First, an apology. As you know, we release these on Thursday and it was completely my fault that it didn’t happen this week. My apologies. Now, instead of me writing a column this week, I am going to direct all of you to Bob’s awesome piece on why college students should attend football games for the Daily Northwestern because it is better than anything I could write now or ever. SERIOUSLY CLICK HERE AND READ IT IF YOU DIDN’T CLICK THE LINK ABOVE. (We can see the stats on how many people view this post and how many people click that link. If the numbers aren’t even, you are doing yourself a disservice.)
Due to copyright laws we’re not allowed to just copy/paste the piece and stick it in here, but here’s a taste:
The tailgates and parties exist because of the games, yet our rare fall Saturdays are too much about the drinking and not enough about something which, even for non-football fans, offers a distinct sense of community, school pride and passion that another few hours of drinking can never touch. Those whom I am not-so-discreetly calling out will remember Saturday as another link in an endless chain of moderately enjoyable alcoholic experiences. I feel lucky to say that I will be a part of the small group that will remember Saturday with much more profundity and lasting value.
[Ed Matt: Read it.]
In games we picked last week:
- Purdue (+10.5) humanely euthanized Tim Beckman’s run at Illinois. It had to be done.
- Ole Miss (+6) made me look very stupid after I declared Alabama covering to be “FREE MONEY”.
- Northwestern (+9.5) took down Bucky and sits in first place in the Big Ten West (!!!!!).
- Georgia Tech (+2) stuck another nail in Al Golden’s coffin as Miami’s head coach.
- Nebraska (+8.5) rallied out of an enormous hole to almost take down Michigan State.
Here are the standings. Matt won last week and pulled within a game of me at the top, very much threatening my potential wire-to-wire victory this year. Bob is in a tough spot but only needs to make up six games with the majority of the season left.
Creed started tracking our record when the three of us all agree last week and I found it interesting so I’ll keep an official count here, as well as some other splits:
|We All Agree||7-10|
If you don’t care about the above table and would prefer I leave it out next week, you can kindly go eat a handful of poisonous frogs. What have we learned from the above chart? Bob has gone against the grain the most often (although as you’re about to read, I will pass him this week) and has lost a disproportionate amount of those games. Shockingly, it appears a good portion of bad luck has factored in to his record. That said, SCOREBOARD BOB IS DUMB. Here’s the peanut gallery:
Here are the five games this week. As usual, all lines come from Pinnacle and game times are eastern.
Illinois vs. Wisconsin (-25.5), Noon, ESPN2
Avert your eyes and #PrayForMatt.
Northwestern vs. Minnesota (-4), Noon, BTN
IT’S A TRAP! Northwestern is coming off two great wins and has a primetime showdown at home against Nebraska next week that could very well decide who wins the Big Ten West and get to lose to Michigan State or Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. TRAP TRAP TRAP.
Cincinnati vs. Miami (-14.5), Noon, ESPN3
Can’t wait until the empty stadium pictures circulate on Twitter for this one. Seriously, if you think those Illinois pictures are bad, flip this one on your television Saturday. Wait, it’s not even on TV? #goACC
#2 Auburn (-2.5) vs. #3 Mississippi State, 3:30, CBS
The 3:30 time slot this week is unfreakingbelievable. Two undefeated games with major playoff implications are coming. Here’s hoping you have access to two televisions. We’ll start with the showdown in Starkville, where College GameDay will post up and subsequently announce that it’s not leaving the state of Mississippi ever again and Katy Perry is replacing David Pollack as a regular.
#9 TCU vs. #5 Baylor (-8), 3:30, ABC/ESPN2
As an unabashed Baylor lover, at least I have something to root for the rest of this season aside from Al Golden getting fired and replaced by Greg Schiano. Let’s get to the picks.
