It's Friday and we've already had the week's first upset. How on earth does Steve Spurrier lose to Vandy two years in a row? Seriously. Everything I have ever known has all been a sham. Spurrier just doesn't lose to Vandy. He had never lost to the 'Dores until last year, and now he's on a 2-game skid against them? What's next, Wile E. Coyote catching and killing the Road Runner? Tiger Woods getting dominated by Rory Sabbatini? Phil Fulmer not eating the full dozen Krispy Kremes? Okay, that last one was a cheap shot. Seriously, you've gotta love what Bobby Johnson is doing in Nashville. The guy has the biggest hurdle of any coach in the SEC - he has to recruit student-athletes that actually have to be students, meaning he pulls, like, the 200th ranked recruiting class in the country (yeah, I know there's only 120 D-1 teams. Hyperbole is fun) because he can't sign 15 dudes with ACT scores that look more like the age range of middle schoolers. For him to keep Vandy in just about every game they play, not to mention the yearly upset they pull, is stunning. It really is.
The season has already gotten interesting. ECU blocks a punt and returns it for a touchdown to beat Virginia Tech in the most hilariously ironic twist I've probably ever seen in a college football game. What would the real-world-equivalent to that be? Wouldn't it have to be something like your good friend that is killer at doing math bombing the Math section of the SATs? (p.s. Not sure why We're only in the second paragraph and I've already made two standardized test references...Strange...) How does Virginia Tech lose on a special teams play? This plus Spurrier's skid is making my head hurt.
Last but not least, I gotta get into my Tide. I really expected Clemson to win that game with 'Bama adding a late touchdown to make the final score look better. I seriously thought the lack of quality experience at linebacker would be a huge problem against a team with two running backs that could probably pound out 1,500 yards and 18 TDs if they were on a squad by themselves. The only huge problem was Terrence Cody's impact on Clemson's running game. I was very optimistic when I saw that he signed back in February because if you're a coach who runs a 3-4 defense, you have wet dreams over a 6'5" 385-pound defensive tackle with scary athleticism for that size (For the record, I see no possible way that Cody is "down" to 360. There's no chance.). Cody's impact can only be measured by one number: 0. How in the name of everything that is Holy does a team with James Davis and C.J. Spiller get held to 0 yards rushing? I realize that also includes the lost yardage from sacks, but still. If he continues to play like he did last Saturday, all the "John Sarah Jessica Parker Wilson" jokes can stop. He looked comfortable and confident the entire night and about the only mistake he made was missing on a deep ball or two, but how much of a mistake is it when it isn't a turnover? Plus it was really nice to a tight end catch more than two balls for the first time since I started really following 'Bama back at the turn of the century. Mark Ingram is a monster. Julio Jones is a stud. Mark Barron will become a special teams terror. Plenty of reason for optimism for Sabanation.
So enough about my big ups to 'Bama, on to this weeks games. Very few truly intriguing games, but there will be plenty to watch for this week. 13 games, 13 picks...
Ohio @ #3 Ohio State
No Beanie Wells, no problem. This team really is stacked all over the place, so the Ohio Bobcats won't put up too much of a fight. We'll finally see what Brandon Saine can do out of the backfield, and getting a young talented back like Saine a full game of carries will hugely benefit the Buckeyes. There's a chance they'll be sloppy due to next week's primetime throwdown with USC, but their defense is just too good to allow more than two TDs to Ohio. Ugly.
Ohio 10, Ohio State 37
Miami (OH) @ Michigan
So the Rich Rodriguez era didn't start so well in Ann Arbor (New U of M slogan: Michigan - where 0-1 after the season opener happens...Again. Yes? No?). If the Wolverines start out 0-2 again, things will get very noisy in the Big House, and for all the wrong reasons. Look for a big game from YouTube sensation Sam McGuffie (a white running back. AWESOME!!!!) and Michigan will recover from last week's debacle.
Miami (OH) 17, Michigan 31
Southern Miss @ #9 Auburn
Week one of Tony Franklin's spread didn't go as the hype suggested. Auburn crushed UL-Monroe on the ground, but the passing game didn't fare as well. A gash on his shin will keep Kodi Burns out of this game, so in steps JuCo transfer Chris Todd. Southern Miss always played SEC opponents pretty well under Jeff Bower, so let's see what Larry Fedora can do. DeAndre Brown (a 5-Star that ended up at Southern freaking Miss...REALLY?!?!?!?!?!) could turn some heads, but that will probably be the only highlights for the Golden Eagles.
Southern Miss 14, Auburn 34
#15 BYU @ Washington
The Cougars hit the road to face off with Ty Willingham's Huskies. Max Hall should have the Mormons cruising through this one. The Huskies will have plenty of fight and make this interesting early on. The skills of the Cougars pull away late.
BYU 38, Washington 28
Central Michigan @ #2 Georgia
Dan LeFevour is a beast. An absolute beast. He's not quite Tim Tebow, but he's still a beast. He's the next big quarterback to come out of the MAC. He can throw, he can run, and he can win. Here's the thing: he's also kind of a one-man-show for the Chippewas. One-man-shows don't exactly work against talented SEC teams like Georgia. Knowshon will rip up the CMU defense on the ground, Matthew Stafford will do the same through the air. LeFevour will have a nice game, but it won't be nearly enough.
