2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 11

A year ago, at this point in the season, the College Football Playoff had Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, & Clemson in its Top 4. Three of those four actually ended up in the playoff. So what is going to happen this season with Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, & Michigan?? Who knows?? ‘Bama will meet Georgia in the SEC title game, but one has to wonder if the Tide would still roll into the playoff even after a loss. I say yes. Clemson’s path looks pretty clear since they have no serious competition in the ACC. Notre Dame still has to travel to USC, and I’m not sure whether or not anyone should take Syracuse seriously. Michigan has to travel to Columbus, OH to face the Buckeyes to end the season, and if they clear that hurdle they’ll be heavily favored in the Big Ten title game. At any rate, there is still a lot of football to be played. Last week Zach & I shared dismal 2-3 records, and I think we’ve reached the point at which some bonus picks might be warranted.

My Season:     25-31

Z’s Season:     23-33

 

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma State                   at               Oklahoma (-19)

They usually call this rivalry Bedlam, but with the 5-4 Cowboys struggling this year after three straight ten win seasons the game lacks its usual luster. Having said that, State has beaten Boise St. & Texas, so they’re not all that terrible. The 8-1 Sooners lost to the same Texas team that State defeated, but they sit atop the Big 12 standings and still have a legit chance to make it into the playoff. Never say never as far as an outright upset goes, but I’d be surprised if Oklahoma lost at home. However, the question becomes whether or not they’ll cover the points. Zach doesn’t care for Oklahoma’s defense but he feels like State’s offense looks sluggish. Neither of us are too sure of an outcome, but we both think it’ll be a fairly competitive game.

My Pick:     Oklahoma State

Z’s Pick:     Oklahoma State

 

 

 

Oregon                         at                Utah (-3.5)

The Pac 12 isn’t getting all that much attention, in part because there is no one dominant team. The standings are a jumbled mess and the conference champion will have no chance to make the playoff. Both teams are 6-3, but only Utah still has a shot to get to the conference title game, plus they have the home field. That’s good enough for me. Zach thinks Utah is DOA after losing their starting QB to a broken collarbone and believes Oregon will win by multiple TDs.

My Pick:     Utah

Z’s Pick:     Oregon

 

 

Texas (-1.5)                 at                Texas Tech

On the surface these are two teams heading in the opposite direction. The 6-3 Longhorns have lost two straight, including a heartbreaker to the WV Mountaineers, while 5-4 Tech gave Oklahoma a hell of a battle last week before going down. The Red Raiders have the home field, but I just don’t think that’s enough. Texas still has a shot to play in the conference title game, and I don’t believe they’ll screw it up. Zach likes Tech’s ability to put up points on offense so he’s picking the upset.

My Pick:     Texas

Z’s Pick:     Texas Tech

 

 

Virginia Tech              at                Pitt (-2.5)

If you would’ve asked me two months ago which one of these teams had the best opportunity to play in the ACC title game I would have chosen Tech without hesitation, but surprise surprise…it’s the 5-4 Panthers who lead their division and would be the lamb led to slaughter at the hands of Clemson if the season ended today. But that could all change, beginning with this game. I had the Hokies in my pre-season Top 10, but at 4-4 they haven’t lived up to my lofty expectations. Pitt has the home field, but as much as I adore Heinz Field when my Steelers play there, as far as I can tell when watching on TV the stadium usually seems half empty on Saturdays. The Vibes are telling me that Tech is still a better team, despite their mediocre record. Zach foresees a slow & boring defensive battle and likes the home team to win a close one.

My Pick:     Virginia Tech

Z’s Pick:     Pitt

 

 

UCLA                            at                Arizona State (-12.5)

Isn’t it amazing how quickly Herm Edwards has turned around the Sun Devils?? Atleast it feels that way. I don’t know if their record will end up being much better than it had been the past few seasons, but when watching them one gets the sense that they are headed for good things. Conversely, the Bruins sit at the bottom of the Pac 12, and it is a bit jarring how fast the shine has worn off of head coach Chip Kelly, who was thought to be one of the best in the business just a few years ago. I’m a little nervous about the points, but I’m going with the favorites to cover. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Arizona State

Z’s Pick:     Arizona State

 

 

Clemson (-20)             at                Boston College

Clemson looks like a lock to make the playoff, but have they really played anyone?? With the exception of a close out of conference road win at Texas A&M I’m not sure their case is all that strong. Can the 7-2 Eagles mount a challenge?? I’d like to see it, and I believe it may be possible. I won’t go so far as to predict an outright upset, but the points are a bit much for my comfort. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Boston College

Z’s Pick:     Boston College

 

 

New Orleans (-4.5)               at                Cincinnati

The 7-1 Saints just acquired WR Dez Bryant, and that’s kind of a big deal. I don’t think he’s a #1 receiver anymore, but throw him into the mix with Michael Thomas & RB Alvin Kamara with Drew Brees slinging the rock and New Orleans is just that much more of a legit contender. Of course I’m not even sure he’ll play at all in this game since he was just signed and might need a week or two to learn the playbook & shake off some rust. The Bengals are…as usual…one of the NFL’s forgotten teams, but the truth is that they’re a half game out of the division lead and a strong playoff contender. Could this be a trap game for New Orleans after the hype of last week’s victory over the Rams?? Cincy has the home field…but I just can’t pull the trigger. I wouldn’t be shocked to see New Orleans lose, but I’m not going to pick against them, and neither is Zach.

My Pick:     New Orleans

Z’s Pick:     New Orleans

 

 

Jacksonville               at                Indianapolis (-3)

Who would have believed before the season began that these teams would be tied in the cellar of their division?? The Jags were being touted as a Super Bowl contender, but at 3-5 they’ve hardly looked the part. You may recall that in my NFL Preview I called Jacksonville RB Leonard Fournette “an injury waiting to happen”, and lo & behold…he gone!! Meanwhile, Colts’ QB Andrew Luck has shown flashes of being what everyone thought he could become before he was bitten by the injury bug. The obvious concern is how Indy’s offensive line will hold up against Jacksonville’s formidable defense. Can Luck survive the game intact?? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to roll the dice and predict he will be just fine. Conversely, Zach believes the Jags will win by double digits.

