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The Georgia Bullddogs' dynamic duo should be on NFL rosters at some point in the next 72 hours. Which will be the better pro? That depends on what kind of running back you're looking for.

11 Nov 2005

Seventh Day Adventure: Form 1040

Russell: Well Vin, I was coming off my first winning week of the season last week when I arrived in Las Vegas. I started the day 6-0 Saturday before dropping the last two. Want to guess how much money I made?

Vinny: A couple hundred bucks?

Russell: Oh, I'm sorry. We have some nice parting gifts for you. No, that total would be $0, which tells you just how much confidence I have in my own ability. Sports wagers did nothing for me out there -- I lost both my college bets and went 1-2 on the NFL. I did manage to leave with a tidy little profit, however, courtesy of the blackjack tables.

Vinny: Plus, isn't the cost of your Vegas trip a tax write-off?

Russell: Damn you, Vin. If one of our six regular readers is an IRS auditor, I'm holding you personally responsible. But yes, I did manage to file a dateline LAS VEGAS piece for Monday's New York Sun, so I'm saving my receipts.

Vinny: You're my hero ... unless you go to jail, in which case, you're setting a terrible example for all the kids out there.

Northwestern (+19) at #8 Ohio State, 12 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: This is more than a tune-up for next week's trip to the Big House for Ohio State, which must be careful to avoid looking past the pesky Wildcats.

Vinny: I left Northwestern for dead against Iowa late in the fourth quarter last week, but then so did Iowa. The Wildcats rallied for two touchdowns in the last three minutes, as the Hawkeyes failed to hold a late lead once again.

Russell: The Troy Smith-led Ohio State offense is peaking at the right time. The Buckeyes have scored 40 points in three straight games, something they haven't done in 10 years, and now get to face the porous Northwestern defense. Smith could be in for a big day.

Vinny: Anyone who plays against the Wildcats defense is usually in for a big day. Northwestern has yielded over 900 yards in its last two games. Sometimes it seems like linebacker Tim McGarigle is by himself out there.

Russell: Randy Walker has done one of his best coaching jobs with this Northwestern team. The Wildcats don't overwhelm you with any aspect of their play, but their spread-option is tricky to defend and they live to play in close games. The defense may be awful, but I think the offense might be able to put a few points up on the board, even at the 'shoe. This is a tough call, but I'll take the points.

Vinny: I think Northwestern will be dispatched of fairly quickly in the Snakepit. The Buckeyes cover easily. Sweatervest Nation should be able to turn its attention to the north by halftime.

#13 Florida (-4) at South Carolina, 12:30 p.m. ET, JP

Russell: You just know Steve Spurrier is licking his chops this week, waiting for his shot at Florida, on his home field. Spurrier is back in his element in college, and somehow has South Carolina bowl eligible. He's already had one signature win this year, at Tennessee, and you know this is the one he really wants to add to the ledger.

Vinny: The Vols are having their worst year in recent memory, but that doesn't matter to South Carolina fans. Part of the credit for the Gamecocks' successful season should go to Lou Holtz. Yes, he recruited almost all of these players, who probably underperformed under his watch. But more importantly, he lined up the ol' Ball Coach as his replacement.

Russell: I know that our buddy GatorGriff is sweating this one out. He even tried to run the Jedi mind trick on us in an effort to get us to pick South Carolina. I would expect Spurrier to empty the playbook as he tries to come up with a winning formula for the 'Cocks (I mean, uh, his team). I think the Fear of the Visor is reflected in the line, which looks a little low to me when you compare the talent on the two rosters, even with all the injuries in the Florida secondary.

Vinny: Griff points out that Florida's offense has sputtered on the road against everybody but Kentucky. But their other two road games were against Alabama and LSU -- very good defenses. South Carolina's defense isn't awful, but it's not in the same class as the Tide or the Tigers.

Russell: This game kicks off a crazy day in the SEC, in which each result can change what's at stake in the Auburn-Georgia game Saturday night. If Florida loses, Georgia wins the SEC East before it even takes the field. It won't happen. Florida has too much talent, and I think South Carolina might fall prey to the hype machine at home. The Gators win it (and cover) going away.

Vinny: Thanks for playing Calvin Schiraldi to my Billy Buckner. Now all the pressure is on me, at least as far as Florida fans are concerned. Well, Spurrier has changed the mindset at South Carolina, but he can't change his roster overnight. Even with all the injuries, I think the Gators will outclass the Gamecocks. (Sorry Griff.)

#1 USC (-19) at California, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: This one comes with a ready-made storyline as Cal was both the last team to beat USC (in September, 2003) and also the club that came the closest to derailing Pete Carroll's juggernaut last year.

