2013 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 13

Greetings Manoverse. I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving filled with food, family, & football. For a variety of reasons I decided not to include any of the plethora of gridiron goodness on Thursday & Friday in this week’s picks. However, even without those games there’s still a ton of tremendous action on Saturday. It’s Rivalry Week in the NCAA, and a few games even have meaning above & beyond the tradition of the rivalry itself. Heck, there are so many great matchups that we are able to once again focus exclusively on college football and still give y’all bonus picks. You’re welcome. Last week was another poor showing for both myself & Zach as we each went 1-4. We both whiffed in picking Texas A&M, UCLA, & the Indianapolis Colts. I correctly picked Oklahoma St. over Baylor, while Zach got the win with New England defeating Denver. That brings the season records to this:

                Your Humble Potentate of Profundity  =     30-31

                Zach  =    27-34

Zach is running out of time to take the season lead, while I have now fallen below .500. We’ll see what we can do about that.

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

Ohio State (-16)            at              Michigan

Wmichow…where do I begin?? 2013 certainly hasn’t been a banner year in Ann Arbor. I mean sure, they will finish with a winning record and go bowling, but 7 or 8 wins and some December bowl Ohio_State_Buckeyesgame that no one watches against a mediocre team that no one cares about doesn’t match the high standard that the Wolverines aim at & usually achieve. Meanwhile, there is a very good chance that Ohio State could finish the season having won 25 straight games and still not get a whiff of the national championship, which is a perfect example of why the BCS sucks. Having said all that, I am still a bit surprised at the rather robust point spread. Sure Michigan is a bit down…but are they that down?? Is there a legitimate chance that they will get throttled by more than two TDs in The Big House?? Three of Michigan’s four losses thus far have been away from home. Their one loss at home was 17-13 to Nebraska…far from an epic beatdown. I suppose there are some that might say that the Buckeyes need (and are aware that they need) “style points” in case Auburn upsets Alabama, which would cause ‘Bama to fall out of the national title game but could also mean Auburn would leapfrog Ohio State in the BCS standings, but I honestly don’t think it’ll matter whether they win this game by 1 point or 100 points. So while I think it is likely that the Buckeyes get the victory I would be really surprised if it was by more that 7-10 points. Surprisingly Zach…a diehard Michigan fan…thinks Ohio State wins in a blowout.

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

Clemson           at              South Carolina (-5)

South Carolina still has an outside shot to play in the SEC title game should Missouri fall to Texas A&M. Clemson needs Florida St. to lose its finale to the Florida Gators to sneak into the ACC title game, and Gamecocksthat simply isn’t going to happen. Given those circumstances plus the home field I have to give the nod to the Gamecocks. Zach concurs.

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

 

Notre Dame             at               Stanford (-14.5)

Things have been pretty quiet in South Bend even though the Irish are clinging to a Top 25 ranking. Conversely Stanford has already booked their spot in the PAC 12 title game and had a really impressive win NotreDame1over Oregon a few weeks ago. I don’t think there is any doubt that Stanford gets the victory, but will they cover the points?? They have won only 4 games by more than 14 points, and only one of those victories was over a ranked opponent. The Irish have more to play for, and Stanford hasn’t really blown too many teams out this season, so the vibes are telling me that this will be a close game. Zach feels the same.

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

Texas A&M              at              Missouri (-4.5)

a&mThese two teams used to be Big 12 opponents, but both are now in the SEC. Not that it matters…I just find it mildly interesting. I went with the Aggies and Johnny Football last week and Missouri_Tigers_Helmetpaid for it, so I am a bit hesitant to pull that particular trigger again. They looked absolutely atrocious against LSU. The only blemish on Missouri’s record is an overtime loss to South Carolina. They are a lot better than people (including me) have given them credit for. I think this may end up being one of the more entertaining games of the weekend, and it’s a total vibe game. The Voices are telling me to go with A&M again even though it doesn’t really make much sense. Zach, being a bit more…practical…than his old uncle, is going with Missouri.

