long.

But 15 is a lot of points to give in a conference championship game on a neutral field. And Buffalo's been surprisingly scrappy, led by head coach Turner Gill. Gill's name has been linked with several bigger coaching vacancies, so this may be Buffalo's only shot at a MAC title.

So why am I going with the Cardinals? They're my darling team. And that's all there is to it.

Plus, it's the Flier pick, so I feel relatively safe.

We'll give the 15 and congratulate the Gophers on not having to go to Detroit to get clobbered by Ball State in the Motor City Bowl (ooooooh, cheap shot!)

Finally...

Oklahoma -17 vs. Missouri (Big 12 Championship @ Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, 7pm): The Sooners are 11-1 (7-1). The Tigers are 9-3 (5-3).

In a similar fashion to the SEC Championship, this game acts as the other national semi-final. Though next to Missouri's name, you have to put Texas in parentheses, because if the Tigers manage the upset, the Longhorns would likely end up in the Title game.

The Tigers can score points. They just have trouble keeping other teams from scoring them. And given that the Sooners have scored 60+ in their last 4 games, I have a hard time seeing Missouri stay within 20.

True, it would mess up the BCS in a lovely way if Missouri won. And I'm sure there'll be more than a few of you watching this game rooting for just that. But Oklahoma has owned Missouri as of late, including ruining the Tigers shot at a title-shot just last year.

So even with the revenge-factor, I'm seeing Oklahoma rolling by at least 20 in this game. So I'll give the 17, and be amongst the throngs yelling, "Boomer Sooner" on Saturday night. I have no idea what it means, but apparently the rhyming quality is enough!

So there are your 4 picks for this week. Yeah, I went with all the chalk. But the if the favorites seem likely to cover, then that's where you go!. See anything you disagree with? Leave a comment and let us know.

That's all for today. Again, apologies in delaying the poll, but I'm sure you'll agree that maintaining good status at my real job is of slightly more import. My goal is to be back tomorrow with all the poll data you can handle. Until then, thanks for reading!

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