Homerism and The Skinny wanted to get out this week's picks before you dove into your turkey rolls. In the words of Dirk Diggler, feast on this.
WEEK 13--The Skinny
(Last Week: 2-4; Overall: 35-37)
It will be an abbreviated Thanksgiving picks column this week. I was going to blame it on my "busy" holiday activities, but those who know me know my week will consist of sitting on my ass, eating and watching football.
Unfortunately, Skin has simply lost his zest for this football season. My fragile preseason hopes didn't even make it through the first half of OU's first game thanks to a sprained AC joint. From there, my football season has suffered a slow and painful death, culminating in the worst Sooner performance I can remember in the Stoops era last week at Texas Tech. (At least USC was USC, this was Texas Tech!)
When I am feeling down this football season, I look at this. It is hard to argue that OU isn't the premier program in college football history. People can argue all they want. The facts don't lie.
Not much to be thankful for this football season, but at least I am not a Notre Dame fan! As if things weren't bad enough for the Irish, how does your star FOOTBALL player get sucker-punched coming out of a restaurant Saturday night? I thought football players were supposed to be tough, intimidating guys? The entire incident is very symbolic of the collective psyche of ND nation.
And the doucheness of Jimmy Clausen. Admit it, Irish fans, none of you were exactly upset when you heard this news. In Norman, Sam Bradford could be hooking up some dude's girlfriend and he would still ask the Heisman winner would ask his for his autograph. Now if someone could just punch Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer, I might be able to salvage something out of this miserable season.
Oh, and let's hope the Aggies can slug Mack and the Longhorns this weekend and clear the path for TCU.
Holiday Advice of the Week: If you liked Wild Hogs, then you'll love Old Dogs. It seems like it's becoming more of a young man's world every day. Thankfully, no one could convince old dogs John Travolta and Robin Williams that they couldn't learn new tricks–or that they shouldn't make this family laugh-fest! Williams' best performance since Mrs. Doubtfire.
North Carolina (-5.5) at North Carolina State
This one seems pretty simple. North Carolina has won four straight. The Tar Heels have a nice defense, and Butch Davis is one of the best coaches in the country. Too bad he is hidden in North Carolina... Are you listening, Notre Dame?
After a long season, NC State's players will be more concerned with their targets for after the game.
The Skin says: I like UNC by at least a touchdown.
Missouri (-3) at Kansas
Talk about nightmare seasons. Has anyone had a worse run than Mark Mangino and the Kansas Jayhawks? I generally steer clear of picking the road team in a rivalry game, but the Jayhawks have been bad this year no matter where they are playing. Plus, the KU hoops team is playing in Maui this Thanksgiving, a pleasant distraction for Mangino, no doubt.
My love affair with Mangino is no secret. I will be sad to see him go. I am sure he will land on what have to be very sturdy feet.
The Skinny says: Missouri covers the three.
Georgia at Georgia GT (-8.5)
It hasn't been banner year for UGa, either. To make matters worse, Georgia receiver AJ Green may not play this weekend at Tech.
Paul Johnson's style isn't always pretty, but it works. Georgia hasn't seen anything in the SEC like Tech's funky option offense this season. The Ramblin' Wreck are a bad half at Miami away from being undefeated and a legit national title contender.
The home crowd will be pumped up to put it on the wounded 'Dawgs.
Skinny says: I like Georgia Tech by at least 2 touchdowns.
Lee Greenwood Special: Navy (-9) at Hawaii
This has all the making of a trap game for the Midshipmen. The distance and time change are tough on opposing teams traveling to play Hawaii. The scenery in Hawaii is enough to distract any team, but, for the Middies, who are used to getting up at 5 a.m. for formation, the trip takes on a little more meaning.
After losing six straight earlier in the year, it seems Hawaii has found its offense, winning its last 3. Still, if any team is disciplined enough to overcome the trappings of Hawaii, it's Navy. The Midshipmen are by far the more battle-tested team, and I think that serves them well in this game.
Skinny says: I like Navy giving the points.
The Coin Game: Wake Forest (-4) at Duke
Damn you, coin. I should have known it was bad karma when the flip landed on Oklahoma last week.
I am not liking the coin's choice this week, either! Wake Forest hasn't been very good this season, and I think Duke is on the rise under coach David Cutcliffe. The Demon Deacons have lost five straight, including last week's blowout loss against a lowly Florida State squad. Prior to that, Wake had lost Navy, Miami and Ga. Tech by a combined seven points. The Deacs' actually have a pretty nice offense, averaging nearly 400 yards a game behind 10th-year senior Riley Skinner.
I know Duke employs a pass-happy offense, but the Blue Devils' rushing stats are atrocious, averaging 63 yards a game. No worries about home-field advantage for the Dukies. I don't know if they have ever filled Wade Wallace Stadium.
The Skin says: Wake finishes a disappointing year with a win.
Florida St. at Florida (-24.5)
In yet another example of the sorry state of college football in 2009, who would have ever thought the Seminoles would be 24-point dogs at Florida?
At first glance, this is a big time mismatch. But FSU, while not nearly the program of the '90s, is still talented. The Seminoles, and the rest of the ACC for that matter, continue to send a ton of players to the NFL, despite their lackluster performance on the field.
Florida's victories have been much more workman-like this season, even at home. The Gators really haven't blown out many opponents. Also, is it possible that Florida could be looking ahead to next week's much-anticipated SEC championship game?
