[ED Harry: Bob returns this week with another coherent and well-written intro. Don’t worry, I still have some dumb garbage afterward.]
Wow. All I can say is, that Ohio State-Northwestern game certainly lived up to the hype– which, honestly, I wasn’t sure it would. After the first drive in which Braxton Miller threw to four consecutive wide-open receivers, the whole world thought the Northwestern players were about to get their GPAs handed to them. However, thanks to a number of goal-line stands and an offense that kept the Buckeyes on their feet, the Wildcats confidently led the game almost the entire way. Ohio State did not record an offensive touchdown until the end of the third quarter. Northwestern played their asses off and should be proud of themselves. Some will argue that the refs blew the game, but the final result was more a product of a few more plays going Ohio State’s way in the end. A key to the game was Northwestern’s dominating the turnover margin 3-0 until Trevor Siemian threw a gut-wrenching interception in the first quarter. Just when it looked like Northwestern might pull it out when down four with two minutes to go in Ohio State territory, Kain Colter got stuffed on fourth down. It was a classic Northwestern game in every sense. They played hard and stayed with their competition, then couldn’t keep up in the very end.
Everything surrounding the game at Northwestern was simply unprecedented on the Evanston campus. Mike and Mike had an incredible broadcast on Monday to kick off the weekend. Pretty much all of ESPN– Greenberg, Golic, Wilbon, Adande, Rovell, Weissman, Corso, Herbstreit, Desmond, SAM PONDER [ED Harry: http://youtu.be/s]— was on campus for the weekend and were amazingly accessible to the student body. A bunch of idiots chose not to sleep Friday not to get into GameDay early before leaving prior to the broadcast even starting because they were tired. I, for one, had an awesome time arriving at 3:30 AM and staying the entire time. The atmosphere was amazing; the signs, even better. I can’t even begin to list my favorites. That evening, fans, including myself, began lining up at 3 PM for the 7 PM kickoff and even waited unsheltered throughout the chilly thunderstorm for two hours. The game itself was sold out and the student section overflowed a full hour before the game, something we never see at Northwestern, which I wrote about in my debut here at The Daily Northwestern. It was a weekend of heartbreak, lost voices, and chants about how Ohio State will be driving our cars one day.
What a weekend. I feel so lucky to have been a part of it, and I can’t wait to be there at kickoff with the Wildcats in Madison this Saturday. Now, time for some assholes analyzing college football.
[ED Harry: /end good writing, here I go.]
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.
I’m baaaaaaaaaaaack! 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.
Thanks again to Bob for the cameo. In an effort to keep this post from getting as long as it did last week, let’s jump right into the WHY THE %#&@ IS THIS TEAM RANKED?!?! Rankings! In case you forgot, these are the top three teams ranked in either the AP or Coaches’ Top 25 poll that prove writers and coaches know nothing about their own sport. This week’s asinine slate:
- Nebraska (NR/#24) Yep, these guys are still around. They’ve played one legitimate opponent (UCLA) and got absolutely pantsed on national television in front of their home fans. While they beat Illinois in Lincoln last week with no issues, until the Illini prove they’re actually competitive this year a little more, that win won’t save the Huskers from this dubious distinction.
- Oklahoma State (#22/#20) After Arizona State’s loss to Notre Dame (LOL), these guys slide into the Top (Bottom?) 3 and they’re making a good case for the top spot. It’s incomprehensible to me that this team could be ranked. Their best win? 2-3 Mississippi State. They lost to a West Virginia team that gave up 678 points last week to Baylor (all numbers approximate). And in the Cowboys’ last game, they barely edged out Kansas State (yes, the same Kansas State that lost to North Dakota State and the rotting carcass of Mack Brown’s coaching tenure at Texas) at home! Voters need to collectively pull their heads out of their asses.
- Fresno State (#21/#22) Last week’s comments still sum this up pretty well: “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.” Oh look they beat Idaho last week! Congrats, guys! Guh.