My Pick:     Indianapolis

Z’s Pick:     Jacksonville

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 6

It’s my birthday y’all!! However, the difference between 23 and 46 is that doing these picks will be the highlight of my day, sandwiched between doing laundry and going to work later tonight. Adulting really isn’t much fun sometimes. And speaking of no fun…last week was pretty brutal. Zach (4-4) bested me (3-5) and has now taken the season lead. Both of us are still below .500, but for now we’re not going to chase wins with bonus picks.

My Season:     13-18

Z’s Season:     14-17

 

 

 

 

Texas                  vs.              Oklahoma (-7.5)

The Red River Shootout. I know the talking heads don’t use that moniker anymore because of misguided social engineering, but I don’t follow their rules. The 5-0 Sooners have steamrolled thru a fairly mundane schedule and haven’t missed former QB Baker Mayfield at all. The Longhorns are 4-1, but wins over USC & TCU have created a ripple of excitement in Austin, TX that’s been missing for several years. This is a neutral site game being played at the old Cotton Bowl in Dallas, which means no discernible home field advantage for either team. Oklahoma has looked unstoppable thus far, but this will be their first legit test. Texas has shown a spark here & there the past few seasons, but it never amounts to anything. So this appears to be a crossroads for both teams. I don’t know who will come out on top, but I believe that the victor will win by less than a touchdown. Zach concurs. He believes this game will be a high scoring affair with very little defense.

My Pick:     Texas

Z’s Pick:     Texas

 

 

 

LSU (-2.5)           at                Florida

The Bayou Bengals have been en fuego!! At 5-0 they have victories over Auburn, Miami (FL), & Ole Miss, which has them in the playoff conversation. The 4-1 Gators have looked pretty solid and The Swamp is one of the best home fields in college football. I think this will be a fun game, but at the end of the day LSU is clearly the better team. Zach thinks this game will be a lot better than most expect, but his concern is Florida’s inconsistency on both sides of the ball.

My Pick:     LSU

Z’s Pick:     LSU

 

 

 

Kentucky           at                Texas A&M (-6)

Kentucky is good…at football?? We have to go all the way back to 1984 for the last 9 win season for the Wildcats, but at 5-0 it looks like that is a reasonable goal. And with wins over Florida & Mississippi St. we can’t say their schedule has been soft. A&M is 3-2 under new $75 million head coach Jimbo Fisher, which probably has the folks in College Station dissatisfied, but they need to be patient. I’m a little surprised by the points. I know all about The Twelfth Man at A&M, and it’s no shock that folks are a bit hesitant to buy into Kentucky just yet, but a six point spread seems a bit disrespectful. Having said that, I have to go with the favorites. Zach is looking forward to a close game but believes Kentucky is legit.

My Pick:     Texas A&M

Z’s Pick:     Kentucky

 

 

Notre Dame (-6)           at                Virginia Tech

This is probably the best matchup of the weekend, with Notre Dame in the playoff conversation and Tech one baffling loss to Old Dominion away from being a Top Ten team. Of course it’s that inexplicable misstep that has everyone perplexed. If this game were being played in South Bend the Irish would be a double digit favorite, no one would bat an eye, and we probably wouldn’t even be discussing it. But strange things happen in Blacksburg on Saturday nights. I anticipate a really fun & close game, and I’m going to pull the trigger on picking the upset cause that’s how I roll. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Virginia Tech

Z’s Pick:     Virginia Tech

 

 

Jacksonville                at                Kansas City (-3)

These are probably the two best teams in the AFC right now given New England’s shaky start and Pittsburgh’s dysfunction. I’m not sure that’ll be the case by season’s end, but we’ll deal with that when the time comes. Essentially what we’re all looking forward to seeing is the Chiefs’ high flying offense versus the Jags’ impermeable defense. In my season preview I called Jacksonville RB Leonard Fournette “an injury waiting to happen”, and sure enough he is missing games with a hamstring issue. Is that enough to cost his team this game?? I think it might be. Conversely, Zach likes the Jags’ defense to finally get KC quarterback Pat Mahomes to come crashing back down to Earth.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Jacksonville

2017 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 17

To be honest, after the events of last weekend I wasn’t sure if we were going to continue these picks. I’ve been increasingly irritated by the NFL for awhile now, and things reached a crescendo on Sunday. I was pretty devastated and was not only ready to stop doing picks but seriously pondered quitting all of my fantasy football leagues too. Fortunately I have gotten to know myself pretty well over the years, and understand that when I get upset I always cool off after a day or two. It helped that I won a tight playoff game in my dynasty league and am playing for a championship this weekend. I’ve been in that particular league for over 15 years and have enjoyed it immensely, so I’m not quite ready to give it up. I really love doing these picks with my nephew as well, and can’t imagine not doing them anymore. So…we press on. Both Zach & myself went 2-3 last weekend, meaning that I’ve got some work to do to get back the season lead. We’ll see how it goes these next couple of weeks.

My Season:        48-48

Z’s Season:        49-47

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miami                  at      Kansas City (-10)

Chiefs’ rookie RB Kareem Hunt was a stud for me in my dynasty league the first quarter of the season, but then he disappeared for a couple of months. Fortunately for me & KC he came up big last week and will hopefully do so again on Christmas Eve. The Chiefs lead the AFC West, but the surprising Los Angeles Chargers are hot on their heels. The wildcard field is rather crowded, which makes winning the division crown that much more important. The Dolphins aren’t going to the playoffs despite winning 2 out of their past 3 games, but they can play a spoiler role. Arrowhead Stadium is a pretty raucous home field, and I don’t think Miami has the talent to overcome Kansas City, but the points bother me just a bit. I’m a little nervous about it, but it’s another “go big or go home” moment. Zach thinks Kansas City is a little too inconsistent and he’s very uncomfortable with the double digit points.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Miami

 

 

 

Atlanta                at      New Orleans (-5.5)

The NFC South is probably the most interesting division in the league at the moment. I wasn’t sure the Falcons were going to rise to the occasion after a bumpy first half of the season, but they’ve won four of the last five and look like a serious playoff contender. The problem is that the Carolina Panthers & the Saints have been just as good. Actually they’re both a game better and lead Atlanta by a game. I’m pretty confident that two of them are going to make the playoffs, but I’m not sure about all three. The Falcons won the first matchup between these two teams in Atlanta by a field goal, and I wouldn’t be surprised if…one way or another…it’s that close again. Zach likes Drew Brees to get the job done.

