10-27-10: 2010 College Football Picks, Week 9

Hello again everybody...

The World Series kicks off tonight. Lincecum versus Lee. The Fall Classic. Am I excited? Yeah, just a little bit.

If you missed Monday's column, I broke down what the two clubs need to do to win it all there, so go check it out before first pitch tonight.

People keep saying that the ratings are going to be down due to smaller markets being involved, and initially, they'll probably be right. But if these two clubs go six or seven games, and the drama builds as the Series goes along, it could be something really special.

First pitch is at 6:57pm central time, on Fox network. Check your local listings.

Today, however, the focus here is on college football. We have picks to review from last week and picks to make for the weekend to come.

And we'll get to those...

Right after the quote.

“It is a great ability to be able to conceal one's ability.”
- Francois de La Rochefoucauld (1613 - 1680), French author

Think I suck at making college football picks? Perhaps I'm just skilled at concealing my ability!


2010 College Football Picks, Week 9

As usual, we begin this week by reviewing my picks from last week. First up, the games I looked at, but took a pass on...

Iowa -5.5 vs. Wisconsin: Final Score - Wisconsin 31, Iowa 30

Oh happy, happy day. I'm usually not thrilled to be wrong, but when I'm wrong on a pick I took a pass on, and it benefits my favorite football team? It doesn't get a whole lot sweeter than that! I'll talk more about the game itself on Friday in the DFTU, but suffice it to say that I hope Badger coach Bret Bielema adds Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz to his Christmas card list. Thanks for taking that TO coach! We really appreciate it. Thanks, signed Badger Fans everywhere.

Nebraska -5.5 at Oklahoma State: Final Score - Nebraska 51, Oklahoma State 41

So Nebraska's offense goes crazy for five weeks, gets completely shut down versus Texas, and then drops a 51-spot on the Cowboys?! How does that work?! I'm not saying they were sandbagging while I was in town, but it bears noting that while Nebraska was ripping its way through the Okie State defense, Texas was getting beaten handily at home by Iowa State. I'm not sayin... I'm just sayin...

So I split my two “passes”. That's fair enough. Would I then split my four “real picks”? Let's find out...


Notre Dame -7 at Navy: Final Score - Navy 35, Notre Dame 17

In last week's preview I talked about how I'd gone with Navy in past years, but though this was the year the Irish would turn things around...


Navy came out and popped the Golden Domers straight in the mouth with their triple-option, and the Irish never recovered. Notre Dame couldn't get things going offensively and defensively looked like they'd never seen a triple-option offense, even though they play the Midshipmen every year.

I was amongst the optimistic about Brian Kelly taking over the Notre Dame program, but there hasn't been much to feel good about with this club this year. It's early, so Irish fans will have to give him time, but games like this make you wonder if Notre Dame will ever truly be “Notre Dame” again.

0-1, but it's way too early to panic (copyright The Hammer)


Minnesota +9.5 vs. Penn State: Final Score - Penn State 33, Minnesota 21

Dammit. Thanks a lot, Gophers!

I talk up your ability to cover spreads, you play a club that can't find the endzone with a Garmin and a Shirpa guide, and you lose by 11.

Well done!

Apparently Tim Brewster wasn't the only reason that the Gopher offense is inept and the defense looks like it couldn't tackle Paterno! His assistant coaches picked that pattern up just fine in his absence.

Yeah, I'm a little bitter.

0-2 and hoping things get better in a hurry!


LSU +6 at Auburn: Final Score - Auburn 24, LSU 17
*- This game was this week's WftC Flier Pick of the Week

Really? Two and a half points from a push in the Minnesota game, and now I miss this one by one?

At this rate I'm going to be a half-point off in the Oklahoma game!


Well at least this was the Flier Pick and I don't have to count it.

Small consolation indeed!

Still 0-2 and needing #1 to come through for me!


Oklahoma -3 at Missouri: Final Score - Missouri 36, Oklahoma 27

Well at least it wasn't by a half-point, eh?

Sheesh, what a week!

I didn't catch much of this game, so I can't break it down much. Suffice to say that it's not fun being number one these days.

This is what, three weeks in a row now? Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma.

If I was the Auburn Tigers, I'd be tossing salt over my shoulder all week long!

Are you listening, Auburn? Are you?!

So a 0-3 (.000) week drops my season record to 13-16 (.448). Now I'm going to need some serious weeks in positive territory to get to that mythical .550 mark!

Time to bear down and get it started in...

Week 8

We begin, as always, with games I looked at but decided not to pull the trigger on:

Saturday, 10/30 - Purdue +17.5 at Illinois (11am, BTN):

I know Purdue just got thoroughly whacked by Ohio State last weekend, and that Illinois has been improved this season. But 17.5?! That's a bit much for a team that was 2-0 in the conference until last week, isn't it? Even on the road this is a very juicy number. However, I found other games I liked more, so we're going to take a pass here.

Saturday, 10/30 - Florida +3 vs. Georgia (at Jacksonville, 2:30pm, CBS):

Two clubs that have been marked disappointments this season. Technically this is a home game for Georgia, but seeing as it's being played in the state of Florida, I'd give the Gators de facto home field advantage. Urban Meyer hasn't lost three games in a row since I don't know when. I'll be floored if it gets to four straight this week. I like this pick a lot, but I like others more, so I'll pass.

Saturday, 10/30 - Stanford -7.5 at Washington (6pm, ESPN):

I like the Huskies a lot, but they just don't have enough to hang with Stanford. That being said, 7.5 is a lot for a team like the Cardinal to give on the road and I have a sneaking suspicion that Washington might come up with a cover here. I talked myself into both sides of this pick several times over. That's enough for me to know that it's best to pass.

