2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 5

Unlike last week the schedule is loaded on both the college & pro levels this go round, to the point that we’re doing bonus picks despite serious reservations on my part. We’re already off to a shaky start and chasing wins is probably a bad idea. Ah well…c’est la vie. Zach (3-2) bested me (2-3) a week ago, and as a reward got an all- expenses paid trip to South Bend, IN, home of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Okay okay…his trip is work related and has nothing to do with these picks, but how cool would that be if we won awesome prizes for doing this?? At any rate, my philosophy of mixing things up & not picking games involving the same teams over & over is pretty much out the window this week, but good football is good football and I can’t control which teams are or aren’t interesting, so we’ll just go with the flow.

My Season:   10-13

Z’s Season:   10-13

 

 

 

 

 

 

BYU                 at      Washington (-17.5)

BYU really frustrates me. Every time I leave them out of my pre-season poll they turn out to have a decent team, while anytime I have them ranked they screw the pooch. At the moment the Cougars are 3-1 & a solid Top 20 team, including an upset of my #1 team Wisconsin. The 3-1 Huskies might not make it to the playoff like I anticipated, but they’re still hovering around the Top 10 and have a realistic shot at a conference title. I don’t think BYU will win this game, but the points are a bit much. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     BYU

Z’s Pick:     BYU

 

 

 

 

Oregon (-3)        at      California

The Ducks really let me down last week. They’re 3-1 and still ranked, but they would be an undefeated Top 10 team if they hadn’t given away the game to Stanford a week ago. Cal is a team that is perpetually overlooked in the Pac 12, but they’re 3-0 and ranked as well. I don’t know enough about either team to discuss specifics, but I think this will be a really entertaining game. The home team are underdogs, but I think they might pull off the mild upset. Sorry Ducks…you lost my faith. Zach likes Oregon’s offense to get the job done by a comfortable margin.

My Pick:     Cal

Z’s Pick:     Oregon

 

 

 

Ohio St. (-3.5)    at      Penn St.

This is the big one…the marquee matchup of the weekend. Whatever your opinion might be of head coach Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes, & everything that has occurred in Columbus the past few months the fact is that they weathered the storm and have been unstoppable thus far. They know a thing or two about controversy & weathering storms in Happy Valley, and the Nittany Lions have regained much of the allure of dominance that once defined the program. I thought Ohio St. would falter a bit in the midst of the Meyer kerfuffle, and I believed that Penn St. would sorely miss RB Saquon Barkley. I was wrong on both counts. It is a testament to how impressive the Buckeyes have been thus far that they will go into Beaver Stadium in front of over 100k fans facing a Top 10 team and are favored. I don’t really have a dog in the fight and simply look forward to a great game, and though I believe an upset is certainly possible I have to go with the favorites. Zach knows that I know that he refuses to pick Ohio St., but as long as they’re playing these big games there is always a chance they’ll be on our agenda.

My Pick:     Ohio State

Z’s Pick:     Penn State

 

 

 

Stanford             at      Notre Dame (-4.5)

It might get overlooked a bit in the shadow of the Ohio St./Penn St. game, but this is also a battle of two Top 10 teams. I’ve heard that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but Stanford seems to be both. They were very fortunate to escape Eugene, OR with an overtime victory, a game in which Heisman candidate RB Bryce Love was held to just 59 yards rushing. After a season opener in which he ran for only 29 yards I think Love’s Heisman chances may be dead in the water, but he’s still a dangerous weapon on a good team. The 4-0 Irish haven’t really played anyone since the season opener against Michigan, but I can’t underestimate their home field advantage. If Notre Dame wants to be in the playoff conversation they have to treat this as a playoff game itself. Can Stanford’s luck prevail a second week in a row?? I don’t know…but I think no matter who wins it’ll be decided by a field goal. Zach did get to visit Touchdown Jesus this week but he flies home on Saturday morning and won’t have an opportunity to overpay for scalped tickets. It’s probably just as well because I don’t think he’d be able to resist the temptation to wear Michigan garb into Notre Dame Stadium and may have gotten beat up by a drunken Indiana millworker. He thinks both teams are overrated but likes Stanford to win a tight defensive struggle.

My Pick:     Stanford

Z’s Pick:     Stanford

 

 

 

Minnesota                   at      LA Rams (-6.5)

I really tried to avoid the Thursday night game, but this one is just too damn enticing. The Vikings were my pre-season choice to represent the NFC in The Super Bowl, but I had them losing that game to the Steelers, so what the hell do I know?? Anyway, Minnesota comes into this game with a less than impressive 1-1-1 record after getting hammered by the Bills last week. The Bills!! Conversely, I have heard more than one talking head call the 3-0 Rams the best team in the NFL. It might be a bit premature to go that far, but it is undeniable that they’ve put together an impressive squad on both sides of the ball. Their defense has some issues with injuries, and kicker Greg Zeurlein is shelved with a groin pull, so this is going to be a test of the team’s depth. I’m not ready to jump on the Rams’ bandwagon just yet, and neither am I willing to abandon my Super Bowl pick, so I’ve got to go with the underdogs and hope defense wins the day. Zach likes Los Angeles to do just enough to win by a touchdown.

My Pick:     Minnesota

Z’s Pick:     LA Rams

 

 

  

Houston             at      Indianapolis (-1)

I really thought the Texans would bounce back and be good this season, but at 2-1 they haven’t looked as impressive as I’d hoped. The Colts are 1-2 and QB Andrew Luck may not be at full strength quite yet. It’s way too early to make a solid judgment about either team, so I have to believe in my original thought process that Houston is clearly better. Zach hasn’t lost faith in Indy’s signal caller yet. He doesn’t believe that Deshaun Watson & the Texans will suddenly find their rhythm this week and thinks Luck will have a big game.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Indianapolis

 

 

 

Tampa Bay                  at      Chicago (-3)

The Bucs gave my Steelers everything they could handle last Monday night, but the FitzMagic ran out of steam. With Jameis Winston returning from his suspension the quarterback situation for 2-1 Tampa is…fluid. Things could get interesting. Meanwhile, the Bears look like they totally swindled the Oakland Raiders when they traded for LB/DE Khalil Mack, although to be fair we’ll have to wait & see what Oakland does with those two first round picks they received. At 2-1 Chicago sits atop the NFC Central, although I think they’ll ultimately finish behind the Vikings. Tampa won’t be able to slice thru a porous defense like they did in the second half of last week’s game, and that will be their downfall in a low scoring slugfest. Zach likes the Bucs to pull out a close victory no matter who their quarterback is.

My Pick:     Chicago

Z’s Pick:     Tampa Bay

 

 

 

Miami                  at      New England (-7)

If you would’ve told me a month ago that the Dolphins would come into this game in first place and two games up on the Patriots I would have said you were insane, but here we are. It seems that most people are scoffing at the reversal of fortunate, unable to process the idea that Miami might actually be good and refusing to believe that New England could finally be reaching the end of their domination. I too am hesitant to buy into those things, despite my longstanding hatred for the Pats. I’d really love to pick Miami, but it just doesn’t feel like the smart choice at the moment. I’d be thrilled to be wrong. Zach concurs. He thinks Brady will throw for 450 yards and lead his team to an easy win.

My Pick:     New England

Z’s Pick:     New England

 

 

 

Kansas City (-4.5)      at      Denver

In my NFL Preview I said that “I really sense a decline coming from Kansas City” and predicted that second year QB Pat Mahomes “might take some time…to figure things out”. That may end up being one of the most boneheaded things I’ve ever written. The Chiefs are 3-0 and Mahomes is averaging almost 300 yards/game with 13 TDs, zero interceptions, & a 66% completion rate. Conversely, I predicted that the Broncos would go 2-14. They’ve already won two games. So the question is can Denver’s defense rise up and make Mahomes look like a rookie?? The deciding factor for me is that the game is being played in the Mile High City. That may be something that Mahomes has to adjust to, and it might just be enough for an upset. Zach loves KC’s team speed and believes they are a legit Super Bowl contender.

My Pick:     Denver

Z’s Pick:     Kansas City

College Football Bowlapalooza 2014

College football wrapped up its regular season a couple of weeks ago, and now we have the opportunity to watch nearly 40 post-season bowl gamestrophy over the next few weeks. Some games will be more entertaining than others. Let me remind everyone that these picks are not part of our Pigskin Picks of Profundity and we do not utilize point spreads. There are just so many games, many of them featuring teams that we know very little about. Bowl season is quite unpredictable, and there are a plethora of variables. Some teams are playing for interim coaches. Some are disappointed about where they ended up. Some have a big chip on their shoulder, while others enjoy the fun aspects of the bowl experience a bit too much. Most of these teams will not have suited up for anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month. Having said all of that, we’ll give prognosticating these games a whirl. I am going back to an idea that I utilized a couple of years ago. I am dividing all bowl games into three tiers. Tier 1 are the more superfluous games, with second-rate matchups featuring uninteresting teams that will likely be enjoyed only by hardcore football fans and of course fans of the teams involved. Tier 2 games have the potential to be quite engaging. Most football fans will atleast check them out. Tier 3 is the good stuff. These are the games that nearly everyone is excited about and should provide several hours of quality gridiron action. Enjoy!!

Tier 1

New Orleans Bowl
Nevada (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
12/20 11am ESPN
I’m a Wolfpack fan, but there’s no denying that they’ve settled into a pattern of 7 win mediocrity the past few years after going 13-1 in 2010. I know very little about the Ragin’ Cajuns except they are one of what seems like dozens of college football teams in Louisiana. This is basically a home game for Lafayette, but old habits die hard. I’m going with Nevada. Zach concurs.
My Pick – Nevada Z’s Pick – Nevada

New Mexico Bowl
Utah State (9-4) vs. UTEP (7-5)
12/20 2pm ESPN
I have picked against Utah St. in previous bowl games because I didn’t know anything about them. But now I know that they’ve won their past two bowl games. That’s enough evidence for me. Zach concurs.
My Pick – Utah St. Z’s Pick – Utah St.

