This is the 12th (and probably final) installment where ADMohr (of ADMohr twitter fame) and I
Well, after a week off we are back. I was in the middle-of-nowhere Missouri on Thanksgiving and was unable to spend adequate time on the mist making my picks (yes, I did get back Thursday evening, but I ended up playing Guitar Hero World Tour until 2 am and then watching videos like this and this until 3). But we're back this week on this most important week - championship week. But before we get to the picks, two items of business:
First, did you see the Nebraska-Colorado game last week? As a Nebraska fan, the last 10 minutes of that game were a roller coaster, but in the end (thanks to a Missouri choke) we came out with a share of the Big 12 North, the video below, and the awesome picture below the video.
Yeah, that should have been 2 15-yard penalties. Expand it and you'll see Hawkins lying on the ground after Suh ran him over. Good times.
Moving on: Second, here's how we did 2 weeks ago.
So, after a good week for both of us, we are both guaranteed to finish above .500. Hope you've been taking our advice into consideration. Depending on the odds, you could probably be a rich(er) person if you gambled legally in a place like Vegas or something).
Before we get going, I want to send big thanks over to ADMohr. He took the time to write up serious football analysis every week - and that doesn't come quick. I know he spent more time than he should have on this, but it was his legit analysis that allowed me to try and bring you some of the funny stuff. If we don't do bowl games, he'll now have more time to spend focusing on his upcoming wedding (so congratulate him on that).
On to the picks:
C-USA Championship: East Carolina (+12.5) at Tulsa 11:00 AM ESPN2
ADMohr: What a weird year for the Pirates, who in one year have gone from making my Dad nervous about their presence in the BCS title game and Skip Holtz being a top coaching prospect to 8-4 w/ 2 Conference USA losses and Skip Holtz not even on the radar with seemingly every single job in College Football available this year (He was extended in Spring - but like that's ever stopped an entitled program in the major conferences). The Golden Wave have made a habit this season of making some of the longest games ever known to man, thanks to NO games with less than 50 points scored combined, and a slew of performances where they scored more than 50 on their own. Tulsa got shot down and not just out-shot-out'd in a blowout loss at Houston, but it doesn't really seem like the Pirates have the potential to keep up with the Golden Wave in this one. Tulsa wins, and covers the spread in this one.
MM: This is a big game for these teams. The winner ends up in the Liberty bowl against Memphis against a mediocre SEC team (in a game they have a good chance at winning so people consider them legit for beating a big boy). Meanwhile, the loser gets sent to the GMAC bowl in Mobile, AL in Ladd-Peebles stadium. I was at Ladd-Peebles in Mobile last year for the Senior Bowl, and while there was a delicious bbq place, there was nothing else to do. This is a big deal. I think Tulsa, the better team knows this and will take care of business, covering the spread over an East Carolina team that has been riding a roller coaster all season. All that said, apparently there is a Leprechaun in Mobile, AL, so maybe both teams are playing because they want the gold (yes, this report is from Mobile).
Pittsburgh (+2.5) at Connecticut 11:00 AM ESPN
ADMohr: I wouldn't really know what to make out of this season if I was a Pittsburgh fan - you got a big win over your biggest rival, a win on the road at Notre Dame, and a suddenly generally-respectable win against the Hawkeyes. And yet losses to Bowling Green, up & down Rutgers, and conference champs Cincy keep the year from being viewed generally as any sort of success. Combine the fact they play in an NFL stadium in a city known for its support of said NFL team, and I'd probably just have a hard time justifying a whole lot of time spent on the Fightin' Panther boards & such. But they're not bad, and they're facing a not bad team in UCONN who dominated conference champs Cincy at home and lost to 4 other Big East teams. The Huskies bring a slightly better defense into the game, and we'll go with them to Win and Cover on the likelihood of a Panther let down this week.
MM: Since this is probably the last college football post for the year, I have to get all of my favorite images in. Of course, the Wannstache is going to be in. This is an easy one: In their last 5 games, Pittsburgh has gone L-W-L-W-L and you know I love patterns. Pittsburgh wins the game outright.
