Tuesday, December 3, 2013

College Football Picks: Week 14

In a return to the average last week: 7-3 on winners and 5-5 against the spread. Here's to a wild finish for Championship Week.

MAC Championship
Bowling Green at #14 Northern Illinois (-3) (Friday)
One last Heisman case for NIU
quarterback Jordan Lynch.
There's a lot on the line for NIU: clinching a BCS bid and maybe even securing a few Heisman votes for Jordan Lynch. I think he's playing for runner-up behind Jameis Winston, but Lynch won't let his team down.
The pick: Northern Illinois 45-33

Conference USA Championship
Marshall (-5.5) at Rice
I pick this because I need to get to 10 games somehow. Vegas says Marshall is almost a touchdown better. Okay.
The pick: Marshall 33-27

ACC Championship
#20 Duke vs #1 Florida State (-29)
Doesn't Florida State have to be challenged? Maybe a little? Just a SLIGHT threat of BCS chaos?
Probably not against Duke. The Blue Devils have been a nice story, but Florida State has crushed every challenger. Jameis Winston will make one closing argument for the Heisman, and this game won't be close.
The pick: Florida State 55-17

Big Ten Championship
#2 Ohio State vs #10 Michigan State (+5.5)
The BCS deserves a little chaos. Ohio State seems like a good candidate to trip up. The Buckeyes face the nation's top defense, and Michigan State is the best team Ohio State has seen in quite a few weeks, maybe all season.
The Buckeyes, though, should have enough offense to survive. Their defense is pretty strong itself, and I'm not sure MSU will have enough offense to win.
The pick: Ohio State 20-17

SEC Championship
#5 Missouri vs #3 Auburn (-2)
Will Auburn need a third miracle to beat Missouri?
It feels weird typing that match-up for the SEC Championship, but that's it. The concern for Auburn is if the Tigers are totally spent after leaving everything on the field in a shocking win over Alabama. Missouri is not the team you want to face when you're not totally dialed in. As the line suggests, this game can go either way. I'll go with the team playing closer to home, the one seems to be a team of destiny after back-to-back miracle finishes.
The pick: Auburn 35-31

#17 Oklahoma at #6 Oklahoma State (-10)
I look at this game similar to the OSU team from two years ago: the Brandon Weeden/Justin Blackmon-led squad that was absolutely rolling and just had to dispose of their bitter rivals before a BCS trip. Oklahoma is not very strong this year, and I don't think they'll present the kind of challenge you'd expect from OU, especially not in Stillwater.
Something to watch: if Ohio State and/or Florida State loses and Oklahoma State wins, look for Mike Gundy to make a loud case for his team to be in the national championship game. I wouldn't bet a dime on him getting what he wants, but the Cowboys will present their case.
The pick: Oklahoma State 45-20

#25 Texas (+13.5) at #9 Baylor
These two teams enter this game singing "Boomer Sooner," and I know that's bitter for Texas fans. The truth is, though, an Oklahoma win would mean the winner of this game claims the Big 12 title. I haven't been impressed by Baylor the last two weeks, and I think the Longhorns will give them a heck of a fight. Baylor's offense will not be stopped, though.
The pick: Baylor 42-30

Pac-12 Championship
#7 Stanford (+3) vs #11 Arizona State
While Arizona State is the hot team, Stanford still can play like a national championship contender at times. I think the Cardinal lacked motivation last week in a meaningless game against Notre Dame. They'll be dialed in this week and claim the Pac-12.
The pick: Stanford 30-24

#16 UCF at SMU
UCF doesn't need this game to claim the AAC BCS spot, but it does need it to officially claim the title outright. Even with a loss, UCF has the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Louisville-Cincinnati winner. The allure of an outright title, though, will be enough to motivate them against an SMU team missing its quarterback.
The pick: UCF 44-21

Mountain West Championship
Utah State at #23 Fresno State (-3)
Fresno State was stunned by San Jose State last week, and that cost the Bulldogs a shot at a BCS bid. They can still claim the conference this week, and I think David Carr, who has some pretty amazing statistics, will let it fly in a desperate attempt to get on some Heisman ballots.
The pick: Fresno State 56-24

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

College Football Picks: Week 14

I'm thankful for rivalries... oh, and family and stuff, too. I'm also thankful for going 6-3-1 against the spread last week. Not so thankful for the 4-6 on winners.