My Pick:     Atlanta

Z’s Pick:     New Orleans

 

 

 

L.A. Chargers (-7)      at      NY Jets

When did the Chargers become a playoff team?? Well okay, they’re not there yet…but they are in the conversation, which very few would have predicted a few months ago. Conversely, the Jets are just as awful as everyone knew they’d be. Their quarterback situation is pedestrian at best, and I’d be shocked if they didn’t use their first round pick in the draft to improve that position. Having said all that, this is the NFL, so anything can happen…but will it?? The game is being played in New York (well alright…New Jersey) in December, so maybe that could make a difference. Possibly. I don’t know. Zach doesn’t like the Jets’ chances with Bryce Petty under center.

My Pick:     NY Jets

Z’s Pick:     L.A. Chargers

 

 

 

Jacksonville (-4.5)     at      San Francisco

Everybody’s been talking about two other teams in the AFC, but while no one has been paying much attention the Jags have won ten games and already clinched the AFC South. They’re on a three game winning streak, and rookie RB Leonard Fournette has been as good as advertised, much to my surprise since I predicted he’d be a bust. The old axiom is that defense wins championships, and in Jacksonville their defense is quite formidable. So with a great defense and a solid running game it hasn’t really mattered that their quarterback is still Blake Bortles. Meanwhile, in ‘Frisco the quarterback does matter because the 49ers have won three straight with newly acquired Jimmy Garoppolo under center. That’s not going to save their season, but with the QB situation looking good and a Top 5 draft pick next spring the future looks positive. I think this will be a low scoring grind…good ol’ smashmouth football with turnovers and special teams making a difference, and I smell an upset. Zach likes Garoppolo…but he likes Jacksonville’s defense better.

My Pick:     San Francisco

Z’s Pick:     Jacksonville

 

 

 

Oakland             at      Philadelphia (-9)

What the heck happened to the Raiders?? Most “experts” thought they’d be a solid playoff team and maybe even win their division. Instead they are two games below .500 and aren’t getting anywhere near the playoffs. The story is much different in Philly, where they’ve already won the NFC East and are looking to clinch home field throughout the playoffs. I thought the loss of QB Carson Wentz might have a negative impact, but the Eagles beat the NY Giants last week with Nick Foles under center, and I see no reason to doubt they can do it again. I don’t believe in Philly as a Super Bowl contender, but I do think they’ll win this game pretty easily. Zach…much to my surprise…thinks this will be a close game, so he’s going with the underdogs to atleast cover the points.

My Pick:     Philadelphia

Z’s Pick:     Oakland

2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 1

football-introducing-the-science_1Annnnnnndddd we’re back!! Football has returned, and so have my nephew Zach & myself to prove that we’re just as smart as the talking heads on ESPN & other sports news outlets. The goal is simple for me my friends…to make it thru the season. Last year we didn’t get past Week 10 because I ended up spending the latter half of November, all of December, & the first part of January in the hospital. There are moments in life when one is faced with obstacles and what matters becomes clear. In the grand scheme of things I understand that this blog, these picks, and football games in general don’t mean a whole lot, but I am so blessed & grateful to be able to exercise my creative juices and embrace my love of something as ultimately frivolous as sports. It may seem silly to some, and I have several friends who’ll spend their weekends doing a hundred other things before watching a ballgame even crosses their mind. That’s cool…but I am totally psyched about spending the next five months of weekends engrossed in one of the most awesome forms of entertainment on the planet. If you have entered The Manoverse to check out these picks I assume we’re in agreement on that.

 

As usual college football starts before the NFL, but fortunately the playoff system has forced teams to re-evaluate their schedule strength. Back in theCollege-Football-Map old days (just a few years ago) we’d be lucky to get even a few watchable, competitive games in the first couple weeks of the season. However, now the powers-that-be recognize the importance of coming out of the gate with a bang and grabbing some attention, so there are a plethora of games on tap that are worthy of attention. We’ll settle into our normal routine of picking five games next week, but will get things started with some bonus picks. As always I remind you that we are just fans and claim no intimate insider knowledge. Also, point spreads are included only to add a layer of intrigue & strategery. We are not here to encourage or endorse gambling, although what y’all do with your disposable income is your choice. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma (-10.5)        vs.              Houston

I have the Sooners as my pre-season #2, with Houston also in the Top 10. This game is being played at the home stadium of the NFL’s Houston oklahomaTexans rather than the Cougars’ normal home field, which shouldn’t make a difference one way or another except that there will be 70k in the stands versus 40k. Houston, TX is over 400 miles away from Norman, OK, so I assume there will be a distinct fan partiality for the underdogs. I suppose that there are those who feel like there is a legitimate chance for an upset. I am not one of those people. So then the question becomes whether or not Oklahoma will cover the points. I don’t anticipate that will be an issue. If Houston can stay within three TDs then finish the remainder of the season without another loss they still might be a solid Top 10 team. Zach believes this game will be a blowout win for the Sooners.

