Great Underground Empire Strikes Back
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I hope my wife doesn't leave me.  I have so much crap to do this weekend.  I promised my little princess that Daddy would paint her room her favorite shade of yellow.  And the kids have activities that require extensive shuttle services and logistics planning we subcontracted to the NYC Transit Authority. 

So I have a choice to plop my ass on a couch and watch a New Year's Day-quality lineup of:

  1. South Carolina-Georgia
  2. Michigan-Notre Dame
  3. Florida State-Oklahoma
  4. Miami-Ohio State
  5. Penn State-Alabama

OR

Stay married and watch PSU-Alabama in its entirety while catching glimpses of the others throughout the day.

Tough decisions... help me out.

 

The most concise schedule is here:

http://bigten-online.com/2010footballschedule.html

 

The worthless

Can't wait for the conference schedule.

  • Illinois over Southern Illinois
  • Indiana struggles with, but prevails over BYE
  • Michigan State plays a tough road game in the Florida Atlantic.  Bring your bathing suit.
  • Minnesota over South Dakota
  • Northwestern over Illinois State
  • Purdue over Western Illinois
  • Wisconsin over San Jose State - what's left of them after Alabama.

If you prove me wrong this week, I will pick against you every game this year.

 

The Uninteresting

With 6 extremely pathetic games and 4 awesome games, none fall into the "Uninteresting" category.

 

The Intriguing

Iowa over Iowa State - Iowa State QB Austen Arnaud showcased his athleticism (45 yards rushing) and throwing arm (27-36, 265 yds) in a week 1 win over Northern Illinois. Alexander Robinson is the featured back and provided a solid ground game with 97 yards on 19 carries.  They shook off a couple of miscues and overcame some week one sluggishness to take care of business.  The Iowa Hawkeyes will force the 'Clones to play a near-perfect game to stay close.  Costly mistakes like the two Arnaud Interceptions, one fumble, and an 18-yard punt will result in a big Iowa victory.  Actually, a perfect game by Iowa State may not even prevent that.  Iowa hasn't allowed an Iowa State touchdown in 14 quarters.  That streak will probably end around the 2nd quarter this week, but the Hawkeyes are too talented and too experienced to lose this in-state rivalry.

Michigan over Notre Dame - Both of these teams entered the 2010 season with huge question marks.  Can Notre Dame find an offense after losing Golden Tate and Jimmy Clausen and a new system?  Can Michigan find a defense and a balanced attack with the returning QBs?  Both teams are coming off impressive openers.  The Irish defeated the Bboilermakers in a game that could have been even more lopsided.  Michigan stepped up big-time against media dark horse UConn.  For Michigan, I said "Until the D shows me something, I'm skeptical.".  I'm no longer skeptical.    Denard Robinson dominated the Huskies with 19/22, 186 yards through the air and 197 yards on 19 carries on the ground. 

Tate Forcier is already fading from the collective consciousness of the citizens of Ann Arbor.  Pretty soon, the act of becoming irrelevant will enter the Urban Dictionary as "Pulling a Forcier"... Hey, I haven't heard from Jimbo in 9 months.  What happened to that guy?  --- I dunno he dropped off the face of the planet. I think he 'pulled a Forcier.' --- Yea, he's such a Tate.

Notre Dame made great strides against Purdue in the opener.  But I'm giving Michigan the nod as they appear slightly ahead of Notre Dame in the rebuilding phase.  Robinson will cause fits for the Irish defense and the Wolverines will hold off the emerging Irish offense in a close one.

 

Games of the Week

Bowl Week comes early this year.  Two tradition-laden matchups you might expect to find on January 4th qualify as the games of the week.  Why should I pick just one?

Alabama over Penn State

Fight on State, Fight on State, strike your gait and... Try really, really hard.  Joe Paterno said that this Alabama team is as good as any team he's faced since the University of Miami in 1986.  The defending national champs have so much depth that the loss of their best defensive end and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner won't even phase them. 

Bama fans will reassure us that Trent Richardson is probably better than Ingram.  With 66 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns, and 46 yards receiving in just the first half... Bama fans are probably right.  When you stick Richardson and Greg McElroy behind this talented line, it results in an offense that can beat you every possible way.  You cannot cheat the run without getting burned by Julio Jones or Marquis Maze over the top.  You cannot play a deep zone without yielding huge chunks to Richardson on the ground.  PSU has to man up with the Tide's offense and the new D-lineman and 3 new linebackers probably do not have enough experience to make the best reads or disguise the blitz packages.

On offense, Robert Bolden looked great in week one but takes a huge step up when facing the Bama front seven.  The O-line didn't gel completely until the second half last week and the PSU running game was merely average.  They will struggle.  Badly.  This game may be close for a while, but Alabama will simply wear down the Nittany Lions on both sides with depth and experience.  PSU needs to make this a measuring stick with eyes on the 2011 matchup in Happy Valley.

