Homerism and The Skinny are failing spectacularly at their objective of not sucking. Time for another bloodletting.
WEEK FIVE--The Skinny
(Last Week: 2-4; Overall: 9-15)
My life is boring. I'm too excited about my weekly advice to waste time on some kind of pointless introduction, anyway.
Skin’s Advice of the Week: Make sure to check out the new show Brothers. Fox did its homework on this one. The show stars everyone’s favorite gap-toothed celebrity, Michael Strahan, as down-and-out retired football star Michael Trailor. Hilarity ensues when Trailor is forced to move back into his parents' house along with his wily younger brother, played by my man Daryl “Chill” Mitchell. I don’t want to spoil too much, but let’s just say Mama throws a wrench in Strahan’s game off the field! Californication on Showtime is a close second. Check them out -- you will not be disappointed.
Michigan at Michigan St. (-1.5)
I am bit surprised that State is favored here. I thought Sparty might be getting a point or two in this one, given how these two teams have played so far this season.
It seems like everyone is on Tate Forcier and Michigan’s jock this week. Yes, Michigan is much improved this season, and I think Forcier has a real future in this system. I think in Rodriguez’s offense, Forcier is a better freshman QB than even Matt Barkley. But, let’s face it: the Wolverines' schedule has been pretty favorable thus far. Forcier has yet to face an elite--or even a good--defense this season, and that won’t come this weekend against the Spartans.
I watched a good portion of the MSU loss to Wisconsin last weekend, and the Spartans were very unimpressive. No consistency on offense or defense. This could be a losing season for MSU, unless the Spartans turn it around quickly.
I think you have to look at the intangibles in this game. This is State’s marquee game every year, especially in a down season. Michigan has been playing with fire this season, and I think Big Blue's luck runs out this weekend.
The Skinny says: Take a jacked up State team giving the points at home.
Tulsa (-14.5) at Rice
In general, Tulsa has been a great beat over the past couple seasons. Statistically, the Golden Hurricane are very solid on both offense and defense. There are a lot of BCS schools that would kill for Tulsa's QB, GJ Kinne, a Texas high school legend.
The Golden Hurricane are coming off a crushing defeat at Oklahoma a few weeks back, but OU dominates most teams in Norman. Watching that game, it looked like Tulsa has nice skill players, but so do most good mid-major teams. What sets Tulsa apart is the front seven on defense, an area where most non-BCS teams struggle. In fact, Tulsa’s front seven could play at most BCS schools.
Todd Graham is damn good coach. He deserves a job at a BCS program, and he will eventually get one. In fact, I think he'll be one of the game's elite coaches down the line if he chooses the right job.
A Skin-formant with inside knowledge of the Tulsa program has told me the TU coaches are pretty confident in their personnel against Rice. The Owls have been really bad this season. The Owls are 0-4, but three of those games were against Okie State, Vanderbilt, and Texas Tech.
Skin says: Skin’s home town team has been very good to him over the past few seasons, so I have to take Tulsa in this one.
Washington at Notre Dame (-14)
While they're still not a very good team, the Huskies are better team this year with Steve Sarkisian at head coach. Not sure how much of Washington’s improvement is due to Willingham’s departure or Sarkisian's arrival, probably some of both.
The Irish have to be worn out mentally, and I think they are in for a letdown game this week despite being at home. Notre Dame is coming off three closely contested games, and the Irish are beat up on offense. When the Irish are healthy, they have a top-10 offense with Clausen, Floyd, Tate, Rudolph, and Allen, plus a much improved line. Unfortunately for Irish faithful, Floyd is out for the season and Allen and Clausen are questionable this weekend with nagging injuries. I hate to admit this, but I am almost to a point where I don’t mind Notre Dame, because I love Floyd and Tate. But Charlie Weis’ arrogance just will not let me get there.
ND’s defense is going to keep most opposing teams in the game despite the strength of the Irish offense.
Skinny says: I'm not sure if ND will be taking the Huskies seriously with USC on the horizon. I like Washington getting the points.