My Pick:         Oklahoma

Z’s Pick:         Oklahoma

 

 

 

UCLA                            at                Texas A&M (-3)

texas_am_01The Bruins return QB Josh Rosen from a solid yet underachieving 9-5 team last season. However they lost RB Paul Perkins & ucla_bruins2LB Myles Jack to the NFL. Is Rosen the next Andrew Luck?? Or is he the next Jimmy Clausen?? I’m willing to bet he’s closer to the former than the latter. The bigger concern is UCLA’s defense, which gave up anywhere from 31-56 points in those five losses in 2015. The Aggies have the nominal home field point advantage, but I suspect that in reality the benefit will be greater. A&M’s QB situation has been interesting the past few years. 2015 starter Kyler Murray transferred to Oklahoma and will be the Sooners’ signal caller this season. Kenny Hill, who began 2014 as the top QB in College Station, transferred last year and will be the starter for the TCU Horned Frogs. Last season at A&M Murray lost his job to Kyle Allen, who has now transferred to Houston. So who is starting for A&M behind center?? Well…that’d be Trevor Knight, who was Oklahoma’s starter in 2014 before losing the job last year to Baker Mayfield, who had transferred to Oklahoma from Texas Tech. I think I have all of that straight. I don’t know…my head is spinning a bit. At any rate, I am looking for this to be a high scoring, close game, but I like the Aggies to win & cover. Zach not only doesn’t agree about the outcome, but is oddly unenthusiastic about watching this game.

My Pick:         Texas A&M

Z’s Pick:         UCLA

 

 

 

Georgia (-2.5)              vs.              North Carolina

The Bulldogs have a new head coach for the first time in 15 years. Mark Richt has moved on to Miami, FL, and former Alabama defensive coordinator carolinaKirby Smart takes over the reins in Athens. Georgia is coming off a 10-3 finish last season and RB Nick Chubb returns after missing the latter half of 2015 with a knee injury. I suspect that Smart will have the defense ready to rock & roll, but I have questions about the state of Chubb’s recovery and what else Georgia has on offense if they are unable to completely rely on their star running back. The Tar Heels had a fine 11-3 season last year, but must start anew at the quarterback position. However they do return most of last year’s contributors elsewhere, including WR Ryan Switzer & RB Elijah Hood, who is a 6ft. 220lb. hoss. This is a “neutral” site game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, meaning it’s not really all that neutral. Despite that fact I’m going to roll the dice and pick the upset. Kirby Smart doesn’t have Nick Saban around anymore, and I think it might take him some time to grow into his new role. Zach thinks special teams will be the key, and he is picking the upset as well.

My Pick:         North Carolina

Z’s Pick:         North Carolina

 

 

 

Notre Dame (-3.5)       at                Texas

Charlie Strong’s critical season begins with a huge game against a tough opponent, but fortunately for the Longhorns the game is in Austin. The Irish TEXAS LONGHORNS.1271817676lost over a dozen players to the NFL. It looks like they’ll be giving time behind center to both QBs DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire, who missed most of last season with a broken ankle. But who will they be throwing or handing off to, and who’ll be protecting them?? And can the defense find new stars to replace those that have moved on?? Texas is in the third year of the Strong era, and the first two haven’t gone well. 6-7 & 5-7 doesn’t cut it in the Lone Star State folks. But here a fantastic opportunity presents itself…a non-conference game at home against a much heralded team that must replace a huge chunk of their roster and may not be on solid footing early on. Word on the street is that Texas will be starting a hotshot freshman QB. Heck…why not?? Nothing else has worked. This could be considered a must-win for Texas, as the Big 12 (which has ten teams) schedule is usually always tough. It’s probably not the wise choice, but I’m rolling with another upset here. Zach thinks that Notre Dame’s on-field changes & off-field issues will catch up to them and once again is picking the upset.

My Pick:         Texas

Z’s Pick:         Texas

 

 

 

LSU (-10)                     vs.              Wisconsin

Leonard Fournette. Learn it. Love it. You’ll be hearing the name a lot this year. The Tigers’ RB begins the season as the early Heisman favorite after lsu_logo-9547racking up 22 TDs and almost 2000 yards rushing in 2015. Unfortunately three late season losses and a poor showing against Alabama (31 yards, 1 TD) doomed his Heisman chances and his team’s season. The opener is another “neutral” site game that isn’t neutral, as it is being played on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Well okay…I think it’s safe to assume the weather conditions in early September won’t be quite so chilly. At any rate, the Badgers are coming off a solid 10-3 season, and tough opening games aren’t anything new for them. In 2015 they lost to Alabama and in 2014 it was a close loss to…LSU. I don’t think the pattern will be broken this year, and I don’t believe the Bayou Bengals will have any problem covering the points. Zach sees LSU as a serious national title contender.

My Pick:         LSU

Z’s Pick:         LSU

 

 

 

Arizona (-1)                  vs.              BYU

BYU_CougarsThe Wildcats finished 2015 with a mediocre 6-6 record, with a lot of high scoring games for both they & their opponents. The ArizonaWildcatsPac 12 is a brutally tough conference, which makes it essential to win non-conference games. BYU is an independent, and their schedule is probably one of the toughest in the nation. This was the case last season as well and the Cougars finished an impressive 9-4. Three of those losses were by a total of 13 points. They play atleast seven teams who could challenge for a Top 25 ranking, although it looks to be a frontloaded docket, meaning if they can get to November with a decent record they’ll have an opportunity to finish strong. I don’t know enough about either team to intelligently analyze the rosters, so this is a total vibe game, and I’m going with the underdogs. Zach believes in Rich Fraudriguez’s spread offense and looks for the ‘Cats to put up some big passing numbers.

My Pick:         BYU

Z’s Pick:         Arizona

 

 

 

USC                               vs.              Alabama (-10.5)

This is a big one…or atleast it should be. A matchup pitting two of college football’s most decorated programs against each other in Week 1 would have AlabamaCrimsonTide2been unheard of not long ago. Having said that, one must ponder whether Southern Cal can currently claim that elite status. After records of 7-6, 9-4, 9-4, & 7-6 the last few years there is no doubt that the Trojans have been good…but not that good. Meanwhile, as we all know, the Tide has rolled to four national titles in nine seasons in the Nick Saban era. If ‘Bama loses more than one game it is major news. That’s got to end at some point, right?? I don’t know…we’ll see. This is a true neutral site game at the Palace in Dallas, so I’m not sure either team will have a notable crowd advantage. Until I see some significant chinks in the armor I can’t go against Alabama. They’ll have a tough time getting thru a super strong SEC unblemished, but I think they’ll easily win & cover this game. Zach concurs, predicting a 35 point win for ‘Bama.