Vinny: I still think Reggie Bush will be caught by Vince Young in the Heisman race before December. But then, it's late and they're cleaning the furniture in the offices next door -- I'm blaming the fumes from the wood polish. It's making me lightheaded ... and hungry. It's like I'm back in college.

Russell: Are you playing GTR on the office CD player, too? The formula for Cal's near-upset last year was surgical passing from current Green Bay Packers backup Aaron Rodgers, but it's hard to imaging Jeff Tedford getting that kind of performance from Joe Ayoob and his case of scatter-arm disease.

Vinny: Hackett to bits, baby! We'll see if Cal, coming off a tough overtime loss in Eugene, can be more than a bump in the road for USC this time. Marshawn Lynch ripped Oregon's defense for 197 rushing yards last week, but Ayoob's four turnovers in the inclement weather doomed Cal's chances.

Russell: USC has been on absolute cruise control since the escape from South Bend, demolishing three opponents by an average count of 52-19. I know Cal has had their number (as much as anyone can when you win 41 of 42 games), but I don't see this one being close. I think Leinart, Bush and friends will jump all over the Bears early. 19 points? Heck, that's practically a pick-'em for SC these days. I like USC.

Vinny: The USC defense is plenty young right now (five sophomores should be starting this week due to injuries) but I think they'll slow Lynch and Justin Forsett down just fine. The Trojans run roughshod over the Bears. I'll even make it my Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week.

Iowa (+2.5) at #16 Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: Emotions will be running high as Barry Alvarez leads the Badgers onto the Camp Randall field for the final time. Before Alvarez, Wisconsin was a laughingstock; with him at the helm, the Badgers have won three Rose Bowls and been a constant presence in the Big Ten title mix.

Vinny: Wisconsin's offensive line came apart like a cheap suit against Penn State last week. After a while, it looked like John Stocco and Brian Calhoun were the only guys still competing on offense for the Badgers.

Russell: Iowa has been one of the nation's most disappointing teams this season after beginning the year as a chic pick to win the Big Ten. And yes, I really just wanted to use the word "chic" in my comments. The latest letdown was the late collapse at Northwestern last week.

Vinny: I don't expect Iowa's defensive front to shut down Calhoun or to mount the kind of pressure that Penn State applied to Stocco last week. I like the Badgers to bounce back for Barry here.

Russell: Alvarez would like to wash the taste of last week's loss out of his mouth with a win over Iowa, which would at least keep Wisconsin's hopes of sharing the Big Ten title alive for another week. Iowa will see plenty of Calhoun. Linebackers Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge will prevent him from having a huge day, but I think emotion carries Wisconsin to the win by at least a touchdown.

#7 LSU (-3) at #3 Alabama, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Russell: Well if undefeated Alabama wonders if anyone truly respects its accomplishments this season, the answer can be found in the point spread for this one. The Tide are field goal underdogs -- at home, no less -- to a wildly inconsistent, albeit very talented, LSU team.

Vinny: Seriously. Some people are calling Alabama the worst 9-0 team they can ever remember. Ouch. What about Tulane in 1998? OK, maybe they mean the worst major conference undefeated team at this point of the season. Still, it's pretty harsh.

Russell: With Alabama needing to impress the human voters to have a chance to move up to No. 2 in the BCS, the Tide might be tempted to fall into the trap of trying to blow out LSU. Mike Shula might want to remind his kids exactly how well that strategy worked out for Virginia Tech against Miami last week.

Vinny: I don't see Alabama falling into that trap -- they know what their identity is (first and foremost, their defense) at this point of the season. But now the Tide has suffered another key injury, this time to center J.B. Closner, a three-year starter. I doubt this will be felt as much as the loss of Tyrone Prothro, but we'll see if the offensive line can still pave the way for Kenneth Darby.

Russell: The defenses should dominate this one. Alabama leads the nation in fewest points allowed, and LSU has been awful stingy in putting together a six-game winning streak. But stats suggest that LSU could gain an average of 10-15 yards on each exchange of punts thanks to its advantages in the punting and return games. If -- and this is a big if -- JaMarcus Russell can take care of the football, LSU wins it going away. I like the Tigers.

Vinny: An undefeated home dog at this point of the season? Too good for me to pass up. I'll take the Tide and the field goal.

#18 Colorado (-2.5) at Iowa State, 7 p.m. ET, FSN

Russell: Don't look now, but Team Turmoil of a couple years ago -- Colorado -- is one win away from its second straight Big XII North title and fourth in the past five years. I think it's a miracle that Gary Barnett held onto his job at Colorado, but the man can coach. With the hits that Colorado's recruiting has taken thanks to all the sensational scandals, you have to be impressed that Barnett continues to churn out decent teams.

