Each week, Pencilstorm editor Colin G. will pose some questions to our resident college football know-it-all Brent Baver about the upcoming weekend. Feel free to e-mail your questions for the Baver to: firstname.lastname@example.org
1) Wouldn't you agree that any Ohio State fan that pays to subscribe to the SEC Network might as well write a check to the Alabama Crimson Tide general recruiting fund?
I wouldn’t look at it that way. Let’s face it…the SEC is playing at another level right now, when compared to the Big Ten and most of the other conferences. I root against the SEC in just about every game they play against any other conference, but I’m not boycotting the SEC network. I get too much enjoyment out of watching the better teams in college football square off. The Texas A&M upset of 'Bama in Alabama in 2012 was as good as it gets. Now, that game probably wouldn’t have been on the SEC network if the network was around two seasons ago. But, good college football is good college football. Enjoy it if you’ve got the time and money.
2) Wisconsin is finally playing a decent school in the non-conference schedule. What are the chances Bucky Badger doesn't embarrass the Big Ten in the match up with LSU?
I don’t think Wisconsin will embarrass the Big Ten, but if I’m a bettor, I like LSU laying the points (currently 5) in this one. Overall, the Big Ten doesn’t fair well when they travel this far and play a team like LSU. And Les Miles thrives on these types of games. But this doesn’t appear to be one of LSU’s better teams; lots of newcomers. Wisconsin had to replace their entire front seven on D, but has one of the best rushing attacks in the country. Can Wisky run the ball effectively against LSU? Not so sure. Can LSU run the ball effectively against the Badgers? I think so, and I think that will be the difference. I’m rooting for the Big Ten here, but I think LSU wins this one by 10 to 14 points.
3) Does App State have any chance to pull another upset on Michigan?
The chances are slightly better than none. The Mountaineers are now in the FBS (formerly called D1-A), having played their last football in the FCS (formerly called D-1AA) this past season. But that doesn’t matter. What matters most is that Michigan will be much more focused than they were in 2007, and should hammer Appy State. Michigan is going to want to make a statement. And this year’s Appalachian State team is simply not as good as their 2007 team, despite their step up to the FBS. The spread is somewhere around 5 TD’s for a reason and the 2007 upset is the type of upset that happens maybe once in every 1,000 CFB games played.
4) If Michigan loses, is that the end of Brady Hoke?
If they lose to Appy State again? I would say yes….the 2014 season would be Hoke’s last as Michigan head coach, although I’d think he’d make it to the end of the regular season. But again, I think Michigan will roll the Mountaineers, and I tend to think Brady Hoke will be back at Michigan in 2015. Their defense is much improved, and I think he can survive an 8-4 year, which is where I think Michigan will end up (prior to the bowl season). Would a coach survive with the same 4-year record at Ohio State? Don’t think so.
5) If you were a gambling man, what games/lines do you like for this first weekend of college football?
I loved Arkansas getting 21.5 against Auburn, but that line has since dropped to 19, so I wasn’t the only one who liked getting 3 TD's-plus. Arkansas should be much improved and Auburn has a bull’s-eye on their chest after their run last year. I think the Florida State – Oklahoma State game will be another beatdown, much like most Florida State games a year ago. Oklahoma State lost everybody and the ‘Noles look even better on paper this year than they did a year ago. And I like Virginia getting 3 TD’s at home against UCLA. UCLA has to travel across the country, and that is so much of a bigger deal than most people think it is. The Bruins are improved, but the Cavs will show bigger improvement in ’14 than the Bruins.