Friday, September 09, 2005

Picks for this week

I was 2-1 last week, nailing Notre Dame and Georgia and missing out on Bowling Green. Anyway, here are the lines for this week and here are the games that jump out at me:

Notre Dame (+7) at Michigan - Given the poor performance from Michigan's defense last week, the terrific performance from Notre Dame's offense, the mismatch of Charlie Weis versus Jim Herrmann, and Michigan's historical underperformance against Notre Dame (primarily because the game means a lot more for the Irish, just like the Boston College-Notre Dame game means more to the Eagles,) there seems to be no way that Michigan will win by more than a score. There are only three factors going in Michigan's favor, but they aren't enough to make me think that they'll win:

1. Michigan is 59-6 at home under Lloyd Carr and has lost all of two home games this decade.

2. Michigan is 13-4 in revenge games under Lloyd Carr.

3. Michigan has the passing game to take advantage of Notre Dame's suspect secondary and is going into the game probably assuming that they're going to allow a lot of points, which means a fairly open gameplan from UM.

Iowa State (+9.5) vs. Iowa - Iowa is a typically slow-starting team, they're on the road in a rivalry game, and Iowa State is a fairly competitive team that will have a chip on their shoulder against those "snobs" from Iowa City. (I assume that every rivalry involving a team with "State" in their name involves the "State" team viewing the state flagship school as a bunch of snobs who think they're so much better than us common folk. See: N.C. State vs. North Carolina, Florida State vs. Florida, Michigan State vs. Michigan, Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss, etc.) Ferentz's Hawkeyes have only put up a number that would cover this spread once in his fine career at Iowa and that was against a Cyclone team that would end up 2-10.

Arkansas (-10) vs. Vandy - I thought this line was a misprint at first. Have we taken Vandy's opening win a tad too seriously? This is the Commodores on the road in the SEC against a team that plays far better at home historically under Houston Nutt. Arkansas is going to run the ball all day on the Commodores. This won't be the game where the Hawgs' new quarterback is going to be tested.

Ohio State (-1) vs. Texas - I have several reasons for this pick:

1. Mack Brown vs. Jim Tressel. I like Mack and all, but like Lloyd Carr or Phil Fulmer, do you really feel that confident with Mack on the sidelines in a big game against one of the better coaches in the country? (Note that I will forget I said that the week of the Michigan-Ohio State game.)

2. Ohio State has never lost a home night game before and most of the games have been blowouts. The Bucks have a major homefield advantage to begin with. Give all those future pharma reps and cell phone salesmen a day to get liquored up and the environment will make Bhopal look like a hyperbaric chamber.

3. As has been mentioned everywhere, Ohio State has a back seven that can tackle, which will probably make this game Vince Young's Waterloo. I guess that makes Jim Tressel Wellington and his linebacker corps a bunch of Hessian mercenaries. Texas is going to have to get production out of their passing game and I just don't trust their receiving corps to take advantage of the Bucks' suspect second and third corners.

4. If the two defenses dominate as many think they will, which special teams unit do we trust more? Ohio State has one of the best returners in the country and a coach whose teams have never failed to be good in this department. Texas allowed Steve Breaston to set a Rose Bowl record for kick returns in a game (although the Michigan defense helped matters by allowing Texas to kick off six times) and a shaky kicker.

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