10-7-10: 2010 College Football Picks, Week 6

Hello again everybody...

Hopefully a day late isn't a dollar short in this context.

Yesterday was dedicated to the opening of the 2010 MLB post-season, and what a day it was. The Rangers got Cliff Lee to win games in the post-season, and he delivered. The Phillies got Roy Halladay to win games in the post-season and all he did was throw a no-hitter in his first ever post-season appearance.

And then came Twins/Yankees. What can I say? That was a game the Yankees had to have, and they went and got it. Liriano was good, but not great. The line-up produced four runs, but failed to get hits in a few clutch situations. The Twins weren't bad, the Yankees were just better.

The pressure is squarely on Minnesota now. They have to have Game 2, plain and simple. If they go to New York down 2-0, they're not coming back.

I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to make it through today in one piece. I was a wreck yesterday, and that was just Game 1! At this rate I'm going to start aging in dog years, I swear.

That's all the baseball you're getting today. If I go on too much longer, I'll start having palpitations.

The rest of this column is dedicated to the college gridiron. I'll run down last weeks results and pick four more games for you this week...

Right after the quote...

“Man is the only creature that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.”
- William Hazlitt (1778 - 1830), English writer

What things are? Yankees lead 1-0. What they ought to be? The Twins should be leading 1-0. Thus? I weep.

2010 College Football Picks, Week 6

We begin each week with the results of last weeks picks. I had a horrible Week 4 and needed a solid Week 5 to get back above the oh-so-important .550-mark.

Before we find out whether I got there or not, a quick look at the games which I passed on:

Oklahoma -3.5 vs. Texas: Final Score - Oklahoma 28, Texas 20

And the Longhorns just keep getting worse... Admittedly I thought that the Sooners would win here, but I expected it to be close. 8 points may seem like a fairly close game, but trust me when I say Texas was never in danger of winning this thing. The 'Horns still have plenty of talent, but something's not clicking for them. They may have to become an official “stay away” unless a line looks *really* out of whack.

Northwestern -5.5 at Minnesota: Final Score - Northwestern 29, Minnesota 28

Ah, the Gophers... the gift that keeps on giving. This was yet another in a long line of games that Minnesota should've won and yet somehow found a way to lose. They also continued their nasty streak of covering spreads, however. And it was that exact fear that caused me to stay away from this game. And it *very* likely will cause me to stay away from their game this coming Saturday as well. More on that in a bit...

Boston College +2.5 vs. Notre Dame: Final Score - Notre Dame 31, Boston College 13

Yup, another good “pass”. No way you could predict that a team which had lost three straight would go on the road and lay that kind of thumping on a relatively unknown club like BC. I say “unknown” only because the Eagles previous games really didn't tell us anything about them. That's why I said I was passing, and it's a damned good thing I did.

So if only one of the three teams I passed on actually covered, I must have done okay on the games I actually picked, right? I've typed similar sentences before, and it hasn't always worked out. Let's see if it does this week!


Michigan State +2 vs. Wisconsin: Final Score - Michigan State 34, Wisconsin 24

Dammit I hate when I get a game like this right.

First of all, I should point out that late last week they announced that due to a post-surgery blood clot, Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio wouldn't be coaching from the press box. Instead he'd be back in the hospital undergoing treatment and observation. So that little bit of drama/inspiration wasn't there as I'd feared.

None the less, Wisconsin's lack of discipline and penchant for mistakes was in full effect... exactly as I'd feared.

RB John Clay tweaked his ankle early in the game and was clearly bothered by it for the duration. Freshman James White was a more capable back-up option than I figured he'd be, but there's only so much a guy with his limited experience can be counted on to do.

Meanwhile the passing game was a complete mess. QB Scott Tolzien isn't going to beat teams on his own, but he's fairly capable at distributing the ball. Unfortunately, he can't catch it for his receivers. They have to do that all on their own. And if WR's Nick Toon and Isaac Anderson continue to drop balls at the rate they did this past Saturday, Wisconsin's going to have a devil of a time winning games.

