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Friday, November 13, 2009

Picking the Winners: Week 11

Another week, another set of garbage picks...

Dan: Another disaster week. It really is amazing. I have a 50 percent chance of getting my picks right, however lately I am a 30 to 40 percent person at best. No wonder they build huge casinos throughout the country, because people cannot get out of their own way. What I need to do is have someone take about $10K of my money and bet against me each week. Then at the end of the year dividend this money back to me. It can’t lose, right? Anyway moving on to this week...

Dave: Both of us finished 2-8 last week. As a general rule, if I'm on the fence on any game, I pick the opposite of Dan, and yet we still both went 2-8 last week. How is that even possible? Look, I'm not trying to make excuses, but I'll admit, I haven't taken these picks too seriously this year. As you can probably tell from my write-ups, I don't add nearly as much substance to making a selection as I should. But here's the thing: I watch a ton of college football and I should be able to pick winners at a 45-50 percent clip without trying… and yet I'm embarrassing myself. This needs to end. So this week, I'm taking things seriously. I'm getting my act together. I'm promising you at least seven winners. Guaranteed. Mark it, Dude.

Syracuse (+7.5) at Louisville

Dan: How is Greg Paulus still the QB at Syracuse? I will tell you how. The backup stepped in last week and went 5-of-16 in relief. It is never a good thing when your backup is worse than Paulus. This week the Orange are back on the road again facing an equally unimpressive Cardinals team. Speaking of being on the road, when Dave was a youngster attending Syracuse for grad school I visited him twice. I also went up once with a buddy who used to play football up there. Great school to party at. Never had a bad time up there. Weather not so fun, but the bars are great. This weekend I don’t see Louisville beating anyone by more than a TD so I will riding the Orange and Paulus again… Louisville 24, Syracuse 17.

Syracuse is dreadful. I think we can all admit that. The Greg Robinson hire set the program back 10 years, and the road to redemption will be a long one. But you know who was easily the second-worst coaching hire in the Big East in the past five years? That would be Steve Kragthorpe at Louisville… and there just might be a valid case to say he was even worse than Robinson.

For one, Robinson took over a mediocre-at-best program and ran it into the ground. The year before Kragthorpe arrived, Louisville was 12-1.

And sure, in the past three seasons, virtually no one has been worse than Syracuse, which has posted an 8-25 record since Kragthorpe's first season at Louisville in 2007. But here are their records in the Big East over that time: Syracuse 2-16. Louisville 4-14.

Both pretty bad, right? But you want to know what's worse? Guess who BOTH of Syracuse's only two conference wins in the past three seasons have come against? That's right… Louisville!

And those wins came with Robinson at the helm. I'm not convinced yet that Doug Marrone is going to turn things around, but he's sure as heck a lot better than Robinson, while Louisville has yet to rid itself of Mr. Kragthorpe. So at long last, I get to predict a Syracuse win and actually mean it… Syracuse 28, Louisville 27.

Tennessee (+4.5) at Ole Miss

Dan: Ah Lane Kiffin. Bringing respect back to the Tennessee football program. Oh wait… three guys just got arrested for a possible armed robbery this week. Urban Meyer would be proud. But whatever it takes to win football games right? And if that is the case, Tennessee has looked pretty good the last few weeks and seems to be improving. As for Ole Miss, I do not quite know what to make of this team. Jevan Snead has looked terrible and has really only put together one good game (against Arkansas). I am going to bet he puts up another stinker this week… Tennessee 14, Ole Miss 10.

Dave: A few of my favorite lines from the 24 hours following the arrest of three UT freshmen for holding up a convenience store:

1.) Sure, South Carolina kids end up working at gas stations, but at least they aren't robbing them.

2.) Three Tennessee players were arrested for armed robbery, but after video replay, the SEC officials decided to instead charge two players from Mississippi State and one from LSU.

3.) Pretty much any joke about Kiffin and Lil Wayne.

Anyway, there's really only two ways a team can react following an incident like this (sort of like how there's only two ways a person can hurt their neck, according to Larry David) -- they can get down on themselves and pack it in or they can circle the wagons and come out even more determined.

I think there's a good chance Tennessee does the latter, but that may be offset by losing playmakers like Richardson and Jackson. But the tipping point in this game for me is clearly this: At the end of the day, this comes down to whether you want to bet on Jevan Snead's offense or Monte Kiffin's defense. For me, that's not even close… Tennessee 20, Ole Miss 10.

