If you're like me, you still haven't come down from the high of celebrating the first Kansas City Royals World Series title in my lifetime. As a way of honoring that team, perhaps the most fun group of baseball players to watch in history, this first edition of FEPO for the week will only matchups in which at least one of the teams has won a national title.
Fortunately, college football's historical models are ridiculously inclusive, so that restriction doesn't really prevent us from making predictions on any of Saturday's great games. The only one that may surprise you is Oklahoma State at TCU, but the Cowboys actually won a mythical national title in 2011 according to the Colley Matrix Rankings, and the Horned Frogs went 11-0 and won an equally mythical AP title in 1938.
Last week, despite correctly picking Iowa State to upset Texas, I went 4-5-1 with a tie in USC's six-point win over Cal. Jon and I both picked USC, so it didn't matter, and he also went 4-5-1 to move to 43-45-2, still three games behind my 46-42-2. On to this week's picks.
|Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater OK|
LT: It would appear Vegas does not have a lot of love for Oklahoma State, considering the unbeaten Cowboys are an underdog at home. It makes sense, since their most impressive win this season is either a two-point win at Texas or last week's 70-53 shootout at Lubbock. Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs have their flaws, but Trevone Boykin is scary good and that defense is starting to come around. They'll do enough in this one to win and cover in another fun, high-scoring game.
JM: I am not selling Oklahoma State short here. They have apparently solved the functional problems which have nagged at their offense, as 70 points -- even against Texas Tech -- will attest. But I still have questions as to the structure of that offense, and I think its success still strongly depends on structural weaknesses on the part of the opposing defense. As many problems as TCU has had this year, I think their secondary has reinforced itself adequately, and the Cowboys run game still depends too much on putting J.W. Walsh in the game (and thereby telegraphing the play to an extent). This game will be a lot of fun. But TCU's going to cover.
|Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Memorial Stadium, Clemson SC|
LT: This one's pretty simple. Florida State has done absolutely nothing this season to show it can compete with an elite team, and Clemson keeps looking better and making its case as one of the top five teams in the country. Yes, that's a rather large spread, but unless you still believe in Clemsoning, it's not big enough. Tigers cover.
JM: I... no. Few things would please me more than to see Clemson crush Florida State with the efficiency of a steam press, but that line is too long. If it were -9.5, I'd take Clemson. It's not, so Seminoles cover.
|Saturday, 3 p.m. Neyland Stadium, Knoxville TN|
LT: Tennessee is almost certainly the best 4-4 team in America. The Volunteers clearly have a ton of talent, but some poor coaching and just bad plays at the wrong moments have proved costly in their losses, all by a touchdown or less. Meanwhile, South Carolina has rarely looked competent and gave up all three touchdowns Missouri scored in the month of October. Tennessee will take out some frustrations in this one. Vols cover.
JM: Yeah. This is less about Tennessee than South Carolina, which is just a really bad team this year. The Vols are not great, but they're good enough to bury a bad team. Tennessee covers.
|Saturday, 7 p.m. Memorial Stadium, Lincoln NE|
LT: Nebraska just lost by 10 at Purdue and now is only a five-point underdog against Michigan State? Yes, I realize the Huskers don't have any other losses by more than five this season, but they also seem to be trending in the wrong direction and haven't played any opponents near the level of the Spartans. Throw in the fact that Michigan State has the B1G's second-best passing offense against Nebraska's terrible secondary, and this one's a no-brainer. Sparty covers.
JM: I can't for the life of me understand how you peg a team that looks for all the world like it's just given up as a five-point dog to a top-ten program. And it's not just the team: the Husker fanbase has been beaten down so far that they finally accept a nine-win season as "pretty good", and AD Shawn Eichorst actually sent out a mail blast this week casually asking fans to still show up on Saturday and keep their sellout streak alive. Sparty covers.
|Saturday, 7 p.m. Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa AL|
LT: Here it is. The game ESPN says we've been waiting for all season. LSU and quarterback Brandon Harris have developed enough of a credible passing attack to make this interesting, but is it really enough to beat Alabama at home? The Tigers have the athletes to match up with the Crimson Tide, but they're also still on the young side. Alabama has been far from dominant this season, so it's really tempting to pick the upset. I think the Crimson Tide hold on for a close win, but I'll take the Tigers to cover.
JM: Luke makes sure to select the Alabama game because he knows I won't bet against them. He's trying to ambush me here. I hardly think that's fair, and I'm filing a protest with Luke's boss. Meanwhile, for Alabama this is the game. They have to win this week, or the SEC West title will be decided in Oxford two weeks from now. Alabama is at their most dangerous when they have to win, which is a good part of the reason why their playoff lost last year to Ohio State was so shocking. But here's where I throw a wrench in the spanner: Bama's going to win... but not by a touchdown. Tigers cover.
A couple of games involving teams who possess national championships. Real national championships, not mythical ones. And some other games of note that Luke didn't already pluck from the pile.