Welcome to the Addison Recorder‘s football Pick ‘Em column. Each week Alex and a guest writer will predict the outcome of the most intriguing games on the slate. He will try to be as expert as possible, but we make no guarantees for his guests.
This week he is joined by Rick Bush, friend from Bowling Green, Notre Dame fan, and fantasy football commissioner. Insert your baked beans jokes here.
#7 TCU at #20 West Virginia
Bean: I have just about no idea who wins this. TCU has been scoring in buckets. 83 points last weekend! That is nuts. But WVU has quietly gotten pretty solid on defense this year. They held Okie State to 10 points last weekend and Baylor to 27 the week before. And that’s with a Tony Gibson, the most reviled assistant coach in Michigan history, as their Defensive Coordinator. (As an aside, yes, this makes me want to vomit everywhere.) So…I guess I defer to the home team here. Mountaineers by 10.
Rick: #7? We’re all of a sudden dropping the AP poll that we’ve revered for years and jumping ship at the first opportunity? I’ve seen you stick to your fantasy roster through 8 weeks, and I gotta say, I’d be jumping ship there well before the AP poll goes by the wayside… Regardless of the grossly generous ranking, TCU’s a good team and puts up 28 points before the West Virginia faithful can get through the alphabet… something like late 3rd quarter. TCU by 8
#3 Auburn at #4 Ole Miss
Bean: another strength against strength match-up! Auburn’s offense remains a buzzsaw, even with that stumble against Miss State a few weeks ago. Their spread running game is a thing of insane beauty. Yes, this is me being jealous. On the other hand, Ole Miss has bought themselves a very fine defense. Yes, bought. They semi-openly pay recruits under the table to accrue more talent than would otherwise wind up in Oxford. I want college players paid, but not like that. Tigers by 12.
Rick: At least after this game, we should be able to rule out some of the talk of 3 SEC teams in the final four (fall edition)… right? No, probably not. I can’t really argue Bean’s analysis on this one; Auburn’s run game means that I think the game will be anti-climactic, especially since Ole Miss lost their standout linebacker to a broken ankle against LSU. Does anyone know if they put a marketing director on the Selection Committee? Somehow #3 vs #4 sounds much more dramatic than #4 vs #7 with essentially the same result. Tigers by 15
#17 Utah at #14 Arizona State
Bean: A late-night showdown in the desert! (Also, shout-out to Rick’s wife Aimee, she’s the only ASU alum I know.) I don’t think either of these teams are particularly spectacular, but the winner of this game will be on the road to a showdown with Arizona for the Pac-12 South title. Since I still think the Pac-12 is the best conference in football this season, that means a lot. The game itself should be a close one, but I have watched enough late night games from Tempe not to bet against the home team. Sun Devils by 6.
Rick: About the only connection that I ever had to the ASU football team was that I used to hear the scoring cannon go off in the middle of performances at a theatre I was working at about a block away. Oh, and I got a boot put on my car there once. Regardless of my propensity to be annoyed by the team, it’s kinda fun to see them doing well, and fun to watch while they do it. I may even stay up for this one, as I think it’ll be the best college game on the list. The script will play out similar to last year with ASU needing to come back in the 4th with a late TD to take their 11th straight from the Utes and #15 ASU wins by 3.
#10 Notre Dame at Navy
Bean: A pick for Rick, who is a Domer. This should be an easy win for an Irish squad that is still gunning for a playoff berth despite their controversial loss to Florida State two weeks ago. Their schedule gets decidedly rougher over the last month of the season, so they should put this one out of reach early and rest up. I think they will, but let’s not forget that the Midshipmen have pulled off this upset 3 times since 2007. It could happen. Damned Irish by 24.
Rick: Call me a traditionalist if you like, but most of my hatred for the new iteration of the selection committee doesn’t come from the fact that the NCAA was elitist enough to begin with (Being a Golden Domer, I actually DO think that CFB is a God given right, though certainly not at $250/ticket), but mostly that ND has harbored enough hate to seep into a system which clearly has a small enough sample size that such hate can significantly cloud judgment. I haven’t seen such egregiously awful decision making since being in a draft with Bean. If it makes you feel any better, that rant was longer than this game will be close. Notre Dame by 17
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
Bean: Ah, the Manning-Brady Derby. Always a great match-up, especially since it often feels so much like a playoff game. Which means that Manning Derp beckons. The Broncos have looked like the best team in the NFL this season, but the Pats have put it together over the past month themselves. No more QB controversies in New England until Brady hangs up his cleats. So that means there will be no light on the SunSphere and Touchdown Tom shan’t be counted out. Patriots by 11.
Rick: This matchup might be the most purely fun game on this list. For the love of everything, I hope this turns into a 45-52 high flying affair, and after the repeated success of the up-tempo offense for the Pats, I can’t see Manning not getting caught up in it and killing 60% of the run plays called and replacing them for no reason other than putting on a show. Pull up a chair, grab some popcorn and a beverage of choice, bet the over, and enjoy. After 3TDs are scored in the last 4 minutes of the game, Broncos by 2