While MC&J went 9-2 last week, those two losses still sting. I was way off base thinking that the Buckeyes wouldn't cover last week just because I could fathom that Illinois was truly that bad. Arizona State also had the Utes where they wanted them for a while but needed overtime to take down Utah. Still it's hard to be truly that mad when hitting the number in the other nine games. Hopefully as the pressure ramps up with the weeks dwindling in the college football season, MC&J can continue to respond with some big results.
Last week ATS: 9-2 (4-1 National, 5-1 B1G)
Season ATS: 61-65-1 (26-26-1 National, 35-39 B1G)
#12 Baylor v. #15 Oklahoma (-5.5) - 12:00 PM - Fox Sports 1
Last year's matchup between these two teams was billed as the "Big 12 game of the year". This year's version is being playing this weekend, but it isn't this matchup. Still the game in Norman does have a the potential to start off this big Saturday with a bang. Both teams are coming off big wins last weekend after suffering tough losses in their previous game. Oklahoma just ran for 510 yards against Iowa State, while Baylor hung 60 points on lowly Kansas. Last year the Bears took down the Sooners 41-12 in Waco, so Oklahoma will be trying to extract some revenge this year. Even while Oklahoma has faltered a couple times this year, I'm not sold on this Baylor team on the road. I like the Sooners by a touchdown in this one.
Oklahoma 41 Baylor 34
#10 Notre Dame v. #9 Arizona State (-2.5) - 3:30 PM - ABC
The Fighting Irish hit the road for the third straight game, and they'll need to perform better than they did last week against Navy if they have any hopes of defeating Arizona State. Notre Dame nearly pulled the upset a few weeks ago against Florida State, so it isn't crazy to think that they could beat the Sun Devils as both schools try to stay alive for the College Football Playoff. Last week Arizona State squeaked by Utah in overtime, and you have to wonder how they are holding up after games against UCLA, USC, Stanford, Washington, and the Utes. The thing that worries me about the Sun Devils is they are giving up 180 yards/game on the ground. I'm trying to talk myself into taking Arizona State with their home crowd, but I just keep coming back to Notre Dame finding a way to win this game.
Notre Dame 31 Arizona State 28
#7 Kansas State v. #6 TCU (-6.5) - 7:30 PM - Fox
Kansas State leaves the friendly confines in Manhattan for only the third time this season, but the last time they did this year they dealt Oklahoma their second loss of the season. TCU has to be happy to get back to Fort Worth after escaping Morgantown with a win over West Virginia. The Horned Frogs have one of the best offenses in the country behind quarterback Trevone Boykin, who is averaging over 360 yards of total offense per game. While Kansas State has one of the best defenses in the country, I just don't think they'll be able to go on the road and hold the Horned Frogs in-check. If this game had been in Manhattan it would've been very hard for me to go against Bill Snyder's Wildcats, but with the game being in Fort Worth I do like TCU in this matchup.
TCU 38 Kansas State 28
#5 Alabama (-6.5) v. #16 LSU - 8:00 PM - CBS
After being left for dead earlier in the year following losses to Mississippi State and Auburn, LSU looks to have righted their ship a little bit with three straight wins. Alabama has also won three straight games after falling to Ole Miss in Oxford in early October. LSU has showcased a potent running game to spur their winning streak, but they'll have their hands full trying to crack Alabama's tough running defense. Running back T.J Yeldon has been dealing with a foot injury so it's hard to say how effective he'll be against the Tiger defense. Weird things always seem to happen in this matchup and Les Miles is the king of weird. I'm rooting for the upset in this one, but even if LSU doesn't win this game, I get the feeling that they'll keep it close at least.
LSU 23 Alabama 20
#4 Oregon (-9.5) v. #17 Utah - 10:00 PM - ESPN
Oregon finally found a way to take down Stanford last week, and with that win find themselves on the inside of the College Football Playoff Rankings for now. The Ducks can't breathe easy though, as they have a tough trip to Salt Lake City this week. Marcus Mariota looks to be the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy right now, but he'll have his hands full with a potent Utah pass rush. The Utes have questions at quarterback with it being undecided on whether Travis Wilson or Kendal Thompson will get the nod. Utah hung tough with Arizona State on the road last week, losing in overtime. Their offense though couldn't get much through the air without top wide receiver Dres Anderson. While Utah is very tough at home and their defense could cause Oregon some problems, the Ducks just seem to be on a mission right now and I don't think that the Utes will be able to keep up with all the scoring the Ducks will do.
