Don’t worry everybody, it was just rust. Or maybe jitters. The mediocrity of Week 1 was in no way an indication of a poor season to come. It was just a sluggish start.
I’m not talking about Georgia’s sluggish 45-23 win over Buffalo. I’m talking about my first round of picks, which were … sluggish. If you call going 5-10 against the spread “sluggish.” OK, it’s actually, to use a technical term from the legal world, bad.
But now that I’ve had a week to see everyone play, study their tendencies, and analyze their strengths, everything should be good from here on out. They say the biggest improvement for a college picker is from week one to week two.
So here we go.
As stated last week: These picks are made not for gambling purposes, just entertainment. (Often, merely my own.) I use the line provided by Vegasinsider.com. Some of the comments are analytical, some are attempts at wit, and some are just so I can get something off my chest.
Georgia (-2.5) at Missouri: It’s still kind of surprising that the line only moved a half-point in Missouri’s favor, considering it seems every analyst has been picking the Tiger upset. Which makes you wonder at which point it stops becoming an upset. My feeling is this will be a close game, and considering its depleted state, the Bulldogs will be happy to escape with any kind of win. As long as right tackle John Theus can go, and indications he will, Georgia should be able to score some points. For all the talk about Missouri’s spread offense and Georgia’s issues in the secondary, this game is likely to be decided in the trenches. If Georgia’s line can apply pressure to James Franklin, and if it’s offensive line can provide time for Aaron Murray and space for the tailbacks, the Bulldogs squeak through. Or maybe do more than squeak. Pick: Georgia covers.
Florida at Texas A&M (-10): So earlier in the week someone puts up a billboard in Gainesville, Fla., purporting to be an Aggie fan, saying that Gainesville had been “annexed by Aggie Nation, the best academics and cleanest program in the SEC. Real football. Real tradition.” Texas A&M wisely disclaimed any official connection to it, and the billboard was replaced. Media outlets point out A&M has had its share of NCAA run-ins, and actually is tied with Florida in the U.S. News rankings. Hey Aggies, false bravado and fact-twisting is a Big Ten thing. You’re in the SEC now: Buck up and start slandering other team's fans on Finebaum! Pick: Florida covers, Texas A&M wins.
Vanderbilt (-3.5) at Northwestern: Yeah, also that Aggie claim about being having the best academics in the SEC … the visiting team in this game might have a slight quibble with that. Pick: Vanderbilt covers.
East Carolina at South Carolina (-21): Weird fact of the week: East Carolina has won the last two times in Williams-Brice. That’s also very much an irrelevant fact of the week. Pick: South Carolina covers.
Washington at LSU (-24): The Huskies brought in a live tiger to practice this week, in anticipation of playing in Baton Rouge with its live tiger. So clearly, other teams are missing out in game prep for Georgia by not bringing in an English Bulldog. This was clearly a wise choice of taxpayer money by the Washington football program, and when Mike the Tiger leaps out of his lair and attacks the Huskies in pregame warmups, they will be prepared. Pick: Washington covers, LSU wins.
Auburn at Mississippi State (-3): Dan Mullen, the MSU head coach, is still looking for his first win over an SEC West team not named Ole Miss. And then you’ve got the fact that Mullen and Auburn have some, er, history, dating back to that whole Cam Newton thing. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a vitally important game. Someone has to finish fifth in the West, right? Pick: Mississippi State covers.
Western Kentucky at Alabama (-39): Willie Taggart, the Western Kentucky head coach, said that Alabama had enough talent to be the NFL’s next expansion team. He’s right, assuming the NFL gives its next expansion team about six first-round picks and 20 in the first three rounds. Anyway, having just written that sentence, Nick Saban just ripped me a new one, so I better go deal with that for a second. Pick: Western Kentucky covers, Alabama wins.
Kent State at Kentucky (-6.5): OK, I’m back. Kentucky still playing football? Just for a few more weeks, you say, until Midnight Madness? OK, check back in then. Pick: Kentucky covers.
UTEP at Ole Miss (-8.5): It’s going to take Hugh Freeze awhile to rebuild this mess. If he ever does. Pick: UTEP covers, Ole Miss wins.
Miami at Kansas State (-7): Remember when the NCAA was going to shut down the Miami football program because of the rogue booster paying everybody? Um …. Pick: Kansas State covers.
Penn State at Virginia (-10): Al Pacino has signed to play Joe Paterno in a movie about the Jerry Sandusky scandal. And I’m sure actors are LINING UP for the chance to play Sandusky. Pick: Virginia covers.
Southern Cal (-26) at Syracuse: USC head coach Lane Kiffin describes his QB Matt Barkley as being “California Cool.” Assuming he wasn’t referring to the wildfires. Pick: Syracuse covers, USC wins.
UCF at Ohio State (-18): George O’Leary said on his radio show Thursday that Ohio State’s stadium wasn’t loud, that fans “sit on their hands in that stadium.” A day later he back-tracked, blaming the “typical media” for blowing it out of proportion, because of course it’s the media’s fault for, ya know, quoting people. Pick: Ohio State covers.
Ball State at Clemson (-27.5): Sammy Watkins is still suspended, but Mark Richt hasn’t confirmed that yet either. Pick: Clemson covers.
Maryland at Temple (-10): If I occasionally seem angry and bitter, keep in mind that that my alma mater is the team favored to lose by double digits to Temple. Pick: Temple covers.
Last week: 5-10 vs. spread, 10-5 overall