By climbing up to .500, The Skinny managed to nab a half-game lead in the 2009 pick-off.
WEEK 12--The Skinny
(Last Week: 4-2; Overall: 33-33)
It is a good thing I made this the season of "perspective" for Skin, because I have needed it in spades.
As if the trials and tribulations that have been Sooner football this season weren't enough, it looks like Texas and Florida are destined to meet in Pasadena for the crystal. As loyal Skin followers know, there are no two programs I loath more.
December is going to be a long month. Christmas and New Year's are ruined. It is going to be 30 days of nothing but "Texas is so great" and "Tebow is the best college football player of forever." If I had the money I would move to Cancun for the month. Foam parties, test-tube shots, 20-year-old co-eds from Texas Tech, cougars desperately longing to feel relevant again... That's how I want to spend the holidays!
It seems Texas fans are supremely confident in the Horns ability to bring home the whole ball of wax. Personally, I think that optimism is very misguided. This year's Texas team actually reminds me of the 2007 Ohio State Buckeyes. That team rolled through a weak Big 10 schedule, only to get crushed by Florida in the Fiesta Bowl. It is hard to improve as a football team when you aren't challenged to become better over the course of the season. The 'Horns only true test this season was a severely wounded Oklahoma team, and Texas was damn lucky to win that game.
If Texas makes the BCS championship game, expect a 2007 replay. At least I can take some solace in watching the Longhorns fall on their faces.
Texas fans I spoke to this week were outraged at the idea that any team, let alone the lowly TCU Horned Frogs, could be thought to be more deserving of a spot in the BCS title game. Let's look at the two résumes:
Wins vs. Current Top 25
Other Key Wins
Texas: OU, Texas Tech
TCU: @Clemson, @Virginia, @BYU
Margin of Victory
Personally, I think the two teams' bonafides are very comparable. I might even give TCU a slight edge. Outside of OU and OSU–two teams decimated by injuries–the Big 12 is no better than the Mountain West this year.
The biggest difference to me is the non-conference schedules. TCU went to Virginia and Clemson and won, while the Longhorns decided to load up their schedule with Louisiana-Monroe, UTEP and Wyoming. Texas doesn't deserve to play for the championship simply because they started the season ranked number two. TCU has earned its spot and should be rewarded accordingly.
It sounds funny to say this, but I think Florida and Alabama are getting screwed as well. The loser of that game has a much stronger case than Texas, in my opinion. Texas is getting a pass to the BCS title game that is simply doesn't deserve.
Advice of the Week: Keep an eye on OU's hoops team this season. No one is expecting too much out of the Sooners following the loss of Blake Griffin to the NBA, but coach Jeff Capel has stocked the roster with plenty of young talent.
Oregon (-5.5) at Arizona
It has been a long ride for Mike Stoops at Arizona. I have to admit I have a rooting interest for Stoops. He is as good of a defensive coach as you will find in college football, but his record as a head coach has been very mediocre. In his sixth season as the head coach at Arizona, Stoops has finally put together the kind of team most expected to see when Stoops was hired. With a win in this game Saturday, Arizona has a good chance to win the Pac-10 and qualify for the Rose Bowl.
Stoops' mark on his club's defense is easily apparent. The Wildcats are one of the top defensive teams in the country, allowing a mere 305 yards per game. In the Pac-10 this season, that is pretty damn good.
Would anyone in the country want to face Oregon in a bowl game? The Ducks have just one loss in what I believe is by far the toughest conference in college football. Everyone knows about Oregon's explosive offense, but quietly the Ducks might have the best defense in Pac-10 as well.
As for this game, I think the Ducks are too tough for the Wildcats. Arizona's record looks a bit inflated when you consider they haven't played Oregon and USC yet.
The Skin says: I love the Ducks favored by less than a touchdown.
Ohio St. (-12.5) at Michigan
Is there a more overrated rivalry in sports? OK, there probably are a few! (Dodgers-Giants and Cubs-Cardinals come to mind.)
Actually, now that I think about it, this is a pretty good rivalry. I think it is just the Big 10 hater in me. I generally try to avoid rivalry games, but this seems like an obvious play to me.
Personally, I think the criticism of DickRod is a bit unfair. Two seasons really isn't enough time for a coach to turn around a program, especially when he brings in a new offensive system. It seems Michigan fans are on a witch hunt against, as criticism of Rodriguez's recruiting tactics resurface. Unfair or not, this is why Rodriguez will never be successful at Michigan. I think even this kid would have turned that shtick down.
