A quarter of the way through the season, the race for the chocotini is heating up. Of course, the "race" looks more like a geriatric walk-a-thon than a sprint at this point. Neither Homerism nor The Skinny have generated much momentum to this point, but the season's still young.
WEEK FOUR--The Skinny
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 8-10)
I refuse to ride the roller coaster.
With few exceptions, that's what college football is this time of year. I've seen it happen too many times. Wins over FSU, Va. Tech, or Miami look great on paper in September, only to find out in November Bernie Madoff was keeping the books. By the same token the stank from that beligerent TCU fan's ass after the Horned Frogs just knocked off your top five team in the home opener doesn't smell quite so bad when TCU ends the season 10-1.
I'm not sure that Utah State, FSU and Air Force fall into either category. FSU presented OU with good athletes, and OU won't face a more challenging offense this season than Air Force. The season is young, and there are still many more questions than answers for OU.
Sooner Nation is polarized this week, but what's new. There are a lot of rabid fans across the country, but none have higher standards than OU's.
Simply winning is unacceptable. If you want to please Sooners' fans, you better be up 50 at half. Not surprisingly, everyone is pointing the Red River Shootout as the true test of this OU team. And I don't disagree.
But, if you are looking for a good measuring stick, it comes this weekend away in Paul Brown Stadium. How will OU play away from home? If you want to know how OU will do next weekend against UT, I'll let you know Saturday night.
Stanford (-5) at Notre Dame
Nothing gets me going in the morning like "waking the echoes" with the Irish Guard and my kegs and eggs. Yes, unfortunately, I will be in attendance for this one.
I will give ND credit. The tailgating scene is unrivaled and the stadium is pretty spectacular - not a bad seat in the house and no obnoxious scoreboard displaying "let's get rowdy." It's the anti-Jerry World.
To be honest though, there are 80,000 ways I would rather spend my Saturday than listening to the countless tales of schoolboy pranks after parietals and first dates by the Grotto.
The Skinny says: I'm not buying all the Stanford love, but I love Stanford big in this game. Partly because ND's defense will get trounced and partly because a blowout means an early exit to watch Sooners and Bearcats.
Ball State at Iowa (-28)
It wouldn't be September without a Big 10-MAC matchup, or a bunch of them. Thank the football gods that those of us in the upper midwest no longer have to suffer through these matchups in the 11 a.m. time slot.
There are plenty of reasons not to like Iowa coming off a tough, late Saturday loss at Arizona, a team I'm buying. Add in the early start time against a Ball State team that Phil Steele expected to be much improved this season, and 28 points seems a bit much.
But, I am going with an opposite view on this game. I think Iowa will come out with something to prove. The Hawkeyes are an experienced group and Kirk Ferentz will have his team ready to play.
Skin says: No letdown here. Iowa still has plenty to play for including a shot at the BCS if they can when out.
USC (-22) at Wazzu
Reggie Bush, NCAA Sanctions, Lane Kiffin, a new AD, limited scholarships - I think it's safe to say the Trojans' program is in turmoil. That seems to be to the delight of the college football world, myself included.
But there is hope for all three remaining USC fans. You still have Washington State on the schedule.
The once mighty Trojans have looked very pedestrian this year, but they still have some young offensive firepower in quarterback Matt Barkley and a stable of RBs and WRs. Call me crazy but I still think SC will make some noise in what is shaping up to a great conference race.
The Skin says: I like USC big, late.
Oregon St. at Boise St. (-17)
Boise St. is finally getting its "long overdue" visit from ESPN College Gameday this week. I'm not a Boise hater and maybe they are deserving of some BCS love this season, but is Boise seriously complaining that GameDay has never made it out to the smurf turf? As bad as GameDay may be these days, I think they still want people to watch. Can you imagine the production guy at ESPN scrambling to find a guest picker from Idaho?
As for the game, Boise has every reason to put on a good showing. This is Boise's last chance to play on a national stage against a BCS league opponent, and this will be Boise's only common opponent with TCU. The Broncos need to win big and the Beaver's defense has been awful this season.
Skinny says: I like Boise big.
Cal at Arizona (-6.5)
I think Arizona is the real deal this year. In fact, Arizona might be my front runner for the Pac-10 title if it wasn't for those Stanford and Oregon games on the road.
But, this game has major letdown potential coming off last week's victory over Iowa. Plus, the Wildcats top wide receiver, Juron Criner, is doubtful for this weekend's game.
Cal, on the other hand, is coming off an embarrassing loss to Nevada. I don't put too much stock in last week's loss. Nevada is a good team and it was Cal's first road game of the season. I think you generally improve the most after your first road game.
