I'm still working off a tryptophan-induced coma, but it's rivalry week, so let's make some picks.
Dan: Ah Thanksgiving… the opportunity to stuff your face all day at your parents' house, your in-laws' house, and any other house you visit. You also get the opportunity to convince yourself to bet on the Lions, Raiders and Broncos because they just should not be getting that many points. Which always ends up with you invariably being miserable on Thanksgiving day because the likes of Daunte Culpepper, Bruce Gradowski and Chris Simms will be costing you money. Oh wait this is a college column. Had to get that rant out of the way now instead of sending Dave 50 zillion text messages stating the same thing over, and over and over and over again. You are off the hook, Dave. I think. Gotta love Thanksgiving day. Anyway on to the picks!
Dave: Woo-hoo! Yes, I was a disaster making my picks for much of the year, but I regrouped, promised winners and I've delivered. Another winning week last week, a 14-6 record the past two weeks and for the first time since Week 1, I take the lead in our head-to-head competition.
As a general rule of thumb, rivalry games tend to be close, so it's almost always a good idea to take the points. Looking at these matchups though… just not sure I can do it. But, it's the last weekend of the regular season for most teams. Need to end on a high note. Or, much like Georgia, try to at least avoid embarrassing myself.
Pittsburgh (-1) at West Virginia
Dan: How quickly people forget the savages that are called West Virginia fans. I've mentioned it before, but it is a scary, scary place to visit if you are from the opposing team. Anything is fair game for West Virginia fans. They'll throw batteries at you, they'll throw water balloons with pee in them, they'll throw poop at you. It is quite scary. So how do you think an opposing team feels? Lol. Terrified. I think this weekend West Virginia ruins NEXT weekend's highly anticipated Pitt vs. Cincinnati game by pulling the upset…. West Virginia 28, Pittsburgh 24.
Dave: Remember two years ago when the only thing standing between West Virginia and a trip to the national championship game was a win at home against Pittsburgh, back when Dave Wannstedt's mustache was easily the best thing the Panthers had going? What happened? Pitt pulled the upset, West Virginia's national title hopes were flushed down the toilet and Rich Rod bolted town a few days later for Michigan. So it was a dark day in both Morgantown and Ann Arbor.
Anyway, now we see these two facing off again but it's Pittsburgh with a BCS berth hanging in the balance and West Virginia waiting to play the role of spoiler. The Mountaineers are 6-0 at home this season but four of those wins have come against Louisville, Marshall, Liberty and Colorado. WVU's biggest win this year was probably against East Carolina in Week 2, and they've lost to every ranked team they've played. I think that trend continues this week… Pittsburgh 23, West Virginia 20.
Alabama (-10) at Auburn
Dan: The final roadblock for Alabama this weekend before they face off with Florida in the SEC Championship. In the world of sport hate, Florida and Texas sit No. 1 and No. 2 on the college football podium. That means I need Alabama to come through and knock them both off. Please Bama. This weekend I think Auburn keeps this one just close enough… Alabama 20, Auburn 12.
Dave: I spent Thanksgiving in Birmingham, and the Iron Bowl is probably a far bigger event there than Thanksgiving is. Much like the UGA-Tech rivalry, the team that had dominated for most of the past decade is suddenly on the losing end looking up at a surging opponent.
Auburn is 7-4 this year, which makes it a bit of an odd thing to see the Tigers as a 10-point dog at home. Meanwhile, Alabama hasn't exactly been blowing the doors off of people lately, with Greg McElroy essentially managing the game -- and by that I mean, handing off to Mark Ingram -- just enough to win.
But here's what this game comes down to: Alabama is coached by Nick Saban. Auburn is coached by Gene Chizik. How any of the War Eagle boosters looked at that matchup last year and said, "Yeah, this is the guy we want to hire to get us back to beating Bama" is beyond me… Alabama 31, Auburn 20.
Virginia Tech (-16) at Virginia
Dan: Funny how things work. If Virginia Tech beats Virginia this weekend they finish 9-3 on the regular season. Last year they were 8-4 which was good enough to make the ACC Championship game and win the Orange Bowl. Huh? So this year is being hailed a failure while last year was a success, when in reality last year was probably a worse year. So this weekend they travel to face their hated rivals of Virginia. But is Virginia really a rival anymore? They haven't been relevant in years as Virginia Tech has peeled off five straight victories. In fact, Al Groh has done such a good job running Virginia's program into the ground that he has allowed Virginia Tech to start landing most of the state's talent. Thanks Al! I for one am not happy that the Al Groh era is coming to an end soon. This weekend I think that the Hokies take care of business but just under the number… Virginia Tech 31, Virginia 20.
