Welcome to another Wednesday...
One down and two to go.
The Twins beat the White Sox last night to all but wrap things up in the Central. Worst case scenario, the Whities win tonight and tomorrow and the Twins still have a five game lead.
It was a close one for a while last night, with the teams trading leads several times. That was, until the Chicago bullpen imploded in the 8th. That five-run inning sent the south-side masses heading for the exits, which may turn out to be a metaphor for the end of Chicago's season.
I'm not putting the fork in them yet - though I'll wager you'll hear a lot of that in the media today - but the fork is poised, and I won't have much trouble sticking it in if the Twins can get even one more win out of this series.
But more of that on Friday in the DFTU.
Today's dedicated to college football. More specifically, my picks. And we'll get to those...
Right after the quote.
“A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men.”
See? You regular readers are some of the wisest folks around!
2010 College Football Picks: Week 3
First up is a look at last week's picks. As usual, we'll start with the games I looked at, but passed on:
Wisconsin -37.5 vs. San Jose State: Final Score - Wisconsin 27, SJSU 14
See? 30+ point spreads are nothing to monkey with. I keep telling you people that! Someday, we'll both listen! I'll have a lot more to say about this game on Friday, but suffice it to say, the concerns I had last week were not alleviated in this game.
Notre Dame -3.5 vs. Michigan: Final Score - Michigan 28, Notre Dame 24
I said last week that this game was a toss-up, and for those of you who watched it, you could see why. Both teams had a myriad of opportunities to win it, and as you may have expected, the last team to possess the ball won. This game wasn't a football clinic. Far from it, in fact. But it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch! Glad I didn't pick it.
Tennessee +13 vs. Oregon: Final Score - Oregon 48, Tennessee13
Believe it or not, this game was close early on. In fact, it was a 13-all tie at halftime. Then Oregon adjusted, and Tennessee didn't. That's not an indictment of their new head coach, Derek Dooley. It's just the way it goes when you have a young, inexperienced club trying to slow down a dynamic, multifaceted offense. Sorry Jon, but I'm happy I passed on this one too.
So if all three games I passed on would've gone against me, then I must have done pretty well on the games I did pick, right?
Let's find out!
Nebraska -28.5 vs. Idaho: Final Score - Nebraska 38, Idaho 17
Maybe you caught it, maybe you didn't, but my favorite Nebraska fan accurately pointed out in last week's column that Idaho was stiffer competition than Western Kentucky. I responded that I believed the point-spread reflected that fact.
Sadly, it didn't reflect that fact quite enough for me to cover. A 21-point victory is nice, but not nice enough in my case.
I didn't get to see the game, so perhaps one of my Nebraska-fan readers will be able to tell us why it took the Huskers the entire first quarter to get untracked. How you score 3 points in the first stanza and then 28 in the second is somewhat mystifying to me. But clearly it can happen.
Oh well. My streak of picking Nebraska and having them win is still intact. And if it can stay that way until the Texas game, that'll be just ducky!
0-1, and there goes another shot at a 4-0 week.
Iowa -13.5 vs. Iowa State: Final Score - Iowa 35, Iowa State 7
That's more like it.
I did get to watch a small chunk of this one. It was on opposite ND/Michigan and Ohio State/Miami, so I can't say I watched a ton of it. But I watched enough to finally say, I get it.
Earlier this year, I was one of the voices questioning the anointing of Iowa as Ohio State's top competition. I knew the Hawkeyes were good last year. But it sounded like folks were expecting them to top that performance this year, and I just didn't buy it.
Consider me converted. I know the Cyclones aren't exactly top competition, but the precision with which Iowa picked them apart spoke volumes to me. From what I saw, Iowa's performance was nearly flawless. They were flat out dominant in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. This game was over midway through the second quarter and it was obvious to anyone watching it.
Iowa is dangerous, my friends. And they get Ohio State and Wisconsin at home. I'm not ready to crown them (copyright Denny Green), but I finally understand what the pundits were talking about as they lauded them.
1-1 and thinking that 3-1 ain't too shabby.
Washington -13 vs. Syracuse: Final Score - Washington 41, Syracuse 20
*- This game was this weeks WftC Flier Pick of the Week
And we have our first win on a Flier this season!
I wrote in my preview that the level of competition these two clubs faced in week one would become evident in the results of week two, and it turns out I was right.
This game was close at the half (13-10 Washington), but Steve Sarkisian's club managed to make the appropriate adjustments and blow Syracuse's doors off in the second half.
I didn't see it, so I can't tell you much more than that. But it feels good to take a flier on someone and turn out to be right.
Well played, Huskies. Well played.
2-1 and ready to cap things off with the game I was most confident in!
Oklahoma State -13.5 vs. Troy: Final Score - Oklahoma State 41, Troy 38
Oh, come on! Really?!!!
Here's a couple of lines from last week I wish I could have back:
In fact, after they whipping they put on WASU, I'm trying to figure out how the line is only 13.5? If the line's much lower than you'd expect, that's generally a warning flag. But I can't find any major injuries to worry about, and it's a home game for the Cowboys.
Yeah, that warning flag I mentioned? There's a reason for that.
Apparently WASU's offense wasn't a fair enough test of Okie State's defense. If the Trojans can put 38 on them, that probably says more about WASU than it does anything else.
Oh well. Lesson learned. If the phrase “warning flag” occurs to me again, it's time to reassess my pick!
So I finished the week 2-2. Not great, not horrible.
That takes me to 4-3 (.571) on the 2010 season so far. Not quite the .667 start I got off to. But it's light years ahead of the .458 record I amassed in 2009. And that, my friends (copyright Sen. John McCain), is plenty good enough to be getting on with!
