By REED NELSON
The first BCS polls are less than a week away, LSU took a tumble and Oregon kept on chugging. All is well in the NCAA.
It almost wasn’t, but now it certainly is.
A quick recap: LSU lost, but retained a spot in the Top 10 (though I find it difficult to imagine that Florida could have lost by the same eight-point margin and retained their #10 ranking), South Carolina pulled an upset-by-rank-only when they trounced #5 Georgia by four touchdowns in Columbia; West Virginia, hampered by early stats that didn’t happen to be inspired by EA Sports, pulled it out over a mysteriously favored Texas team; Oregon stuffed Washington’s ego into blender, and I had myself a nice week on the books.
I went 3-0 against the spread AND on the Moneyline in my three Extra Credit picks (Florida over LSU, WVU over Texas and SC over Georgia. Boom goes the dynamite.) and in the Pac-12, I went a modest 3-2 against the spread (4-1 on the line). I’ll just hang my hat on the national scene, however.
Well, I’ll hang it on that hook, and the one that says that Nick Saban is the most arrogant, entitled, whiny media mannequin since… Nevermind. It seems inappropriate to use a “since” when that “since” barely goes back a week. Reason No. 2,511 to hate Mitt Romney: He redirects Saban-Appropriated rage.
Whatev’s. Saban and Alabama were off this week, clearing the path for Oregon’s showdown with Washington to be one of the three most intriguing matchups of the weekend. It wasn’t, but more on that to come.
In the Pac-12, an injured Sean Mannion and a bumbling Brett Hundley broke the knee-caps on my immaculate weekend, but live and let live, right? I’m now 18-18-1 against the spread this season in conference, which means… I’m back to .500!
In fact, with my one push (Washington State-UNLV, which was only slightly more interesting than that very same Saturday’s matchup of Orange Rind vs. Garbage Disposal) I’m more .500 than .500; more average than average; more Collin Farrell than Collin Farrell.
If it was appropriate to dedicate a dance to mediocrity, I’d do so, but it isn’t. Unless that dance is Gangam Style, the Cat Daddy or the Macarena. Either way, call me SpongeBob, I’m stacking Crabby Patties. And in addition to my Sparkling Achievement of Nothingness, I’m now 37-11 on the moneyline. Not an Everest-ian feat considering Colorado has played nearly every weekend since Sept. 1, but a feat nonetheless.
And hey, if you count my Extra Credit picks for last week, I’m 21-18-1 against the spread. But as a substitute teacher, I’m a dick, so no go on the E.C. points. Sorry, bruh. Onward.
#13 USC 38, Utah 28 — Utah jumped out to a 14-point lead, and then, just to show how exactly overmatched they actually were, they proceeded to blow that lead before the second half even started. Sure, the game looked sort of close on paper, but if USC (and in particular, Matt Barkley and his cough drop addiction. Two fumbles in under three minutes, Mr. Heisman?!? Say it ain’t so…) hadn’t spotted the Utes 14-points, this one would have gotten ugly. Luckily for me, they did spot them the 14, and the books spotted ’em another 14. My Pick: Utah (+14).
#18 Stanford 54, Arizona 48 OT — Who says Josh Nunes can’t chuck it around? The first-year starter flipped his “Enough RichRod is Enough” switch (installed on Friday night) late in the second half on Saturday, erasing a 14-point fourth quarter lead held by the Wildcats. After the deficit was erased, and as if RichRod was searching for the perfect punchline to kick these last three weeks, Matt Scott threw an interception on Arizona’s first OT possession, then, with Stanford needing just a field goal to win, RB Stepfon Taylor took a hand-off — untouched, mind you — 25-yards to the house. Game, set and match, Stanford. Stanford was favored by 9 points coming into this game, which I wrote was way too high. They proved that this week, along with solidifying their reputation as a win-the-game-but-forget-to-cover All-Star. Between David Shaw and Chip Kelly, they care about covering the spread as much as bikers care about sharing the road. My pick: Arizona (+9).
#14 Oregon State 19, Washington State 6 — Two things learned from this game: Mike Leach’s “Air Raid” offense should be renamed “Raided: Anything Helps” and be forced to hold up a sign on the corner of Coburg and MLK, cleverly pronouncing “My Ex had a bettr Attorney than I did.” Yes, the misspelled word was intentional, and yes, it would be part of the deal. Second, Sean Mannion was no joke. He still isn’t a joke, but now he’s hurt. Apparently he was hurt for the whole second half, and decided not to come out. I can’t tell if he’s got balls or is devoid of higher brain function, but I like him. Will the Beavers be able to bounce back after his injury? Hard to tell. What isn’t is how good Mannion has become. He’ll be tough to replace. My pick: Oregon State (-15.5). Hey, at least I hedged it with the Under.
Cal 43, #25 UCLA 17 — Say what?!?!? UCLA!!! You were so, so, so close to being, like, a real contender in the Pac-12 South. Then Jim Mora Jr. decided to go all Gny. Sergeant Hartman on a poor assistant-SID and things seemed to unravel from there. The Bears’ QB Zach Maynard played a brilliant game, throwing for 298 yards (25 of 30) and four touchdowns and only tossing one pick, while UCLA’s freshman wunderkind QB Brett Hundley tripped over himself for four consecutive quarters (31/47 for 253, two TDs and four interceptions). It’s not so sunny in LA for Mora anymore, and with the loss, the Bruins now have the same conference record as… Gasp… Cal. 1-2. That’s right, Jeff Tedford’s bumbling bunch now have as much of a statistical chance at playing in the Pac-12 Championship game as UCLA, formerly of the Top 25 (And yes, I am intentionally omitting the fact that Cal still has Oregon and Stanford on their schedule. It’s for dramatic effect, work with me here.). Looks like that line was justified after all. My B. My pick: UCLA (-2.5).
#2 Oregon 52, #23 Washingotn 21— As I mentioned earlier, it certainly wasn’t the most exciting game of the weekend, but the Ducks did go scoreless for the first two drives. Two whole drives. Things might have gotten harrier, but coach Chip Kelly adapted, and even if Steve Sarkisian had tried to adapt himself, adapting to beat the Ducks on Saturday night would have been like a frog trying to grow wings. Down the road, Oregon could run into trouble coming off their bye in a tricky road-matchup against a resurgent Arizona State, but other than that potential hiccup, all roads seem to still lead through LA. Especially with OSU’s Mannion potentially on the shelf for the season. On another note, DAT is currently 4th in ESPN’s Heisman Tracker, Kenjon is 8th and Puddles is 14th. My pick: Oregon (-24.5).
Against the spread: 18-18-1
On the moneyline: 37-11