Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/26/12
The chit-chat this week revolves, primarily, around who should be numbers two through five behind Alabama.  It’s sort of moot at this point seeing as how such granularity means nothing in week 9.  But arguing about college football is almost as much as watching college football.  Also reported this week was Tyrann Mathieu’s drug bust, but anyone who didn’t know Honey Badger was smoking dope is a dope. Week 8 was strong for us, and after nearly two full months we’re all square with Vegas: Zach Bigalke: 35-33-1 (6-3) John Mitchell: 35-33-1 (7-2) Matt Strobl: 34-34-1 (6-3) ***** Week 9 Picks This week features a potential knockout blow for either Notre Dame or Oklahoma; the one-loss Sooners probably can’t weather two defeats with the way Kansas State and Texas Tech are playing.  Notre Dame might be able to handle one stumble, but there’s no guarantee. We also have a battle of the unbeatens in the SEC West, but…sigh…one of them is Mississippi State.  Alabama is favored by more than three touchdowns. Here’s what the Tailgater crew is predicting. Rankings are according to the AP Top 25 poll. All times are eastern. All picks are against the spread as defined by Yahoo! Sports’ final lines. Saturday, 3:30pm. Tallahassee, FL Duke Blue Devils @ Florida State Seminoles (-27.5) Strobl: At the beginning of the year, this line might have made sense.  But anyone who has watched college football over the past few weeks has to be scratching his or her head wondering what the deal is here.  Florida State hasn’t looked good in some time, with the exception of a win over Boston College.  The ‘Noles are undoubtedly the better team and are likely to win, especially at home.  But assuming a four-touchdown difference just seems excessive. PICK: Duke Mitchell: Despite the fact that they beat a very solid North Carolina team to get bowl eligible in October, the Blue Devils still aren’t getting any respect. This isn’t the same Duke teams we have seen in recent years as David Cutcliffe has done a masterful job resurrecting the program and getting them bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. I don’t really think Duke has much of a chance in this game because Florida State just has way more talent on both sides of the ball. I do think they can keep the game within four touchdowns though.  PICK: Duke Bigalke: To be added. PICK: TBD Saturday, 3:30pm. Manhattan, KS Texas Tech Red Raiders @ Kansas State Wildcats (-7.5) Strobl: I like Kansas State to win this- I’ll make that point up front.  But that little half-point has gotten into my head.  I remember a game two weeks ago in Ames that featured KSU giving 6.5 but saw the Cyclones cover.  I also rememebr Texas Tech from week [INSERT WEEK HERE] in which they played [INSERT TEAM HERE] extremely well.  Ok, the Oklahoma loss is an obvious exception, but aside from that misstep, the Raiders have been in close games or delivering blowouts of the own.  Kansas State is the best team TTU has face, so it comes down to this:  Do these big offenses simply swap scores all day, or does one defense or the other find a way to earn a couple of stops, and thereby some scoreboard separation?  I’m betting the former. PICK: Texas Tech Mitchell: It’s time you start believing in the Red Raiders. Speaking of masterful coaching jobs, how about the job Tommy Tuberville has done in Lubbock? He has changed the culture and has Texas Tech focusing on defense more than ever before. It is working as Tech is off to a 6-1 start with their only loss coming to Oklahoma. If this game were being played in Lubbock rather than Manhatten, I’d be tempted to take Tech straight up. But, Collin Klein and company will be a bit too much for Seth Doege and the Red Raiders to overcome. K-State wins a close one. PICK: Texas Tech Bigalke: To be added. PICK: TBD Saturday, 3:30pm. Stillwater, OK TCU Horned Frogs @ Oklahoma State Cowboys(-7.5) Strobl: This scenario looks familiar.  Just like the TTU-KSU matchup, this game features two stout offenses and a road team with a strong defense.  We’ve got the same line here, and I’m inclined to make the same argument.  TCU is good enough to keep this close, and even if the Frogs falter on the road, I expect a battle. PICK: TCU Mitchell: Oklahoma State looked strong last week against Iowa State, but TCU is getting better every week with Trevone Boykin under center. People forget how great of a coach Gary Patterson is, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Horned Frogs win this game straight up. In any case, I expect them to keep it within a touchdown against an inconsistent Oklahoma State team. PICK: TCU Bigalke: To be added. PICK: TBD Saturday, 3:30pm. Jacksonville, FL Florida Gators @ Georgia Bulldogs (+6.5) Strobl: The @ here is just for show; with a fairly neutral site in Jacksonville, neither team will enjoy the intimidating atmosphere of its home turf.  Evening things out in that regard certainly doesn’t put these squads on equal footing, however.  Florida has proven, week by week, that it can not only be a dominant team, but that it can and will beat opponents in a variety of ways.  Georgia, which struggled to beat Kentucky in Lexington, is likely to be overwhelmed by a stifling Gator defense. PICK: Florida Mitchell: Blame it on looking ahead all you want, but Georgia looked downright terrible last week as they squeaked one out against SEC bottom-feeder Kentucky. Frankly, Georgia has looked ordinary all season long, a far cry from the East champions of 2011. Florida, on the other hand, has looked as good as anybody in the country in 2012 and can wrap up the SEC East with a victory in the World’s Greatest Outdoor (NAME REDACTED). The Gators have owned the Bulldogs for quite some time, and last year’s Georgia victory seems like ages ago. Driskel and the Gators clinch the East title in Jacksonville. PICK: Florida Bigalke: To be added. PICK: TBD Saturday, 5:30pm. State College, PA Ohio State Buckeyes @ Penn State Nittany Lions (push) Strobl: Vegas has washed its hands of this matchup, either because the game is too close to call or because the schools’ unsavory pasts are too unpleasant (I’m guessing it’s the first one).  Ohio State is boasting a perfect record, but good grief…has any 8-0 team ever been closer to multiple losses?  