Tuck: Is Notre Dame A National Title Contender?
Stanford +7.5 @ Notre Dame
The Irish are the only team in the country not to trail in a game yet this season (eat your heart out Alabama). Notre Dame hasn't allowed a touchdown in their last three games against Michigan State, Michigan, and Miami. Stanford has beaten Notre Dame soundly the last three years, not just with Andrew Luck, but on the ground running at and through the Irish. If they make it four, then they will be the first team in college football history to beat USC and Notre Dame in four consecutive seasons. That will be tough to do this year. If the Irish win this game, they'll play in a BCS bowl, write it down. Only road-trips to Oklahoma and USC could trip them up and a 2-loss Notre Dame team is a lock for a BCS game. Notre Dame will struggle on offense against the Stanford defense this week, but they'll win. As for the national title, I just can't see them going on the road twice against the Sooners and Trojans and winning both, one maybe, both, not happening with the Irish QB play of Everett Golson and Tommy Rees.
Notre Dame 16-14
Louisville -2.5 @ Pittsburgh
Tough game to pick. The Cardinals are one of three unbeaten teams in the Big East, but none of them are national title contenders, and I have a tough time thinking any of them could garner enough support to play for the title even if they ran the table. This is a tricky road game, but the Cards have had a couple weeks to get ready for it so I will take them in a close game.
Kansas State -6.5 @ Iowa State
K-State has won 4 straight against the Cyclones, but all by 8 points or less. The Wildcats know you don't just roll into Ames and dominate. They'll remain unbeaten, but only long enough for a trip to Morgantown next week.
Kansas State 31-28
Wisconsin +1 @ Purdue
The Leaders division could be decided in this one. The Badgers have begun to play better, and everything is pointing to them beating the Boilers again. They've won 6 straight, and have pounded them in recent years. Not so fast though. I think Purdue pulls a mild surprise at home in a low-scoring game.
North Carolina -7.5 @ Miami
The Canes defense showed they can be as inept stopping the run as they have been the pass last week as the Irish rolled up nearly 400 yards on the ground. Heels RB Giovani Bernard tore up the Hokies defense last week and should have a field day this week. Miami has been fiesty at home however, and would expect this to be a real shoot-out as these two teams have played some thrillers through the recent years.
North Carolina 41-36
West Virginia -3.5 @ Texas Tech
I am thinking West Virginia should treat the Red Raiders defense the same way the Sooners did last week. The Mountaineers don't play much defense, but they'll play enough in this to sneak out a win on the road.
West Virginia 45-31
Oregon State +5.5 @ BYU
Hmmm. So an unbeaten, top ten ranked team is nearly a TD dog against a Cougars team that has lost a game 7-6 and won one 6-3. I am sure a big factor is the Beavers being without QB Sean Mannion because of a knee injury. Junior Cody Vaz takes over and will have a tough task against a very good defense. BYU beat the young Beavers a season ago 38-28, and I suspect they'll win again, but lower scoring and closer.
Florida -8.5 @ Vanderbilt
Trap? Letdown? Reality? I think all those things could hold to be true. The Gators defense has just been to too good for them to lose, so after scuffling for a half, Florida does what they've done all year, turn it on in the second 30.
TCU +7 @ Baylor
The Horned Frogs are young, and now maybe people will notice with them playing a freshman quarterback too. Baylor can score, and will often in this one.
Texas A&M -7.5 @ Louisiana Tech
If they played this game in week one, I think the Aggies would have gone down. But because of a hurricane they were forced to reschedule for this week. With that said, the Bulldogs dreams of a BCS bowl game and unbeaten season are on the line, and they are averaging 53 points per game, so I'd be very surprised if Texas A&M rolls into the Bayou and wins comfortably. But they will win.
Texas A&M 42-38
Tennessee +3 @ Mississippi State
Other than UTSA, the unbeaten team I know the least about resides in Starkville. The Bulldogs have played a cushy schedule, and it is hard to tell if they are any good on offense, defense, or any good at all yet. The Vols can score, we have established that I think. I am not sure if Vegas even knows what to think of this game assigning the classic 3-pt home favorite spread to this one. I am afraid of the unknown, so I'll take the road team I know more about.
South Carolina +3 @ LSU
Had LSU won a low scoring game against Florida, I wonder what people would be saying about this game. As it is, the Tigers seem like a favored underdog. Vegas is giving them credit, but nobody in the public seems to think they have a prayer after South Carolina jumped all over Georgia in the first quarter last Saturday. It felt like a wild crowd and a perfect storm in a lot of ways to me. I think these teams are very similar. Both run the ball, and try throwing it, with uneven success. Both are stacked on defense, especially in the front four. LSU is 10-1 all-time hosting South Carolina. I think Tigers P Brad Wing will neutralize the Cocks special teams and if I've learned anything through the recent years, it's to never underestimate Les Miles when he is a dog, that is when he is at his mad-hatter best.
Texas +3.5 vs. Oklahoma
The Longhorns tackling has been shaky this year, and it came back to bite them against West Virginia. Also, stopping the Mountaineers on forth down and kicking field goals is an issue. Oklahoma will present similar problems for the Texas defense, but like the Horns got to Geno Smith, they'll get to Landry Jones, and I don't trust his decision-making under pressure. David Ash will throw, and the Horns loaded backfield will run, and score enough to win the Red River Shoot-Out for the first time since 2009.
STRAIGHT UP: 37-15/10-3
AGAINST THE SPREAD: 27-24-1/10-3
UPSET SPECIAL: 4-0/1-0