Friday Football Picks, Week #9

Another losing week last week going 4-6…making that 3 losing weeks out of the last 4. Apparently, conference play really affects my ability to pick games. But, as they say around Auburn these days regarding hot-seat head coach Tommy Tuberville, “we need to look at the overall body of work.” Which, this season, my overall body of work is 43-36-1 against the point spread. Lots of good games this week, even if my beloved Tigers have a homecoming game against a lower-division team…

Alabama at L.S.U. (+3): Saban’s return to Death Valley and all the chips favor St. Nick. An L.S.U. defense that has given up 50 point TWICE. In conference games. An Alabama team that isn’t flashy, but has risen to every occasion given to them this season. They don’t turn the ball over or commit penalties. Last year, Bama had the national champs on the ropes, too, at home. I think Alabama is better than they were last year, and I think L.S.U. is not nearly as good as last year. And, of all things, L.S.U. has to play this one during the day and we all know Tiger Stadium is a different park after dark. Diner Prediction: Alabama 31, L.S.U. 20.

Oklahoma State (+3) at Texas Tech: The Red Raiders move from being the hunters to the hunted. I doubted last week that they could handle the pressure of the big stage, and now the stage is more meaningful even if the national eyes aren’t upon Texas this weekend. They’re still lining up in Raidertown and acting like it’s as big a deal as #1 Texas rolling in, but we all know you can’t sustain that emotion. Plus, nobody’s talking about a very good O.S.U. team that took Texas to the wire on the road. But at the end of the day, the emotions will settle down and Graham Harrell will pick apart the O.S.U. defense like he does pretty much everybody else. Diner Prediction: Texas Tech 41, Oklahoma State 27.

Clemson (+5.5) at Florida State: Florida State fumbles going into the end zone last week that would’ve beaten a good Georgia Tech team. And, Clemson has underachieved and been through a lot this season which has taken an emotional toll. Seminole fans are excited their team is on the rise again while Tiger fans are wondering what went wrong (like at Auburn) in a season that looked so promising. Doak Campbell Stadium with Seminole fans really meaning the Tomahawk Chop again makes the difference in this one. Diner Prediction: Florida State 24, Clemson 17.

Kansas (+1) at Nebraska: This one started out with Kansas as the favorite and the line made them a one-point underdog. It’s interesting how the Jayhawks have not been able to sustain the magic they had from last season, and even more interesting that the Big Red still doesn’t seem to have turned the corner. At the end of the day, even with the most knowledgeable and classiest fans in college football cheering them on at home, I still think that the Fighting Manginos (or should it be “Eating Manginos?”) have more offensive firepower than Nebraska has players that can stop them. Diner Prediction: Kansas 38, Nebraska 35.

Notre Dame (+3.5) at Boston College: BC played their best game against Virginia Tech. Notre Dame is on the rise again and improved, but their best games have come in losing efforts. They haven’t found that way to win yet, and going on the road to play the Golden Eagles on astroturf, well, I think the game will play out in a hard-fought game where the Irish come down on the losing side again. This isn’t the week they’ll turn the corner. Diner Prediction: Boston College 23, Notre Dame 17.

Penn State at Iowa (+7.5): Lemme get this straight. Penn State’s had a week off. They’re #3 in the nation. They score over 30 points a game. They should walk against a 5-4 Hawkeye team, right? Iowa looks as if they’d come around until they fell short last week on the road at Illinois. And, the Hawkeyes can score, too. But I think Paterno knows full well that he’s got to start impressing folks to climb over the BCSers in their way. It won’t be a walk, but the better team will win this one. Diner Prediction: Penn State 38, Iowa 28.

California (+20.5) at U.S.C.: There was a time when this one mattered in a big way in the Pac-10. The reality for the Trojans has been that they rise to the occasion in the big games but then falter against teams that they should easily beat. And Pete Carroll, despite his ridiculous claims this week that the BCS works against U.S.C. all the time (has there EVER been a team it’s worked more in favor for?), is 24-0 in November, kids. He won’t mess around this time, especially at home. Diner Prediction: U.S.C. 42, California 21.

Georgia at Kentucky (+10.5): The Bulldogs have failed their biggest two tests this season. They’ve handled the small ones. When they show up to play, like they did against L.S.U., they do very well. And, well, this isn’t really a big one. Both of these teams got their hats handed to ’em by the Gators, giving up over 100 points between them…and I wonder about doubt creeping into the Dawgs minds. In the end, Georgia’s the better team…and I’m thinking they’ll show up, despite the reality that weird things happen in November in the Bluegrass. Diner Prediction: Georgia 31, Kentucky 20.

Michigan (+7.5) at Minnesota: The Golden Gophers have been quietly compiling a 7-2 record…until they blew it last week against Northwestern. Everybody knows about Michigan’s ups and downs as they struggle to implement Rich Rodriquez’s spread offense without the athletes to do it. They won’t go bowling for the first time in 33 years so they’ll approach the remaining games with added intensity–or they’ll roll over. My guess is that it’ll be with added intensity but it won’t be enough on the road against Minnesota. Diner Prediction: Minnesota 31, Michigan 20.

Oklahoma at Texas A&M (+27): Mike Sherman has put two wins together and the Aggies are feeling pretty good about the direction of the program. The problem is that there’s a reason the “direction” is needed and it’s because coach Fran left that cupboard bare, man. And that Aggie defense is giving up around 40 points a game to really good teams. Oklahoma’s a really good team…and the offense of the Aggies won’t be enough to keep up. Diner Prediction: Oklahoma 52, Texas A & M 24.

There you have it, folks! What do you think?