Then again... 20 years ago, PSU knocked off #1 Notre Dame in South Bend on a last second Craig Fayak field goal. I remember running down to the stadium, tearing down the goal posts, and depositing them on College Avenue.  The run is a bit farther this year, but I may make it anyway.  I can dream, can't I?

 Ohio State over Miami

The Horseshoe doesn't come close to The Swamp in Gainesville or Neyland Stadium in Knoxville or a night game at LSU. Those places create a home-field advantage that makes a difference. In conference, Virginia Tech and Clemson are tougher places to play than The Horseshoe. FSU, for a Miami game, is too.

  • Steve Gorton of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, who has never attended a game in Ohio Stadium.

Look, I've got my Big Ten brethren's back here.  There are two insane stadiums in the Big Ten, the Shoe and Happy Valley that are as loud and as great an atmosphere as any program on the planet.  As loud as the Swamp.  As color-coordinated as the Rocky toppers.  As passionate as the Tigers' fans.  A comparison to the ACC teams?  Puuuuhhh-lease.

The game breakdown is fairly simple.  Ohio State returns the core group from the Big Ten Championship team that won the Rose Bowl.  Miami was manhandled by the 4th place Wisconsin Badgers.  "That's Wisconsin football, just wearing a defense down," said John Clay, bowl MVP. "The third quarter, fourth quarter, I could just see them sucking wind and holding their waists."  Time of Possession: Wisconsin - 39:15 to 20:45.

It will be much tougher at the 'Shoe against the #2 Buckeyes.  The Buckeye's are better.  The crowd will be hostile.  The Buckeyes will overpower the Canes and make Jacory Harris' life miserable.

 

Next Best 3

In keeping with tradition, I also offer a preview of the Next Best 3 games each week.  Please suggest next week's best games in the  comments.

1.  No. 7 Oklahoma over No. 20 Florida State - I'm a big Ponder fan.  He literally carried that team on his back last year and the Pro scouts think just as highly of him.  But going into Norman, Oklahoma and knocking off the Sooners?  It's possible, but I think the home team gets the Win.  I'd pick an upset here, but I don't have enough faith (or cojones?) in the FSU defense.

2. No. 11 Oregon over Tennessee - They won't score 72.  The SEC may be the best conference and the PAC 10 is down a bit but I expect the Ducks will  come in with a bit of a chip on their shoulder and lay a whoopin' on the overmatched Volunteers.  The Ducks just simply are a better, faster team.

3. South Carolina over No. 23 Georgia - I had the pleasure of kicking off the television season watching the Gamecocks' big win over Southern Miss.  Stephen Garcia looked really sharp and had some great touch passes.  Freshman Marcus Lattimore (you coulda been a Nittany Lion!) ran well and added two touchdowns.  The Gamecocks controlled the line of scrimmage and showed impressive balance to the attack.  Southern Miss could do nothing on either side of the ball.  I admit I didn't see any of Georgia's 55-7 rout of Louisiana, but SC played such a solid game I'm going to take them at home.

Last week: 12-2.

September 8, 2010  03:39 PM ET

I feel for you. Its hard to stay married and get in all the necessary college football watching. Good assesments of all the games.

I think Georgia's offense will be very potent this year and like them in this one, but I am rooting for the ol' ball coach and the hometown quarterback. Hunch picks for ND and Miami. Would love to see Fla. St. win, but don't think it will happen.

September 8, 2010  03:55 PM ET

I see four great possible NB3 games for next week, all with a decidedly southern flavor.

Ark at Georgia
BYU at Fla. St.
Miss St. at LSU
Florida at Tenn.

September 8, 2010  04:29 PM ET

Watch the games.

Comment #5 has been removed
September 8, 2010  04:48 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

I can identify with your struggle. I have a wife, a two-year-old daughter and an 80 year old house that I've been renovating for a little over a year now...I'd suggest going with the compromise approach. Watch the game that is most important to you, and do what you can to stay married. It'll pay bigger dividends in the long run...I like everything but the Miami/tOSU pick and the FSU/OU pick. Maybe I'm a sucker, but I'm buying into the return of the ACC's FL schools. We'll find out a lot this weekend...

Thanks for reading. Obviously, I'm going with the latter choice. The lil' one is so excited to get her room painted. And the PSU game is at night so it's not an issue with conflicts.

It's going to be a busy day. I can easily see FSU winning, especially since Oklahoma was not that impressive in week one. I think Ohio State is just too much for Miami.

September 8, 2010  06:10 PM ET

I'll say this in regards to the Big Ten stadiums.

Nothing is as intimidating as a PSU white-out. While I haven't been to Michigan, Ohio State, or Penn State, I can tell you that the atmosphere in Indiana for a Big Ten game is crazy enough; and we only hold 50,000 people. I couldn't imagine doubling that.

