I will attempt to get at least one opening remark in every week. There are many stories that happen off the field. These are what I will focus on during these remarks.
This week, instead of an opening remark, I will go on an opening tirade. Ohio State needs to get rid of their current athletic director, Gene Smith. There was the off-season story that just wouldn't end. We had heard about the five players selling their memorabilia for tattoos. University President G. Gordon Liddy said that he just hoped that "[Jim Tressell] doesn't fire us." Athletic Director Gene Smith said that there was no "systemic problem". Then came the story that Jim Tressell had known about that story for months before reporting it to the university. Then the speculation about the car dealership, and the coming forward by former wide receiver Ray Small. And there's kind that small issue of Pryor getting up to a grand a week for signing autographs. Pryor was seen driving around in a brand new car, practically waving to the cameras while on a suspended license ... while this was going on. And don't forget that Tressell was internally given a negative mark of self-reporting violations by Ohio State back in 2007. Now, three previously reinstated players are being held off the field because they received an unfairly generous amount of compensation for working at their jobs? So what does AD Gene Smith say? There's still no "systemic problem". * Sigh * After this off-season with Tressell/Pryor, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Nevin Shapiro/Miami, and the fraudulent recruiting services provided by Willie Lyles, it was SO nice to finally see the opening kickoff of the year. That's the exact feeling I have right now as I begin to make these picks.
The first eight games I check results on last week had me sitting at 1-6-1 against the spread before rebounding to 9-9-1 when all was said and done. Additionally, after going 19-0 straight up in week 4, I was disappointed to have lost five games. Let's look for a heavy turnaround this week.
Heisman contenders (no particular order):
- Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin: I don't know how I didn't hear about this kid until he was about to transfer. First Wisconsin QB to throw for 300+ yards in consecutive weeks in about 20 years. Additionally, I know I said "no particular order", but Wilson is definitely my Heisman favorite.
- RG3, QB, Baylor: First interception of the year in game four. Leads the nation in passer efficiency. While putting up the numbers to be the favorite, let's see how he does as he heads into conference play and stiffer competition.
- Kellen Moore, QB, Boise St.: Worst game of his career last weekend, but all the guy does is win. Speaking of stiffer competition, he might already have a Heisman if people could respect the Broncos schedule.
- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: Heisman front-runner RE: last season. Yet to be tested this year, but the best overall QB going into next season's draft.
- Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson: Bringing the Tigers from unknown into the Top 10? Not to make a head-to-head comparison, but someone named Cam Newton did something eerily similar last season. Someone deserves to be mentioned ...
- Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: Offense is built around him. No drop-off from Ingram. #ScaryStatement?
- LaMichael James, RB, Oregon: Leads the nation in rushing despite 54 yards in week one vs. the nation's best run defense.
- Tommy Rees, QB, Notre Dame: #Sarcasm LOL
- Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois: By the way, it's pronounced "Scheel-house". Guy has Illinois at 5-0 and in the Top 25
- Brandon Weedon, QB, Oklahoma St.: Has guided the 'Pokes to #6 in the polls and an impressive rally to beat Texas A&M.
California (+24) @ #9 Oregon: Oregon's RB LaMichael James has come off a combined just over 100 yards in his first two games (1 against LSU, 1 a rout against Nevada), to lead the nation in rushing with over 150 yards a game and get him back into the Heisman conversation. Cal has played well against Oregon the past few seasons, but QB Darrin Thomas has stepped up his game, and in the last two years, the only teams that have stopped the Ducks are last year's Auburn and this year's LSU. Straight: Oregon Spread: Ducks
#5 Boise St. @ Fresno St. (+21): It's too bad about Boise this year. Georgia isn't living up to the preseason hype and TCU already has two losses. They have no shot at the title even if they were destroying people by 50 a game, including UGA and TCU. Boise's been impressive this year, but has been struggling to cover the spread. Kellen Moore had the worst game of his career, but RB Doug Martin really stepped up last week. Fresno St. played Nebraska close near the end, but hasn't played very well the rest of the year. Straight: Boise St. Spread: Broncos
#3 Oklahoma v. #11 Texas (+10): Texas has impressed me this year. I didn't think they'd be playing at this level after last year's atrocious 5-7 season. I was unimpressed until last week's sizable win against Iowa State. ISU is a pretty good team, but this week, we'll see if Texas is a contender or pretender. I don't see any way that Texas wins this game. While they did play well against Iowa St., Texas *barely* beat BYU, who got destroyed by Utah, who lost to USC, who nearly lost to lowly Minnesota. #TransitiveProperty LOL Seriously, though, I think Oklahoma is too strong. Straight: Oklahoma Spread: Sooners