DI-AA Playoffs(!): Richmond (+4) at Appalachian State 11:00 AM ESPN-GP
ADMohr: Before we get into too much detail, some background:
App defeated the Spiders in last year's semi's - or more specifically, Armanti Edwards defeated the Spiders in a game that has singlehandedly gave people the opportunity to shoot him down when talking about the Heisman. In last year's game, Armanti rushed for 313 yards (!!!) & 4 touchdowns, and threw for another 192 yards & 3 touchdowns (!!!). Legitimate Playstation numbers right there. This year however will likely be a different type of story, even if the outcome could be largely similar. Armanti has been banged up since a nail-biter against Elon, and the result has been a pass-only attack that resulted in Armanti passing for a personal best 433 yards against South Carolina State in Round 1 last week. Now, on paper - this could present a problem, because App has become largely one-dimensional ever since losing tailbacks Devon Moore & Robert Welton early in the year. They have Welton back, but the rushing game has never really materialized and App is a pass first, pass second, and pass third team. Unfortunately for the entire FCS - the athletes App has at receiver, quarterback, and on the offensive line are so much superior than everyone else, that even if Armanti throws a bunch of picks (which he kind of did last week) they will likely still outscore their opponent (side note - keep an eye on Redshirt Frosh Brian Quick at Wideout, he's got the size, speed, and hands to make a legitimate Sunday receiver someday). Making this even harder for the Spiders to pull off is that the Game is at Kidd Brewer Stadium (the Rock) which few teams ever win at in the first place, and the App Defense has gone from weakness to team strength led by some incredible linebacking in Pierre Banks, D.J. Smith, and Jacque Roman. Don't get me wrong - the path for another App championship will have to be earned - the Spiders defense is pretty potent against some of the better FCS opponents - but there are too many factors going in the Mountaineers favor. App will win this game, and see you back at The Rock next week!
Did you know App State beat Michigan last year? I found a line on this game that had App State favored by four. Seems legit to me. I'll take App State to win and cover purely based on that win from last year. Best analysis ever!
ACC Championship: Boston College (-1) vs. Virginia Tech 12:00 PM ABC
ADMohr: This is a tough case for the ACC, who has proven this season that they probably have more "good" teams than many other conferences - it's just that the "good" is a far cry from the best of the best for right now. There will be an empty stadium in Jacksonville, the likely best team of the conference won't be in the game, and it's a rematch of a game that happened earlier this season. Not exactly what you would call can't-miss-action. This teams line up very similarly however in the stat lines, the first match was a close game (although, a grand total of 6 points were scored the entire second half), and BC comes into the game hot thanks to some quality conference wins down the stretch. I think for that reason alone, I'm going with BC to win and cover in this ACC championship, paving the way for the Cincy - BC Fox Ratings disaster in Miami.
MM: Rematch! Except this time BC doesn't have Vick replacement Matt Ryan. These teams must HATE each other* - this is the 4th time they've played in the last 2 seasons. BC is 2-1 in those games and I think they push it to 3-1 for the right to go to a BCS game. I've seen VT too many times this season, and there's no way they should be in the ACC championship.
* I have no basis for this statement. I bet they don't actually hate each other.
SEC Championship: Alabama (+10) vs. Florida 3:00 PM CBS
ADMohr: There's the spread, and the obvious conventional wisdom that suggests that this game won't be as good as the matchup of "hot now vs. kind-of-unproven undefeated" suggests it will/could be - and the conventional wisdom is somewhat convincing as there seems to be a fairly low likelihood of Alabama to even score enough points to keep up with the Gators. From an offensive-scoring standpoint, it would seem that Bama fans are likely pointing to a slugging Gator win against a so-so Miami team which was a LONG time ago, and the fact that against the common opponent of Petrino's Razorbacks, that Bama had no problem rolling the offense, and arguably did a better job than the Gators did. But Bama fans need be absolutely frightened by none-other than the Florida performance last week in Tallahassee where the Gators humiliated a pretty good Seminole D in a game that I had pegged as over-look possible. The Gator offense is rolling, and Alabama will bring a good defense into the game this week - but to be completely honest with you I thought we'd see the Seminole defense dent the armor of the Tebow - Harvin attack, and they had no problem blowing out WITHOUT Harvin. It's entirely possible that the conventional wisdom has overrated the Seminole D performance, underrated the Alabama defense, and the Tide will keep on rushing, play some ball control and could be a turnover or few from winning the game. But honestly - as much as the "conventional wisdom" will absolutely humiliate you this time of year - I'm just afraid there's TOO MUCH of it to look past in this one. Gators in the Championship with no sweat thanks to an impressive, dominant 14 point victory over the Tide.
MM: Penis Hat! Alabama is 12-0 answered every challenge this year and everyone is picking against them. Just about every time this happens, the underdog wins. I still think Florida picks up the W, but Bama keeps it close and beats the spread.
