Last week I witnessed one of the most disrespectful things I’ve ever seen in college football – and I absolutely loved it.
There Boston College was, up 6-0 on the Notre Dame’s 24-yard line with just under six minutes to play in the first quarter in South Bend. The Eagles were firmly in control of the game through all of about nine minutes when they were faced with a fourth-and-nine situation.
Field goal, right?
Um, no. Head coach Jeff Jagodzinski kept his offense out on the field and opted to go for it.
To me that’s the equivalent of spitting in the face of the Irish defense. At first I thought maybe BC was going for the offside call but with nine yards to the chains it was highly unlikely. I kept looking back to the “4th and 9” words on the screen, not certain I was reading the numbers correctly. Sure enough the ball was snapped and the Eagles ended up turning the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass.
A truth suddenly became very clear to me: BC was trying to cover the spread.
Some might argue that Jagodzinski merely went for it because he lost faith in his kicker after Steve Aponavicius missed the extra point after the first touchdown. The truth is, Aponavicius has developed a bit of a complex with point after attempts with an ugly 27-for-30 effort this year.
He’s not so bad with field goals: seven-for-nine with one 45-yarder this season. And the fact Jagodzinski went for a field goal early in the second quarter (which was blocked) with BC on the Irish 17-yard line makes me think his choice to go for it in the first half had a little more to do with something else than just lost confidence in his kicker.
BC was favored by 13 ½ or higher at kickoff time depending on when and where you laid your bet. That means a botched PAT had some serious implications that the casual football observer might not be thinking about. In this case, BC actually ended up winning the game 27-14 and missed the number by half a point.
The skeptics could argue the pointspread was the furthest thing from Jagodzinski’s mind when he went for that first down. Notre Dame was looking like the mediocre team it had resembled all season and the game started off like the Eagles were going to bully the Irish all over the field.
Maybe they just wanted to send a message early, take control of the game and impress the BCS committee with a blowout road victory over a possibly improving Irish squad.
But I have to think that Jagodzinski had been made aware by boosters, probably indirectly, that BC wasn’t just undefeated but also 4-1 against the spread heading into TD Jesus land. He wasn’t just winning, he was putting money into the pockets of alumni and backers and that makes for a very popular first-year head coach.
Whether Las Vegas was on his mind on that fourth-and-nine or not, it still didn’t say much for what the Eagles thought of Notre Dame. And it certainly made me question the sincerity of Jagodzinski’s vow that his team would not overlook the Irish last Saturday.
That call was just one of a few serious showings of disrespect I saw over the weekend, though I didn’t enjoy any of them quite as much as watching a team aggressively chasing the cover.
Also making the list was the Bama-Ole Miss game. Fans in Oxford threw everything from whisky bottles to high heel shoes when a late-game replay didn’t go their way. That call would have won it for the Rebs had it gone the way they’d hoped.
We’ve seen that type of behavior before from a million different stadium crowds for less and I’m not sure what was worse: the projectiles on the field or the verbal one Tide coach Nick Saban threw afterward.
“We shouldn’t be mugging the fans, there’s no class in that. If they want to be classless, that’s their business,” he said.
Ouch. Ole Miss AD Pete Boone took exception to the comments and I can’t blame him. Especially after some Bama fans expressed their displeasure in a similar manner after the overtime loss to Georgia earlier this season.
But Mr. Boone shouldn’t be too upset. He hasn’t read some of the comments I get each week in the thread below. Last week’s winner came from Patsfan316, though it was comparatively gentle to some of past week’s posts.
“This website is cool but the guys on here who make there (sic) picks suck. I'll go with my gut and get some real winners not this lamos (sic) picks,” he wrote.
Turns out he was right, even if his grammar and punctuation leave something to be desired. I went a disheartening 1-3 to bring my record to 15-13 against the spread on the season.
Time to earn some dubs back.
Virginia at Maryland (-4, 41 ½)
OK, so I know the Terps have injuries piling up and they’ll have a bunch of guys on the field who haven’t started shaving yet. But sophomore Chris Turner has filled in nicely for a mush-headed Jordan Steffy. Plus these much-improved Terps have a pair of nice wins over Georgia Tech and Rutgers leading into this game.
Besides that, Virginia is easily the worst team currently in the Top 25. I mean, this offense is tough to watch folks, to the point where we have to consider Jameel Sewell had a fantastic game last week when he threw for 185 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in a one-point win over Connecticut.
Fortunately, the Cavs defense is fast and tenacious. The D has helped the Cavs to a 6-1 record against a pretty mediocre schedule to this point. The losing begins now, especially without Virginia’s top, and really only playmaker, running back Cedric Peerman.
Pick: Maryland -4
Southern Miss at Marshall (+3 ½, 56)
I haven’t seen We Are Marshall yet, so you can count me among those who haven’t fallen victim to any Disney sentimentality here. Those of you who’ve seen it can let me know in the thread below if this is worth renting on a day when there’s absolutely nothing left in the store.
About the game. I just can’t see Southern Miss losing it. If they want to maintain any hope of having a shot at the C-USA crown the Golden Eags have to beat winless Marshall even if regular starter Jeremy Young is out.
Tim Roberts told me Southern Miss’s defense looked great last week against SMU and Marshall’s scoring defense ranks 113th in the country. That’s good enough for me.
Pick: Southern Miss -3 ½
Auburn at LSU (-10, 42 ½)
No major detail needed here. This just seems like a lot of points after LSU has gone through two grueling games in back-to-back weeks against Kentucky and Florida.
I think I like the under even more than the points though. Auburn’s defense has put the clamps on lately and I like LSU’s defense to step up with a banged-up offense that might run into some troubles.
Pick: under 42 ½
Kansas at Colorado (+3 ½, 56)
Covers.com associate editor Julian Dickinson and I discussed this game briefly earlier this week. It went a little something like this:
JD: I love Kansas this week.
JC: Really? Kansas is definitely underrated but that game makes me a little nervous.
JD: Why, just because Colorado beat Oklahoma earlier this year?
JD: You’re stupid.
JC: Good point.
Pick: Kansas –3 ½
Jon Campbell is the senior editor for Covers.com and he watches and wagers on enough college football to make any degenerate proud. You can reach him at email@example.com.