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Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Picks Trying Not to Suck: Week Nine

The Skinny picked up two games on Homerism last week. This week, the brothers both like some of the same games, although not necessarily the same plays.
WEEK NINE--The Skinny
(Last Week: 5-1; Overall: 30-18)

This is one of the more interesting college football seasons The Skin can remember. The season hasn’t been chocked full of crazy upsets like last year, but the parity at the top is incredible. Let’s face it: this is a weak year in college football. Maybe you know that Texas or Penn State or Alabama are contenders, but I am not sure they are even really good teams. Name your 2008 contender and compare them to the national championship team from an average year in college football. The 2008 You-Name-It-U loses by double digits. 

What accounts for the difference, you might ask? No one can play defense. The top team in the nation gave up a total of 66 points in back-to-back weekends. I know offensive advances have outpaced those of defense’s in recent years, but these teams couldn't stop Jim Frazier’s old veer attack at Oklahoma 2A power Cascia Hall.

Advice of the Week: Load up on Oklahoma and Texas if they are anything less than a three-touchdown favorite at home. Trust me!

Texas A&M (+3.5) at Iowa State 

Skin is dubbing this one the anti-Herbie Bowl, and it’s not because of the pathetic teams on the field. Oxford this is not!
Skin’s hunch on A&M paid off last week as the Aggies hung tough against Tech. Granted a blocked extra point returned for a touchdown by A&M provided a backdoor cover. I hate to admit it but I watched this entire game, and A&M seems to be improving as they learn Mike Sherman’s pro style offense. The ‘vaunted’ Aggie D, which for some reason I have been hyping all season, seems to be rounding into form. A&M is still a bad team but Iowa State is well… Iowa State. 
Skin Says: Take the Aggies getting the points.
(Can anyone tell me why ABC decided to pick up the Oklahoma State/Iowa St next weekend? I guess it's these teams huge fan bases and the appeal this matchup has on the East Coast.)

Notre Dame (-11) at Washington

Is this a joke? This line seems way off to me, but this isn’t a sucker play! Skin has said all season the Irish are a much improved team on both offense and defense this year. No one wants to see the pear-shaped Irish head coach struggle more than Skin, but I have to admit he has assembled some talent in South Bend.
Don’t buy into anyone selling you on the revenge factor. None of these players were involved in Willingham’s dismissal, and they don’t care. Willingham seems unable to motivate his team. They aren’t going to take on his personal grudge. Notre Dame has superior talent and coaching, bottom line. 
The Skinny Says: The Irish win big.

Texas Tech at Kansas (-1)  

Mark Mangino... Now there is a rotund football coach the Skin loves. Despite his insistent love for the shuffle pass, the most annoying play in football, Mangino is a good coach, and he has done an outstanding job at KU. Mangino can’t handpick his recruits, a la Hollywood Carroll, but he is an outstanding evaluator of talent. (Side note: The success of Kansas football is a tribute to the quality of high school football in Oklahoma. Just check the number of Oklahomans on KU’s roster the past two seasons.)
As I said last week, The Skin is on to the fraud that is Texas Tech. Tech’s offense is not what it has been in past years, and the defense is par for the course at Tech. Crabtree should have a field day against a weak KU secondary, but the Jayhawks run defense is solid. That will allow Mangino & Co. to scheme for the passing game. Todd Reesing, the most underrated QB in the country, will put up enough points to for the Hawks to win in a close game. 
Skinny Says: KU by 2.

Oklahoma State at Texas (-13)

Skin really hopes he is wrong on this one, but I see Texas rolling in this game. When Texas wins 56-34 on Saturday, at least Skin can take a little solace in the fact he gave you a winner. Texas’ offense has been on a roll, and it won’t stop this weekend against a decent OSU defense. Given the Pokes' success this season, there is no chance Mack’s Longhorns overlook the Cowboys.
In a stroke of shear "genius," I am sure Mack Brown will bury the Mizzou game ball too. In a stroke of even greater "genius," I am sure the brilliant folks at ESPN/ABC will have a live report from Jack Arute standing over this graveyard. 
OSU will put up points through the air against a very pedestrian UT secondary. The Longhorns defensive line will be critical in this one. UT’s D-line will be able to shut down the Pokes run game and get pressure on Zack Robinson.
The Skin Says: Texas rolls.

Alabama at Tennessee (+5)

Skin wanted to use this spot to pick against his whipping boy Utah State Aggies, but what fun is that? In Skin’s opinion this is one of the more intriguing matchups on this week’s slate. The hatred between these two programs is well chronicled, and you can bet Vols fans will be fired up.
The Skin has railed against Phil Fulmer and Tennessee all season, so you’re probably going to call me a hypocrite for taking the Vols. For the record, my issue with Tennessee is that they were overrated to begin the season. I also believe Fulmer has reached a point in his tenure in which he is no longer an effective coach. The Vols have talent, and I think they put it together this week. This game is Tennessee’s season. The only thing they have left to play for is ruining Alabama’s cinderella run to the title. Alabama, on the other hand, has everything to lose, and that is a dangerous thing for a young team.
Skin Says: Vols straight up.
Lee Greenwood Special: SMU at Navy (-13.5)
Skin gives big ups to Wanny and his Pitt Panthers for giving him his first win in the LGS. I think this week’s service academy game is pretty obvious. The 1-7 SMU Mustangs are a bad team, although they have been playing a bit better lately in narrow losses to Tulsa and Houston. In the "Bonehead Move of the Year," June Jones left Hawaii for this coaching graveyard. Maybe it's a backdoor strategy to eventually land the OC job at Ball State or Akron?
Navy has faced a tougher schedule than the Mustangs and  have faired pretty well. Navy’s wishbone-option attack presents problems for defenses. This week should be no exception, as SMU is yet to hold an opponent under 30 points, and that includes Texas State. 
The Skinny Says: The streak begins!  Navy by 20.
(Note: If you want to learn the intricacies of Jones' run and shoot, check out his breakdown with Bob Davie on espn.com. My Indian urologist tells me it is quite informative!)

