This has been a terrific week on the site -- full of thoughtful fan participation and commentary. We encourage newcomers and veterans alike to join college football's smartest picks contest: The Obligatory Predictions Competition. First thing's first:
Week 8 Obligatory Results
FRANZ (a.k.a. Ohio State's Offense - no touchdowns, three field goals, just enough to win.)
|PATERNOSGRANDDAUGHTER (a.k.a. The 1995 regular season -- you know, the last time you could tie an opponent.)
|FILLER (a.k.a. The winner of OSU v. MSU - second best in the conference.)||8|
|ESTRADA (a.k.a. South Florida - still. You're looking more and more like Jim Leavitt every day.)
|BAMA HAWKEYE (a.k.a. Michigan turnovers - man, those Toledo boys are fast.)
Week 7 Franz v. Filler winner FRANZ
Franz 4, Filler 3. Believe it or not, although Franz was the ultimate winner of the First Annual Obligatory Predictions Competition, this is the first time he's been ahead of Filler on the weekly scoreboard. How is that possible?
Last year, Filler was ahead by six points (the equivalent of six weeks) heading into the bowl season (where the rules are slightly modified). By picking the winner and the spread of 29 of the first 31 bowl games Franz miraculously stormed back into contention, tying the weekly total heading into the BCS National Championship Game. Because both Franz and Filler picked Ohio State (by 6 and 7 points respectively) they were forced to design a tiebreaker: the total points scored.
Here too, things were close. It was LSU quarterback Matt Flynn's quick dish to Richard Dickson from five-yards out in the waning minutes of the Fourth Quarter that sealed the season for Franz. It was a bittersweet victory for the Buckeye.
Crystal Ball Call (pick of the week): No-one. Seriously guys, this was pathetic.
Hindsight is 20/20: Wisconsin by 3 (BAMA HAWKEYE). This one requires no explanation.
Graham asked me to give a quick refresher on the scoring:
- One (1) point is earned for a correctly picking the winning team.
- An additional two (2) points are earned for correctly identifying the winning spread by seven points or less.
- Two (2) points are awarded for the "upset pick" -- an upset being defined as predicting: 1. Any AP/BCS Top 25 ranked team to defeat any opponent of higher rank, which in fact does occur, or 2. Any non-ranked AP/BCS Top 25 team to defeat any ranked opponent, which in fact does occur.
- Two (2) more points are awarded for picking a perfect spread (i.e. The PATERNOSGRANDDAUGHTER Bonus)
1. PURDUE at NORTHWESTERN 12:00 p.m. EST, ESPN 2
FILLER predicts NORTHWESTERN by 8
The "Incomplete Pass" game. Purdue has been downgraded to an afterthought with one of the conferences worst offenses. This is a far cry from the scary, high efficiency offenses of Joe Tiller's past. On the Wildcat side of the ball, C.J. Bacher has proved himself to be inefficient in pressure situations – he leads the Big 10 in the interception category.
FRANZ predicts NORTHWESTERN by 10
Look, Purdue's offense sucks. (Tell us how you really feel, Jon) The real question here is whether or not their defense is improving in the wake of holding Ohio State's chariots to three field goals. Northwestern is on a mission after a disappointing showing against Michigan State. I say the Wildcats win easy, though C.J. Bacher needs to up that 58% completion percentage.
2. WISCONSIN at IOWA 12:00 p.m. EST, Big 10 Network
FILLER predicts iOWA by 13
The “Stop the Bleeding” game. Wisconsin decided that close games were boring and chose instead to get blown out by 40 against PSU. A QB change followed; can Sherer make a difference? Iowa brings its supercharged run game and a smashing defense…There is going to be a lot of helmet paint exchanged in this game.
FRANZ predicts WISCONSIN by 10
Iowa by 13? Come on Graham. I know Vegas has the Hawkeyes by 4, but the only line that matters is at scrimmage, and I'm simply not willing to treat Wisconsin like a leper. They've got perhaps the best stable of running backs in the conference -- and they'll need em' against an Iowa rushing defense that ranks second in the Big 10 allowing just 98.29 yards a game on the ground. But the Badgers also have a more than capable set of hands in tight end Travis Beckum. I say David Sherer gives the passing game the spark that's been lacking, and pulls Wisconsin back from the ledge.
3. No. 16 KANSAS at No. 4 OKLAHOMA 3:30 p.m. EST, ABC
FILLER predicts OKLAHOMA by 14
The "1 loss Wonders" game. Kansas is a solid team – but its struggle against a spread team (South Florida) showed me a blueprint for this game. Oklahoma will sit Sam Bradford back in the pocket to do his high percentage picking. Remember – just because No. 1 OK lost, doesn’t mean that anyone has stopped the offense yet.
