Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Picks Trying Not to Suck: Week Eight

Enough said. Let's see if Homerism and Skinny can "crack" this week's sharp lines.

WEEK EIGHT--The Skinny
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 25-17)
“Skin's ground rules don’t allow him to pick the Red River game, but in my opinion (for what its worth) the team that rushes the football more effectively and the team whose linebackers cover more effectively will win this game.” -Skin, Week 7

Skin’s breakdown of last week’s Red River Rivalry was on the money! Neither team ran the ball very well, but OU’s inability to do anything with the ground game prevented the Sooners from controlling the clock. The Sooners defense was out on the field seemingly the entire game. Similarly, Oklahoma’s linebackers were atrocious in pass coverage. Colt McCoy was able to abuse these matchups all afternoon. In the end, Skin’s keys to the game made the difference. Unfortunately, they worked in Texas’ favor.

Advice of the Week: As previously mentioned Skin doesn’t bet on Oklahoma. But Vegas is way off on this weekend’s matchup with Kansas. There is no way OU will cover the 20-point line. OU is tough at home. Until they can find a replacement for Ryan Reynolds on defense, and I'm not sure they can, the Sooners' D will be very average. In Stoops’ tenure at OU, his teams have consistently struggled with mobile QBs like KU’s Todd Reesing. I think OU wins this one on the strength of their offense, but in a much closer game than Vegas thinks.

Baylor at Oklahoma State (-17)

Oklahoma State pulled off the biggest win in program history last weekend. Before Pistol Pete’s Posse crown themselves Big 12 Champs, though, let’s put things in prospective. Mizzou is a really good team, especially on offense, but they were overrated. Mizzou has been unbelievable in the past two seasons at beating up on the Missouri States of the world, but do they really have a quality win? Don’t get me wrong--the Cowboys played impressively last week. I just do not believe Mizzou is as good as people think.
It will be interesting to see how OSU reacts to being the hunted rather than the hunter, a role they have played very well in the past. Skin has been on the Baylor bandwagon this season, with good reason. Baylor is much improved, but the Bears have no chance in this one. The Cowboys will be able to score at will, and their defense proved they were solid last week. 
The Skinny Says: Take the Cowboys at home laying the points.

Oregon State (-16) at Washington 

Washington now holds Skin’s crown for worst BCS team. The Huskies are awful. Watching them play it is obvious that Ty Willingham has lost control of his football team. This team looked they didn’t even want to be on the field against Oklahoma. Jack Locker is a nice player, but he can’t catch his own passes, and he can’t make tackles for his defense. 
Oregon State looked like two completely different teams in games versus Penn State and USC. I wrote the Beavers off after watching them play the Nittany Lions, but the USC game was impressive. Jacquizz Rodgers, a Skin favorite, is best freshman running back in the country. He is tough and rarely goes down with the first tackler. The recent play of Beaver QB Lynn Moevao has been impressive as well. Moevao doesn’t put up big stats, but he is a solid manager of the game, boasting a 135 QB rating. 
I think OSU has a chance to make some noise in a weak Pac 10 this season. It doesn’t matter which Beaver team shows up in Seattle on Saturday, Washington has turned it off for the season. 
The Skin Says: Oregon State rolls in this one.

North Carolina (-5) at Virginia  

North Carolina had a tumultuous week with the loss of WR-KR Brandon Tate. That takes away the Tar Heels' only real big play threat. Nevertheless, Butch Davis is building a solid program in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels have been impressive in back-to-back wins against UConn and Notre Dame. North Carolina is well coached, and the Tar Heels play solid defense. That is always a recipe for success. You have to give Cam Sexton credit for his play in the absence of injured QB TJ Yates. I hate to use the cliché but Sexton manages the game and limits bad plays.
After a disappointing start, Virginia has improved the last two weeks in wins over East Carolina and Maryland. The Cavaliers are led by running back Chris Peerman, averaging seven yards per carry on the season. The key will be the play of UVA's inconsistent defense. The Cavs are allowing over 40 points a game in their losses and fewer than 10 points a game in their wins. The Tar Heels are clearly the better team in this one and maybe the best team in the ACC. 
Skinny Says: I like Carolina big.
Lee Greenwood Special: Pitt (-3) at Navy
The LGS continues to be Skin’s downfall. I can’t seem to pick a winner in this game, so you might want to go against me in this one. 
Pittsburgh is playing well, having won four straight since the opening loss to Bowling Green. Two weeks ago, the Panthers pulled of an impressive upset at South Florida. The Skin has never been a big Wanny fan, but he has done a nice job this season at his alma mater. Offensively, Pittsburgh has great balance. Anytime an offense can average over 150 rushing yards per game they are going to be successful. 
Navy’s undersized defense will struggle to hold down LeSean McCoy and the Panthers.
Skinny Says: Wanny and his 'stache get an easy win.

