Hello again everybody...
It's the middle of the week, and it's all downhill from here! Been a long time since I've typed a sentence like that. No, my schedule hasn't been righted just yet, but let's just say I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm pretty sure it's not a train.
(Ed.'s Note: Before we get to the rest of the column, a quick note. I received a lot of reaction from Monday's column, and couldn't have been more pleased. Thanks to all who responded. Tiger released an additional statement on his website today. You can read that here. Recognize some of the verbiage? Tiger's starting to come around on this. Though he's still trying to hide certain details and cloak himself in privacy more than he should. You're getting there Tiger. But you still need to stand in front of cameras and take it like a man. On with the rest of the column...)
Mid-week time means one thing this time of year at The Sports Take... the lousiest in college football prognostication! Okay, so maybe the year hasn't been that horrible. But it sure as heck hasn't been good.
But there's only a few weeks left. Then it's time to warm up for the slate of bowl games!
So let's review the weekend that was and preview the weekend upcoming!
”Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
- Albert Camus (1913 - 1960), French author, philosopher, and journalist
I gave up wasting that kind of energy years ago. Does my new phone have a light saber app? You better believe it does. Am I the least bit bothered by those who might think that a bit odd? You better believe I'm not!
I am however a bit perturbed by the way my picks have been going. And unfortunately, this week wasn't any better. Let's take a look...
2009 College Football Picks: Week 13 Post-Mortem
First, the game I looked at, but passed on...
Pittsburgh -1 at West Virginia: Final Score - West Virginia 19, Pitt 16
And I'm glad I passed on it. Didn't see this game. It turned out that SyFy Channel (don't blame me, I didn't tell them to spell the name like that) was having a Bond Marathon the day after I'd created my own for Thanksgiving. And as you know by now, I can't watch too much Bond. Picking a close game on the road is a dicey proposition. Thankfully, I passed.
As for the games I did pick...
North Carolina -6 at North Carolina State: Final Score - NC State 28, NC 27
North Carolina had two separate 10-point leads in this game, but choked it away down the stretch. I'll give the Wolfpack credit, they stepped up, adjusted and executed well in the second half.
But if the Tar Heels hadn't committed something on the order of 800 penalties (note: that statistic is not official), they would've at least won the game, if not covered. At least two NC State scoring drives were sustained by key Tar Heel penalties.
You can't win a rivalry game doing that, especially on the road.
What Dan Learned: I'm not sure if I've said this yet this year, but I honestly don't regret this pick. I watched most of the game and it was clear to me that North Carolina was the more talented team. Unfortunately, “more talented” teams lose when they commit too many mental errors. And how you're supposed to predict things like that is beyond me.
0-1 and rooting for TCU to get me back to .500 on the week...
TCU -44.5 vs. New Mexico: Final Score - TCU 51, New Mexico 10
Well the “take TCU til they fail to cover” was bound to end sometime. They certainly scored enough to make covering possible. But a 2nd Quarter let-down added to a 3rd Quarter shut-out meant I came up one score short.
The game wasn't on TV locally, so all I know is what I saw online, while watching the scoreboard. TCU allowed the Lobos to score their only points of the game in the second quarter. Unfortunately, those 10 meant the Horned Frogs had to put up 55.
That turned out to be within reach as they ended with 51, but a scoreless 3rd stanza kept them from covering for me. No idea what New Mexico did differently in the 3rd, since they gave up 21 in the 2nd and 4th quarters respectively. Whatever it was, it cost me a cover, and earned New Mexico my ire for some time to come!
What Dan Learned: I'd love to create a rule that says “never give 40+ points, just don't do it” or something like that. But TCU had already covered a 40+ point spread this year, so it wouldn't quite work. Strangely, I'm 0-2 on the day, and not regretting either pick. Big-picture realism? Or surrendering to this year's lousy showing in my picks? You decide...
0-2 and praying my Flier Pick comes through!
Virginia Tech -16 at Virginia: Final Score - Va Tech 42, Virginia 13
*- This game was this week's Sports Take Flier Pick of the Week
There we go! Sometimes it takes a Flier to turn things around.
I'll admit to having been close to writing this one off when it hit halftime and Tech led 14-13 and the Cavalier defense showed every sign of keeping Virginia close for the duration.
But there's a reason that Frank Beamer is one of the best coaches in college football. Tech adjusted at half, came out and got a big turnover in the 3rd quarter, and ripped off 28 unanswered in the second half to cruise to a big win.
Emotion can carry you a ways in a rivalry game, as we saw in the NC/NC State game. But it can only do so much. Virginia Tech rarely beat themselves, and eventually their talent overwhelmed Virginia.
What Dan Learned: Somebody's going to have the unfortunate reward of drawing Virginia Tech as their bowl opponent. Whoever it is, I wouldn't want to be them. Poor schmucks.
1-2 and counting on the Triple-Option to get me back to .500 on the day!
