9.30.2008

News & Notes

*Just when you thought Georgia’s injury situation couldn't get any worse, there's this. Running back Knowshon Moreno suffered a severely bruised elbow against Alabama and might have to miss the game against Tennessee in two weeks.

Tight end Tripp Chandler is also doubtful for the Tennessee game due to an aggravating shoulder problem. He also has an aggravating habit of dropping passes, but that’s another story. Backup tight end Bruce Figgins didn’t play against Alabama thanks to a separated shoulder that will likely require surgery. That leaves redshirt freshman Aron White and converted tackle Kiante Tripp to man the position in their absence.

If that isn’t enough, stud linebacker Dannell Ellerbe injured his knee in the first quarter against Alabama. Mark Richt said he “has an outside shot to play in the next game,” but he won’t be 100%.

*Cal running back Jahvid Best dislocated his elbow in the third quarter against Colorado State so he’ll be out of this week’s game against Arizona State. His 215.5 all-purpose yards per game (#3 nationally) will be missed, especially now that Jeff Tedford is giving Nate Longspare another chance to win the starting quarterback job.

*Undefeated UConn will be without their starting quarterback for at least the next 6 weeks. Tyler Lorenzen broke his foot against Louisville and will be replaced in the lineup by Zach Frazier. That means you can expect running back Donald Brown to continue getting the ball 30 times a game for the next several weeks. Tight end Steve Brouse is also expected to miss the next 6-8 weeks due to a broken leg.

*Thanks to Jonathan Crompton’s awful play so far this season, Phil Fulmer has opened up the quarterback job at Tennessee. Crompton was 8/23 for 67 yards against Auburn last week, and has only thrown 2 touchdown passes all season (both against lowly UAB). Nick Stephens will get more opportunities in practice and will probably see significant action against Northern Illinois in the hopes that one of the quarterbacks will step up in time to lead the offense against Georgia in two weeks.

*Cincinnati Heisman candidate and Pikes Picks favorite Tony Pike broke his left (non-throwing) forearm against Akron. Luckily he will probably only miss the next two games, which means redshirt freshmen Zach Collaros and Chazz Anderson only have to hold down the fort against Marshall and Rutgers until Pike gets back for the matchup with UConn at the end of October.

*Colorado lost starting offensive tackle Ryan Miller for the season. Miller suffered a broken left fibula in the loss to Florida State and will apply for a medical redshirt for this season. That doesn’t leave Colorado in good shape up front against a Texas team that racked up 7 sacks a week ago.

*Washington quarterback Jake Locker suffered a broken right thumb against Stanford and will probably miss the next 6-8 weeks recovering. Ronnie Fouch will start in his place as Washington looks to avoid their first 0-5 start in 39 years. One interesting note: Locker has expressed interest in playing another position once he has a cast for his right (throwing) hand if it will help out the team. You can’t question the guy’s heart, that’s for sure.

ACL Festival Weekend

As I mentioned, I attended the Austin City Limits Music Festival this weekend down at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. It’s funny, at a music festival like this you can pretty much directly correlate the lameness of the band with how many times they shout out or work the name of the host city into the lyrics of their songs (I’m talking to you Xavier Rudd). It’s also funny that crowds never cease to respond to this transparent ploy with a hearty “Woooo! That’s where I live!!”

Anyway, I went to the festival with my lady, Holley, and we saw a handful of fairly diverse acts this weekend. Some were good, some weren’t so good, and others defied description. Here’s a recap of what I saw.

FRIDAY

The first couple of bands we saw were Mates of State and Jenny Lewis. Mates of State played a lot of stuff from their new album that wasn’t nearly as bouncy and obnoxiously keyboard-tastic as their older stuff. They also incorporated a violin and cello which gave some much needed warmth to their music. All in all, a nice little surprise to start the festival.

The always adorable Jenny Lewis impressed me with her vocals. I had no idea her voice was that spot-on live. She had just the right amount of twang to shine over her band’s authentic but somewhat generic brand of Americana.

We only caught two full sets, but they came from polar opposite ends of the spectrum. The Swell Season is the band that formed out of the movie Once, which if you haven’t seen I highly recommend. Glen Hansard is a ham and he writes nice soaring ballads that everyone can sing along to. That led to some cheesiness during the set, but overall it was good.

The Mars Volta on the other hand avoided cheesiness in favor or total awesomeness interspersed with random acts of extended wankery. Watching Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala work their magic is like watching a more avant garde version of Page & Plant in their prime. Their chemistry allows them to feed off each other and steer the band off course on a whim. The Volta play with outstanding energy, which allowed them enough momentum to propel through ten minute pools of saxophone and drum solos back into perfect chaos several times throughout the night. Rodriguez-Lopez is a phenomenal guitarist, but chances are 95% of you reading this would hate this band.

SATURDAY

We had to get up "early" on Saturday to go see Fleet Foxes play at 12:30 pm, but they definitely made it worth our while. Not only did they play their excellent folksy Appalachian music well, the lush harmonies were excellent live, and they provided a comedy show in between songs as well. This was probably the highlight of my weekend. I can’t recommend Fleet Foxes enough.

After Fleet Foxes there was a lot of waiting around in the hot hot sun waiting for another act we wanted to see. We heard a little Drive-By Truckers while knocking down some barbecue from the Salt Lick. I have a soft spot in my heart for southern guitar rock (especially while consuming brisket), so I sort of like Patterson Hood’s outfit. But the Truckers, who have multiple songwriters, can veer off into the lame zone quickly when not performing Hood’s songs.

We also accidentally caught a couple songs from Man Man’s set while walking over to get a spot for Erykah Badu. Man Man was easily the worst band I heard all weekend long. I don’t even know how to describe their music other than just to tell you to look at this picture and imagine what kind of ridiculous music a tool like that would play. Sometimes I wonder if hipsters even listen to the bands they hype?

Erykah Badu put on a great show. Her hair was as huge as ever and she even gave a shout out to My Morning Jacket before playing “Tyrone”, a song that MMJ covered. Badu’s confidence and stage presence is second to none, and we were treated to a new song called “Soldier” that was as good as anything else she played. At 36 she’s still got it.

To cap the night I took in the always reliable Black Keys. Patrick and Dan put on a great show full of raw energy Saturday night. For some reason they only got a 45 minute set though, so it felt like they were just getting started when the final fuzzed out riff of “I Got Mine” sounded and they walked off stage.

SUNDAY

We took some time off in the morning to recharge the batteries (and do a little studying) for the final day of the festival. The first band we saw was Silversun Pickups at 4:30 pm. The Pickups aren’t good live. Singer Brian Aubert’s penchant for screaming during the choruses can be glossed over in the studio, but live it’s impossible to control. From afar you may have thought somebody was getting beaten to a bloody pulp on stage. Not pretty.

Gnarles Barkley was great. This is a band that can put on a great live show with a lot of diversity. In their one hour they covered more styles and tempos of music than most bands could hope to accomplish in a career. They even closed the set with a cover of Radiohead’s “Reckoner”, which fit in so comfortably that it took me a moment to realize it wasn’t a song of their own.

To close out the night we took in back to back performances by Band of Horses and Foo Fighters. Band of Horses is a personal favorite of mine so there was little they could do to not be good. They played their songs well and Ben Bridwell’s tenor sounded every bit as comforting live as it does recorded. I particularly enjoyed him shouting “WOOO!!” in between every song. You could tell the guy was enjoying himself up there playing for all us “kind folks”.

The Foo Fighters were as expected. Dave Grohl is a born performer so it’s really no surprise he has now been in two bands of this magnitude. The band played all their hit songs and thrashed about the stage enthusiastically enough to send the crowd home in a good mood. And now we're all addicted to Sweet Leaf Tea...

All photos courtesy of the ACL Festival official website.

Week Five Results

Phew. All those upsets sure threw a wrench in my 85% picking accuracy for the season. Brent on the other hand took this opportunity to hurdle right over the 50% mark against the spread.