Skin says: I will take the 'Noles with the points.
WEEK 12--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 35-36-1)
For Homerism, Thanksgiving ranks right up there with the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament in terms of great weekends of the year.
Obviously, there's the food. (Homerism's old lady got a jump on things Tuesday night with a cake topped with chocolate cream cheese icing.)
But there's so much more. You get two days off from work, and offices close early on Wednesday. Chances are there's an episode of Law & Order on any time you turn on the TV. You can walk around in your navy blue sweatsuit for at least three days and no one looks askance, even with the stain on your crotch from the cheese that spilled off your nachos during breakfast on Friday morning.
And, of course, it's just a kick-ass week of sports. The early-season college basketball tournaments are in full swing, giving fans the chance to see some pretty solid games being played in the Virgin Islands in "arenas" with lines for handball all over the court and card tables and ice chests for concession stands. In addition to three pro games on Thanksgiving day, Texas and Texas A&M square off that evening. Then, there's a full day of college games on Friday before the annual Bedlam game on Saturday.
Plus, for handicappers foundering through the definition of a mediocre season of prognostication, there's still that glimmer of hope that your year can be salvaged.
Wyoming (+3) at Colorado State
Anyone have any insight into the Mountain West's bowl tie-ins? Honestly, I don't feel like looking them up. Presuming there's a slot for a 6-6 team somewhere, Wyoming could get bowl-eligible with a win at Fort Collins this weekend.
The Rams started the year off strong, beating Nevada and Colorado in their first three games. Since then, though, CSU has dropped eight straight. That string includes losses to lowly New Mexico and UNLV in the last two games. Are these Rams or lambs? Looks like Steve Fairchild's team has packed it in.
Homerism says: Cowboys sacrifice CSU in an offering to the bowl-giving gods.
Missouri (-3) at Kansas
The Jayhawks face a bizarro bowl-eligibility problem. Win and you have to spend another month with a head coach you supposedly hate. It's like that South Park episode where all the Little League teams are trying to lose intentionally because they're sick of playing. If you win, you really lose.
Mizzou already has made Homerism look foolish by winning seven games this year. Frankly, I put that shame on the rest of the Big 12, though. Mizzou still stinks--the only reason this team is above .500 is the overall crappiness of the conference.
Forget the rivalry here. I'll take the team that sucks over the team that sucks and actually wants to suck even worse this weekend.
Homerism says: Tigers, 27-21.
Texas at Texas A&M (+21)
Do I think A&M has a chance of knocking off the Longhorns, ending their national championship hopes? Absolutely not, given the Aggies' skeleton drill of a defense.
However, doesn't this game seem tailor-made for the Aggies to at least put on a respectable showing?
A night game at home, on Thanksgiving no less. A chance to play the spoiler to UT's title hopes. Kyle Field should be rocking.
Texas, meanwhile, gave its seniors an emotional send-off at Darrell K. Royal Stadium last weekend. At this point, even with two games remaining, the Longhorns must be so ready to get out to Pasadena. That's not the mental state for a team to go on the road and roll over a pseudo-rival.
Homerism says: Aggies keep it within 20.
LGS: Navy (-9) at Hawaii
If there's one type of team that doesn't get flustered by a trip to paradise, it's the service academies. These guys are accustomed to sleeping 30 minutes per night and think jet lag is what the air traffic controllers left in their shorts after Maverick and Goose buzzed the flight deck. Any chance leaving the mainland shakes up the Midshipmen? Negative, Ghost Rider.
This may be the best Navy team in recent memory. The Middies' trigger man, Ricky Dobbs, runs the flexbone as well as any option quarterback in the country. Having sat for essentially two games due to injury in the middle of the season, Dobbs' rushing statistics won't blow you away: 786 yards on 227 attempts, an average of 3.46 yards per carry. However, he's second in the country in rushing touchdowns with 22, and he has added another four scores passing. I think it's fair to wonder if Dobbs would be a legitimate Heisman candidate for 8-3 Navy had he not have missed some time.
Anyway, my guess is that Dobbs and Co. will plow through the Rainbow Warriors' soft run defense, which ranks 101st in the country in yards allowed per attempt at 4.75.
Homerism says: A road favorite this large so late in the season seems dangerous, but I'll go Navy by double digits.
Wake Forest at Duke (+4.5)
This ain't your daddy's Wake Forest team. Well, maybe it is. The point is that the Demon Deacons have taken a small step back this season from the improvement witnessed in the last few years. Jim Grobe's squad has no shot at a bowl this season.
Meanwhile, in-state rival Duke gets to .500 with a win on Senior Day in Durham. Coach David Cutcliffe and quarterback Thaddeus Lewis have done a lot to elevate the Blue Devils out of the ACC's cellar. It seems only fitting that Duke would send off Lewis with a win in his final home game.
Homerism says: Duke takes this one outright.
Utah at BYU (-7.5)
Last year, all holy hell broke loose in the Holy War, as the Utes rolled to a 24-point win. Now it's time for BYU to exact some revenge.
Max Hall, BYU's 43-year-old quarterback, has matured greatly since last year. I think he's the difference here.
Look on the bright side Utah, a loss may keep your coach, Kyle Whittingham, in Salt Lake City for another year.
Homerism says: Cougars, 34-25.