I am going to try, on a weekly basis, to pick what I think are the top ten games of the week. We'll see how I do. If I suck, then maybe we won't continue (and I can give up the dreams of making my 401K savings back in Tahoe this year). I will pick against the spread. Fair warning - I think I am second to last in the pick'em pool that I am in, losing to a guy who never watches any college football at all. But I will try to elucidate my reasoning behind the picks. Mostly, I think, I pick teams that I do not hate. So this will be an exercise for me to be dispassionate about football, and that will be difficult. But I do not think I will pick against the Bears this year. So that should give me a leg up on all of these.
Cal at Oregon: The Bears have a complete offense and defense. Oregon can score on special teams, but the Bears have not had anyone break one yet. Field position could be an issue on the road, like it was last week against Minnesota. The Bears would have won by 28 if not for some blown calls and field position. Oregon, on the other hand has a decent enough defense, but not elite by any stretch. They are weak up front on both the offense and the defense. They have a strong running game and a weak passing game. If the Bears can stop the run, they win. If they can contain the run, they win. If the can not stop the run, it will be a shootout, and the Bear win. I think the Bears by 14.
Washington at Stanfurd: Washington is on a high, and is rebuilding. Jake Locker is the real deal. This is a game for both teams that could determine whether or not they play in a bowl game. I do not think that Washington's defense has all the players that they need, but they have a good coordinator. Meanwhile, the mouth that roared who coaches the Furd has already beaten Sarkisian and Holt when they were at SC. So he knows how to attack them. And they played well again the next year when everyone thought that the Cardinal would wilt under the evil eye of SC. I think that this week exposes the Washington win for what it was over SC - a overachieving team who needed it more than SC needed it. It also will expose SC's offense as something that is really terrible at this point. I take the furd with the win, but it is going to be close. So take the Huskies with a 7.5 point Furd favorite.
Georgia at Arizona State: Arizona State looks great on paper right now - stats are beautiful. Meanwhile, Georgia lost to Oklahome State, who lost to Houston. That being said, I do not think that the Sun Devils are back. I just do not think that they have been recruiting the type of players to get the job done on the road in a pretty hostile SEC environment. Georgia has the players and the home field advantage. I think they get up for this one. But it is a 12 point spread. So I take Georgia to win, and ASU to have the morale victory of beating the spread.
Oregon State at Arizona: Oregon State just lost to Cincinnatti, who I think is the best college football team in Ohio. Arizona lost to Iowa, who is the best football team in Iowa. By similar spreads. I think Oregon State is the better team this year, and better coached. Arizona has QB issues. This is just a coaching call - I like Mike Riley better than Stoops. Both probably have the same level of talent. I take Oregon State and they beat the 3.5 point spread.
Florida State at South Florida - South Florida is trying to get to the same level as Florida State. They are looking at this game as a statement game. Florida State is trying to capitalize on their huge win over BYU. The Spread is 14.5, so FSU is favored by quite a bit. But University of South Florida is a team that see's destiny in their overtaking the other Florida schools. They are a program on the march. So I guess I think this game is going to be closer that projected. USF (ranked number 2 in the country just a few years ago - right after the Bears lost to Oreogon State) is not a bad team, and has speed and a good system. They recruit from a great recruiting pool. They are simply a step behind Florida State. The thing is, they will want it a bit more than FSU this week. I think they lose, but cover the spread. Take the Bulls.
Miami at Virginia Tech - this is an interesting game. Virginia Tech lost to Alabama by 10. Little offense for the Hokie's in that game, but a true beamer ball game. Scored off a return, lots of positive turnovers, and still they lost. Miami, on the other hand, has been money this year with plenty of offense. The question is, have they really been tested. They have had the toughest two game schedule so far, playing at Florida State and against Georgia Tech. Both twp 25 teams, and they were pretty dominant against Tech. I think they take this one, as they have the fire. This is for the marbles in the ACC coastal Division, and whoever comes out of here has the inside track to a BCS game. I take Miami to cover their 3.5 points on the road at Virginia Tech. i like both coaches, but I think the U has something to prove.
TCU at Clemson - TCU is in the position to make a run for the BCS game over Boise if it can bring this game home. Clemson is in the run for, well, nothing. They already lost to Georgia Tech. They have beaten a Middle Tennessee team that is not as crappy as they could be (the beat Maryland for the second year in a row) and Boston College. But I think TCU take this game. They have more to lose. The game is at Clemson, so that is a factor. The spread is only 2.5, so I am going to take TCU to cover. I think they are a borderline top 25 team and Clemson is a borderline top 50 team.
North Carolina at Georgia Tech - I am going to take Tech to cover the 2.4 points, only because North Carolina has not been challenged yet this year. They have played CT, the Citadel, and East Carolina. Georgia Tech has a great running game, and is difficult to defend. North Carolina has not had to deal with that type of offense this year, and so it is hard to deal with unless you have superior talent. And I think the talent level is about the same. So I take Tech to beat the spread.
Iowa at Penn State - Similarly to Georgia Tech and Iowa, I am going to take Iowa only because they have played other real teams. This is the first real team that Penn State is facing this year, even though they are a 9.5 point favorite. Even though it is in College Station, I see a letdown game for the Nittany Lions. Iowa is a tough team and they will play hard. I do not think Penn State is as good as they have been ranked, and I do not think that they have a great offense. I predict a score in the low 20's, with Iowa taking it. Penn State has lost a lot from last years team. They replace but I do not think they totally are ready. This is my upset special of the week.
Texas Tech at Houston - While this is a big game in Texas, and a Huge Game for Houston, I think Tech makes a statement hear about the Texas game. They can hang with Houston and put up points with the best of them. Taking a page out of the Tech playbook is not like taking the Tech playbook. A lot of the Houston coaches came from Tech, but go with the Master on this one. Tech over Houston. There is no spread.
Let's see how we did on Sunday.