By REED NELSON
Now that the cold-sweats have subsided, the shakes have become manageable and the pounding in my head has been reduced to nothing more than a patter, I think it’s time to come clean about something: I have a problem. These Duck-withdrawals are the tangible evidence I needed.
A fall weekend without an Oregon game is like a Coke with no fizz, an Oreo with no cream, eggs with no bacon. The skeleton of an entertaining weekend may remain, but that doesn’t make up for the lack of substance.
At least there’s gambling. As one of the Commandments state: Thou shalt fill the void of a Saturday rooting interest with that of a monetary one. Wait… that’s not a commandment? I’ve been reading the wrong book. Either way, however, my book says that you can replace your vested interest in your team with a gambling interest in someone else’s. Any objections? Not a one, thank you very much (Yeah, I only asked myself the question. You caught me).
That’s how I got through the weekend, anyways, not that weekends are traditionally arduous or anything. Around the country, however, there was much ado about plenty.
For the second second time in two weeks, two or more Top 5 teams lost to lower-ranked opponents. This week’s act included a No. 3 South Carolina team that was edged by No. 9 LSU and No. 5 West Virginia losing to unranked Texas Tech.
While both losses helped Oregon out in the BCS on a marginal level, neither directly impacted the Ducks. The stellar play of the Pac-12’s best, however, did help Oregon (even Stanford, who stayed in the Top 20 even after the sort-of loss to Notre Dame on Saturday).
It also helped inflate my ego. After a third straight week of plus-.500 picking, I’m over .500 for the season, folks! 22-19-2. I’d be in playoff contention in the Eastern Conference of the NHL, if the Eastern Conference was a real thing and the NHL weren’t make believe. 4-1-1 was the record this week (6-0 on the moneyline), pushing my record over the last three weeks (the time that has elapsed since the gross goose egg) to 11-4-1.
But let’s go kill some birds, I’m psyched.
Arizona State 51, Colorado 17 — Somebody needs to include Arizona State in the rankings. And make the band that does the Sam Adams commercials the only band allowed to score commercials. Both would be helpful. But, after much first-half Twitter hubbub, ASU settled down, Taylor Kelly made some very good decisions, and the Buffs do what they do best: Lose. My Pick: ASU (-22).
UCLA 21, Utah 14 — Utah, I dub thee, “King of the Backdoor Cover, And No, Not in a Sexual Sort of Way.” It’s a mouthful, I know, but they deserve it. The Utes might not have earned any style points, or real wins for that matter, during the last two weeks, but they have provided gamblers with some of the sneakiest fun of the college football season. During their last two games, they’ve been about four points out from beating the spread with less than five minutes to play, and in both games, they’ve put in a touchdown to get in the money. It’s been awesome. My pick: Utah (+9).
#7 Notre Dame 20, #17 Stanford 13, OT — This was a weird one. Every birds-eye-replay of the final play that has aired in the last 96 hours has shown, indisputably, that Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor scored. But the replay from the sidelines looks like a totally different play. I’m not kidding. In the sideline replay they might as well have lined up in a spread formation and ran the Tebow Jump Pass Play. They looked totally different. But he was in (even Mike Pereira said so, and the way Bo Knows Sports, Mike Knows Officiating) and it could be said that Stanford got jobbed, and somehow the slight was enough that Notre Dame is now viewed by the BCS computers as the No. 2 team in all the land. Again, weird. But here is the weirdest of all: Everyone actually took into account that Stanford, still ranked No. 20, actually got jobbed. It sounds strange, I know. But we live in a world where a team loses to another team by three points, on a last-second field goal, and slides nine spots in the polls. At least there was compassion for Stanford. My Pick: Stanford (+7).
#10 Oregon State 42, BYU 24 — Oregon State just keeps winning. Even without starting QB Sean Mannion, the Beavers still smashed. Cody Vaz stepped in wonderfully for Mannion, throwing three TD’s in his stead, and the OSU defense was stellar as always. Just one question: When will the odds-makers (and gamblers alike) actually believe in this Beaver team? Giving them five and a half against an unranked BYU team? Respect the ranking fellas, even if it means nothing. My pick: Oregon State (+5.5).
#11 USC 24, Washington 14 — So it appears that we can trust USC to win, but they’re not nearly consistent enough for me to trust them to cover on a regular basis. On the season, they are now 2-4 against the spread, covering only against Hawaii and Cal, and against Cal it was iffy. But then again, Lane Kiffin appears to have his hands full. I bet he hasn’t caught a glimpse of Dan Sheridan in weeks. And Steve Sarkesian’s head must spinning, exorcist-style, after the last three weeks. The amount of prep work that must have gone into to keeping two out of the three straight games against Top 10 opponents close, let alone the work it took to win one (and not to mention LSU two weeks before that)? Boy needs a nap. But the good news for Washington? They still managed to get a win in the toughest five game stretch any Pac-12 team will have to run through this season (over then-No. 8 Stanford). I’d say things are looking OK in Seattle. My pick: USC (-13).
Cal 31, Washington State 17 — Mike Leach is still looking for zombies, and Jeff Tedford’s team has gotten hot just in time to spare him the embarrassment of a mid-season firing. Washington State is a miserable program, I’d even go as far as calling them the worst team in the Pac-12 at the moment. Sure, Utah is still winless, but they’ve made their Pac-12 games, post-ASU, entertaining at least. The only way things stay engaging with WSU is if they’re blowing a lead to an impotent Colorado team, which is always fun to watch. Anyways, thanks to a couple of timely victories, Da Bears are now 3-4 on the season, and 2-2 in Pac-12 play (4th in the North, ahead of Washington and WSU). They’ve managed to make the tough transition from a steaming pile of awfulness to a manageable pile of mediocrity. Baby steps, people, baby steps. On a side note: Cal was in the Top 5 in the final BCS standings as recently as 2004. Yes, they had Aaron Rodgers at the time, but the coach was the same. I could see why people in Berkeley are getting fed up with Tedford. My pick: Cal (-7).
Against the spread: 22-19-2.
On the moneyline: 43-11.