Rapp’ 6-Pack: 2012 Week 10

By Jeff Rapp, November 3rd, 2012

Thanks for popping open the 6-Pack. We intend to have a lot of fun with this segment and maybe, just maybe, inform and enlighten along the way.

Is there anything better than flipping the channels on the remote on a football Saturday or Sunday and assessing how awe-inspiring your prognostication genius is? Of course not.

And the best part about the 6-Pack is you don’t have to do anything. You can simply point a finger at me and laugh as I stumble along trying to predict the unpredictable – football.

Each week I’ll take a stab at six games – some of marquee status and some not – from both the collegiate and professional ranks. And I will do so without a net, meaning I will try to pick against the point spread.

I sat out the first few weeks of the season but I’m back up on the horse during Big Ten Conference play, because it’s just too easy and too fun to jab the Big Ten right now. This year, I will pick Ohio State’s league game, three other college games of interest and two NFL games.

Remember, this is all done for entertainment purposes only. In no way am I encouraging anybody to go out and blow hard-earned cashola on ballgames. Also, to be clear, my predictions regarding the Buckeyes are based only on a hunch – and not because of any treasured inside information.

The last time out I correctly picked Purdue to stay within the margin against the Buckeyes, was right on Kansas State’s outright win at West Virginia took candy from a baby by opting for the Steelers to cover a miniscule number at Cincinnati, which allowed me to break even.

After taking off last week, I’m back with another half-dozen picks.

The results from last time, up-to-year totals, perfect predictions (if there are any) and this week’s picks are below:

Last week’s picks: 3-3
Record for the season: 11-7
Ohio State games: 2-1
Total college: 7-5
NFL: 4-2
Nailed right on the head: 0

Game 1: Illinois (2-6) at No. 6 Ohio State (9-0)
When: Sat., 3:30 p.m. Eastern (ESPN)
Line: Buckeyes by 27½
Analysis: This game didn’t figure to make the 3:30 cut a few weeks ago but the fact that OSU is the only 9-0 team in the country instantly makes it intriguing. So is the fact that the Buckeyes, for whatever reason, have let overmatched foes hang around in Ohio Stadium. Ohio State failed to properly put away Central Florida, needed some late magic to beat Cal, was altogether uninspiring in a snoozer with UAB and had to pull one out of the fire vs. Purdue. The Buckeyes are coming off another important team win at Penn State and are facing a UI squad that ranks last in the Big Ten in scoring, points allowed and several other categories. The Illini have a struggling O-line, a quarterback (Nathan Scheelhaase) who has been banged up, and a defense that has been both undisciplined and leaky. Even with OSU’s flaws, this is a total mismatch on paper.
Also Intriguing: The Buckeyes have been outscored 58-51 in the first quarter of games this year and would like to shoot out to a hot, dominating start. Illinois, meanwhile, has been outscored 66-37 in opening periods. It’s time for someone to show up early.
Pick: At last, a bludgeoning – OSU by 34

Game 2: Iowa (4-4) at Indiana (3-5)
When: Sat., 3:30 p.m. Eastern (Big Ten Network)
Line: IU by 3
Analysis: See if you can stay with me: This is a very important game for Indiana – meaning the football team, not the nation’s top-ranked basketball team. If the Hoosiers can just scrape by a .500 Iowa squad, they will set up another big home contest next week with Wisconsin and, get this, be in position to take the driver’s seat in a ticket to the Big Ten Championship Game in nearby Indianapolis. With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible to represent the Leaders Division in the title game, IU has been awarded quite a reprieve after losing five straight games this season. Iowa has been a model of mediocrity and it’s now debatable is coach Kirk Ferentz really is worth his salary, especially when seeing the potential IU’s Kevin Wilson has to impact the conference.
Also Intriguing: IU’s remaining games are Nov. 10 vs. Wisconsin, Nov. 17 at Penn State and Nov. 24 at rival Purdue. Is it actually possible that the Hoosiers will remain relevant to the Big Ten race the rest of this month?
Pick: Hoosier hysteria? Why not – IU by 6