Say what you want about Ohio State's recent woes in big bowl games–as OU fan I don't put much stock in big bowl games anymore–the Buckeye's are still the class of the Big 10. The state of Michigan football is so bad I think everyone, including the players, just want the season to end. I don't think Michigan will even show up for this one, rivalry game or not.
The Skinny says: The Buckeyes roll on their way to the Rose Bowl in two months. ( I will save the suspense: Oregon 45, OSU 10.)
Kansas at Texas (-27.5)
This one pains me. I would love to see my boy Mangino roll, literally, into Texas and dash the Longhorns' national title hopes. Unfortunately, I think Mangino has a better chance of being a swimsuit model.
The witch hunt in Kansas against Mangino seems even more unfair than what Rodriguez is facing in Ann Arbor. Two years ago, Mangino led the Jayhawks to the Orange Bowl and a top-10 ranking! This is Kansas football. I think you should be allowed to suffer through a 5-7 season coming off of two straight bowl wins.
Kansas officials apparently have concerns about Mangino's gruff personality. I can tell you from his days at OU that Mangino isn't a fun, life-of-the-party personality, so it's not like he suddenly became a jerk when he got to Kansas. Funny that Kansas didn't seem to care when he was making them millions in a BCS bowl.
I have already told you how I feel about the Longhorns. I am not buying in the BCS title game, but they are great at blowing out lowly Big 12 opponents.
Skin says: Much like Rodriguez, Mangino has lost this team. Don't expect the Jayhawks to put up much of a fight! (Again, I will save you the suspense: Florida 28, Texas 10.)
LSU at Ole Miss (-4)
While both teams have been eliminated from a shot at the SEC championship game, they still have plenty riding on this game besides pride. The winner has a good chance to be in position to receive the top non-BCS bowl bid out of the SEC. That could mean a date with the Oklahoma Sooners in Cotton Bowl.
Ole Miss has a nice team, but I want no part of LSU in a bowl game. Sure, the Tiger struggled a bit last week against Louisiana Tech. But have you checked out the athletes on Les Miles' squad?
Physically, LSU's receiving corps is impressive... I know that sounds bad. But, seriously, they are all big, tall and fast. Brandon LaFell and Rueben Randle could be stars on the next level. Despite their athletic ability, LSU's offense has struggled this season. The Tigers' offense ranks 107th in nation this year in total offense. I know "defense wins championships," but 300 yards per game for a top-10 team? (I'll spare you my rant, but this is such a weak field of college teams.)
Fortunately for Tiger fans, the LSU defense is solid, allowing less than 14 points per game.
Ole Miss has had a bit of a disappointing season given preseason expectations, but the Rebels seem to be putting things together lately. What happened to Jevan Snead? He is completing less than 50 percent of his passes for a meager 1,900 yards on the year. I caught most of the Rebels games last week against an improving Tennessee squad, and I have to say I was impressed. This is the Ole Miss team most expected this season.
Skinny says: I think LSU wins on a neutral field, so the Rebels' home field advantage makes this a pick ‘em in my eyes. Give me the Bayou Bengals and 4 points.
The Coin Flip Game: Oklahoma (-6.5) at Texas Tech
In an unexpected twist, this week the coin likes OU.
I have to admit this one makes me a little nervous. If it was up to me, I would take the Red Raiders. OU's offense and special teams have been non-existent outside the confines of Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium. On the other side of the ball, the Sooners have one of the best defenses in the country. Tech's offense, while still very dangerous, hasn't been up to Mike Leach standards this season. Weird things seem to happen to the Sooners in Lubbock: the phantom TD in 2005, the Bradford concussion in 2007. But, the Coin chose my fate and who am I to mess with destiny?
Skin says: OU wins by 7.
Lee Greenwood Special: Air Force at BYU (-10)
The college football world and Notre Dame, in particular, seem to view ND's loss to Navy two weeks ago as the last straw for Charlie Weis. I think that is a little unfair to Navy. The Midshipmen are a good football team; obviously, they are better than Notre Dame. Unfortunately for The Skinny, the Midshipmen are off this week, so I will go with the other service academy that doesn't get any respect, Air Force.
Air Force (7-4) has lost to Navy, TCU, Utah, and Minnesota by a combined 20 points, and the Falcons came dangerously close to beating TCU in Fort Worth. BYU really hasn't been the team we thought they were after beating OU in week one. Air Force will give the Cougs all they can handle this week.
The Skin says: I love Air Force +10!
WEEK 12--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 2-4; Overall: 32-33-1)
We've reached that part of the season where there don't seem to be many surprises left. Teams are who we think they are. USC no longer seems invincible. Oklahoma looks beatable. Stanford is rolling. Cincinnati actually is one of the best teams in the country.
