Big weeks for both of us last week, so let's keep the hot streak going...
Dave: Last week, I guaranteed seven winners after embarrassing myself for most of the season. Not only did I deliver on my promise, I went one better. And even better than that -- my eight-win week moved us into a deadlock in the standings for the season (although both of our records still suck). So with just a few weeks to go in the regular season, the battle for the Jager Cup (which I assume is what we'll call the trophy awarded to the winner) is heating up. I'm not quite as confident this week, but I'm still feeling another winning record...
NC State (+19.5) at Virginia Tech
Dan: Has there been a more disappointing program in the ACC than NC State? I say no. The offense can put up points with anyone but the defense can not stop anyone. A good example is the Maryland game. Somehow NC State allowed 31 to that thing Maryland calls an offense. Ouch. I think even Turd Taylor can put that many up on NC State. Speaking of disappointing performances, that was my drinking performance last weekend. Wow. What a light weight. I was about five beers in and my head was already spinning and I couldn’t think straight. Back in the day I was an easy 12 beer, 4 jager, 3 car bomb, pee on my buddy’s sofa, call everyone out kind of guy. Not anymore. Five beers and then to bed for me.As for this week I guess I’ll put my faith in the Hokies… Virginia Tech 49, NC State 14.
Dave: I should have been 9-1 last week, but you had me so convinced of Virginia Tech's sulkiness that I figured they couldn't cover a big spread against Maryland. Serves me right for listening to anything you have to say. It's just like when I used to listen to you when you'd tell me that four Jager bombs before going out was a good idea. That never ended well either.
Having said that, let's take a closer look at NC State. The Wolfpack has lost five of their last six. The only win? A seven-point home win over that same Maryland team that Tech just went on the road and thumped by 25. Yes, Russell Wilson is good, and State's offense can move the ball. But close to 70 percent of the Pack's offense comes from Wilson's arm, and Virginia Tech has the ACC's top pass defense and the fifth-best pass defense in the country. Perhaps if Chuck Amato's man boobs were still on the sideline to distract Virginia Tech, this might be a close one. But alas, that won't be the case… Virginia Tech 45, NC State 20.
Mississippi State (+11) at Arkansas
Dan: Ryan Mallet is one of those QBs who isn’t very good, however, he puts up big numbers against horrid competition which artificially inflates his stats. Last week he was 23-for-30 for 405 yards against Troy. However, when he faced Ole Miss he was 12-of-34. Against Florida, he was 12-of-27. Against Alabama, 12-of-35. So enough with the hype of Ryan Mallet being a pro prospect. He stinks. He is just not a good player. This week they face a Mississippi State team that is really going to struggle to move the football and at times struggles to stop offenses. Essentially Mallet gets another chance to inflate his stats. Unbelievable… Arkansas 31, Mississippi State 13.
Dave: I hate Jerruh Jones. He drives me up a wall. He's a moron, he looks more like Michael Jackson every week, and he uses the word "literally" when he actually means "figuratively" (i.e. "Pacman Jones is literally on a high wire without a net"). And now his affiliation with the Cotton Bowl (the game is played in the new Jerruh World) could mean his alma mater, Arkansas, gets a bid to a bowl game it doesn't deserve. The trickle down from that is that I'll end up getting screwed on a bowl game, possibly missing out on New Year's Eve festivities while I feverishly write on deadline at the Chick-fil-A Bowl instead. I'm hoping they at least have free peppermint milk shakes there. I deserve something.
As for this game, Mississippi State has more on the line this week, needing to win out to get to bowl eligibility. Moreover, the other Bulldogs have lost only two games this season by more than 11 points (at Auburn in Week 2 and last week against Alabama). And Anthony Dixon and the MSU rushing offense are pretty darned good.
But here's the other side of that coin: You discussed Mallett's bad games, but you neglected one important fact -- they all came on the road. It's an oddity that Arkansas plays eight home games this season, but that's been big for the Hogs. Check out Mallett's splits:
On the road, he's 36-of-96 (38 percent) for 638 yards (213 per game) with three TDs and 1 pick and an 0-3 record. Plus three of his four worst games in terms of passing yards came on the road.
At home, Mallett is 139-of-198 (70 percent) for 2,247 yards (321 per game) with 20 TDs and 3 interceptions and a 6-1 record.
This one is at home again, and I expect Mallett to be sharp… Arkansas 41, Mississippi State 20.
