Friday Night Predictions…After Dark.

Unfortunately the “new twist” I promised there would be to this segment will have to wait. My buddy Nilesh, a guy who knows his college football, was going to give his predictions along with mine on certain games but due to unmitigating circumstances, he hasn’t been able to forward me his predictions to post on here. Oh well, there’s always next week.

On another note: I will be following tomorrow’s game via the radio and score updates from my friends. I am going down to Fairmont Park in Philadelphia, to watch PSU’s Club Cross-Country(XC) team compete at a regional event against other club teams from the East Coast. Conveniently, the times for the women’s and men’s races are 1:30 and 2:30 respectively so that means no TV for this guy since it’s about a 40-minute drive from my law school to my destination.

In the meantime: slip into your most comfortable nightwear, grab yourself a martini, and get ready for some Friday Night Predictions…After Dark.

Michigan State (+17) at #1 Ohio State – There will be no repeat of 1998’s miracle upset of then-#1 Ohio State by the Spartans (see video below). For one thing, Sparty’s defense has poofed into thin air, giving up 27 and 48 points to Indiana and Northwestern respectively. Look for OSU’s QB Todd Boeckman to light up Sparty’s secondary and for tailback Beanie Wells to get some decent yardage on the ground while the stingy Buckeye defense will contain MSU’s tailback-tandem of Jehuu Caulcrick and Javon Ringer. Did I also mention the fact that Jim Tressel is the anti-John Cooper? You know, the type who rarely chokes in big games and who also gets the job done against opponents he’s supposed to beat (again, see the video below)? OSU 31-7

#18 Auburn (+10.5) at #5 LSU – One of my college buddies who is a die-hard Auburn fan (he was born in Auburn and spent his high school years there as well) has absolute confidence that visiting Tigers can knock of the host Tigers in this one. I felt that it was quite the “homer” pick (which I can’t blame him for) but upon further review, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Auburn walk away with the “W.” Since the start of the magical 2004 “We were snubbed from the BCS Championship Game” season, Auburn is 13-1 in road games. Yes, that is 13-1 as in, Auburn has won 13 of its last 14 games away from its friendly confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Nonetheless, I just can’t go against LSU in a night game in “Death Valley”, no matter how hung over they might be from the loss to Kentucky last week. LSU 17-16

#14 Florida (-6.5) at #8 Kentucky – I know what most of you are thinking: “Kentucky a 6.5-point underdog? After beating the #1 team in the nation? You’ve gotta be kidding me.”

I like this spread though, because it’s clear that the oddsmakers know a thing or two about intangibles. The Gators have had 2 weeks to rest, lick their wounds, and prepare for an imminent dogfight with Heisman candidate Andre Woodson & Company. The Wildcats meanwhile, are still likely emotionally drained from last week’s Triple-OT win against LSU and may not have enough gas in the tank to go through another hard-fought battle with yet another Top-15 team. Florida not only wins this and covers the spread, they also win by double-digits. Florida 38-27
#22 Texas Tech (+3.5) at #15 Missouri – “Offensive fireworks” is an understatement for the type of game you should expect. It’s probably more like “Giant Nuclear Clusterfuck Offensive Laser Light Show.” Between the two starting QB’s: Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell an Mizzou’s Chase Daniel, you have a combined 5,224 yards passing for 47 TDs and only 9 INTs.

I also have to wonder if Texas Tech’s frosh wideout Michael Crabtree has a legitimate shot at winning the Heisman Trophy if he keeps up his astronomical pace of 177 receiving yards/game. At his current pace, he’s on track to garner 2,133 yards receiving by the end of the regular season. If that’s not eye-popping then I don’t know what is.

I’m gonna give the edge to Mizzou though, simply because it’s on their home turf.  Missouri 54-52

#13 USC (-17) at Notre Dame – The Fighting Irish are college football’s therapeutic spa, opposing teams use them as a means of recovery and to feel better about themselves than they probably should. SC is not playing as their usual selves, suffering an inconceivable home loss to Stanford 2 weeks ago and last week trailing at home to Arizona in the 4th quarter before narrowly escaping. To make things worse, Mark Sanchez will be making his road debut as QB after struggling in his first start last week.

Notre Dame also seems to have taken a few more baby steps offensively, as QB Evan Sharpley, who replaced Jimmy Clausen halfway through the BC game, led the team downfield towards a couple TD drives, earning him the starting job for tomorrow’s rivalry clash. Look for Sharpley to help Notre Dame beat the spread, but SC’s defense will still be too much for the Irish to overcome as SC’s offense will still be able to rack up points on a better-recently-but-still-relatively-poor Irish defense . USC 27-14.

#24 Michigan(-2.5) at Illinois – Two things that are Kryptonite for the Wolverines: 1. A mobile QB, 2. A spread offense. Illinois has one of those two but they feature more of an option attack as opposed to a spread or even a spread-option. Nonetheless, the Wolverines will have their hands full as they must travel to Champaign for a night game on ABC. This could be big trouble for Meeechigan, especially if Mike Hart’s injury is worse than he’s indicating to the media as they do not want to be forced to rely strictly on Chad Henne to carry them through the air. Illini 27-24

And least but not least…Penn State (-7.5) at Indiana – The most important thing here is that we don’t open up the game with a turnover or drive all the way downfield only to come up with no points, problems that have plagued us in our two road games thus far. We have not proven ourselves to be the type of team that can dig itself out of a hole on the road (see: Anthony Morelli’s road performances).

Just like our previous road opponent, Indiana features a scrambling QB in Kellen Lewis, and make no mistake about it: the kid is dangerous. Unlike Juice Williams, the kid also has a throwing arm and no doubt he will make some plays on us with the combination of his scrambling and throwing abilities. Don’t believe me? Go visit the game tape at Black Shoe Diaries and then come back to me.

This game will be different from the previous two road games though as the defense we are going up against is not so hot, especially when it comes to stopping the run. Look for our coaching staff to run right at the Hoosiers, wearing out their D-line and more importantly, keeping that Hoosier offense off the field as long as possible. I’m taking PSU and the points, PSU 41-17.

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