NCAA Football: Syracuse at Northwestern
Northwestern WR Tony Jones looks to explode again this week to deliver the Wildcats their biggest win in eighteen years

Okay, folks. Before we let Harry take over his pursuit to offend as many people as possible in what is supposed to be an informative college football analysis blog (Gambling, you say? Noooo, not us), I, Northwestern student Robert M. Hayes, am hijacking my co-owned blog.

In case you haven’t spent three seconds watching ESPN this week and have somehow missed all the advertising, we (FUCK IT, we’re going first person. If you’re searching for journalistic objectivity, I’m not sure why you’re on this site), the 16-ranked Northwestern Wildcats, are taking on the #4 Ohio State Buckeyes this Saturday at 8 ET on ABC. ESPN College GameDay is on campus for the first time since 1995, our Rose Bowl year. Mike and Mike in the Morning will be broadcasting live on campus Friday morning. It is homecoming week, our first conference game, and our first matchup against the class of the Big Ten since 2008.

Yeah, we’re Northwestern. Make fun of us all you want. [Harry ED: You’re going to wish you didn’t say that.] There’s a great chance we get sodomized by Braxton Miller and Bradley Roby on Saturday, but either way, we’re damn proud to be here. The hype and excitement surrounding this Saturday in Evanston is completely unprecedented. Regardless of whether we win or lose, the fact that Nerdwestern [Harry ED: This one wasn’t even me!] students have been excitedly talking about this game for months on end shows how the athletic program has so dramatically grown. ESPN is somehow advertising Northwestern football as if we’re like, good or something. Engineering students who don’t know what football is are gleefully telling all of their friends to watch for them on this “ESPN Gameday” television programming shindig on Saturday. The stadium will fill up hours before the game with purple shirts and thundering claps to the beat of “Go U Northwestern”. Students like myself will be awake at 4 AM both Friday and Saturday morning because of how exciting and memorable this weekend will be, and all of Evanston will be awake at 4 AM on Sunday morning as we celebrate the biggest win in Ryan Field history.

*Bob drops mic and runs away before Northwestern students read his prediction. Harry grabs mic and starts insulting people*

Quick disclaimer: In case I have been actually offending people with the content of these posts, every installment of this feature and all the jokes contained within it are simply that—jokes. The humor is intentionally way over the top and I do not mean to actually demean any institution of higher learning. Make no mistake, I want to make you feel bad about your football team at times. However, your degree and the school you attend is always something to be proud of and I certainly would never tell you otherwise in seriousness. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to the offensive stuff, shall we?

Let’s take a minute to acknowledge Bob’s intro for a second before I press onward. Some truly good stuff there. That said, go take a nap or whatever you guys do at Knowsbestern. Can’t wait to watch Ryan Field transform into Ohio Stadium West on Saturday night as your PA guy plays that obnoxious growling sound to drown out all the “O-H! I-O!” chants. Thanks for stealing my intro, jackass. Let’s get to what you all came here for. (Quick disclaimer 2: This paragraph was extremely sarcastic. I’m sure Bob got that but just wanted to make sure that our two readers did as well.)

Apparently I’ve just woken up from a deep slumber because there’s no way it’s already Week 6 of college football season. What’s that? Not only is it indeed Week 6, but I should clearly know that seeing as I’ve already written five of these stupid things? While I don’t appreciate you calling my writing stupid, imaginary rude-yet-accurate reader, I guess I need to lay off the NyQuil. Let’s run the weekly reminder while I dump a bucket of cold water on my head.

As a reminder, this is a weekly feature, publishing every Thursday during the season. Matt, Bob and I pick five games each week: the games from each of our schools (Illinois, Northwestern and Miami, respectively) and a couple national games. Anyone is invited to pick with us in the comments and we’ll throw the standings of the peanut gallery up each week. We really appreciate how many people have decided to actually prove to themselves that they’re just not as good as we are at picking college football games. (Well, aside from Creed Tucker. That dude knows what he’s doing.) Here’s the moment each week while Matt and Bob brace themselves to read the next few paragraphs with gritted teeth, knowing that they are going to be associated with whatever I’m about to write. Let’s look back at last week!

