NCAA Week 5 Picks and Preview
National Picks Record All Year: 31-21
National Picks Record Last Week: 9-7
Texas A&M (+3.5) at Oklahoma State
Texas A&M is always one of those teams that is just on the fringe. They just can’t seem to get over the hump and be an elite team in the Big 12. They have some of the best football traditions and are in the fertile recruiting territory known as Texas but always are just short of beating Texas on Thanksgiving.
Oklahoma State has been average since the departure of Dez Bryant and quarterback Zach Robinson. Neither team’s defense has really shown up this season so this could turn in to an offensive shootout.
Quarterback Jerrod Johnson is the poor man’s Vince Young. He’s a fast quarterback that can make plays but is so streaky it’s painful to watch him when he’s not playing well. Johnson can get so hot at times and cooler than cool, ice cold, sometimes. His habit of throwing picks is like Lady Gaga’s habit of wearing clothes that people have never thought of before, it just makes you wonder (Did you see her at the VMA’s? She was wearing meat, animal meat, when she received an award).
Miami (-3) at Clemson
I don’t know how good these two teams are. They are either good or great, and this game is going to tell us a lot about theses two teams. Miami had a disappointing loss at a fantastic Ohio State team, and Clemson is coming off an over time loss to Auburn. This season the ACC has been abysmal. Both Miami and Clemson are fun teams to watch though, which is the only reason I’ll be watching it because I prefer watching good football (And the Big-10 games that start at 9 are often garbage and nothing more than foreplay to get us through to the noon games).
The difference between the two teams is that Miami has an idea of what they are trying to do when they go in to a game. Jacory Harris has looked exception since the fiasco in Columbus. Miami tore apart Pitt last Thursday, and as a result of playing on a Thursday night, they have had a few extra days to prepare.
On the other hand, Clemson is surely missing C.J. Spiller who is currently rotting away in Buffalo. Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker passed up millions as a pro baseball player to play football one last season for Clemson, and for that I respect him.
Can Jacory Harris sustain his play at quarterback all the way through ACC play? Can “The U” pull it together and win the ACC this year? Should Kyle Parker have stayed and played professional baseball? All I can say at this point is, thanks Miami and Clemson for scheduling this game early to save me from crappy Big-10 football.
Texas at Oklahoma (-3.5)
Oklahoma has been god awful in the fourth quarter, being outscored 41-10 in the last fifteen minutes. This is after they have outscored their opponents 126-53 through the first three quarters. The bad habit has made games way too close and absolutely shattered any hopes of covering the spread. Believe me, in a world where sports betting is legal, I would know.
Oklahoma came in to this season rated as one of the most talented teams in the country. It seems that they have relied on their talent to get them through the season thus far. When Oklahoma is able to put together a complete game, like against Florida State, they can roll up points faster than Mel Gibson rolls up attorney fees.
Speaking of complete games… Texas completely missed out on their game last week. UCLA embarrassed the Longhorns in Austin. Honestly, UCLA wrecked Texas. Yes, UCLA, the same team that got absolutely trashed by Stanford 35-0. Texas is putting way too much in to making sure they can run the football. They are a passing team. Being balanced on offense doesn’t mean you have to run the ball as much as you throw the ball; you just have to be able to do both effectively when you need to. It’s like when The Rock started doing Disney movies such as The Gameplan. The Rock had been doing The Scorpion King and Walking Tall, being the juiced, testosterone lead in action movies relying on action and not story or character development. Then, he decides to switch to Disney movies, removing himself from his element, and the movies were god-awful. Just throw the football thirty five times or more a week Texas!
Wisconsin (-2) at Michigan State
Michigan State’s head coach will be watching the game from the coach’s box this week as he is still recovering from a heart attack he suffered after the overtime victory against Notre Dame. Notre Dame remains the only decent team that Michigan State has played and they had to win in overtime
This game could turn in to one of the “Win it for the coach and no one’s giving us a chance because he is still recovering from his heart attack after making the overtime win a movie scene by making sure everyone knew the play was called ‘Little Giants.’” Michigan State is a fast team but probably lack the depth to keep up with Wisconsin.
Wisconsin beat Arizona State in a game that they could have easily lost. Arizona State is a really good team and Wisconsin was able to eek out a win over the underrated Sun Devils. Wisconsin still uses its power running game and will wear down the Spartan defense. It’s tough to beat a power running game, because it’s so hard to for the defense to get behind the line of scrimmage; the running back is always able to fall forward for three yards.
