Terrelle Pryor and the rest of the Buckeyes imposed their will on poor Marshall in Week 1, blowing that game up early, leading 35-7 at the half. Pryor looked awesome, not as much running as one would expect but through the air. He doesn’t always look like the prettiest quarterback out there, his speed is more long than quick and his arm never seems as strong as it is – but he can throw it, and I don’t know if last week was an anomaly or what, but he can do it accurately. Pryor couldn’t get much going on the ground, which is weird, but he wasn’t really needed there. He had 8 rushes for just 17 yards. Like I said, other guys carried the lumber with ease. Brandon Saine had 9 carries for over 100 yards and two touchdowns, he led a strong team effort on the ground. The Buckeyes will be tough to beat.
Miami has enough talent to get to Ohio State. They can really move on defense, and it will be interesting to see how Pryor throws the ball with more pressure and smaller windows. Sometimes it’s easy to hit that receiver with 8 yards of freedom on either side of him, the question is, can Pryor do the same thing with just a couple yards to play with?
As awesome as Pryor was through the air on Saturday, this weekend he might be outdone by Miami’s signal caller, Jacory Harris. Harris completed 80% of his passes last week, and threw for over 3300 yards and 24 touchdowns last season for the Canes. This years’ team is more mature and better all around. If Harris can get his offensive line to fend off the pressure from Ohio State, Harris will have enough time to take advantage of Miami’s elite team speed. Team speed, on both sides of the ball, should keep Miami within striking distance all day long.
#13 Miami Hurricanes (+9) @ #2 Ohio State Buckeyes
Last week’s only match-up pitting Top 25 teams was a dandy. The Boise State Broncos went into Virginia Tech and beat the Hokies in the last minute with a touchdown pass by eventual Heisman winner, Kellen Moore. But that’s in the past, and well, in the future as well – but the now is in Oklahoma this week when the #8 team in the land, hot off a down to the wire-performance in Week 1, hosts the 20th ranked team in the land, Florida State.
The Seminoles have the speed to match-up with the Oklahoma. Not only offensively, but on the defensive side of the ball as well. At quarterback, I’m not sure there are too many signal callers more impressive than Christian Ponder, FSU’s leader. Ponder is a good sized quarterback with a strong arm – probably the best pure passer Oklahoma will see this season. Ponder can make all the throws and then some. He got hurt toward the end of last season, but his numbers were impressive anyway. He’ll be a key on Saturday.
But he won’t be the most important part of the game for the Seminoles. No, that will come on defense. FSU hasn’t had a truly dominant defense in quite some time, but they can be special this season. The Sooners haven’t shown a dominant passing attack, and while they won’t be bad, they will not spread the ball around like they did in the days of Sam Bradford. They rely more heavily on the run this season, and that something I think the Seminoles can gang up on and slow down. I expect a close game and that’s why I like FSU and all those points. The spread is shrinking by the day! So I’m not the only one that likes those points.
#20 Florida State Seminoles (+9.5) @ #8 Oklahoma Sooners
This game was more of a joke than a big time college football game last season as these two schools have found themselves in uncomfortable lows over the last couple years. Notre Dame canned Charlie Weis while Michigan has stood by their man, former West Virginia general, Rich Rodriguez.
There was no team that gained more bandwagon passengers and more hype than Michigan did with their big win over Connecticut this last weekend. Interesting, what I’m having trouble with is the emphasis put on a win over UConn – the football team, not the basketball program. I know the Huskies have been better on the gridiron over the past couple seasons, but this is Michigan we’re talking about here. Winning at home over UConn shouldn’t be something that wins over the masses.
Denard Robinson was a treat to watch, there’s no denying that. He looked like he was running at a level 10 against some level 7s – and I think he might have been. He’s a wonderful player with athleticism and quickness to spare – he’s going to make Fighting Irish defenders look bad on a normal basis – but the Irish will do a better job than UConn did. What was amazing about Robinson’s performance was the fact that he through just 3 in-completions. Not only did he throw for 180+ rush for 190+ and account for 2 touchdowns, the guy couldn’t do anything wrong. Can he continue that flawless play?
Unfortunately, he doesn’t play defense. Notre Dame can really run the ball. They have a good offensive line and a couple talented backs that will give Michigan trouble. I think Notre Dame’s offense can score more consistently than Michigan, and that will be the difference in the game.
Michigan Wolverines @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-4)
Idaho is pretty good. I almost think I’d take them against anyone in the nation as a 28.5 point underdog on any given week – no matter where they are playing. The Cornhuskers did some really good things late last year, proving they to are good enough to play with anyone in the nation. I wouldn’t quite give the Vandals that kind of love, but with 28 points on their side, they’re looking almost as good as the Cornhuskers.
