Last week ATS: 7-5 (3-2 National, 4-3 B1G)
Season ATS: 75-87-2 (32-37 National, 43-50-2 B1G)
Last week minimal gains were made but at least there were gains. With just a couple weeks before the bowl matchups are announced, MC&J will have to do some major work to bring our record closer to .500 before the final segment of the season begins.
With it being Thanksgiving weekend, we might as well try and stuff some extra picks into the slate this week. Eight national games are on tap for Friday and Saturday, with hopefully a healthy portion of those being winners as you unhealthily shovel leftovers into your face while watching this weekend’s action.
National games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
No. 9 UCF (-14.5) v. South Florida - Friday 11/23 4:15 PM EST - ESPN
“The War on I-4” features two teams that are headed in opposite directions. UCF just moved into the top-10 of the College Football Playoff rankings and is riding a 23-game winning streak, while South Florida has lost their last four games after a 7-0 start to the season.
Defense has been a huge issue for the Bulls during their losing streak, as they have allowed at least 27 points in each of those four losses. It’s scary to think what a balanced UCF offense led by outstanding quarterback McKenzie Milton will be able to do to South Florida in Tampa on Friday afternoon.
Last year these teams played a thrilling contest on Black Friday, with UCF squeaking out a 49-42 win over the Bulls. This year’s game won’t be nearly as close. Quarterback Blake Barnett has been ineffective of late when he has been available for South Florida, and it’s hard to see the Bulls being able to keep this game within two touchdowns with their recent issues on offense and defense.
UCF 48, South Florida 30
No. 6 Oklahoma (-2.5) v. No. 13 West Virginia - Friday 11/23 8:00 PM EST - ESPN
If you enjoyed Chiefs-Rams on Monday Night Football, then you are going to love this game in Morgantown on Friday night. Oklahoma and West Virginia come into this game with a couple of the best offenses in the country, along with non-existent defenses.
Aside from their narrow win against Army in September, Oklahoma has scored at least 37 points in every game this season. Quarterback Kyler Murray has been outstanding in his final year of football before hitting the diamond, accounting for 44 touchdowns. It’s just too bad Oklahoma doesn’t have a shred of defense, or else they might be undefeated right now.
West Virginia saw their College Football Playoff hopes burst into flames last week with their collapse against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, but they at least still have something to play for. A win over the Sooners would earn the Mountaineers a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game, where they would likely play Texas.
Leaving Morgantown with a win is never an easy task, but it something Oklahoma has been able to do in their three trips there since West Virginia joined the Big 12. It’s scary to go against Will Grier at home when he gets to carve apart the Oklahoma defense, but the Sooners and Murray will be able to keep pace. In a game that comes down to the wire, Oklahoma somehow squeaks out a win and keeps their College Football Playoff hopes alive.
Oklahoma 51, West Virginia 44
No. 16 Washington v. No. 8 Washington State (-3) - Friday 11/23 8:30 PM EST - FOX
The Huskies have absolutely dominated the Apple Cup of late, winning eight of the last nine meetings with their in-state rival. Even with some of Mike Leach’s high-powered offenses of late, Washington always seems to have an answer for the Cougars, winning each of the last four meetings by at least 18 points.
I have been terribly wrong about Washington State the last couple weeks. For some reason I thought Colorado and Arizona would at least provide a challenge for the Cougars, but quarterback Gardner Minshew carved up the Buffaloes and Wildcats. Minshew has thrown for at least 319 yards in every game this year, and last week threw seven touchdown passes against Arizona.
I should have learned my lesson over the past two weeks, but I’m again going against Washington State. Washington’s defense is the best Minshew and the Cougars will see this year, and Chris Petersen has been money in the Apple Cup since arriving in Seattle. The Huskies haven’t been pretty to watch this year, but playing football the way they do is exactly how to slow down Washington State.
Washington 31, Washington State 28
Georgia Tech v. No. 5 Georgia (-17) - 12:00 PM EST - SEC Network
Georgia Tech and Georgia both come into “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” riding four-game winning streaks, but it is obvious that Georgia has a lot more to lose in this contest. The Bulldogs can’t afford another loss this year if they want to return to the College Football Playoff for a second straight year.
Georgia Tech looked dead in the water early in the season after losing three of their first four games, but the Yellow Jackets have turned things around. Paul Johnson’s squad once again has their triple-option attack working, averaging over 350 yards per game on the ground.
The Bulldogs certainly have the athletes to slow down Georgia Tech’s rushing attack, but I’m wondering if they might be more focused on next week’s SEC Championship Game against Alabama. Not that I think Georgia is going to be upset in Saturday’s game against their hated rivals, but I could see the score being a little bit closer than some might think.
Georgia 31, Georgia Tech 20
Auburn v. No. 1 Alabama (-24) - 3:30 PM EST - CBS
I know Auburn might be a little more amped up for Saturday’s Iron Bowl as they try to ruin Alabama’s undefeated season, but do you really think this Auburn team can stay within 24 points of Alabama? The Crimson Tide’s smallest margin of victory this year was by 22 points against Texas A&M in September.
Alabama shockingly was tied with The Citadel last week at halftime 10-10, but then they turned back into Alabama and outscored the Bulldogs 40-7 in the second half. The Crimson Tide will be ready to go from the start on Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa and I could see Nick Saban’s team jumping out on the Tigers early. This is a lot of points to lay in a rivalry game, but the Crimson Tide make a statement ahead of next week’s meeting with Georgia.
Alabama 45, Auburn 17
South Carolina v. No. 3 Clemson (-26.5) - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN
Clemson has dominated the rivalry the last two years, beating South Carolina by a combined score of 90-17. All signs are pointing to another easy win by the Tigers this year, but it won’t be quite as lopsided. Running back Travis Etienne has a big night against a Gamecock defense that is giving up 190 yards per game on the ground, but South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley finds just enough holes against a Clemson defense that has given up just 49 points over the last six games to keep this just inside the number.
Clemson 38, South Carolina 14
No. 3 Notre Dame (-11) v. USC - 8:00 PM EST - ABC
This season can’t end fast enough for USC. The Trojans have lost four of their last five games, and this is likely Clay Helton’s last game as head coach. As if things didn’t sound bad enough at USC, just wait until they bring in Jeff Fisher to replace Helton. 5-7 is going to be the new 7-9 for Fisher.
Remember when Notre Dame struggled to beat Pitt? Maybe that result isn’t looking quite so bad now that Pitt is ranked. The Fighting Irish got a little test from Northwestern a few weeks ago, but have been rolling over the past month, with their most impressive performance coming last week in a dismantling of Syracuse at Yankee Stadium.
I know there is the possibility of USC playing spoiler at home and ruining Notre Dame’s perfect regular season, but I don’t see it happening. If the Trojans can’t even muster enough of an effort to beat rival UCLA, how are they going to take down a talented Notre Dame squad? Ian Book puts together another solid performance for the Fighting Irish, while Dexter Williams runs all over the Trojans.
Notre Dame 41, USC 20
No. 21 Utah State vs. No. 23 Boise State (-3) - 10:15 PM EST - ESPN
The Mountain division of the Mountain West Conference will be up for grabs on the blue turf in Boise on Saturday night. After losing to Michigan State in their season opener, Utah State has rattled off 10 straight wins. The Aggies are led by quarterback Jordan Love, who has thrown for 2,845 yards and 25 touchdowns this year.
Boise State sits just behind Utah State in the division standings, and a win would give the Broncos the tiebreaker and set them up in the Mountain West Conference Championship Game against Fresno State, who they beat just a couple weeks ago in Boise. Quarterback Brett Rypien is nearing the end of a stellar career with the Broncos, where he has thrown for over 13,000 yards and 88 touchdowns.
When Boise State played Fresno State a couple weeks ago, I thought the Bulldogs would be able to beat the Broncos. The result looked good for over half the game, then Boise put together a miraculous turnaround. There’s just something about that blue turf. Even though Utah State might be the better team, I think Boise State gets the win.
Boise State 34, Utah State 27