Week Nine College Football Picks: The “This Is Sparta!” Edition

Tim PollockSenior Writer IOctober 22, 2008

Last week’s 7-10 performance was okay. I missed the key SEC matchup between LSU and South Carolina, and I’m still angry at Harry Coleman because of it. 

This week, plenty of games are up in the air, conference races are starting to get interesting, and the polls are getting tight at the top.  Good times. 

That said, I have no idea who is going to win nearly all of these games, so I’m going with the Upset Special theme.  It’s the Week of the Underdog, fellow droogs. 

I’m bypassing the lame Thursday games for a WAC Friday night thriller.

Boise State at San Jose State (Upset Special Part One)

San Jose State has an ugly loss to Nebraska and another defeat at the hands of Stanford.  But they are undefeated in WAC play thus far—and conference games always bring a new element.

I have not seen the Spartans play for one second this year, but I’m picking them mainly so I can write the words “This is Sparta!

That should be a mandatory video clip on the JumboTron after every first down.  Seriously.  Hopefully San Jose State has a JumboTron. 

Winner: San Jose State, 34-31

On to Saturday’s games.

Michigan State at Michigan

Sure, the Spartans looked awful last week, but they’ve played well in close games for a change—and I have a feeling this will be a barnburner. 

Ringer gets it going early and keeps Michigan’s offense on the sidelines.

Plus, it’s the “This is Sparta” theme, so they get my pick by default.

Winner: Michigan State, 24-23

Texas Tech at Kansas (Upset Special Part Two)

Sorry, Mike Leach, but I’m picking against you this week and the three weeks to follow.  Your team might be better than Kansas, but I don’t care what the Texas Tech faithful are saying: The Red Raiders are overrated, and we all know it. 

Like Billy Madison once said, “O'Doyle, I've got a feeling your whole family's going down.”

Mike Leach, you are O’Doyle, and Mangino is Billy Madison.  Or something. 

Winner: Kansas, 38-35

Cincinnati at UConn

It’s hard to tell how good the Bearcats are this year, as they have posted marginal wins over weak opponents.  UConn, though, is on an ugly two-game losing streak—getting pasted by North Carolina and upended by a weak Rutgers team. 

Huskies continue their downward spiral.

Winner: Cincinnati, 20-19

Wake Forest at Miami

Jim Grobe’s Demon Deacons let me down mightily last week.  I’m banking (again) on Riley Skinner to finally return to form and put up some points.

Wake still has a good chance to win their division, so they will show up to play. Meanwhile, Miami is trying to avoid the cellar spot normally reserved for Duke. 

Robert Marve has looked awful his last six quarters of play, so Jacory Harris will likely get early action against a tough Wake defense.    

If Wake loses, I’m never picking them again.  Until next week.     

Winner: Wake Forest, 24-21

Kentucky at Florida

A seemingly easy pick here, as Kentucky is decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball. Down in Gainesville, the Gators are coming off a huge win over LSU and an additional week to heal injuries to key offensive players. 

This one should get ugly early. 

Winner: Florida, 45-10

Duke at Vanderbilt (Upset Special Part Three)

Vandy has made a living off of turnovers, but on paper, they won’t have that advantage this week.  Not only has Duke thrown just three picks, the Blue Devils have a +7 turnover margin—the same as Vandy.

Vanderbilt’s pass defense is suspect, and Duke makes its living through the air.  Something has to give.  

In the end, I like Duke to minimize mistakes, take care of the ball, and lean on Cutcliffe’s experience with beating the ‘Dores.

Winner: Duke, 27-24

Oklahoma State at Texas

I’ve picked against Texas the last two weeks, and the Longhorns have proved me wrong both times—big time. 

I’d love to continue the Upset Special theme, but I’m simply not sold on Mike Gundy’s manhood or how good his team is. 

Winner: Texas, 35-24

Rutgers at Pittsburgh (Upset Special Part Four)

This is the typical Wannstache trap game. 

Pitt is cruising and in control of its destiny in the Big East.  Rutgers, on the other hand, looks terrible, although they are “improving.”  But Pitt will find a way to crumble—at home, of course. 

Schiano looks like a proud dad after the game. 

Winner: Rutgers, 20-17

Georgia at LSU (Upset Special Part Five)

Okay, it’s not too much of an upset, since both teams are SEC powerhouses coming off solid wins—and LSU is at home. 

Georgia has now lost both starting offensive tackles, and LSU’s D-line is still sacking Stephen Garcia as I write this. 

Georgia hits a few long balls, but LSU wins the war up front and eventually wears down the Dawgs, pulling out a close one at home—and Harry Coleman will pick up yet another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.   

Winner: LSU, 28-27

Virginia Tech at FSU (Upset Special Part Six)

Again, not much of an upset, but FSU is ranked, at home, and at the top of the division, so technically it counts.

Too much good is happening in Tallahassee right now.  They need some of the good old disappointment that has treated them so well the last few seasons.

Tech bursts the Noles' bubble.

Winner: Virginia Tech, 27-24

Alabama at Tennessee

No upset here.  Tennessee’s 34-3 win from last week looks good on paper, but the box score tells the real story: The Vols still can’t move the ball against a decent defense. 

Alabama decides to play a few snaps in the second half of a terribly boring game. 

Winner: Alabama, 27-13

Penn State at Ohio State (Game of the Week and Upset Special Part Seven)

I’ll come clean: I hate the Big Ten.  But I really see this game turning out to be an Instant Classic. 

Pryor and Wells are clicking more and more each week and look to be peaking. Meanwhile, Penn State might have peaked too early. 

The Buckeyes’ D comes up big in the clutch. 

Winner, in a thriller: Ohio State, 31-30


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