Last Week: 5-8
Last Week’s Best: Indiana (+6.5) vs. Michigan State
We knew. All of us. We all knew that Indiana was just better than Michigan State. That made this one easy, especially being in Bloomington. It didn’t look good early in the 3rd quarter, but Kevin Wilson and crew didn’t let us down and not only covered, but got the outright win for his biggest Big Ten skin on the wall.
Last Week’s Worst: Stanford (+3.5) at Washington
Woof. There’s not much else to say. The Huskies rolled from the opening kickoff on and flat out embarrassed the Cardinal.
Last Week’s Bad Beat: Georgia at Tennessee, Under 52.5
With one minute left, Georgia had the ball at midfield trailing 28-24. Things were looking good. With 52 total points on the board, the Dawgs couldn’t kick a field goal and lose by one, so all we needed was the Volunteer defense to bend and not break.
Two long touchdowns and one minute later, the two teams had combined for 65 in a 34-31 Tennessee win.
All lines are current as of 9:30 a.m. on Friday.
Indiana at 2 Ohio State (-29), O/U 59, 3:30 p.m.
To me, this game is all about Indiana’s defense. I’m not convinced Wilson’s offense is good enough yet to hang around with Ohio State for a half, let alone an entire ballgame. That said, the defense is improved enough that losing by 28 might be a lock. Who knows, though?
One thing I do know is that Ohio State is the best team in the country and I don’t think it’s particularly close. They’re going to put up points on anybody, no matter how good a defense. And they’re not going to give up a ton. This game would scare me if I was putting real money on the line and the over/under because I think either the Hoosiers cover and we hit the under, or Ohio State covers and we hit the over.
I’ll bet with my heart and say Indiana keeps it respectable and the Buckeyes win by a score of 38-14 or something in that neighborhood.
Pick: Indiana (+29) AND Under 59
Top 25 Games
9 Tennessee at 8 Texas A&M (-7), O/U 57.5, 3:30 p.m.
There’s some kind of voodoo magic in Knoxville right now, and that’s enough for me to be convinced that Tennessee wins outright against former future Purdue coach Kevin Sumlin.
Pick: Tennessee (+7)
25 Virginia Tech at 17 North Carolina (-1.5), O/U 58, 3:30 p.m.
Who in the hell thought, “ya know what, those Hokies belong in the Top 25. I mean, they’ve beaten Liberty, Boston College, and ECU. And Tennessee only beat them by 21 when Tennessee was bad early in the season.”
I don’t think this one’s close, and that’s even with the potential for the Tar Heels to have a letdown after a huge win at Florida State last week.
Pick: North Carolina (-1.5)
1 Alabama (-14) at 16 Arkansas, O/U 49, 7:00 p.m.
Bert finally got a big win against a decent TCU team and followed up a couple weeks later by getting waxed at Texas A&M. 14 points seems far to close a spread to me, and 49 doesn’t seem like a high bar to clear. I’ll double down on this one.
Pick: Alabama (-14) AND Over 49
23 Florida State at 10 Miami (-3), O/U 64.5, 8:00 p.m.
I’m convinced that Florida State is going 7-5, and one of the five comes this weekend to a Miami team that, for the first time in a decade or more, is just better than the Noles. Our colleague Kyle Swick, an alumnus of The U Law School is headed to Florida as I type this, and based on how much crap our EIC Kyle Robbins has given him this week about flying into a hurricane and rooting for his weekend to suck, there is no doubt that in my mind that Miami will blow the doors off the Noles so that Swick can hold it over him all next week in Crimson Quarry slack.
Real scientific, right?
Pick: Miami (-3)
Big Ten Games
Iowa (-1) at Minnesota, O/U 51, 12:00 p.m.
If you searched for “sleepy noon kickoff” in the dictionary, this game would be the definition. Iowa stinks. There’s no other way to put it. I thought Minnesota was good but then they lost at Penn State, who also stinks. So Minnesota probably stinks too.
That said, the Hawkeyes just seem broken. North Dakota State came in and made everybody question the extension for Kirk Farentz, then they laid an egg in a squeaker at Buttgers before Northwestern embarrassed them in Iowa City last week.
That team doesn’t seem to have any pride and Minnesota, who had eyes on a Big Ten Championship Game appearance can still get there, but they’ve got to win out. They’ll be fired up enough to suck less than Iowa.
Pick: Minnesota (+1)
Maryland (-2.5) at Penn State, O/U 57, 12:00 p.m.
As noted above, I believe Penn State is not good. But Maryland, at 4-0, doesn’t do anything for me either. And Penn State has been able to squeak out their home games against lesser or equal opponents thus far this season. I think it’s a disappointing trend that continues this week.
Pick: Penn State (+3)
BYU at Michigan State (-6), O/U 49, 3:30 p.m.
You might look at this one, like Vegas apparently did, and think an angry Michigan State squad bounces back at home and destroys a 2-3 BYU team. But if you look at BYU’s losses, they’ve dropped three contests to Utah, UCLA, and West Virginia by a combined 7 points. They’re losing close ones to quality football teams.
Michigan State can get as mad as they want, but mad lasts for about one series. Then you have to settle in and execute and that’s something Michigan State was able to do for about 7 total plays on Saturday in Bloomington.
In a close one that could go either way, I’ll take the Cougars to cover.
Pick: BYU (+6)
Purdue at Illinois (-10.5), O/U 53.5, 3:30 p.m.
There could be so many jokes made. But the bottom line is this is a huge game for the respective programs. Illinois fans were ready to make Lovie Smith king after a 52-3 win against Murray State, and for some reason they were a trendy pick against UNC. But now at 1-3, this game is a referendum on whether Lovie Smith can change the culture at Illinois.
In no world should a program that wants people to believe it’s in the right direction lose a home game to Purdue. If they do, Illini fans might want to put away the champagne bottles they plan on popping in a few years when Illinois wins the Big Ten West.
For Purdue, this should be the one that decides whether Darrell Hazell is on the sideline next weekend. It won’t be, probably, but it should be.
But if you’re a Purdue fan, you might as well be rooting for a loss. The only way the Boilers are going to end up with a quality coach is if they can get out ahead of everybody else. If I’m a Boiler fan, I’m rooting for Hazell to be fired on Sunday morning so we can publicly be searching for a new coach. But given the school’s apathy toward its football program, that’s probably a long shot.
Because a loss would be better for Purdue, they may just win this thing. Either way, there’s no way Illinois is eleven points better than any power 5 team, right?
Pick: Purdue (+10.5)
Michigan (-30) at Rutgers, O/U 53 7:00 p.m.
Ah, the bright lights of
New York City Piscataway. For some reason, these two programs had a stupid little spat in the offseason. I don’t remember what it was about. I don’t remember if it was a big deal. But I know that Jim Harbaugh is a little crazy and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had banners and posters and Rutger voodoo dolls in the locker room and was ready to run the score up on Chris Ash.
Pick: Michigan (-30)
Underdog Lock of the Week
Texas vs. Oklahoma (-11.5), O/U 73.5, 12:00 p.m.
Not as much as Iowa, but Oklahoma seems broken as well. And we know that defense is bad. Texas can’t stop anybody either, but they score a ton of points. The over/under seems like a lock and I think the Longhorns are too as a big dog in a rivalry that has been kind to the underdogs in the past. I’ll take both in this one.
Pick: Texas (+11.5) AND Over 73.5