Last week ATS: 5-8 (3-3 National, 2-5 B1G)
Season ATS: 97-84-4 (46-35-3 National, 51-49-1 B1G)
The only real important thing last week was Ohio State beating the snot out of Michigan, but a subpar week of picks did put a small damper on MC&J’s celebration. Even with the losing week, we still have some good distance on .500. Hopefully a return to the winners circle this week will help put some more cushion on our record heading into bowl season.
Pac-12: No. 5 Utah (-6.5) v. No. 13 Oregon - Friday 8:00 PM EST - ABC
The last few years the PAC-12 hasn’t done itself any favors. It seems like week after week we see the teams in this conference cannibalize themselves. Earlier this year, USC beat Utah, Arizona State beat Oregon, and so on. Even with the loss to the Trojans, Utah still has a shot at making the College Football Playoff.
Too bad the Utes are playing the team who might really be the best team in the conference. How Utah has created a lot of their success this year has been because of their defense and the pressure they create. The Utes won’t have as much success against the Oregon offensive line, who has done a great job at keeping Justin Herbert clean this year.
Even though it would be interesting to see how the College Football Playoff shakes out if Utah wins, I think Oregon scores the upset here. The Ducks have shown for much of the year they have a stout defense, and I think they give Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss problems. Utah has been feasting on lesser competition this year, and it will show tonight. Oregon has a little too much talent and speed for Utah to handle.
Oregon 30, Utah 27
Big 12: No. 7 Baylor v. No. 6 Oklahoma (-9) - 12:00 PM EST - ABC
Imagine if Baylor didn’t have that epic second half collapse against Oklahoma last month. The Bears very well could be playing for a spot in the College Football Playoff had they not gone all Falcons and blew a 28-3 lead. Credit to Matt Rhule’s team for not folding in the two games after the loss to the Sooners to close out their regular season schedule.
If Oklahoma can play like they did in the second half against Baylor, as well as in Bedlam last week, it would be an easy choice to make the Sooners the fourth team in the playoff. Even with holding Oklahoma State to 16 points, I still have some concerns about the Oklahoma defense.
The Sooners definitely have the edge at quarterback with Jalen Hurts, but Baylor does have a little bit of confidence from shutting him down for about a half of football. Oklahoma makes it three straight wins in the Big 12 Championship Game, but their defense allows Baylor to keep the final score under double digits.
Oklahoma 34, Baylor 30
Sun Belt: Louisiana v. No. 21 Appalachian State (-6.5) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN
Appalachian State has been a thorn in the side of the Ragin’ Cajuns over the past two seasons. Not only did the Mountaineers defeat Louisiana in last year’s Sun Belt title game, but Appalachian State won the meeting earlier in the year 17-7. Louisiana has been on fire since losing to the Mountaineers, winning their last six games.
Both teams are averaging over 430 yards of offense per game, with Louisiana averaging 500 yards per game. I think this is the game the Ragin’ Cajuns finally get their running game going against the Mountaineers and get over the hurdle of Appalachian State.
Louisiana 28, Appalachian State 24
MAC: Miami (OH) v. Central Michigan (-6.5) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN2
It would be nice if Ohio State could say they beat the MAC champs by 71 points earlier this year, but I don’t know if it is in the cards for the RedHawks on Saturday. Central Michigan is peaking with quarterback Quinten Dormady running the show. Miami hasn’t exactly finished the season strong, while Central Michigan has scored at 40 points in each of the last three games. I just don’t see how the RedHawks are going to keep pace here.
Central Michigan 38, Miami (OH) 24
C-USA: UAB v. Florida Atlantic (-8) - 1:30 PM EST - CBS Sports Network
UAB has quietly put together one of the best defenses in the country. The Blazers are allowing less than 270 yards per game to opponents this year. The problem for UAB is quarterback Tyler Johnston III is prone to turnovers, having thrown 13 interceptions so far this season.
After starting the season with losses to Ohio State and UCF, Florida Atlantic has won nine of their last 10 games. The Owls don’t have a Devin Singletary this season, but Chris Robison has been solid, tossing 22 touchdowns passes and just five interceptions. UAB will give the Owls some trouble early, but Florida Atlantic will pull away at home in the second half and extend their streak of wins by at least 10 points to six games.
Florida Atlantic 34, UAB 21
American: No. 20 Cincinnati v. No. 17 Memphis (-9.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
Teams playing each other twice in a season is pretty rare to begin with, both teams playing in two straight weeks is pretty much a unicorn. Last week Cincinnati hung around in Memphis with backup quarterback Ben Bryant playing for an injured Desmond Ridder. Luke Fickell said if Ridder is healthy he’ll play this week.