But late November football is about rivalries and teams ruining their hated rivals' championship hopes. That makes this week fun to pick.

Texas Tech at Texas (-4) (Thursday)
After a 7-0 start, Texas Tech has stumbled with four straight losses. Texas has had a week off, but the Longhorns are still going to be without RB Jonathan Gray and DT Chris Whaley. Even with a banged up Longhorn team, Tech's defense concerns me. Case McCoy gives Mack Brown a win in what may be his last game at Darrell K Royal.
The pick: Texas 35-30

#3 Ohio State (-12.5) at Michigan
The only reason to pick Michigan in this game is the "it's a rivalry and anything can happen" philosophy. Ohio State is more talented at every position and has everything to play for. Given the chance, the Buckeyes will run up the score to try to steal a few votes from Florida State. Although, I think that battle is futile at this point. Alabama or Florida State has to lose for Ohio State to play for a title. They'll do their best to humiliate Michigan this week.
The pick: Ohio State 45-17

#24 Duke (+6) at North Carolina
The legendary rivalry means a lot on the football field this year instead of just the basketball court. A RANKED Duke team can clinch a berth in the ACC Championship Game here. And the Dukies are a touchdown underdog? Heck no. Give me the Fightin' Cutcliffes for the big road win.
The pick: Duke 31-28

Georgia (-3) at Georgia Tech
What a bummer for Georgia to lose Aaron Murray to an ACL injury, but I guess that falls right in line with the rest of their season. It'll be up to Hutson Mason to defeat the Ramblin' Wreck in this annual grudge match. Pro tip, Hutson: give it to Todd Gurley. A lot.
The pick: Georgia 28-24

#21 Texas A&M at #5 Missouri (-4.5)
I put too much faith in Johnny Football and his Aggies last week. I won't make the mistake this week. He may be spectacular against Missouri, but A&M's defense will not stop Mizzou enough. With James Franklin back, Missouri will be just fine at home and (I can't believe I'm saying this) clinch the SEC East.
The pick: Missouri 49-42

#1 Alabama at #4 Auburn (+10.5)
Perhaps the most meaningful Iron Bowl Ever? The winner goes to the SEC Championship with BCS title dreams. It would be very interesting to see how how Auburn would climb with a win. Over Ohio State? Over Florida State?? We'll see.
Or maybe we won't. Alabama is due to be challenged, and the Tide will be. I fully expect A.J. McCarron and Nick Saban to come through though. They always do.
The pick: Alabama 27-24

#9 Baylor (-13) at TCU
I expect Baylor to come out flat after getting their souls crushed in Stillwater last week. However, over the course of 60 minutes, I fully expect Baylor to pull away from TCU. Expect it to be ugly at half, but comfortable for Baylor by day's end.
The pick: Baylor 44-20

#6 Clemson (+5) at #10 South Carolina
It's a great rivalry game, and both teams have their eyes on the BCS. Clemson has a good chance to be in with a win while South Carolina needs a Missouri loss to get to the SEC Championship Game. I'll take the points on Clemson in this one. Winning on the road will be tough, but I still think Clemson's offense should be able to escape with a W.
The pick: Clemson 35-31

#22 UCLA at #23 USC (-3.5)
While I've been on the UCLA bandwagon all year, I'm jumping off this week. That's mainly because I've learned to stay away from teams that don't have much to play for. UCLA blew its opportunity to win the Pac-12 South last week. USC, on the other hand, is surging. Could this be the win that convinces the USC brass to keep Ed Orgeron in charge?
The pick: USC 35-30

#25 Notre Dame at #8 Stanford (-14)
The only hope Notre Dame has is if Stanford takes the week off mentally because this game really means nothing to the Cardinal. They have clinched the Pac-12 North and have zero hope of getting into the national championship game with two losses. I don't think Stanford will play so casually, however, that they'll let Notre Dame sneak up on them. Stanford is much better and should coast.
The pick: Stanford 42-20

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

College Football Picks: Week 13

It was another strong week: 8-2 on winners and 7-3 against the spread. Of course, one of my losers was what I thought was the lock of the week. Good job, Jayhawks. It was the second most impressive thing I saw last week.