- Not quite in the Top 3, but still pissing me off: Virginia Tech (#24/#25), Michigan (#18/#16), OHHHH HELL NO NOTRE DAME IS BACK TO SECOND IN THE “OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES CATEGORY” THIS IS NOT HAPPENING RIGHT NOW
In games this games we picked last week, as Bob recapped,
Northwestern (+5.5) played a fantastic game and covered the spread wow was that not the craziest backdoor cover you’ve ever seen? Ohio State (-5.5) somehow beat the spread. Nebraska (-10.5) had no problem with Illinois despite Taylor Martinez’s absence. OH MY GOD FLORIDA STATE (-15), WHAT DID YOU JUST DO TO MARYLAND?!?! Miami (-5.5) went into full Gators mode against GT, turning it over four times. Unlike Florida (more on the squad from Gainesville in a bit), the ‘Canes still won easily. Washington (+6.5) impressed in a very close loss at Stanford in the late game.
The standings to date:
- Bob 20-9-1
- Harry 18-11-1
- Matt 17-12-1
And the peanut gallery! Standings are listed by total wins, not winning percentage. Rough Saturday for our previous leader last week; Weller takes the lead back.
- Michael W 17-12-1
- Creed Tucker 14-11
- Thomas Bechtel 15-9-1
- PIZZA CATS 9-15-1
- Arnim Whisler 6-3-1
- Andrew Kelley 6-8-1
- Ben Greene 6-8-1
- mdrose16 3-2
- Nik Valdiserri 3-7
Here are the five games for this week. #13 (!!!) Miami and Illinois are both off this week so we will pick four national games. As always, the lines come from Vegas Insider and all game times are eastern. I’m really just not feeling the writing this week, guys, so this section is going to be quick today. Check back next week for more mini-previews where I try to be funny and fail.
#25 Missouri at #7 Georgia (-9), Noon, ESPN
Tigers! Bulldogs! ESPN!
#19 Northwestern at Wisconsin (-10.5), 3:30, ABC/ESPN2
Wildcats! Badgers! Either ABC or ESPN2 depending on where you live!
#17 Florida at #10 LSU (-7), 3:30, CBS
WAAAAAA WHY DID JEFF DRISKEL HAVE TO GO DOWN FLORIDA’S OFFENSE IS ACTUALLY PRETTY SOLID NOW WAAAAAA I MISS YOU JEFF WAAAAAAA
#2 Oregon (-14) at #16 Washington, 4, Fox Sports 1
Congrats on playing one of two AP Top 5 teams in the Pac-12 North extremely well, Washington! Hold your heads high. Here, as a reward for your admirable effort, surely you have a nice comedown game and a chance to catch your breath. Wait, what?!?! I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure Steve Sarkisian totally slept with the Pac-12 scheduler’s sister. Or maybe his mom.
#18 Michigan (-3) at Penn State, 5, ESPN
Wolverines! Nittany Lions! ESP—okay, I know this was incredibly stupid and lazy. Here, let me give you a complete refund for this week’s column. Open your hand and turn it palm up and then stare into your empty palm. Good, there you go.