My Pick:         Alabama

Z’s Pick:         Alabama

2016 College Football Pre-Season Top 25

cfoot1It’s time!! Glorious football is back!! A bunch of stuffed shirts & bean counters have done their darndest the past several years to ruin the game…conference realignment, draconian rules in the name of “safety”, a long awaited playoff system that is flawed and makes the stark contrast between the haves & have nots even more apparent. Nevertheless, for the next few months weekends will be even sweeter as fans will have several hours of couch potato worthy entertainment available at their fingertips. One positive change that has emerged in the wake of the four team playoff is a focus on strength of schedule, meaning that there are more competitive games in the first few weeks of the season than ever before. Oh sure there are still cupcake games, but their value is so diminished under the playoff system that coaches & athletic directors have been forced to up the ante just a bit. In Week 1 alone I am seeing over a dozen matchups that probably wouldn’t have been on the schedule just a few years ago. And you know who the winners are?? That’s right…you & me…the fans. As far as my methodology in putting together these rankings…well, I really can’t say I have much of a method. I do know a few things. I know that everyone can’t finish undefeated. I know that “power” conference teams cannibalize each other, with big wins sometimes cancelling out big losses…and vice versa. Teams from “lesser” conferences certainly aren’t going to make it to the playoff, and just one or two losses can significantly impact their ranking. I don’t do a ton of research for this because it’s supposed to be fun not work, but I do try to pay attention to things like coaching changes, substantial personnel losses from players moving on to the NFL or simply graduating, and any other turmoil that may have affected a program in the offseason. It is difficult for more than a few teams from a single conference…even the big boys…to end up ranked, so one basically cfoot2must develop a hierarchy. Which teams will be in the hunt for the conference crown and possibly a playoff spot?? Which ones will be good, but lose a couple of games and end up in the lower tier of the poll?? Which teams…despite their talent and vast praise from the talking heads…will finish on the outside looking in?? I’m not an expert so for me it’s just a guessing game based on my vibes & minimal data, but that’s okay. I’d still put my “expertise” up against many members of the sports media who don’t know half as much as they’d like us to believe they do. At any rate, let’s dive in.

 

 

 

 

 

1       Clemson

Last Season:      14-1

Key Games:       9/3 at Auburn, 10/1 vs. Louisville, 10/29 at Florida St.

The Tigers fell just short of winning the national championship last season, but they return QB DeShaun Watson, who looks like the second coming ofclemson Cam Newton. That’s good enough for me to put them in this spot, although they’ll need to overcome a hostile crowd in Tallahassee right before Halloween and take down the Seminoles.

 

 

2       Oklahoma

Last Season:      11-2

Key Games:       9/3 vs. Houston, 9/17 vs. Ohio St., 10/8 vs. Texas, 12/3 vs. Oklahoma St.

I’m predicting that the Big 12 (which has 10 teams) will be a little down this season, leaving the Sooners as the clear favorites. They have tough oklahomanon-conference games against Houston and Ohio State, but both are in the friendly environment of Norman, OK. QB Baker Mayfield & RB Samaje Perine return, and both could be in the Heisman discussion.

 

 

3       Alabama

Last Season:      14-1

Key Games:       9/3 vs. USC, 10/15 at Tennessee, 11/5 at LSU, 11/26 vs. Auburn

Putting The Tide at #1 would be too easy & predictable and that’s not how I roll. The SEC is just too darn tough…I’d AlabamaCrimsonTide2be shocked if anyone came thru it unscathed. The season opener against Southern Cal is a neutral site game at the Palace in Dallas and it won’t be easy. Then ‘Bama has to travel to Knoxville & Baton Rouge. It would surprise me less if this team actually lost 3 or 4 games than it would if they’d go undefeated.

 

 

4       Ohio State

Last Season:      12-1

Key Games:       9/17 at Oklahoma, 11/5 vs. Nebraska, 11/19 at Michigan St., 11/26 vs. Michigan

Remember last year when the Buckeyes had three legit QBs and no one knew how playing time would be distributed?? It’s a way different story this Ohio_State_Buckeyesseason, as both Cardale Jones and Braxton Miller (who switched to WR) are plying their trade in the NFL. That means it’s JT Barrett’s show, and that’s a good thing. Now the question becomes how to replace RB Ezekiel Elliott & defensive standout Joey Bosa. It’s also worth noting that the Big Ten (which has 14 teams) looks like it could be even stronger than usual. I might be ranking this team a little too high given all the obstacles they face, but until someone knocks them off the pedestal I have to give them benefit of the doubt. The opener at Oklahoma will be super tough, but even if Ohio St. loses that game they could still win 10 games and end up in this spot.

 

 

5       LSU

Last Season:      9-3

Key Games:       9/3 vs. Wisconsin, 10/8 at Florida, 11/5 vs. Alabama

We’ve been waiting a few years for the Bayou Bengals to climb back into legit national title contention, and many seem to believe this is the season. lsu_logo-9547RB Leonard Fournette will be in the thick of the Heisman debate. A 31 yard effort against Alabama killed the young man’s momentum last year so it’ll be really interesting to watch that early November contest to see if he can do better.

 

 

6       Florida State

Last Season:      10-3

Key Games:       9/5 at Ole Miss, 10/8 at Miami FL, 10/29 vs. Clemson, 11/26 vs. Florida

The Seminoles have enjoyed a relatively smooth ride thru the ACC over the years, winning 15 conference Florida_State_Seminolestitles since 1992. However, I think things might be a little tougher than usual this season. Clemson visits Tallahassee, so that helps. That game could very well decide not only the conference but also a spot in the national title playoff. I also expect the early October tilt at Miami to be more like it was back in the old days when both teams were elite.

