(Ed. Note: We're a day late this week, all blame for which belongs to your benevolent despot.)
Of course we all know this Saturday's best game is happening in Fort Worth, but that doesn't mean there aren't still some great games on the slate. Unlike the past couple weeks, you can expect to be a lot of shakeups in the polls Monday, just because at least six ranked teams have to lose and if history is any indication, others will as well.
We've got some great balance as well, with four different conferences represented along with perhaps the most intriguing nonconference game of the month in Tempe. So clear your Saturday schedule (oh, how I wish I could follow my own advice) and read about what you can expect to see as Jon and I make our picks, For Entertainment Purposes Only.
Last week was an odd one, as Jon and I agreed on 9 out of 10 games. We should have known better. Luckily, I broke the pattern with my successful pick of UCLA over Utah to bring us back to all square overall at 47-43 after my 5-5 week, while Jon went 4-6.
Baylor (+5.5) over OKLAHOMA 11 a.m. Fox Sports 1
Memorial Stadium, Norman OK
LT: This one's tricky, because it feels like the line is a little too large only because this is Oklahoma. At the same time, it feels like the Sooners could win this, and if they do, Baylor's going to collapse enough to make it by more than a touchdown. That being said, I think the Bears will be prepared (I'm not saying it, Bryce) and OU doesn't have an answer for this kind of explosive passing attack. Just ask TCU and West Virginia. The Sooners are going to need some serious ball control to win this game, and I don't think they pull it off. Baylor wins.
JM: Oklahoma is like Two-Face. Flip a coin, figure out how they'll play. It is entirely possible OU will come out and smoke-test Baylor Saturday. It's also entirely possible they'll fall flat on their faces. Living in Oklahoma, I've gotten to hear the fallout from both possibilities already this year, and to hear the average radio-listening Sooner fan Trevor Knight is either a Heisman candidate or a bum who shouldn't even start for Tulsa. When faced with this and required to make a pick, I always go with the dog if the dog is halfway decent. Baylor covers.
ARIZONA STATE (-2.5) over Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m. ESPN
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe AZ
LT: Notre Dame's remaining schedule is Northwestern and Louisville at home followed by a trip to USC, so we really need the Irish to lose this week to make sure they don't sneak into the playoff. Fortunately, the Sun Devils are plenty good enough to make it happen, and Everett Golson is due for a few costly mistakes. ASU needs just a little more offense than they've been getting, but I think they get the job done. Sun Devils cover.
JM: Let me be perfectly blunt: In the past three weeks, Notre Dame has had to fight off North Carolina and Navy, giving up an average of 42 points to each. North Carolina's not horrible offensively -- they're scoring 35.4 a game -- but that's inflated by the 43 they scored on the Irish and the 56 they scored on FCS Liberty. Navy has not scored 42 points on an FBS foe all season, and they're averaging 31.8 overall.
Arizona State hasn't been scoring a lot lately, but they were also missing their starting quarterback through much of that stretch. Also, they're allowing fewer than 20 points a game if you ignore that anomaly against UCLA. Notre Dame's playoff hopes die Saturday. Devils cover.
LSU (+6.5) over Alabama, 7 p.m. CBS
Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge LA
LT: I don't think the Tigers win this game, because their offense just isn't all that great and Alabama has the powerful, balanced attack to eventually wear down even LSU's staunch defense. But the Crimson Tide and senior quarterback Blake Sims have hardly been spectacular, and last year's Alabama blowout notwithstanding, this game has a tendency to be close. Tigers cover.
JM: But then again, Saban apparently stuck fireworks in anatomically unpleasant places and lit the fuse last week. I think Bama's on a roll now, and they're going to cover..
MICHIGAN STATE (-3.5) over Ohio State, 7 p.m. ABC
Ohio Stadium, Columbus OH
LT: I'm not totally sure I buy Michigan State as a top ten team, even if I did rank them at No. 8 in my BOTC writers poll this week. Oddly, it's the defense I have the most questions about, considering they gave up 22 points to Nebraska, 31 to Purdue (!) and 17 to Indiana in consecutive weeks. All of those were wins, of course, and meanwhile Ohio State nearly stumbled at Penn State. Sure, the Buckeyes have been dominant in every other game, but that's not so difficult in the Big Ten and I think they're going to get exposed this week. Michigan State covers easily.
JM: Ugh. You complain when I pick Big 10 games, I'm nice and stop doing it, and then you go and do this to me. That's gratitude for you. I can't explain it, but I think the Buckeyes are going to cover. This game just feels too close.
Oregon (-9.5) over UTAH, 9 p.m. ESPN
Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake UT
LT: Listen, Utah, it's been fun, and I'm well aware I've underestimated you guys for most of this season, including last week. But the fact is we've reached the time of year when the good teams with great players rise to the top, and I just can't see Utah in that group. All five games the Utes have played against Pac-12 competition have been decided by 3 points or less or gone to overtime, which is rather remarkable. But Oregon has been on the rise lately, making it look more and more like the Arizona loss was some sort of weird Thursday fluke. The Ducks are favored by 9.5 because they've won every game not played on Thursday — except a weird one-touchdown victory at Washington State (a team that beat Utah) — by at least 12 points and they're going to do so again. Nike U covers.
JM: Nope. Nope, nope, nope. Oregon's going to win, but Utah's going to keep it close Last week's overtime title with the Sun Devils was all I needed. Utes cover.
Tomorrow: Well, if Luke's going to play the B1G card...