Potato Bowl (Boise, ID)
Western Michigan (8-4) vs. Air Force (9-3)
12/20 5:45pm ESPN
I suppose I’ll be all patriotic and pick the service academy. Zach likes the Falcons’ triple option and believes that’ll help them get the win.                     My Pick – Air Force Z’s Pick – Air Force

Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, AL)
South Alabama (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (7-6)
12/20 9:15pm ESPN
A camellia…for those who may be wondering…is a type of flower. That’s cool. Atleast they didn’t name this game after some second-rate retail establishment or a publicity seeking restaurant. I’m a MAC fan so I’m going with the Falcons. Zach concurs.
My Pick – Bowling Green Z’s Pick – Bowling Green

Boca Raton Bowl
Marshall (12-1) vs. Northern Illinois (11-2)
12/23 6pm ESPN
Oh where to begin. I was severely disappointed when my alma mater & the C-USA champions chose this game over another one in which they would have faced an admittedly mediocre Big Ten team. The knock on the Herd all season has been that their schedule was weak and they haven’t played any “power” conference teams. Like it or not perception matters in college football and I still believe that Marshall should have taken the opportunity to silence the doubters, even if it would have been against a 6-6 opponent. Having said all that I do have to admit that this will likely be a competitive contest. My residual bitterness about Marshall’s season ending in a low level post-season game on a Tuesday night instead of heading undefeated to a New Year’s Eve bowl or atleast a pedestrian matchup with a “power” conference foe may or may not dissipate in the next several days. Strangely enough Zach feels more loyalty to The Herd than I do, although he does have legitimate concerns about a defense that allowed 67 points to Western Kentucky…something that ruined the perfect season.
My Pick – n/a Z’s Pick – Marshall

Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego, CA)
Navy (6-5) vs. San Diego State (7-5)
12/23 9:30pm ESPN
So this is basically a home game for the Aztecs. Shouldn’t there be a rule against that?? Anyway, I suppose once again I’ll make the jingoistic choice. Zach is in agreement due to his affection for the triple option. My Pick – Navy Z’s Pick – Navy

Bahamas Bowl
Central Michigan (7-5) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5)
12/24 Noon ESPN
All I know is that Western Kentucky ruined Marshall’s perfect season…those bastards. I know even less about Central Michigan. I’m pretty unforgiving when I comes to sports, so I’m rooting for the Chippewas all the way. Zach likes WKU’s prolific offense.
My Pick – Central Michigan Z’s Pick – Western Kentucky

Hawaii Bowl
Fresno State (6-7) vs. Rice (7-5)
12/24 8pm ESPN
The NCAA oftentimes appears to be rather obtuse, but they are atleast smart enough to have figured out that if you’re going to have football teams be away from home on Christmas then they need to be enticed by exotic locales like The Bahamas and Hawaii. I have a huge problem with a team like Fresno St. going to a bowl game with a losing record, while other eligible teams with a .500 (i.e. not losing) record like Ohio U., Temple, & Middle Tennessee are staying at home. It’s not right. Pulling for Rice may be a meaningless & ineffective form of protest, but it’s all that I’ve got. The Bulldogs have screwed the pooch on three occasions this season when Zach picked them, so he’s understandably going in a different direction this time. My Pick – Rice Z’s Pick – Rice

Heart of Dallas Bowl
Illinois (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-5)
12/26 1pm ESPN
This is the game that my Marshall Thundering Herd should be playing in. Instead Louisiana Tech…the team that the Herd defeated in the C-USA title game…gets the opportunity to challenge a “power” conference team. Obviously the Illini aren’t that great, but they played teams like Wisconsin & Minnesota tough in losing efforts and beat both Penn St. & Northwestern. A shaky resume for sure…but I’ll take it. Zach think this will be a close game and likes Bulldogs’ QB Cody Sokol to snag a late victory. My Pick – Illinois Z’s Pick – Louisiana Tech

Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit, MI)
Rutgers (7-5) vs. North Carolina (6-6)
12/26 4:30pm ESPN
This is the old Motor City/Little Caesars Bowl, now being sponsored by an auto shop subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company. I have a feeling most people will be at the mall exchanging the banal yet overpriced Christmas gifts they received from clueless friends & relatives rather than watching a completely superfluous football game. Zach thinks the Tar Heels’ special teams will make the difference.                                                                  My Pick – North Carolina Z’s Pick – North Carolina

St. Petersburg Bowl
NC State (7-5) vs. Central Florida (9-3)
12/26 8pm ESPN
This game would be much more interesting if it were being played in St. Petersburg, Russia instead of Florida. I had the Knights in my pre-season Top 25, and I’ll be darned if they didn’t almost get there. Ah well…close, horseshoes, hand grenades, etc. I suppose I’ll stick with them until the bitter end though. Zach is borrowing my philosophy about teams in better conferences being battle tested and therefore being prepared for games such as these.
My Pick – UCF Z’s Pick – NC St.

Military Bowl (Annapolis, MD)
Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)
12/27 1pm ESPN
Shouldn’t one of the academies be playing in this game?? Anyway, the Bearcats have been a much better team than the Hokies this season and I see no reason why that won’t continue here. Conversely, Zach believes Va. Tech has a better coaching staff and will win this game with a superior ground attack.
My Pick – Cincinnati Z’s Pick – Virginia Tech

Pinstripe Bowl (Bronx, NY)
Boston College (7-5) vs. Penn State (6-6)
12/27 4:30pm ESPN
Hey look…it’s a game that could be played during every regular season if the people that ran the now defunct Big East football conference hadn’t been complete idiots. The Nittany Lions have had all sanctions removed, as if that pesky sexual abuse stuff never really happened. The NCAA should just go the extra step and restore all of Joe Paterno’s old records. The hook for this shindig is that it is played at Yankee Stadium. I suppose it’s better than playing in Detroit. Zach sees this as an even matchup, and believes that the Eagles’ rushing attack as well as their defensive line will make the difference. My Pick – Penn St. Z’s Pick – Boston College

Belk Bowl (Charlotte, NC)
Georgia (9-3) vs. Louisville (9-3)
12/30 6:30pm ESPN
The Bulldogs had much higher hopes for 2014, but we knew someone would be the odd team out in the SEC. The Cardinals didn’t suffer too badly from the loss of QB Teddy Bridgewater to the NFL, and I must admit to being a bit surprised. Belk, for those who may be curious, is a department store chain on par with JC Penney’s, Dillard’s, & Kohl’s. We don’t have one where I live so I know nothing else. Anyway, I think Georgia will be ready to take their frustration & disappointment out on someone, and it looks like Louisville is the unfortunate victim. Zach is unimpressed with Louisville and thinks freshman backup RB Nick Chubb will have a breakout game for Georgia.
My Pick – Georgia Z’s Pick – Georgia

Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, TX)
Houston (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6)
1/2 Noon ESPN
Soooo…we have a Military Bowl AND an Armed Forces Bowl?? Seems redundant. Anyway, I believe both of these teams will be playing for interim head coaches. The Cougars fired their coach and Pitt’s coach is leaving for Wisconsin. As a long time WV Mountaineer fan I can’t bring myself to cheer for the Panthers. Zach likes the Panthers’ rushing attack and believes it will help them prevail.
My Pick – Houston Z’s Pick – Pitt

Cactus Bowl (Tempe, AZ)
Washington (8-5) vs. Oklahoma State (6-6)
1/2 10:15pm ESPN
This is the former Copper/Insight.com/Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. I like the new name much better. The Huskies fared quite well this season under new head coach Chris Peterson and the Pac 12 might want to look out in another year or two. The Cowboys fell off a bit after posting 9+ wins in 5 of the previous 6 seasons. I think this might be a shootout, and I’m picking the upset. Zach likes Washington to win easily.
My Pick – Oklahoma St. Z’s Pick – Washington

GoDaddy Bowl (Mobile, AL)
Toledo (8-4) vs. Arkansas State (7-5)
1/4 9pm ESPN
Those that have perused these bowl picks in previous years may recall my contempt for this particular game. It’s horribly named. GoDaddy is a website building company that can’t be taken seriously with that stupid moniker. Yes it is memorable & catchy…but it’s also juvenile & unprofessional. The game itself never features an engaging matchup, and it is played at the worst possible time. By January 4th the other bowls are over and all that remains is the national title game. Plus the NFL playoffs are underway. With all that going on in addition to the post-holidays resumption of ho-hum normalcy can anyone really be expected to give a hoot about Toledo and Arkansas St.?? I think not. Zach concurs My Pick – Toledo Z’s Pick – Toledo

Tier 2

Las Vegas Bowl
Utah (8-4) vs. Colorado State (10-2)
12/20 3:30pm ABC
Okay…now things are beginning to heat up. This could very well be the best of the spate of games that begin the bowl season. As opposed to the poor guys who ended up in places like Detroit and Idaho for the post-season these teams get to go to Vegas. Vegas baby…Vegas!! The Rams have had a nice season and were a loss to Boise St. away from playing in the Fiesta Bowl. Their head coach has already departed for greener pastures with the Florida Gators, which puts them at a disadvantage. Zach believes that losing their coach will energize the Rams and they’ll secure the victory.                            My Pick – Utah Z’s Pick – Colorado St.

Miami Beach Bowl
BYU (8-4) vs. Memphis (9-3)
12/22 2pm ESPN
I think this is a brand new bowl game…as if we needed that. Atleast it’s a good matchup though. I think this will be a close contest that’ll be decided late in the 4th quarter. Zach sees big things on the horizon for the Cougars (might I suggest an invitation to join the Big 12) and thinks it starts with this game.
My Pick – BYU Z’s Pick – BYU

Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX)
Arizona State (9-3) vs. Duke (9-3)
12/27 2pm CBS
It’s Devils vs. Devils!! Did you know that the Sun Bowl is one of the 2nd oldest bowl games?? The Rose Bowl began in 1902, and the Sun, Sugar, & Orange Bowls were first played in 1935. I’m not sure how the Sugar & Orange Bowls have grown to be so much more prestigious than their solar-named brother. At any rate, I still think of Duke as a basketball school. Conversely, the Sun Devils have had a very nice year and were in the thick of the Pac 12 title race until the end. Zach foresees a blowout win for Arizona St.
My Pick – Arizona St. Z’s Pick – Arizona St.

Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA)
Miami (FL) (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6)
12/27 3:30pm ABC
Not all that long ago this would have been a marquee matchup, but both programs have hit kind of a rough patch. The Hurricanes have been mired in mediocrity for about a decade, while it’s just a bad season for the Gamecocks. I refuse to believe that Steve Spurrier, given a month to practice & plan for a very average opponent, won’t be completely prepared. Zach thinks both teams have been inconsistent this season, but agrees that The Old Ball Coach will make the difference.
My Pick – South Carolina Z’s Pick – South Carolina

Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA)
Nebraska (9-3) vs. USC (8-4)
12/27 8pm ESPN
If this were the 80’s these teams might be competing for a national championship, but in the new reality of college football USC is still very good but hardly dominant, while the Cornhuskers are finding out that recruiting 5 star athletes to play in Lincoln, NE isn’t as easy as it was a few decades ago. Nebraska will be playing for an interim coach, while the Trojans seem poised to make another run at the top sooner rather than later. Zach isn’t sold on USC and believes this game is a toss-up.
My Pick – USC Z’s Pick – Nebraska

Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN)
Texas A&M (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)
12/29 2pm ESPN
The Aggies were knocked down a peg or two adjusting to life after Johnny Football, but still had a decent year. My Mountaineers are settling into life in the Big 12, but this may be their fate more often than not for the foreseeable future…a solid season rewarded with a December bowl game that will only draw mild interest. I’m actually looking forward to this game. The thing I notice more than anything about the much celebrated SEC is the overall speed of the teams. WVU might have a tough time matching that speed, but they’ll give it their best shot. Zach believes that A&M will shred the Mountaineers’ defense.
My Pick – West Virginia Z’s Pick – Texas A&M

Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando, FL)
Oklahoma (8-4) vs. Clemson (9-3)
12/29 5:30pm ESPN
Once upon a time this was the Blockbuster/MicronPC/CarQuest/Champ Sports Bowl. They seem to have an issue retaining consistent corporate sponsorship. At any rate, both teams were hoping for bigger & better things in 2014, but stuff happens. On paper this looks like it’ll be a fun, close contest. I hope that is the case. Oklahoma is beginning to have the same issues as Nebraska…just because they used to be elite 30 or 40 years ago doesn’t mean they are going to retain that status in the 21st century. Clemson benefits from playing in the ACC where only the defending national champion Florida St. Seminoles are consistently superior. I think this will be a low scoring game with lots of tough defense, but the Sooners will prevail in the end. Zach thinks Oklahoma’s offensive line will lead them to a crushing victory. My Pick – Oklahoma Z’s Pick – Oklahoma

Texas Bowl (Houston, TX)
Arkansas (6-6) vs. Texas (6-6)
12/29 9pm ESPN
Despite the pedestrian name of the bowl and the matchup of two 6-6 teams this could be a real sleeper. Both programs have seen better days, but I believe that both will be successful again…eventually. I like the Razorbacks rushing attack to grind out a low scoring victory. Zach concurs.
My Pick – Arkansas Z’s Pick – Arkansas

Foster Farms Bowl (Santa Clara, CA)
Maryland (7-5) vs. Stanford (7-5)
12/30 10pm ESPN
Formerly known as the Fight Hunger/Walnut/Emerald Bowl, this game is now being played in the San Francisco 49ers brand new stadium. Foster Farms is a California poultry company. I hope that doesn’t mean the game will be a turkey. The Stanford campus is about a half hour away, so this is basically a home game for them. I think that’ll help make the difference in a fairly easy victory. Zach is all bent out of shape about Maryland’s lack of class & sportsmanship. I obviously missed something.
My Pick – Stanford Z’s Pick – Stanford

Orange Bowl (Miami, FL)
Mississippi State (10-2) vs. Georgia Tech (10-3)
New Year’s Eve 8pm ESPN
I find it odd that the venerable Orange Bowl has been pushed back to New Year’s Eve. Ah well…atleast it won’t have to compete with the playoff semifinal games. The Bulldogs were in the national title hunt for awhile but must settle for this consolation prize. Tech is one of those mostly unexceptional programs that occasionally has a really good season. However, their failure to “upset” vastly overrated Florida St. in the ACC championship is troubling. I think Mississippi St. wins this game easily. Zach believes it’ll be a rather close contest, but likes Bulldogs’ QB Dak Prescott to lead his team to victory. My Pick – Mississippi St. Z’s Pick – Mississippi St.

Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL)
Missouri (10-3) vs. Minnesota (8-4)
New Year’s Day 1pm ABC
It’s back!! Well okay…it never really left, but for the past decade this game was known by one of those horribly tacky corporate names. I’m glad that’s over. The combatants are two sneaky good teams that were overshadowed by well-known brands in their respective conferences. The Tigers probably have more team speed and I think that’ll make the difference. Zach is really interested in this game and believes that Missouri will win a close one late in the 4th quarter.
My Pick – Missouri Z’s Pick – Missouri

Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL)
Iowa (7-5) vs. Tennessee (6-6)
1/2 3:30pm ESPN
This game is officially known by one of the aforementioned crass corporate names, but I refuse to play along. It’s been the Gator Bowl since 1946 and it’ll stay that way in The Manoverse. In addition to the name BS the game is being played after New Year’s, which wouldn’t happen if I were in charge. The matchup is a little dubious as well. The Gator Bowl used to invite 9 or 10 win teams. This is the best they could do in 2014-15?? Having said all that, I think these are two solid teams that are a threat to be really good in any given season (just not this year). I think it’ll be a decent game…not a defensive battle but not a shootout either. The Voices are telling me special teams will be the difference in a Volunteers victory. Zach likes the Hawkeyes by a touchdown.
My Pick – Tennessee Z’s Pick – Iowa

Birmingham Bowl
East Carolina (8-4) vs. Florida (6-6)
1/3 1pm ESPN
I hate the unimaginative name of this bowl as well as its spot two days after New Year’s. Folks will have had their fill of collegiate gridiron action by now and will be concentrating on the NFL playoffs and the national title game. However, one cannot overlook the fact that at one time the Pirates were in the running for the “access” bowl, i.e. the bone thrown to the best team among the non-power conferences, before going 2-3 in the latter part of the season. The Gators will be playing under an interim head coach since Will Muschamp was fired (and has since become the defensive coordinator for Auburn). I’m not sure who is considered the underdog. East Carolina has the better record, but Florida is battle tested in the SEC. I am known to pull for the little guy, so I suppose I’ll do that. Zach has very little interest in this game but believes Florida will win easily.
My Pick – East Carolina Z’s Pick – Florida

Tier 3

Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN)
Notre Dame (7-5) vs. LSU (8-4)
12/30 3pm ESPN
Normally these are two teams that would be aiming for a much more valuable prize, but they just so happened to have both had an off year. Kudos to the powers-that-be in Nashville for putting together what is still an intriguing matchup despite what the mundane records might indicate. Neither team has much momentum coming into the post-season, with the Irish on a four game losing streak and the Bayou Bengals losers of 2 out of their last 3. It’s all about pride and trying to build on something positive heading into 2015. Zach has nothing but contempt for both teams, but thinks LSU will win easily. My Pick – LSU Z’s Pick – LSU

Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA)
Ole Miss (9-3) vs. TCU (11-1)
New Year’s Eve 12:30pm ESPN
Both teams were in the thick of the playoff hunt. Many still believe that TCU should be one of the final four. Now it’s time for both clubs to prove themselves. If the Horned Frogs win it’ll add fuel to the argument that they should have been included in the playoff. A Rebels victory would end a mostly positive season on a high note after dropping 3 out of their last 4 regular season games. I’m not totally sold on either team, but I’m going to pick the upset. Zach is one who believes the Horned Frogs got screwed by the playoff committee, and thinks that QB Trevone Boykin will lead TCU to a late win. My Pick – Ole Miss Z’s Pick – TCU

Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, AZ)
Boise State (11-2) vs. Arizona (10-3)
New Year’s Eve 4pm ESPN
I’m really looking forward to this game. It is unfortunate that it’ll be played at 4pm on New Year’s Eve when most folks are on their way home from work and preparing to go out and celebrate the holiday. Like the Orange Bowl the Fiesta is typically played on New Year’s Day in prime time, but the playoff has changed most of the traditional rules. Anyway, the Broncos have proven that they can go toe to toe with the big boys. The “new reality” of college football will likely dictate a move for them to one of the “power” conferences” in the near future (may I suggest the Big 12…which currently has ten teams), but that’s down the line. As far as this game goes, I certainly think Boise St. can hang with the Wildcats, who will essentially be playing a home game. Can they pull off the upset?? I’m predicting a high scoring (over 80 points combined) shootout, with the Broncos winning a squeaker. Zach likes Arizona’s high-powered offense and thinks they’ll win easily.
My Pick – Boise St. Z’s Pick – Arizona

Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL)
Auburn (8-4) vs. Wisconsin (10-3)
New Year’s Day Noon ESPN2
I was really high on the Badgers…until they got blasted in the Big Ten (which has 14 teams) title game by Ohio St. Then their head coach bolted…for Oregon St. I pretty much nailed Auburn’s season in my pre-season rankings. They’re good, but not at the level they were at a year ago. This should be a really competitive contest, and I’m not at all concerned with Wisconsin’s coaching situation since former coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez is temporarily at the helm. I think the Badgers were humiliated in that conference championship game and will be motivated to prove their worth. Conversely, Zach thinks the game will become ugly early, Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon (Heisman runner-up) will be shut down, & Auburn QB Nick Marshall will have a great game.
My Pick – Wisconsin Z’s Pick – Auburn

Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX)
Michigan State (10-2) vs. Baylor (11-1)
New Year’s Day 12:30pm ESPN
As former pro wrestling announcer Jim Ross might say, this is going to be a real slobberknocker. Lots of people believe that Baylor deserved a spot in the playoff. The Spartans had a lot of buzz coming into the season but an early November loss to Ohio St. doomed their playoff chances. Baylor’s campus in Waco, TX is less than a hundred miles from the Palace in Dallas, so I expect they’ll have a notable home field advantage. I also think that the Bears will be hellbent on proving that they should have had the opportunity to play for the national championship. Zach, on the other hand, likes the Spartan defense to shut down Baylor and win by 7-10 points.
My Pick – Baylor Z’s Pick – Michigan St.

Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA) – Playoff Semifinal
Oregon (12-1) vs. Florida State (13-0)
New Year’s Day 5pm ESPN
Here we go with the four team playoff for the national title. As much as I have complained (with good reason) about the playoff committee and their methodology I must admit that I have no problem with the four teams selected. I think the Seminoles have been far more lucky than good in 2014 but I believe their luck will run out here. The Ducks can match…and probably exceed…Florida St.’s team speed, and though I’m no Mel Kiper Jr. or Todd McShay I will opine that I’d take Oregon QB & Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota over Florida St. QB & former Heisman winner Jameis Winston with no hesitation. Zach has reservations about Oregon’s defense but is still picking them to make it to the championship game. My Pick – Oregon Z’s Pick – Oregon

Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) – Playoff Semifinal
Alabama (12-1) vs. Ohio State (12-1)
New Year’s Day 8:30pm ESPN
There was some thought that the playoff committee wouldn’t put Ohio St. in as the #4 seed because they are down to their 3rd string quarterback. That would have been completely unfair and I am glad the committee didn’t fall victim to that logic. However, the facts can’t be ignored when it comes to this game. The Buckeyes’ defense would have to play the game of their lives to secure a victory. Is that out of the realm of possibility?? No…but it isn’t likely. ‘Bama just has too much size & athleticism in the trenches, and their ground game may be slowed a bit but it won’t be stopped. This feels like a low scoring affair (under 40 total points), with the Tide grinding out a close victory. To say that Zach has disdain for Ohio St. would be like saying President Obama is slightly unethical or Gigli wasn’t a great film. He doesn’t believe the Buckeyes belong anywhere near the playoff and is hoping that Alabama hangs 100 points on them.
My Pick – Alabama Z’s Pick – Alabama

Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX)
Kansas State (9-3) vs. UCLA (9-3)
1/2 6:45pm ESPN
I’m not sure when the Alamo Bowl became significant enough to get a post-New Year’s prime time (kind of) time slot, but there is no denying that this is an attractive matchup. The Bruins were in the hunt for a Pac 12 title until an inexplicable home loss to Stanford in the final game of the regular season. The Wildcats fought hard in the Big 12 but couldn’t overcome TCU & Baylor. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is the likely difference in a fun & competitive contest. Zach isn’t a bit impressed by UCLA and is picking K St. to win big.
My Pick – UCLA Z’s Pick – Kansas St.

National Championship (Arlington, TX)
Oregon/Florida St. vs. Alabama/Ohio St.
1/12 TBD ESPN

Oregon-DucksI am predicting an Oregon vs. Alabama title game, which is the matchup that I am pretty sure most folks want to see. Zach AlabamaCrimsonTide2agrees. Can ‘Bama’s defense, ranked 4th in the nation in points allowed, stop QB Marcus Mariota and the 3rd ranked scoring offense in the country?? Will the Ducks’ defense be able to stop the Tide’s ground game, led by TJ Yeldon & Derrick Henry?? Can ‘Bama WR Amari Cooper (who finished third in Heisman voting) escape probable double coverage and make some big plays?? I think it’ll be a close game for 3 quarters, but eventually Mariota will be able to hit a few long bombs and the Ducks will pull away for the surprising victory. Zach believes that Alabama’s experience on the big stage will make the difference.
My Pick – Oregon Z’s Pick – Alabama

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 15

We’ve reached the end of the road for college football, atleast as far as these picks go. I’ll do a little bowl pick ‘em, but it won’t count as part of this process. From here on out our picks will be strictly NFL until they finish up.

*

It’s conference title game week for all except The Big 12 (which has 10 teams). We now know the 6 or 7 teams vying for 4 spots in the playoff, and the talking heads have had a field day dissecting all related issues. If I hear the phrase “body of work” one more time I’m going to punch somebody. The fact is that the playoff committee is atleast half comprised of folks who have a stake in the outcome and others who have strong ties & loyalty to certain institutions, which taints the whole procedure. When I first heard that college football was going to have a playoff I was excited and imagined that it’d be similar to the way the March Madness basketball field is set. I was obviously wrong. There is very little resemblance between the two and the entire football playoff methodology is flawed. I’ll probably have more to say about it some other time, but for now it is what it is and y’all are here for picks.

*

Last week Zach got the better of me, as he went 4-3 while I went 3-4. That brings his season record to 41-38, while I cling to a slight advantage at 42-37.

 

 

 

 

 

Kansas St. at Baylor (-8.5)
baylorBig 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby should be fired immediately. No one is buying the whole idea that the conference doesn’t need to add two teams and a championship game because they all play each other now. We know it’s about the money. The school presidents like the idea of splitting the pie 10 ways instead of 12. And now the commissioner has not only gone against logic and football tradition but he has kneeled & bowed to this damn playoff committee which has entirely too much power and no idea how to wield it properly. They are just making up the rules as they go. Commissioner Bowlsby has stated that…assuming both TCU & Baylor win this week…they’ll be co-champions of the conference, which is idiotic. There are always tiebreakers, and the first one is usually the results of the head-to-head matchup. In this case Baylor defeated TCU 61-58 in overtime on October 11th. Despite that outcome the playoff committee (I’ve got to come up with a catchy nickname for them) haskansas-state-dm seen fit to rank TCU ahead of Baylor, and right now the Horned Frogs are in the Top 4. Bowlsby doesn’t want to cost his conference any money, and doing the right thing by having the head-to-head lead to Baylor being named conference champs might do exactly that. In other words Bowlsby has been castrated by the stupid committee. Moron. At any rate, the way things have gone Baylor certainly isn’t out of the playoff picture, but they’ll need to beat Kansas St. like Adrian Peterson at a daycare with a bag of switches. I think they’ll do exactly that. Zach foresees a shootout and is picking Kansas St.

My Pick = Baylor
Z’s Pick = Kansas St.

Northern Illinois (-6.5) at Bowling Green
huskiesThis is the MAC title game. I like the MAC. I wish my Marshall Thundering Herd would have never left the MAC. Their teams get very littlebowling green respect and are oftentimes stuck playing televised games on Tuesday & Wednesday nights. However, for true football fans the games are usually more than watchable. I don’t think the Huskies will have any problems covering the points and winning the trophy. This is a rematch of last year’s championship when the Falcons pulled off the upset. Northern Illinois will want revenge. Zach thinks this will be a close game and Northern Illinois will be unable to cover the points.

My Pick = Northern Ilinois
Z’s Pick = Bowling Green

 

 

 

Arizona at Oregon (-14.5)
Oregon DucksI’m really looking forward to this game, which will be played on Friday night at the San Francisco 49ers new stadium. The Ducks are in the ArizonaWildcatsplayoff. A lot of things would have to go haywire for that to change. The Wildcats aren’t going to be pushovers though. Actually they have an outside shot to make the playoff, although it is highly unlikely that all the dominoes would fall right for that to occur. I am almost positive Oregon will win the game, but by how much?? I am normally skittish about such large point spreads, but for some strange reason The Voices are screaming at me, and they are saying one word…Oregon. Zach thinks it likely that Oregon wins but doesn’t believe they’ll cover.

My Pick = Oregon
Z’s Pick = Arizona

 

 

 

Alabama (-14.5) vs. Missouri
Congratulations to the Missouri Tigers. You’ve had a good season. You’ll enjoy a nice bowl destination. But you are not winning the SEC title. Nothing would make AlabamaCrimsonTide2me happier than for all of the top teams to lose and the playoff situation to become complete mayhem. Would an Alabama loss in this game drop them out of the Top 4?? Sadly we’ll never know. And not only will the Tide win, but they’ll roll BIG. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Alabama
Z’s Pick = Alabama

 

 

 

Florida St. (-4.5) vs. Georgia Tech
The one nice thing I’ll say about the playoff committee is that they seem to have Florida St.’s number. The Seminoles can’t be denied a shot to defend their nationalgatechlogocos-3 championship as long as they remain undefeated, but they’ve slipped all the way to #4 in the process of scratching & clawing their way to wins in which they were outplayed for atleast ¾ of the game. A loss in this ACC title tilt would be devastating, as either Baylor or Ohio St. would surely leapfrog into the playoff. The Yellow Jackets are a team I have completely overlooked this season. I had no idea they were 10-2 and even in the conference title hunt. This is a neutral site game being played in Charlotte, NC, which may help Tech a bit. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I’ve been hoping for a Florida St. loss like Ralphie wants a BB gun in A Christmas Story. That movie had a happy ending…maybe this game will too. Zach feels the same way.

My Pick = Georgia Tech
Z’s Pick = Georgia Tech

 

 

 

Fresno St. at Boise St. (-20.5)
boise-state-logoThis is the Mountain West title game. It is being played on Boise’s blue turf. If my Marshall Thundering Herd hadn’t shot themselves in the footfresno last week and still had a shot at a New Year’s bowl I’d probably be really interested in this game and rooting hard for a Broncos loss. However, now I simply don’t care, although I’ll probably watch, atleast until it gets out of hand, which may be fairly early. I don’t believe Boise St. will have any problems covering the points. Conversely, Zach is unimpressed with Boise St. and uncomfortable with such a large spread. He thinks Boise may win but won’t cover the points.

My Pick = Boise St.
Z’s Pick = Fresno St.