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

Arizona                            at             Arizona State (-11.5)

Arizona_State_logo_blanketIn 2012 the Arizona Wildcats finished with a rather pedestrian 8-5 record. The Arizona St. Sun Devils did the exact same thing. With a victory in this game the Sun Devils will get their 10th college_arizona_90victory and head to the Pac 12 title game. The Wildcats have pretty much the same record as last year but are on everyone’s radar after a notable beatdown of Oregon last week. I don’t think they can do it two weeks in a row though, so I am picking State to win and cover the points. Zach, however, was really impressed by that Wildcat win over the Ducks and is riding that wave.

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

UCLA                 at              USC (-3)

USC_Trojans2Who would have ever thought at the end of September, right after the Trojans fired head coach Lane Kiffin, that they would be in the mix for their division lead at the end of the season?? They ucla_bruins2won’t win the division due to that loss to Arizona State that led to Kiffin’s ouster, but the fact that they are riding a 5 game winning streak and have won 6 out of 7 under the leadership of interim head coach Ed Orgeron is impressive. Just a few weeks ago no one thought that Orgeron had a snowball’s chance to land the permanent gig, but now a lot of folks seem to believe that a win this week will almost certainly clinch the job for him. Conversely, after beginning the season 5-0 the Bruins have gone 3-3 in the latter half of the campaign. This feels like two teams going in opposite directions, and who am I to go against momentum (or as my Dad calls it “Big Mo”)?? Zach is a rebel though and scoffs at momentum while picking UCLA.

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

Alabama (-10.5)           at              Auburn

auburnEven though these two teams have been playing each other since 1893 the game has only been known as The Iron Bowl since 1980, with the name ostensibly referring to BAlabamaCrimsonTide2irmingham, Alabama’s standing as an epicenter of iron & steel production. A year ago ‘Bama won this game 49-0, but a year ago Auburn was a 3-9 football team. They are significantly better this season. Are they good enough to pull off the upset?? The Tide has barely broken a sweat so far in 2013. The only game they haven’t won by double digits was a second week 7 point victory over Johnny Football and Texas A&M. However, Auburn is probably the best team they have faced. Plus the game is at Jordan–Hare Stadium. If I am being honest I am really trying to talk myself into Auburn having a legitimate shot to win because I’d really like to see a little BCS chaos. It’s just really hard to go against Alabama given their recent history of dominance. Having said all of that though I am going to roll the dice on Auburn atleast making this a very close game. Zach sees the game being competitive in the first half but thinks the ‘Bama defense will take over and help the Tide secure a 3 TD victory.

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

2012 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 13

Why is it that baseball, which I like but not THAT much, and basketball, which is okay but not really special, both have seasons that seem to drag on for eons, while football, which I adore, is seemingly over in the blink of an eye?? Don’t worry fellow fans…we haven’t reached the end of the road just yet, but on the collegiate level the conference title games are here and potential bowl matchups are already being pondered. In the NFL crunch time is fast approaching, with some teams already facing must win scenarios to remain in the playoff conversation. Here at The Manofesto your humble Potentate of Profundity has had two straight 4-3 weeks, which brings my overall record up to 36-53-1. I’d have to have a stunningly strong finish to get to .500, but one never knows, right?? I think we’ll go with a strictly college lineup this week since it’s the last hurrah for them and we’re going to be restricted to just the NFL going forward.

 

 

 

 

Louisville            at      Rutgers (-3)

The Big East doesn’t have a title game. Hell, they barely have a conference. At any rate, this game will serve as a de facto championship contest, as the winner will get the automatic BCS berth, likely to face the ACC champion in The Orange Bowl. Just for kicks…and because I picked them to finish 20th in my pre-season Top 25…I’ll pick the upset here and go with Louisville.

