Last week ATS: 7-8 (3-2 National, 4-6 B1G)
Season ATS: 25-22-1 (11-5 National, 14-17-1 B1G)
They all can’t be winners. Last week MC&J suffered our first losing week of the year, thanks to Clemson housing a long rushing touchdown with under a minute left to ruin the push we were sitting on. With some of the bad beats early in the season already, I’m scared to even think of some of the ridiculous ways that some games are going to end the rest of the year.
No. 10 Utah (-4) v. USC - Friday 9/20 9:00 PM EST - FS1
This annual contest has been one of the more entertaining games around the country recently, with three of the last five matchups between the schools decided by four points or less. The home team has won each meeting since 2013, but Utah will have to break that trend if they want to keep their College Football Playoff dreams alive.
I might have felt a little differently about this game if USC hadn’t lost to BYU last week. Freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis threw three interceptions in the overtime loss to the Cougars. Now things don’t get any easier, as the Trojans will be playing an even better team from the Beehive State.
Not only do the Utes have a defense that is surrendering less than 240 yards per game to opponents, but they have a veteran duo on offense, with quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss running the show. On both sides of the football Utah is just too good for USC right now, and the Utes are definitely better coached. Maybe Kyle Whittingham should send Kalani Sitake a gift basket for BYU softening up USC for the Utes.
Utah 27, USC 20
Air Force v. No. 20 Boise State (-7.5) - Friday 9/20 9:00 PM EST - ESPN2
MC&J is picking two Friday night games? Is it Christmas yet? Nope, with plenty of good matchups on tap this week, I figure why not throw a couple extra picks into the mix.
Air Force is coming off an overtime upset of Colorado in Boulder, and is averaging 356 yards per game on the ground. The Falcons did a pretty good job at limiting Steven Montez and Laviska Shenault Jr. last week, holding Montez to 220 yards passing, and Shenault to under 130 total yards.
I’m still not convinced about Boise State. The Broncos needed a comeback in the second half to beat Florida State, looked pretty lifeless in a win over Marshall, and last week beat up on FCS foe Portland State. Freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier has had some moments of brilliance, but he has also thrown an interception in each of the first three games.
Boise State is a little more familiar with Air Force’s attack since they see it every year, but I’m still not betting against a service academy. The blue turf of Boise doesn’t have the same mystique it used to. The Falcons will get the ground game running, control the clock, and hand the Broncos an early loss that knocks them out of contention for the Group of Five New Year’s Six bowl spot.
Air Force 28, Boise State 24
No. 8 Auburn v. No. 15 Texas A&M (-3.5) - 3:30 PM EST - CBS
Had it not been for Notre Dame/Georgia, Saturday afternoon’s game in College Station would be the game of the week. After mounting a comeback in the season opener against Oregon, Auburn hasn’t been challenged, beating up on Tulane and Kent State the last two weeks. Business will pick up for freshman quarterback Bo Nix this week, as he’ll be playing in his first true road game.
Texas A&M is still a bit of a mystery to me. The Aggies were handled by Clemson a couple weeks ago, in their only meaningful game of the season. Texas A&M has the edge at quarterback with Kellen Mond, but they are dealing with some injuries on offense. Wide receiver Quartney Davis is questionable for Saturday’s game, and would be a big loss if he wasn’t able to go.
Even with Texas A&M being a little banged up, I still like them in this matchup. Oregon gave teams most of the blueprint to beating Auburn, the Aggies just have to make sure they close the game. The Tigers won’t look as good since this will be their first game this year in a hostile environment. This will be a tough game, but I see Texas A&M winning by at least a touchdown.
Texas A&M 31, Auburn 21
No. 15 UCF (-12.5) v. Pittsburgh - 3:30 PM EST - ABC/ESPN2
Be honest, do you really think Pitt can even score 13 points? The Panthers have scored a total of 44 points in three games this season. Even if they do score at least 13 points, do you have any faith that they can slow down the UCF offense that is on like their 10th quarterback in the last year but somehow keeps lighting up the scoreboard? I didn’t think so.
