Good news!! We’re both above .500!! After we each went 3-2 in our fun little experiment a week ago it’s back to business as usual. Your Godfather of Cyberspace turns 50 this week, but I don’t have anything too wild planned, and honestly I can’t think of a much better way to celebrate than watching hours & hours of awesome football action.
My Season: 18-16
Zach’s Season: 20-14
TCU (-6.5) at Kansas
I almost feel bad for the 5-0 Jayhawks. They’re having their best season in years yet find themselves underdogs at home simply because the 4-0 Horned Frogs beat the snot out of Oklahoma last week. I think that’ll be motivation for Kansas to win comfortably. Zach expects a shootout. He thinks TCU is probably the better team, but believes Kansas will atleast cover the points & may win outright.
My Pick: Kansas
Z’s Pick: Kansas
Tennessee (-2.5) at LSU
The Vols are 4-0, with wins over Pitt & Florida, while LSU is 4-1, with only a one point loss in their season opener as a blemish on their record. I really like Tennessee, but Death Valley is a tough place for visitors. If this game were in prime time (it should’ve been) I’d really be tempted to pick the underdogs simply because of the atmosphere, but I think the light of day makes it a little less intimidating. Zach views this as Tennessee’s offense vs. LSU’s defense, but, though he has observed improvement, doesn’t think the Bayou Bengals are quite thru taking their lumps just yet.
My Pick: Tennessee
Z’s Pick: Tennessee
Texas (-7) vs. Oklahoma
The Red River Shootout feels like its being played with cap guns. The Sooners are reeling after two straight losses, while the Longhorns are having a roller coaster 3-2 season themselves. This is a neutral site game at the Palace in Dallas, and I’d really like to pick the upset. However, Oklahoma’s starting QB may or may not play, which is significant. They do have a backup quarterback named General Booty, which is hilarious but not really a factor. Zach thinks Texas is probably the better team, but believes Oklahoma will atleast keep it close.
My Pick: Texas
Z’s Pick: Oklahoma
Texas A&M at Alabama (-24)
Nick Saban & Jimbo Fisher grew up about a half hour away from one another here in northcentral West Virginia, although Saban is about 15 years older. I’m fascinated by this matchup mainly due to the heated words the two exchanged this past offseason and would love to hear what is said during the postgame handshake Saturday night. Unfortunately I don’t think it’ll be much of a contest, as the 3-2 Aggies haven’t found the right combination yet while the 5-0 Tide is rolling, as they tend to do more often than not. The only wild card is the points, and I believe Saban will be particularly invested in embarrassing his old buddy Jimbo. Zach is also looking forward to the postgame handshake, but the points are too scary for his taste. He thinks A&M will keep it respectable.
My Pick: Alabama
Z’s Pick: Texas A&M
Cincinnati at Baltimore (-3)
Thankfully for our Steelers the AFC North has gotten off to a pretty bad start as a whole, with the winner of this game taking control of first place with just a 3-2 record. The Ravens lost a heartbreaker to Buffalo last weekend, while the Bengals are on a two game winning streak after losing a couple of close ones out of the gate. I feel like momentum has shifted toward the visitors for the moment, although I expect the division to be competitive throughout the season. Zach really likes Lamar Jackson and foresees him leading his team to a two TD victory.
So let’s talk about the new 12 team College Football Playoff. It will be implemented sometime between 2024 & 2026 and feature the six highest ranked conference champions & six at large teams. One can assume that all of the Power 5 conference champs (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, PAC 12, & Big 12) will almost always be in, as well as atleast one champ from the Other 5 conferences (AAC, C-USA, Mountain West, MAC, & Sun Belt). Occasionally a second of those other conference champions might snag a spot, but it is likely that most of the time the at large berths will be given to teams (most often conference runners up) in the Power 5 (and Notre Dame if they remain independent). The dynamics of the debate will change, but we’ll probably still argue about whether a spot should go to the MAC Champion or the 3rd place team in the Big Ten. The top four teams will receive a first round bye, and both the quarter & semi finals will incorporate existing bowl games. There’s a lot to unpack, but this isn’t the time because that’s not why you’re here.
My Season: 8-11
Zach’s Season: 11-8
Oklahoma (-11.5) at Nebraska
I’m old enough to remember the Big 8 Conference, which won 11 national titles in less than a half century. Six of those championships were won by the Sooners, four by the Cornhuskers. Oklahoma has mostly maintained a high level of success, although an imminent move to the SEC may change that. Conversely, Nebraska has gotten lost in the shuffle since joining the Big Ten over a decade ago, and now they just fired their head coach after an embarrassing loss to Georgia Southern. I’m not expecting this to be much of a contest, although the home team might put up a fight for awhile. Ultimately I believe it’ll be a blowout. Zach notes that Oklahoma doesn’t seem to be as good as they’ve been in the recent past, but agrees they should win this game easily.
My Pick: Oklahoma
Z’s Pick: Oklahoma
BYU at Oregon (-3.5)
Typically I like to choose games involving different teams from week to week, but we’re going back to back with BYU because their schedule is really interesting. The Cougars got the overtime victory over Baylor last weekend, but things don’t get any easier. The Ducks have the home field and rebounded from getting crushed in the season opener at Georgia by beating up Eastern Washington. One of these teams will solidify their position in the Top 20, while the loser may fall from the rankings altogether for the time being. In my preseason poll I ranked BYU 6th & Oregon 22nd, but specifically stated that I didn’t expect BYU to beat Oregon on the road. Zach believes Oregon might be a bit overrated & thinks the underdogs can get the job done.
My Pick: Oregon
Z’s Pick: BYU
Miami (FL) at Texas A&M (-5.5)
I am admittedly biased and still basking in the glow of my Marshall Thundering Herd going into South Bend and defeating Notre Dame in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus. However, there was another huge upset that we shouldn’t overlook…Appalachian St. overcoming The 12th Man in College Station and making A&M boosters question if that ten year, $75 million contract they gave to Jimbo Fisher a few years ago was a good idea. As I mentioned in the preseason, “finishing third in the division simply isn’t good enough”, so his seat is pretty damn hot…to the point that this almost feels like a must win. Conversely, the ‘Canes have cruised in the first two games, but now they venture out of Florida and into the fire. Will the Aggies be pissed off and take out their frustrations on Miami?? Or will the visitors put another nail in Jimbo’s maroon coffin?? Nothing would surprise me, but I think A&M is the safe pick. Zach thinks last week’s debacle will motivate rather than demoralize the Aggies and likes then to get the job done.
My Pick: Texas A&M
Z’s Pick: Texas A&M
Indianapolis(-4.5) at Jacksonville
The Colts came out of their season opener at Houston with a tie, but it sure feels more like a loss. Meanwhile, the Jags lost to Washington but likely saw a lot of positives to hang onto going forward. I don’t have big expectations for either team this season, but Indy probably wins this game if they control time of possession & Jonathan Taylor racks up anywhere close to the 161 yards rushing he had last week. Zach foresees a close game and thinks Jax will atleast cover the points or maybe win outright.
My Pick: Indianapolis
Z’s Pick: Jacksonville
Cincinnati (-8) at Dallas
Let’s be honest…the Bengals outplayed my Steelers, but they still lost. Cincy had more passing yards, more rushing yards, half as many penalty yards, three times as many first downs, and dominated time of possession, but lost because of five turnovers & Joe Burrow being sacked seven times. They allegedly fixed their offensive line in the offseason, but it sure didn’t seem like it last weekend. The Cowboys not only lost to Tampa, but QB Dak Prescott is out with an injured thumb. Dallas has the home field, and the points concern me a bit (I could see this being one of those 12-6 games where both offenses are completely impotent), but it’s a go big or go home moment for me, and I’ve got to lean toward the road favorites. Zach thinks Joe Burrow will rebound nicely and have a big game.
