Monthly Archives: September 2009

This Week in College Football: Week 5

Introducing the new “This Week in College Football”. With the profileration of conferences desperate for ESPN’s money and exposure, we now have college ball on practically everyday of the week. So each week, I’ll write up a short post about this week’s weekday games in the same vein as my weekend column.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


8:00: Hawaii @ Louisiana Tech (ESPN2): Hawaii’s crazy mainland adventure continues, as they make a stop at the WAC’s easternmost outpost. To put it mildly, LaTech has been bad, sporting the expected beatdown from Auburn and a 32-14 beatdown from Navy. Hawaii, meanwhile, beat Wazzou and only lost to UNLV on a touchdown in the final minute. I’ll take the Warriors here.


7:30: Colorado @ West Virginia (ESPN): WVU’s not great or anything, but I do think they can beat an extremely hapless CU squad. Dan Hawkins is pretty much just hoping to keep his job at this point, I’d imagine, despite last week’s easy win over Wyoming.

8:00: Southern Mississippi @ Alabama-Birmingham (CBSCS): Things looked promising for UAB, as they started off the season with a 20 point win over Rice. As it turns out, though, Rice and UAB are probably the two worst teams in C-USA this year. The key for USM will be shaking off the disappointment of being a touchdown away from their second BCS skin of the year and taking care of business.


8:00: Pittsburgh @ Louisville (ESPN2): The fact that I will probably watch at least a portion of this game on Friday is extremely sad, in my opinion. Pitt joined a spate of teams last week that couldn’t run two minute drills to save their lives or otherwise screwed up in the red zone (looking at you, Wake Forest and Texas Tech, among others). Don’t let the records fool you: UL’s schedule has been much tougher than Pitt’s to this point and there’s not really any reason right now to think Pitt is better than UL. Will the Wannstache prevail in another Krag-tastic loss? Eh, probably not.

Tune in later this week, or early this weekend, for my full set of picks for Saturday!

You Can Take Your “Blueprint” And….

Sometime during the summer, people who looked back on last year’s UNC game decided that UNC defended us “well” and had an idea how to stop the option. I contented that they obviously hadn’t watched the game or looked at the stats other than the final score (28-7).

Unfortunately, before I could start the reverse trend, it got picked up in the media and combined with last week’s debacle at Miami everything just snowballed. Now everyone believed it!

And, well, have a look at some stats:

Gee, GT’s stats look awfully similar, don’t you think? Especially in terms of rushing yards? Notice the biggest single difference? Yeah, that’s right, turnovers. GT muffed a punt and fumbled the ball, both leading directly to UNC touchdowns.

Of course, there were other factors that caused the opposite outcome this time as well. We basically never let them have the ball, which meant the defense played well (especially against the run, still need a little work on the pass rush). Also, Nesbitt had an excellent day passing, completing 63% of his passes plus a couple of balls that should’ve been caught.

All-in-all, a good win, and with Miami getting routed in Blacksburg, the Coastal is open once again.

