Fourth Down and Inches
by Doc - 09/17/2008
This is the week that I have been waiting for, as we will release our "2008 College Game of the Year." I actually spotted this game back in August and everything has worked out well including getting a positive report from my scout who follows the program. This alum felt that the team would be much better in 2008 with experience and a coach with a track record of success. They will enter as a small favorite and when you throw in revenge, it leads me to believe that this program is ready to shine. I truly believe anyone that purchases this week's card will be satisfied with the pick and the result.
Even though it's still early in the college football season, a few teams have already packed it in. One of those teams is Syracuse. We used them as a selection two weeks ago at the dome against Akron and I felt that was a make-or-break game for them. The latter turned out to be the case, as they lost by double digits and they were pounded by Penn State last week, 55-13. I wanted to use Penn State as a pick but just could not justify laying 28 points against a BCS Conference team playing at home. No question Coach Greg Robinson needs a miracle to save his job and Syracuse will cover a couple of these huge numbers down the road, but you will not see this writer using them as a pick. Of their eight remaining games, I believe the Orange will lose at least five of them against the spread. Going against these types of teams can pay for your vacation because the coaches, fans, and players are all aware of this situation and it will only get worse.
A couple of other teams that are struggling but not to the extent of Syracuse is Michigan and Hawaii. Both have new coaches but these programs have been used to pushing around weaker programs during this decade. Payback is tough and many of their conference foes and making them pay for all the years that they have been dominated by these former powers. But as the saying goes, you better get them this year, because they will be back!
As the season progresses, I always try to find a team each week that has a bubble that will finally burst. In my opinion this week's team is Vanderbilt. The Commodores have been playing outstanding football, especially with QB Chris Nickson's ability to run. That being said, I expect the run to end this week against a much-improved Ole Miss team. Coach Houston Nutt is a winner and the home team is 6-1 in this series since 2007, winning by an average of nine points. The Rebels have not fared well in SEC openers, losing four straight. However, that will change this week and I look for this homer to win by double digits. Ole Miss was in the same situation as Syracuse when they fired a proven winner and the replacement set the program back. Lucky for them Ed Orgeron is gone and Houston Nutt is used to coaching in the SEC having had great success at Arkansas.
I already mention Coach Robinson being on the hot seat but he is certainly not alone as every year numerous coaching changes are made. One of those individuals is used to the hot stove, as Dave Wannstedt had yet to turn around his alma mater at Pittsburgh. Losing the home opener to Bowling Green made all those high expectations vanish after an impressive victory last season against West Virginia. The Panthers did beat Buffalo the following week and now will face Iowa, a team they will have two weeks to prepare for. This will be a big test, as I feel the Big Ten is weak this year but Iowa has been one of the most impressive teams in the conference thus far. That being said, the Hawkeyes are not the team that they once were and had a real emotional battle with Iowa State last week. This writer would certainly have to give the edge to Pittsburgh in this 'pick'em' game.
Speaking of the Big Ten, it seems nobody was shocked that Ohio State got run over by USC last week in Los Angeles. I have never seem a game lose so much luster, as everybody felt Ohio State would get pounded and that is exactly what happened. This is a dramatic change from the start of the season when I was set to use the Buckeyes as a selection, but I got off of that and I really do not think Beanie Wells could have made that much of a difference. I really cannot see anyone beating the Trojans, since their toughest conference opponents all come to the Coliseum. In this game, the USC defense was simply too good with too much speed for Ohio State. As it stands now, my two teams to play in the title game are USC and the winner for the Missouri/Oklahoma game (Big 12 Championship). The Sooners have been laying eggs in bowl games of late, but I think they have the talent to win it all in 2008.
Even though I think the Big Ten is somewhat weak, it will still be an exciting race between four teams. Three of the teams are all highly ranked (Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin), but I feel a real sleeper will be Michigan State. The Buckeyes have two tough tests, at Wisconsin and at Michigan State. They will lose one of those two games. The Badgers may have the easiest road as they play both Ohio State and Penn State at home, but must travel to Michigan State. Assuming both teams are healthy, I feel Michigan State will ruin the Badgers season once again. Penn State also must go to Wisconsin and Ohio State. Michigan State will end their season at Penn State on Nov. 29. I truly believe that this game could determine the winner of the Big Ten and I expect every team to have at least one loss come December. This should make for an exciting race and there is great balance in the league.
The big story in the NFL this week was the Chargers/Broncos game where a blown call cost the Chargers a victory. This is truly an indication of how popular the NFL is and it's still the talk of ESPN as of Wednesday. Yes, it was a bad call but that happens in every game and will continue to happen in the future. San Diego still had two chances to stop Denver but failed to do so and they now blame ref Ed Hochuli for the result. Instant replay has taken over the games and has now lost the original intent of what it was put in to do: fix obvious mistakes. But because of the wording, it was not able to correct this (major mistake). Instead coaches use it to nitpick things like clear control of the football and spotting of the football. For those of you that believe Ed Hochuli should be fired, I would doubt that you are this perfect in your chosen profession. There would be a huge turnover in officials if every one was fired over a bad call. These are the best refs in the country and even they will make mistakes from time to time. I felt the league really threw him under the bus and instead should have supported him. We all need to move on and Ed will certainly be reffing another game this week, as he is one of the best.
We are expecting another big weekend in college football highlighted by our College Game of the Year. We have won this play the last two years and will come strong again on Saturday with a big time winner.
Best of Luck this week,