What to look for in this weekends college and NFL games

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football

UCLA @ #2 Oregon (Thursday) – The question here is which UCLA team will show up. If its the one that went to Texas and thumped them 34-12, this could be a real game. If it is the one that folded like a cheap suit at home against Stanford and lost 35-0, then you can be in bed by 10 PM. UCLA is better but they have not seen a RB with the speed of James. Some strange things happen on ESPN on a night game. This could be a Gotcha game with the always tough visit to USC coming up next week. But I think the Ducks win but it could be close.

#7 Michigan State @ Northwestern – NW may be 5-1 but they are a fraud. MSU wins easily.

Purdue @ #10 Ohio StatePurdue is a fraud at 4-2 despite being 2-0 in the league. OSU remembers a loss last year against the Boilers and will take out their frustrations on the improved but still not effective Purdue D.

Iowa State @ #18 Texas – Texas has two weeks to get their team ready for the tough games against #22 Kansas State and #14 Oklahoma State back to back. Texas has no problem with IS.

The Biggest games of the week

#1 Oklahoma @ #11 Missouri – The key to this game is the O of Missouri being able to run the ball. Their running game has been almost non-existent but they will need offensive balance against the Sooners. If they can not run the Sooner D line will be playing toss with Tiger QB Gabbert. Missu can’t run and the Sooners win.

#6 LSU @ #4 Auburn – Most people are looking at the running game of Auburn (6th overall) vs the D of LSU (11th in points allowed) but that is not the key. To win LSU has to be able to pass the ball. QB Jefferson threw for only 104 yards at home last week against McNeese State. He will have to do better because Auburn will do their best to keep control of Jefferson and keep him in the pocket. Auburn has played by far the tougher schedule and should win this game.

#13 Wisconsin @ #15 Iowa – After beating Ohio State last week, the Badgers have to go on the road to play a very solid Iowa team. The Badgers play much better at home. Iowa wins this game is a real slug-fest.

#16 Nebraska @ 14 Oklahoma State – The Husker O had been averaging almost 500 yards per game. Last week drops by WRs cost them the win and led to pulling Freshman QB Martinez. While the Husker O depends primarily on rushing (4th) they need to be more balanced to beat Ok St. The Huskers need to score often to keep up with an outstanding OK St. O which is 3rd in passing and 2nd in scoring. Ok St. has run up those numbers against some pretty weak competition. Even so, the pass D of the Huskers will be challenged. I predict Nebraska will win in a mild upset.

NFL Key games:

Steelers (4-1) -3 @ Dolphins (3-2) – The top ranked Steeler D (1 in scoring and rushing) will clamp down on the running game of the Fish. That will put pressure on QB Henne to throw against the only weakness of the Steelers (24th against the pass). Henne is steadily improving but the Dolphin O line is beat up a bit and that is not good against the Steelers front 7. The Dolphins are getting better but the Steelers are for real. Pittsburgh wins and covers.

Eagles (4-2) @ Titans (4-2) -3 – It looks like Titan QB Young will be able to play but Eagle QB Vick is still out. The Eagles looked very good in beating a solid Falcon team last week while the Titans blew out the Jags. The key is the Eagle D stopping the running game of the Titans. Young is going to have to run because the Eagle D did very well stopping the powerful running game of the Falcons. I don’t bet on Monday night winners so for the sake of argument I’ll take the points.

Cowboys (1-4) -3.5 @ Giants (4-2) – The Cowboys are playing like Cowgirls. This team is a loss or 2 away from imploding. Vegas thinks the desperation of the Boys is worth a TD. I don’t. The Giant D line is beginning to get back to their form and are really putting pressure on QBs. Boys QB Romo doesn’t handle pressure well. I’ll take the points and say thanks.

Best Bet: Pats +3 @ Chargers

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on

and edits .

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The BcS Rankings get spun again.

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football

Last week I was 2-2 in college picks which puts the total at 12-6.

In the pro picks I went 1-2 bringing the total to 9-5.

The BcS ratings – The Sooners are on top of the heap this week. But next week they go to #11 Missouri who is also undefeated. Beyond that they have one other top 25 team on the schedule in #14 Oklahoma St. Oregon is 2nd and faces a tricky game at home against UCLA (just ask Texas how tricky) then goes to USC. They end the season against #18 Arizona before going to play formerly ranked Oregon State.

