The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,
'Tis summer, the (people) are (happy);
The corn-top's ripe and the meadow's in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day.
The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy and bright;
By 'n' by Hard Times comes a-knocking at the door,
Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.
Put on your best hat, grab your mint juleps and listen for the starting horn.
We're off to the races as conference play starts and I'll provide you a view from the infield. One particular matchup looks to be a true horse-race through all four turns which earned it a surprising Game of the Week nod.
And we're off....
The most concise schedule is here:
You silly Goofers. A one-touchdown win over Middle Tennessee State and three straight losses to South Dakota, Southern California, and Northern Illinois. How many times do you have to lose to Directional Cream Puff Schools like these? Pathetic.
Guess what? Another directional school is on the schedule: Northwestern.
The Wildcats get the auto-win here since Minnesota is on DSP.
Now that conference play has started, I'm retiring the "Worthless" and "Uninteresting" headers. BYE weeks are listed here to get them out of the way.
Purdue - BYE
Northwestern over Minnesota - Are you kidding me? Only 5.5? Jump on this line as 4-0 Northwestern is averaging 30 points per game and Minnesota is one of the worst teams in the FBS. Persa is completing 80% (186 rating) of his dink & dunk throws. Northwestern has allowed teams to stay too close so far this year but pulled out victories. Minnesota definitely won't hang 25 on the Wildcats nor hold them under 30 points.
Ohio State over Illinois
Nationally, the Buckeyes are 9th in Total Offense and 5th in Total Defense. The training wheels have been taken off Terrelle Pryor (whose Heisman campaign is currently overshadowed by TQUN). The Illini's ineptitude against Mizzou and lack of inspirational play against Northern Illinois fails to provide any confidence that the score will stay within 28 points. Mizzou won by 10 and Ohio State only gets 17? Champaign isn't that intimidating... Pryor racks up big numbers in the air and on the ground because Illinois can't slow him down. The Ohio State D makes life impossible for the marginally-effective Nathan Scheelhaase. The D focuses on stopping 230# Mikel LeShoure and holds him to 70 yards on 20 carries.
Ohio State wins easily.
Iowa over Penn State
Iowa has won 7 out of the last 8 and I have very little confidence that PSU can muster the offensive efficiency to pull off an upset. By the end of the season, the Lions may be a good football team but right now they just are not ready to pull exact revenge against their recent nemesis. I can't even blame the pink locker rooms. PSU just isn't playing at the same level. Given that, there is a huge variable with the Nittany Lions: how quickly are they improving from week to week? Royster ran well last week and at some point, some day, it is going to all fall into place for the Freshman QB, Rob Bolden. The Lions hope Saturday is that day and it may be. But I doubt it.
Iowa takes care of business at home.
Wisconsin over Michigan State
This might be the GoTW during many years, but it's BORING. John Clay runs for another 150 yards and holds the ball for 36 minutes. Wisconsin fails to put away yet another team that they are considerably better than on paper. The Spartans make some last ditch effort to win at home. For all the hype Kirk Cousins gets after carrying his offense, Scott Tolzien is actually putting up much better numbers because he has the support of an over-powering running game.
Wisconsin should win this on the road but their style tends to keep games too close.
Michigan over Indiana
This appears to be an offensive showdown of epic proportions. The horses will be running in a wild and crazy race. Explosive quarterbacks and suspect defenses make for Big Ten basketball type scores.
There's a reason that IU stocks up on cream-puffs in the out-of-conference schedule, it provides the only chance for the Hoosiers to go bowling. Win only 2 conference games against doormats, and you get to enjoy December 20th someplace warm like Boise, Idaho or Detroit. It's brilliant by the AD.
But I wouldn't tout the offensive of Indiana just yet even if they run up respectable numbers. Against the worst conference schedule, Indiana's offense is still 7th in the Big Ten. Granted, they pulled started against Towson.
According to Jeff Sagarin, the Hoosiers have faced the 200th toughest schedule in combined FCS and FBS. Out of 244 teams in the combined leagues, 199 of them face a tougher schedule.
IU's opponents (Towson, Western Kentucky, and Akron) have combined for one win, 11 losses.
Michigan has a much better offense overall
Against a tougher schedule, Michigan has significantly outgained IU.
UM: 563 yds (2nd in the NCAA, 1st Big Ten)
IU: 417 yds (43rd NCAA, 7th Big Ten)
Simply put, IU will have absolutely no chance of slowing Michigan's offense. This is the way Rich Rod envisioned it when he arrived. Denard Robinson is Pat White for the Maize & Blue.
Michigan's D has been shaky, but they've faced tougher competition than IU with comparable results. UMass's 20 point 4th quarter comeback is an outlier, and oddity. BTW, UMass has the 6th best offense in FCS. (Because they played Michigan - self zing!)
Along with Vegas (UM -10.5) and even hating UM (11 yrs), UM wins.
Take Northwestern (-5.5) @ Minnesota
- Minnesota is just bad. This should be a fairly easy win for the uber-efficient Wildcats.
Take Indiana (+10.5) vs. Michigan
- It will be a track meet and I have no confidence Michigan can hold off a late Indiana charge. I love the Double-digit home dog in this one.
Take Ohio St (-17) @ Illinois
- Ohio State is 21-5 ATS in their last 26 road games. Illinois is 2-8 ATS in their last 10 home games.
Penn State (+7) @ Iowa
Wisconsin (-2) @ Michigan State
Oregon over Stanford
Can we just label this the PAC 10 Championship game and forgo the rest of the season? What's the point after this one? The explosive Oregon offense leads the nation in points per game. Stanford is no slouch either scoring 52-35-68-37 in four games. The Cardinals bring better balance (234 passing, 225 rushing) and a better defense (4th nationally in scoring) into this game. Arizona State jumped out to a 24-14 lead on the Ducks. Even Tennessee jumped out 13-3 and frustrated the Ducks for a while... this juggernaut can be slowed but I think it is too much to ask of Stanford to pull off the upset on the road. Oregon pulls away late and Stanford take a Pee test next month.
And not even one Luck joke. (Yay me!)
University of Texas over Oklahoma
I knew Texas would be upset at some point and I missed it by a week (picking Tech to pull it off instead of UCLA. Oklahoma has also had a couple of close scares against Air Force and Cincinnati. This is the game where a motivated and very angry UT team bounces back to take out frustrations on the Red River Rival. OU doesn't have the power game to ram the ball down the throats of the speedy Texas front.
Alabama over Florida
I see this as fairly high scoring. When the Gators & Tide meet, there can be a tendency to one-up another great team with big plays late. Teams turn up the intensity to see who wants it more.
The first half will be Alabama attempting to establish the running game with the Wonder Twin Powers (Activate! Form of..... An elephant! And I'll form a stupid bucket of water and make you carry my lazy butt. Don't spill me!).
Florida will have the first couple of drives scripted and should execute effectively. Look for an early 14-7 Florida lead. However as the second quarter winds down and the halftime adjustments are made, I expect Alabama to make up some ground in the third. Maybe 14-10 or 17-14 at the half. Bama will jump out in the third with the lead, 24-17 and try to wear down the Gators by eating the clock.
Florida will make a late charge through the air or with special teams, as the 4th quarter intensity mounts. Things will go one of two ways: a Florida turnover would cause a 2 score lead for Bama or force gut-check time for the Tide and a late TD on a tired Florida defense.
I'll say 31-24 Bama.
Thanks for stopping by!