Last week ATS: 8-9 (5-3 National, 3-6 B1G)
Season ATS: 40-41 (17-21 National, 23-20 B1G)
Last week was pretty much the reverse of how the start of the season has gone for my picks. I was solid nationally, yet I struggled with my Big Ten picks. The national games could have finished with an even better record if Clemson didn’t have a terrible kicker and Oklahoma would have found a way to win by just one more point. My Big Ten picks actually got off to a good start until the wheels fell off, starting with the 3:30 games.
No. 10 Utah v. No. 19 Oregon State (-3.5) - Friday 9:00 p.m. ET - FS1
If this game wants to fit the script of the last few seasons in the Pac-12, now that Oregon State has suffered a loss, they’ll turn around and beat an undefeated Utah team. Luckily for the most entertaining conference in college football this year, I don’t quite think that will be the case. Even though the Utes still don’t have any answers when it comes to when or if Cam Rising will return to the field this season, Utah keeps winning despite being on their 14th-string quarterback.
Oregon State does a lot of things well. The Beavers have a strong running game with Damien Martinez, and their defense can make some plays. Their problem is D.J. Uiagalelei isn’t as good as everyone was hoping he’d be with a change of scenery after struggling for most of his time at Clemson. Having a mediocre quarterback is something that is tough to overcome against a nasty defense like Utah has.
Normally Oregon State has some success when they host night games during the week — just ask USC back in 2008. I don’t think the Beavs have the same magic on Friday night. Utah has to be feeling a bit disrespected since Washington, Oregon, and USC are getting most of the attention in the conference. Being slighted is just how the Utes like it, and you’ll see them play with an even bigger chip on their shoulder as they continue to play bullyball and hand Oregon State their second straight loss.
Utah 21, Oregon State 17
No. 8 USC (-21.5) v. Colorado - 12:00 p.m. ET - FOX
Colorado certainly came back to earth last week, getting throttled in Eugene 42-6. Not that we couldn’t see that result coming, especially with Travis Hunter not available to play following the cheap shot he took against Colorado State that put him in the hospital. Even if Hunter was healthy, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. The issue for the Buffaloes is they don’t have the talent in the trenches that will help them hang with the top tier teams in the country.
USC has one of the best offenses in the country. What is going to hold the Trojans back is they have one of the worst defensive coordinators in college football. Alex Grinch must have some incredible blackmail material on Lincoln Riley, since that’s the only reason that makes sense as to why Grinch still has a job. If USC wasn’t so bad defensively, they would be an easy favorite to make the College Football Playoff.
Even after saying all that about Grinch, I feel like USC wins this game handily. It feels like some of the sluggish performance for the Trojans last week against Arizona State was because they were coming off a bye, so it took USC a little while to get going. Lincoln Riley’s team won’t need a wakeup call this week with all eyes on Boulder to start Saturday off. The Trojans don’t dominate Colorado quite like what we saw from Oregon, but it’s hard to see the Buffaloes testing USC in this one.
USC 54, Colorado 24
No. 1 Georgia (-14.5) v. Auburn - 3:30 p.m. ET - CBS
The two-time defending champions haven’t been all that impressive to start the year. Then again, the Bulldogs haven’t needed to be at the top of their game since aside from South Carolina, they haven’t played anyone noteworthy. The weak schedule to start the year has helped Georgia, as they have been dealing with some injuries during the first month of the season. Wide receiver Ladd McConkey and running backs Kendall Milton and Daijuan Edwards have missed some time so far this season.
Last week Auburn suffered their first loss under Hugh Freeze, falling to Texas A&M, 27-10. The passing game of the Tigers is a mess. Payton Thorne and two other quarterbacks combined to go 9-of-23 for 56 yards against the Aggies. If Freeze’s offense can’t get anything done against Texas A&M, I don’t see how they are going to have any success against a Georgia defense that is still good despite losing a lot of talent to the NFL over the past couple years.
This has the feeling of a game where we realize Georgia still has it and is going to be a legitimate threat to three-peat.
Georgia 33, Auburn 14
No. 24 Kansas v. No. 3 Texas (-16.5) - 3:30 p.m. ET - ABC
Remember back to 2021, which was the last time the Jayhawks played in Austin. Kansas jumped out to a 35-14 lead in the first half before Texas tied the game up at 49 with 22 seconds left. The Jayhawks would go on to win 57-56 in overtime when they converted their two-point conversion attempt at the end of the first OT. The win pushed Kansas to 2-8 on the season, but the victory started an upswing for the program. Entering Saturday’s game, Kansas is 4-0 on the season.
