Thursday, September 6, 2012

Week Two – New Beginnings

Two of the big games this week involve the two newcomers to the SEC.  While there is a lot of excitement by some when the expansion announcement was made, I for one was not too excited about Texas A&M and Missouri joining.  It really didn’t have the flash that I was hoping for when the speculation of expansion began.  Regardless, this week picks it up a notch from last week as far as quality games to keep you entertained throughout the day.  The 11:00 and 2:30 time slots last week left a lot to be desired.  It will only get better from here though. 

The blog went 7-1 straight up in national games last week and 12-0 in SEC games.  On to the games…

Thursday: 7:00: Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (ESPN) – You have to choose between this and the Democratic National Convention…good choice.  At least you will get to hear the announcers say Munchie Legaux’s name all night long.  He is the new starting QB for Cincy.  I wonder how he got the name Munchie?  Nothing scientific about this one…Pitt lost at home to Youngstown State last week.  Bearcats 28-13.
Friday: 7:00: Utah at Utah State (ESPN2) – Mormon alert!  This game should get crazy, especially since the Church came out and said it is okay to drink Coke, Pepsi and Mountain Dew this week (thanks for the heads up Shaggy).  I’m serious - Google it.  Utes 31-21. 
Big Ten Hour (11:00 AM): Central Florida @ Ohio State (ESPN2) – Ohio State will not face too many teams as athletic as UCF, but they’ll prevail in the end.  Buckeyes 27-17.
Penn State @ Virginia (ABC) – Gonna be a long year in Happy Valley.  Cavs 16-10.
Miami @ Kansas State (FX) – Miami got a jumpstart in the ACC by winning at Boston College last week.  Bill Snyder has got it going on in Manhattan once again led by Collin Klein on offense and Miami transfer Arthur Brown on defense.  Wildcats 30-19.
Auburn @ Mississippi State (ESPN) – First SEC game of the year!  I have no clue what is going to happen here.  If Mississippi State wins this game, there is a chance they are 7-0 going to Tuscaloosa.  I want to lean Auburn because Chizik usually wins these games and Mississippi State players fell flat on their face running out of the tunnel onto the field last weekend (check it out here:  War Damn Eagle 17-16.
11:21 AM: East Carolina @ South Carolina (SEC Network) – Connor Shaw is already banged up, and I guess Spurrier may win ugly all year long once again.  The Pirates will probably hang around for a while like they did last year but will fizzle out in the end.  Gamecocks 31-17.  
2:30: Air Force @ Michigan (ABC or ESPN2) – Triple option/multiple offense going to a team that is beat down from last weekend’s “big” game that was a big time letdown.  Michigan doesn’t care about this game, they didn’t have enough time to prepare for this offense, they have a young defensive line, and they are still thinking about last week.  Air Force will give them trouble…for a while.  Then Shoelace will run loose.  Meechigan 38-30.
Florida @ Texas A&M (ESPN) – Welcome to the SEC, Aggies!  College Station will be rockin’ for this one.  This is the Aggies first game of the year, which could be a big disadvantage especially since they have a freshman QB.  Florida looked dreadful last week against Bowling Green, But Muschamp thinks he has found his QB by naming Jeff Driskel the starter this week.  He is a running threat, which is probably the Gators best option since neither QB can really throw.  Mike Gillislee was one of the lone bright spots for the Gators last week rushing for 154 yards.  The Gators will have to be a smash-mouth team this year it appears.  The Gators’ defense continues to be praised for all of their five star recruits although they have not done much on the field.  I figure they will slow the Aggies’ offense down though and create a few mistakes from Aggie QB Johnny Manziel.  The Aggies are 0-7 against the SEC since 2000.  They’ll eventually get one, but I think Coach Boom finds a way to stay off the hotseat for another week.  Gators win ugly 10-9.   
Iowa State @ Iowa (Big Ten Network) – This is a very underrated rivalry.  The game being at Iowa is the difference.  Hawkeyes 17-14.
Purdue @ Notre Dame (NBC) – Ehh…just wanted you to know the Irish have their own network and aren’t playing in Ireland this week.  Should be a snoozer.
