Best pick: It felt like Ohio State (-2) and the over (63) in Colorado-Michigan were the two easiest picks on the board last week. And that showed to be true. Ohio State rolled Oklahoma 45-24 and the Buffs and Wolverines hit the over with 13:16 left in the 3rd quarter. But those were so easy that I’m not sure they qualify as good picks. So for the best pick, I’ll go with Central Florida (+9.5) against Maryland. The Terps had rolled some cupcakes the first two weeks and UCF just looked bad. But UCF forced this game to Double OT before Maryland escaped with a 6-point win.
Worst pick: There’s really only one candidate here. When you lose by 45 points against the spread, you suck. I took Florida State (-2) at Louisville. They lost 63-20. Honorable mention for worst pick: Wisconsin (-35) against Georgia State. Moving on...
Bad beat: When Ole Miss scored with a few minutes left against Alabama (-11), it should have been nothing worse than a garbage time touchdown that took a win off my board and turned it into a push, making the score 48-37. But Calvin Ridley made a boneheaded attempt at grabbing the Rebels’ onside kick and Ole Miss scored 6 seconds later in real time for the backdoor cover. If the Tide recover that kick, they win by 11 and my record is 7-4-2.
Also, I’d like to point out that if there was a line for North Dakota State-Iowa last week, we’d have gone 8-5-1. On to this week’s picks, which, as always, are sure to go wrong.
Wake Forest at Indiana (-7.5), O/U 45.5, 3:30 p.m.
For reasons discussed in this weeks Hoosier Film Room, I think Richard Lagow has his coming out party this weekend against Wake Forest. It’ll be a little difficult for the run to set up the pass if Dan Feeney isn’t cleared to return from his concussion, especially given that the Demon Deacons’ defensive strength is their front seven. But I have a hunch that he goes and the Hoosiers offense is at almost-full strength (no Simmie Cobbs, no Camion Patrick).
Nick Westbrook and Mitchell Paige have had nice starts to their seasons, and I think that continues on Saturday, with Ricky Jones finally arriving to the party as well. Throw in the fact that Wake Forest has had some turnover troubles (four in their last two games, including two that led to 14 points for Delaware last week) and Tom Allen’s defense has turned into a takeaway machine, I’ll take the Hoosiers with any single digit line.
The only question I have is whether Wake Forest can score enough with a backup quarterback and a backup running back for this game to hit the over. I’d like to stay away from the over/under altogether, but being the Hoosier Special, I have to pick something. A late touchdown from one team or the other gets this game into the over, maybe.
Pick: Indiana (-7.5) AND Over
Top 25 Games
11 Wisconsin at 8 Michigan State (-5.5), O/U 42.5, 12:00 p.m.
This is that sleepy Big Ten starting time, with a noon kickoff in East Lansing on the Big Ten Network. Wisconsin showed last week that they might suck despite beating LSU. Michigan State looked destined for the College Football Playoff for three quarters and then their mayo-infused offense stopped moving the ball and Notre Dame almost rallied at home.
Bottom line, I don’t think either of these teams are as good as their rankings. But I think either could show up and beat just about anybody on their best day. The idea of that has me leaning toward the over/under instead of the line. If I had to pick the line, I’d go Wisconsin in thinking Michigan State wins by a field goal.
That said, I think it’s a close game because it’s a low-scoring game. Neither of these offenses impresses me. I think the Michigan State defense rebounds from a bad 4th quarter against the Irish, but I don’t think their offense can get it going.
19 Florida at 14 Tennessee (-6.5), O/U 43, 3:30 p.m.
I told myself all week that when I got here, there was no way in hell I was picking Tennessee. They squeaked by an Appalachian State team that Miami exposed on Saturday. They beat an awful Virginia Tech team. And they had a nail-biter with Ohio.
Then I remembered that the last time Austin Appleby started a game, he threw for 123 yards and 3 interceptions in a loss to a Zander Diamont-led Indiana team in 2014. That IU team should not have won a single game with Diamont at quarterback, but Appleby was that inept.
I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen in this game. If anyone but Appleby was playing, I’d pick the Gators and the over. But the former Boilermaker ruins every feeling of surety that I had. The moral of the story? Stay away from betting on this game.
Pick: Tennessee? (-6.5)
17 Arkansas at 10 Texas A&M (-6), O/U 49, 9:00 p.m.
What a matchup. Berttttttttt vs. Former Future Purdue Coach Kevin Sumlin. All I know is that I can’t think of two Top 25 teams that could excite me less.
I don’t know if either of them are any good. I doubt it though because are they ever?