Saturday’s headliner featured two SEC powers in the 2013 We Both Lost To Clemson #ACC4Lyfe!!!! Bowl. And what do you know? A pair of Top 10 SEC teams actually put on a wildly entertaining game that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish! Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray both put on a show, carving up two good defenses (except when they play Clemson) en route to a crazy 44-41 Georgia win. Of course the spread was Georgia -3, and of course Creed Tucker called this exactly right to the point in asking for his pick to be a tie. (I gave him credit for a win for doing this because I can. If you don’t like it, you may write a letter of grievances to the editor. Exactly 443 words, 2.5-spaced, Wingdings font. Please note that I will not care about your letter because I won’t be able to read it. Why on earth do you think I would be able to read Wingdings?) ALL HAIL VEGAS. AND CREED TUCKER. Did I mention that both of these supposedly incredible SEC teams lost to Clemson in consecutive games for the Tigers (of Clemson, not LSU)? #ACC4LYFE BABY!!!

In other news unrelated to our picks, Oklahoma convincingly defeated Notre Dame, dropping the Irish out of the Top 25!!! America’s reaction:

Now that the Fighting Irish are out, it’s time for a new weekly feature here in the DCIAPC. It’s the WHY THE %#&@ IS THIS TEAM RANKED?!?! RANKINGS! You can call this a non-power rankings of sorts, listing the Top 3 teams in the AP Top 25 or Coaches’ Poll that make you want to ask the voters just what the hell they are smoking. This week’s WHY THE %#&@ IS THIS TEAM RANKED?!?! RANKINGS:

  1. Nebraska (NR/#25) How can a team that gives up 38 straight points (38 STRAIGHT!!) at home against anybody (not to mention that Nebraska also has with no good wins) be ranked in the Top 25? In addition to losing to UCLA at home by three touchdowns in that game, they barely beat Wyoming by five. This is a joke.
  2. Fresno State (#21/#21) Oh, look! A cute Mountain West team is undefeated! Hey, Boise State was good in 2009; these guys must be too! Well, fiddle dee dee, idiot voters, this team isn’t anywhere near a Top 25 outfit. They needed overtime to beat Rutgers (RUTGERS!) at home by one measly point and beat Boise State and Hawai’i, two teams that are pretty bad and throw-up-in-your-mouth-watching-them-awful, respectively, by a combined six points. And take a look at this schedule. Woof. These guys are going to be in the Top 25 for a longgggg time this season. And it’s going to be really annoying.
  3. Arizona State (#22/#24) Nope, nobody is impressed by what they did to the rotting corpse that is the 2013 USC Trojans (except idiotic poll voters apparently). I don’t care what the scoreboard says, they lost to Wisconsin at home. And in their biggest game of the season yet, they couldn’t even score points against Stanford until garbage time. Washington and UCLA should put these guys in their place soon enough. Until then, guh.
  • Not quite in the Top 3, but still pissing me off: Oklahoma State (#21/#20), Michigan (#19/#17), Northwestern (#16/#15/Sorry, Bob)

In games we picked aside from the 2013 We Both Lost To Clemson #ACC4Lyfe!!! Bowl, Illinois (-24.5) put Miami (the less academically, athletically, and socially prestigious one) through a wood-chipper to finish their non-conference slate at 3-1. Just so we have no confusion over which Miami I’m referring to in this sentence, The U (-18.5) beat down hapless South Florida in a 49-21 game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated. Alabama (-16.5) put everyone to sleep in an utterly snoozy 25-0 win over the most disgustingly racist institution this country has ever seen that really should just be put down like a sick dog Mississippi. Wisconsin (+7.5) completed a sufficiently annoying comeback and backdoor cover in a 31-24 loss at Ohio State. The standings to date:

  1. Bob 17-7-1
  2. Harry 15-9-1
  3. Matt 14-10-1

And the peanut gallery! Standings are listed by total wins, not winning percentage. We have a new leader this week!

  1. Creed Tucker 14-6 (I’m giving him a win for calling that LSU-Georgia game to the exact point because I can)
  2. Michael W 14-10-1
  3. Thomas Bechtel 12-7-1
  4. Arnim Whisler 6-3-1
  5. PIZZA CATS 6-13-1
  6. Andrew Kelley 4-5-1
  7. mdrose16 3-2
  8. Ben Greene 3-6-1
  9. Nik Valdiserri 3-7

Here’s the five games for this week. From now on, the lines come from Vegas Insider. All game times are eastern.

