It has been a weird week in college football, thanks to an enormous amount of discussion on politics, society and other issues only tangentially related to actual football. However, there are still some great games this week, and Jon and I are still here to offer our predictions on them, For Entertainment Purposes Only.
Last week was a disaster for both of us as we got just 2 of 10 games right thanks to failures by teams such as Marshall, Memphis and Michigan State to send me to 48-50-2, barely ahead of Jon's 45-53-2. But at least he deserves credit for picking Florida State to cover a 12.5 point spread and noting he would have taken Clemson with a 9.5 point spread. The Tigers, of course, won by 10.
|Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Davis Wade Stadium, Starksville MS|
LT: Remember how last week everyone who watched LSU-Alabama was complaining about how the SEC doesn't have any good quarterbacks? Well, Dak Prescott is the exception to the rule. He's the best passer in the conference, and it's not particularly close. The question is whether he can find enough time and get any sort of help from his team. I think he'll actually get enough to help the Bulldogs cover, though winning would be a tall order.
JM: This is the nightmare scenario for Alabama, and the number one threat to the SEC's season. Teams have traits, things which are almost in their institutional DNA which require massive wholesale change to eliminate. With Alabama, those traits are a stifling run defense and a terrifyingly inconsistent secondary. And here we've got a team against whom the former is nearly irrelevant and the latter is absolutely a concern.
The catch is that if you can't run the ball at all, your ability to pass is damaged. Alabama's most visible failures over the last few years which can be pinned on an inability to stop the passing game all had another thing in common: an opponent who could at least keep them honest with the run game. I don't think Mississippi State is that team. Tide covers.
|Saturday, 6 p.m. TDECU, Houston TX|
LT: Obviously, this game lost a lot of its luster a week ago, when Memphis lost to Navy. But the American West title is still very much in play for both teams, especially since the Cougars host Navy the day after Thanksgiving. You have to imagine the Cougars aren't thrilled to be undefeated and ranked 24th while the Tigers are still 21th, but at least Vegas is giving them some respect. A little too much, in my estimation, against a team anxious to bounce back. Memphis wins.
JM: I don't know that Memphis wins, but I think it's probably safe to say they'll cover. Houston blows out bad teams, but they've played two "good" teams this season -- Louisville and Cincinnati. They won both games by three. Memphis covers.
|Saturday, 6:15 p.m. Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge LA|
LT: Arkansas would need another miracle to win this one, and if we've learned anything this season, it's that luck doesn't last. Well, maybe unless you're Oklahoma State, but I digress. Plus, the Razorbacks' run defense ranks seventh in the SEC and they've given up 21 rushing touchdowns, more than anyone else in the conference. Look for Leonard Fournette to raise that number. Tigers cover.
JM: Beating Ole Miss was nice and all, Arkansas, but Ole Miss ain't all that. Fournette's mad about last week, and he's going to take it out on the Hogs. LSU covers.
|Saturday, 6:30 p.m. Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto CA|
LT: I went 0-5 on my Tuesday picks last week, so I need to make sure that doesn't happen again. This one seems like a no-brainer. Stanford is not only a clearly superior team, the Cardinal have won two of the last three years when the Ducks were the better team. Only one opponent has gotten within 10 of Stanford since the season opener, and no one has come close to doing it at home. Cardinal covers.
JM: Yeah, this seems pretty obvious... at least the result. The spread, I'm not so sure about. This is not the Oregon of old, but they still score points if you're a team that gives up points. Stanford isn't bad defensively by any means, but they are not a lock-down unit either. Oregon also gives up points if you're a team that scores a bunch; again, Stanford's offense is perfectly cromulent, but they don't light up the scoreboard unless they're playing a really bad team. With this being a rivalry now, I think Oregon's got enough in them to cover, though they won't win.
|Saturday, 7 p.m. McLane Stadium, Waco TX|
LT: Baylor is essentially the favorite by homefield advantage in this one, if that, and it's somewhat understandable because the Sooners have looked really good since that loss to Texas. On the other hand, the toughest game they've played is probably the one in Manhattan, so this really comes down to if you're more impressed by Baylor's blowout wins or Oklahoma's blowout wins. I think the Bears get another great performance from Jarret Stidham and the crowd takes care of the rest. Baylor covers.
JM: I really don't know what to expect from this game. Both teams have a black mark; Baylor's is more charcoal than ebony, though. Here's an interesting comparison. Baylor beat Kansas 66-7. Oklahoma won 62-7. Baylor beat Texas Tech 63-35. Oklahoma won 63-27. West Virginia? Baylor won 62-38, Oklahoma won 44-24. That's three opponents bothh teams beat with their respective margins of victory being within four points.
But then there's Iowa State and Kansas State. Baylor didn't have trouble with the Cyclones, but they didn't crush them under their heels like roaches. The Sooners sort of did. And Kansas State, well... I guess the question there is whether their respective games against K-State are instructive at all, or whether the results were entirely about K-State.
Here's the thing. Oklahoma's going to run the ball down Baylor's throat, because Bob Stoops isn't going to ignore Bill Snyder's game plan. Sooners win.
Luke took all the good games again, so Jon has to make Luke pick Big Ten games. That's just how it works, folks.