by Mike Ivcic
It’s another week of some great college football matchups as we inch closer to the release of the first BCS rankings of the season, due out next Sunday. Which got me thinking… how great and amazing will it be to not have to write that sentence anymore after this season? I can almost hear the birds chirping and the choirs singing as the sun shines and the rainbow stretches across the sky…
Ok, you’re right, that’s a weird image. Let’s just screw up some more picks, shall we? ]]>
12) Oklahoma vs. Texas (in Dallas, TX)
Saturday, 12:00pm, ABC
Line: Oklahoma by 14
The Red River Shootout… er… “Rivalry” renews for another season in Jerry World. The Longhorns are an enigma, losing to BYU and Mississippi before handling Kansas State, only to survive a blown call at Iowa State to stay unbeaten in conference play. With Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and TCU all still on the schedule, there’s nothing that says Texas is a lock, even at 3-2, to make a bowl game. Oklahoma, meanwhile, is one of the most underrated and overlooked undefeated teams, even after a win over Notre Dame in South Bend and last week topping TCU. The Sooners are favored by 14, which is always high in a rivalry game, but since I really don’t think Texas can win this game outright, I’m going with a full-blown cover.
Pick: Oklahoma 38, Texas 17
25) Missouri @ 7) Georgia
Saturday, 12:00pm, ESPN
Line: Georgia by 8
Missouri is eighth in the country in points scored – not that Murray State, Toledo, Indiana, Arkansas State, and Vanderbilt are the world’s most intimidating defense. This may be the worst undefeated team still standing, and this week they get to judge for themselves if they’re a pretender or a contender. I understand the Tigers can score points, but are we really thinking they can keep this a one-possession game against Georgia when they allowed four touchdowns apiece to the Hoosiers and Commodores? Andy Murray and Co. will win this one going away.
Pick: Georgia 41, Missouri 29
17) Florida @ 10) LSU
Saturday, 3:30pm, CBS
Line: LSU by 7
It’s totally conceivable that the Gators could actually finish this season outside of the top 25, especially if they can’t win this game. They already have a loss to Miami and still have Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida State left on the schedule, so this trip to Baton Rouge is suddenly a lot less about winning the SEC East and a whole lot more about making sure they at least get 8 wins this season. They have a chance because their defense is tremendous, surrendering only 12.2 points per game. The problem is their offense, especially in the air, where Tyler Murphy will start again thanks to the injury to Jeff Driskel. Head coach Will Muschamp might say he’d “happily take a 51-50 win” over LSU, but that’s just not a plausible outcome when looking at Florida’s offense against the vaunted Tigers defense.
Pick: LSU 30, Florida 20
2) Oregon @ 16) Washington
Saturday, 4:00pm, FOX Sports 1
Line: Oregon by 13.5
The second in the trio of games that will almost certainly decide the Pac-12 North champion also happens to be the site of ESPN’s College GameDay for the first time in the history of the Huskies program. Washington is coming off of a tough 31-28 loss to Stanford and now is in a must-win situation this week against a Ducks team that is averaging 59.2 points per game, second only to Baylor. This comes mostly as a result of running for 335.8 yards per game – so it’s pretty obvious what the Washington game plan will have to be on defense. Still, Oregon has scored at least 55 points in every game this season while surrendering no more than 16, so even with all of the hoopla surrounding this game and how well Washington has played this season, I just can’t see them hanging on for four quarters to stay within two touchdowns of Oregon. I’ll instead predict that the Huskies keep the Ducks under 50 and score over 20 – now that might actually be attainable.
Pick: Oregon 45, Washington 24
18) Michigan @ Penn State
Saturday, 5:00pm, ESPN
Line: Michigan by 2.5
The Wolverines haven’t done anything that would indicate they are the second-best team in the Big Ten, and yet here they sit, the only other undefeated team left in the conference besides Ohio State. They should beat Penn State in this game, though going to Happy Valley is never an easy trip. The Nittany Lions are coming off a tough loss to Indiana and already suffered a home loss to Central Florida this year, so it would appear that Bill O’Brien’s club is struggling this year like many expected them to last year as a result of the NCAA sanctions. If Michigan can win this game and the rest of their schedule to set up 11-0 vs. 11-0 when the Buckeyes come to Ann Arbor on November 30, it would actually present the worst possible scenario for the Big Ten, because that matchup would also be guaranteed in the Big Ten championship game the following weekend by that point. That would open the door for Michigan to win at home and Ohio State to win in Indy to capture the conference title, with both teams knocking each other – and as a result, the entire conference – out of the national championship discussion in the process. Just something to watch for as conference play progresses.
Pick: Michigan 27, Penn State 20
9) Texas A&M @ Mississippi
Saturday, 10:30pm, ESPN
Line: Texas A&M by 6
This line surprises me. I full expected to see this in double digits for A&M, even with the game in Starkville. This is the first home game for Ole Miss in over a month after a brutal three game stretch of trips to Texas, Alabama, and Auburn. The Rebels now need to figure out how to stop Johnny Football before this season spirals way out of control, something I just don’t think they can do. A&M, meanwhile, can still hope for LSU to knock off Alabama and figure out a way to win some sort of tiebreaker to get into the SEC championship game – that’s a lot more on the line that Ole Miss.
Pick: Texas A&M 34, Mississippi 21
Georgia Tech @ BYU
Saturday, 7:00pm, ESPNU
Line: BYU by 7
Sure, this game has no real bearing on any conference race, let alone a national title race, but it’s still a really good non-conference matchup between two programs with a lot of tradition and history. BYU has still managed to put together a fairly good schedule without the benefit of a conference – Notre Dame, Texas, Utah, Boise State, Houston, Wisconsin, Nevada, Virginia, and the Yellow Jackets are a good core of nine games against BCS and BCS-caliber competition. Sometimes I wish all teams would have the freedom to schedule this way, without any conference affiliation, to increase the capability of developing regional rivalries and then just take the four (or preferably eight) best teams for a playoff. And yet, despite all of that, the Cougars simply aren’t all that good – Georgia Tech should be able to run wild on the BYU defense and score enough to not only cover, but win outright.
Pick: Georgia Tech 28, BYU 24
Last Week: 5-2 straight up, 3-4 against spread
Season: 32-10 straight up, 15-26-1 against spread
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