On to this week...

Northern Illinois (-2.5) at Toledo (Wednesday)
Like it or not, Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois
are closing in on another BCS berth.
Love 'em or hate 'em, Northern Illinois has plenty of talent to keep charging through the MAC and get into the BCS. They'll take care of business in Toledo.
The pick: Northern Illinois 40-30

Pitt at Syracuse (+1)
The only thing I can say about this matchup is it makes me miss the old Big East... the basketball version. Forget football.
Two 5-5 teams scrapping to get into a bowl game here. I'll take the team with the better running game.
The pick: Syracuse 31-28

Michigan State (-7.5) at Northwestern
Poor Northwestern. The slide continues as they lost the Free Fall Bowl to Michigan last week. It won't get any better against the top defense in the Big Ten.
The pick: Michigan State 30-10

#17 Arizona State at #14 UCLA (+2.5)
I'm stunned to see UCLA a home 'dog. Yes, Arizona State could clinch the Pac-12 South with a win, but don't forget UCLA's two losses were to Oregon and Stanford. The Sun Devils were spared a date with the Ducks. UCLA will outgun ASU at home, setting up a showdown with resurgent rival USC for the Pac-12 South next week
The pick: UCLA 35-33

#12 Texas A&M (+4) at #22 LSU
Manziel will remind you why he's the Heisman favorite.
Johnny Football needs a few big moments to remind Heisman voters that he's the guy this year. His best game came in a losing effort to Alabama. A&M's defense will give up plenty of points, but I predict Manziel will pull out a dramatic win to secure a few more Heisman votes.
The pick: Texas A&M 51-49

BYU at Notre Dame (+1)
The Irish were embarrassed last time out in a loss to Pitt - maybe only the school's second most embarrassing loss this month, though. They've had two weeks to figure things out. I'll give them the edge because they're at home and the defense should get a few guys back. Like most Irish wins this year, though, it won't be pretty.
The pick: Notre Dame 23-20

#4 Baylor at #10 Oklahoma State (+10)
Yes, Baylor is surging. Ten points, though, is a lot to give on the road, especially in Stillwater. Even RG3 played poorly against the Pokes. Baylor's ridiculous offense should put enough points on the board to stay unbeaten, but it's not going to be easy against an OSU team that has been just as hot as they have.
The pick: Baylor 49-45

SMU (-4) at South Florida
Under-the-radar story in college football the last month or so: Garrett Gilbert putting it together. In his last five games: 17 touchdowns, 1 pick, averaging 420 yards per game. Say what you want about the competition, the Gilbert of years past struggled against most opponents. He's at least earned himself a chance to work out for NFL teams.
I think he'll close this season strong and maybe even get SMU into a bowl game. It starts with a comfortable win over USF.
The pick: SMU 35-20

#8 Missouri at #24 Ole Miss (+3)
James Franklin is back just in time to help Mizzou secure
the SEC East and get a shot at Alabama and the SEC title.
Missouri gets James Franklin back this week, which is obviously huge. The Rebels' three losses have all come to teams currently in the BCS top 12. Their recruiting class was much-heralded coming in, and it may be time for the young rebels to get a signature win in their debut season.
The pick: Ole Miss 33-30

#20 Oklahoma (+3.5) at Kansas State
In typical Bill Snyder fashion, Kansas State has been quietly solid. The Wildcats have played top Big 12 contenders Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas as tough as anyone. They crushed Texas Tech and got by everyone else in the league.
Then there are the inconsistent Sooners. Talented (I think), but inconsistent. Because the game is in Manhattan, I'll go with the well-coached Fightin' Snyders in a close one.
The pick: Kansas State 30-27

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

College Football Picks: Week 12

Is this a little hot streak after an October swoon? I went 8-2 last week on winners, and more importantly 6-3-1 against the spread to get me back above the .500 mark against the wise guys. Time to stay there.