B.PIKE

Against The Spread
Thu-Fri Games: 3-0 (100%)
Saturday
: 23-21-1 (52.2%)

Week Five Total: 26-21-1 (55.2%)
SEASON TOTAL: 111-106-4 (51.1%)

J.PIKE

Straight Up
Top 25 Picks: 8-9 (47.1%)
Under the Radar: 2-2 (50%)
Picks for Breakfast: 10-2 (83.3%)

Week Five Total: 20-13 (60.6%)
SEASON TOTAL: 120-31 (79.5%)

Against The Spread
Locks: 3-1 (75%)
Other Picks: 3-4 (42.9%)

Week Five Total: 6-5 (54.5%)
SEASON TOTAL: 31-24 (56.4%)
SEASON TOTAL ("Locks"): 15-9 (62.5%)

Upset Picks
Upsets called: 1/2 (50%) - Northwestern over Iowa
Warned 1 upset (Maryland over Clemson)
SEASON TOTAL: 3/8 (37.5%)


Ugly ugly ugly. There's no other way to describe it. Both of us went 2-5 in the 7 on 7 Drills for Week Five. This can't possibly happen again, can it? Let's hope not.



1. Central Michigan 27, Buffalo 25
Jason: Buffalo
Brent: Buffalo
2. Florida State 39, Colorado 21
Jason: Colorado
Brent: Colorado
3. #13 Auburn 14, Tennessee 12
Jason: Auburn
Brent: Tennessee
4. Notre Dame 38, Purdue 21
Jason: Purdue
Brent: Notre Dame
5. Virginia Tech 35, #22 Nebraska 30
Jason: Nebraska
Brent: Nebraska
6. #8 Penn State 38, #19 Illinois 24
Jason: Penn State
Brent: Penn State
7. #11 Alabama 41, #2 Georgia 30
Jason: Georgia
Brent: Georgia

WEEK FIVE RESULTS
Jason 2-5 (28.6%)
Brent 2-5 (28.6%)

SEASON TOTALS
Jason 21-14 (60%)
Brent 19-16 (54.3%)

9.29.2008

BP Week 6 POLL

Well the College Football Snow Globe got tossed and turned this weekend and I love every minute of it. I hope there is 10 teams with two losses this year so the BCS can be busted. Well lets take a look at the wreckage and who holds the #1 spot.


1. Oklahoma (4-0) Beat TCU 35-10 Next up: at Baylor
Oklahoma took care of business and now is the new #1 team. Sam Bradford and Co. are humming, he passed for 411 and Manuel Johnson reeled in 206 of them. Next on the chopping block is Baylor and QB Robert Griffin, my partner alerted me to this speciman and he doesn't disappoint. He almost beat UCONN up north and the Huskies play tough up there. If Oklahoma decides to look ahead to the Red River it could be stung......Not going to happen, OU will make them look like Baylor.
Pike Stat: Last year OU held Baylor to -48 rushing and is currently 17-0 against them.

2. Missouri(4-0) IDLE Next up: @ Nebraska
Missouri was IDLE last week but got good rest for its rivalry game against the children of the corn. Daniel and Maclin are in another world right now and this will be the only test they have had since the opener at Illinois. This is a start of a stretch of games that include Oklahoma St and a trip to Austin, so starting it off on the right foot against the Huskers will be paramount to stay with the Sooners.
Pike Stat: Pinkel after last years game said " it was the most complete game as we've had played in a long time." He may say that again after this one. GO HUSKERS!!!


3. Penn St (5-0) Beat # 18 Illinois 38-24 Next up: at Purdue
The Nittany Lions beat the best team they have played so far and bottled up the Juice in a night game in Happy Valley. Derrick Williams is a hoss, he ran, caught a pass and returned a 94 yarder. JP has had Penn St nailed all year and I am finally a believer. The Lions visit Overrated city and the mayor Curtis Painter. The Lions will push Painter to the bench and firmly puts the burner under Tiller.
Pike Stat: Penn St is 9-3-1 against Purdue and last year had a season high 29 1st downs. That could be broken this year. Painter sux!

4. Alabama (5-0) Beat #3 Georgia 41-30 Next up: Kentucky
This maybe a little low for Bama who have dismantled everyone they have seen so far. You have to give it to Saban he has them focused and they are smashing everyone. Do you think Saban misses Ricky Williams? They went into Athens last week and like Zeus took out the Chimera(Bulldogs). Bama scored on its first 5 possessions and the JP Wilson is playing really well. He passed for 205 and a TD, Julio Jones caught 94 of them, and Glenn Coffee added 2 scores. The 30 Georgia scored came in garbage time, very impressive win for the Crimson Tide.
Pike Stat: Bama is 33-2-1 all time vs the Wildcat, even though Kentucky comes in undefeated they will not have upset on the menu in Tuscaloosa.


5. LSU (4-0) Beat Mississippi St 34-24 Next up: IDLE
LSU continued its strong play by beating the JP darling Miss St. Jarrett Lee is really starting to impress me and make me forget what could have been with Perrilloux. Charles Scott continued his consistentcy by turning in his 4th consecutive game over 100 yards rushing. LSU will use the by week to get ready for the reeling Gators in the swamp.

6. Texas (4-0) Beat Arkansas 52-10 Next up: @ Colorado
Damn them horns, they keep just blowing the doors off of everyone and have beaten 3 teams by the score of 52-10(Arkansas, Florida Atlantic, Rice). Colt McCoy has been playing lights out so far and contributed 5 TD's against the PetrinoBacks. If he keeps playing like the Heisman train may show up. Up next is there toughest opponett so far in a trip to Boulder to face the Buffs. This will be closer then most think but the Horns should pull it out.
Pike Stat: Texas in their last six against the Buffs are 5-1.


7. Ohio St. (4-1) Beat Minnesota 34-21 Next up: @ #23 Wisconsin
Ohio St beat a very much improved Gopher squad and it was the return of the Beanie Wells show with 106 yards and Terrelle Pryor scored twice to secure the victory. Jim Tressel and Frank Beamer need to get together and compare notes....Mobile QB's not Statues win football games. Not to say that if Terrelle Pryor would have started they would have beaten USC, but c'mon. Well get to Tyrod later. A statement game looms this week and could restore all that was lost in Southern California. The Badgers are coming of a killer loss to the young Wolves, looks like the look ahead factor was in full effect in that one. Beanie and Terrelle should take care of the badger.
Pike Stat: OSU rallied last year scoring 28 straight in the second half to win 38-17, they also had 10 sacks. (Vernon Gholston with 4)

8. USF (5-0) Beat NC St 41-10 Next up: Pittsburgh
Like I had predicted, USF made a statement against the Wolfpack and thumped in Raleigh. Matt Grothe continued to impress by throwing for 259 and he completed his first 11 passes, if he continues this type of play, Mr Heisman could be at the door. This week they play a improving Pitt team that has won 3 straight since the Green bowled them over. USF better not be looking to the bye per Pitt has been needing a statement game badly and this could be it.
PIKE STAT: Last year USF was down 14-7 and rallied to win 48-37 at Heinz field, mainly because of 3 turnovers.

9. Georgia (4-1) Lost #11 Alabama 30-41 Next up: IDLE
Can't penalize the Dogs too much per they have played a decent non conference, and Bama is really good and maybe was rated way lower then they actually were. Although the young pups on the OL got schooled in this one and the Dawgs will have a bye week to think about what potentially what could have been.

10. BYU (4-0) IDLE Next up: @ Utah St.
Well the Cougars allowed the same amount of points as they have the last two weeks being idle. They will try to do it again against the High School team Utah St. Next toughest game for BYU is 10/16 at TCU. Their schedule will hurt BYU BCS chances but if the upsets keep coming they maybe right in line.
PIKE STAT: BYU has won 8 straight against this High School.

