By: Jamie Samuelsen
We now return you to your regularly scheduled football programming.
Seriously, have we ever experienced a weirder October? The Tigers took over our entire sporting existence only to trample all over it during the last week. And while we were away in baseball land, the Lions, Michigan and Michigan State all plodded along doing next to nothing and reassuring us that we really missed nothing while we were watching all those baseball games.
But now that baseball is over and the Red Wings aren’t playing and the Pistons are playing (even though nobody noticed), we’re left to return to our glorious football. Perhaps the three local teams were just waiting for our rapt attention before they finally started their spirited drive towards the finish line. Either that, or they all rank somewhere between mediocre and, well, rank and it’s up to us to figure out why. I fear that it’s the latter.
Just to bring you up to speed, the Lions are a play here or a play there away from being 7-0. But to be fair, they’re also a play here or a play there away from being 0-7. And those last two sentences are 100% true. It’s a tad far-fetched to say that they could have easily won the Bears or the 49ers game. But it’s not that far-fetched to say that they could have (and should have?) won the Vikings game and the Titans game. I don’t know if this says that the Lions have had some bad luck or if this says that the Lions play just close enough to lose. But we’ll find out more over the next two weeks as they play two winnable road games at Jacksonville and at Minnesota.
Michigan and Michigan State both have terrific defenses, which can beat any team (other than Alabama) on any given Saturday. It’s that whole issue with offense that has kept both teams mired in the middle of the Legends Division, which seems more misnamed than ever.
Speaking of legends, Ryan Wooley pulled off his second 3-0 week in a row. Wojo matched him with a perfect slate of picks. I…did not. But I vow to this week!
MICHIGAN (-12 ½) AT MINNESOTA – Minnesota has won only won Big Ten game so far, taking out Purdue last Saturday at home. But since that comes as part of the 2012 Danny Hope farewell tour, I’m not sure how much it really counts. In their other conference games, the Gophers have been beaten by Wisconsin, Northwestern and Iowa by an average of 17 points. The Minnesota defense is strong against the pass and weak against the run. Ironic given the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Michigan offense. Normally, I like to pick the home team when they’re getting this many points. But the Gophers don’t give me much of anything to get excited about. PICK – MICHIGAN
WOJO – MICHIGAN
WOOLEY – MINNESOTA
NEBRASKA (-1 ½) AT MICHIGAN STATE – For the second straight week, MSU plays a game that seemed huge when the season started but now just reeks of “Spoiler Alert”. Yes, the Spartans are resigned to playing the role of spoiler – something that they probably didn’t build a countdown clock for in the locker room. MSU has the defense to slow down the Nebraska offense. The Spartans just don’t have the offense to battle an ever-improving Nebraska defense. Hmmmm. Sound familiar? Sorry Spartans fans. It’s WAY too familiar. PICK – NEBRASKA
WOJO – MSU
WOOLEY – NEBRASKA
LIONS (-3 ½) AT JACKSONVILLE – I don’t gamble on sports. And judging by my picks in these weekly posts, it’s a very good thing that I don’t. My kids wouldn’t be going to college. But if I did bet on sports, I’d load up on the Lions this weekend. Let’s be very clear about the Jags…they’re awful. Maurice Jones-Drew is out. Their quarterback is Blaine Gabbert. Their secondary is banged up. They have the lowest scoring offense in the entire league. And their defense is no great shakes either. Quick. Name me three Jaguar players. I’ll give you a hint. I just named two. See? Still can’t do it! PICK – LIONS
WOJO – LIONS
WOOLEY – LIONS