NCAA WEEK 13 PICKS AND PREVIEW
National Picks Against the Spread This Year: 84-62
National Picks Against the Spread Last Week: 4-4
West Virginia at Pittsburgh (-3)
The Backyard Brawl is one of the few interesting Big East games in the last three weeks. The Big East should give up its automatic qualifying spot to one of the non-AQ teams or Stanford. There isn’t a single ranked Big East team and it leads me to wonder how this is a BCS conference.
Pitt looked bad at the beginning of the season and it completely derailed Dion Lewis’ Heisman run just as it was starting. However, the offensive and defensive lines have come a long way this season, and Dion Lewis is still the same great back we saw last year, as seen by his SportsCenter Top 10 Play last week where he broke roughly 37 tackles on his way to the endzone. Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri needs to play just well enough to keep eight guys out of the box and get Dion Lewis in to the secondary.
West Virginia has been subpar this year losing to Syracuse, Connecticut, and only having a close win over Marshall. It looks like Noel Devine won’t hit the 1,000 yard mark this season and quarterback Geno Smith hasn’t had spectacular stats so far. The offense just isn’t clicking.
Auburn (+4) at Alabama
The Iron Bowl is one of the great rivalries in college football. This game has decided championships for decades, but this time Auburn is the big time hotshot coming in to the game. It’s interesting though that Auburn isn’t favored in this game. Many think that the Auburn defense will be exposed by the likes of Greg McEllroy, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Julio Jones.
This could be the defense that finally stops Cam Newton. It’s the best defense he’s faced so far and it controls the line of scrimmage. The linemen for the Crimson Tide are very fast and could get to Cam Newton in the backfield. It will truly be a matchup of epic proportions. If anybody is going to beat the Auburn Cam Newton’s before the national championship game, it’s going to be Alabama.
I don’t want Alabama to win and that greatly influenced my pick. I’d rather have Oregon play Auburn than Boise State or TCU.
Colorado at Nebraska (-17)
This one decides the Big-12 North. Who would have thought Colorado, who fired it’s coach halfway through the season, would be competing with Nebraska, a team who was thought to be national title worthy, for the Big-12 North? I LOVE COLLEGE FOOTBALL.
Bo Pelini was probably the most impressive person in last week’s game. He was so outlandish he was publicly reprimanded by the school for blowing a gasket against the ref and screaming at freshman Taylor Martinez so radically it really made me wonder what Taylor Martinez do to earn such a lashing? Did he forget to record his MTV Cutthroat episode? Did he fake his injury? I want to know why.
This is more of a pick against Colorado than necessarily for Nebraska. Colorado is allowing 29.5 points per game and we know their run defense is going to give up 300 or more rushing yards. For Colorado to win they are going to need a mistake free game from Cody Hawkins and a big night on the ground from Rodney Stewart.
Arizona at Oregon (-19)
Contrary to popular belief, Cal didn’t solve Oregon’s defense. The offensive line will block better against a youthful Wildcat front seven that has shown flashes of their lack of fundamentals against other running teams such as Oregon State and Stanford. Darron Thomas will hit receivers who are in one on one coverage when the defense is in a cover 0 (no safeties deep to protect the cornerbacks).
The question with this game is how much will Oregon win by? There’s no way Oregon blows this game at home with so much at stake, but it depends if I need to refill my heart medication before a 3-point win. At this point, if Oregon wins it’s in. It is a mathematical impossibility for Oregon to drop two spots in two weeks if it lacks style points.
Nick Foles and the Arizona offense uses the pass to open up holes for running backs Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin. Antolin by the way has the best flow in the PAC-10, by far, no questions asked, yes, more than Casey Matthews. The speed on the Arizona offense will be counteracted by the Ducks’ speed on defense.
