Saturday, October 23, 2010

Week 8

Well, I took a week off last week just so I could have a little rest from the "grind" so to speak. Since I didn't pick any games last week, not much point going all the way to two weeks ago to rehash that week's entry, so let's jump straight into the headlines from this past week...

HEADLINES

-108 points in an SEC game? I've never seen anything like that in my life. I knew Arkansas's defense was porous--specifically in the secondary--and that their offense was spectacular but that was just ridiculous. I will say this for Arkansas: Bobby Petrino deserves a ton of credit for his offense being able to put up 43 on a talented Auburn D with the most talented passer in the nation sidelined. One of the most impressive feats for an offensive-minded coach is when the starting QB goes down and the offense doesn't miss a beat. Not only does it speak to the effectiveness of the offensive scheme but also directly to the level of preparation in every QB on the depth chart. Brian Kelly was the master of this at Cincinnati, where he almost perennially had 3-4 QBs every year that could step in (remember when Tony Pike was starting for the injured Dustin Grutza in 2008 and then in a game against Akron, not only did he go down but redshirt freshman Chazz Anderson replaced him and then went down himself, forcing a guy named Zach Collaros to step in and lead the team to a win). Rich Rod's current Michigan team also has two guys that can step in without missing a beat (which also has a lot to do with their highly improved offensive line). However, unfortunately for Bobby Petrino, his defense had to deal with Cameron Newton.

-The most accurate phrase I've heard to describe Cam Newton so far is "tight end body with wide receiver speed." Gator fans would kill me for this but when you really look at Cam Newton, he's bigger, stronger, and faster than Tim Tebow with a comparable arm. He doesn't necessarily have Tebow's grossly overstated intangibles, but if this guy was surrounded by the talent that Tebow was surrounded with at Florida (and he was, he just had to ride the bench behind Tebow, which is why he transferred to Auburn), he probably would have broken some records too. I mean, honestly, ESPN would lead you to believe this is blasphemy, but if you replace Tim Tebow with Cam Newton on either of the last two Gator teams (especially last year's disappointing team that was chock full of talent but sputtering on offense while Cam was sitting out a year after transferring to Auburn upon learning Tebow was coming back for his senior year) and honestly think about how much better or worse those teams would have been. I'm going out on a limb and saying that with Cam Newton at QB last year, Florida at least wins the SEC title, if not a second straight national title. One thing is for damn sure, Urban Meyer would commit more crimes than have been committed by all his Gator teams combined during his tenure (that would be 31 arrests to date and counting) just to be able to have Cam Newton running his offense this season instead of the pro-style prototype and flailing fish-out-of-water John Brantley. Which is probably why...

-Chris Rainey has rejoined the team? Really?! Wait, why am I surprised? This is the same guy (Meyer) that suspended Brandon Spikes for a HALF--not after he was caught on camera gouging the eyes of a Georgia Bulldogs running back but after there was a public outcry about Meyer not having taken any action against the star LB. And that's just one example. Meyer has proven time and again that winning trumps moral character by a wide margin on his list of priorities and with a sputtering running game which is averaging just 106 yards a game on nearly 33 carries a game for a meager 3.2 yards per carry in their last three games--all losses--Urban needs Rainey back far too urgently to let some threatening text messages get in the way. So, Gator fans, enjoy the rest of the season with "Creepy" Chris Rainey back at Jeff Demps's side in the backfield. Maybe now you might have a chance against South Carolina or Florida State--probably not though. By the way, for anyone interested, here's a terrific article in the USA Today about the Gators' arrest record under Urban (major kudos goes out to Bryant Gumbel for calling out the Gators and the NCAA on this topic).

-I'm not sure why Terrell Pryor was ever considered a Heisman candidate but I'm sure glad that's over with. It's unlikely he'll be back either, with the biggest games remaining being a road trip to Iowa and Michigan at home.

-Really South Carolina? Kentucky?! The Gators utterly annihilated this team. The funny thing is that since SC beat Alabama the week before and the Gators lost to Mississippi State, the Gamecocks can actually lose one more conference game and, as long as they beat the Gators, they'll be playing for the SEC crown.

