By REED NELSON
So I’m not usually one for general griping, but last night was like the Pinnacle of Televised Grossness in the World of Reed Nelson.
The Disgust-O-Meter peaked sometime around Wolf Blitzer revealing CNN’s Vice Presidential Debate Poll results, but it had been building since around 9:15 PST, when $30 Million of Alex Rodriguez’s offensive futility reached new levels of impotence.
If the weather hadn’t decided to rear its gruesome Hyde-ish head in Eugene last evening, a walk might have been therapeutic (I feel that this is all connected to the rain, but I can’t quite figure out how.), but this is Eugene and it is October.
All that’s finished now, and today is a special day. That’s right, it’s the day after 10/11/12 Day! It happens once a century, so let’s enjoy it.
Considering ASU did to Colorado last night what teams generally do to Colorado, you are going to have to trust me that I laid the 22-points. Yes, this is being released retroactively, and if this was last week (Utah covered), or the week before (Washington’s shocker), then I would lambaste myself for even attempting a stunt like this, but given the participants of Thursday night’s game, I’ll err on the side of forgiveness. I don’t expect the same leniency from you, however.
While the Week 7 doesn’t offer quite the spectacle that last week offered (The Bulldogs and Tigers and Longhorn’s got fried!), and the Ducks happen to be off, but we take what we can get, right?
For the second straight week, a Titan of the SEC will fall. #3 South Carolina travels to Death Valley to take on an angry #9 LSU team coming off their first loss. You want subtext? We got subtext: With a win, South Carolina could overtake Oregon when the first BCS polls are released this weekend. That would send LSU tailspinning out of the Top 15. If LSU wins, however, there could be a logjam of one-loss SEC teams in the Top 10. Oh, and this is the Old Ball Coach’s first time in the Top 5 since his days in Gainsville.
But you know what carries about as much clout in 2012 as Myspace? The Red River Rivalry. The Oklahoma-Texas game, annually held on neutral ground, has watched its relevancy turn into this remarkably cyclical entity. One team is good, the other isn’t, then it flip-flops. And then, for a few years every decade, the games are great. The only problem with this model? Those games featured QB’s Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy. This one features Landry Jones and David Ash. With these two clinging to the Tendrils of Dominance, this years game matters, that much you can count on. The level of play? That is yet to be determined.
Enough of this Macro hogwash, however. I’m 7-3 in the last two weeks against the spread, and I’m ready to rock this.
Off we go (As always, times are PST, lines from sportsbook.ag, and my moneyline picks are in bold.):
ASU (-22) at Colorado (+22), O/U 56, 6:00 p.m. — I had a draft penned for this, justifying why I was going to lay 22 points on the road, and then I remembered: This is Colorado. Don’t over think it. Just trust that if they don’t have the benefit of Mike Leach on the opposing sideline, they are still the team capable of throwing up just 200 yards of total offense against Sacramento State. They are the Little Giants before the uniform upgrade. They are one wrung above the Washington Generals on the Totem Pole of Ineptitude. I can’t take Colorado. They’ve covered one time this season, and they’ve been given spreads that have totaled over 100 points in their favor. Who I’m taking: ASU (-22), AAA, with the Under.
Utah (+9) at UCLA (-9), O/U 51.5, Noon — Two weeks ago, these were two of the Pac-12 South’s most promising teams. Flash forward to now, and UCLA and Utah have a combined conference record of 1-4 and both are on the brink of a breakdown. In what will be Utah’s second game in two weeks against an LA school (this one on the road), the Utes need to establish an offensive identity. Any identity. I don’t care if they settle on Steve Buscemi’s Homeless Guy from Big Daddy. If it’s an identity, I’ll take it. They are staunch on defense, for the most part, but have shown the propensity to give up the big play. UCLA’s QB Brett Hundley likes chucking it up there, but his top target, WR Darius Bell is likely to miss Saturday’s game. Is that an equalizer? Against the spread it might be. Utah’s offense is still a mess, and QB Jon Hays has had trouble establishing any sort of consistent rhythm since Jordan Wynn got knocked out in Week 2 against Utah St. If Utah wants to get back into bowl contention, a win here would be key. A loss pushes them to 2-4. If UCLA wants to remain in the discussion for the Pac-12 Championship game they will likely have to win out. At least the stakes are high; that never happens in college football. Who I’m taking: Utah (+9), AA, with the Under.