Dave: I've made no secret of my disdain for UVA. As a general rule, I decided about 10 years ago that all UVA grads are a-holes. (NOTE: I've since met a few who were actually pretty cool, but I'm still going to stick with my original theory because I find it best to assume I'll hate them and then be proven wrong.) So for that, I'm sad to see Al Groh coaching his last game. He's been a delight.
Groh, however, is the prefect example of why the ACC will never be on par with the SEC. Look at the coaches in the SEC: Saban, Miles, Spurrier and Meyer all have national titles. Tuberville and Fulmer, two guys with undefeated seasons on their resumes, got canned last year because they couldn't live up to expectations. Guys like Mark Richt come under fire despite huge success. It's coaching at its highest level -- and if you add in the pressure of recruiting, I'd argue that coaching in the SEC is the toughest job you can have, even more than the NFL.
Then you have the ACC. You have Bobby Bowden, a guy who admittedly doesn't even know most of his players' names anymore. You have Ralph Friedgen, a guy who by all rights should have been fired two years ago but will get another shot because Maryland is too cheap to buy him out. You have Boston College canning its head coach a year ago because he interviewed for a job in the NFL. You have a guy named Dabo. And then you have Groh, a guy who has had one winning season since 2005 and hasn't beaten his in-state rival since 2003. It's no wonder Paul Johnson is dominating that conference.
Anyway, Groh ain't going out on a high note this week… Virginia Tech 37, Virginia 14.
Syracuse (+13.5) at Connecticut
Dan: Maybe Syracuse does have some kick in them still. Or maybe last weekend they benefited from a true freshman playing for the first time in the Carrier Dome which still does get loud. Whatever it was, the Cuse looked mighty impressive as they ROUTED Rutgers. This weekend they head on the road to face a UConn team off the biggest win in school history. Well usually when that happens the letdown alert buzzers start going off in my head. And I think that is what happens this weekend… Connecticut 24, Syracuse 14.
Dave: I picked Syracuse every week and they stunk. I picked against them last week and they won. So I'll simply say this now: I'm extremely excited about Wesley Johnson this season on the hardcourt and I'm making this pick strictly for the karma… Connecticut 30, Syracuse 13.
Clemson (-3) at South Carolina
Dan: I gotta admit -- I was dead wrong about this Dabo team. They have been very tough the second half of the season after starting 3-3 on the year including a loss to Maryland. They have beaten a few good teams and now have positioned themselves to win the ACC Championship. I feel that I have myself to blame for all of this. I have been calling them out the entire year and each week they have won. I feel if I had kept my mouth shut that would not be the case. But no. So this is usually the week that they would lose as I have given them props. But South Carolina is terrible as well. I know whatever side I am on is a loser. Anyway I will go with South Carolina… South Carolina 27, Clemson 24.
Dave: South Carolina is 4-9 in the month of November since 2006. South Carolina is 1-6 in its last seven meetings with Clemson. South Carolina has dropped four of its last five games. Clemson has won six straight. South Carolina's offense hasn't topped 20 points since Oct. 10 and is averaging just over 10 per game during that stretch. Clemson has topped 34 in each of its last six games and has one of the five best players in college football in its backfield. This one's easy…Clemson 30, South Carolina 13.
Florida State (+24.5) at Florida
Dan: I have been waiting for this day for four long years. Tim Tebow's final regular-season game. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am sick and tired of hearing about Tim Tebow. Just four years ago it was Vince Young who I had a disdain for. Now Tebow. And we are almost at the end of the tunnel with him. Thankfully. This weekend the Gators face the 'Noles who have not been relevant in years. I think that they take care of business but not by enough. Florida is not a covering machine this year… Florida 49, Florida State 31.
Dave: I'm with you on the fondness of saying farewell to Mr. Tebow. My question, however, is who will be the next guy I hate in college football? First it was VY who was overhyped and underwhelming on the field. Then Tebow. Now who will pick up the mantle in 2010? Here are my early leaders for the honor: Matt Barkley, Terrell Pryor and, of course, Tebow's actual replacement, John Brantley. I think Barkley will be at the top of my list.
Anyway, Florida State's D is terrible and without Christian Ponder, I don't exactly see that offense putting up too many points against the Gators' tough D. Once again, this formerly fun rivalry will be a joke -- much like the rest of Florida's non-conference schedule. Must be nice to be guaranteed four wins every year outside of the SEC… Florida 48, Florida State 13.