 

 

Boise St. (-8.5)  at      Nevada

Ahhh…Boise St…remember them?? After being “BCS Busters” the past few years they have largely been forgotten about in 2012 despite having a stellar 9-2 record. Meanwhile, the Wolfpack have compiled a solid yet unimpressive 7-4 season. I don’t think this’ll be much of a game, and it will certainly get lost in the shuffle amidst all the conference championship games on the schedule. The good news for both of these teams is that they will be going bowling…Nevada has already accepted a bid to the December 15th New Mexico Bowl, while the Broncos might be heading to Vegas a week later. As for this game, Boise is the pick.

 

 

Central Florida  at      Tulsa

This contest is all even according to the folks in Vegas, and it is the Conference USA championship game, which means it is slightly less important than the Big East game and in a tight race with explosive diarrhea & anything starring a Wayans brother on the interest scale. That being said, I did pick the 9-3 Knights to finish 16th in my pre-season poll, so I suppose I shall stick with that and pick Central Florida to get the win.

 

 

UCLA        at      Stanford (-9)

Didn’t these two teams just play each other?? Yes…yes they did. Stanford smoked the Bruins 35-17 just a few days ago in Pasadena, and now this game will determine who will get to return to Pasadena in January to represent the Pac 12 in The Rose Bowl. This time the two combatants meet on Stanford’s home turf in Palo Alto. Of course it isn’t as if Bruin fans can’t take a short plane ride to see the game, although the 400 mile jaunt may be a bit of a trek in a car. Anyway, I see no reason to believe that the result will be any different this time, especially with a trip to the beloved Granddaddy of All Bowl Games on the line. Stanford should win by a comfortable margin.

 

 

Alabama (-7.5)   vs.    Georgia

Not only is this the vaunted SEC title game, but the victor is assured a spot in the national championship to face Notre Dame. Of course every football fan in the country, and especially all the media types & TV suits at ESPN are already having nocturnal emissions in anticipation of a ‘Bama-ND matchup, but the Tide must get by the Bulldogs first. I must admit that I left the Bulldogs out of my pre-season poll because I figured that someone in the SEC would have to get squeezed out. I incorrectly chose Tennessee & Arkansas to have good seasons, which of course they did not. Instead it is Georgia who stands in the way of the greatest game in the history of any sport with a ball (if you believe the talking heads). Interestingly enough this is…technically…a neutral site game being played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. I have a feeling this could end up being a really fun contest. I will stop short of picking an outright upset, but I do sincerely believe that if Alabama wins it will not be by more than a touchdown, so Georgia is the pick.

 

 

Texas        at      Kansas St. (-10.5)

The Wildcats were in line to play for the national title until inexplicably stumbling against a very average Baylor club a couple of weeks ago. They can still make it to the BCS (likely the Fiesta Bowl) with a win here, but the 8-3 Longhorns will have a lot to say about that. Also at stake is K-State QB Collin Klein’s last chance to impress Heisman voters. There’s been a big push in the last few weeks for Texas A&M signal caller Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, but Klein could get the nod with a strong performance in this game. The Longhorns might get a bid to the Cotton Bowl with a win. Regardless of who ultimately comes out on top I don’t think it’ll be a double digit victory, so Texas is the pick.

 

 

Wisconsin                   vs.    Nebraska (-2.5)

This is the Big Ten championship game and will be played on a neutral field at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis. The Badgers are 7-5 and actually finished 3rd in their division, but because no one at their school molested little boys or traded merchandise for tattoos & lied about it they get the opportunity to play for the title and represent the conference in The Rose Bowl. These two teams played one another at the end of September in Lincoln, with the Cornhuskers eeking out a 3 point win. The Badgers come into the contest limping a bit, having lost their last two games to Tattoo U. & Pedophile St. There is no logical reason in the world to pick Wisconsin, and for once I will actually go with the prevailing logic and pick Nebraska.