As we head into a new football season I will admit to having mixed feelings. Things like conference realignment & NIL have exposed college athletics as the big business that it is, which has eroded much of its charm & virtue. Tradition means nothing when billions of dollars are at stake. That being said, for the next four months I’ll be spending most of my Saturdays vegged out in front of the TV from the time the pregame shows start at 9am until the final west coast games end around 1am, and I’ll love every second of it. I’m a pretty low key guy who is easily entertained, and there’s nothing better than autumn weekends & hours upon hours of gridiron action. So, as we have done for more than a decade now, let us take a peek into the ol’ crystal ball and see if we can predict with some degree of accuracy what may unfold between now & the end of the year. As always I discourage any kind of gambling based on what you read here. I’m not an expert and sometimes have no idea what I’m talking about, so enjoy my pontification in the spirit in which it is intended.
Last Season: 12-2
Key Games: 10/15 vs. Penn St., 10/29 vs. Michigan St., 11/26 at Ohio St.
Jim Harbaugh allegedly flirted with some NFL teams this offseason but ultimately returned to Ann Arbor. I do not think that will affect the season, but I also don’t believe the Wolverines will be a playoff contender in 2022.
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 10/8 vs. Texas, 10/29 at Iowa St, 11/5 vs. Baylor, 11/19 vs. Oklahoma St.
The Sooners lost their head coach & multiple players, including two star quarterbacks. That’s alot to overcome, and I think we’ll see a slight drop under new head coach Brent Venables. This may or may not be their final season in the Big 12, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Last Season: 12-2
Key Games: 9/10 at Texas Tech, 10/22 at Navy
Can Dana Holgorsen continue last year’s success and keep on winning?? The Cougars will be joining the Big 12 in a season or two, so it would behoove them not only to build momentum, but also take advantage of playing lesser competition while they still can. The September clash in Lubbock against the Red Raiders will provide an indication of how Houston stacks up against their future conference brethren, and it’s also a must win for this year.
Last Season: 10-4
Key Games: 9/3 vs. Georgia, 9/17 vs. BYU, 11/19 vs. Utah
Head coach Mario Cristobal bolted to return to his alma mater Miami (FL), so former Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning is in charge now. That makes the season opener against the Bulldogs even more interesting. The PAC 12 eliminated divisions, so the top two teams will play in the conference title game, meaning the Ducks will need to be better than Utah or USC. They go head to head with the Utes in Eugene in mid-November.
21 North Carolina State
Last Season: 9-3
Key Games: 9/17 vs. Texas Tech, 10/27 vs. Virginia Tech, 11/25 at North Carolina
The ACC has become a muddled mess of mediocrity. Only one team is considered playoff worthy…the rest are jockeying for bowl position. Of course only half of the league are likely to find themselves in that hunt, so the question becomes which teams will rise?? 4 out of the past 5 seasons have had the Wolfpack winning eight or more games, and I think we’ll see more of that in 2022.
Last Season: 11-3
Key Games: 9/1 vs. West Virginia, 9/10 vs. Tennessee, 11/26 at Miami (FL)
Quarterback Kenny Pickett is now plying his trade with my Steelers, and such a key loss would normally be cause for concern. However, thanks to the transfer portal the Panthers will now have former Southern Cal QB Kaden Slovis under center. I don’t believe they’ll be quite as successful as a year ago, but 8 or 9 wins seems achievable. I’m really looking forward to the long awaited renewal of the Backyard Brawl to open the season.
19 Michigan State
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 10/8 vs. Ohio St., 10/15 vs. Wisconsin, 10/29 at Michigan, 11/26 at Penn St.
I’m never quite sure what to make of the Spartans. In the past six seasons they’ve been 3-9, 10-3, 7-6 (twice), 2-5 (in the Covid shortened year), and 11-2. The Big Ten is stacked, so it’s pretty easy to get lost in the shuffle. They’ll need to win atleast a couple of the key games noted above, which won’t be easy, and may go into Happy Valley at the end of November in a must win situation.
Last Season: 7-6
Key Games: 9/10 at Pitt, 10/24 vs. Florida, 10/15 vs. Alabama, 11/5 at Georgia
It’s time. I remember when the Vols were consistently one of the top teams in the SEC, but that hasn’t been the case since the late 90’s. Occasionally they’ll show signs of life with a 9 or 10 win season, but that has not happened in about five years. I have no evidence to support my optimism. I may look back at this prediction in shame. However, I believe they’ll pull off atleast one stunning upset this season.
Last Season: 9-4
Key Games: 9/3 vs. Cincinnati, 9/24 vs. Texas A&M, 10/1 vs. Alabama, 11/12 vs. LSU
Not every SEC team will finish ranked, but more of them will receive benefit of the doubt than programs from other conferences. Can the Razorbacks continue their momentum from last year, or will they fall back into the abyss they’d been in the four seasons before that?? They can get things off to a good start by beating last year’s favorite underdog story, the Cincinnati Bearcats, and hosting other key games on the schedule at home could prove beneficial.
Last Season: 6-7
Key Games: 9/4 vs. Florida St., 10/1 at Auburn, 10/8 vs. Tennessee, 10/15 at Florida, 11/5 vs. Alabama, 11/26 at Texas A&M
The Ed Orgeron Era is over in Baton Rouge, and former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has taken the reins. Keep in mind Kelly was not fired…he chose to make the move, and I assume he believes this team can be elite. Certainly it’s a tough road in the SEC, but we can’t overlook the fact that the Bayou Bengals won a national championship as recently as 2019. I don’t think it’ll take long to turn things around.
Last Season: 10-4
Key Games: 9/10 at Iowa St., 10/1 vs. Michigan, 10/22 at Ohio St., 11/12 vs. Wisconsin
It seems like the Hawkeyes are always good. They’ve won 8+ games in seven of the past nine years, and that’s including the Covid shortened season of 2020. Unlike the PAC 12 the Big Ten has not abandoned its divisional setup, so Iowa doesn’t have to be better than Ohio St., Penn St., or Michigan to get into the conference title game. Eight wins & a Rose Bowl berth is certainly possible.
14 South Carolina
Last Season: 7-6
Key Games: 9/17 vs. Georgia, 10/22 vs. Texas A&M, 11/26 at Clemson
This is a big wildcard. Shane Beamer enters his second season in Columbia with a little more familiarity of the SEC, and I expect to see some maturation. They’ll need to score atleast one huge upset, but that’s not out of the question.
13 Southern California
Last Season: 4-8
Key Games: 10/15 at Utah, 11/19 vs. UCLA, 11/26 vs. Notre Dame
I toyed with placing the Trojans much higher, but decided to be conservative. Lincoln Riley’s defection from Oklahoma along with QB Caleb Williams and the transfer of former Pitt receiver Jordan Addison grabbed a lot of headlines in the past several months, and expectations are high. However, perhaps it’d be wise to pump the brakes just a bit. Games at Utah and against Notre Dame in L.A. won’t be easy, and I expect USC to lose atleast once…maybe twice. Fear not Trojan fans…Riley will have his team in the playoff discussion soon…but not quite yet.
12 Notre Dame
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 9/3 at Ohio St., 11/5 vs. Clemson, 11/26 at USC
Credit where it is due…the Irish don’t have an easy path. Oh sure, they play a couple of gimmes (one of which will be the season opener against my alma mater…Go Herd), but they’ll need to win atleast one & maybe two of the key games noted above to climb this close to the Top 10, and that’s not going to be a a walk in the park. I am impressed with new head coach Marcus Freeman thus far, but he’s going to have to prove his worth with some big victories.
