Sadly, we've reached the final weekend of Picks Trying Not to Suck for 2009. Unlike Homerism's runaway victory last season, plenty still hangs in the balance.
Even though this will close out the Race for the Chocotini, Homerism and Skinny will be back come bowl time to offer up more subpar picks.
WEEK 14--The Skinny
(Last Week: 1-5; Overall: 36-42)
As a very wise man once famously said, what a long, strange trip it's been. That pretty well sums up this football season for Skin. I like to think I am a "glass-half-full" kind of guy, and it is hard to complain too much when 7-5 is considered a disastrous season. Pasadena sounds much sweeter than El Paso or San Antonio, but I have heard the RiverWalk is amazing this time of year.
The rumors of Bob Stoops leaving Norman for South Bend just won't die. I think part of this due to the arrogance of Irish Nation.
You'd think ND fans have been humbled enough over the past 20 years to understand their head coaching position just isn't what it was in the era of Rockne or Parseghian. The fact is that Oklahoma is a better job, and Notre Dame will never be the program it once was.
That doesn't mean that it's not still a top-10 job. Notre Dame has everything a big-time program needs, and I don't buy into the theory that you can't recruit at ND. The Fightin' Irish will never dominate college football as they did in the days before the forward pass, but with the right man running the show, ND can be competitive on a national level.
And the game will be better for it. It is hard to hate a team that can't beat Navy or Syracuse at home.
And for the record, Stoops' reign in Norman is far from over.
I know a lot of Sooner fans are wondering about the status of Stoops' assistant coaches. The biggest criticism I have heard of Stoops is that he is too loyal, especially with regard to his assistant coaches. I am not sure this theory has any merit. I honestly do not believe Stoops has been in a position in which firing an assistant has been necessary. If it ain't broke why fix it?
This season, however, one could make the argument that something is broke and needs fixing. Will Stoops can a member of his staff this offseason? I don't know, but I will not be upset if he chooses not to fire defensive coordinator Brent Venables or offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson.
As unpopular as Venables has been since the departure of Mike Stoops, he has done a damn good job this season. He's also one of the better recruiters on staff. As for Wilson, he was a genius last season when he orchestrated one of the most prolific offenses in college football history. Contrary to popular opinion, Wilson's play calling is imaginative and lacks predictability. (Notice I didn't say "unpredictable.")
If Stoops feels the need to shake things up, that is fine by me, but I won't be crying myself to sleep if he doesn't.
Advice of the Week: Hey, Heisman voters, my pick is Golden Tate, the wide receiver out of Notre Dame. Flat-out, he is the best player in college football. He single-handedly kept the Irish in plenty of games. What is even more impressive is Tate's knack for making timely plays. Unfortunately, I think the award will go to Colt McCoy by default.
Florida (-5.5) vs. Alabama
Unfortunately, I can't shy away from picking this one.
I am having a hard time deciding which team to root for. I dislike Tebow and Florida as much as anyone, and I would love to see them lose this game. On the other hand, I think Texas has a better chance of beating Alabama.
The Crimson Tide's offense is very average, and Alabama has been skating on thinner ice lately than Tiger Woods. (Sorry–I couldn't resist.) Florida looks like Alabama's Elin Nordegren with a 3 iron in hand.
I think this game will be very similar to last year's version. Alabama will hang tough, but over four quarters, Florida will be the better team.
Skinny says: I would be surprised if Alabama puts up more than 17 points and that won't be good enough to win the game or cover the spread.
Texas (-14) vs. Nebraska
If Texas should win this game, I hope the pollsters and computers that make up the BCS equation think long and hard about the Longhorns. Yes, I am biased, but I don't think Texas is any more deserving of a spot in the BCS championship than an undefeated TCU, Cincy or Boise. If you want to force BCS conference teams to schedule the TCUs of the world, then you need to punish teams like Texas that schedule cupcake non-conference opponents.
The last time Texas faced a defense of this caliber, the Longhorns struggled to score 16 points. I think Nebraska can keep this game close with the Blackshirt defense, but the Huskers offense is bad. Really bad.
