Friday, November 10, 2006

Rutgers is for real; and the weekly picks

I caught only glimpses of last night's Rutgers-Louisville game because I was in the office, answering a steady stream of phone calls from coaches reporting their high school state tournament games. The Scarlet Knights were down 18, then it seemed like I blinked, looked up and was watching Jeremy "Don't call me Lance" Ito kicking a field goal to tie it at 25.

But I did see most of the fourth quarter, and was quite impressed with what Rutgers pulled off. Like most who watched the Scarlet Knights struggle with UConn, I thought Louisville was at least a 10-point favorite. And after racing to a 25-7 first-half lead, it looked like a sure blowout. Yet Rutgers' defense tightened up and made Brian Brohm look ordinary, while the offense came alive once they started getting the ball to Ray Rice (19 of his 27 carries in the second half). I was baffled when Rutgers came out throwing the ball -- Mike Teel is without a doubt the weak link on the offense -- and it could have cost it the game. But a great win for the Knights, which likely cemented itself as a Big East football power for many years to come. There's enough talent coming out of New Jersey and New York alone to make it happen. The entire country was watching last night, which in and of itself will be a boon for Rutgers recruiting.

Jeremy Ito replaced Bon Jovi and the Boss as most popular man in New Jersey last night

Unfortunately, the Big East probably saw its chances of a national title opportunity go out the window. Louisville was in position where a win would have all but guaranteed a spot. Rutgers should jump into the top 10 in the AP poll and in the BCS standings. But the likelihood of passing Florida, Texas, Auburn, USC, Cal, Notre Dame, Arkansas and LSU in the next three games seems remote. Keep in mind Rutgers still has to defeat West Virginia (also ahead in the BCS standings) in Morgantown on Dec. 2 -- a tall order. If Rutgers does run the table and then gets shut out of a title game, maybe the New York media will make enough noise for the conference commissioners to finally get a playoff system in place. Then again, monkey's might fly out of my...oh, never mind. On to the picks.

It was a rough week against the spread, as no one finished above .500. I went 3-8, by far my worst week of the season, knocking my season record to 48-50-5. I can't finish below .500, and I feel a perfect week coming on!

Game 1: Syracuse (+10) over SOUTH FLORIDA: The winless streak in the Big East will continue for the Orange, but they'll find a way to stay within 10 points of a Bulls' team that I can't figure out at all. See them lose to Kansas. See them hang with Rutgers to the final play. See them get hammered by Cincinnati. See them hammer Pittsburgh. The most unpredicatable team in the Big East.

Game 2: Cincinnati (+18.5) over WEST VIRGINIA: Don't look now, but the Bearcats have won 4 of the last 5 and are a game away from becoming bowl eligible. They've allowed nine points in beating South Florida and Syracuse the last two weeks, and gave Louisville fits. Cincy won't win, but they'll easily cover this spread.

Game 3: CONNECTICUT (+8) over Pittsburgh: Anyone else feel the Huskies primed for a win this week? Donnie Brown may be the spark UConn needs to rejuvenate the offense. Pitt's own offense hasn't done much lately, while the Huskies defense more than held its own against Rutgers and West Virginia.

And for the non-Big East games...

Game 4: Notre Dame (-12) over AIR FORCE: Bet the over on this game. These teams will combine to score at least 70.

Game 5: SAN JOSE ST. (+14) over Boise State: Should be a classic WAC matchup. What do you think the rating would be if undefeated Boise State met undefeated Rutgers in the national championship game on Jan. 8? It would make the St. Louis-Detroit World Series look like the final episode of M*A*S*H. But I wouldn;t miss it for the world. Too bad it won't happen.

Game 6: Tennessee (+5.5) over ARKANSAS: I always root for the non-traditional football powers who are having great seasons. But the Razorbacks (8-1) see their BCS dreams come to a crashing halt. Off the top of your head, can you name a significant NFL player who played for the Razorbacks? I'm sure there are several, but I just spent a good 10 minutes trying to think of one, and I couldn't.

