Articles

Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Picks Trying Not to Suck: Week Twelve

Someone needs to put these two out of their misery.

(Continue...)

 

WEEK TWELVE--The Skinny
(Last Week: 1-4-1; Overall: 29-35-2)

Man, the college football season has flown by. This weekend will be the last full one on the college slate.

It's been a pretty dismal season for the Skinny. Yes, I know the proverbial monkey would have done a better job handicapping games this season than I did. But could a monkey provide you with this witty commentary?

The Skinny may not have much to play for this weekend, but I haven't thrown in the towel.

Advice of the Week: Looking for something for your main squeeze this weekend? If your gift elicits a "He went to Jared!" you should be punched.

Oklahoma State at Kansas (+24)

I admit I have been pretty skeptical of KU and first-year head coach Turner Gill. While KU is still the worst team in the Big 12 (or Texas), it has shown some signs of life.

Finding the bright spots for KU this season is kind of like trying to come up with an end-of-the-season award for that kid in Little League. The one that couldn't catch, or run, or throw. He gets the "Mr. Hustle" or "Best Attitude" award.

KU did beat CU and had respectable showings at Nebraska and at Iowa St. If you saw Mangino roaming the sidelines in Norman last weekend, it's no surprise he left the cupboard pretty bare Lawrence. The Jayhawks seem to be adjusting to Gill's system late in the season and Gill has quietly put together what looks to be a decent recruiting class.

Across the way, you have to be impressed with the job Mike Gundy has done at OSU this season. This might very well be the Cowboys' year, but let's be honest, the Cowboys have been the beneficiary of some pretty favorable scheduling.

This is a dangerous spot for the Cowboys – road game sandwiched between Texas and OU. Plus, I think KU will be playing with house money this week with nothing to lose in the last home game of the season. OSU, on the other hand, has a very short history of playing as the conference favorite and a very long history of choking away big opportunities.

Skin says: I really like KU, possibly to pull the upset.

Tennessee (-9) at Vanderbilt

It's been a rough few years for Vols fans, and while I admit that I'm not high on Derek Dooley, the Vols seem to be playing better the past few weeks. Much of the Vols' improved play can be attributed to a softer schedule, but the little I saw of UT last week looked like a more confident team.

While the Vols can't make a bowl game this season, I don't think this team has packed it in. I think the Vols are motivated for a shot at a little redemption to end the year.

The Skin says: I hate to pick on Vanderbilt, but it worked for me last week. I like the Vols by 14.

Arkansas (-3.5) at Mississippi State

If Cam Newton truly was paid to play at Auburn, it's hard to imagine two teams with a bigger beef than these two.

We all know Miss. State and Dan Mullen were Newton's first or second choice, depending on whom you believe. With Newton at MSU, it's hard to imagine long overdue Bulldogs fans wouldn't be enjoying the same magical season Auburn is currently enjoying. At the very least, MSU wouldn't have lost to Auburn by 3 points way back on Sept. 9.

By the same token, I would argue Arkansas would be leading the SEC West after beating the Newton-less Tigers. In this mythical scenario, this would be the biggest game of the weekend featuring a one-loss Arkansas team facing a possibly undefeated Mississippi State. GameDay would no doubt be in attendance for a game with major SEC and national implications.

Instead, we have a game featuring two pretty good teams bound for the Outback and Peach bowls. Arkansas isn't getting much love in the same division as Alabama and Auburn, but the Hogs have quietly put together a great season. Arkansas has been particularly kind to gamblers this season at 7-2 against the spread.

I'm not big on trends. We too often associate them with skill or ability, when in reality, as good as Vegas is at setting lines, with 119 teams one of them is bound to run off a streak like the Hogs have this season. With that said, I'll take Arkansas this weekend. Hey, that doesn't mean streaks are meaningless, maybe the Hogs are just lucky this season and I can use all the luck I can get.

Skin says: Woo pig.

Wisconsin (-4) at Michigan

I'm certainly not one to judge this year, but this line seems way off.

I would have expected Vegas to install the Badgers as closer to a 7-point favorite. Wisconsin's only loss this season is at Michigan St. The Badgers are also coming off two easy victories against Purdue and Indiana.

I'm not as high on Wisconsin as most of the experts, but four points against a Michigan team that played three overtimes against Illinois and had a fairly dismal performance against Purdue last week? Are they worried the Badgers will be looking ahead to Northwestern?

The Skinny says: This seems like easy money. Wisconsin wins easy in the Big House.