Oklahoma (-4.5) at Texas Tech
Dan: I was going to write here that the most disappointing conference this year is the Big 12, but I must admit that pretty much all the conferences are disappointing outside of the Pac 10. Oklahoma sits here at 6-4 on the year and they are probably still the second best team in their conference. That is pretty bad if you ask me. I hate taking the road favorite here but I guess I will as Texas Tech has had some big QB issues this year as everyone keeps getting hurt… Oklahoma 27, Texas Tech 20.
Dave: Texas Tech seems like they might be OK this year, posting a 3-3 record in the Big 12. But look at that again: Against the crappy Big 12 North, the Red Raiders are 3-0. Against the more potent Big 12 South, they're 0-3.
But I've been catching up on "Friday Night Lights" this week, and I loved Mike Leach's cameo as a random customer at a gas station chatting with Kyle Chandler about pirates. You just can't beat seeing Mike Leach act. This week, I think he acts like a coach who can beat Oklahoma… Texas Tech 30, Oklahoma 27.
Connecticut (+6) at Notre Dame
Dan: I for one am excited about Notre Dame losing to UConn this weekend, then losing to Stanford, making their once promising season end at 6-6. Take that Domers! You have to enjoy how the media could not contain themselves talking about Notre Dame being a BCS team when they hadn’t beaten anyone this year. Heck, they lost to Michigan! The same Michigan team that is 1-6 in conference and has Rich Rod as their coach. This week I do not see things getting any easier for them… Connecticut 27, Notre Dame 24.
Dave: Ralph Freidgen is on the verge of being canned after a disastrous year at Maryland. Mark Mangino is now under fire from former players who have accused him of harassment and is being investigated by his own university. Andy Reid is once again ruining the Eagles season and driving my blood pressure to a very unhealthy level. And our boy Charlie Weis is the subject of constant speculation about his future with Notre Dame.
Bottom line: It's a bad year to be a fat head coach.
Part of me thinks that, with the writing on the wall, Notre Dame simply isn't hungry for a win this week (pun intended) and may be resigned to their fate. Weis will get canned, Clausen head to the NFL, and the rest of this year means nothing. But the logical side of this says that UConn's pass defense ranks 76th in the nation and Jimmy the D-Bag will be able to throw for 600 yards. I hate to do this, but I'm going to go with the Irish… Notre Dame 30, Connecticut 23.
LSU (+3) at Ole Miss
Dan: Talk about another QB that stinks this year. Check out Jevan Snead. Wow. He makes Ryan Mallet look like an All-American. Lucky for him he has Dexter McCluster to hand the ball off to. That guy is a player. Ole Miss has been rather feisty at home this year as they have taken it to all teams that have visited. Except Alabama, when Snead gift wrapped them that game (11-of-34, 0 TDs, 4 picks). I look for Ole Miss to pound the rock to Dexter all day long and bring home the win… Ole Miss 27, LSU 17.
Dave: I was really excited earlier this year because I was under the mistaken impression that Georgia would play in Oxford next year. I knew LSU was coming off the schedule, and I had it in my head that the Dawgs picked up Ole Miss in the West as a replacement. Not to be. Instead of heading to The Grove, I'll be shuffling off to Starkville on Sept. 25. Ugh. What a bummer.
Starkville and Oxford are the only two SEC cities I haven't visited yet, which is ironic since most fans seem to think they are, respectively, the worst and the best towns in the conference. Alas, I'll have to wait until 2011 before I can truly judge. In the meantime, here's how I rank the SEC cities:
1. Athens. I'm not just saying this to be a homer. I love Athens. Tons of fun stuff to do, tons of good places to eat, tons of cheap drinks to be purchased. And on game day, it's amazing. But I must say, if folks keep trashing North Campus on game day, the well-earned reputation as one of the best college towns in American could take a big hit.
2. Baton Rouge. I'll be honest, this is the one town that would really push Athens for me. For one, while a lot of college towns sort of seem the same, you KNOW when you're in Baton Rouge. It's different than anywhere else you'll go. The fans at LSU are crazy, the atmosphere around the stadium is great, the noise in the stadium is intense and, well, you just can't top the proximity to New Orleans. Last year's trip was by far the best road trip I've been on. So much fun.
3. Auburn. I kind of feel like Auburn is like Diet Athens. It's a cool, small town. There's a good atmosphere among the fans. And I really like Jordan Hare. Of all the games I've been to, I think the crowd at Jordan Hare has been consistently the loudest. (NOTE: I haven't been to a night game at LSU, so that might change the previous statement if I had.) On the whole, Auburn doesn't stack up to Athens, but it's still a fun time.
