9-21-09: 2009 College Football Picks: Week 3 Post-Mortem

Hello again everybody...

Back to start another week. And I'm feeling a bit conflicted.

The Twins took two of three from the Tigers over the weekend. Those who read Friday's column will recognize this as “Option 2”.

So as of now, the Twins are 3 games behind Detroit with 13 games remaining, including four games in Motown. That's still a decent chunk of ground to have to make up in fewer games than you'd like.

The sweep would've put them 1 game back, and they had a clear starting pitching advantage going into Sunday. But Baker didn't get it done, and neither did the line-up. So there you go.

It's not over, but 1 game back would've looked a lot better than 3 games back does.

But baseball wasn't the only thing cooking over the weekend. There were some fun college football games, including a few I had a specific interest in.

So today, we see what happened to my Week 3 picks.

Let's get to the Post-Morteming shall we?

”There are two ways to slide easily through life; to believe everything, or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking.”
Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950), Polish-American philosopher and scientist

I guess I tend towards the latter. At least until someone offers me enough evidence to stop doubting. But I hadn't quite thought of it in this way before.

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It's time, once again, for that Monday tradition: breaking down my college football picks from the past weekend.

Last week I went 1-2 to give me an overall record of 4-2. I still haven't managed that elusive 4-0 week, and I haven't hit a Flier Pick yet. Would either of those things change in Week 3?

The only way to find out is to bring you my...

2009 College Football Picks: Week 3 Post-Mortem

First up...

California -13.5 at Minnesota: Final Score – Cal 35, Minnesota 21

Not a bad start to the day!

Though it galls me to do it, I've got to give the Gophers a ton of credit. The Bears jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter, and it looked like the rout was on.

But Goldy didn't panic, and didn't give up. With some solid quarterbacking by Adam Weber, and some spectacular receiving by Eric Decker, the Gophers went to the locker room trailing only 21-14 at halftime.

The teams traded turnovers in the third quarter before Minnesota put together a nifty drive, ending on a crazy play where Weber handed to Decker on an end-around (*) but instead of running it, Decker pulled up and passed to Gopher back-up quarterback MarQuise Gray for the tying touchdown. That's right, a receiver throwing to a quarterback. Tricky, Jedd Fisch (Gopher offensive coordinator). Very tricky!

(* - This is the single most miscalled play in all of football. Let's get this straight America. If a receiver comes down the line for a hand-off from the quarterback, it's an end-around NOT a “reverse”. To be a reverse, the quarterback would have to hand to another ball carrier who's goal would be to get the defense flowing in the opposite direction before handing to a receiver. It's Football 101 people. Can we all get on the same page please? Thank you.)

So the game was tied headed into the fourth quarter when Cal's Jahvid Best decided to take over and win the game almost single-handed. Best ran for 132 yards on 26 carries and 5 touchdowns, two of which came in the final stanza to seal the win (and the cover).

Heisman candidacy, thy name is Jahvid Best!

What Dan Learned: The Gophers are tough at home in the new TCF Bank stadium. That doesn't mean I'll be picking them to win any time soon. It just makes the prospects for Wisconsin a lot tougher come October 3rd.

Eric Decker is a man amongst boys. He took a knockout shot on his first touchdown catch, and came back to catch another, plus throw for a third. He tweaked his ankle late in the game, so that will bear watching. But if he's healthy, he's going to have a monster year.

Cal's offense is fairly one-dimensional. Granted, that one dimension is an elite running back in the form of Best. But sooner or later they need to develop a more effective passing game, or someone's going to slow down Best enough to beat them.

1-0 and feeling good!


Penn State -29.5 vs. Temple: Final Score – Penn State 31, Temple 6.

So close!

Loyal Sports Take reader Scott in Eau Claire pointed out that the Big Ten's trouble scoring made this pick a bad one. He was more right than wrong.

Penn State missed a cover by 6 points. One more lousy touchdown and I'd be sitting on 2-0. Oh well, at least I didn't take Toledo +22! (Woops, sorry Scott!)

What Dan Learned: It was bad enough taking one 30-point favorite. Taking two was pushing my luck too damned far.

1-1 and looking forward to the rest of the afternoon.


Washington +20 vs. USC: Final Score – Washington 16, USC 13
*- This game was this week's Sports Take Flier Pick of the Week

Say it with me, “Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING is better than an underdog winning outright”... presuming you picked them.

And I did! And though some of you may think it's “picking in the post-game show” by me, I have several witnesses who will confirm that as the week went along, I told people that not only was I taking the points, but that I thought Washington was going to win this game!

Unfortunately, due to ABC/ESPN's draconian distribution rules, I didn't get to see a down of this game. Not only was this game not available on ABC or ESPN/ESPN2, but the game that was supposed to be on ESPN2 (Nebraska at Virginia Tech) got blacked-out for some reason! Thanks ESPN. You've just convinced me to never EVER buy your College Football package. Well done!

What Dan Learned: My “Washington Will Be Undervalued” theory strikes gold again! I didn't take advantage of it in Week 1 when they covered vs. LSU, but I got on board this week!

Now the trick is to figure out when they go from “undervalued” to “overvalued”. Trust me, it's coming. We saw it last year with ECU and Ball State. Those teams had some big wins early, and started being over-bet, especially on the road. Washington's next two games are at Stanford and at Notre Dame. If they manage to beat Stanford, I guarantee you that the line on the Notre Dame game will be way off. We'll keep our eyes on it!

2-1 and waiting for the Gator beat-down to commence.


Florida -29.5 vs. Tennessee: Final Score – Florida 23, Tennessee 13

Well this didn't turn out how I thought!

Usually I detest the notion of a “moral victory”, but if ever a loss deserved that label, this was it.

Like so many others, I expected Florida to mop the field with the Vols, but I have to give Monte Kiffin a ton of credit. His defensive schemes made Florida work for every inch of ground they got. And they also came up with two huge turnovers leading to 10 of Tennessee's 13 points.

The critical play of the game came with about seven minutes left as Florida looked to be driving for a touchdown to make it 30-6 and bring me within 6 points of covering. All-galaxy QB Tim Tebow made a great play to get outside and pick up a first down rushing the ball, but didn't tuck the it away and had the rock stripped away where it was recovered by the Vols.

Tennessee promptly drove it down the field and killed any chance I had of a cover by scoring a touchdown.

What Dan Learned: Florida is good. But I don't think they're as good as they were last year. Don't get me wrong, they still may be good enough to win the whole thing, but unless they develop a down-field threat at the receiver position, teams are going to mimic Monte Kiffin's scheme, and eventually someone will slow their running game down enough to slap a loss on them.

As for the Volunteers? Tough to say. Their defense did as well as Vols fans could've hoped. But the offense is awfully lacking in terms of big-play talent. Their Freshman running back Bryce Brown showed some flashes and could easily grow into a big-time player. But Senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton is average at best. And without more talented receivers to help him, Lane Kiffin is going to be forced to call a very vanilla offense to minimize the risk of turnovers.

So I end the week 2-2. Hey, at least I finally hit a Flier Pick, right?!

Week 3's 2-2 record makes me 6-4 (.600) on the season. And just like that, I'm behind last year's pace. But as long as I stay above the .550 mark, I'll be happy!

4-0, you've eluded me once again. But I've got 12 weeks to go. This isn't over yet!

That's going to do it for today. I'm back on Wednesday with more Sports Take goodness for you.

Until then, thanks for reading!


  1. 12 weeks? Are you counting some bowl games, sir?

  2. No... I looked in the archives and there were 15 weeks of picks last year.

    Must be including championship games