The Buckeyes return to the field this weekend after their bye week hoping to build on their 66-0 thrashing of Kent State. MC&J is hoping to build on some success as well, looking to move to the plus-side of .500 for the first time in this early season. Last week's 10-6 mark added some wind to the sail, but knowing how college football is there is no such thing as smooth sailing ahead.
Last week ATS: 10-6 (2-3 National, 8-3 B1G)
Season ATS: 29-29 (8-11 National, 21-18 B1G)
National Games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
#11 UCLA (-4.5) v. #15 Arizona State - Thursday 10:00 PM - Fox Sports 1
This game is the hardest game of the week to cap. UCLA should have Brett Hundley back after he injured his elbow against Texas, while Arizona State will be without quarterback Taylor Kelly. Mike Bercovici gets the nod against the Bruins, but he's had nearly two weeks to prep for the Bruins after Arizona State's last game at Colorado on September 13th. UCLA hasn't looked all that impressive in any of their wins this year, and could be in for another close game. Even with Kelly out, a ranked home underdog on Thursday night is just too tempting to pass up. Worked last week taking Kansas State against Auburn, so ride the wave.
Arizona State 28 UCLA 24
Arkansas v. #6 Texas A&M (-9.5) - 3:30 PM - ABC/ESPN2
Yet another game this year at JerryWorld, because there hasn't been quite enough of those in the first five weeks. What's gonna give in this one? The rushing attack of Arkansas or the up-tempo aerial assault of Texas A&M? Both teams scored 50+ points last week in easy wins, and the jumbo scoreboard in Arlington looks to get a workout on Saturday. I normally hate to bet on BERT teams, but I do think their running game can help to keep things tight. If Arkansas does have success on the ground they could keep the Aggie offense off the field and out of rhythm. The Razorbacks impressed against Texas Tech, and while A&M is a considerable step-up, they put a scare into Kevin Sumlin's team.
Texas A&M 41 Arkansas 34
#16 Stanford (-8) v. Washington - 4:15 PM - Fox
So far this season Stanford has sandwiched two shutout wins with a 13-10 loss to USC in Palo Alto. After a week off the Cardinal will hit the road for the first time this year when they had to Seattle to take on the Huskies. Last week Washington struggled with Georgia State for a while before pulling away to a 45-14 win. The last time these teams met in Seattle, the Huskies upset Stanford 17-13. The Huskies won't have an easy time trying to contain Ty Montgomery, but I think Cyler Miles and company at least can keep it within a touchdown at home.
Stanford 27 Washington 21
Missouri v. #13 South Carolina (-6) - 7:00 PM - ESPN
It seems like whatever I do, I can't pick a South Carolina game to save my life. I took them against Texas A&M to start the season, and then picked against them when they played Georgia. Both were terribly wrong. Not like I was much better picking last week's Missouri game, where they inexplicably lost at home to Indiana. Last year's contest in Columbia went to overtime, with the Gamecocks earning the win. Missouri will have revenge on their mind, but with College Gameday in town you can be sure the crowd in Columbia will be live. Having said all that, I think the Tigers rebound and Maty Mauk at least keeps things close. So obviously that means South Carolina will win by three touchdowns now.
South Carolina 31 Missouri 28
#8 Notre Dame (-9.5) v. Syracuse - 8:00 PM - ABC
While Notre Dame is hitting the road for this contest, it won't be a true home game for Syracuse. The game is being played at MetLife Stadium, so there should be a heavy Notre Dame contingent. Last time we saw the Fighting Irish they weren't particularly impressive against Purdue, but still won by 16. Since then Notre Dame has had a bye week, while Syracuse dropped a 34-20 decision to Maryland last Saturday. Everett Golson has thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions in his first three games, and the Notre Dame defense has looked dominate a Syracuse defense that doesn't have a ton of punch. The Orange may hang around for a bit, but I think the Fighting Irish win by double-digits.
Notre Dame 30 Syracuse 17
South Florida v. #19 Wisconsin (-34) - 12:00 PM - ESPNU
Last week Wisconsin ran for a Big Ten record 644 yards against Bowling Green. They might be able to better that total this week against South Florida. The Bulls don't have much on offense to offer up aside from freshman running back Marlon Mack. That won't be enough to keep pace with Melvin Gordon, who averaged a ridiculous 19.5 yards per carry last week. Another easy win for the Badgers this week before they open Big Ten play next week.
Wisconsin 58 South Florida 20
Wyoming v. #9 Michigan State (-31) - 12:00 PM - ESPN2
Wyoming hasn't exactly lit up the scoreboard this year, so it is hard to imagine them scoring very much on this stout Sparty defense. Through four games the Cowboys have scored 68 points. Last week Michigan State scored 73 points against Eastern Michigan. Both teams played Oregon in Autzen, and Wyoming hung around for a little bit before ultimately losing 48-14. The Spartans have Nebraska next week so maybe their minds won't be total with this game. Mark D'Antonio's team impresses this week but not by more that four touchdowns.