Ole Miss (-8) at Vanderbilt
I am not a big fan of Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt’s recruiting practices. Nutt signed 35 players in the offseason, even though the NCAA allows each school 25 scholarships for each class.
So how does Nutt pull it off? He takes 10 players, generally grade risks or players with potential, and sends them out to local junior colleges. Nutt effectively creates a JV or practice squad at these local JCs. As a result, Nutt can bring over the players who look like contributors without taking a scholarship risk on them. The NCAA really needs to find a way to close this loophole in recruiting. It isn’t fair to the players or other teams. This isn’t an uncommon practice in D-I recruiting, but Nutt has taken it to a new level.
As for the game, Ole Miss has had an extra couple days this week to prepare for Vandy. The Rebels didn’t look good last week losing at South Carolina, but I think Ole Miss and Jevan Sneed are better than they showed in Columbia. The Rebels are still averaging 35 points per game and giving up a mere 12 points per game behind a particularly stout run defense. South Carolina didn’t have a single first down in the fourth quarter last week. Vandy, on the other hand, lost the SEC Toilet Bowl at home to Mississippi State, 15-3, two weeks ago.
The Skin says: I think Ole Miss will be up for this game after nine days of stewing over last week’s disappointing loss.
Houston (-16) at UTEP
On paper, I love Houston to cover in this game. The Cougars have shown they are a good team in back-to-back wins over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Not exactly Texas and OU, but still two solid Big 12 teams that will be in the top 25 at the end of the season nonetheless.
Coach Kevin Sumlin has done what every mid-major program should: implement the spread offense. The spread has become the great equalizer in college football. When run well, it can make teams instantly competitive. It helps to have a quarterback the caliber of Houston’s Case Keenum of course.
I worry here about Houston’s mental state after back-to-back tough games and achieving the highest ranking in school history. Are the Cougars reading their press clippings? Will they come out overconfident and overlooking the Miners?
Last season it appeared Coach Mike Price had the Miners rolling, much like Price himself at Alabama. This season is a different story. UTEP looked pretty bad against Kansas and Texas. I think Houston is good enough to overcome any letdown they might have in this game. On a neutral field the Cougars are four TDs better than UTEP.
The Skinny says: I think the Cougars will win by more than two TDs and a field goal. As for Price, I like his style… Keep rolling, Coach!
Lee Greenwood Special: Air Force at Navy (-2.5)
An intriguing matchup between two teams with similar offensive philosophies. At least last time I can remember seeing Air Force play, I believe Steve (?) DeBerry was still coaching, and the Falcons were running the wing-T with a heavy dose of the triple option. By the way, is the triple-option pass not the best play in football?
Skin says: I really have no clue in this one. Air Force has the slightly better resume this season and they are getting points, so I will go with the Falcons.
WEEK FIVE--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 11-13)
After perusing this week's slate, I wrote up analyses of about 10 games. No, it's not that I like that many games on this card. It's more like I have no idea. Here's Homerism's latest shot in the dark.
(Note: I'll probably never do a bonus NFL pick again.)
LSU at Georgia (-3)
This pick will have Homerism in trouble on the homestead, but LSU just doesn't do it for me. Talent-wise, the Tigers stack up against anyone in the country. Yet, what's this team's identity right now? Watching LSU play is like watching an all-star game: a bunch of great individuals with little direction and no idea how to play together.
Meanwhile, there's no risk of an identity crisis for Georgia's defense right now. It sucks. The 'Dawgs are giving up a shade under 30 points per game, good for 95th in the country. Mark Richt's team is allowing 6.7 yards per passing attempt (63rd overall), and opponents have cashed in with 10 passing touchdowns through four games.
Fortunately for under-fire UGa defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, LSU comes into Sanford Stadium brandishing the second-worst offense in the SEC, putting up a paltry five yards per play. The Tigers' passing game is nothing special, with a per-attempt average of seven yards (65th overall). The running attack is even worse, gaining 3.78 yards per rush (76th overall). And it's not like LSU has faced a bunch of great defenses: Washington, Vanderbilt, Louisiana and Mississippi State.
