Saturday, October 03, 2009

This Weekend in College Football: Week 5

Based on my performance over the past couple of weeks, keep in mind the latter clause in the following disclaimer:

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Wisconsin @ Minnesota (ESPN): I really have no opinion on this game. None. I guess Wisconsin will probably win? I don't know. I would say this is the least compelling game of the morning, but it's got nothing on...
  • Arkansas State @ Iowa (ESPN2): this game. Keep in mind, ESPN picked this game before Iowa beat Penn State last weekend. How this got picked over Michigan-Michigan State (rivals!) or Ohio State-Indiana (3-1 vs. 3-1!) defies any logic I could possibly give. I shouldn't have to say this, but, uh, Iowa should win.
  • Clemson @ Maryland (ESPNU): I'd even rather watch this than Arkansas State-Iowa. Now, the most likely outcome is that I'll be asleep on my couch for most of these games anyway, but still. Anyway, it's not like Maryland has been great the past few years, yet somehow it wins games like these for no apparent reason. Clemson should still win handily, though.
  • East Carolina @ Marshall (CBSCS): Marshall may be 3-1, but don't let that fool you. They're still not very good. To be fair, ECU hasn't exactly impressed so far but played 2 BCS conference teams. I still like ECU here.
  • Michigan @ Michigan State (BTN): Michigan State's unlucky streak continues, with their 8 point loss to Wisconsin actually being the largest margin of defeat they've suffered so far this year. That said, with 3 losses this has to feel like a season on the brink as their biggest (and heretofore, undefeated) rival that's had all the bounces go their way so far rolls in. That said, at what point does it stop being luck and starts being an indicator that these teams are going in completely different directions this season? We'll find for sure in East Lansing, but my hunch is that presents trends will continue with a Michigan victory.
  • Alabama @ Kentucky (SEC): As unfortunate as Tebow's injury is, we also learned Kentucky isn't quite ready to run with the big boys of the SEC yet. Alabama should take care of business.
  • Virginia @ North Carolina (Raycom): While UNC got dominated statistically by Tech last weekend, Virginia should present no such challenge. We're talking about a team that gave up 200+ yards rushing to Southern Mississippi, here. UNC should be fine.
  • Washington @ Notre Dame (NBC): Well, so much for that maybe being a really good team, eh U-dub? Losing by 20 to Stanford can do that. ND should win this one. Should.
  • California-Los Angeles @ Stanford (ABC/Gameplan): I don't know if anyone noticed, but Stanford could go to 3-0 in the Pac-10 with a win here. Okay, they probably did, and then remembered that their victories are over Washington and the worst team in the conference, Washington State. Meanwhile, UCLA put all their OOC games first and won them all, with Tennessee the best among those. UCLA should, and probably will, win this game, but Stanford can keep their offense going as they have (they dominated Washington) they have a very good chance of making this a special season for the Cardinal.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Illinois (ESPN/ABC): As bad as Penn State's loss last week was for their (and their conference's) national title chances, Illinois should provide a welcome, refreshing respite. In other words, it's not looking good in Urbana-Champaign for the Zooker.
  • Florida State @ Boston College (Gameplan/ESPN/ABC): I'm not sure where exactly Boston College found 400 yards of offense, but they used it to its full effect in the upset over Wake. Meanwhile, I (and no one else, I think) have no idea what the hell is going with FSU. They lost well to a good Miami team (despite last week's result in Blacksburg), almost got upset by Jacksonville State, hung 54 on BYU (at Provo, nonetheless) and then lost badly to Groethe-less USF. Logically, BC just doesn't have the offensive weapons to hang with FSU's defense, but I just... I don't know. I will pick FSU, but ugh.
  • New Mexico @ Texas Tech (FSN): Texas Tech gets a nice, tasty cupcake to get over the sting of losing to Houston. Considering Tulsa hung 44 on NMU, I'd say TTU should score at least 55.
  • North Carolina State @ Wake Forest (ESPNU): Well, NCSU beat Pitt last week basically because Pitt had no idea how to run a read-zone offense, which I guess isn't terribly surprising but still. If Wake can not turn the ball over 3 times, especially not 8 yards from the goalline in overtime, this should win.
  • Air Force @ Navy (CBSCS): Leg 1 of the Commander-in-Chief's trophy begins! AF comes in with a 3-1 record, with a DI-AA win and over the dregs of the Mountain West. Navy is 2-2 and seems to have lost focus after the close loss to Ohio State: they've beaten the bad teams but lost a very winnable game to Pitt. Anyway, if you like option football, WATCH THIS GAME. Also, I'll take Navy.
  • Oregon State @ Arizona State (Versus): ASU just never quite put it together against Georgia to produce a winning drive and honestly didn't look that great. I haven't seen Oregon State since the UNLV game, and since then they're 0-2. I think OSU is slightly better offensively, though, but by Pac-10 standards this may be a close, low-scoring game. I like the Beavers anyway.
  • Mississippi @ Vanderbilt (ESPNU): Ole Miss confirmed last week what I think most of us already knew: they're not a top-10 team. Before their hot finish last year, they even lost to Vandy! This Vandy outfit, though, isn't nearly as lucky, and it took a very bad Rice squad to get them their first DI-A win. I'll be rooting for the 'Dores, but Ole Miss should win this one.
  • South Carolina State @ South Carolina (ESPN Classic): I considered not listing this one, but it technically a game with a DI-A team on TV. I think it's fairly obvious who I'll pick.
  • Ohio State @ Indiana (BTN): Ohio State beat up on a extremely hapless Illinois squad last weekend. This Indiana team is a little less, er, hapless, and should at least providing some resistance. I didn't say the Hoosiers would win, though.
  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical vs. Arkansas (@Arlington, TX; ESPN2): Ah, more games in Jerry Jone's new Intergalactic Space Palace. This old SWC series gets back off the ground in what should be a high-scoring contest. TAMU may be 3-0 but that is against an extremely soft schedule, where as Arkansas actually played a team with a defense last weekend. They probably won't on Saturday, though, and should take the first game in this renewed series.
  • Tulsa @ Rice (CBSCS): I don't know if anyone noticed, but Rice is not a very good football team this year. Tulsa should win easily.
  • Georgia Tech @ Mississippi State (SEC/CSS): GT makes its return trip to Miss State, a year after crushing them in Atlanta. (Fun fact: despite being in the SEC with both Ole Miss and Miss State for 32 years (and in two other conference before that, dating back to the 1890's), GT has never played in the state of Mississippi. In fact, GT and Miss State never met in SEC play, and GT met Ole Miss twice during that time span, though the second time was in the Sugar Bowl.) This year's outfit, though, has a new coach and is actually somewhat competent this year. Perhaps most optimistically for GT, they allowed 390 yards on the ground to Auburn, but you can flip that around and say they only allowed 33 and 30 to Vandy and LSU, respectively.
    In the near upset over LSU last week, Miss State dominated statistically but couldn't punch in the winning score despite 4 attempts within LSU 2 yard line, including what I thought was a very strange call (the 3rd down pass attempt that was miraculously broken up). Overall, Miss State runs a spread-option offense with essentially three players, one at each major skill position. Defensively, Miss State has had success in the last two games stopping the run, though it could be argued both of those teams are also just not very good at running the ball.
    Defensively, I believe GT will stay with the 4-3 that had success last week against UNC and look to stop Miss State's run game. Offensively, Tech still has issues on the interior of the offensive line. While we dominated UNC last weekend, the game wasn't put away until well into the 4th quarter as Tech left a bunch of points on the field with a few stalled drives in Carolina territory and two missed field goals. Tech may go with a new kicker this week, as we also had several kick-offs out-of-bounds that UNC fortunately wasn't really able to capitalize on.
    Overall, I expect this to be a close, but high scoring game. Hopefully the good guys win.
    Also, to whoever at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area/California made the decision to pick up the SEC TV package: THANK YOU!
7:45: Auburn @ Tennessee (ESPN): The line on this game is 2.5-3, which is basically crediting Tennessee for home field advantage. I'm honestly not sure what to think about it either, but I can't help the feeling that Auburn's rejuvenated offense will carry the day while Crompton continues turning the ball over at inopportune times.