 

 

 

 

2012 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 11

Last week I went 2-4-1, with Louisville & the Detroit Lions really letting me down. I am perfectly aware when I roll the dice and have come to expect that more often than not I lose those gambles, but there are times when I am actually pretty confident that a pick is as close to a lock as one can hope for in football and when I lose those it really stings. Unfortunately I have lost a lot of those this season, which is why my overall record now stands at 28-47-1. If I were a coach or being paid by anyone to do this I would have already been shown the door. Luckily I am my own boss here so I can just move forward and hope to do better this week. The college schedule is inexplicably polluted with top teams playing cupcakes, which seems weird so late in the season, and the NFL schedule is beginning to feel repetitive & tedious at this juncture, but I have cobbled together 7 games that should be entertaining enough.

 

 

 

Florida State (-31)            at            Maryland

This is one of those games where the outcome is almost a foregone conclusion, but the interesting thing is the spread. The 9-1 Seminoles will almost certainly beat the 4-6 Terrapins, but will they win by over 4 TDs?? Such large victories are not foreign to Florida St., as they have won over half of their games by more than 40 points. Meanwhile, Maryland, who I crazily ranked 15th in my pre-season Top 25, has lost a lot but they weren’t being blown out until their last two games. I am going out on a limb and predicting that Florida St. has a slightly off week and only wins by 20-28 points.

 

 

Rutgers                at            Cincinnati (-6)

It was the Bearcats that I picked to win The Big East and finish in the top 15, but even though they have an impressive 7-2 record it is their opponent this week, the Scarlet Knights, who are currently ranked in the Top 25. That could flip flop here with a Cincinnati victory. I think these are two evenly matched teams and it should be an exciting game, so when all other things are equal the home field advantage comes into play. I think Cincinnati wins & covers, and maybe next week we’ll see them ranked.

 

 

USC (-3.5)            at            UCLA

I wonder when the last time these two teams played against one another in a meaningful game?? It seems like the Bruins have been below average for a number of years, all while the Trojans have been constantly in the thick of the national championship conversation. This game could possibly decide who represents The Pac 12 in The Rose Bowl, assuming Oregon makes it to the title game. Both teams are ranked in the top 20, but one gets the feeling that USC is struggling to hold on (they’ve lost 2 out of their last 3) while UCLA is riding a 4 game winning streak. Normally I would go with the home team in a game like this, but it is quite telling that the boys in Vegas consider Southern Cal the favorite. The vibes are strong with this one, as I sense that the Trojans will seize the opportunity to save their season.

 

 

Texas Tech          at            Oklahoma State (-10)

I have really been enjoying The Big 12 this season, except for the part where my WV Mountaineers completely suck and are struggling to become bowl eligible after all the pre-season hype of a possible national title run. Anyway, these are both solid teams in the lower echelon of the Top 25, but after they clash one will obviously fall by the wayside while one remains ranked. I assume it’ll be a high scoring game and fun to watch. I am a little surprised that it’s a double digit spread, which is kind of disrespectful to a very talented Red Raider team. However, Tech has lost 2 out of their past 4 games and went to overtime to win the other two, so I suppose the odds make sense. I just have a feeling it’ll be a little bit closer than that though, so Texas Tech is the pick.

 

 

Stanford              at            Oregon (-20.5)

I have learned my lesson. The Ducks win and they win big. But after Alabama was knocked off their perch last week it is Oregon that sits in the driver’s seat while Kansas St. & Notre Dame battle for the #2 spot, so might they take their foot off the gas just a little bit?? Stanford is much more on the level of USC, who Oregon defeated by only 11 points, and Arizona St., who the Ducks beat by a mere 22 points, rather than the likes of Arizona, Washington, or Cal that were all destroyed by the boys in green by 30+ points. This’ll probably be one of those games that the oddsmakers have somehow magically pegged perfectly, meaning that either way I go I’ll be sweating it out right down to the last possession. I have too much respect for Stanford to believe that they’ll get smoked by 3 TDs, so I’ll pick them to cover the spread. I am sure I’ll regret it. So yeah…I guess I didn’t learn my lesson.