Oregon 42 Utah 28
Penn State (-7) v. Indiana - 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Do you really want to watch this game? Of course you don't. I'll try and make this as quick and painless as possible. After their close loss to Ohio State the previous week, Penn State didn't look to have much in the tank last week, as they fell to Maryland 20-19. Indiana looked to have even less in the tank in a 34-10 pasting at the hands of Michigan. Last year these two teams playing in Bloomington with Indiana winning 44-24. This year could be a different story for the Hoosiers, since they can't pass the ball at all with freshman quarterback Zander Diamont. Indiana does have Tevin Coleman, but Penn State gives opponents nothing on the ground. I have laying a touchdown on the road in a crap matchup like this, but it feels like Indiana has quit on the season, while Penn State might have a little fight left in them.
Penn State 27 Indiana 14
Iowa (-2) v. Minnesota - 12:00 PM - ESPN2
There's nothing quite like the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. There is some intrigue to go along with that beautiful trophy, with the winner of this matchup controlling their own destiny in the Big Ten West. The Hawkeyes actually looked like a formidable football team after destroying Northwestern last week, but Iowa is so schizo that it would surprise nobody if they laid an egg this weekend. Minnesota has had a week off to try and assess their loss to Illinois, and they sure needed it to try and figure out some other form of offense besides David Cobb. While Minnesota had the bye week, it is still hard to get over them losing to Illinois. I know picking Iowa will probably come back to bite me, but at least they are a little more balanced on offense.
Iowa 23 Minnesota 17
#25 Wisconsin (-17) v. Purdue - 12:00 PM - ESPNU
The Boilermakers have been a covering machine this year when they have been double-digit underdogs, and they'll look to continue that trend on Saturday but the task won't be easy. Wisconsin comes in having won their previous two games by a combined score of 89-7. The Wisconsin offense has been better with Joel Stave as the starter, but there is no doubt that the driving force is Melvin Gordon. The Purdue defense is allowing 177 yards/game on the ground, so another big day should be in store for Gordon. While Purdue has done well as the underdog, this Badger team just seems to be rolling too much right now to think that the Boilermakers will keep things close. Wisconsin has covered the last eight matchups in this series, so I'll ride this wave until I am given reason to do otherwise.
Wisconsin 43 Purdue 20
Michigan (-1.5) v. Northwestern - 3:30 PM - ESPN2
Maybe it was all Dave Brandon's fault. Last week after Dave Brandon resigned, Michigan trounced Indiana 34-10 in Ann Arbor. Not like beating up on the Hoosiers is hard right now, but it did give the Wolverines a small shot of momentum as they work their way to bowl eligibility. Meanwhile Northwestern has lost three straight games, and was thoroughly embarrassed by Iowa last week. The Wolverines are banged up with Jabril Peppers and Derrick Green done for the year, but they will get Jake Butt back from a one-game suspension. I'm not a fan of backing a Michigan team on the road, but Northwestern looks really bad and it's hard to see them getting much against a stout Michigan defense.
Michigan 27 Northwestern 17
#14 Ohio State v. #8 Michigan State (-3.5) - 8:00 PM - ABC
This might be the toughest game to predict on the board just because we have no idea what Ohio State team we'll get in this matchup. The loss earlier in the season to Virginia Tech keeps looking worse and worse, so the Buckeyes know they'll need to get a win here if they have any hope of sneaking into the College Football Playoff mix. Last week Ohio State got an easy win against Illinois which helped them head into this matchup on a high note. J.T. Barrett looked good running the ball while dealing with his injured knee, but he didn't look all that comfortable throwing the ball, air-mailing a number of passes. The Buckeyes will need Barrett to be more accurate this week so they can use the pass to open up the running game for Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel against a Spartan defense that is allowing less than 100 yards/game on the ground.
Ohio State is also strong defending the run, and they'll have to be to stop Jeremy Langford. Last year against the Buckeyes, Langford was able to find holes against the Ohio State defense in the Big Ten Championship Game, and has five straight 100-yard rushing games coming into this contest. The Buckeyes will need continued pressure from Joey Bosa and the rest of the front-seven to try and slow down Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, who is putting up Playstation-type numbers so far this year. While slowing down Langford is a must, the Buckeyes must also keep tabs on wide receiver Tony Lippett, especially with how the Buckeyes have given up some big plays in the passing game this year.
After falling to the Spartans last year in Indianapolis, the Buckeyes have had this matchup circled on their calendar for quite some time. While the Buckeyes struggled against the defense of Virginia Tech and the crowd at Penn State, they'll get a combination of the two on Saturday night. I think this will be a close matchup right down to the end, so taking the points is very tempting here. Call it a homer pick if you want, but Urban Meyer will have his team ready to go and will extract some payback, dashing Michigan State's title hopes this year after Sparty did it to the Buckeyes last year.
Ohio State 30 Michigan State 27