I was so tempted. I mean, all I really had to do was take out a massive life insurance policy on myself, pick the UMass/Miami (OH) game, and within days my kids would be set for life.
But as much as the temptation to make Luke think about the two worst teams in FBS tantalized me, I just couldn't do it, even though taking Massachusetts +3 is easy money.
Not that we condone doing anything with these picks which involve money. That would be wrong, and we do this For Entertainment Purposes Only.
OREGON (-23) over Arizona 9:30 p.m. THURSDAY, ESPN
Autzen Stadium, Eugene OR
JM: This one sort of scares me, but I'm rolling with it. Oregon has not been terribly dominant, but they've had a week off to correct the bugs in their Nike TerrorOffense™ software. Arizona has shown they can score, but they have let some poor teams hang with them far too much. This is the first team they're facing with a truly acceptable defense, and that's going to depress their scoring.
Meanwhile, Arizona has given up 28 to Nevada and 45 to California. Do you think they're going to be anything other than a Kleenex in front of the Oregon offense? It's a big, big line, and with the over/under at 70 that means Vegas is looking at a 46-23 Oregon win. This is a huge risk, but frankly that score doesn't seem outlandish at all, so I think Oregon's going to cover; being able to burn clock doesn't help much when the other team scores quickly and you can't stop them.
LT: Presumably, the Ducks will have some semblance of an offensive line this week, which will spell big trouble for Arizona. The Wildcats aren't that good, and Oregon might even have something to prove after a close call against Mike Leach and Washington State. Plus, consider that 11 of Oregon's last 15 wins since that Fiesta Bowl game we'd all like to forget are by 23 points or more, and all of a sudden that line doesn't seem so big. Ducks cover.
Oklahoma (-5) over TEXAS CHRISTIAN, 2:30 p.m. FOX
Amon Carter Stadium, Fort Worth TX
JM: This is going to be a great game. TCU's defense is, as always, saltier than anchovies, and the offense is working nominally. Oklahoma's deadly on both sides of the ball. The Frogs are much, much improved over last year, and may finally be settling into this Big 12 thing. But I don't think they're on par with Oklahoma -- not yet, anyway. The Sooners may only win by a touchdown, but they're going to escape, and they should cover.
LT: I really wish this game could be next week. That way Oklahoma could get all beat up and only have seven days to heal before taking on a well-rested Kansas State team. Alas. Jon's right, though, this one's going to be a battle. The difference will be Oklahoma's athletes and playmakers on offense TCU just doesn't have those kinds of weapons on their roster, and the Sooners will find a way to cover.
Wisconsin (-10) over NORTHWESTERN, 2:30 p.m. ESPN2
Ryan Field, Evanston IL
JM: (Jon just giggles uncontrollably, because we all knew Penn State was horrible before last week anyway.)
(Ed. Note: Just in case it's not blindingly obvious, Jon is indeed picking Wisconsin.)
LT: I'm not proud of it, but I ranked Penn State 25th a week ago, and their 16 points in the BotC poll shows I wasn't the only one fooled. But that's not why I'm picking Northwestern to cover in this game. It's not even because I really believe the Wildcats are less than 10 points worse than Wisconsin. As most of you are aware, I dislike the Badgers very much, and if the Royals can erase a four-run deficit in the last 2 innings of a stupid winner-take-all playoff game, then come back again to win in the 12th, then there must be some good in the sports world after all. Northwestern covers. Somehow.
Memphis (+5) over CINCINNATI, 6:00 p.m. CBSSN
Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati OH
JM: Memphis finally Memphised last week, but they still held Ole Miss to 24 points. Their problem wasn't that they couldn't stand up to an SEC offense, but that their own offense choked out. Meanwhile, Cincinnati has given up 34 points to Toledo, 23 to Miami of Ohio (otherwise known as "the worst team in Division I FBS this year and a team that would probably lose to Kansas by three touchdowns", and 50 to an Ohio State team not quarterbacked by Braxton Miller. This line is predicated on the idea that Memphis is Memphis, and nothing more. Tigers cover, and probably even win.
LT: Ugh. AAC football. What Jon didn't mention (and why would he?) is that Memphis began its season with a 63-0 stomping of Austin Peay State University in a game I would have been forced to sit through in its entirety had I not gotten my superior job and left my position as APSU beat writer in August. The result doesn't really tell us much about the Tigers, but I'd like to think it gave them some confidence to go with their improved talent, and they might actually be able to do some things this season. Memphis wins this game and might even compete for the AAC title, since East Carolina isn't on the schedule.
KENTUCKY (+5) over South Carolina, 6:30 p.m., SECN
Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington KY
JM: At first, I almost backed away from this one, because the line opened at Sakerlina -10 and has been chopped in half. That's always a bad sign. But Kentucky's been showing life, and South Carolina looks eminently mortal this year. So I'm going to roll the dice and go with the Bluegrass Brigade here, at least to cover.
LT: .Wait....what? I realize South Carolina, like most teams in the SEC East, is considerably down this year. Their defense has some serious issues and the offense appears to be rather inconsistent. But still, only five-point favorites at Kentucky? I'm not sure what Jon's talking about (hopefully not last week's 17-7 win over Vandy) but the Wildcats have done absolutely nothing to impress me so far this season. They're still Kentucky. South Carolina covers, likely with ease.