Game 3: Oklahoma State (5-2) at No. 3 Kansas State (8-0)
When: Sat., 8 p.m. Eastern (ABC)
Line: K-State by 8½
Analysis: The Cowboys are ranked No. 24 in the coaches poll, seem to be coming on a bit, and are always dangerous in these kinds of games. They can throw it and score on anybody and are coming off three straight victories since a tough-to-swallow 41-36 loss to Texas. But Kansas State is on the elite plane now, and that’s thanks in large part to QB Collin Klein, the current frontrunner in the Heisman Trophy race. Klein has thrown for 1,630 yards and 12 scores and has added 634 yards and 16 more TDs on the ground. Most impressive is how he’s done it, with poise and execution that is practically on cue. He is a byproduct of wonderful talent and coach Bill Snyder’s teachings and appears to be as valuable to his team as anyone in the country. Still, that discounts how well the Wildcats are playing in all areas right now. This team has a legitimate shot to play for a national championship and doesn’t plan on allowing OK State to get in the way of that.
Also Intriguing: With a scoring average of 44.4 points per game, K-State ranks fifth in the nation. The Wildcats also are holding teams to just 17.1 ppg, good for 13th in the country.
Pick: Klein saves his scoring for the field ’Cats by 16

Game 4: No. 1 Alabama (8-0) at No. 5 LSU (7-1)
When: Sat., 8 p.m. Eastern (CBS)
Line: ’Bama by 8½
Analysis: Let’s just assume for a moment that Nick Saban isn’t a coaching automaton and that his Crimson Tide players are mortal as well. If so, it would stand to reason that Alabama could actually be in for some trepidation. Yes, ’Bama wiped out the Tigers in the BCS title game and, yes, LSU, has endured its share of offensive struggle this season, but with those two facts in mind I expect the Bayou Bengals to play a ferocious brand of defense and come up with some key takeaways. They’ll need to, because ’Bama isn’t going to panic and QB A.J. McCarron isn’t going to get rattled. Plus, the Tide doesn’t need to score many points, as Saban’s D allows all of 8.1 ppg. That, by the way, is tops in the nation.
Also Intriguing: The Tigers have won the last two regular-season matchups – 9-6 in overtime in Tuscaloosa lat year and 24-21 in 2010.
Pick: Rolling for how long? – Tide by 7

Game 5: Vikings (5-3) at Seahawks (4-4)
When: Sun., 4:05 p.m. Eastern (FOX)
Line: Seattle by 4
Analysis: First of all, it’s time to dole out a little credit to Minnesota, a franchise that is better run than it’s reputation and that has drafted better than many realized. Percy Harvin is putting together a monster year with 60 catches for 667 yards already. Christian Ponder is no franchise quarterback but he’s completing 65.3 percent of his passes and finding ways to the winner’s circle. The Vikings logged a fairly shocking win over San Francisco earlier this season and appear to be on an uptick. However, this particular setting doesn’t bode well. Adrian Peterson is dealing with a nagging injury and the Seahawks are a harassing defense both up front and in pass coverage, maybe double so at home. Plus, Seattle is coming off a highly disappointing two-week stretch – a 13-6 setback at San Francisco and a 28-24 last-second loss at Detroit.
Also Intriguing: Neither team has been particularly consistent in the passing game. Minnesota comes in averaging 206.6 yards passing, which ranks 27th in the NFL. Seattle is worse at 171.1 yards per game, which ranks 31st.
Pick: Vikings’ slide is coming – ’Hawks by 14

Game 6: Cowboys (4-3) at Falcons (7-0)
When: Sun., 8:20 p.m. Eastern (NBC)
Line: Atlanta by 3½
Analysis: There’s a lot to like with the Falcons right now. They have scored at least 23 points in every game and found the winning plays in tight contests with Carolina, Washington and Oakland in consecutive weeks. Quarterback Matt Ryan is on top of his game and the defense has been opportunistic. An early-season win over Denver on Monday Night Football seems to have set a special season in motion. Conversely, the Cowboys remain puzzling. They have lost three of their last four games including monumentally frustrating setbacks against the Ravens and archrival Giants. But Big D has played admirably on the road this season and this is the NFL, where fortunes can turn on a dime. Dallas actually matches up pretty well in this game and should manage to stay in the fray.
Also Intriguing: Lost in all the production by Ryan and receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones is the Falcons have not been very good in rushing the ball and stopping the run, ranking 24th and 26th in the NFL, respectively, in those categories. Dallas has talented backs in DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones but hasn’t gotten the running game untracked. Now is the time.
Pick: Undefeated no more – star helmets by 3

Enjoy the games!