Tony's Tip Sheet

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Last updated: 11/21/2012 9:01 PM
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Football
Tony's Tip Sheet
By Tony Gerdeman

Well, we're in the middle of it now, aren't we?

Things are actually opening up when it comes to the Buckeyes' chances to win an AP National Championship (aside from the fact that some voters will never let it happen).

But it's difficult to think about that when there are more important things going on – like Michigan Week.

Michigan Week is the one time a year when it's okay to forget your wife's anniversary. Unfortunately for men everywhere, nobody gets married during Michigan Week.

There's really no point in talking about what needs to happen, or any other games this week, because the only thing that matters at the moment is Ohio Stadium at 12:00 pm on Saturday.

But in order to keep up appearances, and because I value your readership, and because I had to, let's go ahead and take a look at the slate of games this week.

Thursday November 22

Teams: TCU (6-4) at #16 Texas (8-2)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ESPN)
Interest: 2
Cheer For: TCU

Much like West Virginia, TCU hasn't exactly found Big XII play to their liking. They are 3-4 in conference, and finish with this game and then host the Sooners next week. This could end up being TCU's worst season since 2004. In their last seven seasons, they've won at least 10 games six times. That's not happening this season. Granted, they could finish with nine wins, but I don't really see that happening. Texas had a bye week to prepare for this game, and quarterback David Ash has thrown for 628 yards and five touchdowns the last two games. Texas 27 – TCU 20

Friday November 23

Teams: Ohio (8-3) at #23 Kent State (10-1)
Time (TV): 11:00 am (ESPNU)
Interest: 3
Cheer For: Kent State

A month or so ago, Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton tweeted that he wished the Bobcats played Ohio State. Since that tweet, or maybe because of it, the football gods have seen fit to send Ohio into a tailspin. You know the football gods do not like Twitter. They have made this very clear in the way they make droughts happen, or make volcanoes explode. Kent State already has the MAC East wrapped up, and they will play Northern Illinois for the conference championship next week. The Flashes have two 1,000-yard rushers this season. Dri Archer, their leading rusher, has rushed for 1,284 yards on just 125 carries. That's an astounding 10.3-yard average per carry. This one might be a little high scoring, as both teams are allowing 25 points per game. Kent State 41 – Ohio 27

Teams: #14 Nebraska (9-2) at Iowa (4-7)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ABC)
Interest: 1.5
Cheer For: Nebraska

Voted the Big Ten's greatest rivalry by the Minden, Nebraska local dairy bar, Nebraska and Iowa have been great enemies for a great many years. The Hawkeyes are 12-27-3 all-time against the Huskers and haven't tasted the corny notes of victory in this series since 1981. That's probably why time has stopped in the state of Iowa since then. Perhaps a victory over Nebraska can be the push that Iowa needs to finally pull themselves into the 21st century. Or at least get them into the '90s. Nebraska 30 – Iowa 17

Teams: #7 LSU (9-2) at Arkansas (4-7)
Time (TV): 2:30 pm (CBS)
Interest: 2
Cheer For: Arkansas

With a win over Arkansas, the LSU Tigers might leap into the top four of the polls on Sunday because of all of the inevitable fallout above them. That is assuming that Arkansas doesn't steal the game, which is a very safe assumption. Still, LSU has been iffy at times this season, just look at last week's 41-35 win at home against a 5-5 Ole Miss team. A win for the Razorbacks would salvage some of their season, but it would mostly just equate to saving blurry family photos of your least favorite relatives from a flood. “Oh great, here's another picture of Great Uncle Ian wielding his machete at a school bus. He was such a character.” LSU 34 – Arkansas 20

Teams: #25 Washington (7-4) at Washington State (2-9)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (FOX)
Interest: 1.5
Cheer For: Washington State

