Hello again everybody...
Welcome to another Wednesday. The best thing I can say about today? The State Fair is finally over.
I know many of you thoroughly enjoy the Fair, and I understand why. But due to my job, I'm just not one of you. Being out there Saturday and getting barked at by some old codger because I wasn't aware of the “husband and wife team” he was sure used to be on WCCO radio (to the best of my knowledge there hasn't been one in at least the last 20 years), wasn't a lot of fun.
Yes, that's only one incident, but it's an example of the kind of nonsense we have to go through for twelve straight days every year.
So yeah, the best day of the Fair for us? The day after it's over.
One other quick note before we get going today. I mentioned a little over a week ago that I'd soon be appearing in an on-air capacity for WCCO radio, I just wasn't sure when. Well it sounds like that day is imminent. I got word last night that it could be as early as today as a matter of fact. I wish I could be more specific, but I can only tell you what I'm being told.
So again, if you're curious to hear my nonsensical ramblings as part of Chad Hartman's, Michele Tafoya's and/or Mike Max's shows, tune in to WCCO radio between noon and 8pm Monday through Friday, or you can listen to the webstream here. When I get a more specific “go time” I'll let you know...
But enough of the shameless self-promotion!
You came here to find out how my college football picks turned out and who I'm picking this week, right? Okay, maybe you came here despite that. Either way, that's today's subject, so strap in, because here we go!
Right after the quote...
“It matters not whether you win or lose; what matters is whether I win or lose.”
- Darrin Weinberg
No idea who he is, but it seemed appropriate given today's subject!
2010 College Football Picks: Week 2
First up, we take a look at last week's picks. Let's begin with the games I passed on, shall we?
Texas -30.5 at Rice: Final Score - Texas 34, Rice 17
I said in my preview that Texas was going to be good, and they were. I also said that 30+ point spreads are nothing to fool with, and in this game, it sure wasn't.
Oklahoma State -15.5 vs. Washington State: Final Score - OSU 65, WASU 17
I liked this game a lot. It came down to Northwestern at Vandy versus this game. As you'll see shortly, I made the wrong call!
Nebraska -37.5 vs. Western Kentucky: Final Score - Nebraska 49, WKU 10
Would've hit on this one too, despite the 30+ point spread. Have I begun another Nebraska-win-streak after mentions in my columns? My favorite Nebraska fans are rolling their collective eyes as we speak.
But those aren't the games I picked. How'd I do in the *actual* games I picked? Glad you asked!
Minnesota -3 at Middle Tennessee State: Final Score - Minnesota 24, MTSU 17
I said in my preview that Minnesota is bigger, stronger and faster than MTSU, and that turned out to be the case.
Sure, the Gophers trailed 17-14 at one point in this game, but Minnesota wouldn't be Minnesota if they didn't play down to the level of their competition.
Eventually, their superior size, strength and speed wore down the Blue Raiders, and the Gophers got a win they're sorely going to need if they hope to be bowl-eligible this season.
1-0 and off to a solid start!
Notre Dame -11 vs. Purdue: Final Score - Notre Dame 23, Purdue 12
*- This game was Week 1's WftC Flier Pick of the Week
An old friend of mine used to always say, “a push is better than a shove”. Mind you, we were usually playing blackjack and annoying the crap out of the people around us at the time... but still, it applies.
I didn't get to see the game, but from what I read it was a steady though not-dominant performance by the Irish.
If I was a Notre Dame fan, I'd take “steady” over the craziness of the last few years. Especially on the defensive side of the ball.
As I said in the preview, new head coach Brian Kelly is a defensive coach by nature even though his Cincinnati teams were known for their offense. But the improved Irish defense was evident until Purdue finally got into the endzone in the fourth quarter.
It's not a defining game. But it's a start.
Still 1-0, and feeling good. (Remember, Flier Picks only count if I win!)
Northwestern -5.5 at Vanderbilt: Final Score - Northwestern 23, Vandy 21
My first loss of 2010. Had to happen sometime!
