October 01, 2009
The Doc Saturday crew peruses the weekly lines and pulls out a few shockers. Remember: There's a reason they're upsets.
Holly Anderson: Maryland (+13) over Clemson
I take the Terps despite -- nay, because they come in off back-to-back losses to Rutgers and Middle Tennessee State and a squeaked-out victory over James Madison. This is right about the time when the Terp start winning low-scoring ACC games in which they have absolutely no business even being competitive, giving them just enough of a boost to save Friedgen's job for one more season. Which is not to say they won't lose to Virginia or Duke or both as October drags on.
And if we were keeping track of our picks week to week I probably wouldn't do this, but we're not, so: Miami (+7 at home) over Oklahoma. Sooner QBs Landry Jones and Sam Bradford have been splitting first-team reps this week, but no matter who starts, it's a big game with national implications, which means Bob Stoops starts out at a disadvantage.
Doug Gillett Washington (+13) over Notre Dame
Not a lot of truly huge upset opportunities this week now that the point spreads have grown closer, but I'm willing to take the Huskies on the road. Since the opening-day shutout against Nevada, ND's pass defense has been consistently shredded, and that spells bad news with Jake Locker coming to town. The Huskies don't have much of a rushing attack to speak of, but neither did Michigan State or Purdue, and that didn't seem to keep them from hanging around right up to the bitter end.
If you really want to play with fire, look at Syracuse (+6.5) at home over South Florida, for no other reason than simply because USF is due for a letdown after pantsing Florida State. The Orange aren't what you'd call a great team, or even a good one, but they're good enough to make this one interesting if the Bulls come out flat.
Matt Hinton: Syracuse (+6.5) over South Florida.
I'll back Doug's gut-based non-logic on the 'Cuse upset in the Carrier Dome, only because it seems like Marrone/Paulus Experience is beginning to gel a little and is due a conference win like this -- the home upset over Northwestern two weeks ago really changed the complexion of the season after an 0-2 start, and had they managed to hold on to the lead with less than a minute to play against Minnesota, the Orange would be one of the country's most surprising 3-1 teams right now.
I refuse to be caught up in the minor hubbub this week over Greg Paulus' record-breaking pace to date, since he's not on pace to tee off against the secondaries of Northwestern and Maine the rest of the year. But he is clearly a viable Big East passer, and South Florida, still starting a redshirt freshman quarterback who -- in addition to the big plays he hit to pull the upset in Tallahassee -- was just 8-of-21 passing with two interceptions last week in his first road start. South Florida has hit sudden, inexplicable skids after fast starts two years in a row, and this is as good a time as any for 'Cuse to make a real bid for respectability.
I'll also echo Holly's sentiments on the Clemson-Maryland spread: UMD has been a genuinely awful team to date, but this is quintessential ACC Roulette territory, where the chronic underachiever and the inexplicable survivor coming out of its September flounder agree to meet in the middle. The Terps stunned the heavily-favored Tigers last year in Clemson. It has "Who can figure out this crazy conference?!" headlines written all over it.
Chris Brown: Wisconsin (+2.5) at Minnesota.
The Badgers surely lose style points because nearly every Wisconsin victory of the Bret Bielema is a catatonic event wherein the Badgers bludgeon both opponent and viewer into submission with their brand of BIG TEN FOOTBALL, but I'm not sure why they'd be the underdog by any number to Minnesota. The Gophers marquee win of the season was a ten point showing against Northwestern, as their two prior wins were uninspiring (a three-point win over the debut of The Paulus Effect at Syracuse and a touchdown win over Air Force). Eric Decker scores a couple of touchdowns for the Gophers in their new stadium's inaugural Big Ten game, but Scott Tolzien will outduel Adam Weber and the Badgers will move to 5-0.
Totally irrational pick: Okay, so Southern Methodist (+28 at TCU) has barely won anything since June Jones has been there, and TCU looks incredibly stout this year. And SMU QB Bo Levi Mitchell is tied with Jonathan Crompton for most interceptions in the country. But four touchdowns is a big spread, and I think this week Jones finally gets Mitchell to quit it with some of his more Favrian interceptions after single-handedly giving away a victory against Washington State, and the Mustangs score enough garbage time touchdowns to cover the spread.