Last Season: 10-3
Key Games: 10/15 at Florida St., 11/5 at Notre Dame, 11/19 vs. Miami (FL)
After winning two national championships in six traight playoff appearances the Tigers fell off just a bit last year. And by that I mean they still had ten victories but didn’t win the ACC title and finished 14th in the final rankings. It’s the hallmark of an elite program when that is considered disappointing. Will they be back in the playoff picture this season?? I don’t think so. No one respects the ACC anymore, and I won’t be surprised if two SEC teams & two Big Ten teams are in the playoff. The only shot Clemson has is to go undefeated in convincing fashion & lay a smackdown on Notre Dame in South Bend.
10 Texas A&M
Last Season: 8-4
Key Games: 9/17 vs. Miami (FL), 10/24 vs. Arkansas, 10/8 at Alabama, 11/5 vs. Florida, 11/26 vs. LSU
Head coach Jimbo Fisher talks a good game, but can his team get it done on the field?? When you sign a ten year contract worth $75 million finishing third in the division simply isn’t good enough. Fisher’s feud” with Nick Saban has been a highlight of this offseason, but what matters is what happens between the lines. I don’t expect A&M to defeat ‘Bama in Tuscaloosa, but anything less than ten wins will be a huge disappointment, and that seat might start to get pretty hot for my man Jimbo.
Last Season: 9-4
Key Games: 9/24 at Ohio St., 10/15 at Michigan St., 11/12 at Iowa
I’ve always been a big fan of Badger football. They’re not flashy, but they are fundamentally sound and win in the trenches. Having said that, the Big Ten is looking awfully difficult, and it is entirely possibly that Wisconsin could be a middle-of-the-pack program right now. All three of the key games I’ve noted are on the road, which is a daunting task. I’m going to venture way out on a limb though and predict they’ll pull off massive upsets in two of those games, paving the way for double digit victories & a Top 10 finish.
8 Penn State
Last Season: 7-6
Key Games: 9/17 at Auburn, 10/15 at Michigan, 10/29 vs. Ohio St., 11/26 vs. Michigan St.
Is it likely that two Big Ten teams outside the state of Ohio finish in the Top 10?? No. So I guess I’m hedging my bets. An out of conference battle at Auburn & a home game against Michigan St. are must wins for the Nittany Lions.
Last Season: 12-2
Key Games: 9/10 at BYU, 9/24 at Iowa St., 10/1 vs. Oklahoma St., 11/5 at Oklahoma, 11/25 at Texas
The Bears won the Big 12 title and were victorious in the Sugar Bowl a season ago, and I believe it is entirely possible they’ll be just as good in 2022. However, they’ll need be road warriors to achieve that level of success. With Texas & Oklahoma ditching the Big 12 in the not-so-distant future there is a vacuum at the top of the conference, and Baylor has an opportunity to become the new standard bearer (pun unavoidable). Don’t miss their visit to Norman, OK in early November…I think it’ll be a really great game.
Last Season: 10-3
Key Games: 9/10 vs. Baylor, 10/15 vs. Arkansas
This is BYU’s final year as an Independent before joining the Big 12, and they’re ending their independence with a bang. It’s a hell of a schedule. I do not expect them to beat Notre Dame or Oregon on the road, but if they can upset Baylor & Arkansas, win all the games they’re supposed to win, and get to ten victories once again they might actually be in the playoff discussion. There’s no chance they’ll actually be invited to participate, but sometimes getting the respect of simply being mentioned is enough.
Last Season: 13-2
Key Games: 9/10 at Texas, 10/1 at Arkansas, 10/8 vs. Texas A&M, 10/15 at Tennessee, 11/5 at LSU, 11/26 vs. Auburn
Freakin’ Nick Saban actually had the nerve to say that 2021 was a rebuilding year for the Tide…a season that saw them win 13 games, beat the snot out of Georgia in the SEC title game, and inexplicably fall by two TDs in the National Championship Game. The sad part is he might be right. Still, the fact is that ‘Bama always receives every opponent’s best shot, and things happen in such a scenario. I don’t know which one it’ll be, but I have a feeling an opponent listed above will have everything fall into place just perfectly, and Alabama will have a rare off day. Will that be enough to derail their playoff aspirations?? God I hope so.
Last Season: 10-4
Key Games: 9/3 at Florida, 10/15 vs. USC, 11/19 at Oregon
USC has gotten all the PAC 12 attention the past several months, but Utah might be the team to beat right now. We’ll learn a lot when the Utes venture into The Swamp, and playing the Trojans in the cozy confines of Salt Lake City could be quite beneficial. I expect the winner of the mid-November clash in Eugene, OR to take one spot in the conference title game.
3 Ohio State
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 9/3 vs. Notre Dame, 10/8 at Michigan St., 10/29 at Penn St., 11/26 vs. Michigan
The Buckeyes have essentially become an NFL farm team. Quarterback CJ Stroud returns for his sophomore season after finishing 4th on the Heisman ballot last year. He’ll be considered a front runner for that award as long as his team is winning. I don’t believe the season opener against Notre Dame will be much of a challenge, and they have Michigan at The Horseshoe, so anything less than a playoff berth would be a huge disappointment.
2 Oklahoma State
Last Season: 12-2
Key Games: 10/1 at Baylor, 10/22 vs. Texas, 11/12 vs. Iowa St., 11/19 at Oklahoma
The “experts” all seem to slot the Cowboys about ten spots lower than this, so I’m really rolling the dice. The two biggest games on the schedule are both on the road, which makes the task that much harder. QB Spencer Sanders is a senior, which is good, but there was also some turnover in the coaching staff, which makes me nervous. It’s a “go big or go home” kind of thing really. Despite the fact that the TV folks (who really run the business of college sports, in case you didn’t know 😉) would undoubtedly love to see a playoff totally comprised of SEC & Big Ten teams (or USC if they can win the PAC 12), I think a Big 12 team will be in the mix, and given all of the offseason drama don’t believe it’ll be the Oklahoma Sooners. Keep an eye on the October 1st game at Baylor…the winner of that one might have an inside track to a playoff berth.
Last Season: 14-1
Key Games: 9/3 vs. Oregon, 10/29 vs. Florida, 11/5 vs. Tennessee
“To be The Man you’ve got to beat The Man”. That’s what wrasslin’ legend Ric Flair always said, and I think it’s good advice. The Bulldogs defeated Alabama to win the National Championship, and I don’t know of any reason to expect a decline. If Georgia comes out of the gate fast and beats Oregon badly then it’s on like Donkey Kong. Most people are likely expecting a rematch against The Tide in the SEC title game, and they’re probably right. I think Georgia wins that game, which will cost ‘Bama a playoff opportunity.
Happy Thanksgiving Manoverse!! I will spare you a long preamble today because we are closing in on the crescendo of the college football portion of our season with a super-sized, heaping helping of picks, mostly rivalry games that are a huge part of what makes collegiate sports special, and all of which could potentially be great games. Last week I (3-2) edged Zach (1-4) to extend the season lead, but with six weeks to go things can change quickly so I’m not going to get too cocky. I send all my friends out there in cyberspace the warmest of wishes as you sit down to break bread & spend time with loved ones this week. Don’t ever take those opportunities for granted.
