Hello again everybody...
It's mid-week time once again, and that means it's time to catch up on last weekend's college football action and look forward to next weekend. Seems like a middle-of-the-week thing to do, no?
But before I get to all that, a few words on Game 5 of the World Series. Yes, I'm glad the Phillies extended things and sent the Series back to New York. You'll recall that prior to the Series, the only thing I was really rooting for was a compelling, competitive contest between the two clubs.
(Damn, I love alliteration.)
However, once the Yankees took a 3-1 lead in the Series, that sort of put a damper on that hope. I'm not saying it's impossible for the Phills to come back, but even were they to win Game 6 tonight, I still think the prevailing feeling would be, “well, the Yanks will win it with CC in Game 7”. And I can't disagree with that.
One never really knows, so hopefully Philadelphia makes things interesting tonight. If I had to predict, and I was looking at a game with a grizzled, veteran pitcher who knows how to step up in big situations (Pettite) on one side versus a mentally fragile pitcher who's been owned by the Yankees for years (Pedro) on the other side? I'd have to go with Pettite, even if he is on three days rest.
Because all the Yankees really need from Andy is 5 solid innings. If he can get them through to the 6th, and they can use the bullpen to patch together the 6th and the 7th, I don't think Girardi will have any hesitation going to Mariano Rivera in the 8th and 9th to shut things down.
Those are my thoughts anyway. Well, those and, “why, oh why didn't you pitch Cliff Lee in Game 4, Charlie Manuel?” I'm not sure I'm ever going to understand that move.
But enough baseball for now. Wednesday is college football day here at The Sports Take, so let's get to the breaking down and to the picking, shall we?
”Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless.”
- Thomas Edison (1847-1931), American inventor, scientist and businessman
How apropos? Just because my picks haven't gone the way I intended doesn't mean they don't have value! Education, entertainment, self-flagellation... they're bursting at the seams with unintended uses!
With that, it's time for...
2009 College Football Picks: Week 9 Post-Mortem
First up, a couple of games I looked at, but let pass me by...
Wisconsin -7 vs. Purdue: Final Score - Wisconsin 37, Purdue 0
Okay, bad pass by me. I should have believed. I knew Purdue wasn't that good. I just wasn't sure how Wisconsin would respond after their bye week. And oh, did they ever respond. I said in last week's DFTU column that Wisconsin needed to win, and win impressively to shake off the bad magambo that had surrounded them after the Ohio State and Iowa losses. They certainly did that. The Badgers performed well in all three phases of the game, dominating a hapless Boilermaker squad.
Florida -15 vs. Georgia: Final Score - Florida 41, Georgia 17
Well, this is the first time that both of my “passes” have hit this year. I guess that's just indicative of how I've been going. You wouldn't know it by the final score, but this game wasn't really a blowout til late. Georgia was within covering the spread at halftime. But the Bulldogs really have slipped from the elite of the SEC, and Florida finally put a whipping on a team that at least had a chance at being competitive. All my talk about Alabama being better? Yeah, I'm not so sure about that anymore. I guess we'll see come SEC Championship time.
So maybe my two “passes” hitting means I'm off the schneid and ready to do better in my real (fake) picks? Let's find out!
Cincinnati -15 at Syracuse: Final Score - Cincinnati 28, Syracuse 7
Yes!!! I win!!! Somebody take a picture, dammit!
Okay, maybe that's a bit much, but I've been struggling so much the last few weeks that to win a game right out of the chute on Saturday was a nice confidence boost.
My hope for this game was that Cincy would jump out to a big early lead and cruise to a cover. As it was, I had to wait til the fourth quarter for them to score the covering touchdown.
But a win's a win, and I'm not going to complain about that!
What Dan Learned: Apparently, the Big East is back in play. At least as far as the Bearcats are concerned. At this point, I'm almost hoping to see Texas, Iowa, Cincinnati, Boise State and TCU all go undefeated. Because then when the SEC potentially puts a 1-loss team in the Championship Game over several undefeateds, the fraud that is the BCS will be undeniable. We'll see...
