Roy Exum: My Football Picks – Sept. 21

Friday, September 20, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Nebraska football coach Bo Pellini, once the defensive coordinator at LSU, is widely known for his fiery temper and got put in the Nebraska doghouse early this week when an expletive-filled rant was made public to the Deadspin.com website and quickly went viral. What is troubling is Nebraska officials have known about the tape for a year and it was actually made after the Ohio State game in 2011!

In other words, some grave-digger has been holding the tape for almost two years and now, just after Pellini’s Cornhuskers drop an embarrassing 41-21 loss to UCLA in Lincoln, the same bum releases it to the public. Pellini was obviously in a foul mood and still very emotional when he went on a rant that included strong language, some of it directed towards the Husker fans who have sold out the stadium for years.

Naturally, the tape has been a stern reminder to other coaches who realize they are never alone. "It's kind of like I tell our players: Unless you're in a closet, you better assume somebody's recording you, filming you or both," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz told ESPN. "I guess the moral of the story is you better wait 'til you get home, and hope your wife's on your side -- and that's probably a 50-50."

Urban Meyer, who had problems in Florida with comments he thought were private, echoed Ferentz, saying there are no places where you aren’t being filmed or taped. “I don't believe there is any more, not in the positions we're in. That's just the way it is."

Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, asked about the lack of privacy at a mid-week press luncheon, shook his head. "Probably now would not be the time to discuss that, since I have about 150 people listening to me," he said.

Dantonio told ESPN that voicing frustrations is a necessity. "Everybody, in anything that they do, they meet a point of frustration," the Spartans coach said. "You've got to be able to let that go and vent, and everybody does that differently."

Tom Osbourne, the much-beloved Athletic Director Emeritus at Nebraska, finally put out the fire. “While the comments were certainly not good, I realized that Bo had gone through an emotional week and an emotional game and was in a setting where he thought his comments were entirely private.

“I visited with Bo on a weekly basis and did not find that his attitude toward the fans or the press as expressed by those comments were at all in keeping with what I knew his true attitude to be,”explained the former coach.

"Bo’s academic record with the football team has been the best in my recollection.  The behavior of his players has been excellent for the most part, he has won three divisional championships and had one of the best win-loss records in college football for the past five years.  

“I recognize that there have occasionally been controversies,” said Osbourne, “but I have seen a willingness to change, reflect and improve in Bo over the years.  I am very hopeful that the players, coaches and fans will pull together as unity of purpose has been one of our major assets over the last 50 years."

That said, here is how I am picking this week’s games:

* * *

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (0-3) at No. 7 LOUISVILE (3-0), Noon – This will be a good chance to watch Louisville’s talented Teddy Bridgewater, who has already passed for over 1,000 yards but the game itself will be worse than clubbing baby seals. C’mon, FIU lost a 34-13 game to Bethune-Cookman last week. The Cardinals have a laugher of a schedule and – trust me – there isn’t a game on it you would pay to watch. MY PICK? Louisville, 70-0.

NORTH CAROLINA (1-1) at GEORGIA TECH (2-0), 12 Noon (ESPN) – After Tech beat Elon in the opener, 70-0, the Yellow Jackets pounded Duke last week, 38-14. So how come GT is just favored by 6 points? North Carolina hasn’t played since the 40-20 win over lightweight MTSU but South Carolina manhandled the Heels in the 27-10 opener and the thinking is the Tech offensive will blow the doors off an average UNC football team. MY PICK? Georgia Tech, 34-10.

TENNESSEE (2-1) at No. 19 FLORIDA (1-1), 3:30 p.m. (CBS)— The Vols showed us all the holes, tears and inadequacies against a flaming Oregon in the 59-14 debacle so you’ve got to figure Florida will pound the Orange in a big way. UF simply has a stockpile of talent – not that you’d know if from the way the QBs and WRs have played in the Swamp. Still, Tennessee is clearly in a “rebuilding” mode and, with renewed questions at QB, Butch Jones will have a tough time as a 17-point underdog in the Florida sun. MY PICK? Florida, 39-17.

MICHIGAN STATE (3-0) at No. 22 NOTRE DAME (2-1), 3:30 p.m. (NBC) – Michigan State is a 7-point underdog and the word in the Midwest is the gamblers are taking the Spartans and the points. ND showed little in the ragged 31-24 win over Purdue last week while, admittedly, MSU has played only lightweights thus far. Spartan QB Conner Cook says confidence is high. “I just feel like what you saw last week is just the beginning of our offense. I just feel like a different player with my confidence level.'' Here’s hoping Cook is bold. MY PICK? Michigan State, 31-23.

