Homerism and The Skinny have differing takes on a couple games this week, which always makes things interesting.
WEEK SIX--The Skinny
(Last Week: 4-2; Overall: 13-17)
Is it really worth it? The Sooners' recent woes in big games are killing me. It is frustrating to watch OU lose big games over and over in the same fashion: stupid penalties, missed assignments, terrible execution and–I hate to say this–poor coaching. I still wouldn't trade Bob Stoops for any coach in the country, but something with this staff is off. I think it is time for some new blood. Stoops needs take a long look at his assistant coaches in the offseason.
While the losses are frustrating, I don't understand the sense of impending doom coming from Sooner Nation this week. I actually heard a member of the media describe the current state of Sooner football as chaos! We lost to a ranked team on the road by a point! Injuries may sound like an excuse, but how many programs could be competitive after losing a Heisman Trophy QB, their two biggest offensive weapons and 4 out of 5 starting offensive linemen? Not many.
Skinny's Advice of the Week: This one goes out to all the OU fans. My message to Sooner Nation: relax. Double-digit unemployment and rampant foreclosures, that is doom and gloom. Stoops will have us winning national titles again, just not this year, and probably not in 2010 either. Maybe we will actually appreciate it when it happens.
Florida at LSU (+7.5)
No messing around–I am going to get straight to the game of the week, maybe the game of the season, Florida at LSU.
No one seems to really know if Tebow, the most overrated player in college football history, will play in this game after suffering a concussion two weeks ago. The football stars seem to have aligned for the Gators lately, and my guess is that with their luck, he will be fine to play.
On paper the Gators are the superior team with more big game experience. But the game isn't played on paper, and Florida will be going into the toughest environment in college football. There is a reason they call it Death Valley. LSU has won a ridiculous 40 straight night home games.
I know a lot of people are down on LSU so far this season. The Bayou Bengals have not looked good so far, and eking out victories at Washington, Mississippi State and Georgia. I think the criticism is ridiculous. How many teams in the country could have played those three teams on the road and come out unscathed? Not many! There is something to be said for a team that finds a way to win, and that is what LSU has done. The Tigers might not be as talented as Florida, but they are pretty damn good. Bottom line: they win. I think the experience and confidence they have developed as a result of the close games will help them this week.
Florida, on the other hand, has yet to be tested this season. If Florida is sans Tebow, the offense will really struggle. Brantley is more of a pocket passer, and that will take away a lot of the Gators running game, which is so effective with the threat of Tebow carrying the ball. Florida will have to rely more on their good but not great receiving corp.
The Skinny says: Lock up LSU for the outright win.
Stanford at Oregon St. (+1)
It is tough to sort out the Pac-10 this year. I still think USC is the best team, but after that there are a five or six teams that seem pretty comparable. Stanford and Oregon St. are two of them. Jim Harbaugh has done a nice job at Stanford since taking over as coach three years ago. Stanford has been impressive at home, but the Cardinal lost to Wake Forest on the road. The Cardinal have yet to play in an atmosphere like the one they will face in Corvallis.
I love the Rodgers brothers for Oregon St., and I think the Beavers will be able to establish the run against a Cardinal defense that gives up about five yards per carry. The Beavers will wear out a thin Stanford defense in the fourth quarter.
Skin says: In a contest between two evenly matched teams, I love getting the home team getting points.
Lee Greenwood Special: TCU at Air Force (+10.5)
TCU faces one of its toughest tests of the season this weekend on its possible run to an undefeated season and "busting" of the BCS. For my money, if Oklahoma isn't involved, throw all the "BCS Busters" in there.
The Horned Frogs have an outstanding defense, but they couldn't hang within 21 points of Florida or Alabama. It is tough to win on the road in conference, and Air Force is sneaky good on defense.
The Skin says: Give me 10 points up in the Rocky Mountains and I will take Air Force all day.
Georgia at Tennessee (PK)
Georgia has been better this year than I expected. The Bulldogs have looked pretty good when you factor in the difficult schedule and loss of NFL talent from last year's team. Mark Richt may be the best quarterback coach in the country. It was easy to make Matt Stafford look good, but the job he has done with Joe Cox this season is impressive. In watching UGA play it seems Richt puts Cox in position to make plays without becoming overly conservative. (Can you hear me Kevin Wilson?).
Tennessee remains a bit of a mystery to me. Are they the team that lost to UCLA at home–look bad doing it–or the team that actually looked impressive at Florida despite the loss. One thing is for sure: Lane Kiffin is easily my second least favorite coach in college football. Tennessee should be embarrassed by Kiffin's actions since he took the job. Bob Stoops may lose in big games, but at least he has class, something Kiffin knows nothing about. Lane, buddy, you're the head coach at Tennessee. A hundred thousand people come to watch you play every weekend. You don't need to comport yourself like a teenage girl to get attention for your program.
The Skinny says: As for this game, I like Tennessee as the home team with the better defense.
Michigan St (-4.5) at Illinois
In general, I don't recommend betting on the Big 10 this year. It is kind of like the ACC last season, where you have a bunch of teams that are very evenly matched and beat up on each other. Who is good out of the Big 10? I have no idea. I would give a slight advantage to Ohio St., but after the Buckeyes, it's anyone's guess.
