Last Week: 11-5
Last week’s effort got us right back in line for a shot at finishing the season in the black. Thanks to hitting the spread and the over/under in three games, there’s a wave of momentum to ride into rivalry week.
Purdue at Indiana (-20.5), O/U 64, 12:00 p.m.
Here we are again. One win away from a bowl game, lowly Purdue standing in the way. To me, there’s no question the Hoosiers get it done and take a huge step as a program in reaching a second consecutive bowl game. But 20.5 points? That’s a huge line.
Indiana is 5-6 against the spread this season, Purdue sits at 4-7, so ATS doesn’t help much either. This one will have to be a gut call. What does my gut say? Tom Allen’s defense turns in its best performance of the season, even though it is a noon kickoff, and the offense takes a season’s worth of frustration and futility and goes off.
If you’re betting this one for real, you may have a problem. If you can’t help yourself, at least stay away from the over/under.
Pick: Indiana (-20.5) and Over 64
Top 25 Games
5 Washington (-6) at 23 Washington State, O/U 63.5, 3:30 p.m. (Friday)
The Apple Cup is serious stuff this year. Washington has the inside track to the College Football Playoff with the 5th spot and Michigan-Ohio State set to play on Saturday. And you can bet that the old pirate Mike Leach will have his team fired up trying to play spoiler. As if that wasn’t enough, Washington State can find its way into the Pac-12 Championship Game with a win.
The problem with the Cougars is that their record is pretty fraudulent. At 8-3, their best win — and perhaps their only good win — was a beatdown of Stanford on the road. The losses to Eastern Washington, Boise State, and Colorado are probably more representative of who Washington State is. The Huskies are too good to drop one to an average team, even if it is a rivalry game.
Pick: Washington (-6) and Over 63.5
3 Michigan at 2 Ohio State (-6.5), O/U 44.5, 12:00 p.m.
It’s easy for us Big Ten fans to hate both of these teams and their fanbases. Ideally, college football would go back to allow ties and no one would ever win this game again. But since one of them has to win and I’d be okay with either of them losing, I’ll say that I’m rooting for Michigan because of the implications this game has on the Big Ten East race.
What an embarrassment it would be for the conference to have Penn State, just a few years after the most disgusting scandal in NCAA history, find their way to the conference title game and potentially into the College Football Playoff. For that reason alone, I’ll root for Michigan. Unfortunately, Ohio State is better.
Pick: Ohio State (-6.5) and Over 44.5
13 Auburn at 1 Alabama (-17.5), O/U 47, 3:30 p.m.
I have no insight to offer other than Alabama is really good and Auburn isn’t as good. 17.5 points in the Iron Bowl though? Seems like a lot until you see that Alabama is 8-3 against the spread this season, despite some monstrous lines against great competition.
Pick: Alabama (-17.5) and Over 47
22 Utah at 9 Colorado (-10), O/U 53, 7:30 p.m.
Colorado is an injury in the Big House or a late letdown against USC from College Football Playoff contention. They’re still one win away from the Pac-12 Championship Game.
On the other side, Utah is sputtering, having lost two of three, including a real clunker against Oregon last week. Their season is pretty much done aside from a bowl game. Hard to pick the team that has nothing left to play for because they choked just a week ago.
Pick: Colorado (-10) and Over 53
15 Florida at 14 Florida State (-7.5), O/U 45.5, 8:00 p.m.
It’s crazy how quickly a program’s fortunes can change. Just a handful of years ago, Florida would have been the team disappointed with an 8-3 season and Florida State would have been thrilled to be sitting at 8-2 with a chance to knock off their rival. But here we sit a few years later and the opposite seems true.
As nice of a season as Florida has had, it probably ends poorly in Tallahassee where Jimbo still has better players.
Pick: Florida State (-7.5) and Over 45.5
Big Ten Games
16 Nebraska at Iowa (-2.5), O/U 43, 3:30 p.m. (Friday)
You’ll notice that every pick to this point has been the favorite and the over. This is where it stops. I’ve thought all along that Nebraska is overrated, but c’mon. Iowa is incredibly lackluster and a one-point win against Michigan seems to be the only thing that is keeping the pitchforks away from Kirk Farentz.
Those pitchforks might get dusted off later this afternoon.
Pick: Nebraska (+2.5) and Under 43
Illinois at Northwestern (-17), O/U 45.5, 12:00 p.m.
Hoo boy, we have come a long way from when Illinois fans were pumped about Lovie Smith thanks to a 52-3 win over
a real football team Murray State. We’re also a long way from Northwestern looking at 1-11 or 2-10 after early losses to Illinois State and Western Michigan.
Two programs who have spent the last decade in different places seem to be no closer to each other this season. But the Illini have a chance to narrow the gap for at least a day this weekend. They may not win, but something says Lovie’s losers hang around in Evanston.
Pick: Illinois (+17) and Under 45.5
Rutger at Maryland (-14), O/U 51.5, 12:00 p.m.
Four straight losses for Maryland has put them in some hot water. A team that once sat at 4-0 and 5-2 is one loss to Buttgers from missing out on a bowl game altogether. The Terps may be broken.
Luckily for them Rutger is coming to town, right? The Scarlet Knights have been outscored 329-73 in their eight Big Ten losses.
This is a weird one for me. I have this gut feeling that Maryland is destined for embarrassment and Rutger is due for a win. But then my brain gets in the way.
Pick: Maryland (-14) and Under 51.5
Michigan State at 7 Penn State (-12.5), O/U 54.5, 3:30 p.m.
Sparty may get blown out, but once again: Don’t make money off Penn State.
Pick: Michigan State (+12.5) and Under 54.5
Minnesota at 6 Wisconsin (-14.5), O/U 44
An improved offense, a stout defense, and a shot at the College Football Playoff? Badgers, big.
Pick: Wisconsin (-14.5) and Over 44