We had a great Thanksgiving Holliday weekend at FightingIrish101. We posted one of our best records of the year in the picks last weekend, and we are poised to finish off the regular season this weekend with a bang. We will be back to pick the bowls, but we are very proud of the fact that we could go 0-10 this weekend and still have an above .500 record this year. That speaks to our consistency, preparation and good old fashioned luck. It's been a ball, you guys.
Overall Record: 71-58 (.550)
Picks after the jump, and we remind you: these picks are entirely for entertainment purposes only.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES (-5.5) versus Kent State Golden Flashes [Ford Field]
While any thing can happen when you go looking for a little #MACtion (TM, Spencer Hall), we're going to try to keep this pick as simple as possible. Two of the three worst teams in FBS football are probably Akron and UMass (pour one out for poor Southern Miss) are in Kent State's division. Only three of Kent State's seven division mates have a winning record. Northern Illinois' division, by contrast, has four of six teams win a winning record.
While Northern Illinois' one loss is to a positively dreadful Iowa Hawkeyes team, the loss was by only one point. And Kent State lost to KENTUCKY. Yeah, that clinches it for Northern Illinois.
Ucla Bruins at STANFORD CARDINAL (-9.5)
While some insufferable media dudes who clearly miss being on ESPN's Around the Horn would like you to believe Jim Mora had his team take their foot off the gas in order to avoid playing Oregon, we find it far more likely that Ucla just isn't as good as Stanford. Ucla's lone Top 25 win came at home to a schizophrenic Nebraska team, and the Huskers defense simply cannot stand up next to the mighty Cardinal front seven.
You can believe in dumb conspiracy theories, or you can just believe Stanford is considerably better than Ucla. Considering that a year ago Ucla was one of the most miserable football teams in America, the latter seems far more likely. But put on your tinfoil hat on if you like.
OKLAHOMA SOONERS (-6.5) at Texas Christian Horned Frogs
Gary Patterson has proven his TCU Horned Frogs can compete in a major conference. TCU has had to replace most of the defense that wrecked the Mountain West while also dealing with losing their starting quarterback. Three cheers for Gary Patterson.
With all of that out of the way, it's time to point out it hasn't been a bed of rose for the Horned Frogs. While they have proven their 4-2-5 scheme can stuff the run at even the highest level of college football, they have had major problems defending the top passing attacks. While a school like Texas certainly couldn't take advantages of the holes in the TCU pass coverage, Oklahoma will. Oklahoma has lost two games: to former number one Kansas State, and to current number one Notre Dame. This should be a convincing blow out win for the Sooners.
Oklahoma State Cowboys at BAYLOR BEARS (+4.5)
Oklahoma State is coming off an emotional loss to Oklahoma in the biggest game of the year for them. Both teams bring potent offenses that can score on anyone and defenses that could make your pee wee team look competent. We're taking the home team in this game.
Central Florida Golden Knights at TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE (+0.5)
Tulsa seems to be one of the schools that's going to get left out of expansion, and that's a real shame. Tulsa is far more deserving than its fellow private school Tulane, but apparently the administrators at Tulane are far better at making friends than the fellows running Tulsa. Poor guys.
Tulsa has a chance to get a modicum of revenge for their lamentable fate by beating UCF, which leaves the Conference USA for the Big East next year. These two teams already met during the regular season, and Tulsa won by two points. We're going to take them in the rematch, especially since they have this game at home.
BOISE STATE BRONCOS (-9.5) at Nevada Wolf Pack
Everything for Nevada begins and ends with their run offense. Their pistol offense produces prolific rushers every season, but Nevada's losses almost always occur when teams manage to either jump out to a big lead early or limit their effectiveness on the ground. This where we tell you that Boise State is allowing only 3.43 rushing yards per carry. Take Chris Petersen's Boys in Blue.
Alabama Crimson Tide versus GEORGIA BULLDOGS (+7.5) [Georgia Dome]
The two best teams in the SEC are LSU and Florida. There are six teams in the SEC with 10+ wins: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, Florida and South Carolina. LSU, Florida, and South Carolina played four of the five other members of the 10+ win club. Texas A&M played three. Alabama and Georgia played only two members of the 10+ win club. That's the only reason these two schools are in this game.
Alabama's is 1-1 against good teams this year, and was outgained in yardage by LSU 435-331. Georgia got beat 35-0 by South Carolina but parlayed a 17-9 win over Florida with a Western division schedule that included AUBURN, the worst team in the conference. If Alabama/Georgia swapped schedules with LSU/Florida, they'd each have at least 3 losses.
We're taking Georgia in this de-facto national championship semi final because Alabama's pass defense is terrible. Oh yes, their defensive stats look fine as long as you don't pay attention to the fact that all of Alabama's dominating defensive performances have come against terrible teams that barely play football. Against the quite frankly terrible LSU offense, they gave up nearly 300 yards to Zach Mettenberger.
Texas A&M shredded the Alabama offense en route to a program defining win for the Aggs. If Johnny Football is the best quarterback in the conference, Aaron Murray isn't far behind him. Georgia should blow massive holes in that soft Alabama pass defense, and the Crimson Tide will have to rely on the weak link in their 2012 championship team: AJ McCarron. Good luck with that.
We'll take the Bulldogs, since they're a pretty obviously better team AND they're getting points, PAWWWWWWWWWWWL.
FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (-14.5) versus Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets [Bank of America Stadium]
Georgia Tech is in this game for two reasons: 1) Miami and UNC are ineligible due to spending the last ten years blatantly cheating to buy players and keep them eligible by setting up dummy academic departments with no-show classes, and thus can't play in the game; and 2) The ACC's divisions are stupid and have the clear two best teams in the conference in the same division.
The ACC offers more evidence that conference expansion has made college football demonstratively worse. The ACC set up two divisions with the idea that Florida State and Miami would be the bell-cows in their respective division. Miami has never held up its end of the bargain, and Florida State has only recently begun to do theirs.
Instead of staging a rematch between the clear two best teams in the conference, Clemson and Florida State, we get to watch Florida State manhandle a terrible Georgia Tech team that fired its defensive coordinator midseason after they lost to MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE. You will not watch a second of this game, and neither will anyone else in the city of Charlotte either.
Texas Longhorns at KANSAS STATE WILDCATS (-10.5)
The Longhorns can't stop the run. Kansas State runs the ball for nearly six yards every time they hand the ball off. The Longhorns can't throw the ball. The only team that has made a dent in Kansas State's defense (Baylor) did so by being able to throw and run with excellent balance in a hurry up tempo. The Longhorns can't/don't push the tempo on opposing defenses.
You see where we're going. Kansas State has had a week to think about blowing their shot at a national title. Poor Texas is going to have to deal with that anger. This is going to be another game that leads to Texas sending Mack Brown to the wall to face the firing squad.
NEBRASKA CORN HUSKERS (-3.5) versus Wisconsin Badgers [Lucas Oil Stadium]
Read the last pick and apply it to the Big Ten as well. Wisconsin is only in this game because Ohio State's athletic director chose to go to the Gator Bowl last year with a 6-6 Buckeyes squad and thus cost them their spot in this game and a shot at a perfect season. Wisconsin lost head to head to Nebraska in Lincoln early in the season, and are on a two game skid coming into the conference championship game. YAY FOR WAY TOO BIG CONFERENCES WITH DUMB, UNBALANCED DIVISIONS.
If Nebraska doesn't win this game, Jim Delany will be very cross.
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