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The Big E College Football Picks: Week Two

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Totally a weird picture.
Totally a weird picture.

Well, week one was a hell of a ride.

Can you think of a more roller coaster week in recent history? Let alone in the first week of the season?

How many of you are still recovering? I know I am.

TCU-Baylor game for the ages.

Auburn's amazing comeback to overcome certain embarrassment.

Weather delays and cancelled fourth quarters.

And one of the strangest Notre Dame games in the history of Irish football.

Hopefully we can move on, but before we can let's take a look back at the picks from last weekend.

Last Week: 6-4

Overall: 6-4

Now you may be looking at that record and thinking I am missing two games. Well, I'm not counting the Michigan and West Virginia games because they didn't play four quarters.

As it is, I split those games anyway (so did Jim & Mike) so it seems fair not to count those.

Wins

*Northwestern went on the road, without Dan Persa, and grabbed a touchdown victory over Boston College. I watched most of this game and I flat out don't believe these teams combined for 903 yards. You never would have guessed that watching it. I still think Boston College is very mediocre.

*As predicted, Missouri struggled offensively (291 yards against a MAC team---yikes) and was not able to cover the spread against Miami of Ohio. This was a 10-6 game heading into the 4th quarter. Is Missouri going to do any damage this year? Maybe they'll get more comfortable with a new QB? 

*Houston edged UCLA by four points and just barely covered the spread by the skin of their teeth. Surprisingly, UCLA had legit production from their quarterbacks and totaled 554 yards of offense. Not too shabby, Bruins! Now the question is can they do that in the Pac-12? Probably not.

*Boise State thoroughly dispatched Georgia and sent the Bulldogs reeling into the rest of their season. Take away the long run to start the game by Boykin and Georgia only gained 57 yards on the ground. That's not going to get it done in the SEC. Meanwhile, Boise is looking at another easy ride to 12-0 after TCU flopped in their season opener.

*I told you LSU's defense was going to rough up Oregon's offense. The Tigers still have a tough road ahead but it is going to be really difficult to beat them with their speedy and physical defense. Oregon is going to have to regroup, get healthy, and hope that a clean sweep through their conference will be enough to get them back in the title game. It's always best to lose early!

*Oklahoma started off their season as No. 1 and took care of business against Tulsa with a 34-point victory. The Sooners racked up 663 yards and jumped out to a 30-0 lead in the second quarter. However, there were some questions with that Sooner defense and they did end up giving up a concerning 400 yards to the Golden Hurricane, who were without their top offensive threat. Just something to keep in mind.

Losses

*Notre Dame of course. Anyone surprised the Irish are still favored by a decent amount this weekend?

*Akron didn't score a single point against Ohio State, and the Buckeyes were able to cover the large spread by a touchdown. I still think this was a smart pick, but Akron only gained 90 yards of offense. How terrible is that? The Ohio State offense tore it up according to the box score, but watching the game it didn't seem like they were that awesome. It looked like they were playing Akron.

*USC was up 19-3 at the half against Minnesota and it looked like they were going to roll with Barkley playing well. Then the Trojans didn't score a single point in the second half and let the Gophers climb right back into it, ultimately picking off a pass in the dying minutes to preserve a two point victory. At home. Against Minnesota. That's the second straight year USC has struggled with the Gophers. Should we expect nothing but marginally good play from Kiffin-led Trojans teams or what?

*It looked like BYU was going to lose a laugher at Ole Miss, but the Cougars came back and won by a point on a fumble return. This one hurt because BYU didn't cover and they were clearly the better team. Ole Miss gained only 208 yards in this game. 208, folks. SEC! SEC! SEC!

Now on to this week's picks:

Notre Dame (-3.5) at Michigan

Pick: Notre Dame

See the post Irish Look to Turn Season Around

Oregon State (+20.5) at Wisconsin

Pick: Wisconsin

It's tempting to pick the Beavers here and think that they might test the Badgers defense and score a few touchdowns. But with the game in Madison, the Wisconsin offense looking mighty fine, and Oregon State losing to a FCS team last week, it appears foolish to take the road team.

In fact, shouldn't the spread be a little higher? I guess Oregon State is getting a lot of respect as a BCS team and the fact that they have knocked off some top teams in the past. 

Mississippi State (-6.5) at Auburn

Pick: Mississippi State

Everyone is doing back flips off the Auburn bandwagon (if there ever was one to begin with) after last week's shocking close comeback against Utah State. Should we be just a little weary to give up on Auburn this quickly even though all signs are pointing to a rough 2011? You usually don't see spreads this large in the SEC.

Still, the Bulldogs are a tough as nails team and they should be able to move the ball against a weak Auburn defense. The Tigers escaped with a win last week, but I look for a 10+ point victory for the Cow Bells in week two. It will be Auburn's first loss in a damn long time.

