9-22-10: 2010 College Football Picks, Week 4

Hello again everybody...

First off, apologies for getting this up so late.

As fate would have it, I ended up at Target Field last night as the Twins clinched their 6th division championship in the last nine years, and the festivities ran a little late. On the plus side, I got to see the press box and the clubhouse for the first time, and as with everything else at Target Field, the Twins did things absolutely right.

It was a great experience and I can't wait to do more of it next season.

But don't think I forgot about you, my dear readers. No, no, no.

Instead of scrapping the column all together, I'm writing a special Wednesday night edition for you!

And this time of year, Wednesdays mean college football predictions here at Writing for the Cycle! So let's get to the pickin'...

Right after the quote!

“Critics search for ages for the wrong word, which, to give them credit, they eventually find.”
- Peter Ustinov (1921 - 2004), English actor, writer and dramatist

Personally, I search ages for my college football picks... (insert punchline here).

2010 College Football Picks: Week 4

Starting us off this week, as every week, a look at last week's picks. We begin with those I looked at, but passed on:

East Carolina +17.5 at Virginia Tech: Final Score - Virginia Tech 49, ECU 27

Temptation, oh how I'm glad I resisted thee. Had this game not been in Blacksburg, I might have gone for it. But since it was a home game for the Hokies, and they quite literally HAD to win and win convincingly, I passed. Right call.

Tennessee +16.5 vs. Florida: Final Score - Florida 31, Tennessee 17

Shoot. Should've gone with this one apparently. The result looks a lot worse than it was, trust me. The Vols had the Gators plenty concerned in this game. I don't want to bandwagon a coach after just three games, but Derek Dooley has all the earmarks of a quality head coach, and the sooner he can return Tennessee to national prominence, the better in my opinion.

Arizona State +15.5 at Wisconsin: Final Score - Wisconsin 20, ASU 19

I knew it was too much, I knew it was too much, I knew it was too much... dammit! Sadly, I couldn't pull the trigger against my favorite club two times in the first three weeks. It just wouldn't have been fair. Also unfair was the wager I lost against my ASU-grad co-worker, where he talked me into giving him half the points (we settled on ASU +7.5). The only solace I have is that he had to be sick when he saw how many chances his Sun Devils had to win that game outright... not that it's much solace, really, but I'll take what I can get.

So two of my “passes” hit, that can't bode well for my real picks can it?! Let's find out...


California -3.5 at Nevada: Final Score - Nevada 52, Cal 31

Crap. Not the way I'd have chosen to start a week.

A colleague of mine informed me that he's always heard that you should never take a short-favorite on the road. In other words, if the spread's less than say, six, either take the home dog or stay away. Mind you, he told me this on Saturday after my column had been printed and his theory was of little to no use to me. Thanks ever so much, Chris.

As it turned out, he was right in this instance. Nevada kept up it's streak of improving offense and Cal didn't have any answer for them.

Personally, I'm going to lay the blame as fully on Michele Tafoya (proud Cal grad) as I can. This is what I get for supporting a co-worker I guess!

0-1 and suddenly thinking that 2-2 would be just ducky.


Alabama -23.5 at Duke: Final Score - Alabama 62, Duke 13

That's better!

Really, this should've been one of those 30+ point spreads that I keep telling you to stay away from. But I'm sure glad it wasn't!

Didn't see a second of this game, so I can't really break it down. Sometimes, though, the score pretty much tells you the story.

RB Mark Ingram came back, scored a couple of times, and the Tide rolled. Lather, rinse, repeat.

1-1 and feeling a little better...


USC -14 at Minnesota: Final Score - USC 32, Minnesota 21

There's a reason I don't *actually* bet on sports, and this game is it.

USC pulled away early in the second half and was cruising towards an easy cover when they but in the B-squad and allowed Minnesota a late touchdown drive to cover.

Head Gopher Brain Wizard Tim Brewster even called a time out late in the drive to give his club the chance to score a touchdown that was completely meaningless to his team or his fans, but screwed the hell out of the folks that picked USC minus the points in this game.

Thanks a ton Tim. Here I've been the lone voice in this area NOT calling for your head on a platter - albeit for selfish reasons - and this is what you do to me?

That's neither tremendous, or exciting, ya doosh!

1-2 and praying Chris was wrong about short-favorites on the road!


Texas -3 at Texas Tech: Final Score - Texas 24, Texas Tech 14
*- This game was this weeks WftC Flier Pick of the week

Thank you, Longhorns!

Two Flier Picks in a row? Be still my beating heart!

Actually, maybe that's not the greatest sign in the world, since it means that I've needed those Flier Picks in successive weeks to save me from a losing record!

I was all psyched to catch part of this game, but due to the vagaries of ABC/ESPN's scheduling system, somehow I got ESPN News in HD on ESPN2 instead of this game. Don't ask me how it happened. I've got no clue. And I'm not going to complain to loudly either, since I'm pretty sure ESPN could “disappear” me, just like in the Sopranos!

Whatever the Longhorns did, it was enough to cover, and that's all I can ask... especially from a Flier team!

So after three weeks worth of picks, and a second consecutive 2-2 week, my record stands at 6-5 (.545). As I recall, you need to have a .550 winning percentage to actually make money (Google “vig” if you want to see the reasoning why), so I've fallen below that threshold.