11. Utah (5-0) Beat Weber St 37-21 Next up: Oregon St.
The Utes played down to their opponet by letting Chris Weber St score two TD's late to make the score look closer then it actually was. They line up against the world Beater Beavers this week and should be their toughest team they have played since the opener at the Big House. Oregon St is playing really well and this will show if the Utes belong.
PIKE STAT: Utah is 4-9-1 vs the Beav, but have won 3 of the last 5. QB Brian Johnson was hurt in last years loss 24-7.

12. Auburn (4-1) Beat Tennessee 14-12 Next up: @ #16 Vanderbuilt
We have a Kodi Burns sighting, and despite Tony Franklin the Tigers come up with the win. Please give Tuberville the directions to Tressel and Beamers party and LET THE MOBILE QB PLAY!! Next up is the upstart Commodores and Chris Nickson. Vandy will be looking to prove they deserve the ranking, but Kodi Burns will keep improving and should lead them to the win.
PIKE STAT: Auburn has won 13 straight against Vandy.

13. USC (2-1) Lost to Oregon St 21-27 Next up: Oregon
Corvallis........That is all I need to say. I am not going to penalize USC by not ranking them per they throttled Ohio St., but they now can't expect to just show up and the other team forfeits. I love when a finesse team gets punched in the mouth. This is still a good football team and will need to prove something against the Ducks to ensure this was a fluke. Fab Frosh Joe McKnight was held to 10 yards.
PIKE STAT: Last year Sanchez thru a late interception allowing the Ducks to prevail, hmmm that sounds familiar....

14. Texas Tech (4-0) IDLE Next up: @ Kansas St.
Well the Red Raider preseason is finally over and now they face a actual team in K-St., a trip to Manhatten will show if this Tech team is for real. We shall see.
PIKE STAT: Tech has won 3 straight but the home team is 7-2 in this series.

15. Kansas (3-1) IDLE Next up: @ Iowa St.
Big 12 play starts with a trip to Ames, Kansas must take care of the Cyclones per the meat of the Big 12 is coming up.
PIKE STAT: Home team has won 5 of the last 6.

16. Vanderbuilt (4-0) IDLE Next up: #12 Auburn
With all the losses this weekend, Vandy vaults in the rankings in the bye week and has a ton to prove this week with Kodi Burns and Co coming to Nashville. This is potentially Vandy's biggest game in the last 5 years and could confirm they belong in the poll. Call Lionel Richie and all the other Commodores for this one they will need them.
PIKE STAT: History has not been kind to Vandy as they have lost the last 13 to Auburn by a average of 37-7.

17. Florida (3-1) Lost to Ole Miss 30-31 Next up: @ Arkansas
Florida has a better QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, DB, K, P, then Ole Miss the only thing they are missing is a extra point blocker. The Rebs bring the shocker to the swamp and wipe the smugness off of Urban Meyer. Former longhorn Jevan Snead looked like Colt McCoy and took down the Gators. I still can't believe it. But I can't punish the Gators to the unranked per they are just to talented.
PIKE STAT: Florida is 6-1 against the Razorbacks, but with Petrino at the helm, the Gators will make a statement in this one.

18. Maryland (4-1) Beat #17 Clemson 20-17 Next up: @ Virginia
Well Ralph "Jabba II" has finally figured out his QB situation with Chris Turner leading the charge. This is the second straight time Maryland has beat the Tiger in Death Valley and may have crushed the story book for Tommy Bowden. Watch out for "The Hyphen" Darrius Heyward-Bey, check these stats: 6 rush attempts 186 yards, and this guy is a WR(12 receptions 250 yards, 3TD's) = STUD
PIKE STAT: Maryland is a suprising 4-12 in their last 16 against the Cavs, but no Chris Long and QB issues will lead to a long day for Al Groh.

19. Virginia Tech (4-1) Beat #24 Nebraska 35-30 Next up: W Kentucky
Sean Glennon 0-1, Superman takes off his red shirt and reels off 4 straight wins! Tyrod Taylor is for real. What was Beamer thinking, well he wasn't. This team is very young and is just starting to hit its stride watch out ACC. They beat a improved Nebraska Team and Tyrod looked like he was at another gear.
PIKE STAT: Virginia Tech has won 27 straight non-conference home games, maybe the provisional should be used to drive in this one Hilltoppers. Beamer ball is back.

20. UCONN (5-0) Beat at Louisville 26-21 Next up: @ UNC
Another game another win, the Huskies are not spectacular but they keep knockin em down. They beat Louisville and the very overrated Hunter Cantwell(he is projected 1st round QB, what is everyone seeing that I am not!) and the pick 6 to Lawrence Wilson sealed the deal, take that Hunter(if that is your real name). However they face their toughest team so far when they go to Chapel Hill to face the dangerous Brandon Tate. Gut check for the Huskies.
PIKE STAT: The Huskies are 3-22-2 against the ACC. This will really be a tough one for Randy Edsall.


21. California (3-1) Beat Colorado St 42-7 Next up: Arizona St.
After coming out flat against the Terps and essentially jumpstarting their season. They had a bye week to regroup and came out and destroyed the Rams. They scored 2 TD's on special team and one on defense to control the game but they lost star RB Jahvid Best with a dislocated elbow. That could be a problem this week against a very battered Sun Devil team needing a big win, to get the season going again after dropping 2 straight.
PIKE STAT: Last year Cal lead 20-14 but ASU scored the next 17 and broke the 4 game winning streak by Cal.

22. Michigan St. (4-1) Beat at Indiana 42-29 Next up: Iowa
I really liked this team in the preseason but they got thumped in week 1 against the Cal Bears. But they have reeled of 4 straight and head into Big 10 play on a Roll in large part to Javon Ringer. He had another stellar game with 198 against the Hoosiers and my Kurt Kittner this year Brian Hoyer had another solid performance. The Hawkeyes are up next and should be another tough Big 10 game, but the Spartans and Achilles Ringer will pull it out.
PIKE STAT: The home team has won the last 8 in this series.


23. Wisconsin (3-1) Lost to Michigan 25-27 Next up: #7 Ohio St.
Well I called it last week with Bye week hangover, a Big House Mystique, and the look ahead factor, did in the Badger against the young Wolvies. So how do erase a loss to a team you were supposed to beat? Beat #7 Ohio St.! This game now turns into a must win if the Badger expect to have BCS on the mind. This will be a great one as both teams can't afford 2 losses before November.
PIKE STAT: The Badger has won 3 of the last 5 and led last year 17-10 in the 3rd Quarter last year, then PJ Hill was injured and they rushed for 12 yards the rest of the game and lost 38-17.

24. Northwestern (5-0) Beat at Iowa 22-17 Next up: IDLE
Like last weeks Mountain West overload, the Big 10 has creeped into my Top 25 with 5 teams making it. The Wildcats win a tough one in Iowa City. CJ Bacher rallied the Cats from 14 down to end the game with 284 yards passing and the win. This team is much better then the experts think, the defense is underrated.


25. Boise St. (3-0) IDLE Next up: LA Tech
This team is hanging by a thread in my rankings and living off of its win over Oregon. This team also benefited from all the losses this week and they will have to continue to blow out their opponett's to stay in the ranking per their schedule is plain WACky.
PIKE STAT: Broncos have won the last 6 by a average of 24.

Teams On Deck(in no order)

Tulsa (4-0) Beat C Arkansas 62-34 Next up: Rice

Kentucky (4-0) Beat W Kentucky 41-3 Next Up: @ #4 Alabama

Oregon (4-1) Beat at Wash St. 63-14 Next up: @ #13 USC

TCU (4-1) Lost to #2 OU 10-35 Next up: San Diego St.

