Diner Football Picks, Week #4

3-7.
3-6-1.
3-7.

9-20-1.

Oh, man. Never before has The Diner been off to such a lousy start in the weekly football picks. And, the last few weeks have started off with all sorts of bravado about going undeterred into this weeks picks. Well, this week, I’m going in a LOT more gun-shy than that. And with good reason.

So, with a mild degree of trepidation and a huge dose of humility, on with this weeks picks!

Ball State (+33) at Auburn: Auburn can name their score in this one, and they will. That’s the problem. Tennessee looms next weekend, and they’ll do everything they can to establish a lead, keep their thin starters healthy, and get their youth some experience for down the road. Chizik is managing an entire season here, and he will. But I think 5TD’s is enough and Auburn will cover. You know what’s funny? With the new ESPN agreement with the SEC this game is on television here, while the local TCU game against Clemson isn’t. Diner Prediction: Auburn 49, Ball State 14.

Arkansas (+17.5) at Alabama: There’s a lot of focus on Ryan Mallet and his talented sophomore receiving corps. But what people aren’t noticing is that when Saban sniffs blood, his teams get vicious. Ole Miss went down. LSU looks beatable. The Gators even look vulnerable. The Tide might just be the best team in the SEC this year–while everybody was just waiting for Tebow to graduate and Urban Meyer to go to Notre Dame. I don’t think 17.5 is near enough in this one. Tide defense and bruising running game will get it done in a big way in Tuscaloosa. Diner Prediction: Alabama 38, Arkansas 13.

Arizona State (+11.5) at Georgia: Usually, these things are a done deal when the SEC steps out against the Pac-10. Georgia found their offense in the last couple of weeks after the disaster in Stillwater, but they don’t have a very good defense–which is very rare for Georgia. Still, my guess is that Georgia’s depth will matter late and I think they’ll extend the lead late…especially at home where Richt needs to calm the fears of the UGA faithful to keep them from lighting the fire under his hot seat. Diner Prediction: Georgia 31, Arizona State 17.

California at Oregon (+5.5): Who would’ve thought the national media would anoint the Cal Bears as next in line for the PAC-10 throne? With USC’s debacle at Washington last week the title seems to be Cal’s for the taking. And that’s the problem. The Ducks have enough talent and now enough motivation, and they seem to have steadied the ship after the early season chemistry problems. This one will be a track meet and in this setting, I like the Ducks to cover, and they might not even need the points. I do think Rogers can get the job done, though. Diner Prediction: California 35, Oregon 31.

T.C.U. (+2.5) at Clemson: TCU is looking to carry the Mountain West banner to the BCS bowl game this time around, and last year they gave Utah all they wanted and was a game away from the big time. Well, not Utah has lost and TCU has the chance to step on the national stage…if only some television network would let them get seen. The reality is that the Horned Frogs have a lot riding on this game and Clemson doesn’t. I think the down ACC is an indication that Clemson is basically a favorite only because they’re the home team. I think TCU gets it done on the road. Diner Prediction: T.C.U. 27, Clemson 21.

Texas Tech (+1) at Houston: I think Houston’s win in Stillwater was a fluke, and that Oklahoma State, much like Ole Miss, has been ranked higher than they should’ve been. My guess is that Texas Tech is pretty strong and played well against Texas in Austin. Well, strolling into Houston is a much easier task and I think the Red Raiders might be throwing Taylor Potts’ national coming out party. Casey Keenum’s good, too, but I think the Big 12 team should win a high scoring affair. If they don’t, well, it might signal that the entire Big 12 is down this year…they’ve lost some winnable out-of-conference games. Diner Prediction: Texas Tech 42, Houston 35.

Miami at Virginia Tech (+2.5): Miami has played a pretty tough early schedule, as has Virginia Tech. What we’ve learned is that Virginia Tech has the weakest defense he’s had this decade and their offense has trouble scoring points. That’s not too good since the Hurricanes have no trouble scoring points and is playing pretty stout on defense. I like the ‘Canes, big, even on the road. Diner Prediction: Miami 31, Virginia Tech 13.

L.S.U. at Mississippi State (+13): L.S.U.’s win at Washington is looking pretty good these days, even though the Tiger faithful seemed worried about their lackluster showing. Then they played Vanderbilt in awful conditions and didn’t cover…which again has L.S.U. fans raising eyebrows about their defense. Don’t worry. If L.S.U. can put 31 on a team that shut down U.S.C., and Auburn can hang half a hundred on the Bulldogs, even in the wacky world of the SEC upsets, then the Tigers will have smooth sailing in Starkville. Diner Prediction: L.S.U. 42, Mississippi State 21.

Iowa (+10) at Penn State: Forget last year’s upset in Iowa, please. Penn State now has a chance to make a statement and get a stranglehold on the Big 10. I think Paterno will do everything he can to make that statement, and the revenge factor, playing at home, should be enough against a team that struggled early and hasn’t been relevant since Chuck Long when I was in college. Diner Prediction: Penn State 27, Iowa 14.

Notre Dame at Purdue (+7): The Irish are an enigma this season. They had Michigan on the ropes and let them off the hook and then let Michigan State–a bad football team–stick around and if not for a stupid play call the Spartans could’ve at least sent the game into overtime with a chip-shot field goal. I think Michigan isn’t as good as their hype, which means that Notre Dame isn’t either. My guess is that they’ll allow Purdue, who is better than MSU, hang with them, too, and on the road, I like getting a TD with the Boilermakers even if they don’t win. Diner Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Purdue 27.

Well, there you have it…even if there’s a lot of soul-searching about my prognostication abilities this week! What do you think?

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