Southern Cal vs. Syracuse in East Rutherford (ABC or ESPN2) – See “If I Were a Bettin’ Man…” below.  
Rice @ Kansas (Fox Sports Net) – Surely new Kansas coach Charlie Weis was the one who requested Rice.  He didn’t realize it was a college though.  I can just see him salivating right before the Owls run out onto the field and then start cussing in his headset when he realizes they are a football team instead of the real deal.
3:00: Wisconsin @ Oregon State (FX) – Oregon State is supposed to be bad this year based on everything I have read.  The line at Badgers -8 is a little strange regardless of the Badgers lackluster performance against Northern Iowa last week.  I’ll take the Badgers anyway 33-17.
6:00: Washington @ LSU (ESPN) – LSU didn’t do anything to impress last week against North Texas, but man they have a tough running game.  They could probably get by with throwing eight passes a game.  Washington surprisingly struggled with San Diego State last week.  They have high hopes for QB Keith Price.  The only thing they need to be hoping for in this one is him making it out of this game uninjured.  They have LSU’s full attention with another de facto bye week coming up next week for the Tigers.  Geaux Tigers 28-10.
6:30: Nebraska @ UCLA (Fox) – T Mart came out throwing for the Huskers last week and looked real impressive as did the whole Husker team.  Their receivers are good and you know they will have a sufficient defense and running game.  UCLA put it on Rice last week, but Rice may be one of the worst teams in Division I.  UCLA will be jacked for this game as it is Jim Mora’s first big game as the Bruin head coach.  Johnathan Franklin likely will not duplicate his 214 yard day from last week.  If he does, the Huskers are obviously in trouble.  Huskers 30-17. 
6:45: Georgia @ Missouri (ESPN2) – Oh Missouri!  I thought only your fans were delusional until Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson ran his mouth basically saying Georgia plays old man football and that if the Tigers execute, nobody in the SEC can touch them.  I guess he has earned that right since Missouri has dominated the Big 12 for so long (ZERO conference championships and only two division titles in their time there).  He’ll learn that is what you don’t need to do, especially against Georgia who likes to sleep walk through many games.  All Georgia needs is a little added motivation to play a four quarter game.  Memorial Stadium will be rocking with over 71,000 in attendance, which will be the smallest crowd Georgia plays in front of all year.  Georgia’s 3-4 defense versus Missouri’s spread offense is going to be an interesting matchup to watch.  It will likely decide the game because I think Aaron Murray and company will be able to move the ball on the Tigers.  I see some points on the board in this one and Richardson’s team does not fully ‘execute.’  Bulldogs 35-31.
7:00: Vanderbilt @ Northwestern (Big Ten Network) – Nerd alert!  Biggest dorks win.  I’ll have to give that to the Big Ten team.  Wildcats 28-27.
9:30: Illinois @ Arizona State (ESPN) – Not much going for the late games.    
Oklahoma State @ Arizona (PAC-12 Network – Where in the hell is that on my TV guide?) – See “If I Were a Bettin’ Man…” below.  
In other SEC games, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Kentucky pick up wins.
If I Were a Bettin’ Man… - It started off with a bang last week going 2-0 against the spread!
Southern Cal vs. Syracuse (Over 64) – We all know how explosive USC’s offense is.  Well Syracuse scored 41 on Northwestern last week behind Ryan Nassib’s 470 yards passing.  Nassib is no scrub; this is his fourth year of playing time and third year as a full time starter for the ‘Cuse.  All that said, the Orange will score their fair share of points.  All Kiffin needs is an excuse to continue playing his starters, throwing deep, and going for two point conversions randomly.  I like a lot of points and this one to be pretty close.  Trojans 47-31.
Oklahoma State (-10) @ Arizona – Ok it was just Savannah State last week, but the Cowboys didn’t miss a beat from last year and won 84-0.  Arizona struggled with Toledo and had to go to OT to win.  Toledo is decent…for the MAC.  Arizona will be completely outmanned in this one, and you know Rich Rod’s teams aren’t too fond of tackling.  Pokes 56-31.

