No time for chit chat either way. Let's just get right into the picks.
WEEK FIVE--The Skinny
(Last Week: 4-2; Overall: 15-7-2)
Nebraska at Wisconsin (-9)
This week's contest in Camp Randall could be one of the games of the season and without a doubt the Big 10. Not surprisingly, GameDay will be town and this will be the ABC Primetime contest, which is generally a great setup for the home team, especially at venue like Camp Randall. To add fuel to the fire, expectations have possibly never been higher for the Badgers in Madison. You get the point: Camp Randall will be tough environment for the Huskers.
These two teams have opened the season in drastically different fashion. After four weeks, the Badgers are in the top 25 nationally in passing yards, rushing yards, points for (48.5 pg) and points against (8.5 pg). However, Wisconsin has racked up these numbers against quite possibly the worst schedule in college football (UNLV, Oregon State, Northern Illinois, and South Dakota).
Nebraska, on the other hand, has not played like the No. 8 team in the nation, despite a 4-0 record. The Huskers offense has been very pedestrian, and the vaunted Black Shirt defense has been surprisingly soft. But, the Huskers have played a tougher schedule. Washington and Wyoming certainly aren't juggernauts, but they are still a big step up from South Dakota.
The Badgers are the flavor of the month, while Nebraska is viewed as overrated by many. While I'm definitely not sold on the Huskers, I think the Badgers are the overrated team in this game. Which is exactly why I think this is a great opportunity to sell the Badgers high despite all the obvious factors working in their favor. Plus, Nebraska will be inspired to send a message in their first ever Big 10 game. It may not be the popular pick, but it is the right pick.
The Skin says: Nebraska.
Baylor (-3) at K-State
Much like Wisconsin, the Baylor Bears have become the media/public darlings of the young college football season. However, unlike Wisconsin, I am going to stick with the Bears, at least for this week. I generally prefer to "fade" John Q. Public, but I think this matchup sets up well for Baylor.
As much as I love Bill Snyder (see last week versus Miami), it is hard to get a team up to play two weeks in a row. I should have picked Baylor last week against Rice. I simply could not get over the mental hurdle of playing the Bears -20, regardless of the opponent. I am going to atone for my sins this week.
Skin says: I like Baylor by 10.
Georgia Tech (-10) at NC State
This is one of those lines where I feel like I must be missing something? Did Vegas miss Cincy's 44-14 dismantling of the Wolfpack last Thursday night?
In fairness, the Bearcats are a better team than many give them credit for, but NC State football seems to be in a bad place right now. I have a ton of respect for Tom O'Brien as a head coach, but the product he is putting on the field is simply bad right now.
On the other side of this matchup, Tech has been playing really well, leading the nation in points per game. However, Tech has racked up most of those yards against awful defenses, and the Yellow Jackets are coming off a close contest against UNC.
I think Tech's stock is slightly overvalued and they have been somewhat inconsistent under Paul Johnson.
Skinny says: I think State sneaks up on Tech this weekend and keep this game under 10.
Lee Greenwood Special: Air Force at Navy (-2.5)
Another tough week in the Lee Greenwood Special, which leaves me cautious picking the Midshipmen. I don't love this pick, but Army giving 8 points to Tulane? I will never be confused with a "sharp" handicapper and I cannot imagine why anyone would want to bet this game, but it seems to have sucker written all over it.
The Skin says: I'll take the home team coming off a bye at less than a field goal.
Toledo at Temple (-7.5)
This is a battle of two pretty solid MAC teams. Temple is one of the better stories of the season. Despite losing coach Al Golden in the offseason, the Owls are (3-1) including a narrow loss at Penn St. and blowout victory over Maryland.
The Toledo Rockets might be the best 1-3 (and should be 2-2) team in the country. Last weekend the Rockets were the unfortunate victims of the worst officiating blunder since OU/Oregon in 2006.
As for this game, I am going to fade the highflying Temple Owls this week. No doubt, Temple is a nice team, but I am not high on Penn St. or Maryland. Toledo has played the better schedule and that will serve the Rockets well at the Linc.
Skin says: Take the points.
UCLA at Stanford (-20.5)
Surprisingly, I haven't heard much about this match-up this week.
I love this for Stanford. UCLA is bad. Stanford has been nothing but impressive this season, albeit against weak competition. But the Cardinal should have no problem covering this line at home.
If I am the A.D. at UCLA, I'm on the phone with Mike Leach asking him to name his price. Leach is a better cultural fit in L.A. than Lubbock and, he would make the Bruins instantly competitive!
The Skin says: Stanford.
WEEK FIVE--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 14-9-1)
Arkansas (+3.5) vs. Texas A&M
Is it better to get blown out or blow a big lead? Neither are fun at the time, but a week later, the heartbreaker more often beats you twice.
The Aggies choked away a 17-point halftime lead last week. They were at home in a revenge game against one of the best teams in the country, Oklahoma State. It was also the opener in their final season in the big 12 following an acrimonious split from the league.
That's a simultaneous gut punch and kick to the junk. I'm fading that team nine times out of 10.
BH says: Hogs by a TD.
Clemson at Virginia Tech (-6)
This reminds me a lot of the 2009 Miami-Virginia tech game. Supposedly Miami had made the leap back to contender, with a high-flying offense and loads of talent. The Hurricanes traveled to Blacksburg and got a harsh reality check.
I'm getting that feeling with this one. This is a tough spot for Clemson, which had big contests against Auburn and Florida State in the previous two weeks.
BH says: Hokies 30, Tigers 16.
LGS: Air Force (+2.5) at Navy
I have a notion that recent events created an overcorrection of this point spread to the benefit of rent-seeking bettors.
Navy caught a lot of eyes by playing South Carolina to a near standstill in Columbia. To that, I say the Gamecocks are overrated and lackadaisical. Therefore, Navy's performance should have surprised no one.
On the flip side, plenty of recreational gamblers got burned by the Falcons in the second week of the season against TCU. To that, I say that mistake was more a product of inaccurate evaluation of the Horned Frogs coming off a loss to Baylor.
I choose thusly.
BH says: Off we go...
Texas Tech at Kansas (+6.5)
When last we saw the Jayhawks, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were giving them the business.
KU has had a week off to stew over that beatdown and for coach Turner Gill to regroup. Gill may be best known as the guy Auburn didn't hire, against the wishes of Charles Barkley, and he certainly hasn't won many games since arriving in Lawrence. However, I still buy that Gill is a really good coach working with way sub-standard tools. If you give a coach of his caliber two weeks to prepare with the funk of that stank-ass performance versus Georgia Tech still lingering in the locker room, you typically get a motivated effort the next time out.
KU has a definite shot at pulling off the straight-up win.
BH says: Tech by less than 6.5 points – if at all.
UCLA at Stanford (-20.5)
Look, by now you know me well enough to know I hate laying this much wood.
Wood, however, is what this Cardinal team is giving Stanford fans and gamblers. Andrew Luck and Co. are wasting suckas left and right.
The fact that UCLA won in Corvallis last week speaks mainly to how bad Oregon State is. The two times I've watched the Bruins this year, they've looked like a team actively working to sabotage their head coach.
Nice work, Neuheisel.
BH says: Nerds by a ton.
Rutgers (+2.5) at Syracuse
I wish I could give you a really strong rationale here, but I can't. I just don't think the Orangemen are particularly good.
'Cuse has been fortunate to survive a couple close scrapes against the likes of mighty Toledo and Wake Forest. Doug Marrone's team is living on borrowed time.
BH says: Rutgers getting points sounds like a gift to me.