Not sure how many of you have been wisely making the decision to follow AMC’s latest gem, The Walking Dead, but whether you have or you haven’t the one thing we can probably almost universally agree on is that zombie’s rule. Particularly a week removed from going all “Left 4 Dead” on Joe Pa’s zombie troop, it’s sort of hard not to appreciate the undead amongst us.
Speaking of the undead, just when I thought I couldn’t sink any lower in this crazy thing we call ‘gambling’, I turned 2 or 3 weeks of pretty respectable (meaning break even or better) into a full blown 2-6 week of fail. Had I been picking heads up winners, I think I might’ve fared a tiny bit better, but when spreads became involved, goodness; pretty clear I was bit by a zombie who was really bad at betting before the season started. For those scoring at home, the season long total is now up to 41-46-1 (or: ~47%). That would be completely legit if we were talking Call of Duty: Black Ops’ zombie mode, but not so much when it comes to picking teams with point spreads. Naturally if I’m going to survive the gambling apocalypse, the solution is going to be to chainsaw/flame thrower/continue making laughable picks until either they’re dead or I’m dead (at picking). Up and atom.
Fresno State at #3 Boise State (-30.5), 9:30 (Friday) - ESPN2 (HD)
At this point in their journey to make in-roads to either the Rose Bowl or Glendale, Boise State’s schedule is essentially a two game stretch with the end destination either of those glamorous spots. Fresno State presents obstacle one and enters this one… 30.5 point underdogs. Some roadblock, eh? Weirdly enough this almost feels as though Vegas isn’t respecting the Bulldogs enough. A week prior, the other other FSU finished one point south of an overtime opportunity and two points short of upsetting the AP’s other WAC darling, Nevada. While Boise State is still obviously in a class of their own, Fresno State still won’t necessarily roll over and actually push back when Boise their bullying. I expect Boise State to win, maybe even comfortably, but I have to give the cover consideration to Fresno: Boise wins, Fresno covers 45-28.
#16 Virginia Tech at #24 Miami (+2.5), 3:30 - ABC (HD) (Regional)
A huge game for Ohio State strength of schedule purposes, Miami look to bounce back from another underwhelming Randy Shannon season where as Virginia Tech continues a redemption tour of their own design seeking to stay perfect in the ACC. Despite the embarrassing gaffe to outdo all epic FAILs, Virginia Tech is still perfectly positioned to play their way into a trip to, well, Miami in early January if they can keep momentum going. Miami may or may not have Jacory Harris which further adds to the degree of difficulty in picking this one (i.e. that’s a pretty huge delta). None the less we’re still working with a 2.5 point spread, which feels awfully low for the Virginia Tech homer I’ve been the better part of the season. Given my track record with the ‘Canes, you should probably put a lot of money on the opposite of this but...: VT 27 – Miami 24.
#7 Stanford at Cal (+6.5), 3:30 - ABC (HD) (Regional)
THE GAME. DURR HURR. At the risk of stooping to an SEC low and framing this one “A Game”, Cal-Stanford carry out their traditional Bay Area(-ish) rivalry, this time with Stanford as the cream of the crop. Jeff Tedford has certainly proved his boys can fake injuries, but given Stanford’s Schembechler-lite act, doing so would turn this one into likely a 5 hour affair. Andrew Luck still has a prospective #1 pick spot to play for while Cal QB Brock Mansion (no, he’s not a G.I. Joe) and running back Shane Vereen look to finish what they couldn’t a week prior against the Ducks. Stanford minus a touchdown seems like easy money regardless: Stanford 31 – Cal 21.
#8 Nebraska at Texas A&M (+2.5), 8:00 - ABC (HD) (Regional)
The game Nebraska’s had circled on their calendar for 11 months, the Cornhuskers travel to Texas to take on… Oh wait; they already played that Texas team. And lost. At home. (lol) A re-ignited Texas A&M program instead plays how to the Huskers with new quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s toughest defensive task to date looming. Both teams are mostly playing for bowl positioning, though the Huskers could shoot their Big 12 North divisional title aspirations in the foot should they stumble in the always hostile confines of Kyle Field. Taylor Martinez looked a healthy a week back; should he and Roy Helu Jr. get in rhythm, Nebraska’s D should be able to do just enough against a tough Aggies offense to pull this one out. If Martinez goes down, look for A&M to play spoiler, however. Assuming the best, take NU, 35-31.
Big Ten Games
Penn State at Indiana (+10), 12:00 - Big Ten Network (HD) (Regional)
Cheer up, Matt McGloin. The Nittany Lions take their wound licking to Bloomington to seek Big Ten redemption against the lowly Hoosiers. Indiana in their own right after coming off an approximate 2000 point beat down at the hands of merciless Wisconsin. With both teams trending downward, Vegas declares this one a… 10 point affair?! I get that Penn State isn’t great, but that seems awfully unlikely unless Anthony Morelli plays all for four quarters this time. Ben Chappell and co. do have bleak bowl hopes still alive needing victories over both PSU and Purdue to make that a reality. While that alone may keep this far less embarrassing than last week, I expect PSU to find themselves more so than the Hoosiers. PSU 34 – Indiana 17.
#6 Wisconsin at Michigan (+4), 12:00 - ESPN (HD)
Imagine how awesome this one would be if, say, Iowa’s defense pinch hit for the LOLverines? Wisconsin instead will be running down hill against what essentially amounts to a stiff November wind. While Denard Robinson should be good for his usual 2.5 quarters of outstanding play and game ending injury, unless Wisconsin just completely sleeps on Michigan, I can’t imagine this one staying all that close. Vegas thinks it’ll be but a four point contest, but I think 14 may be courteous. While who wouldn’t love to watch a classic as an appetizer before the Iowa game, I can’t see this one playing out that way. Run, don’t walk, and pay homage to Gamblor in Wisconsin’s favor, Badgers 38 – Michigan 28.
Purdue at #10 Michigan State (-20), 12:00 - Big Ten Network (HD)
Purdue and Michigan State enter into a contest to find out who’s weird creepy mascot can out creep the other1. Purdue comes into this one dragging their tail between their legs a bit still operating essentially a M*A*S*H unit on offense where as Michigan State looks to keep their somewhat distant BCS hopes alive (though would be aided greatly by Ohio State tripping up against Iowa). Kirk Cousins and co. enter this one as 20 (!) point favorites and given Purdue’s play of late, that’s somewhat understandable. On the flipside, how easily can you envision Sparty ousting anyone with that kind of ease? Maybe it’s the cynic in me or maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t picked any real “upsets” so far. Sparty will win, no doubt in my mind, but it will be “CLOSER THAN THE EXPERTS THINK” [via ‘Corso DERP’]: MSU 31 – Purdue 14.
Illinois at Northwestern (+7.5), 3:30 - ESPNU (HD)
Northwestern and Illinois: LIVE, from the comfy confines of Wrigley Field. In unrelated news, Ron Zook will be burying one of his wide receivers this Sunday; service time to be announced. Dan Persa is ton of the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in the most heroic fashion conceivable, upsetting Iowa late in that game’s first quarter. Nathan Scheelhaase continues his full frontal assault on Big Ten freshman of the year honors but may not have much help if the November winds in Wrigley are as to be expected. Evan Watkins own personally trial by (windy) fire will begin against what’s been a stout Illini D the better point of all-season. The Illini come into this one 7.5 point favorites, but anyway the wind blows could keep this one… up in the air ( 8-) YEEEEAAAAAAAHHHH ). Take the Illini but don’t get too cocky about it: Illinois 20, Northwestern 10.
1 = The winner gets Joe Johnson