As things get down to the wire here, we'll pay more attention to the big games, and since Ahearn was so kind as to leave the entire BCS top five alone we're going to wade in and try to sort out a combined (-128) on the day. For Entertainment Purposes Only, of course.
Alabama (-25) over MISSISSIPPI STATE, 6:00 p.m., ESPN
Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville MS
JM: After what Alabama did to LSU in the second half last week, it's really hard to see this game going any other way than a rout. The only possible way it doesn't happen is if Bama is looking past Clanga to Auburn, but since there's actually another creampuff to get past next week I don't think that will be a huge problem. Besides, last time Alabama was facing a trap game they went out and won 45-10. I get the impression that a legitimate chance to three-peat is sort of like an Adderall IV. Yeah, the line is huge. Also, Mississippi State's not a good football team; they didn't cover 25 at home vs. LSU either. Bama rolls and covers.
AA: I have to agree. Alabama just somehow seems immune to the kind of letdowns that inevitably hit just about every other college football team at one time or another throughout the season. So even though I think they're more beatable than a lot of people believe against some of the nation's elite teams, they'll have no problem dispatching a weak team like Mississippi State. Bama covers easily.
FLORIDA STATE (-39) over Syracuse, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2
Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee FL
JM: Uh... well, then. Okay, let's be upfront here: Florida State is entirely capable of blowing that line up against a truly mediocre and uninspiring Syracuse squad which has done absolutely nothing to convince anyone they can play defense against a good football team. Still, that line is so massive that just the vagaries of chance work against it. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that if it was -24, I wouldn't even flinch at taking the Seminoles to cover. At -39, I'm willing to throw my imaginary money at Syracuse because 39 is so steep that even a 51-13 FSU romp is still a win.
AA: 39 points? That's a spread you should never, ever bet on because it really just mostly depends on what the coach wants to do. In this case, I've got a lot catching up to do, so I'll just go ahead and pick Florida State to give myself a chance to gain a game.
Ohio State (-32.5) over ILLINOIS, 11:00 a.m. ESPN
Memorial Stadium, Champaign IL
JM: On the other hand, I have absolutely no doubt that the Buckeyes are going to cover this line. Illinois is absolutely putrid, and we all know that Urban Meyer isn't going to pass up the opportunity to pile on the points when his team's busy trying to fight off Baylor and even Stanford. (I'm pretty sure they're resigned to the fact that Alabama and/or Florida State are going to have to lose, so trying to gain ground isn't the motivation anymore.) But really, Illinois is awful. Did I mention that? Buckeyes cover.
AA: Oh, good. Awful Big Ten football. Again, this big of a line could easily go either way, so I'll take the other side. Illinois to cover. Did you know the Illini haven't lost to Ohio State by 30 since a 40-2 loss in 2005? It's true. Illinois scored when the snap on an extra point went through the holder's hand and a strong safety ran it back 75 yards. Yikes.
Stanford (-3.5) over SOUTHERN CAL, 7 p.m., ABC
L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles CA
JM: This line's close enough that you should feel pretty comfortable taking Stanford, and I'm not sure I have anything more interesting to say about this one. USC isn't the sort of team to win a game of trench warfare, and the last time they beat Stanford there was still some egomaniac waving a towel on the K-State sideline.
AA: This was a game I almost picked yesterday, then I decided Stanford was a notch above all those other teams. If not for the most inexplicable loss of the college football season (sorry, OSU) the Cardinal would probably be slated to play in the BCS championship game. USC is....not that good. This line is way too small. Stanford wins big and covers.
Baylor (-27) over Texas Tech, 6 p.m., FOX
AT&T Stadium, Arlington TX
JM: How often does a team play a neutral site game in a stadium carrying the same corporate sponsorship as their home field? The Bears and BroTech will tie it up at Jerryworld Saturday, and you can't help but feel sorry for the Red Raiders. It's a deep line, but let's be honest here... K-State almost covered it, and Tech's been looking worse and worse every week. You don't think Baylor will? Teams in this sort of slide don't rise up and bite national championship contenders. No, it's teams playing like K-State is now that do that, right Baylor? Bears will cover.
AA: For about a quarter and a half last week, I really thought Baylor was going to make me look smart. Their normally unstoppable offense looked out of sync and a little bit lost in the lights of such a huge national stage. But Oklahoma's punchless offense couldn't take advantage and Bryce Petty eventually woke up in impressive fashion, even without his two best weapons. Point is, no way I'm making that mistake again. Baylor covers.