Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Picks Trying Not to Suck: Week Three

Tables were turned in week two, as Homerism's chocotini dreams started looking more like a Yuletide nightmare. Hurricane Ike has thrown this week's schedule into disarray. Tina Turner can sympathize, I'm sure.

WEEK THREE--The Skinny
(Last Week: 5-1; Overall: 8-4)
Thanks to Urban Meyer’s controversial decision--kicking a last second field goal with the game in hand--Skinny finished the week at a respectable 5-1. (Hard not to wonder if Urban had cash on this one.) The biggest weekend of the college football non- conference slate is upon us, and Skinny can’t wait to log 12 hours of couch time with a few cold Miller High Lifes.

Tip of the Week: Sorry Cubs fans. The “Big Blue” train is going to get derailed this year in the playoffs. Everyone knows that the Cubs will win their first world series in 2015. If you don’t believe me, just pop in your Back to the Future 3 DVD. And if you happen to own a copy of this DVD, you need to get out more.

Cal (-14) at Maryland 

Maryland is a bad football team. The Terps struggled with FCS opponent Delaware in week one and lost to Sun Belt power Middle Tennessee in week two. The most pathetic part is that Maryland only managed to score a combined 21 points in these two games. I am not convinced that Cal is worthy of its number 23 ranking, but they did beat a solid Michigan State team in week one. Cal is no juggernaut, but they win this one easily. 
The Skin Says: Cal by 24.

Wisconsin (-1.5) at Fresno State

Skinny’s distaste for Big 10 football might be getting in the way of rational thinking on this. The conference just doesn’t provide an exciting style. Living in Chicago, I encounter far too many homers from Big 10 U dressed from head-to-toe in Abercrombie gear and sporting freshly minted Sigma Nu tats on their ankles. Biases aside, I have not been impressed with the Badgers this season. P.J. Hill and Travis Beckum are nice players, but they wouldn’t see the field at SC or Oklahoma. The Badgers are solid defensively, but Marshall exposed their vulnerability against the run. Fresno has a nice passing attack lead by Seyi Arijotutu, and running back Ryan Matthews is solid. 
Skinny Says: Fresno State outscores Wisconsin to win this one outright.

Ohio St. at Southern Cal (-11.5)  

Honestly, I hate this line. But Skinny owes it to his many adoring fans to pick this game. One has to wonder what the spread would be on this game if OSU had not performed so poorly last week. Is Ohio State suddenly a considerably worse team than they were on Friday night? The answer is no. Ohio St. is still a really GOOD team, and you can't judge them based on last week. It was a look-ahead game for the Buckeyes. Every contender has one. The key is to survive it, which they did. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, their championship run ends this weekend. OSU’s offense just doesn’t seem to have any real firepower. (Terrelle Pryor is an X-factor here.) USC’s offense is going to score against any team. OSU’s offense won’t be able to light up the scoreboard enough to keep this one close. 
The Skin Says: USC by 28, giving USC’s socialite fan base enough time to hit the clubs by halftime.

Washington St. at Baylor (-1)

Is there a bigger pillow fight on this weekend’s slate? Maybe ND-Michigan. Baylor is historically one of Skinny’s favorite whipping boys. The Skinny doesn’t advocate ever picking the Bears, unless they are playing this year’s version of Wazzu. The Cougar defense has proven helpless against spread offenses in the first two weeks. No, Baylor isn’t Oregon, or even Oklahoma State, but the Bears have done a better job recruiting the fertile grounds of Texas than most people realize. Baylor coach Art Briles’ offense is Mike Leach-esque. He has to smell a winnable game here, so expect him to pull all the tricks out of his bag this week. 
The Skin Says: Baylor wins by a touchdown.

LGS: Navy at Duke (-2)  

Sadly, Skinny watched all four quarters of Navy’s loss last week to Ball State. Navy is a better team than most people think, a typical service academy squad. They aren’t very talented (with the exception of Shun White), but they are disciplined and scrappy, and their wishbone attack presents problems for opponents. Fortunately, Skinny has yet to watch Duke play a snap this season. I am sure Duke is still a really bad football team; see Skinny’s advice on Baylor! However, I am going to take Duke in this one for three reasons: 1) Duke is at home (not exactly Death Valley, but home none the less); 2) Cutcliffe is a good coach; and 3) Duke gave a decent Northwestern team a run for its money last week. 
Skinny Says: Blue Devils by a field goal.

