Last week: 11-10-1
What Went Right: Iowa State, Egg Bowl, Cent Mich., UDub, App State, Okie Lite, ND, Beavers, UNC, Liberty, Lions
What Went Wrong: MSU, Ark. State, Iowa, Illinois, BYU, Boise, Indiana, PSU, Alabama, La. Tech
Kissing Your Sister: UNC/UA push
Last week was weird. We’ve made a good bit of cash this year on the Big 10, which has had by far the most friendly spreads this season. But, during rivalry week, the wheels went spinning off like a shuriken — not a single cover. And that’s really odd for a conference where the haves and have-nots are so clearly delineated. Still, we’re up 40 games on the year, and we still have the CCGs and Bowl season to end even stronger. So, here’s what we’re looking at during Championship Week.
P12CG: Utah (-6.5) vs. Oregon — I must be missing something. The Ducks can turn it on when they try and they have the best OL/DL tandem in the conference; they certainly have the better skills players here too. Zachary Ross isn’t anything special, nor is 19th-year QB Tyler Huntley. But, the Utes play outstanding team defense — against offenses that can’t put up points in a Chuck E Cheese. Still, we must call that one in their favor...at least until kickoff. For all that, don’t discount an outright win here by Oregon, not when Utah leaves the friendly confines of Rice Eccles. Road Utah is prone to some ghastly performances. Take the Ducks.
MACCG: Miami (OH) at Central Mich (-6.5) — Two of the three best offenses in the MAC square off. For the Redhawks, it’s been a matter of rebounding from a bad start. The Chips just had to trust in a system that works and play team ball. If this were in Mount Pleasant, I’d call for a rout. But, it’s in Detroit, which means a slightly less-advantageous home field. Coach Mac gets it done though; CMU is just better on defense and playing better overall. Fire Up Chips.
FUNBELTCG: ULL at App. State (-6) — Call this the “lame duck bowl.” Drinkwitz and Napier are both being bandied about as candidates for the SEC’s three openings, with more national firings to come. But, until then, there’s a title game to be played, a potential NY6 Bowl appearance, and a matter of who focuses on the task at hand better. The Mountaineers are at home and have the better defense, though the Cajuns’ offense has been scary-good at times. But, App. State isn’t exactly slouches either — second in the Fun Belt in offense. All things considered, take App. State.
B12CG: Baylor (+9) vs. Oklahoma — Did the Bears lose their best shot when they let a three-score lead evaporate at home? We’ll see. The Sooners aren’t exactly setting the world on fire on the road, and it showed last week in Stillwater against a putrid Cowboys defense. This Baylor defense gave OU fit for a half, and seemingly scored at will. Maybe Rhule has learned enough from that implosion to get a title in Waco? Who knows. But, Baylor isn’t going to lose by two scores in Texas — not with Jerry Jones in attendance to pick his next dude. Because, dear reader, both guys could be in the NFL next year. Take the Bears.
Let me say this too, as much as I slag on the Clownfraud Big 12: Lincoln Riley is one of the best second-half coaches in the game. His teams adjust very well, particularly on defense, coming out of the break. I noticed that last year against Alabama, and have paid particular attention to it this season. Go back and watch tape of Bedlam or KSU or even Baylor-OU 1 if you don’t believe me. So, if Baylor gets out to a big lead, don’t count out the Sooners.
Gross. Now I need a shower.
CUSACG: UAB at FAU (-7.5) — Like nearly every other game on this weekend’s G5 slate, these two coaches are also destined for bigger and better things very soon. There is one winner of the Carousel: his name is Jimmy Sexton and undefeated. One beneficiary of that largess is about to be Lane Kiffin, whose Owls come in with one of the better CUSA defenses and its most explosive offense. Another is Bill Clark, whose UAB Blazers also travel to Boca with an explosive offense...but bring a defense that simply isn’t up to the task. Not against this offense, and not on the road. Of the games that could get out of hand this weekend, this is one of them. Hoot. Hoot.
AACCG: Cincinnati (+9.5) at Memphis — The difference between these two in athleticism is just night and day, and nearly every time the Bearcats have stepped on a field this year against the AAC’s more explosive offenses, that has been the case. That mitigates the ole’ truism that it is hard to beat a team twice in one season. But that really doesn’t ring true with the speed and talent differential at play here. The Tigers’ defense needs to learn to keep the foot on the gas pedal, but the Tigers are playing for a chance to house some Top 10 Power 5 team in the Cotton Bowl. The Tigers make their case Saturday at home. These coaches, BTW, are mentioned for bigger and better jobs. And they’ve earned them. But what sets Fickell / Norvell and some other names on this list apart is that this pair can wait until a prime opportunity comes around — for Norvell, that may be FSU. Neither has to go to some woebegone hellhole like Arkansas, not with the teams they’ve built and the cash they earn.
MWCCG: Hawaii at Boise State (-13.5) — Hawaii has been a ghastly turnover machine this year, giving it up over two dozen times. They’ve also been blown off the ball against power-running teams, particularly on the road. The last time these two met, BSU ran for over 350 yards in an absolute beatdown. Nothing has changed to alter that fundamental matchup either. The Broncos are going to line up and whip the Warriors’ butts all over the field with some good ole’ fashioned manball. Again. Boise State matches Memphis with a statement win to get that sweet New Year’s Six bowl money extravaganza. And, yes, Rolovich and Brian Harsin are also names to watch in the Carousel this offseason.
ACCCG: Virginia (+28.5) vs. Clemson — What a gross conference. Clemson has played some really derpy close contests in this championship history, and they also blew out overrated Miami and a bad Pitt team. The Cavs are somewhere in between. They play passable defense. They have a passable offense. They have passable talent. They’re good at stopping the run; less so at passing defense. And none of that is enough to get it done and spring an (hilarious) upset, but it is probably enough to get the cover. That hook really kills this one, doesn’t it. Let’s call it 42-14 Clemson and Vegas takes all the money.
B1GCG: Wisconsin vs. Ohio State (-16.5) — Like Boise/Hawaii, nothing has fundamentally changed since the meeting between these two a month ago. Like Cincy/Memphis, the talent level and speed are just too vast. The Buckeyes have an added incentive to destroy Bucky too: they’re playing for the No. 1 seed. If you’re playoff-bound, as OSU will be win or lose, you want to dodge Clemson in the first round and instead house some fraud like Utah/Oklahoma or face the offensively-challenged Georgia Bulldogs. Ohio State beats down Wisconsin in a game that’s only remotely close during the coin toss. This ain’t Urban Meyer screwing around with inferior teams; Ryan Day is on a mission.
SECCG: Georgia (+7) vs. LSU — You know I’m rooting for pettiness. But, when it comes to the wallet, you have to go with your head. And, what do we really know about UGA’s corners? Do we trust them? They were immolated against Oklahoma, a healthy-Tua Alabama passing attack, and last year against a much worse LSU passing attack. This is not that pedestrian LSU unit. The Tigers are going to score. Yes, the Dawgs will look competent on offense, because LSU’s defense is a stinker. And, yes, UGA is going to pose some problems with the pass rush and shutting down Clyde to some extent. But with the injuries, lack of playmakers on the outside, meh Jake Fromm, an offense so conservative Richard Spencer cringes, and — yes — Kirby’s weakness against the vertical passing attacks, it’s just way, way too much for UGA to handle. LSU covers fairly handily.