Time is growing preciously short on the 2010 college football season. It's also running out on Homerism as he tries to deprive The Skinny of his first-ever Picks Trying Not to Suck chocotini over the holidays.
WEEK ELEVEN--The Skinny
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 28-31-1)
Let's hear it for the douchebags!
I'm watching this SportsCenter special behind the scenes look at Duke basketball. Tonight, they are focusing on the team managers. Does it get much douchier? Tomorrow night, the focus shifts to Nolan Smith's toe nails? That's just bizarre.
Speaking of douchebaggery, I've tried to avoid delighting too much in Texas' misery this season – I remember John Blake; bad karma – but after the Longhorns screwed the Big 12 with their TV deal last week, the gloves are off and I'm loving every second of this.
The 'Horns' contest this weekend against Oklahoma State presents an interesting conundrum for Oklahoma fans, as the Cowboys are in first place in the Big 12 South. I still think I will be rooting for the Cowboys.
(Check that, I might actually be cheering for the Longhorns.)
Advice of the Week: Next time you're passing through College Station, Texas, check out Buck's Pizza.
Utah (-5) at Notre Dame
Did I miss something? I'm painfully aware – I watched the entire game – that the last time we saw the Irish, Dayne Crist was literally limping off the field after a loss to a mediocre Tulsa team.
When I saw this line I was wondering if my eyes had deceived me, but a quick check of the Irish injury report confirms Dayne Christ is out for the season. I also noticed ND has freshman QB Tommy Rees listed at 6'2", 210 lbs. Bet last year's guide had Charlie Weistipping the scales around 250.
Rees looks like he should still be quarterbacking the New Trier Trevians junior varsity. No offense to Rees, but his appearance on the field doesn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence in his abilities.
I know Utah isn't in the best spot this weekend after last week's pummeling from TCU. Add in the fact the Irish are at home coming off a bye week and I guess you could justify the line. However, the Utes are better team in this game. It isn't close. The Irish program is in shambles right now, and outside of Manti Te'o, ND will be missing arguably six or seven of its best players.
Don't overthink this one. This isn't a case of what-does-Vegas-know-that-I-don't. It's inefficiency in the way Vegas sets its lines.
The Skinny says: Take advantage of a rare gift from the folks in Vegas (or the Cayman's) and load up on the Utes.
USC at Arizona (-4.5)
I was ready to pick Califonia to cover 19.5 against Oregon in this spot, but buyer's remorse was starting to set in with Cal.
I'll go with another game in the Pac-10 and take Arizona by a touchdown in Tucson. USC's season is over. Arizona, on the other hand, still has a lot at stake in this game. The Wildcats still have the best defense in the Pac-10, and Nick Foles should finally be healthy this weekend.
Skin says: Coach Stoops will be out late night for this one.
Vanderbilt at Kentucky (-14)
This is another line that seems a little off to me, which probably means you should go the other way.
The Commies have found their usual spot in the cellar of the SEC. But this time it isn't the case of an OK team in a tough conference; it's a bad team in a good but not great conference.
At 5-5 with losses in five of the last seven, Kentucky is no juggernaut, either. However, the Wildcats are coming off an easy win against Charleston Southern. With two winnable games against Vandy and Tennessee, Kentucky will be playing to save their season.
In watching these two teams this season, Kentucky has potential. Vandy – not so much. (Admittedly, I've only watched these teams for a grand total of a quarter at best – I love college football but not that much.)
The Skin says: I love Kentucky in the SEC's Amateur Bowl. (Kentucky only pays players in basketball).
Lee Greenwood Special: Central Michigan at Navy (-15)
In a rare occurrence last week, I went against Navy. I paid the price. The Midshipmen destroyed East Carolina 76-35!
I think that is a sign, although looking at the stat sheet, Navy only had 29 more yards from scrimmage than ECU, who also had four fumbles in the 2nd half. I love Navy against pass-happy offenses like CMU. However, I'm a bit concerned about the Chippewas' defense; it's not bad for a 3-7 team.
Skinny says: I know the experts favor CMU, but they are wrong. Take Navy giving the points at home.
Nevada (-8) at Fresno State
I've been flirting with taking Nevada for a few weeks now. In the year of the non-BCS titans, Nevada hasn't received the hype of a Boise State, TCU or Utah. The Wolf Pack isn't quite at the level of Boise or TCU, but it's closer than most people think.
Nevada is in a nice spot coming off two huge wins, avoiding the look-ahead factor with lowly New Mexico next week.
Is it me, or has Pat Hill been coaching at Fresno forever? You have to give Hill credit for what he has accomplished at Fresno, but you have to wonder if the Bulldogs would better served switching to a more wide-open offense. To paraphrase my man Mike Gundy, spread offenses are the great equalizer for the WAC teams of the world that can't recruit the size and speed of the major conferences. (And no one uses a spread-style offense to its advantage like Nevada.)
I have to admit I really thought this line would be would be closer to 6.5 or 7, but I still like the Wolf Pack. Fresno's defense concerns me, and much like the Oregon Ducks, Nevada can score 8.5 points faster than MoMo can spot a fake Gucci bag.
