Last week was the week I've been waiting for. I was 8-2 picking winners, but more importantly I was 8-2 against the spread. I could have been 9-1 on both had Northwestern not collapsed, but there's no need to be greedy. It's what I get for putting faith in Northwestern.
Although I would have been happy to go 0-10 if it meant the Braves could have gone 1-0 on Friday. But let's move on, shall we?
#15 Texas +3 vs #13 Oklahoma
If I had said that in August, you would have had me locked up. Now, you can make that argument. David Ash has grown up fast. He's been poised, confident and accurate this year. Landry Jones, on the other hand, has not been quite as sharp as OU had hoped. He hasn't been as awful as some Sooners fans are making it out to be, but he has not been the NFL-caliber arm that OU had hoped to see this year.
The Longhorns are not who we thought they were either, though. In the preseason, we all thought Texas had a dominant defense but would struggle to score. Now? Ash and those running backs have the offense rolling. The defense, though, has shown signs of weakness. Oklahoma State and West Virginia have shown that you can spread Texas out and put up 30-40 points. OU has seen that tape, too. The Sooners should be able to score a good bit, but will it be enough?
As crazy as this sounds, I just don't trust the senior Landry Jones as much as I do the sophomore David Ash this week. I think the balanced Texas offense will get it done while the defense will get a stop or two when it needs to.
The pick: Texas 38-35
#17 Stanford at #7 Notre Dame -8
While the schedule has not turned out to be as great as we thought in the preseason, there is no doubt that Notre Dame is a good team. Are the Irish a great team? We'll see. They sure took another step in that direction last week, when the offense exploded while the defense turned in another dominant performance against a Miami team that was clearly overmatched. Stanford had struggled to score for the most part until last week, when the Cardinal put up 54 in an OT win over Arizona.
I think both defenses will have a strong showing in this one, but I have to like the Irish at home. The line got up to nearly 10, which seemed high, but as it sits at just 8, I'll say the Irish cover, but barely.
The pick: Notre Dame 24-14
#10 Oregon State +6 at BYU
Both of these teams lost a quarterback this week. Oregon State starter Sean Mannion and BYU backup Taysom Hill both had knee surgeries and will miss this game. Hill was filling in for Riley Nelson, who is expected to return. Oregon State may be the great overachievers so far this season, but I don't think it's a fluke at this point (even though 10 seems crazy high for them). I also don't think the Beavers' success is because of one guy. I'm giving Oregon State a little more credit than Vegas is in this one. I'll not only take the points, but also the upset (?) win.
The pick: Oregon State 21-17
#11 USC at Washington +12
I'll admit that I bought all the preseason hype over USC, and the Trojans could still very well win the Pac-12. This team, though, is not on Alabama's level. Talented? Absolutely. They're just a little inconsistent, and that could be a problem in Seattle in primetime. The Huskies might actually hang tough at home, but USC's talent will get them to the finish line.
The pick: USC 35-24
TCU at Baylor -8
I thought this line might shift dramatically once we confirmed Casey Pachall would not be playing, but it only moved one point to Baylor -8. I saw first-hand last week how lost TCU is offensively. It's not just Pachall, either. The Frogs are down to their third or fourth string running back, too. I do not like their chances to outscore Baylor in Waco. If Iowa State can get big plays through the air against TCU's defense, Baylor should have no trouble. It's a shame, too. The roster TCU looked to be bringing into the Big 12 last spring seemed formidable, almost good enough to win the league. Some drug suspensions and injuries later, the Frogs might be looking up at everyone but Kansas this year.
The pick: Baylor 49-28
#3 South Carolina +2.5 at #9 LSU
Taking the points is an easy decision, and I see no reason why SC can't go to Baton Rouge and win.
The pick: South Carolina 24-13
Tennessee +3 at #19 Mississippi State
Yes, Mississippi State is ranked and unbeaten. Their wins, though: over a pitiful Auburn team and lowly Kentucky in the SEC plus Jackson State, Troy, and South Alabama. I'm probably putting too much faith in Tennessee on the road, but the Vols gave Georgia quite a fight and had Florida on the ropes before collapsing. I will very hesitantly say Tennessee figures some things out and gets a nice road win.
The pick: Tennessee 28-24
#18 Louisville -3 at Pittsburgh
This is the line that I'm trying to figure out this week. Louisville, the hands-down best team in the Big East, is only a field goal favorite at 2-3 Pitt? Sure, Pitt pulled a win out of its you-know-what to get Virginia Tech, but I think that was more a result of poor play from Virginia Tech, who isn't that great anyway. Maybe Louisville's offense has been a little slow the past couple weeks, but I think it wakes up for the road game in conference play. Louisville wins and big.
The pick: Louisville 35-14
#4 Florida -8.5 at Vanderbilt
This is another head-scratching line for me. I saw it as low as -7, but the latest is 8.5. The Gators are one of the top teams in the country right now, and you're telling me it could almost be a one-possession game against a team that got blasted 48-3 by Georgia and just squeaked out a 19-15 ugly win at Mizzou? No way. The Gators roll.
The pick: Florida 38-14
#22 Texas A&M -7.5 at #23 Louisiana Tech
The Bulldogs haven't seen a quarterback like Johnny Manziel, though. He can really play, and the A&M defense (while not outstanding) will definitely be the best Tech has seen.
And yes, the Growing Pains song is stuck in my head, too.
The pick: Texas A&M 44-34
It should be another great weekend of college football. The better news, though: college basketball gets underway with Midnight Madness celebrations all over the country. It's about time.