Wednesday

10-14-09: 2009 College Football Picks: Week 6 Post-Mortem & Week 7 Selections

Hello again everybody...

It's mid-week time... for most of you.

Me? I'm doing my best to enjoy the first of what I hope are not that many “Wednesday/Thursday” weekends.

Work schedules change, especially in a business like the one I'm employed in. So I'm trying to stay positive about it. We'll see how things work after a few weeks. Maybe it'll work out for the best. Who knows?

I'm doing my best, however, to not let a goofy work schedule mess up my writing schedule. Hopefully you all will think today's product is as good as my usual output!

Wow. No pressure on myself there, huh?!

Today it's time to step away from baseball for a bit and talk some college football. Don't get me wrong, I'll be watching plenty of LCS and World Series action. And I'm sure I'll feel compelled to talk about it at some point.

But that's later. Today's column looks back at last week's picks (ugh) and looks forward to this coming weekend's college football action.

Let's do this!

”There are some that only employ words for the purpose of disguising their thoughts.”
Voltaire (1694-1778), French Enlightenment writer, essayist, and philosopher


Let me assure you, I don't fall into this category. That's just too much work!

No, no disguising what I'm thinking. I lay it out in front of you and let you decide whether I'm right, or whether I'm wacky.

«Read More...»


After last week's results, I wouldn't blame you if you went with the latter.

With that, I bring you...

2009 College Football Picks: Week 6 Post-Mortem

Apparently there was a good reason that I could only find 4 games to look at. Let's see how I did!

First...

Nebraska -3 @ Missouri: Final Score – Nebraska 27, Missouri 12
(*) This game was this week's Sports Take Flier Pick of the Week

Talk about a tale of two halves!

First of all, if you didn't catch the game, it was played in near-monsoon conditions. But I never like to blame the weather for the outcome of a game because both teams have to deal with an equal amount of discomfort.

But Nebraska looked downright lost in the first half. They trailed 9-0 heading into the locker rooms.

I have no idea what Husker coach Bo Pelini said at halftime, but whatever it was, it worked. The Huskers outscored the Tigers 27-3 in the final two stanzas on their way to an easy cover.

What Dan Learned: The “Official Nebraska Good Luck Charm” bit continues! I can't explain it, but every time I pick Nebraska, they win! (I can feel certain eyeballs rolling as they read that – but it's true!) Outside of that though, I'm not sure how much we can read into this game. Yes, it was a nice Husker comeback, and that defense looks more and more Blackshirt-worthy as the weeks go by. But when a game's played in conditions like that, you thank the stars you covered and move on...

1-0 and liking my chances...

Next...

Georgia +1.5 at Tennessee: Final Score – Tennessee 45, Georgia 19

Ugh.

Next time I write “I have no idea how this team can be an underdog”, would someone please slap me? Two weeks in a row I've done it, and two weeks in a row I've lost that game.

I didn't see this game, but Tennessee got out in front early and eventually ran away with it. My guess? The Georgia kids caught some bad breaks and quit.

That's not to disparage the Volunteers. I'm sure they did a wonderful job. But if you'd been offered 25 points in picking Georgia before this game, would anybody have turned that down? I didn't think so.

What Dan Learned: Anytime you have a game with two teams that have had roller coaster seasons... stay away. I should've avoided this game like it had H1N1 (what? Too soon?). And speaking of that, is there anybody not named Alabama or Florida in the SEC who's not having a volatile season?! Wow. Talk about a league that's hard to pick!

1-1... okay, I thought I was good with that game, but I can still do this!

Wisconsin +16 at Ohio State: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 13

If you just talked offense vs. offense, it was Wisconsin 13, Ohio State 10. Unfortunately, that's not how football works.

I told lots of people that, “if Wisconsin doesn't turn the ball over, and catches a break or two, they can win this game.”

Well, QB Scott Tolzien threw two interceptions which were returned for touchdowns and the Badger kick coverage team gave up a kickoff return for a TD.

So both of those things went in exactly the opposite direction from what I hoped. Joy.

I threatened several times while watching this crap-fest to chug a bottle of Drain-O. It couldn't have been a less-enjoyable option. Oof.

What Dan Learned: Actually, I should title this paragraph “What Dan Un-learned”. I thought I had a good feel for this Wisconsin team. No, they weren't great, but they had the possibility of being pretty good. Now? I have no clue. This is a game that can really screw with a team's head. When you statistically out-play the other team and lose by 18, that's tough to get over. Fortunately, the Badgers host a woeful Purdue team next week, so they have a chance to get their heads right.

1-2, and suddenly in need of a hug...

Finally...

Stanford -1 at Oregon State: Final Score – Oregon State 38, Stanford 28

Another Pac 10 pick... another whiff. Didn't see a second of it, why should I spend more than that breaking it down?

What Dan Learned: Let's see... after beating USC, I picked Washington to beat Stanford, and they lost. After beating Washington, I picked Stanford to beat Oregon State, and they lost. Anyone else see the pattern? So who does Oregon State play next week? Oooh, that vaunted team called “bye”. Christ, even when I want to go against my own logic, it doesn't work!

1-3 and looking around for that bottle of Drain-O.

Okay, okay... not so much with the Drain-O. I don't want my Mom sending me the numbers of any therapists. I'm okay, Mom. Really.

1-3 on the week makes me12-9 (.571) on the year. Not good. Oh well. A couple more good weeks and I get right back on pace, right?