Georgia Tech at #8 Clemson (-10.5) (Thursday)
Georgia Tech needs this game to clinch a share of the ACC Coastal division. Clemson cannot win the Atlantic, but the Tigers can keep themselves in position for an at-large BCS bid with a win here. While Clemson is a clear level below Florida State, the Tigers are a clear step above the rest of the ACC. They'll have an impressive showing.
The pick: Clemson 45-28

Washington at #13 UCLA (-2.5) (Friday)
Freshman Myles Jack is emerging
as a two-way star for the Bruins.
Vegas still doesn't want to give UCLA's opponents very many points. They were only 1-point favorites last week at Arizona and now less than a field goal favorite at home. The Bruins still have a good shot at the BCS. Washington is squarely middle of the pack in the Pac-12 right now. They're way better than Colorado and Cal, but they're a clear level below Stanford and Oregon. UCLA is closer to those elite teams than Washington, and the Bruins are at home.
The pick: UCLA 49-33

#23 Miami at Duke (+3)
The ACC Coastal division is wide open, and both of these teams need this win to stay in the mix. While the talent on paper points to a Miami win, I've got a weird feeling that Duke is hitting is just starting to get. Miami has struggled in its last two games (although everyone struggles against Florida State). I'll take Duke in a nice upset win at home to make the ACC very interesting.
The pick: Duke 24-21

Florida at #10 South Carolina (-13.5)
Florida is in freefall and may even be without Tyler Murphy. The win for South Carolina should be easy against this struggling offensive team. I like SC to cover as well.
The pick: South Carolina 33-13

Michigan (+2.5) at Northwestern
It's the Free Fall Bowl! These two teams have been in a downward spiral for weeks. Northwestern's can partly be blamed on injuries, but I'm not sure what Michigan's excuse is. While I'm tempted to pick Michigan to keep tumbling, there's just little reason to pick Northwestern. The Wildcats are 0-5 in the Big Ten. I think it goes to 0-6.
The pick: Michigan 20-17

West Virginia (-6.5) at Kansas
Picking Kansas to not stay within a touchdown of anyone has to be the easiest call of the week.
The pick: West Virginia 35-10

#25 Georgia at #7 Auburn (-3.5)
If Tre Mason and Auburn can handle Georgia this week,
that would set up an potentially epic Iron Bowl in 2 weeks.
Georgia has rebounded a little after some tough injuries early on, but Auburn has been rolling. While Georgia is holding out hope to somehow win the SEC East, Auburn is playing for the BCS. The Bulldogs just don't have the horses to go into Jordan-Hare and slow down or outscore War Eagle.
The pick: Auburn 33-28

#12 Oklahoma State (-3) at #24 Texas
The winner of this game immediately starts thinking about with Baylor: Oklahoma State hosts next week while Texas visits Waco December 7. We'll wait to call either one a Big 12 championship game.
It's been a fun ride for Mack Brown and his Texas Longhorns, but I think they run out of magic this week. The injuries have piled up, and the loss of RB Jonathan Gray and DT Chris Whaley will really hurt this week. I'll pick Oklahoma State to win the turnover battle end the 'Horns Fiesta Bowl dreams.
The pick: Oklahoma State 38-30

#16 Michigan State (-6.5) at Nebraska
This game has huge implications on who wins the Big Ten Legends division. While it's a bit early to say that the winner definitely takes the Legends, it's close. I'll take the Spartans' third-ranked defense to shut down Nebraska. With just Northwestern and Minnesota left, Sparty fans could start pricing hotels in Indianapolis.
The pick: Michigan State 17-9

#4 Stanford (-3.5) at USC
Vegas must be really impressed by USC's blowout of 1-8 Cal to make the Trojans only a 3.5-point underdog against Stanford. This seems like the lock of the week to me. USC has played better under Ed Orgeron, but Stanford is really hitting its stride. Cardinal will win this one by a lot more than 3.5
The pick: Stanford 38-17

Monday, November 4, 2013

College Football Picks: Week 11

While last week was very mediocre on winners (6-4), I had my best week this year against the spread at 7-3 to get me close to the .500 mark there. I was also one point away from nailing the Georgia-Florida score exactly. So, there's that.

Maybe that gives me some momentum heading into a critical week in the national championship chase. By the way, why do we have to have two top-ten showdowns on a Thursday night?