Vinny: Russ, are you ready to start the New Jersey Chapter of the Gary Barnett fan club?

Russell: Who am I kidding? I can't stand Barnett. I think he's a two-faced egomaniac, and I think it's a disgrace that he still has a job as a Division I-A head coach. That said, he has the Buffs playing well coming into this one. The same is true of Dan McCarney's Cyclones club, which has won three straight.

Vinny: All three of those Iowa State victories were routs, with quarterback Brett Meyer having his way. We'll see how well he can attack Colorado's mediocre pass defense. The Buffs should be able to handle Cyclones running back Stevie Hicks.

Russell: Colorado certainly has no fear of taking on Iowa State in Ames, where they've won 11 straight meetings. Make it 12. Colorado is the pick.

Vinny: Agreed. The Buffs cruise to victory.

Troy (+3) at Arkansas Sate, 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Russell: The Regional Special this week takes us to the Sun Belt Conference for an elimination showdown between the Troy Trojans and the Arkansas State Indians in Indians Stadium. Yes, that all sounds very big time to me, too.

Vinny: Arkansas State is coming off a 45-7 shellacking at the hands of Middle Tennessee State. And that followed a 3-0 win over Florida Atlantic in their previous outing. Points are hard to come by for the Tribe (can I say that?) these days.

Russell: The loser is out of the running for the Sun Belt title and the berth in the New Orleans Bowl, which will be played somewhere other than New Orleans this year.

Vinny: Troy receiver Eugene Hampton leads the conference in receiving yards (520) despite junior quarterback Carl Meadows's struggles. Meadows is completing only 45.7 percent of his passes and has thrown 10 picks to only 6 touchdowns.

Russell: This is Troy's 10th game and seventh on the road. In other words, the Trojans are a mercenary squad, the college football equivalent of one of those "professional stepping stones" in boxing, like the legendary Mouse Strauss. Too bad for the Trojans, they're 1-5 away from home, while Arkansas State is 4-0 at home. Antonio Warren will run for a couple of scores as ASU wins easily.

Vinny: I believe the boxing terminology you're looking for (and maybe my favorite in all of sports) is "tomato can." I went to high school in a town named Troy (former home of the world's cheapest pizza), so give me the Trojans.

#20 Auburn (+3) at #9 Georgia, 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: By the time this game kicks off, Auburn will know if it still has a shot at the SEC West title (if Alabama beats LSU, Auburn faces 'Bama for a spot in the SEC title game next Saturday) and Georgia will know if it has already won the SEC East (if South Carolina upsets Florida). Got all that?

Vinny: What was the middle part?

Russell: I'm sure the coaches will do what they can to keep the players from finding out the early results, but the players always know. I'm banking on the fact that Georgia will still need to win this one in order to clinch the East. Thankfully for the 'Dawgs, D.J. Shockley will be back at quarterback after missing the Florida loss two weeks ago with an injured knee.

Vinny: The Bulldogs also return senior defensive linemen Gerald Anderson and Kedric Golston to action. Mark Richt says this is the healthiest his team has been all season. Golston is great at plugging up the middle against the run.

Russell: Auburn is a tough team to get a read on. They haven't beaten anything even resembling a good team, so you don't want to put a lot of weight behind their statistics. The Tigers have done a good job of running the ball in recent weeks to protect quarterback Brandon Cox, but it'll be tougher sledding against a now-healthy Georgia defense. I think both the early results will work against Auburn and Georgia rolls. I'm making this my Fred Edelstein lock.

Vinny: Coming into the season, I wasn't sold on Shockley. But he's made a believer out of me this year, and it's too bad he couldn't play against the Gators. Between the hedges, at night, and with a healthy team, I like the 'Dawgs to cover.