Illinois at Nebraska (-10.5), Noon, ESPNU

Illinois seems to be much improved from last season and has recently developed bowl aspirations, but a road trip to Lincoln is an awfully tough way to start out their conference schedule. Regardless, there’s no way Illinois could go to a bowl game. I mean, they’d need to get three conference wins! Looking at their schedule, that’s…wait a minute…Michigan State and Northwestern at home, road trips to Indiana and Purdue…this could totally happen, folks. Illinois could be bowl bound if some things bounce their way. BIG TENNNN!!!!

#25 Maryland at #8 Florida State (-15), Noon, ESPN

It’s a battle of undefeated teams in Tallahassee, as two of the top offensive attacks in the conference prepare to do battle in front of 90,000 rabid fans at iconic Doak Campbell Stadium. One team will stay on their high perch in the rankings, the other will be set to take a tumbl—okay, sorry guys, I can’t pretend this is a legitimate big game anymore, even though it is a matchup “between ranked opponents.” Uh huh. Wake me up when the ‘Noles go to Death Valley in two weeks.

Georgia Tech at #14 Miami (-5.5), 3:30, ESPNU

This game has quietly turned into one of the biggest games of the season in the ACC as it will go a long way in determining the winner of the Coastal Division, which appears to be a three-horse race between these two and Virginia Tech. Miami seems to have the upper hand of the three as they host both the Jackets and the Hokies, but this is a de facto elimination game for Georgia Tech, who lost at home to Virginia Tech last Thursday. Expect the ‘Canes to get a fight from their divisional rivals.

#4 Ohio State (-5.5) at #16 Northwestern, 8, ABC

It’s fair to say that the purple people in Evanston are pretty excited for this one. For the first time in its history, College Gameday will be setting up shop on the campus of Northwestern [Bob ED: They were here in 1995, but yeah] and ABC has selected the game for Saturday Night Football, the game of the week in primetime commentated by a confused old man NU alum Brent Musberger and former Buckeye quarterback Kirk Herbstreit featuring a completely out-of-place rap from Eminem throughout. At least right now, this game is a pretty big deal. Will it be (arguably) the biggest win in Northwestern’s history or just another step to a Big Ten Championship for the Buckeyes?

#15 Washington at #5 Stanford (-6.5), 10:30, ESPN

I’ve already written 1,500 words on Week 6, so I’m done. Sorry, late West Coast game, maybe you’ll get a little precap some other time. East Coast bias is a thing, deal with it.

Harry’s Picks

ILL vs NEB This one is really tough for me. On one hand, Illinois is much improved from last year (especially at quarterback) and their offense appears to be legitimately good, putting up 45 points on the #5 defense in the country (Cincinnati) and 24 on the #14 defense (Washington). With Nebraska nursing the 108th best defense in the nation (woof), the Illini should have no problem putting up some points in this game. While I worry about the defense against Taylor Martinez and company, I don’t think the Huskers can put up quite enough points to cover such a large spread. I’ll take Nebraska to win by 10 points, somewhere in the 34-24 range, meaning a victory for Illinois +10.5 against the spread.

MARY vs FSU I’m just going to flat out admit I have no idea what will happen in this one. Maryland has only played two games against BCS opponents, an 11-point win over a hapless and winless UConn squad and an impressive 37-0 beatdown of West Virginia, who notched a victory over then-Top 15 opponent Oklahoma State on Saturday. Florida State finally looked mortal for a tiny bit of the Boston College game last Saturday as they trailed 17-3 in the second quarter. They went on to outscore BC 45-17 the rest of the way; they still haven’t played anyone remotely good. Add up all this information and…we know pretty much nothing about Maryland and pretty much nothing about Florida State. I’ll just take Florida State -15 at home. Wait, no, that’s too many points. Maryland +15. Actually, Florid—argh! I’ve flipped back and forth on this pick about 8,753,014 times (all numbers approximate). FSU -15, final answer. God, this one sucks.

GT vs MIA While I doubted Miami’s offense after the Florida game, I’m starting to come around to think that their struggles were far more a product of Florida’s otherworldly defense than anything UM did offensively. The past couple weeks the offense has really rolled, albeit against poor competition. But not every supposedly good offense performs well against these supposed cream puffs (cough*Northwestern*cough*Michigan*cough) [Bob ED: While NU does play down to its opponents, they’ve averaged 41.3 PPG so far, while not aided by a game against Savannah State]. Additionally, the offense here at the U was electric last year, and there’s no reason to think it won’t reach the same heights it did a season ago with all the important pieces back in 2013. While GT’s unique offense is worrisome, Miami’s defense has been outstanding against the run this year. Furthermore, the ‘Canes are essentially 4-0 against the spread this year (the only time they didn’t cover was in Week 1 when they chose not to score and won by 28 instead of 35). I’ll take Miami -5.5 and do it quite confidently.