Northwestern's weak point has long been their defense, and it doesn't look like that's changed much. 21 points to Vanderbilt?! Really?
I suppose Wildcats fans will be happy with a road win against an SEC team. But Northwestern is going to be difficult to pick for the rest of 2010 unless they demonstrate some defensive consistency.
1-1 and still doing better than I did in 2009!
UNLV +20.5 vs. Wisconsin: Final Score - Wisconsin 41, UNLV 21
Thank you magic half-point!!!
(I know you'll come back to bite me later this season.)
This may look like a dominant road-win for the Badgers on paper, but I still have concerns.
A 20-point win on the road is nothing to sneeze at, I know. But those that watched the game know, it should've been more.
UNLV's first two scores came as the result of Wisconsin turnovers. The first score was a direct result of a horrible decision by QB Scott Tolzien. What do they say? Never throw late in the flat when you're backed up in your own end? Woops.
The second touchdown came after poor ball-control by WR Nick Toon led to a fumble which was returned 82 yards by the Rebels. UNLV scored on the next play.
Turnovers were Bucky's bugaboo last year, and while Wisconsin cleaned things up considerably in the second half against a clearly-overmatched UNLV team , they still have to prove they've improved in that department in 2010.
Ultimately, the game couldn't have worked out much better for me. Wisconsin got a convincing win, and UNLV covered. That's a win-win!
So a 2-1 week gets me off to a .667 start. It's sort of like baseball; take two out of three more often than not, and you're going to like the season's results!
So we're on to Week 2.
First up, the games I looked at, but didn't pick...
Saturday 9/11 - Wisconsin -37.5 vs. San Jose St. (11am, ESPN): As I said last week, I do my best to stay away from 30+ point spreads, and that's primarily what stopped me from picking this game. But if Bucky can drop 41 points on UNLV at their house, I shudder to think what they could do to San Jose State in the friendly confines of Camp Randall.
Saturday 9/11 - Notre Dame -3.5 vs. Michigan (2:30pm, NBC): I *really* wanted to pick this one for several reasons. One, I think it's going to be a heck of a game. Two, I love to stick it to Michigan. And three, my dad always loves it when I pick the Irish. That being said, this is really a pick 'em game. If the Irish get the traditional three points for being at home, then the odds-makers think these two clubs are literally a half-point apart. That's a stay-away signal if I've ever seen one.
Saturday 9/11 - Tennessee +13 vs. Oregon (6pm, ESPN2): I was tempted here for several reasons as well. One, a home-dog always is worth considering. Two, I want to see Derrick Dooley succeed at Tennessee after the way Layne Kiffin screwed them over. And three, one of my favorite college football fans is a Vols supporter. So while I'd love to say “this one's for you Jon!”, I can't. Not after Oregon put 72 on New Mexico last week. Sorry, Jon!
Enough of the games I'm not picking, though. Let's get to the real deal, shall we?
As always, were I to have the wherewithal to make a worthwhile wager... these are the games I'd be betting on:
Saturday 9/11 - Nebraska -28.5 vs. Idaho (11:30am, Find a Good Bar): The Cornhuskers are 1-0 (0-0 in the Big 12). The Vandals are 1-0 (0-0 in the WAC).
I almost took the Huskers last week and they covered. Now the spread has dipped below 30 points, hence, this week they make the cut!
Nebraska beat Western Kentucky, 49-10 in Week 1. QB Taylor Martinez rushed for 127 yards and threw for 136. He's only a red-shirt freshman, but he's already beaten out last year's starter Zac Lee for the starting job, and if he keeps putting up numbers like he did in Week 1, “Eric Crouch” comparisons won't be far behind.
Idaho's coming off a 45-0 washout of North Dakota. Their quarterback Nate Ederle threw for 311 yards and two scores against the “moniker that shall not be named”. So the Vandals offense can certainly be potent, but they'll be running up against a far stronger defense in Lincoln.