The Picks
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" in bold)
Game Vinny says Russell says
Northwestern (+19) at #8 Ohio State Ohio State Northwestern
#13 Florida (-4) at South Carolina Florida Florida
#1 USC (-19) at California USC USC
Iowa (+2.5) at #16 Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin
#7 LSU (-3) at #3 Alabama Alabama LSU
#18 Colorado (-2.5) at Iowa State Colorado Colorado
Troy (+3) at Arkansas Sate Troy Arkansas State
#20 Auburn (+3) at #9 Georgia Georgia Georgia
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
  Last Week Season Total
Vinny 3-5 (0-1) 32-44-3 (3-7)
Russell 6-2 (1-0) 29-47-3 (6-4)

Posted by: on 11 Nov 2005

63 comments, Last at 14 Nov 2005, 11:09pm by Michael David Smith


by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 8:15pm



by Joey (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 8:20pm

I can't imagine the Big XII north being any weaker than it is this year. I second Russell's opinion on Gary Barnett. But, CU fans love the guy. Partly because he's kept them winning through adversity and partly because he dates back to the National Championship days of Bill McCartney--another guy they love who in reality makes Gary Barnett look like a saint.

by Tim Kirk (York, UK) (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 8:29pm

Shouldn't someone be complaining that Atlanta (or even perhaps Denver) aren't ranked _at all_?

by Clod (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 9:18pm

"who in reality makes Gary Barnett look like a saint"

How so?

by Maltodextrin (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 9:24pm

Here's an interesting article about ranking college teams. Some physicists at U. Michigan came up with their own system.

Science News Online - Math Trek: Ranking College Football Teams

by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 9:39pm

Clod, this is from McCartney's Wikipedia entry:

McCartney is no stranger to controversy, either. Aside from the previously mentioned spats involving his hiring at SMU and the Fifth Down imbroglio, McCartney has been blasted for his right-wing stands on abortion and homosexuality. During his magical 1989 season, McCartney spoke to a pro-life group just two days before the Nebraska game. He also drew a reprimand from University of Colorado President Judith Albino when he made disparaging remarks about gays while wearing a university sweater. His final controversy as a head coach came when just hours before coaching his final regular season game in 1994, he confessed to his wife that he had had an extramarital affair. Lyndi McCartney has suffered from depression and bulimia, and wrote in her autobiography that Bill was more concerned with football and the Promise Keepers than with being a supportive husband. And yet another controversy erupted when his daughter became pregnant yet again by one of his players, Shannon Clavelle, and gave birth.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 9:40pm

Nice A Fish Called Wanda reference in your Georgia-Auburn section there, Vinny. The irony is that the SEC takes this all seriously as Otto.

Now complete the line:
"The London Underground is NOT political movement. Aristotle was NOT a Belgian. And the central tent of Buddhism is NOT..."

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 9:41pm

I thought the fathering player at CU was the late Sal Aunese?

by Vinny (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 9:54pm

"....every man for himself." Still Kevin Kline's best work if you ask me.

Tom K - I believe both Aunese and Clavelle fathered children with McCartney's daughter.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 10:16pm

Maltodextrin: That method is similar (though the actual ranking is different) to tunesmith's beatpaths system for the NFL.

If you take a look at my site (linked on my name) you can see the same kind of beatpath graph for both the Pac-10 and the Big Ten merged.

I'm not entirely convinced the UM method isn't essentially identical to a maximum likelihood method, though. All they do is create a set of graphs, and then tune a variable to determine the fewest number of upsets. Maximum likelihood methods are used by Sagarin, Massey, Wolfe, etc.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 10:53pm

Pat - Kudos on the new blog site. Looks great (and thanks for the plug!).

by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 11:05pm

"I thought the fathering player at CU was the late Sal Aunese"

Well, she kind of got around on the CU team. This is from the Wikipedia entry, too:

In the fall of 1988, McCartney's only daughter, Kristen, became pregnant. After several of the Colorado football players with whom she had been sexually active took paternity tests, the child was determined to be Sal's.

by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 2:31am

I'm just thanking my lucky stars you didn't do any Pac-10 games after the USC/Cal game. I'm still sweating bullets from last week.

As for ranking teams, I've said it before and I'll say it again, Democracy just doesn't work. We need one person, and only one person, to be the foremost expert and let us all know who the best teams in the land are. That will surely end all controversy.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 11:50am

Jim Donnan's upset of the week this week was LSU over Alabama. I have now seen Jim Donnan on Cold Pizza twice, and both times he has picked a favorite as his upset of the week. Does he ever actually pick an underdog? What is the point of this feature? My upset of the week is Texas over Kansas.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 12:05pm

I don't think enough can be written or said about the job Barry Alvarez did at Wisconsin. Dave McClain had briefly restored some degree of respectability at Wisconsin in the mid-80's but did unexpectedly of a heart attack. The defensive coordinatory, Jim Hilles, took over the program and did poorly. Things went from bad to worse when the Badgers hired Don Morton from North Dakota St. Morton had written a book promoting the Veer Offense which he attempted to implement in the Big Ten. Only Morton failed to account for minor things like speed and strength and the UW football team averaged 2 wins a season under Morton. It was an accomplishment for UW to garner first downs(!) against the better clubs in the conference. Wisconsin had truly become a laughingstock.

