2019 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…Week 4

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.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Baltimore

2019 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…Week 3

As happy as I am to have football back I have to say that last weekend wasn’t so great in The Manoverse. Both my West Virginia Mountaineers & Pittsburgh Steelers got mauled in their games, and the ol’ alma mater’s Thundering Herd looked like they had a shot to upset Boise St. until their offense decided to stay in the locker room after halftime. As far as our picks go, both Zach & myself were 5-3, which I guess isn’t terrible. The NCAA schedule is a bit prosaic this week, but I think we’ve cobbled together a slate of college & pro games that will be fun to keep an eye on.

My Season:        7-6

Zach’s Season:  6-7

 

 

 

 

 

Pitt                       at                Penn State (-17)

It’s a damn shame that so many intrastate and other geographic rivalries have gone by the wayside in recent years in the wake of conference realignment, but occasionally they do throw us a bone. I’m not sure one could call this particular rivalry all that competitive, as the Nittany Lions have won 9 out of the last 11 meetings and have clearly been the superior program dating back to atleast the 1970’s. The Panthers were beaten handily by the Virginia Cavaliers a week ago, while Penn St. is 2-0 and averaging 62 points per game, although that is against really weak competition. I don’t think the outcome is in much doubt; the only question is whether or not Pitt can muster enough pride to cover the points. My answer?? I don’t think so, and Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Penn St.

Z’s Pick:     Penn St.

 

 

 

Iowa (-2)              at                Iowa State

Here we have another intrastate rivalry featuring two teams in different conferences (because the NCAA is stupid). The Hawkeyes are 2-0 and haven’t broken a sweat, while the Cyclones took three OTs to get by a 1-AA team two weeks ago. Anyone who’s been with me on these picks over the years will recall that I don’t abandon ship on a team that I’ve predicted good things for, and I had State ranked 11th in my pre-season poll. I opined that they’ll beat either Oklahoma or Texas this season, and I’m not ready to move away from that. I understand why the oddsmakers are a bit trepidatious and have the visitors listed as favorites, but I believe the home team will defend their house. Conversely, Zach likes the Hawkeyes’ tight ends even though they’ve been virtually invisible thru the first couple of games, and he’s predicting a double digit victory for the visitors.

My Pick:     Iowa St.

Z’s Pick:     Iowa

 

 

 

Arizona               at                Baltimore (-13)

The sports media is still singing the praises of Cardinals’ head coach Kliff Kingsbury & rookie QB Kyler Murray, even after a riveting tie last weekend. I remain steadfast in my opinion that Kingsbury will be a college coach & Murray will be playing baseball a few years from now. The Ravens beat down the Miami Dolphins in the season opener, but a lot of teams will do that in the next few months. Having said that, it does seem like Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson is doing his best to quiet the doubters and prove he is a legit NFL quarterback. I’d be surprised if the Cards won the game, but it feels like keeping things competitive before ultimately falling short (pun unavoidable) might become Murray’s thing, so I think they’ll cover the points. Zach likes the Ravens’ defense to give the rookie a tough day and lead the way to an easy win.

My Pick:     Arizona

Z’s Pick:     Baltimore

 

 

 

New Orleans               at                LA Rams (-2)

If I were feeling a bit peppy I’d do some research and see who the officiating crew is for this one, but I’m not so I won’t. Bottom line: this is a revenge game for the Saints, and they’ll be motivated to put on a show. Sure they struggled to get by Houston last weekend, but the Texans are a really good team. The Rams went into Carolina and barely got by the Panthers, which I find considerably more alarming. Could the Super Bowl Curse be a real thing?? Are the Rams in for a tough season?? I don’t know about all of that, but I’m pretty sure New Orleans will win this game rather easily. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     New Orleans

Z’s Pick:     New Orleans

 

 

 

Cleveland (-2)              at                NY Jets

A year ago I wouldn’t have had any interest in watching a Browns-Jets game, but both teams are allegedly on the rise, so it theoretically should be fun. However, with Jets QB Sam Darnold on the shelf due to mono and Cleveland suffering an embarrassing loss in the opener after so much offseason hype the matchup is far less attractive than it could have been. The Monday Night Football folks can’t be very happy. Trevor Siemian will be behind center for the Jets, and I think it’d be absolutely hilarious if he hands the Browns their second loss. Zach doesn’t believe either team is any good, but likes Cleveland to score a close victory.

My Pick:     NY Jets

Z’s Pick:     Cleveland

2018 College Football Pre-Season Top 25

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh got some attention from the sports media recently when he pontificated about the College Football Playoff eventually expanding from four to eight teams and ultimately ending up at sixteen. Obviously it isn’t a new debate and Harbaugh’s comments were simply convenient fodder on a slow news day. However, what always strikes me about the discussion is the fact that everyone talks about the idea of expanding to eight or sixteen teams, but no one ever mentions the solution that I prefer, which is a six team playoff. In this format the top two teams would get a bye, which incentivizes trying to snag one of those two spots versus merely sneaking into the playoff. All five “power” conference champions would qualify, making conference title games de facto playoff games and actually meaningful instead of the needless money grabs that they are right now. One wildcard would be chosen which would likely spark a few heated arguments. Most of the time one of the “power” conference runners-up would get the nod (like Alabama anytime they happen to falter), but when you occasionally have an undefeated contender from one of the “other” conferences…for example, the 2017 Central Florida Knights…then they could very easily slide into that spot.

 

Anyway, all of that is just a mildly interesting preamble for our true purpose today. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

25     Oregon

Last Season:      7-6

Key Games:       9/22 vs. Stanford, 10/13 vs. Washington, 10/27 at Arizona

Former Florida International head coach & Alabama assistant Mario Cristobal takes over in Eugene after the Ducks have gone 20-18 the past three years following seven seasons of 10 or more victories. The PAC 12 is really competitive, and I don’t expect Oregon to be in the conference title mix, but a pre-Halloween clash at Arizona could be the deciding factor in getting to eight wins and securing a spot in the rankings.

 

 

24     LSU 

Last Season:      9-4

Key Games:       9/2 vs. Miami (FL), 9/15 at Auburn, 10/13 vs. Georgia, 11/3 vs. Alabama

I don’t think anyone is getting out of the SEC with less than two losses. They’re all going to spend the next few months beating each other up, playing a game of Last Man Standing. The non-conference season opener against Miami is a neutral site game at the Palace in Dallas, and it’ll set a tone right off the bat. The Bayou Bengals are probably going to have to upset Auburn or Georgia…perhaps both…to get to eight wins and slip into the bottom of the Top 25.

 

 

23     Michigan

Last Season:      8-5

Key Games:       9/1 at Notre Dame, 10/13 vs. Wisconsin, 10/20 at Michigan St., 11/3 vs. Penn St., 11/24 at Ohio St.

