The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012


November 18, 2006


2006 NCAA Football Predictions — Week 12

oldoakenbucket
Ahh, the biggest week of the year. The one that is always important, regardless of the record. That’s right, it’s the Old Oaken Bucket game! Every year, Purdue and Indiana play for this traveling trophy. Each year, the winner gets to hold the bucket for the next year, and a “P” is added to the chain for a Purdue win, an “I” for an Indiana win. In the case of a tie, an “IP” is added. Since the trophy was created, there have been 52 “P”s, 25 “I”s, and 3 “IP”s. Mark it down, there will be 53 “P”s on the chain come tomorrow.

Of course, that’s the appetizer. Even as a die-hard Purdue fan, tomorrow’s main course is the Michigan/Ohio State game. There’s something to be said for a rivalry between two storied programs, that is widely considered one of the biggest rivalries in sports, being played when the teams are ranked #1 and #2, both undefeated. We’re talking here about THE game. And we’re talking about two schools whose fans have had a pleasant hatred for decades.

When it wasn’t possible to get any bigger, it was reported that Bo Schembechler passed away the day before the game, and the significance impossibly grew. Bo, say hi to Woody for us up there when you’re watching this one!

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#21 Maryland (8-2, 5-1) @ #20 Boston College (8-2, 4-2)
Vegas Says: Boston College -7

Two evenly-ranked teams are facing each other, and one is favored by 7… Initially I don’t like it. You don’t figure that unless there’s a matchup issue. But this week, there is. Looking at the average points scored per game, Boston College is leading Maryland by about 4. On the opposite end, BC is allowing 7 less points per game than Maryland.

Maryland doesn’t gain a lot of yards, nor do they manage to score very well. It’s surprising, then that they’ve got an 8-2 record. Boston College can both score and play defense. It’s no surprise that they’re 8-2. I have to think BC has the edge here, especially being at home. They can cover 7.

Prediction: Boston College covers
Predicted Final Score: Boston College 28, Maryland 17
Final Score: Boston College 38, Maryland 16
Prediction: RIGHT

Iowa (6-5, 2-5) @ Minnesota (5-6, 2-5)
Vegas Says: Minnesota -3

It shows just how far Iowa has fallen that they’re 3-point underdogs to Minnesota. Iowa was supposed to challenge for the Big Ten title this year. Instead, out of a big win over Purdue on their best showing of the season, they’ve been a big bust. Minnesota had their typical mid-year slide, but somehow seems to have righted the ship, with a blowout win over Indiana and a strong beating of Michigan State.

But something doesn’t sit with me on this one. Iowa, in their defeats, have turned the ball over in large doses. Their baffling 21-7 loss to Northwestern included 3 turnovers. Outside of those, they were > 50% on 3rd down, threw at a 66% completion percentage, and but for the fact that Northwestern actually appears to have found a balanced offense, may have overcome those deficits. Coming off that loss, they played inspired football against a very strong Wisconsin team, in a 24-21 loss.

Iowa looks like a team on the skids, but I think they’ve got more talent on both sides of the ball than Minnesota. This week, they’re not facing the Wisconsin defense (that they gained 300 yards on), and Iowa has a stronger defense than either Michigan State or Indiana. Drew Tate has had a rough year, but he’s a gamer. Lose a rivalry game to Minnesota? He ain’t goin’ out like that!

Prediction: Iowa beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Iowa 27, Minnesota 24
Final Score: Minnesota 34, Iowa 24
Prediction: WRONG

Indiana (5-6, 3-4) @ Purdue (7-4, 4-3)
Vegas Says: Purdue -12

As I said earlier, this is a big one. This is one of those games where all the rules go out the window. Back in the days when both teams sucked, the season was a success if you went 1-10 and that win came in this game. In the state of Indiana, Purdue is probably the best overall university. But we’ve got a bit of a complex about that. We’re in the northwest corner of the state. Notre Dame is in the northeast corner, and Indiana is in the southern half. When it comes down to it, everyone from Indianapolis south are IU fans, most of the northern Indiana folks are Notre Dame fans, and people who actually attended Purdue are Purdue fans. Beating IU is important for all the kids on the roster who grew up in Indiana, because many of them come from towns where everyone supported IU or Notre Dame.

