So, I didn’t have the greatest week in regards to my college football picks, as a few results I thought would go my way didn’t, for one reason or another.
However, despite my slightly below average showing against the spread, there were some bright spots, like my pick of Duke to cover at home against Virginia Tech, which the Blue Devils did thanks to a touchdown in the final minute of a 34-26 loss, taking Maryland to cover and beat Clemson at home, and going with Auburn to go to Tennessee as the underdog and win.
You can see the specifics of last week’s picks in my upcoming review post, but I have a quick recap of last week’s numbers below.
Top 25 Games: 7-8 ATS, 12-3 SU
Other Games: 5-7 ATS, 7-5 SU
Overall: 12-15 ATS, 19-8 SU
This week sees a couple of monster matchups in the SEC. #1 Florida heads to Baton Rouge to take on #4 LSU, and they may well do it without Tim Tebow, whose status for the game is still uncertain. In the other marquee matchup in the SEC, Ole Miss hosts #3 Alabama in a game that the Rebels need to win in order to stay in the thick of the SEC West title race.
While both of those matchups, and the LSU-Florida one in particular, will garner the most coverage, Arkansas’ clash with 5-0 Auburn in Fayetteville is just as pivotal.
That game could see a Top 25 team go down, and there are several other games this weekend in which the underdog looks to be a very attractive pick, whether to simply cover or to pull off the upset.
This week’s picks are below, and as is the case every week, the lines for our college football and NFL picks are brought to you by our partner SBG Global.
Top 25 Games
Missouri vs. Nebraska (-3): After being on the receiving end of 35-point lashings by the Tigers each of the last two seasons, I’m sure Nebraska would love nothing more than to dole out some revenge on the Tigers’ home field in front of a national audience. Not going to happen.
Prediction: MISSOURI 31, Nebraska 23
LSU vs. Florida (-7 1/2): I’m not waiting to find out Tim Tebow’s status to make my pick on this one, because I think the Gators are going to win either way, but I’m holding off on my pick because this weekend’s showdown in Baton Rouge is going to get a detailed preview.
Prediction: Wait and see – Preview coming soon
Texas (-32) vs. Colorado: Texas was in control of last year’s meeting in Boulder (a 38-14 win) after barely 10 minutes were gone, and I don’t see a mistake-prone, defensively-challenged Colorado team providing much resistance in Austin.
Prediction: TEXAS 48, Colorado 13
Ole Miss vs. Alabama (-5): Alabama has owned this rivalry, and they currently have a five-game win streak over the Rebels. However, each of the last four meetings has been decided by four points or less, and I expect this one to be close as well. But as has been the case in each of those four close encounters, Ole Miss will be left disappointed.
Prediction: Alabama 24, OLE MISS 21
Virginia Tech (-13 1/2) vs. Boston College: Virginia Tech has beaten Boston College in the ACC Championship Game in back-to-back seasons, but the Eagles have won three straight and four out of the last five regular-season meetings between these two former Big East foes. Perhaps they’ll meet in the ACC title game for a third straight season (hooray?), but Va. Tech will be going for the season sweep if that does happen. The Eagles will find the going tough against Va. Tech’s defense, and they’ve also given up back-to-back 300-yard games through the air, which is good news for Tyrod Taylor’s improved passing skills (well, if last week’s performance against Duke is any indication) and Virginia Tech’s hopes to beat BC with a balanced offense.
Prediction: VIRGINIA TECH 28, Boston College 13
Ohio State (-16) vs. Wisconsin: Considering that Wisconsin comes in at 5-0, I’m a little surprised that the Buckeyes are favored by more than two touchdowns. The Badgers have won in three of their last four trips to Columbus (1999, 2001, 2004, lost in 2007), and though I don’t see them being able to pull off the upset, I see it being a little closer than the oddsmakers do. If Wisconsin can avoid mistakes, they can move the ball at least a little on the Buckeyes, but in the end, I still foresee a double-digit win for the home team.
