Luke just never learns. Having gobbled up all the really good games this week, he left me having to sort through the dregs of college football to find things worth talking about today. And by dregs, I mean the Big Ten. Sorry, Luke.
No, look, seriously: it was either that or subject you to football in North Carolina, and that's possibly even a worse punishment.
As always, these prognostications are provided solely For Entertainment Purposes Only. Mostly mine, today.
Iowa (+4) over MARYLAND, 11 a.m. ESPN2
Byrd Stadium, College Park MD
JM: Maryland's signature win so far in their initial foray into the Big Ten: Indiana. No, really. They got edged by West Virginia and spanked by Ohio State, and had close calls with Syracuse and South Florida. Meanwhile, we've gotten some mileage out of Iowa losing to Iowa State, but since then they too have dispatched Indiana, and Pitt, and Purdue. Well, okay, none of that is impressive either. Regardless, Iowa's looking better than you might think, and I'm going to take them to cover here as a road dog.
LT: Real quick before I get to this game: Two of those Big 12 games were not great, so it seems awfully harsh to say I took all the good games, especially when you overlooked No. 23 Stanford at No. 17 Arizona State.
Anyway, last week I said Maryland would "likely crush Iowa" so I can't really go back on that, can I? Terps cover and beat a Division I team at home for the first time in over a year. Wait....what? Oh, well, let's just go with it.
JM: For the record, I didn't pick Stanford-Arizona State because I honestly have no idea at all what's going to happen in that game, and part of successfully, um, picking games For Entertainment Purposes Only for, um, a winning record is avoiding games like that like the plague.
OHIO STATE (-19.5) over Rutgers, 2:30 p.m. ABC
Ohio Stadium, Columbus OH
JM: Rutgers is probably the second-worst one-loss team in the country, and we'll get to the worst shortly. They beat Michigan by two. Washington State by three. Navy by a touch. And they lost to Penn State, a team that's just really not good at all. Ohio State? Oh, after that stumble against Virginia Tech they've just been steamrolling everyone despite the loss of Braxton Miller. It's a huge line for a Big Ten game between teams with the same record, but I think the Buckeyes will cover it.
LT: I mean, everyone is Kent State, Cincinnati and Maryland, so pardon me for not being very impressed. But that being said, Jon is pretty much dead on when he says Rutgers is terrible. Clearly, Ohio State freshman J.T. Barrett is figuring things out at quarterback, and I do love seeing 4-star players from Texas not recruited by UT succeed, even if it's at Ohio State. Buckeyes cover.
Kentucky (+9.5) over LOUISIANA STATE, 6:30 p.m. SECN
Death Valley, Red Stick LA
JM: Do I think Kentucky's going to beat the Tigers? Nah. However, Kentucky took Florida to overtime and LSU only beat Florida on a last-second field goal, so I think it's probably a safe bet that Kentucky can keep this within nine points. Mis-colored Wildcats cover.
LT: By Jon's logic, since Arizona barely beat UTSA and UTSA barely beat FIU, hapless FIU could challenge Arizona at home. We all know that's not true, and while this is a little different because UK's a decent team, that doesn't mean the Wildcats are ready to challenge the Tigers in Death Valley. LSU just has too many weapons, and they're not going to be feeling very charitable after the aforementioned narrow victory at The Swamp and the beatdown they took at Auburn. Tigers cover easily.
Nebraska (-6.5) over NORTHWESTERN, 6:30 p.m. BTN
Ryan Field, Evanston IL
JM: So suddenly, out of nowhere, Northwestern has risen to shoot the tires out from under Penn State and Wisconsin, and then gave a pretty good Minnesota team a run for their money. That run, however, still resulted in a seven-point loss, so I'm going to assume the Huskers cover here.
LT: I still don't have much faith in this Nebraska team. They've been playing better lately, but I think they're due for a letdown against a hungry Northwestern squad. The Wildcats cover.
Utah (-2.5) over OREGON STATE, 9 p.m. FS1
Reser Stadium, Corvallis OR
JM: Now, I wouldn't say that I'm buying in on Utah yet. That said, other than an inexplicable pratfall against Washington State, they've looked pretty solid; nothing earth-shaking and really, with the exposure of UCLA, no marquee wins. But Oregon State may be the worst one-loss team left in the country. That loss was a blowout to USC, who isn't really any good; their wins include close calls over Colorado and Hawai'i as well as a 15-point win over Portland State, which is an underwhelming FCS squad. The line here is mostly appropriate because I don't think either team has really shown any evidence of anything yet, but I think the Utes cover.
LT: As Jon alluded to, this game kind of sucks because both of these teams were projected to be terrible, and other than a somewhat surprising win by Utah over UCLA, not much has been done to disprove that notion. So, let's take a look at the numbers. They tell us the Utes are better in virtually every category except pass offense and pass defense, but that's OK because Utah's strength is its running game. As long as they don't fall behind early, Utah wins this one and covers.