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Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Picks Trying Not to Suck: Week Five

A strong week four helped pull Homerism into a tie on the season. We're moving into conference play, so expect things to start getting dicey.

WEEK FIVE--The Skinny

(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 16-8)

Last week’s 3-3 record was not Skinny’s best performance, but, at 16-8 on the season, if you have been betting with The Skin, you should have made money. This seems to be one of those weeks in which there are a lot of good plays on the board, and I really like my choices this week. If you have been playing conservative so far this season, this is the week to step it up and cash in.

Advice of the Week: Nothing breaks up your work day like a nice, long trip to the can. If you are like me, no trip to “the office” is complete without a little reading material. Which raises the age old dilemma of how to get your reading material in and out of the can without being caught red-handed with tainted reading material. This is especially important when you have to walk by that hot blonde you have been laying game on for six months. Skinny’s suggestion: Print off an article from your favorite website and transport it in your pocket.

Bonus Advice: Hitting on a coworker in the office is a bad idea. Lay the ground work in the office and wait to capitalize at a work function involving a lot of alcohol. For example, wait for that summer outing to Wrigley Field and feed your target lots of booze. Then tell her to meet you under the bleachers. It works every time!

Arkansas at Texas (-27.5)

Mack Brown and his Texas Longhorns are in the best position since Vince Young left school. All the pressure seems to be off Texas this year, as the experts have concluded UT is not an elite team. Have you ever seen a major college program ranked in the top 10 receive less publicity? This is a good thing for Mack Brown, as he seems to wither under the pressure of high expectations. This is not one of Texas’ more talented teams, but it's still Texas, and they seem to be playing well this year. Arkansas is bad after losing a ton of talent to the NFL last season. In Arkansas' first three games, the Razorbacks beat Western Illinois and UL-Monroe by a combined 5 points and were crushed by Alabama at home. This one is pretty simple. Arkansas is awful and Texas is good. 
The Skin Says: It pains me to say it, but Texas wins this one big and covers.

Wisconsin (-6.5) at Michigan

Skinny is going to put his anti-Wisconsin bias aside in the spirit of picking a winner here. Wisconsin has a nice formula for winning games in conference: ball control, don’t beat yourself, play good defense. While they won’t beat USC or Florida this way, it’s the perfect strategy to beat a bad Michigan squad. I know I am not breaking any new ground here, but Rodriguez doesn’t have the personnel to run his spread offense--or any offense--for that matter. The Wolverines' D is equally bad. Michigan’s defense made Notre Dame look like the Indianapolis Colts. Skinny doesn’t give Big Blue any points for being at home this week. The Big House lacks any intimidation factor, and the Wolverines have not been great at home lately. 
Skinny Says: Wisconsin, 17-3.

Pittsburgh (-15.5) at Syracuse

Skinny is going back to the well. Betting against the Orange has treated Skinny well this season. Greg Robinson’s days at Syracuse are numbered. The Orange have only managed two conference victories in the past four seasons. The 'Cuse have the worst defense in the country, giving up 148 points in three games this season. No need to analyze Pittsburgh. LeSean McCoy could beat the Cuse by himself. Skinny never advises picking a Dave Wannstedt-coached team, but even Wanny couldn't mess this one up. 
The Skin Says: Pitt wins big.

USC (-25) at Oregon State

Twenty-five points for SC is like seven for any other team. The Trojans are that good, but how painful is it to listen to ESPN “fluff” these guys up? No doubt, the Trojans are a clear number one at this point, but there is a lot of football left to be played. Before ESPN crowns USC, Skinny has one word for them, Stanford. Expectations were high in Corvallis this past offseason, but the Beavers have struggled thus far, losing to Stanford and Penn State. If Stanford can put up 38 on the Beavers, Skinny can only imagine what SC will do this weekend. Don’t expect OSU to put up many points on USC’s stingy defense. 
The Skinny Says: SC wins this one 60-3.

Tennessee at Auburn (-6)  

As I said in week one, when will Tennessee finally decide to fire Phil Fulmer? Tennessee is no longer an elite program in the SEC, and they are going nowhere fast. The Vols didn’t even look like they belonged on the same field as Florida last week, and the UCLA loss looks more embarrassing every week. College football pundits seem to agree that Tennessee is loaded with talent, but after watching their first two games, I disagree. The Vols have some nice players here and there, but they don’t compare to college football’s elite teams. Auburn has struggled with its transition to the spread offense, but the defense is outstanding. Auburn has the second-best defense Skinny has seen this year behind SC. Watching these two teams last week, how could the spread be this tight? Skinny cant figure that one out, but I advise you to load up on Auburn this week. 
Skinny Says: Auburn. (Bold prediction of the week: Tennessee wont see the end zone on Saturday.) 

Lee Greenwood Special: Navy at Wake Forest (-16) 

Skinny isn’t sure how his bro came up with the idea of picking a service academy game each week, but it's quickly becoming the lowlight of my week. Try coming up with something to write about Navy football every week? It’s not easy--or fun. Alright enough bitching, let’s pick a winner here. Unfortunately, I have followed Navy football pretty closely this year, and the Midshipmen have a nice team. Navy isn’t the most talented squad, but they play hard, and they play well as a team. Navy is the best of the service academy teams, but that’s like being the prudest girl in the sorority house. Skinny has liked the Demon Deacons from the beginning of the season. Wake is by far the more talented team here, and it has the one ingredient needed to avoid an upset by Navy: discipline. Jim Grobe won't let the Deamon Deacons overlook Navy. 
The Skin Says: Take Wake laying the points.