But thanks for the faith in IU this week Grue

September 8, 2010  06:23 PM ET
QUOTE(#6):

Thanks for reading. Obviously, I'm going with the latter choice. The lil' one is so excited to get her room painted. And the PSU game is at night so it's not an issue with conflicts.It's going to be a busy day. I can easily see FSU winning, especially since Oklahoma was not that impressive in week one. I think Ohio State is just too much for Miami.

You made the right choice, but please don't paint that room like the color of your avatar.

September 8, 2010  06:45 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

Watch the games.

I mean paint the room.

September 8, 2010  07:03 PM ET
QUOTE(#1):

I feel for you. Its hard to stay married and get in all the necessary college football watching...

Not if you were married to me...

:)

September 8, 2010  07:38 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

Not if you were married to me...:)

I enjoy a good buck ride, reverse cowgirl style?

September 8, 2010  07:47 PM ET
QUOTE(#7):

I'll say this in regards to the Big Ten stadiums.Nothing is as intimidating as a PSU white-out. While I haven't been to Michigan, Ohio State, or Penn State, I can tell you that the atmosphere in Indiana for a Big Ten game is crazy enough; and we only hold 50,000 people. I couldn't imagine doubling that.But thanks for the faith in IU this week Grue

Anytime, Rude.

September 8, 2010  07:56 PM ET

The Horseshoe doesn't come close to The Swamp in Gainesville or Neyland Stadium in Knoxville or a night game at LSU. Those places create a home-field advantage that makes a difference. In conference, Virginia Tech and Clemson are tougher places to play than The Horseshoe. FSU, for a Miami game, is too.

???Steve Gorton of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, who has never attended a game in Ohio Stadium.
Look, I've got my Big Ten brethren's back here. There are two insane stadiums in the Big Ten, the Shoe and Happy Valley that are as loud and as great an atmosphere as any program on the planet. As loud as the Swamp. As color-coordinated as the Rocky toppers. As passionate as the Tigers' fans. A comparison to the ACC teams? Puuuuhhh-lease.

The game breakdown is fairly simple. Ohio State returns the core group from the Big Ten Championship team that won the Rose Bowl. Miami was manhandled by the 4th place Wisconsin Badgers. "That's Wisconsin football, just wearing a defense down," said John Clay, bowl MVP. "The third quarter, fourth quarter, I could just see them sucking wind and holding their waists." Time of Possession: Wisconsin - 39:15 to 20:45.

It will be much tougher at the 'Shoe against the #2 Buckeyes. The Buckeye's are better. The crowd will be hostile. The Buckeyes will overpower the Canes and make Jacory Harris' life miserable.


He may work for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel but I would'nt bet the farm on his prediction.
Canes are much better than people give them credit for. I doubt his carer will last much longer
when this is read in S Florida.

September 8, 2010  08:03 PM ET
QUOTE(#6):

Thanks for reading. Obviously, I'm going with the latter choice. The lil' one is so excited to get her room painted. And the PSU game is at night so it's not an issue with conflicts.It's going to be a busy day. I can easily see FSU winning, especially since Oklahoma was not that impressive in week one. I think Ohio State is just too much for Miami.

Oh yee of little faith Grue. I will not rant and rave about anything. But I will say that this will hardly be a thrashing either way. 3 point game, I like the Canes at the shoe. Could care less about any other ACC school.

September 8, 2010  08:07 PM ET

Well, don't ask me. I'd be right there with you.
But I say just watch the PSU-Bama game. That's all I care about ......

September 8, 2010  08:48 PM ET

Here's my Pac-10 version:

http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/730245?new=true

By the way, I like the South Carolina/Georgia pick. I considered picking that game myself.

September 8, 2010  09:20 PM ET

I like FSU over OU and the Visor Tossers over the Jersey sellers.

FSU has recently traveled well out west, see BYU last. Three TDs for Utah State does not good.

It was a tough choice between South Carolina and UGA, until I heard the best WR in the SEC is out for the game. Richt does not seem to do well with distractions.

September 9, 2010  07:10 AM ET
QUOTE(#17):

the Visor Tossers over the Jersey sellers.

Now that's funny - I don't care who you are. I suppose you'll pick the Ball-Skippers over the Jersey Sellers in Jacksonville too? Andy Staples is taking this opportunity with the A.J. Green situation to say that players should be paid. Do that, and a judge will rule that under Title IX the women's volleyball players have to get the same amount as the football players, etc., but I digress.

September 9, 2010  08:01 AM ET

How about you bring a TV into the room?

September 9, 2010  09:46 AM ET

Sit down, talk to the wife. Explain how important this week is in CFB. Try to make her see that you have an obligation, a duty, to study each game in detail to better report back to your FN brethren.

Then reach deep into your wallet. Past the lint, the 20 year-old wishful thinking condom, beneath the lock of Joe Pa's hair that you pilfered from his barber, and fish out the credit card and suggest she go shopping. Can't really paint the room till you know exactly the decorating scheme the ladies have in mind, now can you?

 
September 9, 2010  09:48 AM ET

BTW, excellent post. As usual. We would expect no less.

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