Tony's Tip Sheet
By Tony Gerdeman
I know that you've been told that this is a great slate of games, but I wouldn't get my hopes up. The two best football games of the week are also two of the easiest games to pick.
I am speaking of SMU - TCU and Penn State - Indiana. I can't believe these games are only being shown on one network. They should be everywhere--like a presidential State of the Union Address!
Okay, I'm kidding, it's not technically correct to call Penn State and Indiana a "football game". It's more of an unfortunate meeting of unfortunate meeters.
At least conference play gets under way this week. That always provides us with an upset or two.
But none of those upsets will happen where we want them to.
Thursday September 29
Teams: #16 USF (4-0) at Pittsburgh (2-2)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: USF
We're gonna go ahead and cheer for USF because a bunch of undefeated teams at the end of the year would be pretty awesome. If you're like me, you were surprised to learn that Big East teams still get ranked in the Top 25. I thought we got rid of that foolishness once Rich Rod left for Michigan. Pittsburgh has won three in a row in this series and that was with DAVE FREAKING WANNSTEDT at the helm. Shame on you, South Florida! The Bulls opened the season with a 23-20 win over Notre Dame and have since spent the last few weeks playing teams that would embarrass Bret Bielema's schedule. This will be their best test since the opener. Pitt is coming off of a 15-12 loss to Notre Dame that was so horrific, ESPN took the re-broadcast rights from this game and buried it in a crawl space under their house so as to hide any evidence that the game ever aired on their sadistic family of networks. I really want to take Pitt in this one, but I also don't want to start the week 0-1. Ah, what the heck. I'll take Ray Graham for the win. Pittsburgh 31 - South Florida 27
Saturday October 1
Teams: #14 Texas A&M (2-1) vs. #18 Arkansas (at Arlington, TX) (3-1)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Texas A&M
Brace yourself for four hours of "S-E-C" chants. With Texas A&M joining the SEC, there will be so much unity in the stadium, a Chinese Olympic Opening Ceremony might break out. If you're worried about keeping your record of never throwing up unbroken, you might want to watch this one on mute. Until they show Jerry Jones creepy eye slants, of course, and then you're screwed again. I'd suggest watching this game via a box score the next day. Texas A&M 38 - Arkansas 33
Teams: Northwestern (2-1) at #24 Illinois (4-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN2)
Cheer For: Northwestern
Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa is finally back this week. While Pat Fitzgerald says that he's not sure how much Persa will play, if he wants to beat the Illini, Persa better play from start to finish. The Wildcats have actually been able to run the ball well in Persa's absence, but they can't throw it at all. In last week's loss at Army, Cain Kolter threw for just 89 yards. This offense needs Persa's passing game if it's going to do anything in the Big Ten this year. If they can continue to run the ball while also throwing it, this could end up being one of the best offenses in the conference, but not right out of the box. Illinois has found something in running backs Troy Pollard and Donovonn Young, which is huge because Jason Ford has been a tremendous disappointment so far. I just don't see Northwestern being able to contain Illinois' rushing attack, but keep in mind that Illinois barely beat Western Michigan last week. I get the feeling that the Zookening can't be kept at bay much longer. There is a monster inside Ron Zook fighting to get out, and I don't know how much longer a simple windbreaker is going to be able to stop it. Illinois 27 - Northwestern 23
Teams: Penn State (3-1) at Indiana (1-3)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPNU)
Cheer For: Indiana
Hey look, it's a home game for the Hoosiers against Penn State that Indiana didn't sell to the highest bidder. Congrats! The Hoosiers are so bad right now that not even Penn State's quarterbacks can lose this game. Penn State 2 - Indiana 0
Teams: Minnesota (1-3) at #19 Michigan (4-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Michigan
