Florida +7 @ Florida State
Yes, I know, it always matters. It’s just nice that both are ranked in the top 10, the first time since 2000. It’s been a one or the other or neither the last dozen years. Both have something to play for in this one. The Gators, currently #4 in the BCS, still have an outside shot to backdoor their way into the title game and FSU wants to build on a two-game winning streak over their in-state rival and once again own the title to king of the Sunshine State. To say Florida’s offense has struggled lately would be an understatement, and even with Jeff Driskel back under center, they’ll have their hands full with the Noles defense. The Seminoles offense loss of Chris Thompson removed their most explosive playmaker from the offense making them more easily defended, and if EJ Manuel gets careless with the football forcing deep passes this will be an interesting game. The Gators have feasted on opponents mistakes this year and Noles haven’t seen a defense the magnitude of what the Gators will offer. That should keep this game close, but I just don’t see them scoring enough to win, or cover.
Notre Dame -6 @ USC
Before the season, most would assume it would be the Irish trying to knock off the top ranked Trojans, not the other way around. QB Max Wittek is in the crosshairs for USC replacing the injured Matt Barkley. He will have his hands full. Best stat this year to summarize what ND’s defense has done: On 105 drives that started at or inside their opponent’s 40-yard line, Notre Dame has allowed one touchdown, in the opener against Navy. So if the Wittek is to back up his bold words of a Trojans’ win, then they better come up with some short field situations off special teams and turnovers. WR Marqise Lee is the x-factor, and I am sure the Irish will do everything in their power to make sure he doesn’t beat them, especially with a young quarterback most likely to be locked into throwing to his first read, which will most often be Lee. Notre Dame has been locked in this year on road-trips and I’d expect much of the same with so much on the line. I do wonder if playing early games with “nothing to lose” mentality will be replaced by now playing a game with “everything to lose” if mistakes are made and the game is close. USC has a chance, but the fact their defense has only held 4 teams under 20 points this season is the reason I am picking Notre Dame.
Notre Dame 24-21
LSU -11.5 @ Arkansas
I got roasted by the Hogs last week, down 17-14 at the half they imploded getting smoked 28-0 in the second half to Mississippi State. While I am tempted by that many points after watching Ole Miss score at LSU, I’ll take the Tigers and live with the consequences.
Arizona State +2.5 @ Arizona
The last three games between these state rivals have gone 20-17, 30-29 (2 OT), and 31-27 and were decided on the final play of the game. Not too shabby. If you’ve been following my thoughts all year, you realize that the Wildcats have played arguably the toughest schedule in the country and also feature a heck of a 1-2 punch in QB Matt Scott (Pac-12 total offense leader) and RB Ka’Deem Carey (nation’s leading rusher). You see where I am going.
Georgia Tech +14 @ Georgia
I think the Bulldogs are a very good team, but their schedule is pathetic. To make matters worse, they’ve struggled against some sub-standard foes. The Yellow Jackets are riding an emotional high this week with the news that Miami has taken itself out of the running for the ACC Coastal Title and has given the title to the Rambling Wreck. They also are playing well down the stretch averaging 48ppg in their last three wins. I think this will be a good week for the ACC against the SEC, and wouldn’t be surprised if we saw an upset here, but I just trust the Bulldogs defense won’t let that happen with national title hopes.
Miami -6.5 @ Duke
I can’t help but think Miami will be somewhat disinterested knowing they can’t play in the ACC Championship game anymore. Their youth and enthusiasm though will override some of that rational thinking, and their offense will get them a win, albeit a very close one.
Oregon -9.5 @ Oregon State
The Beavers defense is pretty good, and should provide some resistance to the Ducks offense. They also sport a pretty strong passing game which based on the USC game, could give the Ducks some trouble. They also are grossly underrated nationally. This game is a last gasp effort on two levels for Oregon, first to keep their Pac-12 North Title aspirations afloat, and second with an impressive win this week, and perhaps the following week, keep their national title hopes alive. I think they’ll get it done, but it will be a battle into the 4th quarter.
Oklahoma State +6.5 @ Oklahoma
Oddly, this is the Cowboys first trip to Norman since 2009 because of Big XII shake-ups. Bedlam has been a big mess for Okie State in Norman, losing their last four visits by an average of 33 points per game. I just have a feeling this will be different because the Cowboys are playing as well as anyone in the Big XII right now. This group is playing with confidence and this could win up the best game of the day, but I just can’t see Bob Stoops losing three home games in one season.
Wisconsin +2 @ Penn State
Senior day at Happy Valley so you know the Lions and their fans will be jacked. The Badgers are coming off a disappointing OT loss at home to Ohio State. This is a tough game to call, but I’ll say Montee Ball breaks the career TD record and the Badgers end their 2-game losing streak at State College.
Stanford -2 @ UCLA
Kenjon Barner last week and Jonathon Franklin this week for the Stanford defense, both Doak Walker finalists. They’ve been unbelievable all season, and I don’t think it will be any different this week. The Cardinal with a win will have beaten Oregon State, Oregon, and UCLA in three straight weeks. Jim Mora Jr. called the Cardinal the best team his team has played all year, and he’s right. The switch to freshman QB Kevin Hogan has made the difference for this offense and they’ll punch their ticket to the Pac-12 Title Game back home.
South Carolina +3.5 @ Clemson
The ACC makes a statement, and so do the Tigers who think they deserve a BCS bowl spot.
Mississippi State +1.5 @ Ole Miss
The Rebels almost pulled off an enormous upset in Death Valley last weekend, and now return home to play the Egg Bowl and wrap up a bowl birth. They’ve lost 3 straight to their rivals, but I see that ending this weekend in a nail-biter.
Ole Miss 30-27
Michigan +4 @ Ohio State
The Wolverines finally beat the Buckeyes last season. Ohio State’s offense really struggled last week, managing just one touchdown in regulation against Wisconsin. Michigan used Denard Robinson as a running back, and it was a splashing success. Devin Gardner is a better passing threat and that has shown up. What also is noteworthy is a much-maligned Wolverine defense in recent years is 17th in the nation in scoring defense this season, and that is why they’ll win on the road and spoil the Buckeyes unbeaten season.
STRAIGHT UP: 88-42/4-9
AGAINST THE SPREAD: 70-57-3/4-9
UPSET SPECIAL: 6-5/0-1