Shameless self-promotional note: This weekend I (Harry) will be going up to Atlanta to broadcast the Miami-Georgia Tech game for WVUM, Miami’s student radio station. The game is at 7:30 pm eastern and you can listen live here. If I have time, I’ll definitely put together a Don’t Call It A College Visit like the one I did for Florida State last year. On with what you came for.
Like I mentioned in the title, there will be no discussion of the large university in Ann Arbor and that situation with the injured quarterback and our desired job status for the head football coach and athletic director. While all three of us certainly have thoughts on that whole thing (cough*fireHokeandBrandon*cough, also oh look here’s an editorial on the topic from Bob!), that story has been beaten to smithereens with a tire iron at this point, so you won’t have to read about it here. You’re welcome.
Anyway, last week I promised a column after I posted a YouTube video of babies eating lemons instead of writing because I was “busy”. (While I certainly had plenty to do last week, I’ll admit that laziness had a large part in that debacle as well.) I am a man of my word sometimes—mostly when it’s convenient for me to be—and this happens to be one of those times. Just kidding, I was too lazy again! Instead, I called up my inside source at ESPN and got the advance script from this week’s edition of the reprehensibly bad “Final Verdict” segment on “College Football Final”, where the outstanding Rece Davis somehow manages to get through a few minutes of listening to Mark May and Lou Holtz both idiotically argue about some inane topic. Here is is!
Final Verdict Script, October 4
Rece Davis: Gentlemen, welcome to “The Final Verdict”. Tonight ESPN executives have brought the case to me that there is simply too much stupidity on the set and one of you must be shot with this tranquilizer gun and deposited in a facility for treatment. [Producer’s note: I was going to go with an actual gun and euthanasia situation, but that seemed a bit too morbid even for these two.] Now, each of you will have the chance to make your case to the court about why you think you deserve to stay. Lou, let’s start with you.
Lou Holtz: Just like with everything else you asked me before this segment, I’m too senile to hear your question so I’m just going to talk about Notre Dame. I tell you, this team is probably the greatest college football team to step on a field since the 2013 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who were of course the greatest college football team to step on a field since the 2012 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. I have Notre Dame as the #1 seed in my playoff bracket right now, but I’m reasonable and if they finish with a few losses, I’ll slide them down to #2.
RD: Uh…okay. Mark at least you can’t be any dumber.
Mark May: Rece, you’d think it’s not possible for me to be as idiotic as the great-great-grandfather to my left, but you think a lot of things. I mean you pretty much have to because you’re the only person on this set with the ability to think. Lou Holtz deserves that tranquilizer dart simply because I am the greatest man on earth and everyone needs to hear me criticize everyone I possibly can to the furthest degree I possibly can. Did you hear my scathing commentary on Jameis Winston? I mean sure, I’ve been formally arrested three times and he hasn’t actually been once, but what does that have to do with anything? [Producer’s note: Yep, this is actually true.] In conclusion, the University of Miami football program deserves the death penalty.
RD: *Sighs* I need to renegotiate my contract.
LH: Anybody who went to the University of Michigan only went there because they didn’t get into Notre Dame! [Producer’s note: He actually said that.]
MM: Here, let me criticize Josh Shaw for ten minutes for doing something illegal.
LH: Brian Kelly is the best coach in the country! [Producer’s note: Yeah. Actually said it.]
RD: That’s it; I can’t stand this anymore.
*tranquilizer gun shot goes off*
LH: Who just set off that firework? I love the 4th of July. I fondly remember July 4th, 1776, back when I was 78.
MM: Wait, I’m still here too. Rece just tranquilized himself!
LH: Nothing says July 4th like Notre Dame football!!!!
[Producer’s note: Looks like Rece just couldn’t take these two anymore. We’ll have to find someone just as insufferable to host to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Can we check into Chris Berman’s Saturday availability?]
In games we picked last week:
- Northwestern (+10.5) went on the road and stomped a terrible Penn State team that I tried to tell everyone was terrible. I can be cocky like this because I’m in first place. (Sorry to spoil the standings.)
- Arkansas (+9.5) blew a late lead against Texas A&M and went on to lose in overtime, but the Hogs looked very good and covered.
- Miami (-7) put together its best defensive performance against a Power 5 opponent ever under Al Golden and smothered Duke.
- Nebraska (-20) romped Illinois.
- USC (-9.5) bounced back from a colossal WTF loss to Boston College (seriously, Boston College lost to Colorado State at home last week, WTF) and rolled Oregon State.
Here are this week’s standings. It should be noted that while there’s a long way to go, I was in first place after Week 1 and have an opportunity to be the first ever DCIAPC wire to wire champion. (Yeah, I know this is literally the second time we’ve ever done this. Shut up.)
