Tony's Tip Sheet

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Last updated: 10/18/2012 12:54 PM
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Football
Tony's Tip Sheet
By Tony Gerdeman

The Buckeyes are up to seventh in the AP poll and there are four teams in front of them who could lose this weekend (or five teams if you believe Tennessee has a chance at home against Alabama.)

This could be a massive weekend of upsets, or it could simply be a weekend where the higher-ranked teams assert their dominance over their subordinates.

Either way, it's better than postseason baseball.

Thursday October 18

Teams:  #3 Oregon (6-0) at Arizona State (5-1)
Time (TV):  9:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  4
Cheer For:  Arizona State

Oregon opened up as a twelve-point favorite in this game, but that's now down to eight points. Why? Maybe because people see that Arizona State has the eighth-ranked defense in the nation and is only giving up 14.2 points per game. They also see a Sun Devils team that is scoring 40.5 points per game and can throw the ball all over the place. Bettors have likely also taken note of the fact that this game is being played in Sun Devil Stadium, which is a very tough environment to play in. Ha ha, just kidding. There are no tough environments in the Pac Twelve. In fact, the toughest environments in the Pac Twelve are actually outside of the stadium. It's all either desert, mountains, woods, hippies or bullets, and I'm not sure which is the worst. Probably hippies. I really want to take Arizona State in this one because it's time for a huge upset to rock the nation. And since the game isn't on the Pac Twelve Network, the nation will actually be able to see it. If the Sun Devils can force three turnovers, I like their chances. This will either be an Arizona State win or an Oregon blowout. I hate the Pac Twelve. Arizona State 34 – Oregon 27

Friday October 19

Teams:  Connecticut (3-4) at Syracuse (2-4)
Time (TV):  8:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  1
Cheer For:  Syracuse

Don't you hate it when ESPN sticks us with a Big East game on Friday night? It's like they're trying to tell us to get out of the house or go spend time with our families. Where do they get off? Connecticut 20 – Syracuse 17

Saturday October 20

Teams:  Virginia Tech (4-3) at #19 Clemson (5-1)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (ESPN2/ABC)
Interest:  3
Cheer For:  Virginia Tech

Clemson blew out Virginia Tech twice last season after losing their previous five meetings. The Tigers are 5-1 with their lone loss being against the Noles. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, has losses to Pitt, Cincinnati and North Carolina. Despite these two very different résumés, Clemson is just an 8.5-point favorite. Something is going on here, and I don't like it. Before I saw the line, I wanted to mark this as Clemson's annual gaffe, but those are supposed to be unexpected. This is too expected. It feels like a reverse trap. So maybe by trying to avoid it, I'll actually fall into it. Does that mean I should just step into it? How do I know that I'm not already in it? I don't even know what to avoid at this point. Clemson 31 – Virginia Tech 24

Teams:  #6 LSU (6-1) at #18 Texas A&M (5-1)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  4
Cheer For:  Texas A&M

LSU has been outscored 24-18 on the road in two games this season. They'll certainly need more than their nine-point scoring average to get the win on Saturday. Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel has dominated lesser competition this season, throwing for 280 yards and rushing for 113 yards per game. If he plays well in this game, he will move well into the Heisman conversation. A&M's defense isn't good, which will help LSU's not-very-good offense. If Manziel can avoid a bad game where he looks completely lost against an [insert echo voice] SEC defense, then I like the chances of an upset here. The Aggies are a 3.5-point underdog, so at least I'm not crazy thinking LSU is going to lose. Texas A&M 27 – LSU 24

Teams:  Minnesota (4-2) at Wisconsin (5-2)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (ESPNU)
Interest:  2
Cheer For:  Wisconsin

The Badgers have woken up, which means they are going to punish the Gophers and win their ninth Paul Bunyan's Axe in a row. It's sort of ironic that these two teams play for an implement that has killed more of their mascot kind than any other form of tool. Oh, I don't mean actual gophers and badgers, I mean the people who wore the mascot costumes. Over 80% of them have been killed by axes. Just terrible. Wisconsin 38 – Minnesota 21

Teams:  Auburn (1-5) at Vanderbilt (2-4)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (SECN)
Interest:  1.5
Cheer For:  Vanderbilt

No matter how badly you think things have gotten for your SEC program, rock bottom doesn't come until you lose to Vanderbilt. The Commodores are favored by a touchdown which should be a fireable offense. Auburn 24 – Vanderbilt 20

Teams:  #20 Stanford (4-2) at California (3-4)
Time (TV):  3:00 pm (FOX)
Interest:  2
Cheer For:  California

California has won two in a row, beating UCLA and Washington State to move to .500 in conference play. This week, however, they come up against a much different team. Stanford will be a bit angry coming in following the robbery that took place in South Bend last week. A close game shouldn't bother the Cardinal because five of their six games this season have been decided by a touchdown or less. I like the way that Cal is moving the ball right now, and I think Stanford is going to let Notre Dame beat them twice. California 27 – Stanford 23

