After coming into last week at the .500 mark, MC&J was able to move a game to the plus-side, having a big week with the national games to make up for some poor Big Ten picks. This week has some great games on deck, with a triple-header of games featuring ranked SEC teams. The Big Ten has a double dose of intriguing matchups as well, with Maryland hosting their first conference home game against Ohio State, and then a primetime game in East Lansing between Nebraska and Michigan State. While we may have moved to fall, the heat on the gridiron has been turned up, and MC&J is hoping to be able add to that heat with some hot picks.
Last week ATS: 7-6 (4-1 National, 3-5 B1G)
Season ATS: 36-35 (12-12 National, 24-23 B1G)
#6 Texas A&M v. #12 Mississippi State (-2.5) - 12:00 PM - ESPN
The Aggies come into this matchup by somehow squeaking by Arkansas at JerryWorld last week, and now must go to CLANGAville to take on a Mississippi State team that is coming off a decisive win in Death Valley a couple weeks ago. Kenny Hill has thrown for 17 touchdowns this year, which is tied for second among FBS quarterbacks, and Mississippi State has had some issues against the pass. Dak Prescott has been impressive for the Bulldogs this year, and his versatility will help Mississippi State keep pace. The Bulldogs have covered eight of their last nine games, including the last five in SEC play. The home field in the land of the cowbell will be the difference.
Mississippi State 41 Texas A&M 35
#3 Alabama (-7) v. #11 Mississippi - 3:30 PM - CBS
Ole Miss avoided the "look-ahead game" when they defeated Memphis, but they did have their struggles against the Tigers, only leading 7-3 at half. The area that hasn't struggled for Ole Miss all year has been the defense, holding Memphis to just 104 yards of offense. The stakes will certainly be raised for Hugh Freeze's team when they take on a Alabama offense with Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon, and a cast of others. The Crimson Tide offense looked great against Florida, and Blake Sims should start after a week off to heal his injured shoulder. Even though College Gameday will be in Oxford for the first time, I think the lights might just be a little too bright for Ole Miss in this one. Even though it's on the road, it's hard not to back Saban with a bye week to prepare for Mississippi.
Alabama 34 Mississippi 23
#4 Oklahoma (-5.5) v. #25 TCU - 3:30 PM - Fox
After tightening up in the second half against West Virginia, Oklahoma has had a week off to prepare for a undefeated TCU team that slipped into the Top-25. TCU is holding teams to less than 220 yards of offense per game, but they haven't exactly played any offensive juggernauts. Samaje Perine looks to be the real deal for the Sooners after rushing for 242 yards and four touchdowns against West Virginia. I wouldn't be surprised if TCU pulls the upset, as they have the talent to keep up with the Sooners, but in the end I think Oklahoma wins it by a touchdown, and keeps their playoff dreams alive.
Oklahoma 27 TCU 20
#14 Stanford (-1.5) v. #9 Notre Dame - 3:30 PM - NBC
Do we really know what we have with either of these teams yet? Stanford squeaked by Washington 20-13 last week in Seattle, but hasn't shown all that much on offense yet this year. That figures to continue this week when they take on a tough Notre Dame defense. The Fighting Irish face their first true test of the year, and this game will be a nice gauge on how good Everett Golson really is. It's concerning that Notre Dame turned the ball over five times against Syracuse last week, and that's something they won't be able to get away with this week. The slight home underdog against a team playing their second road game in a row is very tempting.
Notre Dame 20 Stanford 17
#15 LSU v. #5 Auburn (-7.5) - 3:30 PM - ESPN
Freshman Brandon Harris has taken the reins of the LSU offense, and led the Tigers to touchdowns on all seven possessions he was a part of last week after replacing Anthony Jennings. The difference this week is that LSU won't be playing at home and certainly won't be playing New Mexico State. Auburn had a cupcake of their own last week, dispatching Louisiana Tech after taking down Kansas State in Manhattan the week before. The LSU defense is able to force turnovers, but can they actually do anything with those turnovers. Last year LSU gave Auburn their only regular season loss, and I think Auburn will want a little revenge for that. While Harris is talented, it's hard to back him in his first college start at a hostile environment like Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn and Nick Marshall has too much offense for LSU to keep up with.
Auburn 38 LSU 27
#20 Ohio State (-8.5) v. Maryland - 12:00 PM - ABC
Almost a week after their win against Cincinnati last week, and Ohio State just picked up another first down. Put aside some drops and penalties on the offensive line and the Buckeye offense looked nearly flawless last week, racking up over 700 yards of offense. There shouldn't be any reason why that doesn't continue this week, against a Maryland defense that has already been gashed by West Virginia this year. Ezekiel Elliott had over 200 yards of total offense last week in his coming out party, and J.T. Barrett looks to have learned a lot from the rough ride he had against Virginia Tech earlier this year. When clicking on all cylinders, this Buckeye offense is one of the toughest to stop in the country, and I can't see Maryland having the talent on defense to dispel that notion.
