Another strong week last week has given MC&J provided some momentum as the regular season hits the stretch run. Next week will have plenty of big games to pick, so this week's goal is to add a couple more games of cushion over the .500 mark.
Last week ATS: 9-2 (5-0 National, 4-2 B1G)
Season ATS: 78-68-3 (31-25-2 National, 47-43-1 B1G)
#17 North Carolina (-7) v. Virginia Tech - 12:00 p.m - ESPN
Right now, North Carolina is one of the hottest teams in the country, winning their past two games by a combined score of 125-52. The Tar Heels are 6-0 in the ACC for the first time since 1980 and one of the reasons for their success lately has been because the haven't turned over the football. North Carolina is riding a streak of not committing a turnover in three straight games, and for the season they only have nine turnovers, with three of them coming in the loss to South Carolina in the season opener.
Emotions will be high for Virginia Tech in this one, as it will be Frank Beamer's final home game. The Hokies need a win in one of their final two games to become bowl eligible, which would extend their streak to 23 straight seasons of going to a bowl game. While Virginia Tech might be able to force North Carolina into a turnover or two, I don't think they'll have enough to beat the Tar Heels. Right now North Carolina is clicking on all cylinders, and even with Virginia Tech playing for their beloved coach, that still won't be enough to stop the Tar Heels from clinching a spot in the ACC Championship Game.
North Carolina 34 Virginia Tech 20
#15 LSU v. #22 Ole Miss (-4) - 3:30 p.m. - CBS
Alabama and Arkansas provided the blueprint on how to beat LSU the last two weeks. Slow down Leonard Fournette. The Crimson Tide and Razorbacks held the sensational sophomore to a combined total of 122 yards on 38 carries the last two games. Brandon Harris hasn't been able to handle the pressure of not having Fournette to lean on, and with that LSU has tumbled to 15th in the CFP rankings. With the two losses there are now questions about Les Miles' job security, and it almost feels like the Mad Hatter is in a must-win situation if he wants to be coaching in Baton Rouge next year.
Ole Miss was in control of the SEC West, but all that came crashing down a couple weeks ago in Oxford when they gave up 605 yards to Arkansas and ended up losing 53-52 in overtime. The Rebels are still alive for the division crown, but they'll have to win-out and hope Alabama loses to Auburn next weekend. Whether they make the SEC Championship game or not, Chad Kelly has still be incredible this year, passing for 3,224 yards and 23 touchdowns. Ole Miss is just a little too dynamic for LSU to keep up, and even with the defensive problems that have shown up in losses to Memphis and Arkansas, Robert Nkemdiche and the rest of the Ole Miss defense can cause problems for Fournette and Harris.
Ole Miss 27 LSU 17
#24 USC v. #23 Oregon (-4) - 3:30 p.m. - ESPN
Just over a month ago it looked like USC was completely dead in the water after the firing of head coach Steve Sarkisian, but interim head coach Clay Helton has rallied the Trojans to a four-game winning streak. Now USC just has to win at Oregon and next week against UCLA to clinch the Pac-12 South title. Cody Kessler should be able to put up big numbers against an Oregon defense that is allowing 317 yards per game through the air, and even with a fractured hand, expect big things from JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Oregon is riding a four-game winning streak of their own, with the biggest win during that time coming last week in Palo Alto, as they all but erased any hopes Stanford had of making the CFP. Stanford held the football for over 42 minutes in the game, but couldn't stop Oregon from hitting the big play, as the Ducks scored three touchdowns of 47 yards or more. Not only has Vernon Adams Jr. been dynamic for Oregon, but Royce Freeman, who has six straight games of 100 yards rushing or more, has been the workhorse. This will be one of the exciting, high-scoring Pac-12 games, but Oregon will end up being the team to see their winning streak continue.
Oregon 45 USC 38
#10 Baylor v. #6 Oklahoma State (Pick) - 7:30 p.m. - Fox
It's hard to imagine a team being disappointed with gaining 416 yards and scoring 34 points, but when your Baylor you have a different set of standards. Freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham hasn't been bad, but he hasn't quite been as effective as Seth Russell in two starts. Add in that Stidham took some pretty good hits against Oklahoma, and that'll make the trip to Stillwater, when Baylor hasn't won in 11 games since 1939, even tougher. At least Stidham will be able to lean on running back Shock Linwood and wide receivers Corey Coleman and K.D. Cannon.
Oklahoma State nearly saw their undefeated season come to an end last week in Ames, but rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat Iowa State. Mason Rudolph has really stepped up his play the last four games, throwing for 317 yards per game and nine touchdowns. Even with Oklahoma State's history of domination over Baylor in Stillwater, I'm still not totally sold on the Cowboys. I'm sure I'll end up eating my words for continually doubting Oklahoma State, but I just think the Big 12 will keep eating each other alive, and the merry-go-round this week will see Baylor taking down the Cowboys.
Baylor 42 Oklahoma State 31
#15 TCU v. #7 Oklahoma (-11.5) - 8:00 p.m. - ABC
As of Thursday morning there was still no posted line for this game because of the uncertainty of Trevone Boykin's status for the game, but when one is finally posted it will be updated here.
Right now everything is crashing down for TCU. After losing to Oklahoma State a couple weeks ago, and struggling to beat Kansas last week, it is already known that the Horned Frogs will be without stud wide receiver Josh Doctson for the rest of the regular season. It is unknown if TCU will also be without quarterback Trevone Boykin for Saturday's game in Norman. Even if the Horned Frogs do have Boykin for Saturday's game, they'll have an uphill battle against a surging Oklahoma team.
Right about now Oklahoma is sort of looking like Ohio State from last year. While the Sooners don't have the quarterback injuries to deal with, they do have an ugly early season loss to recover from. The loss to Texas in early October has the Sooners on the outside of the CFP rankings looking in. A couple of strong wins against TCU and Oklahoma State could do wonders, but without a conference title game, the Sooners will likely need a lot of help to be included in the playoff. With the trio of Baker Mayfield, Samaje Perine, and Sterling Shepard, things could get ugly for a TCU defense that has been suspect for most of the season.
Oklahoma 51 TCU 23