With the way OSU has been playing, and with Penn State’s five-game winning streak, it’s not hard to see why the betting line is stuck on 0.  Unless the Buckeyes figure out a way to resume playing defense, PSU could earn its sixth straight in front of what would be a very appreciative home crowd. PICK: Penn State Mitchell: A lot of people were surprised to see this game as a pick em this week. The undefeated Buckeyes have been bet hard all week by those people. Those people haven’t watched the Nittany Lions play over the last five weeks. Bill O’Brien has done a masterful job after the 0-2 start by leading them to five straight victories and a 3-0 start in Big Ten play. Ohio State has been living dangerously this year with close wins over California, Michigan State, Indiana, and Purdue. I think it catches up with them this week with Braxton Miller almost certainly less than 100%. PICK: Penn State Bigalke: To be added. PICK: TBD Saturday, 8:00pm. Lincoln, NE Michigan Wolverines @ Nebraska Cornhuskers (-2.5) Strobl: Believe it or not, Michigan is still undefeated in Big Ten play.  It’s easy to forget that, after two tough losses against Alabama and Notre Dame sandwiched a pair of non-conference wins, the Wolverines reeled off three straight league wins.  Those include last week’s triumph over Michigan State, and make Michigan the only eligible Big Ten team left that is prefect in-conference.  All that being said, the Wolverines still look beatable.  They barely excaped the Spartans, and I’m unable to block out that game against Air Force in week 2.  Nebraska has been equally shaky, if not moreso, making the venue a potentially deciding factor.  This could go either way, but I’m leaning Red. PICK: Nebraska Mitchell: This is a tough pick with the game being played in Lincoln, but the Wolverines have looked like the class of the (eligible) Big Ten this year. Nebraska has looked solid, but they haven’t fared well defensively against dual threat quarterbacks, and Denard Robinson is a tough matchup for anyone. I keep looking back at the way Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes eviscerated the Huskers defense and that causes me to lean toward the Wolverines. Plus, Michigan’s defense has been playing at a very high level lately. PICK: Michigan Bigalke: To be added. PICK: TBD Saturday, 8:00pm. Norman, OK Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Oklahoma Sooners (-11) Strobl: I hate this line.  I think that Oklahoma will win, and I think it will be by double digits.  But pulling the trigger on anything bigger than ten is difficult.  If the Irish play like they’ve been playing in recent weeks, the Sooners could win by 30.  On the other hand, the ND defense could rise up and keep this game within a single score.  Regardless of how the spread goes, I expect OU to emerge with the win and the Irish to suffer their first loss of the year. PICK: Oklahoma Mitchell: Some Vegas doesn’t seem to respect the Fighting Irish as they list them as 11 point underdogs to the one loss Sooners in Norman. Notre Dame’s defense is one of the best in the country, but their offense is way too inconsistent for me to think they can go on the road and knock off a team as good as Oklahoma. After losing to Kansas State, the Sooners have looked as good as anybody in the country as they have cruised to victories over Texas Tech, Texas, and Kansas. Oklahoma is the more complete team, and I think they take care of Notre Dame by two touchdowns. PICK: Oklahoma Bigalke: To be added. PICK: TBD Saturday, 7:00pm. Tuscaloosa, AL Mississippi State Bulldogs @ Alabama Crimson Tide (-24) Strobl: I made the mistake of picking Tennessee to cover against ‘Bama last week and got burned for it.  Should I learn from it?  Perhaps, but while I fully expect the Tide to stay undefeated, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this game finish within three touchdowns.  This might be the biggest spread I’ve ever seen featuring two unbeaten teams from the same conference this deep into the season. PICK: Mississippi State Mitchell: Don’t get me wrong, I think Alabama is the far superior team in this matchup, but 24 points is a ton when we are talking about two teams that are undefeated entering the final weekend of October. Mississippi State is a little overrated thanks to a ridiculously easy schedule, but you do’t get to 7-0 by accident. The Bulldogs have earned their way to where they are. That being said, I think Alabama wins by a comfortable margin on Saturday night, but 24 points seems a bit too high to me. PICK: Mississippi State Bigalke: To be added. PICK: TBD ***** Picks of the Week: Our Favorite Point Spreads Strobl: Western Kentucky (-7) over FIU On October 6th of 2011, Western Kentucky started a five game win streak.  Since that point, the Hilltoppers have three losses in 15 games: one to LSU, one to Alabama, and an overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe that featured a gutsy two-point conversion (for the win) by the Warhawks.  Point being, WKU is legitimately good.  FIU?  Not.  At 1-7, the Golden Panthers aren’t quite the pleasant surprise they were last year.  Mario Cristobal’s 8-4 season is a faded memory and his stock may have reached its peak last year.  Either way, I like the Hilltoppers to take this by a full TD or more.    Mitchell: Texas A&M (15) over Auburn   I hate to kick Auburn when they are down ….nevermind I love it actually. Auburn is awful. Awful. They are a halftime hail mary against Louisiana Monroe from 0-7. They aren’t going to win an SEC game this year and at best they will finish the regular season at 3-9. They aren’t good on either side of the football, and I suspect Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M’s hotshot freshman quarterback, has been licking his chops to get a go at Auburn’s defense. Manziel should have his way against the Tigers defense, and I don’t see Auburn’s offense doing much against an underrated Texas A&M defense..   Bigalke: To be added       ***** Join us in the coming weeks as Tailgater continues to present its weekly picks and previews along with reactions to the best and worst of what college football has to offer.
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