My Season: 37-40
Zach’s Season: 30-47
Ole Miss at Mississippi State (-1.5)
They call this the Egg Bowl because the winner receives a golden egg trophy. The idea to present a trophy was hatched after a post-game brawl in 1926, although I don’t know if the concept was poached from somewhere or if they were just scrambling for anything to prevent future hard boiled feelings. The 9-2 Rebels lead the all-time series 63-45-6, but the 7-4 Bulldogs have won two of the last three meetings. It is essentially a pick ‘em game, and I think the home team will get the job done. Zach is anticipating a shootout and likes Rebels’ QB & future NFL first round pick Matt Corral to lead his team to victory.
My Pick: Mississippi State
Z’s Pick: Ole Miss
Boise State (-2.5) at San Diego State
I’m a little bit surprised by the odds. Not only are the 10-1 Aztecs at home, but they’ve won three games in a row and locked up a berth in the Mountain West Championship. The 7-4 Broncos have won four straight, but I just don’t understand why they’d be favored on the road against a Top 25 team. I’m not buying it, so I will pick the “upset”. Zach foresees a low scoring defensive struggle and likes the visitors to get the win.
My Pick: San Diego State
Z’s Pick: Boise State
Georgia Southern at Appalachian St. (-24.5)
I am excited because my Marshall Thundering Herd will be moving from Conference USA to the Sun Belt in the near future, enabling them to renew old rivalries against these & other schools. When I was in college all three teams were powerhouses in what was then known as Division 1-AA and have played several fun games thru the years. Anyway, the heavily favored Mountaineers are 9-2 and riding a five game winning streak, while the 3-8 Eagles are already looking ahead to 2022 after hiring former USC head coach Clay Helton. App. St. will win, but by how much?? This is a rivalry game, so I have to assume Southern will play with some level of pride & determination, and they may catch the home team looking past them to the conference title game. Therefore I am predicting that the margin of victory will not exceed three TDs. Zach is a little nervous about the points and the fact that App. St. really has nothing to play for since they’re already locked into the conference title game. However, he is a riverboat gambler and thinks the home team can win big & cover.
My Pick: Georgia Southern
Z’s Pick: Appalachian State
Florida St. at Florida (-2)
Well, the Gators have already fired their coach, so there is that. At 5-6 they’ll need to win this game to become bowl eligible, which should provide ample motivation. Meanwhile, the rebuilding continues in Tallahassee, with the Seminoles also sitting at 5-6 and a victory away from bowl eligibility. This isn’t what we’re used to getting from this matchup, as both teams have typically been much more successful in the past. However, don’t underestimate the incentive of playing in a bowl game for two programs in what one might call a construction phase. The Swamp is notoriously hostile territory for opposing teams, but I’m going against conventional wisdom and picking the upset. Zach thinks it’ll be a close game but also thinks an upset could be on the horizon.
My Pick: Florida State
Z’s Pick: Florida State
Texas A&M (-6.5) at LSU
Aggies’ coach Jimbo Fisher may or may not be the future coach for the Bayou Bengals, but the storyline provides fascinating subtext heading into this game. At 8-3 A&M isn’t winning the conference, but they should land somewhere warm & fun for the post-season. Conversely, LSU is 5-6 and needs to win to get invited somewhere warm & fun themselves. We all know that head coach Ed Orgeron is gone after the season, but does his team have what it takes to extend his stay a little while longer?? I think maybe they do, especially with this game being played in Baton Rouge. Zach would like to see a happy ending for Orgeron (no…not that…get your mind out of the gutter), but at the end of the day he thinks A&M will do enough to win & cover.
My Pick: LSU
Z’s Pick: Texas A&M
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (-4)
There is a real possibility that these teams could meet again in the Big 12 title game. Baylor has the tiebreaker over the Sooners, but the Cowboys defeated Baylor back in early October. So the Bears will be cheering for State to win and set up a rematch of the game they lost, while an Oklahoma victory would mean we get Bedlam Part 2 next week. I’d much rather see Baylor/OK St. for the conference championship, and I think we will. Conversely, Zach believes the Sooners have enough offensive firepower to score the low key upset.
My Pick: Oklahoma State
Z’s Pick: Oklahoma
Oregon St. at Oregon (-7.5)
They refer to this as The Civil War, or atleast that’s what it used to be called. Because leftists ruin everything and there are a lot of those in the state of Oregon it was announced a year ago that they no longer wanted to use that terminology. Screw that. I’ll call it what I damn well please, and I’m not going to let a bunch of tree hugging assclowns water down a 127 year old rivalry. Anyway, the Ducks screwed themselves out of playoff contention with a loss to Utah last weekend, while the 7-4 Beavers still have an opportunity to surprise everyone by getting into the PAC 12 title game where they’d get a shot at the Utes. They’ll need to win this game and hope the Washington Huskies can upset the Washington St. Cougars in the Apple Cup. I’m disappointed that this is a 3:30pm kickoff on ESPN, because it would’ve been excellent late night viewing. Ah well…c’est la vie. I have to go with the favorites here, if only because it sets up a really interesting rematch for the conference championship. Zach won’t predict an outright upset, but he does think State will keep it close and stay within a touchdown.
My Pick: Oregon
Z’s Pick: Oregon State
Ohio State (-8) at Michigan
College football is always better when this game means something, and it potentially means a whole hell of a lot right now. The winner will earn a spot in the Big Ten title game, while the Buckeyes will certainly be in the playoff if they win out. Can #6 Michigan still get into the playoff?? It’s possible, although I’m not going to break down those scenarios here. Let’s just say several dominoes have to fall just right. But can we legitimately expect a competitive contest?? A week ago I confidently called Ohio St. being favored over Michigan St. by 19 & a half points crazy and Zach agreed. Then the Buckeyes went out and jumped to a 49-0 halftime lead before ultimately handing the Spartans a 56-7 beatdown. Can they go into The Big House and dominate the Wolverines in similar fashion?? I don’t know about that, but 8 points doesn’t seem so outlandish in comparison. At 10-1 Michigan has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, but I just feel like their opponents are on another level. Zach points out that Jim Harbaugh is 3-9 against Michigan’s two biggest rivals…the Buckeyes & the Spartans…but they would control their destiny by winning this game. As has become tradition he is utilizing the reverse psychology method to motivate his beloved Wolverines by predicting that the visitors will have backups playing in the second half, may score 70+ points, and could win by 5+ touchdowns. It’s a bold strategy Cotton…let’s see how it works out for ‘em.
My Pick: Ohio State
Z’s Pick: Ohio State
Alabama (-19.5) at Auburn
The Iron Bowl is always entertaining, right?? ‘Bama comes into the game 10-1 and in solid playoff contention, while Auburn is in the midst of a underwhelmingly prosaic campaign. As a matter of fact, despite the fact that the 6-5 Tigers will be invited to a pleasant enough post-season affair, THIS is their true bowl game. Discussion in the next couple of weeks may focus on whether or not the Tide deserves to be in the playoff. If they lose to Georgia in the SEC title game but keep it respectable does a two loss Alabama get in over one loss teams that might be in the mix?? Auburn can put an end to the debate with an upset, but clearly it’s a challenging task. The good news is the game is at Jordan–Hare Stadium, the bad news is I don’t think that means diddly squat. As much as I hate to admit it, ‘Bama, like Ohio St., is simply on another level. They aren’t losing this game. However, I do believe the home team will muster enough gumption to not lose by more than a couple of TDs. Zach thinks Alabama is overrated and may be caught looking ahead to their showdown with Georgia. He’s not going so far out on a limb as to predict an Auburn win, but he does think they’ll keep it close.
