The slate last weekend might have been as plentiful as your Thanksgiving dinner, the results that followed felt like somebody burned the turkey. While there is still enough games to at least get back to .500, MC&J will have to be spot-on with predictions the rest of the way. The main downfall this season has been in the Big Ten games, which in the past have been the strongest part of the picks. This week's picks may be a little chalky, but hopefully it pays off with some big winners.
Last week ATS: 6-9 (4-4 National, 2-5 B1G)
Season ATS: 81-93-1 (36-37-1 National, 45-55 B1G)
Pac-12 Championship Game: #7 Arizona v. #2 Oregon (-14.5) - Friday 9:00 PM - Fox
As they were watching the Pac-12 South race play out on Friday afternoon, Oregon was probably rooting for anyone but Arizona. The Wildcats have had the number of the Ducks recently, giving Oregon their last two losses. The most recent one came earlier this when when Arizona went into Eugene on a Thursday night and stunned Oregon 31-24. Marcus Mariota and company have responded since the loss, winning their last six games, and scoring at least 40 points and winning by 12 points or more in each contest. One of the big reasons for the winning streak for Oregon is their offensive line has gotten healthier since the Arizona game.
Mariota needs just one touchdown pass to hit 100 touchdowns passes for his career, and has to be itching to take down the Wildcats after the last two games against Rich Rodriguez's team. On the other side, Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon has slowed a little after a hot start, failing to break 250 yards passing in his last five games, but running back Nick Wilson has picked up some of the slack. It'll be interesting to see how Arizona will respond after learning leading wide receiver Samajie Grant won't start after being cited for DUI. Taking Arizona in this spot almost seems a little too easy. Not crazy about the hook in this line, but Oregon will be ready to impress to solidify their spot in the College Football Playoff, and earn a little vengeance for the recent dominance of the Wildcats.
Oregon 44 Arizona 27
Iowa State v. #3 TCU (-34) - 12:00 PM - ABC
Hoping for a repeat of TCU struggling against on the conference bottom-feeders like they did a few weeks ago against Kansas? Not gonna happen. First off, TCU is playing at home this time so that should help to avoid the hiccup. Next, Iowa State is really bad, and might even be worse than Kansas. The Cyclones have lost their last five games and given up 212 points during that span. Trevone Boykin should be able to have his way with the Iowa State defense and put up points early and often for the Horned Frogs. It is sounding like Iowa State's best offensive threat, tight end E.J. Bibbs will miss a second straight game, which hurts the Cyclones even more in this one. Gary Patterson's team states their case with another big win and hopes it is enough for the committee to include them in the College Football Playoff.
TCU 52 Iowa State 14
SEC Championship Game: #1 Alabama (-14.5) v. #16 Missouri - 4:00 PM - CBS
You are lying if you think when the SEC added Missouri they thought the Tigers would earn a berth in the championship game two out of their first three years in the league. Too bad for Missouri that their luck usually runs out when they play in their conference title games. This will be the fourth conference championship game between the Big-12 and SEC in the past eight years for the Tigers, but they have failed to win any of those title games. Missouri is mostly lead by their defense, and has made a habit of grinding out wins this year. The strength of the Tiger offense is running the football, averaging 175 yards per game on the ground, but they'll certainly be tested against a Alabama defense that only allows opponents 92 yards per game rushing.
Last week Alabama's offense blew up for 55 points in the Iron Bowl, but did have some issues with Auburn's offense, giving up 456 yards through the air. The good news for the Crimson Tide is Missouri doesn't have the firepower Auburn has, so they can concentrate on putting pressure on Maty Mauk and forcing him into turnovers. Mauk has thrown 11 interceptions on the season and it wouldn't be surprising to see a couple more added to that total on Saturday. Alabama shows just how much of a gap there is between the SEC West and East with a dominant win in Atlanta.
Alabama 34 Missouri 17
#9 Kansas State v. #6 Baylor (-7.5) - 7:45 PM - ESPN
If the current rankings are any indication, Baylor needs not only a win on Saturday night in Waco, but they also need a little bit of chaos in front of them this weekend. While the Bears defeated TCU early in this season, the loss to West Virginia has them sitting a couple spots behind the Horned Frogs right now. The Bears have a chance to at least tie TCU for the Big-12 championship with a win against Kansas State. Bryce Petty exited Saturday's win against Texas Tech with a concussion, but it sounds like he is on his way to being cleared to play on Saturday. The Bears are great at home, boasting the second longest winning streak at home in the country, having won the last 15 games in Waco.
Kansas State will be trying to avoid the type of result when they hit the road to take on TCU last month after falling to the Horned Frogs 41-20 in Fort Worth. The Wildcats have a solid defense, but they'll be tested by a Baylor offense that puts up over 580 yards per game. While Baylor is tough as nails at home, I still do like Kansas State to at least give the Bears a test. This just seems like one of those games where Bill Snyder has the perfect game plan ready to give his team a shot to win. Kansas State doesn't really beat themselves so as long as they play the disciplined football they are used to they can at least give themselves a shot to win.