1-0 and ready to keep it rolling!
TCU -35.5 vs. UNLV: Final Score - TCU 41, UNLV 0
Yes!!! 2-0, baby!!! I'm on fire!!!
Okay, again, a bit much perhaps. But you have to understand how good this feels after the last three weeks, right?
Also again, the cover came very late in this game. Like with less than a minute and a half to go... that kind of “late”. Why the Horned Frogs felt the need to punch in that last touchdown, I'm not quite sure? Maybe they felt that 41-0 would be more impressive to voters/computers than 34-0? I don't know. Whatever it was, I'm glad it happened, because I'd have looked like a total dope for giving 35.5 in a game that finished with a 34-point spread.
Thank you TCU!
What Dan Learned: Apparently going with some of the “lesser” (the BCS's term, not mine) undefeateds is the way to go. In fact, I should've gone with Iowa this week, because even after being down 21-10 in a game where they were giving Indiana 17.5, they roared back in the fourth quarter to score 28 points and cover by a half-point. Hmmm... will that come into play in Week 10? We'll see!
2-0 and loving life!
South Carolina +6 at Tennessee: Final Score - Tennessee 31, South Carolina 13
*- This game was this week's Sports Take Flier Pick of the Week
"On fire", fin.
Obviously I should've listened to that voice in my head telling me, “Tennessee's at home, Dan... this game's on Halloween, Dan... the Volunteers wear orange, Dan... baaaaad signs if you want to pick South Carolina, Dan...”.
He's annoying folks, but he was right.
Once I saw Tennessee come out with black jerseys and orange pants, I knew something was amiss with my pick. They looked like some sort of Schultzian “Great Pumpkin” creation. It was really odd.
But it worked. The Vols rolled over the Gamecocks and once again, my Flier Pick was denied.
What Dan Learned: I told myself to stay away from the Vols the rest of the year, and now I promise to listen! You never know which version of this team is going to show up. And now that they've got a win in those black jerseys, I'm convinced they'll wear them again. I don't need to see that, so I'm staying away. You hear me, Jon? I'm staying away!
2-0, thank you Flier Pick!
Michigan State -3.5 at Minnesota: Final Score - Minnesota 42, Michigan State 34
Well, at least I'm over .500 for the week, right?!
This was perhaps one of the sloppiest, “I don't want to win... no, here you take the win...” type games I've ever seen.
The Gophers won the game while tying a Big Ten record for most penalties (17) in a single game. There were a myriad of odd, unexpected, and nearly inexplicable plays that helped the Gophers bounce back from an atrocious last two games. Whatever works for you, I suppose.
I wasn't really all that bitter about losing the fake wager until I had a Gopher fan try and woof at me on this win yesterday.
Really? You let Sparty score 21 in the third quarter to get back in a game you should've put away by then, and you're gonna talk trash? You get flagged SEVENTEEN times, and you're gonna flap your gums? It requires your tight end nearly getting knocked into a coma, while the pass he was trying to catch deflects to your running back who proceeds to sprint past a stunned MSU defense to cover and you're going to run out a “neener-neener” attempt?!
All this on a weekend where Wisconsin put up an actually-braggable (yes, I think I just invented another term) 37-0 performance?
Good lord, what are they putting in the water at TCF Bank Stadium?! You people amaze me. Really.
(End of rant.)
What Dan Learned: Betting on Minnesota and watching them lose is vastly preferable to betting against Minnesota and watching them win. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.
So I finished 2-1 for the week. Hardly the record-improving comeback that I needed, but certainly it was miles better than I had been doing. So I'll take it!
2-1 this week makes me 15-16 (.484) for the year. That's still very much on the wrong side of the winning/losing equation, but at least it's a step in the right direction.
And it's time to take another such step. So with that, I bring you...
2009 College Football Picks: Week 10
This week, I'm sticking with the “lesser” undefeateds (mostly), and we'll see how that works out. So here are a couple of games that I like, but couldn't fit on the docket...