Notre Dame (+7.5) at Pittsburgh

Dan: Although it is never disappointing to see Notre Dame lose, I for one was angry last week. Why? It took away any line value I would have gotten with Pittsburgh for this game. If Notre Dame beats Navy, I firmly believe this is a 4 or 5 point line. But now I need to lay a TD. And how quickly the headlines shifted from Notre Dame going to a BCS bowl to Weis being canned. That didn’t take long. Notre Dame is now staring down the barrel of a 7-5 season as they should lose this week, and I just don’t see how they’ll beat a very good Stanford team at Palo Alto. It only gets worse, and that misery starts this week… Pittsburgh 35, Notre Dame 24.

Dave: There are certain lessons you learn in life that stick with you, and here's one that I've picked up on: When something becomes truly, sublimely ridiculous, all the cosmic forces of fate and karma will align to keep it going for as long as possible. How else do you explain Isiah Thomas' run with the Knicks? Or Bryan Evans' role in the Georgia secondary? Or "According to Jim"? They were so bad that the universe insisted that they stay well beyond the point in which any reasonable person would have moved on. It's what I call being in the Costner Zone. You have no discernible ability and have proven repeatedly that you're an abject failure, yet you continue to get work because the general public has so much fun making fun of your failure that you absolutely must keep failing.

Ladies and gentlemen, let's give Charlie Weis a warm welcome to the Costner Zone.

Weis is so horrible at his job and Notre Dame is so high profile that a conglomeration of events has happened: 1.) The administration has watered down the schedule to prop Weis up, which puts Notre Dame in a position to fool people into thinking they can win. 2.) Weis is so bad at his job that he manages to still lose to dreadful opponents. 3.) The overbearing media does nothing but waffle back and forth between lauding and slamming Weis. 4.) The administration continues to keep him just to spite the media. 5.) College football fans get such a kick out of watching the whole thing unfold that their combined karma holds the whole delicate process together.

It's amazing, and it continues this week when Weis pulls another rabbit out of his butt against a team that has absolutely zero legitimate wins on its resume but has managed to earn credibility anyway… Notre Dame 40, Pittsburgh 38.

Indiana (+25) at Penn State

Dan: As one of my friends politely pointed out to me last week, me picking Penn State every week could have possibly qualified as a reverse jinx. Since I am such a horrible prognosticator in this column, me picking a team qualifies as me hoping my misfortune falls upon that team. And you know what? I think he is right. Penn State looked horrible last weekend and there really was only one reason that happened. I was on them. Throw in my buddy Doty being on them as well and they never stood a chance. This week, they somehow lay 27 to an Indiana team that can actually put some points on the board. Yeah I don’t see how Indiana wins this, but Penn State is off the hook for at least one week with the Dan jinx… Penn State 34, Indiana 10.

Dave: Sometimes you look at a line and it's so ridiculous that you have to go to another Web site to double check that there wasn't a typo. What has Penn State accomplished this season that would warrant a line like that? Against the only two decent teams the Nittany Lions have played, they lost. They have yet to win any game against a Division I-A opponent by more than 25. They posted a whopping seven points against Ohio State in a blowout loss just a week ago.

Meanwhile, Indiana is coming off a three-point loss to Wisconsin (who is probably better than Penn State) and played Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa close, too. OK, OK, they were blown out by Virginia, but Al Groh is in the Costner Zone, so something like that can be expected from time to time.

Anyway, I have no doubt Penn State wins, but there's no way they're covering 25… Penn State 40, Indiana 17.

Kentucky (-3) at Vanderbilt

Dan: Two programs that are thankful that the college basketball season has begun square off in this matchup. I really do not have much to offer on this game other than the fact that if you are ever in the Lexington area I suggest you hit up McCarthy’s Pub. Quality joint. While visiting a buddy there a few years back we frequented this bar both nights and the Jager and car bombs were flowing. I mean does anything get better than a nice college bar packed to the gills with people chugging drinks? I say no. Well until you wake up in the morning with a nasty hangover and no money in your wallet. Which happened both times in Lexington. As for this game I will take the Cats… Kentucky 24, Vanderbilt 20.

