The Wolverines got destroyed in 3 of their last 5 games, and ended up losing the other ones that were closer. The Huskies won out in 2009, upsetting South Carolina in their Bowl Game match-up. I’m not one to pump up streaks as be-all end-alls but hey, that Michigan program wasn’t moving in the right direction while the UConn Huskies played some tough-nosed football to get into the post-season. They learned how to win. Sometimes, that goes a long way and it’s always underrated.
The Wolverines haven’t impressed me much since Rich Rodriguez took his talents to The Big House. Sure, Tate Forcier looks like a sophomore that will be even better in 2010, his second year running the show – but will he even be running the show? Word out of Michigan is that a 3-headed quarterback monster has yet to show itself, and honestly, that’s not a good sign. We’re not talking about a team with Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady dueling it out to get the starting nod (though that would be entertaining). Can Tate hold off Denard Robinson and freshman, David Gardner? And what about the rest of these guys?
They lost some big time fire-power on defense (Brandon Graham, all those sacks and his leadership) and their leading rusher to boot. They also have a secondary that can only be described as mangled beyond all reason. I can’t be tricked into believing they’re a favorite to win this game, even at home, even with the confidence of a new season to prove they’re back to respectability.
UConn’s solid enough to give them a lot of trouble, and adversity hasn’t been something the Wolverines have handled well since their last coaching change.
Connecticut Huskies (+3) @ Michigan Wolverines:
The Tar Heels look great on paper while the LSU Tigers have lost a lot from a team that didn’t show much last year. But the ACC just isn’t that tough and LSU is always loaded with big bad men ready to wreak havoc on lesser competition. LSU is still a great program, even with Coach Les Miles on the hot seat. I expect them to be much improved this season, and while the Tar Heels do have one of the best defenses in the ACC, I don’t think that will be enough for an opening game win over the Tigers of LSU.
Earlier in the week I took the Tigers to win on the road despite the spread being even against a higher ranked team – and that was before I knew that any of the Tar Heels would be suspended. Now I know they are battling to see how many, not if. You’d think that would make me feel even more confident about my pick – you were right, it does.
That vaunted front line in Carolina won’t be as powerful as their best player (DT, Cam Thomas) is out for sure. Even if most of the “soon to be suspended” players get to go against LSU, I don’t think the drama filled week did them any favors – LSU is too tough and too talented for a frustrated Tar Heel group to overcome.
#21 LSU Tigers (EVEN) @ #18 North Carolina Tar Heels
This might as well be listed as a home game for the Horned Frogs, playing a nationally ranked foe in Cowboys stadium in front of nearly 100,000 fans – yeah, I’m thinking the Beavers are in for a treat in Texas. I’d love to take the Beavers, as I’m enamored by their elite skill position players, especially one of the most exciting players in all of college football, Jaquizz Rodgers.
But I’m not playing fantasy football here, and the Horned Frogs are one of the best teams college football has to offer. They return some key guys from an elite team that could have given Alabama a run last season. There is nothing small college about these Horned Frogs, and I think they end up showing that power on Saturday against the “big conference” Beavers.
They have an overrated passing attack, maybe, but it’s solid – and as experienced as the Beavers’ secondary is, I don’t know that they can make up for the Beavers mediocre run-defense. When it comes right down to it, I just think TCU is too tough defensively, and consistent enough offensively to win by at least two touchdowns.
I don’t know how often a team can play away from their home stadium and end up with a bigger home field advantage because of it, but that’s going to be the case on Saturday – and the Horned Frogs will step up their game to match that intensity. Sorry Cousin Matt, you crazy Beaver, you!
#24 Oregon State Beavers @ #6 TCU Horned Frogs (-13)
Purdue is one of the best teams in the Big 10. Yeah, I said it – I’m going out on a limb and picking them to finish in the Top 10 in one of the weaker “big” conferences in the Nation. They have talented kids, but better yet, they have a great program that consistently pumps out winning seasons.
They struggled in the beginning of 2009, but finished the year 4-2 over their final 6 games including a nice victory over Ohio State. Purdue might just ride that wave for a while, and what a better way to start off the year than as a double-digit dog against a mediocre and overrated Notre Dame team? I get sick of hearing about the Irish, watching them get way more credit than they deserve, and flaunting their “independence” and big money NBC TV contract – and I don’t even play against them. My guess, there’s not a team more exciting to beat than Notre Dame. You beat them and you know your touchdown highlights will be on SportsCenter all week.
I expect this to be an easy cover for the Boilermakers; I believe they are going to beat Notre Dame outright. The Irish have a lot to deal with. Old coach? Gone. Star quarterback? Gone. Star receiver? Gone. I’m not saying the new coach isn’t better than the old guy, but hey, it’s part of the adversity these kids Charlie recruited will be dealing with this coming season. In Purdue, there’s no adversity. I’ll take those tough Boilermakers to win if I can get a good payout – but 11.5 points seems like free money to me.
Purdue Boilermakers (+11.5) @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Have you heard of the Rocky Mountain Showdown?
This is one of the best rivalries in all of college football and the only reason you may not know about it is because both teams have become a little crummy 0f late. But this is still a big time rivalry game in Colorado, believe you me. It’s never a surprise when the lesser team finds a way to beat their in-state rival. As far as rivalry games go, this one has been pretty lopsided over the years: Colorado leads the series with a record of 59-20-2. The last 11 seasons have been a little more equal with Colorado holding a slight 6-5 advantage over the Rams.
Colorado State’s offense is anemic and the Buffaloes aren’t much better. Both have young players in key spots, and neither team is expected to do much damage in their respective conferences. Still, rivalries bring out the best in teams, and these two will be fighting tooth and nail to get off on the right foot.
I don’t see how I could go any other way, the Rams are a steal in this rivalry game as double digit dogs. This game never finishes far apart, as the winning team has taken the game by double digits just twice in the last 10 seasons – and believe me, the two teams aren’t always close in terms of final record, ability, or ranking.
Last season, the Buffaloes were the much better team and still couldn’t hold off the Rams. I think CU is better this year again, but double digit better? Not in this game.
Colorado Buffaloes @ Colorado State Rams (+12.5)