Friday Football Picks, Week #5

As you’ve already read, my picks last week were 1-7. This is why Las Vegas is the best business model ever. You can win all you want for three straight weeks, but that fourth week will bring it back to at least even money. Over the long haul, you just can’t beat the house. This theory works for days, weeks, months or years…even decades. This year, I’m 16-15-1 against the point spread…meaning that if I were betting $100/game I would be up $85 by the time you added in the “service charge” they reserve for taking bets on sports.

Anyway, on to this week’s picks:

Friday Night Game, West Virginia at South Florida (+7): Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. West Virginia is barking about revenge from last year and there’s no question they’ve got a good coach in Rich Rodriquez and a fantastic quarterback in Pat White…but their freshman running back might be the best freshman running back in the country. On the other hand, South Florida is scrappy, well-coached, loaded with talent on defense. They’ve got their first sell-out…EVER. The Bulls kicking game is dicey, though, and it might just cost them tonight. Diner Prediction: West Virginia 31, South Florida 27.

Auburn (+18.5) at Florida: I can’t figure out how Auburn has a chance. Sure, I can list off all the times the Gators have been ranked #1 or whatever and AU has found a way to knock them off…1993, 1994, 2003, 2006. But I’ve watched Auburn play every game and the offense doesn’t gel for whatever reason (I think it’s the recievers are subpar), the defense has multiple injuries to key players and they’re using 13 freshmen this season (they used 4 last year). The Gators, on the other hand, have revenge from last year, speed, and a better-than-expected team. 18 will only be enough if it’s a blowout early and AU gets some garbage points late. Diner Prediction: Florida 34, Auburn 13

Florida State vs. Alabama (+2.5), at Jacksonville, FL: What I would’ve like to see is these two teams play in, say 1992. But I think this should be a good game, too…although I can’t figure out how a Seminole team that was behind at halftime to U.A.B. is favored over the Tide. Bama’s running game is pretty good. Their defense has some trouble on 3rd downs, and the bottom line is that I don’t think Casey Weatherford is as capable as Matthew Stafford at picking those spots to do damage. FSU always has athletes, so it’ll be a good game, but I think the Tide has more playmakers at key positions. Diner Prediction: Alabama 23, Florida State 20.

Clemson at Georgia Tech (+3): Clemson has been a pleasant surprise in the ACC. Georgia Tech has been all over the map, and their win against Notre Dame at the time looked impressive but now, not so much. Georgia Tech’s at home which is nice (and, by the way, I haven’t had a hot dog from The Varsity in about 20 years, and now that I’m thinking about it, I’d kinda like one) in a game like this one, but I think that Clemson is better than Tech and will pull it out in a low-scoring, defense-and-kicking game kind of way. Diner Prediction: Clemson 17, Georgia Tech 13.

U.S.C. at Washington (+20.5): Every ounce of logic says this one will be a blowout. But every year U.S.C. finds a way to let somebody sneak up on them and find themselves in a real fix. Ty Willingham is a better coach than most think (and he might be somebody Auburn might want to look at if Tuberville bolts for A&M once the Aggies have had enough of Fran) and he’ll have Washington ready. They won’t win, but I think they give the Trojans fits. And, tell me again why ABC is broadcasting this in prime time but the next game in my picks–the marquee game in the Pac 10 this week–won’t be seen by anybody? Diner Prediction: U.S.C. 34, Washington 20.

California (+5.5) at Oregon: I’ve become a believer in Justin Forsett and I’m not as impressed as I once was by the Ducks’ victory over Michigan in the Big House. Cal handled a Tennessee team pretty well and I think the Vols on the road are better than Oregon is at home. In fact, I think that the Bears win outright. Diner Prediction: California 35, Oregon 28

Oklahoma at Colorado (+22): Oklahoma is the obvious class of the Big 12. Nobody else in this diminished conference (I think the Big East is better than the Big 12 this year) can stay close. My worry is that Oklahoma may get out to an early lead and then coast…letting Colorado cover. Hopefully not. Diner Prediction: Sooners 41, Colorado 14

U.C.L.A. (+1.5) at Oregon State: Oregon State started out as the underdog this week and has moved to the favorite. Must’ve had something to do with Utah throttling the Bruins and Oregon State being better than most people think. If the Beavers play well, they should win pretty easily against a struggling U.C.L.A. bunch. Diner Prediction: Oregon State 27, U.C.L.A. 17.

And, as a new feature, I started doing picks for the local high school teams…last week I was a surprising 3-0. Here’s this week’s high school picks:

Marcus at R. L. Turner: Turner hasn’t scored one point this season. Not one…in three games. They’ve given up an average of 33 per game. Marcus is more disciplined and in better shape than they’ve been in years. This one will not be close. Diner Prediction: Marcus 45, R.L. Turner 0

Newman Smith at Flower Mound: The Jags aren’t as good as early season predictions indicated, but they’re going to win several of their key district games…but this is one on their schedule they were counting on winning when everybody thought FM was better than they’ve shown. Newman Smith is better than people thought, Flower Mound isn’t as good as people thought. But the Jaguars, at home, will have more than enough. Diner Prediction: Flower Mound 31, Newman Smith 6.

Coppell at Lewisville: The Fighting Farmers are giong up against a team ranked 7th in the area. Even though they had over 500 yards of offense last week, and their defense only gives up about 10 points a game, they haven’t played anybody as good as Coppell. The Farmers will lose at home. Diner Prediction: Coppell 24, Lewisville 13.

There you go…what’re your picks?