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The Big E College Football Picks: Week Eight

I have a funny story to tell regarding the caption above:

Sean: "The new fall/winter catalog is finally in. (Our company comes out with a catalog twice a year showing an athletic trainer working on a student from various colleges each time.

Eric: "Oh, what school is on the cover?"

Sean: "OSU."

Eric: "Ugh, Ohio State!?!?"

Sean: "No, the other OSU."

Eric: "Oh, Oregon State? Well I guess that's bett.."

Sean: "No, not Oregon State.'s uhh..."

Eric: "Oklahoma State?"

Sean: "Yeah, that's it. The other, other OSU."

(Copious amounts of laughter ensue...)

Good times.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled program.

I’ve really put together three solid weeks of betting and now I’m looking to increase that success to a full month this week.

Interestingly, I have had three straight victories just like Notre Dame. Will we both run the table the rest of the way??

It was another very interesting week in college football, so let’s take a look back at the bets.


*Florida State barely scratched by Boston College and was unable to cover a very large spread in an early afternoon game. This is the kind of game that epitomizes just how wacky college football can be.

I was so underwhelmed by Florida State’s offense, and especially Christian Ponder, that I couldn’t believe this was the same team that raped Miami only a week earlier.

*I thought Illinois was going to hang with Michigan State, which they did, but the Spartans came out in the second half and put it away for a relatively comfortable victory.

I guarantee there will be a ton of people betting against Michigan State the rest of the season and I’ll probably be one of them. They’re not going to run the table and go undefeated are they?

At minimum, they won’t cover some of the spreads I think.

*I picked underdog Arkansas and things were looking great until a disastrous fourth quarter struck and Auburn reeled off a boat load of points.

Oh yeah, and Ryan Mallett missed most of the game with a concussion.

I’m still not a believer in Auburn (more on this later).

*Florida has lost three straight, but Urban Meyer’s head hasn’t exploded…yet.

What is going on down in Gainesville? I love all the anger and frustration boiling up among the Florida fan base, and it makes you wonder what they’d be like if they ever had to deal with the dry spell that Notre Dame has been going through.

Maybe the worst part about Florida’s loss last weekend is that now people think Mississippi State is a little bit better than they really are.

*For the second straight week Notre Dame pushed against the spread. Good thing Kelly put in the backups or else my week wouldn’t have been nearly as respectable!


*Pittsburgh took a while to get going but ultimately roughed up Syracuse inside the Carrier Dome. I still can’t believe that Pittsburgh was only a one point favorite in this game. Syracuse is still Syracuse…they haven’t turned any corners yet.

As an aside, I would like to say that I think the Carrier Dome is one of the more underrated venues in college sports. I’ve never been inside it and I’m still kicking myself for not making the two-hour trip down from college to see the Irish play there in 2003#, but it just looks like a cool place^ to watch football and basketball.

#Notre Dame lost that game 38-12 in the season finale in what was surely one of the most embarrassing, uninspired and dreadful games the Irish have ever played. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t attend because I still remember the anger watching it on television, next to a Syracuse fan no less.

^It’d be a lot better if the place wasn’t three quarters empty on Saturdays. Basketball games look like a grand time, but not so much football anymore. Think Donovan McNabb circa 1998 and not the current atmosphere.

*I don’t know how anyone could be convinced that Missouri is as good as their ranking (11th BCS) or record (6-0), simply because they haven’t beaten a single team that I would consider anything close to good.

That doesn’t mean I was dumb enough to bet against Tigers with a close spread versus Texas A&M, though.

*The annual Rich Rodriguez-led Michigan Big Ten free fall is in full effect again as the Wolverines lost their second straight to open up league play.

Denard Robinson left in the middle of the game and Tate Forcier actually came in and played pretty well, but there’s still one major problem that Michigan may never be able to overcome: their defense.

I said before the season started that this may be the worst defense in Michigan history and you could have said the same thing about the 2009 UM defense too. It doesn’t appear that Rodriguez will ever be able to cultivate even a good defense, and as far as I’m aware the recruiting isn’t going to take care of the problem either.

It’s a tough place to be in right now as a Michigan fan after watching the offense finally come together, but seeing zero hope either today or in the future with their defense.

Iowa actually didn’t pile up a ton of yards, but whenever they needed to make a play they did, and that will probably continue to be the case for any offense that takes on Michigan.

*Oklahoma State doubled up Texas Tech in a game Big 12 fans would say was "entertaining" because the rest of the country could really care less about the outcome.

I’m sorry for the negativity, but it’s frustrating to watch teams like Oklahoma State go undefeated through the first half of the season without playing a single good team. It’s schedules like the Cowboys’ that really puts a 9-3 or 8-4 season into a clearer perspective sometimes with the competition some college football teams face.

*Texas did exactly as I thought they would and took down Nebraska.

That saved a whole bunch of Texas fans from jumping off a cliff, but you have to wonder what is going on with the Cornhuskers now. Their remaining schedule isn’t anything particularly intimidating, but if they lose one of their next two games (at Oklahoma State and vs. Missouri) then they are officially in the pretender category.