And the peanut gallery:
Here are the five games this week. As usual, all lines come from Pinnacle and game times are eastern.
Purdue vs. Illinois (-10.5), Noon, ESPN2
For the second straight year, it’s a hard-fought, tooth-and-nail battle to find out who is NOT the worse team in the Big Ten! Feel the excitement!! (In honor of me stealing a classic Bill Simmons line, I’d also like to throw out a #FreeSimmons.) The winner gets to proudly proclaim its right to the #13 slot on the Big Ten totem pole. Although, Michigan is doing its best to get in on this race to the bottom as well. Shit, I just mentioned Michigan. Well at least I didn’t mention the Shane Morris situatio—FUCK. Let’s move on to the next game before I talk about how Brady Hoke should never be allowed into Michigan Stadium agai—
#3 Alabama (-6) at #11 Ole Miss, 3:30, CBS
Yep, the college football media machines have their hype machines whirring full tilt this week to try to pump this mismatch into a Top Ten Matchup (TM). You could say that I believe in this Ole Miss team about as much as white people in Mississippi believe in racial equality.
#17 Wisconsin (-9.5) vs. Northwestern, 3:30, ESPN2
If I were a Northwestern fan, I would rather not think about how my defense is going to fare against that offensive line and Melvin Gordon.
Miami (-2) vs. Georgia Tech, 7:30, ESPN2
I’m typically not one to whine about stuff like this, but Miami’s schedule is brutally unfair. UM goes on the road for a nationally televised primetime game that is one of the ‘Canes opponents’ biggest games of the season this week for the third time in three road games. GT is even planning a fan white-out, which would be—again—the third time in three road games that Miami has to face a raucous crowd all dressed in one color. Did I mention how unfair Miami’s schedule is?
#19 Nebraska vs. #10 Michigan State (-8.5), 8, ABC
This is a tough pick, but you can be sure that lovers of felines are backing the Huskers.
Bob: Um. It’s hard to know what to think about this one, since both teams have had mediocre starts. I think neither of these teams is horrible – Purdue looked pretty good against Notre Dame – and it’s hard to justify picking Illinois -10.5 against any team that isn’t horrible. Last year’s game between two similar-quality outfits ended 20-16 Illinois, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see another close one. Purdue +10.5
Matt: Contrary to Bob, I’m of the opinion that Purdue is truly terrible this year. Better than last year’s abysmal squad, but not even close to below average yet. The defense has been the decent unit for the Boilermakers this year, but even that hasn’t been particularly impressive– Western Michigan was able to put up over 35 points in a close loss to PU. Frankly, this team has been a train wreck (pun intended) for a year and a half now. Illinois is slightly better than last year, as is Purdue, and though the game at Ross Ade was close, Illinois turned the ball over four times and just about every other statistic pointed to a fairly easy win for the Illini. If somebody put a gun to my head and asked me to predict a margin of victory for this game, I would choose Illinois by at least 14 at home…but I can’t. Purdue isn’t good, but Illinois has struggled against weaker teams and let them hang around all year long, even at home. I’m still waiting for the solid statistical performances Illinois has had against poor opponents to turn into a true blowout, but little mistakes continue to haunt the Illini in these games. I would be shocked if Illinois lost this game, but I can’t trust them to cover a spread this large. Purdue +10.5 (Illinois 24, Purdue 16)
Harry: Look, I’m going last this week! For this game I basically agree with everything Matt said, although I think he’s overselling Illinois a little bit. However, I definitely feel the same way as he does about the outcome of this game. Purdue +10.5
Bob: Amazingly, these are THE TWO BEST TEAMS IN THE COUNTRY according to S&P+. That’s pretty crazy, especially given the strong starts we have seen from Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas A&M. The teams’ similar S&P+ rankings as well as Bill Connelly’s projecting that Ole Miss – I hate that name – would win 60% of the time each point to the Rebels as an easy pick, but I just can’t trust them. They are still pretty unproven, and Alabama looks as strong as they normally do to start the year. Ole Miss has really struggled against Alabama in recent years, including a 25-0 loss last season. I like Blake Sims and Lane Kiffin to surmount Ole Miss’s top-ranked pass defense and come away with a win. Six points is a lot to give up in what might be a cagey, close game, but I’ll take the Tide. Alabama -6
Matt: Ole Miss is not as good as their ratings suggest. Alabama is as good as their ratings suggest. Alabama -6 (Alabama 31, Ole Miss 20)
Harry: Hey look! Free money! Everybody come get some free money! If not for the fact that Arizona is a 24-point underdog tonight and I’m already doing this for them, I would bet my life savings on the Crimson Tide. Alabama -6