Prediction: Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 17
Air Force vs. TCU (-10): Three of their four meetings since TCU joined the Mountain West have seen the Horned Frogs win by 24 or more points, but the last time TCU went to Colorado Springs, Air Force won 20-17 in 2007, and they can pull this one out as well.
TCU’s known for their defense, and they’ll bring it against Air Force’s potent rushing attack, but they’ll be facing a defense that has already scored five touchdowns this season and has been a pretty strong unit itself. And though the Falcons came out on the short end in their two toughest games, they led at Minnesota going into the fourth and held Navy to only 16 points, which is no small feat.
Scoring opportunities won’t be plentiful, and we might see as many (or more) defensive touchdowns as offensive touchdowns, but this one’s going to be my big upset special of the week.
Prediction: AIR FORCE 20, TCU 16
Iowa (-8) vs. Michigan: This series has been dominated by Michigan, and the Wolverines have won the last three after Iowa won back-to-back games in 2002 and 2003, but this is a game that the Hawkeyes need to win, with trips to Wisconsin and Michigan State looming.
Prediction: Iowa 24, MICHIGAN 17
UCLA vs. Oregon (-3 1/2): After allowing Stanford’s Toby Gerhart to run for 134 yards and three touchdowns last week, UCLA could be in serious trouble against Oregon’s multi-pronged attack, even with Nate Costa likely starting at QB in place of the injured Jeremiah Masoli (knee). The Ducks ran for 318 yards last week against Washington State and have averaged 241 yards on the ground in the last four games after being held to 31 rushing yards in their season-opening loss at Boise State (seems like ages ago now, doesn’t it?). UCLA doesn’t have the offensive capability to keep up with Oregon if the Ducks start putting points on the board early, so the UCLA defense will need to at least make some stops early. But that’s just prolonging the inevitable, as I see no problem for the Ducks winning and doing so comfortably.
Prediction: OREGON 33, UCLA 19
Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State (-5 1/2): Are the Cowboys ripe for the upset in College Station? Jerrod Johnson can certainly have his way with an Oklahoma State defense that allowed Case Keenum to go 32 of 46 for 366 yards and three touchdowns in Houston’s win in Stillwater last month. It also doesn’t help the Cowboys that only one of their triplets will be on the field, with Dez Bryant now ineligible and Kendall Hunter likely still sidelined. A&M didn’t come through for me against Arkansas, but I’m sticking with them this week.
Prediction: TEXAS A&M 38, Oklahoma State 34
Kansas (-19 1/2) vs. Iowa State: Kansas had to rally from a 20-0 halftime deficit to win 35-33 in Ames last season, but the Jayhawks won’t run into such problems in Lawrence. Iowa State can move the ball some with the duo of Austen Arnaud and Alexander Robinson, but Kansas is going to win easily at home.
Prediction: KANSAS 38, Iowa State 16
Arkansas vs. Auburn (-2 1/2): Auburn has been extremely impressive in their 5-0 start, but this week’s trip to Fayetteville could well spell the end of Gene Chizik’s unbeaten start. Arkansas has won the last two meetings at Auburn, but they haven’t beaten the Tigers at home since 2001 (a 42-17 win). That’s going to change on Saturday, however. With the offenses that both teams have, scoring won’t be a problem for either side, and it could be a matter of who has the ball last. But when it’s all said and done, I think the Razorbacks will out-point the Tigers to pick up their first SEC win of the season.
Prediction: ARKANSAS 35, Auburn 31
UNLV vs. BYU (-17): Last season in Provo, UNLV led 35-34 late in the fourth quarter, but Max Hall hooked up with Dennis Pitta for a score and then with Harvey Unga for a two-point conversion with 1:46 left to give the Cougars a 42-35 win. UNLV was on the wrong end of a rushing clinic by Nevada last week (559 rushing yards, 773 total yards allowed in a 63-28 loss), but could they give the Cougars another scare? Yes, if they can bring it just a little better on defense. It also won’t hurt to have starting QB Omar Clayton (shoulder) back after he was rested against Nevada. BYU will land the win in the end, but UNLV certainly won’t go down without a fight.
