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FightingIrish101 Picks the Top Games of Week 11 in College Football

November 8th, 2012 at 5:11 PM
By Dan Smith

'Las vegas' photo (c) 2011, Moyan Brenn - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Kansas State and Alabama will face very good teams this week, while Oregon and Notre Dame get virtual bye weeks against rotten competition. Then again, this being college football, that probably makes Oregon and Notre Dame the more likely of the four to lose. They say college football is unpredictable, but we here have given it our best to prove that wrong. We stand with a .555 winning percentage, and we're mighty proud of it. Join us as we pick the top games in college football.

Week Ten Record: 7-3

Overall Record: 55-44

Picks after the jump, and we remind you: these picks are entirely for entertainment purposes only. 

Noon Games

MIAMI HURRICANES (-3.5) at Virginia Cavaliers [ABC]

The Virginia Cavaliers have the worst defense in the ACC. Underline that sentence and tattoo it backwards on your eyelids, because the ACC is pretty daggum awful, and UVA is at the nadir of the pile of poop. Do not be fooled by their performance against NC State last week. NC State has about the same level of football talent that Navy has, and were coming off a last minute loss to the only team on the schedule they really care about, the North Carolina Tar Heels. Beating them means nothing.

Miami just has a different level of skill position talent than most of the ACC. They are definitely way behind Florida State and Clemson, but we aren’t talking about those teams. This is going to be a blow out for the U.

Northwestern Wildcats at MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (-11.5) [ESPN]

Michigan proved last week that Devin Gardner can ably fill in or for Denard Robinson. In fact, he may be a better fit for what Al Borges wants to do than Denard is. Denard has game changing athleticism that can make a play out of nothing, and the threat of his running allows Michigan’s fairly awful running backs a chance to make plays. The problem comes when Denard has to drop back and throw. Bad things happen when Denard tries to throw the football.

But Devin is athletic enough to give them a run threat but is actually capable of throwing the football. He allows their offense to be the kind of safe, ball control unit they need to compliment their stellar defense. Michigan’s losses (aside from the Nebraska game without Denard or Devin) have come when Denard put the team so far in the hole with turnovers that they couldn’t dig out. They have an excellent defense, they just have to avoid handing the other team points.

Northwestern has next to no talent. They can beat the schlubs of the Big 10, and take advantage of some talented teams that shoot themselves in the foot. Michigan won’t say whether Denard will play, but they might be better off without him. We’re picking them because we think their coaching staff knows that, and if Denard DOES play and starts messing things up, he’ll get the hook.

Afternoon Games

ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (+9.5) at Southern Cal Trojans [Pac 12 Network]

Another spread offense gets to take their shots against Monte Kiffin’s terrible defense. We mentioned this on Twitter, but there have been a number of columnists (and apparently coaches) coming out of the wood work to slam Lane Kiffin for being over matched at the USC job. Not only is his father a hopelessly incompetent defensive coordinator, but Lane is taking every shortcut in the book to try to help his beleaguered defensive coordinator and father. It’s not working.

Personally, I think a lot of writers over rating the heck out of this team in the preseason. They got seduced by all that gaudy skill position talent, and forgot that you sorta need linebackers and linemen on both sides of the ball to be a good football team. Now they’re lashing out at Lane and blaming him for “underperforming.”

Speaking for myself (and I think some other alternative college football writers), it isn’t really surprising USC is playing like this. The sanctions so many writers and pundits seemed to forget about in the summer didn’t suddenly go away. They have no depth, and they can’t practice full contact because of it. Monte Kiffin has shown no ability to adjust to college offenses that spread the field. In his one season at Tennessee, his defense underperformed compared to the unit the year before under Phil Fulmer, and that was in a conference where he faced only one spread team. Since coming to USC, his defenses have been routinely eviscerated.

Every writer who picked USC in the preseason knew this. Aside from continuing to employ his washed up father, none of USC’s major problems are really Lane’s fault. I don’t see the point in lashing out at him because you were dumb enough to expect USC to compete for national championship without a defense or an offensive line.