 

 

Tampa Bay (-1.5)             at            Carolina

Wow, did I ever have the Panthers figured wrong. I thought they’d be a playoff team and QB Cam Newton would continue his rise to prominence. Instead Newton is a headcase that is looking more like a bad mix of the worst of Vince Young & Donovan McNabb, and his supporting cast isn’t nearly as good as I’d thought they’d be. Conversely, the Bucs are riding rookie RB Doug Martin straight into playoff contention. Plain & simple…it’s over for Carolina, while Tampa has to keep winning to stay in contention in the ultra-competitive NFC.

 

 

Chicago                at            San Francisco (-5)

Earlier this week I thought this’d be a game featuring two backup quarterbacks. Both Bears’ signal caller and 49ers starter Alex Smith were injured last weekend, but it looks like Smith is good to go. Chicago will rely on former Redskins & Raiders QB Jason Campbell, who isn’t a bad second option. This was always going to be a defensive struggle no matter who was behind center, so I don’t think it matters all that much anyway. It’s this week Monday night game and it should be a low scoring affair with lots of handoffs & punts. I am sure the folks at ESPN are thrilled. At any rate, conventional wisdom favors the home team and the spread isn’t outrageous, so I’ll go with Frisco to pull out a yawn inspiring victory.

 

 

 

 

2012 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 7

I’m feeling a little frisky this week, and you know what that means…bonus picks!! Last week I was a respectable 4-3, with Florida, South Carolina, New England, & New Orleans all pulling through for me. Stanford won but didn’t cover the spread, while Air Force and the Buffalo Bills just plain stunk up the joint and made me look like a fool. Ah well…c’est la vie. My overall record for the season stands at 17-27, and I don’t expect to make up that deficit in one fell swoop, although one can hope.

 

 

 

 

Louisville (-3)         at            Pitt

What has happened to the Pitt Panthers?? While my WV Mountaineers have moved on to The Big 12 and are enjoying a fine season & a Top 5 ranking, Pitt is languishing in mediocrity with a record of 2-3. Meanwhile Louisville, who I ranked 20th in my pre-season Top 25, cruises into this game 5-0. It is telling that the oddsmakers are giving the edge to the Cardinals despite the fact that they are playing in Pittsburgh. Heinz Field may be a big advantage on Sundays for the Steelers, but on Saturdays the good citizens of The Burgh couldn’t seem to possibly care less about the Panthers and find other things to do rather than attend a football game. I’d be very surprised to see an upset, although I suppose anything is possible. Louisville has done nothing to dissuade my belief in them and I think they win easily.

 

 

Texas                    vs.          Oklahoma (-3)

Ahhh…The Red River Shootout…one of the best rivalries in college football. The Longhorns are 4-1 but coming off of a disappointing loss to WVU. Oklahoma is 3-1, with the only blemish being a disappointing loss to Kansas St. This game takes place at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX, meaning it’s not really a home game for either team. It really is a neutral site, with both campuses being about 200 miles away. Both teams probably expected and certainly atleast hoped to be undefeated coming into this contest, but since that isn’t the case I guess the question is who has the momentum. And to me the other question is whether or not Texas will lose two weeks in a row. I watched the Texas/WV game, and it was a dogfight. Just because the Longhorns lost doesn’t mean they aren’t a very good team. I haven’t had the opportunity to watch the Sooners play this season, and I am sure they are extremely talented as well, but my vibes are saying that Texas will win an exciting & competitive game.

 

 

Kansas St. (-7)        at            Iowa St.

Kansas St. is one of the biggest surprises of the season thus far, as they are 5-0 and ranked in the Top 10. Meanwhile the Cyclones aren’t too shabby themselves, coming into this game 4-1. I don’t know enough about these teams to intelligently comment on the ins & outs or strengths & weaknesses of either. Like most of my fellow Mountaineer fans I am a novice when it comes to the intricacies of The Big 12 and just learning as I go along. I do recall that the Cyclones had a huge upset over Oklahoma State last year when the Cowboys were the #2 team in the nation. And I know that Wildcats’ head coach Bill Snyder has been around a long long…long time. I suppose it is possible that Kansas St. could be “looking ahead” to a Top 5 matchup next week in Morgantown against the Mountaineers, but that is precisely why I would love to see the Wildcats win this one. Iowa State’s 2011 defeat of Oklahoma St. actually works against them here because no one will take them lightly or overlook them. Therefore I must go with Kansas St. to win & cover here.