OSU vs NW Not much analysis required here. While the Buckeyes are “on the road,” if history is any indication, the stadium should be about 60% Ohio State fans. While this year’s tilt may be a little more favorable in the stands for the ‘Cats, it will be a bowl atmosphere at best for them. Northwestern’s defense is thin in the secondary and their offense has underperformed against low-level competition. Bold prediction (see what I did there?) time: Ohio State will go into Ryan Field and beat the ‘Cats by at least two touchdowns in an easy victory where their offense will be able to march at will and the defense will hold the ‘Cats to 21 points or fewer. I honestly want to be wrong and I’ll be rooting hard for Northwestern, but this line is a gift. Ohio State -5.5

Bob Taking That Personally -225 [Bob ED: None taken. See: my pick]

GT/Miami Being A Better Game Than Minny/Michigan Despite Being Relegated To ESPNU For It -110

Brent Musberger Referencing Eminem Despite Never Having Heard Any Of His Songs -330

Cubs Hire Lane Kiffin As Their New Manager +1500

The Government (-17.5) Coming Back Before Derrick Rose

WASH vs STAN Speaking of gift lines, thank you so much for this one, Vegas! Stanford -6.5

Last week: 2-2-1

Season: 15-9-1

Bob’s Picks

ILL vs NEB Somehow Bo Pelini’s defense has gone from the most formidable in the country (remember Ndamukong Suh in red?) to one of the most laughable. At the same time, the Fighting Illini offense, led by Nate Scheelhaase looks to have significantly improved this season, which could pose to be a big problem for the Huskers. Taylor Martinez is always pretty gong show on the field (don’t worry, I don’t know what I just said either, but I feel like it fits Taylor Martinez), and I think he may be a little too athletic for the Illinois defense to handle. I’m in the same ballpark as Harry here; this is a really tough line. Either way I do this, I would have little confidence. Ultimately, the fact that it’s Illinois’s first true road game of the year and in Memorial Stadium scares me a little, and it looks like this is going to be a shootout that the Illini can’t win. On second thought, who knows what went down in Lincoln during the bye week with all that is going on with Pelini. Yeesh. Ummmmmm shit. Nebraska -10.5

MARY vs FSU That was fucking weird what Harry did for his pick on this one. Regardless, I agree with him. Honestly, Maryland is probably not that good (UConn and West Virginia suck; I don’t care how they did against Michigan and Oklahoma State, respectively), and we all know about the holy Jameis Winston and Jimbo Fisher’s sacred band of top-flight recruits and the crowd at Doak Walker and the need for the Seminoles to prove themselves– wait, this Maryland team might actually be good. Maybe reading things about the Terps was a bad idea, but I think they’ve got a good shot to cover this big spread. Maryland +15

GT vs MIA It is very possible that Paul Johnson’s offense ejaculates all over the Hurricanes defense that has the tendency to get lost against some good offenses, but as Harry mentioned, they’ve done a great job of stopping Savannah State’s running game. [Harry ED: Florida’s average yards per rush against not Miami this season: 4.9. The Gators’ yards per rush against Miami: 2.8. Thanks for your knowledge, though.]  Miami has won this matchup four times in a row, and Miami is having an up year while Georgia Tech is having a down year (relative to the past five or so seasons), so a Miami win looks pretty likely this week, especially with the way Stephen Morris is playing. Miami -5.5

