Perhaps I shouldn’t have said “there’s too much at stake for Oregon to lay an egg on their home turf”, and I should’ve seen Philly screwing the pooch a mile away, but what I’m really ticked off about is San Francisco having the freakin’ ball inside the ten yard line & just sitting on it. Granted, they were up 6 points with only 15 seconds left, but come on guys…kick a damn field goal!! Help a brother out!! At any rate, with his 4-1 effort & my 2-3 disappointment Zach is again tied for the season lead. The NFL has rounded the curve into the second half of the season, while conference titles & playoff berths hang in the balance on Saturdays. It’s a great time to be a football fan.
My Season: 38-31
Zach’s Season: 38-31
Tennessee at Green Bay (-3)
The Titans are right about where I expected them to be, while the Packers are struggling much more than anyone anticipated. Having said that, I get the sense that maybe a corner has been turned in Green Bay. If Aaron Rodgers finds a couple of receivers he trusts they could go on a second half run and still back into the playoffs. Tennessee’s hopes rest squarely on the legs of RB Derrick Henry & the health of QB Ryan Tannehill, neither of which I have confidence in to make it thru the rest of the slate unscathed. This is the time of year when The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field begins to be a difference maker, as I believe will be the case on Thursday night. Zach concurs.
My Pick: Green Bay
Z’s Pick: Green Bay
Virginia Tech at Liberty (-9.5)
Good Lord what has happened to the Hokies?? After firing head coach Justin Fuente following a couple of subpar seasons they brought in former Penn St. defensive coordinator Brent Pry, but thus far he’s led them to an abysmal 2-8 record. Conversely, the Flames have built upon three straight solid seasons to stand at 8-2. At this point they are playing for bowl position and to vault themselves into Boise St. territory where they are perceived as being capable of defeating well-regarded teams on a regular basis. Tech may be in a down period, but it would still be a big win for Liberty. It helps that the game is in Lynchburg instead of Blacksburg, but wow…the points. That spread makes me anxious. What the heck though…what have I got to lose?? Conversely, Zach isn’t comfortable with the numbers & believes the underdogs will stay close.
My Pick: Liberty
Z’s Pick: Virginia Tech
Iowa at Minnesota (-2.5)
The West Division of the Big Ten is still up for grabs, with the winner earning the honor of getting beaten by Ohio St. or Michigan in the conference title game. Both teams have won three straight, and I’m expecting this contest to be under-the-radar good. Probably low scoring, power football. I believe it will come down to penalties, special teams, & time of possession. The winner receives a bronze pig named Floyd, which seems appropriate. Minnesota hasn’t won Floyd since 2014, but I think that changes this year. Zach disagrees & thinks a slight upset is brewing.
My Pick: Minnesota
Z’s Pick: Iowa
USC (-3) at UCLA
The PAC 12 eliminated divisions, so the top two teams will play in the conference title game. Right now that’d be the Trojans vs. the winner of Utah-Oregon, but the Bruins have an opportunity to jump into the mix with a victory. There is no real home field advantage since the two campuses are less than a half hour apart. USC’s only loss was by one point at Utah, while UCLA lost on the road to Oregon & inexplicably stumbled at home against Arizona. I will probably regret this, but I’ll be pulling for the home team to pull off an upset. Zach thinks it’ll be a high scoring affair that will ultimately be won on the ground by the underdogs.
My Pick: UCLA
Z’s Pick: UCLA
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (-6.5)
The term bedlam comes from the Saint Mary of Bethlehem Hospital in London, which treated mentally ill patients in the 15th century. Over time the pronunciation of Bethlehem somehow morphed into “bedlam”, and that evolved into meaning a place, scene, or state of uproar & confusion. As it applies to this particular rivalry, the name is said to have been born on the night of a particularly heated wrestling meet between the two renowned programs, during which a news reporter allegedly emerged from the building exclaiming to people outside, “It’s bedlam in there!”. On the gridiron it really hasn’t been much of a rivalry, with the Sooners winning 77% of the matchups since 1904. In recent years State has won only three games since 2011. The Sooners come into the weekend on a two game losing skid & in the midst of a decidedly down season. I had high hopes for the Cowboys, but other teams have emerged in the Big 12. Still, a victory could potentially propel them into the conference title game, so there is certainly motivation. I try to remain loyal to my preseason though process, so I’m sticking with the underdogs. Zach isn’t too excited by this one, believing it’ll be rather boring. He too thinks the visitors will steal a victory.
My Pick: Oklahoma St.
Z’s Pick: Oklahoma St.