 

 

Stanford              at            Notre Dame (-8)

Stanford is 4-1 and coming off of a rather close call against Arizona. The Irish are sailing along at 5-0 and enjoying their best season in recent memory. Brian Kelly is an excellent coach and it seems like he finally has things figured out in South Bend, although the musical chairs being played between QBs Everett Golson & Tommy Rees is a cause for concern and I believe will eventually become an issue. The point spread gives me pause because I have a feeling this might be a pretty close game. However, I am going to bite the bullet and go with Notre Dame. I’ll probably regret it.

 

 

South Carolina           at            LSU (-2.5)

The Gamecocks opened up a can of whoopass on the Georgia Bulldogs last week en route to a 6-0 record and a Top 5 ranking. Conversely, the other shoe finally dropped for LSU when they lost to Florida, a loss quite a few people saw coming a mile away. These are simply two teams headed in opposite directions. However, circumstances might be conducive for an “upset” (even though LSU is favored). South Carolina could conceivably suffer the classic letdown after winning such a big game, and LSU might have finally gotten the wake-up call they needed. That’d be the conventional wisdom anyway. But you know what?? To heck with conventional wisdom. I picked South Carolina to win the SEC and I am sticking with that choice. I’ll go with Spurrier’s Gamecocks here. I hope I don’t regret this one too.

 

 

Indianapolis       at            NY Jets (-3)

All the talking heads can yap about this week is whether or not it is finally Tebow Time in New York. No one seems to care that rookie QB Andrew Luck led his team to a huge upset of the Green Bay Packers last week. Regardless of whether or not Rex Ryan pulls the plug on QB March Sanchez and gives Tebow a whirl, the fact is that the Jets are a mess. A big freakin’ 2-3 mess. Sure the Colts are only 2-2 themselves, but I suspect the mood in Indy is far more jovial than in The Big Apple. The Colts are of course dealing with the health issues of head coach Chuck Pagano that has necessitated offensive coordinator Bruce Arians becoming the interim coach, but such adversity tends to motivate & galvanize a team. A win here for Indianapolis would add to the early success of Luck, while a Jets loss might seal the fate of Sanchez. As much as I would love to see the former occur, I shudder at the consequences of the latter. I think Sanchez lives to fight another day, while the legend of Luck will take just a little longer to build. I hesitantly choose the Jets.

 

 

Detroit                                 at            Philadelphia (-5)

I honestly thought Detroit would atleast be in the playoff conversation this year. Instead they find themselves 1-3 and at the bottom of what has suddenly become quite a competitive division. The Eagles certainly haven’t been boring thus far, winning three games by a total of 4 points, and losing last week to my Steelers on a last second field goal. I haven’t watched a Lions game yet, but I know that their running game is a mess and someone else besides Calvin Johnson needs to become a pass receiving threat. I am not feeling an upset here and will pick Philly to win, this time by a comfortable enough margin to cover the spread.

 

 

Dallas                    at            Baltimore (-3.5)

The Ravens are 4-1 and as good as advertised, although I’m not sure what in the world happened last week in Kansas City when they won a 9-6 snoozefest against the Chiefs. Dallas is a 2-2 hot mess, what with QB Tony Romo’s penchant for choking in big games & throwing passes to the other team’s players. Having said that, I must confess that if this game were being held at the palatial Jerry Jones shrine in Irving, TX I might have to ponder the possibilities. However, the game just so happens to be taking place in Baltimore, so that makes things considerably easier. I think Baltimore wins & covers without breaking a sweat.