Every week I write in here that you should cheer for Michigan, and every week somebody new says, "Cheer for Michigan? That's the devil's music!!" Would you rather have the Wolverines' loss to Ohio State be their fifth, or their first? Which would be more painful for them to handle? Which would make the Buckeyes look better? It's okay to root for Michigan to win, but it doesn't mean you have to be upset when they lose. Celebrate Michigan's entire catalog. I do! I'm not sure which Minnesota team will come out for this one--the one that sucks, or the one that REALLY sucks. It won't matter. Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray might have a thing or two to say before it's all over, but it won't be enough. Michigan 35 - Minnesota 13
Teams: Mississippi State (2-2) at Georgia (2-2)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (SECN/FSN/Gameplan)
Cheer For: Georgia
Ugh. This is like picking an ACC game. Why would anybody voluntarily pick this game? Now I actually have to go and look at some numbers. [Grabs Phil Steele mag] Okay I'm back. Mississippi State hasn't won in Athens since 1956. That's a lotta freaking years. So much has happened in that span of time. First and foremost, electricity came to The South. No more hand-cranking their favorite "S-E-C" chant records on the family Victrola, they got to hear them on the radiomaphone! I'm going with Georgia--not because of the history, but because Mississippi State's passing game is terrible. Believe me, I watch a lot of Ohio State and Michigan, so I know a thing or two about terrible passing offenses. Georgia 31 - Mississippi State 21
Teams: Auburn (3-1) at #10 South Carolina (4-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (CBS)
Cheer For: South Carolina
I don't know what, and I don't know when, but something crazy is going to happen in this game. Possibly a hidden ball trick. Auburn quarterback Barrett Trotter is going to take the snap, then convene with two running backs. One of the running backs will then put the ball up the back of Trotter's jersey and then take off like he has the ball. Trotter will then race to the endzone untouched away from the play. You just never know what's going to happen with Gus Malzahn, but you know it's going to require you to rewind the DVR a time or two, and seeing as how he is going to have to pull out every stop in order to get the win, the hidden ball trick may be their base offense on Saturday. South Carolina 38 - Auburn 20
Teams: Michigan State (3-1) at Ohio State (3-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC/ESPN)
Cheer For: Ohio State
Now that Braxton Miller has been installed as the team's starting quarterback, nothing bad can happen to the Buckeyes. Except fumbles, interceptions, injuries, three and outs, and possibly locusts. And we're not even talking about what is going to happen when the Spartans start to blitz. That being said, every puppy has to turn into a dog eventually--unless you keep it in a small cage to prevent it from growing. Sadly, that's probably a pretty apt description for the offense that the Buckeyes are going to roll out there on Saturday. But all is not lost for Ohio State. Michigan State hasn't won in Columbus since 1998 (the darkest day in Ohio State football history), and only twice in the last 40 years. You might think that past history has nothing to do with this game, but past history ALWAYS has something to do with Michigan State. That's why they'll always be "Sparty", yo.
Teams: #21 Georgia Tech (4-0) at North Carolina State (2-2)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN/ABC)
Cheer For: Georgia Tech
I'm only picking this game to pad my stats. Consider me the Wisconsin athletic department of tip sheet writers. Thank you, Georgia Tech. You are what America is always about. Not like that stinkin' commie Wolfpack. Georgia Tech 42 - North Carolina State 21
Teams: #15 Baylor (3-0) at Kansas State (3-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Baylor
Most everybody knows about the ridiculous stats that Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin is putting up. He's thrown thirteen touchdown passes and just twelve incompletions so far this season. It's amazing how much offense can be put up when the coaches aren't actually afraid of putting up offense, he said within earshot of Ohio State for the last eleven years. Kansas State hasn't beaten anybody, and that is including their 28-24 win at Miami last week. And they won't beat anybody this week. Baylor is going to drill them. The Wildcats just don't have the offense to keep up with Baylor. Baylor 41 - Kansas State 17
Teams: Arizona (1-3) at USC (3-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (FSN)
Cheer For: Arizona
I have no interest in this game. Nobody does. Not even USC fans. The only reason there will be people at this game is because they were tired of being stuck in traffic, so they all got out and wandered into the game until traffic died down. Once they realize that they're watching football, however, they will all head back to their cars because attending sporting events is beneath them. USC 24 - Arizona 10