USC (-32.5) at UCLA 3:30 PM ABC
ADMohr: In retrospect, my time watching the UCLA - Tennessee overtime game at the beginning of this season was a huge waste of time (as was the Friday night I cleared to go crazy over USF - KU - which was a sweet sweet game, yet still one that had absolutely zero bearing on this season in any way). A fuss was made this past week over Carroll's decisions to forego timeouts in order to wear their home reds. First of all, as a guy who spends all day googling jerseys on Ebay and buying ex-Royal jerseys when I don't have any money (albeit, sometimes in a deliberate attempt to wind up on straightcashhomey.net someday), I respect the move. Jerseys are sweet, and when you find the right one, you just can't convince yourself that you DON'T need it - so I feel you, @PeteCarroll. That said - I'm baffled by the price paid in this one, I had no idea you could penalize w/ timeouts for something like that. In fact I kind of feel like that opens up some sort of bargaining - like you'll willingly decline all penalties in a quarter if it means you can play with the music on or something. And you'll play without pads if it's music with curse words. Spread is 32.5 in this one, and yeah, it seems likely but that's a lot of points to put money on in December. I'm going with UCLA to beat the spread for no reason at all.
MM: I more-or-less wrote the same thing as ADMohr, so rather than make you read the same thing, understand that 32.5 points is probably too big of a spread to run up against Pete Carroll especially considering it seems that he and Neuheisel are getting along now. USC wins but UCLA covers. Now here are some song girls.
Big XII: Missouri (+17) vs. Oklahoma 7:00 PM ABC
ADMohr: Here we go again with the conventional wisdom... Truthfully I think the pick for this one depends on how you interpret the Sooner trouncing of the Red Raiders because Mizzou brings a team that is very similar statistically to the team that the Red Raiders were seemingly ruling the nation with just before that fateful night in Norman. If you think that game was more Tech meltdown than OU dominance, then you might think that the Tigers have a shot in this one. If you think it was just full fledged Sooner power - then you have to ask what the likelihood is of that happening again on a major stage against a likely high-powered offense. I think a lot of people are like me and thinking that Mizzou looks good for - and this is likely in a best possible case - while the Sooners seem to be able to score 60 points night in and night out. So again the question is - what can stop OU since they are seemingly flawless with a defense that is sufficient and even game-changing if need be? Meanwhile Mizzou dropped a bomb last week in the same stadium against a slumping KU team - what reason is there to believe that they even have what it takes to beat OU when things are going good? Believe it or not I'm going with blind luck in this one, and I'm actually going to say that Mizzou beats the spread in this one. They'll lose by 16, but they'll beat the spread. And I have absolutely no reason to justify that whatsoever, other than I think OU may slip gears just enough to keep this BCS discussion at a continued fever-pitch.
MM: As a Nebraska fan, I really wish we played Missouri later in the year rather than opening the Big 12 with them. After Missouri loses a game they feel they shouldn't lose (this year it was OK State at home), they self-destruct (and, as a person that hates Missouri, it has been fun to watch Missouri and Chase Daniels fall out of the national spotlight). Missouri also lost their best defensive back this week and OU still has a lot to prove (and isn't in a BCS game yet), so they'll win another one 60+ - 30ish.
South Florida (+7) at West Virginia 7:00 PM ESPN2
ADMohr: Boy this game looked great at the beginning of the year. Is it an indictment or an endorsement of the BCS (and resume-based voting) that about half the teams that were a part of the top 25 at the beginning of the season aren't a mile within it at the end of the season? That's a stupid way to ask that question - but it does go to show how fickle the perception of what's good and what's not is when there's no data points to base that on - and it also goes to show that even if good seems to be good - it doesn't mean that good is going to stay good. So what is good? Is good the highest mean value, or is good the highest peak at the end of the year? That's the whole thing lost in this BCS mess - what is a champion? Is a playoff system fair that potentially rewards an underachieving team for part of the year despite hitting the highest peak at possibly the exact right time? But what good is "the highest mean" if you can't beat anybody on any given saturday? Don't get me wrong - I'm a playoff supporter, I think it's crooked how there's only one specific division of football without a playoff, and I think the fact that we don't have one is a result of nothing more than lucrative lobbying by bowl cities, conferences, and school presidents. But for instance - App wasn't the best team throughout the year in FCS last year, but they were unbeatable in the playoffs (& got to play each game at home). Are they a true champion? Did the Giants even deserve to be playing the Patriots for a chance at the championship (hat tip Doc Saturday back when he was SMQ). Is the 64 team basketball playoff in any way fair to the teams that perform the best, or is the Final Four & champion just random selection & more dependent on bracket matchups than actual team performance? Are the baseball playoffs possibly fair at all after playing a grueling 162 game sample to determine who is best? Just to watch an NL or AL wild card team get lucky with hot pitching in cold weather swoop in and steal a championship? These are all questions to ponder and discuss instead of watching this game, which West Virginia will win and cover in.
