After a strong start to the week last week in the early games, the 3:30 PM games left a lot to be desired in terms of results. Erase the 0-5 record during those games and MC&J would've been 7-3 on the week. Still only game was lost from getting back to .500 on the young season, and hopefully a lot more ground can be made up this week.
Last Week ATS: 7-8 (3-2 National, 4-6 B1G)
Season ATS: 19-23 (6-8 National, 13-15 B1G)
National Games (All games Saturday unless noted):
#5 Auburn (-9) v. #20 Kansas State - Thursday 7:30 PM - ESPN
As a nice kickoff to the weekend, for the first time since 2002 Auburn will play a true road game against a ranked, non-conference opponent. Thursday night will see the Tigers head to Manhattan to take on Bill Snyder's Wildcats. The Tigers have had little trouble in their first two games, while Kansas State needed a second half rally to slip past Iowa State. Auburn has scored 30 points in 12 straight games, but Kansas State can move the football both on the ground and through the air. Going to Manhattan is tough, and I think we see some Thursday night shenanigans that'll keep this one close.
Auburn 37, Kansas State 30
Florida v. #3 Alabama (-15) - 3:30 PM - CBS
Last week Florida barely got by Kentucky, edging the Wildcats in three overtimes in Gainesville. Now we are supposed to believe they can keep things close against the Crimson Tide? Recent history hasn't been kind to Florida against Alabama, with the Gators losing the last three matchups by at least 19 points. We haven't seen the true Alabama yet this season after the Crimson Tide struggled with West Virginia and the opener and pasted two cupcakes after. I know it's hard to imagine the Gators scoring much of the Alabama defense, but they do have the athletes on defense to at least keep it respectable against the Crimson Tide.
Alabama 24, Florida 13
Mississippi State v. # 8 LSU (-10) - 7:00 PM - ESPN
Les Miles and the LSU defense will be looking to make it three shutouts in a row when they host Mississippi State in Baton Rouge on Saturday night. The Bulldogs have scored 35 points in their first three games, but they'll be hard pressed to extend that streak to four. Mississippi State is averaging 526 yards of offense a game, but LSU is only yielding just over 200 yards per game. LSU offense has shown signs of improvement, finding a good balance between the run and pass. The Tigers shutdown Dak Prescott and the rest of Mississippi State in Death Valley.
LSU 31, Mississippi State 17
#4 Oklahoma (-8) v. West Virginia - 7:30 PM - Fox
After struggling to a 4-8 record last year, West Virginia has looked much improved this year after three games. The main reason for the early success has been quarterback Clint Trickett, who threw for 511 yards against Maryland last week. Oklahoma lost part of their running game when Keith Ford fractured his fibula against Tennessee. The Ford injury was pretty much the only negative in the domination of the Vols by the Sooners. When the teams last played in Morgantown in 2012, Oklahoma topped West Virginia 50-49. Things get weird in Morgantown and I think we have another one of those wild games on Saturday night.
Oklahoma 38, West Virginia 34
#22 Clemson v. #1 Florida State (-16.5) - 8:00 PM - ABC
Florida State 41, Clemson 31
Iowa v. Pittsburgh (-7) - 12:00 PM - ESPNU
Pat yourself on the back for last week's performance, Iowa. It was quite the wet fart masterpiece you put on the field in Iowa City. If that game versus Iowa State wasn't bad enough, this week the Hawkeyes travel to Pittsburgh. This game just has crapfest written all over it. Everything Pitt has done this year has been of the ground, with the Panthers averaging 344 yards rushing a game. The one thing Iowa has done right is stop the run, only yielding 65 yards per game. I'm sure Iowa will screw this up, but I'm a glutton for punishment.
Pittsburgh 23, Iowa 20
Bowling Green v. #19 Wisconsin (-27) - 12:00 PM - ESPN2
After beating Indiana in a thrilling 45-42 shootout in Bowling Green, now the Eagles head to Madison where they find themselves nearly four touchdown underdogs against the Badgers. After Matt Johnson was lost for the season, James Knapke threw for nearly 400 yards against the Hoosiers. Wisconsin had a bye week last week after rebounding for their season opening loss to LSU. Bowling Green is allowing over 400 yards a game through the air but passing isn't exactly Wisconsin's forte. The Badgers win comfortably but not by four touchdowns.
Wisconsin 41, Bowling Green 24
Eastern Michigan v. #11 Michigan State (-45) - 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Sparty had a week off to recover from their trip out to Eugene, where they hung with the Ducks for most of the game. Eastern Michigan lost 65-0 to Florida earlier in the season, and last week lost 17-3 to Old Dominion. Rob Bolden is starting for Eastern Michigan. Really it can't get any worse for the Eagles, as they are averaging 72 yards per game passing through three games. I hate laying this many points, but if Florida can win by 65 then there isn't any reason why Sparty can't win by at least 45.
