Thursday, November 13, 2008

College Football Pick'em Week 12

We have reached the midway point of the college football season. Around the country the weather is turning cold (50 degrees last week in the Bayou) and that means the sting from the big hits hurts just a little bit more. It also means that teams are scrambling to make their last ditch efforts to reach the post season. Some teams are trying to stay alive in the national title hunt as well as their conference races, while others are just trying to reach that elusive six win mark so they can become bowl eligible. Here at Walker-Sports, I am trying to get as close to a .500 record as possible in our College Football Pick’em pool. So without any further ado, let’s get to picking some college football games.

Oddly enough there is only one top 25 match up on tap this weekend, and of course it would take place in SEC country. The red hot Florida Gators will play host to the South Carolina Gamecocks. While this game may not have been marked on many peoples schedules at the beginning of the season, it is worth taking a look at just because of the personal ties to the game if nothing else.

There is no doubt in this writers mind that the Florida Gators are the best team in the country right now. I understand that Texas Tech just blew out Oklahoma State, and Alabama is still ranked number one in the country, but none of that matters. Ever since their lost to Ole Miss Florida has been on an absolute tear a crushed everything in their paths. That includes blow victories over Georgia and LSU, neither one of those games were in the swamp either. Since their lost to Ole Miss, Florida has run off five consecutive wins and averaged 46.5 points a game. Urban Myer has his guys peaking at the perfect time. The Gator offense is looking as effect as ever right now. Tim Tebow got off to a slow start at the beginning of the season, but in the last three weeks, he has returned to the same form that won him a Heisman Trophy last year. His ability to make plays through the air and with his legs makes him an obvious threat. But the emergence of a reliable running game, (even if that is a wide out on a sweep) make Tebow an even bigger threat for defenses to be concerned with. In addition to an offense that appears to be firing on all cylinders, the Florida Gators have a phenomenal defense. The Gator’s defense tops the SEC allowing just 11.9 points a game. They have amazing speed in their secondary which allows them to mix up their coverage’s and confuse opposing quarterbacks. You can bet that will be a huge asset on Saturday. Especially with the way Steve Spurrier switches his quarterbacks in and out of the game, they will have a hard time adjusting to the quicker Florida Gators and that could lead to costly turnovers.

Steve Spurrier may be in the middle of his best coaching run in recent memory. Yes, I just wrote that with a straight face, and I mean it. The South Carolina Gamecocks started the season one and three but since then they have improved and one four out of their last five SEC games. What may be even more surprising is how the Gamecocks have put their program back on track. South Carolina sports the best overall defense in the SEC only giving up 256.5 yards a game. The defense will face an entirely different test on Saturday when they travel down to Florida to take on Tebow and company, but you can rest assured, they will be up for the challenge. On the offensive side of the ball Spurrier has reclaimed control of his offense after hinting at giving up some control in the preseason. Last week against Arkansas Spurrier exchanged his quarterbacks on seemingly every play. Yet in typical Steve Spurrier fashion the madness appeared to work. Both is quarterbacks bring a different set of skills to the table and all of their skills will be needed come Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks are decided underdogs going into the game. But one has to think that the Ole Ball Coach would love to hang an upset win on his old school in their gym.

The spread on this game has grown to Florida minus 23, while I am pretty sure that Florida can handle that spread fairly easily especially since they are playing at home, I am going to go out on a limb mainly because I love playing the games with the big spreads. I say South Carolina keeps it within 23 points and covers the spread but Florida wins the game. Also this is a solid game to bet the over on to help cover your ass.

Now let’s look at some other games on the upcoming week.

Georgia vs. Auburn: Not much has gone right for the Auburn Tigers this season. The new spread offense they wanted to employ failed miserably. Tommy Tuberville is most likely on his way out the door (think Clemson), and the Iron Bowl is shaping up to be a blowout. Oddly enough the same disappointment can be seen in Athens Georgia where the Bulldogs have let down everyone of their fans this season. However, Georgia can still save some face by finishing strong. That begins by knocking off an Auburn team that despite wobbling won’t fall down and has even had the audacity to talk a little smack about the Bulldogs along the way. The spread has Georgia favored by nine points, and I like that a lot. It’s a little larger than what I would like, but I think that Georgia will do just fine in finding a way to cover the points.

Oregon State vs. Cal: Who would have thought that this game would play a major factor into who will win the Pac 10 and move on to the Rose Bowl. I will admit I certainly did not. Oregon State has been on a tear as of late, mainly because they have feasted on the bottom of the Pac 10. Now they are looking for their eighth consecutive home victory. The Cal Bears have been an up and down team all season. Last week the gave USC all they could handle and now the key for them will be not letting down as they prepare to take on a team they have out scored 90 to 20 in the last two years. The spread has Oregon State favored by three points, and I am just crazy enough to bite and take that bet. Oregon State covers the spread and wins.

UNC vs. Maryland: The North Carolina Tar Heels are burning up the ACC, with the exception of their game against UVA. Butch Davis has made this into a team that can overcome injuries as still perform at a high enough level to win games. The Maryland Terps, are just out their playing football. Much like the Virginia Cavalier they had a chance to control their destiny but simply could not capitalize on it. The spread had the Tar Heels favored by three points. With the Terps not having much to play for in the upcoming weeks, I’d expect them to go into their shells and tank the last few games in the season. UNC covers the spread and wins.

Cincinnati vs. Louisville: In the latest edition of crappy Big East game to watch, we have Louisville and Cincinnati going head to head on Saturday afternoon. This game is importantly however, because of the tight race we currently have in the Big East. Cincinnati has a chance to control their destiny by winning out on the season and they could earn a trip to a BCS game (man that will look weird). Louisville still factors into the Big East race, but right now their most important job is to play spoiler. The spread favors the visiting Bearcats by three. I like those odds, take Cincinnati to cover the three points and win the game.

Texas vs. Kansas: Everyone knows that Kansas will not be able to duplicate their miracle run from last year. But with that being said it is not out of the realm for them to have a good season. Hell, they have already had a good season, and against Texas on Saturday they could make it a great one. The Texas Longhorns can still factor into the national title hunt, but they have a major trap game on Saturday against Kansas. You’re looking at an 11:30 kickoff local time on the road on what will most likely be a 30 degree day with plenty of wind. Not the ideal conditions for Texas football. The Longhorns have fallen into this trap in the past on the road against Kansas State, and it is not out of the realm for them to do it again. The spread has Texas favored by 17 points. I think Kansas can cover the spread, but they won’t have enough in the tank to cover the spread.


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