We're in the home stretch, and The Skinny needs a big comeback if he wants to be sipping on a Yuletide chocolate martini this year.
WEEK 12--The Skinny
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 41-30)
What has Will Muschamp actually done to earn Texas' "head-coach-in-waiting" title? Everyone seems to think he's keyed some kind of defensive resurgence for the Longhorns. Texas ranked 52nd in total defense in 2007. The 'Horns are 58th this year. I guess Texas is giving up fewer points this year compared to last. Either way, who cares? He's never been a head coach anywhere. Is that the best they could do?
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Washington (-6.5) at Wazzu
Finally, the Apple Cup, or “Toilet Bowl,” is upon us. No need to overanalyze this game. To borrow from Les Miles: “Two teams will be taking the field on Saturday. They say one is bad and the other is the worst team in the country. I guess we're going to find out which is which.”
Washington will be without QB Jake Locker, but he has been dielined for over a month now. Washington St. has the advantage of being at home, but that’s the only good thing Skin can say for Wazzu.
The Skinny Says: Washington proves it is at least a touchdown better than State.
Ole Miss at LSU (-3.5)
LSU is down this year as last week’s performance against Troy proved. The Bayou Bengals needed a big second half comeback to slip past Troy. Last week’s game has the betting public scared for this game, which is keeping the line artificially low. Where one man sees fear, Skin sees opportunity.
Desipte four losses, LSU still has tremendous talent, and last week was a wakeup call. LaFell and Scott are great weapons on offense. But where has the Tiger defense gone? Well ,they can still stop the run, ranking 13th nationally. So Jevon Snead better be ready to light up the scoreboard at Tiger Stadium. I don’t know what it is about LSU under Miles, but they play great in close games.
Yes, Skin knows Ole Miss beat Florida in the Swamp, but that has nothing to do with this game. If anything it helps, because it keeps the line down.
The Skinny Says: Tigers pull away in the fourth quarter.
Florida State at Maryland (+1.5)
Can anyone figure out the ACC? I can't put together any rhyme or reason as to who is actually good, or even better than the next team. No team has played the Jekyll-Hyde role better than the Terps. Maryland lost to Middle Tennessee State, yet they have beaten Cal, Clemson and North Carolina. Coach Fridge has said this is his best team at Maryland. The Terps are balanced on offense and only give up an average of 18 points per game. Bet you didn't know Maryland is the only school in the country that has beaten four ranked teams.
Florida St. seems to be the same thing ever year lately under Bobby Bowden: 8-5 with a trip to the Chik-Fil-A Bowl.
Don’t expect a lot of points in this game, as FSU’s defense is one of the best in the country. Maryland is hot, and the Terps' offense is slightly better equipped to put up points against a stout defense.
Skinny Says: Take Maryland at home.
Iowa (-5.5) at Minnesota
The Big 10 is much like the ACC--after Penn State, no one has really separated themselves. The whole conference is just bad. Only in the Big 10 could these two teams have winning records.
After a fast start the Gophers have digressed into the team we all expected. Offensively, Iowa is primarily a running team behind Shonn Greene, while the Gophers tend to the pass. Statistically, both schools have highly ranked defenses, which is primarily a function of playing in the Big 10. The difference in the game will be Iowa’s ability to run the football consistently against the Gophers. Minnesota is 88th in country in rushing defense.
Skinny Says: Iowa wins the pig by two toucdowns.
Lee Greenwood Special: Air Force at TCU (-20)
Damn, the LGS! This is the only service academy game this weekend, and, in Skin’s opinion, it's one of the tougher plays on the board. Both teams play great defense, although TCU’s defense is on another level this season. The Horned Frogs will be ready for Air Force’s option attack. TCU has had two weeks to prepare. Air Force’s offense is not well suited to play the Horned Frogs, because their plays take time to develop, and TCU leads the nation in sacks and tackles for a loss.
The Skinny Says: TCU.
Tulane (+28.5) at Tulsa
Golden Hurricane nation should be embarrassed by TU's past two flops. The 'Cane kept Houston from breaking 80, so I guess there's something to be said for that. Tulsa will win this game handily, but the thrill is gone.
Skin Says: Tulane covers.
