Guaranteed good matchups are hard to find this week, so in honor of East Carolina and Boston College, let's take a look at some potential upsets. A few upstart teams could come up big this week in their first game against big competition — or come back to reality.
Jon and I improved together last week, when both of us went a rather impressive 8-2 to get to 14-6 overall. Here are this week's picks, For Entertainment Purposes Only.
ALABAMA (-14.5) over Florida 2:30 p.m., CBS
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa AL
LT: Florida didn't exactly convince anyone the glory days are back a week ago, when the Gators needed overtime to beat Kentucky. They're going to get steamrolled by Alabama, even if the Crimson Tide haven't looked spectacular this season. Bama covers.
JM: Seriously, Gators? Kentucky? Come on, now. Meanwhile, Alabama has quietly solved what appeared to be a quarterback controversy -- it still is among some of the fanbase, but it's done and settled where it matters -- and they're slowly revving up the Crimson Death Power Washer. Florida's offense has been putrid for years, and now the defense can't seem to get the job done either. Even better: Vegas has narrowed this line by nearly a field goal, as it opened at -17. Value! Bama covers.
LSU (-10) over Mississippi State, 6 p.m. ESPN
Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
LT: Mississippi State makes for a much more interesting underdog, and I'm actually a fan of what the Bulldogs have done so far. Yes, they played mediocre or terrible teams (Southern Miss, UAB and South Alabama) but they won all those games rather impressively. This is a young team and against my better judgment, I'm being bold and picking them to pull off the upset.
JM: Against your better judgment is right. We've seen this movie before, and it has to have a different ending before I'll assume editors have begun to take liberty with the scripts. Mississippi State under Dan Mullen always does this: they roll over lesser opposition, climb their way up the ballot count in the polls, then run into a superior team and BLAM, there goes the rear passenger tire. That's what's going to happen this week, too. The question before us, however, is whether they can cover, and just to be difficult I'm going to say they won't. LSU covers.
Oklahoma (-7.5) over WEST VIRGINIA 6:30 p.m., FOX
Milan-Puskar Stadium, Morgantown WV
LT: Here are two teams that have looked great against lesser competition. I think West Virginia will do some damage and surprise some people with the way Clint Trickett is playing. But I don't think they're ready yet to challenge and uber-athletic OU team. Trevor Knight has another big day and OU covers.
JM: The suspension of starting corner Daryl Worley last night doesn't help the Mountaineer cause any, either. So we've got a weakened secondary facing Trevor Knight, and Clint Trickett suddenly facing what may be the best secondary in the nation. Assuming you are in a location where such things are legally allowed, get this bet in now because the line's going to shift today: Sooners cover.
FLORIDA STATE (-20) over Clemson 7 p.m., ABC
Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee FL
LT: This is a huge line, and just a reminder of how far ahead Florida State is compared to the rest of the ACC. But the Seminoles have looked a little more beatable this year, and I think they might stumble a bit in primetime against Clemson. The Tigers won't win, but they will cover.
JM: More important than Florida State's seeming mortality is Clemson's is quite obvious. Tajh Boyd isn't riding to the rescue here. The Seminoles won this matchup by 37 points last year... at Clemson. As much as it pains me, I'm taking the Noles to cover.
Miami (FL) (+7.5) over NEBRASKA, 7 p.m. ESPN2
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln NE
LT: So, this game doesn't really fit with our theme, but that's OK because it's a fun reminder of just how far these two once-dominant programs have fallen. Nebraska may be undefeated, but the Huskers had some trouble getting there, especially against McNeese State. Miami actually has a solid rush defense, and I think it's good enough to help the Hurricanes at least cover.
JM: I can't believe you're making me pick a Big Ten game. What sort of monster are you? I'm deeply unimpressed with Miami this year, but it's not like Nebraska's done anything either. Sure, they rolled one of those semi-directional Florida schools and Fresno State (who are doing their best to impersonate Idaho all of a sudden). Then again, Miami lost to a team that couldn't even beat Virginia, so... yeah. Huskers cover. I guess. Sigh. I hate you SO much.
Jon takes a scenic tour through some surprising schools not located in San Antonio.