College Football Pigskin Pick’Em: Week 9
As for myself, it was another strong week in the feature games, with a 7-3 mark (now 43-26-1 on the year), but it was a less-than-stellar run in the additional picks, with a 4-6 record (now 35-27-1 on the season). I will admit, you might want to call me The Road Warrior after taking a look at this week’s picks. For those of you in the Northeast, stay warm and dry around the tv before commencing on the Halloween activities on Saturday.
12 PM – #11 Michigan State (+4) over #14 NEBRASKA
The winner of this one will control its own destiny in the division and have the inside track to get to the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. Frankly, if the Spartans win, they can start booking the trip to Indy right after the game. That is a big “if,” however. Michigan State is riding high after last week’s Hail Mary victory over Wisconsin. Their underappreciated D held up against an explosive offense and forced a couple key turnovers. Now they face a Nebraska team that features a run-heavy offense and a so-so defense. The schedule makers did the Cornhuskers a favor in feeding them Minnesota the week before this game. Confidence should be high for Nebraska on both sides of the ball after playing their most complete game of the season last week. I like the home team to ride this confidence, along with an early kickoff and a beautiful day out in the Heartland, and squeak out a nail biter in what should be a hard-fought battle.
Final Score: Nebraska Cornhuskers 21, Michigan State Spartans 20
12 PM – Missouri (+10) over #16 TEXAS A&M
This is one Big 12 matchup that should continue next year…because both teams will have the honor of schlepping it over to the SEC to become bottom feeders in that league. Mizzou failed a big test last week against OK State, largely undone by 4 turnovers. The Aggies, meanwhile, return to the friendly confines of Kyle Field on Saturday, following an easy, albeit unimpressive, win at Iowa State last week. The Tigers have the talent, especially on offense, to be more than the 3-win team that they are right now. You get the sense that their season is starting to circle the drain. If Missouri has any aspirations of going to a bowl game this year, they need to get at least one of their next two games (at Baylor next week). The problem for Missouri this week is the fact that the Aggies have an even more explosive offense than the Tigers do. Mizzou will put forth a spirited effort in College Station, but the Aggies will have just a little too much down the stretch to pull out a close one.
Final Score: Texas A&M Aggies 35, Missouri Tigers 31
12:21 PM – #10 Arkansas (-9.5) over VANDERBILT
This one opened at -12.5, so the sharps really are liking Vandy in this one. The Commodores have been playing better since putting Jordan “Intercontinental Champ” Rodgers in at QB, and they have been a tough out at home this year. The problem is, they have yet to play against a side as good as the Razorbacks in Nashville. Tyler Wilson should have no problem airing it out, and Arkansas will return to Fayetteville for with a comfortable victory as they prepare for a crucial 3-game home stand.
Final Score: Arkansas Razorbacks 41, Vanderbilt Commodores 21
3:30 PM – #3 OKLAHOMA STATE (-14) over Baylor
The aerial assault that is the Cowboys’ passing game returns home to Stillwater. They will face an interesting challenge from Baylor, who can hurt you both on the ground and through the air. The difference in this one will be each team’s defense. The Bears’ D was embarrassed by A&M last week, while the Pokes did a great job in containing Missouri. Baylor’s run game was bottled up by the Aggies, which should be a real concern. Although the visitors from Waco might be able to hang in there in the early going, Oklahoma State will be unrelenting in its mission to get the job done.
Final Score: Oklahoma State Cowboys 48, Baylor Bears 23
3:30 PM – #9 Oklahoma (-13.5) over #8 KANSAS STATE
How good is K State? It is a legitimate question, but one for which we should have an answer to by Saturday evening. In recent weeks, the Wildcats have been showing evidence of being a good team in forging comebacks against Baylor and Texas Tech, and by blowing out a team it should last week in Kansas. The problem is, Kansas State has been living on the edge all season, and although they are 7-0, they could very easily be 3-4. The Sooners are going to charge into Manhattan furious and refocused after their dud of a performance last week against Texas Tech. Expect Oklahoma to dominate every facet of this game, and the Wildcats will start off a brutal 4-game stretch in the exact opposite manner of how they would like.
