S: Washington at USC (-17)
Kessler is going to kill this defense. I can see USC scoring 42 here. I really don't see Washington's offense as any kind of threat in this game. 17 is a lot to lay, but it's hard to bet against USC with how much momentum they have right now. Cautiously take the favorite at the Coliseum.
R: Washington (+17) at USC
I think 17 points is way too high. This is really a value pick because everybody knows I hate Washington and wish nothing good upon them. Last week, the Huskies kept it very close against what might be the best team in the PAC-12 North. It's tough to get a reading on the Trojans. They wrecked a struggling ASU team after getting beaten up by a Stanford team that no one thought was even alive. Washington slowing down Cal was a big sign to me and we'll see if that was a one-hit wonder after Thursday. Again, there are just too many points to leave off the table.
S: Oklahoma (-17) at Texas
Texas is in a gul-darned tailspin. I do not like laying such big points on the favorite in a rivalry game, but in this case, Texas is a literal tire fire and everyone is under-performing: from the long-snapper up to the head coach. Oklahoma, conversely, looks as consistent as any Big 12 team. They're 3-1 ATS and are staying consistent even without feeding their superhuman running back Samaje Perine. As soon as the Sooners decide to hand the ball off 20 times per game, their efficiency will only increase. I think Sooners crush UT here.
R: Oklahoma (-17) at Texas
This spread could not be high enough. Charlie Strong inherited an absolute colossal mess of a team. You've got freshmen tweeting out that they are going to take it upon themselves to set the team straight. You've even got players at halftime retweeting random people who want them to transfer. The culture shift has been a necessary abomination in Austin. I don't see any scenario where Texas makes this even a competition. The Longhorns better get the ball to start off the game if they want to lead or be tied at all during this game.
S: Arkansas at Alabama (-16)
Don't love this line. I think it's a few too many points. But I still trust 'Bama more here, especially since their weakness (secondary) cannot and will not be exploited by Arkansas. It's been an emotional roller-coaster for the Hogs this year, and they have to go on the road to Tuscaloosa to face an angry Alabama squad. The Tide still remembers being called soft after hardly beating Arkansas in Fayetteville last season, and don't underestimate Saban's ability to motivate his squad. Bama by 20.
R: Arkansas at Alabama (-16)
Arkansas is the type team that Alabama eats alive. They're not a spread team and they don't have a quarterback that can run. Arkansas is an i-formation team that wants to run it down the other team's throat. Alabama is meant to stop teams like that. Their defensive line is outstanding and their linebackers are even stronger. Arkansas won't get anything going on the ground and when they get behind and have to pass it will get worse before it gets better.
S: Washington State (+17) at Oregon
I see this game going exactly like WSU's game went against Cal last week: WSU jumps out to an early lead, but then succumbs in the second half to a superior-talented offense. If I don't know who's starting at quarterback, I cannot lay 17 points on a team - any team. Ducks win because they learned that they need to RUN THE DADGUM BALL WHEN YOU HAVE INEXPERIENCE AT QUARTERBACK AND FIVE-STAR RUNNING BACKS (I'm sorry, was that loud?), but they grind out a second half, 10-point win, and not much more. Take all those points.
R: Washington State (+17) at Oregon
Two touchdowns and a field goal is a lot of points to give away. I'm more scared of Washington State more than I was of Colorado. I'm not sure it really matters who starts at quarterback for Oregon. The quarterback position is no longer what this team can rely on. Hopefully the team found their identity against Colorado and they will run the ball using power rushing attacks with Royce Freeman and Benoit with the occasional change of pace back in Taj Griffin and Charles Nelson. Washington State's passing attack will exploit the short passes that the Duck linebackers have had such a difficult time defending.
S: Georgia (-3) at Tennessee
Don't love a road favorite in the SEC, but put Tennessee in the Texas camp: it's a smoldering fire of indecision, bad clock management, and lack of leadership. Georgia is better than they looked last week at home against Alabama in a torrential downpour. I think they throw it all over the yard in Knoxville and Nick Chubb makes hay out of the Tennessee defense. Bulldogs by 10.
R: Georgia (-3) at Tennessee
Butch Jones is allegedly punching people at practice. This was supposed to be Tennessee's year and they have been crumbling under the pressure and losing focus after the losses. Georgia got blown up by Alabama although that game said more about Bama than it did UGA.