Prediction: BYU 38, UNLV 31
Oklahoma (-25 1/2) vs. Baylor: Oklahoma may be without Sam Bradford for another week, but the Sooners won’t get caught looking ahead to next weekend’s showdown with Texas.
Prediction: OKLAHOMA 45, Baylor 17
Florida State (-3) vs. Georgia Tech: FSU fumbled away a win in Atlanta last season, and it ultimately proved decisive in the Seminoles being edged out by Boston College for the Atlantic Division title.
The murmurs (I think they’re a bit louder than murmur level now, honestly) about Bobby Bowden’s future will only get louder if the Seminoles lose a third straight game, and it could also spell the end of FSU’s Atlantic Division title hopes, because running the table the rest of the way in conference play won’t be an easy task, with road games against North Carolina, Clemson, and Wake Forest still left on the schedule.
Will the Seminoles step up and deliver a much-needed win? I think so.
Prediction: FLORIDA STATE 34, Georgia Tech 28
South Carolina (-9 1/2) vs. Kentucky: South Carolina has won nine in a row over Kentucky, and Saturday will make it a perfect ten. If only the Gamecocks has been able to win at Georgia – then we could be looking ahead to South Carolina’s trip to Alabama as a potential meeting of top-10 teams.
Prediction: SOUTH CAROLINA 34, Kentucky 21
Nevada (-10 1/2) vs. Louisiana Tech: Take away the -7 rushing yards that Louisiana Tech allowed last week to pass-happy Hawaii, and the Bulldogs have allowed an average of 265 rush yards in the other three games. Last week against UNLV, Nevada ran for 559 yards, averaged more than 10 yards per rush, and had three players run for 170 yards or more, including freshman Mike Ball, who ran for 184 yards and five touchdowns.
What does this spell for Louisiana Tech? Not a lot of good if their run defense doesn’t show up.
Prediction: NEVADA 41, Louisiana Tech 27
Colorado State vs. Utah (-7 1/2): Colorado State has dropped back to back games to BYU and Idaho (who’s a surprising 4-1) after starting 3-0, but the Utes need to bring it, otherwise they’ll be leaving with the same 3-2 mark that the Rams come in with.
Prediction: Utah 34, COLORADO STATE 30
Hawaii vs. Fresno State (-10): This line would likely look a lot different if Hawaii wasn’t starting a new face at quarterback, but instead of Greg Alexander, the Warriors will have walk-on Bryant Moniz taking snaps after Alexander was lost for the season after blowing out his knee against Louisiana Tech last week. But even with a new quarterback in the fold, I think Hawaii can still win. The Warriors have won seven of the last 10 meetings overall and six of the last seven meetings at home, and though they’ll certainly miss Alexander, they can get the job done against the Bulldogs, or at worst, fall just short.
Prediction: HAWAII 29, Fresno State 24
Illinois vs. Michigan State (-4) : Will Illinois be any better with Eddie McGee under center instead of the now-benched Juice Williams? McGee has shown the ability to make plays with his arm and his legs, so perhaps he might provide a spark. However, Michigan State is solid against the run, so McGee might have to beat the Spartans through the air, and I’m not sold that he can do that. On top of that, Illinois’ defense was absolutely embarrassed by Penn State last week, and if they can’t make enough stops, it won’t matter how much McGee does. The Spartans aren’t without their own questions, but the overtime win over the auld enemy was a big step, and there won’t be a letdown this week.
Prediction: MICHIGAN STATE 28, Illinois 23
Minnesota (-3 1/2) vs. Purdue: Another year, another close loss for Minnesota against Wisconsin. But they aren’t nearly as luckless right now as Purdue, who has lost four straight games by seven points or less. With the struggles that Minnesota had against Jahvid Best and John Clay, Purdue could move the ball on the ground, which would open things up for Joey Elliott through the air and give the Boilermakers a real chance to break their losing skid. However, I’ve got the Golden Gophers all the way here.