#1 Ohio State @ #18 Wisconsin – The Bucks were not ready to play the game at the kickoff. It is the responsibility of the coaching staff to get them ready. Each of their losses in the Big 10 regular season over the last couple of years have come on the road when the Bucks looked disinterested in the game. By the second half they decided that it was time to play but by then it was too late.

The Badgers exposed something I had been griping at the OSU coaching staff about for years – the O line sucks as does the blocking scheme it uses. The OTs got run around more than a traffic circle. They are not quick enough to protect QB Pryor. Pryor was under pressure all evening.

The O finally got going and brought the score to 21-18. At that point, the D allowed the Badgers to drive the ball right down the field and put the game out of reach. It also let the team down big time. There are supposed to be several very high draft pick in the front 7 of the Bucks. Wasn’t DE Vernon Gholston an All-American and high pick? Yes, he was.

Texas @ #5 Nebraska – The Horns gave the Huskers a Big 12 parting gift – a big fat loss to take them effectively out of the National Championship picture. All it took for the Horns to look like a top 10 team was to play their long time rival Huskers. The Horn D shut down Husker QB Taylor Martinez and the Huskers had no other answer.

#12 Arkansas @ #7 Auburn – The Tigers scored 28 points in the 4th quarter to pull off a 65-43 win. It was not exactly a defensive struggle. The Auburn D got to Hog QB Mallett and he left the game injured. Mallett’s replacement QB Wilson threw 4 TDs but 2 picks and could not respond to the Auburn scores in the 4th quarter. Auburn QB Newton proved he belongs in the Heisman discussion running for 188 and passing 10 for 14 and another 140 yards and a TD.

The NFL

Browns @ Steelers – The story of this game was the return of Steeler QB Roethlisberger and the first start of Browns QB McCoy. For the full story about this game check out the Browns page on NFLDraftDog.com.

Ravens @ Patriots – In what should be a preview of a playoff game, the Pats held QB Flacco and the Raven O to 20 points. The Pats O is still not operating at top efficiency but the addition of WR Branch helped. He caught 9 balls for 98 yards and 1 TD. Branch is a MUST pickup for your fantasy football team if he is available.

The Desperation Bowl – Cowboys @ Vikings – Boys QB Romo threw a critical pick that handed the Vikes the winning field-goal opportunity. After the game Boys Owner Jerry Jones told ESPNDallas.com’s Richard Durrett. “I believe we can turn things around. While the odds are against us, we can make all the things happen that we wanted to do this year.” Don’t bet on it.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on

and edits .

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What to look for this weekend

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football

College Football

#1 Ohio State -3.5 @ #18 Wisconsin – The Bucks go into the Badger Den to play a talented team in a nasty mood after being upset by Michigan State 2 weeks ago. The key to the game will be the Badger running game which is 11th in the nation (241 yards a game) against the 5th ranked OSU D. Look for the Bucks to run the ball more against Wisconsin to keep RBs Clay and White off the field. OSU has changed RBs with RB Saine becoming more of a receiver and RB Herron becoming the runner. Too much of the running game has been QB Pryor. The Bucks have to get better run blocking from the O line. OSU got an additional incentive when ESPN projected the team 5th in the BCS rankings. OSU wins and covers.

#5 Nebraska -9.5 vs. Texas – The Horns have not lost 3 games in a row since George Washington was inaugurated or it seems that long. Texas want the game more than Nebraska but has too many holes to win the game. Nebraska has nightmares about last years Big 12 Championship game they felt was stolen by Texas. The Huskers are 1 dimensional ranking 2nd in rushing but 106th in passing yards. The key is can Texas stop the run. Nebraska faces their toughest test in the next 3 weeks. After this game, they go to #20 Oklahoma State, then host #21 Missouri. The Huskers win but it could be very close.

