Tony's Tip Sheet

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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 09/13/2012 1:08 PM
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Tony's Tip Sheet
By Tony Gerdeman

Hey, guess what everybody, it's yet another weekend of average games. That brings our running total this season to three.

But hopefully like last week, those average games will turn into some fantastic endings. Last week's games were ending in such dramatic fashion that it was like watching March Madness for football, and it was glorious.

Is two weekends like that too much to ask? Maybe not. Don't forget that Sparty plays Saturday night, so anything is possible.

That's not an exaggeration. When Michigan State plays at night, literally anything is possible. Alien attack, leprechaun racial war, viking dance recital. Anything.

Thursday September 13

Teams:  Rutgers (2-0) at USF (2-0)
Time (TV):  7:30 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  1
Cheer For:  USF

If a tree falls in a forest, and there's nobody there to hear it, do you think the Big East would extend that tree an invitation to join their conference? This is a matchup of two 2-0 teams, but for me to call it an important game would be an insult to your intelligence, and if I wanted to insult your intelligence, I would simply copy and paste something that Rick Reilly has written in the last ten years. USF 34 – Rutgers 24

Friday September 14

Teams:  Washington State (1-1) at UNLV (0-2)
Time (TV):  9:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  1
Cheer For:  Washington State

We're cheering for Washington State because UNLV totally screwed me last week when I started their kicker against Northern Arizona and the Rebels only scored 14 points in a loss. I will never forgive you for this, UNLV. I forgave you for Moses Scurry's facial hair, but not this. You are dead to me. Washington State 21 – UNLV 10

Saturday September 15

Teams:  Wake Forest (2-0) at #5 Florida State (2-0)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  2.5
Cheer For:  Wake Forest

Wake Forest is actually 4-2 against Florida State over their last six meetings, and 3-0 in those meetings when the Seminoles are ranked. That means nothing in this game, however. Wake has a three-point win over Liberty and a one-point win over North Carolina. Neither of those wins should instill confidence in anybody. Of course, they're still a lot more impressive than Florida State's two wins over Murray State and Savannah State. The Seminoles will win this game, and likely by multiple touchdowns, but their season doesn't begin until next week against Clemson. Florida State 41 – Wake Forest 10

Teams:  Arkansas State (1-1) at Nebraska (1-1)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (ESPN2)
Interest:  2.5
Cheer For:  Nebraska

Nebraska is 119th in the nation against the run, allowing 264.5 yards rushing per game. Arkansas State comes into this game averaging 271.5 yards rushing per game, so this game might be coming at just the right time for ASU. Though to say that a trip to Nebraska is “coming at just the right time” would imply that there is a place less desirable to visit than Lincoln, and I'm just not sure that that's actually the case. What do people do in Lincoln other than walk down sidewalks and look at storefronts and say, “I remember this place when I was a kid. It hasn't changed at all.” I think Arkansas State is going to move the ball in this one, but Nebraska's overall skill advantage will eventually win out. Nebraska 37 – Arkansas State 21

Teams:  Eastern Michigan (0-2) at Purdue (1-1)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (BTN)
Interest:  1
Cheer For:  Eastern Michigan

We're cheering for Eastern Michigan because people already know that the Big Ten sucks, and at least if Purdue loses, that helps Urban Meyer's bloodthirsty quest to somehow be a part of the Big Ten Championship Game.* Purdue 31 – Eastern Michigan 10

*If you haven't been following the Tim Brando saga, then just ignore me.

Teams:  Western Michigan (1-1) at Minnesota (2-0)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (BTN)
Interest:  2
Cheer For:  Minnesota

Minnesota is looking to move to 3-0 for the first time since 2008. That was also the last time the Gophers were ranked in the Top 25. They started the season 7-1 and lost their last six. This year's team could finish very similarly, except worse. However, Minnesota does have two of the top ten rushers in the conference this season, though they've built those numbers against UNLV and New Hampshire. Western Michigan's 24-7 loss to Illinois is more impressive than either of Minnesota's victories, and Illinois might just be terrible right now. Picking against the bottom of the Big Ten against the top of the MAC is rarely a bad move. Western Michigan 34 – Minnesota 31

Teams:  UL-Monroe (1-0) at Auburn (0-2)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (SECN)
Interest:  2
Cheer For:  UL-Monroe

Auburn is 0-2, but those losses have come to Clemson and Mississippi State, so they're not really as bad as their record would indicate. Now don't get me wrong, they're bad. If they were a broken down car on the side of the road in hillbilly country, nobody would bother to stop by and strip it for parts. You might have a couple of people move in, but that's pretty normal. Auburn's offense isn't finding the endzone, nor is their defense keeping other teams from finding theirs. If this was a game of Capture the Flag, Auburn would leave their flag in some type of kiosk with a sign attached that reads: “Take One”. Louisiana-Monroe is coming off of a huge overtime win over eighth-ranked Arkansas and John L. Smith, and quarterback Kolton Browning will look to continue their SEC West domination this week against what used to be Auburn. Auburn 31 – UL-Monroe 30