Despite the Tigers' perfect record, Georgia has shown me a lot more this season in wins over South Carolina, Arkansas and Arizona State. LSU has been begging for a loss.
Homerism says: The 'Dawgs' D will play just well enough to get the cover.
Georgia Tech (-5.5) at Mississippi State
Last week, Homerism detailed all the reasons to love the Bulldogs' chances to cover as a double-digit home underdog against LSU, and MSU came through. Time to flip the script.
Dan Mullen's scrappy bunch gave the Tigers all they could handle last weekend. Yet, despite playing the better game, MSU came away with a disappointing loss, 30-26. If quarterback Tyson Lee had stretched the ball over the goal line on a late fourth-and-goal attempt, Mullen would have spent this week celebrating his biggest win as a head coach. There was plenty of good for MSU to take away from the near-miss, but those kinds of tough losses tend to stick with young teams.
So, the Bulldogs spent all week in that downtrodden frame of mind preparing for Georgia Tech's funky triple-option offense. No thanks.
Homerism says: Georgia Tech, 28-20.
Arkansas State (+21.5) at Iowa
Here's a classic sandwich game for you.
Iowa went on the road last week to Happy Valley and knocked off Big Ten favorite Penn State. Next week, Michigan comes to town for another big in-conference game, and I fully expect the Hawkeyes to work out on the Wolverines. In between, Iowa must dispose of the mighty Indians, er, Red Wolves.
I'm not going to shine you on: I have not seen one second of Arkansas State football this year, and I don't intend to. I'm simply going against Iowa here, so take it for what it's worth.
Homerism says: Iowa in a 19-point yawner.
Auburn at Tennessee (-2.5)
War eagle -- Auburn is back! The move to part ways with the perennially embattled Tommy Tuberville in the offseason sure appears to be paying off now. I mean, Gene Chizik has the Tigers flying high at 4-0.
Wait, what's that? Auburn has yet to leave the Plains? And where is this one being played? Oh, Knoxville... And it's at night?
Homerism says: The Volunteers get three safeties and two field goals for a 12-7 win.
USC at California (+5)
Cal's stink bomb last week may be a godsend for gamblers now.
The Bears went from America's sweethearts to "ridiculously overrated" in the course of one game, albeit a shockingly bad one. However, Jeff Tedford's squad had the misfortune of catching Oregon just as the Ducks are beginning to really click. Couple that with the fact that the Bears had to travel for the second week in a row -- to gnarly Autzen Stadium of all places -- and it becomes a little easier to see how the foundation had been laid for a typical Cal collapse. It's pretty disturbing to see a team fall apart like that, but is it already time to eliminate Cal from talk of a Pac-10 title?
On the other side of the field, I hate to knock a team for winning by three touchdowns, but 'SC couldn't have impressed me less in its ho-hum win over 46-point underdog Washington State last week. In fact, I'd contend the Trojans' performance was actually worse than the thrashing Cal endured. Sometimes when you win, you really lose.
Coming off an embarrassing loss to the other half of the dreadful Apple Cup rivalry, you'd hope the Trojans would have taken out their frustrations on such a hapless whipping boy at the Coliseum. Instead, USC's pedestrian offense managed to cough up just 27 points. While the D continues to live up to the standards set by its predecessors, the cold truth in Troy is that 'SC is going to have a tough time this year putting up the kind of offensive numbers it has become accustomed to. Heck, Southern Cal is going to have a tough time putting up the kind of offensive numbers UCLA is accustomed to.
Cal played 'SC tough in Los Angeles in '08, as the Trojans needed a late touchdown to put a 17-3 win on ice. With the venue moving Berkeley this year, I'm betting the Bears smell blood.
Homerism says: Cal straight up.
LGS: Air Force at Navy (-3)
The Falcons are still smarting from last season's home upset at the hands of the Midshipmen, which makes the revenge angle very enticing in this game. Sometimes, though, you have to actually go by what you've seen on the field.
Homerism says: Navy is better.