Lee Greenwood Special: Arkansas State at Navy (-13.5)

I'll be displaying my patriotism this weekend at Yankee Stadium for the Notre Dame-Army game. Aside from my first trip to Yankee Stadium, there is really nothing redeeming about attending this game. (I guess that's cool, but as a Yankee hater a trip to a stadium that has a whole two years of history isn't that cool.)

To make matters worse, NBC has decided to make this a rare night game for ND, so I will miss the OU game, which actually has some relevance. Hey, I never claimed to make good choices.

Skinny says: As for the LGS, I will take Navy to cover the 13.5 at home over Arkansas State.

ECU (-9.5) at Rice

I went back and forth on this pick.

I really like UCF as the best team in C-USA against a pretty bad Tulane team. Plus, the Golden Knights are 8-2 against the spread this season. I know the "smart" money is riding UCF, but something about that game doesn't feel right for me.

I did, however, find a C-USA game that I like even better in ECU at Rice. ECU is tied with UCF for first in the CUSA East Division and is giving fewer points to a team even worse than Tulane. The Pirates' lethal offense should have a big day against one of the worst defenses in the country.

The Skin says: I like ECU to cover. Consider parlaying ECU and UCF.

WEEK TWELVE--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 4-2; Overall: 32-34) 

It seems like there was a time when 4-2 was commonplace for Homerism. No longer. I'll take what I can get.

Listen up, kiddos, as Homerism is sounding the bell. Time for history class.

Wisconsin at Michigan (+4)

History lesson No. 1: The Badgers haven't won at Ann Arbor in their last six tries dating back to like 1995. Should that matter?

It may not seem like it. The coaching staffs and player personnel have turned over multiple times.

For some reason it must, though, as the point spread has fallen from 5.5 to 4, despite more than 90 percent of tickets being written on Wisconsin, according to Sportsbook Spy. History lesson No. 2: Almost the exact same thing happened the last time these two met at the Big House. (Look it up.)

Didn't turn out so well for the Badgers then. Somewhere embedded in that Wisky DNA must be an aversion to pretentiousness and pale skin.

Homerism says: Wolverines in a shootout.

USC at Oregon State (+3)

Another spot where history matters.

For some reason, the Trojans just don't bring it when they travel to Corvallis. 'SC has lost the last two at Reser Stadium straight up to the Beavers. Southern Cal is 1-4 against the number in its last five against OSU.

Furthermore, attrition has already thinned out USC's squad. Two road games in a row late in the year hurt teams at full strength. Imagine what it does to a watered-down roster.

Homerism says: Beavers for the win.

Army (+8) at Notre Dame
*New York

Talk about history - these two go back hundreds of years. Back when Grantland Rice dipped his quill into the blood spilled on the Polo Grounds and penned the legend of the Four Horsemen and what not.

Sadly for ND, a horseman shan't be darkening the door of Steinbrenner Stadium this Saturday evening. Instead, it will be wee little freshman quarterback Tommy Rees leading the leprechauns on the diamond in his first road start.

You don't need to go back to 1946 to spot this trend, though: In ND's five wins, the Irish is +7 in turnover margin. In losses, it's -8.

Befitting a service academy, the Black Knights are third in the country in turnover margin and have only given the ball away 10 times all season.

Homerism says: ND struggles against teams that refuse to beat themselves. Take the points.

Utah at San Diego State (+3.5)

This game couldn't come at a worse time for the Utes, who seem to be in disarray after getting shellacked by a sub-par Notre Dame team last week. Utah was very fortunate to win against Air Force a few weeks back, so it hasn't really played all that well in three weeks now.

The Aztecs are excellent at home and showed plenty of grit in last week's nail-biter versus TCU. I like their balanced attack, and I suspect they'll be able to move the ball on a Utah defense that looks soft to me.

Kyle Whittingham is a great coach, so I do have some concern that he can will his team to a bounce-back win. I think Brady Hoke is pretty good himself, though.

Homerism says: Utah's woes continue.

Connecticut at Syracuse (-3.5)

I view this more as a play against the Huskies than a play on the Orangemen.

The story with UConn this season has been simple - the Huskies are 5-0 ATS in Storrs and 0-4 away from home. And everyone knows you don't just waltz into the Carrier Dome on a Saturday night and come away with a win.

Homerism says: Cuse, 27-20.

East Carolina at Rice (+9.5)

Congrats to the Pirates and first-year head coach Ruffin McNeill on achieving bowl eligibility with last week's win over UAB.

In all the revelry, though, don't be surprised if the Bucs forgot they have a game to play this week against the lowly Owls. This screams letdown game for ECU. Add in a long road trip to Houston and early kickoff, and I bet the Pirates come out flat.

Homerism says: Hoot, hoot. First half is worth a look, too.