Michigan (-10.5) at Indiana
Indiana is a basketball school. Michigan is a football school. That’s all you should really need to know. Denard Robinson will be playing in this weekends game and I’m not sure if this line has been adjusted because it’s awfully low if “Shoelaces” is back in the shotgun.
Indiana’s defense has got plenty of problems, and the Michigan offense is rolling on twenty-fours through the first four games (minus the FCS teams that they let hang around for too long).
Michigan’s defense has also gotten shredded for hundreds of yards each game, but luckily this week they play the Hoosiers. Indiana runs the ball for just over a hundred yards a game, so Michigan will be able to put a lot more defenders in coverage to try and bring the Hoosier passing game to a stand still.
Denard Robinson did get a knee injury last game. It reminds me of when Dennis Dixon got a knee injury, but allegedly hid it and played against Arizona, when he had one of the gnarliest knee bends seen on instant replay. Every Michigan fan reading this is now slightly worried about Robinson’s knee.
Virginia Tech at North Carolina State (+3.5)
North Carolina State is the only team in the ACC that is still undefeated. This means that they are also the only ACC team that hasn’t thrown up all over themselves. Virginia Tech lost to James Madison, Georgia Tech lost to Kansas, Clemson blew overtime against Auburn, Florida State was annihilated by Oklahoma, and Boston College got shut out by Virginia Tech. Don’t you think North Carolina State is due?
The biggest mistake that the public makes when betting is putting too much stock in to a team’s last game. Last week it looked like Virginia Tech finally figured it out, beating Boston College 19-0. But Boston College has yet to play a good team other than the Hokies. At this point, we still haven’t seen Virginia Tech win against a quality opponent.
North Carolina State is a quality opponent. North Carolina State will be undervalued for a few more weeks until people start realizing how good they really are. They get the Hokies at home, so jump on the bus before the line advantages disappear.
Tyrod Tate still hasn’t taken over a game. He made a lot of plays against Boise State, but also blew a few great opportunities. The Hokie team is going to go as far as Tate takes them. He has to be the offense for Virginia Tech like Tebow was offense for Florida the last two years.
Tennessee at LSU (-16.5)
What’s worse? Having only a few good players and a team with no depth? Or a team full of talented players who have a coach who is probably taking money from gamblers to shave points (Joking, Les Miles is probably not getting paid to fix games, although it sure seems like he’s advertising his potential services. He’s awful at finishing games).
Tennessee has lost games and blown leads in the second half of their last three games. They needed overtime to beat the UAB Blazers. After Tennessee won in overtime off a field goal the Volunteers carried a player off the field. Really? Is that what Tennessee football has become? Carrying players off after they beat UAB in overtime? God I feel bad for Tennessee fans. You know it’s bad when Vanderbilt is the best team in the state.
Now Tennessee has to play LSU, a team full of super athletes and Heisman hopeful Patrick Peterson (Who would be the first defensive player to win the Heisman trophy since Charles Woodson in 1997). The LSU special teams are dynamite, and Tennessee had troubles against Oregon’s kick returners.
Neither of these teams are going to win championships. Tennessee is showing signs of life and improvement, and LSU is probably not going to get any better over the next few years. Saturday LSU will probably be up a touchdown at halftime and pull away in Death Valley.
Arizona State (+3.5) at Oregon State
I really don’t like picking against the Beavers, because the minute I do they decide to play well and win games they shouldn’t.
Arizona State is on the way up, and has played well the last two weeks. The Sun Devils almost beat Wisconsin in Madison, and rolled up almost six hundred yards of offense against Oregon’s defense. The Sun Devils defense also features players that flop more than the Portuguese National Soccer team. Arizona State figured out how to slow down the Oregon offense, you fake cramps four times in a single drive. The rest of the PAC-10 is surely taking notes.
Oregon State. What happened to you! The Beavers looked like they were incapable of blocking against Boise State and the score doesn’t show how far apart these two teams are talent-wise, and execution-wise. Ryan Katz is the anti-clutch in the Beaver offense. I have never seen anyone so out of sync with the offense on third and long or when he needs to make a play. It’s been tough on Jacquizz, who has had to face eight man fronts because the opposing defense wants Ryan Katz to have to engineer drives.
Quick aside. I wonder if the Sun Devils realize the double meaning of their hand sign meant to represent Sparky. It’s like the police officers reactions in Superbad to a person whose last name was “Phuck.” “It’s spelled with a ‘Ph,’ but still pretty shocking to see on a license plate.”
