Weíve reached the point in the season where we need to take a step back and evaluate, what we think we now. In other words, there are enough games to properly evaluate every team and itís wise to take another look at those early season wins and losses. For instance, remember when Florida State eased the fears of its fan base a week after a whooping at the hands of the Oklahoma Sooners by destroying BYU? That win doesnít look so sound anymore, for that matter, none of its four wins can be considered solid at this point and that ďdepantsingĒ at the hands of the Sooners looks even worse now that it appears the Sooners themselves have some issues.
That is just one example, but you can perform that exercise with every team in the nation, although most results will leave you in a similar spot to where you started. The FSU example is one of the drastic cases where it appears as though a team might be overrated at this point in the season.
As for the national picture, things got a little more interesting last week as Oregon made the jump over Boise State in the polls. Of course, this matters very little in the big picture as I doubt Oregon could suffer a loss and remain ahead of Boise State in the end.
There are basically two questions that need to be answered in the end. The first, can Alabama suffer a loss and remain ahead of Boise State? The way it is shaking out now, the Crimson Tide appear to be the only team in the nation that could suffer one loss and remain ahead of Boise and TCU. The other question of course is, can any team from a BCS conference remain undefeated? Oregon looks to be the leading candidate right now, but weíve seen this before. The Ducks always start fast and manage to slip up somewhere along the way. With that said, I canít imagine a tougher test than the one they faced last week, albeit at home.
The avoid list:
Texas: I didnít even realize that I put out a play against Texas last week even though it was on my avoid list. With that said, last week was a perfect spot to play against the Longhorns, but going forward, they are going to be very difficult to predict.
Georgia: As I mentioned last week, I doubt this team will give upÖcompletely, but I canít imagine any type of surge either. Last week proved a perfect opportunity to start clean. A.J. Green was finally back in the line-up and anything that happened prior to last week could simply be blamed on his absenceÖ if the Bulldogs had won. As you know by now, they did not and with that loss, this season went from disappointment to disaster.
On the radar:
USC: Pulled from the radar. I think Iíve got them pegged pretty well after the loss last week.
Georgia Tech: Still on the radar. Right now you can expect the Yellow Jackets to come out flat when big favorites and come to play when they are dogs.
Record YTD: 28-32
Units YTD: -10.5
Best Win: Washington State: Itís not often you have a 27-point dog hanging around until the fourth quarter, but thatís what the Cougars managed to do last week at UCLA. At one point in the third quarter they were ahead of the Bruins.
Worst Loss: NC State: Iíll be honest, I actually quit following this game assuming it was in the bag, and why not? The Wolfpack had possession with less than two minutes on the clock, trailing by four points. It took a couple of worst-case-scenario plays to occur exactly as they did to lose that game, and thatís exactly what happened.
Take a Note:
ďNC State might be the best team in the ACC.Ē That line is from last week and it almost came to fruition, but as I explained above, it did not. It appears as Virginia Tech is the cream of the crop, with only Miami in its way. James Madison loss aside, the Hokies have been very impressive since week two.
BYU went from a dangerous underdog, ready to show its true form at any moment, to an outright lousy team last week. Though college teams donít often throw in the towel, I canít imagine what if anything the man in charge can say to get these kids motivated the rest of the way.
Michiganís offense was not slowed by its first conference opponent last week, but I canít imagine that team going through the Big-10 schedule putting up 40 points each week. Then again, if the defense continues to leak oil like it has since week one, the offense will be forced to put up 40+ each week.
A big win for Washington last week, but donít be fooled. The Huskies are a great underdog team because they have a QB that can get them through some tough situations, but that doesnít change the fact that their just not that good this year. Take a look at the Huskies in underdog spots, but steer clear of them as favorites.
Nebraska at Kansas State: Another Big-12 Thursday night showdown this week, but this one wonít look anything like the 38-35 game from last week. Nebraska is the highly-touted team here and from what weíve seen up to this point, the Cornhuskers appear to be legit. They went on the road earlier this season and absolutely spanked Washington. Kansas State also beat their Pac-10 foe this season, although not quite as convincingly. This line however gives no respect to the Wildcats. I was shocked to see the ĎHuskers as double-digit favorites. This game could get out of control and Nebraska could run away with it, but I expect Kansas State to put up one hell of a fight and hang in there long enough to stay within the number.
Side: Kansas State +12 (1)
Connecticut at Rutgers: Ah, remember the gold old days, when both of these teams were good? Now it appears that only one, Connecticut, is even watchable. With that said, Connecticut has been to be very unreliable this season and considering this is probably the game of the year on the Rutgers campus, Iím going to stay away. Iíll lean slightly to the home dog only because I donít trust the Huskies, but Iíll place no units on this match-up.
