It's tough to focus on handicapping during OU-Texas week, but somehow Skinny and Homerism powered through.
WEEK SEVEN--The Skinny
(Last Week: 5-1; Overall: 22-14
Skin got back in the saddle last weekend, pulling off a 5-1 record with his one loss coming in what else, the Lee Greenwood Special. Back to work this week to make you more money and to make me look good. And we all know that looking good as a handicapper equals chicks! Forget TAO Beach--It's no secret that the best looking women in Vegas hang out in the sportsbook.
Advice of the Week: Stay far, far away from playing the Red River Rivarly this week. Both teams are good, but have some big question marks. The Skin has been to many an OU-Texas game, and funny things often happen. I would, however, recommend making it to the game if you have a chance. It is the best atmosphere you will find in college football. The tradition, the pageantry, the fans, the fair, the women... It's everything that makes college football great.
Skin's ground rules don’t allow him to pick the Red River game, but in my opinion: the team that rushes the football better and whose linebackers cover more effectively will win this game. On paper, I think this favors Oklahoma. But, that’s on paper.
Notre Dame at North Carolina (-7.5)
The Skin has been on the ND bandwagon for a few weeks now. The Irish are much improved from last year’s pathetic team. Clausen tops Skin's "most-hated in college football" list, but he is a decent quarterback, and he throws a great deep ball. ND has a nice group of backs and receivers, led by Golden Tate and freshman Michael Floyd. The Irish defense wasn’t the problem last year, but they have improved as well. It pains me to say it, but with a ton of freshman and sophomores playing key roles, ND will be a team to lookout for in the next couple seasons.
North Carolina also is a team on the rise. Butch Davis is a great coach, and super recruiter John Blake was a great addition to the coaching staff. The Skin really likes Tar Heel QB TJ Yates, one of the better QBs outside the Big 12. Yates isn’t flashy, yet he is efficient and makes good decisions. None of the Tar Heels' skill players standout, but they are all solid. North Carolina’s defense will be the best the Irish have seen this season. The discrepancy in special teams could play a major role in this game, as ND’s kicking game is atrocious. ND has yet to beat a good opponent this season. It won’t happen this week.
The Skinny Says: Carolina by 10.
Iowa State at Baylor (-5)
The Skin has been all over Baylor this season. The Bears are much improved this season with QB Griffin III and new head coach Art Briles. Briles runs an offensive system similar to that of Mike Leach, and the Skin is confident Baylor can put up points against the Cyclones. Skin was impressed with Baylor’s performance against OU last weekend. Yes, the Bears got blown out. Hey, Oklahoma would blow out a lot of teams. Skin has to admit he does not know much about the Cyclones, but, come on, it's Iowa State. Even though I think Gene Chizik is a good coach, Iowa State is a black hole: no facilities, no recruiting base, no fan base.
The Skin Says: I like Baylor with the home-field advantage.
Tennessee at Georgia (-12.5)
The Skin has railed against Tennessee and Phil Fulmer all year, with good reason. Tennessee is just not a good team. The program isn’t going anywhere under Phil Fulmer. Expect to see his tenure end after this season. Tennessee has good players. However, I think they benefit from the “SEC factor,” in which the media assumes the conference's teams have superior talent.
Georgia is overrated in Skin's opinion, and the Bulldogs have been hard hit by injuries. UGa simply is not a national championship-caliber team. Yet, that doesn't mean the Bulldogs aren't really good. A home team with superior talent and coaching is a recipe for success.
Don’t underestimate the role Tennessee’s mental state could play in this game. The Vols are reeling and could easily slip into a downward spiral. This could be a 3-8 type season for the Fulmer's squad.
Skinny Says: Take Georgia giving the points.
Purdue at Ohio State (-19.5)
Ohio State is definitely the better team here. Still, I don’t know if this team is built to beat anyone by 20 points. Blowouts just are not Jim Tressel's style (unless less it is a national championship game). The Buckeyes struggle on offense. They have two really good players, of which one is a freshman and the other has been hurt most of the season. Both Beanie Wells and Tyrelle Pryor looked like the real deal last week against Wisconsin, but they don’t have much help. The Buckeyes' receivers are average, and their line is way overrated.
Purdue is not a good team, but I think Curtis Painter and Co. have enough offense to put up points in this game. Purdue’s defense looked better than expected in slowing Penn State’s “juggernaut” offense, an attack that is much better than Ohio State’s. Is it possible for a Big 10 team to have a high octane offense?
The Skin Says: Ohio State wins by 10.
Nebraska at Texas Tech (-20)
Skin remains cautious optimistic regarding the Big 12 this season. The truth is that no teams have really proven themselves yet. The offensive outputs of Mizzou, OU, OSU, Texas, and Texas Tech are impressive, regardless of the opponents. The defenses, however, remain a question mark.