This Weekend in College Football: Week 4

This is going up late and it’ll be pretty short. Apologies, I’ve just been swamped at work lately.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Michigan State @ Wisconsin (ESPN): While these teams have diametrically opposed offenses (Wisconsin is a traditional Big Ten “3 yards and a cloud of dust” kind of team, Mich. State likes to throw it around), neither style has really gotten then anywhere. The Badgers are 3-0, yet it doesn’t really feel that way: their combined margin of victory against their DI-A opponents so far is 11 points, and those opponents were Northern Illinois and Fresno State (in OT, even). Michigan State is basically that, but the other way, with two losses by a combined 5 points, to Central Michigan and Notre Dame. More importantly for both, perhaps, is that they’re 0-0 in the Big Ten. I honestly think either team could win this game, but so for the sake of picking someone I’ll take Wisconsin.
  • Indiana @ Michigan (ESPN2): Through processes that I don’t fully understand, Indiana is 3-0. Oh wait, they’ve beaten Eastern Kentucky, Western Michigan, and Akron. Well, that certainly helps. Michigan is also 3-0, and features a win over ND and a drubbing of their directional patsies, unlike the Hoosiers. I think I’ll take Michigan.
  • Southern Mississippi @ Kansas (FSN): USM got themselves a win over a BCS team last weekend by taking Virginia, though UVA is so bad this year I’m not even sure that’s an upset. (In case you’re wondering, the Don’t Fire Al Groh guys are back.) All that said, Kansas should handle USM pretty easily.
  • South Florida @ Florida State (ESPNU): USF had a glimmer of hope in this game, I think, but then 5th year senior QB Matt Grothe went down for the count, and so did USF’s chances of beating FSU.
  • Minnesota @ Northwestern (BTN): NU QB Mike Kafka surely felt the pains of existence after Northwestern’s defense, or lack thereof, couldn’t stop Syracuse from kicking the go ahead field goal last weekend. While Northwestern has the Big Ten’s first or second best passing attack (depending on what stat you use), Minnesota hasn’t excelled at much of anything and got pounded by weekend by Cal. Since the transitive property doesn’t apply to college football, I feel safe predicting a Northwestern win here.
  • Louisiana State @ Mississippi State (SEC/Gameplan): This is already taking too long. LSU. Next!
  • North Carolina @ Georgia Tech (Raycom/Gameplan): I intended to write a separate article for this game, but unfortunately I never had a chance to get around to it. First, let me dispel the notion that last year’s UNC team had some sort of magical option-stopping effect, as it’s not true. While Tech only had 7 points, they still ran for 326 yards and 423 yards overall and had 20 first downs. What killed them? 3 turnovers, including two fumbles that led directly to touchdowns. Fast forward to this year, and turnovers have been the least of our worries so far. More worryingly, the Jackets are failing to block anyone consistently, whether it be in the trenches or on the edge. The only thing running worse than the offense right now is the defense. While you should be buying into the Miami hype, Tech hasn’t shown the ability to pressure any quarterback this year.
    While UNC’s defensive line is probably not as good as Clemson’s or Miami’s, their front 7 as a unit are probably just as good or better. This makes Tech rediscovering how to block all the more important this week. On the flip side, UNC’s offense has been inconsistent. It looked fine against ECU but horrible in the 12-10 debacle at Connecticut. They won’t pass a whole bunch, relying instead on the their very good running backs and a steady pocket presence from upperclassman Tyler Yates.
    Tech has made a variety of changes this past week to try to mitigate issues. On the offensive side of the ball, there is at least one new offensive line starter, and I would expect the A-back rotation to change a bit. On defense, Tech will abandon the 4-2-5 and switch to the 4-3, hoping the extra linebacker can help put some more pressure on the QB. Even though we got torched by Miami, I really don’t think our secondary is that bad – not taking anything away from Jacory Harris, but when you have absolutely no pressure you can always find the open man. Hopefully we can at least touch the QB this week.
    In terms of the ACC race, Tech is already down and will, for all intents and purposes, be out if they lose this game, though it will be really darn tough anyway if Miami wins in Blacksburg. (Have I mentioned the fact that our division race will practically be decided before the end of September? What the hell, ACC?)
    So, with that, I will close. Go Jackets!


  • Arkansas @ Alabama (CBS): Arkansas had an early off week, meaning this is only their third game. That said, I’m not sure I can come up with a good reason they’ll beat Alabama.
  • California @ Oregon (ABC/Gameplan): Speaking of huge, early conference games, how about this Pac-10 game? I know most will think they’ve heard this before, but USC has some real issues this year. Meanwhile, Cal has its first chance in a long time to not lay an egg in a big game and establish themselves as the challenger in this conference this year. I still don’t really have a read on this year’s Oregon team, but I do have a read that Jahvid best is really good at running with a football. If Cal can hold on, and I think they will, go ahead and mark October 31st on your calendar.
  • Illinois @ Ohio State (ESPN/ABC): Stupid early off weeks. Here’s what I know about Illinois: they got slaughtered by Mizzou in week one and beat DI-AA Illinois State two weeks ago. Thanks guys. I’ll take OSU anyway because I’m lazy and it’s like 3AM here.
  • University of Miami @ Virginia Tech (Gameplan/ESPN/ABC): Is “DA U” back? Well, they won last year’s ugly contest 16-14 before laying an egg against us the next week, but before that had lost 4 of 5. Suffice it to say, this is the best defense Miami will have faced to date, and it will be interesting to see how Jacory Harris handles the blitzes Bud Foster will throw at him. This is my game of the day, as we need a VPI win to have any realistic chance of still winning our division, but a Miami win produces a legit top-10 team from the ACC going into next week’s contest with Oklahoma. And just based on what I’ve seen so far this year, I think Miami can break through and put enough points on the board to get past Virginia Tech’s scrappy, keep-it-close style of football.
  • Texas-El Paso @ Texas (FSN): I’d ordinarily have something witty about concession stand spreads here, but I’ll take Texas.
  • Pittsburgh @ North Carolina State (ESPNU): Let’s do the “what do I know?” game again. NCSU is 2-1. Both the wins are over DI-AA teams. The loss was a 7-3 debacle against South Carolina. Pitt is 3-0 against Youngstown State, Buffalo, and Navy. I’d say that’s about a push. I’ll go ahead and take NCSU here, but if they win this game they’ll lose to Duke in two weeks or something like that.
  • Western Kentucky @ Navy (CBSCS): Navy gets back on track against the Hilltoppers. Did you know I get this channel in HD, though? It’s pretty awesome.