Georgia (-5.5) at Colorado
Georgia has been disappointing this season, still winless in conference, and the seat under Mark Richt getting hotter every time the Georgia defense blows a coverage, allowing an opposing receiver to break wide-open for a huge gain. No matter how much Georgia struggles though in conference, they still are much better than Colorado. The Bulldogs have already played three teams better than Colorado (South Carolina, Arkansas, and Mississippi State).
Colorado isn’t very good mind you. They will be competing against Washington for second worst in the PAC-12 when they make the transition next year. Colorado lost to Cal 52-7. The next week Cal lost at Nevada 52-31. Colorado has yet to pull off a good win and won’t be able to adjust quickly to how good Georgia is.
If for some reason Georgia falls apart, phones in the rest of the season, and embarrasses the Georgia fan base then this could be Mark Richt’s last year at Georgia. Washington State potentially found their new coach!
Notre Dame (-3) at Boston College
I have gone back and forth on this pick a few times. I want Boston College to win because I like Mark Herzlich’s survivor story, and also because I hate Notre Dame that much. Notre Dame lives in the past so much I think they are still using AOL 2.0, which probably reports that Lou Holtz is leading the Fighting Irish to a New Years Day bowl game, back when playing on New Years Day meant something. When it came down to it though, Notre Dame is just a better team.
Florida at Alabama (-8)
Florida finally pulled off a Florida-like win over Kentucky, 48-14. They need to use Trey Burton more as a quarterback. He is too fast and too big to not be playing more, especially at the goal line. He has the capabilities of playing every skill position on the field. He is a smaller, faster version of Tim Tebow. Burton accounted for six total touchdowns last week. The Florida offense appears to have too many parts. The offensive line, receivers, running backs, and the quarterback all seem to be on a different page leading to a very dysfunctional offense.
The only team that had a real threat at beating Alabama in the regular season (Not including the Iron Bowl because Iron Bowl’s are like entering The Twilight Zone, you just never know what’s going to happen) was Arkansas. Alabama was able to force Ryan Mallett in to some bad throws and capitalized late. Arkansas is better than Florida, and Alabama gets the game at home.
Florida is like how I viewed ABC’s Bachelor Pad. On paper it looks great, you have fast receivers, fast running backs, and a true pocket passer. Like how you have single thirty-somethings on a game show where they have to hook up with people in order to win money. Excitement should be brewing. The first few games/episodes were really disappointing and it looks like the show/team will miss all expectations. I just keep hoping for Florida to get better and just rail on Alabama, even though they probably won’t. I’ll probably lose interest in Florida after three more games, just like Bachelor Pad.
Penn State at Iowa (-7)
Penn State had troubles beating an undervalued Temple team last week. True freshman quarterback Robert Bolden has still had problems taking the offense by the reigns and steering it in to the end zone consistently. Iowa is a legitimate team and almost came back to beat Iowa. Iowa is at home and Penn State has been largely unimpressive.
I really want Penn State to do well. I really do. Joe Paterno has had his hands in Penn State football for more than a half century. This could be his last season though, alive. Seriously though, Paterno is a true testament to aging. Normally when coaches get in to their seventies their teams just start going downhill (see Bobby Bowden), but Penn State has stayed in the Top 25 every week and beat LSU in a bowl game last year.
Washington (+10) at USC
I am a hypothetical gambling masochist. I don’t’ know why I keep picking Washington to win. Steve Sarkisian always disappoints me with his play calling, Jermaine Kearse doesn’t get used enough in the offense, and Jake Locker is always forced to carry the team on his back, which he is not capable of doing. For some reason I keep thinking they are going to put the pieces together, and they never do.
The big question here though is if Coach Sarkisian can beat USC for two years in a row. Sarkisian and Kiffin were on the USC Trojans football staff at the same time, most notably around the same time as Reggie Bush. It’s assistant v assistant in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Both guys in on Reggie Bush’s family getting tons of money are squaring off.
This game reeks of Washington playing like everyone thought they would at the beginning of the season. The bye week may have helped Washington figure it out on offense. Maybe Jake Locker starts throwing tight, accurate balls to Jermaine Kearse, and maybe the play calling gets a little more original. This one wouldn’t be an upset if Washington wins because the best game USC has played so far was against Washington State.
Stanford at Oregon (-7)
Huge preview coming later today to analyze the Stanford-Oregon game.
PAC-10 Picks Record All Year: 30-4
PAC-10 Picks Record Last Week: 5-1 (UCLA!!!)
Oregon beats Stanford
USC beats Washington
Arizona State beats Oregon State
UCLA beats Washington State