The history of the Apple Cup is a storied one. My favorite of the stories took place during the famed 6-6 tie back in 1908. Washington quarterback, placekicker and head coach Orris Lavender, who had fought in the Spanish-American war 10 years earlier as an 11-year old, broke both of his legs returning the game's opening kickoff. Being the head coach as well as the quarterback, he couldn't simply be whisked away to the hospital to receive medical attention. Lavender called the game from a prone position on the sideline, taking in morphine and ether to ease the pain. In Lavender's place at quarterback was his backup, Burchell Banks, who was the first seven-year old to successful solo-navigate the entire Colorado River in a barrel. Seeing their leader lost for the game, Washington was obviously in shock, as was Banks, who fumbled the first snap he took. Washington State recovered and quickly scored, taking a 6-0 lead. The Huskies defense stood tall from there on, however, forcing a then-record 18 punts in the game. Then, with less than one minute remaining in the game, Banks took the snap, followed his back through a hole on the left side of the line, and came up against Washington's All-American defender Wilfrost Komages, who was just the seventh 10-year old in the state's history to be placed in a seven-foot by seven-foot pit with a grizzly bear and come out alive. Komages didn't have the same luck against Banks as he did the grizzly, however, because Banks faked one way and spun back to the other, leaving Komages laying on the ground like ol' Orris Lavender, except Komages wasn't currently in the middle of morphine hallucinations. Banks sprinted down the sideline, tying the game up at 6-6 with just seconds remaining in the game. However, without Lavender available to kick an extra point, they would have to attempt the conversion with a  play from scrimmage. Trying to come up with a play to call, Banks roused Lavender to a wakened state, asking what play they should run. Lavender lashed out, claiming that the “dragons are on their way” and the “village must be protected, especially the rum.” The rest of the team then looked at Banks. It was his job now. Lavender was too far gone to help them any further. But Banks was ready for this opportunity. You don't become Idaho's state champion bare-knuckle children's boxer at the age of four without a certain amount of gumption. He grabbed his team and gave them the play, but more importantly, he gave them the confidence that they would be able to succeed. They ran out onto the field with the same type of confidence that would two years later enable Banks to become the first American to successfully knock out a buffalo with a single punch (but that's another story). Unfortunately, what they didn't see was broken-legged Orris Lavender, pulling himself out onto the field, arm over arm, dragging two useless legs behind him. Banks took the snap from center, and shot through the line like a killdeer being chased by a child. He had scored! Or at least that's what he and his teammates had thought. Instead, with Lavender out on the field screaming about having his insides eaten out by vultures, the Huskies were flagged for having too many men on the field. Unable to get him off of the field, in order to avoid any further penalties, Washington had to then attempt the conversion with just 10 players while their coach, 40 yards away, rambled on about how “the Civil War was an inside job”. Without the necessary amount of blockers, however, the play was easily halted by Washington State, and the game finished in a 6-6 tie. It is known today as “Lavender's Morphine Folly”, and still rates as one of Washington State's greatest victories. I could definitely see something like that happening again in this one. Washington State 17 – Washington 16

Teams: Arizona State (6-5) at #24 Arizona (7-4)
Time (TV): 10:00 pm (ESPN2)
Interest: 3
Cheer For: Arizona

We're cheering for Arizona because I've got tailback Ka'Deem Carey starting for me in my fantasy football championship this week. And before you decide to root against me, I'll just let you know that I'm facing a Penn State fan in the finals, so let's see if your conscience can handle that. But you're pretty despicable, so it probably can. Arizona 37 – Arizona State 35

Saturday November 24

Teams: Georgia Tech (6-5) at #3 Georgia (10-1)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest: 3.5
Cheer For: Georgia Tech

You're rooting for Georgia Tech because a loss here would ruin Georgia's chances for a national championship, yet still keep them alive as a possible spoiler for Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Preparing for the triple option is always tough, which is why Georgia played Georgia Southern last week. Georgia Southern runs a similar option attack, which should instill confidence in the Bulldogs this week. Except for the fact that Georgia Southern rushed for 302 yards last week. I think it's pretty obvious that Georgia Tech is going to move the ball and score, but their defense won't be able to contain the Georgia offense. They will need some fortunate bounces that turn into turnovers in order to pull this one out. Georgia 35 - Georgia Tech 28

Teams: Virginia (4-7) at Virginia Tech (5-6)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPNU)
Interest: 1.5
Cheer For: Virginia

The winner joins the Big Ten. It would probably be best to root for Virginia, because at least they haven't reached their ceiling yet. Virginia Tech needs this win to become bowl eligible. I'm not sure what bowl they're still alive for, but I imagine the swag is a Valpak and some sound advice. Virginia Tech 27 – Virginia 17

Teams: Illinois (2-9) at Northwestern (8-3)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Interest: 1.5
Cheer For: Illinois

Illinois is trying to avoid going winless in the Big Ten, a feat which is nearly impossible to accomplish. We're rooting for the Illini because we don't want Northwestern's record to look any better than it needs to when they choke away their bowl game. The Big Ten is going to get destroyed in the bowl games this season because most teams will be playing two levels up since Ohio State and Penn State aren't eligible. It's going to be a blood bath. Hopefully an undefeated season will help you cope. Northwestern 38 – Illinois 21

Teams: Indiana (4-7) at Purdue (5-6)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Interest: 1
Cheer For: Indiana

We're cheering for Indiana so that Purdue doesn't go to a bowl game. Nothing personal, it's just that Purdue sucks and losing to a MAC team won't do the conference any good. We don't want to scare Rutgers and Maryland away, do we? Or DO we? Remember back when Indiana controlled their own destiny. That was such a hilarious time. Now they're trying not to fall two games behind Purdue. I don't want to pick a winner in this game because you just never known what you're going to get with Purdue, and you always know what you're going to get with Indiana. I guess I'll go with Kevin Wilson and the Hoosiers because Danny Hope needs to go. Indiana 31 – Purdue 24