MIZZ vs UGA Everybody and their uncle on Georgia is injured and Missouri comes in undefeated and ranked for the first time this year. The Tigers are coming off a whooping of Vanderbilt while Georgia barely escaped a pretty terrible Tennessee team. This week, Georgia will win easily. It’s college football and weird stuff happens on a week to week basis; don’t let last week’s letdown against the Vols fool you. Georgia is the much better team here. Whatever’s left of Georgia -9
NU vs WISC This line is pretty shocking and I feel like a crazy amount of the public money is going to be on Northwestern. Generally, I love to pick against the team that most of the public takes, and Vegas seems to think a big Wisconsin win is in the cards as this line is just BEGGING bettors to take the ‘Cats. But this line is just too high. If this is a trap, I’m going to willingly fall right in because I think Northwestern has a solid chance to win this game outright, not just cover a double-digit spread. Northwestern +10.5
FLA vs LSU Florida’s offense has improved since Jeff Driskel suffered a season-ending leg injury against Tennessee (brief moment of silence….thanks) as Tyler Murphy has put up some awesome numbers against three conference opponents. Meanwhile, the Gators defense is simply the best in the nation by far, and the average yards they concede per play backs this up. (Remember what they were able to do a Miami offense that’s steamrolled everyone else they’ve played this season, including a decent Georgia Tech defense last week?) While going on the road is an entirely different animal, the Gators are a much better team than people think. BOLD PREDICTION (yeah I’m 0-for-2 with these, but this one’s totally happening) of the week: Florida not only covers the spread, they win the damn game outright. Florida +7
ORE vs WASH I’d lay two touchdowns with Oregon against literally anybody in college football except Alabama, Clemson or Florida State. That is correct, I did not include Ohio State or Stanford. The Ducks are simply an outstanding team. Oregon -14
Nobody Actually Caring That I Totally Mailed In This Week’s Column (-250)
Mack Brown’s Disapproval Rating (+9.5%) Over Congress’s Disapproval Rating
Al Golden’s Tie (-3500) Over Anything Else On Earth
GEEEEEEEENOOOOOOOOO!!!!! (Pk) Over EEEEEJAYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!
MICH vs PSU Michigan’s struggles against poor competition have been well documented this year and their 42-13 win over Minnesota last week wasn’t as dominant as the score reflects. That said, I have more confidence in the Wolverines than the Nittany Lions, who got pounded by Indiana (INDIANA!) last week. Michigan -3
Last week: 3-2
MIZZ vs UGA I’m not really sure how Missouri is suddenly good after an awful last season and now beating a bunch of bad teams, but they’re looking pretty decent. What really scares me is that Georgia has a team-full of injured players, and they are coming off of back-to-back three-point wins. However, I still think this Georgia team is very good, and I like that they’re at home. Remember the last time a how-the-fuck-are-they-ranked #25 state school starting with the letter “M” went to the Southeast and visited a top-ten school and I took the points? I’m not doing that again. Watch me blow this here, but whatever, I have to take the Bulldogs. Georgia -9
NU vs WISC First of all, I don’t believe in “trap” lines. That would basically mean Vegas can predict the future. If a line is too high, take the points. I, for one, am shocked that Northwestern is getting so many points after how they played last week. They really gave Ohio State a game and seriously threatened to win, which, while they hung in there, Wisconsin did not. I fear a comedown after all the hype from last week, especially following a primetime, down-to-the-wire loss followed by a game at none other than Camp Randall, but I think Northwestern is the better team. I’ll take these points any day. Northwestern +10.5
FLA vs LSU This is going to be a very, very interesting game. My perusing ESPN about these two teams has led me to the question: What has LSU done that has impressed me? They beat a ranked TCU team by 10 to start the season. Well, TCU is now 2-3. They played great against Georgia and hung with them the whole way. On the road. That really is impressive. However, their defense is not great this year, while Florida’s is suffocating and could easily shut down Mettenberger and Hill. Taking Tyler Murphy in his first game against a top team and at Tiger Stadium really worries me, but I think Florida has a really good shot at this game, and it should be close. Florida +7
ORE vs WASH This is very similar to what I said last week in my preview of Washington’s matchup with a top-flight Pac-12 team. Washington is very good, but Oregon is fantastic. I think Price and Co. hang with the Ducks for a half, but they won’t be able to keep up. It should be exciting to see Oregon finally play a good team, plus in a raucous atmosphere in Seattle, but I have to take the Ducks here. Oregon -14
My Picks (-0.5) over Harr– Shit They’re the Exact Same [ED Harry: STOP FUCKING AGREEING WITH ME LIKE EVERY WEEK I’M TRYING TO COME BACK IN THE STANDINGS HERE]
Ryan Field’s atmosphere (+2000) over All Other Big Ten Stadiums’ Respective Atmospheres
OVER 4 Months until My Next Front-Page Daily Article after I Somehow Landed It on My Debut
Last Weekend (-300) over This Weekend for Best Weekend of the School Year (Childish Gambino/Grouplove concert, then game in Madison. Tough call doe)
[I was going to write something about the Pirates inevitably losing on Wednesday night, but they already did]
MICH vs PSU Penn State thinks it’s cool and is going to do one of its white-out things, but LOOK AT WHAT THEY’VE DONE THIS YEAR! THEY’RE NOT GOOD AT ALL! I do like them and hope for the best going forward, but they’ve had a rough go so far. Obviously Michigan has had some issues, but I’m confident that Brady Hoke is going to have the Wolverines in the zone for the trip to State College this Saturday. While Michigan’s defense isn’t too overwhelming, it’s by far the best Christian Hackenberg has seen in his college career, so I think that will pose problems for the Penn State offense. Don’t expect either team to reach the 30s here, but I’ll confidently take Michigan. Michigan -3
Last Week: 3-2
“Sometimes I need to be alone” ~Kendrick Lamar, probably referring to most of my picks this week.
