Last Week: 1-9
Last Week's Best: Illinois (-6) at Rutgers
I mean, it was the only one I got right, so I guess it was the best. Although, it feels wrong to call the pick that was like stealing candy from a baby the "best."
Last Week's Worst: Everything Else
Woof. After going 10-3-1 just two weeks ago, last week was the worst effort of the season. When I sat down and looked at all the results and my picks, I felt like Chevy Chase in Vegas Vacation when the blackjack dealer offers to give him his money back and kick him in the nuts instead, when he loses games like war and rock, paper, scissors, and when all those Keno numbers come up wrong. Hopefully this week, a metaphorical old man will die and allow me to get back on track.
Last Week's Bad Beat: N/A
Honestly, there were no bad beats last week. All of my picks just flat out sucked.
Indiana at Northwestern (-2.5), O/U 52.5, 12:00 p.m.
Ah, the sleepy noon kickoff (11 a.m. locally). Football (or anything other sport) in Evanston doesn't really get the juices flowing. Thus, it's hard to imagine this game being anything other than sloppy and weird. You wouldn't think that "sloppy" would bode well for Indiana and Richard Lagow who can't seem to stop throwing bad interceptions. But I just can't get past the fact that Northwestern lost to Illinois State 7-6.
Look, I'm still convinced that Indiana is as good as I thought they were when they were 2-0 or 3-1. I still think they can win eight games and I think a bowl game is a lock. They've been awfully good, despite the mediocre record. (As one CQ staffer put it in our slack this week, the nerd numbers suggest that Indiana outplayed both Wake Forest and Nebraska.) If they lose this one, I'll do more than reconsider. I'll admit they're the same old Indiana Hoosiers.
That said, I think the Hoosiers go into Evanston and get a nice rebound win, so I'll take the good guys and the points. I have no idea on the over/under and if it wasn't the Hoosier Special I wouldn't pick it.
Pick: Indiana (+2.5) AND Under 52.5
Top 25 Games
6 Texas A&M at 1 Alabama (-18), O/U 58.5, 3:30 p.m.
Whew, that's a big line. If Texas A&M is as good as the voters think, it's difficult to think Alabama is 18 points better. I don't know why I would bet against Alabama again after last week, but 18 points are just too many not to take with a Top-10 team. One thing is certain, though. There's no way this game stays in the under.
Pick: Texas A&M (+18) AND OVER 58.5
17 Arkansas at 21 Auburn (-10), O/U 55.5, 6:00 p.m.
Sometimes, Vegas confuses me. This is one of those times. Auburn has been average at best. They've got no bad losses, but really have just two decent wins and two cupcake wins. Arkansas's story is almost exactly the same. My point is that I'm just not sure that these teams are any different from each other. They're definitely not different enough for Auburn to open the week as a nine-point favorite. Pig sooie or something like that.
Pick: Arkansas (+10)
23 Ole Miss at 25 LSU (-6.5), O/U 60.5, 9:00 p.m.
Why are either of these teams ranked? LSU's best win was either a 3-point win at home over Mississippi State or a road blowout against a Missouri team's whose only wins are over Delaware State and Eastern Michigan. Ole Miss had one good win against Georgia but they've been pedestrian or bad, depending on whether you view their three losses to Top-25 teams as okay or not. I don't trust either of these teams. I certainly don't trust either team's quarterback. I'd like to pass, but you, the readers, deserve a pick. So let me play Eeny-Meeny-Miny-Moe.
Pick: Ole Miss (+6.5)
Big Ten Games
Rutgers at Minnesota (-19), O/U 44.5, 12:00 p.m.
Do you even have to ask?
Pick: Minnesota (-19)
10 Wisconsin (-3.5) at Iowa, O/U 42.5, 3:30 p.m.
I'm still convinced Iowa isn't any good. And Wisconsin took the best team in the country to overtime last week. The Badgers are probably multiple scores better than Iowa.
Pick: Wisconsin (-3.5)
Illinois at 3 Michigan (-38.5), O/U 55, 3:30 p.m.
Illinois lost to Purdue and didn't blow the doors off New York's independent team, Rutgers. Michigan went into the nation's armpit and won 78-0. Folks. Transitive property.
Pick: Michigan (-38.5)
Purdue at 8 Nebraska (-24), O/U 61.5, 3:30 p.m.
This is the end of the beginning for the Huskers. This will be a breeze at home to move to 7-0 before they get Wisconsin and Ohio State both on the road in consecutive weeks. The team we saw in Memorial Stadium last week isn't good enough to be a Top-10 team, and if I had to put money on it today, I'd say they finish 9-3, going 2-3 over the last five games. As for this week, I wonder if the firing of Darrell Hazell combined with Nebraska looking ahead allows the Boilers to hang around. The line scares me for that reason, so I'll root for points.
Pick: OVER 61.5
Michigan State (-3) at Maryland, O/U 51.5, 7:30 p.m.
Boy, it turns out that both of these teams suck. Michigan State got worked at home by Northwestern. Maryland got routed in their own house by Minnesota. It's just impossible to imagine Sparty going 0-4 to start the Big Ten slate and that's what makes me to with them here.
Pick: Michigan State (-3)
2 Ohio State (-19.5) at Penn State, O/U 57, 8:00 p.m.
I'm trying to remember the last time I was rooting for Ohio State in a game. Oh, that's right, it was the last time they played this Penn State football program that should not exist anymore. Go Bucks.
Pick: Ohio State (-19.5)