The Skin says: Vegas has the line at less than a TD for a reason. Arizona wins a close one.
Lee Greenwood Special: Air Force (-13) at Wyoming
Navy is off this week, so I can't take the Midshipmen. Yet, after watching Air Force against OU last weekend, the Falcons might have to be my new "go to" in the LGS.
Air Force leads the nation in rushing, and Wyoming has one of the worst rush defenses in the country. I expect Air Force will move the ball with ease against the Cowboys. Air Force is the last team Wyoming wants to see coming off of frustrating losses to Texas and Boise. The triple option seems to wear teams down mentally, and unfortunately for Wyoming, they don't have the size and athleticism of OU. One thing to watch: Carta-Samuels for Wyoming is a dangerous wide receiver. He gave the vaunted Longhorns' secondary all they wanted two weeks ago in Austin.
Skinny says: I like Air Force laying the points.
WEEK FOUR--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 9-9)
Homerism is running place, even if it's awfully fast. Not surprisingly, the hook in the Notre Dame-Michigan State game came back to bite me on that fake field goal.
TCU (-17.5) at SMU
Good start to the weekend.
If you're in Texas, you understand what it means playing under the Friday night lights. In this case, it's even bigger for Texas Christian, which has the national spotlight to itself and can make a statement to the pollsters.
Henceforth, look for the Horned Frogs to come out locked and loaded for this intra-city clash against June Jones' Mustangs. Once they're done mopping the floor with the pretty boy ponies, watch out Greenville. These horny toads will be ready to paint the town before getting shuttled back to the other side of the tracks in Fort Worth.
Homerism says: TCU, 45-17.
Virginia Tech at Boston College (+4)
Congrats to the Hokies for pulling themselves up off the mat last weekend. While they were fighting to save their good name, however, the Eagles were at home with their feet propped up, taking in an exciting day of college football action.
An extra week of rest and preparation bodes well for BC. The Eagles have a favorable ACC schedule, but they'll need to pull off an upset or two against the combination of Tech, Florida State and Clemson to win the ACC Atlantic. Why not start here?
Homerism says: Home team by a field goal.
LGS: Air Force at Wyoming (+13)
OK, in the past two weeks, I've seen:
- Air Force work BYU and put a helluva scare into my Sooners;
- Texas and Boise State have their way with the Cowboys.
So, what am I missing with this line? The Cadets aren't even giving two scores.
Even though I have no doubt Air Force is the better team, it seems like a confluence of factors are helping drive this line:
- back-to-back road games;
- a game with rival Navy on deck; and
- a letdown spot after playing OU so close.
Also, looking back at last season, Wyoming played Air Force tight, eventually losing 10-0 in Colorado Springs.
Not too confident on this one, but I'll roll the dice and trust that the oddsmakers know what they're doing.
Homerism says: The Cowboys cover.
North Texas at Florida Atlantic (-10)
As Homerism discussed with Crick of on the handicapping podcast this week, I see lots of reasons to keep fading the Mean Green.
Among an assortment of maladies plaguing UNT, injuries at the quarterback spot have forced coach Todd Dodge's son Riley back under. He gets the distinct pleasure of making his triumphant return on the back end of two straight long road trips.
The bottom line to me here is that North Texas is really bad, and it doesn't look like this team will be getting better any time soon.
Homerism says: I know zip about FAU, so this is essentially a play against UNT.
South Carolina at Auburn (-3)
Steve Spurrier seems awfully cocky this year, running his mouth like he did back when Noah Brindise was operating the Fun 'n' Gun.
Unfortunately for the OBC, when he has the game on his shoulders, Stephen Garcia rates somewhere below Doug Johnson on the quarterback meter. If teams shut down the Gamecocks' running game and force South Cackalacka to rely on the pass, history shows that Garcia tends to crater.
So far this year, Garcia's highest number of pass attempts in one game is 23, as the Gamecocks have run the ball effectively. As a result, look for Gene Chizik to concentrate on stopping beefy freshman running back Marcus Lattimore first and foremost.
A bigger concern for USC in this case is Auburn's no-huddle offense, which coordinator Gus Malzahn runs at warp speed. South Carolina hasn't seen much of that style and certainly hasn't seen it run with the effectiveness of Tigers QB Cam Newton.
Homerism says: Auburn by 4.
Central Florida (+7) at Kansas State
Know what Kansas State likes to do? Run, run and run some more.
Know what UCF does well? Stop the run.
It's strength on strength Saturday morning. I'm banking on crafty George O'Leary to come up with a plan to at least slow down KSU running back Daniel Thomas, forcing Bill Snyder to send his team to the air.
Homerism says: The Wildcats win an ugly one, but not by enough.