Rutgers (+10.5) at North Carolina

Pick: Rutgers

Rutgers offense was pitiful last year and their team was pretty bad overall too, but they should be an improved squad this year. North Carolina is still a decent team, but they seem to be treading water after losing their coach and all the shenanigans that went on last year.

The result is that this is far too many points to pass up on what should be an improved Rutgers team. Plus, the Big East is on fire this year and the momentum can't be stopped. They are making a strong pitch to add some big name programs when conference realignment comes back around. Okay maybe not, and an upset isn't likely, but I'll take Rutgers to cover here.

Virginia Tech (-17.5) at East Carolina

Pick: Virginia Tech

One of the stories that seemed to be glossed over last week was East Carolina nearly out-gaining South Carolina and still posting 37 points. 37 points on a stout SEC defense! Does that mean the Pirates are going to put up some numbers on a Hokie defense that might not be as mean as it was in years past?

Oh, it's so tempting to take East Carolina here but I'm sticking with Virginia Tech and their explosive playmakers on offense. Something is telling me that this is the wrong pick though. Could it be the ghosts of 2008??

Stanford (-20.5) at Duke

Pick: Stanford

Am I missing something? Did Andrew Luck break his leg or is he not making the cross-country trip to North Carolina? Are there a lot of people thinking the Cardinal are going to be lazy and slow from jet-lag or something?

Double that spread and I would still take Stanford. This seems like the lock of the year and the first truly unbelievable spread of the young season. Easy money right here. 

Alabama (-10) at Penn State

Pick: Alabama

I've been a little puzzled with how people have been treating Penn State recently, because they are definitely still living off their reputation from 2009 and that is always a dangerous thing to do in college football. They haven't really recruited that well, they don't have many difference makers, and they were 7-6 last year with wins over Youngstown, Kent, Temple, Minnesota, Michigan, Northwestern, and Indiana. Why are the Nittany Lions ranked right now?

As always, Saban is going to keep things close to the vest and run a conservative offense, but I expect another demoralizing loss for Penn State. The score will probably be very similar to last year as well---how about 28-6?

TCU (-1.5) at Air Force

Pick: TCU

I was curious to see when the last time TCU lost two games in a row, and you have to go back all the way to the early part of 2007 when the Frogs lost to Texas and then...Air Force. Does that mean I should pick the Falcons?

Alas, I think TCU is a stronger program than in 2007 and they should be able to bounce back from their crippling loss to Baylor. I liked what I saw offensively from the Horned Frogs, and I have no doubt that they will fix whatever defensive problems they had against Baylor. It also helps not playing RG3 this time of course. 

Cincinnati (+4.5) at Tennessee

Pick: Cincinnati 

I'm pretty underwhelmed with Tennessee right now. Even though they played some really good SEC teams tough last year (re: LSU) I still think their program is in disarray and pretty average for a BCS team. Offensively, I have a minuscule amount of faith that the Vols can move the ball. 

Now Cincinnati is a team that can move the ball, and it always helps to employ the spread against a big and fast SEC defense. I'm not sure the Bearcats pull a victory out of Knoxville, but I'll take the points in this one.

South Carolina (-3) at Georgia

Pick: Georgia

Wow, what a tough game to pick. Historically, Georgia does really well against South Carolina (.700+ winning percentage) but they are only 2-2 against the Gamecocks since 2007. What's more, South Carolina is perceived to be the stronger team this year and a quick scan of the history book shows that the Bulldogs rarely beat the really good South Carolina teams. 

Yet, for some reason I'm going with a gut feeling on this one and taking the 'Dogs. Long story short: I think they will bounce back at home, get a couple lucky breaks, and keep this game very close. I also think the Mark Richt era is going to live on forever and taking out South Carolina in week two would go a long way to maintaining his Supreme Court-like seat at Georgia.

BYU (+7) at Texas

Pick: Texas

I really want to stay away from Garrett Gilbert, but I think the Texas offense has left Derp-land and might actually be rather decent this year under Harsin. And you know the Longhorns are going to bring it on defense.

It's tempting to pick BYU here but they were a little disappointing in their close victory over what is probably going to turn out to be an awful Ole Miss team. With this game in Austin, the Cougars will probably drop their first game of the season. I can see a close game but Texas should pull ahead late and cover this spread.

Utah (+8.5) at USC

Pick: Utah

Is this spread a smack in the face to Utah or what? Both these teams didn't look great in their openers but I find it laughable that USC would be almost a double-digit favorite over any team that has had as much success as Utah has had in recent years. Who is this confident with the Trojans right now?

I suppose I wouldn't be shocked if USC won by 10 points but I just have to take Utah in this one. Way, way, way too many points to pass up right there. 

Enjoy the weekend!