Idaho can put up points. and while they usually have troubles stopping opponents from doing the same thing, their defense is getting better. This is a program moving up the charts, trying to compete with their in-state rival. They are no Boise State, no, no, no, but they are much better than anyone without a large knowledge of college football gives them credit.
Nebraska won five games to end the regular season, and were a long field goal after a bad call away from upsetting the Texas Longhorns to end their championship hopes. But Nebraska lost some key players to the league, most of all Mr. Suh. The new Detroit Lion was a beast in college football, doing all that he wanted and causing a general sense of nervousness amongst even the best offensive lines in the country. They are still loaded, no doubt, but this isn’t a team that will come out and dominate on a weekly basis. I think the score will be closer to 14 points, making this one an easy cover for the little school playing on the road.
Idaho Vandals (+28.5) @ Nebraska Cornhuskers
I made a small mistake in my newsletter, picking the Gators as 16.5 point underdogs at home. Awesome. I wonder how long ago the last time Florida was more than a two touchdown underdog was, let alone at home. But all great football schools have their tumbles, right Michigan? Right Notre Dame?
But that’s not the case here, the Gators are actually 16.5 point favorites – and I’ll still take them! Now a lot of people are worried about the Gators after their very blah performance against the defeathered Red Hawks from Miami of Ohio. The Red Hawks aren’t good, they were 1-11 last season and got pistol whipped by more than a handful of mediocre college football teams. But still, the Gators defense was impressive on Saturday. They didn’t allow a single touchdown, and it was the offense’s struggles that often were to blame for giving up good field position which allowed Miami (Ohio) a field goal a quarter for a 12 point finish.
John Brantley didn’t wow me with his quarterbacking, but the kid is solid enough to put up some nice numbers with that talent surrounding him. I doubt the Gators will make as many mistakes as they did in Week 1, and they’ll still have that dominant defense. South Florida is no slouch, but they seem to really struggle against top foes, and the Gators are, at the very least, one of the more talented teams in college football. That talent differential will be too much for the Bulls, and I expect a 34-10(ish) score in Florida.
South Florida Bulls @ Florida Gators (-16.5)
I wasn’t completely impressed with the way South Carolina played during Week 1, I mean, they allowed their opponents to move up and down the field pretty consistently. What I was impressed with was how they hunkered down and made the big plays they needed from start to finish. They didn’t play their best football, youth was apparent especially on defense, but this team looks well coached and they won because of that. They won easily. When a team can come out with their B game and win handily, that says something.
Both these teams are good football squads, no doubt about it. It looks like Steve Spurrier finally has the Gamecocks loaded with enough talent and understanding of his coaching schemes to start doing some damage in the SEC. One of their first big tests will be a Georgia team ranked in the Top 25.
The Bulldogs got after it last week, destroying Louisiana Lafayette 55-7. That sounds like a stomping, but a closer look at the game and the numbers don’t look all that impressive, honestly. The Ragin Cajuns aren’t necessarily the toughest match-up an SEC team could schedule in Week 1, either.
South Carolina plays fast and offensively they can force offenses into a lot of mistakes with their speed and athleticism. I put too much weight into their graduation losses, they will be a force in the SEC, and an overrated Georgia team is the perfect opponent for their first big game.
#21 Georgia Bulldogs @ South Carolina Gamecocks (-2.5)
I like big dogs at home, especially against teams like Michigan State. The Spartans are a team that rarely impress me, but they still get treated like a big conference school in terms of spreads. After last week I’m a little hesitant of 28.5 point spreads, as that seems like the books are almost begging you to take the underdog, giving you a half point more than 4 touchdowns. I’ll continue to keep track of spreads and winners, but I think I’ll get back on track this week with a couple 28.5 point dogs (the other one I’ll be taking is Idaho @ Nebraska).
The Owls are just better than they’re getting credit for. This is a team that isn’t used to winning, but found a few victories down the stretch last season, and actually won 5 of their final 8 games, their only five wins of the season. The Owls lost just one game by more than 4 touchdowns last season (and actually spent much of the year in tight ball games), that was Week 1 against Nebraska.
The Owls have already revenged one of their bad losses last season, beating UAB by a point in Week 1, a game they lost by 17 points last season. Per usual, I like those teams that played tight games in Week 1 instead of some blow-out game that won’t help them at all if things get hairy. They are good at home, going 2-3 last season, but losing those three games by a total of 11 points. If the Spartans think they’re going to see another Western Michigan type game, where they can make huge mistakes and still win by 24, they are going to be in a fight in the 4th quarter.
Michigan State Spartans @ Florida Atlantic Owls (+28.5) (Saturday Game)
I’m back, using up less of my retirement on crap and spending more of my time rummaging around for information on this dang computer thingy. Amazing contraption, I must admit, looked like a TV at first but the thing turns out to have a life of it’s own – a billion lives of it’s own actually.
