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Against All Odds: NCAA/NFL Picks Week 9

Every week, Mr. Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich, takes on his father, Michael J. Drakulich (MJD), in picking 10 games against the Vegas spread. Pitt, Penn State, and West Virginia, when they are playing, will always be on the slate among the five NCAA games chosen, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, covered by Mike Drakulich for, will be included alongside 4 other exciting NFL match-ups.

Like the Pittsburgh Steelers offense, PSN’s picks got rolling last week as I posted a positive 6-4 record to close to within one game of .500 on the year. My dad dropped a game to me with a 5-5 record. Once again, the local teams in my area continue to kill me week after week. Out of my 39 incorrect picks, Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, and the Steelers have contributed a staggering 16 losses to me. The Seattle Seahawks continue to haunt me as well, which is why they are included again this week. I’ll be damned before I quit trying to correctly pick one of their games. Not only did the ‘Hawks kill me by failing to cover against Carolina, I watched in horror as Russell Wilson netted me a laughable 15 points in Fantasy, as my benched player in Ben Roethlisberger put up 82. I can only shake my head.

Here in Pittsburgh, it’s Ravens Week, so I am fired up to begin with. The picks are in, and this is what we’ve come up with. Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

Lines as of 10/31/2014


Thursday Night

(7-0) 2 Florida State (-4) OVER Louisville (6-2), 7:30 PM / MJD picks Florida State

The defending champions visit ACC newcomer Louisville this week. The college football media (ESPN) is salivating and hoping for a upset so they can get their dream match-up of an All-SEC 4-team playoff. They can dream all they want. The Seminoles are going to pound the Cardinals in this one. Personally, I’m tired of hearing about the SEC. Yes, it is a great conference, but spare me. The only teams that belong in the final four, are teams that win their conference championship game, and in all honesty, this format should’ve been expanded to include eight teams. There are five power conferences, plus Notre Dame lurking out there every year. You take the winners of the power conference championship games (or the Big 12 Champion), plus three at-large teams. Then you have a true tournament to decide the National Champion.


(4-4) Pitt (-4) OVER 20 Duke (6-1), 12:00 PM / MJD picks Pitt

Once more unto the breach, dear friends. Here I go again, going against my instincts with the Pitt Panthers. Last week, Pitt brought back the “Script” logo and added it to their helmets, a move that pleased many die-hard Pitt fans who felt it should never had been replaced in the first place. Unfortunately, it didn’t help the result on the field, as the Panthers turned the ball over a staggering six times, and were embarrassed by Georgia Tech at home by a final of 56-28. Before five minutes had even elapsed on the scoreboard, Pitt trailed 28-0. I was mortified that the greatest running back in college football history in Tony Dorsett, who by the way stopped at our tailgate, had to witness such a debacle in person. So why on earth would I take a team like that to beat the 20th ranked team in the nation who sports a 6-1 record? Because that’s what Pitt does. That’s the way it has been for over 30 years. The weather is going to be nasty, as the temps will dip into the 30’s and snow is in the forecast. This type of weather is not tailored to Duke’s strengths. It is for Pitt through, and it’s vaunted rushing attack. Despite the beating Pitt took, they still put up 526 total yards, 198 of it on the ground. Ride or die, I’m going with Pitt in this one.


(4-3) Penn State (-3.5) OVER Maryland (5-3), 12:00 PM / MJD picks Penn State

This game could go either way, as both teams aren’t that good to begin with. I thought Ohio State’s starters would be hitting the showers early in last week’s game, but you never know who might be in there in Happy Valley, and somehow, Penn State hung with the boys from ‘Lumbus last week and almost pulled off a miracle victory. They could suffer a letdown after coming so close and having their hearts broken in overtime. But, with the Nittany Lions playing at home, they’ll do what’s necessary to pull this one off against the visiting Terrapins.


(6-1) 10 TCU (-5) OVER West Virginia (6-2), 3:30 PM / MJD picks TCU

West Virginia has been a pleasant surprise all year, exceeding early season expectations by a wide margin. The party could be over this week, however, as the vaunted offense of TCU makes a visit to Morgantown. Last week, the Horned Frogs dropped 82 on Texas Tech. To put that into perspective, TCU’s basketball team last year scored over 82 points just once. A few weeks ago, high-powered Baylor came into Milan Puskar Stadium ranked 4th and favored by eight. The Mountaineer’s shut them down and blew them out of the water by 14. I don’t see lightning striking twice in this instance. WVU fans are well known for being out of control against visiting teams and their fans. They may want to tone it down and not poke the bear in this one if they want to pull off another upset. It will be a cold day this Saturday, but there won’t be any couches burning to keep people warm after this one. TCU all the way in this one.