Minnesota -6.5 vs. Illinois (11am, Big Ten Network): Back to betting for the Gophers we go. I actually think Illinois has a shot here after their win against Michigan last week. But I have to admit that the Gophers have been solid at home, and deserve to be the favorites. So hopefully we can just go back to picking the Gophers and watching them lose, right college football gods?!
Wisconsin -10.5 at Indiana (11am, Big Ten Network): Yes, this game has “trap” written all over it. I don't care if Michigan's not that good, they're still Michigan, and I'm still worried that Wisconsin's looking past the Hoosiers and straight at the Wolverines. Then again, Indiana's got to be close to giving up, right? How many stomach-punch losses can one team take in a single season? First that near-upset at Michigan. Then that melt-down versus Iowa last week. This team has to be ready to pack it in, right? If Bucky can get up early on them, I think Indiana shuts down.
But like I said, those didn't fit on this week's list, so let's get to the real, fake picks, shall we?
As always, were I to have the wherewithal to make a worthwhile wager, these are the games I'd be betting on...
Boise State -21.5 at Louisiana Tech (Friday, 7pm, ESPN2): The Broncos are 8-0 (3-0 in the WAC). The Bulldogs are 3-5 (2-3 in the WAC).
*- This game is this week's Sports Take Flier Pick of the Week.
I almost passed on this game because of the large spread. But I decided to go with the “lesser undefeateds” bit, so that means I've got to pick the 8-0 Broncos... even if they're giving 21.5... on the road.
Thank God for the Flier Pick rules!
This game really is a flier. No question Boise State wins it, but by 22+ points? Who knows? The only common opponent between the two so far is Hawaii, who they both beat.
So we'll just roll with the bit and pull for the Broncos!
Iowa -16.5 vs. Northwestern (11am, ESPN): The Hawkeyes are 9-0 (5-0 in the Big Ten). The Wildcats are 5-4 (2-3 in the Big Ten).
Will the Hawkeye roll stop at some point? I have to believe it will. How many times can this team get behind early against inferior competition and somehow pull out a miracle win? Sooner or later the dice have to bounce the other way, don't they?
But give Iowa credit. It hasn't been pretty, but they've beaten everyone that's stepped up to face them. I don't anticipate this week being very different.
Were this game to be in Evanston, I'd be far less confident in giving 10+ points, but in Iowa City, the Hawks should roll.
I'll spot Northwestern 16.5 and hope Iowa keeps their undefeated season alive!
TCU -24.5 at San Diego State (3pm, Versus): The Horned Frogs are 8-0 (4-0 in the Mountain West). The Aztecs are 4-4 (2-2 in the Mountain West).
Hey, they covered 35.5 versus UNLV... why not 24.5 at SD State?
The Aztecs have lost to BYU and Air Force, teams that TCU pounded.
Sure, this is on the road, but so were the BYU and Air Force games.
I'm giving the 24.5 and rootin' for them Horny Toads! (Er, Horned Frogs... sorry, channeled my inner-Yosemite Sam there for a moment.)
Cincinnati -16.5 vs. Connecticut (7pm, no TV): The Bearcats are 8-0 (4-0 in the Big East). The Huskies are 4-4 (1-3 in the Big East).
Look, I hate to pick on a team that is still reeling from the tragic death of one of their players. So I don't feel great about this at all.
But when I commit to a bit, I commit to it, regardless of the less pleasant aspects of it (see: Pick, Flier).
So if I'm going with the undefeateds who would potentially miss out on a Championship chance at the hands of a 1-loss SEC team, then I've got to stick with the Bearcats.
Plus, I really do think they'll win this game going away.
Sorry U-Conn fans. My condolences on your loss.
So there you have them. 4 picks for you to avoid wagering on if you have any sense at all. Make sure to check back a week from today to see how I did!
That's going to do it today. Remember, Game 6 of the World Series heads your way tonight. This could be your last chance to watch a meaningful baseball game until next March (oh, the humanity). Game starts about 7pm, check your local listings.
I'll be back on Friday with the usual nonsense. Until then, thanks for reading!