Tony's Tip Sheet

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Last updated: 10/04/2012 4:05 AM
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Football
Tony's Tip Sheet
By Tony Gerdeman

On paper this is the best weekend of the year. The conference schedules are in full bloom, the leaves are changing, there's a chill in the air, and longtime Big Ten rivals Nebraska and Ohio State meet under the lights of Ohio Stadium.

There are five games pitting ranked opponents against eachother, which is actually pretty high. One of those matchups, however, isn't Michigan at Purdue. In fact, five of the last six times that those two teams have met, neither have been ranked. That number now spans Michigan's last three coaches.

Nice hiring firm you guys have up there. Have you tried calling Bobby Valentine?

Thursday October 4

Teams:  #13 USC (3-1) at Utah (2-2)
Time (TV):  9:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  3
Cheer For:  Utah

Lane Kiffin was asked earlier in the week about there being six Pac 12 teams in the Top 25 and he said “It's the result of us not nailing recruiting over the last five years.” It's weird to see a head coach bash the previous administration like that. Normally they just have the Orlando Sentinel do it for them. USC 38 – Utah 20

Friday October 5

Teams:  Pittsburgh (2-2) at Syracuse (1-3)
Time (TV):  7:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  3
Cheer For:  Pittsburgh

Both teams are leaving for the ACC, so don't be surprised if we have a Cuban baseball type of situation here and both Pitt and Syracuse “go missing”, only to find out they're attempting to become ACC citizens immediately. I'm actually looking forward to this game because it should be pretty high scoring. Both teams are averaging 487 yards of total offense per game, and neither of them have a great defense. Now, I know that you are the partying type – I can tell by your skinny tie – but if you do decide to stay home this Friday night, you might want to check this one out. Oh, and we're cheering for Pittsburgh because we know Bret Bielema isn't. Pittsburgh 34 – Syracuse 33

Saturday October 6

Teams:  Navy (1-3) at Air Force (2-2)
Time (TV):  11:30 a.m. (CBS)
Interest:  1.5
Cheer For:  Air Force

The best complete showcase of option football that you will see this year. That is, if you weren't already three hours into a twelve-hour tailgate. You have a problem. A nine-hour tailgate, that I can understand. Everybody needs at least nine hours. But twelve? Ridiculous. Air Force 35 – Navy 24

Teams:  Kansas (1-3) at #7 Kansas State (4-0)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (FX)
Interest:  1.5
Cheer For:  Kansas

Charlie Weis' decided schematic advantage in this game is going to be about as helpful as an umbrella in a leaking submarine. Wildcat quarterback Collin Klein will continue his slow and puzzling domination of the Big XII. But don't worry too much about Kansas, I'm sure Weis has them headed in the right direction. Never once in his career has he failed to raise a program above mediocrity sometimes. Kansas State 49 – Kansas 14

Teams:  #24 Northwestern (5-0) at Penn State (3-2)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  4
Cheer For:  Northwestern

We're cheering for Northwestern because even though they don't play Ohio State this season, they play teams that play the Buckeyes. Let's face it, Northwestern isn't going 14-0, but if they finish 7-1 in the Big Ten and their lone loss is to Michigan or Michigan State, then that helps Ohio State more than a 7-5 Penn State team beating them. However, the Nittany Lions are playing very well right now, and are a missed field goal away from being 4-1. Northwestern, meanwhile, hasn't had an opponent stay within a touchdown of them since their opener at Syracuse. This game will come down to how well Penn State's defense handles Northwestern's two-quarterback system. Trevor Siemian threw for 308 yards last week against Indiana and Kain Colter rushed for 161 yards running the zone read. If this game was earlier in the season, I'd take Northwestern, but I think Penn State's offense is playing well enough to score the 30 points that they'll need to win. Penn State 31 – Northwestern 26

Teams:  Arkansas (1-4) at Auburn (1-3)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (ESPN2)
Interest:  1.5
Cheer For:  Hilarity

This is a game featuring two teams who started the season in the Coaches' Poll. Now they are a combined 2-7, but we can't fault the coaches for this because, after all, these are two SEC teams. How could anybody have known they wouldn't be totally awesome? In fact, I'm still not convinced that they aren't awesome. I bet if I ran into either team at the mall, I would be in awe. “Excuse me, Auburn, can...can I have your autograph?” “Sorry, kid, we haven't gotten to cursive yet.” Auburn 24 – Arkansas No Points, Got Lost on the Way (Yes, Auburn could only manage to score 24 points against an opponent who failed to show up.)