4. Nashville. In terms of college towns, I'd rank Nashville toward the bottom of this list. But overall, it's a fun city. It's just that the fun has nothing to do with Vanderbilt. I did like covering a game at Vandy though, simply because it's almost like covering a high school game. Very low maintenance. It was a nice change of pace. Besides, if you're in Vandy, you almost know it'll be a noon kickoff, so you can get out early and start enjoying the nightlife. Oh, and the sweet potato pancakes at Pancake Pantry add major bonus points.
5. Fayetteville. I had never been to Fayetteville before this year, but everyone kept telling me I'd be surprised by how much fun it was. They were right. Yes, the woo-pig-sooey chant is obnoxious. But beyond that, I found the Arkansas fans to be pleasant, and the nightlife to be fun. The only downside is that every attractive girl I saw there was a Georgia fan in town for the game.
6. Lexington. I lived in Lexington for a year, so I know it as well as any SEC city. There's a lot to like about Lexington, but after being there a few months, the town reminded me of Delaware way too much for me to really appreciate it. That said, McCarthy's Bar is great, Pazzo's Pizza is delightful, and I cannot wait until next year's road trip there in October when I can make my way over to Keeneland -- by far the most beautiful horse racing track I've ever been to -- for a weekend of losing money.
7. Tuscaloosa. Maybe my impressions are not well founded, but it just seemed like a run-down town to me. I get the passion for football there, and that's commendable, but I'm not a big fan of the town itself. But, hey, Dreamland ribs do make up for a lot of other deficiencies.
8. Knoxville. I don't really like Knoxville that much, but I will say this: the tailgating on the river is probably the coolest tailgating area in the SEC. Also, I got to see cops beat the crap out of a guy in the middle of the street the last time I was there, so that was fun. But by and large Knoxville has the least attractive fans of any SEC team and with all the booing they did of Marlon Brown, I wouldn't exactly call them a classy bunch either. I mean, if you're going to be ugly, shouldn't you at least try to make up for it with some personality?
9. Gainesville. I'll be honest, I didn't enjoy my lone trip to Gainesville, but I was there for hoops and not football. Because Georgia and Florida only play in Jacksonville, I've never had the luxury of seeing what Florida's campus is like on game day. That probably hurts my opinion a bit, and prevents me from seeing enough ditzy blondes in jean shorts.
10. Columbia. I've been to Columbia numerous times as our pal Ken went to school there and always made sure to keep our bellies full of airplane bottles of liquor when we visited. (This was back when bars in SC weren't allowed to pour from bottles.) But Columbia just isn't a college town. There's no real campus feel to it. Getting to and from the stadium is awful on game day and the only thing memorable around the stadium is a giant open field. I have tons of respect for the dedication of South Carolina fans in spite of having very little to cheer about, but Columbia is just not on the same level as the rest of the SEC towns.
As for this game, I'm not sure what to make of it. Ole Miss has played just four Division I teams that currently have a winning record, and they're 1-3 against them. That lone win came against Arkansas, which I believe is a bit overrated. Jevan Snead is brutal and has just seven TDs and 12 INTs against BCS conference foes this season. But Ole Miss has survived thanks to Dexter McCluster, who has topped 200 total yards in his past three games.
With Charles Scott out, I'm not sure if LSU has the offense to put this game away at any point, but the Tigers' defense is solid and I'm thinking they get a few picks from Snead that set up a couple of easy scores. That'll be the difference… LSU 24, Ole Miss 21.
Oregon (-5) at Arizona
Dan: What to make of Arizona? They have extremely impressive wins vs. Stanford and at Oregon State. But that seems like years ago. They have since lost to an OK Cal team and Washington. Last week their offense looked like a shell of what it had been as they could barely move the ball up and down the field. I hate taking the road favorite here but I will be a square and do it… Oregon 35, Arizona 20.
Dave: The Ducks can lock up the Pac 10 with a win. Stoops brothers don't win big games. This one should be easy… Oregon 31, Arizona 17.
Vanderbilt (+17) at Tennessee
Dan: Isn’t it funny that three Tennessee players were involved in that armed robbery attempt and the only one left is the five-star recruit who had significant playing time his year. Hmmmmmmmm. Lane Kiffin wants to get all the facts first on him before dismissing him. Riggggggghhhhhhhhtttt. If he is a three-star or four-star, he is gone. Not a five-star though. Gotta keep him around. That is how I feel at least. As for this game I haven’t a clue, so I will take the points… Tennessee 24, Vanderbilt 13.
