Friday, October 28, 2011

College Football Picks: Week 9*

I didn't make any college football picks last week because the week before was disastrous (4-11) and picking college games has been a struggle for me all season (24-41-1). But, I'll persevere, and will finish the season. And maybe, just maybe, I'll get back to .500. I'm just glad I don't actually gamble. Although maybe I should pay someone to put bet against my picks. I could retire on the winnings.

TCU -13.5 vs. BYU
Mainstream Protestants vs. Mormons. I'll take the Protestants despite the 2 touchdown spread.

Michigan State +4 @ Nebraska
I believe in MSU. It's a shame that Boise State has a better shot at a national title bid even though the Spartans have beaten Wisconsin and play in a real conference.

Northwestern -8.5 @ Indiana
The Hoosiers have lost their last three games by 94 points.

Michigan -14 vs. Purdue
The Boilermakers are 4-3, but have yet to win a road game.

Syracuse +3 @ Louisville
SU have had a decent season and they just trounced WVU at home. Their only losses came to USC on the road, and an OT loss against Rutgers.

Arkansas -9 @ Vanderbilt
The Commodores are 4-3, but 1-3 in the conference. That one SEC win came against Ole Miss. Arkansas is not Ole Miss.

Maryland -7 vs. Boston College
This game will be an abomination to the sport. But BC has quit on the season.

Rutgers +7 vs. West Virginia
The Mountaineers are ranked almost by default. Rutgers is 4-0 at home.

Oklahoma -13 @ Kansas State
The Wildcats are undefeated, and at home, but OU typically rebounds well after their annual token loss to an inferior opponent.

Iowa -14.5 @ Minnesota
Iowa has struggled on the road, but Minnesota has struggled everywhere. The Gophers are one of the worst teams in a BCS conference.

Illinois +5.5 @ Penn State
PSU have won 7 games, but none of them very convincingly. They have a good defense, but can't score.

Georgia -3 vs. Florida (Jacksonville, FL)
The Gators have lost every game against decent opponents they've had this year.

Navy +21.5 @ Notre Dame
I'm not buying into the Irish, at least not for a 3 touchdown win.

Mississippi State -10 @ Kentucky
The Wildcats have 3 wins. Against Jacksonville State, Central Michigan, and Western Kentucky.

South Carolina -3.5 @ Tennessee
South Carolina's one loss came to Auburn. Tennessee hasn't been able to beat an SEC opponent.

Georgia Tech +4 vs. Clemson
This is a true test for the Tigers. If Tech gets their ground game going (321.1 yards per game), they can control the clock and the game.

Wisconsin -7 @ Ohio State
Yeah. Wisconsin is good, OSU isn't.

And if I go 17-0 with my picks, I'll be .500 on the year. Hooray!

It Isn't a Stanley Cup Hangover

The term "Stanley Cup Hangover" will get thrown around a lot today and I just don't think that the Bruins are suffering from one. Why? Because they didn't win the Cup in 2010, and they still had stretches like this last season. This "hangover" notion is an excuse. They're simply not playing 60 full minutes of good hockey, the offensive guys aren't providing offense, they're not taking care of the puck, and their Power Play sucks.

Sound familiar? It happened last season. A few times. Two stretches in November, another in December, a long and painful one in March, it even happened in the playoffs. Games 1 and 2 against Montreal, for instance. And these lulls were not preceded by any Cup hoisting or parades. This Bruins team sometimes doesn't put in 60 minutes of effort, they have streaky players (Horton), and they are very vulnerable to a well-executed forecheck.

It's the player's fault. They have to play better. They did so in the 1st period. They sustained possessions in Montreal's zone. Then Price made an unforced error and it was 1-0. But the 2nd period saw less pressure, the 3rd saw next to none. We also saw the Bruins making casual passes with the puck in the 3rd. That led to Montreal's game-winning goal.

And if not for Price's mistake, the Bruins get shut out. The offense isn't functioning. Somebody besides Seguin has to score. He and Peverley lead the team with 3. They have 6, the rest of the team combines for 14. The Flyers and Jets scored more than that in one game last night (Winnipeg won 9-8).

Where is David Krejci? He had a great defensive play in this game but have you noticed him at all on offense? He has 1 goal and 0 assists. He and Horton are dragging this team down. The Lucic-Kelly-Seguin line is working nicely, the Thornton line started to show more energy last night, and while Bergeron and Marchand aren't scoring, they're at least getting shots on goal. Bergeron has more shots (29) than Krejci (12) and Horton (13) combined.

There are no pure scorers on this team. This offense succeeds when they get 2nd and 3rd chance shots on goal. When they stay in the opponents' zone for prolonged periods. Last night they struggled just to enter the zone. And then after the 1st, they struggled to keep the puck in. Even with their abundant Power Play opportunities.

It's frustrating. We've seen what this team is capable of when they decide to show up. Right now we're seeing giveaways, we're seeing careless neutral zone passes, we're seeing a pair of top line forwards competing with Shawn Thornton in the Shots on Goal category (Thornton has 10).

Maybe the Bruins feel like they can wait to turn it on when it matters most. But 1/9 of the season is over and the Bruins are 29th in the NHL. And they've already played 1/6 of their home games. You need points to make the playoffs, usually around 95. You need more points to win a division and get some home playoff series (the B's were 10-3 in home playoff games, 6-6 on the road), usually around 105 points. The Bruins have 6 right now. 6 points in 8 games with no injuries to any key players.

You can't just wait until January to turn it up. What if you're still in 4th place and you lose Thomas for 3 months? How do you dig yourself out of a hole then?

It's starting to get me concerned.

They should be well motivated Saturday night in Montreal. It's not a must-win. It's a must-show-me-something-so-I-can-relax.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo