Why do I bother? Last week had a lot of bad beats though. Really Tennessee? Really Louisville?
R: Virginia Tech at North Carolina (-2.5)
North Carolina topped Florida State on the road and beat Pitt two weeks ago. The Tar Heels have struggled finishing games. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky has 1711 yards of offense through the air to go with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Virginia Tech’s defense has only allowed 264.3 yards per game and 18.8 points per game, which is just over 50% of what North Carolina’s defense has done so far this year. Hwoever, the Hokies best win is over Boston College and when they played a ranked team the Vols scored 45 points. With the game being on the road, and against a high-scoring offense, I think the Tar Heels walk away a winner by at least a field goal.
S: Virginia Tech at North Carolina (-2.5)
Definite let-down potential here after an emotional road win in Tallahassee for UNC last week, but this Tar Heel team is just too good. Mitch Trebisky's stats are otherworldly, and UNC has shown success against some very athletic offenses: Georgia, Florida State, Pitt. I'll lay 2.5 on this squad, even though Virginia Tech has shown some progress on offense and has an always-good defense. Nevertheless, this is a sneaky-good game.
R: Oklahoma at Texas (+10)
Oklahoma comes in with a lackluster season. They already have two losses, and even though they came against great teams, the Sooners were supposed to be a playoff team. Baker Mayfield has thrown for 959 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions and running back Joe Mixon has rushed for 340 yards, averaging 7.7 yards per carry.
Charlie Strong’s job is on the line. He has dropped the last two games against Cal and Oklahoma State where they gave up 50 and 49 points, respectively. The Longhorns pulled the upset last year when they had no business being in the game. It was funny.
Texas scores three more points than they give up per game and Oklahoma scores four more points than they give up. Texas gains 90 yards more than they give up and Oklahoma gains 80. These teams aren’t ten points apart. The Sooners will win, but they won’t cover.
S: Oklahoma at Texas (+10)
There will be zero defense in this game. Zero. Neither squad is capable. Because every game in the Big 12 has a 45-42 final score, I'll call this one 45-42 Oklahoma. Texas showed it could surprise with a win last year out of nowhere against a playoff-bound Sooner squad. Take the points in this rivalry shootout.
R: Florida State at Miami (-3)
This game might take place in Tampa Bay because of the hurricane. Florida State creeped their way back into a respectable score against North Carolina in what was a lopsided game. That loss was two weeks after they were roasted by Louisville on the road. If the Seminoles can bounce back well it is a real testament to their program. Quarterback Francois is the x-factor in this game. The team’s success has essentially matched whatever his outpout was on any given game.
Miami is a paper tiger in a lot of ways. They have played Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic, Appalachian State, and Georgia Tech. But in all of those games they did what they were supposed to do. Mark Richt might have found a program that will be happy with him getting 9 and 10-win seasons every year. He also has a rich recruiting base. Quarterback Brad Kaaya is a first round talent and he will be playing against another high NFL-draft pick Dalvin Cook who has rushed for 635 yards and 6 touchdowns. I like the Hurricanes in this game, an irrational amount.
S: Florida State at Miami (-3)
Florida State has a lot of questions. Miami looks as good as it has looked since the mid-2000s. Their defense has made great strides and is super athletic. Brad Kaaya is a very capable passer, and FSU's defense has been torn to pieces by good passers this year (Chad Kelly, Lamar Jackson, Trebisky). On a more macroeconomic note, the U is probably pretty damn tired of getting drubbed by hated rival Florida State, as the 'Noles have won 6 straight and 9 of the last 11. I think the Canes win this one by at least a touchdown.
R: UCLA at Arizona State (+10)
The Bruins, like North Carolina, have struggled to close out games. They let BYU claw back into a close game and gave up a late game-winning touchdown to Stanford. Josh Rosen has underwhelmed this season, throwing for 60.1%, 1515 yards, 8 touchdowns but 4 interceptions.
Arizona State lost by three scores to USC last week and they have less than great quarterback play. What I like about Arizona State in this matchup is that they can score a lot of points. They average 43 points per game and only allow 35, whereas the Bruins score 28 but allow 22. I like the Bruins to win but the Sun Devils to cover.
S: UCLA (-10) at Arizona State
Tough game to pick. But I think UCLA has it together after that methodical dismantling of Arizona. UCLA knows it's walking a razor wire, and needs to keep everything tight if it wants to win the Pac-12 South. So I'll lay the 10 here. UCLA is trending up, and Arizona State is fresh off a demoralizing loss in the Coliseum.
R: Tennessee (+7) at Texas A&M
This is going to be such a good game. Both teams come in undefeated, ranked eighth and ninth nationally.
Tennessee always gives away the beginning of the games. They started slow against Georgia, Florida, and Virginia Tech. However, this Volunteer team has guts. They clawed their way back in both matchups for the entire second half and came out with wins. Tennessee won’t fade even when down.
Texas A&M has a terrifying rush defense led by Myles Garrett who gets comparisons to Jadeveon Clowney. Trevor Knight has shown to be a valuable rusher and passer. The Aggies have also between a variety of teams with wins over UCLA, Auburn, and Arkansas. TAMU’s experience and skillset will probably top Tennessee with the help of a fast start, but not by much.