Side: Rutgers +5
Minnesota at Wisconsin: Something about this line does not smell right. From an outsiders points of view it looks way off. Granted, I am an insider being in the state of Minnesota, so I know just how bad the Gophers are, but if you werenít privy to that information, you would see that they only lost by a point last week and Wisconsin is coming in off a 10-point loss. To add to the point, the Badgers havenít separated from anyone this year. Not UNLV, not San Jose State, not ASU, so why a line that opens at 21? For once, I think I am on the proper side of a trap.
Side: Wisconsin -22 (1)
Illinois at Penn State: Boy, Illinois sure played Ohio State tough last week and man, Penn State sure looked bad against Iowa. Both statements true, but factor in that Illinois was at home and Penn State on the road and I can easily see a reversal of fortunes this week. Iím not high on the Nittany Lions this season, but both of these teams played in highly publicized games last week, I think the odds makers are trying to take advantage of the general publicís perception of these two right now. I think this is a case where you shouldnít believe what you saw last week.
Side: Penn State -7.5 (1)
Indiana at Ohio State: Ohio State struggled to move the ball last week, but it will find the going a lot easier this week against an Indiana team that doesnít play any defense. On the bright side, the Hoosiers do pack a little punch on the offensive side of the ball and considering Eastern Michigan managed to put up 20 points at the Horseshoe, I would think that the Hoosiers can do something similar. Look for OSU to score at will and Indiana to contribute as well as this game goes over the total.
Total: Over 57.5 (1)
Michigan State at Michigan: At some point, the bubble is going to burst on the Michigan offense, but until then, Iíll keep riding the over. If the Wolverines can stop or even slow down an opposing offense, it will be the first time all year, so why fight the tide?
Total: Over 64 (2)
Virginia at Georgia Tech: Okay, I realized I just got through saying not to take Georgia Tech as a favorite, but this is the one exception. Virginia is the bottom of the barrel in what is a bad ACC conference. Georgia Tech has yet to find any rhythm this year, but after a nice road win last week, albeit against a bad Wake Forest team, the Yellow Jackets should have a little confidence this week. Look for Tech to find a little mojo this week.
Side: Georgia Tech -10 (1)
LSU at Florida: Did you see the end of the LSU game last week? Before I get to this game, I have to comment on that finish. How in the world do you run a play on second down with no plan of what to do if you are stopped? Itís bad enough that the QB had no idea what to do, but the coaches as well? Why in the world would you sub in three players with the clock running under 20 seconds? Tennessee deserves their fare share of the blame as well; who are you substituting in, in that situation? Attempting to sub in that spot, knowing that LSU had no idea what they were doing was foolish. Long story short, the luckiest man alive picked up another win. I hate to bet against a man with such good fortune, but I witnessed that LSU team last week and to me, they look like a team without an identity. Itís one thing to come back from a deficit at home, but if the Tigers end up in the same spot this week, they wonít be as fortunate.
Side: Florida -6.5 (1)
Wyoming at TCU: Iíll make this simple; Boise State beat Wyoming 51-6 earlier this year. TCU will be compared to Boise State all year. If TCU wishes to stay even or pull ahead of Boise, TCU needs to put the smack down on Wyoming this week.
Side: TCU -34 (2)
UCLA at California: This is a great match-up to reevaluate the two records of these teams. Letís start with UCLA; biggest win to date, at Texas, doesnít look so good anymore. Check that, it was an impressive win, but not quite to the level we thought. The Bruins promptly followed that victory up with a less than inspiring performance last week against Washington State. California got thumped on national television at Nevada. What looked to be a horrible loss at the time doesnít look as bad now as Nevada appears to be legit. Factor in some horrible match-ups and the loss at Nevada is a little easier to understand. The Bears to their credit though, responded with a great effort at Arizona the following week. It was a game that they probably should have won and though they didnít it proved that they still have their heads in the game. There, now take all that and toss it out, because my prediction on this game is based upon a hunch, that after a week off, the Bears are ready to explode on someone.
Side: California -7.5 (1)
Pittsburgh at Notre Dame: I was ready to unload on Notre Dame in this spot, then I saw the line, Notre Dame minus six. What? I donít get it. Pittsburgh looks like a mess right now, and the Fighting Irish appeared to turn a corner last week. What am I missing? Iíll tread lightly here as I smell a trap, but I just donít see this game being close.
Side: Notre Dame -6 (1)
Baylor at Texas Tech: Some would say that Baylor had its breakout game last week when they put up 55 on Kansas. A true breakout would be winning at Texas Tech this week. Sure, the Red Raiders are a shell of their former selves this year, but a road win against a Big-12 south team would be huge for the Baylor program. While I canít go as far as to predict a win this week, I feel comfortable saying that Robert Griffin will hold up his end and score enough points to get over the total.
Total: Over 62 (2)
Texas A&M at Arkansas: This should be a fun one to watch. Both teams can light up the scoreboard and neither is interested in playing defense.
Total: Over 61.5