Last week ATS: 8-4 (3-2 National, 5-2 B1G)
Season ATS: 53-62 (20-26 National, 33-36 B1G)
Last week saw a little more progress, as after a horrible start to the year, MC&J has somehow inched back to inside 10 games below .500.
With the Big Ten schedule being a little lighter than normal, we have a few more national games than normal on the slate this week. The weekend starts tonight with a Big 12 tilt in Morgantown, and finishes up on Saturday with six more intriguing contests. Hopefully with a few extra games, more ground can be made up before the calendar turns to November.
National ATS (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
Baylor v. No. 13 West Virginia - Thursday 10/25 7:00 PM EST - FS1
West Virginia saw their College Football Playoff hopes take a big hit last time out, losing to Iowa State pretty convincingly in Ames. While the Mountaineers aren’t totally eliminated from contention, the odds are certainly stacked against them. It feels like the bigger question the rest of the season for West Virginia will be if Will Grier can finish the season strong and earn himself an invite to the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
After going 1-11 in 2017, Baylor is starting to play some decent football in Matt Rhule’s second season. The Bears have four wins so far this season, and played Texas tough a couple of weeks ago in a 23-17 loss. Sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer has been steady for the Bears, who are averaging 475 yards per game of offense.
Those 14 points feel like a few too many here. West Virginia’s defense has been alright, but I don’t see them shutting Brewer and Tennessee-transfer running back-turned-wide receiver Jalen Hurd down completely. A 7-10 point Mountaineer win feels about right here.
West Virginia 41, Baylor 31
No. 2 Clemson (-17) v. Florida State - 12:00 PM EST - ABC
Usually this rivalry game is pretty close, but times have changed. The Tigers are easily adjusting to life with Trevor Lawrence at quarterback. The last two games have seen Clemson outscore their opponents by a combined score of 104-10. Running back Travis Etienne has been putting up monster numbers, rushing for three touchdowns in each of the last three games.
Florida State has played pretty ugly football all year long. The Seminoles should be better with Deondre Francois and Cam Akers on offense, but something isn’t clicking in Willie Taggert’s first year. The woes continue as Clemson scores another blowout win in conference.
Clemson 41, Florida State 17
No. 9 Florida v. No. 7 Georgia (-7) - 3:30 PM EST - CBS
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail part is always better when both teams are good. Last year there wasn’t much fun in the 42-7 Georgia win, which was their biggest against the Gators since 1982. Plenty more will be at stake this year, with a lot being decided about both teams’ fate in not only the College Football Playoff conversation, but also in the SEC East standings.
Georgia looked awful when they suffered their first loss of the season two weeks ago against LSU. Not that playing in Baton Rouge is easy or anything, but I think everybody just expected a little more fight against the Tigers. Maybe this will be like last year’s loss to Auburn though, and the Bulldogs finish the season on a tear.
This game is going to come down to the pass rush. I can see Florida getting to Jake Fromm, while I can’t say the same about Georgia putting much heat on Gator quarterback Feleipe Franks. The Bulldogs make it two wins in a row over the Gators, but Florida puts up a lot more fight this year.
Georgia 31, Florida 27
No. 21 South Florida v. Houston (-7.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC/ESPN2
South Florida is undefeated this year, but it hasn’t been pretty. Four of their seven wins this year have been by less than 10 points. Those wins came over powerhouses like Illinois, East Carolina, Tulsa, and UConn. Quarterback Blake Barnett has thrown seven interceptions this year, and this week he’ll have Ed Oliver breathing down his neck.
Sure, Houston had the disaster in Lubbock last month, but all of the Cougars’ wins this year have come by at least 13 points. This feels like last week where an undefeated and ranked Cincinnati team went to Temple as an underdog and the Owls won out-right. The Cougars win this by at least two touchdowns to hand Charlie Strong’s team its first loss of the season.
Houston 49, South Florida 34
No. 14 Washington State v. No. 24 Stanford (-3) - 7:00 PM EST - Pac-12 Network
I’m still not convinced the Pac-12 Network is a real channel, so I’ll spend limited time on this game.
Normally this would feel like a classic hangover spot for Washington State, but this isn’t quite the Stanford team of past years. Bryce Love has been hobbled most of the season, so it’s hard to see him doing much on the ground. The Cardinal have had issues on defense against the pass, and that’s a bad thing to be dealing with against the Cougars.
Washington State 38, Stanford 28
No. 3 Notre Dame (-22) v. Navy - 8:00 PM EST - CBS
Notre Dame-Navy finally makes it to the left coast. With a naval base in San Diego, it made sense for this game to finally head west. This will be the first of two trips for the Fighting Irish to California in the next month, as Notre Dame will head to Los Angeles to play USC in late November.
Navy has just two wins this year, but I expect them to give Notre Dame a fight. The Irish have struggled against lesser competition this year, and with Navy’s triple-option attack, I could see the Midshipmen chewing up clock and keeping this inside the number. 22 points feels like a little too much in a rivalry that has seen four of the last five meetings decided by 10 points or less.
Notre Dame 34, Navy 20
No. 6 Texas (-3) v. Oklahoma State - 8:00 PM EST - ABC
I should know better than to even try to predict an Oklahoma State game, but we pretty much have to take a stab at this game since it is in primetime. The Cowboys have lost three of four, with the last one coming at the hands of Kansas State two weeks ago.
The good news for Texas is that it sounds like Sam Ehlinger should be able to play on Saturday night. The quarterback suffered a sprained shoulder a couple of weeks ago in the win over Baylor, but the bye week helped to give him more time to recover.
Which Oklahoma State team will show up? The one that destroyed Boise State or the one that was decimated by Texas Tech? I’m going to bank on the Cowboys showing some fight at home this week. If the Cowboys can’t upset the Longhorns then this season could really spiral out of control the rest of the way for Mike Gundy’s team.
Oklahoma State 30, Texas 27