Maryland (+14) @ #13 Georgia Tech: I know it was three weeks ago, but I still can't get over how Georgia Tech ran for 600+ yards in one game. I saw Notre Dame get absolutely DESTROYED by Navy's triple option (same offense that Georgia Tech runs) last year and they gave up I think 300+. It still blows my mind. On the other end, Maryland lost embarrassingly to Temple and then beat FCS Towson in an unconvincing fashion. Straight: Georgia Tech Spread: Yellow Jackets
Connecticut (+20) @ #16 West Virginia: West Virginia has been impressive. However, UConn has consecutive losses to Vanderbilt and Iowa State by a combined 7 points. Watch out for UConn. I'm not necessarily making them my upset or TTP special, but they've held leads in the 4th quarter in 3 of their last 4 games. Straight: West Virginia Spread: Mountaineers
Kentucky (+21) @ #18 South Carolina: Connor Shaw is the new starter for SC. Stephen Garcia has started a few games, but failed to live up to expectations ... and by that I mean he has 4 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. UK has lost by 38 and 28 points in consecutive weeks, but that was to much stronger teams in Florida and #1 LSU. Straight: South Carolina Spread: Kentucky
#23 Florida St. @ Wake Forest (+13): Florida State might not have beaten anybody of note, but they've played Oklahoma and Clemson very tough. I don't know why this spread is only 13. Straight: Florida State Spread: Seminoles
Army @ Miami-OH (+2): Miami (Ohio) played a decent Mizzou very closely in week one, but they've really fallen off since then. Army is having a pretty good season and they're second in the nation in rushing, albeit against inferior teams. Miami (Ohio) is one more of said inferior teams. Straight: Army Spread: Black Knights
#19 Illinois @ Indiana (+14): Illinois is a good team. Indiana has struggled all season. Straight: Illinois Spread: Fightin' Illini
Boston College (+21) @ #8 Clemson: Can my "surprise Top 5" team live up to the hype? They're not playing a tough team this week, but the short answer is yes. Straight: Clemson Spread: Tigers
#17 Florida (+14) @ #1 LSU: Florida's QB John Brantley is out. LSU may go back to the two-headed monster now that Jordan Jefferson is back from suspension. Entering last week's game against Alabama, Florida led the SEC in rushing, but was held to just 15. This is an LSU defense that held Heisman hopeful LaMichael James of Oregon to 54. Don't expect this game to be a runaway, but ... Straight: LSU Spread: Tigers
Kansas (+31) @ #6 Oklahoma St.: Oklahoma State has impressed this year. Kansas has not. My only question in this game is if Oklahoma State can win by such a margin. If the 'Pokes can keep the momentum they gathered in that second-half comeback against A&M, it shouldn't be a problem. Straight: Oklahoma St. Spread: Cowboys
Missouri (+3) @ #20 Kansas St.: Missouri was played tough by Miami (Ohio), and has lost to Arizona State and Oklahoma, albeit by a combined 17 points. Kansas State is coming off consecutive impressive nailbiters: a goalline stand against Miami (the regular Miami ... the one in Florida LOL) and a last-minute upset of Baylor. This looks to be a close game, and KSU's experience the last two weeks will help them. Watch out for another close one. Straight: Kansas St. Spread: Jayhawks
Miami (+7½) @ #21 Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech has now failed to cover the spread for 4 straight weeks. It was tough to cover the spread last week, seeing as they lost to Clemson. Miami has looked anything but impressive this year, with their only FBS win coming against a very down and suspension-riddled Ohio State. After opening with a dominating win over FCS Appalachian State, which surprised no one, the Virginia Tech has surprised in another way: the Hokies won but failed to impress over three consecutive inferior opponents and got smacked around by Clemson, failing to score a touchdown. The key in this game for me is rushing defense. While both teams leading rushers are average 127.8 yards per game (I know, that shocked me too), and Miami has played a tougher schedule, Virginia Tech has always had a strong defense under Coach Beemer. Miami is giving up over 200 yards rushing per game. Virginia Tech is allowing just shy of 60. Straight: Virginia Tech Spread: Hokies
#22 Arizona St. @ Utah (+4): I don't know how much stock to put into Utah. Their seemingly signature win, a 54-10 drubbing over BYU, came over a Cougars team that has both lost to undefeated Texas by 1 and barely escaped the likes of Ole Miss and Utah State. Arizona State, however is firing on all cylinders. They've beaten Missouri, throttled USC, and their only loss comes against undefeated Illinois by 3 points. Straight: Arizona St. Spread: Sun Devils