I’ve slowed my roll on enthusiasm for the Harbaugh Era in Ann Arbor after initially thinking that he might have the Wolverines back in the national title conversation within a few years. The truth is that the Big Ten is so tough that winning a conference title would be a major accomplishment. The schedule is vicious, including a season opening non-conference clash against the Irish in South Bend, a rivalry that had been on hiatus for a few years. Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson will start at QB, and he’ll need to spice up an offense that has really been holding the team back. 8 or 9 wins feels like the ceiling again, but if those victories include a couple of big upsets it should be enough to sneak into the rankings.

 

 

22     West Virginia

Last Season:      7-6

Key Games:       9/1 vs. Tennessee, 9/15 at NC St., 9/22 vs. Kansas St., 11/3 at Texas, 11/10 vs. TCU, 11/23 vs. Oklahoma

Mountaineers QB Will Grier will be a legit Heisman candidate and converted quarterback David Sills has become a solid receiver, so I am not at all concerned about the offense. It’s been a lack of defense that has held WVU back the past few seasons, but a couple of transfers will allegedly bolster that side of the ball this year. I don’t expect the ‘Eers to beat TCU or Oklahoma (though both opponents are visiting Morgantown), so I think games against K-State and Texas will be the difference between 7 or 8 wins versus 9 or 10 wins.

 

 

21     Penn State        

Last Season:      11-2

Key Games:       9/29 vs. Ohio St., 10/13 vs. Michigan St., 11/3 at Michigan, 11/10 vs. Wisconsin

Happy Valley might be somewhat less happy in 2018 since Saquon Barkley is now toting the rock for the NY Giants. That doesn’t mean that the Nittany Lions will fall completely off the map, but for me it does take them out of the conference title discussion. QB Trace McSorely will be a Heisman contender, and whether this team wins 9+ games or falls into mediocrity looks to be squarely on his shoulders.

 

 

20     Texas       

Last Season:      7-6

Key Games:       9/15 vs. USC, 9/22 vs. TCU, 10/6 vs. Oklahoma, 11/3 vs. West Virginia

We’ve been waiting for the Longhorns to get back to their former glory for nearly a decade. Head coach Mack Brown was forced into retirement in 2013, and Charlie Strong couldn’t get it done in his three years in Austin. Tom Herman’s inaugural season at the helm was a slight improvement, but still underwhelming. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that they’ll win more games this year than last, but an upset or two will be necessary to achieve that goal.

 

 

19     Florida State                       

Last Season:      7-6

Key Games:       9/3 vs. Virginia Tech, 10/6 at Miami (FL), 10/27 vs. Clemson, 11/10 at Notre Dame

The Seminoles’ season was torpedoed right out of the gate in 2017 when starting QB Deondre Francois suffered a tear of his patellar tendon and freshman James Blackman stepped in to fill the void. After the season head coach Jimbo Fisher bolted for Texas A&M (and a ten year $75 million contract), which took a lot of folks by surprise. Former South Florida & Oregon head coach Willie Taggart has taken the helm, which also came as a bit of a surprise. Francois & Blackman are both in the mix at quarterback, and redshirt freshman Bailey Hockman might get some reps as well. RB Cam Akers will be be a huge help to whomever is under center. The schedule is brutal, and I understand that this isn’t the 1990’s anymore. One shouldn’t assume that Florida St. will sit near the top of the college football mountain like they used to, especially in an increasingly deep & competitive ACC. However, I think eight wins is doable, and anything more would really thrill the folks in Tallahassee

 

 

18     Florida Atlantic

Last Season:      11-3

Key Games:       9/1 at Oklahoma, 9/21 at UCF

The talking heads love to fawn all over the glamor teams in the power conferences, but a) when two such teams play each other someone is going to lose, and b) there will be teams winning the “other” conferences. Owls’ head coach Lane Kiffin will undoubtedly move on to another high profile job in the future, but for now he’ll be focused on building on last year’s 11 win season. I don’t expect FAU to travel to Norman and beat the Sooners, but I am predicting an upset of Central Florida in Orlando a month into the season. Another 10+ win season should be recognized with a spot in the Top 25, which will help score a big payday for Kiffin…eventually.

 

 

17     Stanford

Last Season:      9-5

Key Games:       9/8 vs. USC, 9/22 at Oregon, 9/29 at Notre Dame, 11/3 at Washington

RB Bryce Love has to be considered the Heisman frontrunner early on, especially since he was the runner-up a year ago. That’s enough for me to consider Stanford a Top 25 team, but the PAC 12 is so loaded that it’s going to take an upset or two for them to get over the hump.

 

 

16     Oklahoma

Last Season:      12-2

Key Games:       10/6 vs. Texas, 10/20 at TCU, 11/23 at West Virginia

I am not buying any pre-season hype that puts the Sooners back in the playoff conversation or even has them in the Top 10. A team just doesn’t replace a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback that easily. It helps that former Texas A&M starter Kyler Murray will be stepping into that role though, and the defense will be counted on to win some close games. A Big 12 title isn’t out of the question, but I believe the road is going to be bumpier than it has been in recent years for Oklahoma.

 

 

15     Ohio State         

Last Season:      12-2

Key Games:       9/15 vs. TCU, 11/29 at Penn St., 11/10 at Michigan St., 11/24 vs. Michigan

No one can convince me that this Urban Meyer kerfuffle won’t cause a disturbance in The Force in Columbus. Whether the coach’s “paid leave” ends tomorrow or he is ultimately terminated damage has already been done, especially as it relates to a very tough early game against TCU. The talent level is indisputably elite on the field, although replacing JT Barrett at quarterback won’t be easy. The Big Ten is just too competitive to expect more than a couple of teams to still be standing in November, and this year I think it’ll be the Buckeyes who are left out in the cold.

 

 

14     Auburn              

Last Season:      10-4

Key Games:       9/1 vs. Washington, 9/15 vs. LSU, 11/10 at Georgia, 11/24 at Alabama

Auburn is in much the same situation as Ohio St. as far as probably being the 3rd  or 4th best team in a deep conference. QB Jarrett Stidham will be an early Heisman contender, but a neutral site season opener against Washington in Atlanta could put the kibosh on everything very quickly. I think the Tigers are looking at atleast three losses, but if they balance those out with an upset or two the season could still be rather successful.

 

 

13     Notre Dame     

Last Season:      10-3

Key Games:       9/1 vs. Michigan, 9/29 vs. Stanford, 10/6 at Virginia Tech, 11/10 vs. Florida St., 11/24 at USC

Brian Kelly probably saved his job last year with a 10 win season following a dismal 2016. The schedule is daunting to say the least, but if the Irish can get a couple of big upsets at home pollsters may be lenient.

