Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It's here where Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.
If you've followed Man vs Woman vs Machine over the last two years you might be surprised to see that it's back for a third year. I mean, here I am, a college football writer, and I'm partaking in a competition against my girlfriend and my Playstation. In the first year of the competition I finished in last place, with Woman claiming the title.
Last year I could only manage to tie Woman for first place (both Woman and I finished 79-61 while Machine checked in at a sad 64-76).
So you might think I should stop embarrassing myself in such a public manner, but by thinking that you are assuming I have any shame. I don't.
First of all, the entire premise behind this feature was derived from my desire to show you just how fickle gambling on football games can be.
Second of all, while I may not have any shame, there's no way in hell I would put an end to this feature without winning it. I mean, I do have to live with Woman you know. And she isn't shy about letting me know when she's winning.
So while I represent an entire gender, this season I'm putting me first. I don't just have to salvage this for Man, but for my very soul.
Man -- I was on the fence about this game for a while because, even though I feel confident that South Carolina is going to win, that spread just seemed a bit too perfect to me. In the end though I just had to remind myself about how the Gamecocks were 5-1 against the spread at home last season, and I'm hoping that trend continues into 2013. At least for this week anyway. Pick: South Carolina
Woman -- Sorry, Tar Heels, I dislike your team so much (residual basketball hatred), I didn't even look at the spread before picking South Carolina. Of course, I did sneak a peak at the Gamecock's 13 opening-game win streak, Steve Spurrier's lust for a national title and Jadeveon Clowney's forearms and thighs. Pick: South Carolina
Machine -- The first game of the season brings with it the first unanimous pick, as The Machine sees South Carolina winning this one with relative ease. Oh, and it foresees a Jadeveon Clowney touchdown. Gamecocks win 34-14. Pick: South Carolina
Man -- Listen, I get that Ole Miss is somewhat of a trendy pick in the SEC this season because of the way Hugh Freeze has been recruiting, but this is still a very young team opening its season against an SEC opponent. So it's very hard for me to give up points in a situation like this. Oh, and then there's the fact that Vanderbilt is 10-2 against the spread at home the last two seasons. Pick: Vanderbilt
Woman -- I'm leaning toward Coach Freeze and his stellar flock of ten true freshmen who will be taking the field with no Vanderbilt PTSD. It doesn't hurt that the entire city of Oxford is moving into Commodore Stadium, either. ("We love the open concept and stainless steel appliances.") Ole Miss wins but no way I'm giving points on a coin flip. Pick: Vanderbilt
Machine -- Two games in, two unanimous decisions. We can only hope things get more interesting than this. The Machine has the Commodores winning straight up, 21-17. Pick: Vanderbilt
Man -- Here's a fun stat for you. Including their Gator Bowl opponent Northwestern, the Bulldogs played five games against bowl teams last season. The Bulldogs went 0-5 in those games, losing by an average of 21.4 points per game. So, yeah, this one isn't that hard. Pick: Oklahoma State
Woman -- Just what every true college football fan craves, an old-fashioned season-on-the-line-before-it-even-starts death match to start the season. Should be lots of action, with the Cowboys pulling away in the second half. But at least the veteran Mississippi State Bulldog squad have these nifty new helmets. Pick: Oklahoma State
Machine -- Finally! Somebody disagrees with somebody! While The Machine sees Oklahoma State leaving Houston with the win, it's going to need a late touchdown to do so. Oklahoma State 38-34. Pick: Mississippi State
Man -- I truly have no idea which direction to go with this game. You have a Penn State team that hasn't named its starting quarterback yet -- the options are a true freshman or a juco transfer -- and a Syracuse team with a brand new coach. What the hell am I supposed to do? My official advice would be to avoid this game, but since that's not an option for me, I'm just going to take the points and cross my fingers. Pick: Syracuse
Woman -- I don't even know who's starting at quarterback for either team, so this could be the beginning of some 3-D chess match or more likely, a game of human bumper car. I'm a gambling girl, so predict a Syracuse win. Pick: Syracuse
Machine -- I have to say I was a bit surprised by The Machine's prediction here, as it not only sees a Syracuse win, but a Syracuse blowout, as the Orange win 38-7. Pick: Syracuse
Man -- Listen, Northern Illinois is coming off of a fantastic season, even if things didn't end very well against Florida State. Then there's Iowa, which is coming off one of its worst seasons in recent history. But you know what? Even with the two different directions these teams went last year Iowa still beat Northern to open the season. And that was on a neutral field. This time its in Iowa City. Pick: Iowa
Woman -- Here's some footage of one of the Huskies preparing for game day against Iowa. Not only will I take the points, I think Mactastic Northern Illinois breaks its 0-8 losing streak against the Hawkeyes - damn, all that fructose has me thinkin' crazy. Pick: Northern Illinois
