Here we are, back for another weekend of football.
First of all, congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies for taking care of business on the road and becoming the first team to make it to 2008's version of the Fall Classic.
Cole Hamels has really shown the country something with his performance so far this postseason, and it will be interesting to see if he continues to throw that way in the World Series.
Tampa Bay squandered a huge opportunity by blowing their seven-run lead to the Red Sox in Game Five of the ALCS. This was a big chance for the Rays to put the defending champs away and advance to their first-ever World Series.
That being said, I still don't think the Rays will lose two in a row at Tropicana Field, unless Josh Beckett wakes up a completely different man tomorrow. We will find out what the Rays are made of this weekend when they defend their home turf with a chance for a trip to the Fall Classic on the line.
Now, on to the weekend picks...
I will take Wisconsin on the road +3.5 at Iowa. The Badgers were dealt an ugly one-two punch the last two weekends, facing Ohio State and Penn State. Despite two losses, this team is still a solid Big-10 team. And I think they will come out and play a good game. The key for the Badgers is to run the ball and control the clock. Iowa is an overachieving team in the Big-10 and has to be very focused or this Badgers team will upset them at home.
My upset special is Ole Miss to go into Tuscaloosa +13 and take down the Tide. Alabama came out flat against Kentucky and played way down to their opponents. If they do that with this Mississippi team, they won't be able to squeak out a win. Ole Miss has proved they can go on the road in the SEC and win in one of the toughest places to play in America, the Swamp.
I'll take Ohio State -4 in East Lansing against Michigan State. With all of the talk about the Buckeyes' offense and their struggles, Beanie Wells gives them instant credibility. He also takes a huge load off of freshman Terrelle Pryor, who has already proved he can go on the road in the Big-10 and win. The pressure is on Michigan States' defense to slow down Beanie Wells and Terrelle Pryor. And if the defense can contain Javon Ringer, I just don't see Brian Hoyer beating the Buckeyes' experienced secondary through the air.
I like UNC -4.5 on the road in the ACC at Virginia. UNC is quietly having a good season, despite some key injuries. The loss of their WR Brandon Tate hurts but their team defense has been superb lately. I look for the Heels to come out and control the trenches on both sides of the ball.
I will go with Georgia Tech -2 on the road at Clemson. Rough week for the Tigers after Head Coach Tommy Bowden was fired. And as much as they want to go out and win it for him, the Ramblin' Wreck's defensive line is wicked good. This will be a low-scoring affair, but I like the Yellow Jackets in this ACC battle.
Finally, I will go with Illinois -15 at home against the Indiana Hoosiers. Coming off of an embarrassing loss last weekend, I look for the Illini to come out hungry. This is a must-win Big-10 game if Juice Williams and Co. want to keep their Big-10 title hopes alive. Indiana gives up points—lots of them. Juice should have a big day through the air and Daniel Dufrene should be able to find holes.
I like the Chargers to go on the road in a pick'em game and take down the Buffalo Bills. Last weekend's thrashing of the Patriots might be the spark that this team needed. Besides, they are a much better team than their 3-3 record. Buffalo is overachieving and the questions still linger at quarterback. It will be close, but I like the Chargers to keep their momentum going.
Let's go with the Cowboys -7 in St. Louis. Whether Tony Romo starts doesn't really matter because the Cowboys have talent all over the field. With Felix Jones' injury, I look for Marion Barber to have a huge game. I'm not sure how much Roy Williams will affect the offense yet, but whoever is throwing the passes has a bevy of talent to throw to.
I'll go with the New York Bretts -3 on the road in the Black Hole. Brett Favre is proving why he is one of the top-three quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, despite being nearly 40 years old. I think he will throw three touchdowns in a rout over the Oakland Raiders. JaMarcus Russell was pretty bad last weekend (13-for-35 for 154 yards and one interception), which won't get you many wins in the NFL. The Raiders' season has spiralled downward due to Al Davis, in large part. This weekend will be no different.
Finally, I am going to take the Cleveland Browns +7 on the road in the nation's capital. Was Monday night just a fluke or is that the real Browns we will see for the rest of the season? If the Browns really do have hopes of sniffing the postseason, they had better start winning. Clinton Portis will run all day long, so the Browns have to limit Jason Campbell's ability to sit in the pocket and throw. If the Browns' secondary puts together another solid performance, they can take this game on the road.
Those are the picks for this great weekend of football. And in baseball, thanks to the Red Sox' miracle comeback for a great week. Check in Tuesday for a review of the week in football and a preview of the World Series.