6:00: Florida @ Kentucky (ESPN2): Blah blah swine flu blah blah Kentucky not that bad blah blah Florida still has Tim Tebow, last I checked.


  • Arizona State @ Georgia (ESPNU): This is Arizona State’s first game ever at a SEC stadium, though not the first time UGA’s ever hosted a Pac-10 team. That said, ASU may feel right at home with the lack of defense. Take the over, and, begrudgingly, UGA.
  • Ball State @ Auburn (SEC/Gameplan): Hey, Ball State, remember when you undefeated last year going in to the MAC title game and getting some national attention? And then you laid an egg against Buffalo and have lost 5 straight now. Yeah… now that Auburn has seemingly found an offense (don’t ask me how) they should take this pretty easily.


  • Arizona @ Oregon State (Versus): Arizona keeps trying to be respectable, and then they do things like “losing to Iowa”. Meanwhile, Oregon State lost to a quietly good Cincy team last weekend, but should recover sufficiently to beat Arizona.
  • Louisville @ Utah (CBSCS): So, Utah had their longest unbeaten streak snapped quite rudely last weekend by Oregon. I think this game will be interesting, but I think Utah can still regain some respect and win this one.


  • Iowa @ Pennsylvania State (ABC): I just refuse to believe Iowa is anything other than mediocre, despite the 3-0 record. Of course, Penn State’s schedule is arguably just as weak but they at least took care of their patsies how they should. Not sure why this is the primetime game. Penn State, easy.
  • Notre Dame @ Purdue (ESPN): So Notre Dame isn’t as good as I though, oh well. I do know Purdue is as bad as I think, though, and probably won’t win this game.

9:15: Texas Tech @ Houston (ESPN2): Sound the sirens, because these are two of the best Air Raid offenses in the country going at it right here. (To read more about their offenses, see here. You’ll feel smarter just by doing so.) Of course, Texas Tech didn’t exactly put up the show we all expected last weekend, while Houston has just been kind of doing it’s thing so far. I expect both teams to score at least 40 points here and this game probably won’t end until 1 AM Eastern. That said, I think TTU recovers from last week and eeks out a win here.

10:15: Washington State @ Southern California (FSN): It’s Wazzou. It’s a vulnerable USC team! But they’re not that vulnerable. USC here.

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This Weekend in College Football: Week 3