Dave: Two things you may not have noticed about Tennessee this season amid all the hype over Lane Kiffin and convenience store robberies and other such nonsense:
First, did you realize that the Vols are just 5-5? Most of the SEC rankings I see have them rated as the fourth or fifth best team in the SEC and most people are predicting they get a better bowl bid than Georgia. But if Tennessee doesn't win one of its final two games, they won't even be going to a bowl. Why does a couple of semi-close games against Florida and Alabama make people forget that the Vols lost to UCLA, were blown out by Ole Miss and struggled to beat Ohio?
Second, has anyone noticed that Jonathan Crompton has actually turned into a decent quarterback? I know, I know, it's so fun to make fun of the guy. After all, the mustache was hilarious. But look at his numbers in his last five games: 94-of-151 (62 percent), 244 yards per game, 16 TDs and only two interceptions. Meanwhile Tennessee is averaging 32 points per game during that stretch.
What I'm saying here is, Tennessee is worse than people think, but Crompton is better than people think. And since every part of Vandy's team stinks, I'm going to say the Vols get to six wins this week with ease (but they'll lose next week to Kentucky)… Tennessee 35, Vanderbilt 10.
California (+7) at Stanford
Dan: I love the Pac 10. I used to rip on the Pac 10 but I love the Pac 10 now. I think that I am secretly jealous of the offenses they have out there. And there is no better offense than this Stanford team. Wow! A 55-21 pasting of USC last weekend. I was speechless. It is good to see USC finally taking their lumps this year. As for Cal, have they ever done anything on the road? Ever? Nope… Stanford 35, Cal 17.
Dave: Stanford played spoiler for Oregon and put the final nail in USC's coffin, and the Tree is riding high. But here's my theory: Stanford is a bunch of smart, nerdy kids, much like Patrick Dempsey's character in "Can't Buy Me Love." Like Dempsey, Stanford found its way into the popular crowd, upstaging some of the cool kids along the way. Now everyone loves them. But we know how movies like this go, right? There's always a moment where the bottom falls out. I think Cal gives Stanford the Dempsey treatment this week… Cal 33, Stanford 30.
Ohio State (-12) at Michigan
Dan: I still think Terrell Pryor stinks. He is constantly bailed out by a good defense. One of these years he will not have a good defense, and he will have to rally his team for a win and it will be comical. Could you imagine watching him run a two-minute offense? Lol. So congrats Ohio St! You beat an Iowa team who had a backup QB playing. This same backup QB was 9-of-27 against Northwestern. Real quality win!
As for this game I think something weird is going to happen. I just can smell it. Rich Rod saves the day with a win, thus keeping him around another year in Ann Arbor where they stink it up again next year… Michigan 24, Ohio State 21.
Dave: I wanted to predict the upset in this game, too, but now that you have, I don't think I can do it. That said, 12 points seems like a lot to give Michigan at home, even if they are terrible this year. I firmly believe Ohio State stinks, too. Then again, Michigan has been blown out in three of its last four. Then again, they're 5-2 at home this season with only one really ugly loss. Then again, this is the Big Ten and I've already written too much about it… Ohio State 27, Michigan 20.
Rutgers (-8) at Syracuse
Dan: Boy Dave, you must be happy that the college basketball season is here. I flipped on the Cuse game last night and they were busy trucking what was supposed to be a good Cal team. Seems that they just continue to reload each year which has to make you happy. Time for me to put a damper on your little party though. How many more years do you think Boeheim will be coach? And when he retires, do you think your program will go the way of your football program? That would not be fun. Have a good weekend… oh and Cuse doesn’t cover again… Rutgers 28, Syracuse 17.
Dave: Can I even begin to tell you how excited I am for Syracuse-North Carolina tonight? I have a number of people I'm looking forward to taunting as Cuse runs up the score on Roy Williams and Co.
But here's an interesting wager for you: Syracuse has scored just 87 points in their past six football games (in which they are 1-5). I'm betting the hoops team tops that number tonight. And they won't even need Greg Paulus to hit any 3s to make it happen.
As for the football game, I'll give a tip of my cap to one of my readers, Paul, who is a big Scarlet Knights fan… Rutgers 28, Syracuse 14.
Last week: Dan 6-4, Dave 8-2.
Season: Dan 44-56-2 (.440), Dave 44-56-2 (.440).