It's been an ugly season so far for our picks, but we're not giving in yet. Let's get to Week 10's picks…
Dan: Ah, yes. More slop out of Virginia Tech’s offense last night. What an ugly, ugly, ugly win. Who can get excited about a 16-3 win? I feel Tyrod Taylor is now beginning to regress as a QB. He locks onto his No. 1 target and if the guy isn’t open he either scrambles or gets sacked. Horrible. But a win is a win… and we pushed thanks to a late pick by the ECU QB. Ugh. Now moving on to this weekend, it's time to make some money!
Dave: I missed on my first four picks last week, but got the final six right to post just my second winning week of the season. We're on a roll! Let's keep the magic going...
Syracuse (+21.5) at Pittsburgh
Dan: So Syracuse’s best player, and possibly the best receiver in the Big East, quit this week. How bad must things be that the guy throws up his hands and says, "You know what, I’d rather not even play even if it hurts my chances of getting drafted.” And what is it with guys being named Mike Williams that are receivers and are head cases? First USC’s and now this guy. Amazing. I’d say to Dave don’t worry, college basketball is right around the corner for your school, but the Syracuse hoops team just lost to a Division II team called Le Moyne in an exhibition game. Well the pain does not get any easier this weekend as Pitt rolls… Pittsburgh 37, Syracuse 14.
Dave: Syracuse's best three-point shooter plays for their football team, their best football player just quit so he had more time to play video games, and their basketball team just lost to a school that's notable alumni on Wikipedia begins with "Mike Alpa: Dentist to the Stars."
Oh, and speaking of the Wikipedia page for LeMoyne, it should also be noted that it has already been updated to include their win over Syracuse. How often does the result of an exhibition basketball game make it to Wikipedia?
Oh, and speaking of notable LeMoyne alumni, others include former Reds pitcher Tom Browning and former Astros pitcher Jim Deshais, which ironically are the two cards I needed to complete my 1988 Donruss set.
As for this game, Pittsburgh is getting praise for its record without having actually, you know, beaten anyone. And with basketball season looking like a lost cause already, I'm going to hold out some hope for a rare football highlight this week… Syracuse 21, Pittsburgh 20.
South Carolina (+7) at Arkansas
Dan: Right on cue, the second-half South Carolina swoon is picking up momentum. There are a few givens in life: I will always take one too many Jager shots when I get together with friends; If you say your name to me when I am drinking I will not remember it; And South Carolina always takes a nose dive in the second half of the college football season.
Every year South Carolina will win a big game early in the year (at home vs. Ole Miss this year). Every year they will squeak out wins against bad competition (at home vs. Kentucky this year). And every year their season will go in the tank once late October and early November hit. Well lookie here. South Carolina got rolled by Tennessee last weekend and now they head to Fayetville to face a hungry Arkansas team. Since South Carolina can’t score more than 14, I'm not sure how they will win this one. And it does not get any easier in the coming weeks as Florida and Clemson still remain on the schedule as well… Arkansas 24, South Carolina 13.
Dave: Did you know that, with the exception of their win over Auburn, Arkansas is allowing 455 yards per game against SEC opponents this season? Did you realize that Joe Cox hasn't thrown for more than 242 yards against any opponent this season, but threw for 375 yards and five touchdowns against Arkansas? Did you know that, in five SEC games so far this season, Ryan Mallett has completed fewer than 45 percent of his passes three times? I have no doubt South Carolina has its sights set on another seven-win season, but that seventh win comes here… South Carolina 35, Arkansas 31.
Oregon (-6.5) at Stanford
Dan: It must be a lot of fun being a fan of a team like Oregon that can score at will when they get the ball on offense. Watching them move the ball up and down the field with ease last Saturday evening against USC, I found myself jealous. Jealous of a team that actually has an offense. Being a Virginia Tech fan, we haven’t had one of those things called an offense since 2005. It hurts. It really does.
Well this week the Ducks face a Stanford team that has a formidable offense themselves. I just do not see how Stanford is going to keep up with them though even if this pick screams trap/letdown game… Oregon 45, Stanford 30.