Prediction: MINNESOTA 30, Purdue 21
Mississippi State (-1 1/2) vs. Houston: The fact that Mississippi State has given up some big plays through the air is definitely of some concern, considering the numbers that Case Keenum has put up this season, but if Mississippi State can hold on to the ball, they should be able to take full advantage of a Houston defense that was allowed UTEP’s Donald Buckram to run for 262 yards and four touchdowns last Saturday. Dan Mullen’s brought some excitement to Starkville, and this week will bring even more excitement – and a win.
Prediction: MISSISSIPPI STATE 41, Houston 38
North Carolina State (-14) vs. Duke: Duke had to deal with one top dual-threat quarterback last week in Tyrod Taylor, and they allow T-Mobile to throw for a career-high 327 yards. N.C. State has won 11 straight against Duke, but seven of those 11 wins have been by seven points or less, so don’t count out Duke’s ability to stay within striking distance. Ultimately, the Wolfpack will make it 12 wins in a row, but don’t count on them to cover.
Prediction: North Carolina State 38, Duke 24
Oregon State (-1) vs. Stanford: Stanford has really impressed me with their 4-1 start, and they could easily be 5-0 had they held a 17-3 halftime lead at Wake Forest in the second game of the season. But after consecutive losses at home against Cincinnati and Arizona, the Beavers played more like the Beavers I was expecting to see this season in last week’s 28-17 win at Arizona State, and I look for more of the same (namely more big days from the firm of Rodgers & Rodgers) in an Oregon State win.
Prediction: OREGON STATE 28, Stanford 20
Pittsburgh (-7 1/2) vs. Connecticut: Bill Stull’s improvement as a passer (66.4% completion %, 988 yards, 11 TD, INT) and Dion Lewis’ emergence at running back (580 yards, 7 TD) have eased any concerns that the Panthers would suffer offensively without LeSean McCoy, but Connecticut’s defense will provide a stiff test. The Huskies also have a tandem of running backs in Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon that has run for 100+ yards in the same game twice already in four games. UConn has won three of five since the two started playing regularly in 2004, but the Panthers will even up the series, and they’ll have the W wrapped up well before the clock hits triple zeroes.
Prediction: PITTSBURGH 31, Connecticut 17
Syracuse vs. West Virginia (-10): Syracuse only trailed 14-13 at halftime against South Florida last week, but they were ultimately done in by seven turnovers (including five interceptions by Greg Paulus) in a 34-20 loss to the Bulls. This week presents another opportunity to show that they can hang with a quality opponent, but holding on to the ball is imperative. Syracuse receiver Mike Williams could have another field day against a defense that has allowed some yards through the air, and the Orange can stay close throughout. I won’t go as far as picking them to pull off the upset again, but I do think the ‘Cuse will make the Mountaineers work hard for the W.
Prediction: West Virginia 34, Syracuse 24
Tennessee (-2) vs. Georgia: Georgia has won six of the last nine meetings in this series, and the Bulldogs have also taken three of the last four meetings in Knoxville.
Prediction: GEORGIA 23, Tennessee 17
Wake Forest (-10 1/2) vs. Maryland: So, which Maryland team will show up? The one that fell behind 10-0 after a quarter at home to Clemson, or the one that came back and held on for a potentially season-saving 24-21 win? If the latter shows up, this one could be pretty close. If the former, well, it won’t be. I think it’ll be somewhere in between, with the Terps covering but falling short.
Prediction: Wake Forest 31, MARYLAND 24
Washington vs. Arizona (-3): Arizona’s off to a solid 3-1 start, with their only loss being a 27-17 defeat at Iowa in a game that was close most of the way, and if they can win in Seattle, they have three winnable home games ahead that could see them vault into the Top 25 at 7-1 by the time they face Cal on the road on November 14. That’s just wishful thinking though. Though the Huskies ultimately went down at Notre Dame in overtime last week and come in at 2-3, they’ve come out a much better team for having played such a tough early schedule, and I like Jake Locker and the Huskies to prevail at home.
Prediction: WASHINGTON 34, Arizona 29