Michigan State 38 Wyoming 13
Iowa (-9) v. Purdue - 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
As if it wasn't fun enough to try and predict a Iowa game, try doing it when there are questions at who is going to start for the Hawkeyes at quarterback. C.J. Beathard played well in relief of an injured Jake Rudock in Saturday's win at Pitt, but Rudock returned to practice on Wednesday, and it is unknown who will start. The Boilermakers now have two wins on the season after beating Southern Illinois last week, doubling their win total from last year! For once a Purdue line is actually temping. Iowa was a touchdown underdog last week and now are almost a double-digit favorite on the road. Even with it being Purdue, do you really trust Iowa laying that many points? I'm not sure if I do.
Iowa 24 Purdue 17
Northwestern v. Penn State (-10) - 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Northwestern scored their first win of the season last week, while Penn State improved to 4-0 with a big win over Massachusetts. After their first three wins which weren't always the prettiest, the Nittany Lions had no problems with the outclassed UMass squad. Lucky for Penn State they're playing another team that isn't very good this week. Christian Hackenberg shouldn't have problems solving the Northwestern defense on Saturday. The last five matchups between these two teams have resulted in Penn State wins by 10 or more points, and this Saturday should extend that streak to six.
Penn State 34 Northwestern 20
Maryland v. Indiana (-4.5) - 1:30 PM - Big Ten Network
After last week's upset of Missouri in Columbia, I really expect Indiana to lay an egg in their Big Ten opener. It would be such an Indiana thing to do. Get a small sniff of success and then just throw up all over themselves. But in all honesty this could be a very entertaining affair. Watching Stefon Diggs and Tevin Coleman trade touchdowns should be fun. Maryland had issues stopping the run against Syracuse last week, but still was able to win by 14. While Coleman should have no problem earning his sixth straight 100-yard rushing game, I think this game will come down to the wire, with Indiana returning to form.
Maryland 38 Indiana 35
Minnesota v. Michigan (-11.5) - 3:30 PM - ABC/ESPN2
If you read this article twice this week you get two free tickets to the battle for the "Little Brown Jug". If you read it five times then Brady Hoke just might let you play quarterback for the Wolverines. Alright, so those are lies, but with the way Michigan is trending it really can't be that far off. This hasn't been much of a series lately with Michigan taking the last five meetings, all by at least 14 points. Pretty much the only offense that Minnesota provides comes via David Cobb on the ground, but one of the few strengths Michigan has had this season is stopping the run, only allowing 80 yards per game on the ground. Still it's hard to fathom Michigan laying double-digits to anybody right. Minnesota's defense knows create takeaways, and Michigan's offense sure knows how to give it away.
Michigan 21 Minnesota 17
Illinois v. #21 Nebraska (-20) - 9:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Last week Illinois almost lost to Texas State in a game that was delayed by weather, and now they have to go to Lincoln to square off with a Cornhuskers team that is coming off a win against Miami. The good news for the Fighting Illini is that they catch Nebraska off that win and with a chance that Bo Pelini's team could be looking ahead to taking of Michigan State next weekend. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Ameer Abdullah rack up another 200-yard rushing game against the porous Illinois defense. I could see a slow start for Nebraska which leads them to just miss covering the number.
Nebraska 45 Illinois 27
Cincinnati v. #22 Ohio State (-16) - 6:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Tommy Tuberville and Urban Meyer square off again, but this time it isn't in the SEC. Ohio bragging rights are on the line when these two teams square off (even though we all know that Cincinnati is really just Kentucky). After beating up on Toledo in their season opener, Cincinnati struggled with the Redhawks last week, only earning a 31-24 win. Still Gunner Kiel threw four touchdowns in the game, raising his total to 10 passing touchdowns through the first two games. The way the Bearcats move the ball through the air could be a little concerning against a Ohio State pass defense that struggled most of last year. The only real challenge Ohio State had through the air last year was against Virginia Tech, and the Hokies did find a way to find holes in coverage, especially on third down.
What the Buckeyes have going for them is how good Urban Meyer is with more than a week to prepare for opponents, posting a 31-9 record against the number. With how bad Cincinnati has looked so far on defense this year, J.T. Barrett's last game, and the extra week to prepare, things could be looking good for the Buckeyes this week. A key to Ohio State success on Saturday night could be the return of a healthier Jeff Heuerman. The Buckeyes should be able to move the ball both on the ground and through the air and the defense frustrates a young Gunner Kiel.
Ohio State 44 Cincinnati 24