Two weeks down, and that new season smell is starting to wear off, as we enter the weekly grind* and develop neurotic disorders about avoiding looking at our account balances. This week's column is being authored while taking in Rutgers-USF, which is sort of like preparing for a MMA PPV by watching Timmy and Jimmy go at it. (Yes, Rutgers, we all know you were involved in the FIRST COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME EVER and like to think you're NEW YORK'S COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAM or something. Please sit down and be quiet. Thanks.) The beverage of choice this evening is Live Oak Hefeweizen, which I highly recommend when you find yourself in central Texas.
* Obvious sign that you follow too many athletes on the twitter: Overuse of the word 'grind'.
Somehow we eeked out a 4-3 record, and I assure you that the brain cells responsible have been sacked. Losses once again included Auburn (Really guys? I'm starting to think you just might have a no talent coach who made his career only due to the shrewdest of quarterback purchases...). The other two notches in the L column came from Duke-Stanford and Vandy-Northwestern, which teaches a valuable lesson: Only trust your football gamblin' to HGH-enhanced young men getting empty degrees from low-cost state schools, not future hedge fund managers.
A new slate of juicy action awaits, and it feels like were already overdue for at least one good cockpunch of a loss. If not two. Sexy road favorites all but assure it.
THE GAME: NOTRE DAME +5.5 at MICHIGAN STATE
Let's all point and laugh at Jim Delaney and the B1G. It's week three, and your lone shot at a MNC game participant is... Michigan State. That's a mighty fine conference ya got there, Jim. And no, that sound you hear is most certainly not Mike Slive's laughter. Promise. Don't look for Notre Dame's offense to put up points on the MSU defense after Purdue shut 'em down last week. And the extended warranty on Le'Veon Bell doesn't expire just yet. Sparty brings the double A-gap blitz early and often, turns Brian Kelly's face a new shade of purple, and manufactures a comfortable win.
THE PICK: MICHIGAN STATE -5.5
THE GAME: FLORIDA +3 at TENNESSEE
Unlike Johnny Manziel or whoever is the quarterback for Bowling Green, Tyler Bray knows how to throw the ball down field. Sure, he may throw it to the other team every now and then, but punting isn't just for punters these days. The recipe for stopping Florida is pretty simple: Tackle Mike Gillislee and force Jeff Driskel to do the football equivalent of basic arithmetic. Former? Hard. Latter? Not so much. The real UT, with 100,000+ in the stands, gets it done in a game that may very well make oversized orange pants sexy again. And if ya don't believe me... let me ask you this... Do YOU trust Will Muschamp to win huge road games in consecutive week? Me neither.
THE PICK: TENNESSEE -3
THE GAME: ARIZONA ST. +6 at MISSOURI
Larry Scott's PAC was the new hotness last week, what with the late-in-the-day home games and the B1G opponents. (Does mocking the super uptight and insecure B1G ever get old? No. It does not. It may be my favorite thing about being an SEC school. So far.) In any case, Arizona State, coached by [checks Twitter to make sure he hasn't left in the last hour] Todd Graham has to go on the road to Mizzou this week. What the Sun Devils lack in Old Man Football, they make up for with on campus talent. After this decisive defeat from a trip sorta-close-to-being-east-of-the-Mississippi, they can head back to the desert to drown their sorrows in ponds stocked with perfectly toned, tanned, blondes studying to be dietitians.
THE PICK: MISSOURI -6
THE GAME: ALABAMA -21 at ARKANSAS
Do we know who's playing quarterback for Arkansas? When the choices are "Tyler Wilson's Scrambled Brain or his backup", I'm not sure it matters. Especially when John L. Smith is still the guy wearing the headset on the sideline. He's same gentleman who managed to choke away a 28-7 lead to ULM last week as a 30 point favorite. That little incident received a wee bit of media exposure, so you might have heard about it. Arkansas is playing for pride and consanguineous marriages everywhere, while Saban's just cruel enough to put in second stringers late. (I'm not sure there's anything more dickish than emptying the bench against a conference rival. On the road, no less. Which is precisely why Nick is so perfectly suited to do it.) Arkansas gets inside the number late. Barely.
THE PICK: ARKANSAS +21
THE GAME: USC -8 at STANFORD
DID YOU KNOW MATT BARKLEY'S NEVER BEATEN STANFORD?! Everyone will beat you over the head with that little nugget. I just wanted to be among the first. Stanford's dirty little secret is they got outgained by Duke. And San Jose State. The Trojans have looked somewhere between mortal and disinterested so far, true, but Stanford's secondary is slooooow. Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, however, are not slow, and are rather fond of the end zone. Stanford doesn't have a home field advantage to speak of, nor do the Cardinal (Remember, unsophisticated masses, it's singular) have an offense built to play from behind. USC maintains the inside track to get the Saban Woodchipper Treatment™ in the MNC game.
THE PICK: USC -8
THE GAME: TEXAS -9.5 at OLE MISS
Ole Miss is back at 2-0! Really? Those big home wins over Central Arkansas and a flaccid UTEP team (IT'S ROLLIN', BABY!) are supposed to convince us? Ole Miss has a pulse this year, yes, but Mack still has better talent at 18+ positions, even if some of it just got out of diapers. (For the third consecutive year, texas is YOUNG!) Unless Manny Diaz spends all day in The Grove working gals out of their sundresses (Sorry Manny, guys in cleats and sans trust funds just aren't their type...), the sips control both lines of scrimmage and pull away late.
THE PICK: TEXAS -9.5
THE GAME: TEXAS A&M -12.5 at SMU
Johnny Football! Played Florida to the wire! But just how good is Florida? And can the Ags throw the ball more than five yards down field? Everyone and their brother is taking the Ags minus the points in this one, and yet the line is going the other way against a road fave. CONTRARIAN PLAY! Let down. Road game. Smell-My-Underwear (Southwest Conference smack I learned at summer camp in the 80's, yo) is playing their Super Bowl. June Jones never stops trying to score.
THE PICK: SMU +12.5