Nebraska (3-1) Lost to VA Tech 30-35 Next up: #2 Missouri

Oklahoma St. (4-0) Beat Troy 55-24 Next up: Texas A&M

Florida St. (3-1) Beat #25 Colorado 39-21 Next up: @ Miami

Colorado (3-1) Lost to FSU 21-39 Next up: #6 Texas

Ball St. (5-0) Beat Kent St 41-20 Next up: @ Toledo

Wake Forest (3-1) Lost to Navy 17-24 Next up: IDLE

Teams I have a eye on:(In no order)
Arizona, W Michigan, Pittsburgh, Oregon St., Ole Miss, Michigan, Nevada, Clemson, Illinois, UNLV

JP Top 25

What a weekend it was. There were too many upsets to count, and Brent and I both had our number one ranked teams lose. With all the upheaval, I decided to take a fresh look at my top 25 and ask myself who I really think is playing the best right now. The result was a brand new top two, and five new teams in the poll. I must admit, taking a ride on the Clemson bandwagon was one of the worst ideas I've ever had in my life. I think I'm going to be sick...

Top 25 (last week, record)
1. Alabama (9, 5-0)
2. Penn State (5, 5-0)
3. Texas (3, 4-0)
4. Oklahoma (4, 4-0)
5. Georgia (1, 4-1)
6. Missouri (6, 4-0)
7. LSU (8, 4-0)
8. USC (2, 2-1)
9. Florida (7, 3-1)
10. Ohio State (10, 4-1)
11. BYU (13, 4-0)
12. Auburn (11, 4-1)
13. Oregon (25, 4-1)
14. Utah (18, 5-0)
15. Texas Tech (15, 4-0)
16. Wisconsin (12, 3-1)
17. South Florida (16, 5-0)
18. Kansas (17, 3-1)
19. Illinois (19, 2-2)
20. Vanderbilt (22, 4-0)
21. Tulsa (--, 4-0)
22. Virginia Tech (--, 4-1)
23. North Carolina (--, 3-1)
24. Maryland (--, 4-1)
25. California (--, 3-1)

Dropped Out: Clemson (14), Miami (20), East Carolina (21), Nebraska (23), Wake Forest (24)
Just Missed The Cut: Clemson, Nebraska, Michigan State, Georgia Tech, UConn, Boise State, Miami, Fresno State, Arizona, Arizona State

Tony Pike Update

Tony Pike's Heisman hopes took a serious blow Saturday when he broke his left arm in the 17-15 win over in-state rival Akron. Luckily it was his non-throwing arm so he should only be out for three to four weeks, but missing that many games will mean he'll have to take his already super-human numbers to another level when he returns if he wants to stay in the minds of Heisman voters. Prior to leaving the game, Pike posted these numbers:

23/34 (67.6%) for 320 yards, 2 tds, 0 ints
Rushing: 2 attempts for 6 yards

See the sidebar for his season stats to date. Obviously with the broken arm, Pike is doubtful for next week's game at Marshall. Pike's are a tough breed though, so don't be surprised if you see Tony in the lineup anyway.

9.27.2008

BP Week 5-Picks against the spread

Since I am running a bit behind here are my picks for the weekend. Here is the standings against the experts, as you can see the student has become the teacher and I look to extend the margin this week, and I am 3-0 vs the experts at 0-3 going into to Saturday. Time to shine.

Experts: 85-85-3
BP: 85-85-3

Thursday:
Oregon St. +25 vs USC*, WIN
SMU +17 @ Tulane*, WIN

Friday:
UCONN +3 @ Louisville* WIN

Saturday:
Wake Forest -16 vs Navy*
W Michigan -3.5 @ Temple
W Virginia -14 vs Marshall*
Pittsburgh -15.5 @ Syracuse
Michigan St -8.5 @ Indiana*
Northwestern +8 @ Iowa*
Duke -7 vs Virginia
Miami -7.5 vs UNC
Florida -22.5 vs Ole Miss*
LSU -24 vs Mississippi St*
Northern Illinois -6.5 @ E Michigan
Buffalo +6.5 @ C Michigan*
Cincinnati -10.5 @ Akron
E Carolina -11 vs Houston*
Notre Dame -1.5 vs Purdue*
Minnesota +18 @ Ohio St*
Virginia Tech +7 @ Nebraska*
Stanford +3.5 @ Washington*
California -26 vs Colorado St.
Alabama +7 @ Georgia*
Tennessee +6.5 @ Auburn*
Wisconsin -6 @ Michigan
Clemson -11 vs Maryland
Fresno St. -7 vs UCLA
Wyoming +3.5 vs Bowling Green
Oregon -20.5 @ Washington St.
TCU +17.5 @ Oklahoma
S Carolina -24.5 vs UAB*
Texas A&M -28 vs Army*
Ball St. -17 vs Kent St.
NC St +8.5 vs USF*
Colorado +5.5 @ Florida St.
UTEP +5 @ UCF*
Illinois +14 @ Penn St.
NM St +3 vs New Mexico
Idaho +10.5 @ S D St.*
Nevada +3 @ UNLV*
Hawaii -3 vs S Jose St.*
Kentucky -21.5 vs W Kentucky*
Memphis -1 vs Arkansas St.*
Oklahoma St. -17 vs Troy
Toledo -19.5 vs FIU
Kansas St. -21 vs UL-Lafayette
Rice -18 vs UNT*
Texas -27 vs Arkansas*

Me and the experts differ on 28 games so this will be a pivotal week in the standings

Football for Breakfast

It’s ACL Fest weekend, so unfortunately I won’t be watching any games this afternoon. I will however be checking out several bands I haven’t seen live before, such as Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, the Mars Volta, and festival headliner Foo Fighters. There might even be a festival recap next week if you’re lucky.

I’m going to try to sneak out early tonight (sorry Beck) to watch Alabama/Georgia and Virginia Tech/Nebraska, but that will be the extent of my football viewing this weekend. Before I apply the sun block and head out to Zilker Park, here’s a few more picks:

Michigan State 36, Indiana 20
Javon Ringer is too much for the Indiana defense and Kellen Lewis is rusty after missing the whole offseason.

Duke 34, Virginia 14
Duke is a favorite in an ACC game for the first time in what must be a decade at least. And they should be because Virginia is bad. Side note: It looks like former Virginia quarterback Peter Lalich is transferring to Oregon State.

Pittsburgh 27, Syracuse 14
Speaking of bad teams, is there anybody playing worse than Syracuse right now?

Northwestern 27, Iowa 17
This is one of my locks of the week, as well as one of my upset picks of the week. Iowa isn’t anything special and C.J. Bacher and Tyrell Sutton will show the Hawkeyes a thing or two about how to score points.

Arkansas State 35, Memphis 32
Arkie State seems to be scoring a ton of points this year. Memphis seems stuck in neutral. This should be a shootout though.

Fresno State 28, UCLA 24
Your guess is as good as mine. Was Tennessee that bad? Or is UCLA just suffering from all the injuries? I’ll go with Fresno because it’s the safer pick, but you never know when UCLA’s defense is going to rise to the occasion.

Purdue 31, Notre Dame 20
Purdue running back Kory Sheets has been awesome so far this year. That’s way more than I can say for anybody on the Notre Dame offense. The Domers’ offensive line still needs a lot of work, and Purdue’s defense is sneaky-good at times. That’s why I think Purdue rolls in South Bend.

Oregon 46, Washington State 13
Both teams are down to their third string quarterbacks already. The difference is Oregon has a lot more depth all around than Wazzu does. It’s going to be a long first year for Paul Wulff. Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount run wild.

Oklahoma State 37, Troy 24
The Cowboys won’t get blown out in this game again … will they?

New Mexico 27, New Mexico State 21
Even without quarterback Donovan Porterie, the Lobos are better than their in-state rivals. The Aggies fired Tony Samuel for a joke of a coach in Hal Mumme, and this is what they get.

UTEP 27, Central Florida 20
UTEP will finally get their first win of the season. UCF is struggling, especially offensively where George O’Leary needs to settle on one of his two average young quarterbacks.

