With the Red River Shootout on deck Saturday, it's a wonder Homerism and The Skinny have the capacity to even think of other games besides the nastiest rivalry in college football. Such are the lengths we go to for y'all. So, enjoy.
WEEK FIVE--The Skinny
(Last Week: 4-2; Overall: 12-12)
Does anyone enjoy watching OU play anymore?
Since the Sooners' exciting 31-29 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday, I have heard a lot complaints about OU's "poor" performances this season. Last Saturday's game was the most fun I have had watching an OU game in a long time. Sure, there is reason for concern, but this game had it all. Most importantly, OU making big plays to win a close game on the road.
Maybe this is an overly philosophical take, but have we become this jaded as fans? So focused on championships that we forget to actually enjoy the games? Are we so busy sizing OU up for the future that we don't appreciate winning a competitive contest?
I guess this is a byproduct of success at any big program, but you have to wonder if this same obsession has hindered the folks inside the program the past few seasons. If Saturday night was evidence of a different focus for the 2010 Sooners, I don't know that I could have come away from that game more pleased. If not, at least it was a pleasurable experience.
Enough with last week. Speaking of pleasurable, it is setting up to be another great weekend of football for The Skinny. I will be at the Texas State Fair this weekend for OU-Texas. The stakes might not be quite as high this year, but it's still the best atmosphere you will find in college football (maybe in all of sports).
I'm buying the PAC 10. Oregon, Stanford, and Arizona are for real. ASU, USC, Cal, and Oregon St. aren't bad either.
Alabama will lose a regular season game. In a better year for the SEC, it would be two games.
Advice of the Week: The whole hot female sports reporter debate has been beat to death lately. I prefer the Connie Chung debate - for the female reporter you find oddly attractive but you'd never admit. My nominees are Rachel Nichols, Brenda Warner, and Linda Cohn.
Northwestern (-4.5) at Minnesota
The Golden Gophers are neck-and-neck with Wazzu as the worst team in a BCS Conference.
Minnesota has given up an astonishing 7.4 yards per play this season (the only other team above 7, Wazzu). I am generally in favor of given a coach time to build a program. Too much turnover tends to do more harm than good, so if you are going to fire a coach you better have a good replacement (see Dame, Notre). But, Tim Brewster has decimated what was once a decent program. (Note: Sounds like Minnesota is already pursuing replacements for Brewster. Tony Dungy is reported to be at the top of the list. Yea, right... I ‘d like to date Erin Andrews while we're at it.)
Pat Fitzgerald, on the other hand, has done a nice job at Northwestern. The Wildcats aren't a great defensive team either, but they won't need much to beat Minnesota. Northwestern QB Dan Persa, who boasts the third-best passing efficiency rating in the country, should have a big day against Minnesota's secondary.
Skin says: NU.
Va. Tech (-4) at NC State
I have been scouting NC State as a sleeper all month. Unfortunately, I waited a week too long to take the Wolfpack, as NC State crushed Ga. Tech by 17 points last week. What is it about NC State that makes them easy to ignore? Obviously, NC State is a major university in the ACC, but the Wolfpack illicit zero emotion for me.
It's kind of like the State of Delaware. You know it's there, but you've never thought about it (until you go to Dewey Beach and then it is unforgettable). I wouldn't read too much into NC State's performance at Ga. Tech as I think the Yellow Jackets are overrated, but a road win against the defending conference champs is impressive nonetheless.
Good coaching (Tom O'Brien) and experienced QB play (Russell Wilson) are a nice combination for a home dog.
The Skinny says: Take the points.
Penn St. at Iowa (-7)
I have struggled with this game all week. I think Iowa is clearly the better team, but 7 points looms pretty large in what I expect to be a low scoring game.
The more I think about this game the more I like Iowa. The Hawkeyes have the edge in all the critical areas. Coaching: Iowa. Home Field: Iowa. Defense: Iowa. QB Play: Iowa.
Plus, Penn State comes into the game with a freshman QB with a 3:5 TD:INT ratio. If Penn State has any chance in this game, it is going to have to run the ball. That will be a tough task against the No. 3 run defense in the country.
Skinny says: I think Iowa wins in easy fashion.
Tennessee at LSU (-16)
The SEC is down this season. This battle of traditional SEC powers is proof. Just don't tell SEC fans, unless you want to match wits with this guy. LSU's offense under Jordan Jefferson (419 yds, 2TDs, 4INTs – notice a theme this week?) has been painful to watch.