For gamblers, it's a double-edged sword. Bettors have a pretty solid handle things; so do the oddsmakers. Top to bottom, the point spreads are razor-sharp.
Thus, the opportunities to exploit dislocations in the gambling market have started to dry up. Best look abroad for outsize returns--cricket, anyone?
TCU at Wyoming (+31.5)
Going against the Horned Frogs has been a risky proposition this season, as they are 7-3 against the spread this year, including a stellar 4-1 in road games. Homerism is throwing caution to the wind, though.
TCU just had a huge home game last weekend against Utah, a revenge victory that all but sealed its spot in the BCS mix. Gary Patterson's team has succeeded for the most part in avoiding letdowns this year, and I don't think anyone would view a 28-point win as a letdown. There's just no motivation for TCU in this game to really put the hammer down on the Cowboys, unless it's style points. And here's a surprising number for you: Wyoming is 7-2 against the number this year.
Homerism says: Cowboys cover.
Vanderbilt at Tennessee (-17)
To say Vols coach Lane Kiffin has had an eventful maiden voyage on Rocky Top would be an understatement. To the credit of ace recruiter Ed Orgeron, though, enough talent has assembled in Knoxville to put the Volunteers back on the road to respectability. A bowl appearance in Kiffin's first year as the head man would go a long way towards hastening that journey, and 5-5 UT becomes postseason eligible with a win in this night game at Neyland Stadium.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt is playing out the string in yet another below-mediocre season. Win or lose, the season ends for the 2-9 Commodores after Saturday night.
When you think about it, it's almost cruel to give a bowl bid to a program with as crap of a history as Vandy, let alone not institute some kind of rule prohibiting it from winning. Way to completely knock Commodore Nation's expectations completely out of whack, 2008 Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. E-mail Music City Bowl CEO Scott Ramsey to express your disgust.
Homerism says: Tennessee 24, Vanderbilt... will always have that magical day at LP Field.
Memphis at Houston (-23)
Not surprisingly, win-at-all-costs George O'Leary had Central Florida's defense ready to do whatever it took to get the job done last weekend against Houston, and the Knights out-physicaled the Cougars to an upset win.
Currently, Houston sits in second in the West division of Conference USA, trailing only the surprising SMU Mustangs. With a conference title still a possibility, UH head coach Kevin Sumlin won't stand for another flat effort from his squad. Look for the high-flying Houston offense to come out firing in typical Cougar fashion, looking to feast on Memphis' young.
Across the way, Memphis kinda-coach Tommy West has just two games left to make a little magic happen before his totally unimpressive tenure draws to a close. Last week, in an attempt to send a clear message to the administration about their dedication to their leader, West's never-say-die Tigers went out and gave what appeared to be an intentionally pathetic effort in a home loss to UAB.
Take heart, Tigers–word is Dr. Lou could be on his way to Beale Street to help cure your blues.
Homerism says: Houston, you won't have a problem.
Tulsa at Southern Mississippi (-8.5)
While everyone else in the country was watching the Patriots and Colts stage an instant classic last Sunday night, a Golden Hurricane warning was in effect in Tulsa. A word of advice to the Tulsa and East Carolina athletic departments: Next time you want to pull that kind of stunt, at least make sure NBC is showing something like Jaguars-Cardinals.
A double whammy for the 'Cane: a short week to prepare for a road game against a quality opponent late in the season.
Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora's potent spread offense is tough enough to defend on a full tank. Expect Tulsa's defense to be gassed, while the TU offense will struggle to keep pace with the Golden Eagles.
Homerism says: The half-point is somewhat worrisome, but I still think Southern Miss is the right play.
LGS: Air Force (+10) at BYU
Anyone know why this line has hit double digits? I've watched both of these teams a couple times this year, and I just don't see it. In fact, the only reason I can come up with to go against Air Force is because this seems too easy.
Damn it. If only I had pulled the trigger on this a second earlier. Now I'm starting to second-guess myself. Is this a trap? He who hesitates is lost.
Homerism says: Air Force, although I like it a lot less now than I used to.
Louisiana-Monroe at Louisiana-Lafayette (+3.5)
This underrated Bayou State rivalry has produced its fair share of hard feelings, including an underhanded attempt on the part of Lafayette to unoffically brand itself the "University of Louisiana" a few years back when the state's university system dropped the "Northeast Louisiana University" and "University of Southwestern Louisiana" monikers.
The Ragin' Cajuns relish the underdog role, especially at the Cajun Dome. And especially in this civil war. Look for the ULL crowd to be in a festively nasty mood for this evening tilt.
Given the Warhawks' struggles on the road this season, this is a tall order for ULM.
Homerism says: Lafayette gets the outright win.