This game comes down to one thing: anger. If the Boilers win, they ruin the Hoosiers’ season. Indiana needs this win to go to their first bowl game since 1993, and Purdue is already bowl-eligible. While you’d think that would give Indiana more to play for than Purdue, Purdue wants to win not to improve our own standings (which it will), but to destroy IU’s season and keep the Bucket. There’s a certain sense of purpose that whatever happens during the rest of the season, IU should not walk away from this game with the Bucket, and that IU should have taken care of their bowl aspirations before coming into Ross-Ade Stadium.

When it comes to analysis of the game, Purdue will have the ability to throw at will on Indiana’s defense. They’ll probably run at will also. Indiana has a few offensive threats, namely 6′7″ wide receiver James Hardy, and dual-threat QB Kellen Lewis. Purdue basically needs to have Hardy at least double-teamed at all times. Luckily for Purdue, Indiana’s offensive line is a bit undersized, so I think defensive end Anthony Spencer will make his introductions with Lewis early and often.

Purdue wins this one. I don’t know if it will be as much of a blowout as some folks are expecting, but Purdue takes it.

Prediction: No official prediction
Final Score: Purdue 28, Indiana 19

Illinois (2-9, 1-6) @ Northwestern (3-8, 1-6)
Vegas Says: Illinois -2

Boilermakerfootballblog suggests that this game is going to determine the best Division I-A football team in Illinois. Not so fast, my friend! Northern Illinois may be a MAC team, but they’re looking pretty good this year!

Northwestern appears to have found a balanced offense with QB CJ Bacher behind center, which is opening up their game. Illinois has found balance between QB Juice Williams running the ball and RB Pierre Thomas running the ball, but if you’re looking for the forward pass, they seem to have a rulebook from 1903 which doesn’t allow such shenanigans. Illinois may not have a balanced offensive attack, but they do have a defense, something which Northwestern is conspicuously lacking. This may be a road game for Illinois, but it’s in Evanston, so it will be less well-attended than high school football, so that shouldn’t be a factor. Illinois wins this one based on Ron Zook’s recruiting, and this week even Ron Zook’s coaching can’t stop them!

Prediction: Illinois covers
Predicted Final Score: Illinois 34, Northwestern 20
Final Score: Northwestern 27, Illinois 16
Prediction: WRONG

Oklahoma State (6-4, 3-3) @ Texas Tech (6-5, 3-4)
Vegas Says: Texas Tech -6.5

Do you like scoring? If so, this game between two offensive powerhouses, with an over/under of 69 points, might be just for you! Both teams are averaging big offensive numbers (4 TD’s) per game, and this one will be in a rare non-windy day in Lubbock, TX, so it’s probably a good day for the defensive coordinators to call in sick…

As for the line, I don’t like it much. Texas Tech has a slight advantage in yards gained and defensive yards allowed, but they’re scoring less points and giving up roughly the same amount. These are two evenly-matched teams, and despite Texas Tech’s offense, they’ve been held to under 25 points four times this season, while OK State has only had that happen once. I’m not sure who will win this one, but Oklahoma State will get their points. This will be a shootout, and while I’m expecting Oklahoma State to beat the spread (and going out on a limb picking them to win), I’d be a lot happier with 7.5 than 6.5.

Prediction: Oklahoma State beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Oklahoma State 38, Texas Tech 35
Final Score: Texas Tech 30, Oklahoma State 24
Prediction: RIGHT

#15 Auburn (9-2, 5-2) @ Alabama (6-5, 2-5)
Vegas Says: Auburn -3

I saw this line, and my initial reaction was “WHAT?!” Auburn only by 3? Against a team who is 2-5 in conference? But with a little bit of digging, I realized that 4 of Alabama’s 5 losses came playing currently-ranked teams, two of which were close games. Auburn has big wins over LSU and Florida, but got blown out by Arkansas and an inconsistent Georgia team at home. And this is a major rivalry game (although today, nobody outside the state of Alabama will be watching it).