 

 

12     South Florida

Last Season:      10-2

Key Games:       10/27 at Houston, 11/23 vs. UCF

A year ago I predicted a Top Ten finish for the Bulls in Charlie Strong’s first year at the helm in Tampa. Instead they finished somewhere around #21 in most polls, in part because of intrastate and AAC rival Central Florida, who went undefeated and snagged that Top Ten spot. UCF is still getting much of the “non-power” love from talking heads this pre-season, but I’m not buying it since Scott Frost bolted to coach at his alma mater Nebraska. Can USF steal the spotlight in 2018?? Can they win the AAC and maybe even go undefeated?? I think it’s possible.

 

 

11     Boise State                

Last Season:      11-3

Key Games:       9/15 at Oklahoma St.

The Broncos are once again defending Mountain West champions and ended last season on a high note by defeating Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl. The issue was their early non-conference schedule, which accounted for two out of three losses. I don’t have Oklahoma St. in this Top 25 because they are replacing a quarterback as well as one of the nation’s best wide receivers, so I think it is possible that Boise could go into Stillwater in mid-September and score an upset. That combined with another conference title could have them hovering near the Top Ten by season’s end.

 

 

10     Southern Cal   

Last Season:      11-3

Key Games:       9/8 at Stanford, 9/15 at Texas, 9/29 at Arizona, 11/24 vs. Notre Dame

Sam Darnold is gone, off to a doomed future quarterbacking the NY Jets. With a true freshman probably stepping into that role it’ll be up to the Trojan defense to keep scores low and grind out some close victories. A non-conference tilt at Texas won’t be a picnic, and the rest of the schedule looks a bit intimidating as well, but The Voices are telling me to go big or go home on this one.

 

 

9       Michigan State 

Last Season:      10-3

Key Games:       10/13 at Penn St., 10/20 vs. Michigan, 11/10 vs., Ohio St.

The Spartans rebounded quite nicely a year ago from a miserable 2016 during which they only won three games. QB Brian Lewerke is said to have NFL potential along the lines of former Michigan St. signal callers Kirk Cousins, Brian Hoyer, Connor Cook,& Drew Stanton, which I’m sure is meant as a compliment. The Big Ten is going to be a grind, but both the Wolverines and the Buckeyes have to come to East Lansing, so an upset or two could really boost the chances of a Top Ten finish and an appearance in the conference title game.

 

 

8       Virginia Tech    

Last Season:      9-4

Key Games:       9/3 at Florida St., 10/6 vs. Notre Dame, 11/17 vs. Miami (FL)

Who said the ACC was a basketball conference?? Okay okay…I’m sure I’ve probably said that in the past, but this season the football side of things could be quite impressive, atleast at the top. The Hokies are always a tough opponent, and after a few lean years they got back to double digit victories last year. I don’t believe that they’ll win the conference title or be a serious playoff contender, but an upset or two could vault them into the Top Ten.

 

 

7       Georgia

Last Season:      13-2

Key Games:       10/13 at LSU, 11/10 vs. Auburn

The Bulldogs played for the National Championship last season and came very close to winning it all before an Alabama comeback that we all knew was coming. I don’t foresee another playoff appearance this year, but they are the clear favorites in their division and should get another crack at ‘Bama in the SEC title game.

 

 

6       Miami (FL)

Last Season:      10-3

Key Games:       9/2 vs. LSU, 10/6 vs. Florida St.

Break out the Turnover Chain!! I have my opinions about that particular “tradition”, but it was an undeniably unique motivational tool last season. I don’t think Florida St. will be an easy out this year, but that might not matter all that much since they play in the other ACC division. An appearance in the conference title game should be expected. The only questions are a) can they get past LSU in the neutral site season opener in Dallas, b) can they stand toe to toe with Clemson in the ACC Championship game, & c) will winning the conference title translate into a playoff berth??

 

 

5       Clemson  

Last Season:      12-2

Key Games:       10/27 at Florida St.

A lot of people are picking Clemson as the favorites to win it all, but as a certain ESPN personality is fond of saying…not so fast my friends. Yes, the Tigers are loaded. They have NFL talent throughout their roster, especially on the defense. Dabo Swinney is a legit great coach and unlike some of his peers he seems like a genuinely good dude. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that they even have a chance to go undefeated. But…but…what if they go into Tallahassee at the end of October and get beat?? Look at the rest of their schedule. Might a one loss ACC Champion with victories on their resume against the likes of Furman, Georgia Southern, Wake Forest, & Syracuse get left on the outside looking in?? I not only believe it is possible…I think it might be probable.

 

 

4       Washington      

Last Season:      10-3 

Key Games:       9/1 vs. Auburn, 10/13 at Oregon, 11/3 vs. Stanford

Speaking of being left out, after a playoff appearance two years ago the Huskies fell short last season because of tough road losses to Arizona St. & Stanford. Trust me y’all, if you can stay awake ‘til about 1am on Saturday nights in the fall PAC 12 football is usually worth watching. Not only does Washington have the best defense in the conference, they also return QB Jake Browning & RB Myles Gaskin. I’m calling it right now…they will beat down Auburn in the non-conference neutral field season opener in Atlanta, which should put the rest of the country on notice that Washington is back and they are for real.

 

 

3       TCU 

Last Season:      11-3

Key Games:       9/15 vs. Ohio St., 9/22 at Texas, 10/20 vs. Oklahoma, 11/10 at West Virginia

Most “experts” are predicting a solid Top 25 season for the Horned Frogs, but I’m taking things a step further. I think they’ll upset Ohio St. in an early season non-conference “neutral site” game at The Palace in Dallas. I parenthesize that because let’s be honest…it isn’t exactly neutral since Dallas is only a half hour from TCU’s campus in Fort Worth. The Buckeyes have had too many distractions this summer and are ripe for the picking. That game is a major reason that I have Ohio St. ranked 15th and TCU in playoff position instead of the other way around. Other than that I look at the fact that Oklahoma has to come to Fort Worth, Texas is rising but not quite there yet, and my Mountaineers tend to screw the pooch in huge home games against top flight opponents. Everything seems to be breaking in TCU’s favor, and if they can take advantage there just might be a national championship opportunity waiting.

 

 

2       Alabama                               

Last Season:      13-1

Key Games:       11/3 at LSU, 11/24 vs. Auburn

Okay okay okay…I give. Uncle!! Uncle!! It has become abundantly clear to me that the playoff committee will twist themselves in knots to roll the Tide into the Final Four. It doesn’t matter if they have a loss or two. It doesn’t matter if they don’t win the SEC Championship. Hell, it doesn’t even matter if they don’t make it to the SEC title game. The powers-that-be rendered conference championship games totally meaningless the minute ‘Bama was awarded a playoff spot last season. They might remedy that someday, but under the current rules I assume Alabama would have to lose atleast three games to be left out of the playoff, and I don’t think that’s going to happen. An early November clash in Baton Rouge will probably be low scoring and a complete snoozefest which will be counterbalanced by an exciting Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa just a few weeks later. If…if…if ‘Bama were to drop both games they MIGHT get left out of the playoff…but maybe not. The biggest offseason news story has been the quarterback battle between last year’s starter Jalen Hurts and sophomore Tua Tagovailoa, who came into the second half of the National Championship Game in January and won the Tide another trophy. Both guys will probably see their fair share of action this season, and I don’t foresee it being an issue. Nick Saban will go with the hot hand and use his special brand of Jedi mind tricks to soothe egos.

