By REED NELSON
It’s the week two Dirty Preview, where we break down the upcoming matchup’s from the nation’s dirtiest dozen, or at least the most accurately named of the NCAA’s duodecuplely related entities.
If you missed yesterday’s recap, 11 of the 12 teams were in action last week, and only three teams — Cal, Washington State and Colorado — lost. But that number that figures to rise this week; two teams (Washington and Arizona) are double-digit underdogs, and two more (UCLA and Oregon State) are single-digit long-shots.
Washington (+24) has the toughest matchup, playing in Death Valley against a #3 ranked LSU team. And Arizona (+10) plays at home against Oklahoma State, a team coming off an 84-0 win over Savannah State. But by “win”, I mean in it in the same way that a wrecking ball might say, for instance, that in the battle between it and the plate glass wall, it “won.”
So there’s that. But, on a slightly tangential note, there’s also this: Savannah State (+70.5) plays at Florida State (-70.5). Seriously. A 70.5-point spread. Florida State, in the shiny world of shilling, is coming into Saturday’s game down ten touchdowns and ten-and-a-half extra points. I know that Savannah State, given the same line last week, wouldn’t have covered, but frankly, I could give a damn. I can’t wait for Saturday, sometime around 6 p.m. PST, when Florida State is up 70-3 with four minutes to play in the fourth, and their third unit is driving. Name one other situation in which you could feasibly be excited for a 3rd & 2 in a 70-3 game. You can’t. And I’m pumped.
Back to business.
Without further ado, the Dirty Preview (Picks to win actual game are highlighted bold in matchup):
Utah (-7) at Utah State, 5 p.m. — The Utah State faithful are getting big britches this year, getting nostalgic over 1997 (their last win in the rivalry), and for good reason. QB Chuckie Keaton might be the best signal-caller on the field on Friday. Unfortunately for the Aggies, Utah’s staunch defense should be able to continue their recent rivalry tradition of blowing out the Aggies. Put this one on upset watch, but don’t count on it. Who I’m taking: Utah (-7), AA.
Southern Utah at California (-29.5), Noon — No back-to-back letdowns for Cal here. Especially with Ohio State (presented by Urban Meyer) looming on Sept. 14. Also, look for Jeff Tedford and QB Zach Maynard to unleash a can of whoop ass on poor Southern Utah that has been festering for a week. They weren’t happy about falling short in Cal Memorial Stadium’s inaugural game, I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t let off the gas until they reach 50. Who I’m taking: Cal (-29.5), AA.
Sacramento State at Colorado (-22), Noon — Poor Colorado. They lost to Colorado State last weekend, and this weekend they get to cash one of two bankable victories they have on their 2012 schedule. Only problem is Sacramento State beat Oregon State last year, and Colorado is bad. Not Michael Jackson bad, like decade-old milk bad. They stink. Colorado should win, but, then again, my cable should work. I wouldn’t lay the 22 points, not on Ralphie. Who I’m taking: Sacramento State (+22), A.
E. Washington at Washington State (-12), Noon — Mike Leach was embarrassed in the Cougars season opener, and now he has to feel slightly disrespected. Washington State is laying just 12 points to in-state little brother, Eastern Washington. Like Cal, I expect WSU to play angry — especially QB Jeff Tuel, who is supposed to be good. Against EWU, angry should play just fine. Who I’m taking: Washington State (-12), AAA.
USC (-26) at Syracuse, 12:30 p.m. — The best team in the Pac-12 south is also probably the safest cover in the Pac-12 (Chip displayed last week exactly how many shits he cared. It rhymes with hero.), thanks to spread-conscious coach Lane Kiffin. Captain Kiffin manages to pilot his teams not only to victory, but he covers the spread like its a clause in his gaudy, gross, forged-in-the-fires-of-Mordor contract. 26 points? Please. Warren Buffett has stressed more over a lunchtime tip than Kiffin is currently stressing about covering a 26-point spread against a team that tried to start a Coach K product at quarterback two years ago. Who I’m taking: USC (-26), AAA.