OSU vs NW Stubborn Northwestern fans, avert your eyes. I honestly don’t know how someone could make a confident case for a NU victory within reason. I do think the ‘Cats have a chance. After all, the Buckeyes only beat Wisconsin by seven at home last week, and Northwestern has looked to be the better team, not to mention the crowd is going to be nuts at Ryan Field Saturday night. Northwestern has Venric Mark, preseason first team all-Big Ten running back. The Wildcats had a bye week while the Buckeyes had a big tilt against Wisconsin. If Colter’s offense isn’t working, Siemian has a completely different one to switch to. The high and mighty Buckeyes could easily look over the lowly nerds from Evanston. However, Ohio State has too many things pointing its direction. Superior players, great coaching, swag. Braxton Miller is Kain Colter but more athletic and with Trevor Siemian’s arm. Northwestern will probably get manhandled in the trenches. I’m honestly pretty scared about what’s going to happen with the NU secondary, especially now that the Buckeyes like to go deep. Basically, I do think the Wildcats have a shot. It’s going to take everything we’ve got, but it’s possible. Pat Fitzgerald’s teams are known to play down to opponents, as Harry likes mentioning, but don’t forget that they always play up to opponents too. The Wildcats don’t get blown out under Fitzgerald. My official prediction: Braxton and the Buckeye offense has little problem right out of the gate against the Cats’ shaky secondary and overall less athletic defense, quickly putting pressure on the Northwestern offense. On the offensive end, Northwestern will try a lot of its cute bubble screens and find little success, with similar results coming from Colter attempting to run the read option against that monstrous D-line. The offense will eventually find out what’s working, and some big plays from Venric Mark and Tony Jones will keep the Cats in the game, but the Buckeyes will ultimately be too tough to contain. Ohio State -5.5

Harry Doing Another #Chemistry Where None of Us Expect It -300

Anyone Who Chose To Jump On My Bandwagon After Some Lazy Weeks (+8.5) over People Who Still Think Harry Is A Nice Guy

My Actually Messing Up These Capitalization Rules Even Though I Am A Grammar Nerd +270

Kanye (-4) over Kimmel

WASH vs STAN Don’t look now, but this Stanford team is pretty fucking great. #NoDisrespectToWashington #AllDisrespectToUSC Stanford -6.5

Someone Reading This Understanding My Reference There +570

Last Week: 2-2-1

Season: 17-7-1

Matt’s Picks

I got a game back from these boys last week, so I’m feeling more confident than when you last saw me. Let’s do it up.

ILL vs NEB Illinois is an improved team over last year, but those (read: some Illini fans) who think this is an outfit capable of competing with a still-good Nebraska team are almost certainly incorrect. Not only is Nebraska still extremely talented on offense, but they’re coming off a much-needed bye week (I love picking teams coming off bye weeks). I see there being a tiny, tiny chance of Illinois stealing this one if Taylor Martinez is unable to play (turf toe), but otherwise Nebraska will have too overwhelming a ground game for Illinois to compete.  Having seen Washington’s sneaky Heisman candidate Bishop Sankey rip apart the Illini defense in person, I think the Cornhuskers will put up a ton of points on Saturday. Nebraska -10.5 (Score predictions return this week! Nebraska 42, Illinois 28)

MARY vs FSU I was all set to pick Jameis Winston and FSU until I saw this video of Clinton Portis:

“It’s a turtle!” SOLD. Maryland +15 (Florida State 31, Maryland 20)

GT vs MIA To me, this one is a no brainer in favor of Miami. That said, I will reiterate once again that I don’t believe Miami is as good as their record will indicate this year. Oh well. Miami -5.5 (Miami 34, Georgia Tech 17)

OSU vs NW Bob already wrote an essay and a half on the match-ups in this game and is more knowledgeable than I am regarding the ‘Cats, so I’ll just say this for my game prediction: I think Northwestern hangs in there for a half, but OSU breaks it open in the second half and wins without too much trouble. I’d be very surprised if Northwestern pulls this one out, but I’m rooting for them to expose Ohio. This line is just too low: Ohio State -5.5 (Ohio State 42, Northwestern 27)

Is this the part where BOLD-Matt has to make a bunch of random jokes that aren’t remotely funny and utilize improper capitalization that irritates me to no end? Okay:

Bob Or Harry Feeling A Twinge Of Annoyance At Me Dissing Their Jokes (-105)

Nobody Ever Noticing That I Change “NU” To “NW” To Represent Northwestern In The Picks Every Week Until Right Now (-1650) [Harry ED: I noticed this two weeks ago! You lose this one!]

Nobody Ever Noticing That I Change The Links Of DCIAPC Posts To A Convenient Numbering System Until Right Now (-435) [Harry ED: Okay, you got me here.]

Me Hijacking The Introduction To This Piece At Some Point This Season (-4790)

Over 12% Of Our Readers Never Reading My Portion Of The Picks Each Week Because Harry And Bob Combine For 6,723 Words Beforehand (+210)

WASH vs STAN I’ve seen how good a team Washington is (actually very good, they just killed themselves against the Illini with stupid mistakes), but I’m not going to bet against Stanford… yet. Stanford -6.5 (Stanford 34, Washington 24)

Last Week: 3-1-1

Season: 14-10-1