  • Southern California @ California (ABC/Gameplan): The 8:00 time slot is a perfect reflection of when these matchups were set two weeks ago. USC-Cal looked to be a major contest with the fate of the Pac-10 on the line, as well as national title implications. For now, it's strictly in the former category. To me, this feels like the game every year where USC starts to rehab from its yearly terrible loss, so I'm taking the Trojans. That said, this game can still be valuable for Cal - but make no mistake, the loser of this game will probably be looking to the Holiday Bowl (at best) instead of the Fiesta.
  • Oklahoma @ University of Miami (Gameplan/ABC): This is still an important inter-sectional matchup, but with Miami laying an egg in Blacksburg last weekend it's declined a bit. OU hasn't had any trouble scoring without Sam Bradford (whom they still lack for today's game), but I feel safe in saying that Miami is probably still a little better than Idaho State and Tulsa. I think Miami will rebound a bit from last weekend, but probably not enough to topple the Sooners.
10:30: Colorado State @ Idaho (ESPNU): On Thursday, I had a message on my DVR that Comcast had just added ESPNU HD, which is about the only reason I can think of to watch this. Well, there is another: it's being played at the Kibbie Dome! Fun facts: it was originally an outdoor stadium that was enclosed; it was the second dome built for sports in Idaho, after Idaho State's own Holt Arena; seating 16,000, it is the smallest stadium in Division I-A (which is why, on occasion, Idaho plays home games in nearby Pullman, home of Washington State); when used for basketball, it is known as the Cowan Spectrum. This is all at least tuning in for a few minutes for. As for the actual game? Well, at 3-1 Idaho already has as many wins as it did in the past two season combined. CSU is also 3-1, but both resumes are overall equally unspectacular. (Giving CSU credit for beating Colorado would probably be a little much at this point.) A quick glance at the stats show you probably shouldn't expect a whole lot of defense. That said, I'll still take Colorado State.

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