On paper, the teams seem pretty well matched. Auburn has an advantage in scoring offense and points allowed, but overall the two teams look just about identical. I think Auburn does have an advantage in that Alabama seems to throw more effectively than they run, and Auburn does a decent job defending the pass. Really, I think this game will be close, but it will come down to one thing. Auburn has the running game to score in the red zone, while Alabama settles for a field goal, in a fairly low-scoring affair.

Prediction: Auburn covers
Predicted Final Score: Auburn 17, Alabama 13
Final Score: Auburn 22, Alabama 15
Prediction: RIGHT

#19 Virginia Tech (8-2, 4-2) @ #14 Wake Forest (9-1, 5-1)
Vegas Says: PICK’EM

Oh, how I really want to pick Wake Forest. They’re looking like they’re in the middle of a dream season, with potential ACC championship and BCS hopes. They’ve faced some tough teams, and but for a sloppy, turnover-laden loss to Clemson, could be undefeated right now. Virginia Tech, of course, is a team that looked like it might be in trouble in the middle of the season, after a 22-3 drubbing by then-unranked Boston College. But they’ve picked things up and played strong since.

Everyone’s pulling for Wake in this game, but I don’t see it happening. Statistically, Virginia Tech is better on both offense and defense. Wake has had decent luck scoring, but it’s going to be a lot tougher against the Hokies. For Wake to win, they need to establish a running game against a defense giving up 2.9 yards per carry. Or, get a passing game going against the second-ranked pass defense in the NCAA. I don’t see it happening. Virginia Tech is hungry for interceptions, and I think their defense will win out in the end.

Prediction: Virginia Tech wins
Predicted Final Score: Virginia Tech 13, Wake Forest 10
Final Score: Virginia Tech 27, Wake Forest 6
Prediction: RIGHT

#17 Cal (8-2, 6-1) @ #4 USC (9-1, 6-1)
Vegas Says: USC -5.5

USC has been tested this year, and has been playing with fire. They may be able to sneak into an MNC berth if they win out the rest of their schedule, but I, for one, don’t believe they can do it. I think USC is overrated. They’re pretty likely to lose one of their next three, and given that I also think Notre Dame is overrated, I think this might be the week.

USC has been a bit inconsistent this year. They have the weapons, in Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett, to beat Cal. This is a game, though, where they can’t allow mistakes, or Cal will punish them. Cal is coming off an unexpected loss @ Arizona, and you know they’re playing now for the Pac-10 Title, the Rose Bowl berth, and a chance to destroy USC’s championship aspirations. They’ve got an offense more than capable of hanging with USC all game.

So it’s going to come down to offensive execution and defensive play. Advantage Cal on the execution side, as USC has been inconsistent. Advantage USC on defense, as they appear to be pretty solid against the run, which is Cal’s specialty (not to say Cal can’t throw, though). In this one, I think Cal has the offensive firepower to overwhelm USC’s defense in a way nobody else has, and USC will get in just enough trouble executing on offense to make this a very close game. Cal wins in a squeaker.

Prediction: Cal beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Cal 34, USC 30
Final Score: USC 23, Cal 9
Prediction: WRONG

GAME OF THE WEEK YEAR CENTURY

#2 Michigan (11-0, 8-0) @ #1 Ohio State (11-0, 8-0)
Vegas Says: Ohio State -7

Battles don’t get much more epic than this one. The winner of this game will be the odd-on favorite to win it all. The loser of this game will be the favorite to win in the Rose Bowl. These teams are just that good. And every matchup is an epic. The explosive Ohio State offense vs the stingy Michigan defense. The only potential chink in Ohio State’s armor, their run defense, against the goliath offensive line and shifty Mike Hart.

So many questions. Can Michigan’s run defense defend Troy Smith if he goes mobile? Can either defense defend Mario Manningham and Ted Ginn? Can Michigan even score against the nation’s #1 scoring defense? And if so, will it be defensive scores, or will their offense take care of it? Something has to break today, and it’s either Ohio State’s offense, or Michigan’s defense. The only team that can stop Ohio State’s offense is Michigan, and the only team that can beat Michigan’s defense is Ohio State. Add to the mix that this is college football’s most storied rivalry, and you’ve got yourself a game!