 

 

1       Wisconsin        

Last Season:      13-1

Key Games:       10/13 at Michigan, 11/10 at Penn St.

Last season it was Wisconsin’s loss to Ohio St. in the Big Ten title game (combined with the Buckeyes’ inexplicable regular season loss at Iowa) that left a crack in the door that Alabama walked thru all the way to a national championship. Since the Badgers don’t have Michigan St. or Ohio St. on the schedule this year and open the season with games against Western Kentucky, New Mexico, and BYU I expect a fairly clear path to another conference title game…probably against Michigan St….and I don’t think they’ll blow another opportunity. I suppose it’s possible that they could find themselves in the same boat as Clemson, with people questioning their strength of schedule. The easy way to take care of that is to go undefeated. It won’t be easy with trips to The Big House and Happy Valley, but I’m predicting that they’ll get the job done.

2017 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 13

Happy Thanksgiving Manoverse!! I hope all of you will be spending tomorrow enjoying the four F’s…food, family, friends, & football. I believe there are games every day for five days straight, which is pretty cool. Last week was a rather decent week for both of us, although Zach edged me by going 4-1 to my 3-2. I really thought the Seattle Seahawks were going to pull out that Monday night game. Ah well…c’est la vie, and we move on. We’re probably going to be sticking strictly to college football the next couple of weeks. This is commonly known as Rivalry Week, although realignment has negatively impacted the concept. As a West Virginia Mountaineers fan I really miss The Backyard Brawl against the Pitt Panthers. However, a few big games remain, and as a bonus a few of them even have playoff implications. Next week will be the conference title games, and a couple games this week will determine some of those matchups. It’s a great time to be a football fan. Enjoy.

My Season:        38-36

Z’s Season:        39-35

 

 

 

 

 

South Florida              at      Central Florida (-11)

In my pre-season poll I predicted that it’d be the Bulls who would reign supreme among the “non-power” teams, but it’s the undefeated Knights who have emerged at the top of that particular heap. USF isn’t far behind though, and with a victory could catapult themselves into a New Year’s bowl game against a “power” opponent. The winner of this game will face Memphis in the AAC title game. I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to sticking with my pre-season picks, and it’s not as if 9-1 USF is a bad team. The two campuses are less than a hundred miles apart, so I don’t think the home field advantage is much of a factor. Kickoff is on Black Friday afternoon, and I’ll be glad to be home cheering for the Bulls rather than fighting crowds at a shopping mall. Zach likes UCF head coach Scott Frost (who’s probably leaving soon for Nebraska), so he’s going with the favorites.

My Pick:     South Florida

Z’s Pick:     Central Florida

 

 

 

Louisville (-10)            at      Kentucky

No, it’s not a basketball game. Actually these are two rather decent football teams. The 7-4 Cardinals haven’t gotten as much attention as a year ago when quarterback Lamar Jackson took the NCAA by storm en route to winning the Heisman Trophy, but they’ve still had a nice season. The Wildcats are also 7-4 with impressive wins over Tennessee and South Carolina. Kentucky has the home field and the double digit points are a bit much in my opinion, so I’m leaning toward the underdogs. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Kentucky

Z’s Pick:     Kentucky

 

 

 

Florida State (-5)                  at      Florida

What a disappointing season it has been for both of these teams. The Seminoles stumbled right out of the gate and lost their starting QB for the season. At 4-6 this is a must win to even become bowl eligible, a circumstance they’re certainly not accustomed to in Tallahassee. The Gators are also 4-6 and have already fired their coach. They have no chance at qualifying for a bowl unless the NCAA makes some kind of exception since an early season game was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma. What it all boils down to is that this is as close to post-season action as one or both of these teams might get, which makes it atleast somewhat interesting. Because the Seminoles still have a reasonable shot at being invited to a bowl game I have to give them the nod. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Florida State

Z’s Pick:     Florida State

 

 

 

Notre Dame (-2.5)       at      Stanford

The Irish blew their opportunity to get into the playoff when they lost to Miami a couple of weeks ago, but at 9-2 will still probably find themselves playing in a January bowl game. Stanford may or not be heading to next week’s Pac 12 championship, but at 8-3 will be playing somewhere in the post-season. This game doesn’t affect their conference situation either way, but pride, momentum, & bowl position are on the line. It feels like a toss-up to me, but I’m going to pick the home team to score the mild upset. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Stanford

Z’s Pick:     Stanford

 

 

 

Washington State      at      Washington (-9)

Stanford’s hopes of playing in the Pac 12 title game depend on the result of this game. If the Cougars win they’re in. If the Huskies win then Stanford earns the right to meet USC next week based on their victory over Washington a couple of weeks ago. They call this game the Apple Cup, and when you peel away the hype and look at the core of the matchup the more fruitful offense belongs to Washington St., while Washington’s defense has a bit more juice. Ok…yeah…that was fun!! Anyway, The Vibes are telling me that Cougars’ QB Luke Falk…a potential first round NFL draft choice…will have a big day and lead his team to a huge win. Zach really likes State head coach Mike Leach and believes he will lead his team to victory.

My Pick:     Washington State

Z’s Pick:     Washington State

 

 

 

Ohio State          (-11.5)        at      Michigan

Everyone was a lot more excited about this matchup a few months ago. Since then the Wolverines have gone 8-3 and are nowhere near the playoff conversation or conference title contention, while the 9-2 Buckeyes will be playing in the Big Ten title game but are 9th in the playoff poll and would need a lot of dominoes to fall the right way. Still…it’s Ohio St.-Michigan. This IS college football. I’m not sure what exactly has gone wrong with the Wolverines this season, but I believe they are better than their record. The game is in The Big House in Ann Arbor, which is another factor to consider. Ohio St. is clearly the superior team and motivated by a lingering yet admittedly miniscule chance at a playoff spot so I think they’ll win, but what about the points?? The smart assumption is probably that it’ll be a closer game than the oddsmakers indicate, but sometimes one has to go big or go home. Zach’s opinion…in the interest of full accuracy…is “screw Ohio St”.