Dave: I'm a big fan of Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh, which reminds me of a story completely unrelated to this game: I met Harbaugh once when I was working in San Diego. He did a speaking engagement with the head coach of the arena football team I worked for, a guy by the name of Mouse Davis. Atlanta fans may remember Davis as a member of June Jones' staff with the Falcons, but he is widely considered to be the innovative force behind the Run-N-Shoot offense. He was a nice guy and overall pretty pleasant to work with, except for one eccentricity.
Davis' office was across the hall from mine, and so he usually used the same bathroom I did. I don't know if there's a sense of superiority that comes with inventing an offense or if he just got forgetful, but let's just say he wasn't a fan of flushing the toilet. So every now and then, I'd walk in and there'd be a floater left from his last visit. Not fun.
So one day a buddy of mine who worked with me went into the bathroom after Davis. Of course, he finds a not-so-nice present waiting for him. He turns around, walks out of the bathroom and into my office, yelling about how someone didn't flush the toilet and that it looked incredibly nasty. About 15 seconds later, Davis sends one of his assistant coaches into the bathroom to flush the toilet for him.
Anyway, Oregon was clearly the team of the month in October. No one looked more impressive against some quality opponents. But this does have trap game written all over it. Stanford is no pushover, and Harbaugh always has his team primed to pull the upset. I'm not sure he gets it here, but I'd bet he keeps it close… Oregon 30, Stanford 27.
Wake Forest (+16) at Georgia Tech
Dan: Georgia Tech’s offense is a machine. It amazes me even more that my horrible Hokies even stayed in the game with them considering what they have done on the offensive side of the ball the last few games. And the worst part is I just realized that Josh Nesbitt is only a junior, and not a senior. I really thought he was a senior. So now we are going to need to deal with him next year, too. Ugh. Not good. As for Wake, I once again was wrong about them last week! I think I am 0-7 in Wake Forest games this year. So you know what that means. Since I am taking Georgia Tech here you should take Wake. Easy money… Georgia Tech 49, Wake Forest 21.
Dave: Wake's QB is banged up and its rush defense is 63rd in the nation. This one could get ugly… Georgia Tech 45, Wake Forest 17.
Ohio State (+4) at Penn State
Dan: It is never a good thing when your best win of the year is over Temple, but that is all Penn State has to offer. It is a down year for the Big 10 as there are four good teams (Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin) and a bunch of slop. The Michigan win is looking worse and worse each week, and Minnesota is the same Minnesota that lost to Ohio State 38-7 and only beat Syracuse in overtime. I ask all those Penn State fans out there, is it fun to play no one on your schedule each year and pile up wins against bad teams and always be ranked in the top 10? Or would you rather play a real schedule and suffer a few losses? I guess both have their merits. Well next year Penn State faces Alabama at their place so that is one real game.
Dave: Seriously, you think there are four good teams in the Big Ten? I think you're confusing "good teams" with "good records." Wisconsin is completely overrated and can't win on the road. Iowa looks solid but unspectacular. And these two… well, let's just say if Syracuse's basketball team played a schedule like Penn State's football team does, there's be a lot of teams updating their Wikipedia pages. But on an otherwise unimpressive weekend of games, I suppose this constitutes a big one, and since it's in Happy Valley, I'll go with the home team… Penn State 27, Ohio State 20.
LSU (+7.5) at Alabama
Dan: Where was this horrible Alabama team when Virginia Tech faced them to open the season? When VT faced them their QB was completing deep ball after deep ball thus eliminating VT’s ability to stuff the box. Now what is happening? Well 'Bama can’t complete the deep ball and thus teams are stuffing the box. I think this is going to be one of your typical SEC games… Alabama 17, LSU 10.
Dave: As a general rule of thumb, I don't like the comparisons a lot of Georgia fans make between Mark Richt and coaches like Urban Meyer and Nick Saban. Richt is a good guy and the other two are both -- well, shall we say, a little obsessed with football and a little unaware of the big picture. A lot of fans look at that as a knock on Richt. They want the killer instinct. Personally, I don't see a reason why you can't be a nice guy and a good football coach.