*USC is still really talented as they spanked California by 34 points.

A lot of Irish fans were getting really confident that this was the year that the streak of losses would end at the hands of the Trojans, but I wouldn’t sleep on this USC team still coming back and wreaking havoc on the Pac-10 and playing really well by the end of the year.

Sure, California isn’t that great, but they put a hurting on a legit BCS team and that’s something that Notre Dame has proven they cannot do yet. That demands respect!

*Ohio State got punched in the mouth by Wisconsin and couldn’t recover, am I the only who thinks that the Buckeyes really aren’t that great?

Their defense is strong, but not like the kind Notre Dame faced in the Fiesta Bowl a few years back. And at this point, I’m asking, is Terrelle Pryor the one holding that team back?

He has consistently proven that he’s not dynamic against the good defenses he faces and even if he uses his legs from time to time that is negated by the fact that he is really a poor pocket passer. He makes bad reads, shows poor accuracy, throws wobbly balls all over the field…it will be interesting to see how the rest of his career plays out and what the NFL has in store.

On to the picks for this week as Michael Collins is smarting after a dominating 9-2 performance last week, while yours truly is still climbing back to a .500 overall record.

Let’s take a look at week eight.

Week Seven: 7-4

Overall: 35-37

USF (+8) at Cincinnati

Pick: Cincinnati

I like the Bearcats at home and I don’t trust USF quarterback B.J. Daniels to be able to keep up with Cincinnati’s high octane offense.

Plus, I think the Bulls will under-perform up in the colder weather of Ohio. This is where Cincinnati starts bringing themselves back into the Big East champion picture and USF starts its slow decline into a below-average team.

Notre Dame (-6.5) at Navy

Pick: Notre Dame

No Kyle Rudolph or Theo Riddick. Michael Floyd is questionable and may not play, while Armando Allen is still a little gimpy and Dayne Crist has been maddening inconsistent of late.

Yet I don’t think offense will be the issue in this game, or rather, Notre Dame should be able to score 25 to 30 points even with a couple key guys missing.

The question is whether the Notre Dame defense can slow down and limit Navy’s triple option offense. And I believe the Irish can and will do just that.

I think the Irish surprise a lot of people with a fairly easy win at the new Meadowlands.

Notre Dame 34

Navy 17

Syracuse (+14) at West Virginia

Pick: West Virginia

I still think Syracuse is getting a little too much respect and the Mountaineers are flying under the radar a little bit in a seriously weakened Big East conference.

The combination of Geno Smith and Noel Devine will prove too much for the Orange to handle on the road this time around as these teams are headed in different directions.

Could West Virginia be in a BCS bowl this year?

Think about it.

Rutgers (+13) at Pittsburgh

Pick: Rutgers

I am a little concerned that Rutgers continually gives up on their running game and goes with the lanky wide receiver Sanu in a wildcat formation more often than not. I’m also concerned about a true freshman quarterback playing on the road, even though Dodd has looked decent in the last two games.

But this is just a little bit too many points for me to be comfortable with a Pitt offense covering the spread. The past history suggests that Rutgers will play the Panthers tight and even though Rutgers doesn’t have a whole lot going for them this year, I think this game stays pretty close.

Purdue (+23.5) at Ohio State

Pick: Ohio State

Normally I don’t like to take Ohio State with a large spread, but the Buckeyes have to be pissed beyond all belief after last week’s loss and will be looking for big time payback after losing to the Boilers last year.

Plus, the Terrelle Pryor Heisman campaign is not going to die this early, and neither will the Buckeyes title chances. It’s not that I really agree with either of those sentiments, but you just watch Pryor put up a great statistical game in a big win and OSU will be right back in the thick of things, particularly if a couple top 10 teams go down again this week.

It’s the way it’s been for almost 10 years, not reason to think otherwise.

Michigan State (-6) at Northwestern

Pick: Michigan State

I know I said that Michigan State is probably going to drop a game they shouldn’t down the stretch or not cover a few of them, but I don’t think this is the case this weekend.

Northwestern just lost to a Robert Marve-less Purdue team and needed a miracle to beat Minnesota by one point the week before. I know the Spartans probably aren’t national title contenders and all that, but they are too balanced offensively to not put a nice hurting on what is probably a very mediocre Wildcat team.

For another week, the improbable undefeated season marches on for Michigan State!

Iowa State (+21) at Texas

Pick: Texas

Iowa State has the second worst defense out of the BCS teams this year (Washington State is just a little more dreadful) and this should be the perfect opportunity for the Longhorns to get some confidence back on offense.

I am sensing that Texas has turned a corner after a rough start following their upset at Nebraska last week and they are primed to blowout what is really a very inferior team.

Nothing more to see here, Texas wins big.

Mississippi (+9.5) at Arkansas

Pick: Arkansas

Ole Miss has been giving up 31 points a game this year and that does not bode well for the Rebels as they travel to Arkansas this weekend.

Mississippi just isn’t a good football team and you could make the case that they are the worst in the SEC right now along with Tennessee.