Baylor 38 Kansas State 35
ACC Championship Game: #4 Florida State (-4) v. #11 Georgia Tech - 8:00 PM - ABC
We need an upset for Championship Weekend, don't we? As soon as this matchup was settled, I had this one pegged as where we would get that upset. Florida State has been playing with fire most of the season, winning their past three games by a combined 12 points. Add in the Jameis Winston hearing this week and how much do the Seminoles have left in the tank? While Winston has led Florida State through the air this season, the Seminoles might be better off handing it off a lot on Saturday night. Georgia Tech is giving up 167 yards per game on the ground, and while Florida State only averages 131 yards rushing, they have the talent to be able to exploit that defensive deficiency.
While Florida State would be smart to run the football, we already know that Georgia Tech is going to run, run, and then run some more. The Yellow Jackets are putting up 333 yards per game on the ground with their triple-option attack. Now realize that Florida State only has had a week to get ready for how Georgia Tech plans on attacking them. After being a dominant force last year, the Seminole defense has showed some holes this season. If Georgia Tech is able to keep it on the ground successfully, they can control the time of possession and keep Winston and the offense off the field. The Yellow Jacket defense has been very good at causing turnovers lately, so if they can combine so long offensive drives and then make Winston turn the football over (which he has been good at this year) it could make for a very long night for the Florida State defense. I'm calling the upset here, and even if Florida State finds a way to will themselves to another win, it'll be a field goal game.
Georgia Tech 31 Florida State 28
MWC Championship Game: Fresno State v. #22 Boise State (-21) - 10:00 PM - CBS
While the ACC and Big Ten title games, as well as Kansas State/Baylor, will provide for some interesting view at the top of the polls on Saturday night, this game has some intrigue on one of the major bowls for another reason. Boise State is needing a win to stay in line as the "Group Of 5" team to grab a New Year's bowl berth. The Broncos will host Fresno State for the second time this season the blue turf in Boise in the Mountain West title game. Earlier this year Boise State took down the Bulldogs 37-27, and have been only getting better since then, scoring at least 38 points in the last five games. Jay Ajayi has run for over 1,600 yards on the season and should be able to pad those stats against a Fresno State team that is giving up over 200 yards per game on the ground. Fresno State is only 6-6 on the season, but after a three-game losing streak in the middle of the season they have rebounded with three straight wins. Still this seems like too big of a spot for a young Fresno State team, while Boise State makes a statement for which ever power conference team they end up taking on in the bowl game.
Boise State 47 Fresno State 21
Big Ten Championship Game: #13 Wisconsin (-4.5) v. #5 Ohio State - 8:17 PM - Fox
How quickly one play can change things for the Buckeyes. Ohio State will be on their third quarterback this season after J.T. Barrett was lost for the rest of the season when he was injured during the second half of "The Game". Now Cardale Jones takes the reigns for a Buckeye team that not only is trying to erase the memory of last year's Big Ten Championship Game, but also is needing a win to stay in the mix for the College Football Playoff. Cardale might have not came to play school, but he better hope he can ace the test that is the Wisconsin defense. The Badgers are second in the nation in total defense, only allowing 260 yards per game this season. While Jones will be stepping into a tough situation, he will have some help with plenty of options on offense at his disposal. The most intriguing of those options is Jalin Marshall, and it'll be interesting to see how the coaching staff decides to utilize the former high school quarterback after losing Barrett.
As if losing a second Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback in the span of about four months wasn't tough enough, oh yeah the defense has to try and stop billion-yard rusher Melvin Gordon. How do you slow down somebody that has run for 29 touchdowns this year and is averaging eight yards per carry? You probably don't. Then again the Buckeyes are one of the few teams that have been able to slow down the running back, holding Gordon to just 74 yards when the teams met in Columbus last year. But with the way Ohio State has defended the run lately, it is hard to imagine them keeping Gordon under the century mark again. The good news for Ohio State is if they can at least slow down the run they shouldn't have a lot to worry about in the passing game from Wisconsin.
I know it is going to be a shocker that a writer from a Ohio State blog is going to pick the Buckeyes to win, but there are some reasons that make the Buckeyes a live underdog. Not only is their the injury to Barrett for the team to rally around, but there is also the tragic death of Kosta Karageorge that should really bring this team together. After such a tough week the Buckeyes are probably counting the minutes until they can get back out onto the football field to take out some of their frustrations. There also isn't very many instances when you'll get a Urban Meyer team as an underdog, so when you get it you have to run with it. I say Gordon goes for 150-175 yards but the Buckeyes scrape together another on offense to keep Wisconsin from winning three of the first four Big Ten Championship Games.
Ohio State 34 Wisconsin 27