Tony's Tip Sheet

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Last updated: 09/15/2011 11:47 AM
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Football
Tony's Tip Sheet
By Tony Gerdeman

Now that I'm doing the Worldwide Leaderboard, I have to take my picks seriously. That's bad news for me, but great news for you as my analytical skills will be on full display for you to see. You might want to grab some shades before you get reading.

It's actually a good thing that I've decided to take this stuff seriously because the games this week are much harder to pick than last week, or at least they would be if my skills weren't so off the charts.

Unfortunately, I often have to dumb things down for my readership. Don't feel bad though, I had to do the same thing when I wrote for 'The Scientific Canadian'.

Thursday September 15

Teams: #3 LSU (2-0) at #25 Mississippi State (1-1)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest: 5
Cheer For: Mississippi State

I'll tell you right out of the gate that I want to take Mississippi State. The rest of what you read here will be me trying to talk myself out of it. LSU's front four is the best in America. In any America. Even different Americas found by the various Stargates. The Tigers will still have Jarrett Lee at quarterback, which means that he's going to try to avoid doing anything, which is perfect for him. They'll be able to run the ball on the Bulldogs because the last time Mississippi State played defense, Glen Rice was busy climbing the second highest peak in Alaska. (Cramming in out-of-place topical humor is the best!) Mississippi State's offensive line is a bit banged up, so their offense will be affected. In fact, it will probably end up being the difference. LSU 23 - Mississippi State 21

Friday September 16

Teams: #4 Boise State (1-0) at Toledo (1-1)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest: 5
Cheer For: Toledo

I was excited for this game even before Ohio State struggled with Toledo, but now this matchup has turned into more than just a game. The transitive property doesn't work when it comes to 'Team A' beating 'Team B', but it works very well if you're trying to get an idea of where Ohio State stands based on Toledo's upcoming performance against Boise State. If the Rockets get drilled by 35 points, then Buckeye fans might want to tone things down a bit. But if the Rockets are in the game for all sixty minutes, then maybe you shouldn't throw away your Rod Smith jerseys just yet. I don't think the Rockets are going to, but nobody goes to Toledo without getting harmed in some way. I'm sure that's also the case for football teams. Boise State 38 - Toledo 27.

Saturday September 17

Teams: #21 Auburn (2-0) at Clemson (2-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ABC)
Interest: 4
Cheer For: Auburn

Has Clemson ever ended somebody's winning streak other than their own? Auburn actually enters this weekend with two streaks--the first is a 17-game winning streak, and the second is a three-game probably-should-have-lost-streak. If Auburn wins this game, expect their second streak to grow by a game as well. The focus shouldn't just be on Auburn, however, because Clemson has had some iffy moments of their own this season. They struggled with Wofford last week, winning by just eight points. This game is completely unpredictable. I'm expecting no less than three 'Fan Man' interruptions, and possibly a squirrel army coup. Don't fight the squirrels, JUST GIVE THEM YOUR POPCORN AND RUN!!!! Auburn 47 - Clemson 44

Teams: Penn State (1-1)  at Temple (2-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest: 2.5
Cheer For: Penn State

Joe Paterno is 27-0 against Temple. Let that sink in for a moment. Joe Paterno has played Temple 27 freaking times. No wonder he's won so many games! I think the Harrisburg School of Finance and Beauty finally stopped taking his calls after about 25 beatings. Temple has a couple of good running backs, most notably Bernard Pierce, who has started this season on fire by averaging nearly 150 yards rushing per game. But he will be outrushed by Penn State's Silas Redd, who will likely be 80% of the Nittany Lions' offense this week. This is fine by me, of course, since I'll be starting him on my fantasy team. Penn State 28 - Temple 19

Teams: Pittsburgh (2-0) at Iowa (1-1)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN2)
Interest: 3.5
Cheer For: Iowa

It's already been a difficult year for the Hawkeyes. They lost one of their top two running backs in week one and then lost the state championship in week two, but this is exactly where Kirk Ferentz starts to make his move. If this was a movie, this would be the time for the music montage of Ferentz coaching his team up. We would see steady improvement throughout a riff-laden, frontman-screaming three-minute cut up which would ultimately set the scene for the rest of the season. Pittsburgh enters this game following a 35-29 win over Maine. Don't be too fooled by the score, however. Pitt led 35-14 with four minutes to play. I'm leaning heavily towards Iowa in this one because Maine and Kirk Ferentz go way back, so they will share all of the info they can. We could probably consider Maine's football team to be Iowa's reconnaissance forces. As an aside, I am starting Iowa's kicker in this one, so don't expect any field goals. Iowa 28 - Pittsburgh 21

