Last week ATS: 7-6-1 (3-4-1 National, 4-2 B1G)
Season ATS: 32-28-1 (14-9-1 National, 18-19-1 B1G)
For as bad as last week started, MC&J should feel lucky to end the week with a winning record. Friday night’s picks were terrible, with both Utah and Air Force failing to cover. At least Washington, Georgia, and Oregon were able to do their jobs to get a few wins on the board.
Arizona State v. No. 15 California (-5) - Friday 9/27 10:30 PM EST - ESPN
After beating Michigan State two weeks ago, Arizona State returned home last week and promptly lost to Colorado. It’s not like the Sun Devils played awful against the Buffaloes, Colorado was just a little bit in Tempe on Saturday night. Arizona State could really use a big game out of running back Eno Benjamin, who is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry this year.
Justin Wilcox really has things working in Berkeley right now. Last week the Golden Bears went down to Oxford and took down Ole Miss 28-20 to stay undefeated. Chase Garbers has been steady for Cal at quarterback, while the defense hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in a game so far this season.
I feel like these two teams are pretty similar. They both make a lot of noise with their defense, while having some key parts on offense that can put some points up on the board. If the Sun Devils are able to get Benjamin going, it could make for a long game for the Golden Bears. Even though Arizona State lost last week, I feel like they rebound and upset a Cal team that is working a short week after a trip to Mississippi.
Arizona State 27, California 24
No. 18 Virginia v. No. 10 Notre Dame (-12.5) - 3:30 PM EST - NBC
How strange is 2019? Virginia is undefeated right now. The Cavaliers haven’t exactly played great football the last two weeks, but Virginia found a way past Florida State and Old Dominion. So those two opponents aren’t exactly the caliber of Notre Dame, but Bryce Perkins has some experience at quarterback that should help Virginia with this tough trip to South Bend.
Notre Dame held their own last week against Georgia, but the Fighting Irish fell just a little short in Athens. The Bulldogs were able to force quarterback Ian Book into his first two interceptions of the season, but the senior showed he was tough to slow down when he developed a rhythm with Cole Kmet and Chase Claypool.
Notre Dame won’t lose their second straight game, but Virginia is going to give the Fighting Irish all they can handle. This may not have quite the theatrics of the 2015 meeting in Charlottesville, but we could see a similar scoreline. I think last week’s game against Georgia took a lot out of the Fighting Irish, which will help the Cavaliers stay within a touchdown.
Notre Dame 31, Virginia 24
No. 21 USC v. No. 17 Washington (-11) - 3:30 PM EST - FOX
I’m not entirely sure who is starting at quarterback for USC on Saturday. It’s either Kedon Slovis, Matt Fink, or you. Yes, you! In all seriousness, it sounds like Fink will get the start after replacing Slovis early in last week’s game against Utah after Slovis was injured. While Utah might have not been prepared for Fink, there’s no doubt that Washington will be.
Take away the weird game against Cal that was delayed for like 4 days, and Washington has been really good this year. Jacob Eason has looked great after transferring to Washington from Georgia. Last week the Huskies did something the Trojans couldn’t do the week before, beat BYU in Provo. Washington left no doubt about the result, jumping out to a 21-3 lead in the first quarter.
After picking the Trojans to cover against Stanford, I’ve missed on my last two picks of USC games. I just don’t think Fink will be ready to not only make the first road start of his career, but he’ll be doing it against a Washington defense that hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in a game so far this season. The Huskies win by at least two touchdowns.
Washington 38, USC 21
Mississippi State v. No. 7 Auburn (-11) - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN
About the only things I know about Mississippi State is their quarterback became a helicopter against Kansas State, and they have a pretty good running back in Kylin Hill. Freshman Garrett Shrader eventually came back down to earth in the loss to Kansas State, but he recovered last week and led the Bulldogs to a win last week against Kentucky. Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens has been dealing with a shoulder injury, but we could see some of Shrader’s partner at quarterback against Auburn.
I have had some doubts about Auburn so far this year, but they look pretty darn good. Freshman quarterback Bo Nix isn’t putting up any crazy stats, but he has a running game and defense that is helping him win games. Mississippi State could have some trouble finding holes on the ground against an Auburn defense that is allowing less than 90 yards per game rushing.
I’m fully aware that whenever you think you have a read on Auburn, the games get really weird. I wouldn’t doubt strange things happening, especially with a trip to Florida on deck next week for Auburn, but for some reason I can’t see Mississippi State covering the number here. A freshman quarterback on the road against this Auburn defense isn’t a recipe for success. Normally I would think Hill could take some of the pressure off his quarterback, but Auburn’s defensive line is just too tough.
Auburn 31, Mississippi State 17
Washington State v. No. 19 Utah (-6) - 10:00 PM EST - FS1
Just be glad MC&J didn’t pick last week’s Washington State game. How deflating would it would have been if we had sided with the Cougars only to see them blow a huge lead at home in the second half? Quarterback Anthony Gordon threw for nine touchdowns and Washington State still lost. NINE TOUCHDOWNS! Mike Leach can never make things easy, can he?
Much like the end of last year, Utah is walking wounded right now. Quarterback Tyler Huntley sounds like he’ll be able to play on Saturday, but I’m not as optimistic about running back Zack Moss. Having a couple key offensive weapons is not something you want to have to deal with when going up against Washington State. The Utes have a great run defense, but they just let USC’s third-string quarterback pick them apart. Imagine what Gordon and the Cougars will be able to do.
Both teams need a win to stay in the Pac-12 race. Even though they just blew a huge lead to lowly UCLA, I think I trust Washington State a little bit more right now. Even if Utah does end up beating the Cougars, I don’t think it’ll be by more than a touchdown. Get ready for another wild finish to your Saturday night.
Washington State 41, Utah 38