Baylor Bears at OKLAHOMA SOONERS (-20.5) [FSN]

The second leg of the Sooners’ revenge tour has them facing a Baylor squad that can’t seem to stop anyone from scoring a tremendous amount of points on them. There isn’t much to say about this game besides that Baylor isn’t very good and Oklahoma is excellent (and angry). Baylor’s offense IS very good, but not THAT good. Iowa State and TCU both stopped them near cold, and neither of those teams has the ability to score points like Oklahoma can. Don’t worry about the point spread, this is the kind of game where you take the points and spend all afternoon refreshing ESPN.com’s scoreboard and cursing with every Sooner unanswered touchdown.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (+14.5) at Alabama Crimson Tide [CBS]

Game of the week. Alabama’s offense got exposed as nowhere near as good as the hype it has been receiving. Texas A&M ain’t LSU, but they ain’t Western Kentucky either. Not only did Alabama’s offense play terribly last week, their defense gave up a lot of yards (but admittedly not many points). In their big tests against LSU and Florida, Texas A&M managed to move the ball up and down the field without scoring enough to win the games, so the blue print is there for an Alabama victory.

The point, however, is that both those games against LSU and Florida were one-score games that the Aggies had a great chance to win late. No way Alabama covers this spread against this offense.

Prime Time Games

GEORGIA BULLDOGS (-15.5) at Auburn Tigers [ESPN2]

This is the lock of the week here for us at FightingIrish101. As I write this, rumors are swirling that Gene Chizik may not even get a chance to coach the team this Saturday. The days when people said his buy out was too big for him to be fired ended some time ago in a flurry of three and outs for the Tiger offense. Georgia is going to be playing for the SEC championship, and Auburn is going to fire their coach or watch their fan base set fire to the stadium. Auburn’s offense couldn’t score points on a high school defense. They are wretched. Bulldogs will romp all over them.

Mississippi State Bulldogs at LSU TIGERS (-14.5) [ESPN]

What did we tell you about Mississippi State? Their vaunted defense, which had feasted on THREE FCS-level programs this season only managed to keep Texas A&M from moving the ball on 16 of 96 plays. Yes, Texas A&M has by far the best offense in the SEC. But Holy Moses that’s defensive Armageddon. Their prize for such pitiful defensive performance is that they get to play a real angry LSU team that wasted its best offensive game in three years last week in a close loss to Alabama.

If LSU can even play half as well as they did last week, they’re going to score 40 points on this terrible crew from Starkville. And good luck to you, Dan Mullen, as you try to figure a way to move the ball on the always stingy LSU defense. I personally will enjoy the sudden change from Dan Mullen’s name being linked to every open college football job in the country to his name suddenly being added to the list of guys on the hot seat. I will also enjoy Year Two of James Franklin’s stint as The New Dan Mullen.

Kansas State Wildcats at TCU HORNED FROGS (-7.5) [FOX]

Colin Klein is scheduled to play, but Bill Snyder has always been the tight lipped sort, and its possible he may not be 100%. TCU has a stellar and unique defense that makes it very difficult to run the ball. Kansas State has managed to respond and throw the ball when teams sold out to stop the run, so we’ll see how they handle TCU’s unique eight-in-the-box defense. We predict a tight game, especially since it will be in Fort Worth. We have little doubt this will be the most exciting game of the prime time games, and you’ll need something to flip back and forth to when you can no longer handle the horror of Notre Dame/Boston College.

NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (-19.5) at Boston College Eagles [ABC]

Notre Dame hits week two of its three week tour of terrible ACC teams with a visit to our old friends at Boston College, with the winner taking home the unofficial Catholic Cup. Many people keep bringing up 1993, when Notre Dame defeated eventual champion Florida State, but loss the vote to those Seminoles thank to an upset loss to Boston College. The people bringing this up would like to remind you of all the other times BC managed to stick its finger in the Irish’s eye.

The problem with the 1993 comparisons is this: THAT Boston College team was coached by Tom Coughlin, who you currently has two Super Bowl rings he has to keep polished. THIS Boston College team is coached by Frank Spaziani, who is comically incompetent. There’s only one person who thinks Frank Spaziani can even recite the alphabet in order, and he’s [former] athletic director Gene DeFilippo. Coach Spaz is getting fired; the team knows it, the fans know it and the man himself knows it.

This is going to be a very violent end to a terrible period in BC football history. If it isn’t I will claw out my own eyes.

Late Night Games

OREGON DUCKS (-27.5) at California Bears [ESPN]

After this game, people will go back to talking about how improved Oregon’s defense is, as if USC didn’t just score 50+ points last week. That’s the fun of playing in the Pac 12. The only way the Ducks don’t cover this is if they lay an egg with Stanford looming next week. That won’t happen. Look for Oregon to have 40 points by half time. 

Tags: NCAA, Notre Dame, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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