It’s a somewhat dangerous thing to do considering Jon has 8 first-round FCS games to choose from, but this week’s slate of games is actually pretty strong, so he’s still got some solid options. Plus, it’s Thanksgiving. Just remember these picks are For Entertainment Purposes Only.
I'd just like to point out that last week, Jon wrote, "Look, I am not sold on this Oklahoma State renaissance." Yes, I picked OSU to only cover and not win, but is it any surprise that Jon went 5-5, while I somehow worked my way back into contention with an amazing 9-1 week? Damn you, Ducks.
That brings me to 68-52-6 overall, just four games behind Jon, who sits at 72-48-6. No pressure, buddy.
Texas Tech (+4.5) over TEXAS, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, FS1
Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium, Austin TX
AA: This game could be the one that decides Mack Brown’s job. Nah, I’m just kidding, he’s definitely out. But it will be interesting to see how the Longhorns bounce back after their first Big 12 loss a couple weeks ago. My bet is not well, and I’m really hoping Jace Amaro catches about 20 passes for 300 yards just to show how stupid the Mackey Award voters are for not making him a finalist. Seriously, he caught 92 passes. The three finalists caught 108 combined. What? Tech wins this one outright.
JM: See, those Mackey people apparently think tight ends are just blockers. Fools. But yeah, I think the Red Raiders are going to pull this one out too. Lost in Texas' sudden winning streak was the fact that they didn't always look fantastic in the process.
AUBURN (+10.5) over Alabama, 2:30 p.m. CBS
Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn AL
AA: You know, I'm starting to come around on Auburn. They've been pretty good and though it has come against a weak schedule, it's hard to fault them for that. At some point, Alabama has to stumble, at least a little bit. That's just the way college football works. No, I don't really think Auburn is the better team, But the Tigers will be hyped, and all the pressure is still on the supposedly invincible Crimson Tide. Auburn pulls off the upset.
JM: Alabama's already stumbled. They just didn't, you know, manage to lose in the process. I could see the argument that Auburn's good for an upset here, except for one tiny little problem: they don't have the defense. If you've got a suspect D, Alabama will rip you a new one -- and they'll do it just the way Bill Snyder would like to. Slowly and painfully, while your offense stands helplessly on the sideline. Alabama wins... but Auburn should cover.
Baylor (-13.5) over TCU, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth TX
AA: For the first time all year, it's time to see how Baylor deals with adversity. The Bears' national title hopes and likely Bryce Petty's Heisman chances are gone, and while we might sympathize, TCU probably isn't going to feel sorry for them. Regaining some offensive rhythm won't be easy, especially against a physical, well-rested Horned Frogs defense that now has a blueprint on how to slow down this offense. But I feel like this spread is only about half as big as it would have been a week ago, and TCU's offense still isn't very good at all, despite what it did against a suddenly awful group of Wildcats. I think Baylor barely covers.
JM: Oh, I think Baylor does more than barely cover. I smell a rout in the making. I think it's important to remember that we were all "Oooh, aaah" over TCU's offense actually scoring points on the K-State defense. Well, after Oklahoma, I'm just not impressed anymore. Baylor covers easily.
Clemson (+5) over SOUTH CAROLINA, 6 p.m. ESPN2
Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia SC
AA: Oh, South Carolina. I’m not really sure what to make of these guys. They’re pretty good when playing well, but they’ve also looked kind of shaky at times. Also, they’re an excellent rushing defense, and Clemson’s defense is not particularly great. Still, the Gamecocks are favored by 5, meaning that Vegas thinks they’re actually the better team and not just benefitting from a home-field advantage. Seems like a little much. Take the Tigers to cover, and probably win.
JM: Let's engage in a little sorcery here. Remove South Carolina's wins over the three truly icky teams on their schedule -- Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Coastal Carolina (who aren't really icky, but they do have 22 fewer scholarships to hand out). The Gamecocks score 27.75 points a game and give up 23.75. That's just not at all impressive, is it? Of course, Clemson's entire schedule is full of bodybags and Florida State, so... Still, with much the same cast of characters on both sides, South Carolina won by 10 at Clemson last year. And last year, South Carolina wasn't markedly any more dominant than they, er, aren't this year. Clemson, on the other hand, was. So it seems to me that relative to each other, South Carolina's improved. I'm going to take the Gamecocks to cover here.
Missouri (-4.5) over Texas A&M, 6:45 p.m., ESPN
Faurot Field, Columbia MO
AA: It’s time for Missouri to face its last hurdle, and this one may be the most difficult. Detractors may point out the Tigers have yet to beat a team currently ranked in the top 25, and well, that might continue after this week either way, because if Missouri wins A&M could easily drop out. The fact is you can only play who’s on your schedule and Mizzou was clearly good enough to beat South Carolina, so let’s not pretend these Tigers aren’t worthy of top 5 status. Plus, Johnny Manziel is getting old and Mizzou’s defense will destroy him. Mizzou wins and covers.
JM: I am not going to sit here and offer reams of analysis. I am also not going to try and take advantage of your emotions. Why? Because I really want Missouri to win this game. It is vitally important to me that Johnny Manziel continue to display his flaws. Not his character flaws; I care not one iota about those, especially since his "character flaw" is "being 20 and famous". I mean the flaws in his game. The desperate heaves into traffic where he's basically praying that his all-world wide receiver can somehow come down with it. (That Mike Evans always seems to is proof that the pundits seeking a late dark-horse candidate are charging up the wrong Chestnut Hill.) The horrible ball security, which he only gets away with because defenses are scared to go for the ball and miss him. The horrible decisions.
Oh, I've gone off on a rant, have I? Well, never mind that. My point is that even if I were inclined to take the Aggies, my constitution won't allow it. Tigers win and cover.
Tomorrow: Ahearn picked a really interesting slate of good games. Did he leave anything worth talking about, or will Jon have to get medieval on his ass? Find out tomorrow!