Utah (-23.5) at Utah State

The theme for this week seems to be picking on college football’s weaklings and no team is weaker than Utah State. Utah St. would struggle in the FCS. Utah, like Cal, isn’t a great team, but they are good, as evidence by their week one win at Michigan. Oregon rolled up 66 points on the Aggies last week. Expect Utah to put up a basketball score on the Aggies as well. 
Skinny Says: Utah by 35.

WEEK THREE--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 2-4; Overall: 7-5)
Told. You. So.
Washington State at Baylor (-1)

I’ll make this matchup of conference bottom-feeders simple: When two teams are of seemingly equal crappiness, I’ll take the home team. Also, this is Wazzu’s first true road game. And it has been moved up to Friday. Need I say more.

Homerism Says: Baylor.

Kansas at South Florida (-3.5)

What a difference a year makes. Last season, the Jayhawks would have been able to sneak down to Tampa to take South Florida by surprise. Winning a BCS bowl makes that much more difficult for the Fightin' Maginas now. KU-USF doesn't have the cache of USC-Ohio St., but this should be a damn good game. These are two excellent defenses, so look for a low-scoring affair featuring a few big plays by defensive playmakers. Kansas probably has the advantage at quarterback in this game, but sometimes that's not enough. Ask the West Virginia Mountaineers, who last year headed home from a Friday night tilt against the Bulls with a dinged-up Pat White and their first loss of the year. I'm not sure if South Florida has fans, but if so, they should be ready to party at a Friday prime time game.

Homerism Says: USF by 5.

Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech (-6.5)

Homerism suspected the Hokies would struggle this year, but not to this extent. The opening upset at the hands of East Carolina wasn’t exactly a shock, as the Pirates appear to be legit. Last week, however, Va. Tech put up all of 24 points against Furman. That’s what happens when your dueling quarterbacks throw for 68 yards. That dog won’t hunt against Paul Johnson’s bunch. On the other side, Ga. Tech QB Josh Nesbitt only passed for 73 yards against Boston College last week. I’d put that dog down before I brought him to Blacksburg. I don’t know what it is, but I just have a hunch the Hokies cover here. The number seems a little short to me from a talent standpoint, as if the oddsmakers are trying to capitalize on the negative psychology surrounding Va. Tech. Hey, at least I’m not charging you for that kind of analysis.

Homerism Says: Hokies, 22-13.

LGS: Navy at Duke (-2)
A little advice from your friendly Homerism: "Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic globule, from which one extracts what one needs."
OK, that was actually Rosie Perez in possibly her best (fully clothed) scene from White Men Can't Jump. Can you believe it's been more than 15 years since Perez and Woody Harrelson were on the run from the Stucci brothers and The King and Duck Johnson ruled the courts of Venice Beach? Coincidentally, that's also the last time Duke was any good. The Blue Devils should heed Perez's words on competition. The Dukies played Northwestern close last week, and that should count for something. Sure, Duke beat the Mildcats last year, but beating a worse Northwestern team in 2007 and losing to a better squad in 2008 is kind of like tying, right?
Homerism Says: Blue Devils by six.

Cal at Maryland (+14)
In case you haven't heard, Maryland lost to the the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders last week. That's Sun Belt Conference, middle-of-the-pack Middle Tennessee. Before that, the Terps struggled with Delaware sans Joe Flacco. Fear the turtle! In contrast, Cal has had an impressive start, taking down Michigan State and steamrolling Washington State. So 14 points is a gimme, right? This has all the makings of a trap game for the average joe--the line is begging you to take Cal after Maryland's debacle last week. Yet, the Golden Bears are traveling across three time zones for this one, and kickoff on Saturday is at 12 pm EST. That's a 9 am start out west. Ouch. Count on Cal being all out of sorts in this one, especially early on, with the Bears coming out of hibernation late.
Homerism Says: Maryland covers. (Lots of value bets on Maryland here: first half, money line, etc.)

"Collision at the Coliseum"
Homerism offered his take on this one earlier this week. Whether or not Beanie plays, it won't make a difference.
Homerism Says: Trojan Chaunceys by 14.