November 03, 2011
Perusing the weekly lines for a straight-up shocker or two — for entertainment only, of course.
GRAHAM WATSON: Iowa (+3.5) over Michigan.
Iowa is better than the team that inexplicably lost to Minnesota last week — the Hawkeyes outgained the Gophers by 75 yards, missing a pair of field goals and blowing two other opportunities inside the Minnesota 35-yard line in a one-point loss — and it will be motivated against a Michigan team in the midst of its best season since 2006. But now the schedule gets real. The Hawkeyes are at home, control their own destiny in the convoluted Big Ten race and (most importantly) are trying to keep coach Kirk Ferentz off the hot seat.
Running back Marcus Coker, who had 252 yards and two scores last week in a losing effort, could be in line for another big game against a defense that's yielded more 200 yards on the ground twice already this season. If the running game can get going, it will open up opportunities for Marvin McNutt Jr., the Hawkeyes all-time leading receptions leader, to have a big game against the Wolverines' paper-thin secondary.
Cal is traditionally much better at home — 43-14 in Berkeley under Jeff Tedford coming into this season — and Washington State remains, well, Washington State: The Cougars have dropped four straight since a 3-1 start. But the Bears aren't playing in Berkeley this year, and they aren't playing well anywhere.
Last week's 31-14 flop at UCLA — itself coming off a humiliating flop at Arizona on national television — was Cal's fourth loss in its first five Pac-12 games, punctuated by erratic quarterback Zach Maynard adding four more interceptions to his season total and Cal fans openly wondering if this is the beginning of the end for the most successful coach in school history. A loss at the hands of a far more competitive but ultimately still hapless bunch from Pullman would go a long way toward answering that.
Bonus Pick: Pittsburgh (+3½) over Cincinnati. The Bearcats are ranked at 6-1 and sit alone atop the conference standings. The Panthers are 4-4 and just lost their best player for the season. This being the Big East, there's really only one way this can go.
This week's guest…
ADAM JACOBI, CBSSports.com and Black Heart, Gold Pants: Vanderbilt (+13½) over Florida.
Disaster strikes Gainesville as the excitable James Franklin and his band of excitable Commodores invade Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and jump out to a 17-0 lead early. Florida coach Will Muschamp lights a fire in his team at halftime — literally, by committing arson in the middle of the locker room — and though the Gators shake their ennui and come roaring back, it is not enough for the win as Vandy prevails, 30-27.