We're back to two FEPOs this week, and Kansas has finally earned the right to be merely ignored, rather than mocked. I hope that win was worth it for you, Jon.
Plus, there are some other good games on the slate, beginning with a Louisville game against a team with a winning record, which is somewhat rare. OK, so that's not really a great game, but we really do have some good ones.
The biggest, of course, is what may be our first top 5 matchup of the year between Florida State and Clemoson The SEC offers a couple intriguing matchups and Texas Tech plays its toughest road game yet.....at West Virginia. Don't worry, the Red Raiders go to Norman next Saturday.
Last week, Jon had his best week of the year percentage-wise, going 4-1 as I went 3-2 to even the season total at 36-26-3. Still, that should probably come with an asterisk, since Jon claimed I would have to "live with the shame" of picking Mizzou to win outright. I'm living quite happily and shame-free, thanks.
On to the picks, For Entertainment Purposes Only...
LOUISVILLE (-5.5) over UCF, 7 p.m., Friday, ESPN
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, Louisville KY
AA: This game looked a lot more interesting before UCF needed two touchdowns in the final 2:05 to win at Memphis. But the Knights have had two weeks to prepare for Teddy Bridgewater and what will almost-certainly be the most high-profile game UCF plays this season. It might bring out the best in them, and the Cardinals didn't exactly look like a top 10 team last week vs. Rutgers. Still, I think they'll bounce back and get the blowout in this one to cover the spread.
JM: Three days ago, I'd have taken UCF with the points here. But then Blake Keller, one of the Knights' starting defensive ends and the team's sack leader, up and quit the team because he just doesn't like football anymore. That's the sort of thing you don't want to have happen while you're preparing to face a pre-season Heisman candidate at quarterback. Take the Cardinals, give the points.
OKLAHOMA STATE (-7) over TCU, 11 a.m., FOX
Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater OK
AA: This line actually seems just about right. OSU's offense doesn't look like the Cowboys of old with the quarterbacks they have now, but TCU isn't scaring anyone, either. Oklahoma State obviously plays better at home, and they're well rested after getting a week off following the win over KSU. For that reason, and because I don't quite have the guts to pick a tie, let's go with the Cowboys.
JM: Trevone Boykin is a poor man's Daniel Sams. There, I said it. TCU just isn't the TCU of old, and it's not because they're facing an upgrade in competition since joining the league. (I mean, they are, but that's not the problem here.) OSU isn't going to put a ton of points on the board, but their defense is strong enough that it's entirely possible TCU doesn't see double digits. Take the Cowboys to cover.
MISSOURI (+3) over Florida, 11:21 a.m., ESPN3
Faurot Field, Columbia MO
AA: This one's really tough, because I certainly want to keep believing in Missouri. But I'm also painfully aware the Tigers' offense is going to suffer without James Franklin, who would likely have made Mizzou the favorite if he were healthy. In the end, the choice I'm making is that Florida's offense is so inept, Missouri will win a low-scoring, defensive affair. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.
JM: We just don't know enough about Maty Mauk. What we do know is that Florida is horrible when the other team doesn't have the ball, and I'm with AA here. I think Mizzou not only covers, but wins outright. I might feel differently were the game in Gainesville, but it's not.
Texas A&M (-13.5) over Auburn, 2:30 p.m., CBS
Kyle Field, College Station TX
AA: It's hard to know what to think of A&M sometimes, especially when Johnny Manziel is getting away with crazy things that wouldn't work for anyone else. But really, my choice for this game comes from the fact that I'm not buying on Auburn yet. They're just the latest product of the SEC hype machine, and they'll be exposed on Kyle Field Saturday. A&M covers.
JM: How's Auburn the product of a hype machine when nobody's actually hyping them? Seems to me that even down in ESS EEE CEE territory they're just waiting for Auburn to pull a Mississippi State and fold. Still... it hasn't escaped my notice that every game this year against living, breathing competition, A&M has either lost or gotten into a slugfest. A&M wins, but I'm going to take Auburn and the points here.
USC (+3) over NOTRE DAME, 6:30 p.m., NBC
Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend IN
AA: Let's all take a moment to appreciate the national irrelevance of this game. It's beautiful, isn't it? Anyway, I'm taking USC to steal a road win, because they're better without Kiffin.
JM: The Germans have a word, Operettenkrieg. The prefix of that word is, of course, literally "operatic", but the connotation is almost always intended to refer to something being bloated and over-wrought. That's what this rivalry is: Operettenkrieg. A bombastic and overblown clash of two schools which think too highly of themselves. Oh, my pick? I'll take the Irish, but only because Touchdown Jesus is watching.
Florida State (-3) over CLEMSON, 7 p.m., ABC
Memorial Stadium, Clemson SC
AA: If you watch one football game this Saturday, I would implore you to make it this one. We've got two highly entertaining quarterbacks going up against two very good defenses, and two teams that suffered at least a bit of a scare against Boston College. Yeah, I don't get that last part, either. This one should be close, but to me, FSU is just a better all-around a team. The Seminoles will win this by more than 3, but not a lot more.
JM: I just... man, I just don't know about this game. There's little to separate these two teams, and ultimately my pick here comes down to this: the one game in which Clemson has looked really incredible against a top-notch opponent turned out to be a case of looking really incredible against a probably over-rated opponent. The Georgia win just doesn't look as good now after Georgia lost to Mizzou, and that's enough to swing me over to Florida State to cover here.
How many points is just too damned many? Jon tries to find out.