The reason there might even be a question in this game is because of the Ohio State pass defense. Last week might've seen a final score more along the lines of 50-7 had Ohio State not given up three touchdown catches to Chris Moore, who finished with 221 yards on his three receptions. The secondary of the Buckeyes can't breathe easy this week, as they'll try and slow down speedster Stefon Diggs. After trying to gain his commitment in recruiting, Diggs decided to stay close to home in Maryland, and is the best player for the Terrapins on offense. Ohio State can't afford to sleep on quarterback C.J. Brown either, who can move the ball both through the air and also on the ground.
I keep hoping that the secondary of the Buckeyes will get sick of hearing about how bad they've been over the last few years, but then games like the Cincinnati game happen and we are back to square one. The front-seven for Ohio State has been doing their job this year, with Joey Bosa again looking like a destroyer of all things. This will be the first Big Ten home game for Maryland this year, so the crowd should be a little more juiced up, but it isn't like the Buckeyes are unfamiliar with playing in front of big crowds. Ohio State might get an early push from Maryland, but they just have too much offense for the Terrapins to keep up with.
Ohio State 45 Maryland 31
Purdue v. Illinois (-10.5) - 12:00 PM - ESPN2
Are you really going to watch this game? If so I would recommend getting help. Purdue jumped out to a 10-0 lead against Iowa but still ended up losing by 14 points. With Wes Lunt out against Nebraska, the Illinois offense got nothing going with Riley O'Toole at the helm. The good news for the Fighting Illini is that Lunt should be back against Purdue. Laying 10+ points with Illinois? Ugh. Assuming Purdue can stay within 10 points of anyone? Double ugh. Lunt has been about the only Illinois player to produce this year, and I think with his return that the home team can put some distance on the Boilermakers.
Illinois 37 Purdue 20
North Texas v. Indiana (-13.5) - 2:30 PM - Big Ten Network
The Mean Green of North Texas come into this contest with a 2-2 record, but it isn't a very impressive record. Their wins have come against Nicholls State and SMU, while one of their losses is by 21 points to Louisiana Tech. Statistically North Texas has a good rushing defense, but I'm not convinced since they haven't really played anyone besides Texas. Meanwhile Indiana can't be happy after following up their big win at Missouri by laying an egg against Maryland. Tevin Coleman and the Hoosiers get back on track on Saturday.
Indiana 41 North Texas 21
#17 Wisconsin (-9) v.Northwestern - 3:30 PM - ESPN2
What Northwestern team did we see last week? The Wildcats went on the road to Happy Valley and dominating Penn State. At the same time Wisconsin was tied 3-3 at home at halftime with South Florida before pulling away to a 17-point win. Even with the slow start, Melvin Gordon still rushed for 182 yards against the Bulls. While last week was a big boost for Northwestern's confidence, they won't get the luxury of the stupidity and mistakes from Wisconsin that Penn State exhibited. The Badgers will be looking for their first win in Evanston since 1999 and shouldn't have much trouble getting it.
Wisconsin 33 Northwestern 20
Michigan v. Rutgers (-3) - 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Look at the star power there is a quarterback in this game! Devin Gardner against Gary Nova. Be aware because you might be able to catch one of their passes. That's right, you might get one of their passes coming right through your living room window if you choose to watch these game. These quarterbacks are so bad that the only points might come off interception returns for touchdowns. Rutgers held the lead for most of the game at home under the lights against what didn't look like a terrible Penn State at the time, and has rebounded with two straight wins. We don't need to recap what is going on with Brady Hoke and the Wolverines. We all know how bad things are. This team is toxic and I just wouldn't put any of my trust in them now.
Rutgers 23 Michigan 16
#19 Nebraska v. #10 Michigan State (-7.5) - 8:00 PM - ABC
Sparty faces their first true home test of the season, when they welcome Nebraska under the lights on Saturday night. The lone blemish on Michigan State's record this year came via Oregon at Autzen earlier in the year, and this week they'll have another potent rushing attack they'll have to try and slow down. Ameer Abdullah has been fantastic for Nebraska this year, with three 200-yard rushing games under his belt. Connor Cook has been equally impressive for Michigan State, and should be able to move the ball through the air against a Nebraska defense that hasn't been truly tested this year. Going against someone that is as hot as Abdullah is right now isn't exactly my cup of tea, but I could see the Michigan State defense being able to put the clamps on him. Plus we seem about due for a meltdown from a Bo Pelini team.
Michigan State 38 Nebraska 28