My Pick:     Ohio State

Z’s Pick:     Michigan

 

 

 

Alabama (-4.5)            at      Auburn

They call this the Iron Bowl because the city of Birmingham was a big producer of iron & steel back in the 70’s. More tangibly, this has become one of the most anticipated annual games on the calendar because one or both teams are consistently near the top of the rankings and there is usually a lot riding on the outcome…this year is no exception. ‘Bama is the undefeated #1 team in the country and will secure a spot in the SEC title game with a victory. In my opinion if they make it that far they’ll be in the playoff win or lose. However, Auburn would take that SEC championship game spot and vault themselves into the playoff conversation with a victory. Tide head coach Nick Saban grew up in Monongah, WV which is about a half hour up the road from me, so most folks around here like to see him be successful, but as a football fan not only do I usually cheer for the underdog but I am also thoroughly bored with Alabama. Dynasties are only entertaining to fans of that particular team…everybody else is rooting for them to get knocked off. I also love chaos when it comes to the playoff because the methodology just doesn’t frost my cupcake. So that’s why I’ll be cheering for Auburn. Zach is fully invested in the Saban lovefest and thinks the Tide will roll by three TDs.

My Pick:     Auburn

Z’s Pick:     Alabama

 

2017 College Football Pre-Season Top 25

With the exception of the Thanksgiving-Christmas corridor this might be my favorite time of year. Anticipation is at its zenith and the possibilities are endless. Just looking at the schedules has me amped up, especially for two or three weekends when the lineup looks to be especially loaded. Whenever I begin this process I almost always get The Vibes, and the word that keeps popping into my head at the moment is parity. It is unlikely that any team gets thru their season unbeaten, and it’s entirely possible that a team with 2 or 3 losses sneaks into the playoff. Saturdays are going to be as glorious as usual this autumn, if only I can stay awake to watch the games. 16 of the 25 teams I have ranked here had 10 or more victories last season, and a few more won 9 games. Who will shockingly fall off the map?? Who will do a complete turnaround and climb out of the abyss of losing seasons into the Top 25?? Only time will tell, and what follows represents my best guess based solely on minimal research & decades as a dedicated fan, not any sort of insider knowledge. Perhaps we’ll look back in a few months and laugh at my foolishness, or maybe…just maybe…I will prove my worth as a bona fide guru. Who knows??

 

 

 

 

 

1          USC

Last Season:             10-3

Key Games:              9/9 vs. Stanford, 10/21 at Notre Dame, 11/18 vs. UCLA

Honestly, the schedule doesn’t look all that daunting for a top tier team, and with Heisman Trophy contender Sam Darnold behind center I don’t think we’ll see the Trojans go backward. Clay Helton is firmly entrenched as the head coach, providing consistency that the program has been lacking in recent years. If any big time powerhouse has a legit chance to go undefeated this is the one, and at the very least anything short of a playoff appearance will be a huge disappointment.

 

 

2          Penn State

Last Season:             11-3

Key Games:              10/21 vs. Michigan, 10/28 at Ohio St.

Last season’s Rose Bowl was probably the best post-season game other than the national championship. USC bested the Nittany Lions 52-49 on a last second field goal, and in many people’s minds it was a harbinger of fantastic things to come for both teams. The Sandusky/Paterno kerfuffle seems to be in the rear view mirror for Penn St., and while we could engage in endless sociopolitical commentary about all of that there is no doubt that moving past the fallout is good for the football program. There are two Heisman contenders in Happy Valley…QB Trace McSorely & RB Saquon Barkley…and, while I’m no expert, I have to believe that bodes well for the team’s chances of success. They’ll have to face the Buckeyes in Columbus, but Michigan will be a home game. If the Lions can split those two huge games I think they just might be national title contenders.

 

 

3          Oklahoma State

Last Season:             10-3

Key Games:              10/21 at Texas, 11/4 vs. Oklahoma

Surprise!! While the other team in Oklahoma usually gets all of the attention (and still will this year) the Cowboys have been pretty successful, racking up 10 or more wins in five of the past seven seasons. QB Mason Rudolph returns for his senior season, and it feels like he may be flying under the radar just like his team. That’s probably fine with the folks in Stillwater. Don’t be surprised if this is the team that comes out on the positive end of Bedlam, and I think they might even have an outside shot at perfection.

 

 

4          Florida State

Last Season:             10-3   

Key Games:              9/2 vs. Alabama, 9/16 vs. Miami (FL), 11/11 at Clemson

The season opener against Alabama will obviously set a tone for the season. That game is a neutral site contest in Atlanta and is the highlight of college football’s first weekend. A win would set the Seminoles on a course for a playoff appearance, but I don’t think a loss would be fatal. They’re still the favorites to win the ACC.

 

 

5          Ohio State

Last Season:             11-2

Key Games:              9/9 vs. Oklahoma, 10/28 vs. Penn St., 11/25 at Michigan

The Buckeyes still have JT Barrett behind center, and that gives them an immediate advantage. They did lose seven players to the NFL, but that’s nothing to an elite program. The second weekend of games will be highlighted by Ohio St. against Oklahoma, but it’s in Columbus and, while the talking heads will do their best to pump up the hype machine, I really don’t think it’ll be much of a contest. Penn St. will visit Columbus right before Halloween & a showdown in The Big House wraps up the regular season, and it is in one of these games that I expect Ohio St.’s playoff dreams to be dashed.

 

 

6          Alabama

Last Season:             14-1

Key Games:              9/2 vs. Florida St., 11/4 vs. LSU, 11/25 at Auburn

I’m a non-conformist so I rarely do what everybody else does…rank ‘Bama #1. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong. They may win or they may lose the season opener against Florida St., but The Voices are telling me that the true waterloo for the Tide will come in November against an archrival…either LSU or Auburn. Maybe both. A one or two loss Alabama would almost certainly still be in the playoff conversation, but I think they’ll fall short of the goal.

 

 

7          South Florida

Last Season:             11-2

Key Games:              9/15 vs. Illinois, 11/4 vs. Houston

Charlie Strong wasn’t deemed good enough to get the job done for Texas, but he’s moved on and found himself in a good situation. The American Athletic Conference doesn’t get much respect, but someone’s going to win it and the Bulls seem to be receiving all the buzz despite a coaching change that would normally be cause for apprehension. They’ll need to go undefeated to rank this high, and I don’t believe that to be an unreasonable expectation.

 

 

8          Georgia

Last Season:             8-5

Key Games:              9/9 at Notre Dame, 9/30 at Tennessee, 10/28 vs. Florida

It’s season 2 for Kirby Smart as the head coach in Athens, and I think his team will be more successful than they were last year. Obviously the SEC is extremely competitive, but if the Bulldogs can win a couple of the noted key games a Top 10 finish isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Running back Nick Chubb passed up being a likely first round NFL Draft pick to return for his senior season, a huge positive. A Georgia-Alabama conference title game could be really fun.

