Saturday, September 15, 2012

P6 2012: MPF004's Picks Explained

Man, what a few weeks it's been. Since I started prepping the Pick Six, all this happened:

* interviewed for a new job with two companies
* accepted a new job
* got laid off (yes, in that order)
* went to Buffalo and Cleveland
* started the new job
* saw Bruuuuce live in concert
* bought a new car
* went to a trade show

Somewhere in there, I found time to make my picks. Now normally, I put a ton of effort into my picks. As the host of the Pick Six, I like to be knowledgeable about teams and players, to make a respectable showing in the standings. Now I don't know if it's being a dad, or all of the stuff above, or the combination of both, but I didn't post my traditional "picks explained" on the opening night of Week 1. Well as they say, better late than never: here are my picks, explained with commentary I wrote before the season but never posted, along with some new analysis based on the first few weeks of the season.

Group A: LSU. Even though Southern Cal is the best team on paper, they still have the 75-scholarship limit. Injuries, when not if they happen, will test their depth. Likewise, I do think Oklahoma has a great chance at the championship game, but any stumble will cost them, without a conference championship game to redeem themselves. Hearing that a redshirt freshman beat out sophomore Brian Bennett for QB wipes out any trust I had in Oregon. Repeating is tough any year, but moreso with Alabama's losses to graduation/eligibility. Plus there's that SEC schedule that includes a trip to LSU.
Upon further review: Bama seemed just fine destroying Michigan and Arkansas. LSU and Oregon haven't been tested yet. Southern Cal lost at Stanford tonight.

Group B: Four teams, really, in this grouping to choose from. Usually, you don't see three teams from the same conference, but that's what we've got here. Can't see Florida State improving on that #7 ranking unless they win a BCS bowl. Knile Davis returns at Arkansas, but with all the turmoil around Bobby Petrino and John L. "Slappy" Smith taking over, do you really expect big things?

That leaves Georgia and South Carolina to choose from. Since I've got LSU in Group A from the SEC West and a promising nominee Group E from the SEC East, I'm going to pass on Georgia given the loss of RB Crowell. Until I've got a reason to go against them, I guess I'll stay with South Carolina. Not that I love picking Connor Shaw and the Gamecocks, as I doubt they can repeat last year's success, but that's what I've got.

(I always thought of it as "That School Up North," but at any rate, Woody Hayes acolytes will hopefully appreciate what I did there.)

So this is my flashpoint. Yes, that makes two SEC teams in the top two picks. For me it boils down to, is Florida State really that good? I've rode them to mediocrity the last two years, I'm trying something else.
Upon further review: Arkansas is indeed bad, with or without Davis (mostly because they are "with" Slappy). Yes, Florida State appears to be that good, and thus my logic is sunk.

Group C: Wisconsin. Damn good team, will probably win the Big Ten. Michigan State lost all their offensive firepower, Texas hasn't found the magic yet, West Virginia moves to a new conference, and even if I liked Clemson, which I don't, they lost their bowl 70-33. Seventy!
Upon further review: Wisconsin strugged with UNI, lost to Oregon State, and barely beat Utah State at home. Ouch. Sparty lost at home to ND; Texas and WVU are so far so good.

Group D: With Florida State out of the "B" spot, I elevated Virginia Tech as my ACC champion. I don't think Nebraska or Ohio State can unseat Wisconsin, and TCU is in a new conference. Oklahoma State was my pick here until I read about all the offense they lose.
Upon further review: Avoiding Okie State was a good idea. Choosing Va. Tech over FSU was not. Ohio State looks like the real deal thus far. I like Braxton Miller's improvement under the tutelage of Meyer.

Group E: I'm unimpressed with this batch so I'm going with Florida which yes, that makes three SEC teams. It's highly risky, I admit. I've already got two guaranteed losses (S.Car @ LSU  and S.Car @ Florida) plus a potential conference championship game of LSU vs the East winner. But Stanford no longer has Harbaugh or Luck, Kansas State is the sixth best team in a 10-team conference; how much higher can they climb? Boise State will recede into a footnote, and Louisville won't win the Big East.
Upon further review: As for K-State, they are up to 15th in the country, so maybe they can actually improve. Stanford beat No. 2 Southern Cal tonight. Boise lost in week 1 to Sparty, and may or may not return to the poll. How the hell would I know who will or won't win the Big East?

Group F: For the first time in a while, both Iowa and Notre Dame were legitimate options for a "F" pick. But Notre Dame has that killer schedule and is at basically USC-level of scholarships after a wave of attrition. Iowa doesn't have a running back, although a very likely 5-0 start makes them a tempting pick. But I poked around the edges of the Phil Steele and found a team that lost a lot of close games, has a senior quarterback, and a coach with a few years under his belt.
Good thing we're talking college football and not geography.

South Florida is underlooked in the Big East, and with B.J. Daniels at the helm, they have the potential to rise up in their conference and into the polls.

Upon further review: Iowa never got off to that 5-0 start. South Florida lost on Thursday, at home. Home teams are NEVER supposed to lose that Thursday game. ND is 3-0 after beating Sparty in East Lansing tonight.

In conclusion, if I could trade FSU for Va. Tech as my leading ACC team, I'd make that trade. Florida is looking nice out of the gate, sitting at 2-0 in the conference after Week 3. As we all know it's a long season, but I've already got buyer's remorse. 

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