#10 Oklahoma (+14) at #6 Baylor (Thursday)
Bryce Petty steps into prime time this week. Can he deliver?
Oklahoma may seem a tad overrated at 10, but the Sooners will challenge Baylor like no one else has this year. Baylor's non-conference schedule was a joke, and the Bears were fortunate to start Big 12 play with the four of the five worst teams in the league. While I still think Baylor wins, the Sooners were not get embarrassed.
The pick: Baylor 45-35

#3 Oregon at #5 Stanford (+10.5) (Thursday)
Oregon obviously needs this not only to stay alive in the BCS championship hunt, but to also get a quality win to perhaps leap Florida State for that two spot. Meanwhile, Stanford could solidify its position as the best one-loss team in America. A win over Oregon might even leap Stanford past Ohio State, which would cause quite an uproar in Columbus.
Oregon is explosive as it always is, but Stanford is physical and disciplined. The Cardinal might come up short, but I expect Oregon to do something it hasn't had to do yet this year: battle until the final minute.
The pick: Oregon 38-34

Kansas State at #25 Texas Tech (-2.5)
Yes, Texas Tech has been humbled by Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but I think the Red Raiders are more than a field goal better than Kansas State, especially at home. Texas Tech bounces back this week.
The pick: Texas Tech 49-24

SMU (+9.5) at Cincinnati
Garrett Gilbert MIGHT just be finally emerging as a college QB.
Don't look now, but Garrett Gilbert might be finally getting it together. The former five-star prospect has been great in his last three games: 11 total touchdowns to just 1 pick with an average of 448 yards per game with a completion percentage of 65.7. Not bad at all.
Will it be enough to get a win in Cincy? I don't believe so, but he will keep the Mustangs close.
The pick: Cincinnati 34-28

BYU at #24 Wisconsin (-7.5)
As a Marquette grad, I don't like to say this, but it's true: Wisconsin deserves a little more respect. Despite two losses, the Badgers are very talented and they played Ohio State as close as anyone will this year. Look for Wisconsin to not only win, but try to put a few extra points on the board to try to get up in the polls a little. They have the guys on defense to slow down BYU's rushing attack, especially at home.
The pick: Wisconsin 41-24

Texas (-7) at West Virginia
Maybe this is the Oliver Luck Bowl? Texas is reportedly hot after WVU's athletic director, but they dare not announce anything before this game. West Virginia has struggled this year, but they did squeak out a win at TCU last week, which isn't saying all that much.
Don't look now, but Texas has an honest shot at the Big 12 title, but this is the likely the last game in which Texas will be favored as three ranked teams remain. Texas has to take care of business this week.
The pick: Texas 28-20

Nebraska (+7) at Michigan
This is a hate pick more than anything. I'm done picking Michigan to do well against anyone except Notre Dame. I keep thinking they'll get it together, but they haven't. The team had -48 yards rushing against Michigan State, a good defense and all, but... negative 48. Yikes. They might be a little better than that against Nebraska, but I think Michigan is just going to keep falling.
The pick: Nebraska 27-24

#9 Auburn (-7.5) at Tennessee
It's time to respect Auburn as a legit BCS contender. That means winning by more than a touchdown at a very average Tennessee team. If Auburn loses, we can go back to overlooking them.
The pick: Auburn 35-24

#13 LSU (+12.5) at #1 Alabama
If Mettenberger plays well, LSU could shake up the BCS.
There were a couple years there when this game had the feel of a national semifinal. Even earlier this year, LSU had the look of a team that could challenge Alabama. Now, I'm not so sure. Bama looks as strong as ever while LSU has some questions marks. I want to believe the Tigers will be dialed in and give Alabama a game because the talent is there for the Tigers. Alabama should still win with very little drama, but I'll say LSU barely covers.
The pick: Alabama 33-21

#19 UCLA (-1.5) at Arizona
When I saw this line, I check to see if UCLA had some significant injuries that I didn't know about. Then I see that maybe Arizona is a little better than I thought. The Wildcats are 12th in the nation in rushing yards and have the country's 26th-ranked scoring defense. Not bad, but I still believe UCLA is the third best team in the Pac-12 behind BCS-quality squads Oregon and Stanford. They'll give the one point because I don't believe they'll need it.
The pick: UCLA 38-30

I'm a little worried because I have way too many losers covering. Oh well...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

College Football Picks: Week 10

Okay, I finally got back on track a little. 8-2 on winners last week and a modest 5-4-1 against the spread, but hey that's above .500. I'll take it.