Central Michigan 21, Georgia 48
Ole Miss @ #20 Wake Forest
If you've ever played poker with any proficiency, you'll know the situation I'm about to describe. You're sitting at the table facing a big bet on the turn. You've got a 9 and an 8 and the board shows an ace, a king, a 7 and a 6. Its a three-way pot and when the action gets to you, you're not getting good enough odds to justify calling with nothing but a draw, but you're just certain that as soon as your cards hit the muck, a 10 or a 5 is hitting to complete your straight. You fold, the guy behind you calls and what hits on the river? A freaking 6. That's exactly how I feel about this game. Wake Forest is absolutely the correct choice in this game. They play with all sorts of discipline and don't beat themselves. They have an experienced quarter back and a stout running game. They have a defense that operates like clockwork. They are 100% the correct choice in this game. But....somehow I just feel that Houston Nutt has something up his sleeve for this game. Somehow, I feel that Brandon Bolden has a 100-yard game in him. Somehow, I feel like Jevan Snead is ready to tear up an ACC secondary. Somehow, I feel like Patrick Trahan is going to obliterate some unsuspecting Demon Deacon tight end or running back. I just had to say all of that aloud before I make the "right decision."
Ole Miss 24, Wake Forest 27
#8 West Virginia @ East Carolina
So I absolutely butchered the VA Tech over ECU pick last week. What did I say, something like 45-10 Hokies? WOW! My bad, folks. So, here's the real question - can the Pirates pull another upset? Don't quite think so. The Pat White/Noel Devine tandem will be too much for East Carolina. BIG game for Devine.
West Virginia 38, East Carolina 20
Tulane @ #13 Alabama
My 'Bama boys started year two under Nick Saban off with a bang. Granted, Clemson is an annual choke artist, they just usually don't do it so early in the season. What was so impressive about that game last Saturday was the fact the Alabama didn't have a single play of over 30 yards (I believe their longest play from scrimmage was a 28-yard run by Mark Ingram). They methodically controlled the ball, the clock and the game. When Tommy Bowden says that they haven't been beaten up physically in three years like they were against Alabama (and if you've watched Clemson the past 3 years, they've been beaten up a few times), you know that your team has put up a dominating performance. Now, that was one game and it was one week ago and every week brings a new challenge. Tulane has been dealing with the effects of Hurricane Gustav, so getting to play this game should be a welcome circumstance for them. Not sure that will matter much. Tide rolls again.
Tulane 10, Alabama 45
#17 South Florida @ UCF
A match-up of Florida's middle tier football schools. George O'Leary has done a lot with his second chance job at UCF. The Golden Knights compete every week and have plenty of talented football players. The difference in this game will be USF's running game, led by Mike Ford. Matt Grothe will toss a couple of TDs and the Bulls will take this one in the 4th.
South Florida 28, UCF 20
Miami @ #5 Florida
A match-up of two of Florida's premier football schools. The 'Canes are still a few years away from returning to the glory of the early part of this decade, but they still have outstanding athletes all over the field. The problem is the Gators have outstanding athletes all over the field and, based on how Urban Meyer has recruited the last 3 or 4 years, Florida will have more of those outstanding athletes. Miami has the horse to stick around for 2, maybe 3, maybe even 3 and a half quarters, but the difference will be under center. UF's Tim Tebow won the Heisman last year, Miami's Robert Marve is making his first collegiate start...Who would you want in this situation?
Miami 24, Florida 34
#12 Texas Tech @ Nevada
I have a question. How does a quarterback throw for 536 yards and only two touchdowns? I didn't think that was possible, especially when your team puts 49 on the scoreboard. Nevertheless, the Graham Harrell dominance will continue against the Wolfpack. It's kind of scary when Michael Crabtree, who's supposed to be the Red Raider's go-to guy, was the third leading receiver from last game and two other receivers put down 160+ yards. Mike Leach's boys won't disappoint this week. Look for 50+ on the scoreboard this week.
Texas Tech 54, Nevada 28
Stanford @ #15 Arizona State
The Cardinal started their season off on the right foot last week with a conference win over Oregon State (not to mention a huge performance by Toby Gerhart. First Gerhart last week, then Jared Hawkins for Vandy last night...When did white guys start playing running back again?). That momentum will quit rolling quickly in Tempe. Dennis Erickson might be one of the most under appreciated coaches in all of college football. Every where the guys goes, he wins. Chalk up another one here.
Stanford 17, Arizona State 41
#10 Texas @ UTEP
Texas always looks strong early in the season. Always. I'm not sure why they annoy me so much. I have no idea whether its Chris Simms, or Ricky Williams, or the fact that Mack Brown's only two good postseason results were because of Vince Young being Vince Young, or whatever absurd thing about the Longhorns that ticks me off. All I know is they're going to win this game without breaking a sweat and then they'll disappoint me later on this season (probably at a time when me or someone I know has bet their rent money in favor of the 'Horns).
Texas 49, UTEP 14
There you go. Hopefully this weeks picks won't be as bad as last weeks. Last year was the most insane college football season I can ever remember, but there's a chance that this one could go completely nuts too. I guess only time will tell, right? Until next time...