#12 Arkansas @ #7 Auburn -4 – Auburn may be the most under rated team in the top 25. They were ranked 22nd and 23rd in the preseason polls. The next 2 game will tell us a lot about them. After hosting the Hogs they host #9 LSU. Then at the end of the season they go to Alabama. Given the fact they play in the SEC and they have such a tough schedule, they are in a position to challenge for a spot in the BCS Championship game. Auburn has already beaten #10 South Carolina. Arkansas lost to the only ranked team they have played. Auburn will use QB Newton to challenge the Hog D which is 13th in points allowed. The Hogs will use their 3rd ranked passing game with QB Mallett. The Hogs passing game threatens the Auburn D but Auburn wins.

#15 Iowa -3 @ Michigan – The Michigan O ranked 14th in points faces the #1 D in points against. The Blue will find the Iowa D too tough. The Blue running game is way too dependent on QB Robinson and the very tough Iowa D line will limit him. The Iowa O takes maximum advantage of the non-existent Blue D and Iowa wins and covers.

UPSET ALERT:

Illinois @ #13 Michigan State -7 – MSU has come through a very tough and emotional period with the wins over Notre Dame #11 Wisconsin and #18 Michigan and the heart problems of their coach. Now they face an under rated Illini D that gave OSU problems. Illinois is 21st in points against. This is the kind of game the the Spartans have struggled with in previous years.

NFL Key games:

Ravens (4-1) @ Pats (3-1) -3 – The Ravens lead the NFC North and bring a top D against a Pats O that has struggled. Take the points.

Eagles (3-2) E @ Falcons (4-1) – The Falcons got a gift last week vs the Browns. Now they get the Eagles D that will be blitzing every chance they get. The Browns got some pressure on QB Ryan. The Birds will get more. But without QB Vick, the Eagle O won’t go. Falcons win.

Saints (3-2) -4.5 @ Bucs (3-1) – The Saints need to win this division game badly particularly after a bad loss against the Cards last week. The O has moved the ball in the air (5th in passing yards) but is 31st in rushing yards and all their RBs are hurt. They can not take another division loss. The Bucs have had a lucky season so far. That luck ends and the Saints win.

Colts (3-2) -3 @ Redskins (3-2) The Colts D has been MIIA (Missing In In-Action). They are 3rd in scoring but 16th in scoring D. They also don’t seem to win the close games anymore. The running game has fallen and can’t get up. It is 28th in yards. The Redskins have been playing well but the Colts win.

Teams in trouble:

Chargers (2-3) -7.5 @ Rams (2-3) – SD needs to start winning if they want to get into the playoffs. They are notoriously slow starters and this is about the time they kick into gear. They will get pro bowl LT McNeill back but not WR Jackson. The problem has been the D which is 21st in scoring D. LB Merriam is on “minor injury” IR and must be cut when he recovers. The team is not getting a good pass rush. That should not be a problem against the Rams. SD wins.

Desperation Bowl:

Cowboys (1-3) @ Vikings (1-3) -2.5 – Boys owner Jones said he would not fire HC Phillips “as of now.” If that doesn’t scare Phillips, nothing will. The Boys have been finding new ways to lose. They are not mentally tough enough to win the close games this year. I did an analysis of what is wrong with the Boys on this weeks edition of NFLDraftDog.com’s News Notes and Rumors.

The Vikes have problems of their own. Their 89 year old QB Farve has elbow trouble. They are 21st in passing yards and 29th in scoring O with just 15.8 points a game. The D has been playing well and are in the top 7 in total yards and scoring. The Farve turnovers have killed key drives and ended the team’s chance to win games.

The Vikes are mentally tougher than the Boys and win the Desperation Bowl.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on

and edits .

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What did we learn from this weekends games?

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football

College football

I didn’t do quite as well this past week in predicting winners in college football. This past week I went 5-3 so now have a total of 10-4.

#1 Alabama went down hard to #19 South Carolina. SC beat a top 3 team for the first time in the history of the school. They key was shutting down 2009 Heisman winner RB Ingram. The win by SC went against everything we have seen from the team for several years.

#2 Ohio State got some shocking news this week. Yesterday ESPN “BCS guru” Edwards projects that the BCS computer system shows OSU is the 10th highest rated team which is at the bottom of the undefeated group. According to him, the BCS formula would put Boise St., Oregon, TCU and Oklahoma ahead of the Buckeyes at this point in the season despite OSU being #1 in the human poll.

