Week 6 Picks  

Posted by Walter

@ Wake Forest +17 over Clemson

Are you kidding me? Never before has a 5-0 team in the ACC gotten so little respect. Don’t get me wrong, Clemson is a very solid team (I watched them first hand at BC), but this game is being played at Wake Forest when the Demon Deacons football program is on the cusp of becoming nationally relevant for the first time ever. Jim Grobe has done a fantastic job this season, and he has his team believing in themselves far too much to get blown out at home. Wake’s defense has been outstanding this season, ranking ninth nationally and not having given up more than 14 points in any one game thus far. Combine that number with Wake’s ball control offense led by workhorse tailback DeAngelo Bryant, and Clemson may not have the ball enough to roll up the type of offensive numbers they have been firing out for the past few weeks. The bottom line is this, Clemson has more talent all over the field than Wake Forest, however Wake Forest has three major things going for them: (1) the emotion accompanying what is perhaps the school’s biggest football game ever, (2) home field advantage, and (3) the mounting injuries to Clemson’s front seven. Wake is going to need to run the ball to win this game. Clemson’s run defense has been fantastic this season, but you’ve got to figure that the injuries to the defensive line and linebacking corpse are going to catch up with them at some point. I bet it happens this week. Wake wins in a brawl, 21-20.

Washington +20.5 @ USC

Washington has been a very nice story this season, as Tyrone Willingham seems to have this program on track to return to national prominence. That said, wins over UCLA and Fresno State are nice, but they are not even close to being ready to beat USC. So then why am I breaking the cardinal rule and picking a road team to cover even when I don’t think that they can win the game outright? Well, it’s the volatile combination of the Huskies offense and the Trojans defense. First Washington’s offense. Ty Willingham has always been a great offensive mind, and he has truly proven it this season. What’s most interesting is just how much this Washington team reminds me of Willingham’s first Notre Dame team, right down to the quarterback. When Willingham took over in South Bend, he inherited Carlyle Holliday, a mobile QB whom nobody thought could efficiently run Ty’s west coast attack. He did. Similarly, in Washington Ty inherited Isaiah Stanbeck, a mobile QB whom nobody thought could efficiently run Ty’s west coast attack. He is. So far Stanbeck has completed nearly 60% of his passes for over 900 yards and 8 TD (with only 3 INT). And he’s really got it going lately against some pretty good competition. Stanbeck took advantage of a very good Arizona secondary for 293 yards and 2 TD, He torched UCLA for another 200 yards and 3 TD, and was very solid against Fresno State throwing for 150 yards and 2 TD. Notice something? All solid opponents, but Stanbeck’s numbers have improved each of the last three games. After watching Alex Brink torch the USC secondary last week, there is no reason to think Stanbeck can’t put some points on the board. Which brings us to the USC defense. They looked pedestrian against Alex Brink, the only legitimate quarterback they have played all season (aside from one quarter of Mitch Mustain in the opener, who, by the way, led a TD drive). Stanbeck isn’t polished enough to win the game, but he can keep it close. Call it USC 34-20.

LSU over @ Florida

Let’s make one thing clear, the better bet in this game is the under. That said, I think LSU has just a little more on offense than Florida and that is going to be the difference in this classic SEC showdown. The LSU defense has been nothing short of amazing this season. They have given up a grand total of 2 touchdowns, one of which was to Auburn on a QB sneak. Not a single team has been able to run the ball on LSU this season, and that includes an Auburn team that has arguably the best running game in the nation. Florida has been terrible running the football this season (did I mention how soft they looked up front against Alabama?) and that is unlikely to change against LSU, especially since they will be without top tailback Deshawn Wynn. That leaves the entirety of Florida’s offense on the shoulders of Chris Leak. It’s not that he isn’t capable of leading the Gators to victory, it’s just that against this LSU secondary it looks like a Herculean task. On the flip side, LSU has no running game either. They have two talented tailbacks in Justin Vincent and Alley Broussard, but both still appear to recovering from major injuries. Florida’s front seven have also been great against the run this season, so expect very few rushing yards from either side in this game. The difference in this game will be the Jamarcus Russell and the LSU passing game against a Florida secondary that all of a sudden looks very vulnerable. Sure they picked off 3 passes last week, but they still gave up 240 yards passing to John Parker Wilson and an Alabama passing offense that doesn’t have a single player who could get on the field for LSU. Further, think back to the Kentucky game when Andre Woodson, a decent QB, picked them apart to the tune of 70% passing and 200 yards. Jamarcus Russell has been outstanding this season (see my underrated players section) and he is going to be the difference in this game. LSU takes it in an absolute war 17-10.