 

 

9          Wisconsin

Last Season:             11-3

Key Games:              10/7 at Nebraska, 11/18 vs. Michigan

I’m a little nervous about this one because the Big Ten is so tough. Can they really land three teams in the Top 10? And if so, is this the right third team?? I’ve left Nebraska, Northwestern, & Iowa out of this Top 25 altogether, but they’re always dangerous opponents. I’m betting that the Badgers get by all of them, meaning that a mid-November clash with Michigan…in Wisconsin…might decide a spot in the conference title game.

 

 

10        Auburn

Last Season:             8-5

Key Games:              9/9 at Clemson, 10/14 at LSU, 11/11 vs. Georgia, 11/25 vs. Alabama

The Tigers have been a bit off the radar the past few years since winning the national championship in 2010 and losing the title game in 2013. They are 23-16 over the past three seasons. Not bad, but not remarkable either. Exceeding mediocrity will be a tall order this season. They’ll need to pull off upsets in a couple of the games I have noted, but doing so would surely make them a solid Top 10 team.

 

 

11        Oklahoma

Last Season:             11-2

Key Games:              9/9 at Ohio St., 10/14 vs. Texas, 11/4 at Oklahoma St.

QB Baker Mayfield will get a lot of Heisman hype early in the season, but I’m just a bit uneasy about the sudden departure of head coach Bob Stoops. The Sooners will have superior talent on the field as they always do, and all indications are that new coach Lincoln Riley is a bright young mind who probably would’ve been a head coach somewhere sooner rather than later anyway, but I just don’t foresee a team undergoing such a coaching change contending for a national championship, especially with a daunting early season battle on the road in Columbus, OH. There’s also the fact that the Big 12 is expected to be as competitive this season as it’s been in awhile. Oklahoma will be a good team, but I think they’ll be on the losing end of one or two games that most wouldn’t expect them to lose.

 

 

12        Washington

Last Season:             12-2

Key Games:              9/23 at Colorado, 10/28 vs. UCLA, 11/25 vs. Washington St.

The Huskies were a playoff team last season and QB Jake Browning returns for his junior year. That’s good enough for me to take this team seriously. Barring any surprising losses it feels like Washington should be the favorite in their division to get a shot at the Pac 12 title, but I think that’s the ceiling. Any unexpected stumbles along the way could cause a rapid tumble down the rankings.

 

 

13        Louisville

Last Season:             9-4

Key Games:              9/16 vs. Clemson, 10/21 at Florida St.

Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson returns under center, and while there’s no denying that he’s a dynamic player the fact is that he’s not going to sneak up on anyone this year. Even going back to last season it seems like opponents began to figure him out since the Cardinals lost three straight to end the year, including a beatdown in the Citrus Bowl at the hands of LSU. Having said all of that, I think a 9 win season is possible. Keep an eye on the games against Clemson & Florida State. I expect both to be losses, but if they’re competitive contests it’ll go a long way toward earning Louisville respect.

 

 

14        Clemson

Last Season:             14-1

Key Games:              11/11 vs. Florida St.

Replacing a starting quarterback might be just as daunting as rebooting things under a new head coach. I am a huge fan of Deshaun Watson, who is now plying his trade in the NFL with the Houston Texans, and I don’t believe he’ll be easily forgotten (he should’ve won the Heisman Trophy last year). I have no doubt that the defending national champions will just reload at most positions, and head coach Dabo Sweeney is the real deal, but I think the Tigers will taste bitter defeat at the hands of archrival Florida St., and will probably be upset in atleast one other game.

 

 

15        Michigan

Last Season:             10-3

Key Games:              9/2 vs. Florida, 10/21 at Penn St., 11/25 vs. Ohio St.

When Jim Harbaugh was hired as the Wolverines’ head coach back in 2015 I predicted that they’d be “legitimate national championship contenders within three years”. However, faced with the task of replacing about 75% of the starting rotations on both sides of the ball I think it might be wise to dial back expectations just a bit. They have Ohio St. at The Big House in Ann Arbor, but must travel to Happy Valley to face Penn St. Another 10 win season would be phenomenal in a stacked Big Ten…anything more than that is probably wishful thinking.

 

 

16        West Virginia

Last Season:             10-3

Key Games:              9/3 vs. Virginia Tech, 10/28 vs. Oklahoma St., 11/18 vs. Texas, 11/25 at Oklahoma

Expectations are high for the Mountaineers, atleast here in West Virginia. The long awaited debut of QB Will Grier, a transfer from Florida who had to sit out last season, is imminent, and he’ll have no shortage of weapons, including RBs Kennedy McCoy & Justin Crawford and WRs Juvon Durante & KaRaun White. The X factor is the defense, which must replace the entire front line and cornerback Rasul Douglas, who has moved on to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. The optimism probably doesn’t spread too far outside the Mountain State, but that’s alright…we’re used to everyone underestimating us in all walks of life. West Virginia MUST beat archrival Virginia Tech in the season opener, and then pull off atleast one upset in big games against celebrated conference rivals.

 

 

17        Boise St.

Last Season:             10-3

Key Games:              10/6 at BYU, 11/11 at Colorado St.

The Broncos are what they are. They’ll win 9 or 10 games, play for the conference title, and try to surprise everyone by upsetting a team from a “power” conference in a bowl game. But wait…Boise HASN’T played for the Mountain West championship or in a bowl game that people actually watch since 2014. Can they rebound this year?? I think so.

 

 

18        Virginia Tech

Last Season:             10-4

Key Games:              9/3 vs. West Virginia, 9/30 vs. Clemson, 11/4 at Miami (FL)

In his first season as the Hokies’ head coach Justin Fuente led his team to 10 wins and spot in the conference title game. Can that success be duplicated in 2017?? Maybe. The ACC isn’t a cakewalk by any stretch, and a neutral site season opener against my WV Mountaineers won’t be an automatic win. The difference in Tech’s season will be whether they win 7/8 games or 9/10 games. Either is possible.

 

 

19        Florida

Last Season:             9-4

Key Games:              9/2 vs. Michigan, 10/7 vs. LSU, 10/28 vs. Georgia, 11/25 vs. Florida St.

It wasn’t that long ago that almost every team would open the season with a couple of easy games against cupcake opponents, the result usually being a 65-10 snoozefest that accomplished nothing except filling the coffers of the overmatched losing team. However, with the advent of the four team playoff strength of schedule has become a point of emphasis. One wouldn’t think that teams from the heralded SEC would need to concern themselves with such matters, but it looks like they’re not taking any chances. The Gators begin their season at The Palace in Dallas against Michigan. The winner will probably be vaulted into the Top 10, the loser will have to battle back. Either way Florida will have a tough road after that first game, and they’ll need to upset a couple of conference opponents to finish as a ranked team.