Memphis really could have won last week’s game by at least two touchdowns, but I’m wondering if Mike Norvell held some things back in anticipation of this week’s game. The Tigers know they’ll need a statement victory to earn the Group of 5 spot in the New Year’s Six bowls. I think Memphis get a bigger game out of running back Kenneth Gainwell this week. The Tigers win at least as much as they did last week, if not a little more.
Memphis 33, Cincinnati 21
Mountain West: Hawai’i v. No. 19 Boise State (-13.5) - 4:00 PM EST - ESPN
The weather in Boise is supposed to be rainy and cold on Saturday afternoon. Are you really going to trust Hawai’i to come up into those elements and give the Broncos a game? It doesn’t sound like a recipe for success for Cole McDonald and the Warriors.
Boise State 45, Hawai’i 27
SEC: No. 4 Georgia v. No. 2 LSU (-7.5) - 4:00 PM EST - CBS
Aside from putting up 52 points on lowly Georgia Tech, do you have any sort of confidence that Georgia can put up the points necessary to beat LSU? Joe Burrow is on another planet right now with how he is throwing the football. The former Buckeye has 44 touchdown passes this year. Add in Clyde Edwards-Helaire with over 1,200 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns, and you just never know where LSU is going to attack from.
Georgia certainly does have the defense to cause some problems for Burrow, but I think it’s going to be hard to hold Burrow down for 60 minutes. It definitely would be interesting to see what shenanigans the committee comes up with if Georgia does beat LSU on Saturday, but I think we’ll never find out. The Bulldogs do have D’Andre Swift, but the Tigers can key on him and dare Jake Fromm to beat them. I’m betting Fromm won’t be able to lead his team to victory.
LSU 34, Georgia 20
ACC: No. 23 Virginia v. No. 3 Clemson (-28.5) - 7:30 PM EST - ABC
Clemson has been destroying opponents since nearly losing to North Carolina early in the season. Trevor Lawrence has found his groove, Travis Etienne is churning up yards on the ground, and the defense of the Tigers is suffocating. Right now I might be a little more worried about Clemson than LSU when it comes to who is Ohio State’s toughest competition in the playoff.
Virginia completed the circle of life in the ACC Coastal with their 39-30 win over Virginia Tech last Friday, which was their first win over the Hokies since 2003. Quarterback Bryce Perkins does it all for Virginia on offense, but he isn’t going to come close to challenging the Tigers on Saturday night. Even though I think Clemson will win easily, I don’t think it’ll be by as big of a margin as some of their recent victories. The defense of Virginia keeps this game at least somewhat respectable.
Clemson 48, Virginia 23
Big Ten: No. 1 Ohio State (-16.5) v. No. 8 Wisconsin - 8:00 PM EST - FOX
For just the second time in school history, Ohio State will be playing a team twice in the same season. In 1975 the Buckeyes played UCLA twice, meeting the Bruins in the Rose Bowl after playing them earlier in the season. Ohio State is hoping this year doesn’t have the same result, as Ohio State beat UCLA in the regular season, but lose in the Rose Bowl.
This marks the third straight Big Ten Championship Game appearance for Ohio State, with the Buckeyes beating Wisconsin in 2017 and Northwestern last year. Ohio State has had Wisconsin’s number lately, winning six in a row over the Badgers and 10 of the last 11. After a sluggish first quarter back in October, the Buckeyes pulled away from Wisconsin, completely shutting down Jonathan Taylor.
J.K. Dobbins was really everything last week. The running back not only moved into second place on Ohio State’s all-time rushing list, but the junior rushed for a career-high 211 yards and four touchdowns against Michigan. Ohio State received a little scare when Justin Fields briefly left the game due to a knee injury, but he returned and says he is good to go this week. Fields might not be able to be as mobile on Saturday as he has been this year, but he does have plenty of offensive weapons to work with so he shouldn’t have to be running around as much.
I really do think playing for a second time this year is going to be a bigger advantage for Ohio State. This game is going to be indoors, unlike the first meeting, which was played in rainy conditions in Columbus. Not only will the Buckeyes have a faster track, but they’ll have an even better idea on how to attack Wisconsin. Ohio State knows they can slow down Jonathan Taylor, which will leave the defense to force quarterback Jack Coan to make some plays. Much like the first matchup, Chase Young is going to have a monster game in a easy Ohio State victory.
Ohio State 34, Wisconsin 14