Tony's Tip Sheet
By Tony Gerdeman
Week One is in the books and the autumn of the nation's discontent continues as Boise State has made it past their first of two hurdles on the season.
They have a bye week this week (and about ten more mixed in after that), before they travel to mighty Wyoming and then get unranked Oregon State at home.
Through it all, the folks talking about Boise State's buff non-conference schedule laughingly point at irony and spit in its face.
Boise State's non-conference schedule, or more specifically, Virginia Tech and Oregon State, represents one-fourth of a BCS conference team's average conference schedule, yet Boise gets lauded for what is basically the extent of their trials.
Imagine the outrage if a top ten BCS conference team loaded their non-conference schedule with New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and Idaho.
Would anybody consider that team worthy?
Yet that pitiful non-conference slate would only be the equivalent of half of Boise State's annual conference schedule.
Even though that hypothetical BCS conference team is playing four WAC teams out of conference, their conference schedule would still feature four times the number of BCS teams as Boise State overall.
But it's cool. The Broncos did win after all. They beat a solid Virginia Tech program that's totally not known for failing to show up for big games.
But then we should be used to the Broncos' success by now. Boise State always wins.
(And by “always”, I mean 50% of the time against BCS schools since 2005, of course...)
Thursday September 9
Teams: #21 Auburn (1-0) at Mississippi State (1-0)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Mississippi State
We're going to go ahead and cheer for Mississippi State because it would be nice to see a ranked SEC team get knocked off. Of course, we'd probably see Mississippi State rewarded for the victory by getting ranked themselves, but what're you gonna do? Auburn has a schedule (and an offense) that could see them undefeated heading into the Iron Bowl, and it would be best just to nip that stuff in the bud. The Tigers have won eight of the last nine in this series, and this one could turn into a bit of a shootout. Lost in all of the Denard Robinson hoopla, by the way, was the day that Auburn quarterback Cam Newton put up in his debut. He was 9-14 passing for 186 yards and three touchdowns, and carried the ball 15 times for 171 yards and two more touchdowns, including a 71-yarder. But that was against Arkansas State. Thursday will be a bit of a different story. I'm going to go ahead and pick the slight upset and go with the Bulldogs. Mississippi State 34 – Auburn 31.
Friday September 10
Teams: #23 West Virginia (1-0) at Marshall (0-1)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Marshall
In unison, 150,000 satellite dishes will all be pointed in the same direction, as if they were flowers seeking the warming rays of the sun. And no, I'm not talking about the new-fangled satellite dishes like DirecTV, I'm talking about the old ones that took up half a yard or more, and were busy picking up Korean cooking channels. This is a huge game in state. It's probably the biggest thing to happen to West Virginia since [obligatory hillbilly insult goes here]. I'm not going to tell you how to live your life, but if you live in West Virginia and value your winterized couches, you might want to bring them in for the night. One way or another, somebody's fanbase is going to look for something to torch. It would be a shame if it was your good outdoor couch that got caught in the crossfire.
Teams: UTEP (1-0) at Houston (1-0)
Time (TV): 10:15 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Houston
Last year UTEP threw for 276 yards and ran for 305 more in a 58-41 win over the 12th-ranked and undefeated Houston Cougars. Revenge is on the mind of all Cougars involved. I'm not sure if Houston can put 70 on the board in this one, but they will certainly try. If you know anybody going against Houston quarterback Case Keenum in a fantasy league this week, try not to poke the bear, okay? Houston 63 – UTEP 39.
Saturday September 11
Teams: San Jose State (0-1) at #11 Wisconsin (1-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Wisconsin
Wisconsin smash! The Badgers have a new three-headed monster at running back with true freshman James White replacing (and possibly redshirting) Zach Brown. White rushed for 59 yards and caught three passes for another 37 last week against UNLV, and will look to integrate himself even further into the offense this week. One thing to keep in mind about this game is that I will be starting Wisconsin's defense in one of my fantasy leagues, so don't be surprised when San Jose State takes the ball with their opening possession and scores in about four plays. Wisconsin 37 – San Jose State 7.