MIZZ vs UGA Every fiber of my being compels me to pick Georgia minus the points. Throughout this year, I have been about as big a supporter of the Dawgs as I’ve ever been of an SEC team. I have full confidence in them covering this spread…but something special is happening this weekend. Good friend and DCIAB commenter Nik Valdiserri is visiting Champaign this weekend, and I’m gonna honor his Tigers with an upset special for the week. Aaron Murray struggles to put up points with paper bags for receivers, and Missoui is able to pull this one off between the hedges: Mizzou +9 (Missouri 24, Georgia 21)
NU vs WISC TOO MANY POINTS Northwestern +10.5 (Wisconsin 34, Northwestern 31)
FLA vs LSU CONTRARIAN–LSU’s offense has been phenomenal this year, so I think they’ll be able to put up enough points against Florida to pull it out. Florida’s offense is indeed better without Jeff Driskel, but I don’t think they’re good enough yet to contend with LSU in Death Valley. Louisiana State -7 (LSU 30 Florida 20)
ORE vs WASH I see this one ending up similar to the way I predicted the Northwestern/Ohio State game to play out last week. Both teams will be in it until the end, and Oregon will pull away in the final quarter or minutes. Oregon’s offense is as good as they always are, but their defense has actually been extremely impressive as well. Oregon’s rush defense currently ranks fifth in the nation in S+P, which is exceptional. (All you really need to know about S+P is that it’s an advanced statistic for ranking teams. If you’re interested in the specifics of the stat, get over it). We’ll see if they can continue to hold up against their toughest competition yet; Keith Price and his squad of veteran offensive weapons. Ultimately this is just a few too many points for me to take when Oregon is on the road. (I actually think Washington is going to match this line exactly for the record, but I can’t do that) Washington +14 (Oregon 41, Washington 31)
EEEEEJAYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!! (Pk) Over GEEEEEEEENOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
This week being the worst week of schoolwork thus far (+140) over next week being the worst week of schoolwork thus far
Nobody caring about my schoolwork (-5240) over people caring about my schoolwork
Bob becoming a real journalist (-450) over me becoming a real journalist
Nobody noticing that I didn’t change Northwestern from “NU” to “NW” this week (+350)
MICH vs PSU Devin Gardner essentially fulfilled my bold prediction for the Notre Dame game, launching himself into the fringes of the Heisman discussion and playing incredibly well. Just one week later, he struggled mightily against Akron, nearly giving Michigan their worst loss in the history of the Big House (yes.). After more struggles against UCONN and a low accuracy/high efficiency day against Minnesota, Devin Gardner is due for a big game. Seeing as I completely control his every move, Gardner will lead Michigan to a double digit victory this weekend that isn’t in doubt past the first half. He won’t play as well as he did against ND (we may never see that type of performance from Gardner again), but he’ll be great. The Michigan defense will continue to carry their fair share of the burden (and more), and the Wolverines leave Happy Valley just that: happy. Michigan -3 (Michigan 28, Penn State 14)
This should be a rather large week for me in the standings. With 3 picks different than the other guys, I could possibly be set back a significant amount more than I already am, or rocketed into a tie for first place. Should be good.
Last Week: 3-2