Teams:  #7 South Carolina (6-1) at #2 Florida (6-0)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (CBS)
Interest:  4.5
Cheer For:  South Carolina

You're cheering for South Carolina, but don't tell Urban! The Gators have won their last two games with quarterback Jeff Driskel throwing for just 61 and 77 yards against LSU and Vanderbilt, respectively. They've been killing it on the ground, making their reliance on the passing game unnecessary. Last week, Driskel bested Tim Tebow's single-game QB rushing record at Florida with 177 yards on eleven carries. Against LSU, he finished with one yard on the ground. The good news for the Gators is that South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore may not play, the bad news is that he wasn't going to do anything against them anyway. I'm not convinced Florida's offense is good enough right now to win this game, but I'm also not sure South Carolina's is either. I'm going with the Gamecocks in this one because it's simply time for the Gators to lose. South Carolina 13 – Florida 10

Teams:  Nebraska (4-2) at Northwestern (6-1)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (ABC/ESPN2)
Interest:  3.5
Cheer For:  Nebraska

Remember last season when Northwestern went into Lincoln as a 17.5-point underdog and came out with a 28-25 win? Well, now they're a five-point underdog against the Huskers in their own itty bitty stadium. This will be Nebraska's first game since the 63-38 loss at Ohio State, so they'll be plenty rested and plenty angry. Two weeks ago Northwestern gave up 22 fourth-quarter points to Penn State and lost 39-28. Last week they beat Minnesota by just eight points. Things aren't trending well for the Wildcats. Not that things are trending well for the team coming off of a 63-38 drubbing, but you get my meaning. I like the Huskers running their way to a shootout win. Nebraska 41 – Northwestern 38

Teams:  Indiana (2-4) at Navy (3-3)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (CBSCS)
Interest:  3
Cheer For:  Indiana

You might want to pay attention to this game just to see how Indiana reacts to last week's close loss to Ohio State. And when Indiana loses, just tell yourself that it was because they simply spent too much of themselves against the Buckeyes and they haven't gotten over the loss yet. Navy 31 – Indiana 27

Teams:  Michigan State (4-3) at Michigan (4-2)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (BTN)
Interest:  4.5
Cheer For:  Michigan

You're rooting for Michigan, not because you hate America, but because the Wolverines have a better chance of reaching higher in the rankings. The Buckeyes need quality wins if they are going to continue to make their move up the AP rankings. If Big Ten teams keep knocking each other off, that does no good for Ohio State. Michigan State has almost no chance in this game. They don't have the passing game to make Michigan's defense focus on anything other than the running game, and anybody can shut down Sparty's running game if they have nothing else to worry about. Yes, the Spartan defense will knock Denard Robinson around a little, but he should be just fine because this year's version of the MSU defense is much softer than past versions. I think Robinson will be the only Wolverine that gets yards on the ground, however. It won't be high scoring, and as long as Al Borges keeps from calling too many passing plays, Michigan cannot lose this game. Michigan 28 – Michigan State 13

Teams:  #4 Kansas State (6-0) at #13 West Virginia (5-1)
Time (TV):  7:00 pm (FOX)
Interest:  5
Cheer For:  West Virginia

This is one of the two biggest games in Kansas State football history. I don't know what the other is, but I can't imagine there'd be two bigger games in program history. Why is this game so big? This is their last big road test of the season, unless you count TCU, which we don't. West Virginia is a 2.5-point favorite, and it might be the last time Kansas State is an underdog all year. There's also the small matter of the Heisman trophy. The winner of this game, provided they perform well, will likely have the Heisman front-runner. It's hard for me to bet against Collin Klein, however, because I don't bet and I wouldn't even know where to do so. It's amazing how much damage West Virginia's loss did to their national perception. It's almost like Geno Smith doesn't exist anymore. This is his chance to get it back because this is the best game of the night and everybody will be watching. I like Kansas State because I just feel like I can trust them more. Like if you had to call West Virginia or Kansas State to pick up your kid in an emergency, you couldn't trust West Virginia not to end up losing your kid in a craps game against some Russian mafia guys. At least Kansas State would have the good sense to try to replace your kid with a look alike in hopes that you wouldn't notice. Kansas State 47 – West Virginia 37

Teams:  #1 Alabama (6-0) at Tennessee (3-3)
Time (TV):  7:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  2
Cheer For:  Tennessee

The amount of squirrel meat that will be consumed this Saturday would make entire third-world nations weep. As you read this, Tennesseans are shaking trees and catching falling squirrels in pillow cases, and then taking those pillow cases and swinging them against the very trees that they were just shaking. Can you believe they let kids out of school for an entire week for this? Disgusting. As far as the game is concerned, if Tyler Bray doesn't implode, I think Tennessee can keep this one close. The scary part for Tennessee fans, however, comes if the Vols were to happen to win. You'll see pictures of Bray after the game standing on top of overturned cop cars shooting a flamethrower. Alabama 31 – Tennessee 20