Teams:  Michigan State (3-2) at Indiana (2-2)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (BTN)
Interest:  2.5
Cheer For:  Michigan State

We're rooting for Michigan State because they will end up higher in the rankings than Indiana. We'll find out just how bad the Spartans are this weekend. They can't afford for this game to be close because the Hoosiers will start believing in themselves and the Spartans will start believing in “Sparty No!” While most think the gameplan will be to simply give the ball to Le'Veon Bell 35 times, they really need to continue to improve Andrew Maxwell's game. He needs to have a good game and boost his confidence as the Spartans get ready for their divisional opponents. Michigan State 31 – Indiana 17

Teams:  Virginia Tech (3-2) at North Carolina (3-2)
Time (TV):  12:30 pm (ACCN)
Interest:  1.5
Cheer For:  North Carolina

This is probably a big game in the ACC. Let me go see if I can find a preview that I can copy and paste here for you because you deserve something more than I can give you for a game of this magnitude. Nope, no previews. North Carolina 34 – Virginia Tech 27

Teams:  Arizona (3-2) at #18 Stanford (3-1)
Time (TV):  3:00 pm (FOX)
Interest:  3.5
Cheer For:  Arizona

Rich Rodriguez has his offense humming like he never had it at Michigan. He has a quarterback who is on pace for 4,200 yards passing, a running back on pace for 1,400 yards and a receiver on pace for 1,100 yards. Though you'll be happy to know that his defense is still hilarious, giving up 41.7 points per game against their three BCS opponents so far. At this point, you have to expect Arizona to score on everybody left on the schedule, but not stop anybody. Stanford isn't scoring very well right now (26.0 ppg), but the medicine for that particular ailment is coming to town. I would like to have somehow ended this prediction with a Rich Rodriguez snake oil joke, but couldn't do it. Please disregard. Thank you. Arizona 37 – Stanford 30

Teams:  #4 LSU (5-0) at #10 Florida (4-0)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (CBS)
Interest:  5
Cheer For:  Florida

We're cheering for Florida because it is impossible to not root for the incredible reclamation project that Will Muschamp has been able to orchestrate. What he has done is nothing short of miraculous. To take four and five-star prospects across the board and not yet lose six games like he did last season is the only testament you need of Muschamp's Miracle. But just wait, because we haven't seen nothin' yet. If Florida, a 2.5-point underdog, can upset a flawless LSU team that has no flaws and is flawless, then you can go ahead and put Muschamp right below Steve Spurrier on the hierarchy of great Florida head coaches, of which they are the only two. It has been interesting listening to people who are down on LSU's offense and yet high on Florida's. They apparently don't realize that LSU is rushing and passing for more yards than Florida, and scoring nine more points per game. Florida should win this game, but I see LSU pulling it out somehow. Like at some point Les Miles will remove his hat to scratch his head and a linebacker will think he's calling for a specific blitz, and that linebacker will then force a fumble on the quarterback, pick it up, and then return it for the winning touchdown with just seconds remaining. After the game Miles will give all the glory to dry scalp. LSU 20 – Florida 17

Teams:  Illinois (2-3) at Wisconsin (3-2)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (ABC/ESPN2)
Interest:  2
Cheer For:  Wisconsin

You know it's bad when you can recognize an Illinois collapse amid their regular devastation. Last week's blowout loss at home to Penn State was a statement game, not by Penn State, but by Illinois. That statement was: “Please rub our bellies. We defer to your dominance.” The Illini come into this game with consecutive 28-point losses to Louisiana Tech and Penn State. Go read that last sentence again. Even the Badgers can't keep this one close. Wisconsin 38 – Illinois 17

Teams:  #17 Oklahoma (2-1) at Texas Tech (4-0)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (ABC/ESPN2)
Interest:  2.5
Cheer For:  Texas Tech

Even though they're undefeated, we're going to cheer for Texas Tech because we have a pretty good feeling that they're not going to finish the regular season 12-0.  Their biggest win this season has come against Iowa State, which is something that has won Kirk Ferentz quite a few awards! Even though Tech has played absolutely nobody, they should still be able to put up a little bit of a fight. The good news for the Sooners, however, is that this game isn't big enough for Bob Stoops to choke it away. Oklahoma 38 – Texas Tech 27

Teams:  Georgia Tech (2-3) at #15 Clemson (4-1)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  2
Cheer For:  Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech has won seven of the last nine against Clemson, but that doesn't mean anything in this game because there is no way that Clemson can blow this game. That's the old Clemson, this is the new Clemson. So what if they painted over the wallpaper and simply flipped the old carpet over to make it look new. Clemson 44 – Georgia Tech 27

