November college football has changed, and this is the part of the month where we have to suffer. It's the week before most of the best end-of-season matchups/rivalries, so because of weird conference schedules that start earlier every year, it's a chance for many teams to try to rest up and get ready for the big game.
Especially in the SEC, schools are playing incredibly boring matchups that make Texas Tech at Iowa State look like must-watch TV by comparison. So here we are with some moderately competitive games or at least intriguing storylines, which we'll be projecting For Entertainment Purposes only.
Last week, Mizzou surpassed my expectations (again) but for the most part, the SEC home teams actually held serve, including some in convincing fashion. Jon and I both went 5-5 last week, so he maintains a two-game lead overall at 58-52 to 56-54.
|Saturday, 2:30 PM CT
Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City UT
LT: Utah keeps proving me wrong, and I really am starting to respect them a little bit. Arizona isn't even that great of a team. But here's the thing: Utah's only Pac-12 win by more than 4 points was in two overtimes against Oregon State. So, yeah, the Utes win, but Arizona covers.
JM: Both of these teams are going to hold their opponent to less than their average rushing output, but Utah's defense will have more impact on Arizona's run game than Arizona's defense will on Utah's. Where this gets really interesting is that Utah allows a hundred yards less through the air than Arizona gains... and Arizona gives up a hundred yards more than Utah gains. So when Arizona has the ball, they're going to experience more frustration than they're used to.
The problem for Utah is... what's any of this mean for them when they're on offense? They don't throw the ball that much anyway so the question is whether Kyle Whittingham sees this as an opportunity to throw the ball, or whether Utah's relatively anemic passing offense can't function even against a horrible pass defense. Ultimately, I would be surprised if 50 points gets scored in this game, which means I suspect Arizona covers.
|Saturday, 2:30 PM CT
Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville AR
LT: Arkansas may be playing defense as well as any team in the SEC right now, which gives them a chance to win every time out. But Ole Miss has more of an offense than the LSU team the Razorbacks shut out a week ago, and it's not like Arkansas' offense has been particularly impressive. This one's going to be close, but the Rebels cover.
JM: On the other hand, Arkansas did score 17 points on the same LSU defense against whom Mississippi could only muster a sole touchdown. But, no. Arkansas has only shown an ability to actually score (read: over 20 points) against bad defenses, which is just astounding given the Hogs' rushing attack. Rebs cover.
|Saturday, 6:30 PM CT
McLane Stadium, Waco TX
LT: Let's see. Baylor has been playing lights-out in two games since losing at West Virgnia, while Oklahoma State has looked abysmal and incapable of scoring touchdowns. The Bears are feeling underrated in the eyes of the playoff committee and the Cowboys are on a four-game losing streak, needing a win in Waco or Norman to make a bowl game. It's in primetime in front of what will surely be an amped up Baylor crowd, and Oklahoma State has lost by an average of almost 30 points in its 3 road games not played in an empty stadium in Lawrence. Could this line be high enough? I'm not sure. Bears cover.
JM: I saw all I needed to know about this game when the Cowboys limped out of Manhattan. That game was won at the line of scrimmage, and Baylor's every bit as potent there as the Wildcats. Baylor covers.
|Saturday, 6:30 PM CT
Neyland Stadium, Knoxville TN
LT: Missouri has the third-longest road win streak in the country at nine games. The Tigers lead the SEC sacks and not team has given up more sacks than the Vols. MU sits 3.5 games ahead of UT in the SEC East standings. These are three most obvious reasons Mizzou is going to cover this absurd and utterly insulting line.
JM: I stopped analyzing this as soon as I saw the line. Tennessee may be slowly rebuilding itself, but they've got no business being favored over any team with an actual pulse. The only way Tennessee hangs here is if Bad Maty shows up, and with the SEC East title right within Missouri's grasp I don't see that happening. Tigers cover. Surely we're going to disagree on something today, Luke...
|Saturday, 7:00 PM CT
Rose Bowl, Pasadena CA
LT: USC has actually been quite good since a tough home loss to Arizona State, and junior quarterback Cody Kessler has had a really fun last two weeks against California and Washington State, both of whom seem to take a defense-optional approach. The Trojans will face a little more resistance from UCLA, another team on a bit of a hot streak since losing to Oregon. Still, it just seems like USC has been more consistent, and I don't really trust the Bruins. Trojans cover.
JM: Well, hallelujah. Look, I have been hard on UCLA, and it's been deserved. But USC has beaten exactly one bowl-eligible team this year, and they won that game by two points. UCLA has beaten five bowl-eligible teams, and their two losses were totally fine. (Yes, UCLA tried their damnedest to lose to Cal and Colorado, but then USC did the same to Cal and Stanford.) There's nothing statistically to really indicate anything either way here; I just don't see the Trojans hanging because they've impressed me less. Bruins cover.
Tomorrow: Well, Luke took all the good games. What do YOU think is happening tomorrow?