Last week’s record: 3-3
I am not happy with my effort from last week, so I am looking to go 6-0 this week with some last-ditch conference standings moves to keep an eye out for this Saturday.
1st Pick: #16 Nebraska at #18 Michigan
(Saturday @ 12 p.m. ET on ESPN)
- No match-up this week features two teams as similar to each other as the Huskers and the Wolverines. Athletic quarterbacks, solid coaches, and two deflating losses apiece. While both sit at second in the Legends division, Nebraska has the better outside shot of overtaking Michigan State because of their head-to-head win against the Spartans. The Wolverines have one big advantage on their opponent this week: defense. If you solely look at the numbers, Michigan gives up a touchdown per game less than Nebraska. But, I am not completely sold on either of these defenses simply because of their allowances against tougher opponents. I am going with the team with more to play for and not the quarterback with the prettier throwing motion (Denard Robinson, by far). Taylor Martinez is more awkward at his position than Tim Tebow, but he runs like a gazelle. His legs will befuddle the Wolverine D and open up the secondary for an afternoon of trouble. Huskers win 27-24, and then pray for a Michigan State debacle.
2nd Pick: Southern Methodist at #11 Houston
(Saturday @ 3:30 p.m. ET)
- Another week went by and the Houston Cougars outlasted two more unbeaten teams on the path to an undefeated season. Unfortunately for the Conference USA frontrunners, both of those teams (Stanford and Boise State) remain directly ahead in the BCS standings. This treatment has become old hat for the average college football fan and the teams that want to be recognized by the BCS have toughened up their schedules. I will not sit here and justify Houston’s weak schedule for the voters, but I would like to point out that the Cougars have an average win margin of almost 32 ppg. On top of that, Case Keenum has passed for almost 4,000 yards already. They need to focus on the Mustangs and keep their imminent showdown with Tulsa off of their minds in order to avoid the fate of TCU. SMU has that impressive win over the Horned Frogs that Houston would kill for at this point. Yes, I put this game up just so I could talk about the best offense in the country for a second, but this is a dangerous game that could wipe out yet another BCS buster. Houston sets up the big game against Tulsa in big fashion, rolling 76-28 at home.
Upset Pick: #21 Penn State at Ohio State
(Saturday @ 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN)
- While Penn State’s quarterbacks are okay to play this week, their entire culture has been derailed following last week’s losses. Even in the face of the cruelest adversity, the Nittany Lions still find themselves ranked in the top 25 and on the losing end of my upset pick this week. They travel to Columbus to play a confusing Ohio State team who seemed to be rolling until last week’s overtime loss to Purdue. They are kicking themselves now as the conference picture shows a much closer race than first expected. Penn State seemed to have the Leaders division locked down, but they are one loss away from a championship showdown with Wisconsin at Camp Randall. They do not have the offensive firepower to go into the Shoe this week and outscore the Buckeyes. I think the young Braxton Miller leads his team to a 17-10 victory at home in the unofficial Bowl of Staggering Adversities.
4th Pick: #13 Kansas State at #23 Texas
(Saturday @ 8:00 p.m. ET on FX)
- You can blame Texas’ overrated status to its coinciding reveal of the ESPN Longhorn Network, and I will back up that statement by guaranteeing that Texas will end up 6-6 this season. Their QB controversy came to a head last week in a 17-5 loss to Mizzou as Mack Brown simply had to choose which young signal caller was not as terrible as the other once the fourth quarter rolled around. They are still rebuilding after the loss of Colt McCoy, and the media has completely ignored the Longhorns’ reality in the face of its sheer potential. That potential will do nothing against Collin Klein, who ran for five touchdowns against Texas A&M last week. I do not expect this game to get out of hand, but Texas’ inability to stick with a quarterback will leave them wishing for the days of Colt. Kansas State makes its case for the top 10 with a 31-20 victory on the road.
Stumbling Block Pick: Southern California at #4 Oregon
(Saturday @ 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC)
- I do not like Lane Kiffin at all, but it is hard not to root for a team that has played the way his Trojans have with nothing at stake. They have embraced the “house money” mindset and are having fun ruining their opponents’ conference chances. This week will be the biggest chance for USC to buzz-kill, but they will have to do against the hottest team in the loudest stadium in the nation. Oregon pumps its fist every time a top-10 squad loses and has positioned itself for a backdoor shot at the national title. The Ducks proved that they can get to an NFL quarterback last week against Stanford, and they will look to duplicate that effort this Saturday with Matt Barkley. I picked Oregon in Palo Alto because of their win streak and I am sticking with that choice in Week 12. The Ducks outlast the third quarter surge of USC with two LaMichael James touchdowns in the second half, winning 45-31.
Marquee Pick: #5 Oklahoma at #22 Baylor
(Saturday @ 8 p.m. ET on ABC)
- Primetime television this weekend pits the power of many against the power of one. While Oklahoma is a well-oiled machine that plays a brand of football that is easy to watch and appreciate, Robert Griffin III is arguably the most exciting player in the game of college football. His excellent running ability has actually taken a back seat to his uber-efficient passing skill. He can do it all…except take down Oklahoma in front of the entire nation. My problem with Baylor is not their offense (40.3 ppg) but with their abysmal defense (36 points allowed per game). That stat alone has the Sooners licking their chops as they have averaged almost 43 ppg on the road this season. I think that the RG3 will do his part and woo America, but Oklahoma will win the special teams battle en route to a 48-38 victory.