Welcome back to Don’t Call It A Picks Competition, our weekly column where Matt, Bob and Harry pick five college football games against the spread and make appalling jokes at pretty much everyone’s expense. As always, you’re invited to pick with us in the comment section, and we’ll post the standings each week.

Harry is currently too (legally!) intoxicated to contribute to the first week of DCIAPC, so I (Matt) have commandeered the column, if this mess of text can even truly be called that. This is in spite of having actual real things to do that will help me progress through life, while Harry is too busy trying to hook up with female Miami freshmen at some place called “the rat” to GAF about the fourth-year renewal of the DCIAB crew’s brotherly bond. It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that Miami has gotten to his head again.

A lot has changed since we last ran DCIAPC. I took over as the editor of The Daily Illini’s Opinions section, continuing my nearly unbelievable stretch of white-privilege-aided tumbling upward into leadership roles (that’s a mouthful). Bob continued on his standard genius guy path toward fame and fortune with a summer internship at some place called IRI, which I can only imagine stands for “Intelligent and Rich dudes Incorporated.” Harry spent his whole summer plotting the best possible course of action to (respectfully!) procure freshmen women and also maybe working insane hours at the ESPN radio station in Miami.

We’re all seniors at our respective schools now, which is perhaps the most depressing thing I’ve ever written. Next spring, all of this will go away and we’ll begin our real lives.

Bob, as a mostly-happy *insert financial sector-based, prestigious job here* with a long-term girlfriend and nothing but success on the horizon, until he one day settles down and teaches a class on the economics and history of European soccer at Northwestern like the boring-ass guy he is.

Harry, as a slick-haired public relations and/or communications specialist with connections in the sports world, whose coworkers often feel like his relationship with his boss’s daughter seems a little bit *too* close.

And me, as a former journalism major with no cash, no job, and no hope, living off the hard work of my beloved engineer girlfriend and rarely leaving the couch for more than another pack of Cheetos.

This is college football season. This is the premiere of DCIAPC Season Four. Welcome back.

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Last season recap:

  • After all 16 weeks of DCIAPC last season, Harry and Matt were tied for the lead and searched for a tiebreaker. We eventually settled on the national title game.
  • Matt was COMPLETELY ROBBED of a co-title, as Harry badgered him into choosing Alabama against the spread in the national title game when Matt’s heart said Clemson. Clemson would then come back and beat the spread on a back-door-cover-that-wasn’t-quite-a-back-door-cover-but-c’mon-,-they’d-already-lost-at-that-point, giving Harry the season victory.
  • Bob still sucks.
  • In cool news, the all-time DCIAPC Championship counter is now deadlocked at one apiece for our three heroes. We are nothing if not equal in our idiocy. This season will break the tie.

There’s one thing you have to know about this year’s race, folks: it begins as it ended last season. Still tighter than Stephen Piscotty’s buttcheeks with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth.

Season Last Season
Harry 0-0  45-39
Matt 0-0  44-40
Bob 0-0  43-41

Here’s a look at the splits (I’m leaving this in because it would be a pain to re-insert it later. Coincidentally, that’s also something Harry might find himself saying sometime tonight):

We All Agree  0-0
Bob Alone 0-0
Harry Alone  0-0
Matt Alone  0-0

And the peanut gallery. Last season’s winner was a late-charging Andrew Kelley after beloved commenter Creed Tucker lost his long-held lead at the last moment. He ended up tied with D.P. for third, so major props to D.P. for a great picking season.

Elsewhere on the board, Mike crept up the standings and somehow finished in second by being decidedly average. It’s worthwhile to note that this strategy worked well in part because you all really suck. Even we did better picking games than you idiots last season (a stark contrast to season two, when the peanut gallery consistently topped us).

Speaking of suckitude, what’s up, Julian and Jacob? Try and remember that you guys got into Northwestern this year. There must be a brain in there somewhere. Surely something better than this prediction from Jacob heading into last year’s bowl season:

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 1.54.30 PM
Remember to comment below with the place you’re “smelling” this season.

These numbers might not be exact because I hastily calculated them to get this up as early as possible. Deal with it.

Winning Percentage Season Record Last Season
Andrew Kelley .000 0-0 27-23
Mike .000 0-0 22-21
Creed Tucker .000 0-0 27-26
Drew .000 0-0 27-26
Bobby .000 0-0 25-28
Julian .000 0-0 20-23
Jacob Altstadt .000 0-0 18-25

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Here is this week’s slate. As always, game times are eastern and on Saturday except Florida State/Ole Miss. We’re not picking the Miami game nor the Illinois game because their athletic directors paid small schools to come get an ass-whupping. Also, Harry’s absence gives me an opportunity to impersonate him, so the thoughts accompanying his picks are actually me.