Toward the end of last season I was telling my nephew Lucky that it’s all about Underdogs and how he should always got that route. He told me to pipe it, and that I should write my own damned football picks article. Well, I didn’t pipe it, I’m sure, probably called him a nice 4-letter word or three and decided that I would. This year I’m doing it all year long, my top 5 underdogs every single week. I’ll list my record before my picks every week so you can keep tally with me and see if you want to follow or fade me. Hope you enjoy!
Carolina Panthers (+7.5) @ New York Giants: 41-9 – that’s the score Carolina laid on the Giants last season. Hey New York, watch out. The Panthers can really run the ball against anyone, and that poses a problem for the Giants. Carolina has a tough secondary, and that’s something that could cause Eli and company problems as well.
Philadelphia Eagles (+3) @ HOME vs. Green Bay Packers: The Eagles are still a good team. I think dropping McNabb was an interesting move, but Kevin Kolb is an accurate thrower that can certainly get the job done as well as Donovan when he’s on. Kolb could have a big day against a banged up Green Bay secondary. The Packers are getting a lot of hype coming in, but remember, this is still a team that was too inconsistent to finish opponents off a year ago. A field goal favorite on the road against a tough Philly team could be too much to ask. When they get completely healthy, the Packers are going to do work, but right now I like the dog to pull it out.
Oakland Raiders (+6.5) @ Tennessee Titans: The Raiders are going to have a solid season. I hate Al Davis more than diapers for old people, but that’s only because you know that guy needs them and instead just pays somebody $13 an hour to clean up after him. Jerk. Anyway, back to football, the Raiders can run the ball and the Titans haven’t been able to stop the run since Albert Haynesworth turned into a princess, tapped his shoes together three times and found himself in Washington. I like the cover, but the upset could happen. Survivor selectors be ware!
Houston Texans (+2.5) @ HOME vs. Indianapolis Colts: It has to happen one of these times and why not now? The Texans are as good as anyone in this divison up front, and if they can get to Peyton in a hurry they’ll give their secondary a chance. I don’t think the Colts can stop Matt Schaub all day, and the Texans keep getting closer and closer. They are talented enough. Manning goes down on opening day – shoot – they both do.
The University of Texas El-Paso (known to most as UTEP) is better than last season’s record insisted. Not only did UTEP go 4-8 on the year, but they did so in close-loss fashion. In fact, 5 of their 8 losses were by a touchdown or less, usually less. Sure, UTEP got stomped by Texas and Kansas last season, a combined 86-14, but they held their own against UAB (5 point loss), Rice (1 point loss), Southern Methodist (4 point loss), Tulane (overtime loss), and Buffalo (6 point loss). The Miners showed their worth by upsetting Houston and beating up Marshall.
UTEP is not a great team, but neither is Houston. Both teams aren’t in the business of stopping opponents, so the score is going to be impressive, especially because both offenses can put points on the board. UTEP is better than they get credit for, however, and since they can score and Houston doesn’t play much defense, I expect a back and forth game that never has a game spread of 20 points.
I only expect UTEP to get better and better under coach Mike Price. Despite being a nimrod at least one time in his life, Price knows how to coach football, as seen by his success at Washington State. I think this line is drastically high for the similarity between these two programs, and that makes it a great time to take the underdog. Points can be a glorious thing!
UTEP Miners (+20) @ Houston Cougars
The Giants were plagued by injuries the second half of last year, and that certainly contributed to their slide. But that wasn’t the only reason this team fell from the top shelf, there are holes both offensively and defensively that weren’t there in years’ past.
Offensively, New York really struggled on the ground. Prior to last season, it seemed like anybody could run with success behind that Giants offensive line. Tiki Barber then Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw (when given the chance). But last season Jacobs really struggled and Bradshaw looked solid, though not elite. I wonder if it had to do with offensive lie woes, running backs just not getting it done, or playcalling that moved to a heavier passing attack. Whatever it is, that rushing attack is a question mark coming in.
Defensively, the Giants didn’t shut down the run like that had, and they certainly struggled in the secondary more and more as the season wound down. Now, injuries played a huge role, sure, but it can’t be everything. New York added the talented safety, Antrel Rolle, and Kenny Phillips is back and healthy, but that doesn’t mean the secondary is a strength quite yet.
Carolina struggled with something completely different last season, bad play calling (when running perfectly well, they would suddenly call an interception – everytime, Jake Delhomme helped the cause) and huge mistakes offensively. Well, Jake Delhomme is gone, and with him go the mistakes. Matt Moore is the starter out of camp and while he’s never going to be elite, he doesn’t make huge mistakes that cost his team. Play calling, it seems with Moore in there, the powers that be rely more on the run-game, something the Panthers are better at than almost every other team in the league.
Both teams play close games, and the Panthers have traveled well over the years. I’m not ready to give the Giants a free pass after last years’ collapse, so I’ll take the touchdown plus and the Panthers.