Stanford 30, Washington 27
The difficult season for Washington will continue. I like the overall scrappiness of Jim Harbaugh’s squad, and I think the Stanford defense will get the best of Jake Locker in the fourth quarter.

9.26.2008

Spotlight Game of the Week

#11 Alabama
at
#2 Georgia

(Saturday, 6:45 pm, ESPN)

When Alabama has the ball
When looking at the Alabama offense, you have to start in the backfield with their powerful pair of running backs. Glen Coffee and freshman Mark Ingram have been running wild on opponents this season. Coffee is averaging an amazing 8.6 yards per carry and has 404 rushing yards to show for it. Ingram has already compiled 263 yards and 4 touchdowns in his young career.

The reason these backs are so dangerous is because the offensive line is playing like five bulldozers. Left tackle Andre Smith is a blue chipper if there ever was one and heady center Antoine Caldwell has been a key component on the line for all of his four seasons on campus. This unit has paved the way for the Crimson Tide to roll up 236.8 yards rushing per game (5.9 yards per carry).

They haven’t faced a unit like Georgia yet this year though. The Bulldogs run defense has been outstanding, holding opponents to fewer than 50 yards rushing per game and an average of 2.0 yards per carry. Georgia’s quickness and depth along the defensive line will allow them to make some big stops, but I’ll give Alabama a slight advantage overall here. Although the Georgia D-Line is deep, you can’t lose players like DT Jeff Owens and DE Roderick Battle (both out with injuries) without suffering a little. Plus, Alabama’s running game is PHYSICAL and they’ll beat up on the Georgia line a little bit.

Georgia has a definite advantage when Alabama decides to throw the ball. Personally, I like John Parker Wilson as a quarterback, but he has proven to be inconsistent when you can put pressure on him. Georgia has the tools to bring plenty of heat. The Georgia front seven is one of the fastest and most athletic units in the nation. You’ll hear linebacker Rennie Curran’s name called a lot. The sophomore is by far the leader in tackles on the team (29), and has already posted 3 sacks on this young season. If Wilson has a bad day it will probably be because of Curran. Keep an eye on backup defensive end Justin Houston too. He’s a pass rushing specialist who could play a factor.

Another reason Wilson might have a rough game is because Georgia’s linebackers will make it very difficult to find his safety valve, tight end Nick Walker (team high 12 receptions). Dannell Ellerbe and Darryl Gamble are more than capable of hanging with Walker and taking him out of the game.

That means uber-recruit Julio Jones will need to step up. Jones clearly has all the talent and big play ability in the world, but is he accomplished enough on the intricacies of route running and beating bump coverage at the line to get open and bail Wilson out when he’s in trouble? We’ll find out. Jones will need to play well enough to make Georgia take that extra guy out of the box (and out of Wilson’s grill) in order to double-team him.

When Georgia has the ball
Much like the Alabama offense, Georgia’s offense starts in the backfield with running back Knowshon Moreno. Moreno is simply one of the best players in the nation. The sophomore exploded onto the scene in 2007 and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. He’s the most important player on the offense and he has a knack for picking up first downs. He also has a nose for the end zone, as evidenced by the 9 touchdowns he has scored in only 4 games this year.

Moreno hasn’t gotten as much help from his blockers as you might think either. The offensive line lost its best player when left tackle Trinton Sturdivant tore up his knee in preseason drills. Mark Richt has been forced to shuffle the lineup every week in an attempt to find the right chemistry. There is plenty of talent, but the line clearly hasn’t gelled yet.

Another missing cog in the blocking scheme was fullback Brannan Southerland. The senior is arguably the best blocking fullback in the nation and he hasn’t played yet this year due to a foot injury. However, his status has been upgraded to probable for this game. Don’t underestimate his presence – Georgia is a much better team with Sutherland in the lineup.

The questions up front mean that “Mount Cody” and his friends on the Alabama defense might be able to wreak some havoc. Junior defensive tackle Terrence Cody is the 365-pound beast in the middle of the defensive line that Nick Saban needs to execute his 3-4 defense to perfection. Cody has done nothing but produce this year, taking up plenty of space in the middle and managing to post 12 tackles, including 3 for loss.

Mount Cody’s play has freed up outside linebackers Brandon Fanney and Cory Reamer to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. The duo has combined for 6½ tackles for loss this year. Inside backer Rolando McClain doesn’t need any help to make plays. The sophomore is already one of the best linebackers in the SEC, which automatically puts him near the top of the list nationally. McClain leads the Tide in tackles (29) and will be in charge of containing Knowshon Moreno.

The wildcard here is Matthew Stafford. Stafford has the talent to be the best quarterback in the nation, but he hasn’t quite put it all together yet. He was responsible for the game winning touchdown pass in overtime against Alabama last year though, so he’ll definitely up to the big game challenge more than J.P. Wilson.

Stafford has formed an immediate connection with true freshman wide receiver A.J. Green. While Green doesn’t have quite the raw talent of Bama’s freshman phenom Julio Jones, he has managed to out-produce Jones by a considerable margin so far this year (16 receptions for 300 yards, 2 tds). Green will play a big role in this game. Even if he only notches three receptions, they will all be important plays.

The Alabama secondary is good. Safety Rashad Johnson is the leader of the unit and a certified ball-hawk. You’ll hear his name a lot because he’s always around the ball - whether it’s a run or a pass, Johnson will be there. Kareem Jackson will probably be tasked with keeping up with Green, so that will be a key matchup. Jackson is a solid corner, but he hasn’t faced a receiver with the size and speed of Green yet this year. The other cornerback, Javier Arenas, is a dynamo that is capable of scoring anytime he’s on the field. Arenas has already taken an interception (63 yard return) and a punt (87 yard return) to the end zone this year.

Even against Bama’s solid secondary, I think Georgia will be able to get enough yards through the air to maintain balance offensively.

Final Verdict
This game will come down to two factors: how well John Parker Wilson handles Georgia’s pressure and how Georgia’s re-tooled offensive line does against Alabama’s imposing front seven.

Georgia will get to Wilson. If he can stay focused in the pocket and make good throws despite the pressure Alabama will have a very good shot at winning.

Even though it appears on first glance that Alabama might have a slight edge in the trenches, Knowshon Moreno is a beast. Moreno flat out knows how to pick up the yards he needs to get to keep drives alive, and with the return of his fullback Brannan Southerland he’ll have even more opportunities to make the big play. Moreno is a fighter and a leader in every sense of the word and he won’t back down Saturday night until he’s led Georgia to victory.

J.Pike’s Pick: Georgia 24, Alabama 20

WEEK FIVE - Preview

UPSET WATCH

Maryland @ #16 Clemson
Why it could happen: Clemson isn’t exactly setting the world on fire. For all their talent, they haven’t managed to put together a complete game yet this year. Maryland on the other hand seems to be hitting their stride since Chris Turner took over at quarterback.
Why it won’t happen: Clemson’s defense won’t allow Turner to make the same plays he made against Cal. James Davis and the running game put up 249 rushing yards against the Terps last year, and I expect them to approach that again this weekend. But it won’t be easy.
J.Pike’s Pick: Clemson 26, Maryland 18

Marshall @ West Virginia
Why it could happen: Marshall was up on West Virginia at halftime in last season’s matchup, and Mark Snyder finally has the Herd back on the winning track in 2008.
Why it won’t happen: West Virginia has struggled to find an identity early on, but they at least got back to the running game last week against Colorado. Pat White and Noel Devine have too much speed for the Marshall defense and they’ll find their way to the end zone more times than the Herd offense will.
J.Pike’s Pick: West Virginia 32, Marshall 27

UPSET WARNING

Northwestern @ Iowa
Why it will happen: Northwestern is better than anybody is giving them credit for so far. They play solid defense and have two playmakers on offense (QB C.J. Bacher & RB Tyrell Sutton) that Iowa can’t match. Northwestern can flat out manufacture more points than Iowa. Bacher will have a big day.
J.Pike’s Pick: Northwestern 27, Iowa 17

Colorado vs Florida State
(@ Jacksonville, FL)
Why it will happen: Florida State is one of the worst offensive teams in the nation right now. The play they have gotten from their quarterbacks the past 7+ years has been atrocious, and it has led to the deterioration of the offense to the point it’s at now. The Noles still like to talk trash and attempt to intimidate their opponents before the game (see photo evidence from last week's loss to Wake Forest), but that doesn’t work as well when you’re a .500 team. In fact it just makes you look like a bunch of morons. Colorado running back Rod Stewart will send Florida State away on a Downtown Train with a 2-2 record.
J.Pike’s Pick: Colorado 21, Florida State 13

Northwestern (+8) over Iowa
There’s no way Iowa is 8 points better than Northwestern because I think Northwestern is better than Iowa straight up.