WEEK FIVE--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 5-1; Overall: 16-8)

Homerism has seen his fair share of disappointment in his handicapping career, but last week’s finish to the Iowa State-UNLV game has to be among the toughest. Unfortunately, Comcast doesn’t carry The Mountain, so I was reduced to following the online gamecast. The Cyclones sloughed off a slow start to tie the game late. When the result of ISU’s first OT possession popped up—a field goal—Homerism knew his dream of a 6-0 week was finished. The Runnin’ Rebels immediately snapped the neck with a 25-yard TD pass, giving UNLV the straight up win and a cover of the spread of 2.5.

Oh well, 5-1 is the kind week Jim Feist would sacrifice his firstborn for. Plus, this is all for free. When you speak of me, speak kindly.

Troy at Oklahoma State (-17)
For people who aren't familiar with college football in the state of Oklahoma, it's hard to understand just how embarrassing last season's blowout loss to Troy truly was for the Pokes. Also, don't forget that the whole "I'm a man!" debacle actually started with this game last season, when head coach Mike Gundy decided to go with Zac Robinson over Bobby Reid at quarterback. It was the right move, and yet Gundy has been killed for it ever since thanks to the classless way he handled the switch. Wouldn't Gundy like to prove he was right? Somewhere in the back of his mind, don't you think Gundy's insecurities could be calling the shots in this one? Watch for a late TD pass to push the Pokes to a cover.

Homerism Says: OSU, 41-20.

Colorado at Florida State (-6)
*Jacksonville

Homerism loves the direction of the Buffs under coach Dan Hawkins. Ceterus paribus, Colorado should win this game. There's a lot going against CU here, though.

Let's take a quick look back at last week's upset over West Virginia in Boulder. The Buffs did all of their damage within the first five minutes of the game, scoring two quick touchdowns and putting the Mountaineers in position of playing catch-up all night. CU won, but that's still troubling.

(Have I told you lately about forever-young Hawkins' infatuation with running back Rod Stewart's hot legs? Stewart wore the burden of carrying a somewhat dormant Buff offense well, as the redshirt freshman toted the rock 28 times in the game. Once the Buffs got out to an early lead, Stewart's love touch was just enough to help CU eke out the win and make last Thursday night the Buffs' night. Some guys have all the luck.)

The emotional factors in this game seem to be pointing the Seminoles' way. If Bobby Bowden or whoever now handles game preparation is worth a dadgum lick, they'll have FSU puh-lenty fired up for this one. That was a horrendous showing last week against Wake Forest. Not to mention, the 'Noles should be at full strength this week, as the players involved in last season's stunning academic scandal take the field.

Even more importantly, Colorado takes to the road this week for the first time this season. That’s bad. Worse? The forecast in Jacksonville for Saturday is a high of 90 degrees. It’s gonna be a steamy afternoon, the kind of heat the Seminoles are accustomed to. Not so much for CU. Look for the Buffs to wilt late.

Homerism Says: FSU by 8.

LGS: Navy (+16) at Wake Forest
Wake’s win over Florida St. last week was a classic Jim Grobe-style victory. The Demon Deacons out-fundamentaled the ‘Noles, capitalizing on seven sloppy FSU turnovers. Wake-FSU actually has turned into somewhat of an ACC rivalry game during the Deacs’ recent surge. Of course, that means this is a letdown candidate, especially when book-ended by a matchup with Clemson. What are the Deacs paying for here? Wake will be looking to keep everyone healthy and get ready for a battle for conference supremacy. Also, Grobe doesn’t seem like the kind to pick on our servicemen.

Homerism Says: Navy.

Wisconsin at Michigan (+6.5)
Handicappers have to remember to recalibrate their thinking when teams start conference play. Lines get a little tighter. History runs a little deeper. Teams are a little bit more familiar with opponents’ schemes.

When Homerism saw the early lines this week, this game immediately jumped out. Based on what we’ve seen so far this year, the Badgers looked like a great play here. I mean, Michigan has looked pretty unimpressive. But, then I remembered that both teams were starting in-conference games. That changes things.

Looking back to the Notre Dame game, I thought it was clear that Michigan basically gave it away with all those turnovers in the bad conditions. Michigan outgained the Irish by nearly 120 yards. Maybe Vegas has a better handle on the Wolverines do?

The public is hammering the Badgers. Just seems fishy to me. I love Wisky this year, but there's something odd going on with this game. I hope I’m not over-thinking this one.

Homerism: Big Blue covers, but the Badgers pull it out.

Houston (+10.5) at East Carolina
All that smoke being blown about the Pirates busting the BCS went out the window last week in a disappointing loss to North Carolina State. Now, the Pirates’ endgame is a Conference USA crown. Expect a hangover here for ECU coupled with an unimpressive win over the Cougars.

Homerism Says: Houston covers. (Look for a slow start by ECU, especially.)

Marshall at West Virginia (-14)
Poor Pat White. The guy should go down as one of the top option quarterbacks in college football history. Now he’s forced to carry a coach who appears to be in way over his head.

The Mountaineers have had to hear about coach Bill Stewart’s bumbling all week. It’s true that their coach is unbelievably ill-suited to be coaching a team that used to have national championship aspirations. The future looks pretty grim for WVU football.

But this group still bears some of Rich Rodriguez’s stamp, so maybe we shouldn’t leave this 2008 team for dead yet. After all, White can still do what he does best, and Noel Devine is still the same explosive threat he was before. And don’t forget what kind of effort Stewart was able to coax out of his embattled squad in last year’s Fiesta Bowl blowout of OU.

This one shouldn’t involve any late-game strategery or clock management, so WVU should be OK there. Marshall isn't bad, but White et al will take out their frustrations on the Thundering Herd with a focused, methodical performance.

Homerism Says: Vegas gets “middled.” WVU by 16.