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • California @ Minnesota (ESPN): In Cal’s last early kickoff adventure, they lost to a mediocre/bad Maryland team. This game kicks off at 10 AM Pacific, though, so maybe the extra hour will benefits them? They should win anyway.
  • East Carolina @ North Carolina (ESPN2): If UNC’s offense fails to show again, this will be a long day for the Tarheels. ECU is generally considered decent, but I’m not seeing it (beat App. State by 5, lost to a rebuilding WVU by 15), so I have to take UNC here.
  • Duke @ Kansas (Versus): Let’s see, Duke has lost to Richmond and should’ve lost to Army (don’t let the score fool you). Kansas, meanwhile, has outscored their equally bad opponents so far 83-10. I think the Duke basketball team might stand a better chance here.
  • Louisville @ Kentucky (ESPNU): Both of these teams had early bye weeks (the season started “late” this year, so teams only have 1 bye week) and are coming off blowouts of their respective opening day patsies. While L’ville probably won’t lose 27-2 this time around, I still like UK to win.
  • Ball State @ Army (CBSCS): Army isn’t exactly good or anything, but Ball State is super bad. I think the Knights of the Hudson once again, though hopefully that doesn’t doom them again this week.
  • Eastern Michigan @ Michigan (BTN): Your guide to directional Michigans: Western: bad, Central: good, Eastern: super bad. Michigan rolls.
  • North Texas @ Alabama (SEC): SEC TV just seems sad if it’s relegated to games like this. See, when it was the “JP Sports SEC ‘Game of the Week’ brought to you by Golden Flake and Yella Wood” no one cared, but when you have your own network it just seems, I dunno, wrong? Anyway…
  • Boston College @ Clemson (Raycom): This is BC’s first real test, and considering how terrible I think everyone expected them to be this year (myself included) they may make it close, but Clemson should ultimately prevail.


  • Tennessee @ Florida (CBS): I think the only good thing I got out of Thursday’s game was one of the commentators joking that Florida may be, perhaps, “building a woodshed” up in Gainesville. You know, to take Tennessee behind. What’s the line on this, like 28 or something absurd like that? Is that the worst line in SEC history not involving teams named Vanderbilt, Kentucky, or Mississippi State? I can’t speak for most folks, but I’m tuning into this one out of a sort of morbid curiosity to see if Florida can cover.
  • Michigan State @ Notre Dame (NBC): Notre Dame isn’t as good as everyone thought (duh) but they’re not the kind of outfit that would lose to Central Michigan at home, either. Not that the transitive property applies to college football, but seriously ND should prevail.
  • Southern California @ Washington (ABC/Gameplan): U-Dub definitely gave LSU the what-for two weeks ago, but I think I could start for USC and still beat them, especially if all I had to do was hand it to Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson 40 times. Heck, I bet even Mitch Mustain could handle that! Anyway….
  • Nebraska @ Virginia Tech (Gameplan/ESPN2/ABC): This is the kind of game that makes predicting the early season so tough. Well, okay, that’s most games, but still. What we know about VPI: they lost kind of badly to Alabama. What we know about Nebraska: they’ve blown out a couple of bad teams. What we know from last year: VPI won pretty convincingly in Omaha. Automatic conclusion: since the game is in Blacksburg, VPI should win convincingly. And honestly, I can’t think of anything to trump this conclusion.
  • Arizona @ Iowa (ESPN2/ABC): I don’t care about this game and I can’t think of anything to say. Iowa, I guess? I dunno.
  • Utah @ Oregon (ESPN): Now this game is hells of intriguing, except for the fact Oregon has pretty much decided they no longer want to be discussion for who the second best team in the Pac-10 is. They lost to Boise – no shame in that. But nearly losing to a very not good Purdue team at home? That raises some eyebrows. Eyebrows that say they’re probably not going to beat Utah.
  • Tulsa @ Oklahoma (FSN): I really want Tulsa to make this interesting. You know, toss it around, go crazy with 5 WR sets and try to put up a bunch of points. Oh, wait, they already do those things? Hrm. Well, OU should win, but I like Tulsa to keep up the pressure, at least.
  • Indiana @ Akron (ESPNU): Indiana spices things up by playing a school that doesn’t have a cardinal direction in its name. Worryingly for IU, though, they’ve won those two games by a grand total of 11 points. I mean, they should still beat Akron, but if you enjoying watching Big Ten teams potentially losing to MAC teams, this is probably the game for you!
  • Virginia @ Southern Mississippi (CBSCS): Things Southern Miss has done twice this season that Virginia hasn’t: win football games. I fully expect this trend to continue.

6:45: Cincinnati @ Oregon State (FSN): Cincy has very quietly gotten off a rocking start, first by destroying Rutgers in their opener and then laying the expected beatdown on a directional DI-AA opponent. Oregon State probably won’t lose by 67 points, but they should lose all the same.