Texas Tech at Texas A&M (+21)

A wise man once said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on Skin.” That sums up how I feel about Tech. The Red Raiders are not who we thought they were. Tech isn’t a top-10 team; in fact, I'm not sure they are a top-20 team. Maybe I am not giving Nebraska enough credit, but the talent in last week’s contest looked pretty even. Tech’s offense is always dangerous, but something seems a little off with them this season. 
How far has A&M fallen? They are three-touchdown dogs at Kyle Field! The Aggies have struggled this season, but A&M still has talent. I really thought the Aggies' defense would be good this season. A&M has a good d-line and one of the more talented secondaries in the Big 12. Skin has a hunch the defense plays well this weekend and helps A&M keep this one closer than Vegas thinks. These in-state rivals don’t like one another, a fact little known outside the state. The 12th Man will be firing on all cylinders this weekend.
The Skin Says: I like Tech by a touchdown.
Ole Miss at Alabama (-11.5)
Put Skin on the list of college football fans drinking Bama’s Kool-Aid. In true SEC fashion, Bama’s defense is outstanding. It’s the Alabama offense that has been the surprise. The Crimson Tide has the best offense in SEC behind Tebow & Co. Yes, better than Georgia. Coffee and Ingram are one of the better tailback combos in the country, and freshman receiver Julio Jones is a beast. Give credit to QB John Parker Wilson, who has been rumored to be cleaning up on and off the field this season! Skin would advise him to try his luck with the girls in the Bear Bryant hats... Wow!
It is no fluke that Ole Miss won in The Swamp last month. Skin has never been a big fan of Houston Nutt, but he has really gotten the most out of his team this season. Quarterback is the most important position in sports, and Nutt’s success has been aided by the transfer Jevan Snead. Ole Miss has averaged nearly 400 yards and 30 points per game this season. The Rebs don’t beat themselves, either, boasting one of the best turnover margins in the country. 
Alabama’s young team seems to feed off the emotion of big games. I don’t think Tide players or fans will be up for this one, which will allow Ole Miss to keep it close into the fourth quarter. 
The Skin Says: I like Alabama in a close game, but the Rebs cover.
WEEK EIGHT--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 5-1; Overall: 31-11)
If last week’s theme was “newfound success,” this week’s picks center around the notion of “familiar faces.” Homerism thinks he has a decent handle on a few teams—and trends—that have treated him well so far. Let's take a look.

Baylor (+17) at Oklahoma State
Coming off a big win at Missouri last weekend, the Cowboys made a meteoric rise in the latest polls. And with good reason. We’re talking about going into a national championship contender’s house and stealing both their title hopes and their star quarterback’s Heisman. It’s arguably the biggest win in program history. The top-ranked Texas Longhorns are waiting in the wings for a showdown in Austin next week.

Oh wait, first the Pokes need to dispatch with Big XII bottom-feeding Baylor. So, here’s our first familiar face: the sandwich game.

Setting aside mindsets, this isn’t exactly a favorable matchup for OSU. Under coach Mike Gundy, physical opponents have proved that the Cowboys can be pushed around when it comes to running the football. This season, the OSU D ranks 86th in the country in yards per rushing attempt, allowing 4.43 yards per carry. Yet, the Cowboys’ opponents are averaging just 29 rushing attempts per game, ninth-fewest in the country, probably because OSU’s quick-strike offense has had teams playing from behind so frequently.

Take some notes, Gary Pinkel. At some point, a smart coach will force the Pokes to prove they can stop the run. Look for Baylor's savvy Art Briles to be the one. Under the command of shifty signal caller Robert Griffin III, the Bears are averaging almost five yards per rushing attempt.