In all seriousness though, Arkansas is ranked because of a win over TCU, but let’s not ignore that they only beat Louisiana Tech 21-20 to open the year. And that TCU win will probably look less and less impressive as the season rolls on. A&M on the other hand had a nice win against UCLA in the opener and controlled the game at Auburn last week for another win.
I think both offenses get going early in a late-night start at Kyle Field, but A&M pulls away late.
Pick: Texas A&M (-6)
12 Georgia at 23 Ole Miss (-7), O/U 62, 12:00 p.m.
Vegas knows something, folks. Everything would suggest that Ole Miss should get destroyed this week. Embarrassed in the opener against Florida State. Blew a huge lead in their chance at redemption last week against Alabama. They should be hanging their heads low, ready to pack it in.
What Vegas knows, though, is that Kirby Smart’s defense has been shredded the last few times he’s played Ole Miss.
The question, then, is what gives? Will Ole Miss show up and fight or will Kirby Smart figure out the Rebels?
I’m not sure what the answer is, but I am sure that Ole Miss’s offense is good and their defense is bad. That equals points, baby.
Big Ten Games
Penn State at 4 Michigan (-18.5), O/U 57, 3:30 p.m.
Last week, if you took the moral high ground and took Temple (+9.5), you made a little cash. This week, it’s not about morality or common decency. This week, it’s about the fact that Penn State is not good and Michigan is.
Penn State can’t stop the run. They give up 176.3 YPG on the ground, 96th in the country. Michigan racks up 197.7 YPG on the ground themselves.
Michigan’s defense does have a weakness, despite the early-season claims that the Wolverines defense stacked up against anybody. That weakness is safeties too slow to play a soft cover-2 or 2-man. Colorado exposed that last week until Sefo Liufau left with an injury and Michigan pulled away to a comfortable victory.
Penn State’s offensive problem, though, is that Trace McSorley is average at best. I don’t think he and his 51.3 QBR can attack that weakness in the middle of the field.
Pick: Michigan (-18.5)
Iowa (-13) at Rutgers, O/U 56, 12:00 p.m.
I think Vegas has gone off the deep end here.
Let’s see: Iowa is coming off an embarrassing home loss. They’re pissed. They’re experienced. They’re talented. They’re playing Rutgers.
13 points aren’t near enough.
Pick: Iowa (-13)
Colorado State at Minnesota (-17), O/U 56, 12:00 p.m.
Colorado State is bad, guys. This is not anything like Jim McElwain’s teams from a few years back. They’ve been trounced by Colorado (who proved last week, they’re pretty good), and then won a couple cupcakes. The jury may still be out, but it seems pretty clear that they’re not good enough to hang with a quality Big Ten team.
And that’s what Minnesota is, I think. Although how will we ever know? Have you seen Minnesota’s schedule?
Oregon State, Indiana State, Colorado State, Penn State, Iowa, Maryland, Rutgers, Illinois, Purdue, Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin.
This team could be 11-1 and we still wouldn’t know if they’re any good.
That said, they’re much better than Colorado State.
Pick: Minnesota (-17)
Nevada at Purdue (-5.5), O/U 59.5, 12:00 p.m.
I think Purdue is much improved. It’s not going to be a popular take among our faithful readers, but they’re not a dumpster fire (just speaking of on-field talent this season; the program is still an absolute mess). And by that, I mean they should beat teams like Eastern Kentucky, which they did.
Nevada got thumped by what has shown to be a mediocre Notre Dame team and has two wins against the Little Sisters of the Poor (Cal Poly and Buffalo).
Everything in my brain says Purdue is the pick here. Everything in my heart says Nevada. I wouldn’t be an Indiana football fan if I used my brain instead of my heart.
Pick: Nevada (+5.5)
20 Nebraska (-7.5) at Northwestern, O/U 48, 7:30 p.m.
Northwestern looked better last week against Duke. Nebraska is coming off a huge win over Oregon. This game screams trap.
But then again, who wouldn’t look better against Duke? And is it really a trap game if you play Illinois next week?
The answer to both of those questions is Nebraska beats Northwestern like a drum this weekend.
Pick: Nebaraska (-7.5)
Underdog Lock of the Week
When I got done with these picks, I felt not good about the number of favorites I was picking. So, I decided to give you an underdog lock of the week:
Auburn (+3.5) vs. LSU
Auburn is a home dog against a less-than-impressive LSU team starting Danny Etling at quarterback. Auburn stacks the box against Fournette after he embarrassed them last season (228 yards, 3 TD), forces Etling and Cam Cameron to beat them, and pulls off upset at home.