Record after week eight: 88-38 (63-60-3 ATS)
12 pm ET
Northwestern (5-2) at Indiana (4-3) (+3)
All Indiana has left on the schedule that they can definitely win on a good day are Northwestern and Purdue. Not-so-coincidentally, those are the two wins they need for bowl eligibility. They’re not beating Wisconsin, Iowa, or Penn State with the embarrassment of a defense Indiana currently fields, so it has to be Northwestern at home and Purdue on the road. I mean it SOUNDS good, but actually getting it done is something of a problem for the Hoosiers since forever.
Northwestern is a terrible matchup for Indiana, but for the exact opposite reasons Wisconsin is a terrible matchup for IU. Northwestern is the same kind of spread team Indiana is, but they have a running quarterback. Indiana has a bit of a history against running quarterbacks, and not much of it is good. Worse, the Wildcats are better throwing the ball than Michigan could ever hope, so they can’t just key the run.
Basically, Indiana’s defense is going to need to be great (!), or the Hoosiers are going to have to win one of those painful shootouts that happen against Northwestern. Michigan State won one last week (okay, 35-27 is what passes for a shootout in the Big Ten, but still), and I’m not enamored with Indiana’s chances in one on Saturday.
These players are going to have to win. There are not enough players left on the roster for the entire defense and coaching staff to commit honorable suicide after ignominious defeats. Wait, are there? No, I just looked at the roster and there definitely aren’t. Gonna have to man up and get this one.
(20) Oklahoma State (6-1) at Kansas State (5-2) (+5)
So the Cowboys are going to have to win on the road after losing a rough shootout to Nebraska. Not that K-State is very good, but this is Oklahoma State we’re talking about. The Clemson of the Big XII. And if you don’t know that’s not a compliment, well, you’re probably a Clemson fan.
OSU is just one more soft spread team that Indiana wishes it could be. Both schools are already used to the feeling of being so close to their goals and yet so, so far away. Both schools get great athletes. Okay, Indiana gets good athletes, but still. And Indiana doesn’t even have to deal with an in-state juggernaut that they play a rivalry game with every year! What do you mean I only hate on OSU and Clemson because I’m secretly jealous?
Pick: Oklahoma State
Syracuse (5-2) at Cincinnati (3-4) (NL)
I thought Zach Collaros would run Butch Jones’s offense very well, and he’s currently the best passer in the Big East. Of course that’s like being the least slutty porn star. Still, The Almighty Dan LeFevour took his talents to the Cincinnati Bengals, and you could always tell he made the system look better than it was.
And don’t think for a second the presence of Brian Kelly would make any difference here. Cincy’s defense is incredibly young, and the team is banged up everywhere. No amount of Irish Catholicism fixes that.
Besides, the Bearcats play in the Big East. It’s not like they’re that far away from beating the best teams in that league even with their crap 2010 team. And maybe 2009 was a freak year, but there’s still an automatic bid in the Big East, so no matter how awful the conference champion is, the BCS sees them on the same level as Boise State and TCU. Don’t you love democracy collusion?
3:30 pm ET
(7) Missouri (7-0) at (14) Nebraska (6-1) (-7.5)
Nebraska has looked better since they lost to Texas, and Missouri is going to have to overcome the biggest potential letdown game since South Carolina blew a lead at Kentucky right after they beat Alabama. These things aren’t made up, they’re real phenomena. Good luck, Mizzou.
Pick: Nebraska wins but doesn’t cover
(15) Arizona (6-1) at UC,LA (3-4) (-9)
As Every Day Should Be Saturday reports, every UC,LA quarterback is dead. And Arizona is there to feast on the leftovers. I have a feeling the Bruins’ defense will show up, but that could just be contrived optimism for my boy Booter who is enduring one of the more schizophrenic UC,LA seasons ever.
Pick: Arizona wins but doesn’t cover
(5) Michigan State (8-0) at (18) Iowa (5-2) (-6.5)
I think the luck runs out here for Iowa. Sure, they’re at home, but the errors that they made all through 2009 finally showed up again last week in the loss to Wisconsin.
The spread, however, is ridiculous. These teams are even more evenly matched than Wisconsin and Iowa were. I know my dad’s going to kill me, but…
Pick: Michigan State
Florida (4-3) at Georgia (4-4) (-2.5)
So it’s come to this. Two teams everyone loves to watch suffer facing off. One of them will end up at .500 or worse before the day is done. I bet ESPN didn’t think this was coming when they signed that ridiculous deal with the SEC. Now they get to televise every SEC East abomination every week!
6 pm ET
(3) Auburn (8-0) at Mississippi (3-4) (-7)
That streak of number one teams losing is going to end this week. Auburn could start me at quarterback and maybe even cover the spread. I don’t care about Jeremiah Masoli or whatever Orgeron leftover NFL prospect plays defense for Ole Miss. There is no way Auburn is losing this game.
There. Is that enough of a reverse hex? Maybe not.
7 pm ET
(25) Baylor (6-2) at Texas (4-3) (-7.5)
The ranked leaders of the Big XII South are facing a team coming off a bad loss to Iowa State this week. I know everyone knows who I’m really talking about, but it’s fun to say anyway. Good for Baylor.
This is now without a doubt the worst team Mack Brown has ever had at Texas. I wouldn’t even be a little surprised if he handed things off to Will Muschamp after this year. Not because he’s lost the desire to coach and build a team again, but because he wants nothing to do with this bunch of underachievers and all the running backs he forgot to recruit. Here, Will, why don’t you steer for a while. Oh, you didn’t notice the engine is overheating, we’re out of gas, and it’s not as nice a car as it was four years ago? Oops.
(13) Stanford (6-1) at Washington (3-4) (+7)
There’s a decent chance Washington wins this game. Not because they’re secretly good or anything. The Pac-10 is just that nuts this year. Then again, UW’s defense is atrocious and Jake Locker looks more like NFL-style Alex Smith every day. Bad, bad combo.
7:30 pm ET
(8) Utah (7-0) at Air Force (5-3) (-7)
I don’t like all these mid-season close spreads. It’s like the oddsmakers think no one is good enough right now. Utah can handle Air Force, even if the game is in Colorado Springs. It’s not like it’s a war crime to beat a service academy, though I bet Sharron Angle would be for that too.
8 pm ET
(1) Oregon (7-0) at (24) Southern California (5-2) (+7)
Either Oregon or Auburn has to go down to make room for Boise State. There’s no way in hell Auburn is losing to Ole Miss, but Oregon got a bad week to play USC.
Sure, the Trojans’ defense is awful, and they had hard time stopping Oregon’s offense even when they were good, but there is a destiny thing going on with Boise State. No way do the football gods let them stay out of the BCS title game without getting so obviously screwed that Congress forces an NCAA football playoff.
Michigan (5-2) at Pennsylvania State (4-3) (+3)
I don’t like Michigan on the road, but Penn State is way down this year. The offense is one-dimensional again because they don’t have a quarterback. I mean, it wasn’t great even when they DID have one, so this is probably a nice flashback to the Zach Mills era for Nittany Lions fans.
9:15 pm ET
Colorado (3-4) at (11) Oklahoma (6-1) (-23.5)
Weirdly timed night game for OU the week after they blew it at Missouri? Usually a recipe for a close win, but this is Colorado we’re talking about. Dan Hawkins is on his way out, and there’s no talent there anyway.