Free selections and write-ups for college football action. He hasn’t had a losing week yet (based on his strength ratings).
Volume Two, Number Eight
Games of Oct. 23
Last Saturday began darkly for the Daredevil.
San Jose State got drilled. Temple got killed.
Things got a bit better when Army managed a push with Southern Mississippi.
But then — ahhh, then — the sun broke through the ominous clouds in a big way. Both of our two-star picks, Iowa State (which won outright as predicted) and Memphis, covered. And, Alabama, our three-star selection, did, too.
It actually ended up being another very good week. The record was 3-2-1, but in terms of units, we ended the day plus 4.8 since both losses were one-star selections.
Folks, we’re still whipping the book. And with another Big weekend (and you’ll see why we capitalize that “B” later), we think we’ll just keep adding to our success.
Let’s go to the games …
Texas at Nebraska -9
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nebraska
Last week: Both teams were idle.
Next week: Texas at Iowa State; Nebraska at Kansas
Did you ever take a real hard look at Frank Solich? The man is solid, looks like he could hold his own in the vaunted Husker weight room. Probably kicks a lot of his players’ butts. Hey, maybe that threat is why Nebraska has played so well lately.
And don’t look for that to change on Saturday. Texas is in a real bad situation here. At Lincoln. After beating the Huskers, 20-16, in Austin last year. Against a Nebraska team that is starting to hit on all cylinders after a somewhat slow start. Quarterback Eric Crouch is playing very well. Bobby Newcombe seems to have found his niche as a receiver. And the defense is starting to play more and more like the Husker defenses of old.
And the Horns, though 5-2, haven’t exactly impressed this season. Texas has only one quality win (over Oklahoma), was upset early by an N.C. State team that can’t seem to do anything right anymore and got drilled in Austin by Kansas State. Sure, Mack Brown has had two weeks to prepare quarterback Major Applewhite and the troops, but Solich has had two weeks to prepare his bunch, too.
Bottom line: The Huskers have a revenge opportunity in front of the home folks. After a week off. I haven’t researched it, but I’d bet it’s been a long, long time since Nebraska blew one of these.
Easily a co-play of the week … Take the Huskers and lay the 9 in our first of two three-star selections this week!
Kansas State -7.5 at Oklahoma State
Lewis Field, Stillwater, Oklahoma
Last week: Kansas State 40, Utah State 0; Oklahoma State was idle.
Next week: Baylor at Kansas State; Oklahoma State at Texas A&M
My advice to the genius that made this line?
Put the pipe down, Dude, and sloooowly back away!
Don’t get me wrong. I have all the respect in the world for Oklahoma State, particularly head coach Bob Simmons. But this isn’t the best team he’s had lately. Granted, the Cowboys’ two losses were to quality opponents (Mississippi State and Nebraska), but two of the three wins were against no-talents Louisiana-Monroe and Tulsa and the other over a Ricky Williams-less Texas Tech squad.
Meanwhile, K-State, though hurting at running back (more about that later), may be one of those rare teams that only really gels after losing a superstar, Michael Bishop in this case. I remember a Georgia basketball team that went to the Final Four the year after Dominique Wilkins turned pro, something it never managed while The ‘Nique was there. See, sometimes it takes a superstar to instill winning habits in a team. But, at the same time, the team can become too dependent on its stud. When Studley leaves, the winning habit is still there and the remaining players realize that they must all pull a share of the load to continue their success.
Now, about that K-State running back slot …
Ladies and gentleman, meet Joe Hall — all 6-2, 290 pounds of him. With runners Frank Murphy recovering from surgery for a high ankle sprain, the tailback duties for the Wildcats fall to Hall. Against Utah State, he rose to the occasion with 195 yards on 25 carries. He’ll need to do well enough for the ‘Cats to keep the Cowboy defense honest, allowing quarterback Jonathan Beasley, who struggled last week, to find talented receivers Aaron Lockett and Quincy Morgan.
For OSU to even keep it close, they need a low-scoring contest. The K-State D is fast, as usual, and facing a team whose leading rusher has less than 250 yards on the season. Don’t expect the Cowboy attack, led by QB B.J. Tiger, to light up the scoreboard. The Pokes defense, with 18 sacks in its five games (but, again, look at the competition), must get to Beasley to have a chance.
Much like last week, K-State should start to pour it on late. Can’t see OSU scoring enough to keep it within this number … Take the Wildcats and lay the 7.5 in a two-star selection!
Texas A&M -4 at Oklahoma
6 p.m, Fox Sports Net
Memorial Stadium, Norman, Oklahoma
Last week: Texas A&M 34, Kansas 17; Oklahoma was idle.
Next week: Oklahoma State at Texas A&M; Oklahoma at Colorado
Sorry, folks, but I just can’t bring myself to believe that there’s as much parity in the Big 12 as the Vegas number posters seem to think there is.
Fact: Texas A&M is still among the elite in the Big 12 with Nebraska and K-State. Oklahoma isn’t.
Fact: Oklahoma has an excellent passing game led by quarterback Josh Heupel, but they can’t run. Unfortunately for the Sooners, A&M’s defensive strength is its secondary, led by corner Jason Webster, and the pass, without the run to keep the defense honest, ain’t gonna feed the bulldog here.
Fact: Against a proud Texas A&M team isn’t the situation to recover from consecutive losses that saw OU blow 16 and 17 point leads to Notre Dame and Texas, respectively.
