Heavy Favorites Make for High Point Spreads in Rival Games Like Alabama-Tennessee and USC-Notre Dame But These Classic Matchups Still Bring Intrigue & Tradition
Get a load of the point spreads for this weekend’s games: Alabama by 29 over Tennessee, Oklahoma by 29 over Texas Tech, Stanford 20 over Washington, even Notre Dame’s 9 over Southern Cal.
LSU”s pre-trio suspension +22 over Auburn (way to go guys, especially you Honey Badger, and say goodbye to your Heisman chances while you’re watching the game on TV) has surely been reduced, but these are huge spreads for one traditional SEC rival, one big national rival and conference games that seem they should be much more competitive than the betting experts predict.
Some might yawn when they see this week’s games and those point spreads, but the Pigskin Prognosticator gets excited. Why? Because it’s college football!
And here are this week’s picks:
• UCLA at Arizona (9 ET). Slick Rick is either the eternal optimist or is in need of being asked, “what is the color of the sky in your world!?” He would surely answer “powder blue!” But that would not be right, because the sky is powder blue 325 days a year in Los Angeles and the Bruins’ coach said “I believe we can win this conference” during the Rick Neuheisel Comedy Hour (otherwise known as the UCLA Football Report on Fox Net). Earlier this year, some of his players were suspended, allegedly for testing positive for smoking pot, and either Neuheisel got a strong whiff of the stuff or needs to be tested himself. For its part, there’s apparently something in the air in Tuscon, too, because Arizona fired its coach last week, right in the middle of the season. So if the administration has given up on the season, it’s reasonable to expect the players will do the same. Winner: UCLA.
• Oklahoma State at Missouri (Noon). The Cowboys ride their ponies into Mizzou for what many expecting to be a quick roundup, but Missouri had enough horses to hang with Oklahoma a few weeks ago (38-28 loss after leading 14-3 in the first quarter). Oklahoma State has somewhat of the “Clemson syndrome” in that just when you think the team is ready to win a title, it loses a game against the likes of, well, Missouri. It has Baylor next week and high-scoring Texas Tech before facing OU, so a loss is coming Still, not yet for the boys from Stillwater. Winner: Oklahoma State.
• Auburn at LSU (3:30). Of course, LSU has three players suspended before it plays Auburn. Is any team in America luckier than the Tigers from the Plains? Auburn ditches Barrett Trotter – who had completed only eight passes the past two games (somehow, the Tigers won one of those) – and is going with Clint Mosley at quarterback. It’s hard to know if LSU fans are more mad at Honey Badger and his fellow suspended teammates (failed drug test? Who do they think they are, UCLA!?) or the fact that for the first time in nearly 75 years there’s no night game at Tiger Stadium. Probably the latter, frankly. Winner: LSU.
• Tennessee at Alabama (7:15 p.m.). Ignore the calendar, this is the Third Saturday of October. It’s one of the South’s oldest rivalries and two years ago in Tuscaloosa, it took two Mount Cody blocked field goals – including on one the final play of the game – for the Tide to prevail and preserve its run to the BCS National Championship. But as Sideline Sam pointed out earlier this week, the 2011 Bama team is better than the ’09 squad, so the Crimson Pachiderms will roll ‘ol Smokey back to Knoxville with his tail between his legs. ‘Ol Bear liked beating the Vols so much he handed out cigars to his players and coaches after victories. That, folks, is the mark of a good Southern rivalry. Winner: Alabama.
• USC at Notre Dame (7:30 p.m.). The reason this game is in the middle of the season and the one in the Coliseum is at the end of the year is because when the games were originally scheduled, the wife of the USC president at the time refused to go to South Bend in November because of the weather. This night game is like throwing into the wind for the Trojans and it’s going to be like it’s November anyway – temps in the mid-40s – against a team that’s probably better than them. But something tells the Prognosticator that Matt Barkely is going to bask in the daylight the Notre Dame secondary gives his receivers. Winner: USC.
• Wisconsin at Michigan State (8 p.m.). Sparty put a spark in its defense last week and shut down Denard Robinson as if he were not Superman, but Wile E. Coyote. Can the Big Green Monster to Michigan do the same to Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson? Last year, Wisconsin was favored and Sparty pulled the upset, then watched on their backs from the deck of the Capitol One Bowl while the Badgers played in the Rose Bowl. That still bothers Sparty. And what still bothers the Pigskin Prognosticator is Sparky’s loss to Notre Dame. Winner: Wisconsin.
• Texas Tech at Oklahoma (8 p.m.). Remember Tommy Tubberville, the oft-complaining coach at Auburn? Well, he’s at Texas Tech now. What he will be complaining about this Saturday is neck pain from watching Sooners players race by him on the sidelines on their way to the goal line. Good thing this game isn’t being played in Lubbock, for they are having winds that remind some of the 1930s dust bowl. Winner: Oklahoma.
• Washington at Stanford (8 p.m.). Admittedly, “missed it by that much” on last week’s upset special (44-14 over Washington State but hey, it was just 10-7 at the half) but there’s still an upset looming in the Cardinal schedule. Even with Andrew Luck playing right there in front of them, Stanford can’t attract enough fans at the Farm to fill up the stadium, so there’s little home-field advantage for the home team. Stanford is certainly not losing to USC next week – not with Luck going against that Trojan secondary – so perhaps this is the week. Winner: Washington.