Before the season, I thought the Big Blue had a good chance of winning 9-10 games following this formula: Beat the seven teams they were clearly better than, and 2-3 of their five quality opponents. Didn’t seem unreasonable, what with two of the five being at Home, one at Arrowhead, and one against a good but lesser foe.
To this point, the Hawks are 5-0 vs. the teams they were expected to beat. Unfortunately, they are 0-3 vs. the good teams, having lost to South Florida on the game’s final play, to OU in Norman (which was no surprise), and to a Tech team that proved to be vastly improved over last year—while KU appears to be substantially inferior to the Orange Bowl championship squad.
The question is, exactly how far have the Jayhawks fallen?
We may find out this week.
1. k-state +11 at KU
Until last Saturday, I had considered this game as safe. All of a sudden, it has become an at-risk game. KU has been no more impressive vs. common opponents Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech than k-state has been. Yes, KU has beaten Colorado, while k-state lost to the Buffaloes by 1, but the Hawks played CU at Home, whereas k-state played the Buffs in Boulder.
The Jayhawks have the Home field in this contest, which, along with their quest for redemption, should be enough to carry the day for a W. But by more than eleven points? K-state’s offense will keep the game within a TD and a field goal.
2. Texas -6 at Texas Tech
Texas proved it was vulnerable vs. Okie St., doing everything but losing at Home to the Cowboys. In fact, the key play of the game was an interception thrown by Colt McCoy that appeared to end a UT drive inside the 10. But noooooooo. An Okie St defender was a bit rough with McCoy, and the INT was nullified. Instead of taking possession, Okie St watched as the officials moved the ball closer to the OSU goal line, from where UT scored a TD post haste. Turned out to be a seven point gift by Okie St. They ultimately lost by four.
Unless you count UTEP, this is UT’s first REAL Road challenge of the year. Tech will score against the Longhorns’ suspect pass defense. Whether Tech can slow down McCoy and Co. is another matter.
The REAL key? How Tech handles the pressure of playing in a game of this magnitude. This is the first time in its history that it has had to prepare for a game between two undefeated teams ten weeks into the season, vs. the No. 1 ranked team in all the land, with College Game Day in town, and a slot in the Pretend National Championship game potentially at stake.
I have a REAL tough time envisioning Tech winning this game under these circumstances—unless it gets off to a REAL fast start, such as a long TD pass on its second offensive play of the game.
I also have a tough time seeing UT running away and hiding from a Home team that will put 35 or more points on the board.
3. Mizzou -20 at Baylor
Baylor has shown it can score. So can Mizzou, of course. But they will need to score 49 to cover this spread. Is that REALly a problem?
4. Colorado +3 at Texas A&M
A&M is starting to come alive—at least against mediocre teams. Colorado is a mediocre team without even a mediocre offense.
5. Nebraska +21.5 at Oklahoma
I remember the day when College Game Day—had it existed—would have been in Norman for this game, the biggest game of the year nationally, and it would have been played on Thanksgiving Day or that weekend. No longer.
6. Northwestern + 6 at Minnesota
A big time game looking at the records. Northwestern at 6-2 vs. Minnesota at 7-1. Minnesota at Home and Northwestern without the services of its best running back, as well as a questionable QB is a prescription for an easy cover by:
7. Wisconsin +5 at Michigan St
Wisconsin has not been too kind to me this season. They cover when I pick against them. They fail to cover when I take them. Meaning they will cover this week, because my pick is:
8. Duke +7.5 at Wake Forest
Duke is fading weakly as the season progresses. What the heck: it’s basketball season.
9. Pitt +5.5 at Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish will be in the hunt for all the Pretend Marbles next year.
10. Tulsa -7 at Arkansas
There was a time when a Tulsa victory over Arkansas would have constituted an upset of major proportions. This year, not so much.
11. Tennessee +6 at South Carolina
The Gamecocks don’t beat anyone by much. The Vols don’t beat anyone. . .
12. Florida -5.5 at Georgia
The one team no one wants to play for the PNC.
13. Oregon +3 at Cal
Cal at Home is a Bear.
14. Arizona St +14 at Oregon St
Two teams headed in the opposite direction. Like ships passing in the night. To the extent there are ships in the desert. And except for the Beaver Ship ramming the Sun Devil Ship, sending it to its watery or sandy grave.
15. Utah -7.5 at New Mexico
Last week’s Gimme of the Week didn’t go so well. Utah St gave Fresno everything it wanted, beating a 16.5 point spread by 14.5 points. Nor would it have been better to have played the other Usual Suspect, as Idaho not only came within the 14 points they were allotted vs. New Mexico St, they actually won the game outright, 20-14. So what is there to believe in anymore? Washington St? Maybe. But can Stanford beat ANYONE by thirty points—even what might be the worst team in the FBS?
Let’s try the other route; i.e., playing a mismatch because one of the teams is a juggernaut rather than a patsy. I’ll take the juggernaut.