While it’s hard to be upset with a week over .500, I’m kicking myself for missing so badly on Michigan and Washington. With just a few weeks of football left before the bowl matchups are announced, I can’t afford any down weeks if I want to set MC&J up in good position heading in bowl season.
Last week ATS: 6-5-1 (3-2 National, 3-3-1 B1G)
Season ATS: 65-74-4 (25-34-1 National, 40-40-3 B1G)
National games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
No. 5 Louisville (-14) v. Houston - Thursday 8:00 PM EST - ESPN
Last week Louisville looked to be in trouble against Wake Forest before they unleashed a 34-point fourth quarter against the Demon Deacons. One of the reasons why that game might have been so close is Louisville looking ahead to Houston with the short week in front of them. The Cardinals are averaging 6.68 yards per carry this year, which is best among FBS teams, but they might have trouble finding some traction in the running game against a Houston defense that is allowing just 92.8 yards per game on the ground to opponents.
Had Houston not lost to Navy and SMU earlier in the year, this would’ve been a titanic showdown. Even though the Cougars have two losses this year it doesn’t make them any less dangerous. Defensive tackle Ed Oliver has been one of the best freshmen in the country this year, registering 16.5 tackles for loss. It should be fun to watch quarterback Greg Ward Jr. try to solve Louisville’s stout defense.
I don’t see Louisville losing this game, as they’ll stay in the hunt for the College Football Playoff, but I think Houston will make them work for it. The Cougars have a 14-game home winning streak, and even though that’ll end up getting snapped, Tom Herman will have his troops ready to test Louisville.
Louisville 41, Houston 31
No. 11 Oklahoma State v. TCU (-4.5) - 12:00 PM EST - Fox Sports 1
Oklahoma State has rebounded nicely from an early season loss to Baylor, winning their last six games to stay in the thick of the Big 12 title race. Should the Cowboys beat TCU this week, the Cowboys will have a week off to prepare for Bedlam and what could be a de facto Big 12 title game. Mason Rudolph has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country this year, throwing for 24 touchdowns against just four interceptions. James Washington has been Rudolph’s primary target, hauling in 56 catches for 1,182 yards and nine touchdowns.
Which TCU team are we going to get in this one? After losing three of four games, last time out the Horned Frogs demolished Baylor 62-22. There are still concerns about quarterback Kenny Hill, who hasn’t thrown for more than 250 yards in his last four games. Running back Kyle Hicks had a huge game in the blowout of Baylor, rushing for 192 yards and five touchdowns.
When I first saw this point spread I did a double take. Oklahoma State has been playing great football, while I’m not convinced that all is fixed with TCU after just one big win. The spread feels a little too good to be true and I’ll bite. I guess that’s why they have all those big building and lights out in the desert, because of guys like me who think they can get one over on Vegas.
Oklahoma State 44, TCU 41
No. 22 Washington State v. No. 10 Colorado (-4.5) - 3:30 PM EST - FOX
Who saw this coming? A week before the end of the regular season in the Pac-12 both Washington State and Colorado are leading their divisions. Washington State has won eight straight after three-point losses to both Eastern Washington and Boise State to start the year. The Cougars will be shorthanded the rest of the year with the loss of wide receiver River Cracraft to a torn ACL. Washington State still has Gabe Marks, who set the Pac-12 record for career receptions with 295 catches last week.
I don’t see how anybody could vote for anyone other that Mike MacIntyre for coach of the year. The only losses the Buffaloes have suffered this year have come on the road to Michigan and USC earlier this year. Defense has been a big reason for Colorado’s success this year, with the Buffaloes allowing less than 17 points in six of their 10 games. Colorado also forced at least one turnover in 23 straight games, which is the longest active streak in the country.
I’m very tempted to take the points in this one, but I think Colorado ends up taking this one by 7-10 points. The Cougars will start slow in trying to adjust to life without Cracraft, and they have a tough time cracking Colorado’s stingy defense. The win by the Buffaloes will setup what will likely be a big showdown with Utah next week.
Colorado 30, Washington State 23
No. 9 Oklahoma (-3) v. No. 14 West Virginia - 8:00 PM EST - ABC
Even just a couple weeks ago it might have been crazy to think that this matchup could have College Football Playoff implications, but with the chaos of last weekend, who knows how things will shake out. The Sooners continue to roll along after they lost two of their first three games this year, having little trouble with Baylor last week. It’s hard to see anybody else aside from Dede Westbrook winning the Biletnikoff Award this year, as the wide receiver has 68 catches for 1,254 yards and 14 touchdowns.
West Virginia might not have quite the firepower that Oklahoma does on offense, but what the Mountaineers do have is the best defense in the Big 12. West Virginia has allowed 21 points or less in seven of their nine games this year, but slowing down this Oklahoma offense might be their toughest test of the season. Quarterback Skyler Howard is solid and can make some plays when called upon for the Mountaineers.
I know it’s tough to go into Morgantown and win, but Bob Stoops has already done it twice since West Virginia joined the Big 12. This has the potential to be one of those fun back-and-forth matchups, but I think the Sooners just have a little too much for the Mountaineers. Oklahoma keeps their slim College Football Playoff hopes alive with a hard-fought win.
Oklahoma 38, West Virginia 30
No. 13 USC (-13) v. UCLA - 10:30 PM EST - ESPN
USC has really turned their season around after making the move to Sam Darnold at quarterback. The freshman looked great last week in the upset win over Washington, and even more big things could be in store this week. It isn’t just the USC offense that is impress though, as their defense is playing at a very high level right now. UCLA will have to pick their poison in whether they want to try and stop running back Ronald Jones II or wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Right now UCLA is a mess. The loss of quarterback Josh Rosen earlier this season to injury really hurt the Bruins. Backup quarterback Mike Fafaul obviously isn’t the same as having Rosen back there, and it certainly doesn’t help that UCLA has next to nothing when it comes to a running game. UCLA beat Oregon State to snap a five-game winning streak, but there’s not much momentum that can be gained from a win over a weak Oregon State team.
I’m a little bit concerned that USC could have a bit of a hangover following their upset of Washington, but even if they start off sluggish they have the tools to take down UCLA. It’s just hard to back the Bruins when they have so many injuries and have been playing so poorly.
USC 34, UCLA 17