However, since Goal #1 this season was to better my awful .458 mark from last season, I'm still feeling pretty good about things. In fact, were I to go 2-2 from here on out, I'd be guaranteed a better season, right?!

Not that I'll let that deter me from chasing that elusive 4-0 week mind you!

Speaking of which, it's time to get on with...

Week 4

First up, the games I looked at, but didn't pick...

Saturday 9/24 - Penn State -14 vs. Temple (2:30pm, BTN): I remember distinctly picking this game last year in Penn State's favor and didn't cover. So even though the spread is lower this season and the Lions are at home, I'm still going to take a pass.

Saturday 9/24 - Army +6.5 at Duke (2pm, No TV): I really wanted to pick this one. I mean I really wanted to pick it. I'm a fan of the service academies. I'm not a fan of Duke's football program. 6.5 is a juicy spread. What's not to like right? Well, after Duke got rolled by Alabama, and yet still are favored this week? Something's going on there. And whatever it is, I don't trust it. I'll pass.

So of those two games couldn't whet my appetite, what games did I pick? Good question...

As always, were I to have the wherewithal to make a worthwhile wager... these are the games I'd be betting on:


Saturday 9/24 - Air Force -13.5 at Wyoming (2pm, MWN):The Falcons are 2-1 (1-0 in the Mountain West). The Cowboys are 1-2 (0-0 in the Mountain West).

Even though Air Force is the service academy least-steeped in tradition, they do generally have a very competitive football program, and this year looks to be no different.

They worked over what was supposed to be a pretty good BYU team, 35-14. And they hung right in there with Oklahoma, losing 27-24.

Wyoming on the other hand, is one of the clubs that keeps the Mountain West from being considered a major conference. They're coming off of two straight whippings at the hands of top tier programs Texas and Boise State.

13.5 is a lot to give on the road, but Air Force can score in bunches and Wyoming simply can't. I'll give the points and roll with the Falcons!


Saturday 9/24 - Texas -16 vs. UCLA (2:30pm, ABC): The Longhorns are 3-0 (1-0 in the Big 12). The Bruins are 1-2 (0-1 in the Pac 10).

Lots of double-digit spreads this week. That's either a good thing, or a really bad thing. I'll decide next week when I run down the results!

Texas isn't the juggernaut they've been in recent years, but they're still pretty good. And they're certainly light-years better than the moribund UCLA program.

Rick Neuheisel is doing what he can to resuscitate the Bruins, but so far, they're still struggling, especially on offense, which is supposed to be his strength.

UCLA finally got a win last week as they rolled over Houston, but Texas' defense is just a touch better than their in-state brethren.

The Longhorns are at home, I'll go ahead and lay the 16 and see if UCLA doesn't just get hooked!


Saturday 9/24 - Cincinnati +14 vs. Oklahoma (5pm, ESPN2): The Bearcats are 1-2 (0-0 in the Big East). The Sooners are 3-0 (0-0 in the Big 12).
*- This game is this week's WftC Flier Pick of the Week

This game is what the Flier Pick is all about.

All the usual metrics point towards an Oklahoma win here, and I won't be the lest bit surprised if they do. But I have me a hunch that the final will be closer than the 14-point spread would indicate.

Oklahoma's good, but not as good as they have been. They got severely tested by Air Force, and haven't limited an opponent to less than 17 points.

Cincinnati also isn't as good as they have been, but can still score points in bunches. Throw in the fact that they have this game at home, and I think they've got a chance to hang in it.

I'm out on a limb here, but that's what the Flier Pick is all about! Go Bearcats!


Saturday 9/24 - Oregon -11.5 at Arizona State (9:30pm, FSN): The Ducks are 3-0 (0-0 in the Pac 10). The Sun Devils are 2-1 (0-0 in the Pac 10).

So the Sun Devils took my beloved Badgers to the brink last Saturday, and of course I'm picking against them this week, right?!

Well it's not *quite* that simple.

The beauty of watching the Sun Devils nearly beat my club is that I was able to see how many flaws they have. Arizona State had plenty of chances to beat Wisconsin last Saturday, but managed to shoot themselves in the foot often enough to prevent the win.

A lack of discipline will cost you on the road against a team like Wisconsin. It'll really cost you when you take on a scoring machine like Oregon, even if you're at home.

Oregon's lowest scoring total of the season? 48 points... on the road... at Tennessee.

Um, yeah. I'll gladly lay the 11.5 and watch the Ducks quack their way past the Devils.

So there you have them folks. Four picks to peruse, ponder and critique! As always, I encourage you to leave your thoughts, or a pick that you think I should've made, but didn't!

That's going to wrap things up for today. Thanks again for your patience.

I'll be back on Friday with an AL Central Championship version of the DFTU.

Until then, thanks for reading!


  1. This might be your 4-0 week. The only pick I might quibble over with you is the Oklahoma game. Stoops is a heckuva coach, and you just *know* he's working the boys over about their mistakes against the Falcons. Oklahoma wins by 18.

  2. That's why it's a "Flier Pick"!

    I'll be just as happy with 3-0!