by WCT, The Ship of Fools
Week seven is one of those weeks you dream about as a college football fan. There are literally great games non-stop from 12 noon in the east, on into the night. It is a smorgasbord of conference matchups, ranked team face-offs, rivalry throw-downs.
This weekend's slate is so stacked, ESPN will likely give it a stupid alliterative nickname like "Showdown Saturday!" or "Separation Saturday!" or other such garbage. Nevertheless, this is one of the weeks that we circled when the schedules came out. We have Big 12 powerhouses facing off in their first true tests, a primetime Big Ten battle that could produce an upset (but probably not), a Pac-10 matchup that looked great in August and still looks halfway decent now, the-game-of-the-century-of-the-day, and then later, the-game-of-the-century-of-the-night! It is a couch potato's (or in my case bar-stool-potato's) dream!
All times eastern
Texas vs. Oklahoma (-6.5) at Dallas, TX - Noon - This week is not for the faint of heart, therefore the schedule makers do not ease into the slate. No, we get the all-day party started bright and early with the Red River Shootout. If you haven't noticed the stellar quarterback play in the Big 12, check this game out, because it will be on display with Sam Bradford of OU and Colt McCoy of Texas. Everyone knows how impressive Oklahoma has been this year, in blowing out everyone they have faced, including 2 BCS conference teams (albeit Cinci and Washington) and crushing a ranked team (albeit TCU). However, less has been made of Texas, who hasn't allowed more than 14 in any game this year. The spread here seems to be the result of fans blindly betting on the #1 team without examining how evenly matched these teams really are. Not enough has been made of Texas' stingy defense, and I think that D will keep the 'horns in this game. Oklahoma wins, but close.
Vanderbilt (-2.5) at Mississippi State - 2:30pm - Some spread, huh? They are just begging you to take Vandy (this game actually opened at 1.5!). The oddsmakers made a huge mistake last week (Michigan -2), can they possibly make 2 mistakes in a row? Fine, I got burned last week, this week I'm taking the bait. Load up on Vandy.
Notre Dame at North Carolina (-7.5) - 3:30pm - I included this game because I believe it is a top-25 play-in game for the Irish. If ND can go on the road and beat a much improved Tar Heal squad, I think they make their first appearance in the polls next week. If you remember, I
foolishly boldly predicted the Irish would make a BCS game this year. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Take ND.
Arizona at USC (-26.5) - 3:30pm - I guess I should include at least one Pac-10 game on this preview every week. So...here it its. Take the Trojans.
actually, maybe that should be my standard template for Pac-10 game previews each week: "Here is the game between [insert team name] and USC, take the Trojans."
Penn State (-5.5) at Wisconsin - 8pm - For the second consecutive week, Wisconsin is an underdog in a home night game. I guess those fans in "Mad-town" aren't getting as drunk and rowdy as we thought. Apparently opposing teams are no longer intimidated by "Jump Around." Or, the Badgers are just not a very good football team. This team came into the season with a lot of promise, and went into the locker room at halftime in Ann Arbor looking like a competitor for the Big Ten Championship. Nothing has gone right for them since. We really should have seen this coming, as this team had trouble with Fresno State and let Marshall hang around into the second half (before exploding and eventually winning 51-14). I see no reason to pick this Wisconsin team over an undefeated Nittany Lions crew, so it looks like the Badgers will be 0-3 and in the Big Ten cellar.
Oklahoma State at Missouri (-14) - 8pm - Did you know that Missouri has not had a single drive this year that ended in a 3-and-out? This offense is staggering. But make no mistake, the Cowboys' offense is just as good, averaging 52.6 points per game to the Tigers' 53.4 (could we possibly see a triple-digit over/under? I've never seen that). Everyone knows about Mizzou's Chase Daniel, but how much do you know about Ok State's Zac Robinson? Robinson has a QB rating over 200 (I didn't know that was possible) and has 10 TD passes to only 3 INTs. While the two teams seem pretty even on paper, the Cowboys, who are much improved, have gotten fat playing Washington State, Texas A&M, and other such tomato cans. Missouri, on the other hand, has beaten Illinois on a neutral field, and gone into Nebraska and beaten the 'huskers in their own house. I will lay the points and take the Tigers.
LSU at Florida (-6.5) - 8pm - This is turning into one of the most entertaining yearly rivalry games of the season. Last year in Baton Rouge was a classic. This year, in three out of the last four games, Florida has been somewhat underwhelming. First was the win over Miami that was very close until the end, when Urban Meyer went for a late FG -- presumably to beat the spread -- but the game was actually in doubt in the 4th quarter. Then there was the win over a horrific Arkansas team. Arkansas had the ball, down 17-7 late in the game with a chance to make the Gators sweat, before crapping all over themselves and losing 38-7. And of course there was the 31-30 home loss to Ole Miss. LSU had a close win at Auburn a couple weeks back, but that win looks a lot less impressive in the context of the pathetic offensive performances that Auburn has put up of late. 3, 21, 14, 13 are the scores that Auburn has accounted for in their last 4 games. That's 51 points. That's less than Missouri averages per game. Take away that win, and LSU hasn't really looked too impressive lately either. Both teams look pretty evenly matched, but I believe Florida has the edge because of home field, the revenge factor after last-year's game, and the motivation provided by LSU DT Ricky Jean-Francois. Pros may not respond to crap like that, but college kids do. Take Florida.
by WCT, The Ship of Fools