Wednesday

11-25-09: 2009 College Football Picks: Week 12 Post Mortem & Week 13 Picks

Hello again everybody...

Thanksgiving break is here!!! Well, it is for me at least. I'm off from work today through Saturday, and couldn't be more happy about it. No, my schedule hasn't reverted back to my preferred form yet, but all indications remain that it will prior to the next batch of Holidays. We'll see.

Either way, tomorrow is a day to stop and give thanks for the things we DO have, not the things we don't.

In that spirit, I'd like to take a moment to tell you all how thankful I am to have you all as regular readers. I've said it before, but writing this blog is something I do mostly for the joy of the creative process. That any of you enjoy reading it enough to come back on even a semi-regular basis is truly icing on that cake, and a blessing for me. So thank you all and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

As for Friday? Yeah, I've pretty much decided to take the day off from the blog. I know that not having your usual DFTU to tide you through your weekend will be something of a burden. But I have no doubts that you'll be able to soldier through!

Today's a day for college football though. It's time to wade through the weekend that was, and preview the picks for the weekend to come!

Let's get to it!

”Education is the progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”
- Will Durant (1885-1981), American writer, historian, and philosopher.


This quote jumped out at me because I'd just been thinking something similar the other day. It strikes me from time to time, that the older (and supposedly smarter) I get, the more I realize just how little I know about what's going on in the world around me.

And that's why I've decided to build my own underwater lair, just like Karl Stromberg in “The Spy Who Loved Me”. Only I'm not going to try and rebuild the human race. I'm just gonna hang out and watch movies!

I'm kidding of course... mostly. Oh, and did I mention that this year's Thanksgiving Movie Marathon is going to be composed of Bond films? Yes, I know you're shocked. Try to control yourself.

Move on to the college football already? You're right. Here we go...

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2009 College Football Picks: Week 12 Post Mortem

I had a pretty good feeling about this past week's picks headed into the games. Let's see if that translated into picking success!

First, the game I passed on...

Wisconsin -7 at Northwestern: Final Score - Northwestern 33, Wisconsin 31
Yeah. Not so much “back on the bandwagon”. I didn't get to see this game, as I was en route to Eau Claire to watch my friends Scott and Erica get married (congrats to those crazy kids!), but I did listen to a little bit of it on the radio as I drove.

First of all, is there a way we can get Matt Lepay to call every game everywhere?! Good lord, that guy's good. I could listen to him read the phone book and not get bored.

As for the game itself? Wisconsin's had a history of struggling at Evanston, and that's exactly why I passed on this game. I knew something like this would be possible. I don't know what it is about that goofy Wildcat offense that Bucky can't handle. But they struggle with it every year. Being in Madison usually helps them get over the top. Being in Evanston usually doesn't. And this year was no different. Dammit. Oh well, on to Hawaii!


So last week it turned out that I should've picked the games I passed on, and passed on the games I picked. Does that mean that I did better in my picks this week?!

First...

Iowa -10 vs. Minnesota: Final Score - Iowa 12, Minnesota 0

Well my 35-10 prediction didn't work out. But Iowa scored just enough to cover against perhaps the most anemic college football offense I've ever seen.

Minnesota's now gone 8 full quarters without an offensive touchdown. And four of those were against a FCS (the group formerly known as Division I-AA) team!

Gopher fans can whine about losing Eric Decker all they like. If one wide receiver is the difference between you scoring points and not scoring points, then your offense is in a world of hurt.

What Dan Learned: There's still rumblings that Decker could return for Minnesota's bowl game, so I can't say “bet the house against Minny”. But I'm awfully tempted to. As for the Hawkeyes, suddenly the hot rumor is they're going to get bumped out of a BCS bid by Penn State. Really? Didn't Iowa beat the Lions in Happy Valley for chrissakes?! Does anyone really need further indictment of the BCS system? I didn't think so...

1-0 and feeling my oats! (Ever wonder where that phrase came from? Me too, only I'm mildly fearful of learning the answer.)

Next...

Ohio State -12 at Michigan: Final Score - Ohio State 21, Michigan 10

One measly, freaking point away from a push. Seriously... the Buckeyes couldn't mix in a field goal somewhere in there to get me a cover?! Come on!

I caught a little bit of this game before I left town, and as the Hammer predicted, the Wolverines were certainly fired up being at home in a huge rivalry game.

Unfortunately, “fired up” can only take you so far. Michigan was better on defense than they had been in previous weeks, but they were clearly over-matched in terms of talent. And the lack of a cover here was more flukey than anything else.

What Dan Learned: It looks like an Oregon/Ohio State Rose Bowl. Which actually could be a pretty good game. I'd expect the Buckeyes to be close to a touchdown underdog in that game, but if Terrelle Pryor can limit his mistakes, the Buckeyes might actually win a major bowl game for once.

As for the Wolverines? They're still a mess. On the surface, their 5-7 record bests last year's 3-9. So one could be tempted to say they'd improved. The problem is they went 2-6 in the Big Ten last year, and this year they went 1-7. Hardly an improvement. I'm not one to call for a coach's head after only two years, so I hope those rumblings remain just rumblings. But next year is going to be huge for Rich Rodriguez. If Michigan doesn't become bowl eligible at least - and they probably have to do more than that - he could be looking for work sooner than later.

1-1 and praying for something other than another 1-2 week!

Thirdly...

TCU -31.5 at Wyoming: Final Score - TCU 45, Wyoming 10

Yes! The “bet TCU until they fail to cover” bit is officially on!

Didn't see a second of this game, but here's my imaginary recap: TCU scored, then scored again, then scored again, then got a little tired and surrendered a field goal, then made a mistake and gave up a touchdown, then went into the locker room at half time and got yelled at for giving up any points at all, then came out and dropped 21 on the Cowboys in the third quarter to seal the win and the cover.

