South Carolina +3.5 @ Florida
Steve Spurrier was a Heisman winner at Florida, and the coach that has defined modern day Gators football. It must still be odd to see the Florida legend coaching for another conference foe. The biggest game he has had as Gamecocks coach was the SEC Title Game obviously losing to eventual champion Auburn a couple seasons ago. This would fall right behind that to date. A win gives them a huge leg up at getting back to Atlanta. A loss would make it nearly impossible to overcome Florida (vs. Georgia, vs. Missouri) in the SEC East and waste perhaps his most talented team’s chances at a SEC Title, and perhaps a national title. Obviously Steve Spurrier is a Hall of Famer by any measure, but I call this a legacy game because he has an opportunity to win big at a second coaching stop. He’d put himself in the conversation with Bear Bryant and Nick Saban in SEC lore and any coach in the all-time conversation. If he loses this week, he is just a legend at one place and simply a winner at South Carolina…at least through this year. Having picked Florida to win in the preseason, I feel obligated to take the Gators, but they have to get more out of their passing game. I am sure they are hopeful that they’ll run the ball the way LSU did against the Gamecocks last week. If they do that, and don’t turn it over, then Will Muschamp will have another feather in his cap. Marcus Lattimore is in doubt on the other side with a hip injury, which is bad news. A Gators win will set up a showdown in Jacksonville with Georgia for the SEC East Title.
Oregon -8 @ Arizona State
The Quack Attack passed it’s first road test against Washington, and will face a Sun Devils team off to a fine start under new coach Todd Graham. Defensively they’ve played so much better this season than a year ago, but they haven’t been tested like they will be this week by Oregon. DJ Foster and Cameron Marshall running the ball and playing keep away will go a long way in determining if they’ll be able to hang with the Ducks. The first half will be close, the second half we’ll be focusing on Sparky’s political attack on Puddles.
Virginia Tech +8 @ Clemson
The Tigers stunned the Hokies last year in Blacksburg 23-3 and then beat them again in the ACC Title Game 38-10 for good measure. The only difference this year is the Hokies look worse.
Iowa State +14 @ Oklahoma State
One of the most important, and unexpected games of 2011, a Cyclones upset of the Cowboys on a Friday night, their only loss of the year. Iowa State coach Paul Rhodes has his team at 4-2 with a couple close losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State. Slowing down the Cowboys is no easy task, and coming off a disappointing home loss against the Wildcats could take an emotional toll. You know Okie State will be up for payback, but it won’t come easy.
Oklahoma State 27-17
LSU -3 @ Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel, to my joy, has received quite a bit of Heisman talk this week and discussion over if a freshman could win it. Certainly his schedule is going to get mighty tough, meaning breaking his SEC record for total yards a third time unlikely. LSU’s defense will be the best he’s faced so far, and unfortunately his defense won’t be able to slow down the Tigers running game.
Stanford -2.5 @ Cal
The band is on the field! The band if on the field! I’d say QB Josh Nunes is flunking his road trips this year, and while I think that defense will travel, not sure the offense will score enough.
Cal, again, this time without the band, 20-17
Michigan State +9.5 @ Michigan
The Wolverines haven’t beaten the Spartans since 2007! I think with their defense and Denard Robinson making a few plays, they’ll finally get a victory over their in-state rival.
Nebraska -6.5 @Northwestern
The Huskers have had a couple of weeks to lick their wounds after a pounding in Columbus. The Wildcats are very dangerous on offense as usual. Last season they went into Lincoln and pulled the upset, 28-25. I am not real excited about giving the points in this one, but it feels like Nebraska should be plenty ready for the Wildcats this time around.
Texas Tech -2 @ TCU
Mike Leach was known for his offense in Lubbuck. Tommy Tuberville appears to be changing how we think of the Red Raiders. His team plays defense. That is a bad recipe for a freshman quarterback, and a young TCU football team.
Texas Tech 28-21
Baylor +9.5 @ Texas
Nick Florence leads the nation in total offense. Yes, the guy replacing the Heisman winner has actually raised the bar. Can he beat Texas? RG3 did that each of the last two years. The Longhorns desperately need a win, and I think they’ll get one. They are not in a position to be giving this many points though with a defense that can’t tackle, lost one of it’s best players in Jackson Jeffcoat, and doesn’t seem to have a formula for what their “system” is. The offense bails them out this week with a bounceback effort.
Kansas State +3 @ West Virginia
Was West Virginia exposed? Is K-State legit? We’ll probably know those answers more definitively after this game. I know Colin Klein and the Wildcats can win on the road and won’t be intimidated at Morgantown. They already won at Oklahoma this year, and won at Texas, Texas Tech, and Miami last year, and lost a thriller to Oklahoma State. I wonder if their secondary will be able to hold up against Geno Smith and his receivers however. They have been able to outscore opponents and take advantage of turnovers, problem is Geno Smith still has ZERO interceptions.
West Virginia 49-45
FSU -18 @ Miami
With Stephen Morris at QB, Miami might have had a shot to keep this one interesting for a bit considering the rivalry aspect of things. Without him, which they might be, they’ll have no chance. FSU should be able to establish the run and hit big plays in the passing game. I hate to say this, but this is going to get ugly.
Cincinnati -6.5 @ Toledo
The Bearcats roll into the Glass Bowl unbeaten, and will take on an explosive Rockets offense that has reeled off 6 straight wins since an overtime opening game loss at Arizona. Cincy hasn’t been tested in a few weeks, and I predict a slow start they won’t recover from.
STRAIGHT UP: 45-20/8-5
AGAINST THE SPREAD: 35-29-1/8-5
UPSET SPECIAL: 4-1/0-1