Bob: I have to say, I was initially surprised to see this line so low, and then I grew convinced that Northwestern could potentially cover. However, I think students in Evanston are a little too confident in the team after routing a Penn State squad that sucks Willie the Wildcat’s dong. [ED Harry: That’s a mental image.] As great as the Wildcats defense has been (19th in S&P+), Melvin Gordon and the Badgers present a significantly bigger test than anything Northwestern has seen this year. The run defense has been particularly good, but Gordon has been ridiculously good. The injury to stud safety Ibraheim Campbell hurts, as replacement Godwin Igwebuike will not be as much of a force against the run. If the Badgers run off tackle all day like they did in last year’s traumatizing 35-6 rout in Madison, this could be a tough one for the Wildcats. On the other hand, Northwestern does have the personnel to shut down the Wisconsin offense and keep the game within striking distance. In the end, people would consider a close loss an amicable result, while hardly anyone would be surprised by a blowout, which lets us know what the smart pick is here. Wisconsin -9.5
Matt: This is a very interesting game. Typically, it’s unintelligent to take a team coming off a victory by a surprisingly large margin. Northwestern just had that type of performance against Penn State in Happy Valley. Penn State was massively overrated (still picking Illinois to beat the spread against them), but still had a quality defense. Unfortunately, the offense and special teams couldn’t get out of their own ways and were instrumental in costing the Nittany Lions the game. Northwestern is not as good as they looked. On the other hand, Wisconsin has let some bad teams hang around this year. Just last week, USF hung with them for an entire half. I really wish this line were double digits, but against my better judgement I’m still taking the ‘Cats. Northwestern +9.5 (Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 24)
Harry: Man, I’m really feeling Matt and Bob’s pain of not picking first most weeks. Bob did a really nice job summing up what I would’ve said for this game. I’ll add this: last week Northwestern looked better than they really are while Wisconsin looked worse than they really are. Those two factors combined to swing this line way too low. Wisconsin -9.5
Bob: Don’t tell Harry I said this, but I think Miami might be a genuinely good team, especially now that Kaaaaaya has picked up his play. The Hurricanes looked strong against a quality Duke side following a respectable performance against the tough Nebraska Cornhuskers. Advanced statistics support what I’ve been seeing; Miami ranks 18th in S&P+, while Georgia Tech is just 48th. Playing in front of a raucous crowd in Atlanta during primetime won’t help the Hurricanes, but they seem to clearly be the better team. Miami -2
Matt: Don’t tell Harry I said this, but he should go back to the crest. On an unrelated note, I hate triple option teams and refuse to bet in favor of one on principle. Miami -2 (Miami 38, Georgia Tech 27)
Harry: As a Miami guy, I’m pretty nervous for this one. I definitely agree with Bob that Miami has rounded into a good team this year, even if the record doesn’t quite show it. That said, the ‘Canes do have glaring holes, notably on the offensive line, where the situation actually got worse this week with RTs Taylor Gadbois and Kc McDermott declared out. The defense is certainly improved but we’re still not entirely sure how much and Georgia Tech’s unique ground attack always presents an annoying challenge to any opponent. On the other hand, in recent memory Miami has always played well against Georgia Tech, even going back to the Randy Shannon days. This is a game Miami should win, so I’m going to pick the ‘Canes. That said, Miami has looked good for stretches and faltered under Al Golden before. While I think this is the best team he’s had here by a fair margin, I doubt it’s completely immune to the letdowns that have plagued this program really since 2002. This is far from a guaranteed victory. Miami -2
Bob: I’m excited for this one. I believe Nebraska to be a quality, top-25 team, and I also think Michigan State remains a top side. The loss at Oregon should not tell you they aren’t good; if anything, it should confirm that they can compete with possibly the best team in the country on the road. The Spartans have essentially had three weeks to prepare for this matchup, and their offense has really turned up this year (ranked 3rd in S&P+). Although their defense allowed 46 points against the Ducks, they are still a top defense, and I don’t expect Ameer Abdullah and company to run so easily on the Spartans. I don’t love giving up more than a touchdown here, but I am confident that Michigan State will put away a good-but-not-great team. Michigan State -8.5
Nebraska +8.5 (Nebraska 30, Michigan State 27)
Harry: I think both of these teams are quite good, although MSU is surely the better squad. Something to note: if Nebraska finds a way to win this on the road, look at the Huskers remaining schedule. While a trip to Madison looms, they would be heavy, heavy favorites in the rest of their games and have a great chance at marching into the Big Ten Championship game undefeated (where, let’s be honest, they would play Michigan State again). Just something to keep in mind. Can they win this game though? If Michigan State has the offense they’ve shown so far, no, but I’m going to bet that they don’t. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nebraska finds a way to win this game. Either way, it’s going to be close and I’m happy to take the points. Nebraska +8.5