Hi, I'm finally here. I know you've been pining for my butt-kicking analysis and overall mad picking skillz, but I've been busy watching my beloved Irondale Knights toying with hapless Fridley and my beloved Everton FC dispatching Swansea City.
Swansea? Dylan Thomas will be upset!
Dead poets don't really get upset, old dude. I'm pretty sure of that. But my adoring public will be if we don't get this HYYYYPPPPPE! rolling. So let's get to it. Watch me work!
Syracuse Boeheims (-1) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. So the old dude was telling me that Syracuse actually has a pretty great football history. Not that you'd know it lately, but apparently they were very good back in the day. Jim Brown is a Syracuse grad and so is Donovan McNabb. And if you consider that history, you wonder why the Gophers would schedule a team that could actually beat them in their non-conference schedule. Of course the Gophers have had no trouble in recent weeks, but now they go into battle without MarQueis "Touch of" Grey, their regular quarterback. In steps Max Shortell, who really ought to change his name. The dude is 6'6", so he's not short! He's actually a better passer than Grey, but he's a classic old-school pocket quarterback, kinda like Dan Marino or Terry Bradshaw. You don't see too many guys like that in the college game any more, but Shortell played very well last week against Western Michigan. So the Gophers should have no trouble. Gophers 21, Orange 17.
I think this will be a little more high scoring game than that. Syracuse can score. Can the Gophers keep up? Syracuse 34, Gophers 31.
UTEP Miners (+17 1/2) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. So the Badgers are favored by 17 1/2? Has Vegas been watching the Badgers lately? The only way the Badgers will beat the spread is if UTEP scores -3 points. Well, maybe it won't be that bad. The Badgers showed me something last week. It wasn't offense, mind you, but they did show me that the defense can do its job and help give some confidence to the offensive line. The line got a couple of good blocks, but the passing game was horrible. Jared Abbrederis is back this week, which should help out new quarterback Joel Stave (pronounced STAH-vay), who was saying "Stave Maria" a few times last week against Utah State. I think it goes better this week and keep in mind this: since the 2010 season, after a Badger loss in the regular season, Wisconsin has lost a grand total of one game. Badgers 24, UTEP 7.
It's been stunning to see the mighty Badger offense revert to 1977 form in the last few weeks. I keep looking for Montee Ball and seeing Ira Matthews instead. I think the Badgers win this week, but they're gonna get drilled at Nebraska next week. Badgers 28, UTEP 17.
I disagree, Geritol Fan! I think the Badgers got their wakeup call and I'm standing by my prediction that the Badgers will be in the Big Ten Championship Game later this year. But I digress. . . .
San Francisco 49ers (-6 1/2) vs. Minnesota Vikings. So with a win on Sunday, the 49ers will win the NFC North. So far they've whipped our glorious Packers and the Motor City Kitties in succession, and now the big bad 49ers are coming to the Metrodome, or Mall of America Field, or whatever the heck they're calling that dump these days. It's the return of Randy Moss, this time wearing a 49ers uniform, and I'm interested to see what the reaction is. Here's a question -- why do Minnesota people love Moss and hate A. J. Pierzynski? I don't have an answer for that, but it's an interesting question. Anyway, back to the game. The Niners have looked dominant thus far and the Vikings have looked, well, ordinary. Does dominant beat ordinary? Ordinarily, yes. Vikes 28, Niners 14.
Well, that's counter-intuitive. But that's what makes you the Benster. I guess I'm just a slave to conventional wisdom, but I don't see how the Vikings win this game. I think the 49ers can be beaten, but it won't be this week. 49ers 31, Vikings 17.
St. Louis Timid Sheep (+7 1/2) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. Ram tough? Nope. So da Bearz have had 10 days to think about the butt-kicking they endured at Lambeau last week. And Jay Cutler has been thinking about apologizing for his behavior, but can't quite seem to bring himself to do it. The bigger question wasn't how Cutler got into people's faces. The real problem was Cutler getting the ball into the hands of Packer D-backs. Cutler has a tendency to play like a bum when he gets frustrated and that's what happened last week. The Rams will see this game as an opportunity and that is scary for da Bearz. Rams 49, da Bearz 0.
That's no way to treat Gino, Seabiscuit! I agree with what you said about Cutler -- my sister has suggested that Cutler should be doing celebrity endorsements for Kleenex. But I think the Bears rebound this week. Bears 31, Rams 20.
Glorious Green Bay Packers (-3 1/2) vs. Seattle Seabags. This is no fun, old dude. Russell Wilson is the quarterback of the Seahawks and we all love Russell Wilson around here. So will we be happy when Clay Mattews tries to screw him into the turf? I guess, but it's still going to be strange. As for the game, Seattle has no shot. Packers 77, Seattle 63.
Uh, no. Two things -- Seattle plays defense and surprisingly enough, so does Green Bay. Seattle is an awfully tough place to win, too -- the fans there are absolutely nuts and it might be the loudest outdoor stadium in the league. Of course a few Aaron Rodgers touchdown passes might quiet things down. I think the Packers break out a little, but it won't be easy. Green Bay 35, Seattle 27.
Well, that's it for this week. And remember -- Everton is good. Also, I'm going to be out on Friday on assignment as I invade Benilde-St. Margaret's. Somebody has to do it, right? Ben out!