I went 2-4, my worst ever showing, in last week’s picks, bringing my season of football prognostication to… drum roll… a subpar 17-17-2. First time I’ve fallen below the .500 mark all year. Time to stop dicking around.
No. 18 MICHIGAN (-3.5) vs. No. 16 Nebraska. I go with the Wolverines simply because they have a greater sense of urgency. There’s a close race atop the Big Ten’s
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Leaders Division. These two teams stand a single game behind No. 15 Michigan State. If it wants to play in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game, Michigan needs to win out, along with some outside factors out of their control. Nebraska is in a similar boat, but at least it owns a tiebreaker over Sparty. Denard Robinson is banged up with a sprained right wrist, but worrying about that is like worring about about a soccer player who has elbow bursitis. Robinson is a run-first quarterback, much like how Tim Tebow is a run-only quarterback.
No. 5 Oklahoma (-16) vs. No. 22 BAYLOR. Once upon a time these two teams were the country’s sweethearts. Funny what losing does, huh? Oklahoma was poised for a BCS Championship appearance being the No. 1 ranked team to start the season until its inexplicable loss to Texas Tech three weeks ago. Baylor gained everyone’s attention on the second day of the season after a thrilling shootout win over then-No. 14 TCU on national television. It was a remarkable win that launched quarterback Robert Griffin III into the Heisman discussion for short while. It was a great win against a solid team. But then the Bears started to play other good teams and they’ll be lucky if even get to play in the Insight Bowl.
It’s a fall from grace not to dissimilar than Stacy Francis’ on The X Factor. Francis, after her first audition, was clearly one of the front runners in the competition. I mean, she was just nailing every song. Then it started to look like the pressure got to her around the third stage of the competition. And then by the time the live shows started she was somewhere in the middle of the pack, after the annoying little girl and before the 60-year-old guy with a douchey full-sleeve tribal tattoo. Anyway, she got the boot last night, after two weeks of dreadful, abysmal, borderline insulting renditions of classic songs by Whitney Houston and Celine Dion. It didn’t help that she has the worst mentor/judge in the whole lot, Nicole Scherzinger. From the dimwitted comments to the changing accents (one minute she talks like she’s from the Crenshaw District, then for the next act she’s talking like she’s from Georgia) to the dreadful song selections she’s giving to her contestants, Nicole’s BY FAR the worst thing about the show this year.
Best thing about the show? Definitely the short blonde girl, Paige, from Lakoda Rayne. I think I’m falling in love. I’m pretty sure there’s a Jodeci song for how I feel about her.
USC (+15) vs. No. 4 OREGON. Hangover. No, seriously. Big win against Andrew Luck last week, ain’t USC ain’t no slouch. Remember, the Trojans were the ones who almost toppled the Cardinal first when they took them to triple OT three weeks ago. Matt Barkley might be one of the most unheralded quarterbacks in college football. While people gush over Luck, Barkley has just as good or better numbers in all the important passing categories.
Speaking of the Ducks, here’s a New York Times article about Oregon football players coasting through their foreign language requirement by taking sign language. Such a college football player thing to do. A snippet: “Older players recommended the sign language course, players said, because they found it engaging and intuitive.” And by “engaging and intuitive” the older players most likely meant “an easy pass.” The story would suggest that’s not the case, but here’s a text from one of my friends from the UO, who also took sign language there, after I told him about the NYT story: “bs […] athletes sit and text mostly.”
Probably the best quote in the story, courtesy of LaMichael James: “If you’re ugly, you’re ugly,” he said. “There’s no, ‘She’s all right,’ like there is in English.”
BEARS (-4) vs. Chargers. For a defense that’s ranked only 25th in defense, the Bears are tied for third in interceptions, while tied for first in defensive touchdowns (thanks to Matthew Stafford last week). Who do the Bears happen to be encountering this week? That’s right, Phil Rivers, the guy with the most interceptions (15) in the league, and your San Diego Super Chargers, the team tied for the most giveaways (21).
In other San Diego news (kinda), Jennifer Lopez is said to be in talks to produce a movie version of “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.”
In related future news: Clint Eastwood is set to direct a motion picture adaption of “The Oregon Trail.” Michael Bay was originally lined up to direct but dropped out due to creative differences with the studio. Turns out he wanted to cast a Russian supermodel as the lead and mount machine guns on the stage coaches.
RAVENS (-7) vs. Bengals. I pray for the safety of some of the Bengals offensive players Sunday. A week after his stout defense got a 22 mark posted on it by the fourth-worst offense in the league and a video of him getting his ankles broken by Marshawn Lynch went viral, Ray Lewis is out for blood this week. It’s the equivalent of a big bully getting dissed by some elusive dorky kid and taking his anger out on the first person he sees. The Bengals kept close with the equally strong Steelers a week before, but the Steelers weren’t embarrassed by a 2-6 team the week prior.
GIANTS (-4) vs. Eagles. I hate to brag, but when its comes to Michael Vick I called it. From Sept. 7 on this very blog:
I have doubts that Vick will be able to duplicate the year he had last year. Michael Vick had a career year last year. However, he’s never had an impressive touchdown-to-interception ratio until last year when it was 21-to-6. He needs to prove to me he can stay consistent.
Vick (79.8 percent passing, 2,193 yards, 11 Pass TD, 11 int.) is having a year like he would have had in Atlanta. Or maybe 2010 was just an anomaly and his play this season is just standard Michael Vick play? Whatever the case, the fact that he has zero rushing touchdowns thus far is just astonishing. If I said the over/under line for Vick’s rushing touchdowns through 10 weeks was 0.5, you’d definitely take the over, right?
Vick got paid in the offseason. Like paid. Like $40 million-guaranteed paid. Here was a guy who was exiled from the NFL, went to jail and wasn’t expected to amount to much upon his return. There was almost no pressure on him. But now that the Eagles did really well last season, and he showed everybody he can be a competent passing QB, and especially because he got paid, he has a ton more pressure than he had before. Vick, though, is not the poster child of players sucking after getting a fat contract extension. That’d go to Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose thrown just two TD’s to six interceptions since he got his big pay day two weeks ago. Yikes!