 

 

7       Tennessee

Last Season:      9-4

Key Games:       9/24 vs. Florida, 10/1 at Georgia, 10/15 vs. Alabama

Could this finally be the year that the Volunteers return to national prominence and actually contend for the SEC title?? A lot of people seem to think 10015tenn_vols_w_helmetso. They haven’t won 10 games in a season since 2007 and are on their 3rd head coach since Phillip Fulmer’s departure after the 2008 season. However I think Butch Jones is finally the one. They’ve improved every year under his guidance and if that upward trend continues the Vols might get to 10 wins this year. They host Alabama in Knoxville which is advantageous.

 

 

8       Houston

Last Season:      13-1

Key Games:       9/3 vs. Oklahoma, 11/25 at Memphis

Everyone fawns over the “power” conference darlings, but there are five “other” conferences and someone’s got to win them, right?? The Cougars houstoneasily won the American Athletic Conference last season and upset Florida St. in the Peach Bowl. They finished in this very spot in the final poll despite an inexplicable loss at Connecticut. I don’t believe they’ll beat Oklahoma in the season opener, but if they can atleast keep that game respectable then run the table they will have the opportunity for another big post-season victory and a Top 10 finish.

 

 

9       Iowa

Last Season:      12-2

Key Games:       10/1 vs. Northwestern, 10/22 vs. Wisconsin, 11/12 vs. Michigan, 11/25 vs. Nebraska

Two Big Ten teams finishing in the Top 10 wouldn’t surprise anyone…but which two teams do you prefer?? The Hawkeyes got off to a hot start last iowaseason before ending the year with two losses…a close call against Michigan St. and a beatdown by Stanford in the Rose Bowl. The toughest games on the schedule all happen to be at home this year, so that’s positive. Being overlooked is nothing new for Iowa, but objectively speaking I think another 10 win season is easily within their grasp.

 

 

10     Temple

Last Season:      10-4

Key Games:       9/17 at Penn St., 10/6 at Memphis, 10/29 vs. Cincinnati

I suppose I’m hedging my bets a bit with two AAC teams in the Top 10. That probably won’t happen. Back in the day when my WV Mountaineers templeplayed the Owls annually they were pretty much the doormats of the now defunct Big East and their home games were usually poorly attended snoozefests. But last year something clicked. They beat Penn St. in the opener, lost a close one to Notre Dame, & made it to the conference title game. The Irish aren’t on the schedule this season, so it isn’t unreasonable to think that they could be even more successful, and if they find a way to go into Happy Valley and take down the Nittany Lions again that’d be the cherry on top. Could an AAC title game rematch against Houston actually be a highly anticipated, eminently entertaining contest?? Whoa…that’s crazy talk!!

 

 

11     Michigan

Last Season:      10-3

Key Games:       10/1 vs. Wisconsin, 10/29 at Michigan St., 11/12 at Iowa, 11/26 at Ohio St.

Let’s pump the brakes a bit on the Wolverines, okay?? I just finished reading a rather interesting book called End Zone, about the slow implosion of michthe Michigan athletic department & football team over the past several years. Of course all of those issues seemed to fade away into the ether the minute Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach last season, and now all the talking heads are throwing Michigan out there as a potential playoff contender. Upon his hiring I did say that Harbaugh would have this team in national title contention within three years, and one thing I Iearned from the aforementioned book is that former coach Brady Hoke, while probably not ready for prime time as far as game management goes, was well liked, highly respected, & a good recruiter. Harbaugh took the talent that was already there last season and won ten games, up from five victories in 2014. An impressive turnaround indeed. However I am just not ready to put them in the playoff hunt quite yet. They have to go on the road for their three biggest games, and I think they could lose atleast two of them. Jim Harbaugh will get Michigan into the playoff eventually…but not yet.

 

 

12     Boise State

Last Season:      9-4

Key Games:       10/20 vs. BYU, 11/25 at Air Force

The Broncos did their usual last season…9 wins, an impressive bowl victory…except that they didn’t compete for the conference championship. I thinkboise-state1 they can do better this year. Non-conference games against BYU, Washington St., & Oregon St. are important but not vital. They’ll be out for revenge against Air Force, with the winner of that game likely making it to the Mountain West title game. That’s the goal for Boise, and I think meeting those expectations combined with the attrition of various powerhouses beating each other up might propel the Broncos solidly into the Top 20.

 

 

13     Utah

Last Season:      10-3

Key Games:       9/23 vs. USC, 10/8 vs. Arizona, 11/19 vs. Oregon

The Pac 12 really should end up having a team ranked much higher than this, but it’s a tough conference and I think it’s possible that they all utahcannibalize each other into 9-3 records requiring tiebreakers to see who ends up in the title game. The Utes have their biggest games at home so I’m giving them a slight advantage.

 

 

14     Notre Dame

Last Season:      10-3

Key Games:       9/4 at Texas, 9/17 at Michigan St., 10/15 at Stanford, 11/26 at USC

Looking at the schedule I am not at all sure that the Irish will win enough games to climb this high. It’s going to be really tough. Is Texas back to being NotreDame1Texas?? Can Michigan St. find a new QB?? Is Stanford being overrated by the talking heads or underrated by me?? Is Southern Cal ready to take back the spotlight?? The answers to all of these questions affect Notre Dame. I’d be shocked if they’re anywhere near the playoff conversation, yet they always seem to find a way to be competitive and win big games. And they ended the Michigan rivalry (for now) just in the nick of time.

 

 

15     Oklahoma State

Last Season:      10-3

Key Games:       11/24 at Baylor, 10/1 vs. Texas, 12/3 at Oklahoma

While I think Oklahoma is the clear favorite in the Big 12 (which has ten teams) I am picking their in-state rivals from Stillwater to be a respectable oklahoma_state_cowboys_iphone_wallpaperrunner-up. Texas may or may not be up to par quite yet, and unlike many “experts” I believe too much has transpired at Baylor in the off season for them to be serious contenders. That leaves the Cowboys, who could conceivably come into that first weekend in December undefeated to face the also undefeated Sooners. That really would be Bedlam.