Ole Miss (+23) over Florida
Florida isn’t clicking offensively yet this year and Urban Meyer is too busy complaining about the new clock rules to fix it. Last year it was his running backs’ fault the Gators couldn’t run the ball. You might want to take a look in the mirror sometime, Urb? Houston Nutt will have Ole Miss ready to play and they’ll make it a game into the fourth quarter.

Cincinnati (-10) over Akron
Now that Tony Pike has proven himself at quarterback, I expect Cincinnati to continue putting up 40 point games against inferior opponents such as Akron. Cincy wins big as Pike continues his late bid for the Heisman Trophy.

Rice (-18½) over North Texas High
Rice quarterback Chase Clement is actually pretty good. Facing one of the best high school teams in the state of Texas might be imposing for Hurst L.D. Bell, but Clement will have no problems. Rice will roll to a four touchdown win. At least North Texas High can get back to concentrating on winning their district and making State after this beat down.

Other games I like, but don’t feel good enough about to give them “Lock” status:
Duke (-7) over Virginia
Arkansas (+27½) over Texas
Colorado (+6) over Florida State
Purdue (+2½) over Notre Dame
Marshall (+15½) over West Virginia
Navy (+16) over Wake Forest
Oregon (-19½) over Washington State

WEEK FIVE - Preview


Now it’s time for our weekly look at a handful of games that are flying under the national radar. Of the four games listed below, two are MAC matchups that should have a big impact on who makes it to the conference championship game. The other two matchups are in-state rivalry games, each featuring a team on the cusp of the top 25. All four games warrant at least a glance at the ticker because you’ll see the majority of these teams in bowl games at the end of the season.

Western Michigan @ Temple
When Western Michigan’s offense takes the field against Temple’s defense it will be team strength versus team strength. Western quarterback Tim Hiller has above average skills in the passing game, but he has shown that he can be rattled. So that’s exactly what John Haley and the Temple defense will try to do. The Owls’ defense has been decent so far this season, giving up less than 200 passing yards per game. Hiller has been on top of his game lately though, and he’ll get the job done in a tougher than anticipated game in Philadelphia.
J.Pike’s Pick: Western Michigan 28, Temple 20

Marshall @ West Virginia
This in-state rivalry ended up as a blowout a year ago, but Marshall actually led 13-6 at halftime. Mark Snyder finally has the Marshall program back on track after three straight sub-.500 seasons. The Herd sits at 3-1 (the lone loss was a competitive game against #9 Wisconsin) thanks to the play of their experienced defense. Marshall is limiting opponents to 118 rushing yards per game so far. Offensively the passing game is clicking due to the play of wide receiver Darius Passmore (26 receptions for 473 yards, 4 tds). Passmore has given freshman Mark Cann a reliable, playmaking target, which is always nice for a young quarterback. West Virginia on the other hand is 1-2 and struggling with their offensive identity. It seemed like new offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen wanted to make Pat White a pocket passer the first couple weeks, but got back to the running game against Colorado that won them 33 games in the past three seasons. The offense is still way to predictable, but there’s still enough speed between White and Noel Devine to score enough points to win this game.
J.Pike’s Pick: West Virginia 32, Marshall 27

Buffalo @ Central Michigan
It’s time. Turner Gill has slowly built this Buffalo program into one of the elite in the MAC. Central Michigan has been the measuring stick the last couple years thanks to quarterback Dan LeFevour’s Tebow-esque stats, but now is when Buffalo makes their move. Drew Willy has been playing lights out this year and he’ll guide the Bulls on another last minute touchdown drive to seal the biggest win in school history.
J.Pike’s Pick: Buffalo 28, Central Michigan 27

Nevada @ UNLV
UNLV’s upset of Arizona State two weeks ago is just one of the many examples of the quality and depth of the Mountain West conference this year. Led by sophomore quarterback Omar Conner, the Rebels are 3-1 and on the top 25 radar for the first time in a long time. I don’t know if Mike Sanford is chewing on any towels on the sidelines, but he should be. On the other sideline, Chris Ault leads Nevada with his innovative “Pistol” offense. The Pistol is now popping into playbooks at places like Florida and Ohio State, but Ault is the creator. Nevada has already played two top 15 teams this year, so don’t let their poor record fool you. The Wolfpack has beaten UNLV each of the last three years, but it looks like UNLV has finally turned the corner.
J.Pike’s Pick: UNLV 27, Nevada 24

9.25.2008

WEEK FIVE - Top 25 Preview (Part II: Top 10)

#1 USC at Oregon State
(Thursday, 8 pm, ESPN)
Everybody remembers what happened the last time the Trojans visited Corvalis. The Beavers pulled off the upset, ending USC’s 27-game Pac-10 winning streak. In this matchup, the Rogers brothers bring a lot more speed to the table than Ohio State did two weeks ago, so there could be trouble brewing. Throw in one of the most underrated playmakers in the nation in Sammie Stroughter and you have what could be a recipe for another upset. But Mark Sanchez is no John David Booty, and the young Oregon State defense has struggled in the early going. Oregon State’s speed on offense will make the USC defense will look human for the first time all season – if only for a few series. But overall USC is too good and too prepared to get upset again.
J.Pike’s Pick: USC 34, Oregon State 24

#11 Alabama at #2 Georgia
(Saturday, 6:45 pm, ESPN)
Spotlight Game of the Week [LINK]
J.Pike’s Pick: Georgia 24, Alabama 20

#24 TCU at #3 Oklahoma
(Saturday, 6 pm, FSN)
Here’s another game that featured a landmark upset a couple years ago. When TCU knocked off Oklahoma in the 2005 season opener, it marked the start of the Rhett Bomar era. That was not a pleasant season in Norman. Luckily Bomar the Ballhog is gone, and in his place is the remarkably efficient Sam Bradford. TCU is good defensively, but I don’t think they can contain Oklahoma for four quarters anymore. Oklahoma gets their revenge.
J.Pike’s Pick: Oklahoma 33, TCU 13

Arkansas at #4 Texas
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, ABC)
This game was postponed due to Hurricane Ike a couple weeks ago. The only thing that happened between then and now is that Arkansas played like a JV team against Alabama and got beat 49-14. Arkansas is flat out bad defensively. The offense is semi-capable, but Casey Dick is prone to throwing bad interceptions, so he’ll give Texas’ young secondary a much needed boost of confidence. Colt McCoy is quietly playing as well as anybody right now, and he’ll guide the offense to another big day.
J.Pike’s Pick: Texas 38, Arkansas 21

Ole Miss at #5 Florida
(Saturday, 11:30 am, Raycom/ESPN360.com)
Ole Miss has a history of beating Florida, so don’t be surprised if this game is still in doubt in the fourth quarter. Florida’s offense hasn’t yet hit its stride, but the defense is more than picking up the slack. Ole Miss has been completely rejuvenated thanks to the arrival of Houston Nutt. Quarterback Jevan Snead will play well, but in the fourth quarter the Florida defense will rise up and force him into the mistake that ruins the upset bid.
J.Pike’s Pick: Florida 32, Ole Miss 20

#6 Missouri is Idle

Mississippi State at #7 LSU
(Saturday, 6:30 pm, ESPN 2)
Mississippi State has one of the worst offenses in college football and LSU is coming off a big win at Auburn. The LSU defense could probably win this game by themselves. Put Derek Pegues on offense!
J.Pike’s Pick: LSU 37, Mississippi State 3

#19 Illinois at #8 Penn State
(Saturday, 7 pm, ABC)
Evan Royster, Darryl Clark and the Penn State offense has been fantastic in guiding the Nittany Lions to a 4-0 start. The Illinois defense on the other hand has struggled with tackling in the early going. That doesn’t bode well for the Illini. Throw in the fact that Penn State’s defense, which has been playing as well as anybody this year, could possibly be bolstered by the return of their best defensive lineman, Maurice Evans, from suspension. Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn are good, but I don’t think they have enough help around them.
Watch Evan Royster – he’s good.