Teams: Kentucky (2-9) at Tennessee (4-7)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (SECN)
Interest: 1
Cheer For: Kentucky

You throw the records out the window in this game – not because they don't matter, but because you don't want people to see them. These are two terrible teams. Tennessee fired Derek Dooley this past week, and Kentucky fired Joker Phillips weeks ago, though Phillips will stick around until the end of the season because the rent on his lot is paid through November. The buzz coming from the face-stained, paint-huffing Tennessee fans is that they are looking at Jon Gruden as their prospective head coach. Unfortunately that will never happen because if Tennessee was able to land a good coach they would have never ended up with Derek Dooley. (No offense to Tennessee fans or their football program.) Tennessee 27 – Kentucky 24

Teams: #5 Oregon (10-1) at #15 Oregon State (8-2)
Time (TV): 3:00 pm (P12N)
Interest: 4.5
Cheer For: Oregon State

This is the 116th edition of The Civil War, with the first taking place in 1894. Oregon has won four in a row in this series, and Oregon State hasn't beaten a ranked Ducks team since 2000, going 0-6 since 2001. Coming off of a loss last week, some are expecting Oregon to continue their struggles this week as well. I tend to think that losing last week has heightened Oregon's awareness, and they know they have two games left with which to impress voters and move back into the national title picture. Oregon State will score in this one, but Oregon has higher purposes than just this game. Oregon 48 – Oregon State 37

Teams: Maryland (4-7) at North Carolina (7-4)
Time (TV): 3:00 pm (Gameplan)
Interest: 1
Cheer For: Maryland

We're cheering for Maryland because B1G! B1G! B1G! B1G! And with rumors that North Carolina could get a Big Ten invite, this could eventually become a Big Ten matchup. Until it does, however, I'll never speak of these two teams meeting on the same field again. North Carolina 34 – Maryland 13

Teams: Auburn (3-8) at #2 Alabama (10-1)

Time (TV): 3:30 pm (CBS)
Interest: 1
Cheer For: Auburn

The sad thing about this one is that there are actually Auburn fans out there who think that they are going to win this game. What is wrong with these people? These are the same people who record themselves jumping off of their roofs thinking that a simple umbrella will guide them safely to the ground. Then when they land with a thud, and several broken bones, they turn to the idiot with the camera and say, “We're gonna need a bigger umbrella! And I think my pants are weighing me down.” Alabama 34 – Auburn 10

Teams: #4 Florida (10-1) at #10 Florida State (10-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC)
Interest: 4.5
Cheer For: Florida State

Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel reportedly had a great week throwing the ball, but we all know that's impossible. Despite the promising news, it's not been a good few weeks for Florida. Let's not forget that following the Gators' 44-11 win against South Carolina, they've lost to Georgia, beat a bad Mizzou team by seven, beat a worse Louisiana-Lafayette team by seven, and only led Jacksonville State 10-0 at the half last week. They may be ranked fourth in the BCS, but that's because voters feel that their hands are tied by their love of everything SEC. A loss to the Seminoles will end that feeling a little, and it will keep the Gators from jumping an undefeated Ohio State. Florida State 27 – Florida 17

Teams: #21 Oklahoma State (7-3) at #13 Oklahoma (8-2)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN)
Interest: 3.5
Cheer For: Oklahoma State

Junior quarterback Clint Chelf will get the start for the Pokes. He will be facing an Oklahoma defense that gave up a school-record 778 yards of total offense to West Virginia last week. Upon being told he would start, Chelf was quoted as saying “Whhhhoooooopppppeeeeeeeeee! Yahooooo!!” Oklahoma State won last year's Bedlam 44-10, but it was their first win in the series in nine attempts. The Pokes have played well the last couple of weeks, but will need to play even better this week. I don't think it happens. Oklahoma 41 – Oklahoma State 38

Teams: Wisconsin (7-4) at Penn State (7-4)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN2)
Interest: 3.5
Cheer For: Penn State

We're cheering for Penn State because it's easier than cheering for Wisconsin, which is saying something. This being the Nittany Lions' last game, if you think they're going to lose this one, you're crazy. Unless, of course, the Penn State players heard Bill O'Brien NOT say that he's coming back next season when given an opportunity to do so. The Badgers already have their spot in the Big Ten Championship Game wrapped up, and it would be pretty hilarious to send them there with a 4-4 conference record. But the loss of linebacker Michael Mauti is devastating for the Nittany Lions, especially with Montee Ball on such a roll right now. Given that and the question of O'Brien's return swirling, I've got to side with Smugsy McSmugsalot. Wisconsin 28 – Penn State 21

Teams: Michigan State (5-6) at Minnesota (6-5)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Interest: 2
Cheer For: Michigan State