 

 

16     Northern Illinois

Last Season:      8-6

Key Games:       11/9 vs. Toledo

Much like the AAC the MAC gets overlooked in the substantial shadow of the “power” conferences. MAC games get huskiesrelegated to Tuesday or Wednesday nights on ESPN, but that’s just fine with me. I rather enjoy the brand of football their teams play. The Huskies won the conference title in 2014 but fell off just a bit last season, losing their last three games, including a shellacking by Boise St. in the Poinsettia Bowl. I’m venturing out on a limb and predicting that they’ll get back to 10 wins, a feat they achieved five straight seasons before last year.

 

 

17     BYU

Last Season:      9-4

Key Games:       9/3 vs. Arizona, 9/10 vs. Utah, 9/17 vs. UCLA, 10/8 at Michigan St.

The Cougars used to be a mainstay in this pre-season poll, but they kept disappointing me so I left them off the last couple of years. I’m like my father BYU_Cougarsthough…I can’t stay mad at anyone for long. The great & awful thing about BYU being independent is that they have freedom in scheduling. Freedom is cool, but also a little daunting when the powers-that-be fill the calendar with tough games against top flight opponents. They could start the season 3-0…or 0-3. Most likely it’ll be somewhere in the middle. But things don’t get much easier from there, with October games against Michigan St. & Boise St. If I had money on it or a weapon being held in my face I’d say 7-5 would be a solid record for such a difficult schedule. However since I’m just having some fun I’m going to hope for a couple of upsets. 9 wins against this imposing lineup of opponents would be quite impressive.

 

 

18     Louisiana Tech

Last Season:      9-4

Key Games:       9/3 at Arkansas, 9/17 at Texas Tech, 10/6 vs. Western Kentucky

Someone’s going to win C-USA. My heart belongs to the ol’ alma mater…my Marshall Thundering Herd. Nothing would make me happier than to see louisianatechthem end up in this spot, but I’m trying to be objective or something. I don’t know. The season opener against SEC foe Arkansas is a bit daunting, but an upset wouldn’t be shocking. Can the Bulldogs run the table after that even if they don’t get the win in that first game?? It’s possible. I feel like a lot of talking heads and opposing coaches might overlook this team due to RB Kenneth Dixon moving on to the NFL. That might be perfectly valid…or a huge mistake.

 

 

19     USC

Last Season:      8-6

Key Games:       9/3 vs. Alabama, 9/23 at Utah, 11/19 at UCLA, 11/26 vs. Notre Dame

The Trojans have only won 27 games the past three seasons. That would be great for most teams, but this is not most teams. Finishing outside the USC_Trojans2national title conversation and playing in a December bowl game is not good enough for the folks in Southern California. Head coach Clay Helton was given the job last year after the dismissal of Steve Sarkisian, and one must assume that he has a very short leash. Finishing with 8 or 9 wins against a challenging schedule would go a long way toward some job security.

 

 

20     Michigan State

Last Season:      12-2

Key Games:       9/17 at Notre Dame, 9/24 vs. Wisconsin, 10/29 vs. Michigan, 11/19 vs. Ohio St.

The Spartans looked great last season, with only a controversial loss in the waning seconds against Nebraska as a blemish. But then they ran into a michstbuzzsaw in the playoff semifinal, getting rolled by the Tide. Because they have to replace QB Connor Cook and O-Lineman Jack Conklin I foresee just a little dropoff. Not much. They’ll still be a good team…just not winning a conference title or in the playoff conversation.

 

 

21     Texas

Last Season:      5-7

Key Games:       9/4 vs. Notre Dame, 10/1 at Oklahoma St., 10/8 vs Oklahoma, 10/29 vs. Baylor

This is it. In Charlie Strong’s first two seasons as head coach he has an 11-14 record. I think this is a make or break year for him. Either he wins 8+ texasgames or he’s unemployed. The pre-Halloween game against Baylor might be a critical contest. If the Longhorns can’t beat the Bears in Austin after everything that has occurred in Waco the past several months then perhaps Strong deserves to be shown the door.

 

 

22     Arizona

Last Season:      7-6

Key Games:       9/3 vs. BYU, 10/1 at UCLA, 10/8 at Utah

Did I mention that the Pac 12 is a really competitive conference?? I’m kind of sad actually, because my current job entails me leaving for work at about ArizonaWildcats10pm on Saturday nights, which means I will miss out on the pleasure of staying up til 1am watching those last few west coast games that are oftentimes a lot of fun. Ah well…c’est la vie. Anyway, the Wildcats fell off last season after winning 10 games in 2014. Can they get back on track?? Both RB Nick Wilson (725 yards rushing, 8 TDs) and QB Anu Solomon (2600+ yards passing, 20 TDs) return, although the defense must replace linebacker Scooby Wright who has moved on to the NFL. I think improving to 8 or 9 wins in a tough Pac 12 will be good enough to sneak into the rankings.

 

 

23     Miami, FL

Last Season:      8-5

Key Games:       10/8 vs. Florida St., 10/29 at Notre Dame

After being one of the elite teams of the 1980’s & 90’s the Hurricanes have endured some struggles the past decade, not winning 10 games since 2003.miamiu2 But there’s a new sheriff in town. Head coach Mark Richt won 74% of his games in 15 seasons at Georgia, and now he returns to his alma mater to help them achieve the success that eluded the past 2 or 3 coaches. Miami has shown flashes of their former glory the past few years but couldn’t quite get over the hump. I don’t expect them to compete for a conference title, especially with Clemson & Florida St. standing in the way, but 8 or 9 wins doesn’t seem like an unreasonable goal.