But the Bucks by 7? I realize Troy Smith is a steel-eyed and cool-handed in big games, but Texas’ defense is not Michigan’s. Nor will Michigan pull the Texas strategy of (successfully) attacking OSU in the run for the first quarter of the game, and then quitting and going to the air. Lloyd Carr is too patient (read: conservative) to do that. I personally think Michigan answers the call and the defense wins this game, but I can’t see OSU winning by large numbers unless Henne has a meltdown and gifts them some turnovers (which the OSU secondary will be more than happy to take). Either way, I don’t see this game being decided by more than 7 points. If anyone has the ability to blow a game open, it’s Ohio State, but Michigan will put up more of a fight than either Texas or Penn State, OSU’s two biggest tests to date.

Something tells me that the world has crowned Ohio State the champion before their time, and the reason they’ve done so is purely that Michigan finished last season 7-5. Ohio State might pull this one out, and if anyone can do it, it’s Troy Smith. He has already beaten Michigan twice. But that Michigan defense wasn’t coached by Ron English, and there wasn’t a healthy Mike Hart. Add those two into the mix, and Michigan might surprise some folks. If they can get out to an early lead, they can control the game, and keep this from being an OSU blowout. If OSU gets the early lead, Michigan might be in trouble (and so will my pick).

Prediction: Michigan beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Michigan 17, Ohio State 16
Final Score: Ohio State 42, Michigan 39
Prediction: RIGHT

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UPDATE: Well, at the end of the day, I somehow managed another 5-3 day against the spread, which perfectly continues my 62.5% percentage. Oddly enough, I was only 3-5 straight up, which is never a good sign… On the year, I’m 45-27 against the spread, and 49-23 straight up.

Purdue/IU was a comedy of errors, but my Boilers came through, which is all I really care about. Michigan/OSU was a heck of a game, although someone needs to look for Michigan’s run defense, I think the bus got lost on the way to Columbus. Rutgers lost, so the Big East is officially out of the national championship picture, although given the close UM/OSU game, those two teams may be in a rematch on Jan 8. All I can ask is that somehow, some way, Notre Dame is kept out of the MNC game.


Below The Beltway linked with Four Hours And Counting
Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 10:47 am || Permalink || Comments (7) || Trackback URL || Categories: College Football, Predictions, YouTube

7 Comments

  1. [...] Brad Warbiany and Brendan Loy are both predicting a Wolverine win. Can’t let that happen guys. [...]

  2. Brad,

    You may have been right about the spread of the OSU-Michigan game, but it’s the result that matters.

    As for the outcome of the Rutgers-Cincy game, all I can say (in the best tradition of Commander Adama in the new version of Battlestar Galactica) is….. FRAK !

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — November 19, 2006 @ 12:13 am
  3. Nice prediction on the OSU-scUM game, though it wouldn’t have been that close if we had kept the turnover ratio more even or in the plus column for our side. Oh well, on to the next #2.

    P.S. – So much for the Rutgers scenario, 30-11 drubbing by another Ohio team.

    Comment by Uncle Jack — November 19, 2006 @ 7:55 am
  4. Yep… Rutgers screwed up my BCS-busting scenario… Although with the close game between UM and OSU, there might be big calls for a rematch. If that’s the case, I might have good BCS-controversy blog post fodder…

    At least now I can focus on USC trying to destroy Notre Dame’s MNC aspirations :-D

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — November 19, 2006 @ 11:27 am
  5. Doug,

    You’re entirely right… I base my prediction correct/incorrect based on the spread (since that’s what the bets would be based on)… Who would have guessed that Michigan couldn’t stop OSU’s offense well enough that they ever even attempted a field goal? Without the two silly fumbles, that might have been a more lopsided game.

    Oh, and Troy Smith just won the Heisman.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — November 19, 2006 @ 11:33 am
  6. Nice page, 10x better than “Solon’s Picks.” I’ve read through his picks 2-3 times and am still not really sure who the hell he picked to win the damn game.

    Comment by Anthony Reddick's Helmet — November 19, 2006 @ 3:24 pm
  7. Thanks, ARH…

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — November 19, 2006 @ 7:17 pm

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