ARKANSAS (3-0) at RUTGERS (2-1), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN) — Look for juco QB AJ Derby to quick-start the Razorbacks before the team faces four straight opponents that are nationally ranked. Rutgers dropped a 52-51 nail-biter to Fresno State in the opener but then blew past Norfolk State and Eastern Ky. The Hogs have played three teams every bit as bad, the 31-21 win again Samford the closest outcome. You’ve got to think UA has better athletes on defense, which is where this will be won. MY PICK? Arkansas 27-17.

No. 23 ARIZONA STATE at No. 5 STANFORD, 7:00 p.m. (Fox) – Whoever thought this one would be the best game of the day has a lousy sense of humor but at least its two ranked teams. SU is favored by 7 at home but ASU was gifted by an official's blunder to be 2-0. They played Wisconsin well, no doubt, but Stanford has more speed at the skill spots. MY PICK? Stanford, 32-24.

TROY (2-1) at MISSISSIPPI STATE (1-2), 7:30 p.m. (Fox) – This is a “coach killer.” State played well in holding Oklahoma State back in the 21-3 opener but the 24-20 loss to Auburn last week started the grumbling. Troy shouldn’t have lost the close one to Arkansas State last week (41-34) because Troy is better than that. Now State’s Dan Mullen has to win by over the 15-point spread to keep the alums happy because there are at least five games left where the Bulldogs will be heavy underdogs. If Mullen does make it to a bowl game (six wins) he’ll likely be gone. MY PICK? Miss. State, 31-18.

AUBURN (3-0) at No. 6 LSU (3-0), 7:45 p.m. (ESPN) – Auburn finally won a conference game with last week’s 4-point victory over MSU but Tiger Stadium on Saturday night is no place to get cocky. Everybody knows LSU is loaded and, as a 14-point favorite, this is a game where the oddsmakers know “The Mad Hatter” will try to influence pollsters will a big win. The feeling is LSU will win big. MY PICK? LSU, 40-10.

MISSOURI (2-0) at INDIANA (2-1), 8:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network ) – Missouri is averaging 48 points per game with QB James Franklin clicking so you’ve got to figure the Tigers are a lot better than a team that got beat by Navy (41-35). The line favors Mizzou by 7 so I’m thinking this will be a good tune-up before things get dicey for UM. Missouri’s four games in October are against Vanderbilt, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. MY PICK? Missouri, 38-21.

KANSAS STATE (2-1) at TEXAS (1-2), 8:00 p.m. (ABC) – Texas has lost its last two games – by 19 to BYU and 21 to Ole Miss. Last year Bill Snyder’s Kansas State beat the Longhorns, 42-24, so with once-mighty Texas a 5-point underdog, a posse is liable to lynch UT coach Mack Brown if he loses. Mack, you’ll remember, fired his defensive coordinator after the first loss. Is what’s good for the goose good for the gander? Hang on to your seat. MY PICK? Kansas State, 27-20.

IN OTHER SEC GAMES

VANDERBILT (1-2) vs. U-MASS (0-3) at Foxboro Stadium, 12:00 Noon (ESPNews) – Vanderbilt will be a 32-point favorite in New England against a winless UMass but the bigger swirl is that Vandy needs a fat win right now with all the off-the-field hysteria. The ‘Dores host UAB next week before hosting Missouri and Georgia. MY PICK? Vanderbilt, 34-15.

NORTH TEXAS (2-1) at No. 10 GEORGIA (2-1), 12:21 p.m. (SEC Network) – You can expect UGa QB Aaron Murray to throw his 100th TD pass pretty early and then play sparingly – you don’t lose your “bell cow” in a meaningless game, not with LSU coming to town a week from tomorrow. MY PICK? Georgia, 45-10.

COLORADO STATE (1-2) AT No. 1 ALABAMA (3-0), 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2) – There is good reason to believe that A.J. McCarron may be the greatest QB ever at Alabama – national titles do that – but he too will play sparingly in the Tide’s first home game. A 40-point favorite, the Tide will showcase A.J. big next week against Ole Miss before what promises to be a breeze in October – Georgia State, Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee. MY PICK? Alabama, 45-0.

SMU (1-1) at No. 9 TEXAS A&M (2-1), 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU) – Texas A&M, picked to win by 27, will let Johnny Manziel shoot all he wants – and he wants to shoot a lot. A&M is riding the crest of a wave bigger than Texas, which includes “The University of” and the Aggies are delirious. MY PICK? Texas A&M, 55-7.

IDLE THIS WEEK: KENTUCKY (1-2) plays at Florida next week (7:00 p.m.); No. 22 OLE MISS (3-0) plays at Alabama next week, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN); and No. 13 SOUTH CAROLINA (2-1) plays at Central Florida next week at 12 Noon.

* * *

UT-CHATTANOOGA (2-1) is idle this Saturday and plays at Georgia Southern next week, 6:00 p.m.

royexum@aol.com


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