Enjoy your weekend!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Week One – Finally!!

Well we have finally made it to the start of the best regular season in all of sports.  There have been tons of offseason headlines – going from BCS to playoff, Penn State, North Carolina, high profile players getting the boot from their respective teams.  But enough about all of that.  Play on the field is the only thing that will matter now until the second week in January.  Let’s see what we can get into with the first week of games on a long Labor Day weekend.

Thursday: 6:00: South Carolina @ Vanderbilt (ESPN) – The King of Moral Victories led by their hipster coach will be at it again.  Vanderbilt and Nashville is so excited about a Top Ten team coming to town on the first night of college football season that they still haven’t sold out the game less than 24 hours before kickoff.  I’m interested to see how Marcus Lattimore looks returning from his ACL injury.  Weather could be a factor in this one.  Sign me up for another moral victory for the Commodores.  Gamecocks 24-14.
Texas A&M vs. Louisiana Tech in Shreveport (Postponed until October 13th) - I was looking forward to this game because I thought La Tech could give the Aggies some problems.  The hurricane postponed this one so we will revisit it in October.
9:15: Washington State @ BYU (ESPN) – Cougar fest!  I think this will be the best game of the night if you can stay awake for it.  Snooty BYU who decided to go independent plays one more ranked team this entire year (same as last year).  I think they went independent so they could schedule light and win 10 games each year just like last year.  Mike Leach is the story here though returning to coaching after a bitter end to his successful Texas Tech coaching career.  There couldn’t be a better fit for him than Washington State.  They are going to be fun to watch led by Senior QB Jeff Tuel and All-American WR candidate in Marquess Wilson.  Wilson had more than 1,300 yards receiving last year with backup QBs because Tuel was injured for the year after only 45 pass attempts last year.  I like the mild upset here as Mike Leach starts off his new coaching stop with a win over his alma mater.  Cougars of the Wazzu Variety 35-33.   
Friday: 6:30: Tennessee vs. North Carolina State in Atlanta (ESPNU) – Two teams who think they are on the upswing square off in game one.  You will see some top notch, NFL draft prospects in this one also.  The matchup to watch is Tennessee WR Justin Hunter who is also coming off of an ACL injury versus Wolfpack CB David Amerson.  He led the nation with a ridiculous 13 INTs last year and is a top 10 NFL draft prospect because he is a freakish 6’3” CB.  Also, there are two similar QBs who the NFL also likes squaring off in Mike Glennon and Tyler Bray.  Bray is looking to transition from throwing beer bottles at cars in the offseason to throwing touchdowns to Hunter and the boys.  This game is very crucial for both teams.  However, I think this game is more important to Tennessee.  They have to win this game or Dooley’s hot seat is cranked up even another notch.  The Vols are chomping at the bit to prove last season was more bad luck and bad injuries than them just being a bad team.  This one should go down to the wire.  Vols 31-30.
7:00: Boise State @ Michigan State (ESPN) – The story of this one is the QBs who are not back for their teams.  Kirk Cousins and Kellen Moore were both record setting QBs at their respective schools and both have now moved on.  I am pretty sure Kellen Moore played for at least 15 years for the Broncos.  Anyway, I love Michigan State’s defense; they have an SEC caliber defensive line that is just nasty led by William Gholston and Marcus Rush.  Sparty’s new QB, Andrew Maxwell, is a former Elite 11 QB in high school, so he can likely sling it a little bit.  For Boise, no Moore and no Doug Martin going on the road will be tough.  They do not have the success they have seen in previous years.  Sparty 24-10.
This could quite possibly be the longest Saturday of college football ever.  Notre Dame kicks off live from Dublin, Ireland at 8 AM and Oregon, Oklahoma, and Arizona should be finishing up their games around 1 AM Sunday.  You better be ready because we go from 0 to 100 in the first week.  I hope you’ve built up your stamina.
