Mama said there'd be weeks like this. I went 7-13 with my picks last week which is bad, bad, bad. But as I like to say, adversity is opportunity and there are plenty of chances to make up for it this week.
And what a week of college football we have ahead of us. Some of the best rivalries in the sport are rekindled alongside a handful of games that will go a long way toward deciding who plays for the national championship in January.
Week 5 Picks (39-39-3 vs. spread through four weeks)
Texas A&M at Oklahoma State -3.5: A pair of unbeatens meet in Stillwater on Thursday night. The Cowboys have scored 171 points in three games, an average of 57 points per contest. The Aggies have a high-powered offense as well, so this should be fun. OSU 42-37
Temple -5 at Army: Two of the pleasant surprises of the early college football season have been Temple and Army. Both 3-1 heading into this week, the Owls and Knights should be commended for the way they've turned their respective programs around. Temple might be without star running back Bernard Pierce, who injured his ankle against Penn State. Had he not gotten hurt last week, the Owls may still be undefeated. TU 24-21
Miami -3.5 at Clemson: It's the Brescia vs. Putnam Bowl. Since Chris is under contract with Thuggz n Juggz and Nick isn't, we'll take the Tigers. Seriously though, I was impressed with Clemson against Auburn, even in defeat. Of course, if the Canes win this one, they're right back in the top-10 discussion. Clem 28-27
Extra Points Top 10
Florida State -7 at Virginia: Except for the Oklahoma disaster, the Noles have been truly dominant this season, and, by the looks of last week's shutout of Wake, the defense may be finally coming around, too. FSU 38-14
Ohio State -17.5 at Illinois: The Buckeyes have quietly gone about their business so far this season. It'll be another showcase of efficient dominance for OSU this week at Illinois. OSU 40-17
Northwestern -5.5 at Minnesota: We haven't talked about Northwestern a lot this year, and that's my bad. The Wildcats are off to a great start led by first-year starting quarterback Dan Persa. Still, Minnesota will be a tough out at home. NW 24-21
Tulane at Rutgers -15: Led by its opportunistic defense, Rutgers had a great chance to beat North Carolina last week but fell just short. The Knights need more from last year's freshman All-American quarterback Tom Savage. There's no way around it. With the Green Wave coming to town, this is a chance for the offense to get going. RU 31-10
Navy at Air Force -10: Although Army is emerging, Navy and Air Force are established. The Middies and Falcons each have very strong teams this year, and the winner will be set up for a big year. Wouldn't it be cool to see a service academy team playing in a major bowl? AF 27-21
Tennessee at LSU -16: The Vols showed some fight by pulling out an overtime win against UAB at Neyland Stadium last week. But having to go to overtime to beat a bad UAB team at home is more proof of how far UT still has to go.
Michigan -10 at Indiana: Be wary of IU here. The plucky Hoosiers are 3-0 and feeling good about themselves. They also gave Michigan all it wanted last year before losing, 36-33. UM 33-24
Virginia Tech -4 at N.C. State: N.C. State earned a lot of respect last week by smashing Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The Wolfpack is very athletic, well-coached and has a bona fide star calling the signals in quarterback Russell Wilson. I'm torn on this one because I've gone to bat for VT all season. I'd like to stick with the Hokies, but with running Ryan Williams out of the Tech backfield, I'll go with the home dog. State 30-27
Texas vs. Oklahoma -4: I've been down on Texas all year, and last week we saw why. Still, I was shocked that it was UCLA that exposed the Horns. The Bruins had been pretty bad prior to last week. Meanwhile, Oklahoma hasn't been all that impressive either, save for its rout of Florida State. All that said, even with both teams a bit down this is still one of the biggest games in college football. I like the Sooners to outscore Texas in an entertaining and competitive affair. OU 34-27
Wisconsin -2 at Michigan State: Spartan coach Mark Dantonio returns after suffering a mild heart attack for what will be a huge game for a State team looking for national respect. There's not much separating these two teams, and these games always seem to come down to the wire. Expect another thriller with Kirk Cousins making some big throws late to lead Sparty to victory. MSU 27-24
Washington State at UCLA -27: Wow. Well done, Rick Neuheisel. We did not see this coming. UCLA looked cooked after its 35-0 loss to Stanford. But after that loss, the Bruins put their rodeo boots on and did the Texas two-step by topping ranked Houston and mud-holing the heavily favored Longhorns in Austin. Again, wow. Washington State might be the worst BCS conference team. UCLA 35-6