 

 

20        Texas

Last Season:             5-7

Key Games:              9/16 at USC, 10/14 vs. Oklahoma, 10/21 vs. Oklahoma St.

Here’s what I find interesting. IF the South Florida Bulls do as well as most are predicting in Charlie Strong’s first year as head coach there, what does it say about his ability?? And IF the Longhorns bounce back from a long stretch of mediocrity as well, does credit have to be given to new head coach Tom Herman, or will it be because Strong recruited well and the suits in Austin pulled the plug on him too soon?? It’s a conversation I’ll be looking forward to throughout the season. I don’t think Texas is going to suddenly be a threat to win 10 games or compete for the Big 12 title, but if they can pull off an upset or two, play Southern Cal tough in the opener, and ultimately win 8 games I think this spot would be well earned.

 

 

21        Stanford

Last Season:             10-3

Key Games:              9/9 at USC, 9/23 vs. UCLA, 11/10 vs. Washington, 11/25 vs. Notre Dame

Contrary to what the folks in SEC territory would have us believe I happen to think that the Big Ten & Pac 12 are the toughest football conferences in America. Stanford always seems to be in the mix near the top, and I have no reason to foresee anything different this season. They’ll need to score a couple of big upsets, and the fact that 3 of the 4 key games I have noted are being played in Palo Alto should certainly help the cause. Look for an 8 or 9 win season and a ranking somewhere in the lower portion of the Top 25.

 

 

22        LSU

Last Season:             8-4

Key Games:              10/7 at Florida, 10/14 vs. Auburn, 11/4 at Alabama

Allow me to say something controversial. I think Leonard Fournette was an overrated college running back that will have a relatively short and very average NFL career. There…I said it!! At any rate, I don’t believe Fournette’s departure will have that much of an impact on the Bayou Bengals. Actually it may help not having him as a distraction. What doesn’t help is a schedule that includes trips to The Swamp and Tuscaloosa. 9 wins and a 3rd place finish in their division looks like the ceiling, and that’d be good enough to finish as a ranked team. Head coach Ed Orgeron is firmly entrenched as the head coach for now, but I have to believe that he’s on a short leash. He’ll get two seasons to prove his worth, and probably needs to win 8 or 9 games each year.

 

 

23        Miami (FL)

Last Season:             9-4

Key Games:              9/16 at Florida St., 11/4 vs. Virginia Tech, 11/11 vs. Notre Dame

Head coach Mark Richt acquitted himself quite nicely in his first season in Coral Gables, as the ‘Canes continue to hover on the fringes of their former glory. With the ACC raising the bar and being one of the better conferences I have a difficult time seeing them making any kind of significant leap in 2017. However, if they can win a couple of key games and beat all of the teams they’re supposed to defeat I don’t think equaling last year’s success is an unreasonable expectation.

 

 

24        UCLA

Last Season:             4-8    

Key Games:              9/23 at Stanford, 10/28 at Washington, 11/18 at USC

Despite recent comments that “football and school don’t go together” (a statement that might contain a kernel of truth but should never be verbalized) I like QB Josh Rosen. He’ll be a first round NFL draft pick next spring, and his importance became clear when the Bruins lost 4 out of their final 5 games when Rosen suffered a season ending shoulder injury last year. The Pac 12 is super tough, but I think UCLA flips the script and wins 8 games.

 

 

25          Notre Dame

Last Season:             4-8

Key Games:              9/9 vs. Georgia, 10/21 vs. USC, 11/11 at Miami (FL), 11/25 at Stanford

Surely the beloved Fighting Irish won’t finish with a losing record two years in a row?? If they could pull off one…or two…upsets sneaking into the rankings seems like a solid possibility. Conversely, another bad year might mean the end of the road for head coach Brian Kelly.

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2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 12

football2Well…I said I liked chaos in college football, and we got it…kind of. For the first time since The Breakfast Club had to spend a whole Saturday in detention 3 of the Top 4 teams in the country lost last weekend. One would assume that’d mean a major shakeup in the playoff picture, but…not so much. Two of the teams that lost…Michigan & Clemson…remain in the Top 4, while Washington didn’t fall all that far. I used to be VERY critical of the old BCS system. However, while I am glad that we have a four team playoff, the current system really isn’t that much better. It’s a bunch of suits with preconceived notions & undeniable biases sitting behind closed doors and protecting the traditionally elite programs, then spending the next few days absurdly rationalizing their prejudice. Let’s be honest…out of the 128 FBS football programs only about three dozen have a realistic opportunity in any given season to win the national title (and that’s probably being generous). Not even all of the teams in the “power” conferences receive serious consideration. Personally I’d like to see an expanded six team playoff, with the top two teams getting a first round bye. At any rate, y’all came here for some picks. To say last week was rough would be an understatement. It’s not the first time I’ve went 0-5, and it probably won’t be the last, but it’s never fun. Zach did a little better at 1-4. Hey, atleast we can’t get worse, right??

My Season:        31-35

Z’s Season:        24-42

 

 

 

 

Louisville (-14)  at      Houston

houstonNot long ago this was a highly anticipated matchup with possible playoff implications. But then the Cougars unexpectedly lost two games in Louisville-CardinalsOctober and are now seemingly an afterthought. I wonder if head coach Tom Herman is still at the top of the list for all those bigtime jobs?? The Cardinals look like a surefire playoff team as one would assume that the loser of Ohio St./Michigan later on this month will get bounced with two losses. The suits have no reason to overlook or outright screw Louisville since quarterback and Heisman Trophy frontrunner Lamar Jackson would be a big ratings draw, but that is assuming they win this game. I’m not sure who will ultimately end up on top, however I do think it’ll be much closer than a two TD difference. Zach, on the other hand, is a big believer in Jackson and thinks he’ll have another big game.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Louisville

 

 

Florida                at      LSU (-13.5)

florida gators imageThis game was originally scheduled a few weeks ago but a hurricane forced postponement. Both teams paid off two lesser opponents to go away lsu_logoto fit this one in. The Bayou Bengals have rebounded from their early season struggles and won 4 out of the last 5, playing Alabama tough in a loss. The Gators are leading their division and would love to get a crack at The Tide in the SEC title game. I don’t mean to sound repetitive, but this is another contest where I don’t have a good feel for who might win, but I do believe that the spread is a bit high. Zach is looking at RB Leonard Fournette, who has unfortunately fallen out of the Heisman debate, to have a big game and lead LSU to an easy victory.