8:00 AM: Navy vs. Notre Dame in Dublin, Ireland (CBS) – I think this is pretty cool to have the Fighting Irish to play a game in front of the original fighting Irishmen.  I bet they have already started drinking pints for this.  I wonder if Verne Lundquist is making the trip for CBS?  If so, I bet he is trying to find out who new Notre Dame QB Everett Golson’s roommate is as we speak.  I still like Brian Kelly and think he’s gonna do big things in South Bend.  Irish 28-12.
Big Ten Hour (11:00 AM): Miami Ohio @ Ohio State (Big Ten Network) – Urban Meyer will probably have to wait another week to start stressing out about his new job and subsequently quitting on his new team.
Ohio @ Penn State (ESPN) – PSU better watch out in this one, but they pull it out in the end.
Northwestern @ Syracuse (ESPN2) – Potential under-the-radar good game.
Marshall @ West Virginia (FX) – A very underrated rivalry – these guys hate each other.  Business in the front, party in the back Coach Holgorsen has finally decided to stop scoring against Clemson in the Orange Bowl, and he is now concentrating on this game.  Mountaineers 51- 10.
11:21 AM: Buffalo @ Georgia (SEC Network) – Georgia’s schedule starts off where it ended last year.  Hairy Dawgs 31-7.    
2:30: Bowling Green @ Florida (ESPN) – Will Muschamp starts another season being the most obnoxious coach on the sideline in every game he coaches…hey at least he’s undefeated in something.  He decided he is rotating quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett every quarter – man this guy is a genius.  Gators 28-3.
Miami @ Boston College (ABC or ESPN2) – This game does not get me excited at all.  They have both fallen on hard times.  Da U 12-10.  
Southern Miss @ Nebraska (ABC or ESPN2) – I wonder if Taylor Martinez’s hands grew over the summer so that he can grip a football and throw a proper forward pass?
Tulsa @ Iowa State (Fox Sports Net) – See “If I Were a Bettin’ Man…” below.
6:00: Auburn vs. Clemson in Atlanta (ESPN) – Surprisingly, this will likely be the only competitive game during this time slot out of all the big dogs playing.  Star receiver Sammy Watkins is suspended for the game for Clemson.  They still have Tajh Boyd , Andre Ellington and an explosive offense.  The defense is returning seven starters but are still reeling from giving up 70 to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl.  Auburn has seemed to kind of lost their way since Cam Newton appeared and won a national title and then moved on.  They have decided to start Kiehl Frazier at QB in a new, more traditional offense that I don’t think he is equipped to run.  On top of that, Michael Dyer is gone and C Reese Dismukes is suspended for this game.  This could be the start of another lackluster season on the Plains.  Clemson 24-20.
6:30: Hawaii @ Southern Cal (Fox) – For you Erin Andrews lovers, she has moved to Fox as they have decided to concentrate more on college football this season.  Regarding the game, I may be in the minority here, but I amazed at all the love toward a USC team that doesn’t even have a full roster this year.  They have flash, but I’m not sure there is a lot of substance.  Trojans 49-14.
7:00: Alabama vs. Michigan in Arlington – Without question the big one of the weekend.  Alabama, defending national champ and trying to win 3 out of 4, versus a Michigan team who overachieved last year with an exciting QB.  Bama has a ridiculous group of offensive linemen led by Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, and DJ Fluker.  I could run for 100 yards behind that line.  On the other side of the ball, Michigan lost a lot on the defensive line.  You know how this one is going to go – Bama grind and wear the Wolverines out and then explode in the second half.  The key is the Tide’s inexperienced (but still very good) defense containing Michigan QB Denard Robinson.  I think Bama has the speed and power to shut down Shoelace.  Roll Tide 24-10.
9:30: Arkansas State @ Oregon (ESPN) – See “If I Were a Bettin’ Man…” below.   
Oklahoma @ UTEP (Fox Sports Net) – Uh why is Oklahoma playing in El Paso?  Maybe the after party is in Juarez.
Toledo @ Arizona (ESPNU) – The Rich Rod era begins in Tucson.
In other SEC games, LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Missouri, and Louisville (Sunday vs. Kentucky) win.
Also, don't forget Virginia Tech/Georgia Tech Labor Day night.