Western Michigan at Northwestern (-5), Noon, ESPNU

I spent a lot of time on the rest of this article, so these sections are gonna be pretty bleak. Western Michigan comes into this game on a major rise, with coach PJ Fleck recruiting his pants off. Seriously, the Broncos have pulled in classes better than Illinois the last couple years. That may not be the biggest feat, but it’s certainly something. Northwestern is every Pat Fitzgerald team under Northwestern. Either they suck or they suck but they win a lot.

Matt: Here’s a heads-up: essentially all of my picks this edition are going to be largely based on the statistical leanings of Bill Connelly’s S&P+ advanced rankings formula. This is week one. I admittedly can’t bring myself to follow the whims of 17-year-old recruits, and thus don’t know too much about how each program changes or evolves during the offseason. In other words, I know my biases (referring to both my statistical inclinations and my team-based favoritism), and I’m sticking to them for now. One such bias is that Northwestern secretly sucks, and did last year as well, but the numbers say this is close. I’ll give the Wildcats the benefit of the doubt here against a perky Western Michigan team. Napswestern-5

Bob: Welp, we’re kicking off another season of DCIAPC by diving right into our weekly Northwestern pick that reminds us we know as much as Futurama Fry regarding the Wildcats’ quality. With Keith Watkins going down, I worry about Northwestern’s secondary opposite Matthew Harris, and they will be tested right away by Western Michigan’s legitimately good offensive attack. With Harris on star wide receiver Corey Davis and solid players across the defense, I think the Northwestern defense has a slight edge. On the other side of the ball, the Broncos’ defense is bottom-twenty in FBS, and its weak rush defense should mean a big day for Justin Jackson and the Wildcats’ running game. I feel shaky picking this Northwestern offense to win by more than four points in a week one game full of uncertainty, but I am fairly confident Northwestern will win without a major scare. Northwestern -5

Harry: The lack of hazing in Northwestern fraternities disgusts me. If you aren’t smashing a fellow pledge brother’s testicles up into his abdomen with a sledgehammer, you just aren’t fostering true brotherhood. At AYY-EEE-PAI Miami, I personally consumed multiple live goldfish and upwards of 40 shots over two days. For our last pledge class, I bought a mutated ant farm and made them eat one a day in the name of love. I joined in too; it’s part of my recent protein and workout grind. In the winter, our entire brotherhood travels to a remote lodge at Chernobyl ground zero and plays chicken with radiation poisoning. I grew a third boob last January. No fucking regrets. DAAAA UUUUUUUU.  Western Michigan +5

#3 Oklahoma (-11.5) vs. #12 Houston, Noon, ABC

This game is being played at NRG Stadium in Houston. The Houston Cougars are coming off one of the best seasons in team history, while Oklahoma is seeking a return to the national title game yet again under Bob Stoops.

Matt: I’ve been a Tom Herman fanboy for years now, ever since it seemed like there was just the slightest chance that he could come to Illinois. Then, Illinois extended Bill Cubit. Nice. His Houston team was undoubtedly great last season, but like most surprising teams (*cough Northwestern*), the Cougars were helped by good luck in close games (won 3 of their biggest games by a combined 7 points) and a schedule meticulously crafted by the good people at Sprinkles Cupcakes. Houston absolutely showed up against Florida State in its bowl game, and they’ll give it a shot against Oklahoma. But I’ll take BIG GAME BAWB STERPS and the Sooners to win by two touchdowns and officially shove the first few rocks of coal in the furnace of their hype train. Oklahoma -11.5

Bob: Houston has been THE school on every college football writer’s lips over the past eight months, yet, advanced statistics make Houston look like just another Group of Five school. You also may recall that I constantly proclaimed Houston as overrated last year and picked against it in big games, which I ended up getting wrong for one stupid reason or another. Though not nearly as dominant as Oklahoma, Houston is still a quality football team, and I expect Greg Ward and friends to put up some points. Still, I struggle to see how Houston’s solid offense against a decent defense will keep up with Oklahoma’s insanely good offense against Houston’s bad defense, which replaces its entire secondary from 2015. I don’t like giving up this many points in week one to a good team, but Oklahoma could be scary good this year, while Houston can’t escape its “for a Group of Five school” qualifier. Oklahoma -11.5

