Advice of the Week: While most of the world was transfixed on the presidential election last week, the Skinformants were out working tirelessly to bring you the inside scoop. At least one Texas Tech coach is concerned about how his team will perform in big games that aren’t played at night on the Texas plains. The Red Raiders have played inspired football the past two weeks against top 10 teams in Lubbock. They also upset a top five Oklahoma team in a night game last season. The OU-Tech game will be played at night. Fortunately for Sooner fans, it is in Norman this time.
After a 66-28 blowout of Texas A&M, the Sooner coaches rallied at Norman Westside Bar and Grill for a few cocktails. Apparently, Coach Stoops' attention was fixated on the Florida-Vandy game. When the subject of the Sooners' much-maligned kick coverage team came up, none of the Sooner coaches seemed concerned. Apparently, the staff has decided not to emphasize it in practice. The classic reverse psychology move, or perhaps the coaches know they win games by outscoring opponents?
Ohio State (-9.5) at Illinois
Tulsa (-4) at Houston
(Last Week: 4-2; Overall: 42-23)
-Omar Little, The Wire
Yes, a man needs a code. After all, laws are what separate us from beasts. Without rules, our world slips into chaos.
Handicapping is no different. First of all, you have to accept that the odds of being consistently successful aren't in your favor. However, if you're sharp and selective, you can capitalize on the rare opportunities floating around out there.
Of the two, "selective" is just as important as "sharp." If you're not careful about which games you play, it's a recipe for a disaster. After all, you can talk yourself into taking just about any side if you really want to. The best way to stay disciplined? Figure out what works for you, set some rules and stick to them.
Easier said than done.
Take last week's picks. Homerism loathes big favorites. That goes double when we get this late into the season. Yet, there I was taking Missouri giving--count 'em--four touchdowns to Kansas State. The logic seemed pretty sound: senior night for Chase Daniel in Columbia, Mizzou coming off a lethargic performance, KSU playing for a lame duck coach.
Things were looking great late, as second-string QB and hometown hero Chase Patton directed the Tigers to their last touchdown with 6:33 left to go in the game, putting Mizzou up 41-10. Then, Mizzou got the ball back on an interception with 5:15 remaining deep in Wildcat territory. Put it on ice and count your money, right?
Not even close. Mizzou gave K-State the ball back with 1:32 left after a turnover on downs on the KSU 7-yard line. KSU wide receiver Brandon Banks promptly took a handoff on a reverse 93 yards for a score, giving the Wildcats a gut-wrenching backdoor cover. KSU then recovered an onside kick and added another TD in the final 1:11 for good measure. That's 14 points for the underdog in the final minute-and-a-half.
Homerism is putting the Pokes on upset alert. Psychologically, it’s hard not to see the Cowboys being pretty rundown at this point. Heading into the Texas Tech game, OSU had played at such a high level all season. Give coach Mike Gundy—labeled a “clown” earlier this year by pot-calling-the-kettle-black SI.com football writer Stewart Mandel—credit for having his team focused all year. So far. Having suffered a tantalizingly close loss at Texas and an all-out smackdown in Lubbock last weekend, however, OSU has to be pretty disappointed with how things turned out. The Pokes have whipped all the teams they were supposed to, but it’s nearly impossible not to have a letdown all year.
LGS: BYU at Air Force (+4.5)
Homerism was tempted to break one of the central tenets of his code this week and take Notre Dame to blast Navy. I detest betting on ND games--way too many weird factors at play with the lines usually. And why do that when I have a chance to look at a service academy game featuring a small home underdog?
The manly men from Provo are a deceiving 9-1. Against their stiffest competition this season, TCU, the Cougars looked like they didn't even belong on the same field as the Horned Frogs. BYU's best win is either a 59-0 home whitewashing of a bad UCLA team or a solid 18-point home victory over New Mexico. Take your pick, and either way you'll be equally underwhelmed. Additionally, the Cougars haven't been the same since the TCU torching: a late rally pushed BYU past UNLV in Provo; the Cougars eked out a three-point against Colorado State in Fort Collins; and beat up on San Diego State, the Mountain West Conference bicycle. (Also, it's a little late in the season for a look-ahead game, but BYU takes on in-state rival Utah next week.)
Air Force comes into this game playing its best ball of the season and riding a five-game winning streak. The Falcons only two losses this year have been in tight affairs with Utah and Navy, albeit both came in the Springs. BYU has won four straight against Air Force by an average of more than 20 points. Behind-the-times former coach Fisher DeBerry may have let that stand, but no chance current Falcon head man Troy Calhoun will.
Homerism Says: Air Force, 27-24.
Mississippi State's head coach, Sylvester Croom, is pretty "sly" when it comes to game planning for the Crimson Tide. In the past, Croom lobbied hard for a shot to coach his alma mater, only to be shot down in favor of guys like Mike Price and David Shula. As miserable as life may be in Starkville, he's probably better off not being included in that kind of company.
Croom's teams have tended to play 'Bama tough, as a result. This year should be no different. Croom and his staff have had an extra week to prepare for the Tide, so expect MSU to have a solid plan for the defense. The real issue for the Bulldogs is whether or not they can score on the Tide's tough D. Homerism thinks they can. Just enough to get the cover, in fact.
Homerism Says: The Saban-ites, 22-3.
Cal at Oregon State (-3)
Everyone knows that the Beavers are Pac-10 champs if they win out, knocking USC from its long-held perch atop the conference. So far, it doesn't appear that Vegas has caught up to OSU, though. Mike Riley's team has covered six straight times. The Beavs have been especially frisky in Corvallis, where they have yet to lose this year. Cal is solid. However, the Golden Bears have the Big Game next week. Plus, stealing an insight from ESPN's Colin Cowherd, teams tend to struggle the week after playing USC. The thinking goes that the Trojans typically beat their opponents up so badly that it takes an extra week for them to recover. I buy it.
Homerism Says: Beavers by 10.
Texas at Kansas (+13)
I wish I had some really good reasons to like KU in this game. The reality, however, is that there are none. The Jayhawks' 2008 season looks a lot like what a good year would have looked like for KU pre-2007. Now, 6-4 with two tough games left is a disappointment, even if every game KU has played out pretty much like it was supposed to. The Manginius now has a chance to prove in the next two games if he's affected any lasting change in Lawrence. Getting blown out by Texas and Missouri would be a strong indicator last season was a fluke.
Homerism is standing up to the naysayers and casting his lot with The Rotund One. At least for a week. The kickoff forecast for this game is a temperature of 40 degrees with strong winds and a slight chance of precipitation. The forecasted conditions in this game are reminiscent of a 2006 contest in Lincoln in which the Longhorns struggled to move the ball against an outmatched group of Conrhuskers. In the end, Texas benefited from a miraculous turnover and kicked a last second field goal to ice a two-point victory. Expect a similar finish in this one.
Homerism Says: Texas, 34-30.
New Mexico at Colorado State (+2)
This is a matchup Milton Friedman would love. It's all about incentives. New Mexico's season is over after this, literally. It's the last game on their schedule, and the Lobos have no shot at a bowl. The Rams, on the other hand, can gain bowl eligibility by winning here and next week against pathetic Wyoming. That should be enough for you, but if you need further convincing, CSU has played inspired ball in Fort Collins and is perfect against the spread there.
Homerism Says: Don't overthink it. Just take Colorado State.