Wisconsin (-4) vs. Ohio St.
I must take this opportunity to admit a mistake. Anyone who follows these picks or has read other sports related content here at The Manofesto knows that I like to WisconsinBadgerspoke fun at the Big 12 for having ten teams and the Big Ten for having 12 teams. The problem with that is that in 2014 the Big Ten has 14 teams. I completely forgot that Rutgers & Maryland joined this season. Oops. Anyway, this is the Big Ten title game and is being played on a neutral field in Indianapolis. Everybody has seemingly given up on the Buckeyes after they lost QB JT Barrett to injury and now must rely on a 3rd string QB. As much as I hate to admit it those folks are probably right. With Barrett there is no way Ohio St. would be underdogs in this game…without him Wisconsin is favored by 4 points. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to see the Buckeyes beat out Florida St. and both Big 12 contenders for the final playoff spot, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Zach gleefully concurs and doesn’t feel a bit bad about picking against Ohio St.

My Pick = Wisconsin
Z’s Pick = Wisconsin

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 14

Happy Thanksgiving Manoverse!! I hope y’all have a wonderful day filled with family, stuffing, pie, and of course football.

The college football season is just about over, but it looks like it might go out with a bang. Or it could end on a whimper. I suppose it depends on one’s perspective. I’m tg2rooting for total chaos since this whole playoff thing has been exposed as a complete sham. The bastards finally ranked my Marshall Thundering Herd this week, only to also rank Boise St. one spot ahead and give them the leg up on securing a major bowl bid. Ehhh…I’ll just stop there. I don’t want to go on another rant. At any rate, this is Rivalry Week and features several intrastate matchups that…luckily for us…actually matter outside of winning some kind of ridiculous token like a jug, bell, or axe.

Last week I went 4-1 while Zach went 1-4. That puts me back in the season lead with a record of 39-33, while Zach is still hot on my heels at 37-35. It’s going to be an exciting finish!! We ride!!

 

 

 

 

 

LSU (-3.5) at Texas A&M
a&mThe Texas-Texas A&M Thanksgiving tradition that was the centerpiece of the 1982 classic Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is a thing of thelsu_logo past since the Aggies moved to the SEC. Both teams are indeed playing on Thanksgiving Day…just not against each other. A&M and LSU have each had solid seasons, though both are far out of conference title and national championship contention. This game is strictly about pride and bowl positioning. The Bayou Bengals are getting a lot of love by being favored as the visiting team, but I’m going to go with the upset. Zach, on the other hand, is picking LSU to win by 35 points.

My Pick = Texas A&M
Z’s Pick = LSU

 

 

 

Arizona St. at Arizona (-2)
The Wildcats get the nominal home field advantage, but this is essentially a pick ‘em involving two Top 15 teams. I don’t know enough about either team to speak Arizona_State_logo_blanketeruditely about their relative strengths or weaknesses, so this is a total vibe pick for me. The Voices are telling me to go with the Sun Devils, and so I shall. Zach believes Arizona St. will win easily.

My Pick = Arizona St.
Z’s Pick = Arizona St.

 

 

 

Michigan at Ohio St. (-21)
Ohio_State_BuckeyesThis is one of my favorite rivalries in all of sports, but its impact is somewhat muted in 2014. The once mighty Wolverines are in the midst of michanother rough patch and head coach Brady Hoke is likely going to get canned in the coming days. Conversely, the Buckeyes still have a really good chance to sneak into the playoff, which would be cool with me. It’s weird to see such a large point spread in this game, and usually that’d make me rather nervous. However, since Ohio St. has so much on the line & must “impress” the stupid playoff committee (Al “just win baby” Davis would be horrified), and since, regardless of their impressive history, the current Michigan team is just a 5-6 mess, I’ll roll the dice on a big Ohio St. victory. Zach has absolutely no love for the Buckeyes and extreme faith that his Wolverines can pull off the upset.

My Pick = Ohio St.
Z’s Pick = Michigan

 

 

 

Florida at Florida St. (-7.5)
This is kind of the same deal as Ohio St.-Michigan, but slightly different. The Seminoles…the luckiest team I’ve ever seen…are on the verge of a spot in the playoff, florida gators imagewhile the Gators are a pedestrian 6-4 and have already fired their coach. As a matter of fact this will be his last game since he will not coach in a bowl game. I’m just going to be straightforward about this. I know Florida St. is the better team, but I want them to lose so damn bad I can’t see straight. I’m sick of their jackass thug of a quarterback. I’m sick of seeing them getting beaten for most of a game only to make a late comeback and snag victory from the jaws of defeat. And sadly I am sick of their head coach Jimbo Fisher, a man that hails from the same city in which I live and is a fellow alumnus of the same high school from which I graduated, but a man who has transformed into some kind of fast talking televangelist/used car salesman in the space of a couple of years. Please Florida Gators…please for the love of God put all of us out of our misery. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Florida
Z’s Pick = Florida

 

 

 

Mississippi St. (-2) at Ole Miss
ole missWell here is another team that is in the playoff (at the moment) but shouldn’t be. The Bulldogs were beaten by Alabama a few weeks back miss stbut inexplicably didn’t fall out of the Top 4. I told y’all before the season began that the powers-that-be would twist themselves into a pretzel to shoehorn two SEC teams into the playoff and that is exactly what is happening. It makes me sick. If nothing else important happens this weekend this is one upset that does need to occur for the good of college football. Even casual fans are beginning to notice how rigged it all seems. The Rebels were on a roll until late October but have lost 3 out of 4. That win came against a 1-AA school so it doesn’t count for much. The talking heads have all done their best Bruce Ismay and abandoned Ole Miss. No one seems to be giving them a chance in this game. They’re probably right but I’m still going with my heart over my head, which is why I don’t put real money on the line when I pick football games. Zach disagrees and making the smart choice.

My Pick = Ole Miss
Z’s Pick = Mississippi St.

 

 

 

Oregon (-19.5) at Oregon St.
Oregon-DucksThey call this The Civil War. I don’t know why and am too lazy to find out. I have no doubt that the Ducks will win the game, but the point OregonStateBeavers2spread is interesting. The Beavers are 5-6 and won’t be going to a bowl game once they lose this one, but can they stay within three TDs?? Normally I’d go with the underdog, but once again the evil playoff committee rears its ugly head. Oregon is in and I doubt there’s anything they can do to fall out. Even losing the Pac 12 title game likely wouldn’t matter. However, one would assume they have their eye on being #1 instead of #2, so if Alabama wins but struggles in their last couple of games it might be possible for Oregon to ascend to the top position. To do that they need to “impress” the committee, and I think that starts with a huge win this week. Zach likes the Ducks but is spooked by the spread so he’s picking the underdogs.

My Pick = Oregon
Z’s Pick = Oregon St.

*

Auburn at Alabama (-9.5)
auburnY’all remember last season’s Iron Bowl, right?? I think they call it The Kick Six. Anyway, I doubt that this year’s edition can live up to its AlabamaCrimsonTide2predecessor. The talking heads have tossed aside Auburn just like they have Ole Miss, but the truth is that the Tigers are still a very good & dangerous team. They’ll be jacked for an opportunity to beat their arch rivals for a second consecutive year and possibly cost them a playoff opportunity (yeah right lol…even if ‘Bama loses they’re still gonna be in the playoff). Of course the Tide is looking to avenge last year’s devastating loss. I’m not exactly sure how this game is going to turn out, but I think it’ll be closer than 9½ points so I’ll pick the underdogs. Zach has a man crush on Nick Saban and thinks the Tide will roll by five TDs.

My Pick = Auburn
Z’s Pick = Alabama

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 8

Well…last week was definitely an improvement over the previous one, although I remain unsatisfied and determined to do better. I went 3-2, with Louisville, the Denver Broncos, & the Philadelphia Eagles all winning for me. Zach correctly picked the Dallas Cowboys over the Seattle Seahawks while we both whiffed on the Baylor/TCU game. Baylor won an entertaining Arena League-esque 61-58 battle but didn’t cover the 8½ point spread. Zach went 2-3 for the week to fall below .500 for the season:

Me = 18-20
Zach = 18-19

I’m kind of bored with the highly ranked SEC teams beating one another, atleast from a prognosticating standpoint, so those games don’t make the cut this time. They are entertaining to watch but are repetitive & monotonous to analyze. We know that the SEC champion will make it into the national playoff and I think it is inevitable that a 2nd SEC team will be there too, especially if Alabama can realistically be shoehorned in without it seeming like someone is on the take. So basically we just need to sit back and let it all shake out. There are other interesting games on the schedule and I find the question of which teams will secure the other two or three playoff spots much more thought provoking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iowa at Maryland (-4.5)
The Hawkeyes were in my pre-season Top 25 so I remain mildly invested in their success. They are 5-1 and have a genuine opportunity to break into the rankings ifiowa they continue to win as various other teams knock each other out. I haven’t paid too much attention to the Terrapins since their narrow loss to my WV Mountaineers back in September but they are 4-2, with the other loss being last week to the Ohio St. Buckeyes. Maryland gets the nominal home field advantage but I’m going to stick with my summertime vibes and pick Iowa. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Iowa
Z’s Pick = Iowa

 

 

Nevada at BYU (-10)
I love late night west coast football. I am a night owl and even though I get up fairly early for church on Sunday it is still a part of my routine to watch these games that nevadadon’t start until 10pm or after and aren’t over until atleast 1am. It doesn’t hurt that games involving Pac 12 or Mountain West teams are typically high scoring back & forth affairs with plenty of drama, comebacks, & 4th quarter heroics. I resisted putting the Cougars in my Top 25 this pre-season because whenever I do (which is usually every year) they end up breaking my heart. So of course since I left them out this time they are 4-2 and were ranked before losing two straight so far this month. Meanwhile, the Wolfpack is 3-3 and every game…win or lose…has been a battle. Nevada is a program that seems to be slightly above average with occasional brief spikes of being very good. They have been to a bowl game 9 out of the past 10 seasons. BYU understandably has the home field advantage, but 10 points is just too much. I think it’ll be closer than that. Once again Zach is in agreement.

