Fade Material: College Football Week 3 Predictions

Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell (C) runs onto the field prior to their NCAA football game against the University of Akron in Columbus, Ohio September 3, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Well, go figure. I change the name of this column to “Fade Material” and then I start handing out winning picks. If I knew that was all I had to do, I would have changed the title years ago and avoided all the years of .500 or below predictions.

After a 3-1 performance in Week 1, I finished 3-0-1 with my Week 2 picks. Georgia was a push against South Carolina but TCU, Alabama and BYU had no problems covering. I’m still looking for my first sweep of the season, so let’s see if we can’t nail it this week. (Although I admit to having reservations about “Road Test Weekend.” There are some tough games on the board…)

Auburn @ Clemson, 12:00PM ET
Everyone keeps waiting for Auburn to lose and all they’ve done the past two weeks is pull wins out of their backsides. The No. 19 Tigers find themselves once again as underdogs, this time against an unranked Clemson team. Nobody can ever quite figure out Clemson, which either plays the game of its life or sinks to the level of its competition. They’re 1-4 against the spread in their last five home games and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 versus the SEC, while Auburn is 4-1 ATS in their last five road games. Auburn is also 6-0 ATS versus a team with a winning record and 4-0 ATS in their last four games an underdog. I think the Tigers of Auburn keeps this within a field goal, making that 3.5-point spread highly attractive.

Ohio State @ Miami, 7:30PM ET
The Buckeyes face their first road test under new head coach Luke Fickell and while they didn’t look particularly sharp against Toledo last week at home, I like OSU to win outright tonight. They’ll face a quarterback in Jacory Harris, who is coming off a one-game suspension and who was unimpressive against Oho State last year. He threw four interceptions, including three in the first half alone. Granted, that was a different Buckeyes team last season but the defense is still solid and I expect them to give Harris trouble again this time around. The Buckeyes are 11-3 against the number in all games over the last two seasons and 14-4 ATS in road games in September since 1992.

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Explosive allegations rock Miami Hurricanes

The drumbeat of college football scandals just got louder with some serious allegations being leveled against the Miami Hurricanes football program. Yahoo! Sports broke the story and followed up with more analysis, and this thing could be pretty big.

In one sense, none of this is surprising. As we’ve said many times, college football players are squeezed by the current system and there are too many temptations for them to cash in on benefits when they don’t have their own spending money. We’ve seen it in the tattoo scandal at Ohio Sate and the potential suit scandal at Alabama. The NCAA needs to reform the rules.

This crap happens everywhere. The deciding factor is simply proof available to the NCAA. With Ohio State, they had an FBI sting that produced the memorabilia that was central to the scandal. So far in Alabama there are tons of photos produced by sites like SPORTSbyBROOKS. We’ll see where that goes.

Here in Miami things might be even worse, as a rogue booster named Nevin Shapiro is in prison. He’s pissed off and he seems determined to take down the Miami football program. Thus the problem – if he can provide proof, Miami is in huge trouble. Some of the allegations are pretty tough as he’s saying he also provided prostitutes to the players.

The NCAA needs to be careful here. If they go off on these programs with massive sanctions, you might end up with a revolt as other schools will realize that this is happening everywhere on some level. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Meanwhile, the officials in Miami need to get on top of this asap.

Bo Pelini and Miami? It doesn’t make sense…until you look at his resume.

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 25: Coach Bo Pelini of the Nebraska Cornuskers eyes his defensive coaching slaff during second half action of their game against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at Memorial Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska Defeated South Dakota State 17-3. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

The Bo Pelini-to-Miami talks are starting to heat up (and getting a little controversial to boot). The Miami Herald first reported that Pelini had been given permission to talk to Miami about its open coaching vacancy, but Nebraska AD Tom Osborne says that he gave no such permission. Then the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that Pelini had spoken to Miami AD Kirby Hocutt about the Canes’ job, although the position has not been offered to him yet.

But why would Pelini want to coach at Miami? Nebraska has more fan support, gave him his first head coaching job and his roots are firmly planted in the Big Ten – where the Huskers will be playing next season and beyond. It just doesn’t add up.

Until you look at his coaching background, that is.

