Welcome to a Wednesday.
Usually this is the spot where I say something clever and entertaining about something that doesn't have much to do with the rest of the column.
But after watching the Twins lose five in a row, and look gawd-awful doing it, I really don't feel all that chipper frankly.
I know I shouldn't panic. I know that the club is resting guys and trying to get things in order for the Division Series. But I can't help but be a little unsettled.
What did I just see on Twitter?
STAR WARS IS BEING RE-RELEASED IN THE THEATERS IN 3D?!?!
I love life.
Let's get to the football picks while life is still good, shall we? We shall...
Right after the quote.
“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”
- Niels Bohr (1885 - 1962), Danish physicist
I may have used this one before, but trust me, it's apropos for today!
2010 College Football Picks: Week 5
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:
Penn State -14 vs. Temple: Final Score - Penn State 22, Temple 13
Count this one as a lesson learned. I picked Penn State to cover versus Temple last season and they failed. This season, I chose to pass on the game, even though 14 seemed to be a reasonable number, and Penn State failed to cover again. In fact, the Lions trailed the owls 13-9 at halftime! I'm not sure what it is about Temple that has JoPa so flustered, but clearly this is a stay-away match-up from now on!
Army +6.5 at Duke: Final Score - Army 35, Duke 21
Dammit. I used italics in the preview to tell you how much I really wanted to pick this game, and as it turned out I should have. If for no other reason than to break out my “there's nothing quite so enjoyable as a dog winning outright” line! If Duke is favored in another game this season, I'll be shocked... and I'll be betting every dime I have on their opponent!
So 1-1 on my “passes”. What does that portend for my actual picks? I have no clue. But let's find out...
Air Force -13.5 at Wyoming: Final Score: Air Force 20, Wyoming 14
Air Force didn't get me a half-cover! Looks like I picked the wrong service academy to pick this week.
It took a furious fourth quarter comeback and a big defensive stop for the Falcons to come out of this one with a win, much less cover.
Maybe we stay away from double-digit favorites on the road from here on out? At least in non-BCS conferences, anyway.
0-1 but plenty of time to get the ship righted!
Texas -16 vs. UCLA: Final Score - UCLA 34, Texas 12
How the heck did this happen?!
Somehow, Rick Neuheisel conjured up a rough and tumble running game and a stout, ball-hawking defense. We hadn't seen any signs of either in the Bruins first three games, but it was on display in a big way on Saturday.
The Longhorns got out to an early 3-0 lead, but UCLA scored 13 in the second quarter, seized the momentum and never let it go. Four first-half turnovers put Texas in a hole, and even though they were the home team, they couldn't get things turned around.
Granted, this was horrible for my picks, but part of me enjoyed seeing Texas get popped in the mouth here. It proves they're vulnerable, and that makes my trip to Lincoln to see them take on the Huskers that much more exciting!
0-2 and praying for my Flier Pick streak to continue...
Cincinnati +14 vs. Oklahoma: Final Score - Oklahoma 31, Cincinnati 29
*- This game was this week's WftC Flier Pick of the Week
Yes! Three FP's in a row!
And it couldn't come at a better time after that 0-2 start!
Here's what I said in last week's preview:
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.
The Sooners got out to an early lead, but the Bearcats stormed back in the fourth quarter to make a game of it, and easily get me my cover.
Sometimes I swing and miss in a big way (see: Texas/UCLA), but every now than then I break one down exactly right, and it makes all the misses worthwhile!
1-2 and still in the hunt for a .500 week!
Oregon -11.5 at Arizona State: Final Score - Oregon 42, ASU 31
Son of a....
Let me take you back to Week 2 when I wrote...
Thank you magic half-point!!! (I know you'll come back to bite me later this season.)
Here you go then.
The Ducks flat-dominated the Sun Devils in this game, but threw up a doughnut in the fourth quarter to cost me a cover by a half-point.
You're seriously telling me they couldn't kick a lousy field goal in there somewhere?! Come on Oregon!
On the plus-side, I can now go back to hating their awful Nike-imposed uniforms. So there's that.
So I finish the week 1-3 (.250) which makes me 7-8 (.467) for the season. One bad week and I'm right back in the neighborhood of my horrible .458 mark from last year. Not good.
I'm trying to stay positive though. It's still early enough that one good week could get me right back above the magic .550 mark!
Or at least that's what I'm telling myself.
Speaking of that good week, let's hope it comes in...
First up, the games I looked at, but didn't pick...
Saturday 10/2 Oklahoma -3.5 vs. Texas (at Dallas, 2:30pm, ABC/ESPN): I was very tempted by this game, but I know better than to over-rate one game.
Texas got embarrassed by UCLA at home last week, so it's very tempting to see that small spread and think, “Oklahoma's going to crush here. -3.5 is a gift!”
Ah, but that's what the odds-makers want you to think! The Red River Shootout is usually just that, a shootout. And often it's decided by less than 3 points. I'm staying away, thank you.
Saturday 10/2 Northwestern -5.5 vs. Minnesota (11:00am, ESPN2): Again, a team coming off an embarrassing loss. Again, I'm not going to fall into a trap here.
