The Skinny got a rare push last week, courtesy of Kelly and The 'Stache. He's edging closer, but Homerism still holds the lead in this epic battle of mediocrity.
WEEK SEVEN--The Skinny
(Last Week: 3-2-1; Overall: 17-18-1)
We finally got what we all knew was coming last week. No, not pics of Brett Favre's manhood, but a weekend that turn the college football landscape upside down.
It's what makes college football great. Just when you think you know, you realize you don't know.
Last week, everyone outside of Skinny and Lou Holtz thought Alabama was unbeatable, a dynasty in the making. (No, I didn't pick Carolina, but I'm claiming partial credit for selling Bama two weeks ago.) This week, Nick Saban's boys are out of the national championship picture.
It's easy to get caught up in the media hype about Alabama's backfield or Oregon's high-powered offense and forget that everyone is susceptible in college football. There are way too many variables - matchups, home/away, momentum, injuries, time off, etc. - that affect the college game to simply rely on prior outcomes. I think I have identified a few favorable, or unfavorable, matchups for this week, but, then again, who really knows?
Advice of the Week: I took a break from football last night to watch Our Family Wedding. The weeks leading up to a young couple's wedding are comic and stressful, especially as the bride and groom's fathers, played by Oscar winner Forrest Whitaker and hack comedian Carlos Mencia, try to lay a feud to rest.
I know the critics didn't love it. But Warren Sapp blowing up the bathroom with his bowel movements! A goat accidentally swallows Viagra before the ceremony! They don't write 'em like that any more.
OSU at Texas Tech (-3.5)
The Big 12 has been tough to figure out this season. I think we are beginning to see the rise of a secnd tier behind OU and Nebraska that includes Texas, Texas A&M, OSU, and Missouri. That's not to say there is a significant difference between these four and the rest of the conference - with the exception of Kansas - but there's a difference nonetheless.
Last weekend, we saw glimpses of the old Tech offense for the first time this season. A positive sign no doubt, but it was against Baylor. As much as any offense in the country, Tech is dependent on the inconsistent arm of quarterback Taylor Potts. If you want to see just how important QB play is in college football, take a look at the leaders in QB efficiency and their W-L records.
Speaking of efficiency, OSU QB Brandon Weeden is the 11th-most efficient quarterback in the country. Between Weeden and running back Kendall Hunter, the Cowboys once again have one the best offenses in the country.
Defense is the real question for both these teams. The Cowboys and Red Raiders rank 88th and 89th, respectively, in total defense nationwide. However, OSU is giving up nearly a yard less per play than Tech. I think OSU's defense will be the difference and the Cowboys will come home from Lubbock with a win.
The Skin says: Pokes straight up.
UNLV at Colorado State (-3.5)
This is a bad, bad matchup of two bad, bad football teams. The Rams are bad. UNLV is not only bad, but the program is in a state of chaos.
As if the rash of injuries to hit UNLV wasn't enough, now star WR Philip Payne is questionable this week due to a suspension related to a "disparaging" tweet. UNLV is guarding the exact content of the tweet like it's a matter of national security. (I bet Brett Favre is jealous.) Apparently, though, Payne made it know that he and his teammates were not happy under new coach Bobby Hauck.
As bad as CSU has been this year, the Rams have shown signs of life. The Rams, who prior to last week had the worst rushing attack in the nation, actually outrushed Air Force last weeked, who was No. 1 nationally in rushing yards. Freshman QB Pete Thomas threw for 386 yards against an improving Idaho team, and the Rams held TCU to 6 points in the first half of their game. At 1-5 this doesn't amount to much, but I think it's enough to beat UNLV this weekend.
Skinny says: I'll take CSU giving the points.
Iowa (-2.5) at Michigan
You have to wonder how Big Blue will react to getting punked last weekend by little brother? I wouldn't buy Michigan in the last half of the season. I just don't see this team responding well to adversity under RichRod, which might ultimately be a good thing for Michigan fans.
Denard Robinson is another prime example of how fickle the college football world can be. Prior to last week, Robinson was Vince Young. Now he's not even Terrelle Pryor. That isn't a knock on Pryor, who seems to have leapfrogged Robinson for flavor of the week.
Robinson is still a good, young QB for RichRod's system. He just ran into a defense that could run and tackle. It doesn't get any easier for Robinson this week against one of the country's better defenses.
Michigan fans better hope Robinson has a huge week, because the Wolverine defense is awful. Iowa has the decided edge in coaching and defense. While I will call the QB matchup even, I love Ricky Stanzi, third nationally in passing efficiency, going against the Michigan secondary. As for home field advantage, the Big House has provided very little lately.
Skin says: Lock it up! Iowa wins 31-14.
Texas at Nebraska (-9.5)
A lot has happened since the controversial ending to the Big 12 championship tilt 10 months ago, including the fact that after this season, these two teams won't be vying for the same conference championship.
Both sides circled this game from the moment one second was put back on the clock, but I think it's safe to say the folks in Lincoln want this one a little more. I have to admit that I am a bit jealous of Nebraska. Win or lose this game, Big Red gave UT the ultimate "F- you" by leaving the Evil Empire behind for greener pastures.
There is something about the way this Nebraska team plays that reminds me of Bob Stoops' early teams at OU. Not a lot of star power, but a load of talent that plays hard. The Cornhuskers leave you wondering how they are so good.