If I Were a Bettin’ Man… - My picks against the spread were a sizziling 18-10 during the regular season last year.  Here's to another great year.
Tulsa @ Iowa State (+1.5) – Tulsa has a new quarterback this year.  Game is in Ames where the Cyclones beat Oklahoma State and Iowa last year.  Paul Rhoads is a great coach.  The Cyclones have 7 starters returning on offense.  This line doesn’t make sense to me.  Iowa State 17-10.
Arkansas State @ Oregon (Over 67.5) – We were hyping RG3 at the beginning of the 2010 season on this blog.  Now we have another special player for you – the real Black Mamba - De’Anthony Thomas.  Check out this video of his 91 yard TD run in the Rose Bowl:  That is fast kiddos!  What do you think him and the rest of the Duck offense is going to do against an inexperienced ASU defense?  In addition, Gus Malzahn likes to run a lot of plays on offense himself.  There could be between 180-200 snaps in this game no joke.  With those snaps and the big play ability of both offense, the over should happen.  Ducks 59-28.
Enjoy your long weekend!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bowl Week Three – January 2nd – January 9th Games

The last week of college football is upon us.  College football fans everywhere will enter a depression after the BCS National Title Game on Monday night, January 9th.  This also means that another season of the blog is coming to an end.  I have enjoyed writing it again this year, and I have also enjoyed the feedback from the weekly readers.  I am still having fun doing it, which was the main reason I did it in the first place, and I will plan on continuing the blog in the future.  I would like to thank the loyal readers who at least give it a look each week.

Through the December 31st games, the blog’s record against the spread during bowl season is 12-11-1 and 13-10 straight up.  The December 31st games killed the fast start.       
Now on to the meat of the bowl season… 

Monday, the 2nd:  They have moved the January 1 games to today due to the 1st being an NFL Sunday.  Regardless, this is one of the best days of the year for a college football fan.  You basically wake up and start watching bowl games, and they don’t stop until about 11 PM.  Some great non-traditional matchups always make this day so special.  No different this year.
11:00 AM – TicketCity Bowl: Houston vs. Penn State (+6.5) (ESPNU) – Remember it was just four weeks ago that Houston laid an egg against the only decent defense they faced all year versus Southern Miss in the CUSA Championship Game.  Well Penn State’s defense is even better.  Both of these teams have coaching issues, and Penn State has waaay more issues than just that.  However, you will see the difference in big boy football and mid-major football in this one.  Houston will be in over their head.  Penn State 20-17.
12:00 – I have a bone to pick real quick.  Why in the hell are three SEC – Big Ten matchups played at the same time in this time slot?  Maybe it is to reduce the embarrassment the Big Ten usually has after these games.  They hope you forget about the other two games that you didn’t watch.  After all the SEC went 3-0 in this time slot last year and outscored the Big Ten 138-45.  I think you can call that domination.  But as usual, I’m sure the Big Ten had a great excuse…maybe the 70 degree weather or the bright sun kept them from playing up to par.
Outback Bowl: Michigan State (+3.5) vs. Georgia (ABC) – This game will be the best game of the noon time slot.  I think Georgia is very overrated this year, and Michigan State is underrated.  Georgia’s best wins are still Georgia Tech and Auburn.  Georgia is 0-3 versus 10 win teams this year and weren’t competitive in two of them.  Guess what?  Michigan State has 10 wins, including wins over both Big Ten BCS participants (Michigan and Wisconsin).  Both defenses are very stout.  I don’t see either offense moving the ball too much.  I’m taking the mild upset in this one.  Sparty 19-17.
Capital One Bowl: Nebraska vs. South Carolina (-2.5) (ESPN) – This is a tough matchup for Nebraska.  First of all, Taylor Martinez is going against a fast, athletic, turnover creating defense.  He is always prone to mistakes, and the more he throws the ball, the more mistakes he will make.  The Huskers defense will also have trouble with the mobile Connor Shaw.  Nebraska’s only hope is that the Gamecocks mail it in like they typically do for bowl games.  I think this one will be different though.  Gamecocks 27-16.  