Teams:  #1 Alabama (2-0) at Arkansas (1-1)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (CBS)
Interest:  3.5
Cheer For:  Arkansas

This was supposed to be one of the marquee games of the season, and then Bobby Petrino took a motorcycle ride in a windstorm. Once he left, the Razorbacks' hopes went with him. Then, once John L. Smith arrived, those hopes returned to put on clown makeup and make balloon animals and blow slide whistles. Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson may or may not play in this game after getting injured in last week's loss, but it wouldn't matter. Eventually the gravitational pull of Smith's coaching suck would have dragged the Razorbacks down anyway. Alabama 41 – Arkansas 10

Teams:  Navy (0-1) at Penn State (0-2)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (ESPN2/ABC)
Interest:  3
Cheer For:  Penn State

As a game, the interest only rates a one. But as to how Penn State will turn this into a heartbreaker cranks it up to a three. Despite the Nittany Lions' struggles this season, they are only allowing 103.5 yards rushing per game. Notre Dame held Navy to just 149 yards, when they normally average twice that. The belief then is that if Notre Dame can stop an offense, then certainly Penn State can as well. Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, however, they will also have to score, and they haven't shown that they can score enough to beat anybody right now. This would be a difficult game in any year, but playing Navy when you're reeling makes it even tougher. Still, at some point we're going to have our joy of Penn State's struggles stolen, and I think it happens this week. Penn State 20 – Navy 17

Teams:  Northern Iowa (1-1) at Iowa (1-1)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (BTN)
Interest:  2
Cheer For:  Iowa

Loser leaves the state of Iowa. Watch out for the Hawkeye players to throw this one. Iowa 20 – Northern Iowa 19

Teams:  Massachusetts (0-2) at #17 Michigan (1-1)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (BTN)
Interest:  2
Cheer For:  Michigan

Massachusetts, aside from being the name of one of America's great record albums, sucks. This will be the week that Michigan looks like a top ten team. Except that nobody will give them credit for it, nor should they. We still don't really know a lot about Michigan's defense or offense, and this game isn't going to show us any truths either. Michigan 56 – Massachusetts 14

Teams:  Boston College (1-1) at Northwestern (2-0)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (BTN)
Interest:  4
Cheer For:  Northwestern

The Wildcats are just one win away from making it through their three non-conference games against BCS opponents undefeated. If they win this game, then it's a virtual guarantee that they will lose to South Dakota next week. I'm not a gambling person, but if I was I would be homeless. Still, if I were to take a closer look at this game, I'd notice that Boston College's offense is moving the ball pretty well, and quarterback Chase Rettig has thrown for 660 yards already this season. And then I'd notice that Boston College lost to Miami (FL). Northwestern 31 – Boston College 23

Teams:  #18 Florida (2-0) at #23 Tennessee (2-0)
Time (TV):  6:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  3
Cheer For:  Tennessee

Seems crazy to root for Tennessee given their hideous school colors, but here we are. Florida is coming off of two tough, close wins over Bowling Green and Texas A&M while the Vols have wins over North Carolina State and Georgia State. Each team is looking for their first marquee win of the season, and they will both be looking for it after this weekend as well. Tennessee's offense will put Florida's struggling offense under pressure to keep up with them, and I just don't see it happening. I can't believe I am putting my faith in Tyler Bray. Somebody call me a medical doctor because I think this might be the big one. Tennessee 30 – Florida 24

Teams:  UAB (0-1) at #8 South Carolina (2-0)
Time (TV):  7:00 pm (SECN)
Interest:  1.5
Cheer For:  UAB

Buckeye fans, if the SEC Network exists in your world, this would be your chance to scout UAB before calling up the Urban Meyer Call-In Show next week in order to help him game plan against the mighty Blazers. “Hey Coach, thanks for taking my call.” “You're welcome. I'm running the entire phone bank myself. That's how hands-on I am. What's your question?” “It's not a question, but rather a suggestion.” “Hold on. Let me get my assistant coaches in here so that they can hear this too. Are we all in here? Hey, pipe down. Pipe down! VRABEL, SHUT THE HELL UP FOR ONE SECOND AND LISTEN TO THIS CALLER! Go ahead caller.” “Thanks Coach. Well, I was watching UAB against South Carolina and I noticed that South Carolina ran the ball pretty good to the right. So I was thinking...” “Let me interrupt you for one second. Did you say they ran it pretty good to the right?” “Yes.” “Okay, did you guys write that down? They ran it well to the right. Okay, what else do you have for me.” “Well, I was thinking that if they run it to the right so well, maybe we should put an extra defender over there.” “Sorry caller, I've got bad news for you. An extra defender would be twelve men on the field, right guys?” “No, I don't mean a twelfth defender, I just mean putting one of the guys who is on the left side over on the right side.” “Wait...wait... You want us to move somebody from one side of the field to the other? Hey Luke, see if that's even allowed. Hey caller, have you ever been a college football coach before?” “Gosh, no.” “Well, for calling into my radio show and giving me a particular piece of advice on how to do my multi-million dollar job that I had never ever thought of before, I've got no choice but to offer you a job. Can you start tomorrow?” “I'll have to ask my wife.” “You do that, Buddy!” South Carolina 41 – UAB 17