 

 

24     Nebraska

Last Season:      6-7

Key Games:       9/17 vs. Oregon, 10/29 at Wisconsin, 11/5 at Ohio St., 11/25 at Iowa

I might regret this pick, but I’m going to take a chance anyway. Back in the day when I was growing up Nebraska was one of the cornerstone programs nebraskaof college football. I don’t know if it is location, bad management, poor coaching, or a move to the Big Ten a few years ago, but the Cornhuskers seem like a forgotten team nowadays. They are 24-15 over the past three seasons, including last year’s disaster under first year coach Mike Riley. They have been completely eclipsed in the news cycle by Ohio St., Michigan, Iowa, Michigan St., and even Wisconsin & Northwestern. If Riley has another subpar season he might be another guy on the chopping block, but if he can guide his team to a couple of upsets and get to that 8/9 win level then he’ll live to coach another season in Lincoln.

 

 

25     Oregon

Last Season:      9-4

Key Games:       9/17 at Nebraska, 11/5 at USC, 11/12 vs. Stanford, 11/19 at Utah

The Ducks have won atleast 9 games in each of the past nine seasons. That’s impressive. I honestly couldn’t name one member of the team without oregonusing Google, but I know that Oregon seems like one of those programs that just reloads instead of rebuilding, and while they certainly won’t be in the national title conversation or probably be a legit threat to win the conference I think it is likely that they win 8 games and score an upset or two along the way.

2015 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 10

football-introducing-the-science_1Greetings citizens!! Let’s jump right in by saying that both Zach & I were 2-3 last week. Could’ve been better, could’ve been worse. I continue to be amazed how accurately oddsmakers are in pinpointing a spread. I’m sure there’s a lot that goes into all of that. Thankfully I’m not much of a gambler. I wouldn’t like the stress. At any rate, for the season Zach’s record stands at 20-29, while your humble Potentate of Profundity fell to 32-17. I think we have some pretty decent games on the docket this week. The college football playoff committee announced their initial rankings, so now we’ll have a good idea just what games matter and what a win or loss may do for various teams. As far as the NFL, it looks like atleast a few divisions may be already wrapped up. Injuries have played a significant part in the…non-success…of several teams. I suppose that’s not unusual, but it seems particularly harsh this year for some reason. Anyway, let’s make some picks. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Florida St. at Clemson (-12.5)
Clemson tops the initial playoff rankings, and to be honest this looks like the only possible roadblock between them and the Final Four. The Seminoles Florida_State_Seminolesaren’t too shabby themselves, but a loss to now 3-6 Georgia Tech a few weeks ago has probably shut them out of the playoff conversation. First of all, I’m a little surprised by the points. You’d think Florida St. was a .500 team who’d lost games to 1-AA opponents, which is just not the case. If this game was in Tallahassee I may be inclined to pick the outright upset. However, even though it is in “Death Valley” I just don’t like the spread. Florida St. has an opportunity to knock off a #1 team and significantly impact the playoff…yet they are supposed to lose by nearly two TDs?? I don’t think so. Zach is on the same wavelength. He believes whoever makes the fewest mistakes will win, and he thinks that’ll be Clemson…but by far fewer than 12.5 points.

My Pick: Florida State
Z’s Pick: Florida State

 

 

 

TCU (-5) at Oklahoma St.
The powers-that-be obviously have little regard for the Big 12 (which has ten teams). Undefeated Baylor is ranked 6th, while the Horned Frogs are TCU Cool Logoundefeated also and ranked 8th. This is an opportunity for TCU to not only leapfrog Baylor, but also move up a couple of spots and patiently await other dominoes to inevitably tumble. The Cowboys aren’t an easy win though. They are undefeated too (I’m sensing a pattern) and 14th in the rankings. Too much probably has to happen that simply won’t for them to make it to the Final Four, but much like Florida St. they can play a spoiler role. Oklahoma St. has the home field, but TCU has a lot more on the line. I don’t think they’ll screw it up. Both myself & Zach are impressed with Horned Frogs’ QB Treyvone Boykin, and he is likely to make the difference.

My Pick: TCU
Z’s Pick: TCU

 

 

 

LSU at Alabama (-6.5)
Somewhere in Bristol, CT the entire college football lineup of talking heads is having a collective nocturnal emission over this game, and even I admit lsu_logoit’s pretty big. LSU is ranked 2nd right now, while Alabama is 4th, so this is essentially an elimination game. Some have opined that ‘Bama didn’t deserve to be amongst the top four, but I am neither surprised nor all that offended mostly because I know how meaningless all of that is right now. The Tide gets the home field points bump which is also just fine by me. I think this will be a low scoring defensive battle with lots of red zone stops and field goals. I’m not sure who’ll come out on top, but I’m confident that whoever wins will do so by less than a touchdown. Zach’s heart is with ‘Bama but he thinks LSU is likely to pull this one out.

My Pick: LSU
Z’s Pick: LSU

 

 

 

Miami at Buffalo (-3)
Sadly neither of these teams has a prayer of catching the New England Patriots in the AFC East. A wildcard berth isn’t looking too promising either. In Miami_Dolphins_Helmetmy NFL Preview I had positive thoughts about both clubs, but both have underachieved. The Bills don’t have a franchise QB, and the Dolphins have already fired their coach. Miami seemed to jump to life under the leadership of their interim coach until they ran into the hated Patriots who deflated the Dolphins since it’s kind of their thing. Buffalo has the slight home field advantage, but at this stage Miami feels like the slightly better team. I suppose that could be called damning with faint praise. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Miami
Z’s Pick: Miami

 

 

 

St. Louis at Minnesota (-2.5)
vikingshelmet1I predicted that the Vikings would be a playoff contender and so far they are looking good. The Rams are doing okay too. They St_Louis_Ramseven have a better record than the Seattle Seahawks (a situation I don’t expect to last). On paper this doesn’t seem like an appealing game, but it could prove to be rather important for the winner. I’m not ready to declare either team a serious Super Bowl threat, but they do both seem to be taking a step forward. Minnesota feels like they’re a notch or two ahead at this point. Zach sees this as a tossup but likes St. Louis’ rookie RB Todd Gurley to pave the way to victory.

My Pick: Minnesota
Z’s Pick: St. Louis