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Football Picks
2005-10-21 15:51
by Scott Long

Haven't checked my overall record in the last couple of weeks, but I think I'm around 55% for the year. Not great, but a helluva lot better than the college picks over at Football Outsiders. If you've seen those choices, well I hope you've gotten rich going against them. This week I didn't find a single 4 star game this week, but there are some good 3 star selections.

3 star Texas Tech (+17) vs. Texas
3 star Iowa (-2.5) vs. Michigan
3 star Northwestern (+12.5) vs. Mich. St.
2 star Indiana (+15.5) vs. Ohio St.
2 star Tennessee (+4) vs. Alabama

In a battle of the unbeaten, the talent-level definitely skews towards Texas, but the coaching of Leach should overcome some of this disparity. Tech gets off fast and the game ends up going down to the end.
Next to USC, Iowa has been the best home team in football the past 3 years. They have a far superior coach to Carr and the Hawkeyes have been great the last 5 games of the year under Ferentz.
If Ferentz isn't the best coach in the Big 10, Northwestern's Randy Walker is. Last week, Spartans coach John Smith had a national television breakdown and I think they will struggle after last week's disappointing loss.
Another good coach in the Big 10 is Indiana's Terry Hoeppner, who has the Hoosiers playing with a purpose. Ohio State has underachieved this season, as Tressel's offensive style doesn't fit his personnel. Buckeyes win by 10.
I still don't believe in Alabama and even though I'm not a fan of Fullmer, the Vols shouldn't be an underdog. Take the points.

3 star Houston (+15) vs. Indianapolis
3 star New Orleans (+3) vs. St. Louis
2 star San Francisco (+13) vs. Washington
2 star San Diego (+3.5) vs. Philadephia

Many of my favorite gambling rules favor the Texans, as I'm a big believer in going against home teams after Monday Night who are on the road the next week. Add to this a team who gets bombed on the road the week before like the Texans, usually get a few more points. I can only remember a couple of times that a NFL home team is this big of an underdog. Sure Carr and his offensive line are the ultimate sack givers, but Freeney is not 100%. This should be my first 5 star game of the year, but come on, am I going to this big of a bet on the Texans, especially against the best team in the NFL? 3 stars.
I might be the only person on the planet that has been right on the Saints and with the Rams off a Monday Night, without their QB and Head Coach, I see New Orleans winning outright.
Another crappy team (49ers), but the Redskins should never be 13 point favs over anyone in the league.
The AFC is the superior conference and even though they are on the road in what should be colder weather this Sunday, San Diego will run the ball well, while Brees played college football in cold weather, so they will withstand it. Once again, let's all say it together----- The NFC SUCKS! Now doesn't that feel better.

2005-10-21 17:13:33
1.   The Cheat
Let me start by saying that I'm a huge Kirk Ferentz and Iowa football fan.

Iowa comes into Saturday's contest riding a 22 game home winning streak. The last time they lost at home was at the hands of Seneca Wallace and the Mighty Iowa State Cyclones. They haven't even trailed at any point in their last 10 home games.

Iowa is 5-2 after starting out just 2-2. They appear primed to match their 2004 campaign where they started out 2-2, but ran the table to gain a share of the Big Ten title. -- Not so fast. The Hawkeyes 3 Big Ten victories are over Purdue, Illinois, and Indiana. Those teams have a combined 1-8 record in Big Ten play, with the one victory being an Indiana win over Illinois. Somebody had to win that game.

On offense, the Hawkeyes rank last in the Big Ten in both 3rd down percentage and 4th down percentage. Two weeks ago, Drew Tate's favorite target Ed Hinkel was lost for the season with a broken arm. Since he went down, Tate has completed just 45% of his passes.

On defense, the Hawkeyes rank last in the Big Ten in completion percentage allowed. They have just 3 sacks in the last 100+ pass plays against them. They have the worst defensive line in the Big Ten. Norm Parker employs a 2-deep coverage scheme that relies on QB pressure to turn the ball over and cause mistakes. The current Iowa team simply does not supply enough pressure to force a good team to make any mistakes.

Chad Henne and Mike Hart getting 2.5 points??? I love Meeechigan!

2005-10-21 18:47:53
2.   Scott Long
Great stuff Cheat and all things I'm aware of. (I'm a grad of the University of Iowa). It should be mentioned by me that I have not used Iowa once during the Big 10 season, as one of my best bets, as I like to stay away from taking my alma mater. Why I chose this game is the huge home field advantage, plus the coaching advantage. By the way, I don't think much of Henne, as if he would have played even average ball this year, Michigan would have at least 2 more wins. Henne and Carr are the weak links. I like Iowa, but we will see how it shakes out.
2005-10-22 12:55:43
3.   The Cheat
Well, the one time that Iowa was able to sack Henne, they got so confused by being in such close proximity to the QB that they tackled him by his facemask. That's a no-no. Turned into a touchdown.

The gameplan looked great to start, but they played the final 40 minutes trying not to lose. With no pass rush and a porous zone defense, that's just asking for a team to comeback on you.

I'm only surprised that the game was as close as it was.

2005-10-23 17:46:12
4.   TFD
1-8?! ouch.
2005-10-24 07:36:01
5.   Scott Long
TFD, bad weekend for me, but I went 3-6, nothing to brag about, but not 1-8.

Northwestern won big
Tennessee squeaked it out
San Diego covered and should have won.

By the way, Cheat gets some props, as the wolverines covered. If you saw the game, Iowa was in control up until the last 8 minutes of the 4th quarter. I agree that Iowa played somewhat not to lose. Hart didn't do much, as he was battling injury, while Henne was inconsistent, as usual.
This was the worst coaching I've seen from the Iowa sideline, since Ferentz has been there. I very rarely blame the gameplan for a loss, but in this situation, Iowa made some serious mistakes, including not blitzing Henne more, which has been proven to create turnovers.

2005-10-24 09:04:53
6.   TFD
Scott: Oops, I calculated the iggles wrong..and tennessee only won by three?!

me not bright.

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