WEEK NINE--Blatant Homerism

(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 34-14)
Homerism newcomers frequently ask me what the most important elements of quality handicapping are. The answer, of course, is that there aren’t any, so far as I know.

How important is coaching? What about home field? Do weather conditions matter? Unfortunately for Joe Six-Pack, it all depends.

It’s kind of like picking which new movie to go see. Presumably, you hit up the flick that looks most appealing based on a host of factors: stars, director, genre, length, etc. For example, I hate Hugh Jackman—I think it has something to do with his affection for musical theater. Anyway, I make it a point to avoid his films. Jackman’s like a 40-point favorite.

Now, if one of Homerism’s trusted associates told me Hugh Jackman is in an awesome movie that will change your life and he’s rarely on screen, I might consider seeing it. That’s like finding out the underdog’s coach has been talkin’ mess on the other coach’s mom.

I guess what I’m saying is be flexible. Consider the whole “mosaic” of a matchup. And be suspicious if everyone likes something, because chances are that it’s going to disappoint.

Central Florida at Tulsa (-23.5)
Remember when Homerism compared a big favorite to a Hugh Jackman movie. Well, this is one of those exceptions.

These teams have developed somewhat of a history since joining Conference USA. In fact, they’ve become the two best programs in the conference, at least based on track record.
Last year, the Golden Knights hammered the Golden Hurricane not once, but twice. Each win came by roughly three touchdowns. You don’t mess with the ‘Cane like that and live to tell about it.

TU coach Todd Graham is bound for bigger—not necessarily better—things, possibly as soon as the end of this season. He’s not going to pass up a chance to lay the wood to the most ruthless tactician in college football, George O’Leary.

Sunday night, primetime, ESPN… These are the games TU lives for.

Homerism Says: TU by 30.

Texas A&M at Iowa State (-3)
Why? Why does Homerism keep picking these Iowa St. games, especially given that I’ve had such mixed results with them this year? I don’t know what’s so sexy about these Cyclones, but I just can’t seem to get enough. They’re the Mary-Louise Parker of college football.

A&M gave a game effort last week against highly ranked intrastate rival Texas Tech, playing the Red Raiders close into the second half. Texas Tech struggles against a (supposedly) vastly inferior opponent… Stop the presses! Playing Tech closes doesn’t seem to be much of an achievement anymore.

A&M was pumped up at home with an opportunity to take down a foundering rival, and blew it. The Aggies are playing for nothing but pride at this point, and they don’t appear to have any.

Homerism Says: Iowa State, 17-13.

Boise State at San Jose State (+7)
The Broncos had a score to settle with Hawaii last week—something about a conference championship banner and being disrespected by the Rainbows. So what’s supposed to have Boise’s blood boiling this week? I can’t think of anything.

Anyway, Boise St. is supposed to be ready for a repeat of past BCS-busting, which makes this line seem awfully short, right? Maybe it’s just a little too short…

Homerism Says: SJSU straight up.
LGS: SMU (+12.5) at Navy
1-7 probably isn’t what the head honchos at SMU had in mind when they threw all that scratch at June Jones. A closer look reveals that the Mustangs are improving, though. Ever since being blown out by TCU in late September, the Ponies have had respectable showings against Tulane, Central Florida, Tulsa and Houston, losing by an average of about nine points in each game.

Homerism suspects the SMU players are warming up to the run-and-shoot. I have no idea what kind of offensive system defensive guru Phil Bennett ran while he was in charge in Highland Park, but I doubt it was similar to Jones’ pass-heavy scheme. Could this be the week SMU puts it together and gets a win against a decent opponent? Possibly. Either way, SMU looks like the play.

Homerism Says: Mustangs.

Texas Tech at Kansas (-1)
First of all, Kansas actually may be a better team than Tech at the moment. So why not go with the Jayhawks at home?

Anyway, outside of rolling Kansas State in Manhattan, the Red Raiders seem to be pretty mediocre on the road. Now, they have to go on the road to Lawrence for a noon kickoff. With a primetime home date against Texas looming next week, there’s a definite look-ahead factor at play for Tech here.

Homerism Says: KU gets out to an early lead, and The Manginius' crew holds on.

Rutgers at Pittsburgh (-9.5)
In a dicey week, Homerism struggled to find a final game to pick. Enter Homerism associate E$ to save the day. Why Pitt, E$?
"I like the way they're playing, and I think Rutgers is just plain bad."
I'm convinced.
Homerism Says: Pitt by 20.