WEEK 12--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 45-26)
As usual for this late in the season, the lines look awfully tight. If you're using these tips for anything other than your amusement, Homerism recommends holding tight this weekend. I'm obligated to give you my picks, though, so I will. At this point in the season, motivation becomes paramount. Some teams are packing it after disappointing years. Others may be disappointments who are relishing the opportunity to play spoiler to a hated rival. Then, you have the teams trying to gain bowl bids. You get the picture.
Colorado State (-2) at Wyoming
Here's a perfect example of a team with something to play for. Colorado State is one win away from bowl eligibility after easily handling New Mexico last week. For first-year head coach Ford Fairlane, er, Steve Fairchild, taking the Rams bowling in his first year would be quite an accomplishment. CSU has played solid football this year, and Fairchild certainly would like to see his team rewarded for that. At least you'd think he would.
This isn't a walk in the park, though, as this is a nastier rivalry than it's given credit for nationally. You can bet the Cowboys will be fired up to send their seniors--and possibly coach Joe Glenn--out with a W. I just think CSU is the better team and won't be caught off guard.
Homerism Says: CSU covers.
Illinois (-3) at Northwestern
There were plenty of naysayers out there when Homerism said before the season that Northwestern could win nine games this year. Ho ho ho, what's this? The Cats currently sit at 8-3, with a home game against a foundering Illinois team left. Given his team's success and the injury issues NU head coach Pat Fitzgerald has contended with this season, he definitely deserves consideration for coach of the year honors.
Unfortunately for these scrappy Cats, Homerism doesn't think they're going to get that ninth win this week. Illinois has a chance to salvage a down year with a bowl berth if it wins this game, an opportunity that master motivator Ron Zook won't let slip by. The Illini possess a definite talent advantage, exacerbated by the laundry list of walking wounded on the NU sideline. Also, Northwestern won in Michigan last week for the first time in forever, so a letdown here looks pretty likely.
Homerism Says: Illinois by 10.
UTEP (+17) at Houston
Homerism wasn't that surprised that Houston beat Tulsa last week. But anyone who tells you they saw a 70-30 final coming is outright lying. The Kevin Sumlin era got off to a rocky start with three straight losses early in the season, but the Cougars have gone 5-1 in their last six games.
Everything I know about UTEP I learned watching them get blown out by Texas earlier this year. (That body of knowledge includes whatever sweeping generalizations you want to make about the school's female population based on this little scene from that broadcast.) The Miners are about as mediocre as it gets in Conference USA, unable to get anything "rolling" under head coach Mike Price this year. For Houston, this game is stuck in between last week's throwdown with Tulsa and next week's matchup with crosstown rival Rice. The Cougars will win this week, but it won't be by 15 points.
Homerism Says: Feast on this UTEP sandwich.
LGS: Air Force at TCU (-20)
See if you can follow this logic. Air Force lost at home to BYU last week. TCU thumped BYU in Fort Worth a few weeks ago.
Homerism Says: TCU laying the wood.
Boise State at Nevada (+6.5)
Last year in Boise, these teams combined for more than 130 points, as the Broncos pulled out a 69-67 overtime thriller. Having played Boise so close last season should give Chris Ault's team plenty of confidence heading into this game. I realize that BSU is bidding for an undefeated season and potential BCS bid, but that's all the more reason for the Wolf Pack to want to play the role of spoiler. The WAC is tired of Boise's act.
Homerism Says: Nevada seniors get one to remember in an outright win.
Syracuse (+19.5) at Notre Dame
Homerism rarely ever plays a Notre Dame game. At the risk of sullying my 2008 record, though, I'm going to pick this one for fun. Besides, I suspect Vegas inflated this line to entice ND fans.
College football lost one of its favorite whipping boys this week with the announcement that Syracuse coach Greg Robinson would not be retained after the season. The Orange search committee hit the ground running, interviewing Illinois' offensive coordinator. 'Cuse nation must be fired up by the idea of seeing a Ron Zook disciple roaming the Carrier Dome sidelines.
Homerism's angle on this one: Apparently, Robinson is a pretty nice guy who couldn't make things work in the college football equivalent of Siberia. His players supposedly like him, even though they played like a bunch of limp noodles under him. I'm betting they come out and play some inspired football against a fat-and-sassy ND team that gained bowl eligibility last week.
Question for ND boosters: How much is a coach who can get his team to play a good team close one time worth to you?
Homerism Says: ND by 1. Wager accordingly.