Boise State (-14) at Nevada
Boise State has been blowing teams up like it’s their job, and in a world where they are frowned upon because of their easy schedule it is essentially Boise State’s job to destroy other teams. Boise State, destroyer of mid-major worlds. See their 51-0 win over Fresno State, who gave Nevada a scare, the Broncos 42-7 win over Hawaii, and the 59-0 trouncing of New Mexico State. Just kidding about the New Mexico State game, that team is so bad. Kellen Moore and Titus Young have been dominating teams with deep balls, and then when you add other star receiver Austin Pettis in to the mix it makes it really hard for defenses to crowd the box trying to stop Doug Martin.
One of the best rushing attacks this year has been in the Nevada Wolfpack backfield. The zone reads and triple options out of the pistol formation have blasted teams such as Cal this year. Unfortunately, the Wolfpack lost to Hawaii and came from behind against Fresno State. It doesn’t look good this weekend. Colin Kaepernick, who I always call “the ostrich” while he’s playing, and running back Vai Taua, are on pace to break the all-time combined rushing record. The current record is held by none other than Craig James and Eric Dickerson who were known as “The Pony Express.” The kids may know Craig James better as “that ESPN analyst who got Mike Leach fired.” However, Craig James was a monster running the football.
Michigan (+17) at Ohio State
It’s just too hard for me to see the biggest college football rivalry of all time being such a blowout like it was two years ago during Rich Rodriguez’s first year. Call me crazy, but I sniff an upset in this one, which would absolutely crush every Wisconsin Badger fan’s hopes because then they would lose a tiebreaker to Michigan State.
Terrelle Pryor has been not living up to standards this year, and this is probably the best we will ever see him play in college. The stars of the offense so far have been running back Dan Herron who started as a backup, and receiver Dane Sanzenbacher who has made some amazing big-time receptions for the Buckeye’s this year. Could the Buckeye offense stall at home against a team they are supposed to beat easily and whose defense has more holes in their defense than Back to the Future. Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie. But you’re telling me that Marty’s parents never recognized the person who set them up looks exactly like their current son, that a song Michael J. Fox played in 1955 would soon be heard years later as a new hit, that Marty McFly’s statement that their kid might set the living room on fire happened, and that a clothing company would be named after this kid who looks exactly like their kid. You’re telling me they don’t notice that? Well, they didn’t in the movie, and it’s just crazy enough that Michigan wins this game because Denard Robinson scores 63 points by himself.
Michigan State (-1.5) at Penn State
A game that has huge title implications will be played in Happy Valley. The fighting Joe Pa’s take on the Sparty’s from East Lansing. This game is going on the same time as Ohio State-Michigan at 9 am in the morning so good thing there might be an interesting game on before noon. Not that a North Carolina State win over North Carolina where they scored just under forty points total isn’t exciting, or that the premier game was Miami-Georgia Tech and both teams were playing with backup quarterbacks, but it will be nice to see good football in the morning for a change.
Joe Paterno has said he’s coming back next year and I’m sure people like me are glad that Penn State is allowing the guy who built the program in to a powerhouse to go out on his own terms, which is very unusual to see today. And I’m sure there are people under the age of 35 who are bummed that this guy is coming back because he can’t seem to win the National Championship. Well truth be told, he has won the national championship, you just weren’t alive for it.
Kentucky at Tennessee (-3)
Tennessee is on the verge of being bowl-eligible. Who thought that the team Oregon crushed and lost to UAB in overtime would be en route to a six win season? Not me. I thought four at best, but this team has shown something special the last few weeks. They absolutely blew out the Jeremiah Masoli led Ole Miss Rebels 52-14. Tauren Poole, 65 yards short of a 1,000 yard season who gashed the Ducks defense in the first half, and Denarious Moore have been leading the charge this season for the Volunteers, while neither Matt Simms or Tyler Bray have had great performances.
Florida (+2) at Florida State
What has kept the Gator’s head above water this season has been the defense. The offense has come alive as of late but the defense keeps the team in every game. For example, in the second week of the season South Florida was beating the Gators with three minutes to go in to the half. The Florida defense then created two turnovers before the half and brought the team to within a score. B.J. Daniels then proceeded to have five turnovers the rest of the game.