I don’t want to go off on a rant, but…what’s the deal with all the roughing the passer calls in the NFL this year?? It’s ridiculous!! The defense barely touches a quarterback and flags fly. A few years ago no one knew exactly what a catch was anymore, but thankfully that craziness calmed down after a couple of seasons (replay helps). Sadly I don’t believe this protecting the QB thing will go away. How long will it be before sacks are illegal and all quarterbacks are wearing a different color jersey designating them as untouchable?? That may sound radical & far fetched, but trust me…it’s coming. At any rate, I thought for sure that my season lead was going to disappear because I got off to a horrible start last weekend. Unfortunately for Zach he managed to not only match my ineptitude (3-5) but exceed it (2-6). I am really trying to avoid focusing on the same handful of teams each week, so we’re back to our regular five game lineup and probably overlooking some of the better matchups on the schedule.
My Season: 31-36
Zach’s Season: 29-38
North Carolina at Pitt (-6.5)
A lot of things can change in the course of a couple of weeks. Not long ago the Tar Heels looked like a team not living up to lofty expectations, while the Panthers were moving up the polls and their quarterback was suddenly being viewed as a top notch NFL prospect. I suppose QB Kenny Pickett is still in that conversation, but his team was upset by the Miami Hurricanes on Halloween Weekend, and no one really noticed that they trounced Duke last Saturday. Pitt is still 7-2 and leading their division, but could they be looking ahead to a very important game against Virginia that’ll decide who plays in the ACC title game?? Conversely, Carolina took Wake Forest to OT on Saturday and knocked the Demon Deacons off their undefeated pedestal. It just feels to me like North Carolina is finally reaching the potential many thought they had, while Pitt may have already peaked. Zach thinks both offenses can score but likes Pitt’s defense a little more. However, he is uncomfortable with the points and thinks it will be a close game.
My Pick: North Carolina
Z’s Pick: North Carolina
Mississippi State at Auburn (-5.5)
The 5-4 Bulldogs followed an upset of Kentucky with a loss to Arkansas, which is kind of how their season has gone. Meanwhile, 6-3 Auburn had very quietly snuck into the Top 20 until losing to Texas A&M last weekend. The Vibes are telling me the Tigers may be looking ahead a little bit, salivating at the chance to deal Alabama’s playoff dreams a death blow in the Iron Bowl. That’s why I’m picking the underdogs. Zach foresees a low scoring defensive battle but believes the home team will get the job done.
My Pick: Mississippi State
Z’s Pick: Auburn
Oklahoma (-5.5) at Baylor
First place in the Big 12 might have been at stake if the Bears hadn’t gotten upset by TCU. Can they rebound and play spoiler?? Have the Sooners finally found their rhythm?? That seems like a strange question to ask about an undefeated Top 5 team, but Oklahoma has been overrated all season and definitely isn’t worthy of a playoff berth. I think the home field is huge and feel like an upset is brewing. Zach thinks it’ll be close, but ultimately Oklahoma will pull a rabbit out of the hat as they’ve done all season.
My Pick: Baylor
Z’s Pick: Oklahoma
Texas A&M (-2.5) at Ole Miss
My father thinks there is a real possibility that our hometown boy Jimbo Fisher could bolt College Station and be the new head coach at LSU next year. I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in Hell that’ll happen. However, there’s no denying that A&M isn’t paying him all that money to win 9 or 10 games and finish second in the division to Alabama. This almost feels like a must-win for Jimbo. Conversely, the 7-2 Rebels would be delighted with ten wins, a January Bowl game, and seeing QB Matt Corral chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft next spring. I think Corral will show off in this game, put up numbers, and keep his team close. But at the end of the day Fisher will lead his Aggies to a thrilling victory. Zach concurs.
My Pick: Texas A&M
Z’s Pick: Texas A&M
Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-10.5)
Can the Jags keep the ball rolling after a low scoring upset of the Buffalo Bills last week?? Will the Colts feed off the momentum of their high scoring win over the NY Jets?? Obviously the oddsmakers don’t put much stock in Jacksonville’s one & only victory, and Indy does have the home field. But I really don’t like the points. I won’t predict an outright upset (I’ve got to see more before I believe in the Jaguars), but don’t think anyone is winning by double digits. Conversely, Zach has no faith that Jacksonville can win two games in a row. He thinks Indianapolis will keep the ball on the ground and grind out enough points to cover the sizable odds.
Again?? So soon?? As previously mentioned, these months are consumed by football games & weekly picks to the point that I purposely avoid bombarding The Manoverse with other sportscentric content. However, the old saying “circumstances alter cases” applies because there are a few things that need addressed in a timely fashion.
I’m sure that young kids dreaming of a career in sports journalism think of ESPN as the pinnacle of professional success, but I hope those future talking heads are paying attention to The Flagship in Bristol’s recent treatment of Rachel Nichols & Sage Steele and considering other options. Actually, I pray that Nichols & Steele themselves are seeking alternative employment. I know I would be if my bosses at any job had treated me like those two ladies have been by ESPN. I trust that The Manoverse is resourceful enough to research the details, but suffice to say that neither woman has a damn thing to apologize for, and their company (which is owned by evil empire Disney) has proven that contrary to their statement that “we embrace different points of view” they absolutely do not. ESPN also said that “we expect that those points of view be expressed respectfully, in a manner consistent with our values and in line with our internal policies”, which essentially means that their values & policies are completely abhorrent yet they expect total assimilation.
I couldn’t help but look at the recent Alabama-Texas A&M game from a little different perspective. Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher became the first of Nick Saban’s former assistants to defeat their old boss. Both Saban & Fisher hail from northcentral West Virginia. Saban grew up just outside Fairmont, which is about 20 miles up the road, while Fisher grew up right here in Clarksburg. West Virginians are proud of the success of our native sons, but it is an inescapable fact that they both did what so many from here have to do…go far away to achieve success. Much like the Pittsburgh Pirates have become a farm team for the rest of MLB our state is an incubator, its best & brightest growing up in safety & comfort only to flee elsewhere and blossom. Every time there is a coaching vacancy at WVU there are fans that hope & wish for either Saban or Fisher to return home, but it’s a pipe dream. Never going to happen. To their credit both men moved on long ago and would diminish their legacies by coming back here. So, while most fans watched and felt about it one way or another how a football fan feels about a great game, I saw it as a microcosm of real life and its oftentimes unfortunate realities.
Oh hey, speaking of being canceled, Jon Gruden needs Rachel Nichols & Sage Steele to hold his beer…..
I’ve had some time to reflect on this one and modify my initial gut reaction. But first, a story. A couple of years ago a tenant was evicted from my apartment building. The people that run the place had been trying to get rid of him for years to no avail, until he was dumb enough to do the one thing he absolutely could not do. This idiot (allegedly 😉) did a drug deal in full view of security cameras. So, after years of evading efforts by the powers-that-be who simply didn’t like him for whatever reason, this guy did it to himself. How does that relate to Gruden?? My knee jerk response was to rail against cancel culture, which I despise. However, upon further reflection the fact is that Jon Gruden should’ve known better. Yes, some of the emails that cost him his job stretch back to 2011. Yes, all of it occurred before he was even rehired as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders in 2018. I’ll even go so far as to say that I don’t completely disagree with some of the points he made (my disdain for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is well documented). Having said that, the fact is that almost any kind of communication can potentially become public. That’s especially true now, but was also the case in 2011. Jon Gruden is a grown, middle-aged man who has been in the public eye for many years. He should have been smart enough not to openly express some of the things that he did. I think we’ve all learned by now that anything electronic…voicemails, texts, emails, social media posts…are forever. Hell, I started the original incarnation of The Manofesto on MySpace in 2008 and someone could probably come after me for a long forgotten sentence or paragraph. Is it right for a person to have their life wrecked for things that happened years ago?? Probably not, but those are the current rules of engagement, which means the prudent course of action is to lay low, play your cards close to the vest, and keep that big mouth shut. Of course it also helps if you avoid racism, sexism, & derogatory slurs of any kind. That seems like a good place to start.