Teams: #22 Georgia (1-0) at #24 South Carolina (1-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN2)
Cheer For: Georgia
It doesn't really matter who we root for this week because these two teams have identical magnitudes of suck. They're basically the same team. People even confuse them with one another when they see them out in the street. Georgia will get stopped and they'll be asked, “Hey, aren't you South Carolina?!” And Georgia will tell them, “Ha ha. No, but I get that a lot. I'm actually Georgia.” And the person will look at them again, reassessing the situation, and then ask, “Are you SURE you're not South Carolina?” This then goes on for about six hours. But I digress. We're rooting for Georgia because they're the cleanest thing going in the SEC. And that's WITH wide receiver A.J. Green getting suspended for four games for selling a jersey to an agent. By the way, can you imagine the two of them negotiating on that price?
Unscrupulous devil agent: How much you want for that game-worn jersey, A.J.?
A.J. Green: How about $500?
Unscrupulous devil agent: Make it an even thousand and you've got a deal!
South Carolina 24 – Georgia 20.
Teams: Michigan State (1-0) vs Florida Atlantic (1-0) (at Detroit, MI)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPNU)
Cheer For: Michigan State
Yeah, so Michigan State has a slew of running backs that they will pound the Big Ten with this year. Fortunately for the Big Ten, Michigan State still answers to the name of Sparty and they always will. So even if they happen to run for 250 yards against Iowa, they will fumble the ball inside the opposing five-yard line like Navy on speed and donuts. I wish I could tell you something about this week's opponent. I'm not sure if Rusty Smith is still the quarterback at FAU or not, but I can tell you that he was always a fantasy owner's last resort. If you didn't have a quarterback available, you could always go and pick up Rusty Smith. Like when David Letterman has a guest cancel on him and he calls Regis at the last minute. He's not a great guest, but he brings familiarity to an uncomfortable situation. Same principle applies to Rusty Smith. Michigan State 38 – Florida Atlantic 20.
Teams: South Dakota (0-1) at Minnesota (1-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Minnesota
These next three games don't really deserve much of a preview, so instead what I'm going to do is talk about Randy Shannon's comments about how his team won't be intimidated in Columbus because his players have seen people like Alex Rodriguez, the Wayanseseses, and somebody else around town. I forget. It's probably Gloria Estefan, or perhaps some of the Miami Sound Machine. Regardless, I'm not sure what seeing somebody out in public means when it comes to playing in a stadium with 106,000 screaming lunatics. Unless Randy was just projecting. Maybe he's a celebrity hound. A real fawner. Maybe to him, seeing Alex Rodriguez is truly something to be in awe of. He probably screams and shakes his hands up by his face when he sees somebody famous. And then pees a little. Minnesota 44 – South Dakota 14.
Teams: Illinois State (1-0) at Northwestern (1-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Northwestern
And really, is seeing a Wayans all that special anymore? Don't get me wrong, I'm as big a fan of “In Living Color” as my farm-fed German roots will allow, but that was 20 years ago. This new wave of Wayanseseses—I don't know what their deal is. I guess they're like a collective Tyler Perry, or something. (Not that I know what Tyler Perry's deal is either.) Like if Tyler Perry could clone himself about 18 times, he would become the Wayanseseses. As long as each successive clone was just a little less funny than the last, of course. Northwestern 34 – Illinois State 17.
Teams: Western Illinois (1-0) at Purdue (0-1)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Purdue
But who knows. Maybe the Wayanseses' specialty is lasting power. Like Burt Reynolds. Burt hasn't done anything meaningful in decades, but if I saw him in the street I would pull a Randy Shannon and ask Burt to slap me like he used to do to Dom Deluise. And then, yes, I would pee a little. Purdue 35 – Western Illinois 13.
Teams: USF (1-0) at #8 Florida (1-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (SECN)
Cheer For: USF
I think everybody is going to want to see this one just to see if last week's pitiful performance by the Gators was a one-time thing, or something a little more awesome. Bad snaps, no offense, and selective defense. It was all on display, and it was all terrible. Like a dessert tray at a Chinese buffet. If the Gators were playing anybody with a pulse, they would have lost. Well, this week the South Florida Bulls HAVE just such a pulse. But it will still depend on whether the Gators feel like losing or not. USF quarterback B.J. Daniels can make the Gators pay in a variety of ways, so they'll definitely not want to take South Florida lightly. But in the end, we have to side with Urban Meyer, who is 10-0 against in-state opponents. Also, Florida has won 21 consecutive regular season games. Make it 22 after this one. Florida 34 – USF 20.