My Pick = Nevada
Z’s Pick = Nevada

Stanford (-3.5) at Arizona St.
Stanford was ranked in most pre-season polls, including mine. However most “experts” had them hovering right around the Top 10. I had them at #17, which after photo.stanfordtreetwo early losses (to USC & Notre Dame) is looking like a best case scenario. I said that their schedule is brutal and I was right. Conversely, I didn’t rank the Sun Devils but they are currently sitting right about where most others had them back in August. This is a huge game for both teams. They each have a realistic chance at their division crown and a spot in the Pac 12 title game, but a loss here pretty much ends those hopes. It is interesting that Stanford is favored as the visiting team. I’m not sure what that’s about since it seems to be a fairly even matchup and the home team usually gets the advantage in that scenario. I will assume that the oddsmakers know something that I don’t and go with the favorites. Zach likes Stanford’s defense and believes they will win easily.

My Pick = Stanford
Z’s Pick = Stanford

Notre Dame at Florida St. (-11.5)
This is the big one. The playoff picture is kinda sorta beginning to take shape. We know the deal with the SEC and just have to see who beats who over the course NotreDame1of the next several weeks, We also know that if the Seminoles win this game their remaining path looks rather rather smooth, while the Irish still have a couple of potential pitfalls along the way. Those rooting for chaos & arguments about who deserves to be in the 4 team playoff should be hoping for a Florida St. loss here and a Notre Dame loss to either Arizona St. or USC next month. I’d be down with that cause it’s just how I roll. Plus the point spread is ridiculous. Zach thinks both of these teams are overrated. He’s not sure who’ll win but certainly doesn’t think it will be by double digits.

My Pick = Notre Dame
Z’s Pick = Notre Dame

New Orleans at Detroit (-3)
10_new_orleans_saintsOur lone NFL game this week is a sleeper. Detroit is 4-2 and tied for the division lead with the Green Bay Packers but I don’t think anyone is paying much attention Detroit_Lions_Helmetbecause…well…it’s the Detroit Lions. The last time they won a playoff game I was a drunken college student, George HW Bush was in The White House, Johnny Carson was still hosting The Tonight Show, Cheers & Home Improvement were dominating the TV ratings, Michael Jackson topped the Billboard charts with Black or White, and Zach hadn’t even been born. Meanwhile, the Saints are struggling at 2-3 but surprisingly remain just a game out of first in their division. The Lions get the customary 3 point bump for being at home, but this is essentially a pick ‘em. Call it unfair if you want, but I just can’t wrap my head around Detroit being a legit playoff contender and N’awlins being a bad team. It is true that every NFL season is different and it isn’t unusual to see teams go from worst to first or fall precipitously from a lofty perch. However I am going to go with the past decade or two of history and pick this game for the Saints to turn around their season. Zach is a bit more openminded than me and is willing to put all that historical perspective stuff aside (the advantages of being young). He likes Detroit’s defense and thinks they win the game easily.

My Pick = New Orleans
Z’s Pick = Detroit

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 4

I am so mad at myself. Sometimes something is so obviously staring one right in the face that we too easily look past it. Such was the case last week. There was a fantastic opportunity for me to go 5-0, which I think would have been the very first time in three years that has happened. I am far too lazy to research the archives in order to verify that fact. At any rate, instead I ended up going 3-2. Why?? Well, first of all, the Green Bay Packers only beat the NY Jets by 7 points. The spread was 8. That one wasn’t so much my fault as it was a Packers team who basically phoned it in and may have actually lost were it not for the inexplicable ineptitude of the Jets coaching staff. Then there was the major upset…the San Diego Chargers defeating the Seattle Seahawks. I should have seen it coming. There was no way the Seahawks were going to go undefeated. That just doesn’t happen. I am the guy who said in my NFL Preview that “Super Bowl Champions oftentimes slip a little the following season” while predicting a rather pedestrian 10-6 record for Seattle. At the same time I called the Chargers “sneaky good” and also predicted a 10-6 record as well as a playoff berth. The Seahawks had dismantled Green Bay in the opening game of the season while San Diego lost a heartbreaker to the Arizona Cardinals. Seattle-San Diego was a home game for the Chargers & a classic trap game for the Seahawks, and they fell into the trap. I should have seen it coming but I didn’t. The good news for me is that while I went 3-2 Zach went 1-4, which means our season thus far looks like this:

Me = 7-9
Zach = 7-8

********************

Iowa at Pitt (-6.5)
iowaI ranked Iowa 14th in my pre-season Top 25, but after a last second loss to in-state rival Iowa pittSt. they have some work to do if they’re going to fulfill that prophecy. Meanwhile, the hated Pitt Panthers have gotten off to a solid 3-0 start, including a victory at Boston College. Heinz Field isn’t much of a home advantage for the Panthers since there are usually only a few dozen people there on Saturdays, including vendors and homeless people hoping to score some scraps from discarded Primanti Brothers wrappers. Most folks in The ‘Burgh wait to spend their hard earned money on Sunday at the Steelers game. Pitt seems like they may be the real deal, but who knows?? I think this will be a close game and it is undoubtedly pivotal to both teams’ seasons. I’m going to support my own pre-season prediction by going with the Hawkeyes. Using the logic that Boston College beat USC and Pitt beat Boston College so therefore Pitt must be a legitimately good team (which actually does make sense) Zach is picking the Panthers to pound the ball with their rushing attack and win easily.

My Pick = Iowa
Z’s Pick = Pitt

Florida at Alabama (-14.5)
Where is the love for ‘Bama?? Are we just so use to them being a top team that we don’t even feel the need to discuss themflorida gators image anymore?? Is there a bit of Tide fatigue amongst the masses?? The answer is probably yes on both counts. However, this game should receive a fair amount of attention. Florida isn’t back to its Spurrier/Urban Meyer heyday just yet, but they are 2-0. Yes it took them 3 overtimes to beat Kentucky last week. I think they may have been looking ahead just a bit. Anyway, if this game were at The Swamp it’d be really intriguing, but alas it is in Tuscaloosa. Therefore I believe there is probably not much of a doubt that Alabama will win. The question is by how much?? I am probably going to regret this, but I guess maybe I am one of the doubters. I think the Tide rolls, but by less than 14 ½ points. Zach has a man crush on Nick Saban but agrees with my assessment that this will be a close game.

My Pick = Florida
Z’s Pick = Florida

Clemson at Florida St. (-20)
There are no shortage of folks who already have had the #1 ranked Seminoles on upset alert. They were less than clemsonimpressive in a season opening victory over Oklahoma St., a game in which the Cowboys narrowed their deficit to within a touchdown with 2 minutes remaining but ran out of time to make anything else happen. Add in the fact that Florida St.’s quarterback, Heisman Trophy winner, upstanding citizen, scholar, gentleman, & all around class act Jameis Winston is suspended for the first half of this game because he is a moron. Meanwhile, the Tigers are 1-1 after a season opening loss to Georgia followed by dismantling an overmatched junior high team last week. I honestly don’t know how Clemson is still in anyone’s Top 25. They certainly haven’t earned such accolades. However, that could change with this game. Heck, if the game were being played at Memorial Stadium in South Carolina I might actually give them a puncher’s chance to win. However, it is in Tallahassee. The point spread does concern me just a bit. Florida St. has put up only 37 points in each of its first two contests. I think Clemson will be overmatched but motivated, while I am not sure the apprehension of the doubters has reached enough of a crescendo for Florida St. to pay much attention…yet. Zach not only agrees but is boldly predicting an outright Clemson victory. That boy has a set of brass ones. He gets it from his mother’s side of the family.

My Pick = Clemson
Z’s Pick = Clemson

Denver at Seattle (-5)
For anyone who may have been hiding out in one of those bomb shelters from the 60’s recently, this is a rematch of last denverseason’s Super Bowl. In that game the Seahawks’ defense made living legend Peyton Manning look like…well…Eli Manning and cruised to a 43-8 victory that was even more underwhelming than Bruno Mars’ halftime show. But the beauty of the NFL is that every season is new and teams can change…both for the good and the not so good…at the drop of a hat. The Broncos made notable improvements to their defense, while Seattle lost a few pieces, although I don’t think it’s had a significant impact so far. Adding intrigue to this game is the fact that the defending champions, as previously mentioned, were upset last week. Could they really lose two games in a row?? Is Denver as good as their 2-0 record indicates?? The revenge factor for the Broncos cannot be overlooked, but neither can the anger of the Seahawks after a tough loss. This is a hard game to figure out, but I’m going to roll the dice on Manning and go with the underdogs. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Denver
Z’s Pick = Denver

Chicago at NY Jets (-2.5)
Jets-Pin-ProThe Bears spoiled the opening of their brand new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers last chicago-bears-logo13Sunday night and looked pretty good in doing it, especially in the 4th quarter. But let us not forget that they lost their season opener at home in three OTs to the Buffalo Bills. The Jets are 1-1 as well. So basically no one really knows what to expect in this game. New York gets the nominal home field advantage but I’m not sure that means much. This is the story of two quarterbacks. The Bears’ Jay Cutler is, in my opinion, overrated. The Jets’ Geno Smith…a former WV Mountaineer…has potential and occasionally shows flashes but has been disappointing to some. I look for this to be a defensive battle defined by turnovers and lots of smashmouth football. Which QB will make the least mistakes?? Which one will make a blunder at the worst possible time?? Whose running game will dominate?? This is the Monday night game so I suppose I’ll stay up past my bedtime to find out. In a flip of the proverbial coin I’m going with the Jets. Zach disagrees and is picking the Bears.

My Pick = NY Jets
Z’s Picks = Chicago

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 1

Football is back!! It kind of snuck up on me. I have been watching NFL pre-season games, but had no idea that real football_goalcollege games that actually count started tonight. Then when I found out that information a few days ago I wasn’t feeling well. So I am kind of under the gun here and will make this quick & dirty. That’s okay because I am still not quite up to par.

