Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rev Picks 'Em: Week Nine

In these tough economic times, it’s encouraging to know that if you invested in HHR’s pick ‘em recommendations last week, you would not have lost any money. Can the S&P 500 say that? Of course not! So stick with us, and we’ll get you through the rough waters in the weeks ahead.

We know that for you betting fanatics, a 5-5 record is not real encouraging. We’ll consider last week a lesson learned – but we’re back now with a vengeance ready to improve on that .500 mark. Here we go:

#23 BOSTON COLLEGE (+ 3 1/2) at North Carolina (5-2): At 5-1, Boston College seems to be enjoying life just fine in the post-Matt Ryan era. After spotting Virginia Tech 10 early points last week, BC came back to beat the Hokies 28-23. Meanwhile, North Carolina inexplicably lost in overtime last week at Virginia, a game I was sure they were going to win. I’m still mad about the UNC game, so my vengeance pick this week is Boston College on the road and getting the points.

CINCINNATI (-1 ½) at Connecticut: Acutally, I have two vengeance picks this week: UConn let me down last week with a pitiful performance at Rutgers. In fact, every time I’ve picked UConn this year I’ve been let down. So I’m going the other way now - I’m convinced that the Huskies have peaked and will finish no better than fourth in the Big East. Meanwhile, there’s at least one football team in Cincinnati that is playing halfway decent this year, and I’m definitely not talking about the Bengals. In the latest AP rankings, the Bearcats stood just outside the top 25. The Bearcats only loss this season came at Oklahoma, which isn’t too shabby. Take Cincy and give the points.

NOTRE DAME (-11 ½) at Washington: What’s to like about the 0-6 Huskies? That’s a rhetorical question – don’t answer. Plus, how sadly ironic is it that Notre Dame will be hammering one of the final nails in Ty Willingham’s coffin this weekend?

#8 TEXAS TECH (+ 1 ½) at #19 Kansas: Texas Tech is undefeated and averaging close to 46 points a game. This will be the first time the Red Raiders will have faced a top 25 opponent this year, but offensively this matchup may work in their favor. You see, the Kansas D got exposed quite a bit by Oklahoma’s passing attack last week; bad thing for the Jayhawks, then, because Texas Tech slings the ball on just about every play from scrimmage (343 pass attempts vs. 174 rushing attempts, nearly a 2:1 ratio). Guns Up! I like TTU and the points.

MICHIGAN STATE (-4 ½) at Michigan: I’m calling for a mercy killing for Michigan’s 2008 football season. Somebody end this now.

#7 Oklahoma State at #1 TEXAS (-12 ½): Has anyone played a more brutal stretch of games over the past couple of weeks than Texas? Having defeated previously unbeaten Oklahoma and Missouri in back-to-back weeks, does Oklahoma State really stand a chance? 12 ½ is a ton of points to give to the Cowboys, but considering how well the Texas D is playing, the line sounds reasonable.

VIRGINIA TECH (+5 ½) at #24 Florida State: Quietly, Florida State has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence this year – the ‘Noles are 5-1 and are tied with Boston College atop the ACC’s Atlantic Division. Virginia Tech won this game last year in Blacksburg, coach Bobby Bowden’s first loss to the Hokies, so you can bet that FSU will be out for some revenge. However, VA Tech is a decent defensive team, and I just don’t think FSU is offensively powerful enough to put the Hokies away. I’m looking for a close defensive struggle – FSU should win, but I don’t think they’ll cover.

#9 Georgia at #11 LSU (-1 ½): Georgia and LSU are two pretty evenly matched teams – both are probably about 2nd best in their respective SEC divisions. Death Valley is an awfully tough place to play on a Saturday night (what, with 90,000 well-lubricated Tiger fans screaming for blood), and outside of Knowshown Moreno, I don’t think Georgia’s really got the offensive firepower to challenge LSU’s D. If they were getting a few more points, I might be tempted to take the Dawgs, but since they’re only getting 1 ½, I’m taking LSU at home.

#2 Alabama at TENNESSEE (+ 6 ½): Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer made a career out of beating rival Alabama, and he might need to do it again Saturday in Knoxville in order to keep the critics calling for his head at bay. Their coach notwithstanding, the Vols have the size and girth to avoid being pushed around by ‘Bama’s offensive and defensive lines, giving me reason to believe Tennessee will keep this close. I still like ‘Bama to win the game outright, but I think Tennessee covers here.

“Is this over yet?”

#3 PENN STATE (-2 ½) at #10 Ohio State: Ohio State enters this game fresh off a 38 point thrashing of Michigan State, proving yet again that Ohio State is remarkably good at shutting down one dimensional offenses. What to do, then, for the Buckeyes when Penn State goes 3 or 4 wide? The Lions have the speed necessary to seriously challenge – and damage – the Ohio State D. I’m sold on Penn State, and I think they dethrone the reigning Big Ten champs in this one.

Last week’s record: 5-5

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