#3 Oregon didn’t quite put up the 50 points I predicted but did score 43 in the win over Washington St. The Oregon D showed some vulnerability to the pass and the Duck O lost WR James Rogers for the season. With all the weapons the Ducks have that should not hurt too badly but we will see.

#8 Auburn struggled on D against an aggressive 0-2 SEC Kentucky team. Ky QB Hartline went 23-28 for 220 yards and a TD. Auburn will have to do much better than that if they expect to beat Arkansas or Alabama.

Unranked Oregon State is finally starting to look like the 22nd ranked team it was projected to be in the preseason poll. As I predicted, it went to #9 Arizona and won the game 29-27. The Beavers made plays when they needed them most and were 10-15 on 3rd down conversions. Arizona was 6-11.

Two of the best games of the week pitted top 25 teams against each other in Florida. #12 LSU beat #14 Florida in a come back win scoring on the last play of the game 33-29. It took a fake field goal to convert their last 3rd down and put the Tigers in a position to score the final TD with 6 seconds left.

In Miami #23 Florida State overwhelmed the #13 Hurricanes 45-17. Miami did not look prepared for the game. It looked lethargic and uninterested.

The Pros:

For a detailed analysis of the pro game check out NFLDraftDog.com News Notes and Rumors.

The Monday night game:

The Vikings came into New York really needing a win and left without it. Frankly, I think QB Farve has arm problems. It has affected his accuracy more than velocity. Next week is Desperation Bowl between a 1-3 Dallas team and the 1-3 Vikings. The loser of that game will be virtually out of the playoffs.

Cowboys: With both the current coach Phillips and the Coach in waiting Garett on the hot seat, it is hard to predict what Owner Jerry Jones will do if the Boys go to 1-4. The Boys have never replaced a coach in the middle of a season, but JJ has made a lot of noise about wanting to be a home team for the Super Bowl which will be in Dallas this year.

Vikings: The Vikes are in better shape than the Boys for a couple of reason. First, they are in the NFC North which has been weaker than most other divisions prior to this season. At least they are not in the basement because Detroit is also in that division. Second, the Vike D is much better than the Boys D and plays more consistently. The problem has been the O in general and QB Farve in particular. He has turned the ball over WAY too much and that has led to the losses. The running game which struggles in the last half of 09 has been better this season despite losing RB Taylor in free-agency.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on

and edits .

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Another BCS #1 bites the dust. Who will be next?

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football

In college ball last week I went 5-3 bring my total to 17-9. Before you laugh at that remember I pick the toughest games not the best bets.

In the pros I went 1 and 1 with a push and the Giants/Cowboys to be determined.

College football:

#1 Oklahoma 27 #11 Missouri 36 – Missu put up 16 points in the 4th quarter to beat the Sooners for the first time since Moses was a teenager. The Sooners were the third team in 3 weeks to be knocked off after becoming #1. Missu is not a super power type team and could well lose against Nebraska next week.

UCLA 13 #2 Oregon 60 – The Ducks totally dominated a very up and down UCLA team. This past Thursday they were down–way down. If the Ducks can get a win next week at USC, they could well end up in the BCS Championship game. The only other tough teams they will face will be #15 Arizona and Oregon State.

#6 LSU 17 #4 Auburn 24 – Auburn got by one of the two toughest games they will face this year. They have won 3 games over ranked teams in the last 5 weeks. The one roadblock they have on their schedule is at Alabama in the last game of the regular season. The SEC West has crushed the East all year so the SEC Championship game probably against South Carolina should not be a problem. I believe at this point Alabama wins at home against the Tigers.

#13 Wisconsin 31 #15 Iowa 30 – The Iowa coaching staff had a brain cramp that cost them the win. They were in field-goal range but after a time out QB Stanzi scrambled for a first down on 4th and 1. Rather than setting up a spike in the time out, the coaching staff called their final TO. Then rather than throwing the ball away, Stanzi got rushed and flipped it to his RB who was caught in bounds as the clock ran out. Had they spiked the ball after the scramble, they would have had a shot at a FG. Wisconsin probably will not lose again and must hope the Hawkeyes beat Michigan State to get a share of the Big 10 title.

