Last week's results saw MC&J tread water after making serious gains the previous two weeks. The good news is that even with some so-so picking, we still gained a game on the good side of .500. While Ohio State fans sometime feel lost during the bye week, this weekend has a few stellar matchups that will directly effect where the Buckeyes sit in the grand scheme of the BCS.
Last Week ATS: 5-4-1 (2-1-1 National, 3-3 B1G)
Season ATS: 60-54-3 (28-23-2 National, 32-31-1 B1G)
#12 Oklahoma vs. #5 Baylor (-14.5) - Thursday 7:30 PM EST - Fox Sports 1
Thursday's epic double dip starts with "Big Game Bob" trying to find a way to stop a Baylor offense that has put up 59 points or more in six of seven games so far this season. This is the first real test that Baylor has faced this season, but they are lucky enough to get the Sooners in Waco. Kansas State gave Baylor the most trouble this year when the Wildcats ran for 327 yards and kept the ball for two-thirds of the game, but still lost by 10 points. The best defense against that Baylor offense is to keep the Bears off the field, and I think a Sooner team that averages 234 yards/game on the ground can do that. The crowd in Waco will be electric, but for some reason I keep getting the feeling that Oklahoma gives Baylor a game in this one.
Baylor 45 Oklahoma 38
#2 Oregon (-11) vs. #6 Stanford - Thursday 9:00 PM EST - ESPN
As if Baylor's uniforms and offense wasn't enough for you in the first game, you'll certainly get your fill with Oregon in the later start in the best regular season Thursday doubleheader ever. Last year saw Stanford go into Eugene as a 18-point underdog and ruin the Ducks perfect season with a 17-14 overtime win. The Cardinal will be trying to pull another upset this year, this time in Palo Alto. Stanford hasn't broken the 30-point barrier since a 31-28 win against Washington in early October, and now I'm supposed to believe that they are going to be able to keep pace with the Ducks? Not buying it. With the way Oregon is rolling, any point spread under two touchdowns has to seem like a gift. Stanford's defense took a hit this week when they found out they'll be without defensive end Ben Gardner for the rest of the season. The Cardinal may keep things close for a while, Black Mamba gets the 40+ points he predicted and the Ducks pull away.
Oregon 42 Stanford 24
#7 Auburn (-8.5) vs. Tennessee - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN
After nearly beating Georgia and then upsetting South Carolna, Tennessee has gone on the road and been outscored the last two weeks 76-13 by Alabama and Missouri. On the other side, Auburn has won five straight games after losing their only game on the season to LSU. The Tigers will hit the road again after facing a similiar spread, which they covered with ease, against Arkansas last week. Guz Malzahn's team is rushing for 306 yards/game and now they get to feast on a Tennessee defense that is the worst rushing defense in the SEC, giving up 201 yards/game. This is the third straight game in which Tennessee has faced a top-10 team, and the seventh ranked opponent the Vols have faced this season. While it is a good learning experience for a young Vols team going forward, I just don't see the Vols being able to keep up. Running back Tre Mason has another big game for Auburn and the Tigers roll again on the road.
Auburn 37 Tennessee 23
Houston vs. #19 UCF (-10.5) - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN2
In a weekend bursting with good games, this is a sneaky good matchup between two teams that have combined to go 13-2 (on the field and against the spread) so far this season. The only loss for Houston on the season was a 47-46 loss to BYU, while the lone time Central Florida has been defeated was a 28-25 loss to South Carolina in late September. Both teams are undefeated in AAC play this season, so the winner will have a leg up on the automatic BCS bid that comes with winning the conference. What has lifted Houston to where they are this season is a nation's best +20 turnover margin, but with an experienced QB behind center I think that UCF won't let Houston increase that turnover number. Having already defeated Louisville on the season, The Golden Knights knows that if they win on Saturday it's hard to see them not gaining the BCS bid with the schedule they have left. UCF is the most complete team the Cougars have faced this season, and in this matchup of teams that have been point spread beasts.
