Last week was a step in the right direction, but the national games are still proving to be a problem. At least this week there are five good games on tap to try and improve on the spotty record.
Last week ATS: 7-4-1 (2-3 National, 5-1-1 B1G)
Season ATS: 34-38-2 (13-17 National, 21-21-2 B1G)
Texas v. No. 20 Oklahoma (-10) - 12:00 PM EST - Fox Sports 1
Here we go again. Texas is floundering and Charlie Strong is on the hot seat heading into the Red River Rivalry. Last year, the Texas win over the Sooners pretty much saved Strong’s job. A win this year might not be enough to give Strong another year in Austin, but it would be a step in the right direction.
Last week Texas was awful in a 49-31 loss to Oklahoma State, where the Cowboys rolled up 555 yards on offense. The performance led to the demotion of defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, and now Charlie Strong will be making the defensive calls for the Longhorns.
The Texas defense could have their hands full with a Oklahoma offense that started to find their way last week against TCU. After falling behind the Horned Frogs 21-7 in the first quarter, Oklahoma went on a 49-3 run, on their way to upending TCU 52-46 in Fort Worth. All wasn’t perfect in the win, as Oklahoma’s defense still showed some holes, but they got back on track after a rocky start to the year.
Neither team is on solid ground right now, but I have more faith in Oklahoma when it comes down to it. Mayfield hasn’t been the same since Sterling Shepard went to the NFL, but he still has Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon to lean on. The Sooners get some revenge for their loss to Texas last year.
Oklahoma 48, Texas 34
No. 8 Tennessee v. No. 9 Texas A&M (-7) - 3:30 PM EST - CBS
Tennessee’s luck has to run out at some point, right? The Vols must think they are Auburn from a few years ago with all these close wins they have had so far this year. Not only did the Vols need overtime to take down Appalachian State and a second half comeback against Florida, but last week they got a Hail Mary on the final play against Georgia to stay undefeated.
Texas A&M is also undefeated, and aside from a season-opening win in overtime against UCLA, they haven’t needed quite the theatrics to get to their five wins. Oh, the Aggies are 5-0 you say? If the last two seasons are any indication, it is time for Texas A&M to completely fall apart.
I’m still not sold on Tennessee at this point. While they are undefeated, I’m not all that impressed with who they are doing it against. Sure, the same thing can be said about Texas A&M’s schedule, but I think they are a little more of a complete team than the Vols at this point. Add in the Aggies having home field, while Tennessee is playing their second road game in a row, and I’ll take Texas A&M by 10 points.
Texas A&M 38, Tennessee 28
No. 1 Alabama (-14) v. No. 16 Arkansas - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN
In looking at what Alabama has left on their schedule, and this might actually be the toughest game they have left. The last time the Crimson Tide traveled to Arkansas, the Razorbacks nearly upset them. So far this year Alabama has handled every test that has been thrown their way with little problem, but don’t sleep on Arkansas.
One of the keys for Alabama if they want to dominate this game in their usual fashion is to get pressure on Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen. Texas A&M was able to punish Allen in the second half a few weeks ago and ran away from the Razorbacks 45-24. The Crimson Tide certainly have the talent to do the same to Allen.
If Arkansas is somehow able to get their running game going against the stout Alabama defense they’ll have a chance to stay inside the number. Austin Allen also has been really accurate with his throws this year, so if he is able to get time to throw, there is a chance that he can keep the offense moving through the air, and the football out of Alabama’s hands. The Razorbacks don’t quite give Alabama the scare that they did two years ago, but they at least keep it within two scores.
Alabama 31, Arkansas 21
No. 5 Washington (-9) v. Oregon - 7:30 PM EST - FOX
The world has changed a lot since the last time Washington beat Oregon. The Huskies have lost their last 12 meetings with the Ducks, and only one of those, last year’s 26-20 Oregon win, was decided by less than 17 points. This year will likely be a lot different though.
Last week Washington put the rest of the country on notice with their 44-6 demolition of Stanford, and I could see them having little problem with Oregon this week. Last week the Ducks gave up 280 yards rushing to Washington State, which most years for Wazzu is around their yearly total. Freshman quarterback Justin Herbert will likely start for Oregon in this one, which is a tough task considering just how good Washington’s defense looked against Stanford last week, when they racked up eight sacks.
Of course Washington has to be on alert for a letdown after their biggest win in quite a while, but I think Chris Petersen will have his team ready to go on Saturday night. Even if they aren’t fully focused, it isn’t like Brady Hoke’s swiss cheese defense is all that complicated to figure out. The Huskies finally end their losing streak against Oregon, and add even more doubt into whether Mark Helfrich will return next year as head coach in Eugene.
Washington 44, Oregon 28
No. 23 Florida State v. No. 10 Miami (-3) - 8:00 PM EST - ABC
Miami has lost six in a row to Florida State, so what makes them think they can end that streak? Just because they have a new coach? Because Florida State is very bad on the defensive side of the football right now? I mean it makes sense as to why people would think now might be the time for the Hurricanes, but I’m not convinced.
Florida State nearly came into this game at 4-1 but North Carolina hit an insane field goal to upend the Seminoles in Tallahassee. Dalvin Cook is still gonna be out there on Saturday night, and DeAndre Francois has been great so far as Florida State’s quarterback, it is just the defense that has been a special brand of awful so far.
Miami certainly has the personnel with Brad Kaaya at quarterback to exploit the Florida State defense, but I’m not totally convinced that is going to happen. Miami’s schedule has been cupcake soft so far, and even though they’ll get this game at home, take Miami just seems too easy. With the talent Florida State has on defense, they can put it together at any time and I feel like this is they week they tighten up a bit.
Florida State 30, Miami 27