Pitt may get down close to the end zone, but all Pat Narduzzi will want to do is kick field goals. The Knights make quick work of another Power 5 conference team.
UCF 41, Pittsburgh 17
No. 22 Washington (-6.5) v. BYU - 3:30 PM EST - ABC/ESPN2
I originally was liking BYU in this spot, but I’ve shifted over to Washington in this game. While BYU has a nice story with comeback wins against Tennessee and USC, just think to yourself how good those teams really are. Last week the Cougars needed a freshman quarterback to throw three interceptions to earn the win against USC. Georgia transfer Jacob Eason doesn’t do that this week.
Last year Washington beat up on BYU 35-7 in Seattle. While the Huskies won’t open up quite that big of a can this year, they’ll slow down “Mormon Manziel” Zach Wilson and put a little distance on BYU in Provo. After two emotional victories, BYU just doesn’t have enough left in the tank to upset Washington.
Washington 28, BYU 17
No. 16 Oregon (-11) v. Stanford - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN
I hope trusting so many road favorites over unranked teams doesn’t come back to bite me. Even though Stanford has won three straight over Oregon, this isn’t the same Stanford team as we have seen in the past. K.J. Costello returned at quarterback last week against UCF, but the Cardinal don’t have an explosive player on offense like a Christian McCaffrey or Bryce Love to keep pace with high-powered teams like UCF and Oregon.
Had it not been for a second half collapse in the season opener against Auburn, Oregon would be coming into this game undefeated. There’s no question Justin Herbert is the star of the Ducks, and the quarterback has to be licking his chops after seeing what UCF freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel did to Stanford last week.
Stanford doesn’t have the dominant defense that they’ve had in years past, so it’s hard to see them slowing Oregon down. Unlike last year when Stanford rallied from a 24-7 halftime deficit to beat Oregon in overtime, the Ducks jump out early and leave the Cardinal in the dust.
Oregon 38, Stanford 23
Oklahoma State v. No. 12 Texas (-6) - 7:30 PM EST - ABC
After seeing how Texas failed in every possible way to slow down Joe Burrow and LSU a couple weeks ago, how are the Longhorns going to stop Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace? Sure, Oklahoma State hasn’t played anyone close to the caliber of LSU, which has allowed Hubbard and Wallace to become the nation’s top rusher and receiver, respectively. But, the Cowboys do have a little history on their side, as they have won four straight games against Texas.
The Longhorns are definitely better than any of those teams over the past four years that have lost to Oklahoma State, but they still leave a lot to be desired on defense. I’m banking on the Cowboys not melting under the bright lights now that they’ll be playing a team with a pulse. Texas wins, but this game is decided by a field goal late.
Texas 37, Oklahoma State 34
No. 7 Notre Dame v. No. 3 Georgia (-14.5) - 8:00 PM EST - CBS
How big is this game? CBS actually decided to air this as their one night game of the season, as opposed to LSU/Alabama, which has been the signature night game for CBS over the past 382 seasons. Really though, it doesn’t get much bigger than this in college football. The winner will have an impressive win to bolster their College Football Playoff rèsumè.
Both teams have had an easy road to this matchup, and you have to wonder if they have been saving something for this game. Notre Dame has looked great with Ian Book back at quarterback, but does Book have enough weapons on offense to work with when he is facing one of the toughest defenses in the country?
Georgia thought so highly of Jake Fromm that they let Justin Fields transfer to Ohio State. It seems like the only right thing to settle this debate is for the two teams to meet up in the College Football Playoff. The Bulldogs have been suffocating on defense so far this season, allowing just 23 points in their first three games of the year.
I definitely like Georgia to win this game, but I think this spread is just a little too meaty for more liking. I might consider taking the Bulldogs at 10 or less, but needing Georgia to win by 15 is asking a lot I think. Notre Dame isn’t as good as Georgia, but they’ll hang around at least. I could see Georgia being up by 17 in the fourth quarter and Notre Dame getting a backdoor cover.
Georgia 34, Notre Dame 24