J.Pike’s Pick: Penn State 34, Illinois 20

#9 Wisconsin at Michigan
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, ABC/ESPN)
Michigan is going to need their defense to step up if they are going to win any games this season. The offense just isn’t there yet and they will turn the ball over. Wisconsin on the other hand has their running game in high gear already. Hosses P.J. Hill and John Clay have been pounding people to the tune of 518 yards and 7 touchdowns in only three games so far this season. Look for that duo to wear down a feisty Michigan team and win it in the fourth quarter.
J.Pike’s Pick: Wisconsin 20, Michigan 14

Minnesota at #10 Ohio State
(Saturday, 11 am, Big Ten Network)
Don’t let Brent fool you – Minnesota isn’t very good. Sure, they have a 4-0 record, but that’s only because they beat the same cupcakes they managed to lose to a year ago. Ohio State on the other hand has found new life with Terrelle Pryor as the full time quarterback. He brings a new dimension to the offense that Todd Boeckman lacked. Chris “Beanie” Wells is also expected to be back in the lineup after missing the last two games with a toe injury. Look for the Buckeyes to put together their most complete game of the season as they beat up and out-coach the inferior Golden Gophers.
J.Pike’s Pick: Ohio State 37, Minnesota 13

WEEK FIVE - Top 25 Preview (Part I: 11-25)

#12 BYU is Idle

Tennessee at #13 Auburn
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, CBS)
The Auburn defense is one of the best in the nation. They’ll have no problem shutting down the woeful Tennessee offense by pressuring quarterback Jonathan Crompton into turnovers. Auburn’s offense is by no means a juggernaut either, but they’ll be good enough in this matchup.
J.Pike’s Pick: Auburn 23, Tennessee 10

#14 South Florida at N.C. State
(Saturday, 6:30 pm, ESPN U)
A week after their upset of #18 East Carolina, N.C. State faces yet another top 20 team in Raleigh. Unfortunately for the Wolfpack they will be without the services of their best offensive and defensive players this time around. Quarterback Russell Wilson, who had a breakout game against the Pirates, and linebacker Nate Irving will both be held out of the game due to injuries suffered a week ago. Harrison Beck, who will start in Wilson’s place at quarterback, is in for a long night. I expect USF DE George Selvie to harass him into a ton of mistakes and turnovers.
J.Pike’s Pick: South Florida 27, N.C. State 10

#15 Texas Tech is Idle

Maryland at #16 Clemson
(Saturday, 11 am, ESPN360.com)
This is a good test for both teams. Is Clemson as good as the preseason hype surrounding them or are they the chumps that barely showed up against Alabama? Is Maryland really as good as they looked against Cal or was that an aberration? Look for this game to be a slugfest decided by mistakes.
J.Pike’s Pick: Clemson 26, Maryland 18

Weber State at #17 Utah
(Saturday, 7 pm)
This matchup has an interesting subtext: Weber State head coach Ron McBride coached the Utes for 12 seasons, compiling an 88-63 record prior to the arrival of Urban Meyer. McBride brings a fairly explosive offense averaging 38.8 points per game in his return to Salt Lake. But Brian Johnson and the current Ute squad are far too much for the Wildcats. Utah must work on committing fewer penalties if they want to compete with BYU in the Mountain West.
J.Pike’s Pick: Utah 43, Weber State 24

#18 Kansas is Idle

Navy at #20 Wake Forest
(Saturday, 2:45 pm, ESPN U)
Wake Forest has quietly compiled a 3-0 record while playing very solid football so far this season. Their defense nearly pitched a shutout against overmatched Florida State last week (never thought I’d say that). The Demon Deacons need to be careful not to overlook Navy though. Navy is coming off a mild upset over Rutgers last week and they finally have quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada Nahasapeemapetilon back in the fold after he missed the first three games due to injury.
J.Pike’s Pick: Wake Forest 23, Navy 15

#21 Vanderbilt is Idle

Virginia Tech at #22 Nebraska
(Saturday, 7 pm, ABC)
Breakdown can be found here: [LINK]
J.Pike’s Pick: Nebraska 32, Virginia Tech 24

North Carolina at #23 Miami
(Saturday, 11 am, ESPN 2)
This is a game that is only going to get more important over the next few years. Both programs appear to be on the rise and both are playing a number of talented freshmen and sophomores. Don’t be surprised if this is a top 10 matchup in two years. I’ll give Miami the nod this year thanks in large part to their talented freshmen, QB Robert Marve and LB Sean Spence. Also, North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates will miss the game due to an ankle fracture.
J.Pike’s Pick: Miami 24, North Carolina 14

Houston at #25 East Carolina
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, CBS College Sports)
East Carolina finally lost a game last week, but I still thought they played well. Quarterback Patrick Pinkney continues to impress, and East Carolina still plays as physical as any non-BCS conference team. Houston got beat pretty bad by Colorado State a week ago, so expect ECU to roll here.
J.Pike’s Pick: East Carolina 30, Houston 17

9.24.2008

Week Five - VT @ Neb

Virginia Tech
at
#22 Nebraska

(Saturday, 7 pm, ABC)

When Virginia Tech has the ball
The decision by Frank Beamer to take the redshirt off Tyrod Taylor and name him the starting quarterback has given Virginia Tech a chance to compete in games like this. With Sean Glennon at quarterback defenses could load up the box and shut down the running game because they knew Glennon wouldn’t beat them with his arm. Additionally, his immobility made him an easy target in the backfield. Those factors made scoring points an extremely difficult proposition for a Glennon-led offense.

Taylor on the other hand is a dynamic running threat that you must account for. That’s really all the Tech offense needed – somebody to make defensive coordinators think twice. The Hokies play good enough defense that they just need to squeeze about 20 points out of the offense to be in position to win in the fourth quarter. In fact, they have scored exactly 20 points in each of their last two wins over Georgia Tech and North Carolina.

Nebraska will be a different story though. Virginia Tech will probably need to score closer to 30 to win this game in Lincoln. So how will they do it?

Darren Evans has been a revelation at running back this year. The redshirt freshman has stepped into the role a year sooner than expected and proven to be every bit as productive as previous Hokie backs. Evans has a great size/speed combination that has led to 264 yards and 4 touchdowns already this season. He’ll need to churn out some tough yards against a Nebraska defense that will likely load up the box to stop him.

You better believe slowing down Evans will be a priority for the Nebraska defense. The Nebraska defensive line should have a slight advantage over a struggling Virginia Tech offensive line. Zach Potter in particular could play a big role in slowing down Evans.

Linebacker Cody Glenn figures to have yet another busy night tracking both Evans and Tyrod Taylor. The speedy Glenn, a converted running back, has been Nebraska’s most productive player on defense this season, and Saturday night should be no exception. Bo Pelini and company will probably turn him loose so he’ll have to play smart and read Taylor’s ball fakes well.

Speaking of Tyrod Taylor, the dynamic quarterback is going to have to play well in both the running game and the passing game. He’ll be able to burn the Nebraska defense at times with his legs, but he’ll need to be smart about when he does it. Running for 8 yards on 3rd and 9 won’t cut it.