Teams: #18 West Virginia (2-0) at Maryland (1-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPNU)
Interest: 4
Cheer For: Maryland

I actually like it when Maryland is good because it makes the ACC a lot more interesting. They're sort of like the conference's linchpin. When they're good, the ACC is worth paying attention to because they seem to be involved in a decent game every single week, and this week is no different. West Virginia went to the half last week trailing Norfolk State 12-10 before scoring 45 unanswered points in the second half. The Mountaineers can't run the ball right now, and it's about to cost them. It's not that they're choosing NOT to run the ball, they simply can't. They're averaging 72 yards rushing per game. Yes, Dana Holgorsen loves to pass the ball, but he's not Mike Leach--he also believes in running the ball. For the most part, they'll be able to get away with this in the Big East because of quarterback Geno Smith, but Maryland has a pretty decent secondary, so it might not be so easy this week. Maryland 31 - West Virginia 28

Teams: Eastern Michigan (2-0) at Michigan (2-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Interest: 2
Cheer For: Michigan

There's really no point in analyzing this game. Denard Robinson will look fantastic throwing the ball, and everybody will forget about the disaster that his Notre Dame game was. Wait, they already forgot about that. Oh well, I guess this game will ensure that Denard Robinson becomes the first two-time winner of the September Heisman Trophy. Michigan 41 - Eastern Michigan 13

Teams: #15 Michigan State (2-0) at Notre Dame (0-2)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (NBC)
Interest: 5
Cheer For: Michigan State

I am completely torn on this game. Surely Notre Dame can't start 0-3, but then how can you expect them to turn a complete 180 from their idiotic self and suddenly exude competence? When I watch the Irish this year, I imagine God reaching down and grabbing Notre Dame by the wrist and slapping them with their own hands, all the while telling them to "Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!" I wonder if this is the week that Notre Dame stops hitting themselves. It will surely be the week when the Spartans face an actual offensive attack. The main reason that I'm torn is because I think this is a slam dunk pick for the Irish, and that makes me think that maybe my damage has been brained. I guess I'll go with Notre Dame, but if nobody has taught Gary Gray how to look back for the ball by Saturday morning, I want my pick back. Notre Dame 27 - Michigan State 24

Teams: #7 Wisconsin (2-0) vs. Northern Illinois (1-1) (at Chicago, IL)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN3)
Interest: 3
Cheer For: Wisconsin

If you want to watch this game, you either have to watch it on the internet--provided your ISP carries ESPN3, or you have to travel to Chicago and sit in the stands and watch the game in person. Given the fact that ticket prices have been lowered due to lack of any demand, it would seem that most have decided to stay home and watch the game in its truest form--grainy and pixelated. Wisconsin 51 - Northern Illinois 24

Teams: Tennessee (2-0) at #16 Florida (2-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (CBS)
Interest: 4
Cheer For: Tennessee

Florida's Chris Rainey is the only player in the nation leading his team in both rushing and receiving. Speaking of receiving, I bet the people in his phonebook lead the nation in death threats received. Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns in last week's 45-23 win over Cincinnati. He will put up some numbers again this week, but not quite like that. I like Florida in a bit of a shootout, but they have played absolutely nobody yet. I see Tennessee getting out of the gate quickly, but then Florida will eventually gain control and stay a touchdown or so ahead for the second half. Florida 37 - Tennessee 27

Teams: Washington (2-0) at #11 Nebraska (2-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC)
Interest: 1.5
Cheer For: Nebraska

Even though Nebraska is now part of the Big Ten, until they start playing conference games, they'll seem like an outsider. They're like the guy at the family reunion that you're not sure is actually family, but you don't want to be rude and ask. So you walk up to them and make small talk, and eventually it comes out that they don't like potato salad, so now you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is NOT a family member. Then later, just as you're about to out him during Pictionary, he references Uncle Robert's fight at a Rax that one time, which makes you think that maybe this guy IS a family member. But then EVERYBODY knew about Robert's fight at Rax. They made it into a TV movie, for crying out loud. So then you get worried that maybe this is a psycho superfan of Uncle Robert's. You're not really worried about Robert's safety as much as you're worried that maybe this new guy isn't taking the family Pictionary as seriously as he should. Nebraska 31 - Washington 13

Teams: Northwestern (2-0) at Army (0-2)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (CBSCS)
Interest: 3
Cheer For: Northwestern