But then there are times where someone like Saban says or does something that I think so perfectly illustrates what Richt should be saying that I can't help but wonder why it doesn't happen. Like Richt, Saban is dealing with a struggling offense and a quarterback with a crisis of confidence. But while Georgia has essentially played things conservatively, despite really having nothing to lose, Saban has dared his quarterback to roll the dice, damn the consequences.
I don't think it really has much to do with one guy being a football-obsessed and one guy being "nice," but rather one guy who is anxious to dictate what happens in a game -- good or bad -- and another who has seen so many mistakes that his top priority is avoiding the bad play rather than creating the big one.
Maybe I'm way off, but I have to say, I love hearing a coach talk the way Saban has this week. That killer instinct, that "we'll decide who wins this game" mentality -- that's the culture you want to create in your locker room… Alabama 24, LSU 14.
Southern Cal (-10) at Arizona State
Dan: Poor Arizona State. You knew they were doomed to start the season when their QB name was Danny Sullivan. That name is good for one thing and one thing only? Preventing people from hooking up. That is it. Well this weekend they are facing an angry USC team who should roll them… USC 31, Arizona State 17.
Dave: Come on, Dan. If you're going to bash our old college buddy Dan Sullivan, you have to provide context. So, here are my top three Sully moments:
1.) As Dan will attest, Sully had a penchant for busting out some embarrassing stories about his friends in the company of female companions. Dan might be talking to a girl at a bar, for example, and Sully would be sure to bring up a story about another girl Dan had been talking to the night before. This reached its unintentional crescendo at a wedding a few years ago. I was part of the wedding party and Sully was not. By a sheer twist of fate, my date ended up seated next to Sully at the ceremony while I was attending to wedding-related matters. Anyway, Sully strikes up a conversation with her and proceeds to tell some embarrassing stories about the groomsmen, myself included. His story invariably concludes with the question: I'm sorry, who is it you are here with?
2.) We were all out at a bar in Ocean City, Md. called Seacrets -- one of the best beach bars on the East coast, by the way -- and Dan and another one of our friends struck up a late-night conversation with what Sully deemed "questionable women." In the nearly 20 years we've known Sully, I can't recall him ever complimenting Dan on anything, but on this night, he took it upon himself to decide that Dan was too good for the girl he was talking to, and he was going to put a stop to it. So he immediately interjected himself in the conversation, offered a series of not-so-subtle insults to the girls, chimed in with a few more embarrassing factoids about Dan and our other friend, and before you knew it, the girls had dashed out of the bar to escape Sully's antics.
Now, at this point, Sully's skills at preventing hook-ups had become legendary, and Dan had had enough. The two got into a shouting match in the middle of the bar, with Dan eventually walking away. About five minutes later, he came up behind Sully and dumped a huge glass of water over his head as retribution.
3.) We used to frequent a bar in Delaware called The Stone Balloon, which ran beer specials every Thursday. Well, one week I arrived a bit late, and Sully had already had a bit too much to drink. When I got there, I noticed a certain girl I'd been interested in for a while was standing by herself. I immediately went over and struck up a conversation, ignoring our drunken pal Sully along the way. Always an attention hound, Sully got angry about this, and he decided to exact some revenge. So he went to the bar, purchased a pitcher of beer, and decided he would dump it over my head.
The only problem is that we were standing at the top of a short flight of stairs -- about three steps up from the level where the bar was. It was crowded, and as Sully walked up the stairs to dump the beer on me, his foot caught the lip of the step, he tripped, and he threw the beer in the face of a random girl standing next to us. Obviously some burly security guards soon intervened and Sully was asked to depart a bit early.
Anyway, I think similar results will be in store for Arizona State's Dan Sullivan this week, too… USC 28, Arizona State 13.