A&M’s R.C. Slocum looks for his 100th win in 11 seasons at the Aggies’ helm. This game could be close for a while, especially with the Ags top runner, Dante Hall, not likely to play because of an ankle injury. But, in the end, Oklahoma and new head coach Bob Stoops will realize that this is an A&M team that is better than either the Fighting Irish or the Longhorns.
You can tell Stoops is new at this head coach thing. Doesn’t he know you don’t schedule A&M for homecoming?
Take the Aggies and lay the four in a one-star pick.
Penn State -3.5 at Purdue
2:30 p.m., ABC
Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, Indiana
Last week: Penn State 23, Ohio State 10; Purdue 52, Michigan State 28
Next week: Penn State at Illinois; Purdue at Minnesota
From this vantage point, I see two key things happening in this contest.
First, there’s the contrast between the perennial power and the new kid on the Big 10 block. Why does that matter? Here’s why.
Both teams are coming off big, big conference wins. A lot of the outcome of this game will depend on who handles that situation best. The nod here has to go to Penn State. Joe Paterno has prepared tons of football teams for games following big wins and he should have his players where they need to be mentally. On the other hand, for Purdue to whip — not just beat — undefeated Michigan State had to induce a high not seen lately in Boilermaker football for Joe Tiller’s bunch. They may still be giddy about that achievement, even with the nation’s top team rolling into town.
Secondly, it’s Drew Brees versus Courtney Brown and Lavar Arrington. I’m sold on Brees. He’s an outstanding quarterback. But there’s a lot of pressure in playing No. 1 in front of the home folks. Add to that the pressure he’ll get from Brown, Arrington (both superb defensive players) and it may be a bit too much for the Texas-born Brees to handle.
Purdue will need to establish the run. I don’t think they can. Plan B is to fill the air with footballs and hope to get enough big plays to offset those by Penn State, which will be playing with Rashard Casey, not Kevin Thompson, at quarterback. I don’t think they can. Don’t expect 509 passing yards from Brees and more than 300 yards receiving from Chris Daniels like the Boilermakers got last week.
Purdue is a fun football team, the kind you like to see win. But the Boilermakers will be reminded this week, as they were against Michigan, that they’re still a small step shy of the college football elite.
Take Penn State and lay the 3.5 in a one-star pick!
Ohio State at Minnesota -2.5
11 a.m., ESPN
The Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Last week: Penn State 23, Ohio State 10; Minnesota 37, Illinois 7
Next week: Iowa at Ohio State; Purdue at Minnesota
Since before Minnesota head coach Glen Mason was an Ohio State player (he graduated in 1970), Minnesota has beaten Ohio State only once, 35-31 in 1981. Before that, the Golden Gophers’ last win was in 1966.
This season, Minnesota stands at 5-1. The wins have been over Ohio, Northeast Louisiana, Illinois State, Northwestern and Illinois. Of those five teams, only one has a winning record (The five are a combined 14-20). Illinois State is 5-2 — in the Division 1-AA Gateway Conference. All that considered, perhaps Minnesota’s best showing was an overtime loss at the hands of Wisconsin.
Now, Wisconsin soundly defeated Ohio State, but then Cincinnati beat Wisconsin. The point is there’s not a lot that can be gained by looking at comparative scores. But looking at two teams comparative results against a representative sampling of competition is an completely different story.
Ohio State, on the other hand, stands at 4-3. But the losses came to Wisconsin, Penn State and Miami, Fla. They’ve beaten good UCLA and Purdue squads and, as a matter of fact, the same Cincinnati squad that beat Wisconsin (that’s the nail in the coffin of the comparative scores method).
So, all of a sudden, after years of subservience to the Buckeyes, Minnesota is a 2.5 point favorite to beat the Buckeyes? Folks, that’s a risk worth taking any day of any week! Personally, I’m loading up.
Take the Buckeyes and the points in our second three-star selection of the week!
Florida State -15 at Clemson
7 p.m., ESPN
Clemson Memorial Stadium, Clemson, South Carolina
Last week: Florida State 33, Wake Forest 10; Clemson 42, Maryland 30
Next week: Florida State at Virginia; Clemson at Wake Forest
Will he or won’t he?
Was there ever any doubt? He will.
Peter “Sticky Fingers” Warrick was cleared Thursday by FSU to return to the football team and will play in this week’s father-son matchup between Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles and Tommy Bowden’s Tigers.
Whould would’ve ever thunk anything could take the limelight from the father-son storyline in this ball game? Warrick’s clearance did just that.
Will it make any difference? You bet it will! As Randy Moss proved in his college days, you don’t have to be a Fellowship of Christian Athletes member to be a great football player. Warrick should not even be given a second thought by Heisman voters, but he is the best player in the country.
What’s more is this: Only Georgia Tech and Miami have played FSU within 15 points this year. Georgia Tech has Joe Hamilton at quarterback. Against Miami, FSU didn’t have Warrick. Clemson has sentiment on it’s side, but that won’t be enough.
Daddy catches Tommy trying to steal from him and takes him to the woodshed. But, hey. If Daddy stays around, say, three more years, Tommy will get his win. Just not this year.
Take the Noles and lay the points at home in this single-star pick!
thedailyspread.com | October 22nd, 1999
– – – – – – – – – – – –About the writer
The Daredevil has been following college football closely for more than 25 years. For several years, he was a sportswriter in the football-crazy state of Alabama, where he lives and works. College football is his passion and, as such, he concentrates solely on handicapping that single sport. Over the last few years, he has built a reputation for winning handicapping via the Internet and several sports mailing lists. He is willing to talk college football and college football handicapping with anyone at anytime, but carefully guards the secrets to his handicapping success.