After two weeks on the struggle bus, last week was much needed. Ohio State yet again wasn't able to navigate a big point spread, but you can't say they didn't have chances to. Early in the fourth quarter it looked like momentum was heading the direction for a cover but all that optimism was quickly erased. Hopefully this week I'll be able to be on the right side of a Ohio State point spread. What side will I take? You'll just have to wait for the B1G edition of MC&J to drop tomorrow afternoon.
Last week ATS: 8-4 (3-2 National, 5-2 B1G)
Season ATS: 37-39-3 (12-10-2 National, 25-29-1 B1G)
#10 Oklahoma (-17) v. Texas - 12:00 p.m. - ABC
It may seem a bit of a stretch to put a game involving a team that is 1-4 in the national game portion of MC&J, but it's not like there is much better out there to pick this week. It seems like annually I make a pick for the Red River Rivalry in Dallas, and everything pans out just the opposite of how I pick the game. I figure we might as well keep up the experiment to see if I can give people a good pick to fade.
It's no secret how much Texas is struggling right now, especially after their 50-7 loss last week at the hands of TCU. The Longhorns can't stop anybody, and it feels like nobody can stop Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma offense. The Sooners were impressive in their 44-24 win against West Virginia last week, and now have a pretty manageable stretch which should allow them to head into their last three games against Baylor, TCU, and Oklahoma State undefeated. I wouldn't be surprised to see Texas to get up for this game and keep it close, but I also wouldn't be surprised if Oklahoma destroy a young Texas team. I'll take my chances with the latter happening with the powerful offensive attack the Sooners possess.
Oklahoma 45 Texas 23
Arkansas v. #8 Alabama (-17) - 7:00 p.m. - ESPN
Both teams had big road wins last week, but Alabama's victory at Georgia meant a lot more in the grand scheme of things. With the win in Athens, Alabama jumped back into the College Football Playoff mix (and a few days later resulted in Nick Saban yelling at everybody for already burying his team). Not to take anything away from Arkansas' win at Tennessee since it was BERT's first SEC road win. It's going to take quite an effort though for Arkansas to win back-to-back road games in the SEC for the first time since 2011.
A win in Tuscaloosa isn't very likely for the Hogs, but covering the point spread certainly is. Brandon Allen has been surprisingly good for Arkansas this year, and the Razorbacks will likely need him against an Alabama rushing defense that should slow down Alex Collins, who has rushed for at least 150 yards in each of the last three games. Not saying I think Arkansas is going to put a scare into Alabama like they did in last year's game in Fayetteville, but I have a feeling they keep this within a couple scores. The Crimson Tide could also be looking ahead just a little to next week's showdown against Texas A&M in College Station.
Alabama 27 Arkansas 17
#2 TCU (-9.5) v. Kansas State - 7:30 p.m. - Fox
After a little bit of a shaky start to the season with a close call in the season opener at Minnesota, followed by the Horned Frogs holding off Texas Tech a couple weeks ago, TCU put together their most complete performance of the year last week against Texas. Trevone Boykin broke Andy Dalton's school record for passing touchdowns, while the four touchdown receptions hauled in by KaVontae Turpin set a single-game Big 12 record for freshman. The effort by Turpin made Josh Doctson's seven catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns seem boring. The defense of the Horned Frogs is slowly getting players back from suspension and injuries, which they'll certainly need as they move along in their Big 12 schedule.
The best reason to watch this game is to see if Kansas State uses a defensive tackle at quarterback. After losing quarterback Jesse Ertz to a knee injury on the first snap of the season, Joe Hubener has been solid in taking over as the starter. After taking a hit to the head against Oklahoma State, Hubener has been cleared to play against TCU, but just in case Bill Snyder has been getting defensive tackle Will Geary ready as a quarterback just in case. Kansas State's backup to Hubener is questionable for the game, and the third-string is only a walk-on redshirt freshman, so that's why Geary is being readied in case of serious emergency. I know it's always very risky to pick against Bill Snyder at home, but I just don't know how Kansas State is going to keep up with TCU. Of course this will just mean Kansas State will end up pulling the upset.
TCU 44 Kansas State 28
#11 Florida (-5.5) v. Missouri - 7:30 p.m. - SEC Network
What has gotten into the Florida Gators? I was thinking they might have gotten lucky with their comeback win against Tennessee and would get rolled by Ole Miss. That didn't exactly work out as planned. Quarterback Will Grier looks like he gets better with every start. Last week Grier threw four touchdown passes in the 38-10 rout of the Rebels. The Gator defense is also playing at a very high level right now behind the performances of linebacker Antonio Morrison, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, and a number of others.
Speaking of defense, Missouri boasts one of the best defensive units in the country. The Tigers are only allowing 12 points per game, and they rank eighth in the country in total defense. Missouri has needed their defense to play out of their mind with the struggles their offense has gone through so far this season. Freshman Drew Lock stepped in and made his first start at quarterback after the suspension of Maty Mauk last week, and looked pretty good in a 24-10 win against South Carolina. The Tigers get an even bigger boost with senior running back Russell Hansbrough getting closer to full strength. I'm still not completely ready to trust Florida in a spot like this. I could see the Missouri defense forcing Grier into a couple turnovers and giving Lock a short field to work with. The Tigers find a way to pull the upset in a tight game in Columbia.
Missouri 23 Florida 20
#23 California v. #5 Utah (-7) - 10:00 p.m. - ESPN
Last time we saw Utah was a couple weeks ago when they were running off 42 unanswered points on their way to humbling Oregon in Eugene. Now the Utes head back home to Salt Lake City where they'll square off against the other undefeated team in the Pac-12. California has gone from a team that was 1-11 a couple years ago to one of the most exciting teams to watch in college football. Jared Goff has thrown 15 touchdowns on the year, eight of them going to wide receiver Kenny Lawler. What's most surprising about Cal though, is their defense has improved greatly this year. When the Golden Bears get their defense playing as good as their offense they become one of the most dangerous teams in the country.
Utah might not roll up the yards quite at the pace Cal does, but they score nearly as much as the Golden Bears per game. Quarterback Travis Wilson had an incredible game against Oregon, accounting for 337 total yards and five touchdowns against the Ducks. Mix Wilson's versatility with Devontae Booker at running back, and it could make for a bit of a rough night for the California defense. Remember, Jerrod Heard ripped apart the defense of the Golden Bears in Austin, but Cal escaped with a win. Unlike Texas, Utah actually will be able to put California away if they get a huge performance out of their quarterback. This is a pretty entertaining game but the Utes earn a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter that they don't let slip away.
Utah 38 California 28