Sadly, my best weekend of college football might be while I'm practically in a different country. In fact, I'll be north of a different country, but still in the good ol' US of A. Don't look for much from me next week, as I'll be leaving Wednesday with the UMD hockey team on a trek to Anchorage, Alaska. It will be there that I spend at least some time watching football next weekend. How much is uncertain, but it's worth noting that the Virginia-Virginia Tech game will start at 8am in Alaska. So I might roll out of the rack in time for the second half.
That's next week. This is this week. Sounds like something Denny Green would say. It's also true. I'll skip the Boise State-Fresno State game because it's going on right now. And I like Fresno. We'll see if I'm right, though it won't count either way.
Viewing plans this week
--> Boise State at Fresno State
--> Northwestern at Ohio State
--> Florida State at Clemson
--> Navy at Notre Dame
--> Whatever game the local ABC station is carrying (I think it's USC-Cal)
--> Iowa at Wisconsin
--> LSU at Alabama
--> Oregon at Washington State
Last week: 7-4
Michigan State at Minnesota--> Two offenses that can motor. Two defenses that, well, need some work. Should be a great show at the Metrodome for the Gophers' home finale. The good news for Gopher fans is that they're already bowl-eligible, and Michigan State has really gone in the dumper since a hot start had people thinking they were a title contender. I think the Gophers will win this game with their ball-control attack and a good game from Brian Cupito. Though anyone who saw the Spartans run all over the Gopher defense last year has reason to think it will probably happen again.
The pick: Minnesota
Northwestern at Ohio State--> Northwestern's offense is going to give tOSU some fits. The Wildcats have a chance to score some points, but their defense, one of the worst in the nation, is going to struggle. Troy Smith isn't Vince Young, but Northwestern will make him look like it.
The pick: tOSU
Illinois at Purdue--> Strangely, the Boilermakers are right with Illinois, trying to scrape off the bottom of the league. It's amazing to think that a team touted by many as a national title contender is already out of bowl contention. Well, actually it's not that amazing. It happens all the time. Purdue might be bad, but they aren't bad enough to lose at home to Illinois.
The pick: Purdue
Indiana at Michigan--> After a slow start, Michigan looks like a potential contender in the Big Ten (granted, they'll need help to do it). After a fast start, Indiana looks like Indiana.
The pick: Michigan
Iowa at Wisconsin--> Bucky needs to rebound from a thrashing in Happy Valley last week in order to set themselves up for a New Year's Day game in Florida. With Calhoun ready to shred the Hawkeyes' run defense and Stocco hoping to have two seconds to survey a defense, I like their chances. Iowa has had their struggles, and they're coming off a demoralizing defeat that has them setting up for a trip to either the Motor City or the Music City.
The pick: Wisconsin
Florida State at Clemson--> Clemson still needs to win to become bowl-eligible. Florida State needs to win so they can hold off Boston College for the Atlantic Division title in the ACC. The younger Bowden has been tilting this rivalry in his favor recently, but he doesn't have enough to hold the 'Noles off this year.
The pick: Florida State
Florida at South Carolina--> I just have a funny feeling. No other explanation. Maybe I'm getting that Spurrier Mancrush thing going like that MGoBlog guy.
The pick: South Carolina
LSU at Alabama--> The easy thing to do would be to just pick the home team. This one is scary, though. LSU is coming off a lackluster effort against Appalachian State (!). It's one of those performances that either signals you're not good enough to compete in the big game, or you're looking ahead to the big game. Alabama's defense is unreal, but their offense, well, leaves a tad to be desired. I'll take the Tide at home, but only because I'm not sold that LSU has the goods to score a lot of points.
The pick: Alabama
USC at Cal--> It's pretty hard to believe that the last loss by USC was at Cal. Two years ago. Their next loss won't be at Cal, well, unless Joseph Ayoob finally starts looking like a QB. The Bears' defense will be shredded, and USC has enough talent on their defense to keep Cal from winning a shootout.
The pick: USC
Auburn at Georgia--> Welcome back, Mr. Shockley. Conventional wisdom has Auburn overrated. I'm not one for conventional wisdom, as it's not Auburn's fault that the conference schedule hasn't presented them with many challenges yet. But it has to be said that this is a big game for the Tigers' hopes for a division title. Winning 'tween the hedges won't be easy, especially with everyone psyched to see Shockley back for the Dawgs. Expect him to play well and lead his team to a huge win as they continue on the road to the SEC title game.
The pick: Georgia