 

 

Green Bay           at            Houston (-3.5)

This is the Sunday night game on NBC. I told you that they get all the cool games now…Monday Night Football is so yesterday (somewhere Hank Williams Jr. has a big ol’ grin on his face). This would be a lot more intriguing if the Packers had held up their end of the bargain and come into the game undefeated like their opponents. Unfortunately for cheeseheads everywhere their team has looked pretty ordinary so far in compiling a shockingly subpar 2-3 record. It’d even be more interesting if the game was being played on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. However, the Texans are hosting this party and have looked pretty unstoppable thru 5 games. I think Green Bay will eventually get things figured out and still believe that they’ll win their division and go to the playoffs. However, I don’t think that breakthrough will come this week, and I am confident that Houston will win & cover.

 

 

 

 

Aside

2011 Pre-Season College Football Top 25

As 95 degree temperatures fade away and one can smell autumn in the air, it is time to get jacked up for my favorite season of the year…football season. We begin first with college, the ostensible domain of amateur student athletes (except for those playing in Columbus and Coral Gables).

 

1             Stanford

I realize there is a new coach in Palo Alto after Jim Harbaugh’s defection to the NFL, but the Cardinal still has QB Andrew Luck, who is widely expected to be the #1 overall pick in next spring’s draft. It’s a tough schedule, with away games at Arizona & USC and home tilts against Notre Dame & Oregon, but I have good vibes about this team.

 

2             Oklahoma

The Sooners seem to be everyone else’s choice for #1, but I don’t like to follow the crowd.

3             Wisconsin

Ohio State has had a rough offseason, losing both their coach & starting QB (and most of their credibility), so the Big Ten race becomes wide open. The Badgers aren’t the most exciting team to watch, but they’ll pound the ball and wear down opposing defenses.

 

4             Florida St.

Coach Jimbo Fisher…a fellow Clarksburg, WV native and also an alum of my high school alma mater…looks to have the Seminoles back on the brink of dominance after the mediocrity of the final Bobby Bowden years.

 

 

5             Alabama

The Tide is also a popular pick to contend for a national title, and with good reason. The last 5 national champions have all come from the SEC. It will take 2 losses to knock ‘Bama out of the running, and I believe that to be a real possibility. They could still win the SEC title though.

6             Oregon

The Ducks will provide stiff competition for Stanford in the Pac 10, with their clash on November 12 deciding the race and a likely spot in the national championship game. That game is at Stanford. Sorry ‘bout your luck Oregon.

 

 

7             South Carolina

Is this the year Spurrier’s Gamecocks put it all together?? Maybe. I’m looking forward to a ‘Bama-SC SEC title game.


8             Texas A&M

Who knows what conference the Aggies will end up in down the road?? And really, who cares?? For now they are in the depleted Big 12 and will suffer only one loss…to division rival Oklahoma.

9             Arizona

The Wildcats have back to back contests against Stanford & Oregon early in the season. Even if they lose both they could run off 8 straight wins afterward and finish 10-2. If they are somehow able to win one of those two games there’s no reason to believe they can’t be a rock solid Top 10 team.

 

 

10         BYU

The Cougars are now an independent, free from all conference ties. I’m not sure whether that is a good or bad thing, but I have looked at their schedule. Trips to Texas and TCU might be a bit intimidating, but otherwise this is a 10 win team.

11         Oklahoma St.

Former offensive coordinator Dana Holgersen is now the head coach at West Virginia, but the Cowboys return starting QB Brandon Weeden and top flight NFL wideout prospect Justin Blackmon. There are tough games at home against Arizona & Oklahoma, and an away battle with Texas A&M in College Station. Three losses would totally blow up this pick, but if the boys from Stillwater can steal one of those three they will get the attention of voters.

 

 

12         Michigan St.

The Spartans went 11-2 last season and return starting QB Kirk Cousins. However, the schedule is t-o-u-g-h. Away games at Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Nebraska along with a home game versus Wisconsin will be grueling. A split of those contests would be amazing, but it is just as possible that they lose all four and make me look like a fool.

 

 

13         Arkansas

The Razorbacks do have to replace QB Ryan Mallett, so I’m a little nervous about putting them in this spot. But when I look at the schedule I see 8 wins, and that’s without any upsets. If the Hogs can pull off a surprise or two against the likes of ‘Bama, Auburn, Texas A&M, or South Carolina this pick is golden.

