The Weekly: Choppin’ wood and lookin’ good

Here’s the latest installment of Nick Benvenuto’s The Weekly. I’ve enjoyed reading his picks and takes, and though I haven’t mentioned this to him yet, maybe he can offer up some thoughts on the Cam Newton situation, as I know he’s a fan.

Ramon Broadway's Razorbacks look to take down Spurrier

For those of us who’ve played sports our whole lives, you get used to hearing coach after coach give you the same clichés over and over again.  Some of them find ways to be unique, but most are pretty lame. 

"Win every pitch/inning/snap/quarter,” "take it one day at a time,” "it’s all about the little things,” "you have to want it more!” "RELAX!!!!".  (Hmm, maybe that last one isn’t so common). 

The Weekly’s 2010 campaign can be described by a cliché that our own local college football team rallied around in 2006. We’re choppin’ wood.  As much as any other week this season, last week fit our choppin’ mantra. We’ve been able to follow up a tremendously slow start by steadily working our way back to even, going 9-5 over our last 14 games.

Last week’s recap begins in Lincoln.  Despite opening up a 24-0 first-quarter lead, Nebraska almost found a way to not cover the 7.5 points.  But Cornhusker RB Roy Helu, Jr.’s 307 rushing yards were too much for the Tigers, our Week 9 Letdown Special, to overcome. 

Out in Los Angeles, Oregon continued to run away from teams in the second half, overcoming a 32-29 deficit to beat USC, 53-32. There might be someone out there who can slow Oregon down, but there’s nobody who can stop them. This team is on its way to a National Championship. 

Staying with National Championship contenders, we told you that Auburn would lose to Ole Miss.  Do you see what happens when you bet against Cam Newton?  Lesson learned.  Let’s get to choppin’…

Last Week: 2-1
SportsAngle record: 4-3
Season: 16-19
All-Time: 136-124-6

Arkansas (+4.5) at South Carolina, 7pm

Both teams enter riding two-game winning streaks, but the problems in the South Carolina secondary are going to doom them this Saturday. Hogs QB Ryan Mallett can light up any scoreboard, even with top WR Greg Childs on the shelf with a bum wheel. South Carolina has had coverage issues all season, giving up 300+ passing yards to three of their last four opponents. 

Things won’t get better for the Gamecocks this weekend, with CB Chris Culliver suffering a season-ending shoulder injury last weekend. Super freshman RB Marcus Lattimore will keep the Ol’ Ball Coach in the game, but Arkansas is going to make this one a shootout that USC can’t hang with.  Look for South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia to make a couple of crippling mistakes allowing the Hogs to pull off the upset. 

Arkansas 38 – South Carolina 31.

*****

Illinois (+3) at Michigan, noon

Illinois is a dog here? Really? Really??? 

For two teams headed in wildly different directions, this line is staggering. This is now the third straight year where the Wolverines are a sinking ship after jumping out to a quick start.  Their defense isn’t capable of stopping anyone, while the Illini offense is as hot as a pistol.

Freshman QB Nathan Scheelhaase has thrown six touchdowns and no picks in the last two games, leading Illinois to 87 points during that span. A speedy Illinois defense will have done their homework, seeing how Michigan State contained Wolverine QB Denard Robinson and keep him in check.

The Michigan defense hasn’t forced a turnover in their past three games, while Illinois has protected the ball relatively well this season (turnover margin: +3). Unless they can buck that trend, it’s going to be another long day in the Big House for the home team. 

Illinois 37 – Michigan 28.

*****

Air Force (-6.5) at Army, noon

It’s great to see an old-school powerhouse like Army with a winning record, but let’s not act like this team is something special. These Black Knights won’t be giving Army fans flashbacks to Doc Blanchard or Glenn Davis any time soon. Their five wins have come against teams with a combined record of 11-30. 

Meanwhile, Air Force is coming off a tough but hard fought loss at Utah, giving the Utes all they could handle before falling, 28-23. Air Force has won 16 of the past 18 meetings, including eight of the past nine at West Point.

With a win the Falcons will win the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for the first time since 2002. Don’t expect this group to let that slip through their hands. Both teams run the triple option, so don’t expect either defense to look confused, but Air Force’s triple option game is simply better. 

Air Force 29 – Army 13.

*****

This may have been the toughest week of lines that we’ve run into this season — be careful of all those road favorites. For those of you clamoring for a playoff, you get to see a pair of elimination games Saturday. The TCU-Utah loser and Alabama-LSU loser are both out of the national championship picture, while the winners will live to see another week at the top of the BCS standings.

Remember to check us out at www.SportsAngle.com every week!

As always, until next week…

Many Hundos.

-Nick

Esoteric

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