Teams: Idaho (1-0) at #6 Nebraska (1-0)
Time (TV): 12:30 pm (FSN PPV)
Cheer For: Nebraska
Taylor Martinez, a redshirt freshman, got the start at quarterback for the Huskers last week and his performance was almost Denardian. He completed 9 of 15 passes for 136 yards and rushed for 127 yards and three touchdowns on just three carries. All three of the quarterbacks in the hunt for the starting job got playing time last week, but expect the number of snap-takers to diminish over the next couple of weeks. If this is going to be Taylor Martinez's show, then let him host. Nebraska 30 – Idaho 7.
Teams: Michigan (1-0) at Notre Dame (1-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (NBC)
Cheer For: Michigan
After last week's outstanding performance from Denard Robinson, it's a cajillion percent clear that Michigan is back. And a win over Notre Dame would make it two cajillion percent clear! Just like it was last year. I'm looking forward to seeing how many carries Robinson has in this game, and whether the basic passing game gets a few bumps up in difficulty this week now that there's finally film on this year's offense. If Notre Dame can't slow down the Michigan offense, will the Irish offense simply be able to outscore the Wolverines? The Michigan secondary wasn't tested last week. They will certainly be tested this week. Don't be surprised to see Notre Dame as effective running the ball as Connecticut was last week. The difference will be that the Irish will be able to execute the play-action game, and they'll also be able to pick up third downs, which is something that the Huskies failed to do last week. I just think Brian Kelly is too good of a coach to get beat by a bad defense and a one-and-a-half dimensional offense. Notre Dame 34 – Michigan 32.
Teams: #17 Florida State (1-0) at #10 Oklahoma (1-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC/ESPN2)
Cheer For: Florida State
We're going to root for Florida State because they're not going to go undefeated, and if they do, then they won't pose a problem in the BCS National Championship Game. We could probably call this game the Fail Bowl, because both of these teams have a penchant for disappointing the nation one way or another. Which makes me wonder whether one of these teams will come out and WIN the game, or will somebody simply lose it instead? After Oklahoma's ridiculous seven-point win over a terrible Utah State team last week, I'm leaning towards thinking that Florida State will have too much offense for Oklahoma. But then I think to myself that that's exactly what college football wants me to think. And if I also examine my long-ago established rules for picking games which consists of one rule—Beware the ACC, I can't go against the Sooners in this one. But the 341 yards passing that they gave up to Utah State has me very concerned. However, I'll trust Bob Stoops to take the ball out of Landry Jones' stupid hands and just let DeMarco Murray carry them to victory. Oklahoma 31 – Florida State 24.
Teams: Iowa State (1-0) at #9 Iowa (1-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN2/ABC)
Cheer For: Iowa
Iowa doesn't really acknowledge this rivalry. It's like the Civil War in Southern text books. The rivalry against the Cyclones is better known The Series of In-State Aggression. It's barely talked about. No good comes from it. The Hawkeyes are expected to win, and when they don't, it scars their season. But the fun part is when Iowa absolutely should NOT lose to Iowa State, that's when it happens. If this game was in Ames instead of Iowa City, we may be on to something. But alas, I'm going to have to go with the Corn Ducks. Iowa 27 – Iowa State 10.
Teams: #18 Penn State (1-0) at #1 Alabama (1-0)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Penn State
I'd rate this as a “5”, but I have a tender stomach and I don't always like to see a lot of carnage if it's not wearing Maize and Blue. True freshman quarterback Robert Bolden played great for the Nittany Lions last week against Youngstown State, but this week will be miles different. He wasn't asked to run for his life much against the Penguins, but that too will change this week. Fortunately, he is a quite capable runner. But he'll need to be more than capable for the Nitts to have a shot in this one. They couldn't run the ball very well against Youngstown (29 carries for 132 yards), and Evan Royster never got started (11 carries for 40 yards). They will have to come into this game with a completely different mindset. I think Tom Bradley will have his team prepared, but I just don't think Penn State is talented enough to stay within two touchdowns when the clock stops running. And they have absolutely nobody that can contend with receiver Julio Jones. He may outscore Penn State all by himself. Alabama 30 – Penn State 13.