Gator Bowl: Ohio State vs. Florida (Under 44 Total Points) (ESPN2) – God bless Urban Meyer.  I’m happy he decided he wasn’t too exhausted or doesn’t miss his family anymore in order to take the Ohio State coaching job.  If there was ever a team and coach that deserved each other, it is Urban and Ohio State.  The Charlie Weis hire by Will Muschamp that I have questioned all year blew up in Muschamp’s face when Fatty Weis decided to take his talents to Lawrence, Kansas, to resurrect KU’s basketball…I mean football program.  I think Ohio State is the better team here, and Florida’s offense has been an absolute train wreck.  This is a tough one to call, but I bet all of the recruits who are now players for Florida that Urban lied to about coming to Florida telling them he was going to stay may be really motivated to beat his future team although Urban will not be coaching in this one.  Regardless, this game should be an ugly, low-scoring affair.  Ex-Urbans defeat New-Urbans 16-13.
4:00 – Rose Bowl: Wisconsin (+5.5) vs. Oregon (ESPN) – I love Wisconsin and their balanced, hard-nosed offensive attack.  This game is speed versus power.  I’m not sure how hungry Oregon is for this game; they played in the national title game last year and the Rose Bowl the year before.  Wisconsin is excited in their return to the Rose Bowl after losing to TCU last year.  This will definitely be a high scoring game with the likes of LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, and rising freshman DeAnthony Thomas for Oregon and Russell Wilson and Montee Ball for Wisconsin.  Wilson completed a ridiculous 72.5% of his passes this season and had 31 TDs and only 3 INTs.  These two offenses are as efficient as you can find.  I don’t think the defenses will matter much in this one, and it is going to be a classic so be sure to watch it.  I’m leaning the way of the Badgers to pull a mild upset.  Wisconsin 45-43.    
7:30 – Stanford (+3.5) vs. Oklahoma State (ESPN) – Oklahoma State enters this game thinking they got the shaft not being selected to play in the national championship game.  Stanford’s Andrew Luck enters this game thinking he still has something to prove although he had a great year.  Okie State’s offense is #3 in the nation; Stanford’s is #11.  The Cardinal defense is #25, and the Cowboys is #106…and there is where the game will be decided folks.  Stanford has a physical, balanced offense that ranks in the top 26 in both rushing and passing.  Oh yeah, they have the best QB in the land too.  Okie State’s offense is very good too, but heavy on the pass with Weeden and Blackmon.  Stanford’s pass defense (#79 in the nation) likely won’t stop the Cowboy passing game, but I think over 4 quarters the balanced Cardinal attack on offense wears on the Cowboy defense.  This could be the best bowl game of the whole season.  Stanford 38-35.             
Tuesday, the 3rd:
7:30 – Sugar Bowl: Michigan (-2.5) vs. Virginia Tech (ESPN) – Two highly questionable BCS at-large selections are going at it in New Orleans this year.  Virginia Tech managed to play a really, really weak schedule and only lose to Clemson (twice).  Their best win this season is Arkansas State…no, I’m being serious.  Look it up.  Michigan was also the benefactor of a favorable schedule, but they definitely have a better resume than the Hokies.  Denard Robinson has pulled out some great wins this year.  Although neither one of these teams would be BCS-worthy in any other year, Michigan is more of a complete team.  Virginia Tech does what they always do – look like world beaters in one game and then like crap in the next one.  I think Michigan will be highly motivated with first year coach Brady Hoke.  If Virginia Tech’s ticket sales to this game are any indication, the Hokie team will not show up to the game either.  Give me the Wolverines 30-19.    
Wednesday, the 4th:
7:30 – Orange Bowl: Clemson (-3.5) vs. West Virginia (ESPN) – Wow I can’t believe this is a BCS game.  West Virginia is very mediocre.  Clemson surprised me this year, but it’s still hard to give them too much credit after their performance against South Carolina to end the season.  Clemson 37-24.
