Hello again everybody...
It's your Wednesday... It's my Saturday... I'm sure you're all wonderfully tired of me whining about my new work schedule.
I'd love to stop. Really, I would. But every time I start writing, I have to pause and make sure I know what day it actually is versus what day my body clock thinks it is.
I'm adjusting... slowly, but I'm adjusting.
Today's column is about college football, but I wanted to say a quick word about baseball before we start. The Yankees are up 3-1. The Phillies are up 3-1. Can you say “over in 5”? I thought you could.
Unfortunately, the brain-wizards that run Major League Baseball refuse to start the World Series until a week from today. So if both LCS's are done by tomorrow, then we've still got to sit on our hands for six days until the Fall Classic starts.
Well done, MLB. Well done.
Speaking of sarcastic “well done's”, it's time for some college football picks.
Off we go!
"We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?”
- Jean Cocteau (1889 – 1963), French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager, playwright, artist and filmmaker.
Boxing manager? Really? Which one of these is not like the other, eh?
2009 College Football Picks: Week 7 Post Mortem
Last week I was a dismal 1-3. Time to pick myself up, dust myself off and get back on track!
But before we see how I did, how about those games I looked at, but didn't pick?
Wisconsin -2.5 vs. Iowa: Final Score – Iowa 20, Wisconsin 10
Yup, a good “stay away” by me. I wanted to believe that the Badgers would bounce back at home from the previous week's road debacle, but it was not to be. They survived their fumbling problems early in the year, but they haven't been able to get over quarterback Scott Tolzien's recent interception problems. Let the “play Curt Phillips” talk begin! Ugh.
Nebraska -11 vs. Texas Tech: Final Score – Texas Tech 31, Nebraska 10
Sorry Husker Nation, but I knew this one smelled funny when I saw it. Of course, I had no idea that giving you 11 points wouldn't be enough to cover. I think I'll make it up to you this week.
But that's later. First we have to break down the games I did pick!
Texas -3.5 vs. Oklahoma: Final Score – Texas 16, Oklahoma 13
Oh that blasted half-point! It'll break your heart every time!
Okay, maybe not every time, but at times like these, you wish it wasn't a part of the recreational gaming menu. Alas, it is and it cost me here.
This game was ugly. Sam Bradford got hurt early and Colt McCoy could never sustain any offense for the Longhorns.
What Dan Learned: Just because two teams lit up a scoreboard last year, doesn't mean they'll repeat that this year. I liked the line because I thought this was going to be a game of touchdowns, not field goals. Obviously, I was mistaken. This is a recording.
0-1, but not inclined to give up!
Minnesota +16.5 @ Penn State: Final Score – Penn State 20, Minnesota 0
When the Gophers get shut-out, does anybody really lose? I say no.
I was actually 1 pesky yard away from covering in this game. Unfortunately, Minnesota's lost the art of rushing the football. That's okay Coach Brew, it's not like it's been around longer than the forward pass or anything! Just because you took a team that used to regularly rush for 300+ yards and now have them in a state where they barely rush for 30, that doesn't mean you have a problem!
Just keep on keepin' on Coach! The Axe will stay in Wisconsin for 60 more years at this rate.
What Dan Learned: The Big Ten sucks. It pains me to say it, but it just does. In the past few years the conference has taken a lot of heat, but at least they've had one or two great teams (Ohio State, Penn State, and if you go far enough back, Michigan). But this year? Not a one. Sure, Iowa is 7-0, but does anybody think they're really a Top 10 program? I've seen nearly every Big Ten team play this year, and they all have serious flaws. If USC ends up back in the Rose Bowl, then whichever Big Ten team backs into the conference title is in for a serious whipping.
0-2 and feeling my confidence wane.
Indiana +2 vs. Illinois: Final Score – Indiana 27, Illinois 14
(*) This game was this week's Sports Take Flier Pick of the Week
You want further evidence of how bad the Big Ten's become? I give you the Illinois Fighting Illini. (Pronounced by a former WCCO host as “ill-LEE-nee”... oof.)
A couple of years ago, Illinois was contending for a league title and playing in the Rose Bowl. Now? They're 1-5 and without a win over a FBS team. So what's the over/under on the length of time until they run Ron Zook out of town? 3 weeks? Or maybe the end of the season?
And don't look now, but two more wins make the Hoosiers bowl-eligible. The rest of their schedule isn't easy, but wins against Northwestern and the ever-volatile Purdue would do the trick.
What Dan Learned: I promised to purchase a Mellencamp album if I won this one. Any suggestions? I'll tell you right now, there's no way I'm buying anything with that damned “Our Country” song on it. I still haven't managed to scrub that tune from my brain, and don't think I haven't tried!
1-2 and on the comeback trail!
Alabama -17 vs. South Carolina: Final Score – Alabama 20, South Carolina 6
A week of near misses I tell you! One lousy field goal gets me a push.