Sparty was able to key on TE Lance Kendricks and remove him as an option for Tolzien which forced him to go to Toon and Anderson even though they clearly weren't having good days. That's how you disrupt the passing game of a team that relies mostly on the run. Kill their confidence in the passing game, and you can put eight or nine guys in the box on first and second down and stuff their running game as well.

Okay. I'm stopping before I depress myself any further. I got the pick right. Let's just leave it at that, shall we?

1-0 and hoping to be happier about future picks.


Maryland -5.5 vs. Duke: Final Score - Maryland 21, Duke 16

R.I.P “Bet against Duke theory”.

I didn't see a second of this game, so I can't tell you what happened other than the Terps let me down.

Oh, and eff you “magic half-point”. That's twice you've screwed me this season, and only once that you've helped me.

If you're truly adhering to the virtues of sports-prognostication-karma, then you owe me one!!!

1-1 and praying that a “magic half-point” doesn't cost me a 4-0 week.


Alabama -8.5 vs. Florida: Final Score - Alabama 31, Florida 6

Early on Saturday Marcus Fitzgerald (younger brother of Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, Jr.) tweeted the following question: “Alabama/Florida, who ya got?”

I responded “The question isn't 'who ya got?', it's 'Alabama by how much?'” Apparently he found this entertaining because I got a “lol” in response.

As it turned out, however, I was exactly correct. Florida couldn't sustain any kind of offense against Alabama's suffocating defense. Meanwhile the Tide's offense went about their business in the same kind of “workmanlike” fashion we've grown to expect.

Anybody doubt that 'Bama's the best team in football right now?

I was as impressed with Oregon's win over Stanford as anybody, but I don't think they can hang with the Tide right now. Them, or anybody else for that matter.

2-1. Really, “magic half-point”? Really?


Washington +10 at USC: Final Score - Washington 32, USC 31
*- This game was this week's WftC Flier Pick of the Week

How about four straight weeks of nailing the Flier Pick?!

And for the Huskies to cover outright? Well that's just icing on my cake! Or dirt on Lane Kiffin's grave, however you want to look at it.

I know college football isn't as simple as A>B, B>C, so A>C. But after the whipping that Nebraska put on Washington, what does that say about the state of the USC program?!

Sure they're facing sanctions and reduced scholarship numbers, but this is a program that's been in the national title hunt for the better part of a decade. Teams like that don't get shaky this fast, do they?

Or maybe it's not about the players? Maybe my criticisms of Lane Kiffin really are valid? I mean, where's the evidence this guy can really coach? He made his bones carrying Pete Carroll's clipboard. He got a job in the NFL which he was woefully unprepared for. He went from there to Tennessee for a year where his club was decent, but not great. And now he's at the helm of a USC mess which doesn't seem like it will get better any time soon.

If his previous stops haven't told us much, I guess I can't judge him too harshly for this particular failure either.

Aw, hell. What am I saying? He's a dope and I couldn't be more happy that Steve Sarkisian's club beat him!

3-1. Screw you “magic half-point”. Screw... you...

Woulda, shoulda, coulda... wasn't.

To be that close to a 4-0 week and miss is heart-breaking. But my pain is salved by the knowledge that 3-1 gets me right back on track towards having a plus-.550 season!

This week's 3-1 (.750) record brings me to a season total of 10-9 (.526). No, I still haven't gotten back to my percentage goal for the year, but I feel a lot better about my prospects than I did last week!

Time to build some momentum. Time to get something rolling.

Time to look at my picks for...

Week 6

First up, the game I took a look at, but decided to pass on...

Saturday, 10/9 - Michigan State +4.5 at Michigan (2:30pm, ABC/ESPN):

That's right. Only one game to consider, but not take this week. I won with Michigan State last week, and was tempted again this week. Michigan's defense gives up yards in chunks, and one good thump sends their quarterback to the sideline. If this game was in East Lansing, I'd be all over it. In Ann Arbor, however, I'm going to say no thank you.