FRANZ predicts OKLAHOMA by 17
No one doubts it: this Oklahoma team is 20 minutes short of being the best in the country. Here they'll circle the wagons against a Jayhawk team that won't be able to flap its wings fast enough in the face of the nation's sixth most powerful offense (averaging 522.5 yards and 47.2 points a game). Still, The Rivalry, Esq. is impressed by Kansas's bye-week rebirth of the run. Junior Jake Sharp looked, well, sharp in a 30-14 win over Colorado where he carried 31 times for a career-high 118 yards. Still, if the boys from Lawrence are smart they'll take to the skies a la Colt McCoy. You never know...
4. No. 12 OHIO STATE at No. 20 MICHIGAN STATE 3:30 p.m. EST, ABC
FILLER predicts MICHIGAN STATE by 3
The "Just Another Excuse for Spartans to Party" game. East Lansing will be rocking, with the leaves starting to fall on the Red Cedar and their hometown team playing a game that has an impact on the national level. Ohio State has a ton of defensive confidence, something you need when going up against the power running of the Spartans. This promises to be an ugly game. Key Unit: MSU’s linebackers. IF they can stop Beanie Wells running inside and Terrelle Pryor running outside, Sparty has a chance.
FRANZ predicts OSU by 3
I'm not gonna lie, I like your style Graham. But, I'm also risk adverse. Ohio State has won the last six times they've played Sparty, but pedigree will matter little in this blue collar smashup. Michigan State hasn't faced a D like the Bucks. Then again, it won't be unfamiliar to Marc Dantonio who coached Ohio State's Defense to a 2002 National Championship. I think this one comes down to two feet: on the kickers. Ohio State has demonstrated an inability to convert in the red zone. They'll need Ryan Pretorius and his golden laces to pick up the pieces. Michigan State's defense better step up too. They've allowed an average of 413 yards the last three games. If Ohio State's offense figures out which way is forward, they'll run the clock out on a damn good Spartan squad.
5. MICHIGAN at No. 3 PENN STATE 4:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
FILLER predicts PENN STATE by 20
The "Avoid a Massacre" game. Experts on ESPN say that PSU will blast the Wolverines by 30…and who’s to say they're being unrealistic? Penn State has a solid defense that has got more than enough stops this year to propel PSU to a top 5 ranking. Michigan has no offensive cohesion and has lacked the ability to put some of those top recruits in position to make plays.
FRANZ predicts PENN STATE by 14
Poor inglorious Wolverine bastards. I think they get a little mercy in Happy Valley when the elite chilling effect catches up with the Nittany Lions. What? You really thought they were going to beat everyone by 41?
6. No. 11 MISSOURI at No. 1 TEXAS 8:00 p.m. EST, ABC
FILLER predicts MISSOURI by 10
The "We’re #1…For Now" game. Texas’s short stint at No. 1 will be ended by Chase Daniel and the revamped Spread. Why? After Ok St showed exactly how to beat the spread (rush lineman inside, force Daniel to scramble and make mistakes), the Tigers are sure to make changes to defeat the nationals new top team.
FRANZ predicts TEXAS by 7
In a strange disconnection of heart and head I'm very much rooting for "the Zou" to go all Eye of the Tiger on the steers. That being said Missouri hasn't won in Austin since 1896. They'll ride the river of psychological advantage as the Longhorns attempt to get two pairs after a near perfect upset of No. 1 Oklahoma last week. The bad news: they're wearing the bullseye now. Texas won't hold em', but they will fold em' overpowering a mediocre Missouri defense. (Just don't tell my girlfriend, Missouri '01).
7. INDIANA at ILLINOIS 8:00 p.m. EST, Big Ten Network
FILLER predicts ILLINOIS by 6
The “Lowered Expectations” game. A lot of fans will have furrowed brows before this game…Indiana, with its leaky defense and lack of rushing offense, is attempting to do its best impression of the 2007 Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Hoosiers are giving up 37 points a game during Big 10 play…The Illini, although unable to find the key to last years success, should be able to score enough to overcome their propensity for missed blocks and mistakes.
FRANZ predicts ILLINOIS by 21
Juice and the Illini light this this one up in the wake of a showstopping loss to Minnesota. Williams is The Rivalry, Esq.'s No. 2 quarterback in the Big 10 for a reason, and he'll put it together for an easy win.