Last week ATS: 4-3
Season ATS: 24-17
If you missed yesterday’s picks for the opening weekend of Big Ten football, you can find them here.
Oklahoma (-7) v. TCU - 12:00 PM EST - ABC
Most of the time when Oklahoma and TCU get together, the game ends up being decided by a touchdown or less. The Sooners have won six straight over the Horned Frogs, but TCU always makes Oklahoma work for their win.
Oklahoma and TCU haven’t played up to expectations this year, with the teams posting a combined 3-4 record. Both teams had a bye to try and right their seasons. The issues with the Sooners are well known. Alex Grinch’s defense is terrible. The Sooners have given up at least 30 points in each of the last three games. It also hasn’t helped that Spencer Rattler has made mistakes at key points during games. While Rattler does a lot well for a redshirt freshman quarterback, I could see Gary Patterson throwing some looks at him which leave him.....rattled.
TCU has been a roller coaster so far this year. Lose to Iowa State by three, beat Texas by two, and then lose to Kansas State by three. I’m banking on the Horned Frogs going up against the Oklahoma defense being just what Nebraska transfer wide receiver J.D. Spielman and the rest of the TCU offense need to get going. Just like in recent history, Oklahoma wins but TCU pushes them to the limit.
Oklahoma 35, TCU 31
Baylor v. Texas (-9) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN
About the only Big 12 team I’d trust Texas laying more than a touchdown against right now is Kansas. Sam Ehlinger does pretty much everything for Texas this year except play defense. Then again, not like any other Longhorns are playing defense this year. Texas has had a week off to lick their wounds after the loss to Oklahoma but the Longhorns need more than just a bye week to fix their issues.
Baylor has to be happy just to get on the field. So far the Bears have played just two games this year, not allowing Dave Aranda’s team to get much of a rhythm. The Baylor offense has struggled a bit to find their footing, which is surprising with Charlie Brewer returning at quarterback. At least they get a crack at the Texas defense to try and get right.
This has all the makings of being one of those wild Big 12 games. These two teams have already combined to play three overtime games this year. Saturday afternoon’s contest doesn’t go to overtime, but it will come down to the wire. Take the points here in a game that is going to be decided by no more than a touchdown.
Texas 38, Baylor 34
No. 17 Iowa State v. No. 6 Oklahoma State (-3.5) - 3:30 PM EST - FOX
Somehow Oklahoma State is ranked sixth in the country. I guess that’s what happens when you beat Tulsa, West Virginia, and Kansas. Definitely deserving of the lofty rankings. The Cowboys haven’t played since Oct. 3rd, which might be a good thing since it has given quarterback Spencer Sanders time to recover from an injury he suffered early in the year. The return of Sanders should help open up the offense for Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace.
After losing to Louisiana to start the season, Iowa State has rebounded to win the next three games. The offense of the Cyclones is clicking with Brock Purdy and Breece Hall, but they’ll face a tough test against a team who has only allowed 27 points in three games. If Iowa State wants to win this game, they’ll have to jump on Oklahoma State early while the Cowboys might be knocking off some rust.
It’s very tempting to take Iowa State here, but I just can’t do it. This feels like a game where Oklahoma State really puts everything together. It may take a quarter but once they get going I think they put some points up on the board. I still think Oklahoma State is overrated, but nothing makes sense in 2020.
Oklahoma State 41, Iowa State 30
No. 3 Notre Dame (-10) v. Pitt - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
Speaking of overrated, now we come to Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish looked awful in a 12-7 win over Louisville last week, and now they hit the road for the first time this year. The irish eyes must be smiling down on Brian Kelly, since it could be going up against a Pitt team without their starting quarterback. Even if Kenny Pickett plays for the Panthers, the one consistent thing for Notre Dame this year has been their defense.
If Pickett can’t go for Pitt, that’ll leave redshirt freshman Joey Yellen to make his second straight start. Yellen played alright against Miami last week, but the Panthers still lost 31-19. It’s hard to see Yellen being able to get much going against a Notre Dame defense that has allowed 13 points or less in three of their four games.
I can’t see Ian Book being as bad as he was last week. The Fighting Irish gets the passing game going, which will open up some holes for running back Kylen Williams, who has topped 100 yards rushing in three of Notre Dame’s four games this year. Pitt has played some nail biters this year. Saturday’s game won’t be one of them.
Notre Dame 34, Pitt 17
South Carolina v. LSU (-6) - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN
South Carolina notched their first win over Auburn since 1933 last week. Now the Gamecocks hit the road to take on a LSU team that is a shell of what we saw last year. The Tigers are giving up nearly 500 yards per game, and this week they’ll be without starting quarterback Myles Brennan, leaving true freshman TJ Finley to start on Saturday night. You just know Will Muschamp is going to be putting pressure on Finley early and often.
If K.J. Costello can pass for a billion yards against LSU, why can’t Collin Hill? Hill has formed a nice partnership with wide receiver Shi Smith, who has already caught 34 passes this season. Smith should be in for another big game against not-DBU. LSU can’t afford to sleep on running back Kevin Harris, either. Harris has rushed for 409 yards and six touchdowns this year.
Why not just go to the well again? Last week I picked South Carolina as an underdog to win, and I could see it happening again. LSU is a mess right now, while the Gamecocks have been playing better football after dropping their first two games of the year.
South Carolina 31, LSU 27
No. 9 Cincinnati v. No. 16 SMU (-2.5) - 9:00 PM EST - ESPN2
So you want to pick college football games? Try and get a read on a team who hasn’t played in three weeks against a team that has lost their top running back and top wide receiver for the year. Fun!
Cincinnati last played against South Florida on October 3rd, beating the Bulls 28-7. Luke Fickell and Marcus Freeman will really earn their money this week, not only trying to keep his team from starting slow after not playing for three weeks, but they’ll have to go against one of the top offenses in the nation.
SMU has lost running back TJ McDaniel and wide receiver Reggie Roberson Jr., but the Mustangs do have Shane Buechele at quarterback, which at least helped SMU survive against Tulane last week. Buechele is going to need a lot more help this week against a Cincinnati team that is giving up just over 300 yards per game.
While Buechele is a better quarterback than Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, the Bearcats have a better all-around team. The Mustangs have been lucky to survive in their last two games, and their luck runs out this week against a Cincinnati team that Fickell will have ready to go.
Cincinnati 38, SMU 31