Week 10 of college football is going to week the two teams all the pollsters are convinced are the best in the land will face their most difficult games of the season. After weeks of feasting on one chump after another, Oregon and Alabama will FINALLY have to play teams who are reasonably as talented as they are. On top of that, Kansas State will have to play a frisky Oklahoma State. The only top four team not playing a quality opponent is Notre Dame, who gets a visit from the Pitt Panthers this week.
We here at Irish101 had one of our worst weeks last week against the spread, but we were only one game under .500. Not bad if that's your worst, right? But if he were here to coach us, Rich Rodriguez (whose Arizona Wildcats are fresh off dispatching USC like we predicted), would tell us to hitch up our pants a little higher, tie our wrists a little tighter and go knock the heck out of somebody. Yes sir, Coach.
Week Nine Record: 4-6
Overall Record: 48-41
Picks after the jump, and we remind you: these picks are entirely for entertainment purposes only.
Missouri Tigers at FLORIDA GATORS (-16.5) [ESPN2]
Missouri is a terrible football team. Yes, Florida’s run heavy offense lacks the big option plays you need to move the ball in big chunks. They are absolutely the worst passing team to be ranked in the top 5 of the BCS since Nebraska ditched the I-bone. And yes, Missouri’s defense is a lot better than people give it credit for being. But that Missouri offense is so terrible, and so prone to mistakes that we will all look up at the scoreboard and see Florida up 38-10 and not have any idea how they managed to do that with only 150 total yards. Florida’s done that to much better teams than Missouri.
TEXAS A&M AGGIES (-7.5) at Mississippi State Bulldogs [ESPN]
Mississippi State had their yearly 7-0 run with victories over one piece of garbage after another. Now they have hit the part of their season where they lose a bunch of games in a row against the two to four games they have against actual living, breathing football players. They are going to get a bomb dropped on them by a boy named Johnny and his maroon clad friends. And Dan Mullen’s name will come up for big jobs that he will not take because, you know, who REALLY wants a coach that needs to play Jackson State, Troy and South Alabama, in addition to a yearly game with Kentucky, just to get to .500 in his fourth year at a place.
OKLAHOMA SOONERS (-10.5) at Iowa State Cyclones [ABC]
Bob Stoops coached teams do not lose often. When they do, they almost always drop a thunderbolt of spiteful violence on their opponent the next week. The week after losing to Kansas State this season, Oklahoma dropped 41 points on Texas Tech on the road. Now they have Iowa State on the road. Iowa State is very similar in profile to Texas Tech, but just not as good across the board. This is not going to be for the squeamish.
GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS (-6.5) at Maryland Terrapins [ESPN3]
Okay, gentle reader, you are probably puzzled as to why we’re including a random ACC matchup between two teams on the bowl bubble that you’ll need a laptop to watch. Here’s why: Maryland is starting a linebacker at quarterback. They’ve lost all FIVE of their quarterbacks on the roster to season ending injuries. This is probably the easiest money you’ll ever make betting on sports (which you should not do, as it’s illegal in most places, and if you use our picks to do your illegal gambling, you’re a fool who deserves to watch your house be repossessed). But still, A LINEBACKER AT QUARTERBACK.
The flip side of this is that Georgia Tech DOESN’T cover, the slow boiling anti-Paul Johnson sentiment in Atlanta will probably kick up a few more degrees. And if Maryland actually manages to beat the Jackets with A LINEBACKER STARTING AT QUARTERBACK, the traveling Georgia Tech fans might just rush the field and behead Paul Johnson right there on the field. Any time a football game has the chance to result in a Reign of Terror-esque river of blood, you have our attention.
If you have wagered your money betting on the Irish to cover big spreads, then you’re probably reading this at your local library while staining your hobo-beard with tears. But unlike BYU, which brought a stingy defense into South Bend, the Pitt Panthers really have nothing going for them. And that’s really no one’s fault currently associated with the program. Paul Chryst is trying to pick up the pieces of a program that has been handed off from one coach to another like an old west dance-hall girl. There are transition costs like Michigan is going through from going spread to power, and then there is what Pitt is going through.