Machine -- So it turns out The Machine thinks Northern Illinois will have a harder time with Iowa than it did Florida State. Hawkeyes win 34-10. Pick: Iowa
Man -- What's that? Nick Saban has had an entire offseason to get ready to face a team that's coming off a 7-6 season with a quarterback who had nearly as many interceptions as touchdown passes? And the spread is only 19 ½? Pick: Alabama
Woman -- For your viewing pleasure, here's a dramatic rendering of Virginia Tech on offense during Saturday's game. CJ Mosley is played by the dog. The Hokies offense is played by the pink ball. Pick: Alabama
Machine -- The Machine is loyal to its own kind. Alabama 44-17. Pick: Alabama
Man -- I truly understand why Georgia would be considered the favorite in this matchup, but let's take a few things into consideration here. First of all, this is a home game for Clemson, and these are the same Tigers who finished off last season by beating LSU. Second of all, Georgia is inexperienced in the secondary and lost a lot of its pass rush to the NFL. I mean, I don't expect Clemson's defense to slow Georgia down all that often, but in a shootout like this I'll gladly take the home team that's getting points. Pick: Clemson
Woman -- So conflicted. Should I pick Georgia, the team that almost took down Nick Saban last year or Clemson, who did take down Les Miles in the Chik-fil-A Bowl? With such a tight contest, the Memorial Stadium venue plays a large part, but I'm more swayed by Aaron Murray's senior year and a weak Tiger's secondary. Pick: Georgia
Machine -- The Machine seems to think this game will be just as much fun as I do, though The Machine does not understand the concept of fun. Georgia wins 38-37 but that's a Clemson cover. Pick: Clemson
LSU (-4) vs TCU -- Saturday 9 p.m. (in Arlington)
Man -- You know, TCU may just end up winning the Big 12, but I can't pick them here. The Horned Frogs will probably be without their best player on defense, and Casey Pachall is coming back from a year off. When you've been off for a year is LSU the kind of defense you want to face in your first game back? Pick: LSU
Woman -- You know I love you, Les Miles. But you killed me last year, going 2-7 against the spread in nine games. You displayed an uncanny ability to beat your opponent but not the number. Nevertheless, you are still my magic man. My prediction: LSU leads by 40 points at the half, then the Horned Frogs go on a scoring tear and come within two points with one second left on the clock. A field goal will win it. Les yells something about "red-blooded American men!" then replaces his special teams with the Tigers marching band. The kick is attempted but the trombonist jumps seven feet high and swats the ball out of the air with his instrument, which careens off a TCU Showgirl's knee, causing her to break the human pyramid, resulting in totally adorable carnage and the ball bouncing into QB Zach Mettenberger's hands (also a member of the marching band), who throws a pass to himself, then runs it in for a touchdown while Les rips off his shirt screaming, "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?" Pick: LSU
Machine -- The Machine does not care for the games these two coaches are playing before the game, nor does it care for you finding this game all that interesting in the second half. LSU wins 35-10. Pick: LSU
Northwestern (-5) at California -- Saturday 10:30 p.m.
Man -- I think Northwestern is the better team in this matchup, but there are just some things working against them here. First of all, Big Ten teams tend to struggle a bit when heading west, and to do so this early in the season at such a late time -- the body clocks of Northwestern players will be at 9:30 p.m. -- makes it hard for me to give up points with the Wildcats on the road. So give me the Bear Raid and the points. Pick: Cal
Woman -- Oh my god, it's Berkeley versus Evanston? If I'm not mistaken, this is a national holiday for Whole Foods. Cal wishes it could keep it close but it won't. Pick: Northwestern
Machine -- The Machine sees Northwestern escaping Berkeley with a late touchdown from Venric Mark to give the Wildcats a 24-17 win. Pick: Northwestern
Florida State (-10) at Pittsburgh -- Monday 8 p.m.
Man -- I know he hasn't played an actual game yet but I am firmly planted on the Jameis Winston bandwagon. Get on while you still can. I don't think Winston will come out with a huge game in his first start, but I just don't see the Panthers being able to do much damage against this Seminoles defense, so Florida State should cover rather easily all the same. Pick: Florida State
Woman -- Pitt going into the ACC reminds me of when I shifted from All-American to Heisman mode on my EA NCAA Football game. It wasn't pretty for me and it won't be for Pitt. My only fear is that the Seminoles have a recent history of struggling in games they should win easily. But seeing as Florida State is my dark horse candidate to take it all this year, might as well start 'em strong. Pick: Florida State
Machine -- Welcome to the ACC, Pitt! Enjoy this 41-3 loss to Florida State! Pick: Florida State
|Man vs. Woman vs. Machine|
|South Carolina (-11.5) at North Carolina|
|Ole Miss (-3.5) at Vanderbilt|
|Mississippi State at Oklahoma State (-12.5)|
|Syracuse vs. Penn State (-8)|
in East Rutherford, NJ
|Northern Illinois at Iowa (-3)|
|Virginia Tech vs. Alabama (-19.5)|
|Georgia (-1.5) at Clemson|
|TCU vs LSU (-4)|
in Arlington, TX
|Northwestern (-5) at California|
|Florida State (-10) at Pittsburgh|