Down the stretch we go. Where will we stop, nobody knows!
With a couple of weeks left in the 2009 college football regular season, only three games separate five of the six members of this year’s panel. Charging hard is CU Independent staff writer Chris King, who has had back-to-back 7-1 weeks. The only member of the panel who is almost left out of the carousel is CU:I co-sports editor Ron Knabenbauer, who is eight games behind the top spot after a 3-5 week.
Our guest picker this week is sophomore political science major Kyle Gersper. It sure has been a while since the weekly guest picker planted his flag at the top of the mountain.
Guest picker this season — Overall: 47-25, Last week: 6-2
Kyle Gersper – sophomore political science major
Texas A&M 30, Colorado 24: TAMU is coming off two strong Big 12 Conference victories over Texas Tech and Iowa State. Look for that to continue over a slightly overmatched Colorado squad who just can’t seem to get it going.
No. 23 Virginia Tech 41, East Carolina 10: Look for Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer to have his squad looking for a strong rebound game against an outmatched ECU squad.
Kansas 30, Kansas State 27: Look for a close game between in-state rivals. Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing should be the difference in a tight game, so a slight edge to the Jayhawks who are trying to stay in the hunt for the Big 12 North title.
No. 22 Notre Dame 35, Navy 10: Look for a strong showing out of Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen and the Fighting Irish, who are trying to become BCS-eligible by winning out this season.
No. 3 Alabama 20, No. 9 LSU 9: Look for a hard-fought battle between Southeastern Conference foes. Alabama’s staunch defense should be the difference and LSU’s offense will struggle hard to reach the endzone.
No. 16 Ohio State 24, No. 11 Penn State 21: Ohio State will hold out a slight edge in this dual of Big Ten Conference powerhouses. Look for a strong outing from the fierce Ohio State defense.
No. 20 Cal 41, Oregon State 17: Look for Cal running back Jahvid Best to bolster his Heisman Trophy candidacy at home against a weaker opponent.
No. 24 Oklahoma 52, Nebraska 24: Look for Oklahoma to storm Lincoln, Neb. in hopes of keeping its Big 12 Title chances alive.
Cheng Sio — sports editor — Overall: 45-27, Last week: 5-3
Texas A&M 41, Colorado 17: The Buffs broke my heart last week with that ugly showing against Mizzou. So the hell with it, give me the Aggies. I never thought my senior year would go down like this.
No. 23 Virginia Tech 23, East Carolina 20: So Virginia Tech isn’t as good as many thought they were. I have a feeling they will get upset here, which is what happened last year when they played the Pirates, but how often do the Hokies lose because of a blocked punt? Not often. I think last year was the exception and Virginia Tech will hold on this time around.
Kansas State 33, Kansas 20: The Big 12 North is upside-down this year. What’s new? Kansas benched Reesing in its third straight loss last week and he’s still the starter this week. Ay caramba! Why bench him if he’s still the starter? Kansas State, meanwhile, took every punch Oklahoma had and nearly came away with its third consecutive win. Give me the team trending upwards, Kansas State.
No. 22 Notre Dame 23, Navy 15: It’s a pretty good time to be a Fighting Irish fan. Notre Dame is one win away from going to a bowl game, was 11 points away from being 8-0 instead of 6-2, and they will welcome the return of wide receiver Michael Floyd after it was thought he would be out for the rest of the season after breaking his collarbone against Michigan State on Sept. 19.
No. 3 Alabama 13, No. 9 LSU 3: All I have to do is look at LSU’s 13-3 loss to Florida at home on Oct. 10 to pick this game. This game will be a mirror image because LSU’s offense just isn’t good.
No. 11 Penn State 36, No. 16 Ohio State 24: Penn State, despite its “gaudy” 8-1 record doesn’t seem that good to me. I just think the Big Ten is down this year. Then again, what’s new? But I’ll go with the Nittany Lions because I think QB Terrelle Pryor and his inexperience teammates just aren’t ready for this magnitude of a road game just yet.
Oregon State 31, No. 20 Cal 24: Mike Riley’s team almost always gets better as the season progresses. This season has been no exception. Oregon State has won three of its last four and the one loss was by six points on the road to USC. Cal, on the other hand, continues its history of winning when it doesn’t matter most. After dropping to Oregon and USC by a combined 72-6, they have won three in a row against the weaklings of the Pac-10 Conference. Give me the Beavers on the road.
No. 24 Oklahoma 26, Nebraska 23: I’ve already stated what a mess the Big 12 North is. Oklahoma, meanwhile, has lost its three games by a combined five points. If the latter isn’t incentive enough to go with the Sooners, then how about never root for your rival?
Ron Knabenbauer — sports editor — Overall: 40-32, Last week: 3-5
Colorado 30, Texas A&M 29: I’m being optimistic because I still think the Buffs have better athletes than the Aggies. That doesn’t mean the game won’t be close.
No. 23 Virginia Tech 24, East Carolina 20: Virginia Tech has been up and down in the polls all season. But they should get the win against the Pirates this week.