Air Force (+15) @ Notre Dame: Wow. Air Force is third in the nation in rushing. Out of curiosity, I checked on Navy's rushing statistics. Guess where they are. Yup ... 4th. "The U.S. Military Academies: building leaders and great runningbacks since 1802." LOL Air Force definitely impressed last week. Navy has been a beast in recent weeks. I guess it came down to a controversial penalty that aided blocking an extra point, but a W is a W. However, their two other wins are against FCS teams, and they lost by a sizable margin to an underwhelming TCU. I've been saying all year that Notre Dame has not been playing up to their potential. Last week was the first game this season in which they committed no turnovers. If they can keep that up, they'll start climbing the charts. Straight: Notre Dame Spread: Fightin' Irish
Vanderbilt (+29) @ #2 Alabama: It'd be a nice story if Vandy could win this one. They've been playing well this year and have a ball-hawking defense, but were held to just 80 yards against and underwhelming South Carolina in last week's loss. If they can get some takeaways, they could keep this game within reason, but I don't think it's in the cards. Straight: Alabama Spread Crimson Tide
Colorado (+29½) @ #7 Stanford: Call me crazy, but I'm still not sold on Stanford. Yes, they are very good. Yes, Andrew Luck is hands-down the best quarterback in the country and next year's #1 draft pick. However, they aren't as impressive to me (yet) as they were last year. I'm looking down the road for their games against USC, Oregon, and Notre Dame as a proper barometer of where they stand and if they belong with the elite. That said, Colorado is just awful. Straight: Stanford Spread: Cardinal
#15 Auburn (+10) @ #10 Arkansas: I think people are still riding the Cam Newton express when they're ranking Auburn, just as I feel that Arkansas is much to highly ranked. However, those are debates for my Top 25 posts, not here. Arkansas hung around Texas A&M and absolutely man-handled them in the second half en route to a win. Auburn could barely get out of its own way last week to beat South Carolina, although they did contain standout RB Marcus Lattimore, holding him to 66 yards. That comeback against A&M, on the heels of getting pushed around by Alabama, showed me something about Arkansas' resiliency. While this would be an upset according to my Top 25, the consensus of the voters would beg to differ. Straight: Arkansas Spread: Razorbacks
#12 Michigan @ Northwestern (+7): Northwestern played very well against Illinois ... for almost three quarters. QB Dan Persa's return was cut short by another injury. Brady Hoke has really rapidized the turnaround of this defense. (Yeah, I invented a word the other day and found it prudent to put it in my blog. What do you think?) This is another of those games that I'm confused by the spread. You're crazy if you think that Michigan will be held under 30 or so points. With the way this defense is playing, I don't see Northwestern keeping up with Michigan. Straight: Michigan Spread: Wolverines
#24 Texas A&M @ Texas Tech (+8½): I hesitate to even look into this matchup. My gut tells me that Tech will take this game. After blowing a 17-point halftime lead against Oklahoma State, the Aggies were up by 18 at the half against Arkansas. Yet another implosion. I saw the looks of coach Mike Sherman and everyone on the sidelines: utter disbelief. But more than that. I saw no fight, no desire. It was more along the lines of "I can't believe this is happening again" rather than "I'm NOT gonna let this happen again". That said, after SMU beat TCU last week, A&M's opening-week 46-14 win over SMU looks all the more impressive. However, with the breakdowns these last two weeks, that might as well have been last season. Tech comes into the game upset-minded and undefeated, though there's been no strength in their schedule. A&M has struggled on the defensive side of the ball, allowing back-to-back performances by Brandon Weedon and Tyler Wilson that set passing records for their respective programs. Texas Tech's QB is putting up RG3-like numbers: 73.3 completion percentage, 14 touchdowns, only one interception. Break out the Lee Corso headgear. Straight: Texas Tech Spread: Red Raiders
Iowa St. (+15) @ #25 Baylor: Both of these teams are looking to rebound. Iowa State was knocking on the door of the Top 25 before being brought back down to Earth by the Longhorns last weekend. Baylor suffered it's first loss to a very good Kansas State. Baylor's beaten TCU and went the distance with K State. Look for RG3 and Baylor to bounce back. Straight: Baylor Spread: Bears
Ohio St. (+11) @ #14 Nebraska: Everything I've read has told me that Nebraska is overrated. However, Ohio State is in turmoil. They've failed to score double-digit points twice this year, they have three personnel that have received additional suspensions. Additionally, Ohio State's starting WR is out for the season due to injury. This seems already like a lost season for the Buckeyes to me. I'm looking for the Huskers to bounce back. Welcome to the Big Ten! #Badgers Straight: Nebraska Spread: Cornhuskers
@KRiv69: You asked me to throw Wisconsin into my picks, but they're idle this week. I'll pick them not to lose. How's that? :-)
Upset special: Texas Tech over #24 Texas A&M
Take the points special: Kentucky (+21) over South Carolina