Harry: I know Wisconsin’s not that good, but this is an unbelievably good rushing offense against Illinois’s defense and there’s no Wes Lunt for the Illini. You can’t make this line high enough for me. Wisconsin -25.5
Bob: Wisconsin should run the ball on just about every play. When they took the ball down by 6 at their own 20 with 30 seconds left and no timeouts against Northwestern last week, they probably had a better chance scoring if they had run the ball than thrown it. It’ll be hard to take them seriously until they can throw the ball at all. Wisconsin could very well have a “fuck you” game at home and just destroy Illinois, but that’s also a ton of points to be giving up. The statistics that point me to my decision here are pretty appalling: Illinois allowed 349 rushing yards and 551 total yards to Purdue at home last week. I think that equates to 983 yards for Melvin Gordon on Saturday. Wisconsin -25.5
Matt: The only way Illinois covers in this game is if Wisconsin beats themselves with throwing the ball too much and turning the ball over. Illinois would have to pull a Northwestern and win the turnover battle four-to-zero or better to have a shot in this one. I think Wisconsin keeps it on the ground and dominates this one. Wisconsin -25.5 (Wisconsin 52, Illinois 14)
Harry: IT’S A TRAP. Minnesota -4
Bob: I picked Northwestern almost every game last year and the first two weeks this year. I’m not sure if I was ever rewarded. The last two weeks, I picked against Northwestern, and not only did they cover, they beat Penn State and Wisconsin. I think the Wildcats are a legitimately solid team, but I’m still so scared that this is a trap game, as Harry keeps saying. Interesting thing I noticed in my weekly scrutiny of advanced statistics: Minnesota is 28th in S&P+ but just 57th in FEI, while Northwestern ranks 56th in S&P+ and 29th in FEI. Weird. If you look at every game result, Minnesota has failed to impress so far, so I’m going to say the Wildcats return to Evanston with a win over an inferior team, but I’d be lying if I were to say I’m not scared. Northwestern +4
Matt: I think these teams are just going to beat each other into submission with run after run after run after run after run. In our betting segment over at the Champaign Room, I said that this would be the most boring game of the weekend. That’s probably true. Both teams have solid defenses and dysfunctional offenses at best. I don’t know why exactly, but I hate Jerry Kill with a passion and hope the ‘Cats demolish the Gophers. Realistically, I think this one comes down to the wire. Northwestern +4 (Northwestern 20, Minnesota 17)
Harry: Okay, so Miami’s clearly not ready from primetime like Bob and I at least tentatively asserted last week, but this Cincinnati team is really, really bad (They lost 41-14 AT HOME TO MEMPHIS! MEMPHIS!) and will likely be without stud QB Gunner Kiel. I’ll confidently go with the ‘Canes. Miami -14.5
Bob: What Harry said. Cincinnati has been horrendous this year, and Miami should have no problem. Miami -14.5
Matt: If Gunner Kiel were playing, I’d probably take Cincy in this one. I don’t know too much about the Bearcats this year, but I do know that Illinois was able to blow them out of the water last year. Read that again— Illinois blew them out of the water last year. The ‘Canes takes this one with a margin of victory just over the spread. Miami -14.5 (Miami 34, Cincinnati 17)
Harry: Auburn is a great team, but you simply cannot justify picking against the Bulldogs as home underdogs. (Matt and/or Bob will probably try to anyway.) It’s insane that I get points picking MSU, but I’ll happily take them. Mississippi State +2.5
Bob: Getting 2.5 points is almost completely meaningless. I thought only Bill Simmons fell victim to seeing “favorites” and “underdogs” as pure binaries. This line is essentially even. Dak Prescott and friends have been awesome so far, but it’s hard to me to pick against Auburn after all they have done over the last year and a half. It’ll be interesting to see the two no-longer-so-improbable Heisman candidates Prescott and Nick Marshall face off. Auburn -2.5
Matt: I am going to use the always accurate transitive property to pick this one. Auburn made LSU look like a high school team and Mississippi State barely scraped out a win against the Tigers, almost blowing a big lead. Mississippi State’s offense pulled off an amazing performance to beat Texas A&M last week, but I don’t think they can continue it against Auburn. I’ll take Guz Malzahn on the road in a tight one. Auburn -2.5 (Auburn 38, Mississippi State 34)
Harry: Baylor did not look outstanding against a putrid Texas team last week while TCU was busy knocking off Oklahoma, so I think this line is a few points too low due to recency bias. I’ll happily take Baylor while laying fewer than 10 points. Baylor -8
Bob: Baylor has not proven to be trustworthy in big games + a terrible TCU team only lost by 3 to Baylor last year + TCU has been outstanding every single game this year + 8 points is a lot + there’s no clear reason to take either side here = TCU +8
Matt: This is a lot of puntos for two teams that seem fairly even given our expectations for them and their performances thus far this year. #analysis TCU +8 (Baylor 30, TCU 28)