Arkansas (+3.5) at LSU
Dan: It is about time people saw how incompetent Les Miles is as a coach. Last weekend provided about as much evidence as you could possibly need. I sat their on my coach as their QB took not one but two sacks. And each time Les decided it was a genius idea to let the clock continue to run instead of using his timeout. The final time coming when he let the clock run down from 24 seconds to 9 seconds. The end result we all know. A miracle fourth down conversion only to have their QB spike the ball with no time left on the clock. Bwahahahaha. Poor Les. Clearly his teams have not been relevant since all of Nick Saban's talent left the stable. As for this weekend we get Ryan Mallet on the road again! Dave had a great stat about Mallet on the road last weekend, and I am all over it. To sum it up: Mallet stinks on the road. So I'll be on LSU… LSU 28, Arkansas 17.
Dave: I know Les Miles better than even LSU fans know him. The reason I know him so well is because his non-identical twin has coached my favorite NFL team for the past 10 years.
Miles and Andy Reid are the exact same coach -- only one weighs a lot more. Both are utterly overmatched in terms of intelligence in virtually every game they play. Neither can manage a clock to save their lives. Both make utterly insane decisions on a weekly basis that, based on having superior talent on the field, occasionally work out. And those random occasions when the stupid becomes sublime, they're seen by the national media as good coaches.
But trust me, as someone who has watched almost every Eagles game Reid has coached, he is terrible. He has ruined one season after another, but continued to earn praise because his teams win just enough games each year to be competitive. But that's all about talent, not Reid. He screws up the clock, wastes timeouts and challenges, calls passing plays 94 percent of the time even when his QB has broken ribs, continues to call the same stupid plays over and over and over, takes huge risks when he doesn't have to, let's rookie O linemen get hung out to dry while his QB gets pounded and is generally outcoached in every game.
And Les Miles does the exact same thing.
Most hard-core Eagles fans know that Reid has held the team back, and I get the feeling most LSU fans feel the same about Miles. But getting rid of them never goes beyond the grassroots efforts, because their talented teams always find a way to rebound from their coach's idiocy. That'll be the case again this week for the Bayou Bengals… LSU 24, Arkansas 17.
Notre Dame (+10) at Stanford
Dan: I have a confession to make. I was in South Bend last Saturday evening and I had a bit too much to drink and I took a swing at Jimmy Clausen and connected. I just couldn't take his arrogant smirk anymore and could not take that everyone thinks he is this great QB even though he is not capable of putting any team away and every game comes down to the wire.
Well, about being in South Bend.
So this tells me one of two things could happen this weekend -- the Irish could rally around their QB and get a much-needed win or they could roll over. I think the latter… Stanford 48, Notre Dame 21.
Dave: You stole my joke. I hate Jimmy Clausen. Also, why is everyone talking about this story like he was out for a quiet evening with his family and he got sucker punched? It was like 2 in the morning and he was at a bar! Also, remember back when his brother cost you a big bet on Tennessee and so you tracked down his email address so you could tell him how much he sucked? Man, you really have it in for the Clausen family… Stanford 55, Notre Dame 30.
Ole Miss (-8) at Mississippi State
Dan: Jevan Snead is a completely different QB on the road. Kind of like Mallett. Lucky for him though he has Dexter McCluster. Guy is a beast. He was the only reason they beat LSU last weekend. Him and only him. However, you know what happens after huge emotional wins? Let down. But they'll still win. Just not cover… Ole Miss 20, Mississippi State 13.
Dave: Mississippi State has won the Egg Bowl just 18 times since 1944. Li'l Egg Bowl history for you. I do like where Dan Mullen has this program going, and I'm not sure how much I like giving eight to the road team here, but there's just too much of a talent gap to take the Bulldogs… Ole Miss 27, Mississippi State 13.
Tennessee (-3) at Kentucky
Dan: As I was getting ready to make this pick I was shocked to see that Kentucky was 7-4 this year. They were 7-4 including a loss to Mississippi State! If they had just taken care of Mississippi State they'd be 8-3 and a chance for a 9-3 season. Huh? Kentucky? Really? Talk about under the radar squad. They sport impressive wins at Georgia and at Auburn. My hat goes off to them. I think this line is the sucker line of the week. Why would Tennessee only be giving 3 to Kentucky? It makes zero sense. You'll see soon… Kentucky 24, Tennessee 20.
Dave: I completely agree with you that this line makes no sense, which is exactly why I don't trust what seems like an obvious bet. That's rule No. 1 in Dave's gambling manual. Rule No. 2 is to limit your Jack Daniels intake to fewer than 12 drinks during the first hour of casino gambling. Both are rules to live by… Tennessee 24, Kentucky 23.
Last Week: Dan 5-5, Dave 6-4.
Season: Dan 49-61-2 (.445), Dave 50-60-2 (.454).
Friday, November 27, 2009
I'm still working off a tryptophan-induced coma, but it's rivalry week, so let's make some picks.