Take It To the Bank! Week 7 CFB

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By Paul Schmidt

Ahhh…4-0.  That sounds really nice.  I finally showed what I can do last week with a 4-0 week, and some easy-money lines in C-USA and the WAC.  Given my reliance on Central Michigan this season it was really nice to get a boost from some of the other smaller conferences…

This week’s lines are a smattering of weird…a little bit because of some rivalry games, like Texas-Oklahoma, and a little bit because teams like Michigan chose this week to take on an FCS school (Delaware State in the middle of the season??).  The latter might be because of the Big Ten season starting earlier, I know, but find an FBS opponent, guys, seriously. Failing that…I guess the Blessed Sisters of the Poor might be available…

As always, this week’s four games are below, with the lines being the ones featured at the Harrah’s Casinos in beautiful, sunny Las Vegas.  Which I miss.  Sniff.

Oklahoma (+3) at Texas (neutral site game)
So this game gets played in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas…which is in Texas…which leads me to wonder just how this could be viewed as a neutral site game.  I guess it is somewhere near equidistant from both campuses…but it is in Texas.  That’s like when Illinois plays in Chicago at the United Center and has the audacity to call it a neutral site game…it isn’t.  They’ve only lost twice there.  That sounds like hoomecourt advantage to me…

Either way, Texas is better than their ranking at this point.  The defense has been really impressive this season, even if Colt McCoy has looked a little…off.  He’s not playing BADLY…but he isn’t looking all that good either.  It’s pretty insulting, if you’re a Longhorn, that this line is on,y three points, because it isn’t like Sam Bradford looked great last week against Baylor…so what does all that mean??

It means Texas should be favored by way more than this…and they prove it on Saturday. Pick: Texas -3

Northwestern (+14.5) at Michigan State
Wait….what??  This is the same Michigan State team that dominated Illinois last week, sure…but EVERYONE has dominated Illinois.  That’s not unusual! 

What is known is that EVERYONE at skill positions for the  Spartans is at least dinged up. They’ll have at least two RB’s not playing with a third that will play injured…their backup QB hurt his throwing arm last week…and yet they are laying more than two TD’s??? 

The cavaet here, I suppose, is that Northwestern looked awful against Miami (OH) last week, but I really don’t think that will be an issue here.  Even if Willy and the Wildcats don’t win, they will keep it close. Pick: Northwestern +14.5

Miami (-14) at Central Florida
I’m a believer in Jacory Harris, and you should be too!  I also believe in Randy Shannon’s ability to coach, and get teams ready for games where they might get caught looking ahead.  This is a perfect example of a game like that for the ‘Canes.  Central Florida really isn’t any good, but they could keep it close if Miami plays with disinterest.

However, the ‘Canes haven’t done that yet this year. Though the win against Florida State looks less impressive, the Oklahoma win remains really legit.  The Georgia Tech win is looking better and better, and getting blown out in Blacksburg by Va. Tech isn’t the worst thing that could happen to you. More and more, they are looking like a team that could steal a BCS Title Game berth. 

Either way, I think this is a Miami team that remains focused on their goal of getting a BCS game themselves…that quest continues with a blowout on the road this week. Pick: Miami -14

Kansas -9 at Colorado
If the Northwestern line was the most perplexing of the week, this one, weirdly enough, made the most sense.  I knew that people would give Colorado too much love this week after playing Texas close. It’s like clockwork, this happens EVERY week — one bad team shows up for a week and then the next week gets a ton of action.

And make no mistake, Colorado is a really, really bad team.  They just might be the class of the crap in the Big 12. Now, Kansas may not be world beaters, but they are playing good solid football, and the offense is led by a QB in Todd Reesing that, though he doesn’t wow you with his arm, just doesn’t make mistakes.  That in itself should be enough to blow the Buffs out of the water, even on the road.  My, how the coaching stock of Dan Hawkins has fallen…Pick: Kansas -9

Last Week: 4-0
Season Record: 13-10-1

Colt McCoy Discusses Huge Rivalry Game Ahead

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By Paul M. Banks

Football is the most territorial game of all. No other sport comes anywhere near as close to resembling a war game as the gridiron does. It’s like an athletic version of the board game “Risk.” #3 Texas takes on #20 Oklahoma in the “Red River Shootout,” also known as the “Red River Rivalry” Saturday. And maybe the fact that it’s a border war, with a nickname including that dividing line that makes this particular feud so special.

“It’s a tremendous feeling, understanding the tradition, the neutral site, with fans split right down the middle, every year it plays a big role in the Big 12 South,” Texas QB and Heisman trophy candidate Colt McCoy said on conference call earlier this week.mccoybradford1

McCoy also answered a question about the acrimonious emotion between the teams as they await kickoff within the bowels of the Cotton Bowl.

