Last week ATS: 5-6-1 (5-2 National, 0-4-1 B1G)
Season ATS: 58-68-1 (25-28 National, 33-40-1 B1G)
It really was a tale of two different pick sets last week. After a rocky start to the week with the clunker that was Baylor/West Virginia, MC&J rebounded with a strong Saturday, with the only hiccup being a Florida/Georgia scrap that was coverable in the second half. All those games were nullified by a dumpster fire of a B1G week.
With the calendar now having turned to November, hopefully a successful final month of the regular season is ahead of us. We start with five games on Saturday.
No. 6 Georgia (-9.5) v. No. 9 Kentucky - 3:30 PM EST - CBS
It’s pretty amazing that the road to the SEC East title will run through Lexington. The Wildcats have used a stout defense and a heavy dose of running back Benny Snell Jr. to put themselves into position to shock the college football world. Last week quarterback Terry Wilson put together his best game of the season to lead the Wildcats to a comeback victory over Missouri in Columbia.
Georgia rebounded from their first loss of the season a few weeks ago to run away from Florida in the second half last week in Jacksonville. The defense stepped up for the Bulldogs, forcing the Gators into three turnovers. Jake Fromm played a clean game, tossing three touchdowns for the fourth time this season.
At first I was wondering if the spotlight might be a little too big for the Wildcats in this game, but I think their senior-laden team will be able to keep things close in Lexington. Kentucky isn’t as talented as Georgia, but they’ll be able to turn some long, time-consuming drives into enough points to keep the final result within 10 points.
Georgia 27, Kentucky 20
No. 13 West Virginia v. No. 17 Texas (-2) - 3:30 PM EST - FOX
If you looked at just last week’s results, West Virginia would seem like an easy winner pick here. But we know that things are never that easy. The Mountaineers put their first loss of the season behind them and beat up on Baylor 58-14. Will Grier was outstanding against the Bears, throwing for 353 yards and three touchdowns.
If Texas shows as much fight on Saturday as Tom Herman showed at the end of last week’s game, they should be in good shape. The Longhorns took a tumble in the rankings after losing to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Texas will have to be a lot better this week at defending the pass than they were against the Cowboys, as they allowed Taylor Cornelius to throw for 321 yards and three touchdowns.
Despite being dead in the College Football Playoff race, Texas still has a shot at the Big 12 crown, but they can’t afford any more losses. This feels like one of those games that Tom Herman is going to have his team ready for, and I think we see a lot better effort out of Texas on Saturday. This will be a fun back-and-forth game, but Texas squeaks out a win late in Austin.
Texas 34, West Virginia 30
No. 7 Oklahoma (-13.5) v. Texas Tech - 8:00 PM EST - ABC
Since losing to Texas and firing defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, Oklahoma has put together two dominant performances, scoring over 50 points in each of their wins against TCU and Kansas State. It’s hard to know where the Sooner defense stands right now after firing Stoops, because they haven’t exactly played powerhouse offenses. Not like they need a ton of defense with Kyler Murray directing the offense, though.
Texas Tech dropped a close game last week against Iowa State, but they are always tough to beat in Lubbock. The key for the Red Raiders in this game is getting freshman quarterback Alan Bowman to make better decisions than he did last week, when he was picked off three times by the Cyclones.
The 2016 game in Lubbock between these two teams was wild, with Oklahoma earning a 66-59 win. We don’t have Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes at quarterback for this year’s contest, but Murray and Bowman can certainly sling it. This year’s game might not reach 66-59 but it will be another high-scoring affair. Giving nearly two touchdowns to this Texas Tech team at home just feels like a few too many. Oklahoma won’t lose, but Texas Tech won’t lose by double digits.
Oklahoma 51, Texas Tech 44
No. 1 Alabama (-14.5) v. No. 3 LSU - 8:00 PM EST - CBS
It’s pretty crazy that this is Alabama’s first real test of the season, and they are still favored by this much. The Crimson Tide have won each of their first eight games by at least 22 points, but wins against LSU never come easy. Alabama has either lost to LSU or won by 10 points or less in their last seven trips to Baton Rouge.
Unless something out of this world happens, the Heisman Trophy is Tua Tagovailoa’s to lose. The spectacular sophomore quarterback has 25 touchdowns and no interceptions this year, and still hasn’t had to play a snap in the fourth quarter. Jerry Jeudy has emerged as Tagovailoa’s favorite target, catching 10 of those touchdown passes.
Joe Burrow is a fun story for Ohio State fans to root for, but the stats are pretty ugly. Burrow is completing just 53.8 percent of his passes and hasn’t thrown a touchdown in three games. He’s fine as a game manager, but the Tigers are going to need him to be more than that as they try and solve the Alabama defense.
The key to getting to Alabama is not allowing them to score a bajillion points in the first quarter. The Crimson Tide has put teams away early all year long, and as if the task wasn’t hard enough, LSU will be without linebacker Devin White for the first half after a targeting penalty in the second half against Mississippi State. Alabama jumps out early and Burrow just doesn’t have enough to get LSU back into it.
Alabama 34, LSU 17
California v. No. 8 Washington State (-10) - 10:45 PM - ESPN
Mike Leach’s team took a major step towards the Rose Bowl when they earned a 41-38 win in Palo Alto last week against Stanford. The Cougars have now won four straight games and control their own destiny in the Pac-12 North. Quarterback Gardner Minshew is stating his case for an invite to New York City in December for the Heisman Trophy ceremony, throwing for 3,183 yards and 26 touchdowns so far this year.
Washington State got a little help in the Pac-12 North standings last week with Cal’s 12-10 upset of Washington. After suffering through a three-game losing streak, the Golden Bears have righted the ship a little, winning their last two games. Cal will be looking for a repeat of last year’s matchup against Washington State, when the Golden Bears destroyed the then-No.8 Cougars, 37-3, in Berkeley.
There is no doubt that the Golden Bears have a legit defense, but they don’t have much offense to go along with it. Aside from a 49-point outburst against Oregon State, Cal hasn’t scored more than 24 points in a Pac-12 game this year. Even if the Cal defense is able to get a few stops, I don’t trust their offense to get much accomplished against a sneaky good Washington State defense.
Washington State 41, California 24