Northwestern's shown some toughness. Minnesota's shown none. If this game was in Evanston, I'd be all over it. But a road game in the Big Ten is still a road game in the Big Ten.
I fully expect the Wildcats to get the win here, but 5.5 makes me nervous. I'll pass.
Saturday 10/2 Boston College +2.5 vs. Notre Dame (7pm, ESPN): If we had a decent amount of information on BC, this might be a juicy bet on an underdog. Unfortunately, they haven't played anybody.
Yes, the Irish are 1-3 and coming off a thumping at the hands of Stanford. But at least they've played somebody. BC is 2-1 with wins over Weber St. and Kent St. and a 19-0 loss to Virginia Tech.
I haven't seen any of the Eagles games, so I there's no way I can form a reasonable opinion. I have to pass.
But enough of the games that teased me, but failed to seduce me. Which games am I actually picking? I'm 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:
Saturday 10/2 Michigan State +2 vs. Wisconsin (2:30pm, ABC/ESPN): The Spartans are 4-0 (0-0 in the Big Ten). The Badgers are 4-0 (0-0 in the Big Ten).
I know, I know, I know. Trust me, it kills me to do this.
But think about it. Even with last week's lopsided win, it's difficult to suggest that the Badgers have been a solid team so far this season. They've shown flashes. But they've also shown a lack of discipline that made a San Jose State win closer than it should've been, and nearly got them beat by Arizona State.
Michigan State isn't the best team in the league by far. If it wasn't for a brilliant, ballsy fake field goal call in overtime, they could easily be 3-1 with wins over nobodies and a loss to Notre Dame.
But that call happened. Not only did it happen, but head coach Mark Dantonio suffered a heart attack after it happened.
So let's see. Team wins dramatic game over nationally prominent program, and then their leader has a medical meltdown. Obviously I don't wish a heart attack on anyone, but if you were looking to rally a program and bond a team tightly together, this is about the script you'd write, no?
Oh, and did I mention that Dantonio is going to be back this week coaching from the press box? Think that might get the East Lansing faithful fired up a notch or two?
Undisciplined teams struggle to win on the road. Put them up against a team that has every element you'd want for a Hollywood movie, and I've got the Spartans winning outright. I pray I'm wrong, but I don't like the looks of this one, not one bit.
I'll reluctantly take Sparty and the points, and be as happy as I've ever been to miss on a pick if I get it wrong.
Saturday 10/2 Maryland -5.5 vs. Duke (5pm, Find a good bar): The Terrapins are 3-1 (0-0 in the ACC). The Blue Devils are 1-3 (0-1 in the ACC).
New strategy: bet against Duke. Doesn't matter who they play. Doesn't matter what the spread is. Just bet against Duke.
You want to know how I arrived at this pick? I'll spell it out in mathematical terms:
Army > Duke; Navy > Army; Maryland > Navy;
Ergo, Maryland >>> Duke.
It's a home game for the Terps. Duke sucks the bag. I only have to give 5.5?
Sign me up!
I'm taking Maryland and rolling on to the next pick.
Saturday 10/2 Alabama -8.5 vs. Florida (7pm, CBS): The Crimson Tide are 4-1 (1-0 in the SEC). The Gators are 4-0 (2-0 in the SEC).
8.5 points is a lot to give in a rematch of last year's SEC Championship Game. But these aren't the same teams from that game.
Alabama has many of it's starters back, but lost some key cogs (Terrance Cody, Javier Arenas) to the draft.
Florida lost the most key of key cogs, Tim Tebow.
And you know what? I just went back and looked, and 'Bama won 32-13 in that SEC Title Game... on a neutral field.
This game's in Tuscaloosa.
Screw it. 8.5 points is nothing!
I'll gladly give Florida and it's struggling offense that head start and watch while the Tide roll once again!
Saturday 10/2 Washington +10 at USC (7pm, ABC/ESPN): The Huskies are 1-2 (0-0 in the Pac 10). The Trojans are 4-0 (1-0 in the Big Ten).
*- This game is this week's WftC Flier Pick of the Week
Once again, I'm going with a serious underdog for the Flier Pick. Can I make it four in a row? We'll find out.
Unlike last week, however, I'm going with a road team here - always dangerous.
But I have history on my side. Washington beat USC last season as heavy underdogs, and both sides will remember that.
The difference is, Pete Carroll isn't coaching these Trojans; and after what I saw versus the Gophers, the clown who is has the capability of screwing up this game all on his own.
Huskies QB Jake Locker was a pre-season Heisman candidate and often mentioned as a potential #1 overall pick in next April's NFL draft. Unfortunately, he hasn't come close to living up to that billing... yet.
This might be a nice game for a guy like that to break out, don't you think?
Yeah, so do I.
USC probably wins, but I think this one's going to be close.
Somebody's getting 10 points in a game like that? I'll take Washington and root for the egg to land squarely on Lane Kiffin's face.
If not? Well, that's why I created the Flier Pick boys and girls!
So there you have them. Four picks for you to consider, contemplate and criticize. What do you think? Leave a comment below and let us all know.
That's going to wrap things up for today. I'm back on Friday (hopefully - it's the last home series of the regular season for the Twins you know!).
Until then (or whenever I'm back), thanks for reading!