Final Score: Oklahoma Sooners 48, Kansas State Wildcats 17
3:30 PM – #22 Georgia (-2.5) over Florida (at Jacksonville)
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party should feature an interesting game this year, with both teams entering the matchup after having last week off. The Gators desperately needed the rest, having lost three in a row (admittedly, against tough opposition). The extra week means that QB John Brantley will be back on Saturday for Florida. He should provide a boost to an offense that has been down-right anemic. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are playing the first of three big rivalry games that will go a long way in determining the success, or lack thereof, in their 2011 campaign. Georgia super frosh RB Isaiah Crowell will bounce back in a big way from a couple pedestrian performances, and UGA will find a way to get it done.
Final Score: Georgia Bulldogs 27, Florida Gators 21
7:15 PM – TENNESSEE (+3.5) over #13 South Carolina
The visiting Gamecocks begin life without RB Marcus Lattimore in Knoxville. Needless to say, the Volunteer Navy will be amped and will make it as unpleasant as possible for South Carolina QB Connor Shaw, who had an unspectacular outing at Mississippi State two weeks ago. The Vols will be breaking in a new starting QB of their own, as true frosh Justin Worley steps in for the still-injured Tyler Bray and ineffective Matt Simms. Both offenses face significant question marks. I will go with the Gamecocks close in this one, but this is a game that could break any of a number of ways.
Final Score: South Carolina Gamecocks 20, Tennessee Volunteers 17
8 PM – #5 Clemson (-3.5) over GEORGIA TECH
Just a couple weeks ago, this looked like a tantalizing matchup. The Yellow Jackets, however, have lost two in a row and have not looked particularly good either. Their triple option attack was completely shut down by Miami last week. Some home cooking and a questionable Clemson D might be just what the doctor ordered for Georgia Tech. The problem is, although the Tigers D has struggled the last couple weeks, Clemson QB Tajh Boyd has been lethal and efficient. Although I expect the Tigers O to cool off slightly and that GT’s ground game will get going, Clemson still has too much in its arsenal, and they will return home from this one with their dream season still intact.
Final Score: Clemson Tigers 37, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 24
8 PM – #6 Stanford (-8) over USC
The QBs will be front and center in this one. The Trojans come into this one off a big win at Notre Dame, while Stanford literally ran all over Washington last Saturday night. The aforementioned QBs, USC’s Matt Barkley and Stanford’s Andrew Luck, both had good games last week, even if they didn’t produce eye-popping numbers (especially in the case of Luck). USC will be sure to bring their “A” game for this matchup, and the home crowd will bring it to support them. In the end, however, the Cardinal defense is a formidable foe, and Andrew Luck will do his thing in leading Stanford to a good win in their toughest test to date.
Final Score: Stanford Cardinal 31, USC Trojans 17
8 PM – #15 Wisconsin (-7) at OHIO STATE
A very interesting matchup in the Big Ten’s other division. As silly as it sounds, a win by the Buckeyes in Columbus would put them right back in the thick of things in the division race. They won ugly against Illinois two weeks ago and had Nebraska on the ropes before QB Braxton Miller got hurt the week prior to that. Although Ohio State looks like they turned the corner going into their off week, Wisconsin will bring them crashing back to reality and show they are a limited team whose offensive success came against limited defenses. The Badgers didn’t play a full four quarters last week, and it cost them any shot at the national title. They will do so this week and will head back to Madison still controlling their own destiny to the Big Ten Championship Game.
MARSHALL (-5.5) over UAB: Marshall 33, UAB 18
Northwestern (-9) over INDIANA: Northwestern 45, Indiana 28
Virginia Tech (-15) over DUKE: Virginia Tech 37, Duke 7
Wake Forest (+6.5) over NORTH CAROLINA: Wake Forest 28, North Carolina 24
Iowa (-15) over MINNESOTA: Iowa 34, Minnesota 13
Hawaii (-7) over Idaho: Hawaii 42, Idaho 21
Mississippi State (-10) over KENTUCKY: Mississippi State 38, Kentucky 14
AUBURN (-12.5) over Ole Miss: Auburn 31, Ole Miss 10
TEXAS (-28) over Kansas: Texas 52, Kansas 14
Cal (-7) over UCLA: Cal 34, UCLA 13