The Vols, led by junior QB Matt Simms (836 yds, 6 TDs, 3 INTs), aren't exactly an offense juggernaut, but they have been able to run the ball against good defenses. Simms and the Vols will face a stiff test this weekend against arguably the best defense they will face this season in LSU. To make matters worse, the Vols could be without their leading rusher Tauren Poole. Add it all up and the under at 42.5 looks pretty attractive.
The Skin says: I think LSU wins the game, but 16 points is too many.
Lee Greenwood Special: Temple at Army (+6)
I wanted to pick the Navy-Air Force game for this week's LGS, but I like this game too much to pass up.
Al Golden has done a tremendous job bringing respectability to the Temple program, but it's still Temple. Temple is 3-1 this season and kept things respectable last week at Penn State, but the scores are a bit deceiving. Temple has been outgained by its opponents this season by over 300 yards. Temple was lucky to beat Villanova in its home opener.
While not quite the caliber of Air Force or Navy, Army is your typical service academy. The Black Knights run a ball-control, triple-option offense. They are disciplined and rarely beat themselves with turnovers and penalties.
Army will give Temple more than they bargained for this weekend.
The Skinny says: Take Army with the points.
Washington at USC (-10)
Now that the offseason from hell has ended at SC, the Trojans have fallen off the map.
No one is talking about 'SC this year, but I can't say I am surprised. L.A. is a boom and bust town. As Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan have taught us, Los Angelinos will drop you like a month-old pair of Ugg boots when you fall out of favor. The likes of Snoop Dog and Will Ferrell are no longer roaming the sidelines of the Coliseum. You won't find this group of Trojans fraternizing with the Kardashians or L.C. and Brody. But, there is still plenty of talent on the 'SC roster.
Washington made huge strides in Steve Sarkisian's first season as head coach. Expectations were as high as Jake Locker's draft status coming into the season, but the Huskies have been bad in September. I think 'SC will be too much for the Huskies in the second half.
Skinny says: Throw down enough for a designer trucker hat on the Trojans.
WEEK FOUR--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 12-12)
With all the OU-Texas stuff going down, I'm going to fly through this week's version of the picks. Maybe that will snap Homerism out of this .500 malaise.
Too much paralysis by analysis? Sounds like an afternoon in the film room with Greg Davis.
Note: I'll have an OU-Texas pick up soon, so that will count for one of my picks.
Miami at Clemson (+3)
On its face, this looks like a toss-up. I was a little surprised to see Miami favored in this game. Am I missing something?
Miami looked really good against Pitt, but I think there are plenty of questions still surrounding this team. Plus, the 'Canes are on the road for the second straight game.
Clemson, on the other hand is at home and had an off week. We saw Saturday night how tough it is to win at Auburn, when the Tigers took down a good South Carolina squad.
Homerism says: I like Clemson at home.
Kentucky at Ole Miss (-3)
The real Kentucky finally stood up last week, getting its doors blown off in Gainesville. Meanwhile, Ole Miss appears to be rounding into form after that disastrous start to the season.
The Rebels come into this game flying high after blowing out Fresno State last week. They'll keep it rolling at the Nutt House.
Homerism says: Ole Miss by 6.
Georgia at Colorado (+4.5)
The 2010 Hot Seat Bowl pits the Hawk, who's presumed to be on his way out in Boulder, against Slicht Richt, whose job appears to be in jeopardy everywhere except Athens.
The season is quickly spiraling out of control for Georgia, a team whose troubles go even deeper than not having star receiver A.J. Green for the first four games of the season. Now, the 'Dawgs have to travel across two time zones for a high-altitude game. Yikes.
Even worse, this is the kind of home upset CU has been known to spring under Hawkins.
Homerism says: Not sure the Buffaloes get the win, but I think they cover the number.
BYU at Utah State (+4)
I know I said earlier this week that I was done with the Aggies. Somehow, though, they sucked me back in.
USU rarely gets a nationally televised game all to itself, and this is one of those series that probably means more to the Aggies than the Cougars. Furthermore, BYU just isn't good.
Homerism says: Don't let me down again, Aggies. Utah St. outright.
LGS: Temple at Army (+6)
While the perception of awfulness persists, the reality is that these ain't your daddy's Black Knights. Army is 3-1 after rolling Duke in Durham last weekend and has won its last two games by a combined 38 points.
The Owls, meanwhile, nearly pulled off the stunner last week at Penn State, where coach Al Golden spent an afternoon with State College's real-estate-agent-to-the-stars touring the town's hottest addresses. Distracted by a week looking through new window treatments, I doubt the Golden Boy has had much time to scheme for this week's game.
Homerism says: Take Army getting the points.