“Our locker rooms are right beside each other, we share the tunnel coming out and the security does a good job holding us back from one another. It’s fun, it’s exciting,” McCoy said.

The game typically has conference or national significance. Since WWII, one or both of the two teams have been ranked among the top 25 in 60 of the last 65 games. Texas leads the all-time series 58–40–5, with a 45–36–4 edge in Dallas. Five of the last nine contests featured one of the participants in the BCS National Championship Game (2000, 2003–2005, and 2008), including national title winners Oklahoma in 2000 and by Texas in 2005. Four times during 2000–2004, a loss to Oklahoma kept Texas from playing in the Big 12 Championship Game. In 2005, the Dallas Morning News asked the 119 FBS football coaches to pick the top rivalry game in all of college football. The Texas–OU game ranked third, behind Ohio State-Michigan and Army-Navy.

Last year obviously brought a lot of controversy as Texas beat Oklahoma, but it was instead Oklahoma who had the opportunity to play in the BCS National title game (where they lost to Florida). The resulting controversy of the three way tie between Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech (who beat Texas towards the end of the season) in the Big 12 South Standings; where each team suffered one loss at the hands of the other, would be the cause for many fans, particularly Texas fans, to think they got screwed. It also further discredited the few remaining morons who claim we don’t badly need a playoff system. The Big 12 tie-breaker in this scenario was outsourced to the BCS (an organization founded by a SEC man). And the team with the highest BCS ranking would go on to play for the Big 12 Title. Oklahoma finished number one in the BCS, despite a number two ranking in the Associated Press Poll. Texas finished number three in all polls, rendering them ineligible to play in the conference title game.

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McCoy tried to keep the past behind him. “We’re a new team, we have a lot of new faces on our team…If we would have handled our business last year, it would have been different, but you can’t play the what-if game.”

For now Texas is undefeated, but they face a big test in a couple days from a team forecasted by most to compete for the national title this season. “We can’t turn the ball over, their front seven is really good and their secondary is playing well,” McCoy said before later admitting he learned the hard way that his team must run the table to get a chance to win it all. “That’s every year, and you can only focus on the things that you can control, and we don’t worry about anything outside of us.”

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Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy: Rival BFFs

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By Paul M. Banks

You can describe the relationship of Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy in many ways: frienemies, unlikely BFFs, forbidden bromance. But no matter how you describe the friendship between the Oklahoma and Texas QBs, it’s certainly an unlikely one. Bradford and McCoy, last year’s Heisman trophy winner and 1st runner-up, are starting quarterbacks on opposite sides of what may be college football’s fiercest rivalry. A rivalry so heated it has a cool nickname “Red River Shootout,” and must be played on a neutral site each year. The next edition commences this Saturday at 11AM CT. mccoybradford

“People outside of the game think it’s crazy that we can be friends, but he’s a great guy, we have a lot in common. Our friendship is one thing, this game is another,” Colt McCoy said on conference call this week. I considered asking McCoy a question about his unlikely friendship with Bradford, but he was getting plenty already. The sports media, ok ESPN…and maybe a few other outlets, have played this angle up so much that I’m half-expecting this week’s “College Gameday” pre-game show to include a segment on the two Big 12 QBs set to the “Guy Love” song from the television show “Scrubs.”

On the University of Texas conference call, Colt took questions about his playing ping-pong with Bradford, how often he communicates with him and through which specific communication medium. One guy took it way past the Rubicon of ridiculousness by asking whether he texted, Facebooked or used the good old-fashioned telephone to contact Bradford on the day he was injured early this season.

“He’s such a competitor and such a leader. I know how hard he’s worked to get back on the field. I know I texted him the night it happened, right when the season started and told him I was praying for him to get back…I just encouraged him, we play a physical sport and you’re going to get hit, but anytime you’re injured and not able to play, that’s a hard pill to swallow,” Colt said.

McCoy re-affirmed their relationship, “We’re friends off the field. He’s an awesome guy. we have a lot in common, I’m glad he’s back and healthy and ready to play again. He’s a solid guy.” But he also conveyed how he isn’t able to really talk with him all that much.

“It’s been tough since the season started. We’ve been really busy, football is our lives now,” he said.

Of course, having “sympathy for the devil”  is impossible in a rivalry where hatred for the opponent runs deeper on both sides than the river separating the two states, or is it? “I get a hard time from my teammates, they say I can’t believe you’re friends with this guy, but I got to know him through award shows, off-season stuff. That was a lot of fun.”

After this season, both senior QBs are expected to be take their friendship to the NFL, as both are projected first round draft picks.