My Pick:     Florida

Z’s Pick:     LSU

 

 

USC (-13)            at      UCLA

ucla_bruins2After starting the season 1-3 the Trojans are on a roll and have an outside shot to make it to the Pac 12 title game. Conversely, the 4-6 Bruins are USC_Trojans2having an awful year. QB sensation Josh Rosen has missed half the season with a shoulder injury and won’t be back this year. Looking at these two teams one can see that UCLA has been competitive in every game they’ve lost, while USC has won games by an average of almost 20 points during the current winning streak. Something’s gotta give Saturday night. I don’t think home field will make much of a difference since the two schools are less than 15 miles apart, so this is all about The Vibes which are telling me the Trojans will win…but it’ll be close. Once again Zach is going in the other direction and thinks USC will continue their streak.

My Pick:     UCLA

Z’s Pick:     USC

 

 

New Orleans     at      Carolina (-3.5)

Not only will Houston & Louisville be teeing it up on Thursday night, but the NFL is offering this little gem. I’m looking forward to a fun evening of channel flipping. graphics-football-new-orleans-saintsNeither team is doing well, but the difference is that expectations were low for the Saints, while the Panthers are the defending NFC Champions. Before the season I said that New Orleans would make the playoffs as a wildcard. Of course I also opined that Carolina wouldn’t regress like so many Super Bowl runners-up tend to do. I’d really like to see atleast one of my predictions come true. Zach is predicting a high scoring game with little defensive presence. He likes QB Drew Brees to lead his team to a big win.

My Pick:     New Orleans

Z’s Pick:     New Orleans

 

 

Green Bay                   at      Washington (-2.5)

The Packers are having quite the rocky season and have lost three straight games. I’ve even seen some articles saying that head coach Mike McCarthy might be lookingpackersminihelmet_large for a new job this offseason. The good news is that they are only a game back in the NFC North. The Vikings have self-destructed after a hot start and the Bears are…well…the Bears, so maybe The Cheeseheads need to r-e-l-a-x (seems like I’ve heard that somewhere before). Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, the Redskins are just trying to remain in the wildcard conversation since catching up to the red hot Dallas Cowboys looks rather improbable. This feels like a turning point. The winner of this game can move forward with renewed optimism, while the season is probably all but done for the loser. I still believe that Green Bay is the better team and Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Green Bay

Z’s Pick:     Green Bay

2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 5

football-introducing-the-science_1Thank God we don’t do this for money. Last week I was a putrid 1-4, while Zach fared slightly better at 2-3. I knew I was taking some chances, and unfortunately they didn’t pan out in my favor. At any rate, my pre-season Top 4 of Clemson, Oklahoma, Alabama, & Ohio St. still looks atleast ¾ solid, with Oklahoma being the lone disappointment at this stage. Conversely my Super Bowl pick of Arizona vs. Kansas City doesn’t look so profound thus far, although it is early in the season. There are lots of good games this week, and I pondered doing some bonus picks, if for no other reason than to try to get back on an even keel. However ultimately I decided against that idea…for now.

My Season:  9-13

Z’s Season:   8-14

 

 

 

 

Stanford       at        Washington (-3)

Stanford got by UCLA last week to improve to 3-0. They are firmly entrenched in the Top 10, and RB/WR Christian McCaffrey looks to be in a two manStanford-Logo-Tree Heisman race with Houston QB Lamar Jackson. The Huskies aren’t too shabby themselves, standing at 4-0, although their schedule hasn’t been all that tough. That all changes this week. This is a rare Friday night gem on ESPN, and since I have a rare Friday night off from work I’m looking forward to watching. Washington is getting the requisite home field bump, but I’m not buying it. I think Stanford is a better team and McCaffrey needs to make a statement to take some of the focus off of Jackson. Zach isn’t all that impressed with Stanford and would like to see the home team get the victory, but his head is guiding him toward the underdogs.

My Pick:        Stanford

Z’s Pick:         Stanford

 

 

Northwestern        at        Iowa (-13)

Northwestern_WildcatsThese two teams are in an uphill battle to win their division of the Big Ten (which has 14 teams). But since a collapse by iowaWisconsin and/or Nebraska isn’t that far-fetched this is an important game with possible conference title implications. Iowa was thought by many to be a possible Top 10 team coming into the season, but an inexplicable loss to 1-AA North Dakota St….at home…has given everybody pause. Meanwhile the unpredictable Wildcats are 1-3, with surprising losses to Western Michigan & Illinois St. derailing their season right out of the gate. A Northwestern victory would certainly be unexpected, but I’m not sure it’d be totally shocking. Do I expect that to happen?? No. However I do think it is very possible that the underdogs stay within ten points. Conversely, Zach believes that Iowa will run away with an easy win in the second half.

My Pick:        Northwestern

Z’s Pick:         Iowa

 

 

Oklahoma (-3.5)    at        TCU

oklahomaThe Sooners were my pre-season #2, but two early losses to Houston & Ohio St….nothing to be ashamed of…have imploded any TCU Cool Logoplayoff aspirations. I did not have the Horned Frogs in my Top 25, but they have gotten off to a solid 3-1 start. It says a lot that Oklahoma is favored on the road, and I have no reason to disagree with that assessment. Zach, on the other hand, likes the home team to prevail.

My Pick:        Oklahoma

Z’s Pick:         TCU

 

 

Louisville (-1.5)      at        Clemson

clemsonThe Cardinals have obliterated perennial national title contender Florida St. and my alma mater, the Marshall Thundering Louisville_Cardinals3Herd, in successive weeks. Almost everybody has jumped on their bandwagon. Yet I just can’t seem to commit to the idea of them being totally legit. Clemson was my pre-season #1, but due to a weak early schedule and a season opener in which Auburn had an opportunity to pull off the upset in the waning seconds before failing to execute many have eased off the hype machine. Don’t worry Clemson…I’m still with you. I just cannot fathom Louisville going into Death Valley and winning this game. Zach is all in on Cardinals’ QB Lamar Jackson. He sees Louisville as a serious playoff contender and thinks they win this game by atleast two TDs.

My Pick:        Clemson

Z’s Pick:         Louisville

 

 

Indianapolis (-2.5)             vs.       Jacksonville

I picked the Colts to win their division, thinking that last season’s 8-8 record was just a bump in the road due to some injuries sustained by QB Indianapolis_Colts_HelmetAndrew Luck. What I failed to consider was that those injuries were a result of a mediocre offensive line, an issue that Indianapolis hasn’t really fixed. Indy comes into this game 1-2, while the Jaguars, who everyone thought was showing signs of improvement, are off to a terrible 0-3 start. The good news for both teams is that Texans’ sack master JJ Watt is out for the season with continued back problems, so Houston doesn’t seem so intimidating now. Which second-rate team will win a pedestrian division?? Stay tuned. This game is being played in London and begins at 9am Sunday morning here in the eastern U.S. Fortunately for clergyman everywhere it’s not one that most will feel the urge to skip church to watch. I am loyal to a fault when it comes to my pre-season choices, so I’m not abandoning the Colts’ ship just yet. Zach concurs.

My Pick:        Indianapolis

Z’s Pick:         Indianapolis