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Picks Column: I Hope You Like Fast Food

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Stanford's defense should be able to slow Arizona State, but it's time for Kevin Hogan to do more than ride the coattails of a good team. Photo by David Madison/Getty Images.
Stanford's defense should be able to slow Arizona State, but it's time for Kevin Hogan to do more than ride the coattails of a good team. Photo by David Madison/Getty Images.

I love to eat.

Stop me if you’ve never heard that one.

But really, I do. In the relative sense. As in, compared to a normal person. And normal people really enjoy eating.

The list of foods I don’t like is short and a bit bizarre: chocolate, tomatoes, melons and yellow rice.

Sometimes my eating habits get me in trouble (I still remember my assistant track coach at Samford University trashing my piece of cheesecake at Fazoli’s, our traditional pre-race restaurant on Friday nights. Coach James, you still owe me $3.50 in per diem for that one.) 

In college, the cafeteria was my best friend. A buffet every day. One of my teammates, who struggled with an eating disorder in high school and measured out her salad in cups for her pre-practice lunch, used to sit and watch me eat with legitimate awe and jealousy. I endured stomach cramps in my fair share of interval workouts for overeating or scarfing down barbecue sandwiches and soft-serve ice cream.

Lucky for me, I’ve been hyperactive in my life, running, climbing, working out, doing labor jobs. We’ll see when I hit the other side of 30, but so far it hasn’t impacted my figure. I’ve fluctuated between 175 and 190 for years, and at six feet tall, most of the weight differences depend on how much time I’ve been spending in the gym.

I’ve at times accepted some food challenges. I’ve put down two large Papa John’s pizzas in one sitting. I’ve eaten 26 hot dogs and buns (and probably could be a fringe candidate to qualify for the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating championship).

My usual order at IHOP: International Crepe Passport (two scrambled eggs, two bacon strips, two pork sausage links and two Swedish crepes) and the Colorado Omelette (bacon, pork sausage, shredded beef, ham, onions, green peppers, Cheddar cheese, salsa and a side of three buttermilk pancakes with Butter Pecan syrup). Total calories: More than 2,600. Every third time I place the order, I have to convince the waitress that I want it all. I polished that order off last weekend.

My brother got married in a rural area of Alabama in August. As you’d imagine, the Friday rehearsal dinner featured a tremendous catered spread, with options too numerous for me to recall.

We stayed at a large lakehouse, snacking between meals and tubing on Lake Martin. For a bachelor like me who lives about 1,100 miles from my nearest family member, it was heaven.

When I returned to Denver, I resumed scavenging. Working 100-hour weeks at the time (or more), the stress and time crunch of catch-up mode led to some questionable food choices. I probably went to McDonald’s more than five times the next week, along with Chick-fil-A, the BK Lounge and Steak ’n Shake.

The drop-off in quality goes without saying. But like I said, I love food. Not only will I not complain about ordering McRib and Quarter-Pounder combos, I crave and enjoy them. (Yes, I just used a double negative. Deal with it.) The experience wasn’t nearly as satisfying or delicious as the catered rehearsal dinner, but I adore food. I probably have some sort of emotional/reverse eating disorder. I freely admit it’s one of my coping strategies.

If you love college football as much as I love to eat, you’ll be fine with this week’s schedule. If you have a more discerning palate? This may be the weekend to clean out the basement and work on the honey-do list. Or maybe drive to Vegas on time for Sunday’s NFL games.

Let’s face it… we got spoiled early in the season. Georgia-Clemson, South Carolina-Georgia, Notre Dame-Michigan, Alabama-Texas A&M.

This weekend barely features one Top-25 matchup.

Take a look at the Top 10, minus the Stanford-Arizona State tilt. The opponents: Colorado State, N.C. State, Florida A&M, Auburn, Florida International, Bethune-Cookman, North Texas and SMU. Yikes.

If you want to extend it to other Top 25 teams, you get to include New Mexico State, Connecticut, Savannah State, Idaho State, Maine, Louisiana-Monroe and Texas State.

Luckily, we’re here to walk you through a few of the notable matchups. Because familiarity breeds interest, whether with special sauce or ACC rivals.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get a Big Mac.

Thursday Special

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Raleigh, N.C.)

No. 4 Clemson 31, N.C. State 14

The Wolfpack have picked off Top 10 teams with regularity in recent seasons, but they had an NFL-caliber quarterback in Mike Glennon. Colorado State transfer quarterback Pete Thomas has thrown three picks without a touchdown, and he doesn’t have many experienced skill players to help. Clemson can fleece even good defenses, and N.C. State nearly lost to Richmond in its last outing. Still, it’s a road game on national TV. The Wolfpack will be competitive in the first half before getting buried.

Four-Star

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Stanford, Calif.)

No. 5 Stanford 27, Arizona State 21

Don’t be fooled by perception. Arizona State won a coin flip game against another fringe Top 25 team in Wisconsin. The wanderer Todd Graham finally may put down roots after signing a contract extension, and he’s getting a lot of positive press. Stanford, on the other hand, languished in the first half against Army and handled San Jose State in ho-hum fashion. Kevin Hogan hasn’t demolished opponents like other quarterbacks on Top 10 teams and the Cardinal have slipped a smidge in the polls. But Stanford is tougher up front on both sides and has the defense to stifle an Arizona State team that’s scored 87 points in two games.

Kickoff: 7:45 p.m. ET (Baton Rouge, La.)

No. 6 LSU 31, Auburn 14

OK, this one may only deserve 3.5 stars, but work with me. All the LSU offense talk revolves around Zach Mettenberger and Cam Cameron, but the Tigers from Baton Rouge have a pair of emerging receivers in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. as good as any in the country. LSU’s three-man running back rotation is one of the best in the SEC as well, and the defense is loaded with young, athletic talent. It’s already clear Gus Malzahn has Auburn steered in the right direction, but the Tigers from the Plains are facing a dose of reality with LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M in three of the next four.

Under The Radar

Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET (Fresno, Calif.)*

Boise State 35, Fresno State 31

Fresno State is a 3.5-point favorite at home, which means this game would be close to a pick ’em at a neutral site. The MWC is facing a down year, and Boise State is a large part of that after the stinker against Washington in the opener. Meanwhile, Fresno State’s only September opponent thus far is Cal Poly. Derek Carr may be the best quarterback in the conference (though David Fales and a healthy Cody Fajardo have arguments), but Joe Southwick isn’t bad and Jay Ajayi is the best running back on the field. A more balanced Broncos team shows it still controls the MWC with a huge road win.

*Friday game

The Rest

No. 1 Alabama 52, Colorado State 10
Florida 27, Tennessee 18
Notre Dame 21, Michigan State 17
Wisconsin 35, Purdue 20
Maryland 31, West Virginia 27
Georgia Tech 24, North Carolina 21
Virginia Tech 27, Marshall 17
USC 20, Utah State 18
Texas 35, Kansas State 17
Rutgers 24, Arkansas 21
Wyoming 35, Air Force 21

Season: 33-11.
Last Week: 10-4.

All rankings refer to Football.com’s Power Dozen.