When you talk offense few teams are more efficient than the Red Raiders. Has any coach ever had a bigger influence on a conference than Mike Leach? Leach led the way in transforming this conference from the wishbone days of Nebraska and OU into basketball on turf. Texas Tech’s offense is business-as-usual this season, which is a bad sign for the once-vaunted Blackshirt defense. The Skin has a warning for Nebraska fans: Bo Pelini’s defensive prowess is overrated. Tech can name its score this weekend.
The Skinny Says: Texas Tech wins big, 70-21.
Lee Greenwood Special: Eastern Michigan at Army (Pick)
Not much to choose from in the Lee Greenwood Special this week. Army is flying high after an upset of Tulane last week. Maybe too high. It is always dangerous when a team is coming off a big win. Eastern Michigan’s 2-4 record is less than impressive, but the Eagles have played a decent schedule, including Maryland, Michigan State and Bowling Green. The Eagles have averaged 400 yards per game on offense this season.
Both teams should be able to move the ball effectively in this game. I think Eastern Michigan is more battle tested this season, and that will be the difference in this game. Given Skin’s record in the LGS this season you want may want to go with Army.
Skinny Says: EMU.
WEEK SEVEN--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 4-2; Overall: 26-10)
Isn’t it interesting how handling success can sometimes be more difficult than actually achieving it?
When the hunter become the hunted, your rivals start gunning for you. For example, Vegas must be stalking Homerism like a prize buck. How else to explain this week’s extraordinarily sharp lines? After a sizzling start to the season, Homerism now faces the near-certain prospect of letting down his legions of followers. Life on top is hard.
Likewise, this week’s picks put teams unaccustomed to college football’s penthouse under the microscope. Can these guys take the heat?
Vanderbilt at Mississippi State (+2.5)
Vandy has looked just dandy so far this year, racing out to a fast 5-0 start. First time that has happened since 1943. Last week, the Commodores worked the ESPN primetime “nightshift” for an upset win over Auburn.
Now, Vandy sits atop the SEC East. They’re heading down to Starkville to face a Bulldogs team in disarray. The Commodores should “sail on” past MSU to 6-0, correct?
Well, springing the upset and avoiding the upset are far different propositions. Just being ranked is a big deal in Nashville. Plus, the week after such a big win screams letdown. Then, there’s the Commodores’ game with Georgia next week, giving this a look-ahead element. Not a good mindset heading into a hostile environment, where an ornery Mississippi State team coming off a bye week awaits.
Homerism Says: Welcome to the big time, Vanderbilt. Bulldogs, 7-4.
TCU at Colorado State (+15.5)
Honestly, I know nothing about CSU. Any time I see a double-digit home underdog, however, it catches my attention.
TCU has a big Thursday night tilt in Fort Worth next week with Brigham Young, a top 10 team and one of the Horned Frogs’ biggest Mountain West rivals. I expect to see an uninspired performance from TCU, yielding an equally unimpressive road win.
Homerism Says: TCU by 10.
New Mexico at BYU (-22.5)
See TCU-Colorado State above. In the second paragraph, substitute "BYU" for "TCU" in all references Then, replace "top 10" with "top 25." Next, insert "Cougars" for "Horned Frogs." Finally, strike "road" and put in "home."
Homerism Says: Lobos lose by 19.
LGS: Air Force (-10.5) at San Diego State
The Aztecs are really bad, and they’re not getting any better.
Homerism Says: Falcons, 21-3.
Michigan State (-1.5) at Northwestern
The Wildcats have to feel just a little bit disrespected here. NU boasts a 5-0 record and a top 25 ranking. Last year, the Wildcats beat Sparty at East Lansing. Yet, the Cats are home dogs this week.
The skepticism is probably warranted. NU fans are well accustomed to such disappointment. Homerism remembers past seasons in which the media pegged the Wildcats as the Big 10 preseason favorites, only to see Northwestern add to its storied history of bowl ineligibility.
Truth is, the 'Cats have wilted under the spotlights before. There's no reason to think any differently here. Yes, Michigan State has big game next week, but the Spartans are just better team and will out-physical NU for a hard-fought win.
Homerism Says: Brawn over brains.
East Carolina (-5.5) at Virginia
Speaking of wilting under the spotlight, remember East Carolina's BCS dreams. Now, the Pirates are coming off two straight losses to world-beaters North Carolina State and Houston. Hopefully, Skip Holtz righted the ship in the off week.
UVa whipped Maryland last week, 31-0. So Al Groh must have turned things around, huh? Not even close. The Terrapins were coming off a big win at Clemson, and the trip to Charlottesville was their second road game in a row.
I would encourage 'hoos fans to focus on basketball season, but I can't remember a single thing about the hoops team from last year. Take heart, UVa--Maybe Brooks Brothers will hold a few extra fall sales in light of the sluggish economy.
Homerism Says: ECU by 10.