And in comes Alvarez. Even using players recruited by a bad coach with no understanding of what it took to win in a major conference you could see the difference. For one, they played hard from kickoff to the final gun. The other thing you noticed is that they played very physical ball. What folks fail to understand or appreciate is that while football IS a physical game there are a LOT of players just leaning against one another. The Badgers HIT people.

Most of you know the rest of the story. Alvarez won Big Ten championships at a school that hadn't sniffed a title in several decades. He produced All-Americans and eventually a Heisman Trophy winner.

And he did it by playing FOOTBALL. What I will miss about Barry Alvarez is that his teams blocked, tackled, and did it with an edge. Wisconsin fans came to bemoan Wisconsin's predictability on offense as his best teams gameplan involved about six plays: stretch run sweep, quick hit up the middle, option (perfected by Bollinger and Samuel as QBs), fake pitch roll and throw to the TE, play-action square in to the WR, play-action throw deep down the middle. Only in recent years have such things as the screen pass come to Wisconsin.

And Alvarez paid attention to all the elements of the game. His best teams didn't turn the ball over. They didn't commit penalties. They didn't give up big plays. They had good special teams.

This current squad is possibly his best coaching job at Wisconsin. As many of you likely noticed, the defense is dreadful. But somehow thanks to the offense and special teams Wisconsin can be playing on Jan. 1 with a win today. (UW fans should wonder about Barry's choice of having his D-coordinator become the new head coach this season as this squad is still making the same dumb mistakes they made in Week one.)

Barry, you will be missed.

by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 3:24pm

Less than 5:00 minutes into the Fla-S.C. game, the Russ/Vin curse is in full effect.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 5:38pm

NFCF - Helluva tribute to Barry.

Griff - sorry man.

MDS - Jim Donnan says he likes Sharapova and Davenport in the WTA championships.

by Paul (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 5:44pm

And South Carolina wins on the 12 men on the field penalty by Florida (their 11 of the game) Russell/Vinny, where should Spurrier send the check?

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 5:52pm

whooda thunk 2 Florida teams would come into the state of South Carolina and both get waxed

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 6:50pm

I hate Notre Dame-Navy. Did anyone watch the Notre Dame o-line against the Navy d-line? It wasn't like men against boys, it was like World's Strongest Man participants against girls. What's the point? The talent gap is absurd.

I hate the way the officials decide when to use replay. USC-Cal, USC receiver catches a pass in the end zone near the sideline. One official signals touchdown, one signals incomplete. Wouldn't that be a good example of a time to use replay? It turned out that after they consulted, they made the right decision in ruling it incomplete, but what the hell was the one official doing ruling touchdown if he could be persuaded without using replay?

I hate the Illinois football program. Just drop down to I-AA already. They might be able to go 6-5 if they did that.

It's funny that this is the worst record Florida State has ever had in the ACC -- and they still have a good chance of winning the ACC championship.

by LTA (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 7:14pm

Joe Ayoob - 3/9, 34 yards, 2 int. Aaron Rodgers he ain't.

by LTA (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 7:15pm

To pile on to my own Ayoob comment: I believe that at one point he had as many int as completed passes. Apparently Tedford isn't a qb miracle worker.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 7:59pm

Impressive drive by LSU.

Switched over to ESPN to see a late hit call on the Badgers and hear Chris Spielman say,"I don't know if Barry Alvarez is pissed, I mean upset..."

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 8:05pm

Switched over to ESPN to see a late hit call on the Badgers and hear Chris Spielman say,�I don’t know if Barry Alvarez is pissed, I mean upset…�

Alvarez should be pissed/upset becuz he's gonna be the next victim of the Vinnie/Russell curse

by admin :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 8:16pm

I just have to say that I start laughing everytime Alabama punts.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 8:28pm

I went to make picks here yesterday, but the column wasn't up yet. There were a few games I liked, but my pool is limited now that the early game are long over.

UCLA (-3)
BC (-6)
Oregon State (-7)

by JonL (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 8:33pm

Boy, it's too bad Spurrier had so many fond memories of Florida that he didn't want to beat them.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 8:40pm

Why is Iowa still running a play up two scores with a minute to go? I don't think that fumble is going to cost them the game, but it seems like an unnecessary risk. (Note: Not a second guess. I said it before the fumble.)

by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 8:47pm

ESPN's Steve levy now at QB for Cal.

Iowa is going to pull the upset. Their defense really stepped up today.

Chris Spielman (who I really do like as an analyst) on Iowa winning the Heartland Trophy: "Kirk Ferentz grabbing the bull by the horn. Literally."