The Skinny says: Nevada will be out to prove it belongs with Boise, TCU and possibly the BCS. Nevada by two TDs!
Utah State (-4) at San Jose State
Despite recent performances, I still believe Utah St. is better than its record indicates. The Aggies have played arguably the best schedule in the WAC, and they have been decimated by injuries this season – the Aggies will be in considerably better health this weekend and will still be missing 5 starters.
Skin says: I like Diondre Borel and the USU Aggies big time.
WEEK ELEVEN--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 28-32)
Most teams just have three regular season games remaining this year. By my calculations, that means we've reached the home stretch.
At this point, we know who teams are. Just as important, we know what they're really playing for.
Keep that in mind as you're throwing down your hard-earned cash this weekend: How much does your moolah mean to you relative to the importance of the game for guys who are actually playing in it?
Mississippi State (+13.5) at Alabama
As Crick and I discussed this week, this line stunned me. I was expecting something around a touchdown, and instead it's more like two.
It's a similar situation to the spot I was in last week with Virginia Tech. My initial guess was so far off that I assumed Vegas knew something I didn't. I went against my instincts, and it backfired.
Time to quit overthinking and go with my gut. The Bulldogs are a poor man's LSU. They have their problems scoring the ball, but the defense is tremendous.
Most importantly, MSU just doesn't get blown out. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide won't be heading to a BCS game this year, so it's just playing out the string now.
Homerism says: State covers in an ugly, sloppy game.
Texas Tech at Oklahoma (-14)
I really hate picking OU games, but I said way back when the early lines came out in the summer that I'd be all over OU in this spot. Tech put a hurting on the Sooners last season in Lubbock, so I figured the good guys would want revenge. Now, the Sooners look like an ever better play to me.
The Red Raiders are fighting through growing pains, as expected, in new coach Tommy Tuberville's first year in Lubbock. Also, Tech is coming down off a big win last week against Missouri and hasn't really played particularly well on the road.
OU is also looking to bounce back off that troubling performance in Kyle Field. All the signs point to a big Oklahoma win.
Homerism says: Boomer.
Stanford at Arizona State (+5.5)
You probably don't realize this, but the Sun Devils aren't horrible. Sure, they're 4-5, but those losses are nothing to sneeze at: at Wisconsin, Oregon, at Oregon State, at California, at USC. Of particular note, ASU is the only team to stay within two touchdowns of Oregon this year.
The biggest surprise in Tempe this year has to be that an offense led by eight-time transfer quarterback Steven Threet doesn't suck. The Sun Devils are gaining a respectable 5.8 yards per offensive play, which ranks 43rd nationally. Compare that to 2008 and 2009 when Dennis Erickson's team ranked 97th and 88th, respectively.
For good measure, ASU is 6-2-1 against the spread this season.
Stanford has a revenge game next week against its biggest rival, traveling to Cal. Makes you wonder if the Cardinal will be looking past a team that's better than its record indicates.
Homerism says: Take the points, and throw a little something on ASU outright.
BYU (-6.5) at Colorado State
Here's one of those motivation games we discussed in the introduction.
CSU literally has nothing to play for. The Rams are in the unique position of having played 10 games already. With seven losses already, there won't be any postseason in CSU's future.
Meanwhile, BYU is a proud program, and the Cougars still need two wins to go bowling. Bronco Mendenhall knows that and that his team still has to travel to Utah to close the season. As such, I expect his staff has really tightened the screws this week.
In sum, one teams has a lot on the line, while the other has nothing.
Homerism says: Brigham Young raids Fort Collins.
LGS: Army at Kent State (-1)
Kent St. doesn't play a flashy style of football, but the Golden Flashes have done a great job stopping the run this year. They're ranked No. 1 in the country in rushing defense, which seems strange for a sub-.500 team.
Meanwhile, Army loves to ground and pound. The Black Knights treat the forward pass like a last-ditch option to be used only in case of emergency.
When one team is really good at stopping what its opponents does really well, I'm buying. It would appear that the wiseguys are, too, as this line has moved a total of 4 points towards KSU this week.
Homerism says: Antonio Gates or no, Kent State wins this.
Utah at Notre Dame (+5)
You know Homerism is desperate when he's picking a Notre Dame and an Oklahoma game in the same week.
The only thing I fear more than playing a Notre Dame game at all is a play on Notre Dame. I just like the Fightin' Irish too much in this spot to let this one pass by.
Utah's BCS dreams came crashing down last week in a smoldering heap of 47 points given up to likely national championship game participant Texas Christian. Instead of big-money bowl games and Mountain West Conference championships, the Utes now have their sights set on the Las Vegas Bowl. A trip across two time zones sounds like a horrible way to bounce back from such a crushing loss.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly's reputation may have taken a hit with the national media, but the reality is that he inherited a poorly constructed program from predecessor Charlie Weis. He's the same guy who did such a sterling job at Cincinnati.
With two weeks to circle the wagons after an awful home loss to Tulsa, Kelly should have his team ready to go Saturday afternoon. That off week may benefit freshman quarterback Tommy Rees more than anyone else in South Bend.
Homerism says: I love ND in the first half here. I merely like the Irish for the game.