Harry: Remember those Oklahoma fraternity brothers who sang a really racist song a while back and got expelled? That’s exactly the kind of ridiculous overreaction that Social Justice Warriors (people with “feelings”) are forcing organizations and schools into these days. This new era of safe spaces (why the fuck would you ever want a place to psychologically recover from a traumatic incident) and political correctness (if you’re not hurting a minority’s feelings, you’re just not living hard enough IMO) is disgusting. You can tell I’m right about people caring too much about each other’s feelings by just how insulted and bothered it makes me. And you know those people are all overreacting, too. Everything is fine for minorities in our country — that’s why I never ever complain about government actions or media coverage being biased against Jewish people. Houston +11.5

#6 LSU (-11.5) vs. Wisconsin, 3:30, ABC

LSU and Wisconsin would’ve looked like a much more exciting game a couple years ago, when the Badgers didn’t have a deformed potato in their head coaching position. This one’ll be played at Lambeau though, so no matter who wins, the Bears will lose.

Matt: I TELL YA WHAT, THERE’S NO WAY THESE TIGERS CAN COME UP TO LAMBOH AND TAKE DOWN THE BAAADGERS. LES MILES AND THIS LENNERD FOURNETTE GUY DON’T STAND A CHANCE IN PAAACKERS WEATHER. (It’s pretty rare that A FAN OF DUH BEARZ gets the chance to sport a mocking accent so I went for a light Canadian. Sue me.) LSU -11.5

Bob: LSU will be very good this year, and Wisconsin will be off the national radar by October after starting 2-5 or 3-4. The latter part of that is irrelevant to this pick, but I think Wisconsin will struggle to keep up with LSU. It’s hard to give up this many points considering LSU’s offense relies on the run so heavily and Wisconsin’s front seven is its key strength, but LSU looks a class above Wisconsin. LSU -11.5

Harry: Let’s talk about females. The first thing you need to understand about women is that the attractive ones all attend the University of Miami. If you go to some shoddy school like Wisconsin or Illinois, you’re what I’d call “Midwest hot.” That’s the equivalent of 2.5 banana hammocks on the extensive rating system my frat bros and I developed while chugging Fratty Lights on the beach a couple years back (I’m in a frat). Pitiful. And no, things like “personality” and “intelligence” don’t matter in this space. If I wanted to interact with high-functioning human beings, I wouldn’t be in Coral Gables right now. Wisconsin +11.5

#19 USC vs. #2 ROLL TIDE (-12.5), 8:00, ABC

Tradition: ROOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLL TIIIIIIIIIIIIIDDDDEEEEEEE. (This game is at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.)

Matt: I’ll continue to bet against USC until the team proves itself even remotely worthy of an ounce of hype. Alabama has been preparing for this all summer. That typically doesn’t end well for the opponent. ROLL TIDE -12.5

Bob: A large portion of my brain thinks this will be one of those games that we have seen plenty of times in which Alabama completely trounces its opponent from the start, but the offensive turnover for the Tide coupled with the chaos factors of USC playmakers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Adoree’ Jackson as well as a new coach in town make me inclined to take the points. USC +12.5

Harry: I want to ADDRESS this issue.You KNOW I am sensitive to victims of black-on-black gang violence. BUT! ROLL TIDE -12.5

#14 Ole Miss vs. #4 Florida State (-5), 8:00 Monday night, ESPN

The Rebels and Seminoles will play at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Both have high hopes for this season. Ole Miss has somehow clawed out wins against Alabama in consecutive years, and Florida State will battle Clemson for the ACC title yet again. With a little luck, these are two pretty likely CoFoPoff contenders.

Matt: I view this as a complete tossup with the spread. I’ll take Ole Miss mostly because I always seem to lose when I bet against them. Mississippi +5

Bob: In a stacked first weekend of football, we have to wait until Monday for what appears the best matchup. I would take the points no matter who is getting them in this game, especially with the spread at 5. Mississippi +5

Harry: You know that cousin of yours who’s just insanely attractive and you’re pondering the consequences of hitting it? My family has a couple — one’s 14 and the other 16. There’s a lot that goes into deciding whether or not to make moves on someone who has the same blood flowing through her veins as you. For one thing, it’s a least 60 percent likely that somebody that attractive couldn’t possibly have come from your family tree. If they’re adopted, they’re acceptable, I always say. Illicit extramarital affair? Even better. Luckily, I’ve never acted on these feelings. Wish I could say the same for the good people who attend Ole Miss, 90 percent of whom are white relatives from the south just two generations away from hemophilia (the other 10 percent are talented black athletes who descended from their slaves).  FSU -5

Remember to leave your picks in the comments! Enjoy the return of our greatest sport.

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