Rapp’ 6-Pack: 2012 Week 8

By Jeff Rapp, October 20th, 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.

The birth of children would be up there, sure, but if your child is born on a football weekend like my son was 12 season openers ago, well, let’s just say a little bit of the joy is diminished.

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. (Please, don’t try this at home or near sharp objects.)

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 the Buckeyes to cover against Nebraska, nailed the other three college games and even rolled the dice and got a seven with a winless New Orleans Saints squad.

After taking off last week because of, quite frankly, a lack of interesting games, I’m back with another half-dozen picks.

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

Last week’s picks: 5-1
Record for the season: 8-4
Ohio State games: 1-1
Total college: 5-3
NFL: 3-1
Nailed right on the head: 0

Game 1: Purdue (3-3) at No. 7 Ohio State (7-0)
When: Sat., noon Eastern (ABC/ESPN2)
Line: Buckeyes by 17½
Analysis: The Buckeyes don’t want to admit it, but they have a Purdue problem. The Boilermakers have knocked them off two of the last three years and the victory in between doesn’t count since it was part of the vacated 2010 season. Purdue also has an effective spread and will test the middle of the troubled OSU defense with short passes and a decent amount of balance. Plus, DT Kawann Short is a handful up front – and he has friends. All of that, and the mounting pressure of OSU’s undefeated start, has me thinking this game will actually be fairly close. On the other side of the equation is the simple fact that PU, like the rest of the league, will have no answer for dynamic QB Braxton Miller, who is becoming a legitimate Heisman candidate before our eyes. Miller and RB Carlos Hyde have been in a groove of late and will be facing the league’s worst rushing defense.
Also Intriguing: Purdue is last in the league at defensive third-down conversions, allowing foes to stay on the field 44.7 percent of the time after such plays. The Boilers also missed a whopping 27 tackles last week as Montee Ball and Wisconsin had a field day. PU coach Danny Hope has vowed that the defensive effort will be better this week. Good luck.
Pick: Brax attacks – OSU by 10

Game 2: No. 6 LSU (6-1) at No. 20 Texas A&M (5-1)
When: Sat., noon Eastern (ESPN)
Line: LSU by 3
Analysis: Mid-October is one of the best times of the year in my mind. The leaves are turning. The air is cooler and crisper. The baseball playoffs are in full flight. And college football takes center stage, usually with a plethora of upsets. We haven’t had many so far this fall but that is likely about to change. It seems to happen every year. We get midway through the season, the first BCS rankings emerge, and the experts are sure they have the college football landscape all figured out. Then weird things happen, as if on cue. A ranked team beating a very good team at home probably doesn’t qualify, but if there are indeed upsets afoot this looks like a pretty good one, especially since LSU’s offense has looked very mortal at times this season.
Also Intriguing: These two teams were matched in the 2011 Cotton Bowl at the end of the 2010 season and the Tigers posted an impressive 41-24 win in Dallas.
Pick: Upset Saturday – Aggies by 10

Game 3: Nebraska (4-2) at Northwestern (5-1)
When: Sat., 3:30 p.m. Eastern (ABC/ESPN2)
Line: Nebraska by 6
Analysis: Northwestern has got to be the most exciting team in the country that apparently nobody cares about and nobody watches. The Wildcats have played in one wild, momentum-laden beauty after another and have come out the better for it with wins like the 42-41 squeaker at Syracuse to open the season and a 44-29 triumph over Indiana that got dicey. Last week’s 21-13 victory at Minnesota was more of the solid variety and set up a potential thriller with Nebraska. However, the Cornhuskers represent the largest challenge to date for Pat Fitzgerald’s crew as they lead the Big Ten in scoring (43.7 point per game) and total offense (507.3 yards per game) and have perhaps the conference’s most dangerous backfield with QB Taylor Martinez and RBs Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah.
Also Intriguing: Martinez is not known for his arm or accuracy but he actually leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency with a mark of 161.3. He struggled in a loss at Ohio State but has thrown just four picks all season.
Pick: This time, ’Cats can’t keep up – ’Huskers by 13

Game 4: No. 4 Kansas State (6-0) at No. 17 West Virginia (6-1)
When: Sat., 7 p.m. Eastern (FOX)
Line: WVU by 2½
Analysis: Just when it appeared the Heisman Trophy conversation was becoming a bit stale, we get this little doozy matching superstar QBs Geno Smith of WVU and Collin Klein of K-State. Klein is much more mobile than his size (6-5, 225) would suggest and is as nifty a runner as he is an effective passer. Smith is coming off a frustrating week at Texas Tech but he still has thrown 25 touchdowns and no interceptions with a completion percentage better than 75 percent in seven games this season. That’s phenomenal stuff. The Mountaineers are as prolific as any offense in the country when they get cranking – just ask Baylor – but sometimes their defense digs a hole for them with loose play early. K-State actually has a top-20 defense and is completely content to grind out foes on the ground.
Also Intriguing: West Virginia has teased in recent years, looking capable to being in the national discussion only to completely hurtle out of it. Is it about to happen again?
Pick: This should be fun – Wildcats by 7

Game 5: Packers (3-3) at Rams (3-3)
When: Sun., 1 p.m. Eastern (FOX)
Line: Green Bay by 5
Analysis: The Pack most definitely was back last week with a sizzling performance in prime time at Houston, rolling to a 42-24 win. It was the kind of win that puts the rest of the NFC on notice. Only it actually was the first time Green Bay played well on the road this season after loses at Seattle and Indianapolis. And this is the Packers’ third straight week away from home. Also, Green Bay continues to get banged up with injuries. I know you’re now wondering why I’m setting up a pick of the Rams. Well, No. 1, St. Louis has played very well at home. Second, the Rams possess the necessary pass rush to slow down Aaron Rodgers and company and also are fifth in the NFL against the pass. And third, Jeff Fisher is a master at figuring out how to hang in games, which the Rams have done virtually all season.
Also Intriguing: The Rams have not fared well against the NFC North with a last-second loss at Detroit in Week 1 and a 23-6 loss at Chicago, the team’s worst defeat this season.
Pick: My new go-to team, at home anyway – St. Louis by 3

Game 6: Steelers (2-3) at Bengals (3-3)
When: Sun., 8:20 p.m. Eastern (NBC)
Line: Pittsburgh by 1
Analysis: The Steelers usually aren’t an issue-impaired team, especially on the field, but they have found themselves in a precarious spot and without much semblance of a proven running game. Most alarming for Pittsburgh fans has been witnessing breakdowns at the end of games when QB Ben Roethlisberger is usually at his best. Meanwhile, the Bengals shot out to an encouraging start mainly on the strength of standout passing performances from QB Andy Dalton and opportunistic defense. However, a second glance shows Cincinnati is without a real noteworthy win and its sloppiness is beginning to catch up. And there isn’t much way to flower a fairly convincing loss to previously winless Cleveland last week.
Also Intriguing: The University of Cincinnati Bearcats fell from the ranks of the unbeaten on Saturday and it could be an especially bummy football weekend in the Queen City.
Pick: Tide is turning – Steel men by 10

Enjoy the games!