Arizona State at Oregon State -3.5: These two teams have been very competitive against some of the top teams in the country, but neither has a marquee win. That'll change for one of these clubs this week. It's really a toss-up to me, but I like the Beavers in Corvallis. OSU 27-23
Notre Dame -3 at Boston College: We'll be in attendance for this one as the Irish and Eagles renew their rivalry on Saturday night. In past years I've waxed poetic about how this series is special to northeast-bred Roman Catholics like me, so I won't get into it now. But even though both teams come into this game "on tilt," it's still a big game, and I am excited to be a part of it. Irish have too much firepower for the Eagles this year. ND 31-17
Washington at USC -10: Steve Sarkisian's Huskies took down the Trojans in Seattle last season, but it seems as though U-Dub isn't as far along as we expected coming into this season. USC 34-17
Florida at Alabama -8: This is still the biggest game in college football, and it looks better now than it did a few weeks ago, as the Gators seem to have found their stride and the Tide looked somewhat mortal last week in Fayetteville. John Brantley now has some help from scrambling freshman quarterback Trey Burton, who will give the Tide another look. But that duo will have trouble against 'Bama's front, which will have Marcell Dareus back in the fold this week. . Bama 28-21
Penn State at Iowa -7: The Hawkeyes have owned Penn State lately and that trend should continue this week. Iowa's just a better football team this season. Iowa 24-14
Stanford at Oregon -7: And the night ends with Stanford visiting Oregon. The winner has the inside track on the Pac-10 championship and steps forward in the national-championship hunt. There's something about this Stanford team that seems special. Look for the Cardinal to pound the Ducks early and hold on late for a huge, we-have-arrived-as-a-program win. Stan 30-27
Bishop Hendricken -18 at Cranston East: Can you believe it's been 13 years since the mighty Hendricken Hawks last won a Rhode Island state championship? In that time, tiny Barrington has won two (Hi, Neets). This looks like it might be Hendricken's year to regain the throne, as the Hawks are off to a very impressive 3-0 start, including a 24-12 win at archrival LaSalle Academy.
Meanwhile, Cranston East has struggled. Single-digit wins over DII West Warwick and DIII Classical have not inspired confidence that the Bolts can contend for a playoff berth in DI this season. But Tom Centore and his staff have shown in the past the ability to spring a trap for heavily-favored opponents. Maybe special teams coach Jay "Beamer Jr." Ward can dial up a blocked kick or touchdown return. BH 33-19
Moments of Levity
We went out on the Upper East Side last weekend to celebrate my friend Marc's birthday. Who's at the table next to us? None other than sweet-swinging Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and backup backstop Francisco Cervelli, that's who. The young Yanks were there as part of a function for some Latin baseball foundation. Mets great Doc Gooden was there as well, but he was situated more toward the back of the venue. I'm pleased to report that everyone in attendance was very well behaved, though Cano did curtly deny my friend's request for a photograph.
Speaking of baseball, hats off to the Red Sox for fighting until the very end of this unfortunate season. If Papelbon could've nailed down that save in the Bronx last Sunday, this would have been a very, very interesting week. Ah well, we'll be back in 2011. In the meantime, we get to watch Ken Burns' "Tenth Inning" and see 2004 in yet another light.
The Celtics, along with the rest of the NBA, are in training camp and you know what that means. Fantasy basketball, baby! I think this is the year I get the NBA Season Pass. Maybe I'll draft Stephen Curry and stay up late every night watching the Warriors. I can't think of many things more fun than that, though it might not be a wise career move.
Halloween is on the horizon as well, and it's time I started thinking of a costume. Kimbo and I have tossed around the idea of doing a couple's costume, but it'll have to be cool. Maybe cowboy and Indian? Or maybe some type of nod to Mad Men. Hmmm.
Lastly, let's discuss adult birthday parties. Innocent, jolly times or self-serving? Frankly, I've never thrown myself a birthday party just because I didn't want to draw that kind of attention. I like to fly under the radar and, as such, I've always been the kind of guy who'd rather celebrate with a quiet dinner among some close friends.
But maybe I've been looking at it all wrong. Marc's party last weekend was fun, and it was a reason for a lot of our college friends who are married and living in Brooklyn to come into the city for a night. It was good to see some people for the first time in a while.
So, my birthday is Oct. 17 and my good friend Brandon's birthday is on the 16th. We've kicked around the idea of doing some kind of joint birthday party. Maybe we'll commission the Snaketux to throw one final big bash before he leaves for Miami. Stay tuned.
That's all this week. Go Rutgers. Go East. Go Pats. Go Chews.