UCF 44 Houston 30
#10 LSU vs. #1 Alabama (-12.5) - 8:00 PM EST - CBS
The last six regular season meetings between these SEC West rivals have been decided by 11 points or less, so close games are nothing new in this rivalry. Since going into College Station and downing Johnny Football and the Aggies, Alabama has decimated opponents, winning the last six games by a combined 146-26. The only game that the Crimson Tide didn't cover over that time period was a 54.5 point spread against Georgia State. This weekend won't feature a spread that big for Saban's wrecking crew, but they will have to try and stop a LSU offense that can move the ball. After hearing how weak the schedule has been for Alabama has been this season, robot general Nick Saban will have his cyborg army ready to destroy this weekend. The Crimson Tide defense stymies Zach Mettenberger and company and thwarts Les Miles' bid to leave Tuscaloosa for the second straight time with a victory.
Alabama 30 LSU 13
Penn State vs. Minnesota (-2.5) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN2
Last week saw both teams jump out to early leads, blow those leads, and then recover to win late (or in overtime in Penn State's case). Minnesota is seeking to win four straight Big Ten games for the first time since 1973. Most of the season Minnesota had been doing their damage on offense via the ground, but last week quarterback Philip Nelson throw for 298 yards and four touchdowns against Indiana. Penn State has alternated wins and losses in their last seven games, but very easily could have lost their last four games. I'll take the team playing better football to keep rolling.
Minnesota 31 Penn State 24
Iowa (-15) vs. Purdue - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
While Iowa may have lost four games so far this season, the teams that they have lost to have a combined record of 32-3. After only mustering three field goals against Wisconsin last week, the Hawkeyes should have an easier time finding the end zone against the Boilermakers on Saturday. Purdue has not run a play in the opponent's red zone since the Northern Illinois game at the end of September, and has only scored a touchdown in their last three games. Iowa becomes bowl eligible with an easy victory in West Lafayette.
Iowa 30 Purdue 10
Illinois vs. Indiana (-10) - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
When looking at this game, the more interesting line might be the over/under, which is set near 77 currently. Indiana has given up 42 points or more in their last three games, while Illinois had given up at least 35 points in their previous three games before holding Penn State to a measly 24 points last week. Indiana had bowl aspirations coming into the season, but it's hard to see them getting to six wins with Wisconsin and Ohio State on the schedule. While I'm not predicting a Indiana loss like last week, I still think almost 10 points is too much for them to be giving with a defense as bad as the one they have.
Indiana 48 Illinois 41
Nebraska vs. Michigan (-7) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
-48 rushing yards. I really couldn't wait any longer to mention that, but I guess I can't laugh too much since I picked Michigan to beat Sparty last weekend. It shouldn't have come as a surprise though since I can't correctly pick a Michigan game to save my life. So far this season in games involving Michigan I'm 2-6 against the spread, so I'm sure whatever I pick in this game will be wrong. After traveling backwards against Michigan State last week, the Wolverines probably are relieved to be going against a Cornhusker defense that is giving up 182 yards/game on the ground. While it was a couple weeks later in the year, in 2011 both teams came in with two losses and Michigan dominated Nebraska 45-17. The Wolverines are a different team a home and help turn up the heat on Bo Pelini's seat.
Michigan 38 Nebraska 27
BYU vs. #21 Wisconsin (-8) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN
It's not very often that you see a Big Ten team step out of conference play in November, but on Saturday BYU makes the trek in to Camp Randall. Since losing to rival Utah in September, BYU have won their last five games. Both teams are averaging over 250 yards on the ground a game, and are the only FBS teams to feature two players each that average over 100 yards/game rushing. The Badgers defense will provide the toughest test that BYU quarterback Taysom Hill has faced so far this season, and the Badger faithful in attendance will only make it even tougher. I'll take the team that hasn't lost against the spread so far this year, and also didn't somehow lose on the road to Virginia.
Wisconsin 31 BYU 20