USC at Oregon State (-4.5)
While Oregon State was humbled last week against a strong Stanford team, USC has been humbled all year. The Trojans offense will have trouble keeping up with the nation's leading passer, Sean Mannion.
The pick: Oregon State 36-24

Virginia Tech (-5) at Boston College
After a stunning loss to Duke last week, I'll take the Hokies to regroup against BC.
The pick: Virginia Tech 24-17

Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech (-9.5)
Yeah, I guess you can tell I'm not putting much effort in this week. Busy week at work. Tech wins. Sure.
The pick: Georgia Tech 31-21

Tennessee at #9 Missouri (-11)
After the Vols were crushed by Alabama, Tennessee offensive lineman Tiny Richardson said "We'll beat Missouri. I promise you that."
Forgive me if I don't agree. Yes, Mizzou is coming off another all-too-familiar soul-crushing loss. The Tigers, however, still control their own destiny as far as the SEC East is concerned. They won't let that opportunity come crashing down at home to a Tennessee team that will be starting a freshman QB in Joshua Dobbs who has thrown 12 passes all season, all of them last week. Missouri may have another soul-crushing loss coming, but I don't think it's this week.
The pick: Missouri 35-17

West Virginia (+13) at TCU
I don't mean to sound like I'm bashing TCU, because I have been down on (and right about) them lately. But the Frogs being a 13 point favorite with their struggles on offense is surprising to me. With Casey Pachall back, maybe they find some rhythm, but I don't think it will be enough to light up the scoreboard. They should win, but I don't expect it to be easy.
The pick: TCU 23-14

Georgia (-2.5) vs Florida (in Jacksonville, FL)
Two teams that are struggling on offense: one is missing its quarterback and the other is missing everyone except its quarterback. Considering where they were in September, it's hard to believe these two are unranked. This one won't be pretty, but I think Florida's offensive problems are slightly worse. Todd Gurley might return for Georgia, and he would make a huge difference.
The pick: Georgia 24-20

#7 Miami at #3 Florida State (-22)
Florida State already destroyed one top ten team, and that was on the road. The Seminoles know they need style points to jump Oregon, and they will take the chance to run up the score if they can. I can't go against this team at all at home.
The pick: Florida State 49-24

#21 Michigan (+4.5) at #22 Michigan State
While I hesitate to go with this inconsistent Michigan team, the Wolverines should be fresh after a week off. MSU has gained some momentum with wins against the lower half the Big Ten, and this is their toughest game so far. For what it's worth (and that's not much), Michigan rolled over Notre Dame while the Spartans struggled in a 17-13 loss. While Michigan looks uninterested against Akron and Connecticut, the Wolverines will get up for their rivals.
The pick: Michigan 33-30

#11 Auburn (-9.5) at Arkansas
Auburn hits the road for a trap game with Arkansas. Auburn has survived tough games with Texas A&M and Ole Miss in the SEC to stand at 3-1 while Arkansas sits at 0-4. Yes, the Hogs have had a tough slate (A&M, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama), but the Hogs were clearly a step behind the SEC's best. I think they will be again this week.
The pick: Auburn 35-24

#18 Oklahoma State (+1.5) at #15 Texas Tech
The Red Raiders came up short in a chance to prove themselves last week in Norman. They get a shot to stay in the Big 12 race this week at home. While the Cowboys have played very well against Tech in recent years, those weren't Kliff Kingsbury's teams. Despite the fact that both teams are juggling quarterbacks, they both score a lot. Look for a lot of points in this one, but I just have a little more faith in OSU.
The pick: Oklahoma State 42-41

Monday, October 21, 2013

College Football Picks: Week 9

It was Upset Saturday. And I was pretty upset. 3-7 on winners AND against the spread. Awful. I'm at the point where I feel like if I pick the Denver Broncos to cover 14 points against UConn, the Huskies would win in overtime. I guess the silver lining is that 3-7 against the spread was an improvement from the previous week.

So, take these picks, do the opposite in Vegas, and you'll have a great weekend.