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 8:57pm

Verne Lundquist: LSU hasn't been in a battle of Top 5 teams since 1959.

Michael David Smith: Really? I guess I just had a really bad dream that LSU met Oklahoma in a Sugar Bowl national championship game that unfortunately excluded the best team in the country.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 9:01pm

An Alabama offensive lineman just had a blatant hold in the end zone right in front of the referee, who reached into his pocket, then didn't pull out the flag. A hold in the end zone is a safety, which essentially would have ended the game. What a horrible non-call.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 9:19pm

The announcers just mentioned that the best scoring defenses in the country are in the SEC. And that may be true, but what I've seen in the SEC more this year than great defense, is cover-your-eyes-bad offense.

Alabama had 4 dropped passes before halftime. There have been probably a dozen badly overthrown passes between the two teams. Yes, both teams have good defensive fronts. But that doesn't excuse simply poor play by open receivers, lousy running by the backs, etc.


by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 9:31pm

Miracle of miracles. USC covered the spread, despite being double-picked and (single) Edelsteined.


by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 9:39pm

Now that Alabama has lost...someone please beat Texas and USC!

The BCS in its present format must not survive!

by seven year lion (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 10:05pm

MDS, earlier they were talking about meetups of top 5 teams "during the regular season". So Verne's comment may not have been particularly relevant or meaningful, but it was "correct" within the constructs they had established.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 10:35pm

After Iowa State beats Colorado, Russell and Vinny will be a perfect 0-3 on favorites they agree on. All is right in the world once again.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 10:37pm

T - Agreed on the poor play of the receivers generally in that game, but I thought both Darby and Vincent ran well, as usual. And Croyle is a pretty good QB but just had no time to throw today. If Brooks Bollinger can play in the NFL, so can Croyle. JaMarcus Russell is also getting better (his winning TD throw was sick).

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 10:37pm

All I ask for those that rip the record is to please check the math. Sid, you might want to look at that USC-Cal result again.

MDS -- I was screaming the same thing about that non-holding call, though on replay, the hold happened about the 2 and carried into the end zone, so it's unlikely to have resulted in a safety even if called.

by Dave Glass (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 11:36pm

MDS: re: holding....

I'm a high school ref, and I was SHOCKED at that play. I even tivoed it for my fiancee and my son TWICE because I couldnt believe he let it go. I know WHY he let it go, as you say he reached for the flag..but then I'm 99.9% sure his thought was "10-10 game, if I flag this its a safety, I dont want to let this call decide the game". Well, thats ALWAYS terrible reasoning, only by NOT calling legit penalties a doea a ref influence the game. We get paid to enforce the rules, that was holding, plain and simple..not only did he hook him, he tackled him after he was beaten. I almost always defend officials, its a tough job, but that one was blatant.

by LTA (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 12:15am

A week after routing UCLA 52-14, Arizona was clobbered by Washington, 14-38. That's right, Washington! The team that came in with a 1-7 record, the only win against Idaho. The team that had a 14 game Pac-10 losing streak going into the game. Talk about the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.

by LTA (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 12:21am

#40: Of course, I forgot to add that the team that really has to be embarassed by all this is UCLA.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 12:35am

Auburn up 21-20, Georgia scores, decides to go for two. Makes sense.

They line up, and they don't even notice the play clock expiring. No frantic attempts to snap the ball, no "just after the flag" timeout calls. 5 yard penalty, and suddenly it's time to go for 1.

And on the 1-point try, they get another delay of game penalty (this time with a frantic just-after-the-flag timeout call).

What's with the poor game management today? The illegal participation penalty on Florida deciding the game, etc.


by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 12:40am

1-20-AUB 7 (12:07) Brandon Cox passed to Devin Aromashodu for 9 yards.
2-11-AUB 16 (12:07) Kenny Irons rushed for 1 yard.
1-10-AUB 17 (11:40) Kenny Irons rushed for 8 yards.
2-2-AUB 25 (11:02) Kenny Irons rushed for no gain.


by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 12:47am

Huge fumble by Irons, and this game is over. Georgia will win.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 12:48am

Whoops. What was I saying? Georgia fumbled right back to Auburn, and Auburn scored. I got confused there.

by Michael David Smith :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 12:49am

If I didn't know better I'd think these fans at Alabama and Georgia have seemed pretty intense today. Fortunately, I read Peter King this week, so I know the only truly intense fans are the ones in the Northeast.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 1:16am

Well, well.

Georgia up, 30-28. Auburn faces 4th-and-10-and-the-game from their own 35.