Teams:  Michigan (2-2) at Purdue (3-1)
Time (TV):  4:00 pm (BTN)
Interest:  5
Cheer For:  Purdue

I know it is going to be difficult for you to root against Michigan, but this game is for divisional pride. At this point it's a lost cause for me to tell you to root for the Wolverines because you never do it. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him cheer for evil. Purdue comes into this game with the better offense and better defense, yet are a three-point underdog at home. The Boilermakers did give up 41 points to Marshall's passing attack last week, but if Michigan comes in and throws the ball 68 times like Marshall did, Purdue will win by 35 points. The Wolverines cannot afford to lose this game, and they need to get something out of tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint in order to win it. I just have a difficult time taking Purdue in this one. I tend to think they'll do something to lose it, rather than Michigan doing something to win it. Michigan 26 – Purdue 21

Teams:  #8 West Virginia (4-0) at #11 Texas (4-0)
Time (TV):  7:00 pm (FOX)
Interest:  4.5
Cheer For:  West Virginia

West Virginia's remaining schedule is more difficult than Texas', so that's why we're pulling for the Mountaineers. I am beginning to think that it might be impossible for anybody to stop West Virginia's offense. I just think they wear on a team, and what goes unnoticed is the amount of pressure that they put on an opponent's offense to keep up. This will be the best defense West Virginia faces this year, and I'm convinced that they'll still put 40 points on the board. I am so deep on the Mountaineers' bandwagon that I'm tucked in the secret compartment where they hide their bootlegging 'shine. West Virginia 48 – Texas 41

Teams:  #5 Georgia (5-0) at #6 South Carolina (5-0)
Time (TV):  7:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  3.5
Cheer For:  South Carolina

We're cheering for South Carolina because they still have a loss or two in them somewhere. The key will be for the Gamecocks to finish with two conference losses so that Georgia can make it to the SEC Championship Game and beat Alabama. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is 2-7 against ranked opponents in his career, and those two wins have come against the #24 and #25-ranked teams. South Carolina will provide a quality of defense that he has not yet seen this year. But I don't know how the Gamecocks score enough to stop Murray and his freshmen tailbacks. Georgia 24 – South Carolina 20

Teams:  Miami (FL) (4-1) vs #9 Notre Dame (4-0) (Chicago)
Time (TV):  7:30 pm (NBC)
Interest:  3.5
Cheer For:  Miami (FL)

I'm interested to see if Miami can move the ball on Notre Dame's defense. More importantly, however, I'm interested to see if Notre Dame can move the ball on Miami. The Canes have no defense and the Irish have very little offense. However, I like Notre Dame in this because the game is closer to South Bend than south Florida. Not only will it be somewhat of a homefield advantage, but the Irish will be playing without the fear of being stabbed, and that always allows you to play better. Notre Dame 31 – Miami 23

Teams:  #3 Florida State (5-0) at North Carolina State (3-2)
Time (TV):  8:00 pm (ESPN2)
Interest:  1
Cheer For:  North Carolina State

The last time I told you to cheer for North Carolina State was...actually, I have no idea. I don't really pay attention to the ACC games, and you know this. Stop coming to me for ACC games. Take a freaking hint. I don't come to you for stuff that you don't pay attention to – like proper parenting. Florida State 58 – North Carolina State 10

Teams:  #25 UCLA (4-1) at California (1-4)
Time (TV):  10:00 pm (P12N)
Interest:  2.5
Cheer For:  California

This is a game matching up two opponents of Ohio State and Nebraska, and little else. It might be interesting to see how Cal performs. In fact, I would probably watch this game if the Pac Twelve Network was on television. UCLA 37 – California 31

Teams:  #23 Washington (3-1) at #2 Oregon (5-0)
Time (TV):  10:30 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  2.5
Cheer For:  Washington

Yeah, this game looks interesting, but I'll save you the pain of staying up for the second half. Washington will hang for the first half, but come the third quarter, Oregon will pull away via a series of long runs and Keith Price interception returns for touchdowns. Oops, spoiler alert. Oregon 56 – Washington 27

Teams:  #21 Nebraska (4-1) at #12 Ohio State (5-0)
Time (TV):  8:00 pm (ABC)
Interest:  5
Cheer For:  Ohio State

Last week, the Buckeye defense faced on offense that suited them well. This week, however, they don't. Nebraska will spread things out, taking away the Ohio State defensive line and putting the game on the shoulders of a back seven who has had issues tackling in space. Similarly, the Husker defense has had their own issues this season, and Braxton Miller and the Buckeye offense pose similar problems for them. Despite the defensive reputations of both football programs, it is hard for me to believe that it won't take at least 30 points to win this game for somebody.

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