  • Florida State @ Brigham Young (Versus): Hey, FSU, remember that time you played Jacksonville State and then only won 19-9 and had a very real chance of losing? Oh, wait, that was last week. I mean, yeah, BYU will take all the BCS conference scalps it can get, but if they win I don’t think it’ll even technically be an upset. I’m going with BYU as well.
  • Louisiana-Lafayette @ Louisiana State (ESPNU): UL-Lafayette, don’t get too hyped up off your victory over K-State! You’ll need a level head and approximately 50 turnovers in your favor to beat LSU, most likely.
  • Mississippi State @ Vanderbilt (SEC): See, at least this is between two mediocre/bad SEC teams! This is what made JP great! Well, except that this is way too late in the day, but whatever! Also, I like Vandy.

7:30: Air Force @ New Mexico (CBSCS): New Mexico: still bad! Air Force should take this pretty easily, provided they’re not too depressed about losing to Minnesota.


  • Georgia @ Arkansas (ESPN): So, uh, Georgia’s defense isn’t all that good, I guess? Conventional wisdom says they’re going to lose to Arkansas, but the problem is I’m not entirely sure why they should. But then there’s the part of me that, you know, hates Georgia and pretty much wants them to lose 78-0. So I’ll go with that.
  • West Virginia @ Auburn (ESPN2): If I told you, when this game was scheduled, that one of these teams would have a dynamic, high scoring offense, who would’ve said it was Auburn? Yet here we are, provided the first two games are any indication. (Which I hope they are, since that’s the basis for pretty much all of my predictions.) Is Auburn for real? I hope so, because otherwise I’ll looking bad for picking them.

8:00: Texas Tech @ Texas (ABC): While Texas Tech may not ever rebuild now that Leach has The System going, it’s hard to say exactly why they should win in Austin either. All the pressure is on Texas, of course – I don’t think they can afford to lose any games this year. I still like them to win, though.

10:15: Kansas State @ California-Los Angeles (FSN): UCLA isn’t exactly good or anything, but Kansas State is exactly bad. I think that sentence makes sense. What also makes sense: taking the Bruins.

11:00: Hawaii @ Nevada-Las Vegas (CBSCS): Unlike UNLV, Hawaii actually succeeded in beating their Pac-10 team last weekend. That said, this is Hawaii’s middle game in a three-game road trip on the mainland, which is literally a trip – the team doesn’t even fly back to Hawaii between these games. Which is probably better for them, actually, but I would still think this takes its toll. But still, Hawaii ran out to a 35-6 lead by the half against Wazzou and never looked back on the way to 489 yards passing. Yeesh. I have to take the Warriors here.

That’s all for this week!

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This Weekend in College Football: Week 2

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

7:30: Clemson @ Georgia Tech (ESPN): Whooo boy. Big one for Tech here, and frankly I’m not a fan of conference games in September. Just too early – something that didn’t help in the past. Nonetheless, these games are always fun – Clemson is Tech’s biggest in-conference rival, and it’s more of a friendly rivalry. Also, these games tend to generally be really close. Despite the fact Tech has won 4 of the last five, the scores break like this: 28-24, 10-9, 7-31 (ugh), 13-3, 21-17. Last week, both teams had their with patsies, though worryingly we fumbled 5 times.

9:00: Colorado @ Toledo (ESPN): While nothing is guaranteed for Colorado these days, Toledo lost big last week to a very depleted Purdue squad. I think CU can pull this out.


  • Fresno State @ Wisconsin (ESPN): While we all would love to see FSU knock off one of the big boys, I just don’t see it happening in Madison.
  • Central Michigan @ Michigan State (ESPN2): MSU pads the win column with an easy win over one of the directional Michigans, though this is probably the best of the three.
  • Iowa @ Iowa State (FSN): This seems like an easy Iowa win, right? Well, to their credit, at least Iowa State was able to easily beat their DI-AA and not have to block two straight field goals to pull out the last second win. And it’s not like these superior Iowa teams have been taking care of Iowa State the past few years, anyway – the series is at 2-2 over the past four meetings. I’ll take the Cyclones.
  • North Carolina @ Connecticut (ESPNU): Continuing the “I’d Rather Watch This as a Basketball Game” series, UNC won 38-12 last year in Chapel Hill. I’d expect a similar result here.
  • Duke @ Army (CBSCS): Duke: 0-1 against DI-AA opponents. Army: 1-0 against DI-A opponents. If Army is going to get back to the 6-win promised land, they’ll need to beat teams like Duke, and based on last week’s, er, “performance” I think they can.
  • Syracuse @ Pennsylvania State (BTN): Penn State should take this one pretty easily.
  • Troy @ Florida (SEC/Gameplan): Sorry, Rob, but Florida by a few touchdowns.
  • Stanford @ Wake Forest (Raycom/Gameplan): I know Baylor has a good QB and all, but Wake should’ve still beat them. Which makes me worried about Wake’s ability to beat Stanford. I mean, I’m still picking Wake, but I have my doubts.