So if those three games weren't tempting enough, which games were? 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, 10/30 - Michigan State +6.5 at Iowa (2:30pm, ABC/ESPN): The Spartans are 8-0 (4-0 in the Big Ten). The Hawkeyes are 5-2 (2-1 in the Big Ten).

Something's up with this line. (Famous last words I know.)

We know that Michigan State has been lucky (fake field goal vs. Notre Dame, fake punt vs. Northwestern), but we also know they're good (10-point win over Wisconsin).

We know Iowa can choke in big games (at Arizona) and can be beat at home (last week vs. Wisconsin).

So how exactly are the Spartans getting 6.5 in this game? See, now if I was smart, I'd say, “I've been befuddled by a line like this before, and have gotten burned nearly every time, so I should go against my instincts and take Iowa and give the points”.

But I'm not that smart. I can certainly see the Hawkeyes winning this game, but I'll be floored if it's a blowout.

I think Michigan State has a serious “it” factor this season. Call it a horseshoe in an uncomfortable location, call it the luck of the “300” - well, I suppose they weren't all that lucky come to think of it. Whatever you want to call it, I think the Spartans can run the table, and I say they pass this test in Iowa on Saturday.

I'll take the 6.5 and hope a MSU win boosts Bucky's BCS ranking!


Saturday, 10/30 - Missouri +7.5 at Nebraska (2:30pm, ABC/ESPN): The Tigers are 7-0 (3-0 in the Big 12). The Cornhuskers are 6-1 (2-1 in the Big 12).

I'm sorry, Kelley family, but I have to go against you on this one.

Three things the odds-makers are counting on here: one, that we'll be mesmerized by the 51 points that Nebraska dropped on Oklahoma State; two, that we'll count on a let-down by Missouri after their big home win over Oklahoma last week; and three, that we'll over-value home-field advantage for the Cornhuskers.

Nebraska certainly has the ability to score and in a big way. But their offense can also be stymied as I saw in person versus what has to be termed an “average” Texas squad. Missouri's defense was good enough to hang with the number one team in the country. I think they're a touch or two better than Oklahoma State. No way the Huskers score 51 this week.

Do teams sometimes let down after a big win? Sure they do. But the best thing that can happen to a club after a big win at home? Heading right out on the road to take on another highly ranked opponent. I'll point to Wisconsin again here. They beat number one Ohio State at home. Many, including yours truly, thought they'd let down the next week at Iowa. That turned out not to be the case. I think Mizzou comes in to Lincoln focused and ready for another huge game this week

Yes, the Huskers are at home in this one. That's worth three points generally. So the odds-makers think the Huskers are 4.5-points better than the Tigers? I'm not buying it.

I'll compromise with you Kelleys... how about a 3-point win for the Huskers here? You get your win, I get my cover and we both end up happy.

What do you say?


Saturday, 10/30 - Navy -14 vs. Duke (2:30pm, find a good bar): The Midshipmen are 5-2. The Blue Devils are 1-6 (0-4 in the ACC).

Okay, I know I said I was abandoning the “bet against Duke, no matter the spread” theory weeks ago. But it's not like anything else I've been trying lately has worked well, right?

So combine the fact that I think “Duke” is a Cherokee word that means “we suck at football” with my feeling like I owe Navy one after whiffing on their win over Notre Dame this past weekend, and I'll go ahead and give the 14 and take my chances with the Midshipmen!


Saturday, 10/30 - Mississippi +7 vs. Auburn (5:00pm, ESPN): The Rebels are 3-4 (1-3 in the SEC). The Tigers are 8-0 (5-0 in the SEC).
*- This game is this week's WftC Flier Pick of the Week

Call this the “Number 1's are losing like crazy” theory.

Maybe it's the glare of the national spotlight, maybe it's the pressure of the top spot, maybe I'm doing too many “maybe” trios.

Whatever is going on, #1 in the polls has not been kind of late to the clubs occupying that spot. And this game sets up perfectly for that streak to continue.

Auburn is coming off a big win over LSU and could very well get caught thinking it can cruise past Ole Miss, Chattanooga and Georgia over the next three weeks.

It's that kind of trap that gets teams beat, especially when they're on the road against a coach who's known for mixing things up and quarterback who's got experience.

It's entirely possible that Tiger QB Cam Newton continues his Heisman campaign and runs circles around the Rebel defense like Sheridan did around Early (if anyone can tell me when and where that happened without Googling, you get bonus points!), but I have a gut feeling that Mississippi might pull off the shocker here.

Then again, my gut hasn't been terribly trustworthy of late. That's why we invented the Flier Pick.

So there you have them. Four picks for you to consult as you watch some college pigskin on Saturday. As always, I encourage you to post your thoughts, an counter-picks in the comments section below!

That's going to wrap things up for today. The plan is to be back with a week-ending DFTU column on Friday. Plans, as we know, are always subject to change.

Until next time, thanks for reading!


  1. I'd take the Huskers and give 7 back.

  2. If you lose by the magic half-point Larry, I promise I won't say I told you so!

  3. ...I think I'd take Sparty, too.

    I hope to see the Tiger/Husker tilt. I'd rather win by 20, but I'll take an 8 point win.

    Navy will win, but by 14? eeehhh.... I think I'd rather take the Cardinal/Husky game over that one.

    You're gonna lose your Flier. I have seen Auburn play. The #1s that have been knocked off have been playing quality teams. Mississippi is not that team.

  4. So what am I missing on Neb/Mizzou? The Tigers are a quality club and we know the Husker offense can be tripped up...

    Navy beat Notre Dame by more than 14. You think Duke is better than the Irish?

    The "Flier" is truly a flier this week. The odds are against me for sure, but that's why they play the games, right?!

  5. 300+ from Mr. Helu (jr)

    What a performance