Welcome to the start of November football. So much for this weekend being the best weekend of the season, too much chaos and unpredictability this year. That's not to say there are bad games, far from it. Regardless, college football has officially entered put up or shut up time, where dreams are achieved or crushed. It's more than just who has the biggest package in the SEC West, or which program really is the class of the Pac 12. Who wants to win the ACC Coastal, the Big Ten Losers division, or play spoiler to the Irish? The season hasn't shaken out as expected, who's to say more surprises aren't coming?
A couple weeks back I mentioned how I enjoyed the increased college football coverage Fox has. However, it would be nice if the networks didn't have the top 3 teams playing in games at the same time. Poor K-State is going to get crushed in the ratings going head up against Oregon/USC and Bama/LSU. The Wildcats would have drawn more viewers at the 3:30 ABC time slot and enjoyed the benefits of being the best game on at that time. I'll quit my bitching now and make sure the remote is close by. Tracking this week's ESPN Gameday location has them returning to the SEC and heading to Baton Rouge. It's deserved and I can't think of a place I'd rather be on Saturday. I can almost smell the smoked pork and corn dogs.
Virginia Tech -1.5 at Miami 7:30 pm ESPN
ACC Coastal Elimination Game
Big-time hostile college football environment
To be honest, I don't have a clue what to expect with this game. Thanks to the parity in the ACC Coastal, it's the 3rd make or break game of the season for VT when the Hokies should already be out of division contention. The stakes are high and not just for representation in the ACCCG. Lose this game and likely again next week, then VT will have to win out to even be eligible for a bowl. It might come to that ... just keep the bowl streak alive. Miami is on a similar path with the added storyline of a likely multi-year bowl ban thanks to Nevin Shapiro. Both teams have serious flaws and are wildly inconsistent. VT doesn't play on the road very well, has an unbalanced, dysfunctional offense and this could be Bud Foster's worst secondary. As bad as that sounds, Vegas made the Hokies the favorite. Jesus, what a dumpster fire game. Enjoy picking this one, suckers. Evil laugh.
Pick: Hokies laying the points, I'm not ready to concede the season ... yet.
Texas A&M -6.5 at Mississippi State 12:00 pm ESPN or ESPN2
I wonder if all the "I Believe" signs are still hanging up in Starkville after being manhandled by Alabama last week? Now the Bulldogs get aTm to contend with and if the MSU offense doesn't show up this week, they'll get boat-raced. Elite defenses like Florida's or LSU's can shut down the Aggie's Air Raid attack, but MSU can't. Good news for Bulldogs, said Air Raid offense, makes it illegal to have a decent defense, so they'll score too. This is by far the best noon matchup and if you haven't gotten a chance to watch Johnny Football for aTm, please make time. He's a lock to accumulate 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing.
Pick: Aggies covering, as I am gambling on their defense to make a few more stops. Dear Lord, what am I doing?
Texas at Texas Tech -7.5 3:30 pm ABC / ESPN2
To be honest this game is only here to make me feel better. Now that VT is mediocre, I have to console myself in the failure of others. It's not enough uva, Miami and Tennessee suck, I need more. Enter Texas. I could careless about the Longhorns, but it feels good that a team that generates the most revenue, has their own 24/7 cable channel and a roster full of 5 and 4 star athletes can suck too. Texas Tech alumni will smile if they continue the plight of the Longhorns fall from football grace.
Pick: Texas Tech rebounding and covering. Lubbock, Tx is renown for being tough to go win a game at ... especially when your team (looking at Mack Brown) isn't the better one.
Oregon -7.5 at USC 7:00 pm FOX
Ten weeks ago, USC was perched to take on and defeat whoever came out the big, bad SEC as national champs. Now, it's quite clear everyone had the wrong bird in that spot, but the computers might not let this matchup happen. That's a shame, as I feel Oregon would be a better test for Alabama than Notre Dame or Kansas State. Sure, ND's defense is positively SEC like and K-State is well coached with an "IT" factor, but if I were choosing, I'd select Oregon. Giving Alabama five weeks to prepare for any offense isn't fair, but Oregon has more tools and a better scheme to attack the Tide than the Wildcats or Irish. The Ducks schedule and mediocrity of the Pac-12 is holding them back. Their marquee game of the season is the now faltering Trojans. Beating the Trojans knocks Lane Kiffin's group out of the top 25 and also makes it unlikely they'll face USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game. A win here, could easily feel like a BIG loss in 5 weeks.
Pick: Oregon laying whatever, they've called off the dogs in every game this year so far. If given the opportunity, Chip Kelly will run it up on USC so bad that every Trojan will want to change jerseys for their next game.
Oklahoma State at Kansas State -9.5 8:00 pm ABC
There is zero reason the Wildcats should lose this game. They are superior to the Cowboys in every phase of the game. There are only two scenarios where I can see them taking a loss: if the Wildcats don't show up mentally, or Optimus Klein gets hurt early. This however isn't about who wins or loses, it's who covers the spread. The Wildcats are at home and favored by less than 10. Something seems amiss, if they plowed superior Texas Tech and West Virginia by a lot more, why should I think Okie State will pose a problem?
Pick: K-State laying the points. Maturity, coaching, balance and focus will carry this group to a blow out win.
Alabama -9.5 at LSU 8:00 pm CBS
Another BCOATV - BeerControlOffense Approved Tailgating Vehicle
The game of the week, but there'll be no "Game of the Century" hype this year. Although, through no fault of the Tide. Alabama is a juggernaut hinting to become a full fledged dynasty. Ten points seems to be a big number considering LSU has the athletes to beat Alabama, and it's a night game in Death Valley. This game is going to be very intense as LSU is looking for redemption after last year's embarrassing BCS Championship Game performance. Extra fire served them well to push around Sakerlina, but being more physical and angry will not beat Alabama. Having a passing attack they have to respect, could. LSU better have used their bye week effectively, because I haven't seen anything from Zach Mettenberger to indicate he has what it takes. I don't care how many future NFL running backs Les Miles has at his disposal, if the passing game is ineffective Nick Saban and Kirby Smart will stonewall the ground attack and slowly force the Tigers into submission. Mettenberger will not only need to have the game of his life, but likely his career to win on Saturday night.
Pick: Bama covering, as I pick another homedog to lose. Mettenberger isn't that guy, but AJ McCarron is.
Beer of the Week
This week, I will dip into the last of my Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers stash, it's spicy, smoky, roasty and amazing. The regular Smoked Porter is really good, the Vanilla Bean version is even better, but the Chipotle variety takes this beer to the next level of greatness. There are still some out there, so if you see this beer, pick it up.
Remember, these picks are against the spread.
Hokies -1.5 at Canes
aTm -6.5 at Hail State
Longhorns at Red Raiders -7.5
Quack Attack -7.5 at Song Girls
Okie St at K-State -9.5
Roll Tide -9.5 at Bayou Bengals
Good luck and drink up.