Dan Persa is still questionable heading into the Army game, and he's certainly not ready to play an entire game. He says he'll be ready in two weeks for sure against Illinois, but with a bye week next week, might Pat Fitzgerald want to get Persa some snaps this week? If he does intend to get Persa some snaps, he better not wait, because this game will be played in about two and a half hours. Army (353.0) is second in the nation in running the ball, and Northwestern (273.5) with Kain Colter is 14th. There might not be a 20-yard gain from scrimmage in this entire game. Feel the excitement! This is going to be a very tough game for the Wildcats, and don't be surprised if they come up short. Northwestern 27 - Army 24

Teams: Navy (2-0) at #10 South Carolina (2-0)
Time (TV): 6:00 pm (ESPN2)
Interest: 4
Cheer For: Navy

This game is pretty fascinating, as are most games where Navy and a major BCS team are concerned. South Carolina, allowing 39.5 points per game on defense, is representing the SEC like a whole lot of other defenses are, but you probably haven't heard about it. But they do have some hosses up front, and that would be the key against the nation's top running team. Navy is averaging an unbelievable 400.5 yards rushing per game. However, South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore may outrush the Midshipmen all by himself in this one. He'll at least be given enough carries to attempt it. South Carolina will struggle at times, but they're too talented to actually lose this game. South Carolina 45 - Navy 24

Teams: #22 Arizona State (2-0) at Illinois (2-0)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (BTN)
Interest: 4
Cheer For: Illinois

I find it interesting that since Illinois and Missouri stopped playing eachother, they are now playing common opponents. It's like a couple that is arguing and no longer talking to eachother, so instead they're gonna try to communicate through a common friend. "Hey Arizona State, can you tell Missouri that they can come over and pick up their stuff from my apartment because I don't want it here any longer." "Oh really? Well Arizona State, can you tell Illinois that I don't even want that stuff anymore because Illinois' STUPID CHEATING HANDS HAVE TOUCHED IT!" For me, this game comes down to Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase overcoming The Zookening. If he can, then the talk will turn from how tall Arizona State's quarterback is (6'8") to how good Scheelhaase is. Also, the Illini have to get Jason Ford going eventually, and you'd think a game against a PAC 12 defense would be a pretty good jumpstart. I think the deep ball will work for Illinois as well. I also like their cornerbacks in this one. Illinois 30 - Arizona State 24

Teams: #17 Ohio State (2-0) at Miami (FL) (0-1)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ESPN)
Interest: 5
Cheer For: Ohio State

The Buckeyes will get Jordan Hall and Travis Howard back, and they will both play a lot. I think everybody is excited to get Jordan Hall back, but I also think people are expecting too much from him. He will need to hit the cutback lanes better than the Buckeyes have done to this point, and there will be lanes available to hit. Maryland had success going downfield on the Hurricanes, but we're still not sure if Joe Bauserman is confident enough to do that yet. Braxton Miller may be TOO confident in that regard, which makes him equally as dangerous for Ohio State. Everybody just expects Jacory Harris to throw interceptions, but he needs to be pressured to do it. With Nathan Williams out for the Buckeyes, there won't be as much pressure on the quarterback as there should be.

Teams: #1 Oklahoma (1-0) at #5 Florida State (2-0)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ABC)
Interest: 5
Cheer For: Florida State

I still believe that Florida State's lofty ranking is based as much on hope as it is on actual talent because talent never stopped the Seminoles from sucking in the past. We are going to learn a lot about Florida State this weekend, and I think it will be something along the lines of "I told you they still suck." Oklahoma got the week off to study up on the Noles, which generally means planning their interceptions and Florida State's personal fouls. I never once considered taking the Seminoles in this game, which either speaks to my ignorance or my attention span. I don't think I'm ignorant so it must be...Hey, when somebody asks you what type of music you listen to, have you ever said that you listen to "Rock and roll", or do you just say "Rock"? I just say "Rock". I probably haven't said "Rock and Roll" in over 20 years. I wonder if anybody has. Have you ever eaten a live goldfish? I haven't. You know, by the pound, goldfish are actually more expensive than blue fin tuna. Actually, I don't know if that's true, but people come here for analysis and information, and sometimes I feel like they may not be getting their money's worth in certain instances. Oklahoma 41 - Florida State 30

Teams: #6 Stanford (2-0) at Arizona (1-1)
Time (TV): 10:45 pm (ESPN)
Interest: 3.5
Cheer For: Arizona

You can put me in the group of people that expected Stanford to come back to earth with the loss of Jim Harbaugh, but when I made that assumption, I forgot that the PAC 12 is still just a one-game season, and this isn't that one game. Stanford 38 - Arizona 27

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