Kansas State 31, Kansas 23: K-State is the best team in the Big 12 North and may be the most underappreciated team as well. They will get the win against in-state rival Kansas.
No. 22 Notre Dame 37, Navy 34: Navy will put up a fight, but it just won’t be enough for the Irish to sink them.
No. 3 Alabama 31, No. 9 LSU 17: Alabama will show why they deserve to be higher than No. 3 in the land against fellow top 10 team LSU in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
No. 16 Ohio State 27, No. 11 Penn State 21: Penn State has quietly become the second best team in the Big Ten – until this weekend when Ohio State will upset them.
No. 20 Cal 31, Oregon State 26: This game will be close, but the Golden Bears will pull one out in the end against a pretty good Pac-10 team in Oregon State.
No. 24 Oklahoma 31, Nebraska 17: I always love to see Big Red lose. I’ll get my wish this week as Nebraska will be no match to an Oklahoma team that is still a force to be reckoned with in the Big 12.
Alex K.W. Schultz — CU:I’s football beat reporter — Overall: 45-27, Last week: 4-4
Texas A&M 38, Colorado 24: The Buffs can’t stop the pass and Aggies junior QB Jerrod Johnson has 2,365 yards and 20 touchdowns to his name. Good luck to head coach Dan Hawkins and Colorado. You’re going to need it.
No. 23 Virginia Tech 27, East Carolina 17: Looking at the Pirates’ schedule, not one win sticks out. All of East Carolina’s victories have come against weak opponents. While this is a home game for the Pirates, I don’t see the Hokies slipping.
Kansas State 28, Kansas 24: 70-year-old Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder has shown the “three yards and a cloud of dust” approach still has a place in college football. Kansas State junior RB Daniel Thomas, the staple of the Wildcats’ offense, has rushed for 902 yards and 10 TDs. Look for Thomas to punish the Jayhawks in the trenches en route to victory.
No. 22 Notre Dame 33, Navy 17: I love to hate the Irish. Why? They are a team many people love simply because they have traditionally been good. While I’ll be rooting heavily for the Midshipmen on Saturday, I just can’t pick a team that lost last week to Temple.
No. 3 Alabama 16, No. 9 LSU 10: This game will decide the SEC West champion. The Crimson Tide are 5-0 in conference play and the Tigers are 4-1. With much on the line, Alabama will show it’s the superior team with its suffocating defense.
No. 11 Penn State 27, No. 16 Ohio State 24: These teams are close to identical on paper. It will all come down to which one can get off to a fast start and control the ball better.
No. 20 Cal 28, Oregon State 20: The Golden Bears are back on track after consecutive losses earlier to Oregon and USC. Cal will have the superior rushing attack Saturday against the Beavers, and it will result in the Bears’ seventh win of the season.
Nebraska 21, No. 24 Oklahoma 17: Memorial Stadium in Lincoln is always a tough place to play. The fans are loud and with a good Huskers team on the field, it always makes it tougher. Big Red will have to score some points, though, and stiffen on defense if it wants to break down the Sooner Schooner.
Chris King — staff writer — Overall: 47-25, Last week 7-1
Texas A&M 35, Colorado 14: The old adage, “when it rains, it pours,” seems to suit the Buffs. After struggling mightily all season, things got worse Tuesday when mega-recruit Darrell Scott announced he was leaving the program. But I digress. The game will feature the high-octane Aggies (currently ranked 3rd in total offense) going against a sputtering Colorado offense (ranked 113th out of 120) and a defense that gives up too many big plays. Not a good match-up. The beleaguered Buffs will keep struggling as what little “Hawk love” there is dwindles away.
No. 23 Virginia Tech 20, East Carolina 17: What happened to the Hokies? Opening the season as a potential national title contender, they have dropped their last two, including one at home to a struggling North Carolina team. Now they get a chance to redeem last year’s embarrassing upset to East Carolina. The Pirates are tops in the admittedly weak East division in Conference USA, but they don’t have the firepower to match up with Beamer & Co. This is a “must-win” for the Hokies and it’s one they will get, but in a tougher than expected game.
Kansas State 24, Kansas 21: After opening the season 5-0, the Kansas Jayhawks have skidded, losing their last three. Starting QB Todd Reesing got a seat on the pine during last week’s loss to Texas Tech. K-State, on the other hand, has somehow managed to take control of the Big 12 North with a power running game and a strong defense. A win against Kansas would help solidify the Wildcats’ chances of playing in the Big 12 title game, something they have not done since 2003 when they won the Big 12 Championship. Looks like head coach Bill Snyder’s return to Manhattan, Kan. has been good for the ‘Cats.
No. 22 Notre Dame 35, Navy 24: This is a rivalry that has been utterly dominated by Notre Dame 71-10-1. The Irish won 43 straight in the series from 1964 until the Midshipmen pulled out a dramatic win in ’07. Navy fans everywhere, tip your hats to “intern” Charlie Weis. But this is an improved Notre Dame team. Clausen has been on a tear, throwing 18 TDs to only two interceptions. He is expected to get dynamic WR Michael Floyd back this week, adding to their offensive firepower. While the Irish’s defense has been sub-par this season, they should be able to get the win in South Bend, Ind. and delay Weis’ firing another week.