This is the third season for these picks and the second where I am going head-to-head with my nephew Zach. In 2013 I went 45-46, while Zach was 41-49 in his inaugural campaign. I am sure both of us will do better this season. We pick 5 games each week and use point spreads just to make it challenging. I do NOT condone gambling. I don’t think it is the epitome of evil or anything like that, I just believe that there are many many many other things…better things…on which folks should spend their hard earned money. These picks are just a fun way for two diehard fans to entertain ourselves and hopefully others as well. So…onto the picks. Y’all get a bonus pick this week since I am so excited for the return of football and there happens to be an unusual amount of intriguing games for the first week of the college season.

 

 

 

 
Texas A&M at South Carolina (-10.5)
gamecocks-logoThe Aggies begin life without Johnny Football. He’s the Cleveland Browns’ problem now. A&M suffered other losses as well that leaves them texas_am_01in rebuilding mode. The Gamecocks will be starting a new quarterback, but I expect big things from them under the leadership of head coach Steve Spurrier as he enters his 10th year at the helm in Columbia. Zach thinks replacing Jadeveon Clowney will be atleast as difficult for South Carolina as replacing Manziel will be for A&M. He is predicting a very close South Carolina win…close enough for A&M to cover the points.

My Pick: South Carolina
Z’s Pick: Texas A&M

 

 

 

Ohio St. (-16.5) vs. Navy
I have no doubt that the Buckeyes will win this game. Until recently they were thought to be legit national title contenders, but the loss of QB Braxton Miller to a navyshoulder injury has cooled that talk. Meanwhile I think the Midshipmen are a solid team that can hang tough and cover the spread. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Navy
Z’s Pick: Navy

 

 

 

Clemson at Georgia (-7.5)
georgiaThese look like two solid 7-9 win teams that will hang around the lower tier of the Top 25 most of the season but won’t be in the national titleclemson conversation. Georgia has the home field and their defense is probably a little bit better. Zach likes Clemson’s speed & passing game. He’s predicting big things for the Tigers.

My Pick: Georgia
Z’s Pick: Clemson

 

 

 

Florida St. (-17.5) at Oklahoma St.
The Seminoles are the pre-season #1 in most polls and return Heisman winning QB Jameis Winston. I have no doubt that Oklahoma St. will be athletic, fast, andFlorida_State_Seminoles prolific on offense…but they aren’t beating Florida St. However the point spread gives me pause. Can the defending national champions cover the points?? If they don’t will people begin to doubt them?? Zach apparently has so little interest in this game that he doesn’t even care to make a pick *lol*.

My Pick: Florida St.
Z’s Pick: none

 

 

 

Ole Miss (-10.5) vs Boise St.
boise-state1The Rebels are getting some pre-season attention. I am sure there are legitimate reasons for that, though I am far too lazy to find out what theyole miss are. I just think the SEC is too stacked for a team that has finished 21-29 over the course of the past four seasons to all the sudden be title contenders. Meanwhile everyone seems to have forgotten about Boise St. after they won “only” 8 games last season and head coach Chris Petersen left for the Washington Huskies. My vibes…unreliable as they may be…are telling me that Boise St. is better than people think and Ole Miss won’t live up to expectations. Zach isn’t at all excited about this game but thinks Ole Miss will use defense to win easily.

My Pick: Boise St.
Z’s Pick: Ole Miss

 

 

 

LSU (-4.5) at Wisconsin
I fully expect this to be one of the best games of the opening weekend. The Tigers are nominal favorites despite Wisconsin having the home field. That surprises WisconsinBadgersme. I just think that LSU having to break in a new QB is enough of a disadvantage that the Badgers’ brand of smashmouth football will prevail. It may not be pretty but it can be effective. Look for RB Melvin Gordon to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 125 yards and atleast a couple of touchdowns. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Wisconsin
Z’s Pick: Wisconsin

 

<

p style=”text-align:center;”> 

2014 College Football Pre-Season Top 25

football-introducing-the-science_1The time has finally come!! After decades of mythical national champions and BCS (emphasis on the BS) silliness college football finally gets a playoff. Is the system perfect?? I don’t know…probably not. But I will reserve judgment until I see exactly how it works out. One thing we know for sure…there is no longer a race to be #1 or even the runner-up. Four teams will earn an opportunity to be in the playoff mix, so as long as a team is amongst those final four they’ll get their shot. Any “controversy” will be a debate as to which team deserves that 4th spot, and I am sure there will be a few teams staking a claim. But at the end of the day my vibe is that the argument will be rather muted & somewhat trivial and that fans will be mostly satisfied with the outcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Florida State
Last Season: 14-0
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Oklahoma St., 9/20 vs. Clemson, 10/18 vs. Notre Dame
Defending national champions. Returning Heisman winning quarterback. Former wrestling champion Ric Flair used to say “To be the man you have to beat the man”FloridaStateSeminoles1 and until a team comes along and knocks the Seminoles off their perch I think they have to be given this top spot. Two out-of-conference games against Oklahoma St. & Notre Dame as well as the always entertaining ACC clash against Clemson are all in Tallahassee. I’d be stunned if this team isn’t in that final four.

 

 

 

2 Oregon
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 9/6 vs. Michigan St., 10/11 at UCLA, 11/1 vs. Stanford
Quarterback Marcus Mariotta likely could have been a first round pick in the NFL Draft but chose to return to Eugene for a shot at the national title and a run at the Oregon-DucksHeisman Trophy. I think he has a strong chance to snag both. Head coach Mark Helfrich didn’t miss a beat after taking the helm last season when Chip Kelly moved on to the Philadelphia Eagles. The PAC 12 is one of the toughest conferences in the land, but I think we’ll see the Ducks overcome both UCLA and Stanford to once again be in the national championship conversation.

 

 

 

3 Alabama
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 11/8 at LSU, 11/29 vs. Auburn
Let’s be clear…the inaugural 4 team playoff will, come hell or high water, include the Crimson Tide. The major players in the SEC are probably going to spend the AlabamaCrimsonTide2season beating up on each other, but that’ll just endear them all to the lapdog media even more. ‘Bama must replace quarterback AJ McCarron who is now patiently awaiting the inevitable implosion of fellow signal caller Andy Dalton as a Cincinnati Bengal. I don’t think it matters who ends up with the job for the Tide. Their calling card is a tenacious defense and a virtually unstoppable running game.

 

 

 

4 South Carolina
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 8/28 vs. Texas A&M, 9/13 vs. Georgia, 10/25 at Auburn, 11/29 at Clemson
Do not be surprised if the powers-that-be contort themselves into a pretzel trying to get two SEC teams into the playoff. How does that happen?? Simple. First of all,Gamecocks the Gamecocks don’t play Alabama during the regular season. It is entirely conceivable that both teams go into the SEC title game undefeated. Maybe ‘Bama is #1 and South Carolina is a Top 10 team. South Carolina wins a close game and rightfully ascends into the top 4. The collective hard-on the masses have for Alabama means they tumble…but not much. It’s possible. You heard it here first.

 

 

 

5 UCLA
Last Season: 10-3
Key Games: 10/11 vs. Oregon, 11/22 vs. USC, 11/28 vs. Stanford
I really like the PAC 12, but in the scenario described above it could be their runner-up that gets left out in the cold. Let’s imagine this. Oregon beats the ucla_bruins2Bruins on October 11th and goes undefeated. UCLA overcomes the loss and doesn’t lose the rest of the regular season. The two meet again in the conference title game and the Ducks prevail in an epic contest. There is no way that UCLA beats out the SEC runner-up to get into the playoff.

 

 

 

6 Oklahoma
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 11/8 vs. Baylor, 12/6 vs. Oklahoma St.
The Big 12 only has ten teams and no championship game. That really hurts their chances of having a playoff team. It doesn’t help that the conference is relatively weak. oklahomaEntertaining?? Sure. But the Sooners defeating the likes of TCU, Iowa St., West Virginia, & Kansas by three or more touchdowns won’t impress anybody. It is more than possible that Oklahoma could run the table and still not even be in the playoff discussion. If they drop a game to Baylor or in-state rival Oklahoma St. then they’re toast.

 

 

 

7 Wisconsin
Last Season: 9-4
Key Games: 8/30 vs. LSU, 11/15 vs. Nebraska
Other pundits may be picking a different Big Ten (which now has 14 teams) team to prevail, but I think the Badgers will pound their way to the conference WisconsinBadgerschampionship behind 6ft.1 207lb. junior running back Melvin Gordon. Whether or not they win their season opening out-of-conference matchup with the LSU Tigers is irrelevant, although that game being in Madison certainly helps. A mid-November clash with Nebraska is also at home and will likely decide who represents the division in the conference title game.

 

 

 

8 Baylor
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 11/8 at Oklahoma
Senior quarterback Bryce Petty returns to lead what was a prolific and dominating offense in 2013. The Bears have the same issue as any other Big 12 contender inbaylor that they are unlikely to receive as much respect on a national scale as teams from the SEC or PAC 12. An out-of-conference schedule that includes SMU, Northwestern St., & Buffalo isn’t going to help. Basically the whole season comes down to an early November clash with the Sooners in Norman. The winner of that game probably plays in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day. The loser will end up in something depressing like the Advocare Texas Bowl.

 

 

 

9 Boise State
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 8/28 vs. Ole Miss, 10/24 vs. BYU
They’re baaaccckkk. The Broncos have long been college football’s Little Engine That Could. They have consistently been a double digit win team over the past 15 boise-state-logoyears. After a lot of rumors and flirting with other gigs in the past decade former head coach Chris Petersen moved on to Washington and has been replaced in Boise by Bryan Harsin, a former Broncos offensive coordinator who also spent some time coaching under Mack Brown at Texas. After going 8-5 in 2013 no one is really talking about Boise St., which will make it all the sweeter when they win 10 or 11 games. Their season opener is an out-of-conference contest against an Ole Miss team that seems to be getting much love this pre-season despite the fact that they play a murderous SEC schedule. I’m betting people will remember Boise St. is still around afterward.