Dave: Here's one of those games where I almost have to take Vandy just because I know waaaaaaaaay too many people who are talking up Kentucky as their lock of the week. On the surface, I understand their confidence. Kentucky is banged up, but it's a decent team. On the other hand, Vandy is worse than it has been in years. (By the way, Bobby Johnson really should have bolted for a better job after last season. It's all downhill from here.) Add to that the Wildcats are coming off an ugly win over FCS Eastern Kentucky and a loss to cellar-dwelling Mississippi State, while Vandy just kept things relatively close against Florida, and what you're left with is a line that probably would have been a full touchdown if this game had been played two weeks ago. So, yeah, I want to go with Vandy and buck the trend, but the smart money should all be on Kentucky, and I'm playing this week smart… Kentucky 24, Vanderbilt 6.

Virginia Tech (-18) at Maryland

Dan: How is Virginia Tech giving 18 to anyone on the road these days? This line is an absolute joke with Turd Taylor as our QB. Yes it is no longer Tyrod but Turd. I have to give my buddy Denny credit for that one, but I agree 100 percent with the name.

Last week my beloved Hokies put up a grand total of 16 points in the game against a Conference USA team. Sigh. Problem with continuing to crank out these 10-2 and 9-3 seasons is that change will not occur and we will continue to trot out these horrible offensive schemes. It is frustrating being a Hokie fan. As for this week, let's see. We have struggled to put 18 points on the board two consecutive weeks now. And now we are giving 18? That is what you call a joke… Virginia Tech 20, Maryland 3.

Dave: We've already mentioned Charlie Weis, Al Groh and Steve Kragthorpe, who make up three of the top four slots on the Coaches Hot Seat blog's coaches most likely to get canned list. Now we get to the lone missing piece: Ralph Friedgen.

Maryland is a disaster, with losses this year to Duke, NC State and Middle Tennessee State and an overtime win over James Madison. There isn't enough Jager at The Cornerstone Grill to make that acceptable.

So here's what I'm hoping for: Friedgen gets fired in College Park. Meanwhile, a string of seven straight losses for Kansas results in shakeups for the Jayhawks, who fire their coordinators. Then, in a perfect twist of fate, Mark Mangino hires on both Weis and Friedgen to right the ship in Kansas, thus giving the Jayhawks the single fattest set of coaches in the history of football and busboys and sous chefs from Lawrence-area Applebees begin fleeing for their lives.

It's my dream. Pray that it happens.

As for the game, this seems like an absurd amount of points for Tech to lay on the road, and I'm sticking with my philosophy that 18-point home dogs cover even when their coach is ordering take out from the sidelines midway through the third quarter… Virginia Tech 27, Maryland 13.

Alabama (-12.5) at Mississippi State

Dan: This game just smells of an ugly, ugly victory by Alabama. They have not looked impressive for weeks now and now after a big time win at LSU they head on the road to face an improving Mississippi State team. I think they squeak by in this one as they continue their march to the SEC championship game… Alabama 24, Mississippi State 23.

Dave: In the Kentucky-Vandy game, I couldn't convince myself to go against the conventional wisdom. In this game, I'm loving it.

Mississippi State has built its reputation on playing LSU and Florida -- the other two top SEC teams -- particularly close this season. Alabama has gotten tagged with a reputation of not being able to put away its opponents the past few weeks. Thus, virtually everyone I've talked to is predicting this one to be "surprisingly close." I don't know how that will be a surprise since everything thinks it will happen, but I digress.

Here's the bottom line though: Alabama is a very good football team. Mississippi State is not. Starkville isn't the same home-field advantage that LSU or Tennessee have, and MSU wasn't as impressive in their earlier games as it was that Florida and LSU beat themselves. Bama may not be a powerhouse on offense, but I don't see them making too many mistakes either, and there's just no way that Tyson Lee is moving the ball on Nick Saban's defense… Alabama 27, Mississippi State 3.

Stanford (+10.5) at Southern Cal

Dan: USC was in serious trouble last weekend until our good friend Danny Sullivan stepped up and threw a pick-six to the Trojans' D. That was the deciding margin as USC held on for a 14-9 win. Yes, Arizona State covered, but if not for Danny Sullivan blocking his team from a win with the pick-six, the Sun Devils would have been victorious. And because of the loss, I'm sure none of the Arizona State football players were able to score with the women and thus they were blocked from that, too. Nice to see the torch being passed. As for this game I like feisty Stanford to keep it close enough… Southern Cal 31, Stanford 21.

