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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Picks of the Week

So the past week saw the Big Ten get muddier, my beloved Wolverines reach their potential, the SEC and Big 12 get clearer, and proved Oregon can also play defense when they have to.

With just two more weeks in the regular season most of the major conference races are pretty well sewed up: South Carolina will be playing against Auburn in the SEC championship game, Nebraska will most likely be playing a team from Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game, and Florida State and Virginia Tech seemed destined for a collision course in the ACC. Oregon has two tough conference match-ups coming up, but will be the Pac 10 champs if they win at least one of them, though their National Championship hopes rest on remaining undefeated. Only the Big Ten remains a mystery, as Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State all have only one loss and have pundits scanning the rule book to determine who might be representing the conference in the automatic BCS bid. The problem is that both Ohio State and Wisconsin have tough tests ahead of them, which could put MSU in the lead.

Last week I went 4 for 6 to bring my total to 54 out of 79 games, or 68%. Not too shabby, though it's clear by now I am no prognosticator.

Here're the week's big games:

No. 7 Wisconsin at Michigan
Sure, the only reason why this game is on the list is because I am Wolverine, but the truth of the matter is that Wisconsin has a history of struggling against Michigan, and they are coming into the Big House for the last Michigan home game of the season. Michigan needs only one more win to exceed expectations for the season, and both of their last two games would be beautiful spoilers for two of the last three contestants for the Big Ten crown. Wisconsin hung 83 points on Indiana last weekend, but the Hoosiers were demoralized after losing their star QB in the 1st quarter. Will Michigan cave so easily...well, maybe. We do have one of the worst defenses in the country, but the last two weeks have proven than the D may have found their guts somewhere on the field against Illinois. Look to this one to be closer than anyone thinks it will be.
Wisconsin 45 Michigan 31

Pittsburgh at South Florida
Pitt is currently in first place in the Big East but South Florida needs only to beat the Panthers to vault themselves into a position to win the conference and snatch their first BCS appearance in school history. Pitt hasn't been playing all that well, and for all intents and purposes these two teams are pretty darn evenly matched. Skip Holtz has his team ready to play and I think the Bulls rumble.
Pittsburgh 21 South Florida 28

No. 9 Ohio State at No. 20 Iowa
This is the premier game in the Big Ten. After Iowa lost last week to Northwestern the Hawkeyes don't have much to play for other than spoiling Ohio State's conference hopes and getting to a better bowl game. This will be a battle of the defenses, since both teams have two of the best D's in the country. This doesn't bode well for the Buckeyes since Terrell Pryor has not proven himself particularly adept at handling pressure. Expect a lot of that from the Hawkeyes. This one will go a lot like the Wisconsin/Iowa game a few weeks back, only this time the Hawks are on the winning end. Buck the Fuckeyes.
Ohio State 27 Iowa 28

No. 16 Virginia Tech at No. 24 Miami
Virginia Tech pretty much have the ACC Coastal division wrapped up but division rivals Miami would still love to hang a W on the rolling Hokies. But with normal starter Jacory Harris likely out for the season, I don't see the Hurricanes having much luck stopping a Tech squad that has been unstoppable since going 0-2 to start the season. Look for Yakety Sax in Florida.
Virginia Tech 35 Miami 28

No. 13 Arkansas at No. 21 Mississippi State
This game means nothing but pride. Both teams are bowl eligible and both are going to finish middle of the pack in the SEC, but with both teams looking at their best finishes in years, neither wants to end the season with a loss. Arkansas has proven to be the far superior offensive team, so I'm thinking the Hogs win.
Arkansas 45 Mississippi State 28

Army vs Notre Dame
The only thing that matters in this game is that Notre Dame pretty much only has this chance to get bowl eligible and Brian Kelly desperately needs those extra practices to get his squad up to speed going into next season. Army ain't no slouches but with USC looming in the distance, the Irish don't want to be in a do or die situation in the Coliseum. So look for the Irish to capitalize on the momentum from last week's rout of Utah to carry them to a 6-6 regular season finish and a spot in the Buttless Chap bowl in Whereversville.
Army 18 Notre Dame 28

No. 8 Nebraska at No. 19 Texas A&M
Nebraska has already pretty much shored up the Big 12 North, but they need one more conference win. That could likely come courtesy of Colorado next week, but certainly beating up on the Aggies would be nice too. The Huskers have been a very difficult team to track this season since they have been all over the map. Even when they win they don't necessarily win big, except when they do. Texas A&M for their part have been fighting hard through a fairly mediocre Big 12 schedule, so this game is really a toss-up. I'll take one for the future Big Ten-ers. Go Huskers!
Nebraska 38 Texas A&M 28