I'm hoping for a repeat of Week 1 for the Huskers, so I'll give the 28.5 and hope the Vandals leave their offense on the plane!
Saturday 9/11 - Iowa -13.5 vs. Iowa State (2:30pm, ABC): The Hawkeyes are 1-0 (0-0 in the Big Ten). The Cyclones are 1-0 (0-0 in the Big 12).
The Hawkeyes are coming off a 37-7 win over Eastern Illinois. The Cyclones, a 27-10 win over Northern Illinois. Expect a border war between Iowa and Illinois any day now!
There has been a lot of buzz leading into this season over the Hawkeyes. They seem to be the chic “non-Ohio State” pick to win the Big Ten. If they're going to be as good as advertised, proving it starts this week. Iowa's won three of the last five match-ups in this series, and have an opportunity to make a legitimate statement against a BCS team.
Hawkeye QB Ricky Stanzi threw for 229 yards and RB Adam Robinson ran for 109 last week. If they repeat those numbers against the Cyclones, Iowa should walk with this thing.
A two-touchdown victory isn't unreasonable to expect, so I'll give the 13.5 and root, root, root for the home team (see? It's still baseball season...).
Saturday 9/11 - Washington -13 vs. Syracuse (6pm, Find a Good Bar): The Huskies are 0-1 (0-0 in the Pac 10). The Orange are 1-0 (0-0 in the Big East).
*- This game is this week's WftC Flier Pick of the Week.
Why am I picking an 0-1 team over a 1-0 team and giving points? Simple. Look at the competition.
The Huskies lost 23-17 to a strong BYU club, and actually held a 17-10 lead at halftime. Syracuse dominated a middling Akron squad, 29-3.
Washington's young at some key spots, but not at QB, where Jake Locker is a Heisman candidate and considered one of the best prospects in next year's NFL draft. Locker threw for 266 yards and ran for another 29 against a Cougar defense that's very tough, but couldn't convert a couple of key 4th down passes late in the game. Credit BYU for those.
Syracuse is young all over. And their 26-point win last week was boosted by a special-teams touchdown. That means their offense, led by QB Ryan Nassib, was only able to score 19 points against the Zips. They'll be facing a much stronger test - not to mention a much longer trip - against Washington this week.
I like what Steve Sarkisian is doing in rebuilding the Huskies, so I'll take a Flier on his club, give the 13 to 'Cuse and take my chances.
Saturday 9/11 - Oklahoma State -13.5 vs. Troy (6pm, Find a Good Bar): The Cowboys are 1-0 (0-0 in the Big 12). The Trojans are 1-0 (0-0 in the Sun Belt).
Oklahoma State destroyed Washington State 65-17 last week in a game I looked at, but didn't pick. Troy squeaked past Bowling Green 30-27.
Put simply, the Cowboys are much, MUCH better than the Trojans and should walk with this one rather easily. 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.
Personally, it seems like this should be a 21-point spread easily to me. RB Kendall Hunter ran for 257 yards and four touchdowns against an overmatched Cougar defense. QB Brandon Wheedon breezed through a 22-for-30 performance, throwing for 218 yards. There's no reason to think that high-octane offense should slow down against Troy.
Troy has a freshman QB, Corey Robinson who was able to go 25-for-37 against Bowling Green, throwing for 252 yards and two scores. This week however, he'll be going against a bigger, faster and more experienced defense. Best of luck rookie!
To me? This game has 41-14 written all over it. So I'll gladly give the 13.5 and see if the Cowboys can get it done in a big way again this week.
So there you have them folks. Four picks for your consideration. I'll take another 2-1 week, gladly. Not that I'd turn down that elusive 4-0 week, mind you. But after last season's picks-debacle, I'll be happy with the “steady-as-she goes” approach.
That's going to wrap things up for today. I plan to have a DFTU column for you on Friday (subject, as always, to change).
Until then, thanks for reading!