Friday, the 6th:
7:00 – Cotton Bowl: Arkansas vs. Kansas State (Over 62.5 Total Points) (Fox) – On paper the Hogs should win this one by double digits.  The Hogs strong passing attack versus a Kansas State pass defense that ranks #105 in the nation is a no-brainer.  But also on paper, Kansas State should have been about 6-6 and not playing in this bowl game.  That’s where the genius of Bill Snyder comes in.  He has turned the K-State program around for a second time in his career.  Looking up and down their roster, they have no business winning 10 games, but they are just a fundamentally strong and gritty team led by running QB Collin Klein who rushed for 1,099 and 26 TDs this year.  The Hogs’ defense, which finally got rid of DC Willy Robinson, does not have a great history versus running QBs.  In the end though, I think the Hogs have too much talent in a high scoring affair.  Hogs 41-33. 
Saturday, the 7th:
12:00 – Compass Bowl: SMU vs. Pittsburgh (-3) (ESPN) – Talk about some jacked up coaching situations.  SMU’s coach June Jones was going to take the Arizona State job.  The school flew him in to accept the job and then ASU had a change of heart and said no thanks.  So Pitt coach Todd Graham took it instead and texted his team letting them know he was leaving them high and dry.  So in summary, we have a coach at SMU trying to regain the respect of his team after he tried to leave them versus a team in Pitt who has been through four coaches in 13 months.  Which team will be pumped about this matchup?  I think Pitt will come out really motivated because they are upset how Graham treated them.  I think Jones will have a tough time getting the Mustangs up for this game.  Pitt is the better team anyway.  Pitt 30-21.
Sunday, the 8th:
8:00 – Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois (Total Points Over 63) (ESPN) – It’s pretty amazing that ASU is one win away from being ranked in the top 25.  I never thought I would see the day.  Hugh Freeze has left to go to Ole Miss, but they actually upgraded coaches with Gus Malzahn coming in soon.  They are between coaches right now, so the question is how well will they play with Interim Coach Gunn.  Northern Illinois is also a 10 game winner and conference champion.  Both team have powerful offenses, but No Ill’s defense has been questionable in the defense optional MAC.  I think this will be a close one and a pretty exciting one to watch.  I like a lot of points, and ASU barely pulling it out.  Red Wolf Indians 38-35.
Monday, the 9th:
7:30 – BCS National Championship Game: LSU (+1) vs. Alabama (ESPN) – The stage has been set for the Game of the Century Part II.  This time it is right down the road from LSU’s campus in New Orleans.  The first time around was a very physical game for big boys only.  Alabama had the home field and seemed to play a little tight, while LSU seemed to play very loose as the visiting team.  I expect LSU to have all the confidence in the world the second time around too, and I wonder if Alabama has some doubt creeping in their minds about not being able to beat LSU in two straight matchups dating back to last year.  The position breakdowns have not changed since last time.  In my opinion, Alabama only has the advantage at running back, offensive line, and linebacker.  LSU has the advantage at quarterback, wide receiver, defensive line, defensive backfield, and special teams.  The two difference makers in the first game was the kicking game (Bama missed four FGs) and quarterback.  QB AJ McCarron threw a critical interception in the 3rd quarter and took a sack in overtime that did not help the distance for the missed field goal attempt in overtime.  Bama also tried to get cute with the wildcat package early in the 4th quarter from the LSU 28 when WR Marquis Maze threw an interception on the 1 yard line.  LSU has since added a new facet to their running game – Kenny Hilliard.  He is another bruising running back who showed out in the SEC Championship Game versus Georgia.  The Superdome will be rocking LSU style, and the Tigers have been challenged everywhere this year – road, neutral site, and at home.  This will be nothing new to them.  They are already 3-0 versus BCS teams this year (playing ZERO of the games at home).  They didn’t come this far to fail now.  Alabama’s best win is against Arkansas, which was impressive, but other than that, they beat a whole bunch of unranked teams and Auburn (should they really be ranked?).  All things considered here, it is amazing that Alabama is a one point favorite.  Jump on the Tigers because they’re gonna jump on Bama.  Geaux Tigers 24-17.              
Happy New Year!