I said the only teams worth considering in the SEC anymore are the Gators and the Tide. Well, neither one of them managed to cover this week, so I guess that theory's out!
I underestimated the Gamecocks defense. Or perhaps I over-estimated Alabama's offense. Or maybe Nick Saban knew to do just enough to win.
At this point, I'm not sure I know anything about college football anymore!
What Dan Learned: Nothing. I have no clue what's going on. Honestly. Two weeks of 1-3?! That's just wrong.
Two straight weeks of 1-3 leaves me 13-12 (.520) on the year. Suddenly, I'm below the “making money” threshold. And I'm not the least bit happy about it. No-sir-ee.
So I can either throw in the towel, or keep grinding away. Which shall I choose?
Well it would make for a helluva boring blog if I just gave up! So grind away it is!
With that, I give you...
2009 College Football Picks: Week 8
First up, games I looked at, but decided to stay away from:
Arkansas +6 at Ole Miss : Let me get this straight. The Razorbacks put a scare into the defending National Champions, and they're 6-point dogs against a stumbling Rebel squad? This is certainly a “Why are these guys favored” game. I'm 0-for-2 in those games this year. So I pass.
Alabama -15 vs. Tennessee: If I knew which Volunteer team was going to show up, I could actually make a pick in this game. Unfortunately, Tennessee is WAY too volatile to pick for or against. I fully expect the Tide to win this game. I just can't afford to give 15. Good luck Jon!
So which games am I picking? You keep asking that!
Were I to have the wherewithal to make a worthwhile wager, these are the games I 'd be betting on...
Minnesota +17.5 @ Ohio State (11am, ESPN/ESPN2): The Golden Gophers are 4-3 (2-2 in the Big Ten). The Buckeyes are 5-2 (3-1 in the Big Ten).
Right theory. Wrong week. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Ohio State isn't that good. Their defense is tough, and they've got some speed on special teams. But that offense? Oof. If the Gopher defense staff sees the same tape I do, then they'll stack the line against the Buckeyes and force quarterback Terrelle Pryor to beat them passing.
Ohio State will win, but it'll be closer than the odds-makers think.
I know, I know. I said the same thing last week.
The hell with it! I'm giving the “I can't lose” theory one more week! I'll take the 17.5 and hope the Gopher defense is as improved as it seems to be.
Nebraska -17.5 vs. Iowa State (11:30am, Fox Sports Net Regional): The Cornhuskers are 4-2 (1-1 in the Big 12). The Cyclones are 4-3 (1-2 in the Big 12).
I know I left Husker Nation hanging last week. But I promised earlier in the column that I'd make it up to you. And here I am. Your personal “Good Luck Charm”. Back and better than ever!
Iowa State gives up points like the Heene family gives up balloons. (What, too soon?)
Nebraska's pissed after a poor showing against Texas Tech.
Add that up? I say blowout.
Come on Nebraska! Are you with me? I think you are!
We'll give the 17.5 and blow the Cyclones out of town!
Michigan +4.5 vs. Penn State (2:30pm, ESPN): The Wolverines are 5-2 (1-2 in the Big Ten). The Nittany Lions are 6-1 (2-1 in the Big Ten).
*This game is this week's Sports Take Flier Pick of the Week
I know this looks like a stretch, but I've got a feeling.
Anytime you give points to a home team, that's tempting. Especially when they can score the way Michigan can.
Penn State is coming off a shut-out win over Minnesota to be sure, but I'm telling you, I wasn't that impressed. This smells like a game that could sneak up and bite them.
Plus, you have to figure they're eying Ohio State in a couple of weeks as their next true test.
Hammer, this one's for you! We'll take the 4.5 and Hail the Victors!
(After typing that, I will now go paper cut each of my fingers and soak them in lemon juice.)
Texas Tech -21.5 vs. Texas A&M (6pm, No TV): The Red Raiders are 5-2 (2-1 in the Big 12). The Aggies are 3-3 (0-2 in the big 12).
Will someone please end the Mike Sherman era in College Station already?! How much more evidence do you need that this is not working? Somewhere Bear Bryant is looking down and hoping that no one remembers he ever coached there.
Texas Tech just rung Nebraska's bell for 31 points. They should be able to put up that and then some against a pathetic Aggie defense, right?
In fact if the wager was “Tech margin of victory” vs. “A&M total points”, you'd have to go with Tech, right?
21.5 is a lot to give, but if you can't give it in this game, I'm not sure what game you can give it in.
So there are your four selections for this week. I'm going to boldly predict... something other than a 1-3 week!
How's that for laying it on the line?!
As always, comments, questions, quibbles, queries and complaints are always appreciated!
That's it for today. I'm back on (your) Friday (my Monday) with your week-ending DFTU and quite possibly a World Series Preview? Or perhaps that would wait til Monday (my Thursday) since no matter what, Game 1 won't be til Wednesday (my Saturday). Clear enough? I thought so.
Until then, thanks for reading!