Homerism is so tempted to pick the upset here. But the game is in Stillwater?! Whatever.

Homerism Says: Bears cover, and there's definite value in the money line play.

Nebraska at Iowa State (+8.5)

Familiar face number two: Iowa State.

In addition to sucking at football, one of the curses of being a team like Iowa State is the noon kickoff. (You know what I mean, North Carolina State and Indiana.) On the bright side, the brunch games don’t necessarily produce wins for these sad-sack squads, but they do produce their fair share of scare games for superior opposition.
Coming off their near upset of Texas Tech last weekend, this disappointed Nebraska squad probably won’t appreciate the majesty of game day in Ames. Wake up and look around, ‘Huskers. Smell that crisp fall air. Listen to the roar of a two-thirds-full Jack Trice Stadium ringing across the plains. Let the electricity of Iowa St. football course through your veins. You know the Cyclones will be.

Homerism Says: Iowa State straight up.

Purdue at Northwestern (-4)
If you sense a noticeable absence of sophistication, prestige and power in your local metropolis this weekend, don’t be alarmed.

Hedge fund managers, management consultants, corporate hotshots, boardroom brawlers… You know, the cream of the crop. They’re headed for Evanston this weekend. That’s right—it’s homecoming at Northwestern! Someone order up another round of tax breaks.

Of course, the biggest issue among the Wildcat faithful is how Wall Street’s woes will affect this weekend’s festivities:
“Will Chauncey come through with the Dom, or will it be Veuve?”

“Blair had to trade in the Jag for a Beamer. Let’s ride with Muffy.”

“Can you believe Ravi brought his resume to the tailgate?”

While the whippersnappers are out in the parking lot commiserating about how much 10 months at a defunct hedge fund are worth on the open market, the people who fired them will be inside cheering on the best Northwestern squad in a while. In a display of capitalism at its finest, the Wildcats will roll up as many points as the market will bear against the dispirited Boilermakers.

Homerism Says: Northwestern 30, Purdue 17.

LGS: Air Force at UNLV (+4)

Homerism fans know well of his affinity for the small home dog. And the team coming off of a bye week. And the revenge angle. The Runnin' Rebels have all of those at play here.
Homerism Says: UNLV in a squeaker.

Miami (FL) at Duke (+3)
Here’s another old friend, the Duke Blue Devils. The Dukies are slowly inching toward bowl eligibility under first-year coach David Cutcliffe, but they suffered a setback two weeks ago in getting shutout at Georgia Tech. Now, the Blue Devils have had two weeks to stew and prepare for The U.
Meanwhile, Miami’s solid start has hit somewhat of a snag. The ‘Canes dropped two straight heartbreakers at home to North Carolina and Florida State before edging Central Florida last week.
Struggling or not, a win over Miami would still mean a lot to a program like Duke. Being off last week tilts this one in the Blue Devils’ favor.

Homerism Says: Duke straight up.

Mississippi State at Tennessee (-7.5)
Volunteers head coach Phil Fulmer got the dreaded vote of non-commitment from his athletic director this week, bringing him one step closer to the Lincoln Financial broadcast booth. Tennessee fans may be rejoicing in preparation for the Lane Kiffin era. Homerism, however, remembers that Fulmer is at his most dangerous when he's wounded.
That brings us to our last familiar face: coaching chaos. This one tends to be a double-edged sword, as teams tend to either fire out or give into the distraction. I'm betting that Fulmer has challenged his Volunteer troops to prove they're not the pathetic mess they appear to be. 
Meanwhile, Mississippi State heads to Knoxville coming off--how often do you remember saying this?--an upset win over Vanderbilt. As Homerism noted in last week's picks, that was a great spot to capitalize on Vandy's likely letdown. This weekend, the tables are turned, as the Bulldogs are the ones riding high and heading into a hostile environment.
Count on the big guy to put together an aggressive game plan for UT this weekend, looking to run it up. The opportunity should be there, as MSU has stunk on the road and has serious problems scoring. On top of that, Tennessee should be giving two touchdowns in this game just based on the talent disparity alone. 
Homerism Says: Tennessee rolls, 31-13.