Señor Skinny had a helluva time in South Bend last week. Did he learn any handicapping insights from Touchdown Jesus?
WEEK NINE--The Skinny
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 26-20-2)
Last weekend has to be the worst college football weekend in my 30 years on this earth. Twenty hours in South Bend, Ind., is never fun, but this weekend it was especially bad.
7:30 a.m. – Set DVR to record three hours past ABC's scheduled time for the OU game just to be on the safe side. You never know with OU-Tech
8:00 a.m. – Arrive at pickup for bus charter.
8:30 a.m. – Bus finally arrives.
8:35 a.m. – First beer bong of the day inserted in Irish fan's all too familiar lips while listening to Irish music over loud speaker.
10:30 a.m. – Arrive in lovely South Bend; first group beer shotgun of the trip.
11:00 a.m. – Time to pass around the Goldschlager. As one astute Irish fan notes, "you've gotta get a good base in you!"
12:30 p.m. – The best part of any tailgate, freeloading. This particular Irish fan put on quite a spread. The BBQ chicken was outstanding. This is the highpoint of day!
2:00 p.m. – Irish fans making their annual pilgrimage pose for pics in front of "Touchdown Jesus" while throwing up the TD sign themselves. How did this scene not find its way into Rudy?
7:00 p.m. – 10 p.m. – ND loses to USC, but more importantly the 1960s era scoreboard doesn't seem to know any score but Syracuse-West Virginia (from the night before) AND there is zero cell reception inside the stadium. At least I have the game recording at home!
11:00 p.m. – Back on the bus. Cell phone still not working, but the guy who claims Tech is leading 24-7 at half must have mixed up the score.
12:00 a.m. – Finally, cell reception, but I'm dangerously low on battery! BH confirms my fears, OU down big at HOME to Tech! Now I'm in a tough spot. Too many updates and my phone dies, but I've got to know what is happening!
1:00 a.m. – Bus finally reaches the Tollway back to Chicago as BH texts to confirm OU loses, 38-41! I've never had such conflicting emotions in my life. It was like the universe handed me an ice pack after kicking me in the junk! At least I can sleep through the ride home.
1:05 a.m. – Between the douche bags behind me breaking down the Irish loss and the couple in front of me ripping farts, there's no way I'm sleeping.
3:00 a.m. – Finally home, I fire up the big screen and there's a beautiful site: Holly Rowe on the sideline at Owen Field in a poncho.
3:03 a.m. – After fast-forwarding through three hours of the Stanford-Washington game it finally dawns on me that ABC's not switching back to the OU-Tech game! The cherry on top of my all-time worst college football Saturday reminds me that for every national or conference championship there is a TCU in 2005 or Tech in 2011.
Kansas at Texas (-28)
Longhorns are coming off a bye week. KU's defense should be just what the doctor order for UT's fledgling offense. I am still baffled by what has happened at Texas the past two seasons.
Skin says: UT will break this game open in the second half and cover the line.
Michigan State at Nebraska (-4)
This all about situations, and this is a bad one for Sparty coming off two huge games in back-to-back weekends.
Skinny says: NU.
Illinois (+5) at Penn State
Betting against the Nittany Lions hasn't worked out well for me this year. I still don't think Penn St. is any good.
The Skinny says: I'll take the Illini getting points.
Syracuse at Louisville (-3)
Syracuse pounded WVU last weekend in one of the real surprise results of the weekend. Until the Orange prove they can play that way again, I am going to label last weekend's win an outlier for this team.
Skinny says: I like an improving Louisville team at home to cover the line.
Iowa (-15) at Minnesota
Under ordinary circumstance I wouldn't advise taking a heavy road favorite in a rivalry game. But, this year's Minnesota squad is way below ordinary.
Skin says: I am disappointed nine weeks into the season this is the first time I am picking against the Gophers! Iowa wins big!
Lee Greenwood Special: Navy at Notre Dame (-21.5)
Thankfully, I will not be in attendance this weekend for the ND-Navy game. You have to wonder if the Irish will show up either after last weekend's disappointing loss to USC. While the midshipmen are down this season, Navy still isn't the type of opponent you like to see in a letdown spot.
The Skin says: I'll take Navy getting the points.
WEEK NINE--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 1-5; Overall: 24-23-1)
The big story of the season so far has been the dominance of big public favorites. As a man with a strong lean towards underdogs, that has made for some rough going.
I'm sticking to my guns this week, though. Time for some regression to the mean.
Stanford at USC (+7.5)
I can't stay away from these Stanford games. Problem is, I'm perpetually on the wrong side.