The Longhorns are reeling - an inept offense with no identity coupled with a talented yet sloppy defense. I do not believe that Nebraska is the dominant team many believe following last Thursday's victory over Kansas State, but the Cornhuskers are clearly the better team in this game. Beyond the quality of these teams, I think the revenge factor for Nebraska will be the biggest factor in this game.
The Skin says: The Huskers win big!
Cal at USC (-2.5)
I'll be the first to admit that I have been way off about USC this season.
I thought 'SC still had the talent to make noise in the Pac-10 despite all the offseason turmoil. I still think this team has talent, but it's inexperienced talent. Did Pete Carroll decide to quit recruiting in 2007 ad 2008? It's not like the guy missed on too many prospects.
The talent that remains at USC isn't getting much help from the current coaching staff. Lane Kiffin is in over his head as a coach, despite having Daddy to back him up. Looking at the Trojans defensive stats, though, Daddy might actually be part of the problem.
I haven't seen much Cal football this season, but Jeff Tedford has quietly put together a very solid team in Berkeley. Surprisingly, the Cal defense has carried this team.
This is a bad matchup for a USC team coming off a tough loss a week ago. All three natives remaining at SC will be getting restless after a 1-3 start to the Pac -0 season. This is a prime example of the betting public reading too much into USC's performance last week at Stanford. Take advantage of a line that is way off as a result and bet Cal getting the points.
The Skinny says: Not USC.
Lee Greenwood Special: SMU at Navy (-2)
The LGS appears especially tough this week. I won't touch AF (-1) at SDSU. I am tempted by Army getting 7 at Rutgers, but I'd like a few more points. So, that leaves SMU at Navy in the ultimate matchup of opposing styles.
Defense may win championships, but if you want to make a program instantly competitive, install a June Jones- or Mike Leach-type of offense. The down side to SMU's offense is that it is susceptible to fast defenses and ball-control offenses. On the other hand, if SMU can get up a few touchdowns early, it could be a long day for Navy.
SMU's defense has struggled this season but has been pretty stout against the run. My head says SMU, but for whatever reason I have a feeling it's Navy.
Skinny says: The Middies win by 3.
WEEK SEVEN--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 19-17)
I'll have an additional post with my take on the Texas-Nebraska expansion death match and a pick up later today.
Missouri at Texas A&M (-3.5)
Through six weeks, Mizzou has yet to play a true road game. The closest thing to roadie was the Tigers' season opener against the Fightin' Zooks at half-full Ted Jones Statium in St. Louis. On the scale of electric atmospheres, that one probably register somewhere around solar-powered.
So, for its first true away game, Mizzou gets to go to College Station for an early kickoff, where a pissed-off bunch of Aggies await. And the Tigers will be doing so without pass rusher Aldon Smith and with a dinged-up quarterback.
Coming off two straight losses, A&M will be looking to get back on track here. Beating a Mizzou team that has number next to its name should suffice.
Sooner fans, if you were hoping for Corso and Co. in Columbia next week, forget about it.
Homerism says: Gig 'em.
North Carolina State at East Carolina (+7.5)
Which of these things is not like the others: Boston College, East Carolina, Florida State?
Tom O'Brien needs to have some speech with the higher-ups in Raleigh about the wisdom of scheduling these sandwich games in the middle of conference play. The fact that the Wolfpack is traveling to Greenville for a date with the always frisky Pirates in between Atlantic – or maybe it's Coastal – division games simply makes no sense.
The Average Joes appear to be catching on to NC State, which is 5-1 against the spread this year. They're a week late. After Saturday, they'll be a few dollars shorter.
Homerism says: Wolfpack, 33-29.
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech (-2.5)
This game actually opened with the Pokes as slight favorites, but the line has swung over to the home team. That often signals a sharp move, and I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case here.
The Cowboys have lost seven consecutive games in Lubbock and are 1-6 against the line in those games. More often than not, OSU has received a double-digit beatdown at the hands of the Red Raiders.
Dana Holgorsen's O has been clicking through the first five games of the year, but OSU has faced four defenses ranked 78th or lower nationally in yards allowed per play. Texas Tech's defense won't blow anyone away, but it's a step up from Wazzu and the Ragin' Cajuns.
Homerism says: Team Tubs by about eight.
LGS: Army at Rutgers (-7)
New quarterback Chas Dodd appears to have lit a fire under the Scarlet Knights.
Sorry, but that's about the best I've got for you – none of the LGS options really appeal to me this week.
Homerism says: Rutgers, I guess.
Ole Miss (+21) at Alabama
We've got a game of competing trends here.
In Alabama's favor:
- the Crimson Tide are still the best team in the country, in my opinion;
- Nick Saban could use Alabama's loss at South Carolina to motivate the Tide for a bounce-back game this week;
- Bama needs some of those all-important style points more than ever for the BCS voters.
The argument for Ole Miss:
- Jevan Snead is plying his trade somewhere else now;
- the loss to the Gamecocks could just as easily mean a letdown for Bama;
- the Black Bears were off last week, and Houston Nutt is dangerous with an extra week to prepare;
- Nutt's teams tend to play well as underdogs in games like this;
- the Tide humiliated the Rebs last season at the Grove; and
- losses to Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt have had an outsized effect on public perception of Ole Miss.
Add it all up, and I think Masoli and Nutt keep this one from getting out of hand.
Homerism says: Alabama by 17.