Now that we've reviewed Week 2's picks, it's time to get on with...
First up, the games I looked at, but didn't pick...
Saturday 9/18 - East Carolina +17.5 at Virginia Tech (12:30pm, Find a Good Bar): In the infamous words of one Admiral Ackbar... “IT'S A TRAP!” The folks that set these lines are counting on two things: one, that we over-rate the Hokies 0-2 start; and two, that we over-rate ECU. I'm tempted. I'm very tempted, but I'm going to pass. Virginia Tech has to get off the schneid at some point. I'm guessing it might be this week.
Saturday 9/18 - Tennessee +16.5 vs. Florida (2:30pm, CBS): I was tempted by the Vols last week and rightly passed. I'm thinking the same thing for this week. Florida's offense has been terribly lackluster the first couple of weeks, and they're fortunate to be 2-0. Tennessee gave Oregon a game for at least a half last week. Throw in the fact that the game's in Knoxville and I had to think long and hard before deciding to take a pass here.
Saturday 9/18 - Arizona St. +15.5 at Wisconsin (2:30pm ABC): After last week's sketchy performance against San Jose State, I have no clue how the brain wizards in Vegas concocted this line. If I didn't loathe picking against Wisconsin, I'd jump on this one in a heartbeat. At home, I fully expect Bucky to emerge victorious (now if I can only convince my ASU grad co-worker to wager a little somethin-somethin...), but by 15.5? That's a little much.
So if I passed on those, what games am I picking? 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:
Friday 9/17 - California -3.5 at Nevada (9pm, ESPN2): The Golden Bears are 2-0 (0-0 in the Pac 10). The Wolf Pack are 2-0 (0-0 in the WAC).
Can you say “track meet”?
Cal has put up 52 points each of its first two weeks, while Nevada has scored 49 and 51 points in its first two contests.
The danger here is that Cal gets caught looking ahead to next week when they take on one of the Pac 10 favorites, Arizona. But if they can manage to stay focused - and I think being on the road here might actually help in that regard - they should be able to slow down Nevada enough to earn the win.
I'll give the 3.5 and take Michele Tafoya's “sturdy Golden Bears”. That way if I lose, I can at least give her crap for a week or so!
Saturday 9/18 - Alabama -23.5 at Duke (2:30pm, ABC): The Crimson Tide are 2-0 (0-0 in the SEC). The Bluedevils are 1-1 (0-1 in the ACC).
Yes, I know 23.5 is a healthy number of points to give any opposition, but do I really have to explain this pick in depth?
'Bama has given no sign that they're any less of a dominant squad than they were last year. The working over they gave Penn State last week was impressive. They put up 24 points against a strong defense. And say what you will about the Lions having a freshman QB, Evan Royster is an experienced running back, and he didn't do squat against the Tide defense.
As for Duke? They've scored 89 points over their first two weeks... against defenses that are nowhere near as strong as what they're up against this week. And then there's the fact that traditionally, Duke's football team makes a terrific rooting section for its basketball team.
I know it's on the road, and that can be risky, but I'll lay the 23.5 and roll with the Tide once again!
Saturday 9/18 - USC -14 at Minnesota (2:30pm, ESPN): The Trojans are 2-0 (0-0 in the Pac 10). The Golden Gophers are 1-1 (0-0 in the Big Ten).
Folks, I swear, I'm not piling on the Gophers here.
In fact, I got several emails on Monday congratulating me for not excoriating Minnesota after their upset loss to the Coyotes of South Dakota.
Put simply, I refrained because there was nothing I could say that would make it any worse for Gopher Nation. 41-38, South Dakota, said more than I ever could.
That being said, I find this line intriguing. I thought for sure that based on that loss, along with USC's tradition, this line would be Trojans -21 or more. Had that been the case, I'd have gladly gone with the Gophers in this game.
Why, you ask?
Because I think Minnesota's going to give as good an effort this week as they'll give all season. They were embarrassed last week, they're going up against a high-profile opponent - defeating whom would blunt the sting of last week's loss, and at this point, the players are trying to save their coach's job. If Minnesota can't be motivated to put forth a solid effort this week, then there may be no hope for them at all this season.
Just like the ECU/Virginia Tech game, this one's a potential trap, but I'll stick with the favorite and try not to be distracted by the Song Girls on Saturday!
Saturday 9/18 - Texas -3 at Texas Tech (7pm, TV?): The Longhorns are 2-0 (0-0 in the Big 12). The Red Raiders are 2-0 (0-0 in the Big 12).
*- This game is this week's WftC Flier Pick of the Week
Both clubs have rolled easily over inferior opposition in their first two weeks. So why am I picking Texas on the road here?
One, Texas has superior talent. I know Tech was in the mix for the Big 12 title just two years ago, but their all-world quarterback and receiver have moved on. Meanwhile the Longhorns have re-loaded to replace what little talent they've lost to graduation.
Two, two words: Tommy Tuberville. I'm sure he's probably a nice guy. He has to be more stable than the previous Red Raider head coach. But the guy doesn't have a history of winning games against big-time programs, and Texas is about as big as it gets.
Three points isn't a ton of points to give on the road, so I'll go ahead and give Tech a field goal head start, and hope the Horns can hook 'em on the road!
So there you have them, four picks for your consideration. Agree? Disagree? Think I'm headed for my first losing week? Let me know!
That's going to wrap things up for today. I'm back on Friday with a heaping helping of the DFTU.
Until then, thanks for reading!