(7-1) 5 Oregon (-7) OVER Stanford (5-3), 7:30 PM / MJD picks Oregon

The high scoring Ducks welcome Stanford to the great northwest on Saturday evening. It won’t be a pleasant visit. Stanford is always a tough team to play, but Oregon still has hopes to win a National Title. They will waste no time in rubbing it in to impress the voters to vault their way into the 4-team playoff that will decide the National Champion this season. This could be close for a half, but eventually the beatings will begin.




(5-3) San Diego (+1.5) OVER Miami (4-3), 1:00 PM / MJD picks Miami

Phillip Rivers and the Chargers visit south Florida coming off of two straight setbacks. Miami has played well so far, but San Diego will be desperate not to lose their third in a row. The Fish flourished defensively against Jacksonville last week. They won’t be so fortunate this week.


(4-2-1) Cincinnati (-11) OVER Jacksonville (1-7), 1:00 PM / MJD picks Jacksonville

Cincinnati has been struggling without their top wide-out in A.J. Green. Since starting off 3-0, the Bengals dropped two of three, sandwiched around a tie with Carolina. They escaped the Ravens last week by a final of 27-24, but only due to a questionable offensive interference call against Steve Smith that would’ve put Baltimore ahead late in the game. So how do you cure your mid-season blues? Play Jacksonville! Green will attempt to play this week, but regardless if he does, the Bengals should win easily. If not, the Bengals could be in danger of becoming the Bungles again. Not that that would be surprising…


(6-1) Denver (-3) OVER New England (6-2), 4:25 PM / MJD picks Denver

It’s tough to choose against Tom Brady and the Patriots at home, especially with the kind of offensive roll they’ve been on, but right now Denver and Peyton Manning are even more unconscious. Even though Patriot’s tight end Ron Gronkowski looks unstoppable right now, Denver just has more weapons to play with. What a treat to get to watch this game before the Sunday Night match-up between Pittsburgh and Baltimore. That’s going to be close to seven hours of non-stop entertainment. Denver comes into Foxboro and walks away with the W.


(4-3) Seattle (-15) OVER Oakland (0-7), 4:25 PM /MJD picks Seattle

Seattle is in a state of chaos. Marshawn Lynch refuses to speak with head coach Pete Carroll, the team just traded away dynamic play-maker Percy Harvin, and there is rumors of a rift in the locker room over quarterback Russell Wilson. They were lucky to escape with a victory against Carolina last week. Oakland, though 0-7, hasn’t been blown away by more than 15 points by anyone this season except for games against Houston (30-14) and Miami (38-14). They’re just good at finding ways to lose late in games. That said, the Seahawks have too wake up at some point, right? If they can’t find a way to put together a complete game at home against a wounded animal in the Raiders, then it’s safe too say that the chance of seeing Seattle defend their title is growing dimmer by the week.


(5-3) Pittsburgh (+2) OVER Baltimore (5-3), 8:30 PM/ MJD picks Pittsburgh

People might be looking forward to Denver at New England, but the Game of the Week will be played Sunday night in Pittsburgh where bitter rivals meet up once again. Baltimore won the first meeting 26-6 in week two, but for the most part, Pittsburgh moved the ball well, but was unable to convert drives into points. Last week, courtesy of Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley “getting it” (or being told to), the shackles were taken off of Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense. Instead of sideways passes and dinking and dunking the ball down the field, Pittsburgh came out in attack mode all game long, as they destroyed the Colts 51-34. Roethlisberger had the most prolific passing game in NFL history by going 40-49 for 522 yards, six touchdown passes and zero–count ’em zero sacks. To boot, the Steelers’ defense pressured Andrew Luck all game and gave him a physical beating every chance they got. Pittsburgh should be licking their chops at redemption in this one and the Heinz Field crowd should be in a frenzy early. With games against the Jets and Titans coming up, this is a big time chance for the Steelers to make their move to the top of the AFC once again. They won’t fail to live up to expectation in this one. Steelers claim victory in the rematch.


*Home Teams in BOLD


Pick Results:

MJD: Last Week: 5-5 / Overall: 42-35-3  –

PSN: Last Week: 6-4 / Overall: 38-39-3  -4

Author Profile

Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.

There's nowhere on earth that is more dedicated to its sports teams like Western Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. The passion and pride of Pittsburgh's fan base is second to no one. From the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA football and basketball, to W.P.I.A.L. high school sports, "The City of Champions" has it all!

As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides the best opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania.

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