Unfortunately, there is no football this week. KU is off until next Saturday, having sold its soul to the gods of TV land for untold riches-that, and the chance to redeem its tarnished image after playing the Baylor of the North every time they have graced the small screen thus far this season. Still, there will be some pretend football, which means point-spread excitement.
This week's action, including IQ (i.e., Interest Quotient: *=Mizzou's second round pre-season NIT game at the Paige; *****=Finding gas at $1.89/gallon):#
1. Mizzou +2 @ k-state**
Poor Mizzou. In a Tale of Two Snyders, the Tiger basketball team (if you want to call it that) starts off the week by blowing a gift-wrapped run to Madison Square Garden with its loss to the Bearkats (that's right-they lost to a school that can't even spell "cats") from beautiful, downtown, Nacogdoches, TX. On the same night, its football team (if you want to call it that) learns that it has the honor and privilege of playing the role of the Washington Generals Saturday afternoon in the first game ever at the Bill Family Snyder Stadium in-what else-Bill Snyder's swan song. There's probably one team in the conference that could stand up and prevail against the purple horde in this atmosphere-but it isn't Mizzou.
2. Oklahoma +7 @ Texas Tech***
I have been saying all year that there is only one good team in the Big 12 and only one good team in Texas, and Tech isn't it. OU is more and more beginning to resemble a good team, with flashes of future greatness. They could win this game in Norman. In Lubbock, 7 points is worth giving the Sooners a second thought. Not quite a third, however-at least not this year.
3. Oklahoma St +2.5 @ Baylor*1/2
A few weeks ago, people were wondering how Baylor had bypassed KU with its rebuilding program. Haven't heard that one lately. The only thing Baylor has going for it now that it cannot become bowl eligible is the home field. Okie St is hungrier at this point of the season.
4. Purdue -13 @ Indiana*1/2
How quickly a season can change. It wasn't long ago that taking Purdue's opponent to cover was easy money. Then something clicked, and they have since been playing the way they were expected to play all season.
5. Northwestern -14.5 @ Illinois*1/2
This is one of those rivalry games where Illinois could pull a surprise-especially playing at home. Because of the definition of "surprise," I'll take:
6. Minnesota +4.5 @ Iowa***1/2
Glen Mason's teams are rarely world-beaters away from the Metrodome.
7. Ohio St -3 @ Michigan****1/2
Coaches who lose this game too frequently find themselves Snyder-ized (Quin, not Bill)-i.e., seeking employment elsewhere. Especially if they can't win it at home.
8. Penn St -7.5 @ Michigan St****
Once upon a time, Michigan St beat Notre Dame in South Bend. That seems like ancient history now.
9. Duke +24.5 @ UNC*1/2
About the same line for this year's basketball games. UNC is tough at home. The question is: Can they score 24 points more than Duke? Good call by the oddsmakers. I'll go with Duke's halfway decent offense to score enough to stay within three TD's (plus 2 point conversions).
10. Virginia Tech -7 @ Virginia***1/2
VT could let down now that it is out of the Rose Bowl picture, or stop choking, relax, and play lights out. But wait: there's another team in this game that is desperate to claim the state championship.
11. Vanderbilt + 12.5 @ Tennessee**1/2
Vandy is not a bad team. They did everything but beat Alabama, Kentucky, and Florida. They will at least put up a fight in their season finale.
12. Alabama +7 @ Auburn*****
The most bitter, even vicious, rivalry in the country. These teams are evenly matched. Bama has the better D; Auburn the better O. With the home field, Auburn may well win, but no one runs away from the Crimson Tide.
13. Oregon St +13.5 @ Oregon***
I apologize for saying there are no games this week. It was a joke. There are, in fact, a ton of games where the sheer emotion of college football will shine through-where the games will be played for their own sake, not for any rewards awaiting at the end of the rainbow. This is athletic competition at its best and in one of its purest forms. This is such a game. It will be like pulling teeth for Oregon to pull away in this one simply because of the emotion.
14. Cal -4 @ Stanford**1/2
Who can forget the band running on the field on that fateful day when the kickoff was run back for a game winning TD after 73 laterals on the game's final play. I'm serious: Who can forget it? Even if you want to. You will see it 30 or 40 times Saturday prior to game time, no matter what game or games you choose to watch. Cal is headed in the wrong direction, having lost 4 of 5. Stanford has won 4 of 6. I'll go with those trends and the home team.
15. Fresno St +24 @ USC***
Yes, Fresno St is a solid team. USC is 24+ points solider.
Happy Off Week!
--Mark ____________________________________________________________________ #Remember:
1. These picks are for entertainment purposes only. 2. You get what you pay for. 3. There are no refunds.