I’ll take a pissed off Ryan Mallett looking to come back from his concussion last week and Arkansas’ bevy of playmakers ready to roll over a mediocre Rebel team.

Georgia Tech (+5) at Clemson

Pick: Georgia Tech

The entire ACC is really hard to figure out right now and these two teams are no exception.

I’m picking the Yellow Jackets for three reasons. 1.) Georgia Tech has Clemson’s number in recent years. 2.) I like the coaching advantage Paul Johnson brings to the table. 3) I’ll take the points in this one.

That’s about all I know.

Wisconsin (+6) at Iowa

Pick: Wisconsin

This is a really tough game to pick, but I am a little surprised that Wisconsin is getting this many points a week after upsetting the number one team in the country. Will the Badgers take that as an insult and avoid the classic let down?

Iowa has not impressed me too much this year with three big wins against bad out of conference teams and a domination of a weak Penn State team. The Hawkeyes didn’t show up against Arizona and lost, and they just gave up over 500 yards to Michigan last week.

Wisconsin has had their own head scratches this season, with close wins against San Jose State and Arizona State and they were handled by Michigan State pretty well. But we know they can show up for the big game because of their victory of Ohio State.

This game could go either way but I’ll take the points and what is probably a better running game with Wisconsin’s dynamic duo of Clay and White.

Nebraska (-5.5) at Oklahoma State

Pick: Nebraska

This is a pretty interesting game for a variety of reasons, but mostly because we are all curious to see how the Cornhuskers bounce back after a tough loss last week and to see if Oklahoma State is for real or not.

The Cowboys have been passing the ball at will this year, but they are coming up against the best secondary and defense they have seen so far this year. I like Nebraska in that matchup.

Oklahoma State has a very good run defense that would seem to give them an edge in stopping the nation’s fourth best ground game, but I think the Cowboys run defense stats have to do more with the fact that they are so bad in pass defense (114th nationally) that most teams don’t need to run the ball as much.

As it is, I think Nebraska will come out strong be able to move the ball on a consistent basis and take home a fairly easy two score victory.

LSU (+5.5) at Auburn

Pick: LSU

LSU has a huge advantage on defense, but Auburn has the hottest player in the country right now in Cam Newton.

But I just can’t escape the fact that Auburn’s defense is pretty mediocre bordering on bad.

They are 63rd in scoring defense, 64th in total defense, 108th in passing defense and the Tigers have given up 104 points in their last three SEC games.

Their running defense looks stout because they held Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe to a combined 81 yards, but Auburn has given up an average of 126 yards per game on the ground against their top five opponents so far this year.

Maybe Newton comes in and dazzles everyone with this play, but he’s playing against what should be considered the top defense in the country. A lot of people have been saying that LSU has been lucky to stay undefeated so far, but I think that is even more true for Auburn right now.

I’m taking LSU in an outright upset victory.

Alabama (-16.5) at Tennessee

Pick: Alabama

This spread tells me that not a lot of people have confidence that Alabama is going to pile up the points against a downtrodden Tennessee team that desperately needs something positive to happen to their program.

Neyland Stadium is always tough, but it is time for Alabama to start making a case for themselves and stay in the national title picture so they can defend their throne.

Ingram and Richardson are going to run wild and the Tide defense should force a few turnovers to shorten the field. Alabama should take this game by 25 points.

North Carolina (+6.5) at Miami

Pick: North Carolina

I think Jacory Harris is the biggest fraud in the country, and as such I don’t think Miami has that great of an offense.

North Carolina had a rough start to their year, but they have quietly reeled off four straight wins against decent competition.

Even with all the suspensions and violations at North Carolina, the Tar Heels are still a pretty good football team. I just don’t have the confidence that Miami is going to beat a tough team like UNC by a touchdown right now.

Air Force (+18.5) at TCU

Pick: TCU

Last year’s game between these two teams was very close, but TCU needs those style points in their quest to make the national title game this year.

I’ll be looking for TCU’s staunch defense to shut down the rushing attack that has made Air Force so formidable this year and force the Falcons into a lot of third down and long attempts.

This will inevitably lead to a couple turnovers and a final score that gives TCU at least a three touchdown victory.

Oklahoma (-3) at Missouri

Pick: Oklahoma

It’s tough to get a good read on a Missouri team whose hardest competition so far this season has either been Illinois or Texas A&M. They won those two games by a combined 53-24 score and remain undefeated, but Missouri isn’t in the same class as Oklahoma right now, right?

Nevertheless, this game should be close but I’ll take the offensive firepower the Sooners are carrying, plus their battle tested team as a whole, against an unproven wannabe like the Missouri Tigers.

Washington (+6.5) at Arizona

Pick: Arizona

Washington is in a world of hurt if they lose this game with Oregon and Stanford up next on their schedule, and I can’t see Locker and Co. going into the desert and bringing home a victory.

I imagine the Husky defense will have plenty of problems slowing down the Arizona offense and this game won’t lack for points.

In a high scoring affair, I’ll take the Wildcats to win this by a couple scores.

Have a nice weekend.