Dave: The math here is simple: Oregon beats Southern Cal by 27. Stanford beats Oregon a week later by 9. Therefore Stanford should beat Southern Cal by 36… Stanford 45, USC 9.

Iowa (+17) at Ohio State

Dan: It was nice to see Iowa’s luck run out last week although I felt kind of bad about how they lost. Their star QB Stanzi was hurt and then some terrible backup named Vandenberg comes in and tosses up a 9-of-27 performance. Disgusting. If you can only go 9-for-27 against Northwestern, I shudder to think what you are going to do against Ohio State, who dominated a decent Penn State team and a senior QB last week. Ohio State offense = still bad. Ohio St. defense = very good. I think in this game we’ll see Ohio State win via a few defensive TDs but I just don’t see them covering the 17… Ohio State 24, Iowa 8.

Dave: One week ago, Iowa was the No. 4 team in the country, and Ohio State was circling the drain and expected to lose to Penn State. Two upsets later and now we have a Iowa as a 17-point dog in the Horseshoe. Things change that fast in college football.

We've already discussed the Costner Zone at length in this post, but I think it might apply here once again. After losses to Purdue and USC, we assumed Ohio State wouldn't get a chance to continue its annual BCS bowl embarrassment, but the win over Penn State last week revived their hopes. Now, I know as well as you do that the Buckeyes have no rational reason to go to a BCS this season, but now they're back in control of the Big Ten, and a win here essentially sends them to Pasadena, where they'll get rolled by Oregon and the trend will live on. I love it.

Of course, that only gets us part of the way to this prediction. Yes, I think Ohio State wins. But 17 is a lot to give to a plucky Iowa team that plays every game close and has too good of a defense to get smoked by Terrell Pryor… Ohio State 21, Iowa 17.

Florida (-16) at South Carolina

Dan: Phase 2 of South Carolina meltdown complete. Time to commence Phase 3. As I mentioned in previous columns there are many uncertain things in life, but one certainty is a South Carolina collapse every single football year to close out the season.

Well they have completed successful losses to Arkansas and Tennessee and up next are the mighty Gators of Florida. But are these Gators mighty? They looked very lackluster in the first half against Vandy last week as Tebow was sacked repeatedly. It seems to me like the Gators are disinterested in the regular season and biding their time until the SEC championship game. That is my opinion. Only game their offense truly clicked was against Georgia. But whose offense hasn’t clicked vs. Georgia this year?

By the end of the game they put up 27 which is a good total but not for the mighty Gators. As for this week our friend from Atlanta will be angry that his Cocks did not win but I’ll be toasting them repeatedly as my +16 ticket cashes… Florida 30, South Carolina 17.

Dave: Did you know that South Carolina is 6-0 at home this season and 0-4 on the road? And did you know that Florida is just 1-3 against the spread in its last four games? And did you know that Steve Spurrier is taking over play calling duties again this week with an eye on finally pulling the big upset over his former team? And did you know that Jon thinks Kate is using her kids to try to swindle money from him? It's all true.

I still don't trust Florida's offense, and South Carolina gives up 18 fewer points at home than it does on the road this season. More importantly, the Gamecocks have the pass rushers to pressure Tebow the way Vandy did last week and the speed at linebacker and safety to keep up with Florida's lightning quick playmakers. I'm not sure if even the Ol' Ball Coach can dial up enough offensive fireworks to win, but I think the Gamecocks can manage the cover… Florida 24, South Carolina 23.

Last week: Dan 2-8, Dave 2-8.
Season: Dan 38-52-2 (.422), Dave 36-54-2 (.400).

1 comment:

bobbywareagle said...

Here's mine :) ....

Ole Miss 27 - Tennessee 20

Pitt 35 - Notre Dame 26

Penn St 33 - Indiana 12

Vandy 24 - Kentucky 21

Va Tech 31 - Maryland 16

Bama 26 - Miss St 20

Southern Cal 38 - Stanford 28

Ohio St 24 - Iowa 13

Florida 40 - South Carolina 27

oh and before I forget...

Auburn 44 - Georgia 23. Ah hahaha. Sorry you stinking dawgs. But you will lose by 20 points