  • Notre Dame @ Michigan (ABC): I just don’t, you know, care about this game. I think Michigan should win and all, but this will be either be an exciting, high-scoring contest or super boring, I think.
  • Brigham Young @ Tulane (ESPN2): BYU got a huge win last week in Dallas, Bradford or no. Now they have to keep it up through lulls in the schedule like this, against a Tulane squad that got pounded last week by Tulsa. In other words, this is a bit of a trap game for BYU with FSU coming up next weekend.
  • Houston @ Oklahoma State (FSN): I’m glad as anyone else Oklahoma State beat UGA last weekend, now they face a reasonable challenge in high-flying Houston. OSU should still win, but I bet this will be good to watch.
  • Texas @ Wyoming (Versus): [Checks to see if Wyoming still has those brown home jerseys.] [Yup.] This is the “1” end of a 2-for-1 between these schools. I highly suspect Texas expects, and will get, 3 wins out of it.
  • Texas Christian @ Virginia (ESPNU): TCU is pretty decent. Virginia, uh, isn’t. I’ll take the frogs.
  • Louisiana Tech @ Navy (CBSCS): Navy’s got to pick themselves up after being a two-point conversion away from Ohio State last weekend. They can definitely do that against LaTech.

4:00: California-Los Angeles @ Tennessee (ESPN): Both of these teams took care of their requisite patsies last weekend, so it’s hard for me to get a read here. I may change this later, but right now I just like Tennessee and I’m not really sure why.


  • South Carolina @ Georgia (ESPN2): I hope you don’t like offense! Well, if you’re watching this, anyway. I’d just go get dinner or something and get ready for USC-Ohio State. I’ll take UGA here, unfortunately.
  • Vanderbilt @ Louisiana State (ESPNU): Alas, poor Vandy. Good luck against LSU, you’ll need it.
  • Air Force @ Minnesota (BTN): Air Force is generally pretty pesky, but do they have a chance against UMN? Eh, probably not.
  • Mississippi State @ Auburn (SEC/Gameplan): I wonder how much people made last year on this game taking the under? Nonetheless, I can say with a fair degree of confidence there will be more than five points scored in this game, and that Auburn should probably win.

7:30: Kansas @ Texas-El Paso (CBSCS): It’s Kansas! It’s UTEP! It’s, uh… hrm. I got nothin’, except for Kansas.

8:00: Southern California @ Ohio State (ESPN): Ahhh, it’s the Trobuckalypse! Both these teams are pretty vulnerable, though that term is purely relative compared to the rest of college football. For a difference on perspective, consider the hoopla around USC starting a freshman QB and realize that he would start for probably 90% of the schools in the country. Also consider Pryor is experienced in relative terms as well, being a sophomore and beginning his first year as a starter. This all also makes it extremely difficult to pick a side here, especially with the game in The Shoe. The advantages that USC had over OSU last year are no longer present as long as Pryor is competent, so I’ll take the Buckeyes.

10:15: Purdue @ Oregon (FSN): This post will not mention anyone by the name of “Blount” or anything about the practice of sucker punching anyone. Nope. But don’t be surprised if Purdue perhaps feels like they just did get sucker punched, though.

10:30: Utah @ San Jose State (ESPNU): I should trek down to San Jose and see this on in person! Yeah! Er, maybe not. Utah should win easily.

11:00: Oregon State @ Nevada-Las Vegas (CBSCS): Oregon State will at least win on the field this weekend, though I can’t say the same about their odds on the slots.

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