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:
- South Carolina-Georgia
- Michigan-Notre Dame
- Florida State-Oklahoma
- Miami-Ohio State
- Penn State-Alabama
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:
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.
With 6 extremely pathetic games and 4 awesome games, none fall into the "Uninteresting" category.
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.