Last week ATS: 3-9-1 (0-5-1 National, 3-4 B1G)
Season ATS: 58-61-3 (22-25-1 National, 36-36-2 B1G)
The last few weeks have been ugly for MC&J. This week’s bigger slate of picks isn’t because we are chasing, but more because there are so many important matchups on tap.
South Carolina v. No. 1 Georgia (-24) - 3:30 PM EST - CBS
Georgia sits atop the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season, and it is looking like the Bulldogs are going to be heading to Atlanta for a showdown with Alabama for the SEC title in early December.
Will Muschamp has South Carolina playing well in his second season in Columbia, with the Gamecocks sitting at 6-2. Jake Bentley has been solid at quarterback this season, throwing 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Some of the Georgia point spreads lately have been a little inflated for my taste. I was wrong last week when picking against the Bulldogs, but Florida was in even more disarray than I imagined. South Carolina is a little more stable. The Bulldogs win, but it isn’t by more than three touchdowns.
Georgia 34, South Carolina 17
Wake Forest v. No. 3 Notre Dame (-14.5) - 3:30 PM EST - NBC
The Demon Deacons are certainly battle tested as they head into South Bend for Saturday’s matchup with Notre Dame. Over their last three games, Wake Forest has taken on Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Louisville. Quarterback John Wolford has impressed this year, totaling 21 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Not like they need it, but Notre Dame will have a bit of an advantage on Saturday, as defensive coordinator Mike Elko held the same position at Wake Forest the previous three seasons. Running back Josh Adams is putting together a Heisman worthy season so far, rushing for 1,169 yards and nine touchdowns through eight games.
I like what Wake Forest has done so far this season, but I think the spotlight here might be a little too big. The best way to put a scare into Notre Dame is to slow down their running game, but I just don’t see the Demon Deacons being able to stop Adams and quarterback Brandon Wimbush.
Notre Dame 38, Wake Forest 20
No. 4 Clemson (-7.5) v. No. 20 NC State - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
Last week, NC State was terrible in South Bend against Notre Dame. Not only did the Wolfpack lose 35-14 to the Fighting Irish, but quarterback Ryan Finley threw his first interception of the season.
Following their loss to Syracuse a few weeks ago, Clemson got back to work last week after their bye week with a 24-10 win over Georgia Tech. I’m still not sure if the Tigers are as good as many people think they are though.
I’m calling the upset here. I like Bradley Chubb and the Wolfpack defense to get after Kelly Bryant. NC State rebounds from their loss to Notre Dame in a big way by knocking Clemson out of the College Football Playoff picture.
NC State 24, Clemson 21
No. 15 Iowa State v. West Virginia (-2.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN2
Iowa State continues to be the surprise of the college football season. Last week the Cyclones upset TCU in Ames to secure their fourth win in a row. How much longer will the magic last for Matt Campbell’s team? I’m not convinced it’ll be much longer.
Had it not been for the four interceptions Will Grier threw last week, West Virginia might have beaten Oklahoma State. Even with all the turnovers, the Mountaineers still only lost by 11. Last week was the first time this year in which Grier failed to throw for at least 300 yards.
Iowa State will give it all they got, but it won’t be enough as West Virginia and Grier get back on track after last week’s loss to Oklahoma State.
West Virginia 38, Iowa State 31
No. 21 Stanford v. No. 25 Washington State (-2.5) - 3:30 PM EST - FOX
We saw last week just how important Bryce Love is to Stanford. The Cardinal almost lost to Oregon State last week without Love. It sounds like Love is on track to play this weekend.
The top of the Pac-12 North could be decided in the next two weeks. The Cardinal are tied with Washington at the top, with Washington State sitting a game behind. Next week Stanford hosts Washington, so a couple wins could secure Stanford’s spot in the Pac-12 title game.
I’m not exactly sure what Mike Leach is doing at quarterback. Last week Leach benched Luke Falk in the loss to Arizona, but Falk will get the start this week. I’m just wondering if Leach has his eye on where he might be coaching next year instead of the team he is coaching right now. Love returns from injury and posts some more huge numbers in a Stanford win.
Stanford 34, Washington State 24
No. 5 Oklahoma v. No. 11 Oklahoma State (-3) - 4:00 PM EST - FS1
Bedlam has largely been dominated by Oklahoma since 2000, with the Sooners winning 13 of the 17 games played during that span. This year’s edition of the rivalry will have plenty at stake, with the loser being eliminated from College Football Playoff contention.
This game will be all about the quarterbacks. Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph have combined for 56 total touchdowns this year and just eight interceptions. The winner of this game could very well secure themselves a spot in New York City in December as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
There should be plenty of points scored in Stillwater on Saturday afternoon. I like Oklahoma a little more, but that’s mostly because Oklahoma State has made me look like a fool on numerous occasions this year. Of course since I’m picking the Sooners here, I’m sure Oklahoma State is a lock now to win.
Oklahoma 41, Oklahoma State 34
Texas v. No. 8 TCU (-7) - 7:15 PM EST - ESPN
Now that TCU has lost for the first time this season, how many losses will follow? I wasn’t all that impressed with TCU when they were undefeated, and I’m still not. I think Texas can slow down Kenny Hill.
The Longhorns sound like they are starting to get healthier at least. Sam Ehlinger didn’t play last week due to a concussion, but it’s possible he plays this week. Even if he doesn’t, the Longhorns still have Shane Buechele at quarterback. It won’t matter who starts for Texas, as they beat TCU by a field goal either way.
Texas 27, TCU 24
No. 19 LSU v. No. 2 Alabama (-21) - 8:00 PM EST - CBS
The last time a game in this rivalry was decided by more than 21 points was back in 2002. While Alabama has been destroying their opponents this year, at least LSU will have a solid defense to take into the battle with the Crimson Tide.
I feel like after the embarrassing loss to Troy earlier in the year, LSU has found their footing over the past few games. The Tigers will lose their seventh straight to Alabama, but at least they’ll be able to score a couple times against the Crimson Tide.
Alabama 31, LSU 14
No. 13 Virginia Tech (-3) v. No. 10 Miami (FL) - 8:00 PM EST - ABC
Either this week or next week Miami is going to finally lose a game, and I’m thinking they suffer their first loss sooner rather than later. Mark Richt has Miami ahead of schedule as he tries to rebuild the football program, but their luck finally runs out.
Quarterbacks Josh Jackson and Malik Rosier have similar numbers on the season, with both throwing for 17 touchdowns and just four interceptions. I just feel like Miami is so much more beaten up that Virginia Tech right now. The Hokies are the most complete team Miami has played this year, and it’ll show on the scoreboard on Saturday night.
Virginia Tech 31, Miami 21
No. 22 Arizona v. No. 17 USC (-7) - 10:45 PM EST - ESPN
This game has nothing to do with the College Football Playoff picture, but it’s likely going to be a very fun way to end what could be the most entertaining Saturday of the college football season so far.
Quarterback Khalil Tate has burst onto the scene for Arizona, throwing for six touchdowns and adding nearly 900 yards rushing and eight touchdowns over the last four games. It looks like RichRod has found the next mobile quarterback to thrive under his tutelage, following in the footsteps of Pat White and Denard Robinson.
Tate has been awesome over the past four games, but I’m not sold on the rest of the Arizona team. The Wildcats still have a putrid defense, as they have allowed at least 30 points in each conference game this year. Sam Darnold and the rest of the talented USC offense are able to put up some big numbers on the Wildcats and slow Tate enough to win by a couple touchdowns.
USC 42, Arizona 27