Vanderbilt (+35) at Florida
Dan: I wish someone would attempt to gouge Urban Meyer’s eyes and see how he liked it. It is comical that he only wanted to suspend Brandon Spikes for one half of the Vandy game. Huh? That is your penalty? It was a dirty play and he deserved to be suspended longer. Why not suspend him for the whole game? It is not like Vandy is any good and poses any threat to you. But Urban Meyer cares about one thing and one thing only. I mean, look at how many players have been arrested at Florida since he has been there. And he hasn’t done anything to most of them. It numbers in the 20s now. Meyer runs probably the dirtiest program in the country. They win games, but they are dirty as it gets. As for this game, it is going to get ugly. Vandy will not score… Florida 42, Vanderbilt 0.
Dave: I'm not bothering to fact check you on any of your details there, but it's probably safe to say that after those comments and your jinx of Georgia Tech, you can probably drink free in Athens any time you want… Florida 63, Vanderbilt 3.
Florida State (+8.5) at Clemson
Dan: All of a sudden the Fightin Dabo’s are showing some life and they are rejuvenating their fan base. This means one thing and one thing only: A crushing loss in on the horizon. That is the book on Clemson. Every year they lose a game just when their fans start trusting them again. I feel they will either lose this one, or even more horribly they’ll lose at NC State next weekend. Pick your poison. Also, is there anything better than knowing that Dabo will be at Clemson for the next three to four years, thus ruining any chance of that program doing anything for the foreseeable future? I say no. What is going to happen to Clemson next year when CJ Spiller moves on. Oh I know… they are going to be a train wreck that doesn’t even make a bowl game. This year Spiller has already saved two games. Well this weekend I don’t even think he’ll be able to help… Florida State 38, Clemson 34.
Dave: Isn't this what Clemson did under Tommy Bowden every year, too? My boss, a rabid Clemson fan, would get his hopes up every year that Bowden would get canned after some early season losses, but every year the Tigers would rebound and win a bunch of games to get to 7 or 8 wins and a bowl and Bowden would keep his job for another season. I think that's probably why they canned him midway through the year last season… they didn't want to give him a chance to win out.
Anyway, this week's game will be yet another nail in the coffin (ouch… maybe that's the wrong analogy to use) of another Bowden. Seriously, Bobby is presiding over some bad times in Tallahassee. Now he wants to hire the new D coordinator, too? I'm praying for Chuck Amato, just for the increase in man-boob jokes. (Can someone get that guy a mansiere? Or a Bro?) Meanwhile Jimbo Fisher just continues to collect big checks, do a lousy job coaching and get his manhood walked all over by Old Man Bowden at every turn. It's sort of the coaching equivalent of that time Nolan Ryan beat the crap out of Robin Ventura. Good to see the old guys win a few.
Of course, all of that has little to do with this game, which I think Clemson wins but doesn't cover… Clemson 38, Florida State 31.
Utah State (-3) at Hawaii
Dan: In college, whenever Hawaii played a football game or basketball game at home I dubbed their games the “wake-up special." You see, a lot of times their games did not start until midnight, and sometimes they did not start until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. east coast time. So by the time the game finished I was already passed out from my drinking activities for the evening. Gamble before bed, wake up to the result. Hence, the wake-up special. Nothing beat the thrill of the wake-up special. You’d put your bet in right before you passed out, and you’d wake up in the morning wondering whether you made money or lost money. Nothing beat a Sunday morning waking up to know your day was off to a great start thanks to the wake-up special cashing in. That being said, nothing was worse than waking up and knowing you were already down $100 for the day and it wasn’t even 8 a.m. yet. One time in college I woke up and the wake-up special had not cashed, there was puke in my room, a nasty hangover was starting to form and there was what you would call a visually challenged female in the room. Ugh. That was a bad day. And that was what made it so special. As for this game I’m going with Utah State… Utah State 28, Hawaii 24.
Dave: I'm eagerly anticipating Sunday morning now. Go Utah State Fightin' Mormons!…. Utah State 37, Hawaii 16.
Last Week: Dan 6-4, Dave 6-4.
Thursday: Dan 0-0-1, Dave 0-0-1.
Season: Dan 36-44-2, Dave 34-46-2.