Teams: #7 Oregon (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (ESPN2)
Cheer For: Oregon
We're cheering for Oregon because any time a team can come into the SEC and run through a team like a hot knife through a Michigan secondary, we always get excited. I really have no idea what to expect from Tennessee, other than very little. So that's what I'm going with. Oregon isn't going to score 72 points again this week like they did last week, but there's really no reason they can't get half of that against this Volunteer defense. Of course, much of the Duck success will depend on quarterback Darron Thomas, who despite being compared to Dennis Dixon, didn't even carry the ball last week. I suspect that Chip Kelly was hiding him. Expect Thomas to be involved in the ground game this week as the Ducks will look to move the chains in any way possible. Oregon 31 – Tennessee 23.
Teams: #19 LSU (1-0) at Vanderbilt (0-1)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (ESPNU)
Cheer For: Vanderbilt
We're cheering for Vanderbilt, but a loss for LSU here could be yet another nail in Les Miles' already nail-riddled coffin this season, and we're not ready for the SEC to be without Les. It's too fun. Of course, he's actually fortunate to be coaching in this game after the debacle against the the scab Tar Heels last week. Had he lost that game he probably would have had to resign, and I'm sure he would've made a DAMN FINE resignation speech. But as the Mad Hatter tends to do, he will get away with yet another one this weekend. It won't be pretty, and it shouldn't even be a win, but somehow it will be. It's like one of those 3-D pictures that you have to keep staring at in order to see what's hidden. You have to stare at an LSU game until you lose focus, and it's at that point that you'll actually see them win. You won't know how they did it, only that they did it and the game is now a schooner. LSU 17 – Vanderbilt 16.
Teams: Southern Illinois (1-0) at Illinois (0-1)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Illinois
You know that feeling you get when you're hunting rattlesnakes and that moment just before you know you're going to get bit right in the face, every clenchable part of your body starts clenching? That's the feeling I get whenever I pick a Zook team. If you've never hunted rattlesnakes, then I don't know what else to tell you. I guess it would also be like getting pulled over by a police officer and then smacking them when they try to lean down to talk to you through your window. Other than these two examples, I just don't know what else to compare it to. Besides, I doubt there's anybody who hasn't done at least one of those two things. And even though I'm picking the Illini, I was very impressed with the 70-7 beatdown that the Salukis gave Quincy last week. (I don't even know what “Quincy” is. I'm just trying to sound a little bit smart. Hey, a blue car...!) Illinois 40 – Southern Illinois 17.
Teams: Ole Miss (0-1) at Tulane (1-0)
Time (TV): 9:00 pm (ESPNC/ESPN2)
Cheer For: Tulane
After last week's 49-48 loss to Jacksonville State in double overtime, it's probably a good thing that Ole Miss plays on the road this week. I'm guessing their fans don't really want them around at the moment. Think of it as if a husband and a wife are arguing, and rather than continuing the argument, the husband decides to spend a night or two in a motel in order to let things cool down. Then when they do come back home, they can just go about their daily business like nothing ever happened. Though we must be sure to never acknowledge the previous couple of days and the weirdness that it brought to the family as a whole. And don't worry about what the kids have had to go through The guidance counselor/gym teacher/bus mechanic at school will be able to talk to them. They won't be mal-adjusted at all. After all, doesn't everybody keep “Daddy's number at the motel” written down on the fridge in the kitchen? Ole Miss 41 – Tulane 23.
Teams: #12 Miami (FL) (1-0) at #2 Ohio State (1-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Ohio State
The Hurricanes are coming into this game almost expecting to play two games. The first game will be against the 2002 Buckeyes, and the second game will be against the 2010 Buckeyes. This is not how you win games in the Horseshoe. The Canes will have to pick one opponent and stick to it. You cannot be a slave to two masters, and you can't be trying to tackle ghosts that aren't there. Right now, the Buckeyes seem like the more focused team, but that's right NOW. Things could be different come 3:30 on Saturday. Each team is going to come out at the bell and throw some haymakers. Remember the end of Rocky III? It's going to be like that. The team that withstands the initial barrage will then take control of the momentum. Then it's all just a matter of never giving that momentum back. Which will be hard considering the big-play potential of both teams involved.
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