This week's schedule is so much better than what we've seen in the past, I've decided to be nice and leave Kansas alone. Jon can do what he wants, and I also left him a decent Big 12 game featuring his home state team. All For Entertainment Purposes Only, of course.
We've got three games featuring ranked opponents, though no top ten matchups and don't expect any incredible games like the Georgia-LSU thriller last week. Actually, the whole SEC schedule is kind of meh this week, partially because #1 Alabama is playing Georgia State, maybe the very worst team in all of FBS.
The oddsmakers had a strong week, forcing a couple ties, but otherwise only Oklahoma State laying an egg kept me from being perfect. I went 7-1-2 to improve to 27-18-3 on the year, while Jon's faith in the little guy (ouch, UTSA, that looked like it hurt) cost him again in a 5-3-2 week to drop him to 25-20-3. On to the picks.
TEXAS (-7.5) over Iowa State, 6:30 p.m. Thursday ESPN
Jack Trice Stadium, Ames IA
AA: Iowa State is really bad. I’m buying Texas as back on the rise with plenty of talent after a rejuvenating win against [redacted] despite the loss of DeLoss Dodds today. A 7.5 point spread is far too small. Texas will cover easily.
JM: Yeah, Iowa State doesn't possess the requisite strengths to exploit the Longhorns' weaknesses. Also, they're bad. Really bad. They miss Knott and Klein worse than K-State misses Brown and, um, Klein. Texas covers.
FLORIDA STATE (-15) over Maryland, 11 a.m., ESPN
Byrd Stadium, College Park MD
AA: Maryland shut out West Virginia 37-0, then West Virginia beat Oklahoma State 34-24, so the Terps must be really good, right? Well, they are undefeated, but I’m not so sure. Also, I believe in Florida State’s offense and its stud quarterback, Jameis Winston. In the end, though, 17.5 points is an awfully big spread for an FSU team that gave up 34 to Boston College last week, so take Maryland and the points here in a Seminoles win.
JM: You're not making this easy. Sandbagger. Maryland is pretty good, but I think what happened with West Virginia was more on the Mountaineers than anything Maryland did. As for Boston College putting points up on Florida State, that was in large part due to what was a pretty effective opening game plan on the part of Steve Addazio -- but one Florida State adjusted to it, the Eagles were chicken nuggets. I have an expectation that the flaws Boston College exposed aren't going to be present in the first half against Maryland, so the Terps aren't going to be able to exploit what they learned. Seminoles cover.
VANDERBILT (-1.5) over Missouri, 6:30 p.m., ESPN3
Memorial Stadium, Nashville, TN
AA: You knew I was going to choose this one, right Jon? It must be the most obvious pick for me this week. It’s also a very tricky one. I’ve gone back and forth on believing in Mizzou this year, but Vandy just hasn’t looked that great in two SEC games this year. Lose this one, and they’ll probably go to 0-6 with Georgia, Aggie and Florida up next. I think the Tigers are the better team, but they’re due for a road letdown. Vandy wins and covers.
JM: I can't believe I'm saying this. I feel unclean and perhaps even a little desperate. But Missouri hasn't actually done anything to prove they're not a good football team this year. No, really. They haven't. Take Mizzou.
BAYLOR (-27.5) over West Virginia, 6:30 p.m., ESPN3
Baylor Stadium, Waco, TX
AA: Remember last year’s incredibly entertaining 70-63 West Virginia win over Baylor? Yeah, this game isn’t going to be like that. Geno Smith (656 yards passing, 31 yards rushing, 8 touchdowns in that game) is not walking through that door. Neither is Stedman Bailey (13 catches, 303 yards, 5 TDs) or Tavon Austin (14 catches, 215 yards, 2 TDs) or even J.D. Woods (13 catches, 114 yards, 1 TD) and yes, those are all real numbers from one game. Baylor may not have Nick Florence (581 yards, 5 TDs) and Terrence Williams (17 catches, 314 yards, 2 TDs) anymore, but the Bears do have a strong offense and a competent defense. They cover in this one even with that huge spread, which has risen significantly since it opened.
JM: This is a win-win, because if West Virginia somehow covers it means we all have hope. Take the Bears, give the points, and hope you lose.
Ohio State (-6) over NORTHWESTERN, 7 p.m., ABC
Ryan Field, Evanston IL
AA: Wait, Northwestern is ranked 15th? How did this happen? Let me look at their schedule……seriously, how did this happen? They’ve given up 30, 27, 17 and 21 points to Cal, Syracuse, Western Michigan and Maine, respectively. Hard to believe they’re going to be able to stop Urban Meyer’s offense at all. Buckeyes roll and cover the spread.
JM: That the Buckeyes are favored isn't a surprise. That it's only a six point spread is ludicrous. It's going to be a bad two weeks for the other purple Wildcats, starting with getting blown away this weekend.
Stanford (-7) over WASHINGTON, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Husky Stadium, Seatte WA
AA: Both of these teams have actually looked surprisingly good so far, even if it was against inferior competition. Both have won by two scores every game with solid defense, balanced offense, and strong quarterback play. The Cardinal have more talent and the home field advantage, so I think they’ll win and narrowly cover.
JM: My biggest concern with Washington is this: Illinois lost to Washington mostly because they beat themselves trying to be too cute. But that's a minor quibble. The more pressing concern here is what Stanford did to Arizona State, who just happen to be a pretty solid team themselves. Take Stanford, even giving the points.
Tomorrow: Ahearn took all the good games with interesting lines, so Jon's going to punish him with horrible games with interesting lines. Tune in, it'll be fun.