No. 3 Alabama 13, No. 9 LSU 3: This is a true SEC match-up with two top 15 defenses trading blows in what looks to be a slugfest. The real difference is that Bama’s offense has been solid led by Heisman candidate Mark Ingram’s running. You can bet head coach Nick Saban was not happy with the Tide in their near-loss to Tennessee two weeks ago. With an extra week to prepare, they will be ready for the Bayou Bengals. Even though LSU played great in a win against Auburn two weeks ago, the suffocating Tide “D” will be too much and the Tigers will lose in Tuscaloosa for the first time since 1999.
No. 11 Penn State 24, No. 16 Ohio State 17: Who’s the most overrated player in college football? For those who said Terelle Pryor, give yourselves a pat on the back. The sophomore is completing only slightly better than half of his passes, and has a TD-to-INT ratio of 13-to-9 – not exactly impressive numbers for such a highly-touted recruit. Now he gets to lead Ohio State, who may be the nation’s most overrated team, back to his home turf – Pryor is from Jeanette, Pa. – and face a strong Nittany Lions team. The Buckeyes’ struggling offense won’t be able to handle Penn State’s strong linebacking core, and QB Darryl Clark will make enough plays to win one in Happy Valley, Pa.
Oregon State 35, No. 20 Cal 20: Remember when Cal was a national title contender? Now they are just hoping to finish above .500 in the Pac-10. The visiting Oregon State Beavers are better than their record looks – they lost close ones to No. 12 USC and No. 18 Arizona – and they are playing better each week. Shifty RB Jacquizz Rodgers is in the top 15 in the nation in rushing yards and unheralded QB Sean Canfield has been playing great. The Golden Bears have dropped the last two in this series and the Beavers look to hand them a third.
No. 24 Oklahoma 21, Nebraska 6: Nebraska’s offense is pathetic, as its eight-turnover game against Iowa State can attest. Head coach Bo Pelini is hoping to right the ship, but Oklahoma is not the team to try and do it against. Sooners head coach Bob Stoops is having a nightmare season. He lost his top two offensive players for the year and got pushed out of the championship talk by losing three games by a total of five points. Nebraska’s “D” is strong led by monster defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, but when the offense can’t put points on the board, it’s hard to win.
David Starcer — CU:I’s men’s basketball beat reporter — Overall: 48-24, Last week 5-3
Texas A&M 31, Colorado 17: The 2009 Colorado Buffaloes season is officially over. In case you missed the memo, Darrell Scott is transferring on top of all our other problems, so I see no reason to give the Buffs a chance in this one. Aggies QB Jerrod Johnson is having a fantastic season and the Texas A&M defense just shut down the Big 12’s second leading rusher. The only thing worth waiting for is the final verdict on Hawkins’ job and if he gets the axe.
No. 23 Virginia Tech 27, East Carolina 13: A tempting upset pick, especially considering that Virginia Tech is falling apart a little bit, but I’ll stick with Beamer Ball this week.
Kansas State 30, Kansas 20: Kansas’ 5-0 start seems like years ago after three straight losses and the benching of Todd Reesing. The Jayhawks’ struggles will continue this week in Manhattan as Kansas State will continue to improve under Snyder’s guidance.
No. 22 Notre Dame 38, Navy 24: Clausen gets Floyd back for this game. Translation? Irish offense is even better this week in a win. By the way, has Notre Dame played a single road game this year?
No. 9 LSU 6, No. 3 Alabama 3: Maybe the best two defenses in the nation meeting up to decide the winner of the SEC West. Bama is at home and does have Heisman candidate Mark Ingram on its side, but I like the Tigers to edge out the Tide in Tuscaloosa to set up a rematch with Florida for the SEC title.
No. 16 Ohio State 21, No. 11 Penn State 17: This game is almost too close to call. But, I’m giving a slight edge to the Buckeyes, who can still capture another Big Ten title if they win out the rest of the season.
No. 20 Cal 34, Oregon State 17: Another trendy upset pick, I’m sure, especially after the Beavers went into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and gave USC all they could handle. I don’t buy the upset talk this week and I’ll take Best over Rodgers in a battle of two elite running backs.
No. 24 Oklahoma 33, Nebraska 14: Oklahoma has dropped its three losses this season by a combined five points. That’s unbelievable! Nebraska has faltered of late with tough losses to Texas Tech and Iowa State at home! They also have a CU-like quarterback situation on their hands. I’ll take the Sooners on the road and hopefully the Huskers come into Boulder still needing a win to be bowl eligible. Beating Nebraska would at least put some shine on the Buffs’ season.
Compiled by Co-Sports Editor Cheng Sio. Contact Cheng Sio at Cheng.firstname.lastname@example.org.