Teams: SMU (3-1) at #20 TCU (3-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (CBSCS)
Cheer For: SMU
We're cheering for SMU because running back Zach Line is the heart and soul of my fantasy football team. When Team Awesome has had a long day, Zach Line is right there urging everybody to stay late and work on fundamentals. Last week we were having a four-a-day (because I like to be prepared), and Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz exploded and said that attending four fantasy practices in a day AND attending class was just too much to ask for. That's when I went to Zach Line and told him that I didn't want ANY of my players going to class! This isn't about individuals! This is about Team Awesome! Zach Line gets that. He makes sure the rest of the team gets that as well, and believe me, Bryant Moniz's days of attending classes are very much over. We can't have distractions around here--though I did let them keep their fat little girlfriends. TCU 45 - SMU 21
Teams: #13 Clemson (4-0) at #11 Virginia Tech (4-0)
Time (TV): 6:00 pm (ESPN2)
Cheer For: Clemson
We're cheering for Clemson because they're actually entertaining to watch. As opposed to Virginia Tech, who is as thrilling as a crossword created by a six-year old.
"Honey, what's a three-letter word for 'Kitty'?"
"Hey, that fits!"
Clemson brings in one of the most exciting offenses in the country, but the Hokies are rarely impressed by such thing, and I don't think they'll be overly impressed this week either. Tajh Boyd will throw some interceptions and the Tigers will finally lose a close one for a change. Virginia Tech 24 - Clemson 21
Teams: #17 Texas (3-0) at Iowa State (3-0)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (FX)
Cheer For: Texas
This is the game where all of the smart people try to show you how smart they are by taking Iowa State. That's why me and Kirk Herbstreit will stick with Texas, thank you very much. Texas 23 - Iowa State 16
Teams: #3 Alabama (4-0) at #12 Florida (4-0)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (CBS)
Cheer For: Florida
There's really no need to get into actual analysis on this one because Florida really has no shot in this game. But to appease you, I'll tell you that this game features two of the top 20 rushing offenses in the country, and two of the top FIVE rush defenses in the country. Knowing that, who do you expect to be able to run the ball on Saturday? Actual people-sized running backs from Alabama, or the family of "Littles" that Will Muschamp has living in his drywall? I just don't see Florida running the ball against the Crimson Tide, and I don't know that either team throws the ball well enough to be one dimensional. Alabama 24 - Florida 14
Teams: #8 Nebraska (4-0) at #7 Wisconsin (4-0)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Nebraska
To me, this is a lot like the game above. Huge matchup between two highly-ranked teams, but neither game is really in doubt. Nebraska is not going to go into Madison and come away with a win. It's impossible. Nobody leaves Madison feeling better than when they went in. The Badgers have gone easy on Montee Ball and James White to this point, but that's going to change this week. They are going to run the ball like crazy, which will also open the passing game. All Russell Wilson is doing is completing 75.8% of his passes though generally he's throwing to wide open receivers. That might or might not be the case this week, but he's still good enough to beat coverages. I think Nebraska will be able to run the ball as well, but I don't think Taylor Martinez will convert third downs as well as the Badgers will. Wisconsin 34 - Nebraska 21
Teams: Notre Dame (2-2) at Purdue (2-1)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Notre Dame
Now that Robert Marve is back from injury, Danny Hope will continue to play two quarterbacks--mainly because if he plays either one too long, it will cost him. It's like playing with fire, but wearing oven mitts. You won't get burned right away, but prolonged playing will result in the gloves actually catching on fire and melting into your skin. Notre Dame's offense was shaky last week, and they're liable to be shaky again this week. It doesn't really matter what type of defense they're playing against because they can stop themselves all by their lonesome. It won't be a pretty game--the Indiana State Championship never is--but I like the Irish in a close one. Notre Dame 27 - Purdue 17
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