-I have to put a little prayer/positive energy in here for Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed from the neck down last week during the Knights' overtime win against Army. Football is a cruel, violent sport and this is the risk every one of these guys takes every single time they step on the field, which is why it's important to never lose sight of what's important. This young man will be in my thoughts throughout the coming weeks and should be in every football fan's thoughts as well.

-Oh, by the way. I know this isn't college football but...Dunta Robinson's hit on DeSean Jackson. Am I the only one that thinks that this was a COMPLETELY LEGAL PLAY? He didn't lead with his helmet, he led with his shoulder, and he hit the guy in the chest, not the head--granted, he hit him under the chin, causing a concussion, but as vicious as the hit was, by the letter of the law, there was nothing illegal about it. It just looked really brutal.

-USC 42, California 0. That's not the final score. That was the score at halftime. Wow.

On that note...on with the show...

#13 Wisconsin @ #15 Iowa

This looks to be a considerably tougher matchup for the Beavers than Ohio State was. It may not seem like it but the Hawkeyes defense is substantially better than Ohio State's (especially against the run, which is Wisconsin's bread and butter) and their offense is comparable as well. Stanzi is a better thrower than Pryor and will test the Wisconsin secondary. This is an exceedingly difficult one to pick with these teams being so dead even but I'm giving the edge to the home team.

Hobbitcore sez: Iowa

#1 Oklahoma @ #11 Missouri

This is going to get a lot of attention as the primetime game of the week and with Oklahoma being the marked man as the initial BCS #1. You'll probably hear a lot of people saying that this one will be closer than expected but count me as not sold on Missouri. I like Oklahoma to win convincingly, playing with a chip on its shoulder after hearing everyone talk about how they don't deserve to be #1 in the BCS and making a statement that yes, in fact, they do.

Hobbitcore sez: Oklahoma

UPSET OF THE WEEK

#16 Nebraska @ #14 Oklahoma State

Another mostly untested Big 12 team facing a perennial power. I like matchups like this where by far the two best units in the game face each other head-to-head on the field (i.e. Oklahoma State's offense vs. Nebraska's defense). I especially like to watch the "other" match-up--the one that won't get as much attention but will be much more interesting and unpredictable (i.e. Nebraska's offense vs. Oklahoma State's defense). Conventional wisdom tells you that Nebraska has the ability on defense to slow down Justin Blackmon and company and that the Cowboys will have problems with Tyler Martinez and Roy Helu, Jr., however, the Huskers haven't faced an offense with this kind of balance or explosiveness all year and Oklahoma State's defense is a little bit underrated--they've actually been very solid against the run, only allowing about 3.3 yards a carry and just 5 rushing touchdowns all year--and all they have to do is play the run against the Huskers. This being a home game, I like the Cowboys' chances.

Hobbitcore sez: Oklahoma State

GAME OF THE WEEK

#6 LSU @ #4 Auburn

As much as this is a down year in the SEC, at least Auburn and LSU are back. This is likely to be one of the best games of the whole year with Cam Newton facing off against one of the top ten run defenses in the nation. Auburn's defense also has a lot to prove on Saturday afternoon and I think you'll see them play like it in a marquee home match-up against an inconsistent LSU offense. The LSU defense will do enough to keep this one close through three quarters but in the final 15, Cam Newton will pull a Tebow and will his team to victory with a late touchdown drive to put the game away.

Hobbitpick: Auburn 28, LSU 17

Keys to the Game
Auburn:
-Create turnovers on defense
-Block soundly on offense
-Balance on offense
LSU:
-Keep Cam Newton in the pocket
-Throw the ball effectively
-Make special teams plays count


Out-of-Whack Spreads (games I would bet money on if gambling were legal)
Wisconsin (+6.5) over Iowa
Rutgers (+13) over Pittsburgh
UAB (+20) over Mississippi State
Oklahoma (-3) over Missouri
Air Force (+18) over TCU

My Heisman Ballot (if the voting ended today)
1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn
2. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
3. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State

BCS Predictions
ACC: Virginia Tech over Florida State
Big 12: Oklahoma over Nebraska
Big East: West Virginia
Big Ten: Michigan State
Pac 10: Stanford
SEC: Auburn over South Carolina

BCS Championship: Auburn over Oklahoma
Sugar: Utah over Ohio State
Orange: Alabama over Virginia Tech
Fiesta: Boise State over Missouri
Rose: Oregon over Michigan State