(Aside: Lon, that was not an invitation for you to provide me with the actual math involved. Let me have my delusions, please. Thank you.)

With that, it's on to this week's picks...

2009 College Football Picks: Week 7

First up, a couple of games I looked at and passed on...

Wisconsin -2.5 vs. Iowa: I really want to believe. I really want Wisconsin to get back up off the turf and come back with a solid effort at home. But I've seen this movie before. Last year a dreadful loss to Ohio State led to a tailspin that ended in a trouncing at the hands of Florida State in a bowl game. I want to believe things can change. I just need to see it before I can pick them again.

Nebraska -11 vs. Texas Tech: You think I'm going to put the “Good Luck Charm” bit on the line against a team that can score with the rapidity of the Red Raiders? Um, sorry... no. Look, I like the look of the Husker defense and all. But giving an offense like Tech's 11 points? Sorry, no can do. Best of luck Nebraska. I'll check in with you again next week.

So what games am I picking? I'm glad you asked.

As always, were I to have the wherewithal to make a worthwhile wager, these are the games I'd be betting on:

First...

Texas -3.5 vs. Oklahoma (at Cotton Bowl, 11am, ABC): The Longhorns are 5-0 (2-0 in the Big 12). The Sooners are 3-2 (1-0 in the Big 12).

It's the Red River Rivalry.

Last year the Longhorns won 45-35, and that was against a healthy Sam Bradford and an experienced Oklahoma offensive line. This year, the Sooners are minus both of those things.

Texas has been quietly amassing an unblemished record, and while Florida and Alabama have been getting more respect in the polls, Texas might actually have the easier road to the National Championship.

But that's big picture. Focused specifically on this game? I just flat like what Texas brings to the table more than what Oklahoma does.

Throw in that the 'Horns have won 3 of the last 5, and I'll give the 3.5 and take my chances...

Next...

Minnesota +16.5 at Penn State (2:30pm, ABC/ESPN): The Golden Gophers are 4-2 (2-1 in the Big Ten). The Nittany Lions are 5-1 (1-1 in the Big Ten).

Time for a new strategy. I'll take the Gophers here, and if I lose, then I can take solace in the fact that my least-favorite Big Ten team got worked by 17+. Sounds sensible, right?

The truth is, the Gophers have made a bettor's career out of covering a line like this. Do I expect them to win? Certainly not. But will it surprise me if they manage to keep the loss under 14 points? Not a bit.

I'll take the 16.5, even on the road, and see what happens. Again, I can't really lose, even if this isn't the Flier Pick of the Week.

Speaking of which...

Thirdly...

Indiana +2 vs. Illinois (6pm, Big Ten Network): The Hoosiers are 3-3 (0-2 in the Big Ten). The Fighting Illini are 1-4 (0-3 in the Big Ten).
(*) This game is this week's Sports Take Flier Pick of the Week

This strikes me as one of those lines that the odds makers set because it should work out that Illinois is the favorite. They want to make this a 5 or 6 point spread, but Illinois has looked so awful this year, that they reduce it to 2.

Neither of these teams are going to win any major awards this year, but the Hoosiers still have a chance to go bowling with 3 more wins. And I think they're going to get one of them in this game.

Anyone who saw the effort Indiana gave at Michigan knows that they can move the ball against mediocre to bad defenses. And to call Illinois' defense “mediocre” might be generous. Plus the Hoosiers are at home. Granted, Memorial Stadium is about as sterile an environment as any in college football (when it's best known for all the Mellencamp music you have to listen to in pre-game, that's not good), but still, it's home.

Illinois is in a free-fall. They've benched their senior quarterback, Juice Williams, and even that doesn't seem to be helping. Looks like it's time for www.fireronzook.com to get fired up again.

I'll take the 2 on a Flier and buy a John Mellencamp album off of iTunes if they win!

And finally...

Alabama -17 vs. South Carolina (6:45pm, ESPN): The Crimson Tide are 6-0 (3-0 in the SEC). The Gamecocks are 5-1 (2-1 in the SEC).

If we're avoiding match-ups of two volatile SEC teams, then we have to stick to picking Florida and Alabama games. They're about the only consistent teams in the league you can find.

This week, I'm sticking with the Tide. Mostly because I still haven't found enough reasons to believe that Florida is markedly better than Alabama. Tim Tebow made a solid comeback from that nasty hit he took versus Kentucky, but I'm not sure Alabama wasn't better to begin with.

As for the Gamecocks? Steve Spurrier is quietly putting together a nice season for his program. But now they're hitting the meat of their schedule. In their last six games, you can only point to Vanderbilt as a easy win. Otherwise they face the likes of Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas on the road, and Florida and Clemson at home.

A lot of people are down on South Carolina on the pure principle that they don't like Spurrier. I'm down on them because they represent the only state in the Union that still isn't quite sure they lost the Civil War. But that's just me.

I'll lay the 17 and count on home field advantage getting the Tide out to an early lead, from which they can roll to an easy cover. Get it? “Tide”? “Roll”? “Roll Tide”? I know, I know. These things just come to me. I can't help it!

So there you have them, my four picks of the week: Texas -3.5 at a neutral site, Minnesota +16.5 on the road, Indiana +2 at home, and Alabama -17 at home. Think I learned my lesson from picking all those road games last week? I'd say so...

That's all for today ladies and gents. I'll be back on Friday with another version of everybody's favorite segment.

Until then, thanks for reading!

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