Illinois, however, may be the worst team in the Big 10 this season, which has all 10 Illini fans baffled. I live in Illinois, and I never hear about Illini football. Last weekend, the Illini got two whole paragraphs on the back page of the Chicago Tribune sports section. It is surprising to me that the Illini are so bad, given how well coach Ron Zook has recruited and the return of Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn. Part of the problem may be that the Juice hasn't been loose this season, losing his starting job to Eddie McGee.
Michigan St. has been pretty inconsistent this season. Not just from game to game, but even from drive to drive. Illinois is so bad this season that it doesn't matter which Spartan teams shows up this weekend.
Skinny says: Take the Spartans giving the points.
Ball St. at Temple (-14)
OK, to be honest, I have no clue here, but I am starting a new feature this week. Most statisticians will tell you that you could picks teams at random and win 50 percent of the time. Given my record this season, that may not be a bad strategy. So I closed my eyes and pointed to Temple.
The Skin says: Take the Owls in a romp this weekend.
WEEK SIX--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 14-6)
The weekend got off to a positive early start for Homerism Thursday night with Nebraska's miraculous cover versus Missouri. Of course, seeing as I had Bishop Carroll giving 10 against Kapuan Mount Carmel in the biggest private school rivalry game in Wichita on Friday night, I'm back to even. Oh, well, high school kids win some, they lose some.
Stanford at Oregon State (+1)
This spread has moved all over the place since opening with Stanford favored by 2.5, which has me second-guessing myself. I think I've got a good read here.
Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh may want to have a talk with Stanford's schedule-maker, as his team will be playing its sixth game in six weeks. The lack of an off week may have played a role in Stanford's hot start, but at some point the Cardinal will wear down. A trip to Corvallis probably doesn't sound too appealing for a weary team.
Interestingly, the Beavers have dropped their last two home games, losing to Cincinnati and Arizona. Not bad teams, but for a program that prides itself on defending its home turf, that has to sting. (The one home victory this year came in the opener versus Portland State.) Adding to Oregon State's motivation in this case is the revenge factor, as the Cardinal knocked off Mike Riley's team in week one last year.
Blatant Homerism says: Homerism and the Skinny agreeing on a game? Get ready for cats and dogs living together. Look for a fired-up bunch of Beavers to win by about a touchdown.
Alabama at Ole Miss (+4.5)
If you've followed Houston Nutt's career as fervently as Homerism, you know that he is a master of the big upset. Last year's win over Florida in Gainesville was just the latest in a string of titans he has toppled since arriving in the SEC. Nutt's in-game coaching somewhat sucks, but he really knows how to put together a winning game plan. I wouldn't be surprised if he had Ole Miss prepping for 'Bama almost as soon as the gun sounded in Columbia more than two weeks ago.
It's not just that I'm nuts for Mississippi's coach, though. Public opinion shifted too far against the Rebels after their stinker against South Carolina. A Thursday night road game in the SEC is a deathtrap for favorites, and the Gamecocks have looked pretty salty this season. Also, keep in mind that the Rebs nearly tripped up 'Bama in Tuscaloosa last year.
Homerism says: Ole Miss outright.
Boston College at Virginia Tech (-13.5)
Homerism's associate E$ tried to nudge me off this one the other night: "The Hokies are terrible as a big favorite, bro. You never know if the offense is going to show up." Consider me warned.
The Mark Herzlich story was a great angle for a BC play last week. Unfortunately for the Eagles, that was last week. Back to reality on Chestnut Hill. Despite a strong 4-1 start, BC is fools' gold, as Tech should show this weekend. The Hokies gave a lame performance in an eight-point win over Duke in their last contest, so expect a nice bounce-back effort from Frank Beamer's team.
Homerism says: Va. Tech covers on a late touchdown off a punt return.
LGS: TCU (-10.5) at Air Force
Look, laying a lot of wood on the road is rarely a good idea. That said, it's not like Homerism hasn't done it before. TCU is its usual stellar self. Meanwhile, the Falcons are coming off a crushing overtime loss to a kinda rival, Navy. That's good enough for me.
Homerism says: TCU by 12. I'd suggest playing the first half line on TCU as well.
Auburn at Arkansas (+3)
Time to go against Auburn yet again. At some point this has to work out in my favor, right?
Homerism has a well-known soft spot for the small home underdog in a conference game. Even better, I love the home team in an early kickoff. Even better, Auburn is playing its second road game in a row.
Homerism says: Chizik takes his first loss as Auburn's head coach.
Michigan State at Illinois (+4.5)
Why the hell would I go anywhere near Illinois? The Illini are undoubtedly the toughest team to get a read on in college football.
Well, consider this more of a pick against Sparty. MSU got a huge overtime win versus in-state rival Michigan in last Saturday. From the "sad-but-true" category, that game amounts to the Spartans' Super Bowl. Emotionally, if you're Mark D'Antonio, how do you get your team pumped up to take on lowly Illinois? Throw in the early start and it's enough for me to say the Illini are worth a play.
Homerism says: Ron Zook and Co. cover the 4.5.