Teams:  North Carolina (5-2) at Duke (5-2)
Time (TV):  7:00 pm (ESPNU)
Interest:  1
Cheer For:  Duke

North Carolina has won 21 of 22 in this series and eight straight. They are basically Ohio State to Duke's Michigan. Despite both teams having the same record, and Duke being at home, the Blue Devils are a ten-point underdog. I bet that makes the Duke players so mad. They are probably calling home right now to complain, and giving their maid a message to give to their parents when they get back from Monaco. I really wish I wouldn't have put this game in the Tip Sheet. I have three rules in my life, and two of them are about never picking ACC games. North Carolina 30 – Duke 21

Teams:  Kansas (1-5) at #9 Oklahoma (4-1)
Time (TV):  7:00 (FCSC)
Interest:  1
Cheer For:  Kansas

We're cheering for Kansas because we like to root for the impossible. But it's more likely for Niagara Falls to reverse course and start flowing upwards than it is for Kansas to win this game. The Jayhawks' only chance to win this game would be for super-genius Charlie Weis to invent a time machine in which he takes his current team back to the 1930s to face the Oklahoma Sooners of, say, 1932. Of course, that would probably alter the course of history too greatly and Weis understands the implications of such things. That's probably why he has never invented a time machine before. Oklahoma 38 – Kansas 17

Teams:  Baylor (3-2) at #25 Texas (4-2)
Time (TV):  8:00 pm (ABC/ESPN3)
Interest:  2
Cheer For:  Baylor

Pillow fight! First defense to fall asleep gets their bra put in the freezer!! Texas 44 – Baylor 40

Teams:  #14 Florida State (6-1) at Miami (FL) (4-3)
Time (TV):  8:00 pm (ABC/ESPN3)
Interest:  1.5
Cheer For:  Miami (FL)

You are all Hurricane fans this weekend, so make sure you sufficiently case the gas station that you are planning on robbing. Florida State 42 – Miami 21

Teams:  Penn State (4-2) at Iowa (4-2)
Time (TV):  8:00 pm (BTN)
Interest:  4
Cheer For:  Penn State

Amazingly, both teams enter this game with 2-0 records in conference play. Penn State held off Northwestern in their last game, and Iowa did the same to the Spartans. This is not going to be a pretty game, but at least it's on BTN, so you won't have to deal with Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musburger talking about how boring it is. It's not clear if Iowa running back Mark Weisman will play, which would be a huge blow. And I can guarantee when people were looking at this game before the season there wasn't one person saying that it would come down to whether or not Weisman would be able to go – other than me, of course. Unfortunately, I can't find record of it anywhere. Just trust me. It's too bad stuff doesn't stay on the internet forever, because I would have really loved to show you a link to me saying that. Oh well. I really hate this game. I should just take the home team even without Weisman, but he was the only thing that has made this offense work all year long. He's Iowa's remedy against suck, and now he's probably gone. But I can't take Penn State on the road, even following a bye week. Or can I? Nothing would surprise me in this game. Penn State 21 – Iowa 17

Teams:  Washington (3-3) at Arizona (3-3)
Time (TV):  10:00 pm (P12N)
Interest:  1
Cheer For:  Arizona

If Arizona wins this, they will officially surpass Washington as one of the tertiary Pac Twelve teams that people talk about in order to sound smart – while Oregon State just goes on being ignored. Arizona 38 – Washington 28

Teams:  Utah (2-4) at #8 Oregon State (5-0)
Time (TV):  10:00 pm (ESPN2)
Interest:  2.5
Cheer For:  Utah

Beaver quarterback Sean Mannion is still out, but his backup Cody Vaz threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns last week against BYU. Oregon State has two very good receivers who will get the ball in a variety of ways. Utah, meanwhile, has an offense that is struggling terribly. They are 117th in the nation in total yards and 101st in scoring. I'm not really sure what Utah does well, which makes them an odd fit in the Pac Twelve because most Pac Twelve teams can generally do one thing well (though usually not two). Oregon State 31 – Utah 10

Teams:  Purdue (3-3) at Ohio State (7-0)
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (ABC/ESPN2)
Interest:  5
Cheer For:  Ohio State

Purdue is allowing 198.7 yards rushing and 27.5 points per game this season. The Buckeyes come into this game having rushed for 263.6 yards per game in Big Ten play. The Boilermakers have had the Buckeyes' number defensively in the past, but this isn't your father's Ohio State offense. (Unless you are Tom Herman, Ed Warinner or Urban Meyer's children, of course.) Many folks are worried about the Buckeye defense against Purdue's spread passing game, but I've seen the Boilers play a couple of times this season and their offense shouldn't even scare Buckeye fans. And certainly not in Ohio Stadium. Relax. Enjoy the last five games of the season. It's okay to be happy.

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