Michigan State 55, Eastern Michigan 7
Maryland (-1) v. Syracuse - 12:30 PM - ESPN3
Last week I had the West Virginia/Maryland game figured out pretty well, with the Mountaineers winning by a field goal. This week the Terps travel to Syracuse to take on their former conference brethren. In their brief time together as ACC conference members, Syracuse downed Maryland 20-3 in College Park last year. Randy Edsall is a Syracuse alum, but he'll probably send angry video about it to someone because Randy Edsall. The Orange squeaked by Villanova in their opener but clobbered Central Michigan last week. Syracuse hasn't given up a sack or thrown an interception in two games this season. I'll take the team at home that minimizes their mistakes.
Syracuse 30, Maryland 24
Utah v. Michigan (-4.5) - 3:30 PM - ABC/ESPN2
After being shutout by Notre Dame a couple weeks ago, Michigan responded by being tied with Miami (OH), a team that had lost 18 straight games, in the second quarter. The Wolverines did pull away but didn't come close to covering the number. Next up for Brady Hoke and company is a Utah team that has scored at least 56 points in their first two games. The Utes came into Ann Arbor in 2008 and won 25-23. Quarterback Travis Wilson leads Utah to a second straight win at "The Big House".
Utah 34, Michigan 30
Rutgers v. Navy (-6) - 3:30 PM - CBS Sports Network
Rutgers gonna Rutgers. After leading Penn State for most the game last week, the Scarlet Knights couldn't hold on under the lights against the Nittany Lions. Now Rutgers steps out of conference and heads down to Annapolis to take on a Navy team that'll be playing their second Big Ten team so far this season. Who completes more passes to Navy players on Saturday? Keenan Reynolds or Gary Nova? Rutgers is stout against the run, but Navy runs on everybody. There is a chance for a hangover for Rutgers after last week's tough loss, but six points seems like a lot in this matchup. The last two matchups (2008, 2011) have been decided by a combined three points. Somehow the Scarlet Knights will Rutgers this away at the end.
Navy 27, Rutgers 24
Indiana v. #18 Missouri (-14) - 4:00 PM - SEC Network
This is a return matchup in a home-and-home that saw Missouri beat Indiana 45-28 in Bloomington last year. Indiana lost a shootout to Bowling Green last week, while Missouri left little doubt against Central Florida. Maty Mauk has been very impressive at quarterback, and should have little trouble with another ugly Hoosier defense. After losing a number of key players from last year, the defense of the Tigers has looked just as good this year. I almost envision this game playing out a lot like the Missouri/Toledo game. The Tigers go into next weekend's matchup with South Carolina on a high note.
Missouri 47, Indiana 28
Massachusetts v. Penn State (-26.5) - 4:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Massachusetts is 0-3 on the season, but really they should be 2-1 after dropping games to Vanderbilt and Colorado by a field goal in each matchup. The Minutemen will be without leading rusher Jamal Wilson, but they didn't figure to get much against Penn State's run defense anyway. After struggling to score the last couple weeks, Christian Hackenberg and the rest of the offense gets back on track with a big win.
Penn State 38, Massachusetts 10
San Jose State v. Minnesota (-8.5) - 4:00 PM - Big Ten Network
After losing last year 43-24, San Jose State returns to Minneapolis for another date with the Golden Gophers. Minnesota was a dumpster fire against TCU, turning the ball over five times in a 30-7 loss. David Cobb followed up a 220-yard rushing performance against Middle Tennessee State with a measly 41 yards against TCU. Minnesota needs another big performance from Cobb since they are getting nothing for Mitch Leidner at the quarterback position. I know it feels crazy to feel comfortable siding with Minnesota with that offense the way it played last week, but I think they have a bounce back game.
Minnesota 30, San Jose State 17
Texas State v. Illinois (-14) - 4:00 PM - ESPNEWS
Remember Dennis Franchione? Well he's coaching Texas State now, and you can see him if you tune into their tilt with Illinois. But why would you want to ruin your Saturday by watching this game? Last week Illinois was crushed in Seattle by Washington, and they have Nebraska on deck to open up Big Ten play. Texas State has averaged nearly 570 yards per game on offense, while Illinois hasn't been able to stop much of anything this year on defense. Wes Lunt helps Illinois to rebound, but I'm not sure if I trust them laying 14 points against anybody right now.
Illinois 38, Texas State 28
Miami (FL) v. Nebraska (-7.5) - 8:00 PM - ESPN2
The biggest surprise about the Saturday night matchup in Lincoln is it isn't being played in early January. The last five matchups between the teams have been on in the first three days of January. The last time the teams played was in the 2002 BCS National Championship Game. More than a decade later the Hurricanes and Cornhuskers are looking to reclaim past glory. After struggling with McNeese State a couple weeks ago, Nebraska had little issue at Fresno State last week. The Hurricanes struggled under the lights at Louisville, and they could be in for a similar story in Lincoln. Ameer Abdullah shines in primetime.
Nebraska 35, Miami (FL) 24