As soon as I learned Sunday that ESPN's College GameDay would still be going to Missouri's game at South Carolina* despite the Tigers' embarrassing home loss to Indiana, I knew we'd be looking at an awful slate of games this weekend. Conference play finally gets into full swing next Saturday, but for this weekend, there's just not a lot there. Sorry.
Nonetheless, Jon and I struggle on through the mess to bring you our picks For Entertainment Purposes Only. I'm far too angry with Mizzou to make a pick on that game, so we'll just take a trip around the country with some matchups that seemed interesting.
Last week, I'm actually proud to say I picked all 4 of my contender vs. pretender games correctly (including Mississippi State's upset and stupid Nebraska doesn't count) while Jon clearly angered the college football gods by claiming the point spreads were "too good to pass up" for his slate of games. He got 1 of those 5 games right, and unfortunately I only disagreed with him on one (LOL Northern Illinois) so I ended the week 6-4 to improve to 20-10 overall, while Jon went 4-6 and sits at 18-12 overall.
*You're more than welcome to leave the obligatory Deathstar SEC bias sentiments in the comments.
Vanderbilt (+17) over KENTUCKY 11 a.m., SEC Network
Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington KY
LT: ESPN published an article Monday titled "SEC West is Best" and while that's certainly true, I'm still waiting for the story titled "SEC East is Worst." Missouri might have thrown its hat in the ring as well, but this game could go a long ways to deciding who is in last place. Despite absolutely absurd calls to fire Derek Mason after just two games, he's actually got the team playing some half-decent football now, which is impressive considering all he's got are the scraps James Franklin didn't take to State College. It is true that UK is coming off a bye week and took Florida to 3 overtimes, but I think this is an ugly game that stays close. Wildcats win, but Commodores cover.
JM: I think the most important takeaway from Kentucky's near-miss at Florida is that Florida's not very good. That, more than anything, means that Kentucky's being overrated here, and Luke's precisely correct. Anchor down.
GEORGIA (-17) over Tennessee 11 a.m., ESPN
Sanford Stadium, Athens GA
LT: More SEC East action! I thought Georgia was the best team in this division, possibly by a wide margin, but then they went and got beat at South Carolina. Still, it was just a bad start on the road, and I think the Bulldogs are still a solid team. Tennessee is not. Plus, this one's in Georgia, where the Vols will face a hostile crowd and a team eager to bounce back in a big way. Georgia covers.
JM: I still think Georgia's the favorite. Weird things happen between Georgia and South Carolina, to Georgia in general, and in SEC openers. We could also question Mark Richt's intelligence for not just having Todd Gurley manball his way into the end zone, but these are things that don't matter when the opponent is lacking. The Vols are just that. However, 17 points is a lot to ask against a team which, while not that good, is certainly better than they have been. And it probably bears noting that last year, in Knoxville, Tennessee took the Dawgs to overtime. Georgia's going to win; they're not going to win by 17. Vawls cover.
Florida State (-21.5) over NORTH CAROLINA STATE, 3:30 p.m. ESPN2
Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh NC
LT: One of these teams is undefeated with an average of more than 40 points per game and a quarterback who has thrown for ten touchdowns to just one interception and has a rating of 166.7. The other is the No. 1 team in the country. Of course, N.C. State’s dominance has come against Georgia Southern, Old Dominion, South Florida and Presbyterian, which is why the Wolfpack didn’t get a single vote in this week’s AP Top 25. Jameis Winston is back from his suspension for being a complete and total idiot, probably with something to prove, and I’m expecting FSU to roll in this one. N.C. State gets Clemson next Saturday followed by Boston College and Louisville, so it might be a long four weeks.
JM: Of course, we would be remiss not to note that Georgia Southern and Old Dominion are (relatively) competent, so it's not like the Wolfpack haven't beaten up on anyone. Still, yeah. I have been saying for three weeks now that North Carolina State is the worst undefeated team in the country. I can't very well turn around and pick them to cover now, can I? Noles -- yuck -- cover.
Texas (-14) over KANSAS 3 p.m., Fox Sports 1
That half-empty dump that no longer has a track around it, Lawrence KS
LT: This might well be the Jayhawks' best chance at a win this season, since they're riding the confidence of 2 wins in 3 weeks and Texas is still trying to figure things out under Charlie Strong. But I have faith in Charlie Weis' commitment to losing. and the Longhorns seemed to be getting close at UCLA. Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes can play a little bit and I expect Kansas' offense to fold in the face of Texas' athletic defense. The Longhorns pull away in the second half for an easy cover.
JM: There are two things keeping me from predicting Kansas will cover: the fact that I'm already two games behind you and only willing to risk taking a flyer when I'm truly convinced, and the fact that I am physically unable to type the words "Jayhawks c" "Jayhawks co" "Jahwska vec" See, can't do it. So, Longhorns cover.
WASHINGTON (+7.5) over Stanford 3:15 p.m. FOX
Husky Stadium, Seattle WA
LT: Washington is a hard team to figure out, since they opened the season by barely beating Hawaii and Eastern Washington before curb-stomping Illinois and Georgia State. Jon can confirm that Eastern Washington might be the best team in that group, as the No. 2 team in FCS thanks to a dynamite no-huddle spread offense. Then there's Stanford, who let one slip away against USC but has played solid defense all season. I'm feeling optimistic about Washington's chances with a strong running game, since USC found some success on the ground, and with a little luck at home I think the Huskies can actually spring the upset they nearly got at Stanford last season.
JM: Can confirm. Frankly, it's not even close. I hate this game, and not because it's going to be a bad one. Unlike you, I think Stanford wins, but that line... this game's going to be close, and that's got less to do with Washington than it does with how Stanford plays the game. They are not, and never have been, built to blow out teams to whom they're not markedly superior. So I do expect the Huskies to cover here.
Tomorrow: Jon takes his anger over trailing in this year's race out on some helpless overrated teams.