MM: I told ADMohr we were going to do a reduced slate this week and then I sent him this game. If all of Mohr's BCS talk is too much for you to ponder at 7:00 PM on a Saturday, here's something to ponder: Did you know that Deion Sanders tred to adopt West Virginia's leading rusher, Noel Devine, when he was in high school? Noel stole one of Sanders' cars and drove home after like two days. Here's the question: why do you think he left? My guess is that he got sick of eating hot dogs.
West Virginia wins and covers.
Arizona State (+10.5) at Arizona 8:00 PM ESPN/FSAZ
ADMohr: Well truthfully, I'm slightly more invested in how the Nebrasketball team matches up with the Sun Devils than the outcome of this one, but that said it's been a year of extremes for Dennis Erickson's Sun Devils, who won 2 straight, lost 6 (!) straight, and then won 3 straight. The Wildcats come into this one after losing close ones with the collective state of Oregon, and the Cats who looked like they might have some good things going earlier this year are a game away from .500. (Speaking of irrelevant games this year - I think we can put the Arizona State - Georgia Saturday night matchup up there too). It seems like Zona is likely the better team, putting up a solid 400 yds/game while its hard to find a win of any sort of significance on the Devils' 5-6 slate. That said, I'm going to go with Rudy Carpenter to win and cover in this one, just because I'll be sad to see him go when it seemed like just yesterday he was exciting the world in the Insight Bowl against Rutgers while getting the sh*t knocked out of him, and then the incredible ensuing Sam Keller emotional roller coaster which resulted in a one-sleeved Nebraska quarterback for 1/2 the year last year.
MM: People call the NFL a copy-cat league. One team finds something for success and within the next two years, every team is following the trend. The crazy thing about college football coaches is that, unlike the NFL, everyone seems to think the way they are doing things is the best way and they aren't always interested in what other teams, even successful ones, are doing. ASU is one of those teams. When I met with them last year, I heard the phrase "Well, we are obviously doing something right" numerous times - they didn't care what other football programs were doing. Now they are on the verge of going 5-7 and Rudy Carpenter can go challenge Sam Keller for a job at the LA Avengers. Arizona wins and covers.
Cincinnati (-7) at Hawaii 10:30 PM ESPN2
ADMohr: True story here is that several years ago I was fortunate enough to join my close friends and attend a great NU win in Boulder the day after Thanksgiving. We drove all night to get there, slammed Budweiser energy drinks before the game (and after), crashed in the early evening, and then awoke to slam more Budweiser energy drinks and go out and make a fool of myself to the great bar population of Boulder. You may wonder what the connection is to this game right here - well on that great day & night, in between drunken hazes while still generally in a sleep-deprived and drunken haze - we turned the television on ESPN2 and Wisconsin and Hawaii were playing on TV. And due to the volume of Budweiser Energy Drinks and what was generally just a roller coaster of emotions & excitement, I just literally could not wrap my mind around what I had found on ESPN2. Why was there a WAC - Big Ten nonconference game going on in November? Why would Wisconsin even agree to do such a thing, and why wouldn't they do it like in early August if they felt they needed to fly for 18 hours just to play a no-win situation non-quality nonconference game? How sure am I that I'm not actually watching a bowl game right now? What kind of lobbying power does Hawaii have to get somewhat respectable college football teams to potentially threaten bowl berths, conference championships, and end-of-season momentum for a game that may literally have the most legitimate in terms of actual physical-impacts "home-field" type of advantage? I was honestly, 100% convinced that I was having some sort of lame-college football scheduling hallucination. And on late, late Saturday night this week, should my remote control accidentally bring me to this game - I will ask myself every single one of these questions yet again, and think that I'm having a very lame hallucination yet again. Hawaii wins this one - kicking off the annual Hawaii-relevance season with the Aloha Bowl, Pro-Bowl, and Hula Senior Bowl.
MM: Pretty sure this is a Brian Kelly goodbye tour. If nothing else, he was smart not to take the Nebraska job so he could get a free trip to Hawaii this year. Unrelated side note: I just saw a Erin Andrews highlight on ESPN. What in the hell is she doing with a big ass pony-tail braid and hat? She's looks like a college chick going out for coffee and Noodles after a long night of drinking and grinding on dudes at a bar right now. Maybe she's trying to find a way to be less hot so people respect her more. I have no clue. Anyway, I have no clue how good Cincinnati or Hawaii are. Cincinnati seems just good enough to win the crappy Big East, so is Hawaii any better than those teams? I would assume not. Cincinnati wins and covers.
Well that's it for the picks. Here's the chart:
Have a good weekend.