Congrats America, this is one of the best weeks of college football games I can ever remember. Six games feature ranked-vs.-ranked match-ups, and yes, I’ve included picks for all of them below, along with a few others. Enjoy Saturday. After a month filled with concussions, coaching troubles, injuries, and domestic abuse charges, it’ll be nice to focus on the game for once.
Mississippi State -1.5 over Texas A&M
It’s been a nice start for Kenny Hill and the Aggies, but they’re beginning to show signs of wear. It took overtime to beat Arkansas and their lack of a run defense was exposed by the Razorbacks. Mississippi State, on the other hand, has a powerful running game, led by veteran senior quarterback Dakota Prescott. That’s right, his real name is Dakota*. I don’t know if Dak is upset at being overlooked in preseason rankings, or if he’s trying to make an impression for NFL scouts, but he’s been outstanding in the first month of the year. Dak’s going to pass for 250 and run for another 120 in this game. I’ll lay the 1.5 on the home team, but more importantly, this game will serve as a scouting mission to determine how I feel about these teams and the entire SEC West going forward.
*Dak Prescott’s parents may have unintentionally found the solution to obnoxious baby names. We in the general public can counter the onslaught of yacht club baby names by reducing everyone to just their first syllable. All you parents who named your kids Jayden, Harper, and Jackson? Congrats, their names are “Jade,” “Harp” and “Jax” now.
Florida +3 over Tennessee
Since this isn’t one of the ranked-vs.-ranked match-ups, I’m only giving them three short sentences. This game always comes down to a field goal. Take the points.
Notre Dame +2 over Stanford
Worst line of the week. Notre Dame is ranked 9th in the country, while Stanford is ranked 16th. Notre Dame is undefeated, while Stanford has already dropped a game. Notre Dame is at home and they have the superior quarterback. Not to mention that the Irish, much like the Dallas Cowboys, are a team that average betters consistently overvalue. I was ready to pick the Irish in this game, but Vegas’ strange line has completely thrown me off. There’s something shady happening here. It’s like when your one cheap friend suddenly offers to buy you dinner. Something’s obviously up. Be careful.
Oklahoma at TCU – Stay Away
I don’t have enough information on TCU at this point in the season to make a pick here. The Horned Frogs have only played 3 games, with wins over Samford (meaningless), Minnesota (whose blowout over Michigan only confounds things further), and SMU (a coach-less mess). I’d like to see TCU rebound after last year’s difficult campaign, and return to the glory of the Andy Dalton era, but I’m not ready to anoint them that honor just yet. Similarly, we know Oklahoma is good, but how good? The Sooners have quality wins over Tennessee and West Virginia, but they also showed moments of weakness that led me to believe they’re susceptible to upset. (Especially giving up 33 points to West Virginia.) Trevor Knight is a blossoming superstar, but I’m not quite as high on the rest of the Sooners team. America is saying, “The Sooners are great, #4 in the country!,” and I’m saying, “I’d like to trust you, but you’re the same country that told me ‘Mike and Molly’ was a hilarious show.”
Alabama -6.5 over Ole Miss
All signs point to Ole Miss in this game. The Rebels have gotten tougher and more skilled since last year, and they’re led by one of the nation’s most underrated QBs in Bo Wallace. But Alabama has been winning these types of games for years, and until they start losing, I’m rolling with the Tide. In fact I remember hearing this same kind of logic — “it’s Ole Miss’s time to shine!” — before last year’s game, and Bama’s defense absolutely shut them down. Not only did they hold the Rebels scoreless, but they kept them to barely over 200 total yards. New year, same Ole Miss. You think the Tide haven’t listened to all the Ole Miss talk this year? The Rebels may win, but they’ll have to do it by playing a superior game. They’re not going to catch Saban by surprise. It’s also worth mentioning that Blake Sims is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in terms of both completion percentage and QBR. Not bad for a “game manager.” And Bama still has those great running backs; Yeldon, Henry, and Kenyon Drake, who I recently snagged in the 6th round of my Fantasy Felon Draft. But that’s a story for another time. For now, Roll Tide.
Note: My Take the Points podcast co-host Dan believes that Ole Miss will win this game outright. Dan is a huge fan of Nick Saban and the Tide generally, so that really surprised me. He laid out his reasoning in our week 6 podcast. You can listen here. (Alabama-Ole Miss is toward the end of the show.)
Clemson -14.5 over NC State
Clemson/NC State OVER 68
Again, not ranked-vs.-ranked, so I’ll keep this short. I think Deshaun Watson is a future star. Also, NC State shot their wad last week in the near-win against Florida State. That was their Super Bowl and they came up short in heartbreaking fashion. Now they go on the road against Clemson and that high powered offense. They’re going to get lit up. 59-28, Tigers.
West Virginia -26 over Kansas
Kansas has no coach, no players, and no soul. This one is going to get out of hand, real fast.
Rutgers -3 over Michigan
Of course you have to take Rutgers in this game, because betting on 2014 Michigan is like betting on the kids from “Little Giants.” But I actually like the Knights here. They’ve got a great home field advantage with thousands of jacked-up Jersey guys drinking Jagerbombs and screaming. Their defense is good and Gary Nova is a capable QB. Rutgers fans must be happy he came back for his 12th year.
Auburn -7.5 over LSU
I’m not sure how good LSU is this season. We’ll get our answer this Saturday, but of course that doesn’t help us for betting, now does it. My tendency is to lay the points with what I believe is the best team in the country, the Auburn Tigers. Auburn’s running game is the best in the nation. But here’s the thing: LSU is going to stack the box to try and stop that run game, and that’s when they’ll learn two things. One, Nick Marshall is an absolute stud, and two, Auburn has two NFL-caliber receivers in Sammie Coates and Duke Williams. Les Miles won’t rollover, but I think Auburn, at home, is going to be too much for LSU. By the way, get ready for the announcers of this game to annoy you when they keep referring to “The Tigers” and you have no idea which team they’re talking about. After the playoff is over, we need to have a second playoff where all the teams named “Tigers” play in a battle royale for rights to the nickname. Whoever wins it all? Congrats, you’re now the Tigers. Everyone else? Better find a new animal. The Memphis Koalas has a nice ring to it. Oh and next year, same deal with all “Wildcats” teams.
Michigan State -9.5 over Nebraska
Michigan State is the real deal and I was disheartened to hear all the criticism of the Spartans after their loss at Oregon. That’s probably the toughest non-conference game that any team has played all year. Now the Spartans are rightfully back in the top ten, and although Nebraska is a feisty squad with one of the nation’s best running backs, they match up very poorly against Michigan State. MSU has the D-line and the perimeter speed to slow down Abdullah and the Cornhuskers run game, and trust me, no one wants to see what happens to Nebraska when they can’t run the ball. It’s like Sampson’s hair, or Achilles’ heel, or Mayor Rob Ford’s crack. Take away Nebraska’s run game and they lose all their power. I think this game starts out slow, but Michigan State opens things up in the second half once Connor Cook is allowed to get going. Michigan State 30, Nebraska 17.
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