It’s been really cool to be a football fan the past couple of weeks. There have been some intense & exciting games that were fun to watch even if one didn’t have a particular rooting interest. Unfortunately all of that good football hasn’t translated into many wins for us. Zach was 1-4 last week, while I went 2-3 thanks to Oklahoma St.’s narrow victory over Boise St.. The good news is that we are starting to get a sense, at both the college & NFL levels, of which teams are going to be successful and who might struggle this season. Hopefully that bodes well for us if we’re smart…but don’t hold your breath.
My Season: 10-11
Zach’s Season: 8-13
Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin (-5.5)
The Irish were a preseason playoff team for me, though I also ranked the Badgers in the Top 20. Notre Dame is 3-0 but hasn’t been that impressive against teams they should have beaten soundly. Wisconsin is 1-1, losing a close season opener against Penn St. but handling their business last weekend. This is a neutral site game being played in Chicago, and I’m a bit surprised that Wisconsin is favored. This will set the tone for both teams for the remainder of the season, so the question is who will have the positive momentum going forward. I’m not sure who will actually come out on top, but I smell a close game…closer than five points anyway. Zach, on the other hand, believes Notre Dame is overrated. He is interested in watching grad transfer quarterback Jack Coan lead the Irish against his former team, but doesn’t think it will be enough.
My Pick: Notre Dame
Z’s Pick: Wisconsin
Texas A&M (-6) vs. Arkansas
Most “experts” expected the Aggies to do well in Jimbo Fisher’s fourth year at the helm, and thus far they are 3-0. Meanwhile, the 3-0 Razorbacks have kind of snuck up on people, easily upending the competition, including a 19 point win over the Texas Longhorns. This is another neutral site game at the Palace in Dallas and brings back memories of the good ol’ days when the Big 8 was a thing. I think it will be another fun game to watch, but A&M is just too deep & talented so I’m picking them to win by atleast a touchdown. Zach thinks Arkansas is the real deal and is predicting the upset.
My Pick: Texas A&M
Z’s Pick: Arkansas
Colorado at Arizona State (-14.5)
My man Herm Edwards has the Sun Devils looking decent at 2-1, but they lost a tough one a week ago to BYU. Conversely, the Buffaloes are 1-2, having played well but not well enough against A&M then getting pummeled by Minnesota. The points concern me just a little. Two TDs+ seems high. I feel like Arizona St. will win comfortably, but it’ll be more like a 10-12 point victory. Zach is concerned that the home team is somewhat inconsistent and believes it will be a close game.
My Pick: Colorado
Z’s Pick: Colorado
Miami at Las Vegas (-5)
Those damn Raiders!! They beat our Steelers last week and I’m not happy about it. I can be petty just like any other human being, so there’s part of me that wants to pick Miami out of spite. However, the 1-1 Dolphins got obliterated 35-0 by the Buffalo Bills on Sunday and QB Tua Tagovailoa injured his ribs in the process, meaning backup Jacoby Brissett will be under center this weekend. Conversely, 2-0 Vegas is firing on all cylinders and they have the home field. If the visitors had a healthy starting quarterback I might be tempted to go with the upset, but they don’t so I won’t. Zach is predicting an easy win for Vegas.
My Pick: Las Vegas
Z’s Pick: Las Vegas
Philadelphia at Dallas (-4)
It’s still a fun rivalry even if both teams aren’t exactly at the top of their game. Philly is 1-1 and the jury is still out on QB Jalen Hurts. I don’t think Joe Flacco or Gardner Minshew are legit threats to seize the job, but never say never in the NFL. On the flip side of that is Cowboys’ signal caller Dak Prescott, who has looked fantastic returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him most of last season. The issue in Dallas is RB Ezekiel Elliott, who has rushed for just over 100 yards and one touchdown thru two games, driving fantasy owners everywhere bonkers. They absolutely have to get Zeke going if they’re going to compete for a division title. This is the Monday night game, and despite the home field I don’t have much faith in Dallas. I smell an upset. Zach respects the Eagles’ toughness, but feels like the combination of the home field, a solid defense, and a better QB in Prescott makes the difference for the Cowboys.
Well, I picked a bad week to do a supersized crop of picks, especially with a Thursday night game among them. This is going to be as short & sweet as possible, not only because of that game, but our Steelers (whose games we never pick) are playing tonight too, so the goal is to have this posted before kickoff. Nothing like cutting it close, right??
My Season: 32-27
Zach’s Season: 28-31
North Carolina at Pitt (-5)
Head coach Mack Brown probably has the Tar Heels heading in the right direction, although the numbers don’t necessarily reflect that. At 4-5 they’re just fighting for bowl eligibility at this point. Conversely, the 6-3 Panthers are still in the thick of the race to lose to Clemson in the ACC title game. Pitt has the theoretical home field advantage, but I suspect a lot of fans will be disguised as empty seats at Heinz Field while many folks stay home to watch the Steelers game. Zach likes what Brown is doing at UNC. He feels like this is going to be a really close game one way or another, so he’s rolling with the underdogs to atleast cover.
My Pick: North Carolina
Z’s Pick: North Carolina
Texas at Iowa St. (-6.5)
I really thought the Cyclones would be much better this season, but at 5-4 they’ve not met my high expectations. Meanwhile, the 6-3 Longhorns are just about where most believed they’d be but surprisingly find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the Big 12 title game, making this a must-win. I don’t usually abandon my pre-season picks too easily, but despite having the home field I think Iowa St. will fall to a more talented Texas team. Zach sees Texas spiraling a bit since the Red River Shootout a month ago, and retains a lot more faith in Iowa St. than me. But he’s not comfortable with the points and feels like Texas will atleast cover on the road.
My Pick: Texas
Z’s Pick: Texas
Michigan St. at Michigan (-13.5)
The talking heads always say to throw out the records when it comes to rivalry games. Are they right?? The Spartans come into this weekend below .500 and losers of four straight. Conversely, the Wolverines are 7-2, although a lot of dominoes are going to need to fall just right for them to play in the Big Ten title game. The Big House is a significant home field advantage, but is it two TDs big?? Those kind of points make me nervous….especially in a rivalry game…but I’m going to roll with the oddsmakers. Zach, on the other hand, doesn’t like the points. He likes the Wolverines at home but doesn’t feel like their offense is clicking just yet and thinks State will put up enough of a fight to cover.
My Pick: Michigan
Z’s Pick: Michigan State
TCU (-3) at Texas Tech
Do I wish my WVU Mountaineers could play in a more…geographically appropriate…conference?? Yes. But I must admit that the Big 12 is sufficiently entertaining. Both teams come into this game at 4-5, so a win seems like it’d be huge as far as bowl eligibility. The Horned Frogs have the home field, but I think I lean toward the underdog Red Raiders to get a late game winning field goal in a high scoring shootout. Zach likes TCU to come up with a big stop late in the game to come out on top.
My Pick: Texas Tech
Z’s Pick: TCU
Georgia (-3) at Auburn
The Bulldogs would be in the playoff if it were played today, but we found out a week ago just how precarious those four positions can be. Auburn still harbors conference title & playoff hopes as well, although their climb will be quite tricky. I love chaos when it comes to the playoff, and War Eagle has a nice home field, so I’m pulling the trigger on an upset. Zach is intrigued by Auburn’s freshman QB Bo Nix, but feels like Georgia is the better team right now.
