Even though it seems to be Clemson and SEC vs. FCS schools week (I'm looking at you Bama, South Carolina and UF) we've still got plenty of great matchups on the docket. As so often happens, many of them are between contenders for conference titles.....or at least division titles which will then earn a right to play for the conference title.
K-State opened up as a 4-point favorite against Oklahoma, which seems a little small, honestly, but you may have heard there's a different, slightly important game involving an Oklahoma school. The winner of Oklahoma State-Baylor will win the Big 12 title, because come on, the Bears aren't losing to Bevo on Senior Day and the Cowboys aren't losing to the Land Thieves on Senior Day.
I finally made up some ground last week thanks to Duke and Florida State proving my expert ACC knowledge (<- sarcasm) and it would have been even better for me if not for this total BS in Auburn. That's why you should never, ever bet on football, folks, unless it's For Entertainment Purposes Only, like we're doing here.
Anyway, I went 7-3 to improve to 59-51-6, but Jon still pretty much has this season wrapped up at 67-43-6, despite going just 5-5 last week.
Northern Illinois (-2.5) over TOLEDO, 7 p.m. Thursday, ESPN
Glass Bowl, Toledo OH
AA: I don't generally pay much attention to MACtion, but this spread caught my eye because it just seemed so easy. NIU might be a BCS team and while not terrible by any stretch, Toledo doesn't seem to be very close to that level. Am I missing something here? NIU covers easily and essentially clinches a spot in the MAC championship.
JM: You're not missing anything. Toledo is a decent football team, but the Huskies are focused. If this were next week rather than this week, it might be different, but the MAC cleverly gave Northern Illinois a Directional Michigan patsy for the final regular-season game. NIU covers.
Oregon (-20.5) over ARIZONA, 2:30 p.m. ABC/ESPN2
Arizona Stadium, Tucson AZ
AA: This line really couldn't be high enough as far as I can tell. Oregon has new life in the Pac-12 title race thanks to Stanford's loss to USC, and the Ducks aren't about to blow it against a good-but-not-great Arizona team. Take the Ducks to win and cover.
JM: Well, it could be too high. It's not, though. Stanford's loss was like a shot of adrenaline to the Ducks. They're going to go bonkers now. Ducks cover.
Arizona State (-2.5) over UCLA, 2:30 p.m. FOX
Rose Bowl, Pasadena CA
AA: This Pac-12 matchup is considerably tougher. It's also a battle to see who will get to lose to Oregon in a couple weeks, so it's kind of exciting on that front. Really, I just don't think UCLA is that good, and Arizona State strikes me as a solid team. Take the Sun Devils to cover.
JM: The Sun Devils are sort of maddening. Some weeks, they play passable defense; others, LOL no. Some weeks, they're almost Oregon-like on offense; others, not so much. But what they don't seem to do is stumble around all derpy-like. UCLA does, sometimes. With a line this narrow, I'm going to have to agree once again. Arizona State will cover.
Missouri (-3) over OLE MISS, 6:45 p.m., FOX
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford MS
AA: Yes, the greater challenge to Mizzou's SEC title hopes is next week against Johnny Manziel and Aggie. But Ole Miss certainly won't be a pushover, especially in Oxford, where they already beat LSU this season and only narrowly lost to A&M. Still, the Tigers should be determined and well-rested coming off of a bye week, and especially with Ole Miss ranked again, I don't really have concerns about a trap game. Mizzou wins and covers.
JM: I suspect this is going to be a pretty good game. Also, word has it that James Franklin will be cleared and may be back in the saddle. That in and of itself is enough to make me pick the Tigers. (I swear, I'm not trying to prevent you from catching up with me. I'm just not going to be wrong on purpose.)
Baylor (-9.5) over OKLAHOMA STATE, 7 p.m., ABC
Boone-Pickens Stadium, Stillwater OK
AA: The schedulemakers saved the best for last, and this one really has the potential to be a lot of fun. This line seems kind of high, but then again Baylor led by only 8 at halftime a week ago and still ended up covering a 27-point spread. Still, that game showed some flaws in the Bears defense, and I think OSU has enough athletes to keep up with Baylor's offense better than most. It won't quite be good enough in the end, but I believe this one's going down to the wire. Baylor wins, OSU covers.
JM: Oh, finally you're going to take a chance. Look, I am not sold on this Oklahoma State renaissance. They've played really well the last few weeks against a bunch of teams that have a lot of questions. Y'all didn't seriously think Texas was going to run the table, did you? There is only one team all year that has even kept Baylor within four touchdowns. That will probably increase to two teams on Saturday, but I don't think the Cowboys are going to stay within a dime. Baylor covers.
Tomorrow:Jon picks through the remains of the schedule to try and find something, anything, to talk about.