So if the “passes” were scarce, I must be stretching things a bit with my picks, right? Let's find out...


Saturday, 10/9 - Minnesota +22 at Wisconsin (11am, ESPN): The Gophers are 1-4 (0-1 in the Big Ten). The Badgers are 4-1 (0-1 in the Big Ten).

Let me be clear here. I'm not betting Minnesota to win. They won't. I'm not worried about that.

But you could buy a house betting against Wisconsin to cover the spread this season. Where did the Vegas wizards come up with -22 here?!

Sure Wisconsin has one seven in a row, but only two of them qualify as blow-outs. And the last two have been 3-point wins!

I know Minnesota's not very good, but Wisconsin hasn't exactly been a juggernaut this year. (Toss out that Austin Peay game. Sure they won 70-3, but I'm pretty sure I could find 10 buddies and go beat Austin Peay.)

This is a two touchdown game, at the most. This line's WAY too skewed, so I'll take Minnesota and the points and know that if I'm wrong, it'll be because Bucky blew Goldy off the field. Not a bad backup plan.


Saturday, 10/9 - Arkansas -6 at Texas A&M (2:30pm, find a good bar): The Razorbacks are 3-1 (1-1 in the SEC). The Aggies are 3-1 (0-1 in the Big 12).
*- This game is this week's WftC Flier Pick of the Week

I had to work long and hard to find this game. I'd like to think it's a solid pick, but I honestly haven't seen much of either club.

Arkansas has put up some solid offensive numbers, led by quarterback Ryan Mallet. Mix in the game that their one loss was against Alabama - and they gave the Tide all they could handle in that game - and I think the Razorbacks are a pretty good club.

Texas A&M has beaten three cupcakes and hung with Oklahoma State on the road. Not bad, but it doesn't prove a whole lot.

The part that worries me most is that it's a road game for Arkansas. If this was a home game, I'd give the six without reservation. But having to travel makes it a dicier proposition.

I'm hoping it turns out like the Georgia game which the Razorbacks won by 7 on the road. I'll give the 6 and hope for the best.


Saturday, 10/9 - Arizona -7.5 vs. Oregon State (6pm, find a good bar): The Wildcats are 4-0 (1-0 in the Pac 10). The Beavers are 2-2 (1-0 in the Pac 10).

**Magic Half-Point Alert**

I said earlier that the MHP owes me one. This is a great opportunity for it!

Arizona is coming off a bye, meaning they've had two weeks to plan for an Oregon State team that's lost to Boise State and TCU, while beating Arizona State.

The Beavers have some talent and quickness, especially at the running back position. Arizona has a pretty stout defense. Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

Ultimately I think 'Zona has more than Oregon State can handle, and since they're at home, we'll go with the 'Cats here.

Take the 7.5 Beavers and go chuck some wood!


Saturday, 10/9 - Northwestern -9.5 vs. Purdue (6:30pm, Big Ten Network): The Wildcats are 5-0 (1-0 in the Big Ten). The Boilermakers are 2-2 (0-0 in the Big Ten).

This line is 100% a testament to how beat-up the Boilermakers are. They've lost their starting quarterback, running back and several members of their defense to injury. It's no fun whatsoever being Purdue coach Danny Hope right now.

The Wildcats, on the other hand, escaped Minnesota with a win despite a sloppy effort, turning the ball over multiple times. They're back at home for this contest, and that'll help. But if they don't fix their ball discipline issues, that 9.5-point cushion they're giving Purdue will seem rather large.

9.5 is a lot of points to give when the team you're wagering on doesn't have the stoutest defense in the world. But what am I going to do? Take the team that lost to Toledo in their last game? I don't think so.

Take the 9.5 Purdue and best of luck. Please don't make me wish I had two Flier Picks this week!

So there you have them. Four picks for you to question, criticize and contemplate.

That'll wrap things up for today. I'll be back tomorrow - hopefully with better baseball news - for the usual end of the week DFTU wonderment.

Until then, thanks for reading!