S: Tennessee (+7) at Texas A&M
Dang, surprised A&M is favored by so many. I mean, yeah, they have looked pretty damn solid so far. But don't you know that the Aggies are primed for a letdown? And don't you also know that the Vols are this year's Team of Destiny (TM)? Tennessee has defied any kind of analysis all year, and so I won't attempt to analyze them here. Other than: I'm pretty sure something weird will happen in the fourth quarter that will bring Tennessee within 7, and maybe allow them to win this game. So who the hell knows. But take the points.
R: Washington (-8.5) at Oregon
We might have a true freshman getting his first start against a team that can get six sacks in the first half against top-10 team with only four guys rushing every play. On the other side of the ball is a good rushing attack and quarterback Jake Browning has been great so far to start the year. I don’t think the defense can slow the offense enough and I don’t think Oregon’s offense can go toe-to-toe for sixty minutes. This hurts to write.
S: Washington at Oregon (+8.5)
CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION. GO FREAKING DUCKS.
R: Colorado (+5) at USC
Colorado has its starting quarterback making the start on the road against the Trojans. The Buffs are one quarterback injury away from possibly being undefeated. There is a lot of experience with Colorado. All of these guys have been playing together for years. While USC is extremely talented they still seem to be finding themselves as a team. The Trojans might be the best team by the end of the year, but now the Buffs are performing at a high level in all three phases. They’ll play a complete game over sixty minutes and cover.
S: Colorado (+5) at USC
Oppositional pick. Love that the Buffs are back in contention. They can score on any defense, and will do so here. USC is a mystery team made of uber-talented dudes. But I think CU has something special this year. This line should be at least 8. The fact that it's not higher leads me to take Colorado to cover.
R: LSU at Florida (+3)
The game has been postponed. I liked Florida mostly because they have a solid defense that wouldn’t get abused like Missouri’s. Also, I believe the second game with a new head coach is significantly lesser than the first game.
S: LSU (-3) at Florida
My head says Florida. My Coach-Orgeron-inspired heart says LSU. The Interim Orgeron bump is real. Just ask USC. LSU played the hell out of their matchup vs. Mizzou last week, and I see that happening again. Florida's defense is nasty, but its offense is basically a non-entity. I'll tentatively take LSU here. Their talent is good enough to produce if you just put their guys in the right place.
R: Alabama (-14) at Arkansas
Arkansas doesn’t have the ability to come from behind with how slow their offense is. The Razorbacks had close win to open the season by beating Louisiana Tech, needed overtime to top TCU, and were blown out by Texas A&M.
This pick is really more about Alabama than it is Arkansas. Arkansas’ heavy emphasis on running the football, and the style in which they run the ball, feeds in perfectly to Alabama’s defense. I don’t think there’s a better offense for Saban defenses to go against. The Tide can score points in bunches and had a huge comeback win against Ole Miss a few weeks ago and haven’t let anybody close to them all season.
S: Alabama at Arkansas (+14)
Obviously Alabama is Alabama. But Arkansas has a good squad. And I haven't yet seen from Alabama what I need to see to lay 14 on them on the road in Fayetteville. so I'll tentatively take the points, because Bret Bielema's
R: Washington State (+7.5) at Stanford
We can say the Oregon defense was bad last week and the offense struggled, which is true, but don’t say the Cougars didn’t play really well. They executed across all three phases of the game and they rushed just as well as they passed. Their timing on routes was impressive and their defense can muddy up the lines. Whether they can do that against Stanford is a different story.
The Cardinal are coming off a devastating loss where both lines were dominated by the Huskies. They gave up a lot of sacks and McCaffrey’s Heisman chance was severely damaged. Things are never as bad as they seem, but they are also never as good as they seem. The Cardinal will win this week and McCaffrey will look good, but the Cougars will get a backdoor cover at the end of the game.
S: Washington State (+7.5) at Stanford
Stanford's secondary is just not that good. And that's a fatal flaw when you're facing the Cougs. I don't know if WSU has what it takes to win this game, but I surely don't trust the Cardinal back end to contain this dangerous passing attack. So take the points.
R: Indiana (+32) v Ohio State
Ohio State has been as dominant as Alabama, but the difference is Ohio State’s production comes almost entirely from underclassmen. JT Barrett is a force at quarterback and the Buckeyes are only allowing 9.3 points per game, while scoring 57 points per game.
Indiana has been a team on the rise. They beat Michigan State last week. Last year, the Hoosiers pushed an experienced Buckeye squad until the very end of the game. I like them to cover this huge spread.
S: Indiana (+32) at Ohio State
Indiana is the Colorado of the Big 10: the talented passing-attack team that everyone is rooting for. Now, the Buckeyes have been straight up murdering people. But they're facing a road trip to Madison next week
R: Cal (-10) v OSU
Cal’s two losses were to high-scoring teams. San Diego State, a really good team that will be in talks for the playoffs at the end of the year (way outside shot), scored 45 and Arizona State scored 51, There is no way that the Beavers can keep up with the Golden Bears. The last two weeks Beavers gave up 38 and 47 points. I don’t see how the Beavers keep up and I think Cal is able to make a few stops and force a few turnovers. The Beavers will be very good soon, and I will be happy when it is, but that is not this weekend.
S: Cal (-10) at Oregon State
This is a lock of the week. Beavers have been unable to cover on the back end, and face a big challenge with Davis Webb. Webb has been dealing all over the field without even trying that hard, and Cal is playing enough defense to keep them competitive with anyone. So lay those 10. Cal in a rout.