I told you exactly what I was going to do, but you probably thought I was pulling some Snyderian head game on you. Nope. For the first time in FEPO history, I have chosen to just pick Big 12 games rather than trying to confuse Luke with schools he's not even sure actually exist. Because I'm magnanimous that way sometimes.
Of course, this also means that Luke has to do three things he hates more than almost anything else in life: picking Big Ten games. My beneficience does not come without a price. As always, remember that our predictions are For Entertainment Purposes Only, and that gambling is bad and a sign of moral turpitude, unless you always win in which case it's just sound financial planning.
West Virginia (+3.5) over MARYLAND, 11 a.m. BTN
Byrd Stadium, College Park MD
JM: Maryland plays their home games in a stadium named for a guy who was a die-hard segregationist. West Virginia exists because of the Civil War. Now that we've established who the good guys and bad guys are here, let's get to the real discussion. In their games against FBS teams, West Virginia hung in there against Alabama while Maryland faffed around and managed to beat South Florida by a touchdown. You remember South Florida, right? The team that got absolutely smoked by McNeese State last year?
Speaking of FCS teams, both West Virginia and Maryland have played one this year. Maryland's opponent was James Madison, a quality team who routinely makes the playoffs; the Terps won 52-7. West Virginia beat their FCS opponent 54-0, which is a little better. Also a little better: the Mountaineers played Towson, last seen losing to North Dakota State in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game. It's not much, but it's enough evidence for me to think West Virginia will win outright, which means it's enough to pick them to cover.
LT: See, this one doesn't bother me because in my mind, Maryland is still an ACC team. It takes a couple years for them to really become evil. Like you, I was quite impressed with West Virginia against Alabama. Holgo's got himself some players. Plus, Maryland isn't that good. Take the Mountaineers to cover.
Iowa State (+10) over IOWA, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City IA
JM: Five days ago, I'd either have skipped this one or picked Iowa. But the Cyclones showed life last weekend, and perhaps more importantly managed to more than adequately fill the playmaker hole created with the loss of Quenton Bundrage with Jarvis West. West is possibly the first individual Iowa State player since Troy Davis whose name can cause PTSD in K-State fans. Iowa, meanwhile, is 2-0 after narrowly escaping the Hawkeye State's designated pain-in-the-ass FCS squad and eking out a four-point win over Ball State. This could go horribly wrong; the Cyclones could have just been up for a home game against their most-hated friendly rival. But we're gonna take Iowa State here anyway, because 10 points is stupid. Worth noting: this game opened at Iowa -15.5, and has plunged to -10. That ought to tell you something.
LT: It would be disrespectful to Kansas State to not pick the Cyclones in this one after what they did in Ames last Saturday. Not to mention the fact that no game in this rivalry has been decided by less than 7 the last 3 years. I look for ISU true freshman wideout Allen Lazard to have a big game, and the Cyclones are going to come out a little desperate in this one. They pull off the upset.
Arkansas (+2.5) over TEXAS TECH, 2:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock TX
JM: The best thing about this game is that I actually have no freakin' idea who's going to win. Neither team is impressive at this point; we've already hashed over Tech's season-opening moral defeat over Central Arkansas, and they very nearly soiled the linens Saturday night in El Paso too. Arkansas got smoke-tested against Auburn, true... but for a half, with Nick Marshall thinking long and hard about What He Did, the Razorbacks played Auburn straight-up. Oh, and when presented with an FCS foe, Arkansas toyed with them in a manner not unlike a cat preparing a cicada for a light snack. Hogs cover.
LT: I got burned for putting faith in Dudebro's boys a week ago, but it wasn't because of Davis Webb. Yaeh, a 54% completion rate isn't great, but he threw for 278 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. This Arkansas defense is going to be a little tired, and Tech finally has a reason to really be amped up in a big game at home. I'm sticking to my belief that the bottom half of the SEC really isn't very good at all, and Arkansas definitely qualifies as the bottom half. TTU wins again.
Minnesota (+8) over TEXAS CHRISTIAN, 3 p.m., FS1
Amon Carter Stadium, Fort Worth TX
JM: No deep analysis here; it's just that Minnesota's been pretty alright under Jerry Kill and doesn't tend to get beaten up too badly, while I just don't trust the Big 12 version of TCU yet. Also, this game opened at TCU -14 and has since shrunk by nearly half. That's always an alarm. TCU may eke out a win here, but the Gophers cover.
LT: I see you've finally picked a Big Ten team and, well, it seems like a reasonable choice. Minnesota has been shockingly good of late by Golden Gopher standards, and they've got a solid, physical ground game. That might play right into TCU's hands, and Minnesota should be grateful next week is almost a bye when San Jose State comes to town. But this Saturday the Horned Frogs just won't quite have enough offense to pull away in this one, and I'm expecting Minnesota to cover.
Texas-San Antonio (-16) over OKLAHOMA STATE, 7 p.m. untelevised
T. Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater OK
JM: I normally wouldn't pick this game since you can't watch it on television, but it's actually somewhat intriguing and we're on the Meep-Meep bandwagon this year anyway. So far, UTSA has destroyed Houston and -- this is not hyperbole -- played one of the most entertaining games of the young season in a three-point loss to Arizona. That's all well and good, but there's more. First, one must ask themselves quite seriously: is Oklahoma State that much better than Arizona? Then, one can shrug and say "I don't see that it matters now," because quarterback J.W. Walsh is out, RB Desmond Roland is banged up, and there is no way in hell Oklahoma State covers 16 against a team that's quite clearly ready to play with anyone. Roadrunners cover, and if they do it for us again we'll fondly dub them Feep-Feep-(O).
LT: It's a shame Walsh went down, because I was really starting to believe in this OSU team as the Big 12's real "Dark Horse" (I find that term insulting when applied to Kansas State). But Jon has a point. The Cowboys are going to be considerably weaker this Saturday, and all this Meep-Meep nonsense is kind of contagious. Then again, UTSA can't sneak up on anyone anymore, and playing in front of 50,000 hostile fans is considerably different than welcoming Arizona to town last week. Daxx Garman hasn't played much, but he's got talent, and his arm will help the Cowboys cover in this one..