Wisconsin at Oregon State (+7), 1:05 p.m. — The Beavers are seven-point dogs at home, but that seams to be a kind line. Given that Hurricane Isaac grounded (literally) OSU’s week one warm up against Nichols State, this is not a favorable opener. Wisconsin’s Heisman-hopeful Monte Ball has had one more week to recover from his bizarre off-season jumping, and that doesn’t bode well for an Oregon State team whose 2012 live-snap experience begins and ends with their spring game. Who I’m taking: Wisconsin (-7), AAA.
Fresno State at Oregon (-35), 3:30 p.m. — Much more on this matchup to come tomorrow, but for now, I’ll leave you with this: As far as a matchup go, Oregon should cruise like Penolpe (I know, her’s is spelled Cruz. Work with me here.), but when it comes to covering a 35-point spread, that’s a tougher sell. Oregon entered the half in week one with the 37-point spread covered, only to fiddle their way to a mere 23-point victory. As a betting man, I’m inclined to take Fresno State, Derek Carr and the 35 points, then hope that Chip decides that Bryan Bennett needs some more work behind the second unit offensive line. Oregon to win, FSU covers. Who I’m taking: Fresno State (+35), AA.
Washington (+24) at LSU, 4:00 p.m. — Blah, blah, blah. Keith Price might have more success against the SEC-elite than Denard Robinson had against Alabama last week, but Les Miles and LSU love, given the opportunity, to win big. While LSU’s offense is unproven as of yet, Washington’s feeble ground attack against San Diego State last week (66 yards on 22 carries for new starter Bishop Sankey) won’t translate to an SEC-matchup. And let’s not forget where they are: Death Valley is loud. If Washington faults behind early and is forced to go to the air, Keith Price could have a tough time just getting plays off, forget adjustments. Regarding the spread, Washington might keep it close. But the real game? I suppose there’s a Dumb-and-Dumber chance, but that’s about all. Who I’m taking: LSU (-24), AAA.
Nebraska at UCLA (+5.5), 4:30 p.m. — If Nebraska actually is them team they like to fashion themselves as, then UCLA is in some week two trouble. Jonathan Franklin went off last week, posting 214 yards and three touchdowns in UCLA’s rout over Rice, but to expect a repeat performance from the senior is a bit overbearing. Look for this one to stay close — I have UCLA covering at home — but for Nebraska to come out on top. With the spread: UCLA (+5.5), AA.
Illinois at Arizona State (-4.5), 7:30 p.m. — It’s hard to imagine that Arizona State is coming into their Big Ten showdown as favorites, but last week’s performance is not to be overlooked. They (usually) like playing at home, and now that Brock Osweiler is no longer pretending to be a tree in Tempe (silly kid. Should’ve gone for a cactus.) I like ASU to cover. Don’t really know why, but I like Todd Graham wayyyyyy more than I like Dennis Erickson and something about Illinois doesn’t invoke confidence in me. Who I’m taking: ASU (-4.5), A.
Oklahoma State at Arizona (+10), 7:30 p.m. — Oklahoma State just beat a team — doesn’t matter which one — 84-0. Unless they have a debilitating hangover from the copious amounts of confidence they consumed last week, it’s hard for me to imagine Arizona emerging from this one victorious. RichRod’s bunch made last week’s home opener against Toledo way too interesting for a home opener against Toledo, and this is a tough rebound game. Who I’m taking: Oklahoma State (-10), AA.
Duke at Stanford (-15), 7:30 p.m. — Being -15 is good right? Shows some confidence, no? And Duke? They certainly don’t play football. How can Stanford, My Last Name Should Be Changed to BCS Stanford, not be the safest bet to cover on the board? I’m right, right? No, Reed. Calm down. You were fine a week ago, but when Stanford posted an anemic 20 points last week en route to a 20-17 squeaker over San Jose State — failing to cover the spread or hit the over, mind you — your confidence in the Cardinal should’ve been shaken. David Shaw might be a great coach, but Andrew Luck might also be irreplaceable. Stanford will win on Saturday, but in my sports book upset special, I got Duke to make up the difference. Who I’m taking: Duke (+15), AA.