#17 Stanford (+7) at #7 Notre Dame (-7), O/U 43.5 12:30 p.m. — This is like the Private University’s version of what takes place at the beginning of 300: The winner emerges a man, while the loser gets eaten by a weird looking wolf with vibrantly yellow eyes. If Notre Dame can win at home, they can basically guarantee themselves a spot in the Top 5, signed, stamped, sealed and delivered if LSU knocks off South Carolina. If Stanford can beat Notre Dame, it will be their second takedown of a Top 10 foe, and their one loss will merely look like a tiny pimple on the face of the Prom Queen. Voters will get past it. Computers will too. The problem for Stanford will be the likely absence of top wideout, Ty Montgomery. Cardinal QB Josh Nunes finally found a rhythm against Arizona last week, and against one of the nation’s toughest defenses, he could use all the targets he can get. That being said, Notre Dame isn’t exactly in the business of blowing out opponents, nor is their offense especially equipped for it. I like Notre Dame to win the game, but I like Stanford to cover. Who I’m taking: Stanford (+7), AA, with the Over.
#10 Oregon State (+5.5) at BYU (-5.5), O/U 37.5, 12:30 p.m. — This should be a no-brainer right? A Top 10-ranked OSU team against a BYU squad that lost to Utah three times in ten minutes (Seriously. They did. Go back and watch that tape. If there was any evidence of divine intervention in a football game, that was it. It was as if their H.P. was all, “Here, you pray all the time, I’ll help a brother out. I’ll put you in striking distance of the endzone with nine seconds to play, does that work? Cool. Wait, you got hit as you were trying to get into field goal range and proceeded to launch a pass perilously into the air, Riley Nelson? No problem. I’ll put another second back on the clock and let you guys try to kick a field goal. That field goal got blocked? Geez, fella’s. You’re pushing me on this one. I’ll scoot the ball 15-yards closer and give you another chance, but it better be perfect. If it isn’t, I’ll send it straight off the upright and allow it to fall harmlessly to the turf on the wrong side of the upright…”), but it isn’t. Oregon State, a troubled team as of late, had just gotten their feet under themselves and their big toes (a.k.a. the feet’s balance coordinators) were named Sean and Mannion. But QB Sean Mannion is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Without Mannion, OSU is a team that needs to prove themselves all over again. I like them to do so. Who I’m taking: Oregon State (+5.5), AA, with the Over.
#11 USC (-13) at Washington (+13), O/U 55, 4:00 p.m. — I don’t think USC is as good as Oregon, on either side of the ball. There, I said it. So, given that theory, Washington should be able to move the ball much more effectively against USC than it did against Oregon. And sure, Washington beat Stanford, who beat USC, right? I’m not getting into the transitive property and this game, theory or no, shouldn’t be close. USC’s offense finally looked like the offense it was billed to be last week against a very tough Utah defense. Matt Barkley has wriggled his way back into the top tie of the Heisman Watch and Robert Woods doesn’t appear to be concussed after taking a shot last week on punt coverage. I like this game to be close early, but USC should win by a few scores, even if they are 2-3 against a double-digit spread this season. Who I’m taking: USC (-13), AA, with the Over.
Cal (-7) at Washington State (+7), O/U 55, 7:30 p.m. — I’d like to take this opportunity to make a quick pick then forgo the rest of the analysis in favor of disseminating a Public Service Announcement that I’ve discovered crumpled in the backseat of my imaginary car, on behalf of the people of Spokane. First the pick: I’m taking Cal this week because, well, they’re playing WSU, a team that is 0-3 in conference, provided Colorado fans with the only uplifting moment they can expect all season and one that is coached by the Famous Mike Leach. Cal, Cal, Cal, Cal, Cal. Now for the PSA:
Dear Residents of Spokane, WA,
Mike Leach, the head football coach at Washington State University has released some valuable information this week, information that we here at the Chamber of Commerce think you might find very helpful in regards to personal safety and well-being.
As some of you may know, Mr. Leach was brought in to revive a program who’s greatest moment of the last two decades was championed by a future felon named Ryan Leaf. He emerged from the cesspool of Texas collegiate athletics embroiled in “controversy.” Don’t believe what those liars from Lubbock say: Mr. Leach is a good man, but also a claustrophobic one, who has an aversion to closets that began as a young child. For them to even insinuate that he would use a confined space in a malicious manner is not only wrong, it is hurtful.
These truths have come to light in our many meeting with Mr. Leach. The one time he allowed us onto his ornate wooden ship, one that he keeps docked on school property, he filled us in on his complicated backstory. We will release that only with his permission. But on to the safety concerns: Mr. Leach would like everyone to know that he fears that his team has been infiltrated by zombies. Yes, zombies. And more specifically, his Seniors. We are trying to gather all the details at the moment, but Mr. Leach is refusing to descend from his crows nest due to what he has repeatedly referred as, “The impending zombie takedown of the one and only true American Pirate!”
Until we have further information, we request that you remain indoors, and stay away from anyone that had what Mr. Leach called “an empty-corpse quality.”
Your Spokane Chamber of Commerce
Again, I’m taking Daaaa Bears. Who I’m taking: Cal (-7), AA, with the Under.