Game 7: FLORIDA STATE (+8.5) over Wake Forest: I keep picking against the Demon Deacons, and I've been wrong every time. Why break tradition?

Game 8: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (-8) over Oregon: The Trojans can thank Rutgers for breathing new life into their national championship hopes. ... I just realized that Pete Carroll and the entire USC team, most of whom probably couldn't tell you what state Rutgers was located in before last night, were sitting around the TV in Los Angeles watching Rutgers and Louisville, just like they were doing at Auburn, Florida, Texas, Cal and everywhere else. The Big East has arrived!

Game 9: AUBURN (-12.5) over Georgia: The Bulldogs now have losses to Kentucky and Vanderbilt this season. Bring back Vince Dooley!

Game 10: South Carolina (+13) over FLORIDA: Gamecocks are 0-4 against ranked opponents this season, but were within a touchdown in three of them.

And the local special...

Game 11: YALE (-2.5) over Princeton: The Bulldogs are rolling. A win clinches a share of the Ivy League title for the first time since 1999 and a potential meeting at Harvard next weekend for the outright crown. Should make for another classic edition of The Game.

OK. I just found a list of Arkansas alumnae who played in the NFL. Among the most prominent are Lance Allworth, Dan Hampton and Pat Summerall, all of whom retired decades ago.

Get your picks in by clicking the "comments" link below.


Blogger Chip Malafronte said...

Chip's picks

Game 1: Syracuse (+10) over SOUTH FLORIDA.
Game 2: Cincinnati (+18.5) over WEST VIRGINIA
Game 3: CONNECTICUT (+8) over Pittsburgh
Game 4: Notre Dame (-12) over AIR FORCE
Game 5: SAN JOSE ST. (+14) over Boise State
Game 6: Tennessee (+5.5) over ARKANSAS
Game 7: FLORIDA STATE (+8.5) over Wake Forest
Game 8: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (-8) over Oregon
Game 9: AUBURN (-12.5) over Georgia
Game 10: South Carolina (+13) over FLORIDA
Game 11: YALE (-2.5) over Princeton

November 10, 2006 11:07 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. USF
2. WVA
3. Pitt
4. Air Force
5. Boise St
6. Arkansas
7. Wake
8. USC
9. Auburnb
10. Florida
11. Princeton

-- Manny

November 10, 2006 1:49 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very inspirational victory for Rutgers last night. I'm sure the rest of the country was thinking, "Why is the state university of New Jersey called Rutgers?" Beyond that thought, I'm sure the campuses of Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, Texas, USC and others were feeling unimpressed. Hypothetically, its like when a Fairfield knocks off a Duke in college hoops and all the FU fans are proclaiming their team #1 when we all know that they would be beaten by 50 by all the teams in the Other Receiving Votes category. Nonetheless, Ray Rice should carry the ball 40 times a game and the other 25 possessions should be screen passes to Brian Leonard. You have to feel bad for the William Gay, the defensive back that was offside on the first missed field goal attempt. If Louisville was a Big 12 school, he'd be welcomed home like Donald Rumsfeld at a Nancy Pelosi birthday party.

South Florida
West Virginia
Air Force
Boise State
Florida St.

November 10, 2006 2:42 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the anonymous comment...Fairfield could play Duke 1,000 times in basketball, and Duke would win 1,000 times. That analogy makes little sense.

November 10, 2006 3:06 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the other anonymous... just relax.

November 10, 2006 3:40 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say Fairfield...that was like when Florida State beat Duke last year in basketball. Sure, great win and everything and a hell of a recruiting tool, but in the end is Florida State a top 10 team? If they play last night's game 10 times, Louisville wins 7 or 8 - and 9 if the game's in Louisville.

Oh, and

1. USF
2. Cincinnati
3. Pitt
4. Air Force
5. Boise State
6. Tennessee
7. Wake Forest
8. USC
9. Georgia
10. Florida
11. Princeton

November 10, 2006 5:30 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. 'Cuse
2. WV
3. Conn
4. ND
6. Tenn
7. FSU
8. So. Cal
9. Georgia
10. Fla
11. Yale

-- Ben

November 10, 2006 5:52 PM 

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