And proceeds to throw a 65-yard touchdown pass. Well, almost. The ball was punched out at the 3, and since it was 4th down, only the player with the ball can recover the fumble in the end zone. He did not, so it's placed on the 3.

Still pretty good. In fact, Auburn is happily running out the clock - a field goal puts them ahead, and the clock is now a minute less than it would have been otherwise.

What a weird game.


by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 1:45am

I was 8-7 going into this week.

If anyone is curious, the other games I liked going into this week were Oklahoma State (+23.5) and Washington State (+whatever. Can't remember what the line was when I saw it)

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 2:16am

#13 Florida (-4) at South Carolina Vinny: Florida Russell:Florida
Result: South Carolina by 8

Iowa (+2.5) at #16 Wisconsin
Vinny: Wisconsin Russell: Wisconsin
Result: Iowa by 10

#18 Colorado (-2.5) at Iowa State Vinny: Colorado Russell: Colorado
Result: Iowa State by 14

#20 Auburn (+3) at #9 Georgia
Vinny: Georgia Russell: Georgia
Result: Auburn by 1


by Sam (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 6:47am

So what's the deal with like half the commenters constantly ripping Vinny and Russell? I'm new to Football Outsiders, so I don't have a lot of context. But from what I've seen, it seems a little unwarranted. Is this some sort of Football Outsiders inside humor (did you see what I did there with "Outsiders" and "inside")?

by Russell Levine :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 8:51am

Re: 50 -- It's all about the record, Sam. All year, every time we both picked a team, that almost always guaranteed a win for the other side.

Re: 48 -- I had Miami and the points over Nebraska in the 1984 Orange Bowl, if anyone's interested. And I loved the Jets in Super Bowl III.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 10:00am


It's mostly good-natured making fun of the "curse" power that Seventh Day Adventure seems to have this year (and somewhat last year, but nothing compared to now).

If you look only at the games where Russell and Vinny both chose the same outcome (they both chose Florida-4 over South Carolina, for example), and compile the results from the entire season on only those games, the two of them are like 11-30-2 or something (I don't have it in front of me, could be off by a game or three). Whatever it is, it's stunning. Teams, especially favorites, that seem like easy bets have, more often than not, gone down in flames - not just not covering the spread, but losing. If you headed to Vegas and placed a -$110 wager on every game they've agreed on, but always went against their choice, you'd be something like $2k in the black right now - that's amazing.

That's what people mean when they talk about the "curse" or sending Russell and Vinny a check for their services (in fact, R&V joked about this in an earlier column, giving a price list in order to pick in favor of a team you hate).

That's what my first post in the thread "$%$#^&@$%" was referring to, actually - I'm well known as a USC fan 'round FO parts, and the last thing I wanted to see was a double-pick for them (along with an Edelstein). Amazingly enough, they were to be the only team in the 5 games R&V agreed on to cover the spread.

It's all in good fun, though.


by Michael David Smith :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 12:32pm

The guys on Sports Reporters just criticized Mack Brown for running up the score. That's a good example of why guys like this, although they're intelligent and articulate, don't really know what they're talking about when it comes to the specifics of games that I'm sure none of them watched. Texas outscored Kansas 42-0 in the first half, and they tied 14-14 in the second half. Does that sound like a team that's running up the score? Vince Young played one series in the second half. Does that sound like a team that's running up the score? The backup QB, who played half the third quarter and all of the fourth, threw one pass. Does that sound like a team that's running up the score? If they really want to complain about something, the Sports Reporters should complain about the inherent unfairness of college football that creates these matchups in the first place.

Then John Saunders gives a parting shot about how black athletes are "hungrier" than white athletes. It would have been offensive if it weren't so idiotic. I need to go lie down now.

by admin :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 12:38pm

If he was talking about Ted Washington, absolutely.

Sam, one thing about SDA is that we don't have the kind of statistical analysis for college football that we do for the pros. So it's more of a general look around the college game with Russell and Vin's off-the-cuff picks, and those picks happen to have sucked this year, although I don't think they were anywhere near this bad last year. I have actually begun to think about the possibility of trying to do some college analysis under the FO name, although I'd probably just manage things with the actual work done by interested readers. I mentioned in my BP chat last week for people who might want to do that kind of analysis to e-mail me, and I would put those e-mails away until February and then contact people after the Super Bowl. Offer still applies.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 1:08pm

There have been other games where one could perhaps criticize Brown for running up the score (last week's game, for example, I think would have been a better example if they really wanted to use one - hell, even TMQ brought it up). But this week? No.

