You were warned. My options for today's picks were to either pay attention to the Big Ten (although it was sorely tempting to predict yet another invasion at Purdue Harbor, let me tell you internets) or try and make sense of the Pac 12 (okay, I did go there once) or scour the schedule looking for absolutely ridiculous things to talk about (duh).
Really, when it comes down to it there's just no contest here, is there? So off we go, skulking the seedy back alleys and dingy overpasses of College Football's homeless... For Entertainment Purposes Only, natch.
Cincinnati (-2.5) over MEMPHIS, 7:00 p.m. TONIGHT!, ESPN2
Liberty Bowl, #MENPHIS TN
JM: I don't know what's more disturbing: that this line is only 2.5, or that it opened at 5 and has been cut in half. Cincinnati has not lived up to its modest expectations so far, largely due to the absence of College Football Player Name Hall of Famer Munchie Legaux. But come on, people. This is Memphis. A team which is supposed to be on the way out of their misery, but still only has one win on the year. This would be free money, if we condoned such things. The Bearcats cover. And cover some more.
AA: Yeah, I live in Tennessee, so I know enough about Memphis football to never pick them to wn. Ever. Also, Cincinnati has had a respectable football program in the fairly recent past and what's that? A 5-2 record? Yeah, this line makes no sense. Cincinnati probably wins by 3 touchdowns.
NORTH TEXAS (-4.5) over Rice, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, FOX Sports 1
Apogee Stadium, Denton TX
JM: In the early slot on Thursday night, we have three different televised mid-major games (okay, technically USF-Houston is a "BCS conference game" but let's be honest here). This is the best of the three, and to the surprise of everyone on the planet I'm not just damning it with faint praise by saying so. If I'd told you in August that before October came to an official close both Rice and North Texas would be bowl eligible, you'd have laughed in my face and told me I was a complete lunatic. I did not tell you this in August, despite the fact that I am a complete lunatic. It's October 30 now, though, and I am telling you now: the Mean Green are going to win to move to 6-3 and join the Owls among the bowl-eligible, and since the line's fairly narrow I'll go ahead and give the points too.
AA: I don't know, this one seems like kind of a toss-up to me. Yeah, Rice hasn't really beaten anyone for its undefeated record in Conference USA, but they almost beat Houston and can clearly put up some points. I'm not impressed by North Texas' nonconference schedule, even if they did put up 21 points vs. Georgia. Plus, the Owls run a ball control, running-based offense that I'm inclined to like as a K-State fan. It's time to make up some ground, finally. Take Rice to go ahead and win outright.
OREGON STATE (-5) over Southern California, 8 p.m. Friday, ESPN2
Reser Stadium, Corvallis OR
JM: Give CoachO credit; the Trojans are playing decent football since he took over from Kiffykins. They haven't been lights-out, though, and Marquise Lee is still questionable. Oregon State, meanwhile, has quietly gone about their business. Yes, they lost to an FCS team to start the year -- an FCS team which might be the best team in Washington. Last week, they lost to Stanford... by eight points. In between, they have pummeled three teams they should have pummeled while hanging on to win their other three games. The Beavers are flying under your radar, and I expect them to win Friday... but. Oregon State's pattern against teams in their zip code has been to win nail-biters, so for our purposes here take USC and the points.
AA: If not for an opening week loss to Eastern Washington, Oregon State would be a top 15 team right now. They gave Stanford quite a battle last week and i don't care who the coach is, USC is about due to underachieve on the road again. The Beavers look to be over that whole close loss thing with 3 straight Pac-12 wins by at least four touchdowns. Yes, two of those three were against teams that have lost every league game, but I'm still putting my faith in OSU. They'll win and cover.
Army (+1.5) over AIR FORCE, 11 a.m., ESPNU
Falcon Stadium, Colorado Springs CO
JM: MURICA! The actual pick here is a no-brainer, because Air Force is really, really bad whereas Army's just mediocre. The interesting thing about this game for our purposes, however, is that the line opened at Air Force -13.5, and has shed TWELVE points since Sunday, while the over/under has only dropped by a single point. In the words of our resident drunken attorney, you should keep your money far, far away from this game. We're not using money, however, so I'm going all-in. Black Knights win outright.
AA: Maybe Vegas was giving Air Force one hell of a homefield advantage? Or they thought the government shutdown was still going on and would force the team to hitchike from West Point to Colorado Springs. I'm not sure, but this line seems a lot more reasonable. Yeah, Air Force isn't very good, but the've got a nice homefield advantage, both teams will be geared up for this game, and I think Air Force does just enough to win and cover.
Auburn (-8) over ARKANSAS, 5:00 p.m., ESPN2
Reynolds Stadium, Fayetteville AR
JM: This would make a lot more sense except for one small detail: Arkansas is horrible, and is fighting Mississippi State for last place in the SEC West. Auburn, on the other hand, is a top-ten team, although we could certainly argue that they're overrated. Still, this seems like a slam dunk. Auburn beat Mississippi by eight, and I'm pretty sure Mississippi's superiority over Arkansas is quantifiable by more than just the difference between playing on The Plains and playing in Almost-Oklahoma. Take the Barners, give the points.
AA: This line is also silly. Yes, I understand it's a rivalry game and we're supposed to believe it's always close or whatever. But that's just not true. This matchup hasn't been closer than 17 points since 2008. Auburn still doesn't totally convince me and they'll probably lose at Tennessee or vs. Georgia at home. This week, though, the Razorbacks just aren't good enough. Auburn will win and cover that spread without too much difficulty.