Even though Texas dominated Baylor 38-6 last week, the Bears are a mess right now, so I don’t put a ton of stock in the victory. Still, Texas deserves to be in the conversation as one of the best teams in the country so far this season. What concerns me about the Longhorns this week is they have the Red River Rivalry against Oklahoma next week. Even though I know Steve Sarkisian and his staff aren’t looking past a solid Kansas team, it would be a very Texas thing to have a bit of a flat effort before taking on the Sooners. Kansas hangs around in this one.
Texas 34, Kansas 24
After starting the season by falling apart in the second half against Florida State, LSU has rebounded with three wins, the last two coming in conference against Mississippi State and Arkansas. The Tigers weren’t great on defense last week, giving up 31 points to Arkansas, but Jayden Daniels rescued his team, tossing four touchdowns in the 34-31 win. Between Brian Thomas Jr. and Malik Nabers, LSU has one of the most dynamic receiving duos in the country.
Lane Kiffin was thinking this was going to be the year he got one on Nick Saban. The Rebels laid an egg in the second half, as the Alabama defense shut down the offense of Ole Miss. I think Jaxson Dart, Quinshon Judkins, and the rest of the Ole Miss offense will have some success this week, I’m just not sure they’ll have enough to outduel Daniels and the Tigers. LSU goes into the state of Mississippi and wins for the second time this season.
LSU 38, Ole Miss 31
No. 11 Notre Dame (-5.5) v. No. 17 Duke - 7:30 p.m. ET - ABC
Normally I would look at this as a spot where a tough loss to Ohio State would be one that lingers with a team for a game or two. This spot for Notre Dame feels a little different since they have a veteran quarterback in Sam Hartman. Even though the Fighting Irish lost last week, they pushed the Buckeyes to the limit, so I know they are a good team on both sides of the football. If Javontae Jean-Baptiste can play like he did last week, it is going to be a long night for Duke quarterback Riley Leonard.
The Blue Devils started the season with a convincing win over Clemson. Since then, Duke has faced the murderers row of Lafayette, Northwestern, and UConn. Leonard feels like the Dollar Tree version of Daniel Jones. Not saying that’s a bad thing, I just have a feeling things might not go so well against a pissed off Notre Dame defense. Duke can’t upset a ranked team in Durham for the second-straight season, as Hartman leads the Fighting Irish back on the winning track.
Notre Dame 31, Duke 21
South Carolina v. No. 21 Tennessee (-12.5) - 7:30 p.m. ET - SEC Network
I have no idea why Tennessee is ranked right now. The Volunteers beat a bad Virginia team, didn’t do much against Austin Peay, lost by 16 points at Florida, and beat a UTSA team without their starting quarterback. Joe Milton has a cannon for an arm, but he puts no touch on his throws. About the one thing Tennessee has been able to do well this year is run the football, as they are averaging 230 yards per game on the ground.
Last year South Carolina absolutely rolled Tennessee 63-38 in Columbia. Obviously there are some differences this year, but the Gamecocks still have quarterback Spencer Rattler. South Carolina has faced a tougher schedule this year, which should have them ready for the environment they’ll see in Knoxville on Saturday night. This feels like too many points in a game where I feel like the teams are pretty evenly matched.
Tennessee 34, South Carolina 30
No. 12 Alabama (-14.5) v. Mississippi State - 9:00 p.m. ET - ESPN
I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Alabama got some of their mojo back last week in their win over Ole Miss, while Mississippi State is struggling to find their identity. The Bulldogs are trying to establish their running game, which likely won’t work against a stout Crimson Tide defense. The last time Mississippi State scored double-digits against Alabama came back in 2017. Over the last five meetings, the Crimson Tide have outscored the Bulldogs 182-22.
Until they prove otherwise, I can’t back Mississippi State when these two schools play.
Alabama 27, Mississippi State 7
No. 7 Washington (-17.5) v. Arizona - 10:00 p.m. ET - Pac-12 Network
If you asked me who the top team in the country has been so far this season, my answer would be Washington. The Huskies have scored at least 41 points in each of their first four games, and Michael Penix Jr. has the look of a Heisman Trophy finalist. There is no reason Penix shouldn’t be able to continue his hot start to the season against an Arizona defense that is pretty average.
Some might be looking at this game as a bit of a trap game for Washington since the Huskies have a bye next week before hosting Oregon. I think we are going to see another big performance for Penix and Washington. Jayden de Laura does have a couple solid targets in Jacob Cowing and Tetairoa McMillan, but they’ll be no match for what they’ll see from the Huskies.
Washington 48, Arizona 23