Diner Football Picks, Week 12

This is really embarrassing.

2-8 last week. That’s 9 of 11 weeks that have been losing records–unprecedented, man. And with a season record of 34-64-2…well, why even bother?

BECAUSE THEY’RE PLAYING THE GAMES! Hurray for Minor League Football and the pageantry and passion therein! On to this week’s picks, with some fun rivalry games…

Ohio State at Michigan (+12): Remember when this was a marquee game that settled the Big 10 championship. Well, that’s already been settled and the Buckeyes are going back to Pasadena to play in a Rose Bowl game that won’t mean a thing…but that means they can relax while the sharks have started to swirl around Rich Rodriquez again in Ann Arbor. Michigan could have back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in 5 decades. I don’t know how much fight the Wolverines have left in them. Diner Prediction: Ohio State 28, Michigan 13.

California (+7) at Stanford: I can’t get the image out of my head that Stanford is an average team that rises up and beats big names once a year. And I always think Cal is better than they are. But Stanford has beaten a top 10 team two weeks in a row…and even if those teams might’ve been overrated at the time that’s still a good accomplishment. But how much emotion can they generate three weeks in a row, even in a rivalry game. For their sake, it’s good they’re at home. I think Stanford wins in a close one. Diner Prediction: Stanford 31, California 27.

L.S.U. (+3.5) at Ole Miss: The enigma that is Ole Miss continues. How are they a favorite against an 8-2 L.S.U. team? Well, they have a lot to play for (a win gets them to a nice New Year’s Day bowl) while L.S.U. struggled last week but they played their back up quarterback. Injuries play a part. And, well, after McCluster cranked it up last week, they’ve started playing like people thought they would. This will come down to quarterback play…so it’s a toss up. I’m thinking I like the odds of Snead/McCluster better than the nicked up Jefferson. Diner Prediction: Ole Miss 21, L.S.U. 17.

Oregon at Arizona (+6): The Pac 10 champion likely coming from this game? Who would’ve thought that before the season? Arizona plays good defense, and Erickson always has great talent from junior colleges and gets one year out of them before they flunk out…but Oregon is a better team top to bottom, and I think they will use being on the road to fuel the fire and try to get to the Rose Bowl. Although my heart wants Arizona to win because they’ve never been to the Rose, I just think the better team wins. Diner Prediction: Oregon 31, Arizona 24.

Oklahoma at Texas Tech (+5): Which OU team shows up? The one that has the talent and capability to blow out any Big 12 team or the one that can’t find their footing in bigger games? The rumor mill is starting to crank up again about Leach, which makes Tech fans crazy because, well, let’s be honest, he’s a perfect fit in Lubbock. Of course, it’s starting to about Stoops, too, to Notre Dame. But they still have to play the game, and this year the Red Raiders can’t settle on a quarterback. OU has more depth, even with all their injuries. I like OU. Diner Prediction: Oklahoma 34, Texas Tech 27.

Penn State at Michigan State (+3): So much for the Nittany Lions to play for, including a shot at a BCS bowl. A share of the Big 10 championship. But Darryl Clark disappears in the big games and is wildly inconsistent. Injuries at running back and wide receiver don’t help, either. But Michigan State always seems to get it together after losing 2 or 3 early games and is usually playing their best football right at the end. This one may come down to special teams play, and I think that’s where Michigan State will have the edge in a close one at home. Diner Prediction: Michigan State 24, Penn State 23.

Baylor (+7.5) at Texas A&M: This game is the Big 12’s national offering this week. Not even kidding. As I’ve said before, every BCS conference has great teams at the top, it’s the strength at the bottom that makes the conference tough. Neither of these teams scare anybody, but I really like Texas A&M’s quarterback. He’s young, but he’ll get there, and with the Aggies at home–even though they’re focusing on Texas coming to town next week, they’ll have enough to win and cover against a Baylor team without their best player. Diner Prediction: Texas A&M 28, Baylor 17.

Kansas (+26.5) at Texas: The Longhorns are starting to show a mean streak against the Big 12, man. They step on the field with purpose and intensity. Muschamp’s defense doesn’t make mistakes until they start emptying the bench, which seems to be their objective these days. They jump on teams early and the games are over by halftime. With Kansas’ coach in trouble (and I’m not talking about his health) I don’t think they’ll offer much resistance. Diner Prediction: Texas 45, Kansas 17.

Harvard at Yale (no line): I’ve always had a romance with Ivy League football, because it’s seems to be the pure essence of what college football should be: You put a sign out front announcing that football tryouts are that afternoon and the students that go there and are interested make up the team. Now, we all know that’s not really how it works out, but I like the idea that it is at least more pure than the BCS conferences. Sure, the quality of football isn’t so great–there are 4 teams in Texas 5A classification that could go unbeaten in the Ivy League every year–but they’ve played this game 125 times before, the Bowl is sold out in Connecticut and the Crimson are in town. It’s on TV, and I’ll watch some of it. But, the reality is that Harvard is still playing for first place and Yale has struggled. Diner Prediction: Harvard 26, Yale 17.

T.C.U. at Wyoming (+31): I’m of the belief that football teams can only have so many weeks of emotional highs and T.C.U. is coming off their biggest game of the last 40 years. (Best sign at GameDay last weekend: “Hey Big 12, Still feel good about taking Baylor over us?”) They’ll go on the road and sleepwalk through a game against a team that gave a sleepwalking Texas team fits for a half. The Frogs will pull away in the 2nd half, but give me the points in a let-down game. Diner Prediction: T.C.U. 38, Wyoming 10.

So, head to Vegas and bet the opposite, patrons!