MASSACHUSETTS (+32.5) over Vanderbilt, 11:00 a.m., ESPN News
Gillette Stadium, Foxboro MA
JM: K-State beat Massachusetts by 30 at home. Vanderbilt only beat Austin Peay by 35 at home. This game is in Massachusetts. Vanderbilt's going to roll, but it's not like they've got a particular incentive to make sure they win by five touchdowns. Minutemen are gonna cover.
AA: The really curious thing about that Austin Peay game is Vandy scored only 3 points in the first quarter against a terrible defense before outscoring AP 35-0 in the second and shutting it down in the second half. The Govs didn't get a first down until the third quarter, so I'm guessing UMass will top that. But I think now that we're closer to conference play, Vandy may open things up more and keep its starters on the field a little bit longer. It's a tough call, but I think the Commodores barely cover.
FLORIDA (-17) over Tennessee, 2:30 p.m., CBS
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville FL
JM: This has the potential to be a real stinker. Florida has shown a great capacity for ineptitude offensively, but they can stop you. Tennessee has shown an equally robust inability to play defense, but that's not exactly going to be a huge issue on Saturday. Unfortunately, Tennessee hasn't proven that it can score points on a quality defense, and that's why Florida's favored to win. There's a catch, though: Florida didn't even beat Toledo by 17. Tennessee loses, but covers.
AA: It warms my heart to see these teams struggling so much. I've never been a fan of many traditional powerhouses, and UF and UT aren't exactly known for having the most savory characters. The Vols are likely still recovering from that epic beatdown they took in Eugene so the defense may be a little slow, but I'm not sure Florida's offense has the capacity to win an SEC game by 17 right now. Tennessee covers.
Michigan (-18) over CONNECT--
JM: Just kidding. We're not evil, just misguided.
Utah State (+6.5) over SOUTHERN CAL, 2:30 p.m., ABC
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles CA
JM: Okay, I was wrong about USC last week, but I think we can all acknowledge that Boston College is entirely to blame for that and just move on, right? This is not Boston College. This is Chuckie Keeton, and we all know his middle name by now: HAM. There's no reason whatsoever to believe that even if Utah State doesn't win outright, they'll lose by 3-4 points in some ludicrously insane fashion on the final play of the game, either by failing to score or allowing the Trojans to score.
AA: I don't know much about Utah St., other than that their mascot is the Aggies so I am instinctively a bit disdainful. On the other hand, it seems dangerous to pick USC to win and cover a spread two weeks in a row. Lane Kiffin will screw this one up somehow, and Utah State will at least cover.
Toledo (+26.5) over CENTRAL MICHIGAN, 11 a.m., ESPN GamePlan
Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant MI
JM: This game is included as an object lesson in sportsbook WTFery. Only one book has this game listed at this writing, and I can only assume that the oddsmaker in question is mainlining some really good mescaline. Both teams are 1-2. Toledo's losses? To Florida and Missouri; their win was over Eastern Washington. Central Michigan beat FCS New Hampshire by a field goal, lost to UNLV, and got trucked by Michigan. Okay, Toledo QB Terrance Owens is listed as questionable, but come on, dude. Central Michigan lost to Michigan by 46 points more than Akron did. If you can actually find someone willing to play this line -- you know, assuming such things were legal, of course, ahem -- bet your net worth, your mother's net worth, your firstborn, and your immortal soul on Toledo to cover. It's that easy.
AA: Yeah, I think Jon covered this one pretty well. Baffling. I'll take Toledo and the easy win as well.
NEBRASKA (-22) over South Dakota State, 2:30 p.m., BTN-something
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln NE
JM: Chances of Ahearn not expecting me to pick this game: infinitesmal. Numbers: 219, 62, 210. That's the rushing yards given up by Nebraska in its three games this year. In their last five contests stretching back to last year, Nebraska has allowed over a mile and a half of total offense. That's 25 football fields' worth. That's over 500 yards a game. Meanwhile, South Dakota State junior running back Zach Zenner has already run for 540 yards and six touchdowns this year in three games; his 128 last week against Southeastern Louisiana put him over the 3000-yard mark for his career. Perspective: Darren Sproles is K-State's all-time leading rusher, and he only amassed 3,304 yards. Zenner's got (at least) another 19 games to go. Now, there is a concern here, and that's that South Dakota State has given up over a thousand yards of offense themselves in the last two games. But the Jackrabbits can also throw the ball, which is going to keep the Blackshirts honest, and I think SDSU can manage enough to cover the spread here.
AA:And here I was thinking I wouldn't have to worry about Nebraska again for a while after they laid an epic egg last week against UCLA and reminded everyone just how hilariously mediocre that defense is. Thanks a lot, Jon. Your arguments seemed compelling, until I remembered that South Dakota State lost to KU last year (by 14) and got smoked 56-3 by Illinois back in 2011. If you take away a 99-yard touchdown run in the first quarter (LOL) vs. Kansas, your boy Zenner racked up all of 84 yards in those two games, though admittedly he got just 5 carries as a freshman at Illinois. I'm not sold. Nebraska wins by at least 4 or 5 touchdowns and the Husker fans leave telling all the visitors how impressed they were by how hard SDSU tried.