Taylor must also complete a couple big passes to keep the offense moving. The Nebraska secondary has been suspect at times this year, so if you can lull them to sleep with the running game there will be open receivers on play action passes. Taylor has to be able to hit them. If you see him miss open receivers that will put even more pressure on the Hokie defense.

The key to the Virginia Tech offense will be whether or not Tyrod Taylor completes play action passes on first down, and his ability to convert on third downs with his legs. That may sound backward, but I think that’s the secret recipe for the Hokies to sustain drives and score enough points to win.

When Nebraska has the ball
Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has been very good in the early going. He has shown a knack for mixing up formations, using all his skill players, and being able to run any play at any time.

Joe Ganz is his trigger man at quarterback. Ganz is a spunky leader equally capable of making a big play with his arm as he is with his legs. He’s also capable of making the big turnover. Forcing the big turnover has been a specialty of the Virginia Tech defense for the past decade, so Ganz will have to go the extra mile to take care of the ball here. Ending a drive with a punt isn’t as bad as throwing an interception.

The Hokie secondary has a few playmakers, so I don’t expect Ganz to make it through Saturday night without throwing at least one interception. Cornerback Victor “Macho” Harris is obviously the biggest playmaker for Bud Foster’s unit, but the play of Stephan Virgil so far this season has made it difficult to avoid Harris. This duo holds a definite advantage in the matchup with Nebraska receivers Nate Swift and Todd Peterson. Swift is a heady player so he’ll find a way to make a few catches, but somebody like Menelik Holt or Niles Paul will need to make a big play or two.

The tight ends and fullbacks will probably play a big role in the passing game. Watson has shown a willingness to take advantage of these oft-forgotten positions, and it will come in handy against the Hokies. Look for Mike McNeill to sneak by the inexperienced Virginia Tech linebackers and come up with a couple clutch catches on third downs.

The Nebraska running game has been inconsistent so far this season, and going up against the Virginia Tech front won’t be easy. Marlon Lucky and Roy Helu are both very good running backs, but for some reason the offensive line isn’t quite there yet in the run blocking department.

That’s where Orion Martin, John Graves, and the Hokie defensive line come into play. Martin is a beast off the edge and he leads a deep line that will rotate up to eight or nine guys into the game. There’s a lot riding on the Hokie D-Line in this game because they will be responsible for shutting down the running game AND for disrupting Joe Ganz and getting him out of his rhythm.

The key for the Nebraska offense will be limiting turnovers to two or less and topping the century mark on the ground. If the Huskers run for over 100 yards and don’t turn the ball over, they should be able to win the time of possession battle and score more points than the Hokies are capable of matching.

Final Verdict
This game has the potential to be a very exciting game full of big plays both offensively and defensively. There could even be a score on special teams.

The difference is going to be Bo Pelini and the Sea of Red. With the game being in Lincoln, it is going to be very difficult for Tyrod Taylor to change the play at the line of scrimmage, which will probably lead to a lot of improvisation. At this stage in his career, Taylor is a run-first quarterback, something Pelini and his staff will take advantage of. I believe they will allow Taylor to run, but contains him by swarming to the ball so that you’ll see him come up short of the first down more often than not when he runs. That will put the Nebraska offense back out on the field which will wear down the Hokie defense over the course of the game.

J.Pike’s Pick: Nebraska 32, Virginia Tech 24

9.23.2008

Week Four Recap

This is why I leave the picks against the spread to Brent. My 5-7 record isn't going to impress anybody. In the mean time, Brent finished over .500 against the spread for the second consecutive week after a great start to the day. I'm guessing the "experts" got nuthin' on him. I took a slight step down picking games straight up, but I still have an 85% rate for the season.

B.PIKE

Against The Spread
Wed-Fri Games: 0-2-1 (0%)
Saturday morning: 9-3 (75%)

Saturday afternoon: 7-8 (46.7%)
Saturday night: 7-8 (46.7%)

Week Four Total: 23-21-1 (52.2%)
SEASON TOTAL: 85-85-3 (50%)

J.PIKE

Straight Up
Top 25 Picks: 16-1 (94.1%)
Picks for Breakfast: 7-5 (58.3%%)

Week Four Total: 23-6 (79.3%)
SEASON TOTAL: 100-18 (84.7%)

Against The Spread
Locks: 3-2 (60%)
Other Picks: 2-5 (28.6%)

Week Three Total: 5-7 (41.7%)
SEASON TOTAL: 25-19 (56.8%)
SEASON TOTAL ("Locks"): 12-8 (60%)

Upset Picks
Upsets called: 1/1 (100%) - N.C. State over East Carolina
Warned 1 upset (Boise State over Oregon)
SEASON TOTAL: 2/6 (33.3%)


For the second consecutive week I displayed my mastery of picking the seven toughest games of the week. I took a two game lead overall and only missed one pick (how many times can I pick against Wake Forest?).


1. Miami 41, Texas A&M 23
Jason: Miami
Brent: Miami
2. Virginia Tech 20, North Carolina 17
Jason: Virginia Tech
Brent: North Carolina
3. Michigan State 23, Notre Dame 7
Jason: Michigan State
Brent: Michigan State
4. Wake Forest 12, Florida State 3
Jason: Florida State
Brent: Florida State
5. #4 Florida 30, #24 Tennessee 6
Jason: Florida
Brent: Florida
6. #1-t Georgia 27, #23 Arizona State 10
Jason: Georgia
Brent: Georgia
7. #7 LSU 26, #11 Auburn 21
Jason: LSU
Brent: Auburn

WEEK FOUR RESULTS
Jason 6-1 (85.7%)
Brent 4-3 (57.1%)

SEASON TOTALS
Jason 19-9 (67.9%)
Brent 17-11 (60.7%)

News & Notes

*Oklahoma defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger is going to be out for at least the next 4-6 weeks. Granger’s foot was injured when he was gang tackled by three Washington offensive linemen in a dirty retaliation attempt [YOUTUBE LINK], and might have to miss the season. Nice job Huskies.

*Texas tight end Blaine Irby will miss the remainder of the season after dislocating his knee against Rice. The injury looked like it could be much more serious (don’t watch the replay if you’re squeamish), so the fact there is no ligament damage is surprising. The offense will miss his playmaking ability because no other tight end on the roster possesses his skills in the passing game.

*South Florida linebacker (and J.Pike Fave) Brouce Mompremier was cleared to return home and will miss at least the next 2 games. He was airlifted to the hospital after a collision with teammate Carlton Williams against Florida International left him motionless on the field.

*The biggest injury update of the week is that Faulk Trophy candidate Dante Love’s football career is probably over. The Ball State wide receiver suffered a cervical spine fracture and a spinal cord injury during the first quarter of Saturday's game against Indiana. Love was injured in a helmet-to-helmet hit that left him briefly unconscious. We wish him all the best in his recovery.

*North Carolina has lost their starting quarterback for at least 6 weeks. T.J. Yates suffered an ankle fracture against Virginia Tech. The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time with a trip to Miami scheduled for this weekend. Mike Paulus and Cameron Sexton will fill in, but don’t bring the same confidence and sturdy leadership to the position Yates does.

*More bad news for Kansas State. Not only do the Wildcats look every bit as bad as they did in 2007 – now starting running back Leon Patton is off the team. Ron Prince kicked the senior off the team after he was accused of child abuse. Patton allegedly shook a little baby.

*Another preseason Faulk Trophy candidate will be out for the rest of the season. New Mexico quarterback Donovan Porterie tore his right ACL and MCL in the first half against Tulsa.

*Virginia coach Al Groh finally kicked quarterback Peter Lalich off the team. Lalich violated his alcohol-related probation by getting caught drinking. He later lied about it to the press proving he’s not the smartest cookie in the jar. Virginia’s woeful season will continue.