We're cheering for the Spartans because they need the bowl practice. Unbelievably, this is a game between two teams who are each 2-5 in conference play. How did the Gophers beat two conference teams when Rutgers and Maryland aren't even here yet!?! Michigan State's five Big Ten losses have come by a combined 13 points. If that's not Sparty, I don't know what is. Michigan State 27 – Minnesota 24

Teams: #8 Stanford (9-2) at #17 UCLA (9-2)
Time (TV): 6:30 pm (FOX)
Interest: 4
Cheer For: UCLA

The circumstances surrounding this game are pretty fascinating. UCLA has already clinched a spot in the Pac 12 Championship Game, but Stanford and Oregon are currently tied atop the North standings. If Stanford wins this game, then they'll host UCLA next week in the conference championship game. If they lose, then UCLA has to go to Oregon, unless the Ducks lose at Oregon State, then who knows what the tie breaker is. Assuming Oregon gets the win over the Beavers, and the Bruins don't have any desire to play a Pac 12 Championship Game in Autzen Stadium, they could instead choose to tank this game, thereby clinching a spot in the championship game for Stanford. You follow all that? I don't think any coach would ever think that way, but for a berth in the Rose Bowl, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Besides, UCLA has already had a successful season thanks to their win over USC last week. Though UCLA may not need to tank this game in order to lose it. Stanford 24 – UCLA 23

Teams: #12 South Carolina (9-2) at #11 Clemson (10-1)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest: 4
Cheer For: Clemson

Clemson is a 12-point loss at Florida State away from being #1 in the nation right now. If that would have happened, this game would be an absolute lock as a loss for the Tigers. As it stands now, however, a one-loss Clemson team is infinitely more dangerous because they have nothing left to ruin. The Tiger offense has been rolling of late, and quarterback Tajh Boyd has two 400-yard passing performances in his last four games. He'll get pressured more this week than he has since that Florida State loss, but he's simply playing too well right now to lose to an above average SEC team. Clemson 38 – South Carolina 20

Teams: Missouri (5-6) at Texas A&M (8-3)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (ESPN2)
Interest: 2
Cheer For: Missouri

You can go ahead and cheer for Missouri, but I'll be cheering for Texas A&M because my starting quarterback this week is Johnny Manziel, and he needs to lead me to victory. Though I have to say, I am getting pretty upset that he never writes me back. How many letters with locks of hair do you need to send a guy before he'll respond? I'm not giving up though. I'll just double my efforts to four letters per day. Texas A&M 41 – Missouri 21

Teams: Mississippi State (8-3) at Ole Miss (5-6)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (ESPNU)
Interest: 1.5
Cheer For: Ole Miss

What came first, the Chicken Bowl or the Egg Bowl? Ha ha ha. That's just a little delta rivalry humor for you. The Egg Bowl has been played 108 times before, with 105 of them being completely meaningless. Seriously, what good are bragging rights in Mississippi? Yeah, you as a Mississippi State fan may have done something that an Ole Miss fan never has and finished the 10th grade, but that's still well below a meaningful accomplishment. Ole Miss 30 – Mississippi State 24

Teams: #1 Notre Dame (11-0) at USC (7-4)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ABC)
Interest: 5
Cheer For: USC

You know how you always have a tough time rooting against Notre Dame? Well, you're going to have to find a way to get over that this week. USC lost Matt Barkley to injury, so they'll be starting redshirt freshman Max Wittek this week. As long as Wittek finds Marqise Lee, he'll be fine. Of course, the Trojan offensive line will need to give him time to do so. I wouldn't expect USC to hold back at all in this game. They will attack the Notre Dame secondary repeatedly, because that's the only part of the Notre Dame defense where USC has the advantage. A win in this game will give the Irish a berth in the BCS National Championship, but too many people have already penciled them in there, and they shouldn't have. Now they must pay. USC 31 – Notre Dame 24

Teams: #19 Michigan (8-3) at Ohio State (11-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ABC)
Interest: 5
Cheer For: Ohio State

Well, what can you say about the game that you could never possibly say enough about? Michigan is going to try and force Braxton Miller to throw the ball, which means they'll have three linebackers on the field to defend the pass. If he's accurate, the Buckeyes will win. If he's accurate, the Buckeyes will also be able to run the ball. If he's accurate, Michigan doesn't really have a chance. If he's accurate. The Wolverine offense brings in a bunch of unknowns, because they won't have tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint. It will be the Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner Show, but Robinson won't be able to run the ball out of the I-formation like Al Borges likes to do. There really are no viable running threats in power situations for Michigan, so they are going to have to go completely away from their tendencies, and that can be a good thing or a bad thing. It will be up to the Buckeyes to adjust quickly once they finally figure out what it is that the Wolverines plan on doing.

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