Colin: Why Is Michigan getting so much love? Who is their quarterback anyway?
Baver: Michigan probably deserves more respect than Buckeye fans are giving them. But they need to beat at least one of Ohio State or Sparty on the road this year, two schools that absolutely own them, to deserve the love they are getting. As for the QB, Harbaugh is of course doing things in atypical fashion, not naming a starter in fall camp for the 2nd year in a row. But it looks like Wilton Speight will get the first shot. He played against the Bucks last year and did not impress. It’s either Speight, Houston transfer John O’Korn, or a combination of both of them against Hawaii tomorrow. The Wolverines are suspect at QB, RB & LB, but look strong everywhere else, and actually upgraded with Defensive Coordinators with Don Brown replacing DJ Durkin.
Colin: Harbaugh seems to be acting a little extra crazy these days and a couple of recruits have recently jumped ship. Is his act going to fly or do you think his eccentric behavior could become a problem with recruits sooner than later?
Baver: Colin, usually it’s you shooting from the hip and me sugar coating it. It’s not eccentric behavior; it’s a complete freak show with Harbaugh. I watched his interview with the BTN media guys at the Big Ten Media days…and the guy is out there. He didn’t say anything crazy in that interview, but his facial expressions, his delivery when he talks….he is just a bizarre guy. The guy can coach; I’ll give him that, but his strange ways don’t help him in recruiting.
Colin: How would you rate the Big Ten compared to other conferences? What teams have a shot at making the playoff?
Baver: I think it’s the SEC and then a bit of a drop-off, as much as I hate to admit it. The other four Power Five conferences are all neck and neck in my mind – I could see the Big Ten finishing anywhere from 2nd to 5th in terms of conference computer ratings at year-end. I think Michigan and Ohio State have legit shots at the playoff, and maybe even Sparty. But Sparty isn’t going to win any tie-breakers from the committee after laying the egg they laid against Bama in last year’s playoff. Iowa has a longer shot at the playoff, but does play all of their big games at home
Colin: If Pencilstorm could send you to cover five games anywhere in the country this season, which five would you pick?
Baver: I don’t need to necessarily leave Columbus for all of ‘em do I? Because OSU-Michigan in the ‘Shoe goes without saying; LSU-Bama down on the bayou; Clemson-Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium. Ohio State-Oklahoma in Norman (and I was actually there with my old man in ’83, and remember it like it was yesterday). And Bama-Tennessee in Knoxville. When is my prepaid expense check coming?
Colin: Looking around the country, do you have any dark horse picks for the CFB playoff or do you expect the usual suspects?
Baver: I like Clemson to win it all. On paper, they are a top-3 team in the country (in my mind) and have the easiest road to the title of all the big boys. As a dark horse, I think Louisville is worth a flyer, and I said that before Lamar Jackson put up video game highlights last night. I’ve got Clemson & LSU in the title game. I think this is Les Miles’ best team since his ’07 team that beat Ohio State in the title game. I think Bama’s schedule probably puts them in the loss column twice this year, but it of course wouldn’t shock me to see them win their 5th title in 8 years.
Colin: Some interesting match ups in week one. Which games will you be keeping and eye on and who would you put $ on if you did that sort of thing? If I remember right, you lit it up against the spread last year, right?
Baver: 24-14-1 against the spread a year ago, but I am due for some duds this year after knocking ‘em down two straight years. I like Florida State laying 4 ½ as the best play on the board. They’ve got so much coming back and Ole Piss is breaking in a new team that won’t be ready in Wk 1. I like Clemson (-7 ½) to win and cover at Auburn, despite Clemson struggling a bit on the road (ATS wise) last year. I like LSU (-11) to roll Wisconsin in Green Bay. And I picked Bowling Green to cover the 28 against our Buckeyes in the OSU Q&A we had, but I think that spread is pretty sharp.