Oklahoma +6 over Texas (at Dallas)

I’m sorry, this Texas team just hasn’t impressed me this year. In their only meaningful game of this season they looked a step slow and barely showed up. Colt McCoy may become a good passer one day, but that day is not today. One of the most underrated aspects of the Longhorns’ season has been just how much they have missed Ramonce Taylor. Every Longhorns fan to a man was not worried about losing Taylor because of the presence of both Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles. Both have been solid, but against OSU it was very clear that they missed the explosiveness that Taylor provided. This deficiency will come to forefront against Oklahoma as well. Colt McCoy is not yet an efficient vertical passer. With Taylor, the Longhorns could throw screens and swing passes and to get the ball into the hands of their best athletes. Without Taylor, this game becomes a battle of the running games. And as good as Texas has been this year, only one of these teams has Adrian Peterson, and that’s Oklahoma. Truth be told, the Sooner offense is no longer all about Adrian. Paul Thompson has done a very nice job this season, and Bob Stoops has found a true gamebreaker in WR Malcolm Kelly. Kelly has made huge plays all season (he is averaging 23 yards per catch) and has developed into a Southern version of Tedd Ginn. I expect this game to be higher scoring than most people think, with Oklahoma prevailing because of their big play ability. The line, itself is actually pretty ridiculous. Think about this, if the referees don’t totally screw up at Oregon, Oklahoma comes into this game undefeated and probably the favorite. Is a bonehead call worth 6 points? I think not. Oklahoma 28-25.

@ Michigan -17.5 over Michigan State

I don’t have a lot to say about this game. If the good Michigan State shows up, this could be an absolute classic because it would match the most talented front 7 in the Big 10 against one of the most talented offenses in the Big 10. If the bad Michigan State shows up (more likely), no Wolverine margin of victory is out of the question (seriously, they could win by 50 and it wouldn’t surprise me). The worst part about this matchup…..there’s no way to tell which Spartan team is showing up. What the hell, call it Michigan 54-10.

Tennessee over @ Georgia

That’s right folks, that two pick ‘em SEC games, and that two road teams I am picking to win outright. Let’s not mince words, I hate the Vols. I hate their stupid uniforms, I hate their stupid coach, and I hate that they were the luckiest team in the history of college football when they won the title. Still, they are better than the Bulldogs. If we have learned anything this season, it’s that Georgia cannot score on anyone. And this is somewhat surprising since they have Mark Richt, the former Seminole offensive guru, as a head coach. What is even more surprising is that the QB depth chart going into Saturday’s game reads #1 Joe T, #2 Matt Stafford, and #3 Joe Cox. What!!!!!? Let me get this straight, the entire season the Bulldogs have had one half of football when they were able to execute anything that even resembled a college offense (the second half against Colorado) and the quarterback who led those drives in number three on the depth chart! I think Mark Richt is a great coach, well I thought he was, but this is a move that is going to kill them. Look for the Georgia defense to be exposed as the frauds they are this week. It’s one thing to shut out Mississippi, and quite another to shut out Tennessee. Call it Tennessee 20, Georgia 9.

Oregon +7.5 @ California

This pick is very simple. If I go this way it’s a no lose proposition. If California blows them out, then I was right about the Ducks being America’s superfrauds. If the Ducks win, then I was wrong about them being superfrauds, but I get a mark in the win column for my weekly picks. And if California wins the game by less than a touchdown (which is actually what I think is going to happen), then I win on both fronts. Frankly, I see no other options. California takes it 35-33.

@ Hawaii -7 over Nevada

I love both of these teams. I love the offensive creativity of both Chris Ault and June Jones. I love the reckless abandon and gunslinger mentality of both Jeff Rowe and Colt Brennan. I love passing yards. I love points. I love this game. Hawaii has traditionally been very tough at home. The Hawaiin weather provides them with the perfect environment to unleash their spread offense, and huck the ball all over the field 50 times in a game. What will help the Hawaii passing game even more than the weather, will be the total ineptitude of the Nevada secondary. Exhibit A has to be the utter beat down a pedestrian Arizona State team laid on them a few weeks ago. Rudy Carpenter, who has looked completely lost the past few games, picked Nevada apart for over 300 yards and 5 TD. Colt Brennan and Devone Bess are better players than Carpenter and any of the ASU wideouts. It would be a mild upset if Hawaii wasn’t able to put up 40 points on the Wolfpack (Hawaii is averaging 43 points at home). The Nevada offense, aptly titled the Pistol Pete, is no slouch either. Jeff Rowe is a talented passer and he will keep them in the game. But in the end, Hawaii is just going to be way too much for Nevada to handle. In what will perhaps be the highest scoring, non OT game of the year, Hawaii takes it 51-37.

Last Week: 5-4
Season: 23-17-1


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