I am of the general opinion that there's no such thing as running up the score in the first half (under the "Whatever we do in the first half they could do in the second" philosophy), and I also have no problem with the starters playing one scoring drive in the second half, going by the same philosophy as above (then the other team has to do something in LESS than a half).

But if a coach takes out the starters after that point, then save some situation where a team is throwing insane numbers of passes, or where 3 kneeldowns would end the game but instead the team keeps going for the end zone, you can't tell the backups NOT to try.


by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 2:30pm

RE: 51

I was just saying the games I liked. If this column had been up Friday morning, I could have posted them then. ;)

Anyway, on the games I was able to pick here before they started (only the late games):

Oregon State, BC, UCLA, and Washington State.

3-1. Not too shabby. The record stands at 11-8.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 2:50pm

RE: 52

By my count, the record stands at 14-32-1.

by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 11/13/2005 - 6:58pm

My God, if you guys think Vinny and Russell are bad, go check out my "Wednesday Weekend Wishlist" at my site, linked.

They're not picks, no - just "things I'd like to see happen this weekend". Some of them are a little pie-in-the-sky - Cal over UCLA, for instance - but I try to avoid insane hopes.

This week it was Wisconsin over Iowa, Northwestern over Ohio State, Michigan State over Minnesota, Cal over USC, and Alabama over LSU.

Apparently, the universe freaking hates me.

by Slippery Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2005 - 1:54pm

I know MDS is an Illinois fan so maybe he can answer...

Does anyone know how Illinois got so bad so fast? Didn't they just win the Big 10 four years ago (in 2001)? I would think that with Chicago nearby that they would have a pretty good recruiting base. Although I'm an Iowa State fan (and for the record, I was ecstatic when Vinny & Russel both picked CU), I also like to root for Illinois since I have friends and family from there, and they hate Iowa.

by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2005 - 2:44pm

I think Illinois has been down hill ever since Red Grange went pro. But seriously, that was a pretty fluky season for the Illini and they were dominated in the Sugar Bowl by LSU. An extremely down year from the Big 10(11) and a few lucky wins does not a good football team make. This is more like the Illinois teams you should be expecting. Frankly, if you were a recruit in Chicago, would you rather go to Michigan, Ohio State, even Penn State or Iowa a little further away, or Illinois.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2005 - 9:21pm

My take on the Illinois thing is their inability to recruit studs (or coach sleepers into studs) along the O-line and D-line.

Illinois has had its Kurt Kittner and Brandon Lloyd types, and even some good backs, but I usually see the Illini get dominated by other teams in the trenches. I think the talent/ability differential along the lines is fairly common among the haves and have nots.

Many Chicago kids have gone to Michigan and Iowa in recent years instead of Illinois. Zook is known as a tireless recruiter, so we'll see if he can makde a dent in the area. Of course, Charlie Weis has repeatedly stated since he took over at ND that Chicago is his first priority in recruiting.

by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2005 - 9:26pm

Re #59: I'm not an Illinois fan, but I went to high school in suburban Chicago and now live in Chicago, so I think I can shed some light on this. For Illinios to be succesful, they have to either win the Chicago recruiting battle, or get lucky with prospects from downstate that aren't as widely recruited (just in case anyone from downstate Ill is reading this...yes, there are exceptions, there are good high school programs downstate, but far and away the best high school football talent is Chicagoland).

Downstate Illinois is "Illini territory." Kids down there want to go to Champaign and represent the state school. In the Chicago area, this is simply not true. Generally speaking, Michigan, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, and lately Iowa, out-recruit Illinois for the top prospects in Chicagoland (that's not to say there aren't exceptions). Until Illinois wins the recruting battle in its own state, they are never going to be a power year in and year out. Sure, they may have a great year every so often, but they are not going to compete for the Big Ten title on a yearly basis until they start winning the Chicago recruiting battle.

I believe this is a large reason why Illinois hired Ron Zook. While he may not be the best in-game coach, he is a master recruiter. Two factors to watch out for in the next few years: (1) The Wisconsin situation. Barry Alvarez routinely out-recruited Illinois for the best players in Chicagoland. Now that Alvarez is gone, can Zook convince those players to now come to Illinois? (2) Charlie Weiss. While the Notre Dame name may have lost some prestige nationally over the last 10 years, ND has not lost their prestige in Chicago at all. So watch for Weiss to recruit heavily in Chicago, to the detriment of Illinois.

by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 11/14/2005 - 11:09pm

No one knows why Illinois always sucks. It's one of life's great mysteries. Beano Cook has said he's been trying to figure it out for 40 years and just can't. Neither can I.