Florida State struggled against Clemson two weeks ago, only putting up 16 points on offense, and when you include the losses to North Carolina State and North Carolina, you’re looking at an incomplete, and inconsistent team. Florida has been consistent on offense the last few weeks with the use of multiple quarterbacks such as Trey Burton, John Brantley, and Jordan Reed. The recent addition of Chris Rainey has been a huge impact to the Gators.
Washington (+7) at Cal
All Washington needs to do is win at Cal and be bowl eligible. Not technically, but the Huskies should be able to win at Washington State. Cal has played great at home minus the blowout last week against Stanford. However, that was a rivalry game and those are always weird for some reason. Everyone knows how Jake Locker has struggled this season, but the Huskies may have found their strength with three games to go last week against UCLA, a heavy ground game. Chris Polk and Jesse Callier took the UCLA defense apart with runs that were consistently over ten yards.
Cal had a great performance two weeks ago against the Ducks, but their defense didn’t solve anything. Oregon’s offensive line played badly and Darron Thomas was really off his game, seeing his inability to hit receivers in single coverage with no safety in cover 1 or cover 2. Cal looked awful against the power running game last week against Stanford, and Cal defender Cattouse was absolutely leveled by Andrew Luck who looked like a bull who just escaped from his pen on a 58 yard run, the longest of his career. A power running game and mobile quarterback is not what Cal plays well against.
LSU at Arkansas (-3.5)
I’m convinced Les Miles is the “Joker” of college football. He just likes to watch the blogosphere, ESPN, and pollsters sweat about where to put his team and makes a mockery of the system. They have close wins against Tennessee, a game they should have lost but Tennessee got caught using the 5-5-3 formation which is very effective but against the rules, they have a close loss to Auburn, and then beat Alabama the next week. What gives? Les Miles eats grass on the sidelines, blames quarterbacks for taking his commands (against Ole Miss last season when he called for a spike with a second left in the game), and goes for touchdowns with seconds left when they can kick a field goal for the win (against Auburn two years ago). This guy is simply crazy, is making a mockery of college football, and I like his style.
Arkansas scores a lot of points. Led by future pro Ryan Mallett the Razorbacks have a potent passing attack. Mallett will be the difference in the game. LSU has the eighth best scoring defense in the country but rank fifty-second in scoring offense. LSU just won’t be able to keep up with an Arkansas team that has had no problems scoring this season.
Georgia Tech at Georgia (-14)
The other team that I am surprised to see one win away from bowl eligibility is the Georgia Bulldogs. After receiver A.J. Greene was suspended for profiting off his hard work in a bowl game the Bulldogs went 1-3, with the lone win over the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns. Georgia even lost to Colorado who was at the time coached by Dan Hawkins who has since been fired. However, the Bulldogs have come back strong with wins over Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and a close loss to Florida.
Georgia Tech is really missing running quarterback Josh Nesbitt. The offense has been completely out of sync since Nesbitt was knocked out. The backup quarterback Tevin Washington isn’t nearly the running threat and doesn’t respect as much attention from defenses, allowing them to focus more on running backs Anthony Allen and Orwin Smith. The defense has been atrocious for the Yellow Jackets so far.
Notre Dame at USC (-4.5)
Notre Dame had an impressive game last week against Army in the New Yankee Stadium aka the biggest abomination of a sports arena in the history of ever. USC had an amazingly poor game against a truly inspired Oregon State team.
USC is much faster and bigger than Army is, and therefore should also be able to slow down the Irish offense. Notre Dame also doesn’t have a huge guy on their defensive line named Stephen Paea to disrupt the Oregon State offense. Dillon Baxter will also be back after a suspension due to the NCAA being too uptight and keeping the college student-athlete down.
PAC-10 Picks Straight Up This Season: 52-15
PAC-10 Picks Straight Up Last Week: 2-1
Oregon beats Arizona
Washington beats Cal
Arizona State beats UCLA
Stanford beats Oregon State
USC beats Notre Dame