Like almost every Paul Chryst quarterback, Tino Sunseri has been incredibly efficient in the passing game. He’s posted a 13-to-2 touchdown to interception ratio, and has thrown for a stellar 274 yards per game. But he has not done that against a defense like Notre Dame’s. And judging by some of the gaudy rushing totals that Pitt has allowed to teams like YOUNGSTOWN STATE and BUFFALO, this should be a long day for the Pitt defense. Take the Irish, you know you want to.
Texas Longhorns at TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (-4.5) [ABC or ESPN2]
Texas has no defense and a very poor passing game that relies on their running attack to move the ball. They have a pair of sophomore quarterbacks with dubious ability to play the position. They will be asked to move the ball against one of the top defenses in the country, on the road, in a dirt pit called Lubbock, Texas. The Oklahoma blow out lost the “Rational” Longhorn fans, the people that BarkingCarnival referred to as “the people who objectively evaluate results and do not get let their emotions govern them as fans.” This is going to be the game where Mack loses the true believers.
NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS (Pick ‘em) at Michigan State Spartans [ABC or ESPN2]
Nebraska’s defense has not been consistent this year, but the teams that have given them trouble have been teams with mobile quarterbacks. Michigan State is a dropback passing team with terrible receivers, and a very one dimensional running game. This is exactly the kind of offense that Bo Pelini dreams of getting a chance to defend. Michigan State’s defense IS robust, but Nebraska has done a pretty good job of moving the ball in all of their games (except Michigan, where the Wolverines’ offense was so non-existent that it didn’t make sense to do anything but just run the clock out).
The Huskers have the inside track to the Big 10 title game. They have everything to play for here.
Prime Time Games
OREGON DUCKS (-7.5) at Southern Cal Trojans [FOX]
As much as Notre Dame fans would love to see an upset this week, it ain’t happening. Monte Kiffin, for all his NFL accolades, has been a disaster as a college defensive coordinator. In particular, spread-to-run offenses have devoured his Tampa-2 schemes whole. There’s just no place for a college whose base defense is two high safeties in a game populated by teams with running quarterbacks. It just doesn’t make sense.
And all that ignores that Lane Kiffin is too cute as a play caller and consistently comes up short in big games. Anyone who watched him call a reverse on 4th and 2 against Arizona’s small defensive front can attest that Lane has in fact NOT grown up or matured or whatever hacky sportswriters want to say about him. He’s a bad coach who has hired a worse coach to run his defense. He’s going to get blown out in his home stadium and he’s going to spend an offseason with fans wondering what the heck they’ve gotten themselves into now that Matt Barkley is gone.
Alabama Crimson Tide at LSU TIGERS (+9.5) [CBS]
This is not to say that we expect Alabama to win this game. We do not. Last year’s LSU team was better in every way than the team Alabama will play this year. But their defense is by far the best unit Alabama has played all season. Alabama’s offense has looked good this year, but has only really played one very good defense, and that was Michigan. That Wolverine team got sunk six feet deep by their All Derp All The Time offense, so it is hard to get a read on how well Alabama’s offense really played.
This is the week AJ McCarron’s Heisman run ends for good and people start favoring Oregon over Alabama.
Oklahoma State Cowboys at KANSAS STATE WILDCATS (-8.5) [ABC]
Kansas State has the weakest roster of the four unbeaten teams left in the national title hunt. That said, they are well coached and their discipline on defense shows when they take on the monster offenses of the Big 12 and stop them. They do not do it with an overwhelming speed advantage, they do it by focusing on tackling in practice. On offense, they slow the tempo, run the ball and play action deep. They are proving to all the big boys who are not enamored with the high tempo offense that you can still spread it out without having to play basketball on grass. Oklahoma State is a fundamentally unsound team with young quarterbacks who are about to run into a buzz saw that took out much better West Virginia and Texas Tech teams.
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