Texas has all the pressure in this game. As much as Texas fans revel in the demise of "Big Game Bob," outside of Vince Young in 2005, the Longhorns haven't been too impressive in big games, either. Still, if Texas doesn't turn the ball over I don't see any way they can lose this game.
The Skin says: I think Nebraska can cover on the strength of its defense.
Georgia Tech (-1) vs. Clemson
What happened to these two teams last week? I guess it is pretty obvious the SEC is a stronger conference.
Tech won the first matchup between these two teams in Atlanta back in September, but this is a much better Clemson team than the Yellow Jackets faced early in the season. CJ Spiller is a dangerous weapon on offense, and Clemson's defense has played well down the stretch. The Tigers also have the advantage of having already faced Tech's triple-option offense earlier in the season. Clemson had won five straight prior to last week, but the Tigers had the advantage of playing in the ACC Atlantic division.
Skinny says: I'm really tempted to take Clemson, but I have been fooled by the Tigers too many times. I think Tech wins on the strength of coach Paul Johnson.
The Coin Game: Cincinnati (-2.5) at Pittsburgh
Cincy must be a team of destiny. The coin flip likes the Bearcats despite this game being in Pittsburgh and rumors swirling about Brian Kelly's future at Cincinnati. If I were picking, I'd take the home team with the points. That's life.
Will this be enough to propel Cincy to the BCS Championship? I doubt it.
The Skinny says: Per the coin, gotta go with cincy.
New Mexico State at Boise State (-47.5)
I know, this a huge number. But Boise is capable of beating a very bad New Mexico St. team by 48, and you have to believe Boise is going to run up for the score in one last effort to impress the pollsters. Unfortunately for the Broncos, they could win by 100 this weekend and it won't matter.
Skinny says: Broncos by 60.
WEEK 14--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 2-4; Overall: 37-40-1)
I feel like such a failure. I mean, if you can't even go .500, you've really failed at not sucking.
I've got one last week to make it up to all of you. I've already given you two: Nebraska covers the two scores against Texas, while 'Bama beats the Gators outright.
Let's bring this thing home.
South Florida at Connecticut (-7.5)
Memo to the Big 10: You know you're really slipping as a conference when the Big East has a better business plan than you. See how all these teams like Cincy and South Florida and UConn are all playing this weekend? I don't even remember who won your stupid conference title game. Oh, that's right... You didn't have one. Enjoy your trip to Pasadena in a horse-drawn carriage.
Now that we've had our economics lesson for today, how about meteorology 101?
The Bulls come from Tampa, which is very warm. This game is being played in Storrs, where the forecast for tomorrow is a high of 40 degrees. Also, there's going to be snow and freezing rain.
The last time USF played in chilly weather, Jim Leavitt's team got worked 31-0 at Rutgers.
Homerism says: UConn covers.
Florida Atlantic at Florida International (-1.5)
Not much on the line here for these two teams besides pride. Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger has plenty of that. His team, on the other hand–not so much.
Last we saw the Panthers, they were getting drilled by the Gators in Gainesville. That was two weeks ago, though. Since then, Florida International had a nice long Thanksgiving break to recuperate and prepare to exact revenge on its in-state rival for last season's overtime loss.
Homerism says: Defensively, these teams stink, so I'll take FIU in a wild one.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (+2)
The Bearcats have had a great run this year, but it ends this week. Besides the distraction of wondering whether coach Brian Kelly will stick around the Queen City, their defense is slipping. After allowing no more than 20 points in its first eight games, the Cincy D has given up an average of 34 in the last three contests.
Pitt continues to play the sound, NFL-style bowl we've come to expect out of Dave Wannestedt's teams, but this year's team has showed a bit more spurtability than in years past. Assuming the disciplined Bill Stull shows up in this game, Pitt should be able to move the ball pretty consistently. At the end of the day, I'm confident the Panthers will get the stops when they need them.
Homerism says: Pitt-y, the BCS.