WEEK TEN--The Skinny
(Last Week: 4-2; Overall: 30-22-2)
It's that time of year again. The time the BCS race begins to come into focus as the season itself starts to unravel. The time when experts lament the role of tech nerds in the BCS, while Tech (Texas and Georgia) proves the experts wrong. Every school with the slightest BCS hope is charting a course to New Orleans.
Fortunately, the Sooners are lucky enough to still be in the BCS picture despite their unexpected loss to Texas Tech. In all the OU-BCS talk this week, many have argued OU is not deserving of a shot at the title because of past performances in the big game. I don't buy that argument. First, previous BCS results should not be a factor. Second, the argument that OU performed poorly in the BCS Championship Game is false. Sure, OU was blown out by a superior USC team in 2004. In 2003, OU lost 21-14 in an evenly matched game against LSU in New Orleans. In 2008, OU lost a competitive matchup with Florida in Miami. Maybe the USC game sticks in fans' minds, but OU has acquitted itself better in championship games than the average fan seems to remember.
Michigan at Iowa (+4)
Last week, I paid for picking the Hawkeyes in a historically bad spot for Kirk Ferentz, a double-digit road favorite. This week, Iowa is in a much better position as a home dog. I must admit, all things considered, Brady Hoke has done a nice job at Michigan this season. But Hoke has a long way to go before this program will be relevant on the national stage.
The Skinny says: Iowa gets the ugly cover.
Northwestern (+18) at Nebraska
I may knock on the Big Ten, but from a handicapping perspective, the conference seems somewhat predictable. (Just don't look at my win-loss record on B1G games.)
It has been a bad season in Evanston, even by Northwestern standards! But the Cats' offense has kept them in games against the offensively inept teams in the B1G. Nebraska's stock is a bit high this week after destroying a rundown Sparty team last week.
Skin says: The Cornhuskers win by two touchdowns.
Stanford at Oregon St. (+21)
Stanford is having the perfect season. The Cardinal are undefeated on the field and at the book (assuming last weekend was at worst a tie with Stanford at -7.5 or -8). If you had money on Stanford last weekend, you were the beneficiary of one of the luckiest covers of the season. Unfortunately, I decided to get off the Stanford train one stop too early. I still think it was the right call as that was about as even a matchup as you will find.
This weekend Stanford is on the road in a tough environment between matchups with USC and Oregon. The Cardinal will find it is far more difficult being the hunted.
Skinny says: Stanford wins a close one!
Troy (+6) at Navy
It has not been a good year for the service academies. The pain continues for Navy as Troy comes out of Annapolis with victory on Saturday!
The Skinny says: Trojans straight up.
New Mexico St. (+33.5) at Georgia
This is definitely a weird game for the first weekend in November! Give Georgia and Mark Richt credit for salvaging the season after an 0-2 start for the Bulldogs. But, after watching parts of the Florida-UGA game last weekend, it is clear those are two very average teams. Sadly, that was Georgia's best win of the season.
Once again, the New Mexico State Aggies are one the worst teams in college football. However, the Aggies are 6-2 this season against the spread. If the Aggies can put up any points this weekend, I really like my chances against UGA. Georgia lacks the offensive firepower to be a 30-plus favorite, regardless of the opponent.
Skin says: I like the Aggies getting the points.
Mizzou at Baylor (-2.5)
I admit this isn't a high conviction play for me, but the lines are tight this week. Missouri is an improving young team behind QB James Franklin and RB Henry Josey. Like most young teams, the Tigers have been inconsistent this season. You have to wonder what Mizzou will have left in the tank after last weekend's overtime victory over A&M.
Baylor's loss to OSU last week was not as bad as the score may indicate. The Bears put up over 300 yards of offense in both halves.
Skinny says: Baylor gets its best win – and cover – of the season!
WEEK TEN--Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 27-26-1)
Let's do this business.
Texas Tech (+14) at Texas
So far this year, the Red Raiders have played their two best games against brand-name Big 12 opponents Texas A&M and Oklahoma. Roll an Iowa State out there, though, and you get this.
Texas' football program has taken some steps back in the last couple years (salt, meet wound), but the in-state aspect here should keep Tech motivated.
Texas has run the ball well this season. The Longhorns' sputtering passing game, however, should give Tech the confidence to load the box and dare UT QB David Ash to throw down the field. With impressive freshman receiver Jaxon Shipley out of commission, getting anything going through the air becomes that much more complicated for the 'Horns.
Bottom line: Texas's one-dimensional offense takes some of the pressure off of Tech's lackluster D, while the Red Raiders can put up points. Watch your back, Mack.
BH says: Take the points. While you're at it, you might think about something on the money line for grins.
LGS: Troy at Navy (-6.5)
Neither of the LGS options seem that attractive to me, but let's roll with the Middies.
Unlike your usual college football team that might throw in the towel after six consecutive looses, our men and women in uniform have a little bit more pride than that. In fact, despite the rough stretch, Navy has four highly winnable games coming up. It's not out of the question that this team could end the season eligible for a bowl.
That's plenty of incentive for this one.
BH says: Navy runs over Troy.
Kansas State (+21) at Oklahoma State
I wrote about this game over at Crysal Ball Run yesterday. I really should stay away from OSU, but I can't help myself.
With how well K-State runs the ball and avoids turnovers, I expect the Wildcats to keep this closer than three touchdowns.
BH says: Don't Cowboy up.
Texas A&M at Oklahoma (-13.5)
The Aggies definitely scare me. Yes, they've habitually wet their pants in the second half this season. But what you have to keep in mind is that in the three games they've blown, they have had decent leads over good teams - Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Missouri.
Offensively, A&M has the kind of balanced offensive attack and mobile quarterback that historically gives OU trouble.
So, why bet OU? It's actually a pure motivation play. As I wrote in my preview column for HolyTurf.com, the Sooners have tons of incentive in this one:
- They're playing for revenge.
- They're angry about losing their home winning streak.
- They need BCS style points.
- It's a huge recruiting weekend.
BH says: Having watched the Sooners in these kinds of spots for many years, I feel confident they cover the 14.
Stanford at Oregon St. (+21)
At this point, I'm just going to keep going against these nerdy jackwads until they don't cover.
BH says: I'm on tilt.
South Carolina at Arkansas (-5)
I also wrote about this one for CBR. Basically, I just don't like how the Gamecocks look at this point. I'm fading 'em.
BH says: Woo pig.