 

 

 

10 Michigan State
Last Season: 13-1
Key Games: 9/6 at Oregon, 10/4 vs. Nebraska, 11/8 vs. Ohio St.
The Spartans all too often get lost in the Big Ten (which has 14 teams) shuffle. But if you look at their success over the past few seasons they have been remarkablyMichigan_State_Spartans consistent, winning 11+ games three out of the past four years. This is another team that wins with good old-fashioned smashmouth football and a tough defense. Even if they lose 2 out of 3 key games and finish 10-2 they could have a legitimate opportunity to be in the conference title mix.

 

 

 

11 Ohio State
Last Season: 12-2
Key Games: 11/8 at Michigan St.
Losing QB Braxton Miller for the season virtually eliminates the Buckeyes from the championship picture. They have an unimpressive & weak schedule with neither Ohio_State_BuckeyesNebraska nor Wisconsin anywhere in sight. All it will take is a loss to Michigan St. to end the dream. And let’s be honest…if they were to somehow make it to the playoff they’d get beaten like a government mule.

 

 

 

12 Nebraska
Last Season: 9-4
Key Games: 10/4 at Michigan St., 11/15 at Wisconsin
I fully expect a logjam at the top of the Big Ten (which has 14 teams). There will probably be 3 or 4 teams finishing somewhere around the 9-3/10-2 mark. The nebraskaCornhuskers’ out-of-conference schedule, which includes Miami, FL & Fresno St., isn’t bad. If they can split their two key games they will almost certainly be a solid Top 25 team.

 

 

 

13 Marshall
Last Season: 10-4
Key Games: all of them and none of them
Marshall is my alma mater. I know that expectations are high in my old stomping grounds in Huntington, WV. Here is what I expect. I expect an undefeated season. I herdexpect QB Rakeem Cato to be invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony though he doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in Arizona of actually winning. I expect that undefeated season to mean diddly squat as far as the national playoff. And I expect that if…if…the Herd screws the pooch in any game…including a C-USA championship game…they will tumble very quickly from the rankings.

 

 

 

14 Iowa
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 11/22 vs. Wisconsin, 11/28 vs. Nebraska
The Hawkeyes are another team that can always be dangerous even in a down year. Head coach Kirk Ferentz is one of those names that always gets mentioned iowafor “better” jobs, whether in the NFL or elsewhere in college. At age 59 and going into his 16th year at the helm in Iowa City it looks less & less likely that he will ever actually make the jump and will instead be one of those lifers like Bobby Bowden or Frank Beamer that sticks around for three decades. Having said that, a close examination of Iowa’s “success” under Ferentz shows that they’ve only had four double digit win seasons during his tenure. If they can split the two key games above…both of which are at home…they could add another in 2014.

 

 

 

15 Bowling Green
Last Season: 10-4
Key Games: I have no idea
Someone’s got to win the MAC, right?? Actually I like watching MAC football. Their games are usually quite entertaining. The problem is that they are all kind of just bowling greenrandom teams from Ohio (and a couple of other midwestern states). It reminds me of eating at McDonald’s…you know there are better options available and you aren’t quite sure exactly what you’re consuming, but in the moment it is sort of tasty and mostly satisfying. At any rate, the Falcons won the conference title game in 2013, upsetting a Northern Illinois team that was ranked in the Top 20. They seem to be getting some “others receiving votes” love in other polls, and since the entire Top 25 can’t be SEC, PAC 12, & Big Ten (which has 14 teams) I’ll give this team a fighting chance to win 10 or 11 games (they’ll get mauled at Wisconsin), win the conference, and earn this spot.

 

 

 

16 LSU
Last Season: 10-3
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Wisconsin, 10/4 at Auburn, 11/8 vs. Alabama, 11/27 at Texas A&M
The Bayou Bengals seem to be one of those teams that just reload and have tremendous success year after year. However, I am a bit nervous about their chances lsu_logo-9547in 2014. First of all they have to replace a quarterback, running back, & wide receiver (as well as about a half dozen other players) that were all taken in the NFL Draft. Secondly their out-of-conference schedule includes the season opener…a neutral site clash against Wisconsin. And of course the biggest issue…they play in the SEC. I realize that the wet dream of the powers-that-be is probably an all-SEC four team playoff for the national title, but that ain’t gonna happen. Someone will be on the outside looking in. If LSU can overcome all of that and still have a Top 20 team it will be a remarkable feat.

 

 

 

17 Stanford
Last Season: 11-3
Key Games: 9/6 vs. USC, 10/4 at Notre Dame, 11/1 at Oregon, 11/28 at UCLA
Stanford has the same issue as LSU. They play in a tough conference where the law of averages dictates that not everybody can be a Top 10 national photo.stanfordtreechampionship contender. The schedule is brutal. If this team can somehow get to 9 wins they will deserve a solid ranking.

 

 

 

18 Navy
Last Season: 9-4
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Ohio St., 11/1 vs. Notre Dame
Call me crazy, but I think the Midshipmen have a puncher’s chance in their season opening neutral site game against Ohio St. Okay okay…I’m not going to rush to navyVegas or Atlantic City and actually put money on that, but the rest of the season looks pretty decent. There is a November contest against Notre Dame that is also winnable. But even if Navy loses those two games they could still end up in this spot by going 10-2 and being very competitive (within two TDs) against the Buckeyes and Irish.

 

 

 

19 Oklahoma State
Last Season: 10-3
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Florida St., 11/22 at Baylor, 12/6 at Oklahoma
The Cowboys open their season at the Palace in Dallas against #1 Florida St. Ouch. If they pull the upset it’ll turn college football on its collective ear on the very firstoklahoma_state_cowboys_iphone_wallpaper weekend of the season. However, even though that is unlikely, the truth is that the whole season comes down to the final two games against Baylor and Oklahoma. Split those two games and this ranking looks golden. But even if Oklahoma St. loses all three of their key games they can still get here by being very competitive in those games and beating their other nine opponents into oblivion.

 

 

 

20 Central Florida
Last Season: 12-1
Key Games: 8/30 at Penn St., 9/13 at Missouri
Quick…tell me what conference UCF plays in. Now tell me three other teams in that conference. Give up?? The American Athletic Conference is the very definition 2007-UCF-Knight-headof mediocrity, comprised of refugees from C-USA and the old Big East that just didn’t have enough to offer for a more well-respected conference to invite them to play with the big boys. It is somewhat surprising that UCF finds itself in such a hot mess given that they are the 2nd largest university in the country. Let that sink in for a minute. UCF is bigger than Florida, Florida St., & Miami, FL…all of whom have had tremendous success on the gridiron. Will such success eventually occur for the Knights?? Maybe. Until that happens though they will be satisfied to win their conference and be a solid Top 20 team. I am a bit concerned that they must replace QB Blake Bortles who is now plying his trade in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. But at the end of the day I think this is a team that will overcome adversity, win 9 or 10 games, and secure another conference title.

 

 

 

21 Arizona
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 10/2 at Oregon, 10/11 vs. USC, 11/1 at UCLA,
There are a handful of other PAC 12 teams that get all the love, but don’t forget about the Wildcats. Head coach Rich Fraudriguez seems to be much more college_arizona_90comfortable in Tucson than he ever was in Ann Arbor, MI. I think lower expectations and staying off the beaten path suits him well. If Arizona can pull off just one big upset and win 9 or 10 games they are a solid choice to sneak into the rankings.

 

 

 

22 Notre Dame
Last Season: 9-4
Key Games: 10/4 vs. Stanford, 10/18 at Florida St., 11/29 at USC
The Fighting Irish can’t cheat as much on the football field as they apparently do in the classroom because…well…television cameras. The question is can theyNotreDameFightingIrish recover from the loss of atleast 4 players (and who knows what other shoes may drop) and meet always lofty expectations?? I assume they’ll hang around and be good enough to be a solid 8/9 win bowl team. Brian Kelly is a good coach and QB Everett Golson returns from his 2013…hiatus…which means the offense should be decent. Pulling an upset in any one of the three key games would almost assure sneaking into the final rankings.

 

 

 

23 Virginia Tech
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 9/6 at Ohio St., 10/4 at North Carolina, 10/23 vs. Miami, FL
Florida St. will win the ACC. But who will win the other division and be chum for the Seminoles in the conference title game?? Most “experts” are picking North Virginia_Tech_Hokies2Carolina or Miami to fill that role. I’m playing a hunch and going against the grain. Head coach Frank Beamer has a ton of experience and his team plays in a relatively mediocre conference. I don’t think they’ll beat Ohio St., but that isn’t where the focus should be anyway. It’s a three horse race for the Coastal Division and it’ll all come down to October contests against the Tar Heels and Hurricanes.

 

 

24 Auburn
Last Season: 12-2
Key Games: 10/4 vs. LSU, 10/25 vs. South Carolina, 11/8 vs. Texas A&M, 11/15 at Georgia, 11/29 at Alabama
An old saying tells us that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and the Tigers were very very very lucky last season. Oh they were good too…but being lucky auburntook them from going 9-3 and playing in the Cotton Bowl to going 12-1 and coming up short in the national championship. They won’t be as fortunate this season. I’m not concerned about players lost to the NFL. Teams like Auburn just reload, and QB Nick Marshall returns for his senior year as a viable Heisman candidate. But the schedule is ridiculously difficult and I don’t think this team will win more than a couple of the key games noted above.

 

 

 

25 Georgia
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Clemson, 9/13 at South Carolina
A 8/9 win season and a Top 25 ranking might not seem good enough for an upper echelon SEC team, but I say it’d be a pretty decent finish all things considered.georgia The Bulldogs must replace QB Aaron Murray, but they still have junior RB Todd Gurley, a 6ft.1 232lb. brute with 4.2/40 speed. He’ll be a legitimate Heisman candidate, but the defense will have to step up and new signal caller Hutson Mason…a senior who has sat behind Murray for four years…will have to become comfortable really quickly. I won’t be a bit surprised if 4 or 5 SEC teams end the season ranked, but logic dictates that they all can’t finish in the Top 10.