My Pick: Auburn
Z’s Pick: Georgia
Oklahoma (-10) at Baylor
I don’t think anybody would have predicted a couple of months ago that this game would be so huge, but that’s exactly what it is. It’s a must win for the undefeated Bears who are getting zero respect from the playoff committee, and almost as important for the Sooners, whose inexplicable stumble at Kansas St. a couple of weeks ago could end up being quite costly. It looks like the playoff committee aren’t the only ones disregarding Baylor…when was the last time an undefeated home team in November was a ten point underdog?? I’m hoping for a close & exciting game, so I have to pull for Baylor. Like so many others Zach doesn’t believe Baylor is the real deal. He thinks they might keep it close for three quarters but the athletically superior Sooners will pull away for a comfortable victory.
My Pick: Baylor
Z’s Pick: Oklahoma
South Carolina at Texas A&M (-10.5)
I’m not sure what to think or how to feel about this game. The Gamecocks are 4-6, but defeated Georgia in double overtime a month ago. The Aggies have one of the toughest schedules in the country but are 6-3. Losing to Alabama, Clemson, & Auburn is nothing to be ashamed of, and they’ll finish the season with road games at Georgia & LSU. A&M needs to go into those final two contests strong, even though they’ve already attained bowl eligibility, which is something South Carolina is still seeking. They call the home crowd in College Station The 12th Man, and this would be an excellent week to earn that nickname. Zach concurs.
My Pick: Texas A&M
Z’s Pick: Texas A&M
Dallas (-3.5) at Detroit
Few things in life give me more pleasure than seeing the Cowboys lose, especially when so many “experts” propped them up as Super Bowl contenders not that long ago. At 5-4 they are in a dogfight with the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East, but I feel like Philly is trending upward while Dallas is heading in the other direction. Perhaps that is wishful thinking. Anyway, the Lions are who I thought they’d be, although they’ve battled in every single game. The Vibes are telling me that this could be a one point game either way, so I’m going to be cheering on the home underdogs. Zach doesn’t like the Cowboys any more than I do, but he just can’t get behind Detroit backup QB Jeff Driskel, who is likely to sub for a second straight week while Matthew Stafford deals with a back injury.
My Pick: Detroit
Z’s Pick: Dallas
New Orleans (-5.5) at Tampa Bay
Speaking of divisional dogfights…well, I guess that really doesn’t apply to the NFC South. Despite the injury & absence of QB Drew Brees the Saints are going to win the division easily, especially now that Brees is back. I realize that the Bucs have the home field this week, but just like the oddsmakers I don’t think it matters. Zach agrees.
My Pick: New Orleans
Z’s Pick: New Orleans
Houston at Baltimore (-4)
I’ve been on Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson since college, and now the “experts” are beginning to recognize him as one of the best in the NFL. Having said that, the talking heads are really buzzing about his counterpart in this game, Ravens’ signal caller and former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, who has already surpassed retired NBA baller Lamar Odom and former U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander on the list of best Lamars. Despite the quarterbacks getting all the hype I suspect this game will be decided by special teams, time of possession, & turnovers, and I think Houston is the better overall team. Zach thinks Baltimore might overlook Houston a bit and get taken by surprise.
My Pick: Houston
Z’s Pick: Houston
Kansas City (-3.5) at LA Chargers
The Chargers have failed to live up to my lofty expectations and currently sit third in the AFC West. However, some chinks in the armor of the Chiefs have been spotted, and their division lead is by no means safe. This is the Monday night game, so we’re all hoping for an entertaining battle. I’m not sure the home field is any kind of an advantage for the transplanted Chargers, and I think Kansas City wins this one rather comfortably. Zach thinks KC’s defense might cost them down the line but has no doubt they’ll take care of business this week.
It’s been unseasonably warm & sunny here in northcentral West Virginia, to the point that football is really the only tangible representation of the season. I’m not complaining though…I love 80 degrees & sunshine, and wouldn’t mind those conditions sticking around (wishful thinking on my part). Having said that, I am thankful for weekends full of gridiron action, even if my job now prevents me from enjoying all of it to the fullest extent. Not only was last weekend hellish at work (that whole Friday the 13th/full moon craziness went on for a couple of extra days), but again we didn’t do so good with our picks. Zach was 1-4, while I was 2-3. We’ll try to improve, but I am definitely glad we don’t gamble with actual money…he & I would both be destitute.
My Season: 9-9
Zach’s Season: 7-11
Michigan at Wisconsin (-3)
Both teams are 2-0 and hovering close to the Top 10, and each has a different advantage this week. The Wolverines are coming off of a bye week after a double OT tussle against Army, while the Badgers have the home field. This feels like one of those games Jim Harbaugh has to win to keep the folks in Ann Arbor from whining & complaining, but it’s not going to be easy. Wisconsin has scored 110 points in its first two games and allowed opponents zero. Yes, that’s right…they’ve had two shutouts, and I don’t care if the level of competition is subpar, that is impressive defense. I think Michigan will score, but I like Wisconsin to get a late touchdown to win & cover. To his credit Zach is usually fair-minded & logical when assessing his Wolverines. He knows they’re overrated right now and have work to do on both sides of the ball. Wisconsin RB & Heisman contender Jonathan Taylor is a beast at RB for the Badgers, and Zach thinks a big game for him spells doom for Michigan.
My Pick: Wisconsin
Z’s Pick: Wisconsin
Auburn at Texas A&M (-4)
I have to give both teams credit…they have not started the season just playing lower level cupcakes like so many other teams. The Tigers are 3-0, including a season opening victory over Oregon. The Aggies are 2-1, but that loss came at the hands of #1 Clemson in Death Valley, and there’s no shame there. This feels like a must win for A&M. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier and this is a home game. Auburn might be looking at a 9 or 10 win season, but I don’t think this will be one of those victories. Auburn QB Bo Nix reminds Zach of former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, which is high praise indeed. Zach is predicting a close game…possibly even overtime…but likes Auburn to come away with a tough road win.
My Pick: Texas A&M
Z’s Pick: Auburn
Notre Dame at Georgia (-13)
Both teams are undefeated, but neither has been tested at all thus far. The winner here will cement their status as a playoff contender, while the loser is probably out of that conversation. Georgia has multiple hurdles to clear, while Notre Dame would have a real opportunity to run the table if they climb this mountain and walk out of The Big House in Ann Arbor with a win in late October. In these situations I often refer back to my pre-season poll, and this year I ranked Notre Dame 7th and had Georgia #2. I opined that “one slip will knock them out of contention”, and I think that loss comes in Athens, GA. Zach thinks Notre Dame is overrated as usual and Georgia is the real deal. He is predicting an easy victory for the home team.
My Pick: Georgia
Z’s Pick: Georgia
Denver at Green Bay (-7.5)
I suspected that the Broncos would be terrible this year, and so far that’s held true. They’ve been competitive, but new head coach Vic Fangio has yet to work the magic that got him noticed when he was the Bears’ defensive coordinator, and the offense just isn’t clicking with Joe Flacco under center. Conversely, the Packers are 2-0 and faring much better than I anticipated. Lambeau Field won’t be a frozen tundra this weekend, but I believe it’ll be hostile enough for Denver and that Green Bay will win by more than a touchdown. Zach likes what he’s seen from the Packers. He thinks the Broncos have potential down the line but doesn’t think they’ll pose a problem in this game.
