Welcome to the Merriweather Post Pavillion/Bitte Orca/Veckatimest of the 2009 college football season. This weekend's games, much like those albums, likely will fall on deaf ears (or blind eyes as it may be) to many of your worldlier friends. To the truly open minded souls, the folks really willing to dig deep and expand their horizons, where some may perceive dissidence or irregularity, you find gold.
So while your wife gives you a puzzled look when you tell her brunch is out of the question with Purdue/Minnesota kicking off at high noon, or your buddies from your club soccer team give you grief for turning down the bar in favor of Michigan/Iowa, you aren't being antisocial or out of touch - you're just ahead of the curve.
Last weekend's update marked our debut of lines to use (and lose by), as well as yours truly making a half hearted attempt at guessing what would take place. After going 6-2, I'm playing with house money. Bet against me accordingly.
Thursday - #18 Nebraska at #20 Missouri (+1) 9:00 p.m. - ESPN
Two thirds of the compelling component of the Big 12 North race, Gary Pinkel's surprising Tigers look to prove their legitimacy against Bo Pelini's Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Huskers, much like the Buckeyes, are one botched drive from an undefeated record and a ranking 6-8 spots higher. While Blaine Gabbert is doing a far better job replacing Chase Daniel than anyone could've possibly imagined, the Tigers undefeated start comes to an end as Nebraska takes it 31-28.
#1 Alabama at #23 Mississipi (+5.5) 3:30 p.m. - CBS
A game some heralded as a kind of play-in game of sorts for the SEC Championship Game back in preseason, this contest has lost much of its luster with Alabama looking every bit a legitimate threat to Florida's SEC crown and Mississippi looking anything but ready to compete for the SEC West crown. Jevon Snead's looked far more akin to his freshman year at Texas than last season's inaugural campaign as the Ole Miss starter. Pending him suddenly channeling a Manning or an epic performance for the ages from Dexter McCluster, look for Saban and Greg McElroy's squad to take it in a less close than it appears 24-13 affair.
#2 Florida at #4 LSU (+11.5) 8:00 p.m. - CBS
Like many indie rock outfits, it's difficult to get a feel as to whether this game has contest of the year potential, or is all hype with little actual substance. LSU's rivaled Ole Miss for paper tiger of the year in the early going, though their defense seems capable of pitching a perfect game if everything clicks just right. I think it goes without saying that Meyer will play Tebow, ready or not, and it'd be surprising if Tebow brought anything but his absolute best. In lieu of a Vegas line that seems to echo with the mixed sentiments of the Bayou Bengals, I'll say Florida takes a close one with the Tigers covering 24-17.
Arizona at Washington (+2.5) 10:00 p.m. - FSN (Regional)
Hold off on the head scratching: this game has legitimate bearing on the Pac 10 race. Arizona, coming off a solid performance in Corvalis, has a real chance to buck the conventional notion that "all Mike Stoops does is lose football games". Washington and Steve Sarkisian look to bounce back from consecutive losses to Stanford and Notre Dame. Despite Jake Locker's potential as a top 10 pick in 2 seasons, 'Zona keeps their undefeated Pac-10 run alive taking this one 33-30.
Big Ten Games
Michigan State at Illinois (+4) 12:00 p.m. - BTN (Regional)
The first thing that jumps out about this one is just how little faith the Vegas oddsmakers have in Sparty. Wasn't last weekend's had it-almost lost it-had it performance against an up and coming Wolverines team grounds enough to think that maybe Dantonio's bunch could handle their business against Eddie McGee's debut as the Illini starter? While Vegas may not be particularly bullish on the Spartans, I'm more than confident that a change at signal caller won't be enough to save Illnois' season (nor likely the Zookster's job) as MSU rolls 37-17.
Purdue at Minnesota (-4) 12:00 p.m. - ESPN2
Hope travels west to take on the Fightin' Brewsters in their pretty new digs. Purdue needs a win in the worst of ways after going down to Northwestern last weekend, where as Brewster's group looks to figure out how to get the ball to Eric Decker and get their 97th ranked nationally offense going. Since somebody has to win this one, I'll go with my preseason skepticism for all things Boiler and give this one to Minnesota 30-20.
Miami (OH) at Northwestern (-20.5) 12:00 p.m. - BTN (Regional)
What? Did you really think Eastern Illinois (and former Iowa QB/possibly secretly the kid from "The Phantom Menace" Jake Christensen) v. Penn State or Indiana v. Virginia would get the nod here? This game gets the spot, if nothing else, for the sheer incredibleness of the Wildcats being favored by almost 3 scores over anyone. Former demoted play caller under (not literally as the man wouldn't be with us today) Charlie Weis at Notre Dame Mike Haywood has brought an equally ineffective brand of X's and O's to Oxford. Though while the one may seem like a sucker bet, we'll go with the little Redhawks that could to pull off a stunning cover in Evanston, 44-28.
Michigan at #12 Iowa (-7.5) 8:00 p.m. - ABC
Despite the misfortune of having to go against the more hyped Florida-LSU game, this one could go down as the contest of the weekend.. Michigan seeks to reassert themselves in the top 25 discussion traveling to always tough Kinnick to go toe to toe with the suddenly dark horse national title contending Hawkeyes. While part of me wouldn't be terribly shocked to see Iowa stumble just two weeks after a seemingly huge victory in Happy Valley, the gaps between these two defenses is just too much for TSUN as Iowa takes it 28-17.