Boise State at BYU (-7) (Friday)
I'm still not a buyer on the Broncos. In a Friday night road game, I'm even less inclined to believe. They're simply a decent team in the Mountain West. Not much more. I'll take BYU's rushing attack.
The pick: BYU 31-21

#9 Clemson (-13) at Maryland
Both of these teams know what it's like to be absolutely embarrassed by Florida State: a combined 104-14 destruction. Northwestern and Washington have shown me the last two weeks that teams don't play well after crushing losses. Will I learn my lesson with Clemson?
Nope. Come on, Clemson's too good to completely tank... right? Right??
The pick: Clemson 38-24

#21 South Carolina at #5 Missouri (-3)
Mizzou just keeps winning. A win over South Carolina
this weekend almost locks up the SEC East for them.
Alright, Mizzou. I give up. I'm out of reasons to doubt this team. Maty Mauk was impressive filling in for James Franklin, and now the Tigers have a home game against South Carolina, a team that may or may not be without QB Connor Shaw. Mizzou will stay interesting in the SEC. A win here wouldn't clinch the SEC East for the Tigers, but it would mean only a horrible collapse would keep them out of Atlanta.
The pick: Missouri 38-30

#12 UCLA at #3 Oregon (-21)
Back-to-back road games at Oregon and Stanford shouldn't be allowed, but that's what UCLA is faced with. The Bruins were humbled last week at UCLA, and now they have to somehow rally and slow down the nation's most exciting team. The line seems about right. Oregon should win easily, but maybe UCLA finds a way to stay within three touchdowns.
The pick: Oregon 42-23

Utah (+7) at USC
Can the team that upset Stanford go into L.A. and defeat the Trojans? Maybe. USC's offense looked pretty bad last week, and it's not getting any better this season. USC should still win, but I predict it will be ugly.
The pick: USC 20-17

#10 Texas Tech (+6.5) at #15 Oklahoma
Texas Tech has scored a lot of points against some mediocre opponents. The offense is impressive. No doubt about that. Can they take down the inconsistent Sooners in Norman? Oklahoma didn't look so great  last week. If OU can control the clock and run the ball, then the Tech offense won't be able to light up the scoreboard. The Red Raiders will stay close, though.
The pick: Oklahoma 30-28

Texas (+1.5) at TCU
Case McCoy had the line of the week. When asked why TCU is favored, he replied, "I guess because I'm playing quarterback, right?"
As much as people (myself included) rip on McCoy for mediocre and sometimes awful play, he has come through in some huge games, most notably this year's win over Oklahoma and the big finale against Texas A&M. This game isn't THAT big, but it would keep Texas tied for first in the Big 12.
While TCU's defense should continue to play well, I still have concerns about the Frogs' offense. I just don't think they can score with the personnel they have now. Texas may not light it up either, but they'll put enough points up to win.
The pick: Texas 28-24

#6 Stanford (-5) at #25 Oregon State
This man leads the nation in passing. Can he beat Stanford?
Everyone forgot about Oregon State after the season opening loss to Eastern Washington. All the Beavers have done since is win six straight and lead the nation in passing yardage. Sean Mannion is a dark horse Heisman candidate with 2,992 yards passing and 29 touchdowns so far. He won't get to New York, though, without winning some big games. This is his chance.
Stanford, though, redeemed itself last week with an impressive defensive showing against UCLA. They'll put the hurt on this high-powered Oregon State offense this week.
The pick: Stanford 35-28

Tulsa at Tulane (+3.5)
Did you know Tulane is tied for first in Conference USA? Can you even name every team in C-USA? Me neither. They're actually a home underdog against a Tulsa team that hasn't been quite as impressive on offense as the TU faithful had hoped before the season. Tulsa' win last week at UTEP gave them some hope. Maybe they'll take another step forward this week, but expect a close game.
The pick: Tulsa 34-31

Penn State at #4 Ohio State (-14.5)
Penn State got a nice win over a struggling Michigan team, but this week they take on a much stronger team on the road. Not only that, Ohio State is probably tiring of hearing how they need at least two teams ahead of them to lose to have any shot at the national title (which is probably true). The Buckeyes might try to run up the score if possible to win style points. I don't think Penn State will let it get that ugly, but I do expect a comfortable Buckeye win.
The pick: Ohio State 38-21

Finally, a game I'm not picking but curious how bad it gets: Baylor is at Kansas this week. That could be 84-0 if Art Briles wants it to be.