My Pick: Green Bay
Z’s Pick: Green Bay
Baltimore at Kansas City (-5)
I told y’all not to sleep on the Ravens. I couldn’t have anticipated how poorly my Steelers would be out of the gate and certainly didn’t know Ben Roethlisberger’s season would end so prematurely, but I knew they’d face a battle in the AFC Central. QB Lamar Jackson…despite winning the Heisman Trophy in 2016…was projected by many to be a wide receiver in the NFL, but lo & behold he seems to be evolving into a pretty good pro quarterback. Having said that, his level of competition increases exponentially this week. The Chiefs aren’t a surprise to anyone, and against all odds reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes looks like an even better quarterback now than he was a season ago. Arrowhead Stadium has long been lauded as one of the loudest in the league, and I expect the crowd to be full throttle on Sunday. That should be enough to rattle the visitors and allow the home team to get a comfortable win. Zach foresees a shootout and likes Baltimore’s defense to make one big stand to possibly win or atleast cover.
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. – Robert Burns
I know what you’re thinking…”Week 2?? What happened to Week 1??”. Well, your humble Potentate of Profundity made a slight miscalculation. We did actually make picks, but due to a new work schedule (well new since last football season anyway) for myself and a busier than usual weekend I just didn’t get anything written & posted. In years past I could hammer out something quick on Saturday morning before kickoff if necessary, but that’s not the case anymore and last weekend it just messed up the whole deal. At any rate, in life one must learn to occasionally adapt on the fly, so that’s what we’re doing. Zach & I made picks on the following games a week ago: South Carolina/North Carolina, Northwestern/Stanford, Boise St./Florida St., USC/Fresno St., & Oregon/Auburn. Zach went 1-4, while I fared slightly better at 2-3 (thank you Southern Cal for not covering the points). Not exactly the beginning either of us hoped for, but we’ll just move on. The NFL begins their season this week, so to celebrate that and to make up for my previous error it seems like a fine idea to do some bonus picks. Enjoy.
Sam’s Season: 2-3
Zach’s Season: 1-4
Syracuse at Maryland (-2)
So I guess…after almost two decades of futility (with occasional sprinkles of mediocrity)…the Orange is allegedly competitive again. To be fair, they did post a 10-3 record last season and easily handled my WV Mountaineers in a bowl game in which the WVU coaching staff clearly phoned it in. The Terrapins beat the snot out of some junior high team last week, but does that really tell us anything?? I’m not ready to buy into Syracuse being “back” quite yet, but neither do I believe Maryland should be favored…even at home…based on one dominating performance against clearly inferior competition. Where does that leave us?? Well, hopefully with a fairly entertaining game. Zach believes Maryland’s hot start is legit and will continue.
My Pick: Syracuse
Z’s Pick: Maryland
LSU (-6) at Texas
Neither team was challenged a week ago, but we’ll see what they’re really made of now. If this game was in Baton Rouge the pick would be easy, but at home I think the Longhorns might have a legit shot to win. Texas has a kicker named Cameron Dicker…Dicker the Kicker, which I find entertaining in a juvenile sort of way. My vision is a last second game winning field goal in which Dicker just can’t get the ball where he needs to and falls a bit short. It’s okay. It’s common. It happens to every kicker. It’s no big deal. But atleast in that scenario Texas would cover the points. Zach thinks Texas might be a bit overrated, but also feels like LSU often fails to win big games. He’s calling for the outright upset.
My Pick: Texas
Z’s Pick: Texas
Stanford at USC (-1)
The Trojans won a tough battle with Fresno St. a week ago, while Stanford beat Northwestern. This game is essentially a pick ‘em, which means the folks in Vegas seem to agree that USC’s abysmal 2018 was a blip on the radar. They have a chance to make a statement by defending their home field and getting a leg up in the Pac 12, and I believe that’s exactly what will happen. Zach likes Stanford’s defense, especially considering USC lost starting quarterback JT Daniels to a torn ACL and will now be led by a freshman QB.
My Pick: Southern Cal
Z’s Pick: Stanford
Texas A&M at Clemson (-18)
I’m really looking forward to this game. Fortunately it’s a 3:30pm kickoff, which fits into my day perfectly. A&M has a brutal schedule, and they’ll deserve respect for even becoming bowl eligible. However, I think they’ll do better than that and pull off a couple of upsets this season. Will that happen this week?? Well…no. Clemson is a well-oiled machine whose spot in the playoff is virtually guaranteed. Having said that, I’m a little taken aback by the points. I’m not sure if it indicates just how awesome the Tigers are, or possibly a lack of respect for the Aggies, which in my humble opinion would be a mistake. I don’t believe Clemson will lose, and the game might not be particularly close, but The Vibes are telling me it’ll be a 14-17 point victory. Zach likes Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence & RB Travis Etienne, but feels like A&M is also an improving team. Like me, he thinks the points are just too much.
My Pick: Texas A&M
Z’s Pick: Texas A&M
Kansas City (-3) at Jacksonville
The oddsmakers have the Chiefs as one of the favorites to make it to the Super Bowl, and I don’t disagree. There is no question that QB Patrick Mahomes will lead the offense to some big numbers, so if KC’s defense evolves into something they could become almost unstoppable. The Jags usually have a solid defense, but they’ve been lacking where it counts most…behind center. Will QB Nick Foles change that?? Will he continue to be the quarterback that led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Lombardi trophy a couple of years ago?? Or faced with the task of being the unquestioned starter for an entire season will Foles be exposed as the journeyman backup many always thought him to be?? Those questions will be answered in due time, but in this specific contest I don’t believe Jacksonville has the firepower to keep up or a defense elite enough to stop the Chiefs offense. Zach doesn’t think Mahomes will put up MVP numbers like he did a year ago, but winning this game won’t be an issue.
My Pick: Kansas City
Z’s Pick: Kansas City
Indianapolis at LA Chargers (-6)
It’s been just another quiet, uneventful summer in Indianapolis. Well, except for the bombshell retirement of QB Andrew Luck before he even turns 30 years of age. Not to be outdone, the Chargers have been dealing with their own drama in the form of running back Melvin Gordon’s holdout. This game would probably be a lot more interesting with Luck & Gordon both playing, but their absence creates a sense of mystery & intrigue. The Colts’ coaching staff & front office can talk up new quarterback Jacoby Brissett all they want, but he’s got to prove it to me first. I’m rooting for the guy because wide receiver TY Hilton and RB Marlon Mack are integral pieces of my fantasy teams, but the reality is that it’s a huge change. The Chargers might have a bit of a dropoff without Gordon, but I think they’re equipped to weather the storm. Zach believes the Chargers are overrated, but Luck’s abrupt departure has doomed Indy’s season.
My Pick: LA Chargers
Z’s Pick: LA Chargers
NY Giants at Dallas (-7)
I’m going to offer an opinion that some may find odd. I believe the Cowboys would have been better off had RB Zeke Elliott’s holdout lasted a few more weeks. I think Dallas will have a nice season and contend for a playoff spot, but in the end they’ll fall short like they always do. It might have been nice for Zeke to have fresher legs going into the last few games of the season. However, in regard to this game I don’t think any of that matters and the Cowboys will handle business easily. Zach concurs, predicting a three TD victory for the favorites.
My Pick: Dallas
Z’s Pick: Dallas
Houston at New Orleans (-7)
This will be the earlier of two games on Monday night, and it should be really fun. My fondness for Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson is well-documented, and the team has made several moves in recent weeks that could prove to be helpful. The RB tandem of Duke Johnson & Carlos Hyde could be sneaky good, and JJ Watt will lead a stellar defense. The problem is that Houston is taking on my Super Bowl favorites in The Big Easy. A loss won’t destroy either team’s season, and I believe both will get into the playoffs. The home field is enough for me to go with the Saints, and Zach agrees, opining that New Orleans will be playing with a chip on their shoulder after being erroneously knocked out of a trip to the Super Bowl last season.