Sound about right to you? I thought so.

What Dan Learned: I just wish I'd thought of this bit sooner. It might have turned a few 1-2 weeks into 2-1 weeks at least. The bad news is, TCU has only one regular season game left. The good news is it's against 1-10 New Mexico. I haven't looked at the line yet as I'm writing this, but I'm guessing it's got to be 35+ points. And yes, I'll be taking TCU and giving whatever points they ask.

2-1 and with only the Flier Pick remaining, guaranteed a winning week! Yes!!!

Finally...

Stanford -7 vs. California: Final Score - Cal 34, Stanford 28
*- This game was this week's Sports Take Flier Pick of the Week

Serves me right for picking against Michele Tafoya's Golden Bears. Fortunately, she didn't catch that column. I know this because I would've caught holy hell in the studio if she had.

I didn't see a second of this game, so I can't break it down for you. I will say that I had the right theory about Stanford having a “let-down” game. I just had it a week too early. Instead of letting down against the Trojans, they let down against a very average Bear team. Should I have seen that coming? Probably.

What Dan Learned: I think I have a new maxim for next year's preview column - I'm staying the eff away from Stanford. Every time I picked them this year, they lost. Every time I picked against them, they won. Freaking smart kids!


So thanks again to the Flier Pick I finish the week 2-1. That makes me 19-21 and just two more 2-1 weeks away from a .500 finish. Fortunately, there are three more weeks of regular season/conference championship games to pick. Though, the slate does start to dwindle now that most Big Ten teams are done.

Naturally, I won't let this deter me. So without further ado, I give you...

2009 College Football Picks: Week 13

First a game I looked at, but ultimately passed on...

Pittsburgh -1 at West Virginia: I like Pitt to win this game, and when the spread's only one point, then you just pick who you think will win. West Virginia's amassed a decent record this year though, and I think they'll give the Panthers a game. But were it not for Cincinnati being undefeated, Pitt would be getting a lot more publicity over their 1-loss record. I think they're a darned good football team, and I expect them to win this game. I just had four other picks I liked more!

And here they are...

First...

North Carolina -6 at North Carolina State (11am, ESPN): The Tar Heels are 8-3 (4-3 in the ACC). The Wolfpack are 4-7 (1-6 in the ACC).

Lot's of rivalry games this week. This one amongst them. The game itself is purely for pride as the Wolfpack have no shot at a bowl, and the Tar Heels can't get themselves into the ACC Championship Game, even with a win.

But North Carolina can improve their bowl position. And they've been on one heck of a roll lately. They've won four games in a row, including two doozies in the last couple of weeks, beating Miami at home and Boston College on the road. North Carolina is the ACC team no middling-record team wants to face in a bowl game, I assure you.

The Wolfpack have lost six of their last seven, with the only win coming versus a dreadful Maryland club. They can score some points if you're not careful, but not enough to win this game.

I like North Carolina by 10 at least in this game, so I'm happy to have to only give 6.

Next..

TCU -44.5 vs. New Mexico (12pm, on something called The Mountain): The Horned Frogs are 11-0 (7-0 in the Mountain West). The Lobos are 1-10 (1-6 in the Mountain West).

I guessed earlier that the line would be 35+ for this game. Well, it turned out to be very much "+". 44.5 is a ton of points to give, and I was almost tempted to make this my Flier Pick because of it. But that flies in the face of the “pick TCU til they fail to cover” bit, so I can't do it.

The Lobos are coming off their lone win of the year last week against a dreadful Colorado State squad.

TCU beat Colorado State 44-6 earlier in the season. If they can match that effort and add one more touchdown, I cover.

It makes me nervous to do it, but I'll give the 44.5 and stick with the bit!

Thirdly...

Virginia Tech -16 at Virginia (2:30pm, ESPN): The Hokies are 8-3 (5-2 in the ACC). The Cavaliers are 3-8 (2-5 in the ACC).
*- This game is this week's Sports Take Flier Pick of the Week.

It's nice when there's that kind of symmetry in records, don't you think?

If this game were in Blacksburg, I'd be even more confident that the Hokies would walk. But even in Charlottesville, I don't see the Cavs putting up much of a fight.

Virginia's dropped five games in a row, and only one of them could be called “close”. At this point, they're playing out the string and wondering who their next head coach will be once Al Groh gets the heave-ho.

The Hokies have won three straight, the last two in very impressive fashion. Like North Carolina, a win for Tech still won't get them into the ACC Championship. But I doubt they'll need that motivation to dominate their in-state rival.

If Tech gets a couple of scores early, Virginia folds and the rout will be on. I'll give the 16 and hope it plays out that way.

Finally...

Georgia Tech -7.5 vs. Georgia (7pm, ESPN Gameplan): The Yellowjackets are 10-1 (7-1 in the ACC). The Bulldogs are 6-5 (4-4 in the SEC).

If Georgia needed this game to get to a bowl, I'd give them a better chance. Georgia Tech has already locked up their spot in the ACC Championship game, so there's certainly a chance for a let-down here.

Except it's a rivalry game. And Tech hasn't lost since September. And I think Paul Johnson is way too good a coach to let his kids look past this game towards Clemson and a shot at a BCS berth.

Throw in the facts that Tech's at home, and Georgia's been a disappointment all year, and I don't think 7.5 is too much to give.

The Yellowjackets have their triple-option rolling. They haven't scored less than 30 since the middle of October. I like them to roll here by a couple of touchdowns easily.


So there you have them. Four picks to get you through your holiday weekend. As always, feel free to bet heavily against me. You'll probably come out ahead!

That's going to wrap things up for today. Again, I wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

I'll be back on Monday with more of the usual Sports Take wonderment.

Until then, thanks for reading!

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