Teams:  Bowling Green (1-1) at Toledo (1-1)
Time (TV):  7:00 pm (BCSN)
Interest:  3.5
Cheer For:  Toledo

I know what you're thinking, you're thinking, “But Tony, how can you tell us to root for the school in the city that you were always afraid of being kidnapped in a mall from as a child?” It's simple – it's time for me to face my fears, just like Batman. Though if Bruce Wayne was simply trying to face a mall-based fear, that wouldn't have made for much of an origin story. “No Alfred, I must set up my secret lair underneath the Lane Bryant store at the outlet mall. It's like a metaphor or something.” Toledo 42 – Bowling Green 40 (3OT)

Teams:  #2 USC (2-0) at #21 Stanford (2-0)
Time (TV):  7:30 pm (FOX)
Interest:  3
Cheer For:  Stanford

USC had a bit of a struggle against Syracuse last week, but that game was delayed by weather and that's why the Trojans are being forgiven for almost making the media that loves them so dearly look so wrong. USC will offer up their apology this week with an attempted pounding of Stanford. However, with Gus Johnson doing this game, anything can happen. Except for Stanford winning, of course. USC 48 – Stanford 31

Teams:  #20 Notre Dame (2-0) at #10 Michigan State (2-0)
Time (TV):  8:00 pm (ABC)
Interest:  4.5
Cheer For:  Michigan State

This is always one of my favorite rivalries. It's tied 5-5 over the last ten meetings, and some of those have been classics. I don't know that this will be a classic, but it is certainly a big game for Michigan State and the Big Ten. A loss in this game will essentially close up the season on the Big Ten as far as the rest of the nation is concerned. Of course, a win for Michigan State will also be downplayed – as it should – because it's just a win over Notre Dame. The Spartan defense has just one sack on the season. Fortunately for them, however, Notre Dame is currently 114th in the nation in sacks allowed. Look for Michigan State to attack quarterback Everett Golson from all angles. As long as Spartan quarterback Andrew Maxwell doesn't turn the ball over, they should win. Michigan State 27 – Notre Dame 23

Teams:  Utah State (2-0) at Wisconsin (1-1)
Time (TV):  8:00 pm (BTN)
Interest:  3.5
Cheer For:  Utah State

A Wisconsin win here is better for Ohio State than a loss, but at this point, why don't we just go all in with the Badger hate and truly enjoy what is taking place in Madison right now. The place is a mess. They opened the season by nearly losing to an FCS team, then followed that up by nearly getting shut out in a loss at Oregon State. The offensive line coach was fired and a graduate assistant is now in his place. There is just so much glory going on in Madison right now that you might want to watch this game through a pin prick in a paper plate. Utah State is coming off of their first win over Utah since 1997, so they're not exactly terrible. Wisconsin has already lost to terrible once, and almost twice. This will be a true test of their manhood. Wisconsin 28 – Utah State 20

Teams:  #14 Texas (2-0) at Ole Miss (2-0)
Time (TV):  9:15 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  2.5
Cheer For:  Ole Miss

Ole Miss is 2-0, but with wins over Central Arkansas and UTEP, this will be our first chance to see if they're actually legitimately decent. The Rebels are 10th in the nation in total offense, averaging 551.5 yards per game, but this will be their first real defensive test of the season. As is the custom in the state of Mississippi, I expect that test to be failed. Texas 31 – Ole Miss 14

Teams:  California (1-1) at #12 Ohio State (2-0)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (ABC)
Interest:  5
Cheer For:  Ohio State

California is going to attack Braxton Miller and force him to beat them through the air. If he can't, the Buckeyes will still win, but it won't be very pretty. He will get sacked, but he could also break a couple of decent runs if he can get past the first wave of pressure. He has a chance to have a very big game if he can simply complete passes downfield. He hasn't shown that ability yet this year, and it doesn't even look like there have been many calls for it on Tom Herman's part. Perhaps they were saving it for this game, or perhaps the risk was just too great previously. Carlos Hyde is out this week, but there are no tailbacks who command 20 carries in this offense, so it's a loss that is lessened by the offensive system. The Buckeye defense may blitz more this week in an effort to get some pass rush, so cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Travis Howard will need to be at their best against Cal's receivers. Still, this game comes down to how well Miller completes passes.

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