Pelini’s resume is littered with three-year stints. He was with the 49ers as a DB coach for three years (1994-1996). He was the Patriots’ linebacker coach for three years (97-99). He was the Packers’ linebacker coach for three years (2000-2002). He spent one year at Nebraska (as its defensive coordinator) and one year at Oklahoma as a co-defensive coordinator, but then got back onto his three-year plan when he was LSU’s DC from 2005 to 2007.

Now, after three years spent in Lincoln, his name is being brought up for another head coaching position. What does any of this mean? Maybe something, maybe nothing. Just because he has a habit of leaving a team after three years doesn’t mean he’s going to leave Nebraska. But given the reports that are coming out of the Miami area, it makes you wonder if Pelini is starting to pack his bags again.

In August, Pelini said that Nebraska isn’t a “steppingstone job” and that he’s happy. But he went on to say, “Am I going to say you would never ever look or talk to somebody? That’s crazy to make an ultimatum like that. But we’re not looking.”

But again though, that was back in August. Maybe he’s looking now.

Would Jon Gruden be a good fit at Miami?

BRIAN CASSELLA | Times Photo via Newscom

Two days ago, Jon Gruden issued a statement that said he was committed to Monday Night Football and to ESPN. But that was before he had to endure the 49ers-Cardinals matchup, so maybe a couple of hours of watching Derek Anderson play has changed his mind.

Several sources, including ESPN.com, are reporting that Gruden is the University of Miami’s top choice to replace Randy Shannon, who was fired on Saturday following the Canes’ loss to South Florida. Oregon wanted Gruden to become their offensive coordinator in 2009, but he declined their offer and stayed in the booth. But will he be lured back to the sidelines now that a major university wants him to be their head coach?

It’s easy to see why Miami would want Gruden. First and foremost he’s a Super Bowl-winning head coach, which are hard to come by. He’s also a big name (someone college players would respect, or so you would think), a tireless worker and a great offensive mind. He also knows how to work with quarterbacks, which is obviously important at all levels.

But would it work? Would Gruden be a good fit for the college ranks?

While he cut his teeth in college football before moving up to the NFL, he has never been a college head coach. The X’s and O’s may be similar, but college coaches have to know how to recruit. For as much success as Gruden had at the pro level, he often preferred to work with veteran players like Rich Gannon, Brad Johnson and Jeff Garcia. That’s not to say he couldn’t mold young minds, but he seemingly likes to work with players that already know the game – not ones that have to be taught it.

Either way, it’s an interesting concept. Miami is tired of losing and wants someone that can come in right away and win. Is that person Gruden? Maybe, but there are a lot of things to consider. Just because he’s a big name doesn’t mean he’s the right person for the job. Besides, he may have several options in the NFL once the season is over. Who knows if he even wants to coach at the college level?

Baseball fields rule an otherwise lackluster day of college football

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 18: A general view of the east end zone and a goalpost mounted to the right field wall as the Northwestern Wildcats practice for a game against the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday November 20 at Wrigley Field on November 18, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Remember the first time you saw this picture — if you’ve seen it — and thought to yourself, “someone’s going to get killed catching a post pattern.”? Well, apparently the Big Ten — and the NCAA — thought the same thing, and Illinois and Northwestern will play their game today at Wrigley Field like you used to play in your backyard — always going toward the “good” end.

No, your eyes aren’t fooling you there. That is the goalpost attached to the wall at Wrigley. The wall that literally cuts into the paint of the end line.

The good news for Northwestern, Illinois and the Big Ten is that this mess of a field has drawn a lot of attention to a game that really doesn’t mean anything. People will tune in to see the wall in the endzone, and how the teams react to always going the same way.

It’s not the only game that is using a baseball field to create attention and ratings, as Notre Dame will play Army at Yankee Stadium tonight. The thought of these two playing at Yankee Stadium — even though it’s the new Yankee Stadium — has evoked a lot of memories of this historical rivalry. And these are two programs that love it when you’re focusing on history, because their history is a lot better than their present.

Both games are pulling in huge money for tickets, probably just for the spectacle. But even on a weak day in college football, neither game is big enough to crack the top five games of the week. Read the rest of this entry »

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