S: Miami (+9.5) at Florida State
Just don't trust the 'Noles. I think that while Miami has looked not-so-good, and there is significant heat resonating from Al Golden's rear end, this is *exactly* the kind of spot where a team declared DOA jumps up out of nowhere and takes it to a traditional rival. I'm thinking, specifically, a few years ago where Mack Brown's last Texas team looked awful early, and then beat the living crap out of a vaunted Oklahoma team. Not that Al Golden is in the same league as Mack Brown, but this just *feels* the same. Everett Golson has underachieved, Dalvin Cook is at least questionable and at most inactive, and I think Miami has enough moxie to keep it tight in Tallahassee. (Eds. note: "Keepin' it Tight in Tallahassee" is hereby reserved for future intellectual property considerations.)
R: Miami (+9.5) at Florida State
WE'RE TALKIN BOUT THE NOLES. Somehow Everett Golson hasn't thrown an interception at Florida State. FSU loves turning the ball over and last year Golson loved arm punts. This is a game FSU should be dropping. Miami always plays well for a couple games every year. This is more of a pick against FSU than it is for Miami. I just don't think the Seminoles are that good. They don't have even a decent win yet. I'm going with the fighting Luther Campbells.
S: Northwestern (+8) at Michigan
Everyone wants to crown Michigan as the best defensive team in the Big 10, but do not count out the Wildcats. Take that as your warning. The over/under is set at around 35 in this game, which means Vegas thinks this is going to be a 21-13 game. No way. If a game ever had 17-13 written all over it, it's this defensive struggle with not a ton of talent on offense. Take the points, and keep an eye out for a Northwestern upset in the Big House, just because it's been that kind of season for Northwestern.
R: Northwestern (+8) at Michigan
Northwestern is secretly one of the best teams in the country. Their win over Stanford was really a great showing by Northwestern. The Wildcats aren't getting nearly enough credit. They beat Stanford, Duke, and shut out Minnesota. Michigan had had one solid outing and that was against BYU in week 4. The Michigan QB throws picks and Northwestern was able to shut down a Stanford running game and I doubt Michigan is better than that. With eight points this is a clear pick.
S: Georgia Tech at Clemson (-7)
Georgia Tech's defense is atrocious, they have not found any kind of rhythm on offense, and they have to go play at Death Valley. Not a good spot. This spread is smaller than I expected, which could signal a Clemson emotional letdown after a dramatic 4th quarter vs. Notre Dame. But I think the age of the "Clemsoning" is over. I think the Clemson offense, which has looked remarkably pedestrian, is ready for a coming-out party against the papier-mache defense that Tech is going to trot out on the field. I think Clemson scores 40, and covers.
R: Georgia Tech (+7) at Clemson
Clemson had a huge win over Notre Dame. Huge. People don't realize how big winning that game was. Winning that game was huge. The Clemson defense has been dominant this year but Georgia Tech is tough to play against and it requires much more mental focus because it is so unusual to defend. Whether Clemson can get up for this game and more importantly, put the time in during the week, is the biggest question mark. I like Clemson to win but closer than the experts think.
S: Cal (+6) at Utah
So, obviously, the way this college football thing works is that as soon as a team looks good, they inevitably always look really, really good the rest of the year, don't lose, and there is no chaos.
Yarite. Welcome back to the real world, where up is down, right is left, Florida killed Ole Miss, and no, UCLA: the ref isn't going to blow it dead when a running back gets tied up 5 yards downfield. So, on that note, I'm predicting chaos. If Cal can do anything, it can protect the passer and get the ball downfield. This is going to be an awesome #Pac12AfterDark showing, and I think Cal keeps it tight in Sack Lake City, because we know nothing about college football until the day after.
R: Cal at Utah (-6)
College Gameday is going to Utah. Cal is an offensive juggernaut but their last three games have been close. They had a one-point win over Texas, a six-point win over Washington, and a six-point win over Washington State. Not great outings. Utah is rolling. They are laying waste to almost everything in their path. The Utes have also had a bye week heading into this game.
S: LSU (-13) at South Carolina
A lot of points to lay: (i) on a road SEC favorite, (ii) on a team that has yet to discover the forward pass. But I think LSU has been seriously coasting through a really weird non-con schedule (@Syracuse, Eastern Michigan), and they are ready to absolutely pummel the Gamecocks. 'SC has next to no offense, and LSU is going to freaking trounce any attempt at downfield offense. Lay the points, because LSU's physicality is too much for 'SC to handle.
R: LSU (-13) at South Carolina
LEONARD FOURNETTE WILL RUN THROUGH YOUR PUMPKIN WHATEVER AND NOT APOLOGIZE FOR IT. He's on pace to break the speed of sound by the end of the year. This game, at the time of this writing, is most likely going to be in Baton Rouge. With a home game at Tiger Stadium, a ground game that is the best in the country, and going against a team that has been struggling is one of the bigger "bet whatever because this is going to get ugly."