So this is when I jump on the Cardinal, right? I've seen the error of my ways?
Given Stanford's recent run of dominance, it's easy to forget that the Trojans damn near beat the Cardinal last season in Palo Alto. If not for a field goal at the gun, this would be a big-time revenge game for the Cardinal.
Look for Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and the rest of USC's talented offensive skill players to test Stanford's secondary like it has yet to be tested this season and put a scare into the Cardinal. In the end, Andrew Luck and Co. stay on the path towards New Orleans, but not by enough.
BH: Stanford 28, USC 24.
Clemson at Georgia Tech (+3.5)
Clemson has quickly become one of the favorites to get worked by either Alabama or LSU in the national championship game. At some point, however, the Tigers' defense will probably catch up with them. This weekend, for instance.
In the last two weeks, Clemson has given up 45 points to Maryland and 38 to North Carolina – not really offensive juggernauts. Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd have taken heat off of the D, but this unit is flat-out struggling.
Georgia Tech has taken some hits to its reputation in the last couple weeks, but that shift in perception may actually make the Yellow Jackets a better bet now.
BH says: Jackets sting Tigers with barrage of points.
Iowa State at Texas Tech (-14)
Did the Red Raiders find their juju last week? I don't know. I do think they will avoid the letdown that typically comes after a huge upset like the one they pulled off last week. I doubt a fired-up home crowd in Lubbock will let them.
Motivation aside, the Cyclones can't stop the pass. Based on what I saw out of Seth Doege a week ago, I think he carves that defense up.
BH says: You screwed me last week Texas Tech. Time for you to atone.
Baylor (+14.5) at Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State has earned its lofty BCS ranking with impressive road wins at Texas A&M, Texas and Missouri in the last month. The common theme in those signature wins? Forcing turnovers, primarily interceptions:
- Texas A&M: 4 (3 INTs, 1 fumble)
- Texas: 3 (2 INTs, 1 fumble)
- Missouri: 4 (3 INTs, 1 fumble)
Nationally, OSU is 1st overall in turnover margin at +2.14 per game and tied for 1st in interceptions with 15.
What does Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III not do? Throw interceptions. The Heisman candidate has thrown just two picks all season and possesses a quarterback rating of 205.13, tops in the country.
Health issues seem to favor Baylor as well. The Bears are coming off of a bye, while OSU has played two straight road games. The Pokes lost receiver Hubert Aniyam last week for the season with a broken foot, and superstar Justin Blackmon has been suffering from a shoulder issue and possible concussion.
Need motivation for Baylor? The Pokes ran the score up last year on the Bears, including trick plays late in the blowout.
All in all, this just sounds like trouble for OSU.
BH says: OSU in a track meet, 45-38. The best play here may be Baylor in the first half.
LGS: Navy at Notre Dame (-21.5)
This looks easy to me. Navy can't stop anyone and is missing quarterback Kriss Proctor.
The Fightin' Irish killed themselves with turnovers against USC and have been dealing with embarrassment this week after the Trojans accused ND of quitting. Brian Kelly probably hasn't taken too kindly to that. Look for the Irish to play some inspired football, in other words.
BH says: A long season for the Middies continues. ND should consider keeping a personal physician on the sidelines who will be ready to tend to Brian Kelly when his head finally explodes.
Oklahoma (-13.5) at Kansas State
As an OU fan, this game scares the dump out of me. The Sooners going on the road to face crafty Bill Snyder's confident Wildcats - yikes.
From a gambling perspective, however, taking the Sooners here feels just right.
K-State has had a great run so far, winning games in unglamorous fashion. The Wildcats allow their opponents to essentially beat themselves, ranking 9th in the country in turnover margin at +1.14 per game. They play well on special teams. Led by quarterback Collin Klein, they also rely on a methodical ground game that averages 48 rushing attempts per game. As a result, KSU leads the nation in time of possession. It's nice football to nap to. It has also enabled Snyder's team to get out to a 7-0 start despite being outgained in a majority of games so far.
Unfortunately for the 'Cats, they match up terribly with OU. Texas Tech showed that the Sooners are most susceptible to the pass, especially the fade route. KSU's passing game is mediocre. Meanwhile, OU excels at stopping the run, allowing just 3.14 yards per attempt.
To stay competitive in this game, K-State probably needs a big special teams play and a win in the turnover battle. However, last week's loss to the Red Raiders is likely to have sharpened OU's focus, as has generally been the case under Bob Stoops throughout his career. The Sooners also believe they still have a chance – however slim – to play for the national championship.
Snyder keeps surprising, but this still smells like a big OU win.
BH says: Oklahoma 41, Kansas State 14.