 

 

14         Mississippi St.

It doesn’t seem like all that long ago the Bulldogs were at the bottom of the SEC barrel, but they are coming off of a 9 win season and an impressive mauling of Michigan in the Gator Bowl. It’s kind of the same deal as Arkansas – 8 wins looks to be a lock, but an upset or two in games against ‘Bama, LSU, Auburn, and South Carolina would solidify a top 20 ranking.

 

 

15         Northwestern

In case anyone missed it, Northwestern was a bowl team last year. I say they keep the momentum going in 2011. Somewhere ESPN’s Mike Greenberg & Michael Wilbon are smiling.

16         West Virginia

Someone’s got to win the overlooked, disrespected Big East, and the consensus is that Coach Holgersen’s high powered “Eer Raid” offense will lead the Mountaineers to the crown. Yours truly is calling an upset over LSU on September 24th, which would give WVU a legit shot at an undefeated season. Sadly, even if that comes to fruition they still might be outside the championship picture looking in at a 1 or even 2 loss SEC/Big 10/Pac 10 team getting a shot at the national title.

 

 

17         Air Force

I really like watching the service academies play football. You know these guys are a lot more special than the average student athlete, and they all play a unique style that is just plain fun to see. Playing in the same conference as Boise & TCU makes a tough road for the Falcons, but I think they upset one of those two adversaries this season. Defeating Notre Dame on October 8th would be the cherry on top, although I don’t look for that to happen.

 

 

18         TCU

This might seem like a low ranking for a team coming off of an undefeated season, one that many felt deserved a chance to play for the national championship. But whereas power conference teams often reload instead of rebuild, replacing a starting QB is a little bigger bump in the road for the little guys. My vibes are telling me that the Horned Frogs will still be good, but won’t be anywhere near the BCS hunt this season.

 

 

19         Missouri

The Tigers schedule is brutal, with conference games at Oklahoma and at Texas A&M, plus an out-of-conference battle at Arizona St. They also have to replace a starting QB who is now in the NFL. Still, 8 or 9 wins would be plenty good enough for a solid top 20 finish.

20         Boise St.

I think we may be nearing the end of Boise’s 15 minutes of glory. I just don’t think we’ll see them in the top 10 mix anymore, even if they win 10+ games. The Mountain West…especially once TCU bolts for the Big East…just isn’t worthy of much esteem.

 

 

21         Nebraska

The Cornhuskers move to The Big 10 (which now has 12 teams) this season, so some might logically believe there would be a period of adjustment. However, I don’t believe there will be much of a dropoff, if any. As a matter of fact, I think they’ll blow thru the conference with relative ease save for a game at Wisconsin and maybe a couple of tough home games versus Northwestern & Michigan State.

22         Houston

I look for the Cougars to rebound from a disappointing 5-7 in 2011 and run roughshod over Conference USA. The season opener against UCLA looks a bit daunting, but it’s at home and the Bruins were only 4-8 themselves last season.

 

 

23         Arizona St.

The Pac 10 has suddenly become one of the deeper conferences in the country, with atleast half of its teams receiving preseason Top 25 buzz, depending upon where one looks. The Sun Devils have a 6ft.8 junior QB that opposing defenses should have difficulty bringing down.

24         LSU

Your traditional polls all have the Bayou Bengals firmly ensconced as a top 5 team, but as previously mentioned I’m not a follower. I’m predicting losses to out-of-conference foes West Virginia & Oregon and atleast two fellow SEC teams. The subpar two headed QB monster of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee will finally blow up in the faces of the folks in Baton Rouge.

 

 

25         Notre Dame

It honestly causes me physical pain and emotional distress to put the hated Fighting Irish in my rankings. But the fact is that Notre Dame won’t stay down forever (no matter how much I fervently wish they would), and Brian Kelly is the best head coach to come to South Bend since Lou Holtz left in 1996. They will probably win atleast 9 games with relative ease.