Georgia Tech -7.5 vs. Georgia: Final Score - Georgia 30, Georgia Tech 24
I knew I was screwed on this one when Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt went out in the second quarter with a leg injury. He came back in the second half, but wasn't the mobile quarterback the Triple Option requires him to be.
Still, he was a better option than back-up Jaybo Shaw. (Really? Jaybo?!) And did a nice job making it a close game.
I should also give Georgia some credit. They came out with a power running game that the Yellowjackets were loathe to stop. Of course, that makes one wonder where the hell that's been all year? But either way, the important thing is I lost... again.
What Dan Learned: Nesbitt's injury puts the ACC Championship game very much in play for Clemson. If the odds-makers aren't paying attention and make Georgia Tech a sizable favorite (anything more than 3-points is too much), then Clemson's an easy play.
So that leaves me 1-3 on the week. Not exactly what I had in mind. I'm now 20-24 (.455) on the year. It's going to take a miracle in these last couple weeks to get back to .500.
But I will not be deterred!
With that, I give you...
2009 College Football Picks: Week 14
It's a reduced slate of games this week as most conferences have finished their regular schedules, and we move on to the Championship games.
So no games to pass on this week... we get right to the picking!
As always, were I to have the wherewithal to make a worthwhile wager, these are the games I'd be betting on...
Cincinnati -2 @ Pittsburgh (11am, ABC): The Bearcats are 11-0 (6-0 in the Big East). The Panthers are 9-2 (5-1 in the Big East).
This one decides the Big East BCS representative. Should the Panthers win, they'd be tied for the best record in the conference and would own the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Bearcats.
But I don't think Cincy head coach Brian Kelly is going to allow that to happen. And I don't just say that because his name keeps coming up in regards to the new vacancy at Notre Dame.
Cincinnati's only shot at a BCS Championship appearance comes if they win this game and Nebraska somehow beats Texas. And the Bearcats get to try and take care of their own business first.
That should have them focused and ready. Pittsburgh's a good football team. Cincinnati's just better.
I'll give the two and roll with the Cats.
Alabama +5.5 vs. Florida (3pm, CBS): The Crimson Tide are 12-0 (8-0 in the SEC). The Gators are 12-0 (8-0 in the SEC).
The SEC Championship. The clash of the Titans. For all intents and purposes, a national semi-final game.
Someone asked me during the week what I thought the line on this game should be. I said if it's any more than three, take the points and thank somebody.
Turns out the odds-makers have Florida as a 5.5-point favorite.
I think Alabama can win this game outright, so I'm certainly pleased to see I'm getting nearly a touchdown's-worth of points to pad the score.
Of course this is a re-match of the game that Florida won last year. But the 2008 Gators had far more weapons at their disposal than the 2009 version. Plus, Alabama's defense has gotten better.
I won't be shocked if Florida wins, but I'll be mildly surprised if it's by more than a touchdown.
So I'll take the points and hope for new blood in the BCS Championship.
Clemson +1 vs. Georgia Tech (7pm, ESPN): The Tigers are 8-4 (6-2 in the ACC). The Yellowjackets are 10-2 (7-1 in the ACC).
The ACC Championship. The winner goes to a BCS bowl. The loser? Not so much.
Call my pick an over-reaction to losing with the Jackets last week if you like, but here's a very important fact:
Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt is “probable” for this game, but not 100%. And without a healthy Nesbitt, Tech's offense just doesn't go like it should.
Yes, Clemson took a whipping from South Carolina last week. But teams from the ACC often get whipped by teams from the SEC. That's nothing new. Plus, the Tigers had won their 6 previous games, and all but one of those wins were by double-digit margins.
A dinged up Tech + a game Clemson team + a point? I'll take that, thank you.
Wisconsin -12.5 at Hawaii (10:30pm, ESPN): The Badgers are 8-3 (5-3 in the Big Ten). The Warriors are 6-6 (3-5 in the Western Athletic Conference).
*- This game is this week's Sports Take Flier Pick of the Week
Ah, the Badgers annual pre-bowl trip to Hawaii. Say what you want about Barry Alvarez, but one of the smartest things he ever did was negotiate this deal with the University of Hawaii.
You want to play a Big Ten team to help your strength of schedule? Sure! We'll even come to you! What a deal? You don't mind if we tell recruits that part of the bonus of coming to Wisconsin is a free trip to Hawaii, do you? Of course not! Thanks!
What about the pick, you say?
Right, that's sort of the point, isn't it.
The Badgers have traditionally done well against Hawaii, and the coaches have had two weeks to game-plan against the Warriors.
I'll give the 12 points and take my chances!
So there you have it. Four picks to put in your pocket so you can mock and ridicule me next week!
Trust me, I'll likely deserve it.
That's going to wrap things up for today. I'll be back on Friday with the somewhat delayed, but never denied DFTU!
Until then, thanks for reading!