#16 Nebraska 51 #14 Oklahoma State 41 – Like Alabama, Nebraska looks like the team to beat in the Big 12 North if they can beat Missouri next week at home. The OSU Cowboys put up a good fight but just did not have the speed to keep up with the Huskers.

Washington 14 #18 Arizona 44 – The Arizona D was solid against Washington. Husky QB Locker struggled to find anyone open and was 17-29 for just 183 and 1 TD. In my opinion Locker is not a top QB prospect. Arizona has a tough schedule ahead that includes Oregon, USC, and Stanford.

NFL:

The Browns came up with a great win. Check out my column on NFLDraftDog.com on the team page.

Check out the NFL News, Notes and Rumors on NFLDraftDog.com.

TOP 5 NFL TEAMS

1 Jets – They are 5-0 since a 1 point loss to the Ravens. They are #4 in both scoring and points against.

2 Steelers – They are also 4-1 and survived the suspension of Roethlisberger losing only to the Ravens.

3 Ravens – Only the Pats beat them. They beat themselves against the Bengals.

4 Patriots – They are playing better than their talent. When the young guys on D get more experience they will move up.

5 Falcons – I had to have at least 1 NFC team.

BOTTOM 5

5 Broncos – When you give up 59 points to the Raiders, what do you expect?

4 Lions – This team is going in the right direction. They have talent and need to get it up to speed.

3 49ers – This team just is a mess. Nobody could get them to play much better.

2 Panthers – This team has nothing except a good coach and they will let him go at the end of the year.

1 Bills – “With the first pick in the 2011 NFL draft the Bills select…”

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on and edits .

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What to look for in this weekends games.

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football

Baseball playoffs

We would like to thank the Rays, Twins and Reds for stopping by in the playoffs. Please pick up your parting gifts as you leave. The series will be between the Yankees and the Phillies.

College Football

#1 Alabama @ #19 South Carolina – The ol’ Ball Coach will wish he still had the talent from his Florida days. Bama wins

#2 Ohio State v. Indiana – Forget about the injuries on O, you and I could score the Indiana D if you were having a bad game. The OSU D stops a good Indy O and OSU wins.

#3 Oregon @ Washington St. – Oregon runs up 50+ points and makes a case for jumping over OSU into 2nd.

#8 Auburn @ Kentucky – Auburn QB Cam Newton passes a bad Ky D silly. Auburn wins big.

#9 Arizona vs. Oregon St. – Az had a major letdown after a big win over Iowa and squeaked by Cal. They had better not have a let down here because the Beavers are tough. They have lost 2 games to top 6 teams.

#11 Arkansas @ Texas A&M – Ark is banged up after getting thumped by #1 Bama. The week off should help. TAM lost a tough game last week against Oklahoma St. Arkansas should win but this could be close.

#12 LSU @ #14 Florida – This should be the game of the week. Both teams have serious flaws but play hard. LSU has to keep the turnovers down. I think Florida wins close in a minor upset.

#23 Florida St. @ #13 Miami – FSU looked bad against the only tough team they have played Oklahoma. Miami played close against #2 Ohio St and got a nice win last week against a good Clemson team. Miami wins.

NFL

Ravens -7 vs. Broncos – The Ravens are for real but could have a let down (and some injuries) from the win last week over Pit. Ravens should win and cover the spread.

Bucks @ Bengals -7 – The Bengals are better than they looked against the Browns last week. They win and cover with the running game leading the way.

Browns @ Falcons -3 – The Browns winning streak ends at 1. Falcons cover easily.

BEST BET – Saints -6 @ Cards – A change of QBs by the Cards won’t help. Saints cover easily.

BIG GAME OF THE WEEK – Vikings @ Jets -4 This is a must win for both. The Vikes are the better team but are not playing like it. The game will boil down to the play of the of the QBs. Farve will be pressured and is not having the season he did last year. The addition of WR Moss will help next week but not that much this week. The Jets had better cover Moss on the fly pattern or they will get burned. The key to the Jets is the play of QB Sanchez. As he develops, the team will get better. The Jets will not have the running game they enjoyed last week because of the Vike’s DTs the Williams brothers.

The Vikes need it more and win a close game.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on

and edits .

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